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Khalilzad Briefs US Congress Behind Closed Doors

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(Last Updated On: May 23, 2019)

The U.S. Special Envoy for Afghan Peace Zalmay Khalilzad on Wednesday briefed U.S. Congress about the latest direct talks between the U.S. and Taliban negotiators in Doha, the capital of Qatar, aimed at ending the 17-year war.

The talks were held behind closed doors, but U.S. Senator Jim Risch has told that he believes Khalilzad is making progress. However, he added that it is a difficult situation to get to the finish line.

Bob Menendez, another U.S. Senator has told that there is a deep conflict between the intelligence community’s views and Khalilzad’s optimism regarding the Afghanistan reconciliation process.

Meanwhile, Michael Rubin, an American scholar who has assessed the U.S. President peace plan for Afghanistan suggests that the Trump administration’s Afghanistan strategy repeats mistakes made by the Clinton and Obama administrations.

According to Mr. Rubin, the Taliban has repeatedly failed to keep diplomatic commitments and treating the Taliban as independent from Pakistani command-and-control will undercut the utility of any peace deal struck with the Taliban.

Speaking at an event at the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS) on Thursday, Waheed Muzhda, an Afghan political analyst said that Taliban engaged in direct talks with the U.S. as the winner of the war while the U.S. team entered into the talks as the loser.

At the same event, Humaira Rahbin, Women’s Rights Activist said there is no guarantee that the Taliban will stay committed to their commitments if the U.S. troops leave Afghanistan.

Ambassador Khalilzad has held six round of direct talks with the Taliban so far. The two sides have agreed on the withdrawal of American troops in exchange for guarantees that Afghanistan will not be used again as a shelter for terrorists to threaten the U.S. and its allies.

The insurgent group has so far refused to set with the Afghan government, calling it a puppet regime of American invaders.

However, Khalilzad has said that all talks would take place in accordance with the principle that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”

By: Hesamuddin Hesam

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Saleh lashes out over Kabul blast, says ‘rotten ideology’ must be rooted out

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2020)

Afghanistan’s First Vice President Amrullah Saleh said on Saturday night that ISIS Afghanistan (IS-K) and the Taliban share the same “ideological gene” and that the “rotten ideology” needs to be rooted out. 

Reacting to the deadly bombing earlier Saturday evening in a suburb of Kabul, Saleh tweeted: “The suicide attack at a private learning center in West of Kabul killed 11 and maimed many young hopefuls. The rotten ideology of quest for false heaven has to be rooted out. Talibs & IS-K share the same ideological gene. They are together at tactical level now. Future ?!”

Within half an hour of Saleh’s tweet, the death toll in the suicide bombing had however risen to 13. 

Saleh was one of many who condemned the incident and questioned the high levels of violence despite ongoing peace talks in Doha. 

Patricia Gossman, Associate Asia director for Human Rights Watch, posted on Twitter and said: “Yet another senseless, cruel attack in Kabul. Civilians going about ordinary activities—walking down the street, sitting in lessons, or getting care in a hospital—continue to suffer sudden and terrifying violence. Why are their stories not told in the peace talks?”

Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, also  condemned the attack and labeled it a “terrorist attack” that was “against Islamic and human values.” 

EU special representative for Afghanistan Roland Kobia also slammed the high levels of violence and said: “This and other recent attacks on provincial capitals illustrate the so-called ‘Reduction in Violence’. Enough. There must by full unity of the international community, + massive pressure for an immediate ceasefire asked by all Afghans.”

The attack came in an area of west Kabul that is home to many from the Shia community, a minority in Afghanistan that has been targeted by groups such as the Islamic State (IS-K) in the past.

Saturday’s incident happened when a suicide bomber tried to enter an education center but was prevented from doing so by the guards. He then detonated his explosives in a narrow alley. 

In the past, the area has witnessed deadly explosions that have killed dozens of people over the years. 

In 2018 dozens of students were killed in an explosion at another education center and in May this year, 24 people including mothers, babies and expectant mothers were killed when gunmen attacked a maternity ward at a hospital in the area. 

The Taliban meanwhile was quick to distance themselves from Saturday’s attack but no other group has yet accepted responsibility for the explosion.

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At least 13 killed in suicide bombing outside a Kabul college 

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2020)

At least 13 people have been killed in a suicide bombing in a densely populated area of Kabul city. 

Ministry of Interior spokesman Tariq Arian confirmed Saturday evening that the death toll stands at 13 and about 30 others were wounded. 

He also stated that a suicide bomber had tried to enter the Kawsar-e Danish Training Center but was prevented from doing so by the guards at the gate. 

The suicide bomber then detonated his explosives in the alley, Arian said. 

Soon after the explosion, the Taliban’s spokesman distanced the group from the incident and stated they were not behind the attack. 

In a message on Twitter, Zabihullah Mujahid said “the Taliban was not responsible for the explosion in Pul-e Khoshk area [of Kabu].”

Videos posted on social media painted a grim picture of blood and bodies lying in the alley immediately after the incident. Local residents also frantically covered the victims with blankets while others carried the wounded to vehicles so they could be transported to hospital. 

No other group has yet claimed responsibility for the incident.

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Civilians killed in Kabul city explosion

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2020)

A number of people have been killed in an explosion that ripped through a densely built-up area in Pul-e-Khushk in Kabul city on Saturday evening.

The incident happened at about 5 pm local time.

Videos posted to social media show local residents frantically calling for blankets to cover bodies lying in a narrow lane while others assist the wounded. 

The exact number of people killed has not yet been confirmed. 

Early reports also indicate the explosion targeted an education facility in the area. 

Details to follow.

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