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US was losing war to IEA so it turned to negotiations: Khalilzad

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(Last Updated On: October 26, 2021)

The United States was losing the war to the Taliban (IEA) so it chose negotiations as an alternative, said the former US special representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad in an interview with CBS News.

According to him, Washington tried many times to strengthen its position on the battleground but it failed.

“We did not defeat them. In fact, they were making progress on the battlefield even as we were negotiating with them. And the reason we negotiated with them was because militarily things were not going as well as we would have liked. We were losing ground each year,” he said.

Khalilzad blamed former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani for the disintegration of Afghanistan’s security sector, saying his escape triggered the chaos i seen in Kabul as the US withdrew its troops.

“But I believe the biggest difficulty was that President Ghani and a few other Afghan leaders did not believe that we were serious about withdrawal for a long time, and they liked the status quo compared to a political settlement in which they might not have the jobs that they had and- and the resources that the US was providing would not be there.

“They preferred the status quo to a political settlement. And then when it became clear that the U.S. was leaving, then they- they miscalculated the effects of-of the continuing war. They were not serious about the political settlement,” he said.

and did not take into account the real situation in the country.

Khalilzad believes that the US counterterrorism mission in the country succeeded as “the terrorist threat from Afghanistan is not what it used to be” and al-Qaeda has been “devastated.”

He said the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is living up to its agreement regarding al-Qaeda stating “we are convinced that they are not allowing- they are not allowing plotting and planning operations by al-Qaeda against the United States.

“We always would like to see more from the Taliban (IEA), from almost any country that we deal with on this issue. We would like them to do more. We would like to expel- to- to get them to expel any al-Qaeda member who was there.”

“We should press them to do more on the issue of terrorism,” he added.

Asked if he knew where the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri was, Khalilzad said: “Well, the [UN] report that I have seen indicates he could be in Afghanistan or adjacent territories.”

However, he said the IEA members he negotiated with in Doha said they did not know where al-Zawahiri was.

He went on to say he did not necessarily believe this and said: “That’s why it’s very important not to take their word for it, in terms of what they say or what they commit to. That’s why we are saying there has to be over the horizon monitoring of the commitments on terrorism and the ability to strike if we see plotting and planning going on.”

On October 18, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that Khalilzad had stepped down as a special envoy for Afghanistan.

Khalilzad said that he made the decision to resign at a time when Washington is beginning a new phase of policy toward Kabul following the withdrawal from Afghanistan in August.

“I was representing the United States to carry out the president’s direction. But I believe the biggest difficulty was that President Ghani and a few other Afghan leaders did not believe that we were serious about withdrawal for a long time, and they like the status quo compared to a political settlement in which they might not have the jobs that they had and- and the resources that the US was providing would not be there.

“They preferred the status quo to a political settlement, he said.

Khalilzad also stated that he would have liked to have seen a negotiated settlement but implied that Ghani did not give this a chance.

He said Afghanistan was close to his heart, especially as he had been born in the country.

“I was born there, and I have spent a lot of my life on behalf of the United States focused on Afghanistan. I helped them with their constitution. I helped them with their first election. I established an American university in-in Afghanistan.

“I was very encouraged by the first years, the enthusiasm, the hopefulness that I observed there,” he said adding that the “political elite of the country made terrible mistakes”.

He said they “allowed corruption, misused elections, democracy, and didn’t treat their security forces perhaps the way they should have been treated.

“And we faced the- the circumstances we did.”

In conclusion he said: “Now it’s time for the Afghans to take ownership with non-military assistance, unless we are threatened, then our military should be in play. But we should not abandon Afghanistan, turn our back on it — use our influence as a country with enormous capability and influence to encourage the emergence of an Afghanistan that the Afghans aspire for.”

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Civil servants ordered to carry out their duties in line with Sharia

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(Last Updated On: January 30, 2023)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s Supreme Leader Mawlavi Hebatullah Akhundzada has ordered all government officials to carry out their duties in accordance with Islamic principles and not to appoint staff based on subjectivity and connections.

In a voice message disseminated by the Ministry of Higher Education, Akhundzada said the Islamic Emirate will not fail to implement the Islamic Sharia and now that the IEA’s security forces are stationed in the cities, they should take effective steps to implement the divine system and guide people towards Sharia.

“Anyone who is appointed and by his appointment harms the people and the Islamic system, must be removed. The appointment of people should be based on the interests of the nation and Islamic Sharia,” said Akhundzada.

He also instructed civil servants not to force staff to resign unless there is a Sharia reason.

A number of experts meanwhile say that new laws need to be drawn up in order to advance governance because the Islamic Emirate has abolished the previous laws.

“Social justice and meritocracy, fair distribution of power and wealth for the citizens of the country is a Sharia and legal principle, a system will stand on its own feet when every specialty is in place,” said Sayed Moqadam Amin, a political analyst.

“Appointing experienced people who can manage government departments can have positive effects on the governance process,” said Abdul Jabar Akbari, another political expert.

“And it even encourages people to work in government offices,” he added.

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Peshawar mosque bombing death toll rises to at least 44

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(Last Updated On: January 30, 2023)

Monday’s massive explosion at a mosque in Peshawar has left at least 44 worshipers dead and over 150 injured.

Police said most of the worshipers were police, army and bomb disposal unit members and that a suicide bomber detonated his explosives while inside the mosque.

Hours after the explosion, rescue workers were still digging through rubble in search of survivors after a large section of the double-story building collapsed.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility.

A senior police officer told local media that the entire roof of the mosque had caved in, and the mosque was likely full as it was the first day of the working week.

While some say the mosque can take a couple of hundred people, Peshawar police said it was likely that about 260 people had been inside the mosque when the suicide bomber detonated his explosives.

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Turkey deports 139 Afghan migrants

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(Last Updated On: January 30, 2023)

A total of 139 Afghan migrants, who entered Turkey illegally, were deported on Saturday, said the head of Turkey’s Migration Management Directorate.

Anadolu Agency reported that in accordance with the country’s Irregular Migration Strategy Document and the National Action Plan, migrants, who do not have valid documents to be in Turkey, are being sent to their home countries by charter flights.

After going through all necessary procedures, including health checks and security-related steps, the migrants were deported to Afghanistan on Saturday, Savas Unlu told reporters in Ankara.

He said Turkey has so far arranged nine charter flights this year. “We have deported 8,571 irregular migrants from our country so far this year. This does not include these 139 migrants.”

Unlu added that as a result of Turkey’s efforts to combat irregular migration, the number of irregular migrants arriving at the country’s borders for illegal entry in 2022 decreased by 38% compared to 2021.

“Since 2016, 2.7 million irregular migrants have been prevented from entering our country illegally,” he said.

Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum seekers aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

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