Afghanistan’s former president Hamid Karzai this week accused the United States of causing “the troubles that we have now,” but is hopeful that an agreement over peace will come.
In an interview with Al Arabiya, Karzai said serious mistakes were made by the US in Afghanistan but held out hope that ongoing intra-Afghan negotiations with the Taliban brokered by Washington would bring lasting peace.
Karzai told Al Arabiya the US’ “War or Terror” was the basis of the issues Afghanistan has faced in the past two decades.
“Serious mistakes were made by the United States of America. They did not conduct their so-called War on Terror from where it was coming. But they went and began to hurt and bomb the Afghan villages, the Afghan people and began to arrest of Afghan people, that became the foundation of the troubles that we have now and the foundation also of my disagreements with the United States,” Karzai said.
“For the start of talks, the most important thing, the most important element in that agreement is an end to hostilities in Afghanistan and inter-fighting Afghanistan, and the withdrawal of US troops and the return of Afghanistan to intra Afghan dialogue and peace talks. These are fundamental principles to which we agree,” Karzai said.
“The aspirations for Afghanistan are the same, a peaceful Afghanistan, a stable Afghanistan, a United Afghanistan. Now how to function, how to govern, how to move towards that, there may be different interpretations, it is these interpretations of certain values within society, the interpretation of how to move progress,” he stated.
“What is progress is to be discussed, and I’m sure that agreement will come,” he added.
This comes after Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation said on Thursday that peace talks would start this week.
In an online discussion hosted by Washington D.C.-based United States Institute of Peace, Acting Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar said, “we will have released by the end of next week over 5,600 of Taliban’s prisoners.”
Already about 5,000 Taliban prisoners have been freed but the last batch is deemed hardcore and is guilty of having masterminded some of the more serious attacks in the country while others are drug kingpins.
Atmar, however, said that most of this issue has been resolved.
“It seems that most of the hurdles have been either removed or we are in the process of building consensus on a solution. I am cautiously optimistic that this will not be a further hurdle on the way,” Atmar said.
Kazakhs told to leave streets to avoid ‘anti-terrorist actions’
A statement broadcast on Kazakh TV on Friday told Almaty residents to stay inside during the security operation in the city.
Video obtained by Reuters showed the broadcast statement, which said: “Respectable Inhabitants of Almaty! A counter-terrorist operation to destroy bandit groups is going on in Almaty. The main goal is to stop terrorists and safeguard the security of the city. If anti-terrorist activity takes place where you live, it is recommended you do not go near by windows or get out in the street. Hide in a safe place, do not leave children or the elderly without supervision.”
Almaty, Kazakhstan’s main city, has seen days of violence, with demonstrations that began as a response to a fuel price hike swelling into a broad movement against the government and ex-leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, 81, the longest-serving ruler of any former Soviet state.
Security forces appeared to have reclaimed the streets of Kazakhstan’s main city on Friday after days of violence, and the Russian-backed president said he had ordered his troops to shoot to kill to put down a countrywide uprising.
A day after Moscow sent paratroopers to help crush the insurrection, police were patrolling the debris-strewn streets of Almaty, although some gunfire could still be heard, Reuters reported.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said foreign-trained terrorists were responsible for the unrest, and the interior ministry said 26 “armed criminals” had been “liquidated”, while 18 police and members of the national guard had been killed, figures that appeared not to have been updated since Thursday. State television reported more than 3,700 arrests.
Japan pledges $109 million to Afghanistan and its neighbors to ‘address crisis’
The Japanese government has pledged to donate a total of approximately $109 million to Afghanistan and its neighboring countries “to address the humanitarian crisis” in the country.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said that Japan will provide assistance to directly address humanitarian needs in Afghanistan and its neighboring countries including Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
“The Government of Japan will provide assistance to directly address humanitarian needs in areas such as healthcare, food, and nutrition, protection, water, and sanitation, as well as livelihood improvement to Afghanistan and its neighboring countries,” the statement read.
According to the statement the assistance would be provided through 16 international organizations to improve the humanitarian crisis.
“The Government of Japan will continue to provide support and stand with the people of Afghanistan, and play an active role to realize stability in the region,” the statement added.
According to the statement, $100 million will be allocated for Afghanistan; $4.01 million to Iran; $3.72 million to Pakistan; $0.99 million to Tajikistan; and $0.43 million to Uzbekistan.
Unvaccinated COVID patients flood French ICUs as cases surge
Pressure on French hospitals has been steadily mounting over the past few weeks as France battles a fifth wave of COVID-19 infections, which has been filling up ICUs with unvaccinated patients.
Of the 20 COVID patients of the Mulhouse hospital ICU, only three are vaccinated while the youngest is aged 19 years old, head of the Emile Muller hospital ICU, doctor Khaldoun Kuteifan, told Reuters on Thursday.
“The Mulhouse hospital ICU is currently at full capacity as patients have been coming in for the past 20 days. Seventy percent of the ICU patients are positive COVID cases.”
France had recorded 60,866 new cases over the past 24 hours on Thursday night, while 78.1% of French people have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, according to the French Health Ministry website.
“The waves keep coming and hitting us, and the more it goes on, the more tired we get,” nurse Aurelie Multhaupt told Reuters.
French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday that the government expects to see around 4,000 patients in intensive care with COVID-19 by the Christmas holidays, Reuters reported.
Attal said new decisions on the reinforcement of border rules, the acceleration of the vaccination campaign and travel recommendations for the holidays could be announced in the coming days.
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