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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Afghan gov. hands mediator Qatar ‘crisis exit plan’ at Doha talks

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Two Afghan officials said the Taliban has captured the provincial capital of Ghazni, making it the tenth area to be seized by the insurgent group in less than a week.

The Afghan government handed mediator Qatar a plan to find a way out of the current crisis in Afghanistan, a senior official confirmed on Wednesday.

Head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah made the comments on the second day of international meetings in Doha to discuss the Afghan peace process.

The talks are attended by officials from the Afghan government, members of the Taliban, officials from Qatar, the US, China, Pakistan, the European Union, Uzbekistan and the United Nations.

The meetings in Doha are part of renewed efforts to halt ongoing Taliban violence in Afghanistan and ensure warring factions, as well as the international community, actively engage in urgent peace negotiations.

Afghan gov, Taliban trade blame over ‘seriousness’ at Qatar talks

However, Abdullah said the Taliban has yet to show “seriousness” in the peace talks and accused the insurgent group of  not believing in a political solution, as quoted on Al Jazeera.

“The Taliban have maintained relations with terrorists, including al-Qaeda, contrary to their obligations,” he added.

Meetings in Doha entered the third and final day on Thursday, which started with a session attended by Qatar’s Special Envoy for Counterterrorism and Mediation of Conflict Resolution Mutlaq bin Majed Al Qahtani, and the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.

Worsening humanitarian situation

Meanwhile, fearful Afghans have been fleeing their homes as escalations continue between Afghan forces and the Taliban. The violence is expected to exacerbate an already worrying civilian casualty rate.

Two Afghan officials said the Taliban seized the provincial capital of Ghazni, making it the tenth such territory to be captured by the insurgents in almost a week, the Associated Press [AP] reported on Thursday.

The other provincial capitals include Faizabad, Farah, Pul-e-Khumri, Sar-e-Pul, Sheberghan, Aybak, Kunduz, Taluqan and Zaranj.
On Wednesday, the militants captured Afghanistan’s borders with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, but promised not to engage in fighting in the two countries.
In a statement emailed to Reuters earlier this week, UNICEF said at least 27 children have been killed and 136 injured in three Afghan provinces – Kandahar, Khost and Pakria – over the past three days alone.
The fighting has increased since US President Joe Biden announced his decision to withdraw American and NATO forces from Afghanistan by 11 September after two decades of combat in the country.
Diplomats around the world said the decision was sudden and rebuked Washington for failing to ensure the pullout is completed with a proper peace plan.
On Thursday, diplomats at the Qatar meetings are expected to release a joint statement, but it remains unclear whether it would entail a ceasefire or not.

If no ceasefire is reached this year, the country is expected to face its highest civilian casualty since 2009.


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