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Khalilzad welcomes UN Security Council’s support of peace process

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(Last Updated On: September 20, 2020)

Commenting on the UN Security Council’s statement on peace talks, US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said it underscores international commitment to Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity.

He said: “This is a unique moment for Afghanistan. Not only are Afghan parties negotiating directly, but as indicated by the UNSC statement, there is broad international support for a negotiated political settlement and peace in Afghanistan. This unique opportunity must be seized.”

“The UNSC statement supports the path the parties are currently on, which is to find a political settlement that accommodates all Afghans, one the region and international community can endorse in spirit and in action,” Khalilzad said. 

The UN Security Council welcomed the start of Afghan peace talks and reaffirmed the council’s strong commitment to Afghanistan but called for a ceasefire that can lead to permanent peace. 

In the statement issued by the UNSC, it said it’s members recognized that sustainable peace can be achieved only through a comprehensive and inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process that aims to bring about a permanent ceasefire to end the conflict. 

This comes after the Afghan negotiating team and the Taliban embarked on peace talks in Doha last week. 

Issued by the council’s President Abdou Abarry, the statement noted that “members of the Security Council strongly encouraged parties to the negotiations to continue pursuing confidence-building measures, including reductions in violence, and to continue to engage in good faith.”

“The members of the Security Council reaffirmed the importance of the United Nations role in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan and welcomed the efforts of all regional and international partners of Afghanistan in facilitating intra-Afghan negotiations and in helping the parties reach peace.”

The negotiating teams continue to discuss the framework of the talks going forward but for the past week, little information on developments has been released. 

High-profile officials, who have been involved in paving the way for talks to start, have however said in the past week that there are challenges ahead. 

One of the key areas of discussion will be around the governance system of the country – with Afghanistan wanting to stay a Republic while the Taliban insist on it becoming an Emirate. 

On Saturday, the Taliban stated in its weekly commentary that it has insisted from the outset that an “Islamic system” must be established and that this should be the “focal point of discussions”.

The Afghan government however stands by its political system stating it is fully Islamic. 

 

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Renegades signs Afghan teenager for Australia’s Big Bash League

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(Last Updated On: October 29, 2020)

Australia’s Melbourne Renegades have signed up 15-year-old Noor Ahmad after a 12-month scouting mission and plan to unleash him on the Big Bash League later this year. 

Earlier this week Renegades confirmed Mohammad Nabi had also signed up and on Thursday, the club announced on its website, 15-year-old Noor Ahmad, from Kabul, will also join their team. 

“We’ve been tracking Noor Ahmad closely for more than a year now and although he’s in the early stages of his career, he’s an exciting prospect and he has a few tricks that’ll make life difficult for batsmen,” Renegades Coach Michael Klinger said. 

Ahmad is a left-arm wrist-spinner who has earned high praise around the globe.

Ahmad earned a contract in the Caribbean Premier League earlier this year and won a T20 trophy under Mohammad Nabi’s captaincy in 2019.

“The Renegades fans and followers of the Big Bash may not know much about Noor at this stage but I can tell you, he is a very exciting talent who I feel has a big future in the game,” Nabi said.

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Khalilzad meets with Taliban’s Baradar, discusses increase in violence

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(Last Updated On: October 29, 2020)

US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad met with Taliban deputy leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Doha on Wednesday night to discuss a range of issues relating to the Afghan peace process, including the high levels of violence. 

In a series of tweets by the Taliban’s Doha spokesman, Mohammad Naeem, Khalilzad was accompanied by US Forces Afghanistan commander General Scott Miller.

Naeem said the discussion centered around a number of issues and talks were held on the full “implementation of the whole articles of the agreement signed between the IEA [Taliban] and the US”.

He also said the release of remaining prisoners was discussed as was removing names of Taliban members from the US’ blacklist. 

According to him, the increase in hostilities was discussed and attributed the high levels of violence to a number of factors. He said the “humiliation of the martyrs’ bodies” was one reason, as was that of raids carried out against released prisoners and “their killing”. 

He also said, “offensives and the violation of the agreement overall were reckoned the causes that don’t lead the circumstances to a good direction.”

Khalilzad returned to Doha earlier this week to meet with negotiating teams in Doha to press both sides to immediately reduce the levels of violence that Afghan civilians are forced to bear. 

According to a statement issued on Wednesday by the US State Department: “Too many Afghans are dying. The sides urgently need an agreement on a reduction of violence leading to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.” 

“Along with international partners, Ambassador Khalilzad will press the two negotiating teams to accelerate their efforts and agree to a political roadmap that ends Afghanistan’s 40-year-long war. The sides must move past procedure and into substantive negotiations. American and international assistance remains available to all sides,” the statement read. 

Khalilzad meanwhile said in a series of tweets on Tuesday night that he returns “to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened.”

“The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever,” he said.

“Intransigence and a refusal to abandon animosity, embrace fellow citizens, and agree on a formula for political cooperation/competition underpin the ongoing war.”

Khalilzad said: “Afghans are dying at a high rate, and regional spoilers are using Afghans as cannon fodder for their illegitimate objectives.  Bloodshed must end.

“Afghans need to pivot to development instead of destruction, stability instead of chaos, forgiveness instead of vengeance, compromise instead of inflexibility,” he said.

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Bajwa warns Pakistan and Afghanistan ‘can’t afford chaos’

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(Last Updated On: October 29, 2020)

Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Wednesday that Afghanistan and Pakistan could not afford the risk of lawlessness and chaos as such a situation would have catastrophic consequences for both countries.

Speaking during his visit to a hospital in Peshawar to visit victims of Tuesday’s bombing at a madrassa that killed at least seven people, including children, and wounded more than 100, Bajwa said that Afghan refugees in Pakistan should exercise caution about unfavorable elements so that they were not wittingly or unwittingly used in terrorist activities, Dawn News reported. 

He said Pakistan has always wanted peace in Afghanistan and would spare no effort to restore peace and stability in the country.

Bajwa also said Pakistan and Afghanistan had faced terrorism for the past two decades but that peace in both countries was intertwined.

Tuesday’s explosion happened as a prominent religious scholar was giving a special class about the teachings of Islam at the main hall of the Jamia Zubairia madrassa, police confirmed. 

Some Afghan students studying at the seminary were also among the wounded persons, officials said.

 

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