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Karzai says new US plan is best chance for peace

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(Last Updated On: March 12, 2021)

Washington’s new plan for a transitional government that includes the Taliban is the best chance to accelerate stalled peace talks between the group and the Afghan government, former president Hamid Karzai said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday.

Karzai said after decades of war, Afghans themselves “are in a hurry for peace”.

The new proposal was delivered early last week by US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, the High Council for National Reconciliation Chairman Abdullah Abdullah and other politicians and former government leaders. Later in the week Khalilzad met with Taliban representatives and put the plan to them.

No decisions have yet been made by either side on the proposal nor have there been any new developments in the past 10 days on the peace talks process in Doha.

But according to Karzai, the proposed U.S. peace plan contains important provisions that could help bring peace to Afghanistan — with some revisions by both sides.

However, Ghani has long opposed the idea of an interim government.

Karzai meanwhile told AP the U.S. proposal can shepherd a war-weary nation to elections; it protects rights of women and minorities, offers a way to achieve constitutional reform and proffers an interim administration.

“Peace is such a deep, deep, deeply desired wish of the Afghan people,” said Karzai. “You can’t imagine how much of a hurry we are in to reach peace for us and for our younger ones.”

He expressed hope that the U.S. proposal could serve as a catalyst for both sides to make peace perhaps even before May 1 — the deadline for a final U.S. troop withdrawal under a U.S.-Taliban deal reached a year ago.

Karzai said he was against the May 1 withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops, warning it would create chaos. He said it was in both Washington’s and Kabul’s interest to have a responsible exit.

“It’s extremely important for the United States and the U.S allies and those who (have been) involved in the past 20 years in Afghanistan to be responsible, to do things that will bring lasting peace,” he said.

“So a responsible exit or a responsible stay in a peaceful Afghanistan are both issues that we should consider very carefully.”

The Taliban have until now rejected the idea of international forces staying in Afghanistan after May 1, but Karzai said they may be convinced to accept a modified U.S. presence in a peaceful Afghanistan.

Karzai also said HCNR, of which he is a member, will meet on Sunday to review the U.S. proposal. The council will respond with proposed revisions in coming days, he said.

The council leadership is the final arbiter on what the government will accept in a peace agreement.

Karzai told AP that if Ghani’s government could bring the warring groups together “we would support it,” but he said he hasn’t been able to and warned against sacrificing an opportunity for peace to hold on to power.

Karzai also said a peaceful Afghanistan is of interest to all its neighbors but particularly Pakistan, where the Taliban leadership has been headquartered and with whom Afghanistan has had a troubled relationship.

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IEA’s foreign minister calls for ‘neutral’ foreign relations

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2021)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi has urged the international community to refrain from putting unnecessary pressure on the new Afghan government.

Speaking at an event on Thursday in Kabul, Mutaqi warned that if a country “pursues enmity with Afghanistan instead of friendship”, it will face the resistance of Afghans.

Muttaqi also called for the establishment of neutral political relations.

“Afghanistan is not the country it was 20 years ago, and the world should not try to put pressure on it.

“Afghanistan now has good relations with the rest of the world and the region and the pressure by some countries does not affect Afghanistan because it is not alone now,” said Muttaqi.

He also said strong economic ties between Afghanistan and the region would soon be established and that these would have a positive impact on the entire region.

At the same time, the foreign ministers of China and Pakistan, on the sidelines of the UN summit, called for the lifting of economic sanctions on the Afghan government.

In an interview with the Associated Press, the Pakistani foreign minister said that the world had no choice but to engage with the new Afghan government and recognize it.

“If they live up to those expectations, they would make it easier for themselves, they will get acceptability, which is required for recognition,” Shah Mahmood Hussein Qureshi told the AP.

“At the same time, the international community has to realise: What is the alternative? What are the options? This is the reality, and can they turn away from this reality?”

Qureshi said Pakistan “is in sync with the international community” in wanting to see a peaceful, stable Afghanistan with no space for terrorist elements to increase their foothold, and for the Islamic Emirate to ensure “that Afghan soil is never used again against any country”.

“But we are saying, be more realistic in your approach,” Qureshi said. “Try an innovative way of engaging with them. The way that they were being dealt with has not worked.”

But some other countries, including Germany, have opposed the presence of a representative of the Islamic Emirate at the UN summit. German foreign minister said the new Afghan officials needed to show in practice that they were complying with international law.

“Unfortunately, since August 15, life has become very difficult for everyone: financial situation, poverty, level of violence, level of poverty, level of fear, level of losses are increasing day by day. We are not the women of 2001, we are not the women of the 90s. If they [Islamic Emirate] really want to rule and lead in Afghanistan, they cannot rule without [the participation of] the 50 percent of Afghanistan, women,” said Zarifa Ghafari, a women’s rights activist.

This comes after the IEA asked to address world leaders at the United Nations in New York this week and nominated their Doha-based spokesman Suhail Shaheen as Afghanistan’s UN ambassador.

Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi made the request in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday, Reuters reported

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World leaders call for peace, stability in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: September 23, 2021)

On day 2 of the UN General Assembly, world leaders called for peace and stability in Afghanistan and voiced their concerns about attacks being launched from Afghanistan.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in his address to the general assembly that the international community needs to work with Afghanistan’s neighbors in order to prevent instability in the region.

“Regarding Afghanistan, we’ll have to start working with neighbouring countries in this new context to face the humanitarian crisis and prevent more instability in the region.

“We cannot lower our guard in the face of a terrorist menace (Daesh) that is real and that already has delivered a heavy blow in the midst of the evacuation operations.

“Afghanistan cannot turn into a shelter for terrorists. Spain is firmly committed to find maximum international security,” said Sanchez.

Leaders attending the 76th General Assembly, also called for achievements made over the past 20 years to be preserved.

“As the UN Global Advocate for Every Woman Every Child, it makes me sad that the progress seen during the past two decades in Afghanistan could be reverted so quickly,” said Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia.

Indonesia, which has the highest Muslim population of any country in the world, called on the international community to support the call for rights for women and minorities and for stability in Afghanistan.

 “The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us of the importance of diversification of vaccine production centers across the world.

“We must be stern in fighting intolerance, conflicts, terrorism and war. Peace in diversity and the protection of women’s and minority rights must be upheld. Concerns on the marginalization of women and violence in Afghanistan, Palestine’s elusive independence and the political crisis in Myanmar must be our common agenda,” said Joko Widodo, president of Indonesia.

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Acting foreign minister upbeat about future trade and diplomatic relations

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(Last Updated On: September 23, 2021)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi says he is working to build strong economic ties with regional nations and countries around the world.

Speaking at a ceremony to introduce the new acting minister of commerce and industry, Nooruddin Aziz, Muttaqi said he is focused on developing the country’s economic sector.

Muttaqi also said that Afghanistan’s economic relations with regional countries would soon be regulated, which would have a positive impact on trade.

“We have selected a minister from the private sector for the ministry of commerce and industry so as to ensure the smooth running of the private sector and economic activities. We hope that the private sector will also play an active role in the country’s economy,” Muttaqi said at the ceremony.

Aziz meanwhile said he will also work to expand economic ties with all countries, both regionally and globally, in order to get Afghanistan to a point where it is financially self-sufficient.

“We strive to make Afghanistan a self-sufficient and economic-free country and to maintain relations with regional and neighboring countries; also the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and a number of other countries,” said Aziz.

Private sector representatives said they will support the new ministers and work with them to grow the country’s economy.

“Security is crucial for economic development and the fight against corruption. So far the (security) problem has been solved. We will expand our activities,” said Khan Jan Alkozai, Vice President of Afghan Chamber of Commerce & Industries.

“Unless we speed up our efforts to develop industry and domestic production in the country, economic growth may not be possible. We call on the Islamic Emirate to make efforts to develop domestic production,” said Sherbaz Kaminzada, head of the chamber of mines and industries.

Officials of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan have assured members of the private sector that the security of domestic investors will be maintained and that more opportunities for economic development will be provided.

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