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Upcoming Qatar Talks Can’t Make Final Call on Afghan War: AIHRC

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(Last Updated On: March 30, 2019)

Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) says the upcoming peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan politicians would not reach into a final agreement to bring an end to the war unless the Afghan government gets involved in this process.

In mid-April, Doha would host the second round of peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan politicians in which the representatives of the Afghan government have also been asked to participate. But Kabul is yet to declare its position regarding the meeting.

The Taliban are expected to reach into an agreement with the Afghan politicians in this round of talks. The meeting is also expected to make way for talks with the Afghan government, which is considered to be the main discussion-making body in the peace process.

“The Taliban would not make an agreement with [Afghan] politicians, because it is the Afghan government which has been authorized to take decisions. They have to sign the agreement with the government,” said Sima Samar, chairperson of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).

The AIHRC expressed concern regarding Doha talks as no representative of the commission has been invited yet to participate in the meeting.  The commission said the values of human rights might get ignored in the talks.

Separately, Angelina Jolie, academy award-winning actress, and refugee activist pushed for the inclusion of Afghan women in ongoing peace talks during an address to ministers and diplomats at the United Nations on Friday.

“In Afghanistan, thousands of women have recently come together in public risking their lives to ask that their rights and the rights of their children be guaranteed in peace negotiations that so far they have been allow no part of,” Jolie told a ministerial meeting on U.N. peacekeeping.

“The international community’s silent response is alarming, to say the least,” said Jolie, a special envoy for the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, which she began working with 18 years ago. “There can be no peace or stability in Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world that involves trading away the rights of women.”

Jolie also touted the importance of a United States that is “part of an international community,” after a retreat by U.S. President Donald Trump from U.N. agencies and global agreements that has some countries concerned about his commitment to multilateralism.

“I’m a patriot, I love my country and I want to see it thrive. I also believe in an America that is part of an international community. Countries working together on equal footing is how we reduce the risk of conflict,” she said.

“A country that believes that all men and women are born free and equal cannot be true to itself if it doesn’t defend those principles for all people, wherever they live,” she said.

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MIT-designed robot disinfects warehouse floor in 30 minutes

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(Last Updated On: July 4, 2020)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has designed a robot that can disinfect a floor of a 4,000-square foot warehouse in 30 minutes, and it can be used to clean grocery stores or schools one day, CNN reported.

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in cooperation with Ava Robotics — a company that focuses on creating telepresence robots — and the Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) developed a robot which can disinfect surfaces and neutralize aerosolized forms of the Coronavirus using a custom UV-C light.

CNN said, “Development on this project began in early April, and one of the researchers said that it came in direct response to the pandemic. The results have been encouraging enough that the researchers say that autonomous UV disinfection could be done in other environments such as supermarkets, factories, and restaurants.”

Covid-19 mainly spreads via airborne transmission, and it is capable of remaining on surfaces for several days. An autonomous robot capable of quickly and efficiently cleaning large areas such as warehouses or grocery stores could prove to be essential.

UV-C light has proven effective at killing bacteria and viruses on surfaces, the researchers said. However, it is harmful to humans. The robot was built to be autonomous without the need for any direct supervision or interaction.

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Afghan gov’t to decide on remaining Taliban prisoners

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(Last Updated On: July 4, 2020)

The Afghan government said that it will decide the release of the remaining Taliban prisoners on Sunday, a step advancing to the commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations

Sources in the government say that the decision about the release of hundreds of Taliban prisoners will be taken on Sunday, to begin Intra-Afghan Talks soon.

Sources say the Afghan government opposes the release of about 100 Taliban prisoners involved in deadly attacks and organized crime, however, the full prisoner release was set as a precondition to the start of Intra-Afghan talks by the Taliban.

“Many of those released are not nice people. They clearly were at least in warfare against the Afghan people, so the government has been forthcoming courageous in trying to take these steps and actions as a way to build confidence,” said Ross Wilson, the US Chargé d’Affaires in Afghanistan. 

Meanwhile, sources associated with the Afghan government say that a decision will be made tomorrow Sunday to release several hundred more Taliban prisoners. According to these sources, the decision will be taken to start the Intra-Afghan talks as soon as possible.

“The Afghan government has taken all the necessary steps to start negotiations between the Afghans. We expect the Taliban to enter into direct talks with the Afghan government by reducing violence,” said Najia Anwari, a spokesman for the Ministry of Peace.

According to Afghan government statistics, nearly 4,000 Taliban prisoners have been released so far. The Taliban have also said they have released more than 700 government-affiliated prisoners.

“If the agreement is not reached, the Taliban will not take part in the Afghan talks,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.

Negotiations between Afghans are expected to take place in Doha this month, but the escalation of violence by the Taliban and the government’s failure to release some Taliban prisoners are seen as a barrier to the talks. The United States has called on the Afghan government and the Taliban to take immediate action against the ongoing Afghan conflict.

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COVID-19; Ghazanfar’s body laid to rest in Balkh

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(Last Updated On: July 4, 2020)

Mohammad Yousuf Ghazanfar, the President’s Special Envoy for development, economic, commercial, and alleviation of poverty affairs has died of Coronavirus. 

The Presidential Palace issued a statement called the death of Ghazanfar as a great loss for the country; saying he had “served the country.”

Yousuf Ghazanfar’s body was laid to rest in Mazar-e-Sharif in a special ceremony attended by a number of government officials.

The presidential palace says that Mohammad Yusuf Ghazanfar’s was a “pious, benevolent and nationalist figure” who was always striving for progress and development in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce considers Yousuf Ghazanfar’s functions to be very valuable for economic development in the country.

Yousuf Ghazanfar was under treatment in Turkey after contracting the coronavirus.

The funeral ceremony for Ghazanfar was held at the Presidential Palace as well while his corpse was being buried in Balkh on Saturday evening.

The ceremony was attended by President Ashraf Ghani, the First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, a number of cabinet ministers, high-ranking government officials, and a number of prominent figures of the country.

The President and other participants paid tribute and prayed for the soul of the late Yousuf Ghazanfar and wished the deceased a happy paradise.

Ghazanfar died of coronavirus at a hospital in Ankara, Turkey on Friday evening.

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