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Ghani tells BBC his biggest mistake was trusting foreign partners

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(Last Updated On: December 30, 2021)

Former President Ashraf Ghani said on Thursday that his biggest mistake had been to trust the United States and Afghanistan’s other foreign partners.

In his first interview since fleeing the country in mid-August, the former president told BBC Radio 4 that leaving Afghanistan had not been planned and that only after takeoff in a helicopter did this course of action become clear.

Ghani has been heavily criticized and accused of abandoning the country but he defended his decision to flee.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) seized power in August after taking control of Kabul – just hours after Ghani fled the country.

Ghani told BBC that when he woke up on 15 August he had “no inkling” it would be his last day in Afghanistan.

In a conversation with General Sir Nick Carter, the UK’s former Chief of the Defence Staff, who was guest-editing BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Thursday, Ghani said IEA fighters had agreed not to enter Kabul – “but two hours later, this was not the case”.

“Two different factions of the Taliban (IEA) were closing in from two different directions,” Ghani said. “And the possibility of a massive conflict between them that would destroy the city of five million and bring havoc to the people was enormous.”

He said he agreed to let his national security adviser and wife leave Kabul, but then the “terrified” chief of presidential security came to him to say that if he took a stand, “they will all be killed”.

“He did not give me more than two minutes,” Ghani said. “My instructions had been to prepare for departure for [the city of] Khost. He told me that Khost had fallen and so had Jalalabad.

“I did not know where we will go. Only when we took off, it became clear that we were leaving [Afghanistan]. So this really was sudden.”

Ghani was widely criticized for having fled the country, also by his vice-president Amrullah Saleh, who called it “disgraceful”.

Many people, who were privy to talks at the time, have said in the past few months that Ghani’s sudden secret departure on 15 August scuppered a deal to secure a more orderly transition.

Ghani, who is living in the UAE, said in conversation that he misread US politics and the situation on the ground at the time.

Allegations of him having taken vast amounts of money also emerged following his departure and just this week was he named as one of the most corrupt people in the world.

Ghani however denied this and said he would welcome an international investigation into the allegations so that he can clear his name.

“I want to categorically state, I did not take any money out of the country,” he said, adding: “My style of life is known to everyone. What would I do with money?”

He did however acknowledge that mistakes were made, including “assuming that the patience of the international community would last”.

However, he pointed to the agreement made between the IEA and the US under then-President Donald Trump, which paved the way for the events leading to 15 August.

“Instead of a peace process, we got a withdrawal process,” Ghani said. The way the deal was done “erased us”, said Ghani.

Ghani said that what happened on August 15 was “a violent coup, not a political agreement, or a political process where the people have been involved”.

The same day Ghani left Kabul, the IEA took control. Since then, the country has been thrown into a humanitarian and economic crisis, exacerbated by the removal of donor support and foreign aid as well as the freezing of over $9 billion of Afghanistan’s foreign reserves.

Four months later, Ghani says he is willing to take the blame for some things which led to the fall of Kabul – like trusting “in our international partnership”.

He told BBC that his “life work has been destroyed. My values had been trampled on. And I have been made a scapegoat.”

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India calls for enhancing Afghanistan’s counter-terrorism capability

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(Last Updated On: May 27, 2022)

A top Indian official on Friday called for enhancing the capability of Afghanistan to counter terrorism and terrorist groups which pose a threat to regional peace and security.

India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval made the remarks while addressing the 4th Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe.

The two-day meeting was attended by the national security advisers and secretaries of security councils of China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan.

The officials highlighted the need to find constructive ways to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan and combating risks from terrorism emanating from the region.

“There is a need for all present at the Dialogue to enhance capability of Afghanistan to counter terrorism and terrorist groups which pose a threat to regional peace and security,” Doval said.

He said the foremost priority should be the right to life and a dignified living as well as protection of human rights of all the people in Afghanistan.

“Assistance should be accessible to all, respect for all obligations under international humanitarian law should be ensured,” he added.

In a meeting with his Iranian counterpart on the sidelines of the event, Doval expressed concern over the massive volume of American weapons left in Afghanistan, saying part of it has fallen into the hands of terrorist groups and it poses threats to Afghanistan’s neighbors.

He said that the terrorists are operating freely in Afghanistan, stressing the need for the formation of an inclusive government in the country.

For his part, Shamkhani said that the formation of an inclusive government with the participation of different ethnic and religious groups in Afghanistan is a prerequisite for the creation of lasting stability in Afghanistan.

The Security Dialogue on Afghanistan is aimed at firming up a common approach for practical cooperation in confronting increasing threats of terrorism, radicalization and drug trafficking.

Enamullah Samangani, deputy spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), said that overall security prevails in Afghanistan. He called on the neighboring and regional countries to cooperate with the Afghan government to further improve security situation, saying it would benefit the region as well.

“IEA is committed to not allow any evil circle to disrupt security of neighboring and regional countries by using Afghanistan soil,” Samangani said.

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IEA reacts to UNSC remarks, says concerns about women’s rights ‘unfounded’

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(Last Updated On: May 27, 2022)

The Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), has reacted to remarks by the UN Security Council that women’s rights are being violated and said in a statement the comments were “unfounded”.

The statement, issued on Friday also welcomed the UNSC’s decision to revive banking and financial systems and humanitarian aid to the Afghan people. The IEA once again called on the US to unconditionally release Afghanistan’s assets and lift all economic sanctions.

“Since the people of Afghanistan are predominantly Muslim, the Afghan government considers the observance of Islamic Hijab to be in line with the religious and cultural practices of society and aspirations of majority of Afghan women, and stresses that nothing has been imposed on the Afghan people that runs counter to the religious and cultural beliefs of the Islamic society,” the statement read.

“Whilst the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan respects freedom of religion of people and believes in resolving problems through dialogue, it also expects world countries to discern objective realities of Afghan society, show respect towards the religious and cultural values of the Afghan people and not pass verdicts based on malicious and antagonist reporting of some media outlets or propaganda by opposition to the Islamic Emirate.”

The statement comes after Tuesday’s request by the UNSC for the IEA to “swiftly reverse” policies and practices that are restricting the human rights and freedoms of Afghan women and girls.

The 15-member council expressed “deep concern regarding the increasing erosion of respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls in Afghanistan by the Taliban (IEA).”

This came after the IEA ordered women to cover their faces in public. They also asked television broadcasters to ensure that female presenters on local stations cover their faces when on air.

“The members of the Security Council called on the Taliban (IEA) to swiftly reverse the policies and practices which are currently restricting the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Afghan women and girls,” read a Security Council statement.

The Security Council also “reiterated their call on the Taliban (IEA) to adhere to their commitments to reopen schools for all female students without further delay.”

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United Nations Chief condemns recent attacks in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: May 27, 2022)

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has condemned this week’s attacks in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif, in Balkh province, that left at least 16 people dead and dozens wounded.

In a statement issued on Friday, Guterres expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wished the injured a speedy recovery. He also reiterated that civilians are not targets.

“I condemn the recent attacks in Afghanistan, which claimed many civilian lives, including members of the Hazara Shia community,” Guterres tweeted.

He also said: “I repeat; Attacks against civilians are strictly prohibited under international humanitarian law. Civilians are not a target.”

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the United Nations Secretary-General says attacks on civilians and public places, including mosques, are strictly prohibited under international humanitarian law.

Guterres also reiterated his call on all parties to consider the protection of civilians and to ensure the protection of ethnic and religious minorities, as well as their right to freedom of religion and expression.

This comes after Wednesday’s explosions in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif in which 16 people were killed and 37 others wounded.

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