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Pakistan remains safe harbor for “terrorist groups”: US

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(Last Updated On: June 25, 2020)

Pakistan is a safe harbor for “regionally focused terrorist groups”, allowing the groups to target Afghanistan, the US State Department said in a report.

In its annual terror assessment, released Wednesday, the Department said that Pakistan remained a safe harbor for other regionally focused terrorist groups.

“It allowed groups targeting Afghanistan, including the Afghan Taliban and affiliated Haqqani Network, as well as groups targeting India, including Lashkar e-Tayyiba and its affiliated front organizations, and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), to operate from its territory,” the report said.

Although Pakistan’s National Action Plan calls to “ensure that no armed militias are allowed to function in the country,” several terrorist groups that focus on attacks outside the country continued to operate from Pakistani soil in 2019, including the Haqqani Network – a group by the Afghan government for the deadliest attacks inside Afghanistan – Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, and Jaish-e-Mohammed.  

According to the report the Haqqani Network has planned and carried out numerous significant kidnappings and attacks against US and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan, the Afghan government, and civilian targets. 

The government and military of Pakistan have acted inconsistently concerning terrorist safe havens throughout the country, the report said.

“Authorities did not take sufficient action to stop certain terrorist groups and individuals from openly operating in the country,” the report added.

Meanwhile, the US said that Pakistan did make some positive contributions to the Afghanistan peace process, such as encouraging Taliban reductions in violence.

The report noted that Afghanistan continued to face significant challenges in protecting its borders, particularly those with Pakistan and Iran. 

“Under the bilateral Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS), which met for the first time in July 2018, Afghan and Pakistani officials agreed in principle to create a mechanism for communication between security forces on each side of the border,” the report said.

Despite this review and discussions between the two governments to utilize APAPPS, progress through this forum remains slow, read the report.

Throughout 2019, the United States sought to negotiate an agreement with the Taliban that would commit the Taliban to take action against international terrorist groups, including not allowing those groups to recruit, train, or raise funds on Afghan territory, and to not host those groups.  

In return for these commitments and for the start of intra-Afghan negotiations that would include the Afghan government, other Afghan leaders, and the Taliban, the United States would agree to a timeline for the conditions-based withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan.  

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UK contributes £1 million to support Afghan refugees in Iran

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(Last Updated On: January 18, 2022)

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Iran has welcomed the UK’s first-ever contribution from the United Kingdom in support of vulnerable refugees from Afghanistan.

The £1 million contribution through the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) will allow WFP to preposition assistance for potential new arrivals from Afghanistan with ready-to eat meals and other rations, the WFP said in a statement on Tuesday.

It also gives WFP the flexibility to channel part of the contribution towards supporting 31,000 refugees who have already been living in 20 settlements across the country, helping to stabilize their food security situation and avoid any further population movements.

This allocation will enhance WFP’s life-saving mission, allowing WFP to quickly respond to any increased additional needs through a combination of cash and direct food assistance.

“We’re extremely grateful to the FCDO for this generous contribution and its support to our operations in Iran,” said WFP Representative and Country Director in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Negar Gerami. “The harsh winter months, job losses, lack of cash and soaring prices have pushed the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan to new highs, with close to 23 million threatened by food insecurity. It is critical that WFP remains prepared to respond to any sudden onset refugee emergency.”

Simon Shercliff, the UK Ambassador to Iran said: “We are pleased to help Iran support the large numbers of Afghan refugees who have chosen to leave Afghanistan.

“This contribution enables WFP to provide these refugees with vital food assistance, including ready-to-eat meals and other rations. The UK stands with the people of Afghanistan and regional partners in pursuit of a stable, peaceful future for the country.”

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Magnitude 5.6 quake hits western Afghanistan, killing more than 20

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(Last Updated On: January 18, 2022)

An earthquake rocked western Afghanistan on Monday, killing more than 20 people and destroying hundreds of homes, local authorities said.

The 5.6 magnitude tremor shook the western province of Badghis, bordering Turkmenistan, in the afternoon, reducing brick homes to rubble, according to photos shared by local authorities, Reuters reported.

“Unfortunately, our initial reports show that 26 people, including five women and four children, have been killed and four others injured,” said Baz Mohammad Sarwari, the director of Information and Culture of the Badghis provincial administration.

“The Mujahideen have reached to some of the affected areas, but Badghis is a mountainous province, the number of casualties might go up,” he added, referring to Taliban fighters, and adding that heavy rain was also lashing the area.

Mullah Janan Saeqe, head of the Emergency Operations Centre of the Ministry of State for Emergency Affairs, confirmed the death toll and said more than 700 houses had been damaged, Reuters reported.

Sanullah Sabit, the head of the nursing unit at the main hospital in Badghis’ capital said they had received five patients injured in the quake, mostly with broken bones and fractures.

The quake was at a depth of 30 km (18.64 miles), according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre.

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Pakistan fired 21 rockets towards Afghanistan: officials

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(Last Updated On: January 18, 2022)

Military officials in the eastern zone told Ariana News on Monday that clashes broke out between Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) and Pakistani forces on Sunday night in the Sarkano district of Kunar province, close to the Durand Line.

Officials said that Pakistani forces fired 21 rockets towards Afghanistan, but that no casualties were reported.

Hamdullah Hamdard, the spokesman for the 1st Border Battalion of the Eastern Zone, said that IEA forces also fired several rockets back at Pakistani forces.

“Clashes erupted between Taliban (IEA) and Pakistani forces in Sarkano district of Kunar province. The clashes continued until 9:00 pm. The cause of the clashes was because of the attack by Pakistani forces. In response, Taliban (IEA) forces also fired rockets towards them, and maybe they suffered casualties. Our forces and people did not suffer casualties,” added Hamdard.

IEA officials said recently they are establishing 32 new check posts along the Durand Line to counter Pakistani attacks.

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