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ISI chief in Kabul for talks with Taliban: sources

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(Last Updated On: September 5, 2021)

Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, the director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s spy agency, arrived in Kabul on Saturday for talks with the Taliban regarding matters related to the safe evacuation of foreign nationals, border management and security in the region, sources said.

Geo News reported that Hameed will also meet with Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmed Khan and his team on issues of repatriation and transit through Pakistan and the situation on the border.

Since the Taliban came into power last month thousands of foreign nationals have been evacuated from Afghanistan with Pakistan’s help, Geo News reported adding that the Pakistani embassy in Kabul has been working 24/7 to assist in the evacuation efforts.

According to the sources, as quoted by Geo News, the ISI chief will discuss matters with the Taliban related to the issue of pending requests from countries and international organizations for repatriation/transit through Pakistan.

Geo News reported that border management is another important issue that will be addressed during Hameed’s visit.

Geo News also stated that media reports suggesting a huge refugee inflow or pressure at Pakistan borders from Afghanistan are “incorrect”.

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a voice clip to BBC that the Pakistani ISI chief’s visit to Kabul was requested by Pakistan and that the delegation was expected to discuss a number of issues with Taliban officials, including the refugee problem, and restarting flights from the airport

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Saturday that Pakistan will “assist” the Taliban to form an inclusive government.

In a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Bajwa said that Pakistan will “continue to fight for peace and stability in Afghanistan, as well as assist the formation of an inclusive administration”.

News outlets reported that Pakistan’s ISI chief has met with Taliban leaders, and with Omar Zakhilwal, former finance minister as well as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

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UN chief says IEA must respect human rights in order to be recognized

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(Last Updated On: January 22, 2022)

Laying out his priorities for 2022, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) has to respect human rights in order to obtain international recognition.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Guterres stated that it was “absolutely essential” for the IEA “to have full respect for the rights of women and girls and to have a positive approach to human rights in general” in order to obtain international recognition and “getting international support for their own people.”

“To provide a lifeline of help for the Afghan people, inject cash to avoid an economic meltdown, ensure full respect of international humanitarian law and human rights — particularly for women and girls — and effectively fight terrorism,” he said.

UN Secretary-General spoke about global issues as well. Referring to the raging COVID-19 pandemic, a morally bankrupt global financial system, the climate crisis, lawlessness in cyberspace, and diminished peace and security, he told the General Assembly that “we face a five-alarm global fire that requires the full mobilization of all countries.”

“Now is not the time to simply list and lament challenges. Now is the time to act. All these challenges are, at heart, failures of global governance.”

On the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Guterres said, “diplomacy is the way to solve problems. Of course, any invasion by one country to another country is against international law, and I hope that this, of course, will not happen in the present circumstances. I am convinced it will not happen. And I strongly hope to be right.”

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Salang Pass, Herat- Badghis highway closed to traffic due to heavy snow

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(Last Updated On: January 22, 2022)

Local officials said that due to heavy snowfall and stormy weather, the Salang Pass and Herat-Badghis highway have been closed to traffic temporarily.

Qazi Obaidullah Obaid, head of the Salang Pass maintenance department said they had decided to close the mountain pass in order to avoid casualties amid bad weather conditions.

According to Obaid dozens of motorists and passengers were stranded on the pass but have since been taken to places of safety.

Meanwhile, Mohibullah Asad, deputy governor of Badghis, said that Herat-Qala-e-Naw highway has also been closed to traffic due to heavy snowfall.

He said maintenance crews are working to clear the highway and reopen it to traffic.

Badghis received heavy snowfalls from Friday afternoon, making the highway impassable.

Kabul also received a fair amount of snow overnight which was expected to clear later Saturday. However, temperatures are set to drop to around -12 degrees Celsius during the night.

While Sunday is expected to be sunny, the expected high will only be -1 degrees Celsius, dropping to -15 degrees Celsius on Sunday night.

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IEA delegation due in Norway for humanitarian talks

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(Last Updated On: January 21, 2022)

Representatives of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) will arrive in Norway on Sunday for three days of talks on how to alleviate a humanitarian crisis, the Norwegian foreign ministry said on Friday, Reuters reported.

“These meetings do not represent a legitimisation or recognition of the Taliban [IEA]. But we must talk to the de facto authorities in the country,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said in a statement.

“We cannot allow the political situation to lead to an even worse humanitarian disaster,” she said.

Millions of Afghans have been plunged deeper into poverty since last year’s IEA takeover, which resulted in disruption to aid programmes and deteriorating food security, Reuters reported.

The IEA representatives will meet Norwegian authorities as well as diplomats from several other countries from Jan. 23 to Jan. 25.

“Meetings will also take place between the Taliban [IEA] delegation and other Afghans with backgrounds from a range of fields. These include women leaders, journalists, and individuals working to safeguard human rights and address humanitarian, economic, social and political issues,” Norway said.

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