Abdullah to visit Pakistan, says both sides have ‘grievances’
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.”
Former minister Tahir Zuhair calls on Afghans abroad to return home
Tahir Zuhair, a former minister in the previous government has called on Afghans who left the country to return home and urged those who are intent on driving conflict to resolve problems through dialogue.
Speaking at a gathering on Monday in Samangan province, Zuhair also called for unity among the people and for inclusion of all ethnic groups within the government structure.
Samangan officials, who attended the gathering organized to welcome Zuhair into the IEA, called on other key citizens to help develop the country by returning home.
Zuhair has now joined the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA). He said: “All those who left should come back and instead of calling each other bad [names] and spreading hatred, let’s find a way of understanding, let’s reconcile, let’s make peace, let’s negotiate and solve our problems through dialogue.”
Samangan provincial authorities reiterated calls for Afghans who fled the country to return.
“I am very sad for our Afghan brothers who have gone abroad, or those brothers who have fled to the mountains. Our request to all of them is that the leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has announced general amnesty, so return to your country and homeland, you are all our brothers,” said Abdulahad Fazli, governor of Samangan province.
“My message to all the opponents of the Islamic Emirate is to use the general amnesty decree of the leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to come and unite with the Islamic Emirate and use their energy, strength and understanding in the direction of consolidating the Islamic Emirate and in the direction of settling the country together with us,” said Ahmadullah Badar, Samangan police chief.
“Our message to all those who have gone abroad is that the arms of the Islamic Emirate are open to them to return to their country and serve for the development of the country,” said Mohammad Hashim Shafiq, provincial head of intelligence.
Zuhair meanwhile also said the Islamic Emirate needs to provide security and pave the way for the return of other political and social figures.
Zuhair said however that he has no intention of working in government.
Zuhair was the governor of Bamiyan before becoming the minister of information and culture under the previous government.
IEA’s Ebad tells G5 meeting in Iran no female worker banned in health sector
Health Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) Dr. Qalandar Ebad said on Saturday that no female worker has been banned from working in the health sector.
Speaking at the 26th G5 High Level Experts Meeting on Health Cooperation in Tehran, Ebad denied the rumors and called it work of some selfish groups.
“Some selfish circles sometimes spread rumors with the intention of confusing the minds of the society that female health workers are banned from work; while all female workers provide health services to their compatriots in the light of Islamic and Sharia rules to ensure the health of female patients, mothers and children,” Ebad told the meeting.
Ebad also stated that cooperation in the field of health was important, especially in controlled infectious diseases.
“Diseases do not know borders, we must fight such types of phenomenon together,” Ebad said.
Ebad also spoke about the developments and achievements in the health sector and said that the public health ministry has now provided health services in areas where there had been none for years.
“We have now provided the opportunity to provide health services to our compatriots in these areas, in some areas there is still work to be done, so coordination and assistance is needed in this area,” Ebad said.
He also added that Afghanistan is a leading country in the implementation of the Corona vaccine and has made significant achievements in carrying out other routine vaccination and polio vaccination campaigns.
He meanwhile called for support of international partners to help Afghanistan to be represented in the International Health Assembly and the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Organization or EMRO.
“The international partners and the sympathetic countries of Afghanistan should help us in this area so that Afghanistan can be represented in the International Health Assembly and the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Organization or EMRO, which is the right of the Ministry of Health, with this, we will share our health priorities and needs with the international community and find solutions to them,” Ebad added.
The G5 meeting, in Tehran, has brought together Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Tajikistan to boost cooperation in the health sector.
IEA foreign minister meets with Pakistan Army Chief of Staff
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) said Sunday that Amir Khan Muttaqi met with General Asim Munir, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, and discussed regional security, ease of movement of people, and issues related to Afghan immigrants.
Pakistan media reported Munir stressed in the meeting with Muttaqi the need for enhanced cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan to “effectively” tackle the common challenges of terrorism and extremism.
According to a statement released by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Muttaqi, who is currently in Pakistan on a four-day visit, called on the army chief at his office in Rawalpindi.
The two discussed issues of mutual interest including aspects related to regional security, border management, and formalization of bilateral security mechanisms for improvement in the current security environment.
Pakistan’s army chief also reiterated the need for full support and commitment from the IEA in matters of mutual interest, Geo News reported.
During the meeting, both sides agreed on the importance of maintaining regular contact to strengthen bilateral ties and address issues of common concern.
Later, the army chief reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.
Muttaqi and his delegation met with a number of leaders of Pakistan’s political parties on Saturday evening in Islamabad, including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq and other leaders, and discussed bilateral relations and the regional situation.
Muttaqi also met with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, discussing about Afghanistan-Pakistan political-economic, commercial, transit relations and the creation of necessary facilities in these areas. Also, in the meeting, discussions were held regarding the easy movement of Afghan refugees and businessmen in Pakistan, IEA foreign ministry said.
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