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Karzai calls on Taliban to embrace the ‘new Afghanistan’

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(Last Updated On: April 6, 2021)

As the May 1 deadline for the US troop withdrawal nears, and efforts to secure a peace deal are ramped up, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai said the country is asking the Taliban to embrace today’s Afghanistan, a progressive modern Republic with democratic institutions.

In an interview with TRT World, on Monday, Karzai said: “We (Afghans) are asking the Taliban to become [open to progress]; we have examples of Muslim countries that are doing extremely well, that are deeply Muslim, deeply believing, yet very progressive, quite in touch with the rest of the world, quite in competition positively with the rest of the world.”

“Turkey is one such example and perhaps the best example. Look at the mosques in Turkey, it’s full of people when the prayer time comes, and look at the modernity and the industrial and cultural and economic output that Turkey gives to itself and to the rest of the world. It is a great model for Afghanistan.”

“We also have other examples in the Muslim world but the best for us is Turkey. We have Indonesia, we have Malaysia, we have others therefore yes it is possible for a Muslim individual for a Muslim society to be deeply believing, practicing Muslim and yet progressive, enlightened and futuristically oriented.”

On the issue of the withdrawal of US and foreign troops by May 1, or an extension of their stay, Karzai said this must be carried out in a responsible manner so as to make sure it is done in coordination with major powers and countries in the region in order to ensure peace in Afghanistan.

Karzai said: “The US withdrawal or staying in Afghanistan beyond May 1 must be responsible in both cases; if they want to withdraw that withdrawal must be responsible in the sense that it must make sure that Afghanistan is peaceful and that it is done in a broader understanding with major powers and the countries in the region so all together make Afghanistan a place of cooperation rather than competition.”

“Second if they want to stay beyond May 1 that too has to be responsible. The United States cannot be staying in Afghanistan that is in conflict; No!”

“If the US wants to, wishes to stay in Afghanistan, it can only be staying in Afghanistan and be in cooperation with a peaceful Afghanistan, a stable Afghanistan, not in Afghanistan in which the US presence is there, bases are there, but we are dying in a conflict and our children are suffering,” he said. .

Karzai said he is appealing for a responsible exit on the part of the Americans.

“A responsible exit and if they wish to – a very responsible stay which means in a peaceful Afghanistan not like what they did in the past 20 years; No!”

On the Taliban’s inference that there will be consequences if the US extends its stay in Afghanistan, Karzai said: “The Taliban have said that but we would ask the Taliban to think; they must also think more responsibly towards Afghanistan and towards the safety and security and well-being of the Afghan people.

“Whenever that is done by us the Afghans, by the Americans or our friends in the international community, it must be towards an end of violence in Afghanistan and the return of peace to Afghanistan,” he said.

On the US-proposed peace deal, which includes an interim government and President Ashraf Ghani stepping aside, Karzai said “the best would be that the Taliban agree to power sharing with the current government; the easiest would be that that they share power, that they come and join the current government as Afghan citizens and make peace and accept President Ghani,” until his term of office ends, in accordance with the country’s Constitution.

He said any amendments to the Constitution could then be done in order for steps to be taken forward.

“If that is not possible, if the Taliban don’t want to do that under any circumstances for whatever reason in their mind, then for the Afghan people peace is the priority; so peace must be our top priority and then for peace we must do what is necessary for it.

“That can be an arrangement … or that can be a new arrangement. But whatever the arrangement is, the future of that arrangement, the foresight of that arrangement, has to be a country in which its citizens enjoy the rights of choosing their own government with their own free will, through the will of the Afghan people and expressed through the vote of the Afghan people is the foundation of a strong Afghanistan and I hope the Taliban and everyone else will recognize and agree to that,” he said.

Karzai also stated in his interview that the Taliban are Afghans and also belong to Afghanistan. “They’re Afghan people,” he said adding that a change has to be made by all sides.

“Yes the Taliban must change, yes the Taliban must accept the new realities in Afghanistan, they must accept that the Afghan people want progress, they must accept that Afghan people want a better life, they must accept without a question that the role of women in Afghan society is one in which there cannot be a compromise and that people need to be educated, in that we need to have good relations with the rest of the world and a good economy,,” he said.

However he added that there has to be some give-and-take on both sides and that all Afghan saids must be adaptable to change in order to secure peace.

On the issue of the upcoming US-proposed peace summit in Turkey, Karzai said he has “tremendous hopes. I’m sure Turkey will do all to make certain and certain that the Afghan talks in Turkey, the intra-Afghan talks in Turkey are successful in bringing peace to Afghanistan. That trust we have in Turkey.”

“Holding peace talks in Turkey is a great opportunity for a long term solution,” Karzai said.

In conclusion Karzai said he was confident in the current process and that peace would come to Afghanistan – especially as it was the “will of the Afghan people” to live in peace.

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UN official appeals foreign greater int’l aid after visit to quake-hit region

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(Last Updated On: June 27, 2022)

A top UN official in Afghanistan appealed on Sunday for greater international aid for the country, after he visited communities affected by last week’s devastating earthquake.

“Yesterday’s visit reaffirmed to me both the extreme suffering of people in Afghanistan and their tremendous resolve in the face of great adversity,” said Ramiz Alakbarov, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan.

The UN and its partners have developed a three-month emergency appeal, included within their humanitarian plan for Afghanistan this year, to respond to the catastrophe.

The goal is to scale up and expedite the delivery of humanitarian and resilience assistance to nearly 362,000 people in the two provinces, Paktika and Khost, that were most affected.

“Notwithstanding the phenomenal generosity that donors have already displayed to Afghanistan over these past tumultuous ten months, I urge the international community to dig deep at this time, as the population confronts yet another emergency, and to pledge support to these life-saving and life-sustaining efforts,” he said.

On Saturday, Alakbarov, accompanied by representatives from other UN agencies, travelled to the villages of Mir Sahib and Khanadin, located in Gayan district, Paktika province – one of the areas worst affected by the 6.1 magnitude earthquake.

More than 1,000 people are reported killed and another 2,000 injured in the earthquake in east Afghanistan. According to UN data, 235 people were killed and 600 others were injured in Gayan district alone.

The delegation met with residents, many of whom had lost family members and friends, including several orphaned and separated children, and whose homes are now uninhabitable.

“In addition to food assistance and emergency shelter and repair, interventions such as the restoration of damaged water pipes and cholera prevention and preparedness activities are absolutely vital, as are the restoration of communication lines, road access, and basic livelihoods,” said Alakbarov.

“Without such transitional support, women, men, and children will continue to endure unnecessary and unimaginable hardship,” he added.

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Former commander of Faryab’s uprising forces returns to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

A well-known commander of former uprising forces in Faryab province, Nizamuddin Qaisari, returned to Afghanistan on Sunday after fleeing the country.

Qaisari’s returns comes after efforts were made by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) Contact Commission with Afghan Personalities.

Speaking at a meeting after his arrival, Qaisari said the reason for his return is so he can serve his country. He also called on the IEA to form an inclusive government that represents all ethnic groups in the country

“I came for my people; now we have Islamic government; I want to help and work for the government if they want [me] to; I am ready to serve,” Qaisari said. “I am here to unify people, Pashtun, Hazara, Tajik and others.”

The IEA meanwhile welcomes the return of political figures, even those who were once opposed to the Islamic Emirate, the IEA has said.

Experts believe that Afghanistan is the shared home of all Afghans, and the return of political figures and experts in various fields can provide the basis for lasting stability as well as growth and prosperity of Afghanistan.

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Polio vaccination campaign rolls out in western Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

More than one million Afghan children are expected to be vaccinated over the next few days in the latest polio vaccination campaign that was launched in western Afghanistan on Sunday.

Officials said the campaign will run for four days and be conducted across four provinces in the western region.

Waheed Rahmani, head of the vaccination campaign, said that 1.1 million children under the age of five are expected to receive the polio drops, including 720,000 in Herat province.

He said that so far there are no obstacles in the way of rolling out the campaign.

Volunteers said that they hope to reach all the children who need to be vaccinated.

“I along with my team will work honestly to make Afghanistan free from polio virus,” said Fina Nezami, a volunteer.

“I hope that Afghanistan becomes polio-free and we are happy to go door to door for vaccinations,” said Yagana Nabizada, another volunteer.

Local health officials have assured the public that all areas will be covered by the campaign.

“We have not forgotten areas, and while planning vaccination programs, all the areas are reviewed and if any area is left out, it will be immediately covered,” said Mohammad Asif Kabir, provincial deputy health director.

Around 728,000 children received polio drops in the previous campaign in Herat. Around 5,000 volunteers are involved in the current campaign in Herat.

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