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Taliban shows willing-signs to get along with India

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(Last Updated On: May 11, 2020)

Shir Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, a prominent member of the political office the Taliban in Qatar, told Ariana News that as soon as Delhi contributed positively to the Afghan peace process, the Taliban were ready to get along.

Since the start of the talks between the United States and the Taliban in 2019, many countries, including Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, and some Central Asian countries, have approached the Taliban representatives, except for India.

The United States has recently poked India to participate in the process. The Taliban have also welcomed it, saying it is conditional of a positive move by the India side.

Responding to the question ‘if the Taliban were willing to talk to India as part of the US efforts’, the group’s prominent member Stanikzai said, “We have no problem with anyone who wants to take a positive step towards peace in Afghanistan. Whenever they want to take a positive step in this regard, we are ready to talk with them for peace.”

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for reconciliation in Afghanistan, has said India was an important element in Afghanistan’s peace process and would welcome its involvement in it

In the meantime, ThePrint, an Indian digital news platform, has written that it was not expected that the Narendra Modi administration would change its position and be directly part of Afghanistan’s peace talks with the Taliban unless it derives from pressure by the United States.

It has quoted senior Indian officials as saying that New Delhi was willing to speak out if the Taliban recognized the democratic government – the Afghan government – and that the United States was now forcing India to take part in the Afghan peace talks.

An Afghan free journalist, Sami Yousufzai, who is mostly following the peace process and its events, believes that India is deeply concerned about the Taliban’s return to the Afghan political system.

“It is a fact that during the Taliban regime, thousands of Kashmiri jihadist fighters were active in Afghanistan.” He has said noting that when the United States sought a guarantee from the Taliban that there would be no more room for al-Qaeda or other groups that pose a threat to the United States and the West, India also wanted to receive a commitment from the Taliban as such.

On the other hand, according to Yousufzai, Zalmay Khalilzad has tried to share India’s concerns with the Taliban, which seems to be fruitful as a relationship seems to have taken birth between the Taliban and India.

The progress in the Afghan peace talks has shown that Pakistan has influence over the Taliban and is a key player in the process.

India, on the other hand, had no place in the process but has now made it clear that at the other end of the process – the Afghan government – it has a strong position in relation to the Ghani-led government.

Ahmad Saeedi, a former diplomat at the Afghan embassy in Pakistan, said that following the US-Taliban agreement, [India] was deeply concerned thinking that all the provisions of the agreement were in Pakistan’s interest; therefore, Zalmay Khalilzad has been trying to seek India’s satisfaction to step into negotiations with the Taliban.

So far, India has not yet announced its will for direct talks with the Taliban; however, a point to be noted is that after meeting with Indian officials, Zalmay Khalilzad traveled to Pakistan and met with Qamar Bajwa, Pakistani army’s chief of staff, to seek Islamabad’s support in speeding up starting the Intra-Afghan talks, reducing violence, and overall, to help take the Afghan peace process to next level.

Khalilzad travels to Qatar to meet with Taliban political representatives, following up on his agenda: the acceleration of government-Taliban prisoner releases, the immediate start of Intra-Afghan talks, the reduction of violence, the humanitarian ceasefire, and last but not the least, India’s participation in the peace process.

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Four polio vaccinators killed, four wounded in Nangarhar

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(Last Updated On: June 15, 2021)

Four polio vaccinators were killed and four others wounded in four separate attacks by unknown gunmen in Nangarhar province on Tuesday morning, confirmed local officials.

Officials said one vaccinator was killed and another wounded at 7:30am in Chamtala area of Khoqyani district on Tuesday.

According to the officials one other vaccinator was killed and one wounded at 8:30 am in another attack in PD3 of Jalalabad city on Tuesday.

One volunteer vaccinator was killed and one wounded in a third attack in Khoqyani district of the province.

In the fourth attack one volunteer vaccinator was killed and one wounded in Sra-Road district of the province.

Attaullah Khoqyani, spokesman for Nangarhar governor confirmed that vaccinators were attacked in several areas but he did not provide details.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks so far.

This comes after at least three members of a polio vaccination team, all of them women, were shot dead by unknown gunmen in Nangarhar province in March, local officials said.

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NATO to provide provisional funding to help run Kabul airport

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(Last Updated On: June 14, 2021)

NATO has not yet decided on who would run the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul once foreign troops have withdrawn, the organization’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said Monday night. 

Stoltenberg said however that Turkey would play a “key role” in running the airport and that NATO is committed to providing transitional funding for the key facility. 

This comes after Turkey offered to run and guard the airport after the withdrawal of troops. 

However, the Taliban issued a warning and said such a move would be a “mistake” and that any country doing so would be considered invaders. 

“The presence of foreign forces under whatever name or by whichever country in our homeland is unacceptable for the Afghan people and the Islamic Emirate (Taliban),” the group cautioned in a statement.

The Taliban insisted that the security of airports, foreign embassies, and diplomatic offices is the responsibility of Afghans, saying that “no one should hold out hope of keeping military or security presence” in Afghanistan.   

In a communique issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the NATO Summit, it was stated that NATO will retain a Senior Civilian Representative’s Office in Kabul to continue diplomatic engagement and enhance its partnership with Afghanistan.

“Recognising its importance to an enduring diplomatic and international presence, as well as to Afghanistan’s connectivity with the world, NATO will provide transitional funding to ensure the continued functioning of Hamid Karzai International Airport,” the communique read.  

“We will also step up dialogue on Afghanistan with relevant international and regional partners. We continue to support the ongoing Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process, and call on all stakeholders to help Afghanistan foster a lasting inclusive political settlement that puts an end to violence; safeguards the human rights of Afghans, particularly women, children, and minorities; upholds the rule of law; and ensures that Afghanistan never again serves as a safe haven for terrorists.”

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Khalilzad in Kazakhstan to discuss Afghanistan peace process

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(Last Updated On: June 14, 2021)

US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad met with Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in Nur-Sultan on Sunday to discuss the current situation in Afghanistan.

Kazakhstan media reports stated the two discussed prospects for the development of the Kazakh-US relations in the context of ensuring security and stability in Afghanistan especially once foreign troops have withdrawn.

Reports stated Khalilzad and Tokayev also discussed the coordination of bilateral and multilateral efforts for the stabilization and socio-economic reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Tokayev said: “This year we are marking the 30th anniversary of our Independence. During this period, we managed to build relations of friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation.

“The United States is a strong partner of Kazakhstan. We are good partners in so many areas, including trade and economic cooperation,” he said.

Tokayev also said the Afghan issue was always a focal point in his talks with the leaders of Afghanistan, Russia, China, Central Asian states and international organizations.

Kazakh media reported that during the meeting, Khalilzad shared his assessment of the current situation in Afghanistan, and the vision of American diplomacy regarding the further development of the intra-Afghan peace process.

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