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Taliban prisoner release request sparks angry response 

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(Last Updated On: December 8, 2020)

Responding to US Charge d’Affaires Ross Wilson’s comment about the Taliban wanting the release of an additional 7,000 prisoners, Afghanistan’s National Security Council (NSC) said on Tuesday that such a move, before a peace agreement and a permanent ceasefire, will not help the peace process.

Rahmatullah Andar, spokesman for the NSC, said that government had been severely criticized for having released 5,000 Taliban prisoners about three months ago – a move that had been heavily influenced by the US.

“Releasing or not releasing Taliban prisoners will not affect the peace process. Government released 5,000 Taliban prisoners in order to bring a reduction in violence, but the move sparked criticism,” said Andar.

On Sunday, the US’s envoy to Afghanistan, Wilson, told reporters that the Taliban – under the US-Taliban agreement – want their 7,000 prisoners to be released by mid-December.

“Under the terms of the US-Taliban agreement, the Taliban expect there would be progress on releasing 7,000 prisoners by roughly mid-December,” he said.

According to Wilson, all of the provisions of the US-Taliban agreement are interlocked with one another.

Meanwhile, Fazal Hadi Muslimyar, Speaker of the Meshrano Jirga (Upper House of Parliament) said since the release of the 5,000 prisoners, there has been a marked increase in violence – instead of a decrease.

“Unfortunately after the release of the Taliban prisoners violence increased. People have been threatened and have made sacrifices,” said Muslimyar.

An administrative delegation of the Meshrano Jirga meanwhile urged government not to release any more Taliban prisoners until a peace agreement and lasting ceasefire is in place.

“The experience of releasing Taliban prisoners should not be repeated. Taliban [prisoners] should not be released until a peace deal has been signed,” said Mohammad Alam Ezadyar, deputy speaker.

“We do not want our president deceived by the US. No prisoners should be released until a real ceasefire [is in place],” said Faisal Sama, a secretary of the house.

The members of the Meshrano Jirga also warned that compromises being made by the US and Taliban will not be accepted by Afghans, especially compromises that lead to the increase in violence.

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Putin says Afghanistan’s financial assets should be unfrozen

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(Last Updated On: October 22, 2021)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday Afghanistan should receive economic support and get its financial assets unfrozen as its stability was in the interest of all its neighbours, Reuters reported.

Washington meanwhile said earlier this week it has no plans to release billions in Afghan gold, investments and foreign currency reserves parked in the United States that it froze after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) seized power in August, despite pressure from humanitarian groups and others who say the cost may be the collapse of Afghanistan’s economy.

Afghanistan’s new IEA rulers won backing from 10 regional powers at talks in Moscow on Wednesday for the idea of a United Nations donor conference to help the country stave off economic collapse and a humanitarian catastrophe.

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IEA’s Prime Minister and Pakistani FM discuss economic cooperation

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(Last Updated On: October 21, 2021)

The Prime Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund on Thursday met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the Presidential Palace in Kabul.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed the increase of economic cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the resumption of civilian flights between Kabul and Islamabad, the increase of economic cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and keeping Spin Boldak, Torkham and Ghulam Khan border crossings open 24 hours a day.

They also discussed the reduction of high customs tariffs on Afghan exports, the provision of facilities for Afghan travelers and the completion of the country’s semi-completed development projects.

The Afghan side stressed that work on the CASA – 1000 project and the Mazar-e-Sharif to Peshawar railway line should be accelerated and Pakistan should find a solution to the transit problems.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that his country’s Prime Minister Imran Khan had set a limited time for their accompanying delegation to fully resolve the issues based on bilateral agreements.

Qureshi also said that the presence of officials from all sectors in their delegation showed that Pakistan wants to solve the problems in the economic and political sectors with Afghanistan.

Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund in turn called the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan historic and said that he hoped that Pakistan would prove its commitments in practice.

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Allies have the capabilities to strike from afar against terrorist threats: NATO

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(Last Updated On: October 21, 2021)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday allies will discuss Afghanistan during Friday’s defence ministers meeting, which will be “the first opportunity for the ministers to engage in the lessons learnt process” launched by the organization.

NATO defense ministers are meeting Thursday and Friday in Brussels to chart the course for the alliance as it modernizes and adapts to a world dominated by strategic competition.

However, the discussions will also include Afghanistan, Stoltenberg said during a press conference Thursday. According to him “we are in the midst of the lessons learned process, I think it’s a bit early to draw final conclusions.”

He said the decision to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan had been “a very difficult dilemma” but after extensive rounds of consultations among all allies, “we agreed together to end our military presence in Afghanistan”.

Stoltenberg said the lesson learned process has to focus on both what did not work, but also what worked, and he said “we should recognize that we actually made significant achievements”.

“Our mission was not in vain. We prevented Afghanistan from being a safe haven for international terrorists, and prevented any attack against any NATO ally over 20 years.

“Now we will stay vigilant and preserve those gains. Not least by holding, using the leverage we have on the new Taliban (Islamic Emirate) regime to make sure that they live up to their commitments on terrorism, on human rights, and safe passage.”

“The international community has economic and diplomatic leverage over the Taliban (Islamic Emirate),” he said.

“Looking ahead, we must continue to stand together in the fight against international terrorism,” he said. “And in the margins of this ministerial, we will hold a meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh [or the Islamic State group],” he said.

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