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Khalilzad meets with high-ranking Taliban members in Doha

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(Last Updated On: September 8, 2020)

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad met with the Taliban’s head of their Qatar office, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and with the newly appointed chief negotiator Abdul Hakim Haqqani to discuss issues relating to peace talks. 

In a post on Twitter, the Taliban’s newly appointed spokesman for peace talks, Mohammad Naeem Wardak, said the meeting focused on the speedy completion of the prisoner release process and the start of intra-Afghan talks. 

He also said other members of the negotiating team were present as well as Qatar’s deputy foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman at-Thani. 

 Khalilzad arrived in Qatar over the weekend to pave the way for talks to start between the Afghan government and the Taliban. However, due to constant delays, the talks have not yet started. 

Early Thursday morning, the Taliban attributed this latest delay to the issue of six prisoners that have still not been released. 

The “high risk” prisoners are said to be responsible for the deaths of foreign nationals, for masterminding some of the worst attacks in Afghanistan over the past few years and for being drug kingpins. 

Reports indicate the six could be transferred to Qatar where they will be held under supervision. 

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Gailani calls for Afghans to unite under the umbrella of Islam 

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(Last Updated On: October 20, 2020)

After weeks of waiting for progress around the Afghan peace talks that are currently underway in Doha, Hamid Gailani, the leader of the Mahaz-e-Milli Islami Afghanistan party on Tuesday called on all parties to the conflict to unite as Muslims and to form an interim government. 

Gailani called on both government and the Taliban to take steps consistent with what “the mighty Allah has said about peace”. Citing the Holy Quran, Gailani said “and peace is good”  and that “we should do good for the people.”

“We are both Afghan and Muslim and it is the Afghans and Muslims who are suffering on both ends, people who die or get wounded from any of the sides are both Afghan and Muslim.

“Brothers, let’s be united, jointly and with understanding and for the sake of Allah, get rid of this sedition and take steps toward peace, which has been favored by Allah,” said Gailani, who is the son of the late politician and respected religious leader Pir Sayed Ahmed Gailani. 

In reference to negotiations, Gailani suggested a shift in dynamics and said: “Both sides are plaintiff. In every (traditional) negotiation, religion/Sharia, national traditions, and international law, there is always a need for a third side in conflict resolution. Therefore, as I see it we have no option for solving the issue other than the formation of an interim administration, in which all sides will have representation and agreed by all, and steps towards peace be taken in light of it.”

“Then a national government, according to the wishes of people and with the participation of all sides based on national consensus, be formed so that the seditious war comes to an end.”

Gailani is yet another voice calling for an end to the ongoing war – a war that has lasted for almost 40 years and one which the majority of stakeholders, including foreign partners and neighboring countries agree that there is no military solution. 

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Pompeo to meet with Armenian and Azeri foreign ministers

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(Last Updated On: October 21, 2020)

Armenia and Azerbaijan’s foreign ministers will meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington on Friday in a bid to end the conflict that erupted between the two countries last month. 

Reuters reported on Tuesday that Armenia and Azerbaijan had both confirmed the meeting. 

The US State Department did not immediately comment but the planned meetings suggest Washington is stepping up efforts to calm a conflict that has killed hundreds of people since September 27. 

Russia has tried to mediate over the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute but two ceasefires brokered in Moscow this month have not ended the fighting. 

Reuters stated that Armenia and Azerbaijan confirmed intense fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday and that fears have been raised that regional powers Turkey and Russia could be sucked into a wider conflict. 

 

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Rashid Khan appeals for more Tests against cricket’s elite

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(Last Updated On: October 20, 2020)

Star cricketer Rashid Khan has appealed to cricket bodies to give Afghanistan the chance to play more tournaments against leading cricket teams in order to improve their game. 

“To become a big player you have to play against the best,” Rashid told the TMS does the IPL podcast on Tuesday.

“When I came to the IPL at 17, I saw the players, their workouts and fitness, the net sessions and I realized how much work I needed to do to be much better and more consistent.

“We have played against Australia twice in five years – in the two World Cups – and it’s the same with England and New Zealand.

“Hopefully we get some games against them and the rest of the players get the same opportunity to get better.”

Rashid also said that Afghanistan’s rise into cricket’s top tier took him by surprise but said how proud he was.

“I feel so proud, coming from Afghanistan and being on this stage. It’s a dream for me, sometimes I think where I was five or six years ago and where I am now, it’s something very special for me,” Rashid said.

“When I was watching other leg-spinners a few years back, I would never dream that sometime in the future I will be someone else’s role model,” he said.

Since being afforded full membership to the ICC and associated Test status, Afghanistan has played just four Test matches, against the West Indies, Ireland and Bangladesh. 

Australia, England, South Africa and New Zealand, the first four members of the Test cricket family, are yet to welcome Afghanistan into the fold in competition.

 

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