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Saleh claims US made a mistake, conceded too much to Taliban

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(Last Updated On: January 15, 2021)

Coinciding with the announcement by the United States that American troop numbers are now down to 2,500 in Afghanistan, First Vice President Amrullah Saleh told the BBC in an interview that Washington has made a mistake by conceding too much to the Taliban. 

“US talks with the Taliban were not a mistake in themselves, but that Mr. Trump’s administration made an error in giving the group a ‘massive concession’,” Saleh told BBC.

Saleh says the American mission, which began 20 years ago, is not yet accomplished and a total withdrawal risks more violence in the unstable country.

“We remain grateful for their assistance. But the fate of my country does not lie with the last US military helicopter,” Saleh said.

He also stated that the US delegation, dealing with the Doha agreement between Washington and the Taliban, had sworn to the Afghan government that violence would not increase with the release of Taliban prisoners.

“The US delegation came to us and swore on every Holy Scripture that if you release these 5,000 Taliban prisoners there will be no violence. We told them at the highest level that our intelligence indicated otherwise, and if we do this violence will spike. Violence has spiked,” he said.

Saleh also told the United States that it should not be deceived into negotiating with “terrorists”.

“I am telling them [US] as a friend and as an ally that trusting the Taliban without putting in a verification mechanism is going to be a fatal mistake,” Saleh said.

Meanwhile, former US National Security Adviser HR McMaster once again criticized US policies, saying that the situation in South Asia requires a stable and realistic approach.

He accused Pakistani generals of supporting the Taliban and terrorists so as to achieve their political goals in Afghanistan.

“Pakistani Taliban generals support the Taliban and other terrorist groups because they want to control at least part of Afghanistan because they want to use this strategy to prevent Indian influence in Afghanistan,” McMaster said.

Afghanistan’s first vice president and former US national security adviser both stressed that the Taliban have not yet severed ties with al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups; The severance of which is one of the key articles in the February 29 US-Taliban Doha Agreement.

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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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Thousands of Afghans fleeing the country daily: Ministry

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(Last Updated On: February 25, 2021)

The Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations said Thursday that everyday about one thousand Afghan citizens leave the country illegally.

Ministry officials attributed this to poverty, unemployment and insecurity for most Afghan citizens, especially young people.

“About a thousand people migrate daily through Herat and Nimroz illegally, and then about a thousand return, and this migration and return is due to the economic situation or getting work,” said Reza Bahir, the ministry’s spokesman.

Insecurity and poverty are becoming more and more prevalent among the people of Afghanistan, so most of the country’s citizens, especially the youth, are migrating illegally to other countries by tackling difficult and even treacherous asylum routes, officials said.

Issa Mohammad, who wants to immigrate to Iran illegally through Nimroz province due to insecurity and unemployment, says the lack of work and the escalation of violence in the country has caused him to risk his life and leave his homeland.

“I am going to Iran illegally, it has problems. A few days ago, our friends were wounded and killed on the way,” said Issa.

Estimates currently indicate at least 6.7 million Afghans are currently refugees or asylum seekers around the world. Of this, three million are in Iran, two million are in Pakistan, 790,000 in Europe and 500,000 have applied for asylum in Australia.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice says that the United States will impose sanctions on Afghanistan if human trafficking is not stopped abroad.

“Efforts are underway to curb human trafficking and illegal migration so that migration can take place within a defined framework,” said Aman Reyazat, the ministry’s spokesman.
With the new solar year, in April, approaching, concerns have been raised that a large wave of Afghans will leave the country during this period over rising fears of violence.

The Afghan passport office meanwhile confirmed an increase in applications and stated it is currently issuing around 5,000 passports a day.

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US blames Taliban for high level of violence in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: February 25, 2021)

US Central Command chief, General Kenneth F. McKenzie on Thursday said the United States and NATO’s decision to withdraw troops will depend on conditions on the ground.

McKenzie also said that US and NATO in Afghanistan continue to support a negotiated settlement as the best possible outcome between the government and the Taliban going forward.

Speaking at a virtual Beirut Institute summit McKenzie said that the US still continues to see levels of violence that are way too high.

“I place a large measure of the blame on the Taliban who have continued to mount offensive operations and targeted killings of Afghan officials but the excessive violence has led the government to launch their own defensive operations to protect themselves – the violence while too high on both sides,” McKenzie said.

McKenzie also stressed that there is no sign that the Taliban had severed ties with al-Qaeda.

“In my clear judgment rests largely on the Taliban; we also continue to … look for signs of a Taliban break with al-Qaeda and I have not at this point seen any definitive signs that would lead to believe they’re prepared to or able to honor their obligations,” McKenzie added.

Meanwhile, a member of the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan said the path to peace in Afghanistan is difficult because the Taliban have always relied on war and violence and see it as an effective way to gain power.

“Taliban strategy is still focused on war, targeted killings and assassinations take place in cities as part of the same strategy,” said Amin Ahmadi, member of the Republic’s negotiating team.

On the other hand the German government on Wednesday agreed to extend its military mandate in Afghanistan by at least another 10 months.

Germany’s Deutsche Welle reported Thursday that the new draft mandate still needs the approval of the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.

“The people of Afghanistan and the government are committed to peace, only those who are not committed to peace are fighting, the Taliban want to come to power through explosions and suicide,” said Shah Mahmood Miakhil, defense deputy minister.

However, the Interior Minister said the only way left for the Taliban is peace, otherwise they will be suppressed.

“The only way left for the Taliban is to make peace, otherwise they will be suppressed everywhere in the country,” said Massoud Andarabi, the interior minister.

Although talks between Afghans have resumed over the last three days, no results have been achieved so far.

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