afghanistan

Taliban : Women to wear burqa in Afghanistan, violation to attract punishment

Kabul [Afghanistan]:  Taliban has issued a decree ordering the Afghan women to wear the all-covering burqa at public places, adding that if violated a male member of the family will be improsned for three days. Furthermore, if the woman found guilty again, her guardian will be sent to court for further punishment.

Moreover, female public employees will be fired if they do not wear hijab. Morover, male employees in government offices will be suspended from their jobs if female members of their families do not wear hijab.

Taliban today issued a decree ordering the Afghan women to wear the all-covering burqa in public.

 

Taliban came to power with many promises

Though the decree is new, the Taliban have been forcing women to cover themselves up since returning to power in August. Earlier, the Taliban’s religious police put up posters around the capital Kabul ordering Afghan women to cover up.

Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice pasted the poster on cafes and shops. The posters had an image of the face-covering burqa. Along with the picture, a message on the poster read, “According to Sharia law, Muslim women must wear the hijab.”
Taliban during its regime in the 1990s made it mandatory for women to wear a burqa. Women in Kabul already cover their hair with headscarves, though some wear modest western clothing. However, outside Kabul burqa remained common, as per the media outlet.

Women without Burqa will be punished.

Now, the Taliban with this new decree is enforcing every woman in Afghanistan to wear the all-covering burqa. Last year in December, the Taliban issued another repressive directive that Afghan women seeking to travel long distances by road should be offered transport only if accompanied by a male relative.

Moreover, the worldwide condemnation of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan had heightened after the Taliban decided to close all secondary schools for girls. Several activists and political parties have urged the Taliban to reconsider the ban on secondary schools for girls.

Psychologists have said that the Afghan girl students above grade six, banned from going to schools by the Taliban, are undergoing mental stress due to this move. According to HRW, women and girls are blocked from accessing health care as well. Reports suggest that women and girls facing violence have no escape route. (ANI)

40 civilians including children killed in Pak airstrikes in Afghanistan

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Over 40 Afghan civilians, including children, were killed after Pakistani aircraft launched airstrikes in different parts of Khost and Kunar provinces on Friday night, according to Habib Khan, a journalist and the founder of Afghan peace watch, Afghanistan’s independent peace watchdog.

Condemning the incident on Twitter, Khan said, “For the first time ever, Pakistani military aircrafts bombarded Afghan soil under the Taliban, killing more than 40 civilians. Though, Pakistan has been killing Afghans through her proxy forces, the Taliban and Mujahideen, for decades.”
Khan also shared a picture of the corpses of the people killed in the incident and called the International criminal court and Amnesty International to take note of Pakistani war crimes in Afghanistan.

The local officials on Saturday of the Khost and Kunar provinces confirmed that the Pakistani aircraft launched the airstrikes on different parts of the provinces.

Following the incident, the Taliban summoned Pakistan’s ambassador Mansoor Ahmad Khan to convey concerns to the Pakistan government over the incident.

According to the country’s foreign ministry, the Afghan acting minister of foreign affairs, Amir Khan Muttaqi and the acting deputy defence minister Alhaj Mullah Shirin Akhund were present in the meeting and condemned the attacks by Pakistani forces.

“Pakistani Ambassador to Kabul Summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, today. Along with the IEA Foreign Minister Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi, the session also included Deputy Defense Minister Alhaj Mullah Shirin Akhund where the Afghan side condemned the recent,” it tweeted.

Meanwhile, according to analysts, the attacks indicate Pakistan’s direct interference and violation of Afghan national sovereignty, reported ToloNews.

“The airstrikes and ground operations conducted by the Pakistan forces alongside the (Durand Line) in Khost and Kunar are an obvious violation and interference in Afghan airspace and territory,” the media outlet quoted Sadeq Shinwari, a political analyst, as saying. (ANI)

 

ICC U19 WC: Winning and losing is part of cricket, says Afghanistan skipper Saifi

                

St John’s [Antigua],: Afghanistan skipper Suliman Saifi expressed disappointment after the side got defeated by England in the semi-final of the ongoing U19 Cricket World Cup, England.

England kept their nerve to become the first team to reach the ICC Under 19 Men’s Cricket World Cup final after edging a thriller with Afghanistan by 15 runs.
“Very difficult time. Momentum (was) with us. We played some great knocks. We are a good team. Winning and losing is part of cricket. Congratulations to England,” said Saifi after the game.

Spinner Rehan Ahmed became the hero for the Young Lions, taking three wickets in the penultimate over at a crucial point when their opponents needed just 18 runs from the last 10 balls.

England will now face the winner of the other semi between Australia and India on Saturday in the final – a remarkable turnaround from the previous tournament just two years ago in South Africa when they finished ninth.

As for Afghanistan, they will head to the Coolidge Cricket Ground for the third-place playoff.

Iran issues permit for transit of diesel to Afghanistan

Tehran [Iran] (ANI): Iran has said that it announced that Tehran has issued a three-month permit for the transfer of diesel to Afghanistan, a media report said.
Hassan Kazemi Qomi, Special Representative of the President of Iran for Afghanistan, said in a tweet on Saturday that in order to meet the needs of the Afghan people, Tehran has issued a three-month permit for the transfer of diesel to Afghanistan, according to Ariana News. Qomi also said that Iran’s decision came following a request by the Taliban.
“In order to meet the needs of the Afghan people in the winter and according to the request of the Afghan authorities from the Islamic Republic of Iran, a permit for the transit of diesel to Afghanistan from the territory of Iran was issued for three months,” Ariana News quoted the official as saying.
The Taliban cabinet last week held a meeting. The cabinet decided that it would consider import options to meet the people’s fuel demand. (Image source: Instagram)

Taliban should respect human rights for the sake of international recognition, says UN chief

New York [US] (ANI): The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday (local time) said that the Taliban should respect human rights for the sake of recognition and international support.
The UN chief made the statement while laying out his priorities for 2022 at the General Assembly in New York, reported Tolo News. Guterres touching upon the issue of Afghanistan and human rights in the country said that respect for the rights of women and girls and human rights, in general, is required for the Islamic Emirate to gain recognition and also obtain international support.
“It is absolutely essential for them in the context of their objective of recognition, but also in the context of their objective of getting international support for their own people, it is absolutely essential to have full respect for the rights of women and girls and to have a positive approach to human rights in general,” he said.
Women’s rights to work and girls’ right to education have been two key issues the international community has set as part of the conditions for recognition. Following the collapse of the former government, secondary girls’ schools have remained closed in most parts of the country.
The US special envoy for Afghanistan Thomas West has said that the international community will pay the salaries of Afghan teachers if the Islamic Emirate reopens all girls’ schools in the coming school year, reported Tolo News.
The UN chief also talked about the world facing a five-alarm global fire that requires the full mobilization and support of all countries, reported Tolo News.
“I want to begin the year by raising five alarms – on COVID-19, global finance, climate action, lawlessness in cyberspace, and peace and security,” he said. “Now is not the time to simply list and lament challenges, now is the time to act,” he added. (Image source: Instagram)

Turkey, Qatar reach deal with Taliban on security at Kabul Airport

Ankara [Turkey] (ANI): Turkey and Qatar have reached an agreement with the Taliban on the issue of maintaining security at the Kabul airport, reported Sputnik.
“Negotiations in Kabul are ongoing. Our delegation is there. An agreement has been reached on the issue of security,” Sputnik quoted a source from the Turkish Foreign Ministry as saying on Thursday. However, discussions are continuing regarding the calculation of the cost of this process, the sources said
“The negotiation process is taking place in a constructive manner,” the source informed further.
It came after the second round of negotiations over the running of Afghanistan’s airports had begun with a Qatar-Turkish company earlier this month.
The Deputy Head of Civil Aviation, Ghulam Gilani Wafa, earlier in January had said the Afghan side will attempt to find the best choice when signing the contract, according to TOLOnews.
“Today, we started online negotiations and they will continue until we reach a decision on the contract. We will start face-to-face negotiations if we feel it is needed,” Gilani Wafa had said. (Image source: Instagram)

Taliban discuss land survey for cross-border railway with Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan

Kabul [Afghanistan] (ANI): Taliban government has discussed a land survey for a railway project among Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan at a cabinet meeting, Xinhua News Agency reported citing Afghan media on Tuesday.
Afghanistan’s acting Prime Minister Mohammad Hassan Akhund chaired the cabinet meeting, the news agency said. It added that the cabinet also directed the Economic Commission to evaluate the terms and conditions put forward by foreign companies that are willing to invest in the field of compressed natural gas.
Pakistan National Security Adviser (NSA) Moeed Yusuf has visited Kabul amid the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the country.
This would be the second high-level visit from Pakistan since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August last year, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.
This visit comes as several contentious issues have emerged between Afghanistan and Pakistan clashed including the border fencing issue which led to clashes at the Durand Line. (Image source: Unsplash)

Taliban welcomes UN chief’s call to lift ban on fund

Kabul [Afghanistan] (ANI): Taliban on Friday welcomed remarks of the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling on the international comunity to lift a ban on Afghan assets.
over the international community to quickly provide assistance to the central bank of Afghanistan and do more to inject liquidity in the country’s economy to avoid a collapse in 2022. “We appreciate the UN Secretary General’s call for the release of Afghan capital from the United States,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a Tweet.
On Thursday, the UN Chief called on the international community to quickly provide assistance to the central bank of Afghanistan and do more to inject liquidity in the country’s economy to avoid a collapse in 2022.
“The function of Afghanistan’s central bank must be preserved and assisted, and a path identified for conditional release of Afghan foreign currency reserves,” Sputnik quoted Guterres statement.
“We must do even more to rapidly inject liquidity into the economy and avoid a meltdown that would lead to poverty, hunger and destitution for millions,” Guterres added.
Following the Taliban takeover in mid-August, the US froze nearly 10 billion dollars in Afghanistan’s assets and slapped sanctions on the Islamic Emirate.
In the meantime, the stoppage of foreign aids to Afghanistan has crippled the already fragile economic system of Afghanistan and has adversely affected the lives of millions of people. (Image source: Unsplash)

UK-based NGO expresses concern over humanitarian crisis affecting Afghan children

Kabul [Afghanistan] (ANI): UK-based international NGO “Save the Children” has expressed grave concern over the humanitarian crisis affecting Afghan children and said the cold weather has greatly increased problems for the young in the country.
Save the Children said that millions are hungry, out of school, displaced, and face the threat of cold weather. They need urgent humanitarian assistance, Tolo News reported citing the organisation’s statement. “Families at the moment are struggling to eat. Nearly five million children are one step away from famine, so it is absolutely critical that the international community continue to support Afghanistan,” said Kristiana Marton, an officer at Save the Children.
Ahmad Hussain, 11, is one of millions of Afghan children who is working to afford food for his 11-member family. He said that poverty forced him to leave school.
“I was in school, but I left it after my father lost his job. Every day, I earn about 50 to 60 afghani,” Ahmad Hussain told Tolo News. “I polish shoes to find the money to buy bread for my family; in these cold days, few people come,” said Kaihan.
Afghanistan has been in turmoil since the Taliban took control of the war-torn nation in mid-August.
Moreover, the humanitarian crisis has spiked since international aid has dried up. (Image source: Instagram)

Pakistan vows to continue fencing at Afghanistan border despite Taliban’s objections

taliban cabinet, kabul news, latest taliban

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistani Inter-Services Public Relations chief Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar on Wednesday confirmed that the fencing of the 2,600km-long border with Afghanistan will be completed despite the Taliban’s statement that they will not allow fencing by Pakistan on the Durand Line.
This is not the first time that this verbal clash has surfaced as the two neighbouring countries have been in a state of tension on the border fencing issue. Addressing a media conference at the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) office, Iftikhar said: “There is no problem, the fencing is continuing and will continue.”, reported Dawn News.
This statement and reaffirmation by the Pakistani spokesperson downplay the Taliban’s recent statements where they made clear that they will not allow fencing by Pakistan on the Durand Line.
Mawllawi Sanaullah Sangin, commander of the Taliban group said on Wednesday, according to Tolo News said, “We (Taliban) will not allow the fencing anytime, in any form. Whatever they (Pakistan) did before, they did, but we will not allow it anymore. There will be no fencing anymore,”
Pakistani spokesperson Iftikhar in the conference maintained, “As far as the issue about the fencing that you are referring to … these are very localised problems. They have been addressed. The government is in touch with the Afghan interim government,”.
He emphasised the cordial nature of the relations with Afghanistan’s de facto government.

Terror, trust deficit fuels trouble on Pakistan’s borders with Afghanistan, India

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan’s troubles along its border has increased amid tension with both Afghanistan and India.
The border trouble gives grave signals to its military-backed government that exporting terrorism would carry grave consequences, according to Al Arabiya. Earlier, Pakistani Rangers exchanged mortar fire with the Taliban in eastern Nangarhar province after the latter ripped away the border fence being laid by the Pakistani personnel in the third week of December last year.
The local Taliban official followed it up by threatening ‘a war’ if the Pakistanis persisted with the border fencing.
Further, Pakistani soldiers unleashed artillery in Afghanistan’s Kunar province following the incident in Nangarhar province’s Gushta area. This indicates that both sides have upped the ante along the disputed Durand boundary.
The Durand Line forms the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, a 2,670-kilometre (1,660 mi) international land border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Further, the Taliban local affiliates mentioned that they have stopped the Pakistan military from erecting barbed wire fences and outposts in Afghanistan’s Nimroz province, according to local media.
On the other hand, around the same time in the third week of December ( 2021), Pakistan soldiers clashed with India in Jammu and Kashmir on the border when the Indians thwarted efforts to infiltrate militants.
The Indian Army had formally raised the issue of Pakistan Rangers starting a construction project just across the Line of Control, opposite Kupwara district in Jammu and Kashmir union.
But the two incidents portray Pakistan image which is obsessed with the Kashmir border dispute with India and has sought to ‘normalise’ the border with successive governments in Afghanistan, according to Al Arabiya.
Earlier, Islamabad invested heavily in the Taliban in the mid-1990s when the latter took power in Afghanistan and, again, after they were pushed out of power following the US-led invasion in 2001. Nearly two- decades’ sheltering and nurturing of the Taliban was meant to acquire “strategic depth” vis a vis the perennial enemy India.
However, the Taliban’s return to power in Kabul in August 2021, from securing that ‘depth’, has denied it even the basic peace with Afghanistan. Although landlocked and dependent upon Pakistan for reaching out to the sea, the Afghans have doggedly refused to acknowledge the British-era defined Durrand Line border according to Al Arabiya.

Russia Foreign Minister denies official recognition of Taliban authorities

Moscow [Russia]: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has emphasized that official recognition of Taliban regime in Afghanistan which took power in August last year is not possible despite maintaining working contacts.
Official recognition of the government of the Taliban movement in Kabul will depend on how their promises are fulfilled, including on countering threats emanating from the territory of Afghanistan, stated Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, according to Frontier Post. Further, Russia maintains working contacts with representatives of the Taliban movement (banned in the Russian Federation) who came to power in Afghanistan, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
“We maintain working contacts with representatives of the new Afghan authorities, including through our embassy in Kabul. In the context of the socio-economic crisis, the humanitarian sphere is becoming a particularly urgent area of practical interaction,” the Russian Foreign Minister noted.
Russian Foreign Minister recalled that the Russian side delivered several consignments of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan in November and December, and also helped Afghan students get to the Russian Federation to continue their studies.
“Our colleagues from the Russian Ministry of Defense are making a great useful contribution to these noble efforts,” he said.
“Official recognition of the government of the Taliban movement in Kabul will depend on how their promises are fulfilled, including on countering threats emanating from the territory of Afghanistan,” he added.
The Russian Foreign Minister further mentioned that Afghanistan’s effort in counter-terrorism will be watched.
“In connection with this, we will, in solidarity with the rest of the world community, gradually move towards the exclusion of the Taliban movement from the UN Security Council sanctions lists, which in turn would create the basis for the official recognition of the new government of Afghanistan,” Lavrov said.
Earlier, Russia delivered to Afghanistan the third batch of humanitarian aid weighing 36 tons, consisting of food and medicine in December.
Meanwhile, a 200 passengers, including Russian citizens and Afghan students, who are studying in Russia, arrived in Moscow by special export flights of the Russian Defense Ministry from Kabul.
In the period from August 26 to December 1, 770 citizens of the Russian Federation, the CSTO member states (Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia), Ukraine and Afghanistan were evacuated from the territory of Afghanistan by military transport aircraft, and more than 100 tons of humanitarian cargo were delivered, according to Frontier Post.

China blames US for bringing serious humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan

Beijing [China]: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the irresponsible withdrawal by the United States from Afghanistan has brought a serious humanitarian crisis to the Afghan people and enormous security challenges to regional stability.
“The entire world witnessed the Kabul Moment, when the US forces left Afghanistan in a rush. Such irresponsible withdrawal has brought a serious humanitarian crisis to the Afghan people and enormous security challenges to regional stability,” Wang Yi said. In his interview, China’s Foreign Minister said that China supports Afghanistan in building an inclusive government, ending turbulence, restoring stability and rebuilding the country so that the Afghan people will be able to enjoy the benefits of peace and tranquillity supplies.
On hotspot issues such as Afghanistan and Myanmar, China has stayed in close coordination with countries in the region to jointly safeguard stability in this part of the world, according to China’s state councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s interview to Xinhua News Agency.
In 2021, the entire world witnessed the Kabul Moment, when the US forces left Afghanistan in a rush. The scenes of chaos and even shocking brutality at Kabul airport will stay in the memory of humanity forever as a historic mark on the failure of the so-called “democratic transformation”, according to State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi interview to Xinhua News Agency and China Media Group.
Further, he mentioned that China has actively facilitated international coordination and played a constructive role in a stable transition of the Afghanistan situation.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Afghanistan still faces serious challenges in the economy, people’s livelihoods, security and governance.
“The Afghan people have suffered from years of war and turmoil, and should not have to endure the ravages of the pandemic, hunger and cold and winterization. Facing the sudden changes in Afghanistan, China did not sit by, but extended a helping hand,” he said.
“We immediately reached out to the Afghan people with emergency humanitarian assistance, especially vaccines and food,” he added.

Taliban open fire on protesters near building of erstwhile women affairs ministry

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Taliban on Tuesday opened fire on protesters, who were demanding “employment, food and freedom” near a building in Kabul that in the past housed the ministry of women’s affairs, Russian media reported citing a protestor.
“Taliban opened fire on protesters to stop or suppress the protest,” she said, adding that filming of the demonstration was not allowed. According to the protester, women came out in protest on Tuesday demanding “employment, food and freedom.” As of now, no casualties have been reported, as per Sputnik.
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan had dissolved the ministry of women affairs and replaced it with the Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Khaama Press said.
Last Thursday, the Taliban decided to dissolve several ministries and electoral bodies including the ministry of peace affairs, ministry of parliament affairs, independent election commission and the independent election complaints commission.

Kabul airport should be given to UAE, say Afghan traders

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Afghanistan traders have urged the Taliban regime to hand over the contract concerning operations at the Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport to the United Arab Emirates.
This comes as reports have emerged that Qatar and Turkey might control the operations at the airport. The traders believe that businessmen have been investing in the UAE and their activity may be hindered if Qatar or Turkey took control, Tolo News reported. Last Thursday, officials from Qatar and Turkey visited Afghanistan to discuss operations at the Kabul International Airport. The agreement also included airports in the provinces of Balkh, Herat, Kandahar and Khost.
Afghan Transportation Ministry spokesman Imamuddin Ahmadi said the parties did not reach the agreement, adding that consultations would continue until the agreement is concluded.
“This contract is important for the Afghans who are living here. This contract should be given to the UAE. If the flights between Kabul-UAE are halted, the traders will face serious problems,” the head of the Afghanistan traders council in the UAE, Obaidullah Sadar Khail, said as quoted by the Afghan news agency TOLOnews.
The council noted that more than 200,000 Afghans have settled in the UAE and invested millions of dollars in the country and added that daily there were about 10 flights between the countries prior to regime change.
Former Afghan officials have a different point of view, saying that international norms and other measures will improve aviation services provided by the country and will increase income.

Co-education reason behind closure of universities in Afghanistan, says Taliban minister

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Minister of Higher Education of Afghanistan, Abdul Baqi Haqqani on Sunday said that the reason behind the closure of universities is co-education and economic crisis.
The Taliban minister said that they have to make separate classes for girls and hire extra lecturers that need more time and extra budget, reported Khaama Press. Haqqani was on a visit to Pakistan recently discussed the problems of Afghan students with Islamabad officials and relevant administrations.
“We discussed the problems of Afghan students and we were given assurance by Pakistani officials. Pakistan increased yearly scholarships for Afghan students by 500. Afghanistan will be provided 1,500 scholarships every year,” said Haqqani.
Meanwhile, Haqqani also said that no country will be allowed to grant scholarships directly to people and that the scholarships will be managed through the ministry of higher education, reported Khaama Press.
He had suggested building independent universities for Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
“Pakistan is an ideal country for Afghan students who seek higher education as the country is cheaper and has similarities with the Afghan people,” Haqqani added.
It comes as public universities and high schools for girls are yet to be reopened.
The Taliban, after the siege, proposed a ban on coeducation. Group’s officials had also ordered that girls will no longer be allowed to sit in the same classes as boys in universities, Khaama Press reported.

US should not interfere in Afghan affairs, says Taliban leader

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Senior member of Taliban-appointed Afghanistan government on Sunday warned the United States not to interfere in the country’s internal affairs, stating that “it is an independent country and it is making decisions independently.”
Tolo News reported that the deputy minister of foreign affairs for political affairs, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai pointed out the withdrawal of US forces from Bagram Airfield in August and said that “American soldiers fled from Afghanistan in the dark of the night.” He said that the country is independent now and that the last four months have been the first time in four decades for Afghanistan in which Afghans are making their decisions independently, as per the local media outlet.
After the fall of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan led by Ashraf Ghani and the Taliban taking control of the country in mid-August, most Afghans want to leave the war-torn nation as they fear repercussions from the group as well as dread the previous regime of the Taliban.
As the Taliban took control of Afghanistan once again after 20 years, experts also believe that Afghan women are most likely to face an uncertain future under the terrorist group regime.
The Afghan economy going from bad to worse since the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, and it could shrink by 30 per cent or more in the coming months, International Monetary Fund (IMF) had warned.
As per a report published in Asia Times, since the Taliban has overthrown the democratically elected government in Afghanistan, the financial condition of the country is continuously moving towards a total economic collapse.

Taliban creates new 170-member police unit to protect educational institutes

Kabul [Afghanistan]: The Taliban on Saturday announced a new 170-member police unit for the security and protection of educational institutes.
A statement released by the Ministry of Higher Education of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan read that the personnel of the unit are part of the ministry’s Special Forces that were trained in 313 central corps for 30 days, reported Khaama Press. Deputy Minister of Higher Education Lutfullah Khairkhaw said that the creation of a special unit to protect educational institutions was a must needed.
In the meantime, officials in the defence ministry addressing the new graduates said, protection of educational institutions is as important as their stronghold.
As per the Taliban, the new unit was created after people filed numerous complaints about the behaviour of Taliban affiliates now protecting these institutes, reported Khaama Press.
It comes as public universities and high schools for girls are yet to be reopened.
The Taliban, after the siege, proposed a ban on coeducation. Group’s officials had also ordered that girls will no longer be allowed to sit in the same classes as boys in universities, Khaama Press reported.

Pakistan-initiated OIC meet on Afghanistan proves a damp squib

By Kshvid News Desk

Pakistan on December 19 hosted a special meeting of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Countries aimed at providing aid to the Afghan people, who are battling a grim winter season amid suspension of all international aid.
The 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers was the biggest conference on Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover in August 2021. Delegates from the US, Russia, China and the UN were also present.

After the meeting, the OIC resolved to work with the United Nations to find a way out to unfreeze Afghan assets abroad, estimated to be worth several hundreds of millions of dollars. These assets have been frozen since the Taliban takeover of Kabul.

For the international community, the situation in Afghanistan is a unique challenge. On the one hand, millions of Afghans are battling a humanitarian crisis in the absence of food, medicine, winter clothing and education. However, providing any assistance to the country would require legitimizing the Taliban government that not only seized power in Kabul unlawfully, but also has severely curtailed the rights of women and minorities, has clamped down on girls education and has been killing officials of former Afghan govt and the Afghan National Army.

With no international government engaging with the Taliban, it fell upon Pakistan, which has tried to present itself as the friend of the Afghan people, to call upon all Muslim countries to find a way out to resume international aid to Kabul. Pakistan is also concerned that if the economic situation in Afghanistan deteriorates further, the flow of Afghan refugees to the country will also increase substantially, increasing economic burden on Pakistan.
Of course, it is also well-known that Pakistan has been a sympathizer and principal sponsor of the Taliban, and by highlighting the plight of ordinary Afghans, it wants the world to recognize the new regime in Kabul.

At the OIC meeting, Pakistani PM Imran Khan urged the United States to consider the four crore Afghan population as separate from the Taliban. He then also went off-course and brought in his Kashmir agenda, saying the OIC must have a unified response for Kashmir and Palestine.
However, considering Talibans image and its worrying records on human rights, the OIC knows it would be a challenge to convince the world to resume normal relations with the regime. Therefore, at the meeting, the OIC also called upon the Taliban, whose foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi was also attending, to abide by “obligations under international human rights covenants, especially with regards to the rights of women, children, youth, elderly and people with special needs”. It also resolved to prepare a team of International Muslim scholars that will engage with the Taliban on issues like tolerance in Islam, womens rights, education for girls, etc.
Although the 57 Muslim countries pledged to work to provide financial and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and to try and get its assets unfrozen, there was no financial commitment by any nation. Which goes on to show that Pakistan’s move to involve the OIC may not produce the desired results.

#pakistan #oic #meet #afghanistan #taliban

Taliban dissolve 2 Ministries, electoral bodies in Afghanistan

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Taliban have decided to dissolve several Ministries and electoral bodies including Ministry of Government of peace affairs, Ministry of Government in parliament affairs, Independent Election Commission and Independent Election Complaints Commission.
According to Khaama Press, the Independent Commission of Human Rights will be operational with a change in its name, as per the new decision. The Taliban have directed the administration of affairs and all relevant administrations to clarify the destiny of the staff of the ministries and the commissions, payment of their salaries, and the entities belonging to the bodies, Khaama Press reported.
One month deadline is given for the above-mentioned tasks to be completed, it added.
Furthermore, the Taliban have also decided to keep the secretariats of the former Senate and parliament and have direct administration of affairs to identify and implement the staff of the secretaries in a two-week time, the Afghan media outlet said.
Earlier, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan had dissolved Ministry of women Affairs and had replaced it with the ministry of promotion of virtue and promotion of vice, Khaama Press said.

Turkey, Qatar enter into deal with Taliban on running airport of Kabul

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Turkey and Qatar have entered into an agreement with the Taliban on the management over the international airport of Kabul and four other airports in Afghanistan, Sputnik reported.
The parties held “productive and effective” negotiations during which they agreed to create technical groups to work on details of the operations in the coming days, the Anadolu news agency reported on Friday, citing its sources. “Doha and Ankara have agreed to jointly operate Kabul International Airport,” said the sources.
The Turkish-Qatari Delegation will visit Kabul to continue the joint work, Sputnik reported.
Earlier, the Qatari technical team had repaired Kabul International Airport after the US withdrawal was completed on August 31.
International and local flights were suspended at Kabul’s international airport and across Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power in mid-August.

Turkey, Qatar to discuss airports management with Taliban

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Taliban on Thursday said that a joint delegation of Turkey and UAE are negotiating over the management of five airports of Afghanistan.
Ministry of Transportation and Civil Aviation of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan spokesperson Imamudin Ahmadi said that delegations of the two countries will begin talks with officials and technical teams of the ministry, reported Khaama Press. As per Ahmadi, the five airports in the discussion were Kabul International Airport, Kandahar International Airport, Mazar-e-Sharif International Airport, Khost Airport, and Herat Airport.
The ministry said that the government will fully focus on the country’s national interests while signing agreements with Turkish and Qatari companies, reported Tolo News.
“The contract will be about the tower, ground handling and some more technical sections,” said Imamuddin Ahmadi, a spokesman of the transport ministry.
The ministry said that after the agreement is signed, international flights will be operational for 24 hours a day in Afghanistan, Tolo News reported.
The development comes two days after the Turkish Foreign Minister had announced that Turkish and Qatari technical will visit Kabul and will meet authorities over the management of the airports.
Mevult Cavusoglu had said that the two countries will jointly take responsibility for the airports if they reach an agreement.
Earlier, the Qatari technical team had repaired Kabul International Airport after the US withdrawal was completed on August 31.
International and local flights were suspended at Kabul’s international airport and across Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power in mid-August.

Our policy is to provide safety to all residents in Afghanistan including minorities: Top Taliban leader to Sikhs

Kabul [Afghanistan]: The Taliban government’s policy is to provide safety and security for all residents in Afghanistan including minorities, said a top leader of the Afghan group on Thursday.
During his meeting with Sikh members here on Thursday, the Taliban’s Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi said that all people living in Afghanistan will be provided security. He stressed that it is the Taliban’s policy to provide safety to all including minorities. Narender Singh Khalsa, a Sikh politician in Afghanistan, was also present in the meeting. He flew back from Delhi last week.

India evacuated hundreds of people including Sikhs from Afghanistan in August when Kabul fell to the Taliban and the country’s government was collapsed.
Rights groups have said that Sikhs and other minorities are not safe in Afghanistan especially following the Taliban’s emergence to power in Kabul.
However, the Afghan group has been repeatedly assuring that it will provide safety and security to minorities in the country.

UN passes resolution over easing financial restrictions on Afghanistan

New York [US]: United Nations Security Council has passed resolution 2615 proposed by the United States and allowed money to flow to Afghanistan for humanitarian purposes, local media reported on Thursday.
Based on the new resolution, the US will ease financial restrictions on Afghanistan for humanitarian purposes and will allow the Taliban official and their entities that are involved in the process, Khaama Press reported. US special representative for Afghanistan Thomas West welcomed the move by UNSC and said that they along with the international community are united in support of the Afghan people.
“This morning, the UNSC also unanimously passed resolution 2615, drafted by the US and designed to enable broader support for the basic needs of the Afghan people,” West said in a tweet.
Meanwhile, India has supported the UNSC resolution to grant exemption from sanctions for humanitarian assistance to the troubled country.
Concerned over the fact that half the population of Afghanistan are facing acute food insecurity, Ambassador of India to the UN TS Tirumurti on Wednesday (local time) said that India has supported the UNSC resolution to grant exemption from sanctions for humanitarian assistance to the troubled country.
“The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is dire. We have seen reports that suggest that over half the population are facing crisis or emergency levels of acute food insecurity, urgent humanitarian assistance is required to meet the basic food needs of the people, and most of the country is going below the poverty threshold,” Tirumurti said at a UN Security Council.

First time in 20 years that no US troops spending holiday in Afghanistan, says Blinken

Washington [US]: This is the first time in 20 years that no US troops are
spending the holidays in Afghanistan, and we are not sending a third generation of American soldiers to fight and die there, said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “President Biden pledged to end America’s longest war. This summer, we made good on that promise, bringing Operation Resolute Support to a close and leading an international coalition to evacuate more than 1,20,000 people from Afghanistan,” said Blinken on Tuesday (local time) while interacting with media.
“We knew this would be challenging. It was. And there are lessons from the evacuation and relocation that we are learning for the future,” he added.

“But this is also the first time in 20 years that no US troops are spending the holidays in Afghanistan,” said Blinken emphasising, “We are not sending a third generation of American soldiers to fight and die there.”
Underlining that the US is the largest aid provider to Afghanistan, Blinken said that Washington will keep working to address the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan through its aid and diplomacy.
Noting that the US made good on its promises, including Washington’s pledge to help every American citizen who wanted to flee Afghanistan, Blinken said that Since September 1, we’ve helped nearly 500 Americans depart Afghanistan.
Ending its 20 years of war in Afghanistan, the last US troops left the Asian nation on August 31 this year under a deal with the Taliban agreed in Doha in February 2020. The governments in the US have been criticised domestically for engaging their troops in the long wars in foreign countries and not bringing them back home for years.

China calls for Afghanistan’s overseas assets to be promptly unfrozen

New York [US]: China on Wednesday called for unfreezing Afghanistan’s overseas assets as soon as possible.
China’s permanent representative to the United Nations Zhang Jun told UN Security Council, “We once again call for the unfreezing of Afghanistan’s overseas assets as soon as possible,” reported Sputnik. “These assets should be returned to their real owners and they cannot be used as a bargaining chip for threats or coercion,” added Zhang.
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a US resolution allowing humanitarian aid payments to Afghanistan despite the current sanctions, reported Sputnik.
“The result of the following is as follows: the draft resolution received 15 votes in favour, the draft resolution has been adopted unanimously as resolution 2615 of 2021,” the UNSC President said.

Afghanistan has been facing ISIS threat from Pakistan, says former Afghan President Hamid Karzai

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Rejecting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks on terrorism in his country, former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday said that the landlocked country has been facing ISIS’s threat from Pakistan.
At the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit on Sunday, Imran Khan had said ISIS threatens Pakistan from Afghanistan, adding that stability in Afghanistan is necessary. “We have had attacks from (the) Afghan border, from ISIL (ISIS), into Pakistan,” he said. Reacting to Khan’s remarks, the former Afghan president said these allegations are not true, TOLOnews reported. ISIS from the beginning has been threatening Afghanistan from Pakistan, not the other way around, Karzai added.
“These remarks are not true, and are obvious propaganda against Afghanistan,” Karzai said in a statement. “In fact, from the beginning, Afghanistan has been facing ISIS’s threat from Pakistan.”
Earlier, Karzai had warned Pakistan not to interfere in Kabul’s internal affairs. He had said that Islamabad should not encourage terrorism or extremism rather should establish relations with the country through “civil principles and principles of international relations.”
“My message to Pakistan, our brotherly country, is that they should not try to represent Afghanistan,” he said in an interview with Voice of America (VOA) in October.
Pakistan organised a summit of foreign ministers from the OIC on Sunday. An OIC resolution released after the meeting said the Islamic Development Bank would lead the effort to free up assistance by the first quarter of 2022, Al Jazeera reported.
The OIC meeting did not give the new Taliban government any formal international recognition and Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi was excluded from the official photograph taken during the event.

Jaishankar to host India-Central Asia Dialogue from today, focus likely on Afghanistan

New Delhi [India]: External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar is set to host the third meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue in New Delhi beginning Saturday that is aimed to further strengthen ties between the member countries, with particular focus on trade, connectivity and development cooperation.
This meeting, which will last till December 20, will see participation from Foreign Ministers of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. It assumes importance due to the ongoing humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. Since the Taliban’s takeover of the country, Jaishankar has met several of the participating ministers for talks focusing on the issues concerning the troubled country. “External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will be hosting the third meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue in New Delhi from Dec 18-20. Foreign Ministers of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan will participate in the meeting,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said earlier this week.
“The ministers are expected to discuss further strengthening of relations between India and central Asian countries but a particular focus on trade, connectivity and development cooperation. They will also exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest,” Bagchi added.
As part of the third meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue, the foreign ministers of Central Asian countries are expected to pay a joint courtesy visit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Earlier, the second meeting was organised by India in October 2020 in digital video conference format.
“There has been ongoing engagement between India and five Central Asian countries over the last few years. India considers Central Asia as part of its extended neighbourhood. EAM visited Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan this year. He also met the foreign minister of Turkmenistan this year,” MEA spokesperson had said.
“The holding of the India-Central Asia Dialogue is symbolic of the interest on part of all members countries for greater engagements between them in a spirit of friendship, trust and mutual understanding,” he added.

Imran Khan asks the international community to engage with the Taliban

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan asked the international community to engage with the Taliban whose foreign assets have been frozen.
The Ashraf Ghani-led government in Afghanistan was overthrown in mid-August this year, and since then, the country is facing a severe financial crunch, with their foreign assets frozen, according to Geo TV. Earlier, Imran Khan said that humanitarian organisations wishing to work from Pakistan to support efforts in Afghanistan should be facilitated and that Islamabad had already committed to being the air and land bridge for humanitarian support to Kabul.
However, despite Imran Khan’s appeal, the latest report of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Afghanistan shows concern about “conditional humanitarianism” or attempts to “leverage” humanitarian assistance for political purposes implying Pakistan’s motives.
Further, on December 19, Pakistan is hosting an extraordinary session of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Foreign Ministers in Islamabad and the issue of Afghanistan will be discussed in detail.

India in touch with Pakistan to send wheat, medicines to Afghanistan

New Delhi [India]: India is in touch with authorities in Pakistan to send more humanitarian assistance, including wheat and life-saving medicines to Afghanistan, the External Affairs Ministry said on Thursday.
“We’ll continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. We’re committed to sending 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said during his weekly media briefing here. “India is in touch with Pakistan authorities on modalities of shipment of 50,000 metric tons of wheat and as well other medical supplies to Afghanistan through the land route,” Bagchi said.
The spokesperson, however, did not comment on why India did not use the Iranian port of Chabahar Port to move wheat through Iran.
Bagchi reiterated that India has a special relationship with the Afghan people and UNSC Resolution 2593 would continue to guide India’s approach to Afghanistan.
Bagchi also noted that India had dispatched about 1.6 metric tonnes of medical supplies as humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan on December 11 and it was handed over to the representatives of the World Health Organization in Kabul.
Pakistan had in November this year decided to allow India to transport 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat and other humanitarian goods to Afghanistan through the Wagah border in a move Islamabad said was made on an “exceptional basis” keeping in view the humanitarian crises in Afghanistan.
The Taliban took over control of Kabul on August 15 and following this the country has been battered by deepening economic, humanitarian and security crisis. A combination of a suspension of foreign aid, the freezing of Afghan government assets, and international sanctions on the Taliban, have plunged a country already suffering from high poverty levels into a full-blown economic crisis.
The international community, from governments to non-governmental organizations, has been providing various assistance to the Afghan people.

Imran Khan warns against isolation of Afghanistan by international community

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has warned the international community against isolating Afghanistan, saying doing so would be disadvantageous for the world.
The prime minister made the comments as he chaired the second meeting of the Apex Committee on Afghanistan. During the meeting, he urged the international community to support the vulnerable people of Afghanistan, vowing that Pakistan would support the Afghan people in every possible way to avert a humanitarian crisis, Geo News reported citing a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office.
The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid, Planning Minister Asad Umer, Advisor on Finance Shaukat Tarin, Advisor on Commerce Abdul Razaq Dawood, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yusuf, and senior civil and military officers.
This comes as the Taliban is trying to gain global recognition as Afghanistan facing the worst humanitarian crisis
The prime minister urged the international community to support the vulnerable people of Afghanistan, vowing that Pakistan would support the Afghan people in every possible way to avert a humanitarian crisis, the statement said.
According to the statement, the premier highlighted that Pakistan has already committed to immediate relief of in-kind humanitarian assistance worth Rs5 billion, which comprises food commodities including 50,000 metric tons of wheat, emergency medical supplies, winter shelters, and other supplies.
He also said that humanitarian organisations wishing to work from Pakistan to support efforts in Afghanistan should be facilitated and that Islamabad had already committed to being the air and land bridge for humanitarian support to Kabul.

Pakistan invites Taliban to OIC summit

Kabul [Afghanistan]: In order to get the Taliban international recognition, Islamabad on Monday invited the Islamic Emirate to the summit of the Organization of the Islamic Countries which is scheduled to be held on December 19.
Waliullah Shaheen, head of the Center for Strategic Studies at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the Afghan economy, banking system and the normalization of Afghanistan’s relations with the world are the main agenda items for the meeting, reported Tolo News. “The economy, banking system and normalization of Afghanistan’s relations with the world are the agenda items of the meeting, and we, as the foreign ministry (of Afghanistan), will participate in this meeting,” he said.
In addition to the members of the OIC, Pakistan media reported that delegations from the US, Russia, Britain, the European Union, the World Bank and humanitarian organizations have also been invited to the conference.
“Many Islamic countries don’t have good ties with Afghanistan. I hope these countries rebuild their relations and together make a decision on recognizing Afghanistan,” said Sayed Ishaq Gailani, head of the National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan.
The Taliban unveiled their caretaker government with Hasan Akhund, who has been under United Nations sanctions since 2001, at the helm.
It has been more than 100 days since the Taliban takeover but has not been recognized by any nation of the world yet.
Respect for women and human rights, establishing inclusive government, not allowing Afghanistan to become safe haven of terrorism are the preconditions for the recognition set by the international community.
The Taliban has so far implemented none of these but has been promising to do so.

Taliban urge Chinese to invest in Afghanistan

Kabul [Afghanistan]: The Taliban have asked traders, especially Chinese investors, to put money into Afghanistan and vowed to ensure their security, reported local media.
“We hope all traders in particular Chinese investors to invest in Afghanistan and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will ensure their security,” said Deputy spokesperson of Afghanistan Bilal Karimi, reported Khaama Press. Referring to foreign interference in domestic issues, Karimi said the Taliban do not want to interfere in other’s affairs and that they will not allow others to do so either.
With regard to Beijing, Zabiullah Mujahid, deputy Minister of Information and Culture and spokesperson of the Taliban, addressing a news conference here on Sunday, said that China is one of the most important countries in the region, and emphasised that having good relations with the country will be the Taliban’s great achievement.
China on Sunday inaugurated a construction project in Kabul. Wang Yu who, Chinese ambassador to Kabul, attended the inauguration ceremony.

Imran Khan meets US Senators in Islamabad, discusses evolving situation in Afghanistan

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan met a four-member delegation of the US Senate in Islamabad and discussed the evolving situation in Afghanistan.
Referring to the evolving situation in Afghanistan, Imran Khan told the American Senators that the US must have a deeper engagement to promote the shared objectives of peace, stability and economic development, reported Radio Pakistan. During the meeting with US Senators Angus King, Richard Burr, John Cornyn and Benjamin Sasse, Khan also underlined the need to support the Afghan people by taking all possible measures to prevent a humanitarian crisis and economic collapse.
It comes as a few days after Pakistan refused to participate in the Summit for Democracy organised by the US on December 9-10 virtually.
The US had extended invitations to more than a hundred countries for the summit but China and some other countries were not included in the list.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office thanked the US for the invitation but said that it would engage with the country on a wide range of issues “at an opportune time in the future”, reported Geo News.

Bilawal Bhutto’s party hold rallies against inflation in Pakistan

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) staged demonstrations against price-hike in various cities across the country on Friday with its chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari saying that the people of the nation do not stand with Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The protest rallies, held in Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Sindh and in other places against the rising inflation, reported The News International. Emphasising that the people of Pakistan do not stand with Imran Khan, Zardari in a statement said that Khan has no right to be the prime minister without public support.
PPP Secretary General Nayyer Hussain Bokhari during a rally stated that the people of Pakistan are facing a tsunami of inflation.
Due to the incompetent government, the people of the country is facing rising power and gas tariffs, high petroleum prices, and rising unemployment, Bokhari said.
Referring to the Pakistani rupee’s depreciation, he said that the dollar was flying high against the country’s currency, stressing the incapable rulers have done nothing but to make people unemployed and demolish their houses.
Member of National Assembly Khursheed Shah, PPP Sindh President Nisar Khuhro, Provincial Minister Nasir Shah and others addressed rallies against inflation and said that the inept government of the PTI had done nothing for the betterment of people, according to The News International.

World Bank donors approve release of USD 280 million for Afghanistan

Washington [US]: The World Bank donors on Friday (local time) approved to release USD 280 million for Afghanistan to address humanitarian issues.
The Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund donors agreed to provide USD 280 million to UNICEF and the World Food Program by the end of December, said the World Bank, reported Sputnik. “The Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) donors today decided to transfer out USD 280 million in ARTF funds by the end of December 2021 to UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP),” the World Bank said in a press release.
The release said UNICEF will receive USD 100 million to provide essential health services in Afghanistan, and WFP will receive USD 180 million to bolster up food security and nutrition operations in the country, reported Sputnik.

Explosions kill two in Afghanistan’s Kabul

Kabul [Afghanistan]: At least two civilians were killed after two blasts rocked Afghanistan’s western city of Kabul on Friday morning, reported local media.
“A car bomb had exploded at the Iraqi police recruiting centre at Kisak, killing at least two civilians and wounding three others,” TOLOnews quoted Interior Ministry’s spokesperson Saeed Khosti as saying. Khosti further said that in another explosion in western Kabul, a lady has been injured.
So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the blasts.
Islamic State (IS)-affiliated terrorists have staged several bomb explosions in Kabul and other places since the Taliban’s takeover in mid-August.

International Olympic Committee announces USD 560,000 aid for Afghan athletes

Lausanne [Switzerland]: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced an aid package of USD 560,000 to help up to 2,000 Afghan beneficiaries carry on their sporting activities.
“An aid package of up to USD 560,000 was approved today by the IOC Executive Board; this will benefit up to 2,000 beneficiaries and help them over the winter to carry on their sporting activities,” IOC said in a statement. National sports team elite athletes and coaches, in addition to National Federation officials still living in Afghanistan, will be eligible to access this financial aid, and priority will be given to women. According to the statement, this one-off assistance of USD 265 per beneficiary – in line with UNHCR’s winterisation programme – will also be extended to the Afghan Paralympic community and to non-Olympic-sport National Federations.
“This follows the help we have offered to the Olympic community in Afghanistan in order to receive humanitarian visas, which led to 300 of them being able to leave the country,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.
He added: “It is also a result of our talks and our quiet diplomacy efforts with the Taliban. Not only do they accept this help, but they support it. It shows that quiet diplomacy works, and what effect it can have.”
“This humanitarian aid package can only be implemented because of our excellent partnership with UNHCR and the UN High Commissioner, Filippo Grandi,” he concluded.
According to the statement, UNHCR, which has a strong presence in Afghanistan, has confirmed that it could distribute the IOC humanitarian funding directly to the members of the Olympic community in Afghanistan.
After consultation with the Taliban, it has been agreed that the IOC and the elected office-bearers of the Afghan National Olympic Committee (NOC) will cooperate to consolidate the list of candidates with the respective National Federations to ensure a transparent and fair selection process.

Children in Afghanistan: UNICEF appeals for USD 2bn to avert collapse of vital social services in Afghanistan

Kabul [Afghanistan]: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has launched its largest-ever single-country appeal to urgently respond to the humanitarian needs of over 24 million people in Afghanistan, half of whom are children.

The appeal for USD 2 billion will help to avert the imminent collapse of health, nutrition, education and other vital social services for children and families, UNICEF said in a statement on Tuesday.
As the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate in Afghanistan, there are alarming disruptions in health and nutrition services, a disastrous food crisis, drought, outbreaks of measles, acute watery diarrhoea, polio and other preventable diseases, as well as the crippling onset of winter.

“The current humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is dire, especially for children. Winter has already set in and, without additional funding, UNICEF and partners will be unable to reach the children and families that need us the most,” said Alice Akunga, UNICEF Afghanistan Representative.

“As families struggle to put nutritious food on the table and health systems are further strained, millions of Afghan children are at risk of starvation and death. Others struggle to access water and sanitation, are cut off from their schools and at heightened risk of violence. As the desperation of families and children increases, UNICEF is doing everything possible to save and protect children.”

According to UNICEF, 1 in 2 children under five will be acutely malnourished in 2022 due to the food crisis and poor access to water, sanitation and hygiene services. Outbreaks of life-threatening diseases continue, with over 60,000 cases of measles reported in 2021. An estimated 8 of 10 Afghans drink bacteriologically contaminated water.

In addition, 10 million children are at risk of dropping out of school if teacher salaries are not paid and crippling poverty levels continue. Almost 4.5 million children are in need of mental health and psychosocial support, UNICEF said. (ANI)

India, Russia discuss Afghanistan, condemn cross-border terrorism; ink deal on AK-203 rifles, 28 pacts

New Delhi [India]: India and Russia on Monday discussed the evolving situation in Afghanistan, especially the security situation and its implications in the region, as they condemned the cross-border movement of terrorists and inked a deal for joint production of over six lakh AK-203 rifles in Uttar Pradesh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian Vladimir President Putin held the 21st annual summit on Monday, hours after the two nations held their maiden 2+2 dialogue. During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “short but highly productive and substantive” visit for the annual summit, India and Russia signed 28 MoUs and agreements including that on a programme of the Military-Technical Cooperation from 2021-2031.
In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India and Russia have not only cooperated with each other without any hesitation but have also taken special care of each other’s sensitivities.
“There have been many fundamental changes at the global level in the last several decades. A lot of geopolitical equations have emerged. But India-Russia friendship has been a constant among all these variables. Both the countries have not only cooperated with each other without any hesitation but have also taken special care of each other’s sensitivities. It is truly a unique and reliable model of inter-state friendship,” the Prime Minister said.
He said the two countries are adopting a long-term vision to deepen the relationship in the economic sector and have set a target of $30 billion in trade and $50 billion in investment by 2025.
Putin, whose visit to India was only his second foreign visit since the outbreak of COVID-19, said Russia views India “as a major power, whose people have been very friendly to us”.
“Our relations proceed from a very positive foundation. They are developing and forward-looking,” he said.
A 99-point comprehensive joint statement covering various aspects of the ties including cooperation in the space sector was issued after the talks that were held “in a warm and friendly atmosphere”.
“There were excellent discussions between the two leaders. This is President Putin second visit out of Russia since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The only visit he has undertaken was the brief visit to Geneva for the Russia-US summit,” Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said at a media briefing after the summit.
“The fact that the Russian president has decided to visit India for the annual summit exceptionally is an indication of the importance he attaches to the bilateral relationship and also his personal rapport,” he added.
PM Modi and President Putin expressed satisfaction at the sustained progress in the ‘Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership’ between both countries despite the challenges posed by the Covid pandemic.
They welcomed the holding of the first meeting of the 2+2 Dialogue of Foreign and Defence Ministers and the meeting of the Inter-Governmental Commission on Military and Military-Technical Cooperation.
The statement said the two sides positively assessed the multi-faceted India-Russia relations that span various areas of cooperation including political and strategic, economy, energy, military and security, science and technology, culture and humanitarian cooperation. They noted that while the traditional areas of cooperation are being further strengthened, new drivers of growth have led to diversification and expansion of bilateral cooperation.
The leaders underscored the need for greater economic cooperation and in this context, emphasized new drivers of growth for long term predictable and sustained economic cooperation.
They appreciated the success story of mutual investments and looked forward to greater investments in each others’ countries.
The role of connectivity through the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and the proposed Chennai – Vladivostok Eastern Maritime Corridor figured in the discussions.
The leaders discussed regional and global developments, including the post-pandemic global economic recovery, and the situation in Afghanistan.
They agreed that both countries share common perspectives and concerns on Afghanistan and appreciated the bilateral roadmap charted out at the NSA level for consultation and cooperation on Afghanistan.
“The leaders reiterated strong support for a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan while emphasizing the respect for sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and non-interference in its internal affairs. They also discussed the current humanitarian situation and decided to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people,” the statement said.
The leaders emphasised that Afghanistan’s territory should not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing any terrorist groups including ISIS, Al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba.”They reaffirmed their firm commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including its financing, the dismantling of terrorist infrastructure and countering radicalization, to ensure that Afghanistan would never become a safe haven for global terrorism,” the statement said.
The agreements and MoUs spanned vast areas including trade, energy, science and technology, intellectual property, outer space, geological exploration, cultural exchange and education.
The statement said India and Russia strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and urged the international community to intensify cooperation against terrorism including safe havens, terror financing, arms, drugs trafficking and radicalisation
The Central Bank of Russia and the Reserve Bank of India signed a cooperation agreement to fight cyber-attacks.
President Putin extended an invitation to Prime Minister Modi to visit Russia for the 22nd India-Russia Annual Summit in 2022.
Earlier in the day Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu co-chaired a meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission during which the two sides inked the agreement for joint production of over six lakh AK-203 assault rifles at a manufacturing facility in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi.
Rajnath Singh, Sergey Shoigu, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov took part in the 2+2 meeting. India has this arrangement only with members of Quad – the US, Japan and Australia.
In his remarks, Rajnath Singh made a veiled reference to China’s actions in eastern Ladakh.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, the extra-ordinary militarization and expansion of armament in our neighbourhood and the completely unprovoked aggression on our northern border since early summer of 2020 have thrown in several challenges,” he said.
“India is confident of overcoming these challenges with the strong political will and inherent capability of its people. Recognizing that its development needs are colossal and that its defence challenges are legitimate, real and immediate, India seeks partners who are sensitive and responsive to India’s expectations and requirements,” he added.
Jaishankar said at the situation in Afghanistan has wider repercussions for the Central Asian region and added that both India and Russia have a common interest in ASEAN centrality.
“India-Russia meeting today will address the emergence of multipolarity and rebalancing. We look at the consequence of over-centralized globalisation. Long-standing challenges of terrorism, violent extremism remain among newer challenges,” Jaishankar said. The situation in Afghanistan has wider repercussions including for Central Asia,” Jaishankar said.
He also stressed the strong and steady ties between India and Russia. “Our ties have been close and time-tested, in a world that has changed so much, they have been exceptionally steady,” he said.
He said the two countries have an active, dialogue at political levels and also a strong defence partnership over many years.
“Our meeting gives us a suitable platform to discuss political-military issues of mutual interest that are interrelated and cross-cutting,” he added.
Lavrov said that the newly established 2+2 ministerial dialogue will turn into an efficient platform to talk about both regional and international issues.
“Both Russia and India have a similar worldview of a more polycentric, more multipolar, more equitable world order. We advocate similar or identical positions on the most important political and military issues,” he said.

US, other world powers condemn Taliban over summary killings in Afghanistan

Washington [US] : The United States joined other international powers in expressing “deep concern” over the summary killings and enforced disappearances in Afghanistan after the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban in August this year.
“We are deeply concerned by reports of summary killings and enforced disappearances of former members of the Afghan security forces as documented by Human Rights Watch and others,” the State Department said. In a report released on November 30, the New York-based human rights watchdog documented the killing or disappearance of 47 former members of the Afghan security forces who had surrendered to or were apprehended by the Taliban between August 15 and October 31.
It also said that the Taliban “summarily executed or forcibly disappeared” more than 100 former security force members in just four of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces since the group took over.
A joint statement was issued by US, Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Ukraine.
“We are deeply concerned by reports of summary killings and enforced disappearances of former members of the Afghan security forces as documented by Human Rights Watch and others,” the State Department said.
“We underline that the alleged actions constitute serious human rights abuses and contradict the Taliban’s announced amnesty. We call on the Taliban to effectively enforce the amnesty for former members of the Afghan security forces and former Government officials to ensure that it is upheld across the country and throughout their ranks.
Reported cases must be investigated promptly and in a transparent manner, those responsible must be held accountable, and these steps must be clearly publicized as an immediate deterrent to further killings and disappearances,” the statement further added.
The statement further added that they will continue to measure Taliban by its actions

Afghanistan to resume issuing passports in 17 provinces

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Passport Department has been opened in 17 provinces in Afghanistan and will soon start them in the rest of the provinces, local media reported citing officials as saying.
On Saturday, the head of the Passport Department, Alam Gul Haqqani, said “we have started our activities in 17 provinces and will soon start them in the rest of the provinces”, Tolo News reported. As the department is planning to reopen its provincial branches, Haqqani, said some technical problems in the capital remained unsolved but efforts are underway to resolve them.
“We purchased new machines. Some of them arrived and some will arrive. Whenever the machines are provided, we will resume passport-issuing in the capital.”
Although the department in Kabul stopped operations citing technical issues, the number of applicants is growing in front of the department’s compound.
“Those who are registered by biometrics, their process should be completed,” Tolo News quoted Qudsia, an applicant as saying.
“They have formed a commission in Ibn-e-Sina hospital and when we went there they told us the passport is given to those patients who are on the brink of dying,” said Mohammad Yasar, another applicant.
Passport offices are opened in Herat, Kandahar, Kunduz, Balkh, Nangarhar, Khost, Paktia, Parwan, Kapisa, Logar, Maidan Wardak, Ghazni, Daikundi, Faryab, Ghor, Nuristan, and Badakhshan provinces, Tolo News reported.

Taliban discusses humanitarian aid, trade with Chinese envoy in Kabul

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Taliban appointed foreign minister Amir Khan Motaqi on Saturday met the Chinese Ambassador to Kabul Wang Yu and discussed the issues of humanitarian aid, trade, and development in Afghanistan.
“IEA Foreign Minister Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi met Mr Wang Yu, Ambassador of PRC to Kabul this morning. The two sides discussed Afghan-China political relations, trade, humanitarian aid, development, and providing technical education to Afghan students,” said Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi in a tweet. He said that the meeting particularly focused on enhanced trade between Afghanistan and China.
“Also, the two sides discussed increased export of pine nuts and routes to export Afghan products to China. To end, the Chinese side pledged further humanitarian aid in addition to what has already been provided,” he added.
China, along with Pakistan were among the first countries that began engaging with Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover in August this year.
This latest meeting was the second between Amir Khan Motaqi and China’s Wang Yu.
The meeting came amid Taliabn’s repeated appeal for wider international recognition. China is among the very few which seem to have started engaging with the outfit. Other members of the international community are taking a wait and watch approach.

Several Iranian guards suffer casualties after border clashes near Afghanistan, say Taliban

Kabul [Afghanistan]: The Iranian forces had suffered at least nine casualties during clashes on the Afghanistan-Iran border after fuel smuggling attempts from the Iranian side, the Taliban authorities said on Thursday, reported The Frontier Post.
Fighting between the two countries’ respective security forces broke out in Konjak, Nimroz province in southwestern Afghanistan on Wednesday at around midday, and continued until the late evening. Local authorities and witnesses said the Taliban seized three Iranian check posts, according to The Frontier Post. Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s spokesman said in a statement that the clashes were triggered by “a misunderstanding at the local level”.
He also emphasised that “the situation is now under control with the understanding of both sides”
Salahudin Ayobi, the spokesperson for the governor of Nimroz province, said that tensions had been resolved and the “misunderstanding” had been over fuel smuggling, according to Arab News.
The fighting started following a dispute among residents, said Iranian media, denying the capture of border check posts. However, locals had said Taliban forces had crossed the border into Iran.

Afghan girl listed among 25 influential women of 2021 by UK-based newspaper

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Sotooda Forotan, a girl based in Afghanistan has been listed under the 25 influential women of 2021 list by a UK-based newspaper for raising her voice against the Taliban’s decision to forbid girls’ education.
Forotan is a 15-year-old Afghan girl who stood up against the Taliban’s decision to prohibit girls from attending schools for grades 7th to 12th. The prohibition came along with the Islamic Emirate’s forceful takeover of Afghanistan, reported TOLOnews. The Taliban regime permitted boys to attend schools hindering girls aged between 7 to 12 years. The decision was taken in September this year, where the Taliban reasoned the forbidding of girl education with lack of proper segregated structure in the country.
Forotan on October 21, speaking at an event held to celebrate birthday of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) addressing the audience of over 200 people said, “Today, as a representative of girls, I want to deliver a message that is in our hearts. We all know that Herat is a city of knowledge… why should the schools be closed to girls?” Forotan was highly praised for taking a stance, reported TOLOnews.

Taliban fails to secure seat at United Nations

Kabul [Afghanistan]: The United Nations Accreditation Committee did not approve the Taliban’s seat along with the Myanmar Military junta at the world body, local media reported on Thursday.
The UN committee was convened on Wednesday and delayed the decision over who will represent Afghanistan’s Taliban-led government and the military junta in Myanmar, Khaama Press reported today. Both the seats have been delayed for so long, as per the Afgan media outlet.
The decision means that the representatives of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and Military Junta will not be allowed to have seats at the 193-member world body for now.
This comes hours after the UN nominee of the Taliban Sohail Shaheen in a series of Tweets said the people of Afghanistan have fought for their independence and they have the right to have representatives at the UN.
“To have an Independent Afghanistan is the legitimate right of the people of Afghanistan. For this they struggled for decades. Why they should be target of sanctions, pressures and deprived of seat at UN because they wanted an Afghanistan, free of occupation and able to have positive relations with any country of the world based on mutual interests,” he tweeted.
Since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, the country has become an attractive destination for many terrorists. Recognizing the Taliban as a legitimate government and giving them a seat and a platform in the UN will certainly be another morale boost for terrorist organizations in Central and South Asia and the rest of the world to follow the Taliban’s path to power.

Taliban pleads for unfreezing of Afghan reserves at Doha talks

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Taliban delegation has asked US administration to unfreeze Kabul’s financial assets enabling it to function as the government as it faces a tough economic crisis in the talks held in Doha, Qatar.
A delegation of US officials led by Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West met a Taliban delegation led by Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, according to News International. Further, the US State Department spokesperson said that the two delegations discussed the international community’s ongoing and urgent response to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
“The United States remains committed to ensuring that US sanctions do not limit the ability of Afghan civilians to receive humanitarian support from the US government and international community while denying assets to sanctioned entities and individuals,” the statement mentioned.
Earlier US has frozen $ 9.5 Billion assets belonging to the Afghan central bank and stopped shipments of cash to the nation.
Taliban’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan spokesperson Abdul Qahar Balkhi said that Afghan FM Muttaqi exchanged views about political, economic, health, education, security and humanitarian issues, including discussions about necessary facilities in banking and liquidity availability.
“The Afghan side assured the US officials about security and sought immediate unconditional unfreezing of Afghan reserves, ending of sanctions and blacklists, and disconnecting humanitarian issues from political considerations,” Abdul Balkhi said.
Earlier, the US treasury department has issued general licenses to support the continued flow of humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan and other activities that support basic human needs.
Afghanistan since the take over of the Taliban in August this year has been struggling financially with their bank’s assets being frozen by the US and International Community.

Current Myanmar, Afghanistan envoys to UN to keep posts for now, informs Russian envoy

Moscow [Russia]: The ambassadors of Afghanistan and Myanmar to the United Nations, appointed by the governments in those countries, will keep their posts until the UN Credentials Committee decides on the nations’ representations at the world body, Russian Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Gennady Kuzmin has said.
According to the Russian news agency Sputnik, the UN Credentials Committee convened a meeting on Wednesday to decide whether Myanmar’s Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun and Afghanistan’s Ghulam Isaczai should continue serving as ambassadors. The Tatmadaw and the Taliban had requested that their envoys occupy seats at the United Nations following their seizing power in the two states.
“The current envoys of Afghanistan and Myanmar will continue to serve as permanent representatives until the final decision of the Committee is issued,” Sputnik quoted Kuzmin as saying after the meeting.
The Russian ambassador said the Credentials Committee considered the candidate named by the Taliban in September to represent Afghanistan at the United Nations, Mohammad Suhail Shaheen.
The Credentials Committee’s failure to reach an agreement on the representation was due to differences among the Committee members and challenging political context in the two states, Kuzmin said.
“There were differences, and these are quite sensitive political situations in these countries… Therefore, the Committee at this stage was unable to issue a substantial decision,” he added.
Kuzmin also said the decision represents a “middle ground” that will allow in the future to settle the controversial situation, Sputnik reported.
The Credentials Committee did not schedule its next meeting; however, on December 9, it will submit a report on the meeting results to the UN General Assembly.
The General Assembly will affirm in a resolution every delegation’s representation at the United Nations but defer the decision on Afghanistan and Myanmar, Kuzmin said.

Need to strengthen emergency evacuation capabilities: NATO on Afghan operations

Brussels [Belgium]: NATO needs to increase the capabilities of member states to conduct large-scale and urgent evacuation operations in the future, foreign ministers of the alliance said on Wednesday considering the evacuation operations undertaken in Afghanistan by the countries post-Taliban takeover.
“Meeting in Riga on Wednesday (1 December 2021), NATO Foreign Ministers discussed the lessons learned from the Alliance’s engagement in Afghanistan over almost two decades,” NATO said in a statement. Following the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and forces in August, a comprehensive political and military assessment was conducted by NATO, with the active involvement of its allies and other experts.
The ministers gathered in Latvia’s Riga to discuss the results of the alliance’s operation and the lessons they learned from their engagement in Afghanistan. “NATO should consider how to strengthen its capabilities to conduct short-notice, large-scale evacuation operations in the future,” the statement read.
“The assessment makes a number of other recommendations, including on maintaining interoperability with operational partners; considering the political and cultural norms of host nations, as well as their ability to absorb capacity-building and training; and ensuring timely reporting and meaningful consultations,” the statement added.
It also suggested that NATO should consider how to strengthen its capabilities to conduct short-notice, large-scale evacuation operations in the future.
The assessment’s key conclusions and recommendations are intended to inform NATO’s political and military leaders as they consider and direct future crisis management operations.

Russia: ‘The Afghan money must be unblocked from western banks, primarily US’

Moscow [Russia]: Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, has called for unblocking and unfreezing of assets of Afghans in western banks, to curb the humanitarian crisis.

“It is necessary to help the Afghan people, at least the money must be unblocked, the Afghan money, which is in accounts with Western banks, primarily in the United States, must be unblocked and people must be allowed to solve at least elementary things,” Sputnik quoted Putin as saying at the VTB Investment Forum “Russia Calling!” on Tuesday.
Putin in a statement stated that the money of Afghan people must be released that is stored in banks in the western countries, especially in the US.

The step would help the Afghan people in the time of humanitarian crisis.

Fifty pc private education centres shut since Taliban takeover

Kabul [Afghanistan] : Over 50 per cent of private education centres have been closed within the past three months across Afghanistan since the Taliban take over the country, local media reported citing the Union of Private Education Centers.
As per the union, the deteriorated economic status of families is the main reason for the closure of these educational centers. “With changes happening in Afghanistan, many educational facilities–40 to 50 per cent–stopped their activities. The reason for that was the small number of students in the educational centers,” Sanjar Khalid, head of the union said.
Some students said that the long time period has affected their morale for continuing education.
“We are still hopeful to study to become a person who can serve their country,” said Shabana Habib Yar, a student, according to Tolo News.
“We lost the motivation for the lessons because it is still unclear whether we will go to school next year or not,” said Najia Sarwary, a student.
Mohammad Arif Jamal, the head of one of the private education centers in western Kabul said that the number of students has dropped 60 per cent during the past three months compared to previous months.
“After the fall of the government and the Islamic Emirate’s coming to power, the number of students dropped, particularly the female students,” he said.
Last year, 200,000 students from 34 provinces attended the university entrance exams. When the Islamic Emirate came to power, girls were banned from attending grades 7-12 in many provinces across the country, TOLO News reported.

Taliban acting PM Hassan Akhund accuses former President Ghani of corruption

                

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Afghanistan’s acting Prime Minister Mohammad Hassan Akhund, during his first public address on Saturday, accused the country’s former President Ashraf Ghani of corruption and funds embezzlement, local media reported.

“Ghani had established a bank inside the Presidential palace”, Akhund was quoted as saying by Khaama Press.
He said that Taliban members found the bulk of cash in the Presidential palace which was left behind Ghani and his team while escaping.

As Afghanistan is facing a severe financial crisis, the Taliban appointed acting PM said that problems including poverty and economic crisis existed even before the Taliban seized control of Kabul.

He said that Afghanistan’s economic problems will be solved if the central bank’s assets are released.

The US has frozen nearly USD 9.5 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank and stopped shipments of cash to the nation.

Taliban have been urging the international community to unfreeze the assets as the country is facing severe financial and humanitarian crises.

A new UN report earlier on Monday said Afghanistan’s banking and financial systems are on the verge of collapse following the country’s takeover by the Taliban. “Afghanistan’s financial and bank payment systems are in disarray,” the report by UN Development Program (UNDP) said.

Referring to women’s rights, Akhund claimed that the Taliban government has provided women with their rights, that education continues and the Taliban government is working to improve the situation for the education of girls.

Taliban after the siege of Afghanistan has been trying to deliver a moderate image to the world in an attempt to gain international confidence but experts believe that Afghan women are most likely to face an uncertain future under the group regime. (ANI)

India supports inclusive, representative govt in Afghanistan, says EAM Jaishankar

New Delhi [India]: Expressing concern over the recent developments in Afghanistan, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar on Friday said that India, as a neighbour and long-standing partner, supports an inclusive and representative government in the nation.
Addressing the 18th meeting of the Russia-India-China Foreign Ministers on Friday, Jaishankar said: “As a neighbour and long-standing partner of Afghanistan, India is concerned about the recent developments in that country. India supports an inclusive and representative government in Afghanistan.” He further spoke about the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and urges RIC countries to work together to ensure that assistance reaches the Afghan people without hindrance and politicisation.
“RIC countries need to work together to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches the Afghan people without hindrance and politicisation. It is necessary for the RIC countries to coordinate respective approaches on the threats of terrorism, drug trafficking and radicalisation,” Jaishankar said today.
The External Affairs Minister also stressed on ‘One Earth, One Health’ mantra and termed it “need of the hour”.
“Our approach to global development should be human-centric. COVID has shown interdependence of the interconnected world. The need of the hour is ‘One Earth, One Health’,” he said.
India took over the chairmanship of the RIC after the last meeting of RIC Foreign Ministers in Moscow in September 2020.
In a veiled reference to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, EAM Jaishankar on Thursday said any serious connectivity initiative must be consultative, transparent and participatory and conform to principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Addressing the 20th Meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government, Jaishankar said India today is an emerging economic force at the global level and despite the economic devastation caused by COVID-19.
He said India believes that greater connectivity is an economic force-multiplier that has acquired greater salience in the post-Covid era.

Afghanistan: Explosion occurs in Kart-e-Parwan area of Kabul city

Kabul [Afghanistan]: An explosion was heard on Thursday in the Kart-e-Parwan area of Kabul city, an official from the security department informed.
The blast has been reported by Afghan local media Tolo News. This came days after one person was killed while two others sustained injuries in another explosion in Kabul. The explosion had taken place in a vehicle.
Meanwhile, the security situation in Afghanistan deteriorated after the establishment of the Islamic Emirate by the Taliban in 100 days.
Seven big security incidents occurred in the country, since November 13, that caused 630 cases of death or injury, reported Tolo News.

Pakistan govt releases over 100 TTP prisoners as ‘goodwill gesture’

Pakistan PM Imran Khan

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan government has released more than 100 Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) prisoners as a “goodwill gesture” to reciprocate the ceasefire announced by the group earlier this month, local media reported.
The majority of the freed Pakistani Taliban prisoners were undergoing de-radicalisation and rehabilitation at the internment centres set up by the government, The Express Tribune reported citing government officials. “Most of the released inmates have not completed a six-month mandatory de-radicalisation and rehabilitation programme,” one official said. “The rest were ordinary foot soldiers.”
According to the Pakistani daily, the officials also clarified that the prisoners were not released in compliance with any demand from the TTP, which is currently engaged in negotiations with the government. “The Taliban prisoners were released as a goodwill gesture,” the official added.
Pakistan and the TTP entered into a month-long truce starting November 9. The ceasefire was the result of a series of meetings held between the Pakistani officials and the TTP representatives in Afghanistan.
The talks were brokered by the Taliban government, particularly the Haqqani network. Both sides held at least three rounds of talks–one in Kabul and the other two meetings took place in Khost.
The opposition parties have criticised the Imran Khan led-PTI government for entering into an agreement with the TTP. Earlier, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said, “No one was taken into confidence on the issue of talks with the banned TTP and no consensus was reached in this regard.”

Chinese firms arrive in Afghanistan to conduct on-site inspections of lithium projects

Afghanistan street

Beijing [China]: Looking to ‘explore’ nearly trillion-dollar worth of rare earth materials, a group of Chinese delegations have arrived in Afghanistan on special visas and are conducting on-site inspections of potential lithium projects.
Despite growing interest from Chinese companies, major uncertainties remain in Afghanistan in terms of policy, security, the economy and infrastructure, the state media tabloid Global Times reported. The report said that five Chinese companies obtained special visas and arrived in Afghanistan early in November to conduct on-site inspections. “[They] have arrived in the Chinatown and are conducting inspections in Afghanistan as planned,” said Yu Minghui, director of the committee, which has been helping Chinese companies explore business opportunities in Afghanistan. Yu told GT that he believes these company representatives received the first batch of special visas issued to Chinese investors.
Back in August, Japanese newspaper Nikkei Asia had reported that China is positioning itself to be a major international partner to the Taliban after the fall of Kabul. The report added that Bejing eyes Afghanistan’s USD 1-2 trillion worth of rare Earth materials — most notably lithium.
James Stavridis, 16th Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, said that China seeks to consolidate as much control as they can over strategic supply chains for everything from microchips to electric car batteries, they want primacy in Kabul.
Experts believe that Pakistan will seek to partner with the Chinese in exploiting the mineral wealth and blocking India from a role with the Taliban regime.
For most of the 19th century, the Russian and British empires contended over Afghanistan in what was known as the Great Game. The geopolitical competition recognised the strategic position of Afghanistan, and its potential to influence South Asia.

The Tribal areas and Pakistan: Equality exists or not? Read to know more

By KSHVID DESK with Inputs from Agencies

Islamabad, Pakistan: FATA, a 27,200-square-kilometer belt along Pakistan’s mountainous northwestern border, has been treated differently than the rest of the country since the country’s independence from the British in 1947. The ‘Excluded Area’ device was retained in Pakistan’s constitutions of 1958 and 1962. The Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA), located in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border, is one of the world’s most danger zones and has served as a base for jihad and terrorism in South Asia. FATA people are treated differently than the rest of Pakistan because they are governed by imperial rules and have been harmed by extremism and military operations.

FATA : Pakistan

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (hereinafter FATA) are a special-status region in northwest Pakistan. It is bounded to the east by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, to the south by the Balochistan province, and to the west by Afghanistan. FATA covers 27,220 km, or 3.4 percent of Pakistan’s territory, and is home to just over 3.1 million people, or 2.4 percent of the country’s population, according to the 1998 demographic survey , the most recent available survey. FATA’s rural population accounts for roughly 97 percent of the total, indicating the region’s traditional way of life.

Since 2001, when hundreds of terrorists, including al-Qaeda fighters, withdrew there from Afghanistan’s disintegrating Taliban administration, it has been a flashpoint. The existence of a large number of terrorists in this undeveloped and neglected region gave rise to the indigenous Tehrik-e- Taliban Pakistan (TTP or Pakistani Taliban) movement, which upset the region’s centuries-old tribal traditions and power dynamics.

Militants utilised FATA in Pakistan as base

FATA quickly became a shelter for various types of militants, including local Pakistani militants as well as militants from other countries, primarily Afghans, Arabs, Uzbeks, Chechens, and Uighurs. De-escalating this hub of uncontrolled militancy is critical for Pakistan’s peace and security, regional stability, and both East and West’s global interests. However economic complaints must be addressed, and the rule of law must be extended to and enforced in FATA.

The chaotic situation in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) implies important effects and serious implications for education, particularly higher education, throughout the tribal belt. Surprisingly, no comprehensive study has been performed to look into the aspects of FATA higher education that have been negatively impacted since 9/11.

In fact, higher education in the FATA region has its own set of characteristics. The tribal region as a whole has a shortage of well-maintained and appropriately furnished colleges. The lack of proper educational facilities, compounded by a hostile security environment, has complicated the problem. The region’s law and order crisis has weakened the education department’s already weakened monitoring system. This state of things provides fertile ground for extremist and radical impulses to flourish. In fact, the education system in tribal areas has received relatively little attention. Due to the proactive engagement of the international community, the entire setup needs to be restored. FATA has been beaten and poor for decades due to internal fighting and competition. The tribal territory as a whole has been troubled by instability, social dissatisfaction, and insecurity. The education industry, particularly higher education, has been particularly heavily damaged. All courses, institutions, and teaching staff involved in transmitting knowledge above the intermediate level are referred to as higher education.

The social, cultural, and economic institutions of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) were severely destroyed when terrorists emerged in the 1990s, impacting women’s lives the most. Basic services such as health and education were restricted, and women’s mobility was restricted to the point where they were unable to see a doctor, attend school, or engage in social activities. Worse, militants in FATA physically abused locals. In this region, where more than 60% of the population lives below the national poverty line, the lack of law and order has had a direct impact on the region’s overall economic and social standing.

In Pakistan’s tribal groups, the inability to obtain official justice has long been a source of tension. Even though the Supreme Court declared informal jirgas illegal, they remain an important (although informal) aspect of the legal system, offering quick justice that is in line with local values. Women’s access to justice has significantly improved, but significant investment is required to make legal institutions more gender responsive.

Kalash Tribe in Pakistan

FATA has been gradually returning to “sanity” since 2014, following the creation of peace and government efforts to bring significant reforms to the province. A bill to integrate the FATA region with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province was passed as the first significant step toward this transition. Steps like this toward mainstreaming FATA’s isolated tribal communities can considerably improve people’s lives, especially their access to basic rights like education.

Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA, ceased to exist on May 31, 2018. These seven tribal districts, which are home to five million people and cover more than 27,000 square kilometres, have received considerable worldwide attention in the previous two decades due to their shared border with war-torn Afghanistan. By combining the tribal agencies with the nearby province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan’s government has put an end to FATA’s century-long special status (KP).Poor governance and decades of conflict in Afghanistan had left the region vulnerable to insurgency and deprivation.

Because of Pakistan’s persistent economic collapse and social instability, as well as the country’s weak political structure and growing cooperation with Western countries. Talibanization is spreading in Pakistan’s tribal areas. It is primarily characterized as extremism, violent action, and mass activism, all of which will have a big impact on Pakistan’s political stability and force Western military forces to remain in Afghanistan for a long time. Those hardline religious elements and separatists will also put a strain on China-“all-weather” Pakistan’s partnership.

If we draw this conclusion, we might claim that the people of the Tribal Areas have been forced to remain in ‘tribalism’ as a result of legal exclusions. The system imposed on the inhabitants of FATA is not much better than the Taliban’s terror regime. Only by establishing the Rule of Law can peace be accomplished, which necessitates not only a large financial effort but also a strong political commitment. An obvious first step would be to expand the higher court’s jurisdiction to the tribal areas of FATA. Steps must be taken to establish a legal economy in the FATA. Tribals are awaiting for better days since long.

New Taliban order targets ‘immoral’ Afghan TV shows featuring women

Kabul [Afghanistan]: In yet another setback for women’s rights in Afghanistan, the Taliban on Sunday ordered television channels to stop airing shows featuring women artists and said female scribes must wear hijabs as per the group’s interpretation of Islamic law.
This order is part of the newly issued guidelines by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, or moral police, American broadcaster Voice of America (VOA) reported. One of the eight directives issued by the virtue ministry states that films and dramas should not have female actors. The new policy prevents television stations from showing men who are considered indecently exposed or not covered from chest to knees, the report added.
The Taliban defended the directive, saying it is aimed at countering propagation of “immorality” and airing of videos that “are against the principles of Sharia.”
“Foreign and locally produced movies that promote foreign culture and traditions in Afghanistan and promote immorality should not be broadcast,” the ministry said. The guidelines also prohibit airing satirical shows that “insult” or undermine the “dignity” of individuals.
The Taliban took over Afghanistan in mid-August after a decades-long war, which plunged the country into a prolonged humanitarian, security and economic crisis.
Going against all promises of the inclusive government, the Taliban have appointed an all-male cabinet.
They abolished the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and handed over the women’s ministry building to the reinstated Ministry of Vice and Virtue, which was responsible for some of the worst abuses against women during the Taliban’s previous period in power from 1996-2001.
Last week, the United Nations had called for a more inclusive government in Afghanistan as the country has seen a curtailment of the fundamental rights of women and girls under the Taliban rule.
Deborah Lyons, UN Special Representative and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said “These range from limiting the right to work to the absence of women from major decision-making fora and from senior echelons of the civil service.”

Taliban insists on release of Afghan Bank assets

taliban cabinet, kabul news, latest taliban

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Highlighting the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi has called on the US to immediately release Afghanistan’s central bank assets.
Muttaqi made these remarks during an interview where he said the US was no longer engaged in a war with Afghanistan and that freezing the Afghan assets lacked “logical” justification, TOLOnews reported. “The assets should be freed immediately. The Americans don’t have any military front with us now. What is the reason for freezing the assets? The assets don’t belong to the Mujahideen (Islamic Emirate) but to the people of Afghanistan,” Muttaqi said. “The US froze our assets and then told us that it will provide us humanitarian aid. What does it mean?” Muttaqi questioned.
Some experts believe that the holding of Afghan assets is affecting the people of Afghanistan who are struggling with severe economic challenges.
Political analyst Tajar Kakar said: “The winter is on the way. The people are in a very bad condition with many lives under the tent. The children are in a critical condition. The world should think about the people of Afghanistan.”
Earlier, Muttaqi had sent a letter to the US Congress, urging the lawmakers to free the Afghan assets, citing the intense economic and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
In response to the letter, the US special representative for Afghanistan Thomas West said that the “Taliban’s letter” misconstrued the facts regarding the country’s economic and humanitarian crisis. “Afghanistan was unfortunately already suffering a terrible humanitarian crisis before mid-August, made worse by war, years of drought, and the pandemic,” he said.
The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating and along with that, the security situation has worsened since the Taliban took control of the country. Millions of Afghans will face starvation this winter unless urgent action is taken, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has warned.
Nearly 23 million people, or 55 per cent of the Afghan population, are estimated to be in crisis or experiencing emergency levels of food insecurity between now and March of next year.
In its latest situation report, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) expresses concern about “conditional humanitarianism” or attempts to “leverage” humanitarian assistance for political purposes.

US to pursue ‘over-the-horizon’ mission in Afghanistan

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Underlining that the network of US allies and partners in the Middle East and beyond is a huge force multiplier, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that Washington will pursue an “over-the-horizon” mission in Afghanistan in response to counterterrorism.
“We must work together to combat terrorism–including in Afghanistan from al-Qaeda, and from the malice and sectarian hatred of ISIS,” Austin said during the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ (IISS) Manama Dialogue 2021. “As I made clear last month when I convened the members of the Defeat-ISIS Coalition during the NATO Defense Ministerial, the United States remains committed to supporting our partners in Iraq and Syria to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS,” he added.
US Defense Secretary further said that the US is focused on the evacuation of its citizens from Afghanistan, and will keep working on it.
“We remain focused on making sure currently that we can continue to get out those American citizens and legal prominent residents that want to come out of Afghanistan. So we will continue to work to do that,” he said.
The Taliban took over Kabul after an offensive that saw the lightning fall of the Afghan government forces.
The Taliban said that the US was defeated in Afghanistan and that there is no need for any foreign country to counter terrorism in the country, TOLOnews reported.
“There are no outsiders in Afghanistan. We will not allow any country’s presence by any other means,” said Inayatullah Khwarazami, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense.

UNICEF to keep its digital platforms shut on World Children’s Day in solidarity with Afghan children

New York [US]: On the occasion of World Children’s Day, UNICEF Afghanistan has decided to close all its digital platforms on Saturday, in solidarity with Afghan children who are bearing the rapidly escalating humanitarian crisis in the country.
“In solidarity with the children of Afghanistan who are bearing the brunt of a rapidly escalating humanitarian crisis, this year, as UNICEF marks World Children’s Day (WCD) globally, UNICEF Afghanistan will not celebrate,” a United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) statement read. November 20, marks the International Day of Children with several governments and organizations celebrating the day. But, this year, UNICEF Afghanistan has said that this day will not be celebrated in Afghanistan.
“Today, UNICEF Afghanistan is ‘blackwashing’ its WCD online assets and, tomorrow, November 20, the day on which UNICEF typically ‘goes blue’ for children, UNICEF Afghanistan will close its digital channels, going dark to reflect the challenges that children in Afghanistan are facing,” the statement has said on Friday.
The UNICEF usually goes blue on this day but this year it decided to go black.
In a statement, the UN agency said that the dry winter, weak harvest, and drought have led to 14 million children being left without sufficient food.
“It is difficult to celebrate being a child in Afghanistan right now. By closing our digital platforms on World Children’s Day, we want to send a message to donors urging them to support Afghanistan’s children,” said Alice Akunga, UNICEF Acting Representative in Afghanistan. “Those least responsible for this crisis are paying the highest price.”
UNICEF has called on global leaders to place the rights and welfare of Afghan children at the heart of their discussion around funding the humanitarian crisis.

Afghan heroin flooding global markets, motivating narco-terrorism

Amsterdam [Netherlands]: After the Taliban assumed power in Kabul, a fresh threat has emerged and that is heroin from Afghanistan, which has started flooding global markets and motivating narco-terrorism, making a severe threat to peace, a report said.
Afghanistan is the world’s largest opium producer, accounting for about 87 per cent of the global production despite a USD 9 billion effort over a two-decade period by the United States (US) to deter illegal production in the country, European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) said in a report. Soon after coming to power on August 15, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid had said that “Afghanistan will not be a country of cultivation of opium anymore. However, he added that “it is only possible when the whole world helps us in empowering the farmers and providing them with an alternative to earn their livelihood”, according to the report.
The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, a network of more than 500 experts on organized crime drawn from law enforcement, academia, conservation, technology, media, the private sector and development agencies, argued that “Ultimately, the new Taliban promises to ‘end drug smuggling’ are seen by observers as overtures to the international community, and part of a strategy to entice foreign aid back to the country and alleviate the economic crisis, rather than a commitment to counternarcotics policy”, the report added.
Much of the Afghan opium is processed into heroin in labs in Pakistan before flooding the European market. Hamid Mir, in his article in The Washington Post, asserted that Pakistan is on the front lines of the Afghan drug trade. Forty per cent of Afghan drug trafficking utilizes routes passing through Pakistan, the report read.
Using an example from Africa, John Godfrey, a US counterterrorism envoy, highlighted the added danger of an expansive trade in drugs eventually morphing into narco-terrorism. He pointed out the “nexus between terrorism finance and narcotics trafficking in Mozambique that’s particularly problematic” in relation to the US designation of the Al Sunnah wa Jama (ASWJ) as a foreign terrorist organization. As General Dan McNeill, commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, eloquently asserted, “When I see a poppy field, I see it turning into money and then into IEDs, AKs, and RPGs”, according to EFSAS.
The EFSAS report further emphasised that therefore, there is an urgent need for the international community to wake up to the dangerous challenges that lie ahead for it if it does not do enough now to prevent the Taliban-inspired surge of Afghan heroin and meth in distant and vulnerable shores all across the world.

35 female Afghan footballers, who escaped Afghanistan after Taliban takeover, land in London

London [UK]: The 35 women Afghan footballers who escaped Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover, landed in Stansted Airport of London on Thursday.
A total of 130 people along with the families of footballers boarded the flight funded by American celebrity, TV media personality, socialist, and businesswoman Kim Kardashian, reported Khaama Press. The Afghan female footballers had escaped Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. The Taliban have restricted football for girls in Afghanistan saying that the sport is neither appropriate nor necessary.
All the Afghan evacuees will be spending a 10-day quarantine before starting new lives in the UK, reported Khaama Press.
Before going to the UK, all the young girls were waiting in Pakistan for any humanitarian flight to take them out.
Earlier, another team of Afghan male and female footballers along with their families was evacuated to Qatar.

Do not oppose female education, will make curriculum Islamic, say Taliban

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Claiming that the Taliban does not oppose female education, the Islamic Emirate said that this was girls’ Islamic and legal right.
Acting Minister of Education of Afghanistan Noorullah Munir during his recent interview with Bakhtar News Agency, a local news agency, said that they will bring changes to the current curriculum and will make it Islamic, reported Khaama Press. The Taliban, after taking control of the country in mid-August, had closed the schools with thousands of girl students confined to their homes, attracting criticism by the international community.
The Islamic Emirate which banned girl schools for grades 7 to 12 in many provinces, claimed earlier that they are working to provide a safe environment for female students in Afghanistan.
While claiming girls’ education as a legal and Islamic right, Munir, however, did not elaborate on the new Islamic curriculum.
Meanwhile, he said that the Islamic scholars are busy working on a mechanism to provide a safe environment for girls that will be in concurrence with Islam and the Afghan traditions, reported Khaama Press.
About the salaries of teachers, the acting minister said that they are busy discussing the issue with UNICEF.
Earlier, UNICEF had announced that they will directly fund Afghan teachers and will give those salaries but the Taliban had said that all aid will be distributed under their surveillance, reported Khaama Press.

First consignment of Russian humanitarian aid lands in Kabul

Kabul [Afghanistan]: The first Russian consignment of humanitarian aid arrived in Kabul on Thursday.
According to Taliban officials, three planes carrying 36 tons of humanitarian assistance landed in Kabul and the consignment was handed over to them, reported Khaama Press. The aid that included flour, cooking oil, and blankets was given to the Deputy Minister of Information and Culture and spokesperson of the Taliban Zabiullah Mujahid.
The Taliban officials expressed gratitude to the Russian government and called on other countries to continue providing the Afghan people with relief assistance, reported Khaama Press.
Russia intends to send to Afghanistan a total amount of 108 tons of humanitarian aid from which the first tranche arrived and the other two will soon be dispatched to Afghanistan, added Khaama Press.
UN Migration Agency raised concern over the ongoing humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, saying that Afghanistan may fall into “extreme poverty” by mid-2022 if no action is taken immediately to address the simultaneous humanitarian, economic and political crises.
“Afghanistan is a country of almost 40 million people, nearly all of whom may fall into extreme poverty by mid-2022 if no action is taken immediately to address the simultaneous humanitarian, economic and political crises,” the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said in a statement.

Taliban officials meet German, Dutch diplomats, promise to prevent cultivation, smuggling of opium

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Afghan officials on Thursday met diplomats of Germany and the Netherlands and promised to prevent the cultivation and smuggling of opium in the country.
Inamullah Samangani, deputy spokesman for the Islamic Emirate in a series of tweets said, “We will not allow anyone to use Afghanistan’s soil against the region and the world. We will make efforts to prevent the cultivation and smuggling of opium and we are trying to provide alternative economic schemes in cooperation with the international community for the farmers,” reported Tolo News. The meeting took place in Kabul and according to Samangani, the Afghan officials discussed bilateral relations with the German and Dutch envoys.
“The deputies of prime minister Abdul Salam Hanafi and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar today before noon met with representatives of the Netherlands and Germany and delegates accompanying them at the ARG (presidential palace),” tweeted Samangani.
He said that Baradar again stressed the need to release Afghanistan’s bank assets, reported Tolo News.
“The frozen assets belong to the people of Afghanistan and we want the international community to pay attention to the economic challenges in Afghanistan,” he said.
German envoy, Markus Potzel reiterated his country’s continued humanitarian support to Afghanistan and pledged that Germany would provide 600 million euros of aid to Afghanistan.
The representative from the Netherlands was not named by the Islamic Emirate in their release, reported Tolo News.

IS claims responsibility for two blasts in Kabul

Kabul [Afghanistan]: The Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for two explosions that hit western Kabul on Wednesday, Sputnik reported citing Arab Al-Arabiya broadcaster.
The first blast hit the Dashte Barchi area and killed four people leaving two more injured, according to locals. It was followed by another explosion, which claimed the lives of five civilians and injured seven others, Sputnik quoted a source as saying. Deborah Lyons, UN Special Representative for Afghanistan, has said that the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) is now expanding to nearly all Afghan provinces and the Taliban are unable to stop them.
“Major negative development has been the Taliban’s inability to stem the expansion of the Islamic State Khorasan Province,” Lyons said during the United Nations Security Council meeting on Afghanistan.

UN calls for more inclusive Afghanistan government as rights of women, girls curtailed under Taliban

New York [US]: The United Nations calls for a more inclusive government in Afghanistan as the country has seen a curtailment of the fundamental rights of women and girls under the Taliban rule, a special UN envoy said on Wednesday.
Deborah Lyons, UN Special Representative and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said “These range from limiting the right to work to the absence of women from major decision-making fora and from senior echelons of the civil service.” “We continue to call for a more inclusive administration in which government institutions reflect Afghanistan’s broad diversity. We have seen limited progress on this issue,” the envoy said.
Lyons said in her interactions with the Taliban, the de-facto authorities recognized that they have made mistakes on women’s rights and inclusivity and are now trying to address them. However, the Taliban made it clear that there are limits to concessions they are willing to make on some issues, she added.
“On girls education, the de-facto authorities have indicated they are working on a nationwide policy so that the right to girls’ education can be exercised across the country. But they state that they need more time to clarify the policy and its implementation,” Lyons said.
The Taliban took over Afghanistan in mid-August after a decades-long war, which plunged the country into a prolonged humanitarian, security and economic crisis.
Going against all promises of the inclusive government, the Taliban have appointed an all-male cabinet.
They abolished the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and handed over the women’s ministry building to the reinstated Ministry of Vice and Virtue, which was responsible for some of the worst abuses against women during the Taliban’s previous period in power from 1996-2001.

After months of closure, girl schools reopen in Afghanistan’s Ghor province

Kabul [Afghanistan]: After months of the closure of girls’ schools in Ghor province of Afghanistan, now female students from grade 7 to 12 were allowed to attend their schools in Ferozkoh, capital of the western province, reported local media.

The reopening of schools came as a result of efforts made by the Ferozkoh council which had urged the province’s education officials to reopen the girls’ schools, reported TOLOnews.
Sultan Ahmad, head of the Ferozkoh council, said: “We reached an agreement that the high schools for girls in the capital and all districts of Ghor should be reopened.”

Expressing happiness over the reopening of the schools in the province, civil rights activist Habib Wahdat said: “Fortunately, the schools will be reopened for the girl students.”

Stressing that reopening of the schools is very important, Wahdat said: “If women are deprived of education, the next generation of the society will not have a bright future.”

So far, in western Afghanistan Herat and Ghor provinces have allowed girls to attend secondary and high schools.

When the Taliban took control of the country in August, it had barred girls from going to schools across Afghanistan. (ANI)

Opium production rising under Taliban regime

Kabul [Afghanistan]: The opium cultivation and production has increased in drought-affected southern Afghanistan, Kandahar and Helmand after the Taliban took control of Kabul in August.
Under the Taliban regime, the people have no work and the country is drowned in debt. Lack of work alternatives and drought in the region have left farming the only option for the people, reported TOLOnews. Farmers in the Kandahar and Helmand region of the country said they are happy about their opium products in the fall season of this year, reported Afghanistan’s TOLOnews.
“There is no work, all the families are in debt and everyone’s hope is opium,” a farmer in Kandahar told TOLOnews.
The Islamic emirates, with the help of international organizations and communities, is on the look for alternatives to opium farming for the poppy growers.
“The Islamic Emirate through using government facilities, and in coordination with various international organizations and in cooperation with the international community, is trying to find alternative jobs for those who are cultivating opium,” TOLOnews report said quoting Enamullah Samangani, Deputy spokesman of the Islamic Emirate.
Addressing the issue of Afghanistan’s narcotics and its consequence on international relations, a university lecturer said, “The issue of narcotics is one of the world’s biggest problems, and our neighbouring countries, especially Russia, will be greatly affected by Afghanistan’s narcotics and this will affect the relations of the Islamic Emirate with the world,” reported the Afghanistan news broadcaster.
More than 90 per cent of the world’s narcotics are manufactured and produced in Afghanistan. The previous Afghan government has reportedly spent millions to resolve the issue but it still persists, reported TOLOnews.

Afghanistan’s central bank announces auctioning of USD 10 million to prevent fall of country’s currency

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Da Afghanistan Bank, the central bank in the country, has announced the auctioning of USD 10 million to prevent the plummeting move of the country’s currency Afghani, reported local media.
Private banks and forex traders have been asked by the central bank to participate in the bidding. The bidders will be paying Afghani for the number of dollars they buy in the auction, reported Khaama Press citing a statement of Da Afghanistan Bank. Afghani has hit the lowest level against the US dollar in the past twenty years currently, with 1 USD trading for 95 Afghani.
The auction will not be beneficial as the dollars will be trafficked abroad and will have less impact on the value of the country’s currency, said economic analysts expressing concerns over the central bank’s decision.
The announcement comes amid calls from the Taliban leaders to the international organisation to unfreeze the assets of Afghanistan.
Human Rights Watch has asked the United Nation to ease financial restrictions on Afghanistan as people are suffering from critical malnutrition, unemployment, and high prices of food and fuel, according to Khaama Press.

India, France discuss Afghanistan, threats posed by LET, JEM, Daesh, other UN proscribed terror outfits

Paris [France]: In a counter-terrorism meeting in Paris, India and France on Tuesday shared their assessment of the evolution of the terrorist threat on their respective territories and in their regional environment. They also underlined the need to ensure that Afghan territory does not become a source of radicalization and terrorism and is never again used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter, recruit or train terrorists, or to plan or finance terrorist attacks in accordance with the UNSC Resolution 2593 (2021).
They also exchanged views on threats posed by UN-sanctioned terrorist entities and individuals and emphasized the need for taking concerted action against all terrorist networks including al-Qa’ida and ISIS/Daesh, as well as Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), and Hizb-ul Mujahideen etc, including making sure that perpetrators of terrorist attacks are systematically and expeditiously brought to justice. India and France stressed the need for all countries to ensure that territories which are under their control cannot be used to plan, launch terrorist attacks against any other country, shelter or train terrorist fighters.
In the 15th Meeting of their Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism in Paris, the two sides also exchanged views on the proscription of terrorist individuals and entities as one of the tools to combat terrorism. Both sides shared information about their priorities and procedures for pursuing sanctions and designations against terrorist entities and individuals
According to a press release issued by MEA, “Both sides exchanged views on various areas of cooperation in the sphere of counter-terrorism, countering illegal narcotic drugs and arms smuggling, and expressed their will to keep sharing information on countering radicalization and violent extremism, combating the financing of terrorism, preventing misuse of the internet for terrorist or violent extremist purpose, acting against internationally designated entities and individuals.
Participants in the meet are Mahaveer Singhvi, Joint Secretary (Counter Terrorism) at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and Philippe BERTOUX, Director for Strategic Affairs, Security and Disarmament at the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, led respective inter-Agency delegations comprised of senior officials and experts to discuss the ongoing counter-terrorism cooperation as a cornerstone of the strategic partnership between the two countries, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.
The next meeting of the Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism shall be held in India in 2022.

Taliban deputy PM Baradar meets Iran’s special envoy, discusses Afghan political, security issues

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Taliban co-founder and acting Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar met with Iran’s special envoy to Afghanistan Hassan Kazemi Qomi and discussed political, security, economic and cultural issues, local media reported on Tuesday.

Deputy PM Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar met with Iran’s envoy for Afghanistan Hassan Kazemi Qomi, Tolo News reported citing Mohammad Naeem, Islamic Emirate political office spokesman as saying. They discussed political, security, economic and cultural issues, he added.
Earlier, Qomi also met with acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and acting Commerce Minister Nooraddin Azizi.

“Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and acting Commerce Minister Nooraddin Azizi met with Iran’s special envoy to Afghanistan Hassan Kazemi Qomi and discussed the economy and the development of trade between countries,” Tolo News reported citing the Foreign Ministry spokesperson as saying.

Qomi arrived in Kabul on Monday to hold meetings with officials of the interim Afghan government led by the Taliban.

Earlier, spokesperson of Iran’s foreign ministry Saeed Khatibzade in a statement said the international community is asking for an all-inclusive and responsible government in Afghanistan and added that Iran will never leave behind the Afghan people as the latter want Iran not to.

The Taliban took over Afghanistan in August and the US military ended its 20 years of military presence in the country. Meanwhile, after announcing the government in Afghanistan, the Taliban regime has failed to get recognition. Aside from China, Pakistan and a handful of other countries, the rest of the world is taking a wait and watch policy while keeping an eye on the conduct of the outfit. (ANI)

Pakistan responsible for humanitarian crisis

Kabul [Afghanistan] : Pakistan, the creator, organizer and mentor to the Taliban is responsible for the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, according to an Arabic media outlet.
According to a news piece published in Al Arabiya Post, Pakistan is using the recognition card as a tool to leverage aid to the Afghan people. Taliban which controls the country has been unable to provide care for Afghan people. The United Nations had warned that almost half of the population of Afghanistan will face a hunger crisis between the present time and March next year, Al Arabiya Post reported.
It further said that things are getting worse on the humanitarian front.
The latest report of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Afghanistan shows concern about “conditional humanitarianism” or attempts to “leverage” humanitarian assistance for political purposes.
Apart from it, protection and safety risks to people including women, children and people with a disability, also reaching record highs.
Violence perpetrated by the Taliban over the years has been recognised by the Afghan people and small pockets of popular resistance have cropped up. This is a natural outcome of the twenty years of change that Afghanistan witnessed since 2001.
Meanwhile, IFFRAS data shows that more than 95 per cent of Afghans do not have enough food to eat.
For Pakistan, which nurtured, organised and supported the Taliban right from its inception, there is a big responsibility towards the Afghan people.
According to Al Arabiya Post, if Pakistan is serious about helping the Afghan people, it must allow passage of humanitarian aid across its territory from India. India has proposed to send 50,000 tonnes of wheat via the land route.
Violence perpetrated by the Taliban over the years has been recognised by the Afghan people and small pockets of popular resistance have cropped up. This is a natural outcome of the twenty years of change that Afghanistan witnessed since 2001, Al Arabiya Post reported further.

Afghanistan: Taliban undertake military parade on US vechiles, Russian helicopters

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Hundreds of members of the Taliban on Sunday gathered upon the US-made armed vehicles to undertake a military parade in the capital of Afghanistan.
This was the second time when the group has undertaken a military parade after it ousted the democratically elected government in the country in August. The parade was supported by Russia-made helicopters, Khaama Press reported. Spokesperson of Taliban-formed Defense Ministry Enayatullah Khwarazmi said that the military show was held by the newly graduated soldiers.
The developments came as the Taliban has said that they will soon form their own army, Khaama Press reported.
Earlier in September, a bunch of helicopters was also seen flying over southern Afghanistan while jubilant Taliban members below stood aboard captured US military hardware as the Islamist group paraded them with pride.
Meanwhile, more than ten weeks since the takeover of Afghanistan, the Taliban government is now facing its biggest test of managing the country’s governance and its abject failure is threatening the regional stability.
Di Valerio Fabbri, writing in Geopolitica.info said that the Taliban’s governance tests are too many. But it looks like the regime doesn’t realise the enormity of the challenges as it pursues the single-line agenda of international recognition.
Earlier in the day, about 100 Afghans and Iranians gathered in front of the UN office in Vienna on Sunday to condemn the Taliban amid the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
This protest in Vienna is part of a global demonstration, organized by National Resistance Front (NRF) supporters and also Iranian diaspora organizations.

Attendance of girl students drops after cancellation of final exams in Afghanistan’s Herat

Kabul [Afghanistan]: The attendance of girl students has dropped as Herat provincial school teachers’ council decided to cancel annual examinations and promote them to the next grade without appearing for end-term examinations.
Educational officials in Herat province of Afghanistan said school teachers’ council’s decision to waive off annual examinations and promote students to the next scheduled grade was the reason for the reluctance of girl students to attend schools, reported Afghanistan’s TOLOnews. “The student of grade seven will be directly promoted to grade eight. The students of grade 12 will be graduated from school. And therefore some disorder is resulting at schools,” TOLOnews quoted Mohammad Sabir Mashal, head of the council as saying.
The government had last week permitted girl students from grades 7th to 12th in the Herat province to attend schools. Out of 34 provinces in Afghanistan, education of girls from grades 7th to 12th is not allowed in 27 provinces.
Some of the students requested educational officials to incorporate annual examinations and mentioned that the revocation of exams would hamper their studies, reported TOLONews.
A girl student of class 12 said, “The students of grade 12 have their university entrance ahead and they should have full preparation for entrance. When the private institutions are closed and they also don’t take our examinations, it really affects our future,” reported TOLOnews.
The Taliban, after taking control of the country in mid-August, had closed the schools with thousands of girl students confined to their homes, attracting criticism by the international community. The Islamic Emirate which banned girl schools for grades 7 to 12 in many provinces, claimed earlier that they are working to provide a safe environment for female students in Afghanistan.
A teacher, stressing the significance of examinations said, “If there is no education, there is no hope for the next year among the students. The motivation that the students have recently found will be lost again,” reported TOLOnews.
After months of discussions regarding girl education among the council, officials of the girls’ schools and the Taliban’s local officials in Herat, they were permitted to attend school.

UN special envoy meets women religious scholars in Kabul, discusses Islamic Law, women’s rights issues

Kabul [Afghanistan]: A top UN Special Representative in Afghanistan on Sunday met with women religious scholars in Kabul and discussed different aspects of Islamic Law and the key issues concerning rights of girls and women in the country.
Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Mette Knudsen, has been holding several rounds of talks with all stakeholders in the country including Taliban to address various issues including need for humanitarian aid. “UNAMA Dep-Head @Metknu hosted women religious scholars in Kabul today. They discussed different aspects of Islamic Law, the importance of girls being able to go to school and women being gainfully employed,” UNAMA tweeted.
This meeting came the same day as Islamic clerics from several countries across the world, including India, held a virtual conference, where they called for the formation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan.
The participants, from India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and Croatia, stressed the need to form a unified position on countering ISIS in Islamic countries, TOLOnews reported.
“Controlling the government by a certain ethnicity and ignoring other ethnicities is impossible. This will cause chaos in Afghanistan because it is obvious that all ethnicities have power and are looking for their rights,” said Ayatullah Syed Yasin, a top Iraqi religious cleric. The meeting also highlighted the importance of human rights and women’s rights.
Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai had called on the international community to cooperate with Afghanistan on the issue of counter-terrorism.
“If you are really concerned about the security of yourself and the world and remain committed to the pledges on Afghanistan, in such a critical and vital situation and to ensure peace and stability, help the people of Afghanistan,” Karzai was quoted as saying by TOLOnews.
Two months have passed since the Taliban regained control of Kabul, as the US and its allies departed, wrapping up their 20-year military presence in Afghanistan.
Going against all promises of inclusive government, the Taliban have appointed an all-male cabinet. They abolished the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and handed over the women’s ministry building to the reinstated Ministry of Vice and Virtue, which was responsible for some of the worst abuses against women during the Taliban’s previous period in power from 1996-2001.

Prince Harry, Meghan meet Afghan refugees in New Jersey

Washington [US]: Prince Harry and his wife Meghan visited the US military camp in New Jersey to meet Afghan refugees who are seeking asylum in the US.
The couple spoke with women, who recently arrived at Task Force Liberty in New Jersey, which is home to more than 10,000 Afghan refugees, CNN reported. The royal couple also spent time with the children and stopped by a classroom where the students were learning conversational English.
“Harry and Meghan talked with the kids, many of them practising their English by saying phrases like, ‘Nice to meet you’,” a spokesperson of the couple informed.
The couple also thanked the teachers for their efforts, and reminded them to take care of themselves and their own mental health, CNN reported.
These were the Afghans who were granted Special Immigration Visas by the US government.
This year, the Duke and Duchess were hailed for their humanitarian work, namely with their Archewell Foundation.
The couple also launched the non-profit organization in California in 2020 following their controversial royal exit from the UK monarchy.
The duo resides in the coastal city of Montecito, California with their two children- Archie and newborn Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor.
Harry and Meghan appeared for a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in March, where the Duchess talked about the intense isolation she felt inside the royal family that prompted suicidal thoughts in her.

Uzbekistan extends support to Afghanistan to reconstruct Balkh airport

Balkh [Afghanistan] : Uzbekistan has said it will rebuild and renovate an airport in Mazar-e-Sharif city of Balkh province of Afghanistan.
The announcement was made by Esmatullah Ergashev, a special representative of Uzbek President, Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Ergashev, on Sunday, met with the local officials in the northern Afghan province of Balkh along with officials from Afghanistan’s ministry of transport and aviation, reported Afghanistan’s TOLO news.
Extending support to reconstruct Balkh airport, Uzbekistan’s special representative stated that they have sent a 30 member technical team to look into the technical issues and aid Afghans rebuild and renovating the said airport.
TOLOnews quoting Esmatullah Ergashev as saying, “We were urged to help in the resumption of the airport (Balkh) and repair the damaged equipment. Hence, we have brought 30 technical staff from Uzbekistan, and they are repairing the equipment and reconstructing the airport and soon the airport will become operational.” He also revealed Uzbekistan’s intention to aid Afghanistan in various areas including infrastructure.
The local Balkh officials insisted Uzbekistan render support and cooperation in the context of economic area and trade relations.
TOLOnews quoting Qudratullah Hamza, Balkh’s governor as saying, “The delegation from the transport ministry which has come to Balkh held talks with Uzbekistan officials on airport reconstruction and the railway. Talks were also held on Afghanistan’s electricity bill debt to Uzbekistan, and we said when the banking system problems are resolved we will pay the bill and Uzbekistan should not cut the imported electricity.”
“Uzbekistan’s team will repair and reactivate all the equipment and every section of the airport. It will also train in Uzbekistan around 83 technical employees of the ministry who are deployed at Maulana airport,” as saying Hasibullah Soroush, deputy minister quoted TOLO news.

Imran Khan stresses on immediate release of Afghanistan’s frozen assets

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday stressed the need to immediately release Afghanistan’s frozen assets to enable the country to overcome economic challenges.
Khan highlighted Afghanistan’s frozen assets at a meeting with a Taliban delegation headed by acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in Islamabad, who is on a three-day visit to Pakistan, reported Pajhwok Afghan News. He stressed the need for the immediate release of Afghanistan’s frozen assets and facilitating banking transactions to prevent an economic meltdown.
“Pakistan has been consistently calling for the provision of immediate humanitarian relief for Afghanistan,” said Khan.
The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating and along with that, the security situation has worsened since the Taliban took control of the country.
Millions of Afghans will face starvation this winter unless urgent action is taken, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has warned.
Nearly 23 million people, or 55 per cent of the Afghan population, are estimated to be in crisis or experiencing emergency levels of food insecurity between now and March of next year.
In its latest situation report, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) shows concern about “conditional humanitarianism” or attempts to “leverage” humanitarian assistance for political purposes.
He also said that Pakistan will favourably consider the Taliban government’s request for allowing the transportation of wheat from India through the country for humanitarian reasons, reported Pajhwok Afghan News.
Pakistan has not allowed Indian shipments to Afghanistan to pass through its territory.
In October, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) country director in Afghanistan, Mary Ellen Mc Groarty said the programme is in talks with India for wheat donation to Taliban controlled Afghanistan.
Taliban, following a meeting with Indian officials in October, said New Delhi has expressed readiness to provide extensive humanitarian assistance to Afghans.

Afghan girls calls on Taliban to reopen schools

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Facing an uncertain future of their education under the Taliban regime, Afghan girls and activists called on the Islamic Emirate to reopen schools that remain closed to women across the country.
Some girls, worried about their uncertain future, accused the Islamic Emirate of selective treatment in the reopening of some schools but not others, reported Tolo News. “We want to go to school. The Islamic Emirate should not apply a double standard to allow girls in some provinces to go to school but then ban them in other provinces,” said Sahar, a student.
According to claims of the Taliban officials, girl students of secondary and high school have been allowed to attend schools in seven of 34 provinces.
Afghan acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi on Friday said 75 per cent of girls in Afghanistan had resumed their studies in schools while replying to a question about the situation of girls’ education rights in the Taliban-controlled country.
The Taliban, after taking control of the country in mid-August, had closed the schools with thousands of girl students confined to their homes, attracting criticism by the international community.
Afghanistan’s takeover by the Taliban has been harsher for the women and girls of the war-torn country despite the group’s assurances to protect their rights.
Earlier, the Ministry of Education of Afghanistan, led by the Taliban had resumed all secondary schools. However, the directive only mentions the male students, making no reference to a return date for girls.
The Islamic Emirate had also banned girl schools for grades 7 to 12 in many provinces. The officials said earlier that the government was working on schemes to provide educational opportunities for Afghan girls.
Moreover, the employees of the Education Ministry voiced concerns over being unpaid for the past three months, reported Tolo News.
“I haven’t been paid for the past three months. The men of the family are also jobless. We are struggling with a lot of problems” said Halima, an employee of the ministry.

Young Taliban recruits refuse to believe 9/11 ever happened

Bagram [Afghanistan]: Many children born after 2001, growing up hating America and trained by the Taliban say that they do not know if the 9/11 attacks ever happened with some refusing to believe that the attacks were orchestrated by al-Qaeda.
One such child who never benefited from billions of dollars in Western aid money that elevated the lives of countless Afghans is Esmatullah Omari who said that when he was 12, he was trained by the Taliban to plant roadside bombs and at 16, he was attacking military convoys near Bagram airfield, the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan and the epicentre of America’s longest war, reported The Washington Post. The Americans are now gone, however, the 19-year-old Omari stands guard at one of the Bagram’s entrances and still does not understand why did the Americans come in the first place.
Thousands of Americans who were infants or born after the 9/11 attacks joined the U.S. military to combat terrorism and support democracy in Afghanistan included the 11 out of the 13 U.S. service members killed in the dastardly bombing by the ISIS-K terrorists at the Kabul affiliate just days before the exit of the troops from the war-torn country.
At the same time, a generation was distinctly shaped by the 9/11 attacks who battled the Americans as the Taliban fighters. Many of them were children when they first tasted war, trading their childhoods for what they were told was their duty as Muslims, reported The Washington Post.
Many children joined the Taliban after the US forces killed their relatives. Some hated the government backed by the US who they believed to be corrupt. The Americans were portrayed as invaders willing to kill Muslims by the preachers at madrassas. The preachers also encouraged the students to wage a religious jihad against the foreigners, reported The Washington Post.
The young members of the Taliban were fed with positive imagery of al-Qaeda, especially its founder — the architect of the U.S. attacks, who was given protection in Afghanistan in the previous rule of the Taliban.
“Osama bin Laden was a hero and a mujahid,” The Washington Post quoted a 19-year-old Sharafuddin Shakir as saying who was surrounded by militants inside a former U.S. military outpost in Ghazni province that they now controlled.
“This is the duty of everyone to fight against the invaders and infidels who occupied our land,” said his uncle. Responding to a query about why the Taliban recruited the children, he said, “Jihad is mandatory everywhere,” reported the newspaper.
When Omari was 16, the US and the Afghan troops learned about a suicide-bombing mission that was being planned by his brother. The troops raided Nasru and shot his brother, reported the newspaper.
“I was in grade eight, but when my brother was martyred, I left school,” said Omari.
He formally joined the Taliban and said that he felt happy whenever he successfully attacked a vehicle.
A few months after his recruitment, his younger brother joined the Taliban along with several teenage cousins.
“I never listened to music, only the jihadi anthems,” The Washington Post quoted an 18-year-old fighter Mutawakil as saying, “Music is not good. It is a sin.”
Talking about the reasons for batling the Americans, he said that they had come here to root out Islam.
“They came here to root out Islam. They came to establish democratic rule here and wanted to use us for their own interests. They wanted to make us as they are. They wanted to kill our clerics and eliminate our religion,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.
Since the exit of the US troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban faces the challenge of protecting the Afghans from ISIS.
An 18-year-old Gul Muhammed Heymat said that he learned about the American forces in a madrassa where his teachers taught him what was required of him as a “good Muslim”, however, the clerics never mentioned the 9/11 attacks or the presence of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
They were told that bin Laden was a good Muslim and a mujahid, reported the newspaper.
Many other such Taliban young members do not know about the 9/11 attacks and were ready to die for their beliefs.
Shakir refused to believe that al-Qaeda and bin Laden orchestrated them, but he questioned whether the attacks even happened, according to The Washington Post.
“It was not true. The Americans invaded Afghanistan on the pretext of 9/11, but the real motive was that they were against the true Islamic rule in Afghanistan,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

Pakistan likely to allow transportation of Indian wheat to Afghanistan through its territory

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan would ‘favourably’ consider the request by the Taliban regime for transporting wheat offered by India through the country on an “exceptional basis” for humanitarian purposes, said Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Imran Khan expressed the views while speaking to a delegation led by Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, Dawn reported citing Prime Minister’s Office’s statement. “The Prime Minister conveyed that in the current context Pakistan would favourably consider the request by Afghan brothers for transportation of wheat offered by India through Pakistan on an exceptional basis for humanitarian purposes and as per modalities to be worked out,” Pakistan Prime Minister’s Office tweeted.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has reaffirmed Islamabad’s support to Afghanistan and the Afghan people in overcoming the challenges being faced by the neighbouring country.
He also stressed the vital importance of a peaceful, stable, sovereign, prosperous and connected Afghanistan for Pakistan and the wider region.
The premier stressed that “continued security and resolute counter-terrorism actions, respect for rights of all Afghans, and inclusivity in governance and politics would further contribute to Afghanistan’s stability,” Pakistan’s PMO statement said.
Pakistan has not allowed Indian shipments to Afghanistan to pass through its territory.
In October, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) country director in Afghanistan, Mary Ellen Mc Groarty said the programme is in talks with India for wheat donation to Taliban controlled Afghanistan.
Taliban, following a meeting with Indian officials in October, said New Delhi has expressed readiness to provide extensive humanitarian assistance to Afghans.
The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating and along with that, the security situation has worsened since the Taliban took control of the country.
Millions of Afghans will face starvation this winter unless urgent action is taken, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has warned.
Nearly 23 million people, or 55 per cent of the Afghan population, are estimated to be in crisis or experiencing emergency levels of food insecurity between now and March of next year.
In its latest situation report, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) shows concern about “conditional humanitarianism” or attempts to “leverage” humanitarian assistance for political purposes.

Pakistan joins hand with Taliban to destroy Afghan identity, culture: Former Pak senator

Amsterdam [Netherlands]: A former senator of Pakistan from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has accused Islamabad of joining hands with the Taliban to “destroy” Afghan identity and its culture.
In an interview with the Amsterdam-based European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS), Afrasiab Khattak, who is also a Pashtun rights activist said, “Pakistan expanded into Afghanistan through its strategic depth policy. During the Afghan civil war, the Pakistani military establishment, aided by the US and the Arab Gulf States, enrolled Afghan refugees in Pakistani madrassas to brainwash them with extremist Islamist ideologies”. Khattak believes that these measures were aimed at ultimately emphasising the Afghans’ Muslim identity over their identity as Afghans and Pashtuns, and thereby deconstructing the Afghan/Pashtun component of their communal identity.
He observed that this erosion also played out in practice as the Taliban sought to destroy cultural products and practices that were seen as Afghan, replacing them with the Taliban’s interpretation of Sharia law.
The Taliban, according to Khattak, were thus programmed to destroy Afghan identity and thereby serve the Pakistani military establishment’s aim of ultimately transforming Afghanistan into a cultural extension of Pakistan.
From the late 1980s onwards, this strategic depth policy was also expanded towards India’s Jammu & Kashmir. Here too, the identity of Kashmiris as Muslims was and is prioritised over other identity markers.
However, as Khattak argued, this is a “suicidal policy” for Pakistan, because while Pakistan invests all its efforts in militarisation, its economic development eventually deteriorates. While Pakistan has the potential of becoming even a regional economic power, this strategic policy of Talibanisation has hindered its socio-economic development.
In view of the Pakistani military establishment, Jammu & Kashmir as well as Afghanistan should be treated as extensions of Pakistan aimed at hegemonizing it under Pakistani rule. The Taliban, Khattak concluded, were the most important element of this policy approach. Therefore, the current Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, which aims to protect the Pashtun identity, while being non-violent is met with so much brutality by the Taliban.
Khattak said that Pakistan continues to be home to a hybrid system in which the parliamentary democracy of the country remains heavily influenced and controlled by the Pakistani military establishment and its intelligence agencies, especially the ISI.
In line with his political positions in the past, Khattak argued that Pakistan must reconcile with India for the sake of the country’s own social and economic development.
He further criticised Pakistan for historically using Afghan refugees as a political tool and turning these refugees into members of the Taliban against Kabul when relations with respective Afghan governments were strained.
India and Pakistan, he argued, must reconcile as the staunch anti-Indianism in Pakistan legitimises military rule that in turn undermines democracy.
The same was said for Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan: Pakistan’s high military expenditures, Khattak argued, curtail Pakistan’s political and economic development. The historical role of the Pakistani military establishment embodies the empowered role of the armed forces and the bureaucracy under colonial rule.
In regard to extremism, Khattak suggested that General Zia was not the sole driver of Islamic extremism in Pakistan.
“The 1971 secession of Pakistan was seen as having been enabled by a seeming lack of Islamization of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) by West Pakistan, motivating an even more pronounced focus on Islam. Religion thus became a way of justifying military rule and served to vindicate political centralization,” he argued.
Khattak highlighted that this was also recognized by former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who believed that Pakistan would crumble under the weight of an oversized military. This eventually paved the way for his execution at the hands of the same military establishment.

Pakistan, Taliban-led Afghanistan agree to establish joint trade commission

Kabul [Afghanistan] : Afghanistan and Pakistan have agreed to establish a high-level interstate commission that will deal with trade issues between the two countries, the Afghan Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
The decision was made at a meeting of Amir Khan Muttaqi, the acting Afghan foreign minister, appointed by the Taliban and his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, on Thursday. The commission is expected to be tasked with monitoring the implementation of a bilateral trade strategy, Sputnik reported
Last month, the Pakistani top diplomat said that the countries had agreed to simplify travel between the countries. At the meeting in question, Qureshi detailed Islamabad’s initiatives regarding Kabul, including free access to all Pakistani ports for Afghan traders, the free movement of heavy vehicles, resumption of the movement of passenger buses, and an increase in air traffic.
During his meeting with acting Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said his country will continue efforts to help Afghanistan resolve its humanitarian crisis, Anadolu Agency reported.
Speaking about his country’s commitment to peace and stability in Afghanistan, Qureshi said Pakistan will continue its efforts to facilitate humanitarian assistance and economic support to the country amid the difficult circumstances faced by its people, according to a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry.
“Foreign Minister Qureshi reaffirmed Pakistan’s resolve to strengthen bilateral relations with Afghanistan in all areas [and] emphasized that peace in Afghanistan would help strengthen regional stability and spur economic activity and connectivity,” it said.
Muttaqi, who arrived in Islamabad on his first visit along with a high-level delegation Wednesday, also met with officials from China, Russia, Pakistan and the US special representative for Afghanistan on the sidelines of the Troika Plus meeting held Thursday in Islamabad.

Pakistan skipping Delhi Security Dialogue shows its attitude on issues concerning Afghanistan, says India

New Delhi [India]: India on Thursday took a dig at Pakistan for not attending Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan, stating that skipping such an important meeting shows its approach towards issues concerning Afghanistan.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at the weekly media briefing that India had also invited China for the NSA-level meeting in Delhi but they did attend due to “scheduling reasons.” “We had also invited Pakistan. Skipping such an important meeting shows their attitude towards the issues concerning Afghanistan,” Bagchi said in response to a query.
India hosted the Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan on Wednesday.
National Security Advisers or Secretaries of the Security Council of five Central Asian countries – Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan besides Russia and Iran – attended the security dialogue and adopted Delhi declaration.
The dialogue was chaired by NSA Ajit Doval.
The participants condemned in the strongest terms all terrorist activities and reaffirmed their firm commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including its financing, the dismantling of terrorist infrastructure and countering radicalization, to ensure that Afghanistan would never become a safe haven for global terrorism.
They called for collective cooperation against the menace of radicalization, extremism, separatism and drug trafficking in the region.
They also stressed the necessity of forming an open and truly inclusive government that represents the will of all the people of Afghanistan and has representation from all sections of their society, including major ethnopolitical forces in the country.
Inclusion of all sections of the society in the administrative and political structure is imperative for the successful national reconciliation process in the country, the declaration said.

US special representative to Afghanistan to meet Taliban FM in Pakistan

Kabul [Afghanistan] : Thomas West, US special representative to Afghanistan, and Amir Khan Motaqi, one of the top leaders of the Taliban are intended to meet each other in Islamabad, where they are scheduled to attend Troika Plus meeting, reported Khaama Press.
Motaqi, Foreign Minister in the Taliban government, leading a high-level delegation arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday evening. Pakistan will host senior diplomats from the US, China and Russia in Islamabad to discuss the situation in Afghanistan on Thursday.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and its National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf will chair the ‘Troika Plus’ meeting.
The representative of the four countries will also meet Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, Dawn reported. Muttaqi also arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday. It is the first visit to Pakistan by an Afghan minister since the Taliban seized control of Kabul in August.
Pakistani officials have said that the primary aim of Troika Plus will be finding ways to avert the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and to establish an inclusive government.
The US special representative for Afghanistan who is on his first Asian and European tour will also be visiting India and Russia, according to Khaama Press.

Afghanistan’s acting FM to discuss Kabul-Islamabad relations, economic issues with Pakistani side

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Afghan acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, who is on a three-day visit to Pakistan, will discuss Kabul-Islamabad relations, the economy, transit and as well as refugee issues with the Pakistani side, local media reported.
“Transit and Economic issues will be discussed. Traders’ problems and as well (de facto) border crossing problems will be addressed,” Tolo News quoted Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid as saying. Muttaqi has arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday. It is the first visit to Pakistan by an Afghan minister since the Taliban seized control of Kabul in August.
This comes after Pakistan earlier on Tuesday sent a special invitation to Muttaqi to attend the Troika Plus meeting, the Pakistani media reported.
“Special Representatives for Afghanistan from the United States, China, Russia and Pakistan will be meeting on Thursday and we hope that Muttaqi will also be able to attend,” The News International quoted an official.
The meeting is scheduled in Islamabad for November 11.
“Troika Plus at SRs (special representatives level) will meet with Muttaqi,” the Pakistani official said.
The dialogue is taking place at a time when the Taliban is seeking international recognition. However, the international community is not in hurry to give legitimacy to the Taliban interim government unless they fulfil their promises.
“Troika Plus has become an important forum for engagement with Afghan authorities. It will express support for an inclusive government, discuss ways to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan as well as the protection of human rights, particularly women’s rights,” the official said.
This is the first full-fledged meeting of the Troika Plus after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.

Taliban appointed FM of Afghanistan arrives in Pakistan for three-day visit

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Afghan acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi on Wednesday arrived in Pakistan for an official visit as head of a high-level delegation to hold talks with the Pakistani leadership.
Senior Pakistan officials welcomed Muttaqi on his arrival, Xinhua news agency reported citing state television of Pakistan. The Foreign Ministry of Pakistan said that Muttaqi’s visit is taking place as a follow-up to Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s visit to Kabul in October.
The Pakistan foreign ministry said the exchanges will focus on bilateral ties with a particular focus inter alia on enhanced trade, facilitation of transit trade, cross-border movement, land and aviation links, people-to-people contacts and regional connectivity.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Pakistani media reported that Pakistan has sent a special invitation to Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi to attend the Troika Plus meeting.
“Special Representatives for Afghanistan from the United States, China, Russia and Pakistan will be meeting on Thursday and we hope that Muttaqi will also be able to attend,” The News International quoted an official.
The meeting is scheduled in Islamabad for November 11.

PM Modi meets participants of Delhi Security Dialogue, lays thrust on zero-tolerance against misuse of Afghan territory

New Delhi [India]: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday met the participants of the Delhi Security Dialogue and called for focus by the countries of the region on the need for an inclusive government in Afghanistan and a zero-tolerance stance about Afghan territory being used by terrorist groups.
Outlining four aspects, he said that the countries of the region also need to focus on a strategy to counter trafficking of drugs and arms from Afghanistan and address the increasingly critical humanitarian crisis in the land-locked country. The Heads of the National Security Councils of seven nations participated in the Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan hosted by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
They collectively called on the Prime Minister after the completion of the dialogue.
Prime Minister also expressed the hope that the Regional Security Dialogue would work to revive Central Asia’s traditions of moderation and progressive culture, and counter extremist tendencies.
In their comments, the senior security officers, representing Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, expressed their appreciation of India’s initiative in organising the Dialogue and of the quality of the exchanges.
They also conveyed the perspectives of their respective countries on the Afghan situation, a PMO release said.
The Prime Minister appreciated the participation of the senior dignitaries in the Delhi Security Dialogue despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
“He emphasised four aspects that countries in the region would need to focus on, in the context of Afghanistan: the need for an inclusive governement; a zero-tolerance stance about Afghan territory being used by terrorist groups; a strategy to counter trafficking of drugs and arms from Afghanistan; and addressing the increasingly critical humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan,” the release said.

Afghanistan: Over 600 IS terrorists arrested by Taliban in past 3 months

Kabul [Afghanistan] : The Taliban have arrested over 600 Islamic State (IS) terrorists in the past three months.
Citing Afghan intelligence service spokesman appointed by the Taliban, Ariana News broadcaster said that the security situation in the country is improving, reported Sputnik. The Taliban took control of Afghanistan in mid-August and since then IS has ramped up attacks across the country.
IS have carried out several assaults in recent weeks, including a twin bombing of a military hospital in Kabul last week, which left at least 19 people dead, reported Sputnik.
The terror group claimed a massive suicide bombing in Kandahar, besides orchestrating targeted killings in Nangarhar and Parwan provinces and another major suicide bombing in a Shia community mosque in the northern Kunduz province, killing more than 100 people.

Afghanistan facing humanitarian crisis, its social, economic situation deteriorating

New Delhi [India] : Expressing concerns over the prevailing situation in Afghanistan, Karim Massimov, Chairman of Kazakhstan National Security Committee, on Wednesday said the social and economic situation of Afghans is deteriorating and the country is facing a humanitarian crisis.
Speaking at a regional security dialogue on Afghanistan hosted by India, Massimov said there is a need to increase humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. “We are concerned about the prevailing situation in Afghanistan. The social and economic situation of Afghans is deteriorating and the country is facing a humanitarian crisis; necessary to increase humanitarian assistance,” he said.
Massimov said that the stabilization of Afghanistan demands the efforts of the whole international community.
“With the Taliban movement coming into power the situation inside the country remains complicated. There are many obstacles to forming an effective government. The terrorist organisations are intensifying activities,” he noted.
“Stabilization of Afghanistan demands the efforts of the whole international community. It is highly important to begin concrete action,” he added.
The meeting was chaired by Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. National Security Advisers of five central Asian countries – Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan besides Russia and Iran – are attending the meet.
In his remarks, Ajit Doval called for greater cooperation and interaction and coordination amongst the regional countries over the issue of Afghanistan.
“We are meeting today to discuss the matters relating to Afghanistan. We all have been keenly watching the developments in that country. These have important implications not only for the people of Afghanistan but also for its neighbours and the region,” Doval said.
“This is a time for close consultation amongst us greater cooperation and interaction and coordination amongst the regional countries. I am confident that our deliberations will be productive useful and will contribute to helping the people of Afghanistan and will enhance our collective security,” he said.
Iran had hosted dialogues in a similar format previously.
It is a continuation of the format started by Tehran in 2018 and 2019, however, this time dialogue will see the highest participation of seven nations.
Speaking at the meet, Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Security Council of Russia, said that multilateral meetings of secretaries of the security council on the Afghan issue is an important format and helps us to discuss the whole package of issues linked to the developing situation in Afghanistan on the highest level.
“It also helps to elaborate practical measures to counter challenges and threat emanation from Afghan territory,” he said.
Patrushev noted the increased activity of international and regional stakeholders in the Afghan dimension and the creation of new formats.

Developments in Afghanistan have important implications for region: Ajit Doval

New Delhi [India] : National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on Wednesday chaired a regional security dialogue on Afghanistan here and said that developments in the country have important implications not only for the people of Afghanistan but also for its neighbours and the region.
“We are meeting today to discuss the matters relating to Afghanistan. We all have been keenly watching the developments in that country. These have important implications not only for the people of Afghanistan but also for its neighbours and the region,” Doval said. National Security Advisers of five central Asian countries – Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan besides Russia and Iran – are attending the New Delhi meet on Afghanistan.
During the meeting, the countries will review the security situation in the region arising from recent developments in Afghanistan, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had earlier said in a press release.
Iran had hosted dialogues in a similar format previously.
It is a continuation of the format started by Tehran in 2018 and 2019, however, this time dialogue will see the highest participation of seven nations.
The dialogue will deliberate upon measures to address the relevant security challenges and support the people of Afghanistan in promoting peace, security and stability, the release added.
India has traditionally enjoyed close and friendly ties with the people of Afghanistan and has called for a unified international response to address the security and humanitarian challenges facing Afghanistan. The dialogue is a step in that direction, said the MEA.

Ajit Doval to chair NSA-level regional security dialogue on Afghanistan today; 7 nations in attendance

New Delhi [India]: National Security Adviser Ajit Doval will chair the regional security dialogue on Afghanistan here on Thursday which will be attended by his counterparts of five Central Asian countries, along with Russia and Iran.
The Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan — which will be held at the level of National Security Advisers or Secretaries of Security Councils — will witness expanded participation of Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. During the meeting, the countries will review the security situation in the region arising from recent developments in Afghanistan, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had earlier said in a press release.
Iran had hosted dialogues in a similar format previously. It is a continuation of the format started by Tehran in 2018 and 2019, however, this time dialogue will see the highest participation of seven nations.
The dialogue will deliberate upon measures to address the relevant security challenges and support the people of Afghanistan in promoting peace, security and stability, the release added.
India has traditionally enjoyed close and friendly ties with the people of Afghanistan and has called for a unified international response to address the security and humanitarian challenges facing Afghanistan. The dialogue is a step in that direction, said MEA.
On Tuesday, Doval met with Nasrullo Rahmatjon Mahmudzoda, Secretary, Security Council of Tajikistan and had a detailed exchange of views on Afghanistan, sources said.
He also met Victor Makhmudov, Secretary, Security Council of Uzbekistan and both agreed that Afghans must decide the future of their country.

Imran Khan urges global community to fulfil ‘moral obligation’, save Afghans from hunger

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has reiterated his plea to the international community to intervene and save Afghans from hunger pointing out that it is their “moral obligation” to avert the humanitarian disaster confronting people in Afghanistan, reported local media.
Imran Khan once again reiterated that Pakistan will continue to provide “all possible relief” to the Afghans in an attempt to avert a hovering humanitarian crisis in the country, reported The Express Tribune. Imran Khan shared a report by the BBC that quoted the executive director of the World Food Program (WFP) stating 23 million Afghan people heading towards mass starvation, reported The Express Tribune.
Citing this report, the Prime Minister said that it was the “moral obligation” of the international community to “avert this humanitarian disaster confronting Afghan people”, reported the newspaper.
With each passing day, the situation in Afghanistan is worsening under the new Taliban regime which does not have funds to procure food items and other essentials.
Severe lack of funds and an unprecedented surge in food prices have left scores of Afghans hungry and some people are forced to sell their children to survive, according to the Canada-based think tank International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS).
“There are reports that 95 per cent of Afghans do not have enough food to eat while half of the population is expected to face acute levels of hunger as winter sets in early November,” IFFRAS said.

Tens of thousands of needy Afghans receive relief aid: UN humanitarian office

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Tens of thousands of Afghans have received relief assistance as the aid agencies scaled-up effort to provide assistance to more people before the winter in the Asian country, a UN humanitarian agency said Tuesday.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said in a statement that 150 organizations, non-governmental organizations and UN agencies were delivering effective and principled aid in Afghanistan. Last month, the aid agencies reached 4 million people with food aid, 48,000 children with community-based education, and 580,000 people with primary healthcare, according to the UN agency.
Director of UN World Food Programme (WFP) David Beasley has called the looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan “the worst crisis” on earth.
As many as 95 per cent of people in Afghanistan do not have enough food and added that 23 million people are on the brink of starvation in the country, Khaama Press News Agency reported citing his interview with BBC.
“Imagine if your children or grandchildren are facing death because of the lack of food and you will do everything you can. It happens as the world has 400 trillion dollars assets, it is a big shame for us,” the Afghan media outlet said quoting Beasley.
The international organisations have repeatedly acknowledged that children are the most affected people due to recent political changes in Afghanistan and have called on countries to provide humanitarian aids to Afghan children.
As per UNICEF, 14 million children are facing acute food shortages in Afghanistan while five million others are on the brink of malnutrition.

US special envoy expresses concern over surge in IS attacks in Afghanistan

Brussels [Belgium]: US Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom West on Monday (local time) said that Washington is worried about the spike in attacks by Islamic State in Afghanistan and remains concerned about al Qaeda’s presence in the country.
Newly appointed US special envoy spoke to reporters by telephone from Belgium, where he briefed NATO allies on the issues concerning Afghanistan, TOLOnews reported. He also held consultations on a “road map” toward recognition of the Taliban government after the US troop pullout in August.
“The Taliban have voiced very clearly and openly their desire to normalize relations with the international community, to see a resumption in aid, to see a return of the international diplomatic community to Kabul and to see sanctions relief,” he said. “The United States can deliver none of these things on our own.”
West has also said that he plans to visit India and Pakistan as part of his upcoming trip to Europe and Asia. “[Within] my upcoming travels, I do plan to visit Pakistan, Russia and India,” Sputnik quoted West as saying during a briefing.
The US Special Representative pointed out that he will be in Pakistan “later this week.”
The new US special representative for Afghanistan, Tom West, has started his first trip to Europe and Asia to discuss the issues concerning Afghanistan with international partners.
“I will be travelling to Europe and Asia starting today to discuss the way forward on Afghanistan with Allies and partners. The international community must act together to be effective,” US Special Representative tweeted on Sunday (local time).
“It is an honour to assume the role of US Special Representative for Afghanistan. I look forward to advancing America’s vital interests and supporting the Afghan people,” he said in another tweet.
Last month, Tom West assumed the office of the State Department’s Special Representative.

Russian NSA to visit India tomorrow to participate in ‘Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan’

New Delhi [India] : Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev is set to visit India on Wednesday to take part in ‘Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan’.
“On November 10, the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Nikolai Patrushev will visit the Republic of India. In New Delhi he will take part in a multilateral meeting of the National Security Advisers/ Secretaries of Security Councils on the situation in Afghanistan,” the Russian embassy in India tweeted. Seven security heads from Russia, Iran and all five Central Asian countries will be landing in Delhi on Tuesday to attend the first of its kind regional dialogue on Afghanistan hosted by India.
National Security Advisers of five central Asian countries — Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan besides Russia and Iran – will attend the meeting in Delhi on Afghanistan.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is expected to hold meetings with the Russian counterpart Patrushev, Secretary of Supreme National Security Council – Iran, Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani and Chairman of Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee, Karim Massimov on November 10.
He will also hold meetings with Nasrullo Rahmatjon Mahmudzoda, Secretary, Security Council of Tajikistan and Victor Makhmudov, Secretary, Security Council, Uzbekistan, today evening, ahead of ‘Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan’ on November 10.
During the dialogue, India, along with seven other countries, will discuss in detail terror threats emanating from within Afghanistan and around it, extremism and radicalisation is also key concern among many participants.
Back in September, the Russian NSA had visited India and reaffirmed Moscow’s intention to strengthen coordination in the field of enhancing regional stability, including on the Afghan direction.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that India has traditionally enjoyed close and friendly ties with the people of Afghanistan and has called for a unified international response to address the security and humanitarian challenges facing Afghanistan. “The forthcoming meeting is a step in that direction.”

Pakistan invites acting Afghan Foreign Minister to Troika Plus meeting

Islamabad [Pakistan] : Pakistan has sent a special invitation to Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi to attend the Troika Plus meeting, local media reported.
“Special Representatives for Afghanistan from the United States, China, Russia and Pakistan will be meeting on Thursday and we hope that Muttaqi will also be able to attend,” The News International quoted an official. The meeting is scheduled in Islamabad for November 11.
Muttaqi is expected to extend his visit by a day at the conclusion of the Troika Plus meeting and hold bilateral consultations with officials in Pakistan. So far, there has been no confirmation from Kabul about a likely visit to Islamabad by Muttaqi, The News International reported.
According to the officials, it would be clear by Tuesday if Muttaqi, a senior member of the Taliban government, would be able to undertake his maiden visit to Pakistan.
While Pakistan has still not recognised the caretaker setup in Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, after his visit to Kabul, had told the media that he had invited Mutaqqi, who had accepted his invitation.
The Trioka Plus on Afghanistan will be attended by Ambassador Mohammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Thomas West, the State Department’s Special Representative and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Afghanistan, Russia’s special envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov and Chinese special envoy for Afghanistan, Yue Xiaoyong, The News International reported.

Scroll to Top