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Vice President Saleh pulls no punches as he discusses Afghan peace process   

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(Last Updated On: September 8, 2020)

Afghanistan’s First Vice President Amrullah Saleh said this week that if the Taliban backs out of peace talks it will be a “slap in the face” to the international community and to peace itself and that the Taliban will try to “use violence to get more concessions.”

He also said the United States, the European Union and NATO can not state the peace process is purely Afghan – not when it has been a global war and that any peace deal reached would be one of the hardest agreements in history. 

In an interview broadcast by Al Arabiya, Saleh said that if the Taliban backs out of peace talks following the release of all prisoners, it will be a “slap in the face.”

“Should the Taliban find another excuse [to avoid peace talks], it will be a slap in the face to the international community who told us this is the last excuse, and it will be a slap in the face to peace itself,” said Saleh.

Saleh, who described himself as being “politically on the opposite side of the Taliban,” warned that the Taliban will try to “use violence to get more concessions.”

He said the Taliban will increase violence, put up more checkpoints on highways will “complicate the peace and if they make more excuses it will make it difficult for us” to enter into a deal with them.  

“Making peace with the Taliban is neither surrendering to the Taliban nor demanding the Taliban surrender to us.”

“It’s bringing two ways of life under one national ceiling. It will be co-existence,” Saleh said.

“In my view, the Taliban are a distortional expression of Islam, they are a deviation in the body of Islam, they are a deviation in the body of the Afghan culture, they are a deviation and a deviated group in the context of our history. They don’t represent us. They don’t represent me, my family, my country, my community.

“But because of violence, they have become a reality,” he said. 

He said they lack a political manifest and all they know “is a gun in their hand looking at your forehead. The moment they put down that gun, what other skill do they have to be used in society” he asked. 

“Nothing!” Saleh said. 

“Why should I forgive or forget that type of a group?”

But he pointed out that this does not mean he won’t embrace peace. “But I will always fly their crimes in their face. They are criminals”. 

On a possible peace settlement, Saleh said it would have to ensure the safety of all Afghans, “respect for everyone, respect for diversity.”

“If I try to put a tie on the neck of the Taliban the peace process will fail. But if they try to put a turban on my head, it will also fail.”

“So the solution is a turban and a suit both under the same ceiling. That is how we look at the peace process. Any side trying to dominate will make it fail,” he said. 

On US troops withdrawal, Saleh said the Afghan government would not “beg the West to stay” but added that it was in their interests to stay – in one form or another. 

Running through the reasons he said it would be of benefit for the West to stay in Afghanistan “economic-wise or development-wise, diplomatically and politically, intelligence-wise and a foothold of military.”

He said if the West pulled out, the question that would then need to be asked would be “what is the use of NATO if they can’t resolve an issue in which they were so much invested for two decades.”

Saleh said that the West should also be asking themselves what type of peace do they want to see in Afghanistan in a “place they fought”. 

He pointed out the war has never been purely Afghan and said “it’s not going to be a purely Afghan peace.”

He emphasized that the United States, the European Union and NATO can not state the peace process is purely Afghan. 

“No! This is a global peace process, as it was a global war,” he stated.

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Gailani calls for Afghans to unite under the umbrella of Islam 

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(Last Updated On: October 20, 2020)

After weeks of waiting for progress around the Afghan peace talks that are currently underway in Doha, Hamid Gailani, the leader of the Mahaz-e-Milli Islami Afghanistan party on Tuesday called on all parties to the conflict to unite as Muslims and to form an interim government. 

Gailani called on both government and the Taliban to take steps consistent with what “the mighty Allah has said about peace”. Citing the Holy Quran, Gailani said “and peace is good”  and that “we should do good for the people.”

“We are both Afghan and Muslim and it is the Afghans and Muslims who are suffering on both ends, people who die or get wounded from any of the sides are both Afghan and Muslim.

“Brothers, let’s be united, jointly and with understanding and for the sake of Allah, get rid of this sedition and take steps toward peace, which has been favored by Allah,” said Gailani, who is the son of the late politician and respected religious leader Pir Sayed Ahmed Gailani. 

In reference to negotiations, Gailani suggested a shift in dynamics and said: “Both sides are plaintiff. In every (traditional) negotiation, religion/Sharia, national traditions, and international law, there is always a need for a third side in conflict resolution. Therefore, as I see it we have no option for solving the issue other than the formation of an interim administration, in which all sides will have representation and agreed by all, and steps towards peace be taken in light of it.”

“Then a national government, according to the wishes of people and with the participation of all sides based on national consensus, be formed so that the seditious war comes to an end.”

Gailani is yet another voice calling for an end to the ongoing war – a war that has lasted for almost 40 years and one which the majority of stakeholders, including foreign partners and neighboring countries agree that there is no military solution. 

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Pompeo to meet with Armenian and Azeri foreign ministers

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(Last Updated On: October 21, 2020)

Armenia and Azerbaijan’s foreign ministers will meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington on Friday in a bid to end the conflict that erupted between the two countries last month. 

Reuters reported on Tuesday that Armenia and Azerbaijan had both confirmed the meeting. 

The US State Department did not immediately comment but the planned meetings suggest Washington is stepping up efforts to calm a conflict that has killed hundreds of people since September 27. 

Russia has tried to mediate over the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute but two ceasefires brokered in Moscow this month have not ended the fighting. 

Reuters stated that Armenia and Azerbaijan confirmed intense fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday and that fears have been raised that regional powers Turkey and Russia could be sucked into a wider conflict. 

 

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Rashid Khan appeals for more Tests against cricket’s elite

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(Last Updated On: October 20, 2020)

Star cricketer Rashid Khan has appealed to cricket bodies to give Afghanistan the chance to play more tournaments against leading cricket teams in order to improve their game. 

“To become a big player you have to play against the best,” Rashid told the TMS does the IPL podcast on Tuesday.

“When I came to the IPL at 17, I saw the players, their workouts and fitness, the net sessions and I realized how much work I needed to do to be much better and more consistent.

“We have played against Australia twice in five years – in the two World Cups – and it’s the same with England and New Zealand.

“Hopefully we get some games against them and the rest of the players get the same opportunity to get better.”

Rashid also said that Afghanistan’s rise into cricket’s top tier took him by surprise but said how proud he was.

“I feel so proud, coming from Afghanistan and being on this stage. It’s a dream for me, sometimes I think where I was five or six years ago and where I am now, it’s something very special for me,” Rashid said.

“When I was watching other leg-spinners a few years back, I would never dream that sometime in the future I will be someone else’s role model,” he said.

Since being afforded full membership to the ICC and associated Test status, Afghanistan has played just four Test matches, against the West Indies, Ireland and Bangladesh. 

Australia, England, South Africa and New Zealand, the first four members of the Test cricket family, are yet to welcome Afghanistan into the fold in competition.

 

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