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Khalilzad Says Important Steps Not Taken for Launch of Intra-Afghan Dialogue

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(Last Updated On: April 24, 2019)

U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad says that important steps have not been taken for the launch of an intra-Afghan dialogue to end the long-lasting war in Afghanistan.

Speaking in a video message to the Afghan youth at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Khalilzad once again emphasized the need for preserving the achievements of the last 18 years.

Ambassador Khalilzad said that he has negotiated the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan in exchange that the insurgent group would guarantee that Afghanistan would not harbor terrorists who could threaten Americans or their allies.

However, he emphasized that important steps have not been taken for the launch of an intra-Afghan dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban insurgent group and “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.

“So far there is no improvement regarding a permanent ceasefire and ending the war. Agreement over all these issues will take time,” Khalilzad said.

In addition, he reiterated that the war in Afghanistan must end while preserving the gains of the post-2001.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass says that Washington is committed for supporting Afghanistan and Afghans must also strive to bring peace and have a peaceful and dignified life.

Some Afghan youths say they are optimistic regarding the ongoing U.S. efforts for Afghanistan reconciliation.

Fawad Aman, a journalist in Kabul and a participant of the event said that Mr. Khalilzad has assured youths that there will be no deal over the achievements of the past years.

Another participant, Omid Wardak said that he is hopeful about the ongoing peace efforts.

This comes as Mr. Khalilzad has started the seventh round of his trips to Afghanistan, United Kingdom, Russia, India, Pakistan, and Qatar from April 21 to May 11 in order to facilitate a political settlement that end the conflict in Afghanistan.

By: Hesamuddin Hesam

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MoD discovers and defuses over 4,000 IEDs in past six months

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(Last Updated On: September 20, 2020)

The Afghan Ministry of Defense said on Sunday the Afghan National Army (ANA) had discovered and defused 4,776 IEDs across the country in the past six months. 

The MoD stated the IEDs had been planted by Taliban on public roads, in residential areas and on highways.

A statement by the MoD said: “While Taliban’s explosive devices inflict heavy casualties on civilians, ANDSF risk their lives to discover and defuse the bombs to protect Afghans.”

“The IEDs, in addition to harming civilians, also destroy Afghanistan’s roads, highways and infrastructure.”

By finding and defusing the IEDs the lives of thousands of civilians were saved and “hundreds of kilometers of roads and hundreds of bridges and culverts were preserved,” the MoD stated. 

The ministry also said that in addition to the indiscriminate use of IEDs being a serious violation of the International Human Rights Law, “unfortunately, the Taliban continue applying it as a war tactic against the Afghan population.”

UNAMA said in July, in its mid-year report, that the use of non-suicide IEDs was the leading cause of civilian casualties by Anti-Government Elements during the first half of 2020, causing 688 civilian casualties (217 killed and 471 injured).

Almost half of all civilian casualties from IEDs – 45 percent – were caused by the Taliban’s widespread use of pressure-plate IEDs, which function as improvised anti-personnel mines.

Civilian casualties from these victim-activated devices increased by 50 percent during the first half of 2020 as compared to the same time period in 2019, reversing the trend of sizeable decreases over the last two years. 

UNAMA also noted that the week after the three-day Eid ceasefire, pressure-plate IEDs rose to the leading cause of civilian casualties.

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Ghani holds security review summit with senior officials in Bamiyan

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(Last Updated On: September 20, 2020)

President Ashraf Ghani and a high-ranking delegation of officials held a “mini-summit” on the country’s security in Bamiyan on Sunday.

Also in attendance with First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, Second Vice President Sarwar Danesh, National Security Adviser Hamdullah Moheb and other senior security officials.

After landing at Bamiyan airport, the president and his delegation were met by the provincial governor and local officials, including members of the provincial council.

The Kabul delegation then went into a meeting where they examined the security situation across the country, discussed plans and operations on thwarting enemy threats and dealing with challenges. They also discussed the capabilities of the security and defense sectors.

Officials from the security and defense agencies called for the expansion of governance and the need for improved services at a district level.

Emphasizing the security and defense priorities, Ghani said that serious attention should be paid to protecting the people and to the security of development projects.

He also said reform and development programs of the security and defense agencies should be implemented.

Ghani also ordered increased security along highways so as to prevent enemy groups from extorting money out of motorists and said changes need to be brought in police departments so that all staff criteria is met.

He said that security and defense officials who have excelled in their work need to be commended.

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COVID-19

India’s COVID-19 tally surges past 5.4 million mark

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(Last Updated On: September 20, 2020)

India’s COVID-19 infection tally has surged past the 5.4 million mark after adding 92,605 cases in the past 24 hours, the health ministry stated Sunday. 

Every day, since August, the country has recorded the highest single-day caseload in the world. 

According to the health ministry, 1,113 people died of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of deaths to 86,752. 

Infection is surging through the country on a “step-ladder spiral” a government scientist told BBC. 

It took India 170 days to reach the first million cases but only 11 days to reach the last million. 

More than 50 million Indians have been tested so far for the virus, and more than a million samples are being tested daily, BBC reported but stated the country still has one of the lowest testing rates in the world.

According to the report, epidemiologists have said that India’s real infection rates are far higher.

The government’s own antibody tests on a random sample of people nationwide estimated 6.4 million infections in early May, as compared to the recorded case count of 52,000 at that time. 

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