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Stoltenberg says NATO will face dilemma over Afghanistan



(Last Updated On: January 6, 2021)

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday evening at a press conference that 2021 will be a “pivotal year for NATO because we need to decide on our presence in Afghanistan.”

Stoltenberg said next month defense ministers will meet to decide but that the organization will face a dilemma. He said it was critical to make sure that Taliban break all ties with international terrorists, including al-Qaeda.

He said the organization welcomed the peace talks taking place between the Taliban and Afghan Republic but added: “There are many challenges, and many uncertainties, but of course, the peace talks are the only path to peace, the only way forward to a peaceful negotiated solution.

“We support those efforts, but at the same time we know that we will be faced with a very difficult dilemma,” he said.

“Next month, NATO’s defence ministers will meet, and they need to decide whether to remain, whether to stay in Afghanistan with our military presence, and then risk being engaged in a prolonged military presence in Afghanistan, or whether to leave, but then risk that Afghanistan once again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists,” he said.

On the issue of a conditions-based withdrawal and whether the Taliban had indeed met those conditions, set out in accordance with the US-Taliban deal signed in February last year, Stoltenberg said: “The more important thing is that we need to make sure that Afghanistan doesn’t once again become a safe haven for international terrorists.

“We have to understand that the reason why we went in to Afghanistan back in almost 20 years ago was the attack on a NATO ally, the 9/11 against the United States, and Taliban has committed in the agreement with the United States to make sure that they don’t work with, they don’t support, they don’t help in any way provide any framework support for international terrorists.

“So the most important condition is to make sure that Taliban meets that requirement, that they break all ties with international terrorists, including al-Qaeda.

“We will of course assess the situation on the ground, we will assess the development in the peace talks and then make our decision,” he said.

But he stated that NATO will “have to be honest and say that that will be a dilemma, it will be difficult. It is, of course, a challenge to stay.

“We have been there for almost 20 years.

“To continue to be militarily involved in Afghanistan is challenging, it has a price and we need to be prepared to stay in a difficult military operation.

“On the other hand, if we leave, then we risk that the gains we have made over the last years, preventing Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for international terrorists, that those gains are lost,” he said.

Stoltenberg pointed out that withdrawing will be a “very difficult decision” but its one that all the alliance nations need to make together “because whatever we do, we need to do it in a coordinated and well-planned way.”

He then singled out Germany and thanked them for their strong commitment to the mission in Afghanistan.

“Germany leads the NATO presence in the north, and Germany really understands that our presence in Afghanistan is about protecting ourselves, our own countries against terrorist attacks.”

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Muttaqi leaves for China to attend Trans-Himalaya Forum



(Last Updated On: October 3, 2023)

Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi left Kabul for China to participate in the third Trans-Himalaya Forum for International Cooperation, it was announced Tuesday.

Hafiz Zia Ahmad, deputy spokesman for Foreign Ministry, said on X that Muttaqi had received an official invitation from China.

Deputy Minister of Economy Abdul Latif Nazari and a number of other officials of the Islamic Emirate are accompanying Muttaqi in the visit.

Ahmad said that in the meeting, the countries surrounding the Himalayas will discuss economic cooperation, regional connectivity and ecological changes.

He added that the Islamic Emirate delegation will also have a bilateral meetings with the Foreign Minister of China and representatives of other countries on the sidelines of the forum.

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Pakistan tightens entry rules for Afghan travelers



(Last Updated On: October 3, 2023)

Pakistan has decided that all citizens of neighboring Afghanistan will be required to enter the country with a valid passport and visa starting next month, similar to travelers from other countries, VOA reported on Monday.

The “one document regime” policy will replace the decades-old practice of granting special travel permits to individuals with divided tribes straddling the Durand Line.

The “passport as the only traveling document is going to be implemented from November 1, 2023,” according to an official federal directive sent to immigration authorities at all Afghan border crossings.

“No other document shall be accepted to travel from Afghanistan to Pakistan,” the document said. 

The Pakistani government has yet to make a formal announcement about the new policy. 

VOA cited a senior Pakistani official as saying that Islamabad hopes the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) would cooperate in implementing the “one document regime” decision to help deter illegal crossers, including militants and smugglers.

The IEA did not immediately comment on the new travel requirements.

The new policy comes amid a nationwide crackdown on Afghans living illegally in Pakistan or not renewing their visas.

Last Thursday, Pakistani caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani announced that his government would deport illegal Afghan and other foreign immigrants.

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Foreign tourists flock to Helmand to visit its historical sites



(Last Updated On: October 3, 2023)

With the emergence of security in Afghanistan, foreign tourists are starting to visit Afghanistan to see its historical sites that have been out of reach for travelers for decades.

A group of tourists visiting Lashkargah in Helmand province were awestruck by the 3,000 year old Qala-e-Bost, which is famous for its 11th century arch. The arch is part of the remains of a mosque.

The group of 11 people from Germany, America, New Zealand and South Africa, included five women, who all welcomed the opportunity to visit the fort and other historical sites in the country.

The tourists said it was a good time for people to visit Afghanistan given that peace has been established.

“Afghanistan is a rich country in terms of minerals, they should work for their people and country, in order to save themselves” from being dependent on other countries, said a tourist from South Africa.

“I am happy that I visited Bost Fort and some other historical areas of this historical province with my friends,” said an American tourist.

At the same time, the head of culture and tourism of the Department of Information and Culture, Mawlavi Sultan Muhammad Hanif, said that since the takeover of the Islamic Emirate, many tourists from different countries have come to this province.

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