Time to move past ‘conspiracy theories’, work together: Abdullah
Afghanistan’s chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation addressed an event at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad on Tuesday and said “peace is on the horizon” but that everyone needs to move beyond conspiracy theories, and “start looking at the region as one region.”
Everyone needs to draw on lessons learned and look at where the region could have been if the situation had been different, he said.
Abdullah stated he cannot emphasize enough the importance of current peace efforts which will benefit the entire region.
He told the delegates attending the event his job as the chairman of the HCNR is to help build consensus and promote reconciliation in order to seek a political settlement.
Again he said Afghanistan is very different to what it was in 2001 and is inclusive and respects the rights of people.
Both Afghanistan and Pakistan continue to pay a high price because of terrorism, he said adding that there are groups working as spoilers of the peace process.
He also stated that during his meeting with Pakistan’s national assembly on Monday night, he noticed the widespread interest in Pakistan to reach a peace settlement in Afghanistan.
He said Afghanistan is grateful for the steps Pakistan has taken to date around the peace efforts and thanked Pakistan for hosting millions of Afghan refugees.
Prior to Abdullah’s speech, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, said: “We do not want to meddle in your [Afghanistan’s] internal affairs. We respect your sovereignty, your independence and your territorial integrity”.
He said there had been “a paradigm shift” and Pakistan wants to be friends, not masters.
He also assured Kabul of Pakistan’s “complete support”.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also said Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will visit Pakistan soon.
Greece arrests two Pakistani men with links to Iran for ‘planning attack’
Greek police told AFP they had arrested two young Pakistanis of Iranian origin over planned anti-Semitic attacks in central Athens, as Israel accused Tehran of being behind the plot.
Israel said it was a fresh attempt by arch-foe Iran “to promote terror against Israeli and Jewish targets abroad,” AFP reported.
“After the investigation of the suspects in Greece, the Mossad helped untangle the intelligence of the network, its operational methods and ties to Iran,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said, referring to Israel’s national intelligence agency.
“As part of the investigation, it emerged that the infrastructure in Greece was part of a broad Iranian network, operated from Iran toward many countries,” a statement said.
Greek police spokeswoman Konstantina Dimoglidou told AFP the “mastermind” of the cell is “a Pakistani who lives outside Europe.”
A police source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the person lived in Iran.
“After coordinated actions by the Greek police and the National Intelligence Service, a terrorist network was dismantled which, from abroad, was planning strikes against carefully selected targets on Greek territory,” a police statement said.
Police said the network had “already chosen the target of the attack” and were planning how to execute it, AFP reported.
Greece’s Jewish community numbers around 5,000.
The Greek police source told AFP the two Pakistanis of Iranian origin were aged 27 and 29 and were planning attacks on areas frequented by Israelis in central Athens.
The source said the men were targeting a building which houses a synagogue and a Jewish restaurant.
The mobile phones of the two arrested men had allowed investigators to capture conversations, videos and sketches of the places targeted, according to the same source.
The country has not been the target of any terrorist attacks in recent years.
Greek police said the suspects were trying to undermine state security and its “international relations.”
Afghanistan makes history after beating Pakistan in T20I series
Afghanistan made history on Sunday night when they beat long-time rival Pakistan in their second successive T20I match in Sharjah to win the series.
Sunday’s match saw Afghanistan beat Pakistan by 7 wickets with one ball remaining.
This is the first time in Afghanistan’s cricketing history that they have beaten Pakistan in an international series and as fans back home and across the world erupted with joy after a nail-biting last two overs, congratulations started pouring in.
Afghanistan Cricket Board said it was a “momentous occasion for Afghanistan cricket!”
The board said in a tweet that the team had “created history by securing their first-ever T20I series win over traditional rivals Pakistan. It’s a triumph of grit, courage, and teamwork.”
Rashid Khan’s squad did indeed show grit, courage and teamwork and after winning the toss and opting to bat first, Pakistan faced an early blow from Fazalhaq Farooqi who dismissed Saim Ayub for a duck on the second ball of the innings.
He then trapped Abdullah Shafique LBW on the very next delivery to take Afghanistan to a dream start. Pakistan kept on losing wickets at regular intervals but Imad Wasim’s 64 not out off 57 and Shadab’s 32 off 25 took them to a respectable total.
Chasing a target of 131 runs, Afghanistan were calm and focused throughout the second innings but needing 30 runs off the last three overs, and 22 from the last two overs.
However Najibullah Zadran and Mohammad Nabi hit a six each off pace bowler Naseem Shah in the penultimate over to reduce the target to five runs. Zadran then hit the winning boundary off Zaman Khan’s last over to chase down the 131-run target with one ball to spare.
This was Afghanistan’s first bilateral T20I series against any of the top six teams — India, England, Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.
They have previously won a T20I series each against the West Indies and Bangladesh and five in five against Zimbabwe.
Khalilzad slams ‘brutal’ but ‘failed’ regime in Iran
Former US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad on Sunday called the Iranian regime a “political and economic failure at home and a growing threat to the region and the world”.
In an interview with UK-based Iran International, Khalilzad said the Tehran regime has lost the support of the Iranian people.
Following up with a detailed tweet after the interview, the former envoy said the Iranian “regime rules through brutal suppression of those who back the Zan (women), Zendagi (life), and Azadi (freedom) movements.
Referring to the ongoing poisoning mystery, he said “many female students have been poisoned at school.”
He also lashed out and said: “Iran has become the capital of al-Qaeda, is determined to acquire nuclear weapons, and provides military support to Russia in its aggression in Ukraine.”
Khalilzad also stated that the Iranian regime “might well use al-Qaeda to target regime opponents abroad and former US officials it has declared it wants to kill.”
He said the Biden administration and US Congress needs to increase support for Iran’s democratic opposition, isolate Iran internationally, press allies to declare Iran’s special military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as a terrorist organization, and downgrade relations with the regime by withdrawing their Ambassadors.
“We must increase sanctions, especially stopping the import of Iranian oil. We must also strengthen deterrence against potential Iranian aggression,” he said.
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