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Pakistan welcomes start of second round of Afghan peace talks 

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(Last Updated On: January 7, 2021)

Pakistan on Wednesday night welcomed the start of the second round of intra-Afghan negotiations and said the two teams have made significant progress to date. 

In a statement issued by the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, Islamabad said: “The year 2020 witnessed substantial progress towards peace in Afghanistan, with a number of positive developments including conclusion of US-Taliban Peace Agreement on 29 February 2020, start of intra-Afghan Negotiations on 12 September 2020, and agreement on Rules and Procedures on 2 December 2020, which paved the way for meaningful progress in the peace talks.”

Islamabad stated that Pakistan remains “hopeful that the year 2021 will witness the dawn of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.”

The ministry of foreign affairs said Pakistan hopes the two negotiating teams will continue to engage with an open mind and will observe patience, prudence and perseverance to seize this historic opportunity for peace. 

“We call upon both sides to remain constructively engaged and show flexibility in the negotiations for reaching an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement which would lead to lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan,” the statement read.

According to the statement: “Pakistan, on its part, would continue to extend all possible support for the Afghan peace process.”

However, the foreign ministry noted that the high level of violence in Afghanistan “remains a matter of concern. Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly called on all sides to take measures for reduction in violence leading to ceasefire. We are hopeful that the two sides will prioritize working out a road-map for a reduction in violence and ceasefire in the negotiations.”

Pakistan’s statement came just hours after the Afghan Republic’s negotiating team and the Taliban’s team officially resumed talks after a three-week break. 

This next round of talks will see the two sides discuss the agenda and, according to sources, hopefully, a ceasefire.

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UN Security Council to meet over situation in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2022)

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is scheduled to hold a meeting on Tuesday that will focus on the current situation in Afghanistan.

UNSC members are expected to discuss economic, humanitarian and security concerns.

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) spokesman Bilal Karimi said the IEA welcomed meetings that are held with the aim of cooperating with the government and people of Afghanistan.

He also said that Afghans expect cooperation and that such meetings must be held in accordance with international laws and principles.

However, the IEA still does not have a designated UN representative – one year after taking control of the country.

Instead, Naseer Ahmad Faiq, who assumed leadership of the Afghan mission to the UN in December last year, will address the security council members.

The IEA does not however recognize him as the legitimate envoy to the UN.

In a series of tweets on Monday, Faiq said that he would address the security council meeting and speak on behalf of Afghans.

“On behalf of Afghans, in this important meeting, like always, I would like to raise the voice of my nation,” he said.

In September last year, the IEA asked the UN to accredit Suhail Shaheen, the head of the IEA’s political office in Qatar, as the new ambassador.

But in December, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution in which it indefinitely delayed a decision over the rival claims to the representative seat for Afghanistan.

At the time, the IEA criticized the UN’s failure to decide on this issue, saying it was ignoring the rights of the Afghan people.

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Influential Muslim cleric al-Qaradawi dies at 96

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2022)

Senior Muslim cleric Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, who was based in Qatar, died on Monday, according to a post on his official Twitter account.

The cleric was an Egyptian Islamic scholar and was chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars.

He was best known for his programme al-Sharīʿa wa al-Ḥayāh (“Sharia and Life”), broadcast on Al Jazeera, which has an estimated audience of 40–60 million worldwide.

He is also known for IslamOnline, a website he helped to found in 1997 and for which he served as chief religious scholar.

Al-Qaradawi published more than 120 books, and received eight international prizes for his contributions to Islamic scholarship, and is considered one of the most influential Islamic scholars today.

Al-Qaradawi has long had a prominent role within the intellectual leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian political organization, although he repeatedly stated that he was no longer a member. He has over the years been critical of Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

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US spy satellite launched into orbit from California

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2022)

A classified satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office launched into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket on Saturday.

The NROL-91 spy satellite lifted off at 3:25 p.m. from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California’s Santa Barbara County, AP reported.

It was the last launch of a Delta 4 from the West Coast. Additional launches are planned from Florida before the Deltas are replaced by ULA’s next-generation Vulcan Centaur rockets.

The Delta IV Heavy configuration first launched in December 2004. This was the 387th flight of a Delta rocket since 1960 and the 95th and final launch from Vandenberg.

The National Reconnaissance Office is the government agency in charge of developing, building, launching and maintaining U.S. spy satellites that provide intelligence data to policymakers, the intelligence community and Defense Department.

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