Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai welcomed the plan to establish a transitional government in an exclusive interview with the BBC at the start of the country’s peace summit in Moscow.
He said there are only two ways; The merging of the Taliban with the current government or the formation of a transitional government that would pave the way for the Taliban to merge.
Mr Karzai says Afghans and foreign partners should not allow the opportunity for peace in the country to be lost.
Asked about his views on the US plan to establish an interim or transitional government in Afghanistan with the role of the Taliban, he said: “If there is no other way, why not … If the Taliban and the Republicans want to end hostilities. There can be only two ways; the first way is for the Taliban to agree to join the current government, and if that is not possible, the only alternative is to form a transitional government.”
Karzai stated that his goal in supporting the transitional government is not to sacrifice the democratic system but to unite Afghans.
He emphasized that a system must be proposed on which both sides agree and the people agree.
Earlier, President Ashraf Ghani, in response to the US plan, stressed that he was not willing to transfer power to anyone without holding elections, but he said he was willing to agree on the timing of the elections with the other side.
Mr. Ghani has once said that he will not allow anyone to form an interim government while he is alive.
Asked if Mr Ghani was an obstacle to the peace process, Mr Karzai said in an interview with the BBC, “All parties, including Mr Ghani, should be flexible about peace.”
“For peace, we must all be very, very flexible. The lives of the people must be a priority. President Ghani wants elections, and if the Taliban accept, this is good and the easiest way, but if it does not happen, we should not allow this conflict remains very unfortunate, in which case it is the duty of everyone, including President Ghani, to think of an alternative.”
The ex-president has said he has led Afghanistan for 14 years and has no plans to re-lead the country, which he has said many times in the past.
Zalmai Khalilzad, the US State Department’s special envoy for Afghanistan peace, presented his government’s plan to resolve the Afghan political crisis during his recent visit to the country, which is said to include the creation of an interim and transitional government.
The Afghan government has not yet explicitly responded to the plan, but the first vice president has strongly opposed it, saying he will never sign it.
Following that, a letter from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani was shared to the media, warning in a strong tone about the situation in Afghanistan and emphasizing the need to speed up the peace process.
Pakistan special envoy for Afghanistan Muhammad Sadiq says that he attended the Troika meeting on Afghan peace process in Moscow today.
“Pakistan, China, Russia and the US are members of the extended Troika. Qatar and Turkey are attending as special guests. In additon, 10 members each from Kabul and Taliban are also participating,” Ambassador Sadiq said.
“While thanking Russia for hosting this important forum at a critical juncture, He said without peace our shared dream of connectivity, economic development, and prosperity of our peoples – people of Afghanistan and the region – will not materialized,” he said.
He stated that Pakistan believes an exclusive approach towards negotiations and governance will significantly help the cause of sustainable peace in Afghanistan.
International community needs to remained engaged in Afghanistan and help the country at this critical juncture,” Mr sadiq mentioned in his speech.
Ambassador Sadiq noted that Pakistan’s message, as a neighbor and the most affected country of the 40 years of conflict (after Afghanistan), is loud and clear: “We solidly support peace process, we support stability in Afghanistan, and we want to see a prosperous Afghanistan.”
The chairman of High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) Abdullah Abdullah said in Moscow peace summit that the war is not the solution.
“Once again we emphasize that war is not the solution. Groups and parties must take this principle into account in their calculations,” said Dr. Abdullah.
He stated that Afghanistan today is not the Afghanistan of years ago, and no group or movement can “impose its will on others” by force.
Mr. Abdullah also said that “by understanding the urgency of this issue and national and international interest, peace has become the collective will of our nation and people.”
He stressed that “peace has no loser and war no winner.”
Mr Abdullah said progress had been made in the intra-Afghan talks in Doha on some of the agenda, and that they expected the process to accelerate.
“We express our support for the Moscow Summit and the Turkish Summit on Afghanistan,” he said.
“I declare that the side of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is ready to enter into talks with the Taliban at any level and on any issues of mutual interest without any preconditions,” Abdullah added.
The Salang Pass Maintenance Authority today announced that from tomorrow, the movements of Cargo trucks from north to south and vice versa of Salang pass have been prohibited until the normalization of traffic due to the safe passage of participants in Balkh province for the celebration of Nowruz (the new solar year of 1,400).
The department added that the Salang Highway is only open to passenger vehicles for a while.
It has emphasized that according to the forecasts, heavy snowfalls will start on the Salang Highway from tomorrow, and passengers should take into account all protection and winter measures when crossing the highway.
Afghanistan Railway Authority on Thursday announced that transport of goods through the country’s railways are running daily and without interruption, and in the last 3 months, more than 22,200 wagons carrying goods have entered the country, which is about 1 million and 370 Thousands of tons of goods have been transported.
The railway authority stated that the bulk of these transported include food, feul, construction materials and other commercial goods.
According to the authority, in the last three months, 72,268 tons of Afghanistan goods, including agricultural products, most of which are orange, have been exported through the Hairatan-Mazar-e-Sharif, Khaf-Herat and Turghandi railways.
A virtual trilateral meeting was held between Afghanistan, Tajikistan, the United States at the ministerial level on Wednesday, Afghanistan Ministry of Foriegn Affairs (MoFA) said.
The meeting was attended by the Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar, Foreign Minister of Tajikistan Sirojiddin Muhriddin, and the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale.
MoFA in a statement said that
Participants expressed their readiness for partnership and cooperation to promote lasting peace, security and economic development.
Issues of cooperation between the three countries in the fields of politics, security, economy, energy, and human resources development were discussed.
It was emphasized that the issues of jointly combating terrorism, extremism, illicit drug trafficking and strengthening the border are important areas of cooperation between the parties.
The parties stated that they will continue cooperation in overcoming the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov delivers an opening speech at the Afghan peace conference in Moscow.
Representatives from the United States, China, Pakistan, and Qatar are also attending the event, as well as delegations from the Afghan government and the Taliban movement.
According to Lavrov, the Moscow meeting was organized “to help solve the problems that arose in the Doha negotiations and to encourage the parties to be more cooperative through informal, free discussions, and confidential conversations.”
Turkey has sent its representative to the meeting as well; Ambassador Hakan Tekin, director general for South Asia at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, is attending the meeting.
The Afghan government side is represented by a delegation of the High Council for National Reconciliation, which is headed by its chairman Abdullah Abdullah.
Also joining the meeting is the 10-people Taliban delegation headed by Abdul Ghani Baradar, the group’s deputy leader.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Thursday reported 25 new positive cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported no deaths and 128 recoveries from COVID-19 in the same period time.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 56,069 the number of total reported deaths is 2,462 and the total number of recoveries is 49,664.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat Kandahar, Nangarhar, Logar, Uruzgan and Nuristan.
Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar says peace with the Taliban is possible when the group respects the wishes of Afghan people in the light of the formation of an Islamic Republic government and the preservation of the democratic achievements of the past two decades.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement said that Mr. Atmar raised this issue yesterday at the second meeting of the Tehran Dialogue Forum, which was held virtually.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşo also attended the meeting.
According to the statement, Mr. Atmar said that peace with the Taliban still required the group to enter into honest and meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government.
On the other hand, he added that any initiative and plan for peace in Afghanistan will be effective when it is within the framework of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and based on a correct understanding of the conditions and will of the people.
The Foreign Minister also added that the establishment of peace in Afghanistan is related to regional and global security.
He stressed that Afghanistan has been facing the challenge of terrorism for the past two decades and has tried not to become a safe haven of terrorism in the region again.
The Turkish Foreign Minister also said at the meeting that his country strongly supports the peace process and the political solution of the Afghanistan crisis.
The press office of the first Vice President said that a senior member of the Taliban named Sefatullah had been arrested in a special operation in the PD21 of Kabul.
The VP office in a statement said the member was among 5,000 prisoners released by the government to advance the peace process.
According to the statement, the detainee has amitted that after his release from prison, he resumed his terrorist activities against the Afghan security forces and the people.
This comes as the city of Kabul has witnessed an increase in bloody explosions in the past three days.
Murtaza Jalali, the deputy of Atta Muhammad Noor’s political office confirmed that gunfire broke out at the gathering place of the first Congress meeting of Hezb-e Jamiat at Isteqlal Hotel in Kabul on Thursday.
Police have not yet commented on the shootings.
Enayatullah shadab-led section of Jamiat Islami party congresses was scheduled to be held with cooperation of Atta Mohammad Noor and Yunus Qanooni.
There is no information available about the possible casualties of the shooting.
The High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) says the purpose of the Moscow summit is to discuss speeding up negotiations, reduction of violence and an independent Afghanistan with the Taliban delegation.
The Sapidar Palace in a statement on Thursday, said that a high-level delegation of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan had arrived in Russia to attend a one-day Moscow meeting on peace in Afghanistan.
Representatives of the Taliban will also attend the meeting, and the two sides will discuss speeding up the process, strengthening the Doha talks, reducing violence and strengthening an independent, self-sufficient, terrorism-free and drug-free Afghanistan.
The Moscow meeting on peace in Afghanistan is scheduled to officially begin in the next few hours in Moscow.
Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, will also address the meeting.
At least three civilians were killed and 11 more were injured after a bus carrying government employees was targeted by an explosion in the capital, Kabul on Thursday morning, police said.
The incident took place at around 7:20 am (local time) in Sar-e-Kotal Khair Khana area of PD17, police said.
According to reports, the bus carried employees of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology.
The victims have been taken to a nearby hospital, eyewitness said.
No group has claimed responsibility for the blast so far.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed veteran French diplomat Jean Arnault as his personal envoy on Afghanistan and regional issues, UNAMA said in a statement.
“The Secretary-General has asked Mr Arnault to assist in the achievement of a political solution to the conflict, working closely with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and regional partners,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Dujarric said earlier on Wednesday that the United Nations was not sending anyone to the talks in Moscow.
According to the statement, Mr. Arnault brings over 30 years of experience in international diplomacy focusing on peace settlements and mediation, with extensive background in United Nations missions in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, including Afghanistan.
The appointment comes a day before Russia, China, the United States, Pakistan, a delegation of top Afghan officials and Taliban negotiators meet in Moscow in an attempt to kickstart deadlocked peace talks.