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UK MPs blast ‘systemic failures of leadership, planning’ of Afghan withdrawal

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(Last Updated On: May 24, 2022)

The UK’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan last year showed “systemic failures of leadership, planning and preparation”, according to a scathing inquiry by British MPs published on Tuesday.

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee probe revealed a “fundamental lack of planning, grip or leadership at a time of national emergency” before and during the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) takeover of Kabul in August last year, France24 reported.

“The manner of our withdrawal from Afghanistan was a disaster and a betrayal of our allies that will damage the UK’s interests for years to come,” the report said.

At the time, Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed a mission “unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes” with the UK airlifting over 15,000 people in two weeks.

But foreign secretary at the time, Dominic Raab, was heavily criticised for not immediately leaving a beach holiday when the IEA took control.

The report however stated that during the run-up to the IEA takeover, the government and civil servants suffered from an “optimism bias” that the US would change its mind about withdrawing, despite it having been announced by president Donald Trump in February 2020.

“The UK government failed adequately to shape or respond to Washington’s decision to withdraw, to predict the speed of the Taliban’s (IEA) takeover, or to plan and prepare for the evacuation of our Afghan partners,” it added.

“Most damning for the Foreign Office is the total absence of a plan for evacuating Afghans who supported the UK mission, without being directly employed by the UK government, despite knowing 18 months before the collapse of Afghanistan that an evacuation might be necessary.”

In responding to questions from the Committee, which started work on the report in September, the Foreign Office “provided answers that were intentionally evasive and often deliberately misleading”.

Instead, two whistleblowers provided crucial testimony to the committee, France24 reported.

“Those who lead the Foreign Office should be ashamed that civil servants of great integrity felt compelled to risk their careers to bring the situation to light,” the report said.

The committee called on the government to “commit to a serious strategy for future engagement with Afghanistan”, warning that “attempts to isolate the new regime entirely may only hurt the Afghan people and leave a vacuum to be filled by China.

“Failure to do so would abandon women and girls in the single biggest reversal of rights in a generation,” it said.

It called on the UK to re-establish a diplomatic presence “as soon as it is safe to do so, and to work with those on the ground who can support civil society”, France24 reported.

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Afghan scholars issue 11-point resolution after 3-day mass gathering in Kabul 

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(Last Updated On: July 2, 2022)

An Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) gathering of religious scholars and ethnic leaders in Kabul ended on Saturday after an 11-point resolution was agreed to. 

Resolutions adopted related to a number of issues including the IEA’s call for the international community to recognize them as the legitimate government in Afghanistan. 

“We call on the world, neighboring countries, the United Nations, global organizations, specifically on the Islamic countries and agencies to recognize the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as a legitimate government,” the resolution read. 

In addition, the participants at the meeting also called for all sanctions against the IEA and its leaders to be lifted and for the country’s frozen assets to be released. 

The IEA’s reclusive leader Haibatullah Akhundzada also joined the three-day gathering of more than 3,000 men on Friday, and delivered a speech in which he congratulated the participants on their victory and underlined the country’s independence. 

Akhundzada, who is normally based in the southern city of Kandahar and rarely appears in public, said in his address on Friday that foreigners should not give orders.

In their resolution, the religious scholars stated that defending the Islamic Emirate was obligatory and that the Islamic State (ISIS/Daesh), which has claimed responsibility for a number of incidents in recent months, was illegal.

A statement issued by the religious scholars outlining their 11-point resolution read as follows:

1. As we now have an Islamic system, we all support and defend the IEA system and it is compulsory for all Afghans to support and defend the Islamic system.

2. The 3,000 scholars once again renewed their allegiance to the supreme leader of the IEA Haibatullah Akhundzada and accepted him as the legitimate leader based on Sharia.

3. As the IEA has been formed without the interference of other countries, this verifies its domestic legitimacy. We call on the world, neighboring countries, the United Nations, global organizations, specifically on Islamic countries and agencies to recognize the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as a legitimate government. In addition, they must remove all sanctions from Afghanistan and should release the county’s frozen assets. 

4. We (scholars) support and praise the issued order of the IEA for not cultivating poppies and other drugs in the country. 

5. We support the policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of neighboring and world countries by the IEA and we support the IEA’s decision to not allow any countries to use Afghanistan’s soil against any country. Likewise, we call on the countries around the world and neighbors not to interfere in the domestic affairs of Afghanistan. 

6. As the IEA is an Islamic system and has full sovereignty across the country by providing security, any means of armed resistance against the IEA is rebellion and the eradication of such armed resistance groups is compulsory by the IEA and the nation. 

7. The Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP/Daesh) is an illegal group which spreads corruption in the country; therefore, financially supporting this group and having relationships with it is haram. 

8. We call on scholars who fuel controversial issues to refrain from such topics so as not to cause sedition in the country.

9. We urge the Islamic Emirate to establish justice in the country and to pave the way for religious and modern education, health, agriculture, rights of ethnic minorities and women and children and economic development, within the structure of Sharia. 

10. We call on the leadership of the IEA to stabilize their internal unity, national unity and to protect national sovereignty. Also, we urge them to create job opportunities for Afghans and to eradicate poverty in the country.

11. We support the Contact Commission with the Afghan Personalities established by the IEA and we call on politicians and figures based in foreign countries to return home.

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Afghan families would leave country if girls’ schools do not reopen: Hekmatyar

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(Last Updated On: July 2, 2022)

Many Afghan families would leave their country if secondary girls’ schools do not reopen, Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar said on Friday.

Hekmatyar, in his Friday sermon, said that a decision should be made regarding the issue of girls’ education at the gathering of religious scholars in Kabul.

“What does Islam say? What does our religion say? What do our imams and jurists say? What does the Qur’an and Hadith say?” Hekmatyar asked. “A decision should be made in this regard and it should be acceptable to all Afghans.”

“If the issue is not addressed, many families would leave Afghanistan only because girls’ are deprived of education here,” Hekmatyar said.

More than 3,000 religious scholars and ethnic leaders have gathered in the Loya Jirga hall in Kabul in what is said to be the largest gathering since the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) took over in August last year.

While primary girls’ schools reopened in March, IEA didn’t allow the secondary ones to reopen.

In his speech, Hekmatyar also said that other issues including establishing parliament and drafting a new constitution should also have been on the agenda of the meeting.

Hizb-e-Islami leader also said that the government should clear its policy on political parties in Afghanistan.

On freedom of speech, Hekmatyar said that censorship would help corruption, a menace which could lead to collapse of governments.

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US special envoy for Afghan women avoids meeting IEA officials

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(Last Updated On: July 2, 2022)

Rina Amiri, the United States’ special envoy for Afghan women, girls and human rights, said on Saturday she avoided joining her colleagues in meeting a delegation of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) officials in Qatari capital Doha.

This week, a US delegation led by Thomas West, the special envoy for Afghanistan, met with an IEA delegation led by Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in Doha.

“After much deliberation & consultation, I opted not to attend,” US special envoy for Afghan women, Amiri, said on Twitter.

“I support my colleagues engaging the Taliban (IEA). Engagement on issues where there’s traction, such as economic stabilization & the humanitarian response, is necessary to improve the lives of 40 million Afghans. We must meet with them if there’s any prospect of meaningful action,” Amiri said.

“However, I’m gravely concerned by the Taliban’s actions & current stance on the areas my office oversees & disappointed that robust international engagement to this point hasn’t produced meaningful outcomes for Afghan women, girls & at-risk populations,” she continued.

Amiri said she is ready to engage when IEA are prepared to work on “concrete steps to restore the rights of Afghan, including women, girls and at-risk populations.

“The US government stands in solidarity in calling on the Taliban to respect the human rights of all Afghans,” Amiri said.

In their meeting, US and IEA officials discussed, among other issues, US actions to preserve $3.5 billion in Afghan central bank reserves for the benefit of the Afghan people as well as steps to build international confidence in the central bank, Da Afghanistan Bank, according to a statement from the US State Department.

They also discussed US support for steps to enhance the availability of the afghani currency in the economy, according to the statement.

During his visit to Doha, Muttaqi also met with 10 European envoys for Afghanistan on Friday, discussing the humanitarian situation, health, and education, said Hafiz Zia Ahmad, deputy spokesman for the Afghan foreign ministry.

Muttaqi said that US freezing of Afghan assets and sanctions on the banking sector has created problems for Afghan traders.

He also said that the new government in Afghanistan has ensured the rights of all sections of the Afghan society and that there is now transparency in all areas.

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