KABUL (Pajhwok): Civilian casualties increased fivefold this week when 433 people were killed or injured during the period – the deadliest for noncombatants since the beginning of this year.
- A delegation from Kabul travels to Qatar for talks with Taliban.
- Qatar accelerates efforts for peace in Afghanistan.
- China offers to host Afghan peace negotiations.
- US maintain diplomatic presence and supports ‘anti-terrorism’ efforts in Afghanistan.
- Former US president, George W. Bush, terms foreign troop pullout from Afghanistan a mistake.
- Shanghai Conference terms situation in Afghanistan worrisome.
- Afghan officials strongly criticize Pakistan.
- Last week, 89 civilians were killed and 344 others injured.
Attacks and civilians casualties:
At least 89 civilians were killed and 344 others injured in a total of 28 attacks in Kandahar, Badghis, Kapisa, Nangarhar, Badakhshan, Kabul, Ghazni, Laghman, Helmand, Nuristan, Kunar, Baghlan, Ghor, Samangan and Uruzgan provinces last week.
UNAMA said that reports about widespread casualties, violence and discrimination created fear and instability and the perpetrators of these actions should be taken to justice.
In these attacks, security forces and the Taliban also suffered casualties but Pajhwok did not publish the figures because enough information with authentic sources was not available to support casualty figures.
Peace efforts accelerated in Qatar:
A delegation from Kabul arrived in Qatar on Friday for talks with the Taliban. The delegation is comprised of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Hamid Karzai, Karim Khalili, leader of the Hezb-e-Wahdat Mardam Afghanistan party, Atta Mohammad Noor, chief of the Jamiat-i-Islami splinter group and former Balkh governor, Bator Dostum and Syed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, minister of state for peace affairs, and Fatima Ghilani.
This comes as the US special envoy for Afghan peace, Zalmay Khalilzad also started a new trip to the region to accelerate peace efforts.
The Afghanistan peace negotiating team has asked Qatar to broker Afghan peace talks. This comes as Qatar’s special envoy, Mutlaq Bin Majid Al-Qahtani also recently visited Afghanistan and Pakistan.
China has also offered to host intra-Afghan negotiations.
Foreigners’ promises, concerns and hopes:
New US commander for Afghanistan, Gen. Frank McKenzie, who is not based in the country, said that foreign troop’s withdrawal from Afghanistan would complete on August 31, but his country would not allow to be threatened again from Afghanistan.
He said that the US will maintain its diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, support anti-terrorism efforts, advise Afghan forces, leave some troops in Kabul to protect the country’s embassy and Kabul Airport.
Turkey has also offered to provide security for Kabul Airport, but the Taliban said that such a move from Turkey would question the sovereignty of Afghanistan and the group would stand against such a move.
US defense secretary,Lloyd Austin has said that the international community should work for finding a peaceful solution to the Afghan conflict. However, former US president, George W. Bush said that pullout from Afghanistan was a mistake as Afghan women would face problems if foreign forces leave the country.
The Shanghai Cooperation Conference in Tajikistan termed post-pullout situation in Afghanistan ‘deeply concerning’.
On the other hand, British defense minister, Minister Ben Wallace said that recognition of the Taliban depended on the group’s commitment to peace.
The United Nations also called on the warring sides in Afghanistan to declare truce for Eid ul Azha.
A member of the Afghanistan peace negotiation team has said the Taliban had offered a three-month long ceasefire in return for the release of their thousands of prisoners.
Frosty Afghanistan and Pakistan relations:
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said that intelligence information showed 10,000 fighters supported by ‘terrorist groups’ had entered Afghanistan from across the Durand Line in the last one month. He said that Taliban carried out ‘destructive’ attacks and they had not cut ties with ‘terrorist groups’.
He asked Pakistan to use its leverage for stopping Taliban attacks and encouraging the group to arrive at peace negotiations.
Pakistani government has rejected a claim of first vice-president, Amrullah Saleh who said that Pakistan Air Force warned Afghan Air Force of taking action if Spin Boldak district was retaken from Taliban. But Pakistan did confirm they had taken ‘necessary measures’ to protect their border.
Saleh in response said that Pakistan also always denied the presence of ‘Taliban’s Quetta Council and Taliban leaders in Pakistan’.
The Afghan foreign minister has asked Pakistan to stop financial sources to Taliban and cooperate with Afghanistan for the success of peace negotiations. Pakistan has assured of supporting a stable Afghanistan and encouraging Taliban for talks.
People want peace:
A number of clerics in Khost and Paktia provinces have demanded a ceasefire and said that ongoing war had no justification. They said that some groups were killing Afghans for the interests of others.
Some women in Ghor province raised their voice in support of peace and ceasefire and asked the Taliban and government not to ignore their rights of education and work.
Similarly, dozens of women in Mazar e Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province, the Women Network organization in Kabul and religious scholars in Kandahar and hundreds of people in Ghor and Baghlan province urged the government and the Taliban declare permanent cease and agree on durable peace.