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Crisis with India can have unintended impact on Afghan peace process: Maleeha

NEW YORK: The ongoing crisis with India means that Pakistan’s full focus has to be on its eastern frontier and that has implications for the nascent Afghan peace process, Pakistan’s Representative to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi said.
Although she stopped short of saying this would affect Pakistans role in the process, her message was clear that the shift in focus could have that unintended results.
Our attention is going to be where we feel there is a military threat to us,” Ambassador Lodhi said in response to a question about the possible impact of the simmering India-Pakistan tensions stemming from the Kashmir dispute.Qatar offers mediation to de-escalate tensions between Pak, IndiaThat ongoing threat, she clarified, was from India.
The latest round of Afghan peace talks is taking place in Doha, Qatar, between Zalmay Khalilzad, the American special envoy, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s deputy leader, who for the first time is taking a more direct role in the process.“Both (Afghanistan) and (Kashmir) issues are important in their own right.
But it is the eastern border, from where India attacked Pakistan. They sent planes into our territory.That’s a hot border,” the envoy added.“Afghanistan is a different situation.We would like that war to end. But we don’t perceive a threat from our western border.
It’s our eastern border from where we continue to perceive a threat.“We are in the midst of a very tense situation, a very fraught situation,” the Pakistani envoy continued.The Indian leadership is failing to respond to Prime Minister Imran Khans repeated gestures (for peace), which included freeing and releasing the Indian pilot.”The turmoil in Kashmir escalated on February 14, after a suicide bombing killed more than 40 Indian paramilitary troops in Kashmir.Pakistan categorically denied any involvement and offered to investigate, but India still went ahead and dropped bombs inside Pakistani territory.We kept asking the Indians to give us what you have and we will act on it, Ambassador Lodhi said, adding that only couple of days ago, the so-called dossier has been handed over Pakistan.Theresa May lauds PM Imran’s peace overtures amid Pak-India tensionsWe are examining that dossier to see if there is anything there on which we need to act, and we will act if there is any solid evidence, but we cannot act on the basis of allegations, she said.Replying to a question about Kashmir, the Pakistani envoy said the dispute has been there for the past 70 years.
“It has to be addressed, in its own right and (on) its own merits because it will remain an issue that will lead to repeated tensions between India and Pakistan and in any case, it is an issue that is on the Security Council agenda and it has resolutions that remain unimplemented.

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Afghan Taliban, US suspend talks for two days

PESHAWAR: The Afghan Taliban and American officials on Thursday suspended the peace talks for two days and agreed to resume negotiations from Saturday after they failed to evolve consensus on two major issues – US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid and US Special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation confirmed suspension of talks for two days.
Taliban sources in Qatar, however, said the talks were suspended for two days after the US negotiation team allegedly deviated from the two main topics and started discussing other irrelevant issues and pressed to declare on ceasefire. They said there was a deadlock in talks and this was the reason the process was suspended for two days.
This issue is not that much simple to be resolved within two or three rounds of talks. We were told to discuss two major issues US withdrawal from Afghanistan and our commitment not to let our soil to be used against any country and particularly the US and its allies after we reached an agreement, said a senior member of the Afghan Taliban.However, he stated that the US delegation members deliberately’ deviated from the main agenda and started asking questions about the future government in Afghanistan, women rights and Taliban relations with the international community. Some of the Taliban representatives had adopted a very simple approach towards peace talks and wanted to find a negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict but unfortunately that does not seem to be easy, the Taliban leader argued.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement said: Amid the ongoing talks between the negotiation teams of Islamic Emirate and United States in the Qatari capital of Doha, extensive discussions were held about the method of foreign troops’ withdrawal from Tuesday till Wednesday noon and from that time onwards, discussion revolved around preventing Afghanistan from being used against others.He said the meeting ended on Wednesday night, as both negotiation teams agreed to take a break today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday) for consultations and preparation for the third meeting which shall be held on Saturday.
According to Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban’s head of the Political Commission, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar held a meeting with Zalmay Khalilzad, the top NATO commander General Scott Miller and senior Qatar government officials including deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdul Rahman al-Thani and National Security Advisor Mohammad al-Masnad.Taliban sources said Mulla Baradar informed them about Taliban’s priorities and explained to them that they would continue to demand the withdrawal of US-led foreign forces from Afghanistan.Taliban said they had already explained their position about militant groups in Afghanistan such as al-Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), saying no foreign militant group would be allowed to operate independently or use their soil against any other country.Zabihullah Mujahid said Mulla Baradar emphasized Taliban commitment to the current peace process and their struggle for peace and establishment of an Islamic system of government in Afghanistan.
Taliban sources said they had already maintained that al-Qaeda members who pleaded allegiance to their supreme leader Sheikh Haibatullah Akhunzada would not be asked to leave Afghanistan.They would need to live in Afghanistan and obey the Afghan constitution but would never run any militant group or use the Afghan soil against any other country.As for the ISIS or Daesh, we have nothing to do with it and would not allow it to create any law and order situation in the country if we came into power, said the Taliban leader.He said their talks with US had been practically suspended due to the deadlock and now the two sides would discuss the future line of action with their respective leadership.
Americans and particularly Zalmay Khalilzad during the talks demanded the Taliban to declare a ceasefire before the launch of Taliban’s proposed spring offensive, fearing that it would escalate fighting and attacks against foreign and Afghan forces. They repeatedly asked for ceasefire and our representatives constantly said No’ to them, said a Taliban leader privy to the peace talks in Doha.He said Taliban Rahbari Shura, the top decision-making Leadership Council, is expected to be approached and informed about the present deadlock in peace talks.We had agreed with Americans that irrelevant issues would be discussed later once we develop consensus on US withdrawal and our commitment to keep Afghanistan a peaceful country not posing threat to any country.But they started debating other issues that created a deadlock in talks, said the Taliban leader.Taliban and US representatives resumed the peace negotiations in Doha on February 25.
They were supposed to discuss the draft framework for US forces’ withdrawal and Taliban pledge to prevent Afghan soil from being used against other countries.The path to peace doesn’t often run in a straight line.
The situation in Afghanistan is complex and like all sensitive talks, not everything is conducted in public. We made significant progress on two vital issues: counter terrorism and troop withdrawal.That doesn’t mean we’re done. We’re not even finished with these issues yet, and there is still work to be done on other vital issues like intra-Afghan dialogue and a complete ceasefire, he explained.He added that skeptics have rushed to judgment based on just the first part of a much larger effort as though they have a completed agreement.But you can’t eat an elephant in one bite! And a forty year old war won’t be resolved in one meeting, even if that meeting runs for close to a week, said Khalilzad, a seasoned diplomat.He said it was a moment for the Afghans to begin to heal old wounds and chart a new course for their country.PESHAWAR: The Afghan Taliban and American officials on Thursday suspended the peace talks for two days and agreed to resume negotiations from Saturday after they failed to evolve consensus on two major issues – US withdrawal from Afghanistan and Taliban’s pledge of preventing their soil from being used by the militant groups in future against the United States and its allies.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid and US Special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation confirmed suspension of talks for two days. Taliban sources in Qatar, however, said the talks were suspended for two days after the US negotiation team allegedly deviated from the two main topics and started discussing other “irrelevant” issues and pressed to declare on ceasefire.They said there was a deadlock in talks and this was the reason the process was suspended for two days.“This issue is not that much simple to be resolved within two or three rounds of talks.We were told to discuss two major issues – US withdrawal from Afghanistan and our commitment not to let our soil to be used against any country and particularly the US and its allies after we reached an agreement,” said a senior member of the Afghan Taliban.However, he stated that the US delegation members ‘deliberately’ deviated from the main agenda and started asking questions about the future government in Afghanistan, women rights and Taliban relations with the international community.
“Some of the Taliban representatives had adopted a very simple approach towards peace talks and wanted to find a negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict but unfortunately that does not seem to be easy,” the Taliban leader argued.Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement said: “Amid the ongoing talks between the negotiation teams of Islamic Emirate and United States in the Qatari capital of Doha, extensive discussions were held about the method of foreign troops’ withdrawal from Tuesday till Wednesday noon and from that time onwards, discussion revolved around preventing Afghanistan from being used against others.”He said the meeting ended on Wednesday night, “as both negotiation teams agreed to take a break today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday) for consultations and preparation for the third meeting which shall be held on Saturday.”According to Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban’s head of the Political Commission, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar held a meeting with Zalmay Khalilzad, the top NATO commander General Scott Miller and senior Qatar government officials including deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdul Rahman al-Thani and National Security Advisor Mohammad al-Masnad.
Taliban sources said Mulla Baradar informed them about Taliban’s priorities and explained to them that they would continue to demand the withdrawal of US-led foreign forces from Afghanistan.Taliban said they had already explained their position about militant groups in Afghanistan such as al-Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), saying no foreign militant group would be allowed to operate independently or use their soil against any other country.
Zabihullah Mujahid said Mulla Baradar emphasized Taliban commitment to the current peace process and their struggle for peace and establishment of an Islamic system of government in Afghanistan.Taliban sources said they had already maintained that al-Qaeda members who pleaded allegiance to their supreme leader Sheikh Haibatullah Akhunzada would not be asked to leave Afghanistan.
“They would need to live in Afghanistan and obey the Afghan constitution but would never run any militant group or use the Afghan soil against any other country. As for the ISIS or Daesh, we have nothing to do with it and would not allow it to create any law and order situation in the country if we came into power,” said the Taliban leader.He said their talks with US had been practically suspended due to the deadlock and now the two sides would discuss the future line of action with their respective leadership.“Americans and particularly Zalmay Khalilzad during the talks demanded the Taliban to declare a ceasefire before the launch of Taliban’s proposed spring offensive, fearing that it would escalate fighting and attacks against foreign and Afghan forces.
They repeatedly asked for ceasefire and our representatives constantly said ‘No’ to them,” said a Taliban leader privy to the peace talks in Doha.He said Taliban Rahbari Shura, the top decision-making Leadership Council, is expected to be approached and informed about the present deadlock in peace talks.
“We had agreed with Americans that irrelevant issues would be discussed later once we develop consensus on US withdrawal and our commitment to keep Afghanistan a peaceful country not posing threat to any country. But they started debating other issues that created a deadlock in talks,” said the Taliban leader.
Taliban and US representatives resumed the peace negotiations in Doha on February 25. They were supposed to discuss the draft framework for US forces’ withdrawal and Taliban pledge to prevent Afghan soil from being used against other countries.
“The path to peace doesn’t often run in a straight line. The situation in Afghanistan is complex and like all sensitive talks, not everything is conducted in public.
We made significant progress on two vital issues: counter terrorism and troop withdrawal. That doesn’t mean we’re done.
We’re not even finished with these issues yet, and there is still work to be done on other vital issues like intra-Afghan dialogue and a complete ceasefire,” he explained.He added that skeptics have rushed to judgment based on just the first part of a much larger effort as though they have a completed agreement.
“But you can’t eat an elephant in one bite! And a forty year old war won’t be resolved in one meeting, even if that meeting runs for close to a week,” said Khalilzad, a seasoned diplomat.He said it was a moment for the Afghans to begin to heal old wounds and chart a new course for their country.

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More rallies staged in support of armed forces

PESHAWAR: The residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Wednesday staged more rallies and vowed to fight alongside the armed forces to defend the country in the face of an Indian aggression.They chanted slogans to condemn India for violating the Pakistan airspace.They renewed the support to the armed forces.

NOWSHERA: The Anjuman-e-Tajiran Nowshera cantonment paid rich tributes to the Pakistan Air Force for shooting down the warplanes of India.Chanting slogans against India for its aggression against Pakistan, the traders passed through various routes before holding a rally at the Shobra Chowk at the Nowshera cantonment.Meanwhile, the Tehsil Council in Pabbi unanimously passed a resolution condemning the Indian aggression against the country.
The councillors vowed to support the armed forces and defend the country against Indian aggression. Sajidullah presided over the session.The resolution demanded India to stop subjecting the Kashmiris to inhuman treatment. It said the entire nation stood by the army and no effort would be spared to defend the country.

MINGORA: A rally was held in the Swat district to express solidarity with the armed forces.The participants carried banners and placards which had slogans against the Indian aggression.

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Students, social workers and traders in Dera Ismail Khan staged a rally to pledge support to the armed forces.Holding Pakistan flags, they chanted slogans in favour of the armed forces and against India.They also torched an effigy of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.GHALLANAI: The traders at Ekkaghund Bazaar staged a rally in support of the armed forces.They pledged support to the security forces and vowed to fight alongside the soldiers against India if it attacked Pakistan.

LANDIKOTAL: Scores of Afghan citizens and traders took out a rally to show solidarity with Pakistan.
The participants holding banners and placards chanted slogans of Pakistan Zindabad. They lauded the Pakistan Air Force for giving a befitting response to India by downing its jet fighters.Traders staged a rally at Qissa Khwani. They chanted slogans to condemn India for violating the Pakistan airspace.They renewed the support to the armed forces.

NOWSHERA: The Anjuman-e-Tajiran Nowshera cantonment paid rich tributes to the Pakistan Air Force for shooting down the warplanes of India.Chanting slogans against India for its aggression against Pakistan, the traders passed through various routes before holding a rally at the Shobra Chowk at the Nowshera cantonment.Meanwhile, the Tehsil Council in Pabbi unanimously passed a resolution condemning the Indian aggression against the country.The councillors vowed to support the armed forces and defend the country against Indian aggression. Sajidullah presided over the session.
The resolution demanded India to stop subjecting the Kashmiris to inhuman treatment. It said the entire nation stood by the army and no effort would be spared to defend the country.

MINGORA: A rally was held in the Swat district to express solidarity with the armed forces.The participants carried banners and placards which had slogans against the Indian aggression.

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Students, social workers and traders in Dera Ismail Khan staged a rally to pledge support to the armed forces.Holding Pakistan flags, they chanted slogans in favour of the armed forces and against India.They also torched an effigy of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

GHALLANAI: The traders at Ekkaghund Bazaar staged a rally in support of the armed forces.They pledged support to the security forces and vowed to fight alongside the soldiers against India if it attacked Pakistan.

LANDIKOTAL: Scores of Afghan citizens and traders took out a rally to show solidarity with Pakistan.The participants holding banners and placards chanted slogans of “Pakistan Zindabad.” They lauded the Pakistan Air Force for giving a befitting response to India by downing its jet fighters.

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Civilian deaths in Afghan war hit record in 2018

KABUL: More civilians were killed in the Afghan war in 2018 than during any other year on record after nearly two decades of fighting, according to a UN report released Sunday.
The report’s release comes a day before the US and the Taliban hold their next round of talks aimed at ending the conflict, raising tentative hopes for peace along with fears that an American withdrawal could spark an even bloodier civil war.The talks in Doha follow years of escalating violence in Afghanistan. According to the UN, at least 32,000 civilians have been killed and another 60,000 wounded in the last decade when the organisation began compiling the data.
The uptick in violence in 2018 coincides with a significant increase in the number of deaths caused by the “deliberate targeting of civilians”, according to the report, mostly stemming from suicide attacks by insurgents allied with the Taliban or Islamic State (IS).”It is time to put an end to this human misery and tragedy,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the head of the UN mission in Afghanistan.”The best way to halt the killings and maiming of civilians is to stop the fighting,” he said. At least 65 suicide attacks were recorded in 2018 — the majority hitting Kabul — with militants responsible for the death of more than 2,200 civilians across the country.
An increase in air strikes by US and Afghan forces also led to more civilian deaths in 2018, with more than 500 civilians killed by “aerial operations for the first time on record”, the report noted.The US intensified its air campaign against Taliban and IS fighters as Washington seeks to pile pressure on the militants, dropping twice as many munitions on insurgent positions in 2018 compared to the previous year.Yamamoto said the civilian casualties were “wholly unacceptable” and called on all parties to take “immediate and additional concrete steps to stop a further escalation in the number of civilians harmed and lives destroyed”.Afghanistan has suffered nearly constant conflict since the Soviet invasion of 1979, which was followed by civil war, the Taliban regime, and the US invasion in late 2001.
The escalating violence comes as US President Donald Trump has been pushing to end US involvement in Afghanistan, where 14,000 American troops are still deployed.Marathon talks held in Doha in January sparked hopes of a breakthrough after the two sides agreed to a “draft framework” that included a Taliban vow to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for international terror groups.But US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad — who is leading the American side negotiating with the Taliban — has emphasised that any troop withdrawal would depend on conditions on the ground. Critics remain skeptical of the talks for a number of reasons, primarily because they have not yet included the Afghan government, which the Taliban considers US-backed puppets.
Civilian deaths jumped by 11 percent from 2017 with 3,804 people killed and another 7,189 wounded, according to the UN figures, as suicide attacks and bombings wreaked havoc across the war-torn country.The report’s release comes a day before the US and the Taliban hold their next round of talks aimed at ending the conflict, raising tentative hopes for peace along with fears that an American withdrawal could spark an even bloodier civil war.
The talks in Doha follow years of escalating violence in Afghanistan. According to the UN, at least 32,000 civilians have been killed and another 60,000 wounded in the last decade when the organisation began compiling the data.
The uptick in violence in 2018 coincides with a significant increase in the number of deaths caused by the “deliberate targeting of civilians”, according to the report, mostly stemming from suicide attacks by insurgents allied with the Taliban or Islamic State (IS).”It is time to put an end to this human misery and tragedy,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the head of the UN mission in Afghanistan.
“The best way to halt the killings and maiming of civilians is to stop the fighting,” he said. At least 65 suicide attacks were recorded in 2018 — the majority hitting Kabul — with militants responsible for the death of more than 2,200 civilians across the country.An increase in air strikes by US and Afghan forces also led to more civilian deaths in 2018, with more than 500 civilians killed by “aerial operations for the first time on record”, the report noted.The US intensified its air campaign against Taliban and IS fighters as Washington seeks to pile pressure on the militants, dropping twice as many munitions on insurgent positions in 2018 compared to the previous year.
Yamamoto said the civilian casualties were “wholly unacceptable” and called on all parties to take “immediate and additional concrete steps to stop a further escalation in the number of civilians harmed and lives destroyed”.Afghanistan has suffered nearly constant conflict since the Soviet invasion of 1979, which was followed by civil war, the Taliban regime, and the US invasion in late 2001.The escalating violence comes as US President Donald Trump has been pushing to end US involvement in Afghanistan, where 14,000 American troops are still deployed.Marathon talks held in Doha in January sparked hopes of a breakthrough after the two sides agreed to a “draft framework” that included a Taliban vow to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for international terror groups.But US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad — who is leading the American side negotiating with the Taliban  has emphasised that any troop withdrawal would depend on conditions on the ground. Critics remain skeptical of the talks for a number of reasons, primarily because they have not yet included the Afghan government, which the Taliban considers US-backed puppets.

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US, Russia and Blackwater mercenaries plot different futures for Afghanistan

It would be fanciful to imagine an America-free Afghanistan in the foreseeable future, writes Saeed Naqvi. Two parallel peace processes on Afghanistan are underway.
In Doha, Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representative for Afghanistan has held extensive round of talks with Taleban leaders, spread over several days last month.
The authorship of this process is, quite jealously, America’s. But on February 5 and 6, Taliban and other Afghan political groups also met in Moscow.
A roadmap for the future, titled the Moscow Declaration was announced. Among its nine points is one which also suggests coordination with the Doha process – there is no jealous guarding of ownership of the peace process here.
Anyone interested in peace is the joint author. The declaration was immediately rubbished by the Presidential Palace in Kabul.
“Moscow declaration will not have impact on the peace process in Afghanistan” said palace spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri.I have Russian estimates of five years ago.
They may have changed, but in those days the Russians were convinced of 30 US bases in Afghanistan.Of these, the ones at Bagram, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Helmand, Shindand (Herat) and Mazar-e-Sharif were, by the sheer volume of masonry and architecture, not temporary.
These bases will remain. Are we then talking about a qualified departure?If the US is actually planning departure, why would it build a consulate in the heart of Mazar-e-Sharif on a scale which would dwarf large embassies? Renaissance is the only reasonable hotel in Mazar-e-Sharif.
It does not take long for great powers to develop more than one point of interest once they have entered an area of strategic significance. It would therefore be fanciful to imagine an America-free Afghanistan in the foreseeable future.
“All this blood and treasure was spent for what?” some Americans will ask. Also the chant in Kabul once was “We must remain in the vicinity to keep a watch on the world’s only Muslim nuclear state.
”After Obama announced on December 1, 2009 the US intention to leave Afghanistan in July 2011, I had argued in a paper for the Observer Research Foundation that Americans can simply not leave Afghanistan. I have been proven right so far.
And now once again the “We are leaving” story has been let loose. True, this time the circumstances are different, but let us take a look.
Last July, Zalmay Khalilzad and Morgulov Igor Vladimirovich, Russia’s deputy minister for foreign affairs, (who was behind the scenes in the intra-Afghan dialogue in Moscow on February 5 and 6) attend a high power meet in New Delhi on regional issues.In a more cooperative world order, one would have expected the representatives of the US and Russia to exchange notes on Afghanistan.
What transpired was to the contrary. Vladimirovich made an allegation that startled the gathering.
“ISIS fighters were being flown to Northern Afghanistan from Syria” was the claim. The Afghan air space is under the control of the US and the government in Kabul.
“So, who is responsible?” Khalilzad offered a tepid denial. The denial lacked credibility because the Russian allegation had been preceded by another made by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatullah Khomenei.
In the course of his Friday address on January 30, 2018. Khomenei said, “The US transfer of IS terrorists to Afghanistan is aimed at creating a justification for its continued presence in the region.
”In countries surrounding Afghanistan, doubts about American intentions may be more muted but are just as strong. It is deeply ironical that Jihadism, terrorism and Islamism manufactured in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets in the 80s, may be returning to complete the circle.
Indeed, there is a certain inevitability about Islamic militancy becoming a tool of American foreign policy. The triangular romance between Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh will ensure this state of affairs for as long as this romance lasts.
Let me explain the inevitability. When animal rights groups forced the famous annual fox hunt to stop in South India’s most Anglaise hill station Ooty, I expressed my curiosity to the master of the hunt: “What have you done to the hundreds of hounds of high pedigree trained diligently for the hunt?” The lovely canines had been transferred to an expensive kennel from where dog lovers could acquire them.
So now we know what to do with redundant foxhounds of high pedigree? What does a state like Saudi Arabia do with spare Islamic militants who have been heavily equipped and trained to kill at the cost of billions? They can only be relocated to newer theatres of conflict like Afghanistan. From here they can plague all the countries the US wishes to destabilize – Xinxiang in China, the Caucasus in Russia, Iran and Pakistan, too, if it does not behave according to the US diktat.
To make the confusion worse, Erik Prince, founder of the world’s biggest mercenary military company, which has mutated from Blackwater to Academi and Triple Canopy, is back in Afghanistan floating the idea of US troops to be replaced by Prince’s mercenary army. His plan that Afghanistan be administered by a “viceroy” was shot down by National Security Adviser H.
R. McMaster and Defence Secretary James Mattis.
After the two were shown the door, Prince has been all over Afghanistan again in and Khalilzad’s notice. The only person who has refused to meet him in Kabul is President Ghani.
The writer is a journalist based in IndiaTags:Analysis Saeed Naqvi Related PostsMemoryMagic Latch February 15, 2019News AnalysisA Gnarled Oak with a Broken Heart February 15, 2019Next Post Can everyone have health insurance in Pakistan? Leave a Reply Cancel replyThis site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

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Afghanistan: 40 years of conflict

KABUL (AFP) – The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan 40 years ago kicked off decades of war that endured long after the Red Army’s retreat, which ended on February 15, 1989.

1979-1989: Soviet occupation In December 1979, at the height of the Soviet-US Cold War, Moscow invades the country — which is poor and mountainous, but also strategically situated  to prop up a communist regime.It faces fierce resistance from Afghan fighters backed by the United States and others.
Moscow eventually withdraws after a decade of fighting.1992-1996: Civil war The fall of Mohammad Najibullah’s communist government in 1992 unleashes a bloody power struggle that kills nearly 100,000 people in two years and partly destroys the capital, Kabul.
1996-2001: Taliban in power The Taliban, led by Mullah Mohammad Omar, seize power in 1996 and install a regime based on their hardline interpretation of Islamic law. They forbid women from working, close girls’ schools, and ban music and other entertainment.
Under severe United Nations sanctions, the regime becomes close to the Al-Qaeda militant network and shelters its leader, Saudi national Osama bin Laden.2001: US-led invasion In October 2001 the United States leads an invasion of Afghanistan in retaliation for the September 11 attacks on Washington and New York blamed on Al-Qaeda.
Washington and its NATO allies drive out the Taliban regime and bring Hamid Karzai to power, funnelling in billions of dollars of aid to rebuild the war-ravaged country.They deploy up to 150,000 soldiers to help the government assert control and bring security.
The Taliban go into hiding or flee to neighboring countries, and then launch an insurgency against Kabul and NATO.2014: NATO withdraws NATO pulls out its International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) combat troops at the end of 2014, with the Taliban insurgency raging.
Some NATO soldiers remain to carry out anti-terrorist operations and train Afghan forces.The Taliban continue to make gains, while carrying out major deadly attacks, as the Islamic State group begins to make inroads in Afghanistan in 2015.
2018-2019: Peace talks In late 2018 US President Donald Trump says he is withdrawing half of the 14,000 US soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, though officials caution they have received no order to begin draw down plans.Washington steps up negotiations with the Taliban to end the conflict, with both the militants and US officials touting progress after talks culminate in a six-day meeting in Qatar in January.Afghan hopes for peace are tempered by fears the US could withdraw before a lasting deal is reached with Kabul, however.Russia and Iran also hold talks with the militants.

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