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US urges Afghan government, Taliban to begin prisoner releases

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(Last Updated On: March 19, 2020)

The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad said Wednesday that the United States would like to see prisoner releases begin as soon as possible in line with the U.S.-Taliban agreement. 

Khalilzad said in a tweet that so far no prisoners have been released to date despite the commitment to do so expressed by both sides.

“Coronavirus makes prisoner releases urgent; time is of the essence. We are committed to do our part and after consultation with all relevant sides, the United States understands,” he noted.

Khalilzad said that the technical teams from both sides can work together and focus on technical steps to begin prisoner releases as soon as possible. 

“I will participate in the initial meetings,” he added.

“While preferable to meet face-to-face, Coronavirus and the resulting travel restrictions likely requires virtual engagement for now,” said Khalilzad, calling on all sides to avoid provocative media statements.

The US official further said, “The time has come to move forward on prisoner releases.”

“The Taliban commit that released prisoners will abide by the commitments made in the peace agreement and not return to the battlefield. A violation will undermine the peace process­,” Khalilzad tweeted.

On February 29, the US and Taliban delegations signed a deal in Doha, the capital of Qatar in which the release of 5000 Taliban prisoners by 10th of March was highlighted. In exchange, the group would also release 1000 Afghan soldiers who are in the Taliban’s captivity.

President Ashraf Ghani signed a decree on March 11 to release 1500 Taliban prisoners, a move to pave the way for the start of the intr-Afghan dialogue, which was scheduled for March 10 that has not held so far.

According to the decree, the remaining 3500 prisoners would be released after a tangible reduction in

violence by the Taliban and all released prisoners will have to give “a written guarantee to not return to the battlefield.”

The Taliban reject Ghani’s release plan saying that the group had never agreed to the conditional release of the 5,000 prisoners from Afghan jails.

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No terrorist groups present in Afghanistan: Interior Ministry

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(Last Updated On: September 27, 2022)

There are no terrorist groups present in Afghanistan, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a press conference Abdul Nafi Takoor said the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) will not “allow them to have presence. We will never allow anyone to pose a threat from Afghanistan to other countries.”

On Monday, a quarterly report on Afghanistan issued by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres noted growing security concerns in Afghanistan, saying foreign terrorist groups continue to have a presence in the country.

“The security situation reveals a worrisome trend in recent months, particularly the series of attacks by ISIL-K, recurring armed opposition clashes with Taliban (IEA) de facto security forces and the continuing presence of foreign terrorist groups in Afghanistan,” the report said.

The report also said that the announcement by the US of the death of the leader of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Kabul “brought to the fore the continuing ties between the terrorist group and the Taliban (IEA), which would be contrary to the latter’s counter-terrorism commitments.”

The report highlighted that the overall number of conflict-related security incidents and civilian casualties decreased significantly between 22 May and 16 August compared with the same period in 2021.

The United Nations recorded 1,642 security-related incidents, a 77.5 per cent decrease from the 7,314 incidents recorded during the same period in 2021

Armed clashes decreased by 97 per cent, from 4,620 to 129 incidents; air strikes fell by 99.5 per cent, from 564 to 3; detonations from improvised explosive devices decreased by 87 per cent, from 590 to 76; and assassinations decreased by 70 per cent, from 294 to 88, according to the report.

As a result of the deteriorating economic and humanitarian situation, crime-related security incidents remained consistently high, with 373 such incidents reported between 22 May and 16 August, compared with 300 reported during the same period in 2021, the report said.

Attacks claimed or attributed to ISIL-K decreased. Between 22 May and 16 August, the United Nations recorded 48 attacks by the group in 11 provinces, compared with 113 attacks in 8 provinces during the same period in 2021.

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Stanikzai says no Islamic reason for girl’s school’s to remain closed

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(Last Updated On: September 27, 2022)

A year after the closure of high schools for girls in Afghanistan, the political deputy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) once again called for the opening of girls’ schools in all of Afghanistan.

Speaking at a meeting on the occasion of “Tourism Day” on Tuesday in Kabul Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai said that no one can deny the righteousness of education and according to him, all people want schools reopened.

Stanikzai also said that there is no legitimate reason for closing schools for girls and insisted that all the scholars of Afghanistan agree that education should be provided as soon as possible.

“I have said this many times, now I say it again with clear words that this education is an obligation for men and women. The most important thing is that education and training should be open. It should be open to men and women without discrimination. There are scholars, no one can deny this obligation, and it is an obligation on men and women. As soon as possible, the doors of madrassas and schools in Afghanistan should be opened for everyone,” said Stanikzai.

According to Stanikzai there should be no excuses and everyone must go to school.

“All of them must go, without any discrimination. If we want to establish national unity, we must open the doors of education to all and provide education to all freely,” Stanikzai added.

After one year of IEA rule in Afghanistan, girls’ classes from the 6th grade have been closed in this country, which has provoked strong reactions at home and abroad.

Meanwhile, in response to Pakistan’s recent remarks to the UN, Stanikzai said that Pakistan is using the situation in Afghanistan to borrow money from the world.

He said that he understands Pakistan’s problems, but this country should not take advantage of Afghanistan and its situation.

“Pakistani authorities violate the modesty of speech in the international arena to please Westerners,” said Stanikzai.

According to Stanikzai, Pakistan has done business using Afghanistan’s situation for forty years and “that’s enough”.

Without referring to Pakistan, he stated that the IEA have evidence of where the drones are coming from.

These statements of the political deputy of the IEA’s Foreign Ministry come while Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly that Afghanistan has become a save heaven for terrorist groups.

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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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