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Zalmai Khalilzad to visit Qatar seeking Taliban’s final decision on reducing violence

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(Last Updated On: January 4, 2020)

A credible source at the US Embassy Kabul says the United States wants to know whether the Taliban are willing to reduce violence because of the peace agreement; therefore, the US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is going to travel to Qatar in order to know the Taliban’s final decision in the matter.

 

Abdul Shokor Motmayen, former head of the National Olympic Committee during the Taliban regime, says that the Taliban military council has agreed to reduce violence and talks in this regard, will resume as soon as Khalilzad’s trip to Qatar where a peace agreement will be signed.

 

The ceasefire demanded by the Afghan government has not been the focus of the peace talks so far. The reduction of violence by the Taliban means to reduce the number of attacks in major Afghan cities, highways, and civilians.

 

Najia Anwari, the spokesperson of State Ministry for Peace, says that they are trying to consolidate and strengthen national and international harmony about peace.

 

Meanwhile, some experts are concerned about the consequences of the Iran-US confrontation, particularly the killing of Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, over the Afghan peace process. They believe that there are possibilities in the escalation of violence in Afghanistan.

 

Rahmatullah Bezhanpor, a political activist, says that Iran will most probably manipulate its influence over the Taliban leaders to undermine the US-led peace process in Afghanistan.

 

Peace talks between US and Taliban representatives were suspended nearly a month ago. Zalmai Khalilzad further emphasized that the Afghan peace process has reached a sensitive phase and called the halt a good opportunity for Taliban representatives to dig deep the matter of ceasefire, violence reduction and intra-Afghan talks, with their leadership.

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14 killed, including five children, in Daikundi roadside explosion

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(Last Updated On: September 29, 2020)

At least 14 people were killed on Tuesday morning when the vehicle they were traveling in hit a roadside bomb. 

The explosion happened in Kariz village in Kajran District, the Ministry of Interior confirmed. 

The incident happened at about 9am. Seventeen civilians had been in the vehicle at the time of the explosion. 

Those killed include seven women, five children and two men, officials confirmed. Three others were wounded.

A sharp rise in violence has been detected around the country in the past two months, with a marked increase in the use of IEDs by the Taliban – which largely affects civilians as they are planted along public roads. 

Afghan security forces have however been detecting and defusing hundreds of these explosive devices around the country each week – putting their own lives at risk to do so.

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Time to move past ‘conspiracy theories’, work together: Abdullah

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(Last Updated On: September 29, 2020)

Afghanistan’s chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation addressed an event at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad on Tuesday and said “peace is on the horizon” but that everyone needs to move beyond conspiracy theories, and “start looking at the region as one region.”

Everyone needs to draw on lessons learned and look at where the region could have been if the situation had been different, he said. 

Abdullah stated he cannot emphasize enough the importance of current peace efforts which will benefit the entire region. 

He told the delegates attending the event his job as the chairman of the HCNR is to help build consensus and promote reconciliation in order to seek a political settlement. 

Again he said Afghanistan is very different to what it was in 2001 and is inclusive and respects the rights of people.

Both Afghanistan and Pakistan continue to pay a high price because of terrorism, he said adding that there are groups working as spoilers of the peace process. 

He also stated that during his meeting with Pakistan’s national assembly on Monday night, he noticed the widespread interest in Pakistan to reach a peace settlement in Afghanistan. 

He said Afghanistan is grateful for the steps Pakistan has taken to date around the peace efforts and thanked Pakistan for hosting millions of Afghan refugees. 

Prior to Abdullah’s speech, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, said: “We do not want to meddle in your [Afghanistan’s] internal affairs. We respect your sovereignty, your independence and your territorial integrity”. 

He said there had been “a paradigm shift”  and Pakistan wants to be friends, not masters. 

He also assured Kabul of Pakistan’s “complete support”.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also said Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will visit Pakistan soon. 

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Trump was ‘absolutely wrong’ to negotiate with Taliban: McMaster

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(Last Updated On: September 29, 2020)

The Trump administration has been “absolutely wrong” in its negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan, former US national security adviser HR McMaster said Monday night.

Appearing on CNN International’s Amanpour show, McMaster was asked by host Christiane Amanpour about the White House’s talks with the Taliban as the administration works towards a complete troop withdrawal by April next year.

She asked whether McMaster believes “to fulfill a promise to pull all American forces from overseas that cozying up to the Taliban is a national security sensible thing for the United States to do right now.”

“I think that the Trump administration policy has been absolutely wrong since the negotiations began with the Taliban,” McMaster replied.

“What I think is paradoxical about this, regrettable about it, is the Trump administration has replicated almost precisely the fundamental flaws in the Obama administration approach to Afghanistan,” he said, “and that is this flawed assumption, this belief, that there’s this bold line between the Taliban and al-Qaeda.”

There is a tendency, he said, toward “strategic narcissism — defining the world as we would like it to be and then assuming what we do is decisive to the outcome, and in this case, creating the enemy we would prefer.”

McMaster said what worries him is what “power-sharing with the Taliban” looks like? 

“Is that mass executions in the soccer stadium every other Saturday? Is that every other girls’ school bulldozed?” he said. “So I’m very concerned that this negotiation process made too many concessions.”

“Forcing the Afghan government to release 5,000 of the most heinous people on earth who could form the backbone of a rejuvenated terrorist infrastructure as well as cutting a deal,” saying simply “just don’t plot against the United States,” he said.

He said there are brave Afghans fighting daily to preserve the freedoms that they have achieved since the end of the Taliban regime in 2001, implying Trump’s policy was going against everything the Afghan nation has been fighting for.

“About 30 Afghan soldiers and police give their lives every day” to protect the Afghan population against “these terrorists who commit mass murder of innocent people as their principle tactic in a war against all humanity.”

He said the Trump administration’s policy towards the Taliban “is a disaster” and “it’s something I hope can be reversed.”

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