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Protest in Kabul Condemns ‘Massacre’ in Mirza Olang

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(Last Updated On: August 11, 2017)

The Solidarity Party of Afghanistan on Friday staged a protest in Kabul to condemn the killing of civilians by Taliban affiliated militants in northern Sar-e Pul province.

The protesters were also carrying banners that read: “Besides Taliban and ISIS, the traitor government of Ghani and Abdullah is also responsible for the massacre in Mirza Olang.”

Silay Ghafar, spokesperson of the party said,” today, our land has become a slaughterhouse for its citizens who are all experiencing a common pain. All tribes of Afghanistan, Shiite, Sunnis, Tajiks, Pashtuns, Uzbek, Hazara and others are suffering days of bloodshed.”

Ghafar called the unity leaders as “puppets” and urged them to take practical steps to avoid such tragedies.

According to Afghan officials, at least 52 people including women and children were killed after Taliban attacked Mirza Olang village in Sayad district of Sar-e Pul. But Taliban denies killing of civilians, saying they have targeted local upraising forces.

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Khalilzad says Taliban unlikely to call a ceasefire until a deal is made

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2020)

As the world continues to call for a reduction in violence in Afghanistan, US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said on Friday he did not think the Taliban would call for a ceasefire until an agreement between the two sides has been sealed. 

When asked about this in an interview with America’s PBS News Hour on Friday night, Khalilzad said: “I think you’re right that the Talibs will not accept a cease-fire, comprehensive and permanent, until there’s a political settlement,” adding however that this was not unprecedented in other conflicts in the past. 

In going forward and discussing a road map for peace, which might take into account an interim government, Khalilzad said there were various options the Afghan negotiating team and the Taliban have in front of them. 

“But it is for the Afghans to agree to a political road map. And the fact that they are sitting across the table from each other is unprecedented, that warring – Afghan warring parties have sat together.

“When the Soviets withdrew, before their withdrawal, there was no Afghan meetings. It was an agreement that Pakistan and the Afghan government signed with the US and USSR as guarantors. And ever since then, the warring Afghan parties have not sat together.”

“This is an extraordinary development in contemporary Afghan history,” he said.

Over the past few weeks, critics have raised their voices claiming the US was pushing Afghanistan and the Taliban together to sign a deal before the US elections in November. 

Questioned about whether he was under pressure by the White House or the US State Department to ensure progress was made by November 3, Khalilzad said he was not. 

“We would like the war to end as soon as possible. This is the expectation of the Afghan people. We have not set any artificial deadline for when these negotiations have to succeed. We are not directly involved in the negotiations. It’s Afghan-Afghan. They did not want a foreigner to be a mediator or a facilitator, to be in the room,” he said. 

Khalilzad said the Taliban had stated in Doha that the rights of minorities, such as the Shia community, would be respected and that there would be no discrimination. 

“But that’s still an unresolved issue in terms of an exact formulation and an agreement. We obviously support an agreement that respects the right of all Afghans, whether they belong to one sect or another, whether they’re men or women.”

On the issue of al-Qaeda, in terms of the February deal signed between the US and the Taliban, which had not yet cut ties with the terrorist organization, Khalilzad said Washington was holding the Taliban to that agreement. 

“And what we do is contingent, in terms of reduction of forces, on what they do. We have seen progress in terms of delivering on the commitment that they have made on terrorism, but that’s unfinished business. 

“And we will see in a couple of months, when we reached a number between 4,000 to 5,000 in terms of our troops. We will assess where they are.”

He said the US was very committed to ensuring Afghanistan could not be used as a platform to threaten the US and that Washington would “take measures necessary to protect the United States from potential terrorist threats in Afghanistan or from Afghanistan.”

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Australia Test against Afghanistan on hold due to COVID-19

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2020)

Australia’s planned historic maiden Test against Afghanistan has become the latest victim of the global coronavirus pandemic, with the one-off match scheduled for later this year postponed until next year.

According to Cricket Australia (CA), complexities around international travel and quarantine requirements have also forced Cricket Australia to push back their proposed men’s ODI series against New Zealand until 2021-22.

Under the speculative schedule released by CA in May, the Test against Afghanistan was to have been played at Perth Stadium in late November.

But Cricket Australia confirmed Friday that following discussions with the Afghanistan and New Zealand cricket boards the decision had been made to delay those matches until next summer due to “the complexity of scheduling international matches during the global coronavirus pandemic”.

CA indicated it was confident a suitable window could be found within the current ICC Future Tours Program (FTP), that maps out the complex playing schedule for international men’s teams, to stage the postponed bilateral matches before the FTP’s conclusion in 2023.

“Cricket Australia looks forward to working with our good friends at the Afghanistan Cricket Board and New Zealand Cricket to deliver the matches at a time when, hopefully, the restrictions brought on by the COVID19 pandemic have eased,” CA’s interim Chief Executive Officer Nick Hockley said today.

“We all worked incredibly hard to make the series happen this summer, but the challenges around international travel and quarantine restrictions ultimately convinced all parties that the series would need to be played at a later date.”

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Imran Khan accuses India of ‘sponsoring Islamophobia’

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2020)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has emphasized the need for durable peace in the South Asian region but hit out at India and said India is driving Islamaphobia. 

In a pre-recorded address Friday to the UN General Assembly Khan also said the return of Afghan refugees sheltering in Pakistan needs to be part of the political solution. 

Khan said Islamophobia prevails in India and threatens the nearly 200 million Muslims who live there.

He stressed that “wilful provocations” and “incitements to hate” must be universally outlawed, and appealed to the UN to declare an “International Day to Combat Islamophobia.” 

Khan accused India of State-sponsored Islamophobia, alleging that mosques have been destroyed and that Muslims have been killed and are at risk of losing their nationality due to discriminatory laws. 

“Muslims were falsely blamed, vilified and victimized for spreading the coronavirus. They were denied medical attention and on many occasions, their businesses boycotted,” he said, noting that other religions are also at risk of being marginalized in India. 

“The one country in the world today where, I am sad to say, the state sponsors Islamophobia, is India,” he said. 

Khan also raised the issue of COVID-19 in his country and said “smart lockdowns” had helped his country fight the pandemic. 

“We have not only managed to control the virus, stabilize our economy but most importantly, we have been able to protect the poorest segment of our society from the worst fallouts of the lockdown.

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