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Taliban urges complete withdrawal in open letter to Americans

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(Last Updated On: February 16, 2021)

Taliban Deputy Leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar says that there is no military solution to the long-term conflict in Afghanistan.

In an open letter to the people of the United States, Mullah Baradar stated: “The past nineteen years have proven beyond any doubt that the Afghan issue cannot be resolved through the use of force or by alternating military strategies and generals.”

Baradar emphasized that the people of Afghanistan are dealing with an “imposed war.”

“It is the responsibility and in the interest of all to bring an end to this war and the implementation of the Doha agreement is the most effective way of ending it,” the letter read.

The US and the Taliban signed an agreement on February 29, 2020, aimed at bringing peace to Afghanistan.

According to the deal, the US committed to withdrawing all its forces within the 14 months of the agreement. In exchange, the Taliban pledged to cut ties with terrorist groups including Al-Qaeda, and begin negotiations with the government of Afghanistan.

Mullah Baradar stated that the US-Taliban deal “with the aim that all foreign military forces along with their non-diplomatic personnel, private contractors, advisors, trainers and service providers withdraw from Afghanistan within a 14-month timeframe, while the Islamic Emirate [Taliban] would reciprocate by committing itself to prevent all threats to the security of other nations from Afghanistan.”

As per the Doha deal, the US needed to reduce its troop levels to 2,500 by December 2020 and direct talks needed to start between the Afghan government and the Taliban negotiating teams – which happened in September 2020.

Although the two sides held several meetings, they did not reach an agreement over the agenda of the intra-Afghan talks. The negotiations have since stalled and some members of the Republic’s peace team have returned to Kabul.

Meanwhile, some politicians believe that the peace talks’ failure could plunge the country into a new crisis.

“We are at a milestone, if we consider it, it is possible to reach a desirable solution. Otherwise, there would not be a war but we would witness a bigger crisis. Because both sides could use all their forces,” Ali Ahmad Osmani, a former cabinet member said.

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Two policemen killed in Taliban group attack in Baghlan

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(Last Updated On: April 19, 2021)

At least two policemen were killed and six others were wounded in a Taliban group attack in Baghlan province on Sunday night, police said Monday.

Police said the Taliban attacked Fabreka Qand Township in the Baghlan-e-Markazi district.

According to them, at least six Taliban insurgents were also killed and eight more were wounded in the ensuing clash between the insurgents and Afghan security forces.

“Afghan forces responded strongly to the Taliban’s attacks and pushed them back,” said Jawed Basharat, spokesman for Baghlan police.

Sayed Kamal Wardak, district governor for Baghlan Markazi district told Ariana News that the clash started on Sunday night at around midnight and lasted until 5am on Monday.

“At least one police Humvee burnt out and another one was seized by the Taliban,” said Wardak.

Police chief Sayed Ashraf Sadat along with other reinforcements are in the area and said the Taliban suffered heavy casualties but he did not provide further details.

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Ghani says Taliban no longer has an ‘excuse’ to continue the war

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(Last Updated On: April 19, 2021)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday rejected any military parallels with the US war in Vietnam and dismissed concerns that his country would collapse after American forces are withdrawn.

In an interview with CNN, Ghani said it was time Afghanistan regained its sovereignty after 20 years of American and international presence.

“In the past two years, Afghan defence and security forces have been carrying out over 90 per cent of the operations,” he said.

Ghani said the US announcement of troop withdrawal has been a game changer but it’s now time the Taliban and Pakistan make a choice.

“Will they opt for peace or chaos?” he asked.

Ghani said the Taliban no longer has an excuse to carry on the war now that the international forces are withdrawing and they have no religious justification for the war. He said a political settlement is a must but that the ball is “clearly” in the Taliban’s court.

According to him he has never stood in the way of peace but was used as the Trump administration’s scapegoat. He said he was accused of being an “obstacle in the way of peace”.

This was not the case he said, adding that he was clear about wanting the Trump team to deal directly with the Afghan government and not with the Taliban on the troop withdrawal issue last year.

On what the Taliban might do in future, Ghani said he would like the group to “seize the new context” and reach a political settlement where a government of peace ending in an election can be formed.

He also said that Pakistan’s leaders have all “verbally” said they do not want the Taliban to rule, and that they would like to see a peaceful, stable, democratic government in Afghanistan. He added however that Afghanistan is “key to their prosperity”.

According to him, Pakistan has two choices – share in the benefits of a peaceful Afghanistan or “opt for chaos”. He said Pakistan would be the country most affected by a civil war in Afghanistan.

Ghani also stated that Pakistan could become an anchor for regional stability. On China, he said he did not believe Beijing would get “involved” in regional conflict and stated that Afghanistan does not want “a replacement” for US troops once they have withdrawn.

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Rights watchdog reports 79 killed and wounded in past week

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(Last Updated On: April 19, 2021)

The Afghan Human Rights Commission (AHRC) said on Monday that at least 79 civilians have been killed and injured in 12 separate incidents in Farah, Parwan, Nangarhar and Kandahar provinces in the past week.

The commission stated 39 civilians were killed and 40 others were injured.

“Among [those] killed are four women and eight children,” the commission said.

According to the watchdog, among the wounded civilians there are 17 children and four women.

The commission blames the Taliban and unknown armed groups for the casualties.

The Taliban has not yet however commented.

The commission says that IEDs, roadside mines and armed attacks are the main reasons for the casualties.

The AHRC also meanwhile continued to call for a ceasefire and for disputes to be resolved through negotiations aimed at achieving a just and lasting peace.

“War only leads to more killing and destruction and has no winner,” the commission said.

The annual report of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) shows that over 8,500 civilians in Afghanistan were killed and wounded due to war and violence in 2020.

Based on the AIHRC report, up to 3,000 Afghan civilians were killed and over 5,000 were wounded in war in 2020.

The report states that civilian casualties in Afghanistan dropped 21 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.

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