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Pompeo sees Loya Jirga as ‘historic opportunity’ for peace

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(Last Updated On: August 7, 2020)

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Thursday night called on President Ashraf Ghani and all delegates attending Friday’s Loya Jirga to “to take advantage of this historic opportunity for a peace that benefits all Afghans and contributes to regional stability and global security.”

In a statement issued by the US State Department, Pompeo said the United States understands that the Loya Jirga delegates will decide on the speedy release of the remaining Taliban prisoners from their list, the last obstacle to the start of intra-Afghan negotiations.  

He said once these prisoners have been released the Taliban have committed to enter talks with the Afghan government. 

“The Taliban have also committed to significantly reduce violence and casualties during the talks where the parties will decide on a political roadmap to end the long and brutal war and agree on a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire. 

“The United States intends to hold the Taliban to these commitments,” he said.

Noting that the issue of the release of the remaining 400 prisoners was of concern, he said “this difficult action will lead to an important result long sought by Afghans and Afghanistan’s friends: reduction of violence and direct talks resulting in a peace agreement and an end to the war.”

“After 40 years of war and bloodshed and destruction, the parties are ready to embark on a political process to reach a negotiated settlement.”

He also said the US remains committed to its partnership with Afghanistan and that terrorist threats emanating from Afghanistan should never again pose a threat to the United States and its allies. 

“As ever, the United States seeks a sovereign, unified, and democratic Afghanistan that is at peace with itself and its neighbors,” he said adding that at the same time “we are committed to reducing the burden on the US taxpayer and the risk to US troops.”

Meanwhile in a series of tweets, the top US peace broker, Zalmay Khalilzad, said the Loya Jirga – the highest consultation body made up of Afghan elders – was a “historic opportunity” to remove the last hurdle to direct peace talks.

“A positive outcome will mean a reduction in violence and Afghans immediately coming together at the negotiating table,” said the US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation.

“We wish the Jirga participants success in their discussions and urge them not to allow those who prefer the status quo and seek to complicate the path to peace to manipulate the process.”

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Afghanistan demolishes Scotland by 130 runs in World Cup match

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(Last Updated On: October 25, 2021)

Afghanistan thrashed Scotland in their first T20 Super 12 World Cup match in Sharjah on Monday night, after Mujeeb Ur Rahman propelled Afghanistan to a commanding 130-run victory. 

Among the flood of social media messages congratulating the team on their win was one from Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid who said in a tweet: “Congratulations to all Afghans on the victory of the Afghan team in the ongoing World Cup Twenty20.

“Congratulations to the team and wish them more success in the future,” he tweeted.

Other senior IEA members, including Anas Haqqani also congratulated the team. 

Afghanistan’s spinners ripped through Scotland’s batting line-up as Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Rashid Khan and company spun their side to a 130-run win in Sharjah, Afghanistan’s biggest margin of victory in T20 internationals.

Youngster Mujeeb was the star of the show with the ball, taking three in an over and finishing with a five-for, the best ever return for a bowler on T20 World Cup debut.

Earlier Najibullah Zadran top-scored with a sparkling 59 as his side reached 190/4, Afghanistan’s highest T20 World Cup score.

Afghanistan got off to a fast start after winning the toss and opting to bat, with openers Hazratullah Zazai and Mohammad Shahzad finding the boundary repeatedly in a 54-run partnership through the Powerplay.

Zazai’s dangerous knock came to an abrupt end at the midway point of the Afghanistan innings, as he failed to connect well with a swipe across the line and was bowled by Mark Watt for 44 off 30.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Najib picked up where the openers left off, with the teenager Gurbaz in sparkling form, hitting four sixes in his 46 off 37.

Gurbaz’s aggressive knock was finally halted by Josh Davey in the penultimate over, but Najib and skipper Mohammad Nabi went big at the death, with the captain hitting 11 off just four balls.

And Najib fell to the final ball of the innings, caught on the boundary for 59 off just 34 balls.

Left-arm spinner Watt finished the pick of the bowlers for Scotland, with his wicket coming at the cost of just 23 runs in four overs, with Safyaan Sharif also impressive with 2-33.

Scotland’s chase got off to a lightning start as George Munsey reverse swept Nabi for four off the second ball, reverse sweeping for six the very next delivery.

But Scotland’s hopes of reaching the daunting 191 to win all but disappeared in the fourth over, when Mujeeb removed Kyle Coetzer and Calum MacLeod in consecutive deliveries, before picking up Richie Berrington with the last ball of the over.

Scotland were five wickets down before Rashid Khan even got the ball in his hand, and the Afghanistan talisman bagged his first wicket with his third delivery, trapping Michael Leask plumb in front.

The magnificent Mujeeb finished with figures of 5/20 off his four overs, while Rashid rounded it off in style, taking 4/9 off just 14 balls, ICC reported.

 

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Ariana Television secures rights to broadcast T20 World Cup 2021

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(Last Updated On: October 19, 2021)

Afghan cricket fans will be pleased to know that Ariana Television Network (ATN) has secured the rights to broadcast the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 matches for the duration of the tournament. 

The World Cup kicked off on Sunday and, co-hosted by Oman and the UAE, the tournament will run through until November 14. 

Oman got celebrations underway on Sunday with a comprehensive 10-wicket win over Papua New Guinea in the opening match.

Afghanistan, which has enjoyed an astounding rise up the international cricket ladder in recent years, has high hopes of making their mark at this year’s event. 

Familiar with the conditions in the UAE where they have played the majority of their cricket, the national team might make a deep run in the tournament, and spring a major surprise or two along the way, cricket experts have said. 

Ever since their tournament debut at the 2010 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in the Caribbean, it has been a story of constantly striving for improvement. 

While some of the old faces remain, new stars have emerged, forging the side into a steely unit, capable of competing with the best that international cricket has to offer, the ICC reported in its team preview.

The 2021 edition in UAE and Oman will be another parameter where Afghanistan will gauge their current standing in the global game while charting their progress in international cricket. 

The national team’s opening fixture is scheduled for Monday, October 25. 

With the conditions in UAE expected to be conducive for the spinners, Afghanistan has the perfect attack to exploit them to the maximum. Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi will form a fearsome spin trio, with two of them being able to make handy contributions with the bat as well.   

Hazaratullah Zazai, Najibullah Zadran and the returning Mohammad Shahzad will also provide some explosiveness in the batting order. 

The Squad

Rashid Khan, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Hazratullah Zazai, Usman Ghani, Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Mohammad Shahzad, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Karim Janat, Gulbadin Naib, Naveen ul Haq, Hamid Hassan, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Dawlat Zadran, Shapoor Zadran, Qais Ahmed

Reserves: Afsar Zazai, Farid Ahmed Malik

This week’s broadcasting schedule for matches live on Ariana Television (Kabul time) are as follows: 

Wednesday:

2.30pm – Namibia vs the Netherlands 

6.30pm – Sri Lanka vs Ireland

Thursday: 

2.30pm – Bangladesh vs Papua New Guinea

6.30pm – Oman vs Scotland

Friday:

2.30pm – Namibia vs Ireland

6.30pm – Sri Lanka vs the Netherlands

Saturday:

2.30pm – Australia vs South Africa

6.30pm – England vs West Indies 

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Colin Powell has died of COVID complications

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(Last Updated On: October 18, 2021)

Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state and top military officer, died on Monday at the age of 84 due to complications from COVID-19.

In a statement posted to Facebook, his family said, “We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment. We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American.”

Powell was the one most notable Black figure in Washington for decades. A Vietnam vet, he rose to become an army four-star general and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush during the 1991 Gulf War.

In 1996 he considered running for president, but was dissuaded by his wife who worried for his safety.

He later served as Secretary of State under George W. Bush. It was in that capacity that he famously stood before the United Nations and made the case for invading Iraq based on the claim that Saddam Hussein was pursuing weapons of mass destruction.

The evidence proved wrong. No weapons were found. Powell later admitted that his presentation was rife with inaccuracies provided by others in the Bush administration. He called a “blot” that would always be a part” of his record.

Powell was known as a moderate Republican and pragmatist. He broke with the GOP to endorse Barack Obama’s candidacy and would criticize his party’s shift toward anti-immigrant and isolationist policies.

The Powell family says he was fully vaccinated against coronavirus. Colin Powell was 84 years old.

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