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Hekmatyar claims political parties already in talks with Taliban

Ariana News

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(Last Updated On: August 31, 2020)

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of Hizb-e-Islami, says that Afghan political parties have already started negotiations with the Taliban, and that initial agreements have been made.

In an interview with Ariana News, Hekmatyar stated that government’s negotiating team is not “comprehensive” and government is consulting with Afghan political parties on issues around the process.

He said that there is no consensus between government and the political parties on the Afghan peace process.

“Government does not have a political consensus, they have not reached an agreement with the leading political parties; therefore, it made the parties start direct talks with the Taliban and the Taliban is also ready to sit with the parties around the negotiating table,” Hekmatyar said.

“An initial agreement has been reached even on the location of the negotiations. The Taliban also knows that the system is not honest and they are wasting time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hekmatyar believes that government is following a hostile policy, and urged government to change its approach to the Taliban.

The Hizb-e-Islami leader said: “I think reaching peace with the current system is impossible. If anyone wants the system and the security forces to be sustainable, and not to face Dr. Najibullah’s fate: they must enter into peace negotiations honestly.”

Najibullah was the president of Afghanistan from 1987 until his resignation in April 1992, shortly after which the mujahideen took over Kabul. After a failed attempt to flee to India, Najibullah remained in Kabul living in the United Nations headquarters until his death at the hands of the Taliban after their capture of the city.

Hekmatyar also stated that government “should not look for an alternative ally to pursue the Afghan war.”

In addition, Hekmatyar claimed that the Afghan government has no authority to make the decision in terms of the peace process, saying that the “US is a decision-maker in the process.”
The Afghan government has not yet commented on Hekmatyar’s remarks.

Opposition grows over Ghani’s decree
Hekmatyar’s statement is another hurdle in the way of intra-Afghan negotiations after a number of prominent figures baulked at President Ashraf Ghani’s decree Sunday appointing more than 40 members of the High Council for National Reconciliation.

First to reject his appointment was former president Hamid Karzai, who was then followed by former foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani and Hekmatyar.

Abdullah Abdullah, the Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation meanwhile issued a statement Monday opposing Ghani’s decree.

He said the president does not have the authority to appoint people to the body tasked with leading peace talks with the Taliban.

Abdullah said in the statement that “consultations about the formation of the council continue with political and civil society leaders and it will conclude soon.”

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UK to allow more interpreters to start new lives in Britain

Ariana News

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2020)

The UK government on Saturday announced an expanded relocation scheme for former Afghan interpreters who supported British Armed forces in Helmand province. 

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the changes will significantly expand the eligibility criteria for former interpreters to apply for the relocation offer.

Until now, former employees must have been made redundant on or after 1 May 2006 with 12 months or more service outside the wire on the frontline.

Saturday’s announcement will allow an additional group of interpreters – those who resigned on or after 1 May 2006 after serving a minimum of 18 months on the frontline – to apply for relocation.

Their spouses and children will also benefit from the expanded scheme.

“Courageous Afghans worked side by side with our Armed Forces to defeat terrorism, risking their own lives in the pursuit of peace,” said Patel. 

“In recognition of their dedication, today we are fulfilling our promise and have expanded the relocation scheme so that more brave Afghans and their families can come and build a new life in the UK,” she said.

Wallace in turn stated: “Our efforts in Afghanistan simply could not have been possible without the help of brave interpreters who risked their lives to work alongside our personnel throughout the conflict.

“They did not leave us behind then, and we will not leave them behind now. It is crucial there is a fair system in place to support those who want to relocate to the UK, and that is why we are going even further to make sure more individuals have the opportunity to apply for relocation.

“The Home Office and Defense will always work together to address policy issues and promote British values,” he said. 

The changes to the scheme will be made through secondary legislation in October and be implemented shortly afterwards, the UK noted in a statement.

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Ghani condemns attack on yet another government official

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2020)

President Ashraf Ghani has condemned the attack on Ayub Gharwal, deputy head of Paktia Provincial Council, who was gunned down on Saturday in Gardez city. 

In a statement issued by the Presidential Palace (ARG), Ghani reiterated his call to the Taliban to call for a humanitarian and lasting ceasefire to ensure the security of civilians. 

The president also called for an investigation into the killing of Gharwal. 

Paktia officials said the incident happened at about 5.30am in Gardez city while Gharwal was on his way to Gardez University. 

Officials said Gharwal was seriously wounded in the attack and later died in hospital from gunshot wounds. 

Gharwal’s death is another in a string of targeted attacks on high-profile public figures and government officials. 

Earlier this month, Vice President Amrullah Saleh was also targeted in an attack in Kabul. 

Saleh escaped with minor injuries but at least 10 people were killed in the roadside bombing that was intended to kill Saleh. 

No group has yet claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack on Gharwal. 

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Trump calls Taliban tough but says US military can’t police Afghanistan

Ariana News

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2020)

US President Donald Trump said Friday night that the Taliban was tough and smart but also “tired of fighting.”

Speaking to journalists at a press conference, Trump reiterated his decision on troop withdrawals and said “we’ll be down very shortly over the next couple of weeks to 4,000 — less than 4,000 in Afghanistan.

“And then we’ll make that final determination a little bit later on.”

On the Taliban, Trump said: “We’re dealing very well with the Taliban. They’re very tough, they’re very smart, they’re very sharp. But, you know, it’s been 19 years, and even they are tired of fighting, in all fairness.”

Trump also said the US had been serving as a “police force” in Afghanistan. 

“And we really served as a police force, because if we wanted to do what we had to do, we would have fought a lot differently than they have over their 19 years.

“They didn’t fight it properly. They were police, okay? They’re not police; they’re — they’re soldiers. So there’s a difference. The police — nobody has more respect for police than I do, but they have to do their own policing.”

Trump went on to say the US is “having some very good discussions with the Taliban, as you probably heard. It’s been public. And — but we’ll be down to — very shortly, we’ll be down to less than 4,000 soldiers.”

“And so we’ll be out of there, knowing that certain things have to happen — certain things have to be fulfilled.  But 19 years is a long time, 8,000 miles away. Nineteen years is a long time,” he said.

This comes amid the first rounds of intra-Afghan negotiations following the US-Taliban agreement signed in Doha in February that set out certain conditions – one of which is the withdrawal of all foreign troops by around April next year. 

 

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