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EU-Afghan working group tackles human rights issues

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(Last Updated On: February 24, 2021)

The third meeting of the EU-Afghanistan Special Working Group on Human Rights, Good Governance and Migration was held on Wednesday virtually in which parties involved expressed grave concern about the continuing high level of violence, and condemned the increasing number of targeted killings of media workers, civil society activists and law enforcement officials.

In a statement issued late Wednesday night, the European Union stated the parties discussed human rights and fundamental freedoms in the context of the ongoing Afghan peace process.

The parties “expressed grave concern about the continuing high level of violence, and condemned the increasing number of targeted killings of media workers, civil society activists and law enforcement officials, who are essential bastions of a democratic and open society.”

The EU called on the Afghan government to “provide for the security of these important actors in society, as well as conduct thorough investigations, bring the culprits to justice and keep the Afghan public fully informed about the measures taken.”

The EU also emphasized the importance of respecting and promoting International Humanitarian Law to protect civilians in conflict by all parties to the conflict.

“The protection of civilians, medical and education facilities as well as humanitarian workers, cannot wait for peace. The parties stressed that only an immediate cessation of violence would restore confidence in the sincerity of the Taliban for a political settlement to end the war,” the statement read.

The EU and Afghanistan meanwhile agreed on the importance of an enhanced promotion of inclusivity in the peace talks, notably the involvement of women, youth, minorities, internally displaced persons, refugees and victims of war, to ensure an ownership of the process by all Afghans.

They also underlined that the preservation and further strengthening of the democratic and human rights gains of the last 20 years is indispensable during and after the peace process, and referred to the broad-based consensus on this, as expressed at the Geneva Conference for Afghanistan in November 2020.

“In the areas of women and children’s rights, the necessity to enforce legislation against widespread violence and harmful practices was highlighted, as well as the need to address discrimination against religious minorities.

“In the field of governance, the EU and Afghanistan emphasised the importance of free, fair, credible, transparent and inclusive electoral processes that would facilitate legitimate transfer of power, and discussed the experiences of their electoral cooperation and the prospects of continuing electoral reform.

“Anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) issues were also addressed, in view of the EU’s ongoing assessment of Afghanistan’s AML/CFT regime,” read the statement.

Afghanistan’s anti-corruption efforts were also discussed along with the regional dimension of migration.

The parties discussed the measures taken by the Afghan Government and commended their joint coordination in the area of anti-corruption policy and institutional reforms, and committed to keep the matter high on their bilateral agenda.

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U.S. warns of possible North Korean nuclear or missile test during Biden Asia trip

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(Last Updated On: May 19, 2022)

U.S intelligence shows there could be a North Korean nuclear test, or missile test, or both, before, during or after President Joe Biden’s trip to South Korea and Japan starting this week, the U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan, said on Wednesday.

“We are preparing for all contingencies, including the possibility that such a provocation would occur while we are in Korea or in Japan,” Sullivan told a White House briefing.

Sullivan said the United States was coordinating closely with South Korea and Japan on the issue and had also discussed North Korea with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi about North Korea in a phone call on Wednesday.

“We’ve indicated in quite clear terms that our intelligence does reflect a genuine possibility that there will be either a further missile test, including long-range missile test, or a nuclear test, or frankly both, in the days leading into, on, or after the president’s trip to the region,” Sullivan said.

He said the United States was prepared to make both short and longer term adjustments to its military posture as necessary “to ensure that we are providing both defense and deterrence to our allies in the region and that we’re responding to any North Korean provocation.”

White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told the same briefing Biden would not visit the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides North and South Korea during his visit to South Korea, which begins on Friday.

The White House said last week Biden was considering such a trip.

“He will he will not visit the DMZ … not on this trip,” Jean-Pierre said.

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SIGAR finds single key factor to ANDSF collapse was withdrawal of US troops

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(Last Updated On: May 18, 2022)

The United States’ Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has found that the single most important factor behind the Afghan National Defense and Security Force’s (ANDSF) collapse in August last year was the US’ decision to withdraw military forces and contractors from Afghanistan.

This decision was taken after the US signed an agreement in February 2020, under former president Donald Trumps administration, with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) – an agreement adhered to by President Joe Biden.

In their latest report, SIGAR stated that due to the ANDSF’s dependency on US military forces, these events destroyed ANDSF morale.

The ANDSF had long relied on the US military’s presence to protect against large-scale ANDSF losses, and Afghan troops saw the United States as a means of holding their government accountable for paying their salaries.

The US-IEA agreement made it clear that this was no longer the case, resulting in a sense of abandonment within the ANDSF and the Afghan population, SIGAR reported.

The agreement set in motion a series of events crucial to understanding the ANDSF’s collapse, SIGAR stated.

Among those included a drop in the number of US airstrikes; the fact that ANDSF remained reliant on the US military, especially as “the United States designed the ANDSF as a mirror image of US forces.

“This created long-term ANDSF dependencies. The United States created a combined arms military structure that required a high degree of professional military sophistication and leadership,” SIGAR stated adding that the ANDSF had stockpiles of US-provided weapons and supplies, but did not have the logistics capabilities to move these items quickly enough to meet operational demands and had to rely on a thinly-stretched Afghan Air Force to do so.

“As a result, ANDSF units complained that they did not have enough ammunition, food, water, or other military equipment to sustain military engagements against the Taliban (IEA).

“Additionally, the Afghan government failed to develop a national security strategy and plan for nationwide security following the withdrawal of US forces,” SIGAR stated adding that instead, former president Ashraf Ghani frequently changed ANDSF leaders and appointed loyalists, while marginalizing well-trained ANDSF officers aligned with the United States.

The constant turnover weakened military chains of command, trust, and morale in the ANDSF. “Young, welltrained, educated, and professional ANDSF officers who grew up under US tutelage were marginalized and their ties to the U.S. became a liability.”

SIGAR also stated that the United States created more long-term dependencies by providing the ANDSF with advanced military equipment that they could not sustain and that required a US military or contractor presence and that the US lacked any real way to measure the ANDSF’s development.

“The metrics DOD used were inconsistent and unable to measure the development of ANDSF capabilities and capacities over time,” SIGAR stated.

SIGAR also stated that while ANDSF members have either left Afghanistan, or are in hiding, there are those who “have joined extremist groups in Afghanistan.”

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IEA confirms mediation talks between Pakistan govt and TTP held in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: May 18, 2022)

Talks were held in Kabul between the government of Pakistan and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), acting as mediator, spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid tweeted.

Good progress has been made in the talks and both sides agreed to a short-term ceasefire, Mujahid tweeted.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, in good faith, strives for a successful negotiation process and expects both sides to be tolerant and flexible,” Mujahid said.

This comes after reports circulated in news outlets that a Pakistani delegation led by Lt General Faiz Hameed, former director of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), visited Kabul and reportedly held talks with representatives of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

However, there was no official confirmation from either side about the development but reports suggested that it was part of a renewed push by the IEA in Afghanistan to broker some kind of a deal between Pakistan and the TTP, The Express Tribune report said.

TTP members and official sources in Kabul also confirmed to VOA that Gen Faiz was in Kabul for talks with the TTP.

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