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Biden warns another attack in Afghanistan is highly likely

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(Last Updated On: August 29, 2021)

President Joe Biden warned on Saturday that another militant attack was highly likely as U.S. troops began leaving Kabul airport after a two-week scramble by Washington and its allies to evacuate citizens and at-risk Afghans, Reuters reported.

As Washington neared the end of its military involvement in the country with the Taliban it ousted 20 years ago back in power, the United States said it killed two Islamic State militants planning attacks in Afghanistan after a deadly suicide bombing outside the airport on Thursday.

According to Reuters American officials also warned of a high risk of additional attacks by the group – enemies of both the West and Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers – as U.S. forces wind up their mission before a Tuesday deadline set by Biden.

The U.S. president said the situation on the ground remained “extremely dangerous” and that military commanders had told him an attack was highly likely in the next 24 to 36 hours, Reuters reported.

After Thursday’s blast that killed scores of Afghans and 13 American troops, the most lethal incident for U.S. service members in Afghanistan in a decade, Biden vowed to hunt down the perpetrators. He said Friday’s strike was not the last.

“We will continue to hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay,” he said.

The Taliban condemned the overnight U.S. drone strike, which took place in Nangarhar Province, an eastern area that borders Pakistan.

“The Americans should have informed us before conducting the air strike. It was a clear attack on Afghan territory,” a Taliban spokesman told Reuters, adding that two women and a child were wounded in the attack.

The Taliban have said they have arrested some suspects involved in the airport blast, reported said.

Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid also said the Taliban would take over the airport “very soon”, after U.S. forces withdraw, and announce a full cabinet in the coming days.

The Western-backed government and Afghan army melted away as the Taliban entered the capital on Aug. 15, leaving an administrative vacuum that has bolstered fears of a financial collapse and widespread hunger.

Mujahid told Reuters the group had appointed governors and police chiefs in all but one of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces and would act to solve the country’s economic problems.

A U.S. official told Reuters on Saturday there were fewer than 4,000 troops left at the airport, down from 5,800 at the peak of the evacuation mission. Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby later confirmed to reporters that the withdrawal had begun but declined to say how many service members remained.

Thursday’s suicide blast, claimed by ISIS-K, locally known as Daesh, caused a bloodbath outside the gates of the airport – where thousands of Afghans have gathered to try to get a flight out since the Taliban returned to power.

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Exiled Afghan politicians form council, call for talks with IEA

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(Last Updated On: May 19, 2022)

A number of exiled Afghan politicians recently gathered in Turkey’s capital Ankara where they formed a council and called on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) to engage in talks with them.

The politicians met at the residence of former vice-president Abdul Rashid Dostum and included Abdu Rab-ur-Rasool Sayyaf, Atta Mohammad Noor, Mohammad Mohaqiq, Karim Khalili, Ahmad Wali Masoud, Mohammad Alam Ezidyar and Mir Rahman Rahmani.

Ehsan Nero, a spokesman for Dostum, said that the meeting was held to exchange views on how “we could change the challenging situation in Afghanistan.”

While urging talks with IEA, the politicians issued a statement and declared support for the conflict that is underway in some provinces in the country.

“Such a large meeting was held in Turkey with the Turkish police providing security. They will meet again in Austria two weeks later and then in Geneva. There is certainly something fishy going on,” said Ahmad Saeedi, a political analyst.

Habibullah Janibdar, another political analyst, however, said that such meetings would not help Afghanistan as Afghans have already tested these politicians.

The IEA meanwhile has already formed a commission to encourage Afghans in exile to return home.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the IEA, said that the “door for talks is already open.”

“We have no problems with any Afghan. We would welcome anyone returning. They would be protected. They would be respected. Their wealth would be safe,” Mujahid said.

“But Allah forbid, if they intend to start a war, then obviously Afghans won’t allow it,” Mujahid warned.

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IEA claims it supports local media but urges them to stick to Islamic values

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(Last Updated On: May 19, 2022)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) said Thursday it will support and cooperate with media outlets and journalists, both local and foreign, but urged them to observe Islamic principles and keep the interests of the country in mind.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the IEA’s spokesman said: “Today, the Media Violations Commission resumed its operations and the Information Access Commission will start its activities as soon as possible in the near future.”

He said the IEA is committed to supporting media outlets in the country in accordance with Sharia Law.

However, Mujahid urged media organizations to stick to Islamic values and principles in terms of broadcasting and publishing.

Mujahid said: “The government will continue to support media outlets financially and we will work to reduce the media’s problems to zero. We call on media officials to carry on their operations based on the principles of Islam.”

According to the Ministry of Information and Culture, currently, about 198 media outlets operate in the country, however, nearly 170 media organizations have closed down, largely due to financial constraints, since the collapse of the former government.

Many of these media organizations have lost staff who left Afghanistan after the US troops withdrawal while other, that were reliant on foreign donor money, lost all income.

Media support organizations have said that an estimated 6,000 media workers have left the country since the IEA take over.

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US looking to expand ties with Pakistan: Blinken

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(Last Updated On: May 19, 2022)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday told Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari that US President Joe Biden’s administration was looking forward to working with the new government in Pakistan and discussed “expanding partnership” between the two countries.

The meeting took place in New York on the sidelines of the food security meeting that the US is hosting in collaboration with the UN.

The meeting between Bilawal and Blinken came against the backdrop of strained ties between Pakistan and the US. The relationship during the PTI government between the two countries remained tense and there had been further dip in ties when former premier Imran Khan directly held the US responsible for his ouster, Pakistan’s Tribune reported.

Blinken said the US was keen to expand partnership with Pakistan on a range of issues covering economic as well as regional security issues.

According to a State Department statement, Blinken met with Bilawal to affirm the shared desire for a strong and prosperous bilateral relationship.

“The Secretary and the Foreign Minister discussed expanding partnership in climate, investment, trade, and health as well as people-to-people ties,” the statement read.

It further said the two foreign ministers underscored the importance of US-Pakistan cooperation on regional peace, counterterrorism, Afghan stability, support for Ukraine, and democratic principles.

The foreign minister added that as the current chair of the G77 and China, Pakistan welcomed the support of the UN secretary general to the objectives pursued by the developing countries at the global organisation.

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