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Khalilzad in Kabul to remove obstacles ahead of intra-Afghan negotiations

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(Last Updated On: August 1, 2020)

U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad visited Kabul on July 29 and discussed the ongoing efforts to resolve the remaining issues ahead of intra-Afghan negotiations with the Afghan leaders.

In a statement released on Thursday, the US Embassy in Kabul said that Khalilzad met with President Ashraf Ghani, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah, former President Hamid Karzai and other officials.

“He discussed ongoing efforts to resolve the remaining issues ahead of intra-Afghan negotiations, including the need to keep violence down by all sides after the historic Eid al-Adha ceasefire and the final prisoner releases,” the statement said. 

Khalilzad underscored the need to stop the bloodshed and seize this historic opportunity for peace. 

“Ambassador Khalilzad also provided updates on regional and international efforts in support of intra-Afghan negotiations,” the statement concluded.

It comes as Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, said on Thursday the group has released 82 prisoners of the Afghan government from its captivity.

Shaheen noted that it has completed the process of releasing Afghan government prisoners, reaching a total released of 1000 inmates.

On Wednesday, Shaheen called on the Afghan government to reciprocate by releasing the remainder of the 5,000 Taliban prisoners, as per the US-Taliban agreement signed earlier this year in Doha.

The group has also declared a three-day ceasefire over Eid al-Adha and ordered its not to carry out any attacks against the Afghan forces.

In a statement on Twitter, the group said fighters have been ordered not to conduct any attacks on Afghan security forces unless in retaliation for attacks against them. 

“The ceasefire will be conducted for Afghan people to enjoy a prosperous and peaceful Eid,” the statement read. 

Meanwhile, Bahador Aminian, Iranian Ambassador to Kabul said that his country has also spoken with the Afghan government and the Taliban so that the two sides remove their disputes to pave the way for the intra-Afghan negotiations.

“The Afghan government officials should be united in order to achieve peace and we have pushed for putting aside their differences over the republic political system, and Iran has called on both sides to end the violence,” Bahador told Ariana News.

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Unemployment spikes in Kandahar as conflict intensifies

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(Last Updated On: February 27, 2021)

Kandahar officials said on Saturday that the local unemployment rate is estimated to be at 80 percent due to the ongoing conflict that has raged for the past four months between the Taliban and the Afghan security forces in the province.

“Job opportunities decreased during war without any doubt. If we say that 80 percent of youths are jobless it is correct,” said Habibullah Jailani, head of Kandahar labor and social affairs department.

According to Jailani, they have been forced to appeal to international organizations for help for destitute people.

“We want to distribute humanitarian assistance to them including foodstuff… and to keep them warm,” added Jailani.

Officials, meanwhile, stated that more than 20,000 families have been displaced in the province due to the war.

Residents said that they are suffering enormously, not only because of no work but also because they are being forced to seek shelter in the city.

“War has increased in recent days; we have come here (to Kandahar city) from Dand district,” said Raza Khan, a displaced resident.

“We have come here due to the war, the war has intensified, work opportunities are also less,” said Mohammad Daud, another displaced person.

Kandahar officials have not however provided updated information about the current security situation in the southern province.

Kandahar was where the Taliban originated and where its power base was located until the fall of the city in 2001, which signaled the end of organized Taliban control of Afghanistan.

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Pregnant Afghan refugee charged with arson after setting herself on fire

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(Last Updated On: February 27, 2021)

A pregnant Afghan woman who set herself on fire in a refugee camp on Lesbos island in Greece has been charged with arson and destruction of public property.

The UK’s Daily Mail reported that the 26-year-old, who has not been named, suffered burns to her hands, feet and head after the incident last Sunday.

The mother-of-three, who is expecting her fourth child next week, provided testimony to a prosecutor from her hospital bed.

According to the Daily Mail, the woman moved her two daughters and son, who are now being cared for by their father, outside the tent before setting it alight in the temporary refugee camp.

The woman reportedly set fire to herself after finding out she could not travel to Germany with others who had been given asylum due to being in the final phase of her pregnancy.

The Daily Mail quoted investigating magistrate Nikos Triantafyllos as having said: “When she was told she couldn’t travel, her distress and disappointment were such she attempted suicide.”

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International community depriving Afghanistan of peace: Ghani

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(Last Updated On: February 27, 2021)

President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday said during an event to mark National Soldiers’ Day that the international community has deprived Afghanistan of peace in the past 40 years.

“International community deprived a nation… from peace, it is not acceptable, we want a dignified peace that people want and security forces want, peace is coming. Why is bloodshed continuing in the country? Is our blood not red? ” said Ghani.

Ghani also stated that the safeguarding of the equipment of Afghan forces was a priority.

According to Ghani Taliban is fighting for power under Islamic slogans.

“What is the key point, this is not international war, that stage ended. Terrorism is an international danger, crime network is an international danger,” said Ghani. “I am proud to say that you can bear the development, the preservation and the stability of this country on your shoulders.”

Meanwhile, the acting minister of defense said that Afghan forces were witnessing a tough year.

“People say that the upcoming spring will be so tough, but we overcome problems, and passed many springs. I ensure people and president to not worry,” said Shah Mahmood Miakhel, acting minister of defense.

In addition to this Ghani vowed that the process of building hundreds of thousands of houses will be started in the new solar year. These will be for the families of soldiers who were killed in the line of duty.

Ghani also emphasized that power will be transferred to the next person only via election.

On the other hand, victims of the war and their families said that they are proud that their family members had a job in the Afghan forces’ ranks.

“I am willing to sacrifice my blood for the country, if I had a power physically I would sacrifice myself,” said Hamida, a mother of a dead soldier.
“I have lost my leg and my hands are also damaged, but I am proud of it instead of being upset. If I had the ability I would return to the battlefield,” said Shah Zaman, a wounded soldier.

Hundreds of Afghans also marked National Soldier’s Day across the country on Monday social media and publicly.

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