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Taliban delegation in Kandahar for consultations

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(Last Updated On: August 18, 2021)

A nine-member Taliban delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar arrived in Kandahar on a special flight from Qatar on Tuesday night and are expected to hold consultations on the future system. 

After arriving in Kandahar province, a senior Taliban member, Khairullah Khairkhah, told a news conference that he was pleased to see that there was no enemy in the country.

He also called on all people, with skills, to commit to developing their country. 

Khairkhah said the reason for the delegation’s visit to Kandahar was to hold discussions on the future government structure and system. 

He said these discussions will start soon and as soon as decisions have been made, the public will be informed. 

“Now the situation is different from the past, and you see that all of us are together now, and who did what in the past is not difficult for anyone now,” Khairkhah said.

Regarding human rights, especially women’s rights and for them to work, and the issue of freedom of expression, Khairkhah said: “We hope that in the light of Islamic values and Afghan traditions, we will continue and be satisfied by the international community.”

Another Taliban member, Abdul Salam Hanafi, said the Taliban is now strengthening security in the country so that no one can cause instability or insecurity by using the Taliban’s name. 

“Strengthening security is our priority for everyone to feel safe and for everyone to live together. The issue of war and enmity is over and no one will be insulted or humiliated. Everyone has the right to serve in their homeland,” he said. 

Hanafi also said: “And in any field that has specialists, we welcome them, and the reason for the delegation to come (to Kandahar) is to consult with other elders so that we can make some arrangements that are necessary and we will share with you [media] later.”

Regarding the role and concerns of the youth, Hanafi said: “One of the decisions of the Islamic Emirate is that none of our young people will be killed on illegal routes to Europe. 

“We work together and we need the youth and they should not feel threatened, and we have announced that everything that is past is past; the Emirate has declared amnesty for everyone from today, and the Islamic Emirate does not seek revenge.”

Regarding those who are said to be out of the country, or at enmity with the Taliban, or leaders who are not in Afghanistan, Hanafi replied: “We have declared a general amnesty and no one should leave Afghanistan and those who have left should return; their homes are safe; their honor and dignity are safe; we do not need anyone’s property, house or car; we are not here for revenge.”

Hanafi also called on the people not to flee the country and to stay in Afghanistan and help with its development.

Regarding the recent remarks made by Amrullah Saleh, former first vice president, Hanafi said: “The constitution was something that was translated by Westerners, and those who came by force; [government officials who fled] today have all gone and taken the constitution with them, and we ask all Afghans that Afghanistan is no longer a place for war, the war is over and no one should declare war and no one is ready for war and all Afghanistan is under the control of the forces of the Islamic Emirate and we want all Afghans to live together as brothers. 

“Let them build their homeland and let no one disturb the security of Afghanistan,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Anas Haqqani, a member of the Taliban’s leadership, is now in Kabul and met with political figures including Abdullah Abdullah, former president Hamid Karzai and Fazl Hadi Muslimyar.

The meeting was held at Abdullah’s home. Sources close to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar are said to be encouraged by the possibility that a political understanding can still be reached between the Taliban and Abdullah, Karzai and Hekmatyar. 

“There is more opportunity than ever before, all positions should work to change the situation, do not doubt that the situation will change,” said Hafiz Rahman Naqi, deputy head of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Islamic Party.

A number of political figures have meanwhile traveled to Islamabad in a bid to defend the republic system. They met with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Islamabad says it is trying to form a government based on a political agreement in Afghanistan.

Mohammad Younos Qanoni, another Afghan politician, said, “I am optimistic that one of the main obstacles was the previous Afghan government which is now non-existent. The opportunity for greater understanding and a new atmosphere in Afghanistan has been created. I hope that the leaders of the republic and the Taliban will reach an understanding.”

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Khulm district officially moved from Balkh to Samangan

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(Last Updated On: August 9, 2022)

Khulm district has been detached from Balkh province and is now part of Samangan province, a senior official said on Tuesday.

Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Mohsin Hashimi, visited the region and said that government had decided to incorporate Khulm district into Samangan province.

Hashimi said that he had been instructed to transfer administrative and security responsibilities for Khulm district to Samangan province in the presence of the governors of both the provinces and give assurances to the local people and security forces.

Balkh Governor Qudratullah Abu Hamza said that security responsibility for Khulm district has been handed over to Samangan authorities.

Meanwhile, Abdul Rahman Kunduzi, the governor of Samangan, dismissed concerns that the move would affect businesses in Khulm district which has until now been part of a province that sits on vital trade routes into Central Asia

“There is no problem for investment in any province,” Kunduzi said.

Khulm district initially had been part of Samangan province, but it was moved to Balkh province during Hamid Karzai’s rule.

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Russia successfully launches Iranian satellite

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(Last Updated On: August 9, 2022)

A Russian rocket on Tuesday successfully launched an Iranian satellite into orbit from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan, AP reported.

The Soyuz rocket lifted off as scheduled at 8:52 am Moscow time. About nine minutes after the launch, it placed the Iranian satellite called Khayyam into orbit. It’s named after Omar Khayyam, a Persian scientist who lived in the 11th and 12th centuries.

Iran has said the satellite fitted with high-resolution camera will be used for environmental monitoring and will remain fully under its control.

Tehran said no other country will have access to information it gathers and it would be used for civilian purposes only, but there have been allegations that Russia may use it for surveillance of Ukraine amid its military action there.

If it operates successfully, the satellite would give Iran the ability to monitor its archenemy Israel and other countries in the Middle East, AP reported.

Yuri Borisov, head of Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos, hailed the launch as an “important landmark” in cooperation between Moscow and Tehran.

Iranian state television aired footage of the launch live, noting that the country’s telecommunications minister attended the liftoff in Kazakhstan. Tehran said the satellite will help improve productivity in the agriculture sector, survey water resources, manage natural disasters, confront deforestation and monitor border areas.

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Karzai says it’s time the US corrects its mistakes in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: August 9, 2022)

Former president Hamid Karzai said this week that while Afghanistan was more secure today than a year ago, the economy was a “disaster” and that it was time for the US to “correct it’s mistakes”. 

In an interview with NPR this week, Karzai discussed the current situation in the country and the events of August 15 last year.

He said at the time of the collapse of the former government and the takeover by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), he had feared for his safety, but not because of the IEA but because of external forces. 

“The Taliban (IEA) are Afghans. They belong to this country. We know them, they know us. I felt external forces, and feared that more,” Karzai said, mentioning foreign countries and elements within Pakistan, in particular, NPR reported.

According to Karzai, he stayed and met with IEA leaders, and said that they all seemed to want the same thing: a peaceful and progressing Afghanistan. 

“In terms of [an] end to widespread fighting and conflict, we are happy — there’s more stability, there’s more security,” Karzai said. 

“But in terms of Afghanistan having a government that all Afghan people find themselves [in], we still have a way to go. In terms of the economy of the country, it’s a disaster. In terms of Afghans leaving their own country, it’s a huge disaster and a shame upon us. And this is something that the Taliban IIEA) have to address.”

Karzai told NPR the IEA acknowledges that there are problems, and that the US made “immense mistakes” in Afghanistan.

NPR reported that he is still angry about civilian casualties during the war, saying the US bombed the wrong people so often that he refuses to believe it was a mistake. 

Karzai also spoke out about the chaotic withdrawal of troops and said it had been “very dishonorable.” Families were separated amidst the chaos, and some Afghans desperate to evacuate clung to a military plane as it took off. At least two people fell to their deaths, which Karzai called a “disgrace to both of us.”

He told NPR there were things the US could do to help the Afghan people now, including unfreezing the country’s financial reserves.

“I need for the United States government to correct its mistakes in Afghanistan, to help the Afghan people stand back on their feet,” he said.

Karzai also told NPR he had met IEA leaders, all of whom had expressed a desire for better relations with the US.

But he said there were things the IEA must do first to gain trust and make progress within their own country.

“We must make sure that all the Afghan people see themselves belonging to this country and represented by the government, and that we take all the necessary steps to prove to the rest of the world that we mean well for Afghanistan,” he said.

He also said girls’ education was an issue and said he was worried the ban sets the whole country back. He warned that “a decade from now we’ll be worse than what we are now.”

NPR reported that Karzai feels there are many reasons why the IEA should take steps to prove to the world that they are trying to better the country.

“That will also make it easier for someone like me to go into the international community and say, ‘Well, we’re now on the right path towards a better future and deserve support,'” he said.

But Karzai can’t go out into the international community, even if he wanted to. He said he had asked the IEA for permission to travel abroad for several functions and events, but had always been denied, NPR reported.

As they explained it to Karzai the first time, they are honored that he is in Afghanistan and fear that things will fall apart if he doesn’t come back. He said they all knew that he would come back.

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