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Khalili assured Pakistan will continue to push for peace

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(Last Updated On: January 12, 2021)

Hizb-e-Wahadat-e-Islami Chairman Muhammad Karim Khalili on Tuesday met with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and chief of army Qamar Javed Bajwa where they discussed issues of mutual interest, peace and stability in the region, and the Afghan peace process.

During the meeting Qureshi said that Pakistan would continue its reconciliatory efforts for peace in Afghanistan with a strong belief that there was ‘no military solution to the conflict’.

“A comprehensive political dialogue acceptable to the Afghan leadership is the only sustainable solution,” Qureshi said.

Khalili’s three-day visit is part of Pakistan’s ongoing policy to reach out to political leadership in Afghanistan to forge common understanding on the peace process.

Qureshi stressed that no other country desired peace in Afghanistan more than Pakistan.

He said the progress made so far in the intra-Afghan talks was ‘welcomed’ and also lauded the launch of the second round of talks in Doha.

Pakistan also said India was a spoiler in Afghanistan and that Pakistan had irrefutable evidence in this regard.

“We believe that peace and stability in the region is linked to lasting peace in Afghanistan,” Qureshi added.

Khalili in turn thanked Pakistan and welcomed Islamabad’s role in the Afghan peace process.

He also thanked Qureshi for the warm welcome he had received and expressed gratitude to the leadership and people of Pakistan for hosting Afghan refugees for so many years.

The Pakistan foreign office said that Pakistan remained steadfast in its support for an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political solution of the conflict in Afghanistan through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

During his visit to Pakistan Khalili will also hold meetings with Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Meanwhile, Khalili met with Pakistan chief of army Qamar Javed Bajwa earlier where they discussed issues of mutual interest, peace and stability in the region, and the Afghan peace process.

“Peace in Afghanistan means Peace in Pakistan”, a stable and prosperous Afghanistan at peace with itself and its neighbours is in Pakistan’s national interest.” Bajwa’s office said.

Khalili is the latest in a string of officials and politicians to visit Pakistan. Over the past few months numerous public figures have met with Pakistani officials including the Chairman for the High Council of National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah as well as Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

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Govt to purchase local products in move to boost domestic market

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

The Afghan National Procurement Authority (NPA) and the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Saturday, that will compel government entities to purchase only domestic products where possible.

According to the MoU, which was signed between Ilham Omar Hotak, NPA Chief, and Shirbaz Kaminzada, Chief of the ACCI, all government departments will have to use domestic products from next year (1400 Solar Calendar).

Hotak said at the event that government will in the future have to purchase domestically produced or manufactured products, despite the estimated 25 percent price difference.

Hotak urged the ACCI to guarantee the quality of products, stating “all industrialists should standardize their products.”

“We want to use all alternatives to promote our domestic products in the year 1400 and all government bodies will be bound to use domestic products.”

The ACCI officials, meanwhile, stated they would invest more in the country if the government promised to support local products.

ACCI Chief, Shirbaz Kaminzada stated: “If domestic products are included in government deals we are ready to invest in other sectors as well.”

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Taliban ‘prevents’ 3.5 million children from getting polio vaccine

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

More than 3.5 million children have been deprived of anti-polio vaccinations due to restrictions imposed by the Taliban in several provinces, the Ministry of Public Health claimed Saturday.

The Ministry stated that the Taliban’s restrictions on the house-to-house vaccination campaign has increased from three to ten percent of homes in the last three years.

Mirjan Rasikh, head of the Polio Eradication Program said: “Although the Taliban promised to cooperate in implementing the vaccine, they have prevented it more so than in the past.”

“Children in Paktia and Maidan Wardak have missed the immunity doses against the polio virus due to the Taliban’s restrictions,” Rasikh said.

The vaccination campaign began last week.

The Taliban not only failed to cooperate with the process but also prevented thousands of children from getting the vaccine in Maidan Wardak, Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar, Kunduz, Takhar, Paktika, and Paktia provinces, the Public Health Ministry said.

A number of civil society activists in eastern provinces have meanwhile called on the Taliban to allow the vaccination campaign to be implemented in areas under their control.

“The Taliban prevented the campaign in areas under their control. We asked them to allow the children to get the vaccine,” Sayeed Jamal Asifkhel, a Paktia civil society activist stated.

Meanwhile, children in Bamiyan, Daikundi, and Ghor provinces also missed out on the vaccine program as healthcare workers were prevented from rolling out the vaccines due to poor weather conditions.

In November last year, the Taliban announced that the group would cooperate in implementing the vaccination campaign, but later the group’s spokesman told Ariana News that the campaign was stopped due to what he put down to “abuses” during the vaccination process.

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Andarabi claims Taliban ‘playing for time’

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

Masoud Andarabi, Minister of Interior Affairs, said Saturday the Taliban is playing for time in the ongoing peace negotiations in Doha and waiting to see what the new US administration decides following the inauguration of Joe Biden last week.

Biden’s administration has confirmed that they will review the US-Taliban agreement signed in February last year and that they will assess whether the Taliban has met the conditions as per the deal, which includes ensuring a reduction in violence and the cutting of all ties with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

According to the deal, if Taliban meets the conditions, Washington will withdraw the last of its troops by May.

Andarabi meanwhile said in an interview with BBC, that the Taliban has increased the level of violence and ramped up targeted attacks across the country in a bid to pressurize the government into giving in to their demands.

He said the group wants the government to release the remaining Taliban prisoners and to accept an Islamic Emirate.

Andarabi also said the Taliban believes in conflict as a solution.

“The Taliban are waiting for the withdrawal of US forces and the group is targeting civil society activists and journalists in order to [get the government to] release more [Taliban] prisoners, as well as to impose Islamic Emirate ideology in governing,” he said.

The Interior Minister added that the Taliban attacks jeopardize all hard-won achievements of the last two decades.

“How committed are they (Taliban) to the values that we have gained with giving hundreds and thousands of sacrifices?” Andarabi asked.

The Taliban has not commented yet. The group, however, has frequently emphasized its commitment to bringing peace to Afghanistan

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