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Kabul security ramped up as Taliban issues warning against ‘occupying forces’

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(Last Updated On: May 1, 2021)

Kabul security was ramped up on Saturday as the city braced for attacks by the Taliban due to the presence of foreign troops in the country – despite the May 1 withdrawal deadline agreement signed last year between the US and the Taliban.

An increased military presence and security at checkpoints were visible in the Afghan capital, and a security source told Reuters the city had been placed on “high alert”.

Military patrols and security were being increased in main cities around the country, the source said.

On Saturday morning, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid tweeted that the US troops presence was in violation of the agreement and that the group reserved the right to take action against the “occupying forces”.

“As withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan by agreed upon May 1st deadline has passed, this violation in principle has opened the way for IEA Mujahidin to take every counteraction it deems appropriate against the occupying forces,” Mujahid tweeted.

“The Mujahidin of IEA (Taliban) will now await what decision the leadership of Islamic Emirate takes in light of the sovereignty, values and higher interests of the country, and will then take action accordingly, Allah willing,” he said.

Under the Trump administration’s February 2020 deal with the Taliban, foreign forces were to withdraw from the country by May 1 while the Taliban held off on attacking foreign troops and bases.

But US President Joe Biden announced last month after reviewing the situation that forces would stay in the country for months beyond May, withdrawing by September 11.

While the Taliban did not attack foreign forces in the year following the signing of the agreement, the group continued to carry out attacks against the Afghan security forces and Afghan civilians.

In recent weeks, more than 100 Afghan security force personnel have been killed. On Friday alone, a massive truck bomb in Logar killed dozens of people.

Washington has however warned that if foreign forces were attacked while carrying out the withdrawal they would defend themselves “with all the tools at our disposal”.

Experts said the Taliban threats should be taken seriously, but a number of factors meant that full-scale attacks against foreign targets could be averted, as the Taliban continued negotiations.

“We can’t rule out attacks,” Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Programme at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington told Reuters.

“That said, the Taliban is less likely to attack foreign forces now that it knows there is a specific date when they will be leaving.”

In the lead up to May, sources said there was a flurry of meetings and negotiations continued with the Taliban to try to get them to agree to a deadline extension.

The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, met with the Taliban’s head of political office, Mullah Baradar, in Doha, a Taliban spokesman said on Friday.

Also on Friday, the eve of the May 1 deadline, envoys from Russia, China, Pakistan and the United States held meetings with Taliban officials and Afghan government negotiators in the Qatari capital. The Taliban said they discussed the peace process and their request that Taliban leaders be removed from sanctions lists.

Sources also said that a delegation of Taliban political leaders had been in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad this week, Reuters reported.

Two Taliban sources and one official source told Reuters negotiations had revolved around the proposed deadline extension in exchange for the United States not getting involved in Afghan military operations against the Taliban; getting the Taliban to commit to re-joining the Turkey conference if they were provided with an agenda on what would be discussed there; and possibly declaring a ceasefire over the upcoming Eid holiday.

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2,000 kg drugs destroyed in Zabul

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(Last Updated On: December 9, 2022)

Local officials in Zabul say 2,000 kilograms of drugs seized recently were torched and destroyed in the southern Afghan province.

The drugs had been seized at a security checkpoint while being transported in Shah Joy district, said Abdul Sattar, head of operations at counter-narcotics department of Zabul.

He said that one person was arrested in connection with the smuggling of the drugs, and was referred for prosecution.

In a major crackdown on illegal practices in the country, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) supreme leader in April issued a decree banning the cultivation of poppies.

The decree stated that in addition to this, usage, transportation, trade, export and import of all types of narcotics are strictly banned.

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Pakistan to import gas from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan: report

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(Last Updated On: December 9, 2022)

The government of Pakistan, facing gas shortage as winter sets in, has worked out a plan to import liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) overland from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan, Pakistan Today reported on Thursday.

The customs office in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, after consultations with stakeholders, sent a plan to the Federal Board of Revenue to import LPG across the Chaman border, the paper said, citing sources. The federal government is ready to take the big step of importing LPG from Turkmenistan and will allow entry of tanker trucks, the sources said.

Afghan haulers plan to drive empty Pakistani tanker trucks across the Chaman border to the border with Turkmenistan in Torghuni to fill them with LPG. They will then drive back to Chaman and hand the trucks over to Pakistani haulers, who will deliver the gas to the point of destination in Pakistan, according to the report.

The documents cited by Pakistan Today lay out three plans: immediate, short-term and long-term. Under the first, imports will begin immediately, while the short-term plan will require six to eight months and the long-term plan, which calls for setting up a station to load LPG into Pakistani fuel trucks, will take one year.

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Refugees minister visits Panjshir province

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(Last Updated On: December 9, 2022)

The minister of Refugees and Repatriation (MoRR) has traveled to Panjshir province and met with Mohammad Mohsen Hashemi, the governor of Panjshir, and other officials of government departments, institutions and influential people of this province.

On the trip to Panjshir province on Thursday and visiting the officials of this province, Khalil-ur-Rehman Haqqani, minister of refugees, said that the Islamic Emirate has no enmity with any ethnic or linguistic group.

He said that fighting in the past was to free the country from occupation, which has now ended.

At this meeting, Haqqani, while congratulating the victory of the Islamic Emirate and the consolidation of the Islamic system, asked the people and officials of Panjshir to continue living together with the spirit of brotherhood, friendship, intimacy and confidence.

He also emphasized that the enmity, war and struggle were for the consolidation of the Islamic system, providing security, defending the territorial integrity and ending the occupation, and with the consolidation of the Islamic system, there is no reason for enmity among Afghans.

The minister of refugees thanked the donor institutions for their cooperation and asked them for more assistance in the whole country, especially for the residents of Panjshir, and emphasized that the survey and distribution should be done in understanding and coordination with the MoRR and relevant departments.

He also visited Panjshir Immigrant Affairs Department and gave the necessary instructions to prevent corruption and solve the problems of returnees and displaced people.

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