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Khalilzad’s hard work pays off as peace talks get the green light  



(Last Updated On: September 11, 2020)

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad on Friday welcomed the announcement by Qatar, the Afghan government and the Taliban that peace negotiations will start on Saturday. 

“This is a historic opportunity to end a forty-year war that has no military solution and kills too many Afghans,” Khalilzad said.

“The road to get here has been long and will remain difficult. No important achievement is ever easy. It is now the responsibility of Afghan leaders to capitalize on this moment and end this brutal and mindless war.”

He said there would be no political settlement without compromise and that recent Afghan history shows that seeking a monopoly of power and enforcing one’s ideology by force leads to conflict and makes the country vulnerable to interference by others.

Khalilzad’s statement came after a host of announcements, including one by US President Donald Trump that talks would start Saturday. 

Khalilzad has since 2018 worked hard to bring the Afghan government and the Taliban to the peace talks table and finally in February clinched a deal with the Taliban to start the peace talks process. 

It was a conditions-based deal that included the release by the Afghan government of 5,000 Taliban prisoners, the release by the Taliban of 1,000 Afghan government employees, a drawdown of troops by the US and the closure of five US military bases.

All conditions have been met following the transfer of the six Taliban prisoners to Qatar.

The US’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has meanwhile left the US for Doha where he will attend the opening ceremony of the historic talks. 

In an announcement on Twitter, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Haneef Atmar, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs; Abdul Salam Rahimi, the President’s Special Representative on Peace Affairs; and Seyed Sa’adat Mansour Naderi, State Minister for Peace Affairs will represent the Afghan government. 

Ghani wished the negotiating team success in “their mission to bring sustainable peace and stability to the country, which is the long-awaited aspiration of the people of Afghanistan.”

The High Council for National Reconciliation also stated that a delegation headed by its chairman Abdullah Abdullah would depart Kabul on Friday for the opening ceremony. 

The council said it “hopes that after a long wait, talks will lead to permanent peace & stability & an end to war.”

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg was another who welcomed the announcement and said “ all parties should seize this historic opportunity & build on the gains made with so much sacrifice. NATO remains committed to Afghanistan’s long-term security.”

The announcement came just hours after the group, of six “high-risk” Taliban prisoners, was transferred from Kabul to Doha on Thursday afternoon. 

The fate of the six, which the Taliban wanted released, had been a stumbling block in the way of starting talks. 

However, an agreement was reached between the government, the Taliban and Qatar, that this batch of prisoners would be transferred to Qatar where they will be held in a secure facility. 

This comes after a number of countries, including Australia and France, objected to their release on the grounds of them having killed foreign nationals. 

Ghani was also hesitant to release them and said recently they had masterminded some of Afghanistan’s worst attacks and that some were drug kingpins. 


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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Desert Vipers pull off exciting 12-run win over Dubai Capitals to regain top slot



(Last Updated On: January 29, 2023)

Desert Vipers pulled off an exciting 12-run victory over Dubai Capitals in the 20th match of the ILT20 at the Dubai International Stadium on Saturday night to regain the top position in the points table.

While Desert Vipers could post only a moderate total of 149 for 9 through a captain’s knock of 40 off 32 balls with two boundaries and two sixes from Colin Munro, Dubai Capitals were restricted to 137 for 5 in 20 overs through a splendid and accurate bowling by Rohan Mustafa (2 for 27) backed well by Matheesha Pathirana and Tom Curran.
For Dubai Capitals, Adam Zampa playing his first match, bowled brilliantly and took three wickets for 16 to bag the Player of the match award.

Dubai Capitals remain in fifth slot with two victories and four defeats and only five points.

Speaking about their performance, Desert Vipers’ Rohan Mustafa said after the match: “The Dubai Capitals bowled really well towards the end of our innings. Credit to them. It wasn’t an easy wicket to bat on. I thought we had enough on the board at the end of our innings.”

Meanwhile, Dubai Capitals’ Adam Zampa said: “Tom Curran and Matheesha Pathirana bowled impressively for the Vipers. The batting group will talk about what they can do better and think about what they could do if they find themselves in the same situation again.”

Earlier in the day, Rahmanullah Gurbaz played a fantastic innings of 56 runs from 39 balls to help the Sharjah Warriors register a four-wicket victory over Abu Dhabi Knight Riders at the same stadium.

The Warriors restricted the Knight Riders to 149 for four in their 20 overs and then chased down their target in 17 overs.

Speaking about their performance, Sharjah Warriors’ captain Joe Denly said: “Our bowlers set the tone for the whole game. We never let them get away when they were batting. I thought 150 was a very reasonable score. We are a confident group at the moment and we have a couple of days to recharge and then come back strong in Sharjah.”

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Knight Riders’ Akeal Hosein said after the match: “I thought we were 15 runs short with the bat. The Warriors got off to a great start in the powerplay, which allowed them to cruise through in the middle period of the game. We’ve had decent performances with bat and ball, but we haven’t put everything together as a team.”

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