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Khalilzad claims Iran not entirely supportive of peace process



(Last Updated On: October 15, 2020)

American peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said efforts are being made to establish an international support group for the Afghan peace process and that hopefully, this group will be able to encourage Iran to support the peace process. 

Speaking to Andrew Wilder, vice president of the Asia center of the US Institute of Peace, during a Pearson Institute webinar, Khalilzad said the US is involved in discussions with the Afghans, neighboring countries and other countries “to establish an international support group for peace in Afghanistan because there is an internal dimension to the conflict in Afghanistan and [also] a regional and international dimension to it.” 

“I hope we will have the announcement of an international support group that could meet relatively soon,” he said. 

Khalilzad stated that many countries in the region realize the benefits of having a peaceful Afghanistan – especially in terms of investment and trade, which includes Pakistan that “sees an opening to Central Asia” through Afghanistan. 

In line with this, the US is seeking to forge an agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan to ensure neither country will provide havens to terrorist groups. 

With regards to Afghanistan’s western neighbor, Iran, he said “there are two Irans; the foreign ministry Iran which says positive things and makes statements that could be construed as supporting the peace process,” but then there is the other Iran that would like to “keep the US entangled in a war.”  

Iran “appears to want the war to go on rather than for the peace process to succeed,” he said adding that “we would like Iran … to participate in the regional efforts in support of peace.” 

Referring to the proposed support group, he said such a body would hopefully be able to encourage Iran “to be supportive of peace efforts”. 

“The current situation is a mixed one,” he noted. 

On the current high levels of violence in the country, Khalilzad said there had been significant fighting in the “countryside” and “we are discussing with both sides, with the Taliban, to reduce the attacks.”

He stated that both the Afghan side and the Taliban are involved in the violence but said it is not only the Taliban involved in attacks but other groups are also playing a part. 

One group was mentioned, which he said was ISIS but he added that “there are also neighbors that are not being entirely helpful.” However, he did not name the country.

Efforts were meanwhile being made to reduce attacks as continued high levels of violence could undermine the people’s faith in the peace process, he said. 

On questions raised over the Taliban’s commitment to the negotiations and peace process and how to counter the perception that the Taliban thinks it has already won, Khalilzad said the Taliban appears serious about the process and has sent a high-ranking team, mostly from its leadership, to negotiate. 

“They have a strategy, a plan on how to negotiate,” he said adding that there were some differences of opinions within the Taliban’s team with regard to what type of settlement should be reached.  

He stated that the US has however reached an agreement with the Afghan government on an end-state to the negotiations and are working ”together, to cooperate, to get to that end-state during the negotiations.” 

Many countries, including the United Nations Security Council, have said the return of an Islamic Emirate is not acceptable, many neighboring countries and allies are saying the same, he said. 

The Taliban however would like to be accepted as a legitimate player, he noted adding that this could not happen if they refuse to accept a “reduction in violence if they don’t observe basic human rights.”

He said the Taliban has been told: “what they decide with other Afghans will determine what we [the US] do in relation to them.”

Khalilzad stated the peace process has its challenges – pointing out it has been 40 years of war and there has been “a lot of mistrust among Afghans,” and distrust between the US and the Taliban – which are all understandable, he said. 

Questioned on what an actual end-state entails, Khalilzad said the US has stated it wants to see a united, sovereign Afghanistan that is at peace with itself and one that has a representative government that is broadly acceptable to the Afghan people – also that the gains of the past 19 years are preserved. 



Afghanistan makes history after beating Pakistan in T20I series



(Last Updated On: March 27, 2023)

Afghanistan made history on Sunday night when they beat long-time rival Pakistan in their second successive T20I match in Sharjah to win the series.

Sunday’s match saw Afghanistan beat Pakistan by 7 wickets with one ball remaining.

This is the first time in Afghanistan’s cricketing history that they have beaten Pakistan in an international series and as fans back home and across the world erupted with joy after a nail-biting last two overs, congratulations started pouring in.

Afghanistan Cricket Board said it was a “momentous occasion for Afghanistan cricket!”

The board said in a tweet that the team had “created history by securing their first-ever T20I series win over traditional rivals Pakistan. It’s a triumph of grit, courage, and teamwork.”

Rashid Khan’s squad did indeed show grit, courage and teamwork and after winning the toss and opting to bat first, Pakistan faced an early blow from Fazalhaq Farooqi who dismissed Saim Ayub for a duck on the second ball of the innings.

He then trapped Abdullah Shafique LBW on the very next delivery to take Afghanistan to a dream start. Pakistan kept on losing wickets at regular intervals but Imad Wasim’s 64 not out off 57 and Shadab’s 32 off 25 took them to a respectable total.

Chasing a target of 131 runs, Afghanistan were calm and focused throughout the second innings but needing 30 runs off the last three overs, and 22 from the last two overs.

However Najibullah Zadran and Mohammad Nabi hit a six each off pace bowler Naseem Shah in the penultimate over to reduce the target to five runs. Zadran then hit the winning boundary off Zaman Khan’s last over to chase down the 131-run target with one ball to spare.

This was Afghanistan’s first bilateral T20I series against any of the top six teams — India, England, Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

They have previously won a T20I series each against the West Indies and Bangladesh and five in five against Zimbabwe.


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Khalilzad slams ‘brutal’ but ‘failed’ regime in Iran



(Last Updated On: March 6, 2023)

Former US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad on Sunday called the Iranian regime a “political and economic failure at home and a growing threat to the region and the world”.

In an interview with UK-based Iran International, Khalilzad said the Tehran regime has lost the support of the Iranian people.

Following up with a detailed tweet after the interview, the former envoy said the Iranian “regime rules through brutal suppression of those who back the Zan (women), Zendagi (life), and Azadi (freedom) movements.

Referring to the ongoing poisoning mystery, he said “many female students have been poisoned at school.”

He also lashed out and said: “Iran has become the capital of al-Qaeda, is determined to acquire nuclear weapons, and provides military support to Russia in its aggression in Ukraine.”

Khalilzad also stated that the Iranian regime “might well use al-Qaeda to target regime opponents abroad and former US officials it has declared it wants to kill.”

He said the Biden administration and US Congress needs to increase support for Iran’s democratic opposition, isolate Iran internationally, press allies to declare Iran’s special military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as a terrorist organization, and downgrade relations with the regime by withdrawing their Ambassadors.

“We must increase sanctions, especially stopping the import of Iranian oil. We must also strengthen deterrence against potential Iranian aggression,” he said.

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Mohammad Sadiq resigns as Pakistan’s special envoy to Afghanistan



(Last Updated On: March 1, 2023)

Mohammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s special representative to Afghanistan, resigned from his post on Wednesday.

“After serving close to three years as Pakistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, I have requested the government that the time had come for me to move on and focus on my personal pursuits — family, books and agriculture/environment,” he said in a series of tweets.

Sadiq said that he was grateful to the prime minister and all the other stakeholders for their “wholehearted support” to him as the special envoy.

“I deeply appreciate the hard work of many of my colleagues who spent long hours to make the Pakistan-Afghanistan relationship work,” he added.

Sadiq was appointed to the Afghan position in June 2020 and had worked closely with other envoys during the peace talks process between the US and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) in the lead up to the signing of the Doha Agreement on February 29, 2020.

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