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Reconciliation council chooses six deputies and over 40 members

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(Last Updated On: August 22, 2020)

Spokesman for the High Council for National Reconciliation Fraidoon Khwazoon confirmed Saturday that six deputies and more than 40 members have been appointed to the body that was established in May.

Sources said the newly-appointed deputies are council head Abdullah Adbullah’s election campaign running mates Enayatullah Babur Farahmand and Asadullah Saadati; State Minister for Peace Affairs Abdul Salam Rahimi, as well as Ata-ur-Rahman Saleem and Din Mohammad, two members of the now defunct High Peace Council, and a woman who would be introduced by the Presidential Palace.

“More than 40 people have been introduced. The list was finalized and is waiting for the Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation to officially announce the structure,” Fraidoon Khwazoon said.

This development comes three months after the council was established following a power-sharing agreement between political rivals Abdullah and President Ashraf Ghani following months of post-election discord.

In addition to the six deputies, an additional 40-plus members were selected for the leadership committee of the council which is tasked with pursuing issues around the peace process.

While names have not yet been released, sources indicate all those appointed are prominent members of society and are all proponents of peace.

This comes after the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad called on the Afghan government and the Taliban this week to immediately start intra-Afghan negotiations; aimed at finding a political settlement to end the long-term conflict in the war-weary country.

Khalilzad said that there is no legitimate reason to delay the talks.

The Taliban, however, disputes this and has stated it will start negotiations once all the remaining 320 prisoners it has listed are released.

Although Ghani signed the release order of these prisoners almost two weeks ago, the process has stalled after the government on Wednesday suspended the release process.

Sediq Sediqqi, the Presidential spokesman, told Ariana News that the government will not release the remaining Taliban prisoners unless the group frees 22 Afghan security force members they are holding captive.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that his country hoped that “these issues will not become new obstacles to the launch of peaceful dialogue and will be resolved in the near future.”

She added that an early launch of intra-Afghan negotiations is in the interest of both the people of Afghanistan and the country’s foreign partners.

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Ghani extols virtues of peace, says it’s a basic right for all Afghans

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(Last Updated On: February 26, 2021)

President Ashraf Ghani said on Thursday that peace is not just a dream but a goal and Afghanistan has a road map to achieve it.

Speaking at a national youth debate – “Peacebuilding, Government-Building and Market-Building” – Ghani stated it is a fundamental right of a society to live in peace, something the Afghan people have been denied for 40 years.

The president said that maintaining a Republic system was of utmost importance and that power belongs to the people. He also said power can only be transferred from one person to another with the people’s consent.

On the issue of the peace process, Ghani said the roadmap for peace is not just about negotiations with the Taliban, but also about assurances from the world “that no one has the right to interfere in our territory”.

Ghani said: “The national, regional and international environment is ready for peace, but we must act with prudence and care. Our fundamental wish is to end 40 years of violence in the country, and we will not allow violence in any form.”

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Biden revokes Trump ban on many green card applicants

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(Last Updated On: February 26, 2021)

U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday revoked a proclamation from his predecessor that blocked many green card applicants from entering the United States, Reuters reported.

Former President Donald Trump issued the ban last year, saying it was needed to protect U.S. workers amid high unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden rejected that reasoning in a proclamation on Wednesday rescinding the visa ban and said it had prevented families from reuniting in the United States and harmed U.S. businesses.

Biden has pledged to reverse many of Trump’s hardline immigration policies.

Reuters reported that Biden left in place another ban on most foreign temporary workers.

In October, a federal judge in California blocked Trump’s ban on those foreign guest workers as it affected hundreds of thousands of U.S. businesses that fought the policy in court.

Curtis Morrison, a California-based immigration attorney, who represents people subject to the ban said Biden will now have to tackle a growing backlog of applications that have been held up for months as the pandemic shut down most visa processing by the State Department. The process could potentially take years, he said.

“It’s a backlog that Trump created,” Morrison said. “He broke the immigration system.”

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment, Reuters reported.

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Pakistan wants political solution to Afghanistan issue: Qureshi

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(Last Updated On: February 25, 2021)

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Thursday that the establishment of peace in Afghanistan is essential for peace in Pakistan and the entire region.

Qureshi said this during discussions with the President Ashraf Ghani’s Special Representative Muhammad Umar Daudzai who arrived in Islamabad on Thursday.

During the meeting, Afghan peace talks, the regional situation and matters of mutual interest were discussed.

Qureshi said Pakistan wants a political solution to the Afghanistan issue through a comprehensive dialogue process.

He said Pakistan sees the process as a shared responsibility and will continue to play a conciliatory role.

“Pakistan has deep concerns over the increase of violence in Afghanistan,” Qureshi said.

Expressing concern over the high levels of violence, Qureshi emphasized the need for all parties to play a positive role in furthering the process of negotiations while reducing the levels of violence.

Qureshi said after the restoration of peace in Afghanistan, Pakistan will continue its role in helping to rebuild and develop the war-torn country.

Daudzai thanked Pakistan for its efforts in the peace process.

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