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Khalilzad says patience is needed to resolve a 40-year war

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(Last Updated On: October 7, 2020)

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said on Tuesday that both sides to the peace process need to find a way where there is neither a winner nor a loser in attaining peace. 

He said the Taliban “will not take over the government instead they will be part of it and all parties should be part of the government as it should be a comprehensive government.”

Speaking to Radio Azadi, Khalilzad said: “Talks need patience,” adding that one cannot predict how long it will take to resolve a 40-year-old conflict, but that it needs to end sooner rather than later. 

“Having patience, accepting each other, and finding a formula that is acceptable by both sides and is applicable,” he said. 

“It needs work; both sides should be ready to find a way where there is neither a winner nor a loser and the real winner should be the people of Afghanistan so that their long-term war, with, unfortunately, a large number of Afghans being killed or wounded every day, should end.”

He said one of the major obstacles in the way of progress is the high level of violence, which “fuels distrust between the two sides.”

“We are in favor of reducing violence and we also encouraged during the meetings in Doha that the violence should be reduced,” he said. 

He pointed out that the two sides have yet to reach an agreement on the framework of talks.

Khalilzad said the US has emphasized to all parties that US policy for Afghanistan in future would have a direct link to the decision taken by the negotiating teams on the structure of a new political system that respects the will of all Afghans. He said this decision also pertained to the financial assistance the US would provide in future. 

Khalilzad’s discussion came after a day of high-level meetings and discussions between Afghan officials, negotiating team members, Afghan media representatives, President Ashraf Ghani and the Taliban in Doha on issues around the peace talks. 

While Ghani met with Qatar officials and members of the Afghan peace talks team he did not meet with the Taliban. However, members of the Afghan media did meet with the Taliban.

 

In a press briefing on Tuesday night, Acting Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar said the two main obstacles at the moment, which has resulted in a deadlock in talks, were the issue of jurisprudence and political agreement. 

He said: “The two primary issues are critical for rules of procedure to move the peace talks further.

“I hope that all the parties will be able to make a final agreement, bringing peace for the Afghan people.”

Atmar then said the Afghan government is pursuing three objectives at the moment to achieve peace.

“The first objective is to remove the obstacles in the way of reaching the rules of procedure for the peace process.

“The second objective is to have a reduction in violence, and finally, to have a complete ceasefire,” he said adding that this is a legitimate desire of all Afghans.

“Reduction in violence was promised to the people during the peace agreement,” signed in Doha in February between the United States and the Taliban. 

“It is necessary to establish a special mechanism to monitor the level of violence, and the two sides have to take effective measures to address the reasons behind the violence.

“The third objective of the Afghan government is to make sure that the peace negotiations lead to an agreement of political settlement, which would establish a permanent ceasefire,” he said.

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Govt rolls out curfew in 31 provinces to curb Taliban activities

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(Last Updated On: July 24, 2021)

The Afghan government announced Saturday it has imposed a curfew in 31 provinces around the country in a bid to curb Taliban activity.

According to the Ministry of Interior’s deputy spokesman Ahmad Zia Zia, the curfew will come into effect immediately and will be enforced from 10pm to 4am. 

Kabul, Nangarhar and Panjshir provinces are the only three that have been exempt. 

“Based on the security [situation] officials announced a curfew in 31 provinces; the decision was taken to prevent Taliban activities,” said Zia.

Meanwhile, residents of Kapisa province said that a number of families have been displaced due to clashes between Afghan forces and Taliban in Nijrab, Alasay and Tagab districts.

“Due to the war between ANDSF and Taliban in Nijrab, Alasay and Tagab districts, many of the residents of the districts have been displaced. We want to know what government intends to do about this,” said Shamila Mashal, a civil society activist.

In addition to these districts, heavy clashes have been ongoing between ANDSF and Taliban in Ghazni, Wardak, Takhar, Kunduz, Kunar, Laghman, Herat, Helmand and Nimruz provinces.

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Commander of US, NATO forces in Afghanistan is stepping down

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(Last Updated On: July 12, 2021)

The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan General Scott Miller is stepping down Monday in a move that marks the symbolic end of the U.S. military mission in the country.

Miller has commanded the military coalition in Afghanistan since August 2018, longer than any previous commanding general in that position and will turn over command of U.S. Forces Afghanistan to the commander of U.S. Central Command, Marine General Frank McKenzie.

NBC reported that as the head of CENTCOM, McKenzie already had authority over Afghanistan and many of the neighboring countries. He will continue to work from CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa, Florida, and his forward headquarters at Al Udeid Air Base in Doha, Qatar.

Miller is expected to retire, three defense officials said, NBC reported.

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Biden: US military mission in Afghanistan will end Aug 31

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(Last Updated On: July 9, 2021)

The United States’ military mission in Afghanistan will officially end on August 31, US President Joe Biden announced Thursday during an update on the troop withdrawal process.

Biden stated a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is “not inevitable” because the Afghan military not only outnumbers the Taliban but is much better equipped. 

He also said the US intelligence community’s recent warning that Afghanistan’s government is on the verge of collapse is “wrong”. 

Biden’s remarks during a press briefing at the White House came after he and Vice President Kamala Harris met with national security leaders for an update on the troop withdrawal process.

He also said: “We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build, and it is the right and the responsibility of Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country.” 

Biden announced that the US is implementing an evacuation plan to withdraw Afghans who assisted the American military.

Biden said Washington would begin flights this month to relocate Afghan interpreters and other personnel who aided the US military – as well as their families – to third-party countries while they await expedited visa processing to move to the United States.

“There is a home for you in the United States if you so choose, and we will stand with you just as you stood with us,” Biden said.

He noted that the US has already approved 2,500 special immigrant visas for Afghans who assisted the US military but said that “up until now, fewer than half have exercised their right to do that.”

There are an estimated 18,000 Afghans who qualify for the special immigrant visas.

 

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