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US Secretary of State’s press statement on Afghanistan political impasse

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(Last Updated On: March 24, 2020)

The United States Secretary of State expressed in a press statement, 23rd March 2020, that the US deeply regretted that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and former Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah had informed Secretary Pompeo that they had been unable to agree on an inclusive government.

The statement in its opening note says, “The United States is proud of our partnership with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Afghan people, and admires what Afghanistan has achieved since 2001. We have forged a deep bond, especially with Afghan security forces, through shared sacrifice in responding to threats to international peace and security since 2001.”

The statement underlines that the national priority the United States attaches to help bring about a political settlement to forty years of the devastating war, Secretary Pompeo came to Kabul Monday with an urgent message and spoke to the nation’s leaders to impress upon them the need to compromise for the sake of the Afghan people.

“The United States deeply regrets that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and former Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah have informed Secretary Pompeo that they have been unable to agree on an inclusive government that can meet the challenges of governance, peace, and security, and provide for the health and welfare of Afghan citizens. The United States is disappointed in them and what their conduct means for Afghanistan and our shared interests. Their failure has harmed U.S.-Afghan relations and, sadly, dishonors those Afghan, Americans, and Coalition partners who have sacrificed their lives and treasure in the struggle to build a new future for this country,” the statement writes.

The statement further says, “Because this leadership failure poses a direct threat to U.S. national interests, effective immediately, the U.S. government will initiate a review of the scope of our cooperation with Afghanistan. Among other steps, we are today announcing a responsible adjustment to our spending in Afghanistan and immediately reducing assistance by $1 billion this year. We are prepared to reduce by another $1 billion in 2021. We will also initiate a review of all of our programs and projects to identify additional reductions and reconsider our pledges to future donor conferences for Afghanistan. We have made clear to the leadership that we will not back security operations that are politically motivated, nor support political leaders who order such operations or those who advocate for or support the parallel government.”

It is also said in the statement, “The United States remains convinced that a political settlement is the only solution to the conflict. We note that Afghan leaders are acting inconsistently with their commitments under the Joint Declaration, chiefly failing to establish an inclusive national team to participate in intra-Afghan negotiations or take practical steps to facilitate prisoner releases by both sides as a confidence-building measure to reach a political settlement and achieve a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire. We are proceeding with the conditions-based withdrawal of our forces in accordance with the U.S.-Taliban agreement.”

The statement, however, highlights that the United States is prepared to support these efforts and revisit the reviews initiated today if Afghan leaders choose to form an inclusive government that can provide security and participates in the peace process.

“The United States is not abandoning our partnership with Afghanistan, or our commitment to support the Afghan security forces, but reviewing the scope of our cooperation given the irresponsible actions of Afghan leaders. To illustrate America’s steadfast commitment to the Afghan people, the United States will be providing $15 million in assistance to help combat the spread of the coronavirus in Afghanistan,” the statement concludes.

Source: https://www.state.gov/on-the-political-impasse-in-afghanistan/

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Ghani meets with politicians, jihadi leaders to garner more support for peace

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(Last Updated On: July 31, 2021)

President Ashraf Ghani has emphasized the need for the continuation of peace talks in Doha and national mobilization in support of the Afghan Security and Defense Forces (ANSDF).

After holding a consultative meeting with prominent Afghan political figures and former Jihadi leaders on Saturday, Ghani issued a statement outlining a number of critical necessities.

The statement highlighted the following key points:

  1. Ending the war and reaching a just and durable peace has been the Afghan government’s priority
  2. The government has an obligation to preserve the territorial integrity of Afghanistan, national honors and institutions, values, women rights, and freedoms
  3. The political and Jihadi leaders vowed to make efforts for further national mobilization in support of Afghan forces in their fight against the Taliban.

Meanwhile, Latif Mahmood, the Deputy Spokesman for the Presidential Palace, stated: “Ending to war, maintaining a just and lasting peace, support for the Security and Defense Forces, defending the territorial integrity and national honor, preservation of values gained in the last two decades and the principal of the Constitution were discussed in this meeting.”

Meanwhile, the Russian TASS news agency has reported that the extended Troika on the Afghan peace settlement comprising representatives of Russia, the United States, China, and Pakistan will be held in early August.

“We are in constant contact over the phone with my counterpart [US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay] Khalilzad, who is now [staying] in Washington. Next week, we are planning to meet in Doha with him and with our Chinese and Pakistani counterparts for the next encounter of the extended Troika,” said Special Russian Presidential Representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov, as quoted by the TASS.

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Watchdog reports of growing number of revenge attacks

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(Last Updated On: July 31, 2021)

Taliban forces in Afghanistan are targeting known critics despite claiming that they have ordered their fighters to act with restraint, Human Rights Watch said on Saturday.

In Kandahar, the Taliban have detained and executed suspected members of the provincial government and security forces, and in some cases their relatives.

Among recent cases, the Taliban executed a popular Kandahari comedian, Nazar Mohammad, known as Khasha Zwan, who posted routines that included songs and jokes on TikTok. He had reportedly also worked with the local police.

On July 22, Taliban fighters abducted Khasha Zwan from his home in southern Kandahar, beat him, and then shot him multiple times, HRW said in a statement.

After a video of two men slapping and abusing Khasha Zwan appeared on social media, the Taliban admitted that two of their fighters had killed him.
“Taliban forces apparently executed Khasha Zwan because he poked fun at Taliban leaders,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“His murder and other recent abuses demonstrate the willingness of Taliban commanders to violently crush even the tamest criticism or objection,” she said.

Activists in Kandahar said that in villages surrounding the provincial capital, Taliban commanders have detained scores of people associated with the government or police, HRW reported.

In one case, on July 16, Taliban fighters abducted two men whose brothers had worked with NDS 03, a CIA-backed strike force that has been responsible for summary executions and other abuses, from their homes in the Qasam Pol area, Dand district, HRW stated.

Their relatives say that they have not heard from the two men since.
Also in mid-July, a media report said Taliban fighters detained Ahmadullah, a former police officer, in Spin Boldak. His family has not heard from him since.

His uncle said that the Taliban had sent letters saying that anyone who had worked with the government or foreign forces would not be harmed so long as they reported to the Taliban leadership and “admitted their ‘crime.’”
International humanitarian law prohibits summary executions, enforced disappearances, and other mistreatment of anyone in custody, which are war crimes, HRW reported.

It is unlawful to detain civilians unless absolutely necessary for imperative security reasons, the statement read.

Retaliatory attacks are a form of collective punishment and are also prohibited, HRW stated.

The International Criminal Court is currently investigating allegations of war crimes and serious human rights abuses by all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan, including the Taliban.

Taliban commanders who knew or should have known about abuses by forces under their control and took no action to prevent or stop them are culpable as a matter of command responsibility, HRW said.
“Advancing Taliban forces have no blank check to brutally target their critics,” Gossman said. “The Taliban leadership usually denies the abuses, but it’s their fighters carrying out these attacks and their responsibility to stop the killings.”

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20 killed, 18 wounded in two separate traffic accidents in Laghman

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(Last Updated On: July 31, 2021)

Officials said Saturday 20 people including women and children were killed and 18 others wounded in two separate traffic accidents on the Kabul-Jalalabad highway, Laghman provincial officials said.

Asadullah Dawlatzai, spokesman for the Laghman governor confirmed the accidents and said the first one happened on Friday night when two vehicles collided in Naranj Bagh area of Qarghayi district.

Eight people died and 10 were injured in this accident.

According to Dawlatzai, 12 other people were killed and eight injured in another traffic incident in Qarghayi district of the province on Saturday morning.

He said both accidents were caused by driver negligence.

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