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Pakistan’s Imran Khan says world should give Islamic Emirate ‘time’ on human rights but fears ‘chaos’

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(Last Updated On: September 16, 2021)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said the best way forward for peace and stability in Afghanistan is to engage with the Islamic Emirate and “incentivize” them on issues such as women’s rights and inclusive government.

Speaking to CNN from Islamabad on Wednesday, Khan spoke about enduring what he perceived as a “terrible” relationship with the United States that has been disastrous for Pakistan and how he is now seeking a more pragmatic approach in dealing with Afghanistan’s new leaders.

It was the Prime Minister’s first interview with an international news organization since the Islamic Emirate took control of neighboring Afghanistan last month, following the complete US withdrawal of troops.

“The Taliban (Islamic Emirate) hold all of Afghanistan and if they can sort of now work towards an inclusive government, get all the factions together, Afghanistan could have peace after 40 years. But if it goes wrong and which is what we are really worried about, it could go to chaos. The biggest humanitarian crisis, a huge refugee problem,” Khan said.

Khan claimed that the Islamic Emirate are looking for international aid to avoid a crisis, which could be used to push the group in “the right direction towards legitimacy.”

However he warned that Afghanistan could not be controlled by outside forces.

“No puppet government in Afghanistan is supported by the people,” he said. “So rather than sitting here and thinking that we can control them, we should incentivize them. Because Afghanistan, this current government, clearly feels that without international aid and help, they will not be able to stop this crisis. So we should push them in the right direction.”

Even before the Islamic Emirate’s return to power, protracted conflict, poverty, back-to-back droughts, economic decline and the coronavirus pandemic had worsened an already dire situation in which 18 million Afghans — almost half of the population — were in need of aid, according to United Nations agencies.

To critics who say the Islamic Emirate will destabilize the country, Khan pointed to the withdrawal of the Soviets in 1989, which resulted in a “bloodbath.”

Khan said he was expecting a similar bloodbath to happen after the US forces left.

“Our intelligence agencies told us that the Taliban (Islamic Emirate) would not be able to take over all of Afghanistan, and if they tried to take Afghanistan militarily, there would be a protracted civil war, which is what we were scared of because we are the ones who would suffer the most,” Khan said.

Now, he said, the world should “give them time” to form a legitimate government and make good on their promises.

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Rashid Khan says team is ready to take on Pakistan in T20 WC match

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(Last Updated On: October 28, 2021)

One of Afghanistan’s star cricket players, Rashid Khan, was upbeat this week about the national team’s chances against Pakistan in Friday’s Super 12 match in the T20 World Cup in the UAE.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday in Dubai, Rashid said however that both teams would be under pressure, saying it would be a “stressful” match.

He said the Afghan team will be able to cope with the pressure and would hopefully do well.

“It’s stressful, for all the teams, but we live with it and we’re used to it,” he said.

He went on to say that once the match is underway, all focus is on one’s experience adding that the team is confident they will play well.

“We will try to play well and win the match,” he said.

He said the Pakistan team was a strong opponent but that “Afghanistan’s batting line up is good and our bowling [skills] have a good name in the world.

“We will try our best to play normally and not put any pressure on ourselves, and send back good news for the fans.”

Fans clashed during a one-day World Cup match between Pakistan and Afghanistan in England in 2019, in which several people were injured and police arrested dozens.

This time around, Rashid called on fans from both sides to keep calm and view it as just a game.

“Games send a message of love,” he said, “and fans should enjoy the game”.

Afghanistan will play Pakistan in Dubai on Friday. The match starts at 2.30pm Kabul time and will be broadcast live on Ariana Television.

Afghanistan won its first match against Scotland while Pakistan has won its first two matches against India and New Zealand.

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China to build outpost for Tajikistan special forces near Afghan border

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(Last Updated On: October 28, 2021)

China will finance the construction of an outpost for a special forces unit of Tajikistan’s police near the Tajik-Afghan border, the Central Asian nation’s parliament said on Thursday.

The post will be located in Tajikistan’s eastern Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province in the Pamir mountains, which border China’s Xinjiang province as well as the northeastern Afghan province of Badakhshan.

No Chinese troops will be stationed at the facility, a parliament spokesperson said.

The plan to build the post comes amid tension between the Dushanbe government and Afghanistan’s new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) rulers, Reuters reported.

Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon has refused to recognise the IEA government, calling for a broader representation of Afghanistan’s ethnic groups – of which Tajiks are the second-biggest.

Kabul, in turn, has warned Dushanbe against meddling in its domestic affairs, Reuters reported.

According to Russian media, the IEA have struck an alliance with an ethnic Tajik militant group based in northern Afghanistan which seeks to overthrow Rakhmon’s government, Reuters reported.

A Russia-led regional security organisation held exercises last week near the Tajik-Afghan border, designed to demonstrate that Moscow stands ready to protect Dushanbe in the event of an incursion from the south.

China is a major investor in Tajikistan and Beijing has also acted as a donor on several occasions, handing over, for example, a new parliament building free of charge.

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Khalilzad opens up about Ghani and ‘selfish’ political elite

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(Last Updated On: October 28, 2021)

Former US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said former president Ashraf Ghani’s “intransigence,” the Afghan elite’s “selfishness” and Afghan soldiers’ lack of will to fight was to blame for the rapid takeover of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) in August.

On Ghani’s refusal to change his views, or agree to the formation of a new interim government, Khalilzad said: “We were all surprised by the intransigence of President Ghani in insisting on staying in power till his term ended, despite the fact that he had come out re-elected in a fraudulent election that very few Afghans participated in.”

Addressing a webinar organized by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington think tank, on Wednesday, Khalilzad also acknowledged for the first time publicly that the U.S. had discouraged Afghans from holding the presidential elections that led to Ghani’s winning a second term in office.

According to Khalilzad, the U.S. wanted to establish an interim administration that was acceptable to both sides while Afghan politicians and civil society negotiated a political settlement with the IEA.

Khalilzad said Ghani’s “grand miscalculation” was that he did not believe the U.S. would withdraw from the country.

According to Khalilzad, Ghani thought the U.S. forces and intelligence agencies would stay in Afghanistan as it gave them physical proximity to strategically important countries like China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan.

“I tried to persuade him that President [Donald] Trump was very serious, and he said, ‘No, the intelligence and military told me otherwise,’ ” Khalilzad said.

Khalilzad also stated that Ghani miscalculated his own military’s will to fight.

Once the U.S. announced its decision to withdraw, Ghani told Khalilzad, “now I am free to fight the war the Afghan way. In six months now I will defeat the Taliban because you were fighting it poorly.”

Khalilzad went on to say that the fact that an estimated 300,000-strong Afghan army melted away in front of 60,000 IEA fighters was the result of a lack of morale, corruption and poor treatment of the soldiers on the front lines.

He said this also might have been because the soldiers “didn’t believe” in the cause, while the IEA fighters felt otherwise.

Khalilzad also blasted what he called the Afghan elite’s “selfish, self-centered, corrupt” behavior.

“I am disappointed that the elite that we worked with; they didn’t rise to the occasion; this golden opportunity that the American engagement provided,” he said.

In terms of going forward, Khalilzad advocated a robust diplomatic engagement with the IEA that includes an agreement on a “road map that takes into account the trust or mistrust of each other and the behavior that needs to take place over a time period.”

He also said that many in the US want the IEA to suffer and their government to collapse, because “we did not succeed in defeating them, and that has left a bad taste in people’s mouths.”

But he warned that a collapse of government in Afghanistan would lead to a civil war and a humanitarian catastrophe that would provide space for terrorist groups to flourish.

He said the IEA had shown, in the 18 months after signing the Doha agreement, that they could keep their word by not killing a single American even though U.S. air attacks in defense of Afghan forces killed hundreds or even thousands of Taliban during that period.

Khalilzad also said the IEA could benefit from outside help on how to deal with Daesh in Afghanistan.

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