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Defense chief says he is not sure if peace talks with Taliban will yield results

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(Last Updated On: November 18, 2020)

Asadullah Khalid, nominated defense minister, said Tuesday that he is not sure if the peace negotiations will yield any results as it was clear the Taliban had no intention of reducing violence.

Highlighting the security strategy to lawmakers in the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) for a vote of confidence, Khalid stated that it is clear the Taliban have no intention of reducing violence or of bringing peace to the country.

Khalid claimed that the Taliban operation centers are still active in parts of Pakistan and are funded and equipped from there.

Acting Defense Minister stated: “The enemy has no intention for the sake of peace and reduction in violence, and we did not see their willingness [for peace]. I am not sure that the negotiations will yield a result, but I do not mean to oppose the peace talks, and the Afghan National Army (ANA) backs the real peace, and there is no guardian to protect the peace except the army.”

Nominee ministers for Justice and Higher Education also presented their plans to the Lower House of Parliament (Wolesi Jirga) for votes of confidence on Tuesday.

The nominee for the Ministry of Justice, Fazel Ahmad Manawi stated that justice was not being carried out for the people due to the laws of the country not being implemented. He said it was necessary to take practical steps to institutionalize the law.

“Unfortunately, most people even at the highest levels of government are not aware of the law; and this has challenged justice among the people, and more efforts must be made to enforce the law,” Manawi added.

Abbas Basir, the nominee for Higher Education, emphasized the fundamental changes in the education sector, stating that the teaching methods are outdated and do not meet the needs of society.

“The Fields of study must be organized according to the labor market, and I will do my best on the quality of education, and the teaching methods are outdated and ineffective, and it is the teacher-centered education that must be changed.”

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Taliban under pressure from US for failing to stick to deal: Envoy

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2020)

Ross Wilson, US Chargé d’Affaires to Afghanistan said Monday that the US will put pressure on the Taliban as the group has failed to act in accordance with the US-Taliban agreement and has not reduced violence in Afghanistan.

In an interview with Ariana News, Wilson said the increase in violence across the country is unacceptable and that the Taliban has not heeded calls by the United States or the international community for a reduction in violence.

He also accused the Taliban of being involved in targeted killings and said the group “is complicit in a culture of violence”.

“The Taliban are not meeting the commitments they made with us in concluding US-Taliban agreement in February. We have repeatedly called on the Taliban to reduce the violence.

“Unfortunately, our efforts, our advocacy, and advocacy by many of Afghanistan’s other friends. the efforts of the United Nations did not succeed. And we are putting pressure on the Taliban. This is important for the success of the peace process and for the success of this country,” said Wilson.

Questions around the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the foreign policy of the incoming US president, Joe Biden, on Afghanistan were also raised in the interview.

However, Wilson did not comment on the foreign policy but did say the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan was conditions-based.

“US forces and coalition forces remain substantial. We are actively defending the Afghan Defense and Security Forces. The issue of withdrawal, which was previously announced by the United States, will be based on conditions,” Wilson added.

Wilson also said the United States is working with the Afghan government to recover money embezzled by corrupt individuals.

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Cross-border markets will be up-and-running in February

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2020)

Pakistan said Monday that one of the 12 Joint Border Trade Markets, that is to be established along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, will be launched by February 2021.

In a statement released on Monday, the Embassy of Pakistan in Kabul stated that the market would be operational at Shaheedano Dand in Kurram Agency of Pakistan.

“The Joint Border Trade Markets are believed to promote the wellbeing of the people living on both sides of the border, rehabilitate those affected by anti-smuggling drive, economically integrate the neglected areas, formalize bilateral trade and transform local economies of people living across Pak-Afghan border,” Pakistan Embassy in Kabul said in a statement on Monday.

According to the statement, Pakistan has prepared a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the establishment of the markets with Afghanistan.

The statement noted that the MoU has covered “all the modalities including the proposed list of items to be traded in these markets and locations where the border markets are to be established, the composition of Border Market Management Committees, which will oversee the smooth working of the markets, the medium of exchange and dispute settlement.”

“Once, formally established, the people friendly initiative of JBTMs of Prime Minister of Pakistan is expected to uplift the economic and social wellbeing of the people living across Pak-Afghan border,” the statement read.

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NATO facing difficult dilemma on whether to leave or stay: Stoltenberg

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2020)

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday that “no one wants to stay in Afghanistan longer than necessary.”

Addressing an online press conference ahead of the NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs meeting, Stoltenberg stated the organization’s training mission continues despite the US’ decision to further reduce troop levels in Afghanistan.

This comes after outgoing US President Donald Trump decided to further reduce American forces in Afghanistan from around 4,000 to 2,500, as part of the Doha deal which was signed between the US and the Taliban in February.

Stoltenberg, meanwhile, stated that the alliance forces would assess their presence in Afghanistan in the next few months.

“In the months ahead, we will continue to assess our presence based on conditions on the ground,” he noted.

“We face a difficult dilemma, whether to leave and risk that Afghanistan becomes once again a safe haven for international terrorists. Or stay, and risk a longer mission, with renewed violence,” he said.

According to the Doha deal, the US should pull all its troops out of Afghanistan by May.

But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News last week that the full withdrawal remains based on a set of conditions on the ground.

“That was what we’d agreed to. We have made some progress. We’ve had significant prisoner releases. We have violence levels that have reduced risks to Americans significantly over this time period since February of last year,” Pompeo stated.

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