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Karzai calls on Taliban to embrace the ‘new Afghanistan’

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(Last Updated On: April 6, 2021)

As the May 1 deadline for the US troop withdrawal nears, and efforts to secure a peace deal are ramped up, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai said the country is asking the Taliban to embrace today’s Afghanistan, a progressive modern Republic with democratic institutions.

In an interview with TRT World, on Monday, Karzai said: “We (Afghans) are asking the Taliban to become [open to progress]; we have examples of Muslim countries that are doing extremely well, that are deeply Muslim, deeply believing, yet very progressive, quite in touch with the rest of the world, quite in competition positively with the rest of the world.”

“Turkey is one such example and perhaps the best example. Look at the mosques in Turkey, it’s full of people when the prayer time comes, and look at the modernity and the industrial and cultural and economic output that Turkey gives to itself and to the rest of the world. It is a great model for Afghanistan.”

“We also have other examples in the Muslim world but the best for us is Turkey. We have Indonesia, we have Malaysia, we have others therefore yes it is possible for a Muslim individual for a Muslim society to be deeply believing, practicing Muslim and yet progressive, enlightened and futuristically oriented.”

On the issue of the withdrawal of US and foreign troops by May 1, or an extension of their stay, Karzai said this must be carried out in a responsible manner so as to make sure it is done in coordination with major powers and countries in the region in order to ensure peace in Afghanistan.

Karzai said: “The US withdrawal or staying in Afghanistan beyond May 1 must be responsible in both cases; if they want to withdraw that withdrawal must be responsible in the sense that it must make sure that Afghanistan is peaceful and that it is done in a broader understanding with major powers and the countries in the region so all together make Afghanistan a place of cooperation rather than competition.”

“Second if they want to stay beyond May 1 that too has to be responsible. The United States cannot be staying in Afghanistan that is in conflict; No!”

“If the US wants to, wishes to stay in Afghanistan, it can only be staying in Afghanistan and be in cooperation with a peaceful Afghanistan, a stable Afghanistan, not in Afghanistan in which the US presence is there, bases are there, but we are dying in a conflict and our children are suffering,” he said. .

Karzai said he is appealing for a responsible exit on the part of the Americans.

“A responsible exit and if they wish to – a very responsible stay which means in a peaceful Afghanistan not like what they did in the past 20 years; No!”

On the Taliban’s inference that there will be consequences if the US extends its stay in Afghanistan, Karzai said: “The Taliban have said that but we would ask the Taliban to think; they must also think more responsibly towards Afghanistan and towards the safety and security and well-being of the Afghan people.

“Whenever that is done by us the Afghans, by the Americans or our friends in the international community, it must be towards an end of violence in Afghanistan and the return of peace to Afghanistan,” he said.

On the US-proposed peace deal, which includes an interim government and President Ashraf Ghani stepping aside, Karzai said “the best would be that the Taliban agree to power sharing with the current government; the easiest would be that that they share power, that they come and join the current government as Afghan citizens and make peace and accept President Ghani,” until his term of office ends, in accordance with the country’s Constitution.

He said any amendments to the Constitution could then be done in order for steps to be taken forward.

“If that is not possible, if the Taliban don’t want to do that under any circumstances for whatever reason in their mind, then for the Afghan people peace is the priority; so peace must be our top priority and then for peace we must do what is necessary for it.

“That can be an arrangement … or that can be a new arrangement. But whatever the arrangement is, the future of that arrangement, the foresight of that arrangement, has to be a country in which its citizens enjoy the rights of choosing their own government with their own free will, through the will of the Afghan people and expressed through the vote of the Afghan people is the foundation of a strong Afghanistan and I hope the Taliban and everyone else will recognize and agree to that,” he said.

Karzai also stated in his interview that the Taliban are Afghans and also belong to Afghanistan. “They’re Afghan people,” he said adding that a change has to be made by all sides.

“Yes the Taliban must change, yes the Taliban must accept the new realities in Afghanistan, they must accept that the Afghan people want progress, they must accept that Afghan people want a better life, they must accept without a question that the role of women in Afghan society is one in which there cannot be a compromise and that people need to be educated, in that we need to have good relations with the rest of the world and a good economy,,” he said.

However he added that there has to be some give-and-take on both sides and that all Afghan saids must be adaptable to change in order to secure peace.

On the issue of the upcoming US-proposed peace summit in Turkey, Karzai said he has “tremendous hopes. I’m sure Turkey will do all to make certain and certain that the Afghan talks in Turkey, the intra-Afghan talks in Turkey are successful in bringing peace to Afghanistan. That trust we have in Turkey.”

“Holding peace talks in Turkey is a great opportunity for a long term solution,” Karzai said.

In conclusion Karzai said he was confident in the current process and that peace would come to Afghanistan – especially as it was the “will of the Afghan people” to live in peace.

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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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IEA says EU reopens embassy in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: January 21, 2022)

Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) on Thursday, announced that European Union officially reopened its diplomatic office in Kabul.

Spokesman of the Ministry Abdul Qahar Balkhi on the Twitter post said that the EU’s diplomatic office has officially resumed its operations in Afghanistan.

“Following consecutive meetings and reaching an understanding with EU representatives, the European Union officially opened its embassy with a permanent presence in Kabul and practically commenced operations.” Balkhi tweeted.

Meanwhile, Abdul Qahar Balkhi said that the EU announced 268 million euro additional assistance apart from the 220 million euro humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

He added that a portion of the money will be used for teachers and their salaries which he welcomed.

The reopening of the embassy comes as the IEA is yet to be recognized by any country but a number of countries have started consular services in the country.

This comes after Afghanistan’s caretaker government on Wednesday called on the international community to formally recognize the IEA administration which is governing the country after toppling the U.S.-installed government last year.

Mullah Hassan Akhund, acting prime minister of the caretaker government, made the statement at an economic conference in Kabul, which convened IEA officials, some countries’ representatives and UN envoys.

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Turkey, Qatar reached preliminary deal on Kabul airport security

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(Last Updated On: January 21, 2022)

Turkey and Qatar have reached agreement on ensuring security at Kabul’s main airport should they be awarded the mission amid ongoing talks with the Islamic Emirate (IE) government, Turkish diplomatic sources said on Thursday, Reuters reported.

Kabul’s international airport is landlocked Afghanistan’s main air link to the world. Following the August takeover of Afghanistan by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), Turkey has said it would be open to operating it with Qatar but only if its security demands are met.

Reuters has reported that the United Arab Emirates also held talks with the Taliban to keep the airport operational.

The sources told reporters on Thursday that Ankara and Doha had agreed on a security framework for the airport mission, but added talks continued on other aspects such as financing.

“It is expected for the Taliban [Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan] to ensure security outside, and for whoever runs the airport to ensure it inside,” one of the sources said. “The process is continuing constructively,” the person said on condition of anonymity.

They added that a delegation of Turkish and Qatari officials were holding talks on the issue in Kabul this week, Reuters reported.

Qatar’s state news agency said the IEA government will be in Doha next week to complete discussions with Qatar and Turkey over the operation and management of the airport.

It added that delegations from Qatar and Turkey have held two days of “intense negotiations” in Kabul this week over control of the airport.

Qatar – which helped run the airport along with Turkey after playing a major role in evacuation efforts following the chaotic U.S. withdrawal in August – say that Ankara, Doha, and the IEA have agreed that discussions are going to be completed next week.

Qatar’s role at the Kabul airport has ensured that flights have operated between Doha and Kabul since September, allowing Qatar to become a hub for countries to maintain links to Afghanistan and to meet the IEA government. The United States, United Kingdom, Canada and several other countries have moved their Afghanistan embassies to Qatar, Reuters reported.

On Wednesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey was sending 700 tonnes of emergency aid and supplies to Afghanistan, without providing a date.

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