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Stoltenberg says Afghan forces can cope alone

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(Last Updated On: May 28, 2021)

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that the government and the Afghan security forces are strong enough to stand on their own without the help of foreign troops.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Stoltenberg said: “I think that the Afghans, they also realize that we have been there now for 20 years and we have invested heavily in blood and treasure in Afghanistan.”

“Afghanistan has come a long way, both when it comes to building strong, capable security forces, but also when it comes to social and economic progress. At some stage, it has to be the Afghans that take full responsibility for peace and stability in their own country,” Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg said that NATO countries would continue to support Afghanistan through civilian experts who will help to advise government ministries, by funding the security forces and with support for slow-moving peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban.

He said that NATO is also “looking into the possibility of providing some training out of country for the Afghan security forces, but no final decision has been taken.”

U.S. military leaders are still grappling with how best to carry out President Joe Biden’s order to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by September while helping Afghan forces and monitoring the threat that prompted the U.S. invasion of the country 20 years ago, AP reported.

Biden and Stoltenberg will meet with the other leaders of the 30-nation military alliance on June 14 to usher in a new era in trans-Atlantic ties after four tumultuous years of the former Trump administration. The other big issue will be Afghanistan, although no Afghan leaders are due to attend the Brussels summit, AP reported.

Asked about the impact of leaving Afghanistan without the security guarantee that has helped keep the Taliban at bay, Stoltenberg said that “there are risks entailed to the decision of ending NATO’s military mission in Afghanistan. We have been very transparent and clear-eyed about that.”

“At the same time, to continue to stay means that we will also have to take some risks; the risk of more fighting, the risk of being forced to increase the number of troops there, and the risk of remaining with a (military) mission,” he said.

Many officials have expressed concern that once the U.S. leaves, the government and its armed forces will be quickly overrun by the Taliban. Violence has steadily mounted in recent months as the drawdown gathered pace, AP reported.

It remains unclear what level of security might be needed, and who would provide it, to protect international embassies spread around the capital Kabul. The city’s airport, the main international gateway to Afghanistan, and the route to it must also be protected.

Stoltenberg said that NATO plans to provide financial support to keep Kabul airport up and running, but — just a few months before the alliance ends its biggest, costliest and most ambitious mission ever — the details of how all this might play out remained unclear.

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Islamabad wants Beijing to talk to Kabul about terrorism, Pakistani minister says

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(Last Updated On: May 19, 2024)

Islamabad would like Beijing to speak to Kabul about the issue of terrorism, Pakistan’s Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said.

Speaking in an interview with VOA released on Sunday, Iqbal said that Pakistan has concerns on certain groups that are operating out of Afghanistan and carrying out terrorism actions.

“The terrorists who committed the recent incident against Chinese workers also came from Afghanistan, so I think this is a cause of concern, and we also hope that China would also persuade Afghanistan because Afghans listen to the Chinese government in the region,” Iqbal said.

The official said that as a result of crises and conflicts over the last couple of decades in Afghanistan, Pakistan has not been able to invest in its infrastructure, and its economy has developed two major bottlenecks – energy blockage and infrastructure blockage.

Referring to Afghanistan, he said that Pakistan has an agreement with China to have a third country as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) has previously rejected Pakistan’s allegations against Afghanistan over security incidents.

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Floods leave 18 dead, destroy hundreds of homes in Faryab

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(Last Updated On: May 19, 2024)

At least 18 people have died and two others have been injured following floods in Faryab province on Saturday night, the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation announced Sunday.

The flash floods occurred in Pashtunkot, Almar, Qaisar, Belcheragh, Khyber and Dawlat Abad districts, the ministry said in a statement.

560 houses, 850 acres of agricultural land, 110 shops and a mobile clinic were destroyed as a result of the floods, according to the statement.

In addition, 300 livestock perished and 2,000 fruit trees were destroyed, the statement said.

This comes just a week after deadly floods left over 300 people dead in northern Afghanistan.

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IEA leader approves law on prevention of begging

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(Last Updated On: May 19, 2024)

The Ministry of Justice announced Saturday that Mawlawi Hebatullah Akhundzada, the leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), has approved the law on collection of beggars and preventing begging.

The law has three chapters and 27 articles, and is published in the official gazette of the Ministry of Justice.

According to the law, begging is prohibited for healthy and working people and those who can secure their one-day meal.

The law also prohibits the use of children and the disabled for begging.

According to the law, professional beggars who use a child or a mentally ill person or a disabled person for the purpose of begging, will be sentenced to one month in prison by the court, and their organizers will be sentenced to up to six months in prison.

In 2022, the leader of the Islamic Emirate ordered the collection of beggars. Tens of thousands of beggars have been rounded up so far.

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