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Afghan president proposes three-phase peace roadmap: Report

Kabul: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has drawn up a new proposal for peace with the Taliban ahead of an international conference aimed at jump-starting faltering talks between the two warring sides, official sources said.

It comes after the US — backed by Russia and other stakeholders — said in its own leaked proposal that it wants to see some form of transitional government involving the Taliban, although Ghani has insisted leaders can only be chosen at the ballot box.

According to official sources, Ghani intends to present his three-stage plan at a UN-backed conference in Turkey to be attended by the US, Russia and other key regional countries. A date for the event has not been finalized.

The US is just weeks away from a May 1 deadline to withdraw all foreign troops from Afghanistan as part of a deal agreed with the hardline group last year — a date US President Joe Biden has said will be tough to meet.

Ghani’s three-stage proposal includes reaching a political settlement with the Taliban and announcing an internationally monitored ceasefire.

He then proposes holding an early presidential election in which the Taliban could take part to form a “government of peace”. (The Hindu)

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Latest News USA

Taliban threaten attacks if foreign troops stay past May 1

Kabul: Taliban militants have warned that they will resume attacks against foreign forces if they do not withdraw from Afghanistan by the May 1 deadline, in response to US President Joe Biden offering an unclear timetable on when American troops would be pulled back.

“All responsibility for the prolongation of war, death and destruction will be on the shoulders of those whom committed this violation,” DPA news agency quoted the insurgent group as saying in a statement.

The May 1 deadline is part of an agreement the US administration under former President Donald Trump signed with the Taliban in February 2020 in Doha.

It is now under review by the Biden administration.

Under the deal, the US promised to withdraw all US and international forces from Afghanistan.

In return, the Taliban vowed to cut ties with Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

Since the signing of the deal, there have been no attacks on US-led NATO forces in the country.

However, there is no tangible progress in ongoing peace talks between the representatives of the Taliban and the government that started in September 2020.

Recently, Biden said that he “can’t picture” US troops still being in Afghanistan next year, but he did not offer a precise timetable.

The Taliban called Biden’s remarks “vague” and emphasized that the Doha agreement is the best option to end the past 20 years of war.

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India Latest News

Biden admin presents draft peace pact for warring Afghan sides

New Delhi: A draft peace agreement proposed by the US to “jump-start” the peace talks in Afghanistan envisages the formation of a transitional government with the Taliban and includes provisions to prevent terror-related activities on Afghan soil.

The draft “Afghanistan Peace Agreement” is the second key document related to the Biden administration’s efforts to push the peace process in Afghanistan that has leaked in recent days, following US secretary of state Antony Blinken’s letter to President Ashraf Ghani on the next steps envisaged by Washington.

The draft agreement includes three elements – guiding principles for a new constitution and a new state structure; terms for a transitional government involving the Taliban; and terms for a permanent ceasefire. It includes “options for power-sharing” to facilitate a settlement.

Blinken’s letter to Ghani included four elements – asking the UN to convene a meeting of India, Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran and the US to discuss a unified approach on Afghanistan, asking Turkey to convene a meeting of the Afghan side and the Taliban, getting the Afghan side and the Taliban to agree on ways to speed up discussions on a settlement, and encouraging Afghan leaders to consider a “new, inclusive government”.

There was no official word from the Indian side, but people familiar with developments said New Delhi will stick to its position on backing an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled process. India wants any eventual outcome to ensure that Afghan soil isn’t used for terror activities, the people said.

The US proposal states that a “transitional peace government of Afghanistan” will be formed once the peace agreement is signed and this formation will exist until it “transfers power to a permanent government following the adoption of a new constitution and national elections”.

Sameer Patil, fellow for international security studies at Gateway House, said, “It is a fraught process, but it is also the best possible solution in the available circumstances. There is no real possibility of taking weapons away from the Taliban, and one can look at buying their loyalty to bring them into the mainstream. Variations of this solution have been paraded by other US administrations, but there really is no other solution without economic development,” Patil said. (Hindustan Times)

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International Latest News

Taliban not committed to peace: Afghan NSA

Kabul: Afghan National Security Advisor (NSA) Hamdullah Mohib claimed that the Taliban has no intention towards being committed to the country’s peace process, adding that the militant group has totally abandoned the negotiations in Doha, the media reported.

“Taliban’s intention is clear. Taliban do not want peace, their bosses won’t allow them to make peace. It is a fact that they want permanent instability in Afghanistan,” Khaama Press quoted Mohib as saying at a press conference.

According to Mohib, the Taliban are not prepared to reduce the level of the violence in the war-torn country.

“The Taliban want to destroy Afghanistan, they just want complete power and nothing else.

“If the Taliban do not want peace, we must defend our people. President (Ashraf) Ghani is committed to peace. But the Taliban are the main obstacle to the peace process.

“We will not allow them to collapse the system and carry out their nefarious goals here,” the NSA added.

Also addressing the press conference, Interior Minister Massoud Andarabi claimed that the Taliban leadership is in Doha and were not aware of the war situation in Afghanistan.

“They are killing Afghans illegitimately,” he added.

Deputy Defense Mnister Shah Mahmood Miakhel added at the briefing that “if the Taliban want war we are ready”, Khaama Press reported.

The peace negotiations between the Afghan Republic and the Taliban have stalled over the last 20 days and violence has also remained high in the country, TOLO News said in a report.

The Ministry of Defense reported fighting between the government forces and the Taliban in at least 20 provinces in 24 hours.

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International Latest News

Afghan-Taliban peace talks resume amid violence

Kabul: The negotiating team of the Afghan government left for Qatar on Jan 5 where they will resume the second round of the peace talks with the Taliban.

The second round, which will begin after a three-week break, will focus on a ceasefire and reduction in violence in the war-torn country, TOLO News reported.

Taking to Twitter, Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said: “The Republic’s Negotiation Team will depart tomorrow (Jan 5) as it was planed, to Doha to begin the second round of peace talks with Taliban. The team enjoys the full support of the republic and has the mandate to discuss the peace agenda.

“We are committed to achieving a lasting peace and ask the Taliban to do so. We are looking for a successful second round.”

The peace negotiations, which formally kick-off in September 2020, witnessed a breakthrough last month after the two sides agreed on procedural rules for the talks.

According to TOLO News, in its draft of demands, the Afghan government’s team has added ceasefire, preservation of national sovereignty, media freedom and the prohibition of activity by foreign fighters in the war-torn country.

Meanwhile, the Taliban’s demands include an Islamic government structure, establishment of an Islamic council, and ensuring women’s rights and the rights of all citizens based on Islamic principles.

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International Latest News

Afghan peace: Khalilzad seeks Pak military help

Islamabad: US special representative for Afghan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is in Islamabad to seek Pakistan military’s support towards a political solution to the ongoing unrest in Afghanistan.

Khalilzad, who landed in the capital on Nov 2, met Pakistan Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa in Rawalpindi where detailed discussion on the “regional security situation and Afghan peace process” was discussed.

“Regional security situation and Afghan peace process — with particular reference to border management — as well as a way forward for a lasting peace in Afghanistan were discussed during the meeting,” stated the official press release of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

The ISPR maintained that Khalilzad appreciated Pakistan’s efforts in facilitating the peace through dialogue process forward. While the ISPR press release did not share more details into the meeting, analysts say that the increase in short visits of Khalilzad to Pakistan are aimed at seeking help in persuading the Taliban for a ceasefire in Afghanistan.

“The flurry of visits by the top US diplomat is part of efforts to convince the Taliban for a ceasefire of at least reduction in violence,” stated Kamran Yousaf, a senior analyst.

However, the Taliban till now have refrained from agreeing to announce the ceasefire, maintaining that it would be part of the overall agreement that may be reached through the intra-Afghan dialogue, which are currently going on in Doha.

Even though Intra-Afghan dialogue is in process, terror attacks and loss of innocent lives have continued unabated in Afghanistan.

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International Latest News

Taliban endorses Trump in US presidential race

Washington: United States President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has received an endorsement from Taliban with the latter hoping that the re-election would lead to withdrawal of US military forces from Afghanistan.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told CBS News that they believe Trump is going to win the election “because he has proved himself a politician who accomplished all the major promises he had made to American people”.

“Although he might have missed some small things, but did accomplish the bigger promises, so it is possible that the US people who experienced deceptions in the past will once again trust Trump for his decisive actions,” Mujahid added.

On October 8, the Taliban welcomed an announcement by Trump on pulling out US troops by Christmas.

The Doha agreement, signed between the US and Taliban in February, drew up plans to pull out foreign forces from Afghanistan after two decades of war, in exchange for security guarantees from the insurgent group.

There are currently less than 5,000 US troops in Afghanistan. Pulling out of US forces from the country has been a long standing promise of Trump, something he is aiming to fulfil if he is re-elected in the November 3 presidential polls.

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International Latest News

Ghani, Khalilzad, US general discuss Afghan peace

Kabul: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and American Commander Gen Scott Miller held a meeting in Doha to discuss the peace in the war-torn country.

The meeting took place as Ghani embarked on a two-nation trip earlier in the day to Qatar and Kuwait, reports TOLO News.

In a series of tweets after the meeting, Khalilzad said: “I told the President that Afghans should not let the opportunity for peace to slip away. He said he supports the Islamic Republic negotiators doing their work as long as it takes. I said I’m encouraged by what I heard from all sides, including the two teams’ commitment to peace.

“We call on all nations, especially the neighbors and other key players, to do the same.

“A significant reduction in violence will save lives; increase trust; broaden support for peace; and help the negotiating teams make progress at a faster pace. This is what the Afghan people want. And the US stands with them.”

Also, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said that Khalilzad and Gen Miller met the militant group’s deputy leader Abdul Ghani Baradar and discussed the implementation of the Doha agreement, calling it “significant for the resolution of the Afghanistan issue”.

The opening ceremony for the intra-Afghan talks was held on September 12, but the two sides were yet to begin direct negotiations, TOLO News reported.

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Khalilzad ‘optimistic’ about start of intra-Afghan talks

Kabul: The US peace envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said he was “optimistic” about the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations between the Taliban and the Kabul government.

At a recent press conference, Khalilzad said: “We’re optimistic that finally we are moving forward to the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations.”

Khalilzad was also hopeful that the violence will stay low in the war-torn country, reports TOLO News.

“I believe we are in a more hopeful moment that validates our approach,” said Khalilzad, citing the Eid ceasefire called for by the Taliban, which was reciprocated by the government.

“By all accounts violence was down dramatically during Eid,” the US envoy said.

He also said that about 2,500 Taliban prisoners have been released since the US and Taliban signed the agreement in February.

On the political crisis in Afghanistan, Khalilzad said: “The political crisis in Afghanistan that produced two presidential inaugurations, now it’s been resolved, and the two leaders are working together on an agenda for peace.”

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