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UNAMA Releases Findings on Mass Killings of Civilians in Mirza Olang

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(Last Updated On: August 20, 2017)

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released on Sunday the initial findings of its human rights fact-finding into the August attack on Mirza Olang village in Sayyad district of northern Sar-i-Pul province.

“UNAMA verified allegations that Taliban and local self-proclaimed Islamic State (Daesh) fighters killed at least 36 persons, including civilians and person hors de combat, during the attack on Mirza Olang,”

“At least half of the killings took place on Saturday 5 August when Anti-Government Elements stopped families trying to escape the village, separated women and young children, and killed at least 18 people, both civilians and Pro-Government Militia who were hors de combat at the time of their killing. Others, including one woman, were reportedly shot while they tried to escape from the village,” UNAMA said in a statement.

“I condemn this blatant targeting of civilians and persons hors de combat in clear violation of international law,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. “The perpetrators of these killings and crimes must be held accountable.”

The statement further said that with regard to allegations of beheadings, UNAMA found no evidence to substantiate such claims.

“The human rights team through their interviews with witnesses and officials were also unable to verify other claims about abductions of women and sexual violence. Further investigations by competent authorities are required into the allegations of sectarian hatred as a factor in the killings in Mirza Olang, whose residents are mainly Shi’a Muslims.”

The Mission welcomes the appointment of a senior team from the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Interior to investigate the attack.

UNAMA’s report makes recommendations to Anti-Government Elements, including that they immediately cease the deliberate targeting of civilians. The report also encourages prompt, impartial and transparent investigations of the attack and killings in Mirza Olang, and to ensure accountability for perpetrators and appropriate redress for the victims.

The UNAMA report comes after the Afghan security forces cleared the valley about a week ago. However, the insurgents reportedly reclaimed the area a day after the operation.

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India’s COVID-19 infection tally now at 5.9 million

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(Last Updated On: September 27, 2020)

India’s coronavirus tally reached 5.9 million cases on Sunday after 88,600 new infections were recorded in a 24 hour period. 

The total number of cases is now at 5,992,532 public health ministry data showed. 

Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have reported the most new cases in the last 24 hours and together account for around 55 percent of the country’s new infections on Sunday.

Both Houses of Parliament adjourned last week due to the virus as over 20 MPs tested positive for the virus. 

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said India would help in vaccine production. 

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Modi said: “As the largest vaccine producing country of the world, I want to give one more assurance to the global community today.” 

“India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis.” 

World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus meanwhile welcomed Modi’s assurance that India will use its vaccine production capacity in helping nations fight the pandemic. 

He said on Twitter: “Thank you for your commitment to solidarity .. Only together, by mobilizing our forces and resources jointly for the common good can we end the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Pakistan PM warns a hasty foreign troop withdrawal would be unwise

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(Last Updated On: September 27, 2020)

Pakistan Prime Minister has warned that a hasty withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan would be unwise and that there are regional spoilers who are not committed to a peaceful Afghanistan as it would not be of benefit to them. 

In an opinion piece published in the Washington Post on Saturday, Khan wrote that it is time to plan for a post-war Afghanistan and for how the world can help with such a transition. 

“All those who have invested in the Afghan peace process should resist the temptation for setting unrealistic timelines. 

“A hasty international withdrawal from Afghanistan would be unwise. We should also guard against regional spoilers who are not invested in peace and see instability in Afghanistan as advantageous for their own geopolitical ends,” Khan wrote. 

He said Pakistan will continue to support the Afghan people in their quest for a unified, independent and sovereign Afghanistan that is at peace with itself and its neighbors but “Pakistan believes that peace negotiations should not be conducted under coercion and urges all parties to reduce violence.

“Just as the Afghan government has recognized the Taliban as a political reality, it is hoped that the Taliban would recognize the progress Afghanistan has made,” he said.

He stated that as with the US, Pakistan does not want Afghanistan to become a safe haven again for terrorists, but that “Pakistan continues to be the target of attacks launched by externally enabled terrorist groups based in Afghanistan.”

“These terrorist groups pose a clear and present danger to global peace. We hope the Afghan government will take measures to control ungoverned spaces inside its territory from where terrorist groups are able to plan and carry out attacks against the Afghan people, the international coalition forces stationed in Afghanistan, and other countries in the region, including Pakistan,” he said. 

According to Khan: “It is also time to start planning for the ‘day after’ – how can the world help a postwar Afghanistan transition to sustainable peace? How do we create conditions that will enable the millions of Afghan refugees living in Pakistan, and other countries, to return to their homeland with dignity and honor?”

He also said the intra-Afghan negotiations are likely to be difficult, requiring patience and compromise from all sides and that progress could be slow and painstaking.

“There may even be the occasional deadlock, as Afghans work together for their future. At such times, we would do well to remember that a bloodless deadlock on the negotiating table is infinitely better than a bloody stalemate on the battlefield.”

He stated that the first step toward peace has been taken in Doha but not seeing through the Afghanistan peace process or abandoning it for any reason would be a great travesty.

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Taliban team member says contentious issue is US-Taliban deal

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2020)

A member of the Taliban’s negotiating team, Khairullah Khairkhwa, said on Saturday that the main point of contention in the ongoing intra-Afghan talks in Doha was that the Afghanistan Republic was refusing to deal with the current talks in the framework of the US-Taliban agreement.

This agreement was conditions-based and was signed in Doha in February – which ultimately led to bringing the two warring sides together.

Khairkhwa said in a video recording that “real controversy is that the Afghan side is reluctant to accept that intra-Afghan talks are underway as part of a Taliban deal with the United States.”

According to Khairkhwa, the second point of contention is that Shiites say that decisions should not be based solely on Hanafi jurisprudence. The Afghan negotiating team want Hanafi, Shiite and human rights included.

Hanafi is one of the four schools of thought of religious jurisprudence within Sunni Islam and makes considerable use of reason or opinion in legal decisions.

Talks started two weeks ago between the two sides which clearly appear to have reached some sort of deadlock although very few details have been released on the discussions by either side.

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