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In Unusual Move, U.S. Summons Visiting Afghan NSA Mohib

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(Last Updated On: March 15, 2019)

In an unusual move, the United States summoned Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib hours after he blasted Special U.S. Representative Zalmay Khalilzad for bypassing the elected Afghan government in their direct peace talks with the Taliban.
“Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale summoned Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib today to reject the public comments attributed to National Security Advisor Mohib criticizing the US approach to reconciliation,” State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said after the meeting the between the two officials.
Mohib leveled a fierce attack on U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad’s conduct of the talks at the Hudson Institute on Wednesday in Washington DC, accusing the Afghan-born veteran U.S. diplomat of a lack of transparency.

He said that Khalilzad is keeping the “duly elected” Afghan government in dark and that in the latest round of talks in Doha, they were humiliated and made to wait in a hotel lobby.

“We don’t know what’s going on. We don’t have the kind of transparency that we should have,” Mohib told reporters at a news conference on Thursday.

He said the Afghan government was getting the information in bits and pieces.

“The last people to find out (about the peace talks) are us,” Mohib added.

He alleged that Khalilzad has personal ambition in Afghanistan.
“Knowing Ambassador Khalilzad’s history, his own personal history, he has ambitions in Afghanistan. He was wanting to run for president twice,” said Mohib. “The perception in Afghanistan and people in government think that perhaps, perhaps all this talk is to create a caretaker government of which he will then become the viceroy.”
“We think either Zal, Ambassador Khalilzad, doesn’t know how to negotiate (or) there may be other reasons behind what he’s doing,” Mohib said.
“The reason he is delegitimizing the Afghan government and weakening it, and at the same time elevating the Taliban can only have one approach. It’s definitely not for peace,” he said.
But Palladino said Under Secretary Hale in his meeting with the Afghan NSA “underscored” the “longstanding” U.S. assistance and support to Afghanistan.
Hale expressed U.S.’s commitment to the Afghan government’s stability and full participation in the peace process, the State Department deputy spokesman said.
“He also reminded National Security Advisor Mohib that Special Representative Khalilzad represents the Secretary and that attacks on Ambassador Khalilzad are attacks on the Department and only serve to hinder the bilateral relationship and the peace process,” Palladino said in a statement.
It is unusual that a visiting NSA is summoned by the U.S. State Department in this manner.

Palladino also said that the U.S. was displeased with Mohib’s comments.

Also expressing his displeasure was U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, who reportedly refused to meet Mohib.

Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., who is now at the Hudson Institute think-tank, criticized the State Department for such a treatment to Mohib.

“Such arrogance! Not expected of U.S. diplomats. More suited to the erstwhile Soviet Union or China,” Haqqani tweeted.  “Support for Afghan peace could have been asserted without such language.”

Mohib said while the democratically elected Afghan government has been kept out of the peace talks, Islamabad was well aware of the developments happening at the talks in Doha.

“The patron (Pakistan foreign minister) tweets and says there was progress in Doha. Were they there? What is the relationship of the Taliban with Pakistan? I have to say it, spell it out,” he said.

“What is the relationship (between the Taliban and Pakistan)? Has anybody asked and what does it mean? What will be the end of that relationship? Will peace in Afghanistan mean Pakistan no longer using proxies for their political objectives and terrorists. Will the UN raise that question of what the policy or non-state actors?” asked Mohib.

“There will be no peace unless Pakistan stops supporting “non-state actors”, Mohib said.

“Imagine these discussions were successful. What would be Pakistan’s objective? What would it be for the Pakistani military? What would be the incentives for them? The incentive for them is they’ve just defeated the United States [and] all of its coalition partners,” he said.

“It (Pakistan) has the incentive to continue to sponsor and support its policy of Islamic extremist. That is the best weapon they have, and they will continue to use it at the cost of all Muslims,” Mohib said. “If we don’t hold Pakistan responsible for the use of their non-state actors and terrorists here, you will not be able to hold them back anywhere else.”

It comes as the fifth round of U.S.-Taliban talks which lasted 16 days, ended on Monday in Doha, Qatar. The sides reported progress, but no final deal on withdrawal of U.S.-led international forces and arrangements that the Taliban ensures militants would not use Afghanistan to stage attacks against the U.S. and its allies.

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Most media workers in Afghanistan infected by Coronavirus

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(Last Updated On: June 5, 2020)

Reporters Without Borders says that at least 70 media workers in Afghanistan have been infected with the Coronavirus since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Reporters Without Borders has released a statement titled “media professionals are added to death list either by attacks or Coronavirus” noting that since the outbreak of the Coronavirus in Afghanistan, at least 70 journalists and media workers have been infected.

The report says that two media workers in Afghanistan have died so far as a result of suffering from Covid-19.

The RWB notes that Sulaiman Yousufi, an Ariana News driver, and Nasir Ahmad Safi, an RTA reporter in Nangarhar province, were among the media workers who died of the Coronavirus.

Reporters Without Borders underlines that Afghan journalists infected by the Coronavirus do not have access to financial and medical resources.

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Afghan people want transparency in peace process

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(Last Updated On: June 5, 2020)

Afghan citizens call on the High Council for National Reconciliation to take practical steps in the peace process.

The people of Afghanistan see the current peace efforts vague and call on the government to keep the people into confidence about the progress made in this process.

Residents of Kabul say the peace process must be transparent and speedy. They also claim that people are not fully kept updated on peace efforts.

While the start of the Intra-Afghan negotiations depends on the release of all 5,000 Taliban prisoners and one thousand of government prisoners, no prisoners have been released by the two sides in the past four days.

This comes as the Taliban’s technical delegation, which has come to Kabul to identify their prisoners, has not yet left Kabul.

It is to be noted that nearly 3,000 Taliban prisoners and nearly 400 government prisoners have been released so far, and a number of countries have called for speeding up the process.

“Negotiations will not begin until all 5,000 prisoners are released,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban member.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission has shared a list of its proposals with the chairman of the High National Reconciliation Council to be pitched in the agenda of the Intra-Afghan talks.

“The rights of children, women, minorities, and victims of war must be protected throughout these talks,” said Naeem Nazari, deputy head of the Human Rights Commission.

“Women must play a significant role in peace processes,” said Fawzia Kofi, a member of the peace negotiating team.

On the other hand, the Norwegian Foreign Minister has told his Afghan counterpart that his country is trying to pave the way for the start of the Intra-Afghan Talks.

Earlier, sources said that the date for the start of the talks was set for June 15 and that the two sides were now trying to make a choice out of Qatar, Germany, Norway, and Uzbekistan as the host for the holding the talks.

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Leading tennis player charged with assaulting ex-wife

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(Last Updated On: June 5, 2020)

Nikoloz Basilashvili, a leading tennis player has been sued by his ex-wife for assault, CNN reports.

A statement from the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia indicates that Nikoloz Basilashvili, who is ranked No. 27 in the world, was charged with violence against Neli Dorokashvili.

Although an investigation into the criminal case is ongoing, Basilashvili was released on a bail of $31,300 and is due to return to court on July 16 for the next hearing.

In a statement on Basilashvili’s Facebook page posted after he posted bail, his legal representatives said the allegations are “false and totally unsubstantiated.”

The couple, who have a five-year-old son together, divorced last year.

His lawyers have said, “We would like to ensure Nikoloz Basilashvili’s fans that video footage already submitted to the court evidences our client’s position and fully discharges him from the abovementioned untrue allegations.”

On the other hand, Dorokashvili’s lawyer says there is evidence to support her claims, noting “There are people who are witness to their relationship. There are some video records and audio records. There also some transcripts, there are dialogues of phone text messages and so forth.”

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