1TV: Afghan fast bowler Shapoor Zadran is allowed to return to national team after disciplinary committee of Afghanistan Cricket Board lifted the ban imposed on him more than five months ago. Zadran had been banned from playing in the national team after breaching disciplinary rules in a training camp outside the country on May 29, ACB said in a statement. Click here to read more (external link).
Ariana: In reaction to the Wall Street Journal’s report, the U.S. Ambassador in Kabul John Bass on Tuesday said that the United States is committed to helping the Afghan electoral commissions and the government to hold the presidential elections in April next year. The WSJ [Wall Street Journal] reported that the Trump administration is discussing whether to press the Afghan government to suspend coming presidential elections, as the U.S. seeks to engage the Taliban in talks to end the 17-year war. According to the report, to urge a suspension of the April election was an idea raised by U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad in talks with various stakeholders and intermediaries. Click here to read more (external link).
November 12, 2018
ISLAMABAD — Russia said Monday the Taliban has secretly held 10 rounds of talks with the United States, other than the officially announced recent contact between the two sides in Qatar on how to end the war in Afghanistan.
There have been only two publicly known meetings U.S. officials have held with representatives of the Islamist insurgency since July in their so-called “political office in Doha”, the capital of the Gulf country. The latest contact occurred last month where the newly appointed special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, led the U.S. team.
“We have been told they (the Taliban) held around 10 secret consultations with Americans. This is a normal process when countries, and we want to believe in this, are trying to stimulate both parties, the Taliban and the Afghan government, to sit on the negotiating table without prerequisites,” said Russian presidential envoy Zamir Kabulov.
The Trump administration has stepped up its efforts for a way to end the war in Afghanistan, the longest-ever U.S military intervention launched in 2001 after the September 11 terrorist attacks on American cities.
Last week, Khalilzad began his second visit in a month to Afghanistan, neighboring Pakistan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to push his peace mission. He will be in the region until November 20.
‘Modest first step’
Kabulov told a news conference in Moscow the American special envoy also plans to visit the Russian capital early next month to discuss Afghan peace efforts with him.
The Russian diplomat was briefing reporters on last Friday’s conference of 12 nations Moscow hosted to discuss peace and security in Afghanistan, with a high-ranking Taliban delegation also in attendance.
The multilateral meeting in Moscow was a “unique” and broad international forum, Kabulov added, where Taliban delegates for the first time in 17 years publicly joined and sat next to an official Afghan delegation on the conference table for exchange of views.
He emphasized the goal of the conference was not to seek direct negotiations between Afghan warring sides, but was a “modest first step in that direction.”
“They (Taliban) have outlined their plan of action in detail. [They] said they will be ready to speak with the Afghan government only after fixing a timetable for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan with the US,” he added.
The Russian diplomat said the Taliban “as confidence-building measures under a preliminary plan, demand that all political prisoners be freed and anti-Taliban sanctions, which were imposed back in 1997, be lifted.”
Diplomats, special representatives and officials from Afghanistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, the United States, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan participated in the event.
‘Broad representation’ sought
Kabulov disputed Kabul’s assertions that Afghan delegates who attended the meeting were not representing the government, but the country’s “non-governmental institution” the High Peace Council. The Russian diplomat said the Afghan ambassador to Moscow joined the Afghan delegation at the table, making it “an official representative” of Afghanistan.
He said Moscow had sought a “broad representation” of Afghans at the meeting and proposed to invite prominent political personalities, including ex-president Hamid Karzai, former National Security advisor Haneef Atmar, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and representatives of Hazara as well as Tajik communities.
But, Kabulov asserted, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani opposed the Russian invitations as an interference in internal affairs of his country.
“Almost all of them were ready to participate, but we were quite surprised that the president of Afghanistan, being quite nervous, began to oppose the invitation of these political figures [who] are of course legitimate political leaders of Afghanistan,” he said.
Kabulov added Moscow was attempting only to ensure representation of all Afghan groups at the table to make it inclusive consultations.
There was no immediate reaction from Afghan officials to Kabulov’s comments about Ghani’s rejection of Russia’s initiative.
Afghanistan Times: Mohammad Asif Rahimi has resigned from his position as governor from Western Herat province, a well-placed source said. According to the source, the president accepted the resignation of Rahimi. He had served as the governor of Herat since 2014. On Friday, the governor of Maidan Wardak province also resigned from his post. Click here to read more (external link).
Asia Times: For the US, it makes more sense to allow India to continue developing Chabahar port than for China to ‘hijack’ yet another strategically important port — A port in Chabahar, Iran’s southernmost city, was exempted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from sanctions, which he called “the toughest ever put in place”, in a move to help a US ally. India has been developing the port since 2003 in a strategic bid to link to Central Asia through Iran and Afghanistan while bypassing its neighbor and rival Pakistan. Click here to read more (external link).
RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan
November 12, 2018
Dozens of people have been killed in violence across Afghanistan, including in a suicide bombing in Kabul targeting a protest by members of the mainly Shi’ite Hazara minority, officials say.
The Islamic State (IS) militant group claimed responsibility for the suicide blast on November 12 that killed at least six people and wounded 20 others in the center of the capital, where hundreds of people were protesting the government’s failure to protect the Hazara community from Taliban attacks.
The explosion rocked the city as fighting raged in the central province of Ghazni, where Afghan forces and pro-government militias have been battling the Taliban for the past week.
Officials said on November 12 that 25 Afghan security personnel were killed in Ghazni’s predominately Hazara districts of Malistan and Jaghori. The Taliban also attacked a third district, Khas Oruzgan, in neighboring Oruzgan Province two weeks ago.
The Taliban offensive in the three predominately Hazara districts has left dozens of government troops, pro-government Hazara militia men, and Taliban militants dead and forced hundreds of civilians to flee their homes.
In the western province of Farah, at least 37 local police were killed when Taliban fighters overran several security checkpoints, regional officials said on November 12.
In a statement, the IS militant group said it targeted a gathering of Shi’ites. The extremist Sunni group considers Shi’ites as heretics and has frequently targeted them in recent years.
Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), said in a statement that the bomber was on foot and detonated his suicide vest before reaching the protesters.
Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danesh told RFE/RL that civilians and security personnel deployed to secure the city during the protest were among the dead.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack, although the Taliban and the Islamic State (IS) militant groups have been blamed for similar attacks in the past.
The blast occurred near a security checkpoint near the Istiqlal high school in central Kabul, close to the area where ministry buildings and the Presidential Palace are located.
The Afghan president’s office said protesters ended their demonstration after President Ashraf Ghani addressed the crowd and promised to send reinforcements to the besieged districts.
Hazara Demand Protection
Hundreds of people had rallied for a second day in front of the Presidential Palace to protest against the government’s inaction in sending reinforcements to the three districts under siege in the provinces of Ghazni and Oruzgan.
“The situation in the districts of Jahjori, Malistan, and Khas Oruzgan is critical,” an unnamed protester told RFE/RL. “These areas need urgent air support and reinforcements.”
“We want the government and the world to know what’s happening there,” another protester told RFE/RL. “How long can this cruelty and death go on?”
Officials said that the Taliban killed 15 civilians and 10 members of the special forces in Ghazni on November 11, after the government said it had sent special forces backed by air strikes to the districts under attack.
There have been fears that the violence could be rooted in ethnic or sectarian differences, pitting the Hazara against the Taliban, a predominately Sunni, ethnic Pashtun group.
The Taliban was accused of committing human rights violations against Hazara during their 1996-2001 rule.
In the western province of Farah, at least 37 members of the Afghan security forces were killed in overnight attacks by Taliban fighters on checkpoints that triggered hours of fighting, local officials said on November 12.
The spike in violence comes as visiting U.S. special envoy Zakmay Khalilzad held talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on November 11 in his latest round of meetings aimed at convincing the Taliban to take part in peace talks with Kabul to end the decades-long war in Afghanistan.
Khalilzad, a former U.S. ambassador to Kabul, is also scheduled to visit Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, where the Taliban has a political office.
A recent U.S. government watchdog report said Kabul’s control of Afghanistan had slipped in recent months as local forces made little or no progress against the Taliban.
The U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, citing NATO’s Resolute Support mission, said this summer’s casualty toll for Afghan forces had been worse than ever.
With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and dpa
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.
- 37 police, civilians killed in Afghanistan’s Farah
- Kabul Rally Ends after Ghani Spoke with Protesters
- Malistan on Verge of Collapse, Say Ghazni Officials
Tolo News: Hundreds of protesters marched through the night from the western parts of Kabul to the city center, close to the Presidential Palace, in protest against what they say is neglect on the part of government to secure large parts of Ghazni and Uruzgan provinces. The protesters accuse government of not providing enough security to the central parts of the country especially in Khas Uruzgan district of Uruzgan province; and Malistan and Jaghori districts of Ghazni province, which is home to mostly Hazaras. Click here to read more (external link).
Tolo News: Afghanistan’s Ashihara Karate Federation on Sunday said the Afghan Ashihara team won nine medals in different categories at the 6th Ashihara Sabaki World Championships in Aktau city in Kazakhstan. Athletes from 30 countries competed in the event and Afghanistan, with nine medals, came in 4th overall. Afghanistan’s Fayaz Durandesh, Ali Reza Ehsanzada and Sayed Naser Hashemi all won gold. Click here to read more (external link).
Other Afghan Martial Arts News