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Taliban Leader Mullah Baradar Optimistic About Peace

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(Last Updated On: March 14, 2019)

The Taliban political chief, who headed the Islamist militants’ delegation during the most recent round of peace talks with the United States, said on Thursday that he was optimistic and assured Afghans that they had no reason to fear a settlement.

The latest round of talks in Qatar lasted 16 days and finished on Tuesday, with officials from both sides saying that progress had been made, but there was no agreement on when foreign troops might be withdrawn.

“We are very hopeful for the peace talks, because the latest round had some good dialogues which paved the way to more progress regarding peace in the future,” Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said in an eight-minute audio tape of an interview conducted by the Taliban and posted online.

Making his first public comments since his release last year from a Pakistan prison, Baradar sought to reassure Afghans who have worried that peace with the Taliban could herald the return of its hardline Islamist values.

“If (Afghans) think of us like brothers I trust in God that all the problems will be solved,” Baradar said, speaking in Pashto.

“I ask all our countrymen to be sure there is no need to worry. Everyone will be treated very well,” he added.

During their time in power from 1996-2001, the Taliban banned music and girls’ education and carried out public executions in Kabul’s football stadium. Fatefully, they also allowed Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda to establish a base in the country.

The Taliban’s role in Afghanistan after a possible peace settlement has not been defined and the group has refused to meet with the government led by President Ashraf Ghani, regarding it as illegitimate.

At the end of the latest round of talks, U.S. negotiators said progress was made over the eventual withdrawal of foreign troops, and on assurances from the Taliban that they would not allow their homeland to be used again by foreign militant groups to mount terrorist attacks in other countries.

“We assure the neighboring, regional and other countries that the upcoming system will not be against anyone, we are not under the influence of anyone, and have no aim of harm to anyone,” Baradar said.

Baradar also offered a message to Taliban fighters, saying that even though he felt the group had achieved political and military victory, they should remain composed and not become arrogant.

The Taliban controls more territory than at any time since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that followed al Qaeda’s Sept. 11 attack on the United States.

U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who led the U.S. delegation in Qatar, said in a series of tweets on Tuesday that it was “clear all sides want to end the war.” Further talks are expected later this month.

Reuters reported 

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MIT-designed robot disinfects warehouse floor in 30 minutes

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(Last Updated On: July 4, 2020)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has designed a robot that can disinfect a floor of a 4,000-square foot warehouse in 30 minutes, and it can be used to clean grocery stores or schools one day, CNN reported.

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in cooperation with Ava Robotics — a company that focuses on creating telepresence robots — and the Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) developed a robot which can disinfect surfaces and neutralize aerosolized forms of the Coronavirus using a custom UV-C light.

CNN said, “Development on this project began in early April, and one of the researchers said that it came in direct response to the pandemic. The results have been encouraging enough that the researchers say that autonomous UV disinfection could be done in other environments such as supermarkets, factories, and restaurants.”

Covid-19 mainly spreads via airborne transmission, and it is capable of remaining on surfaces for several days. An autonomous robot capable of quickly and efficiently cleaning large areas such as warehouses or grocery stores could prove to be essential.

UV-C light has proven effective at killing bacteria and viruses on surfaces, the researchers said. However, it is harmful to humans. The robot was built to be autonomous without the need for any direct supervision or interaction.

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Afghan gov’t to decide on remaining Taliban prisoners

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(Last Updated On: July 4, 2020)

The Afghan government said that it will decide the release of the remaining Taliban prisoners on Sunday, a step advancing to the commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations

Sources in the government say that the decision about the release of hundreds of Taliban prisoners will be taken on Sunday, to begin Intra-Afghan Talks soon.

Sources say the Afghan government opposes the release of about 100 Taliban prisoners involved in deadly attacks and organized crime, however, the full prisoner release was set as a precondition to the start of Intra-Afghan talks by the Taliban.

“Many of those released are not nice people. They clearly were at least in warfare against the Afghan people, so the government has been forthcoming courageous in trying to take these steps and actions as a way to build confidence,” said Ross Wilson, the US Chargé d’Affaires in Afghanistan. 

Meanwhile, sources associated with the Afghan government say that a decision will be made tomorrow Sunday to release several hundred more Taliban prisoners. According to these sources, the decision will be taken to start the Intra-Afghan talks as soon as possible.

“The Afghan government has taken all the necessary steps to start negotiations between the Afghans. We expect the Taliban to enter into direct talks with the Afghan government by reducing violence,” said Najia Anwari, a spokesman for the Ministry of Peace.

According to Afghan government statistics, nearly 4,000 Taliban prisoners have been released so far. The Taliban have also said they have released more than 700 government-affiliated prisoners.

“If the agreement is not reached, the Taliban will not take part in the Afghan talks,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.

Negotiations between Afghans are expected to take place in Doha this month, but the escalation of violence by the Taliban and the government’s failure to release some Taliban prisoners are seen as a barrier to the talks. The United States has called on the Afghan government and the Taliban to take immediate action against the ongoing Afghan conflict.

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COVID-19; Ghazanfar’s body laid to rest in Balkh

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(Last Updated On: July 4, 2020)

Mohammad Yousuf Ghazanfar, the President’s Special Envoy for development, economic, commercial, and alleviation of poverty affairs has died of Coronavirus. 

The Presidential Palace issued a statement called the death of Ghazanfar as a great loss for the country; saying he had “served the country.”

Yousuf Ghazanfar’s body was laid to rest in Mazar-e-Sharif in a special ceremony attended by a number of government officials.

The presidential palace says that Mohammad Yusuf Ghazanfar’s was a “pious, benevolent and nationalist figure” who was always striving for progress and development in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce considers Yousuf Ghazanfar’s functions to be very valuable for economic development in the country.

Yousuf Ghazanfar was under treatment in Turkey after contracting the coronavirus.

The funeral ceremony for Ghazanfar was held at the Presidential Palace as well while his corpse was being buried in Balkh on Saturday evening.

The ceremony was attended by President Ashraf Ghani, the First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, a number of cabinet ministers, high-ranking government officials, and a number of prominent figures of the country.

The President and other participants paid tribute and prayed for the soul of the late Yousuf Ghazanfar and wished the deceased a happy paradise.

Ghazanfar died of coronavirus at a hospital in Ankara, Turkey on Friday evening.

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