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US peace envoy warns high levels of violence could derail peace process 

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(Last Updated On: October 19, 2020)

US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad warned that “distressingly” high levels of violence could derail the peace process and the understanding that there is no military solution to the war in Afghanistan. 

In a series of tweets overnight Monday, Khalilzad appeared to have been responding to Sunday’s spat between the Taliban and the US Forces Afghanistan after the insurgent group accused the US of violating the Doha agreement by carrying out airstrikes in Helmand and Farah provinces last week. 

The US Forces Afghanistan responded not long after rejecting the claim and said they were within the terms of the agreement as they had been defending the Afghan security forces who had come under attack by the Taliban. 

The Taliban also issued a veiled threat in their statement and said: “All responsibility and consequences from the continuation of such actions shall fall squarely on the shoulders of the American side.”

Khalilzad meanwhile said in his Twitter statement: “Unfounded charges of violations and inflammatory rhetoric do not advance peace. Instead, we should pursue strict adherence to all articles of the US-Taliban Agreement and US-Afghanistan Joint Declaration and not neglect the commitment to gradually reduce violence.

“Continued high levels of violence can threaten the peace process and the agreement and the core understanding that there is no military solution. Violence today remains distressingly high in spite of the recent reaffirmation of the need for substantial reduction.

“Taliban attacks in Helmand, including on the provincial capital; Taliban attacks against Afghan security forces; & Taliban complaints of ANSF operations and coalition strikes led to a recent meeting in Doha.

“All sides agreed to decrease attacks and strikes and reduce violence and casualties. Although violence in Helmand has decreased, violence overall in the country remains high.

“Our expectation has been and remains that violence comes down and stays down.

“It was a focus of the Agreement we signed, further highlighted in connection with the releases of the last batch of prisoners and reaffirmed again in the most recent commitment all sides made to adhere to all aspects of the deal,” Khalilzad said. 

Reacting to the car bombing on Sunday in Ghor province that killed at least 13 people, Khalilzad stated: “Violence has stalked Afghans for far too long. It has robbed far too many Afghans of their loved ones. The tragedy in Ghor today is the most recent example.”

He said: “The belief that says violence must escalate to win concessions at the negotiating table is very risky. Such an approach can undermine the peace process and repeats past miscalculations by Afghan leaders.

“We must adhere to the letter and spirit of what was negotiated and the recent understanding. They provide a path to minimizing Afghan loss of life and protecting an historic opportunity for peace which must not be missed,” Khalilzad said.

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Afghanistan makes history after beating Pakistan in T20I series

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(Last Updated On: March 27, 2023)

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.

 

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Khalilzad slams ‘brutal’ but ‘failed’ regime in Iran

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(Last Updated On: March 6, 2023)

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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Mohammad Sadiq resigns as Pakistan’s special envoy to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: March 1, 2023)

Mohammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s special representative to Afghanistan, resigned from his post on Wednesday.

“After serving close to three years as Pakistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, I have requested the government that the time had come for me to move on and focus on my personal pursuits — family, books and agriculture/environment,” he said in a series of tweets.

Sadiq said that he was grateful to the prime minister and all the other stakeholders for their “wholehearted support” to him as the special envoy.

“I deeply appreciate the hard work of many of my colleagues who spent long hours to make the Pakistan-Afghanistan relationship work,” he added.

Sadiq was appointed to the Afghan position in June 2020 and had worked closely with other envoys during the peace talks process between the US and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) in the lead up to the signing of the Doha Agreement on February 29, 2020.

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