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Qureshi Admits Pakistani Army Played Double Game in Region

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(Last Updated On: September 30, 2018)

In an interview to a foreign news channel, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has clarified Islamabad’s policy regarding Afghanistan.

In response to the claims that some of Pakistani army and intelligence ISI were playing a double game, helping Taliban and Osama Bin Laden, the foreign minister said, “They were helping their own country (and were trying to) overcome a situation which was not of their own making,” he said.

Qureshi referred to America’s links with Afghan freedom fighters during the 1980s, when Washington backed a Mujahedeen insurgency against the Soviet occupation forces. “Who were these people? Who supported them? Who trained them? We forget history and at times we overlook that friends change,” he complained.

“People that you supported, some of the people, were called extremists. Weren’t they invited to the US? Weren’t they entertained in the White House? So, friends change. Circumstances change. We were just defending and protecting ourselves,” he said.

Qureshi also said Pakistan wants to play a positive role in Afghanistan, but it is not only responsibility that has to be shared with others.

Qureshi, however, expressed concerns that the Taliban are regaining foothold in Afghanistan.

“I think they also do realize that things have changed within Afghanistan over the last 17 years and they cannot just run over and get to Kabul and take of the country. There is new realization everywhere. Pakistan’s foreign minister asserted. “I think the Afghan government also recognizes and realizes that there are areas where Taliban have amounts of influence. They are at districts that they control. There is a new realization that is in the making that is let’s give peace a chance and let’s give dialogue, reconciliation a chance.”

Meanwhile, the Afghan government calls for Islamabad’s cooperation in fight against terrorism and the peace process.

“We expect Pakistan to cooperate with us in fight against terrorism,” Najib Danish, the Ministry of Interior spokesperson added.

This comes as Islamabad is scheduled to hold a meeting between the religious scholars of Afghanistan and Pakistan in the near future.

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Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan to expand trade ties

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(Last Updated On: July 3, 2020)

Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan have agreed to form a joint committee to expand trade and transportation relations. 

The leaders of the three countries in an online meeting discussed the formation of a joint committee that could work on regional connectivity, railway development, fiber optics, and transportation.

In a tripartite meeting between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, the three leaders discussed trade cooperation. They agreed on the proposal of the President of Azerbaijan to form a joint delegation, which includes ministers of transport and other officials from the three countries.

Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani welcomed the proposal of the President of Azerbaijan to form a joint delegation of the three countries

At the meeting, the President of Turkmenistan supported the plan of the port of Aqina and Turgundi to better transmit commercial goods.

“So the first thing is to welcome President Aliyev’s suggestion backed by President Berdimuhamedow that we form a joint task force at the level of heads of transports and other relevant ministries from the three ministries,” said Afghan Pres. Ghani.

During the meeting, Mr. Ghani also announced the development of a railway in Afghanistan, saying that the country needs 4,000 to 6,000 kilometers of railways for economic development and that international partners have expressed readiness to cooperate in this area.

Turkmenistan has expanded the railway network to the ports of Aqina and Torghundi for trade with Afghanistan, which the Afghan government wants to become standard ports.

Ashraf Ghani added: “We are creating dry ports to eight locations in Afghanistan… the finance development cooperation of the United States is now willing and ready to work with us to offer guarantees.”

 In the past, Afghans relied heavily on the Pakistani port of Karachi for trade with the world. With the opening of Iran’s Chabahar port and the opening of new transit routes through Central Asian countries, Afghanistan has been able to reduce its reliance on the port of Karachi in recent years

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Delay in intra-Afghan talks provides opportunities for spoilers: Khalilzad

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(Last Updated On: July 3, 2020)

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan, stressed that delay in the start of intra-Afghan talks could “provides opportunities for spoilers.”

Apparently, the conditions have not yet been set for the start of the Afghan talks. As Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan has expressed concern about the delay.

Khalilzad, in a video call with President Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the High National Reconciliation Council, emphasized that remaining issues surrounding the start of intra-Afghan negotiations should be resolved as soon as possible.

“On peace, we emphasized the immediate step is to rapidly resolve the remaining issues surrounding the start of intra-Afghan negotiations. Delay provides opportunities for spoilers,” Khalilzad tweeted.

“People can no longer tolerate insecurity and killings. Taliban and government leaders need to think about peace,” said Wali Safi, another Kabul resident.

One of the differences in starting negotiations between the Afghans is the Afghan government’s opposition to the release of a number of Taliban prisoners, as well as an increase in Taliban attacks.

“As soon as possible, the prisoners should be released and negotiations between the Afghans should begin,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.

Meanwhile, at the same time as reports of the withdrawal of half of the US troops from Afghanistan, the Defense Committee of the US House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill that would condition the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

Some former US officials have said that Donald Trump will keep 4,000 troops in Afghanistan until the end of the US election.

US Senator Rand Paul said, “You know I think we have been at war too long and too many places. The Afghan war is now 19 years old… the war has gone on too long, and I don’t think we have a military mission.”

Intra-Afghan talks are expected to take place in Doha this month. But before that, about 20 countries are scheduled to meet to discuss peace in Afghanistan.

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Top US intel officials brief Congress on alleged Russia bounties on US forces in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: July 3, 2020)

Top US intelligence officials briefed on Thursday briefed US Congress on alleged Russia offered awards to the Taliban militants for attacks on American and coalition forces in Afghanistan. 

CIA Director Gina Haspel and National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone met with members of the key US Congress members to tell them directly about the report. 

The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a number of other Republicans were briefed behind the closed doors.

Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives urged the government to impose sanctions against Russia, while others do not believe in the Trump administration’s tough stance on Russia.

“We expect the President of the United States to give them that same force protection, that same priority, and we are disappointed that has not happened. Whatever else happens of this, we must restore those sanctions, and we must act upon them,” said Pelosi.

Earlier, the Taliban and Russia denied the report, but a Russian foreign ministry spokesman said it had only helped the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “Russia supplied arms only to the legitimate government of Afghanistan, which is a well-known fact. If our US colleagues want to have a conversation in this context, it would be appropriate to recall the information circulating in Afghanistan regarding the US special services’ support for ISIS with the use of helicopters, which we covered extensively at our briefings one to two years ago, and shielding them from Taliban attacks.”

US officials have not yet commented on Russia’s allegations.

But US forces in Afghanistan and Afghan officials have previously denied the allegations, saying they are committed to suppressing ISIS and that the group has been repressed in many parts of Afghanistan and will continue to fight them.

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