Chairman of the High Council for Afghanistan Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah said he will visit Pakistan within the next few days – the first time since 2008 – and implied issues between the two countries need to be ironed out.
He said there is a “lot of mistrust, founded or unfounded,” and that there are “lots of grievances on both sides”, adding that the two countries need to work together as there have been many missed opportunities over the past 40 years.
Addressing a virtual conference of the US Council on Foreign Relations on Tuesday, Abdullah also said some of the 5,000 Taliban prisoners freed over the past two months have returned to the battlefield, which is in violation of the US-Taliban agreement signed in February.
He did say however that he did not know how many ex-prisoners had taken up arms again, but did not think it was the majority.
“But I do know that some have returned to the battlefield, which is a violation of the agreement that they had made. I do know that this has happened. I have examples in some areas, and these people have started insurgency in those – in those areas once they left. But I would say that the majority have not returned to the battlefield. That might be – that might be the right assessment. But some have.”
He also pointed out the current level of violence in the country is very high.
“At the moment, unfortunately, the level of violence is very high. The number of security incidents initiated by the Taliban in different parts of the country has increased, not decreased.
“And it’s important – and that was part of my message yesterday in the – in the Universal Day for Peace – that while the negotiations continue and we assume that both sides have participated in good faith in those negotiations, it’s critical that we see a reduction in violence in order to be able to maintain the popular support for the peace process on the ground. Otherwise, the people of Afghanistan will not – will not understand.”
Abdullah also explained that no one expects or anticipates a comprehensive peace deal to be signed with the Taliban within a “few days”.
“We know that it will take time. But at the same time, since the aim of this is to achieve peace and stability throughout the country, we need to prove it in practice as well that what we can do is reduction – significant reduction in violence.”
He stated the Afghan government’s position on the need for a reduction in violence was very clear.
“But unfortunately, so far the level of violence is very high and to a level that is not acceptable for the people.”
Again he repeated his call to the Taliban and to all partners who have leverage over the Taliban to reiterate the need for less violence.
“But the way forward is to realize that these extremist terrorist elements which are taking advantage of the situation, like al-Qaeda and ISIS, or any other terrorist organization, are not serving any country’s interest. They’re only after the opportunities.
“And when the war ends, these groups will not have a foothold. Otherwise, they will turn against any other – any country that they want, of their choice. They will choose it for themselves. That is – that is what we need to focus on and that will be the focus of our get-together – or my visit to Pakistan, which will be official visit, and I’ll see what the leadership in Pakistan and the leaders of the institutions there [say],” he said.
On the current talks underway in Doha, Abdullah said they had “started well” and the atmosphere between the two teams, considering their differences, is healthy.
He said the Afghan team senses a “willingness” on the part of the Taliban to take advantage of the opportunity and to contribute.
“Nobody can ignore all the complexities involved…both sides come from two different worldviews – views about the life, about rights of citizens, about the – our vision of our own country, and all of that.
“And at the same time, we have come together with all those differences to find a way to live in peace with one another and maintain our differences of views and let the people decide about it in the future, but at the same time put an – put an end to the misery of the people which have continued for so long,” he said.
He stated there “will be spoilers around. There will be people which may worry about certain things. But as a whole, I can say that the people of Afghanistan are hopeful. At the same time, they have concerns. Do we go back to the old days? What happens to the – to the gains of the people of Afghanistan, which is as a result of too many sacrifices here from us Afghans and our friends and partners?
“And can we – can we get to a point where, while maintaining our views and way of life, agree to live in peace within a country – a sovereign country without allowing terrorist groups, without resorting to violence, and then compete for our ideas peacefully and politically?”
He said the flip side of the coin was if the two sides don’t reach an agreement, then the “continuation of the agony, misery, suffering, migration, and all sorts of other situations that we have been through. That will continue.”
So it’s a moment of being hopeful, but at the same time one shouldn’t lose sight of all those risks which are involved, he said adding that “eventually and ultimately, the absolute majority of our people are for a dignified, durable peace, a country which is unified and does not harbor terrorist groups and respects the rights of its own citizens and contributes to the wellbeing of its own people.”
Desert Vipers pull off exciting 12-run win over Dubai Capitals to regain top slot
Desert Vipers pulled off an exciting 12-run victory over Dubai Capitals in the 20th match of the ILT20 at the Dubai International Stadium on Saturday night to regain the top position in the points table.
While Desert Vipers could post only a moderate total of 149 for 9 through a captain’s knock of 40 off 32 balls with two boundaries and two sixes from Colin Munro, Dubai Capitals were restricted to 137 for 5 in 20 overs through a splendid and accurate bowling by Rohan Mustafa (2 for 27) backed well by Matheesha Pathirana and Tom Curran.
For Dubai Capitals, Adam Zampa playing his first match, bowled brilliantly and took three wickets for 16 to bag the Player of the match award.
Dubai Capitals remain in fifth slot with two victories and four defeats and only five points.
Speaking about their performance, Desert Vipers’ Rohan Mustafa said after the match: “The Dubai Capitals bowled really well towards the end of our innings. Credit to them. It wasn’t an easy wicket to bat on. I thought we had enough on the board at the end of our innings.”
Meanwhile, Dubai Capitals’ Adam Zampa said: “Tom Curran and Matheesha Pathirana bowled impressively for the Vipers. The batting group will talk about what they can do better and think about what they could do if they find themselves in the same situation again.”
Earlier in the day, Rahmanullah Gurbaz played a fantastic innings of 56 runs from 39 balls to help the Sharjah Warriors register a four-wicket victory over Abu Dhabi Knight Riders at the same stadium.
The Warriors restricted the Knight Riders to 149 for four in their 20 overs and then chased down their target in 17 overs.
Speaking about their performance, Sharjah Warriors’ captain Joe Denly said: “Our bowlers set the tone for the whole game. We never let them get away when they were batting. I thought 150 was a very reasonable score. We are a confident group at the moment and we have a couple of days to recharge and then come back strong in Sharjah.”
Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Knight Riders’ Akeal Hosein said after the match: “I thought we were 15 runs short with the bat. The Warriors got off to a great start in the powerplay, which allowed them to cruise through in the middle period of the game. We’ve had decent performances with bat and ball, but we haven’t put everything together as a team.”
Desert Vipers secure 7 wicket win against MI Emirates
Alex Hales and Sherfane Rutherford’s sparkling unbeaten half centuries and skipper Colin Munro’s cameo knock carried Desert Vipers past MI Emirates in the 15th match of the DP World ILT20 at the Zayed Cricket Stadium on Tuesday night.
Desert Vipers, through a fine display of intelligent bowling, had also restricted MI Emirates to 169 for 5 despite half centuries from Kieron Pollard and Nicholas Pooran.
Hales hit an unbeaten 62 runs off 44 balls with six boundaries and two sixes while Sherfane Rutherford scored a breezy unbeaten 56 off 29 balls with four boundaries and three sixes to put on an unbeaten 94 off 52 balls for the fourth wicket.
Desert Vipers’ skipper Colin Munro set the momentum through a fine knock of 41 runs off 22 balls with four boundaries and three sixes.
Speaking about their performance Desert Vipers’ Sherfane Rutherford said: “I want to keep things simple and just watch the ball. I was just trying to react to the ball. The key was just to use the pace and that worked for me.”
Meanwhile, MI Emirates’ Trent Boult said: “It becomes easier to bat on in the second innings here. I thought they played extremely well. They timed their innings quite nicely. That’s a luxury when you’re chasing 170.”
Iranian arrested in Germany, suspected of plotting chemical attack
A 32-year-old Iranian man has been arrested in Germany on suspicion of planning an attack with deadly chemicals, officials said Sunday.
Police and prosecutors said the man and another person were detained overnight in the town of Castrop-Rauxel, northwest of Dortmund.
In a joint statement they said the man is suspected to have planned a serious attack motivated by Islamic extremism, for which he had allegedly obtained the potent toxins cyanide and ricin, the Associated Press reported.
German news agency dpa reported that specialists wearing anti-contamination suits carried evidence out of the man’s home.
Tabloid newspaper Bild reported that German authorities had received a tip from an allied intelligence agency about the alleged plans for a chemical attack.
Five years ago, German police arrested a Tunisian man and his wife on suspicion of planning to carry out a ricin attack in the name of the Islamic State (ISIS) group. They were later found guilty and sentenced to 10 and eight years’ imprisonment, respectively.
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