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Taliban shows willing-signs to get along with India

Ariana News

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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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Peace talks teams ‘making progress’ after meeting to discuss contentious issues

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(Last Updated On: September 20, 2020)

Nader Nadery, a member of the Afghan peace negotiating team said the contact groups from both sides met on Sunday for discussions and that progress was being made. 

The Peace Negotiation Team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan issued the same statement on their Twitter page but few details were given. 

The team said on Twitter: “Today evening, the contact groups of both sides met. This session lasted a few hours and the rules and regulations of the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations were discussed and progress was made.”

The Afghan peace team said peace talks members held the joint working meeting which lasted several hours and worked on contentious issues of rules and regulations  and that “progress was made in resolving disputes.”

“The procedure for the Afghan peace talks will be finalized soon,” they said. 

The talks, which started a week ago, are still ongoing in Doha, Qatar where the contact group members are reportedly discussing the talking points, agendas and schedules going forward. 

Until now, however, very few details have been released by either side. 

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MoD discovers and defuses over 4,000 IEDs in past six months

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(Last Updated On: September 20, 2020)

The Afghan Ministry of Defense said on Sunday the Afghan National Army (ANA) had discovered and defused 4,776 IEDs across the country in the past six months. 

The MoD stated the IEDs had been planted by Taliban on public roads, in residential areas and on highways.

A statement by the MoD said: “While Taliban’s explosive devices inflict heavy casualties on civilians, ANDSF risk their lives to discover and defuse the bombs to protect Afghans.”

“The IEDs, in addition to harming civilians, also destroy Afghanistan’s roads, highways and infrastructure.”

By finding and defusing the IEDs the lives of thousands of civilians were saved and “hundreds of kilometers of roads and hundreds of bridges and culverts were preserved,” the MoD stated. 

The ministry also said that in addition to the indiscriminate use of IEDs being a serious violation of the International Human Rights Law, “unfortunately, the Taliban continue applying it as a war tactic against the Afghan population.”

UNAMA said in July, in its mid-year report, that the use of non-suicide IEDs was the leading cause of civilian casualties by Anti-Government Elements during the first half of 2020, causing 688 civilian casualties (217 killed and 471 injured).

Almost half of all civilian casualties from IEDs – 45 percent – were caused by the Taliban’s widespread use of pressure-plate IEDs, which function as improvised anti-personnel mines.

Civilian casualties from these victim-activated devices increased by 50 percent during the first half of 2020 as compared to the same time period in 2019, reversing the trend of sizeable decreases over the last two years. 

UNAMA also noted that the week after the three-day Eid ceasefire, pressure-plate IEDs rose to the leading cause of civilian casualties.

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Ghani holds security review summit with senior officials in Bamiyan

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(Last Updated On: September 20, 2020)

President Ashraf Ghani and a high-ranking delegation of officials held a “mini-summit” on the country’s security in Bamiyan on Sunday.

Also in attendance with First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, Second Vice President Sarwar Danesh, National Security Adviser Hamdullah Moheb and other senior security officials.

After landing at Bamiyan airport, the president and his delegation were met by the provincial governor and local officials, including members of the provincial council.

The Kabul delegation then went into a meeting where they examined the security situation across the country, discussed plans and operations on thwarting enemy threats and dealing with challenges. They also discussed the capabilities of the security and defense sectors.

Officials from the security and defense agencies called for the expansion of governance and the need for improved services at a district level.

Emphasizing the security and defense priorities, Ghani said that serious attention should be paid to protecting the people and to the security of development projects.

He also said reform and development programs of the security and defense agencies should be implemented.

Ghani also ordered increased security along highways so as to prevent enemy groups from extorting money out of motorists and said changes need to be brought in police departments so that all staff criteria is met.

He said that security and defense officials who have excelled in their work need to be commended.

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