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Taliban remain vague and non-committal about peace talks: Abdullah

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(Last Updated On: May 3, 2021)

Afghanistan’s chief peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah says there is currently no contact between the Afghan Republic’s talks teams and the Taliban’s representative and that the group continues to remain “vague” on the future of negotiations.

In an interview with VOA, Abdullah, who is chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, was asked whether there was any contact between the two teams. His answer was a definitive “No!”

“They leave their positions vague. They say, ‘We want the establishment of an Islamic system,’ but don’t explain what that means. How will the leaders be elected or selected? They want an Islamic Council. Is it elected? If elected, on what basis? They don’t share,” he said.

Abdullah also stated that different groups of Taliban make contact from time to time. “Sometimes they send notes. The messages are mainly the same. Even in the letter (sent to politicians recently), the position is very vague, and you cannot tell whether it is the position of one group or all.”

He also said that with the announcement of the withdrawal of foreign troops, the Taliban’s “position has changed.”

“Their chief negotiator has gone to Pakistan to consult with their leaders, to take directions, to shape up their position. Earlier their position was that they are going to attack the international forces.

“So, as far as the Doha process is concerned, it is still important. So are other opportunities like the conference in Turkey [the Istanbul conference]. It has to be a meaningful event, and both sides have to come to an understanding to make it effective,” he said.

The Taliban has however until now refused to attend the Istanbul Conference, saying they will only participate once all foreign troops have withdrawn from Afghanistan.

“If they don’t come to a meeting, which is supposed to be between both sides, then the conference will not take place. They haven’t said that they are not coming. They haven’t said that they are coming. That has been the problem negotiating with the Taliban all along. They always keep their position vague,” Abdullah said.

On the withdrawal of troops, Abdullah said there is concern that the “Taliban position might get further emboldened” after foreign forces leave.

“Well, as far as their excuses, or the reasons that they were giving, that it is because of the presence of the international forces, it’s ‘jihad’ against foreigners and so on and so forth, so, in three months time, perhaps in less than three months time, there will be no foreign troops on our [Afghanistan’s] soil.”

He also said he “hopes” and “wishes” the Taliban want peace adding “otherwise, the war will continue.”

Abdullah stated that a civil war cannot be ruled out but said: “Let’s not lose hope because it will be a worst-case scenario. So, at this stage, the whole focus should be on how to make it (peace) work.”

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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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Rare 5,000-carat Afghan ruby unveiled in Dubai

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2022)

A rare 5,000-carat gemstone that went on private display in Dubai has been heralded as a “blessing from heaven” for the residents of the impoverished village in which it was unearthed.

The ruby, which weighs about 1 kilogram, has been hailed as “one of a kind” due to its rich purple coloring and size, the National News reported.

The ruby was discovered in the village of Hyderabad, bordering Iran and Afghanistan and its owner said he hoped the unexpected find would help bring a change of fortune for villagers without access to schools, hospitals or even electricity for some.

The uncut stone could cost at least $10 million in the market, asset manager Patrick Pilati told The National.

“It was an accidental finding from the village called Hyderabad bordering Iran and Afghanistan. There is no mining activity in the village that is under the jurisdiction of Afghanistan,” he said.

The rough stone is deep purple in color and bigger than the palm of a hand.

A certificate of authenticity …by the International Testing Laboratory Gems and Jewellery, in Jaipur, Rajasthan in India, and shown to The National, stated the rough ruby weighs 5,010 carats.

Azad Rokhsati, a gemologist, who was also present at the event, confirmed the size and weight.

“I have never seen anything like this,” he said.

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