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Denied Visa Twice, 6 Afghan Girls Win Silver in Robotics Competition in Washington

The Afghan Girls Robotics Team has won a silver medal for Courageous Achievement

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The six girls from Afghanistan that took part in the Robotics Challenge. Twitter
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  • 6 Afghan girls won the silver medal at First Global Challenge in Washington for courageous achievement 
  • These girls were refused a visa to the United States twice but received one in the third attempt after President Trump intervened 
  • The awards were given to teams who displayed a can-do attitude

Washington, July 20, 2017: Six girls from Afghanistan were awarded the silver medal at Washington’s First Global Challenge for courageous achievement. The team had been denied a visa to the US twice, but this time President Trump’s intervention at the last minute made sure the girls could demonstrate their intelligence.

The Afghan girl’s team took part in the Robotics Competition. They exhibited their robots that could differentiate and sort out orange and blue balls.

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The team also got the opportunity to meet First Daughter Ivanka Trump. The girl’s robotic team won the medal for courageous achievement, which recognized teams who made it through even in difficult circumstances.

The gold and bronze medal were awarded to teams from South Sudan and Oman respectively.

ALSO READ: US President Donald Trump nominates Indian American Krishna R. Urs to be ambassador to Peru

Denied the visa not once but twice, the girls were indeed disappointed. Fatemah Qaderyan, who spoke to Fox News, expressed her disappointments and also her team’s determination to make it through the obstacles.

The girls hail from Herat, a small town in Afghanistan. They convinced their parents, a big challenge given their cultural background and regional traditions. Afghanistan is a war torn country by the influence of Taliban and other insurgents.

Afghanistan is not among the six countries on which Trump’s travel ban was imposed. However, the girls have no answer as to why their visa was denied. But it was the President who intervened and got the visas approved not only for these Afghan girls but also for the teams who are otherwise among those in the travel ban.

– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

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Pakistan Agrees To Cooperate With The U.S. To Achieve Peace in Afghanistan

Khan said Monday that Trump wants Pakistan to use its influence to nudge the Taliban to participate in Afghan peace talks.

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Imran Khan, Pakistan
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during a ceremony in Kartarpur, Pakistan. VOA

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan renewed Wednesday his resolve to cooperate with the United States to achieve a political settlement with the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan, now in its 18th year.

Khan made the remarks during a meeting with the visiting U.S. special representative for Afghan peace and reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad.

“The prime minister reiterated Pakistan’s abiding interest in achieving peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan through political settlement,” Khan’s office said in a statement issued after the meeting.

Khalilzad arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday and held delegation level talks with senior foreign ministry officials before paying the courtesy call on Prime Minister Khan, officials said.

Imran Khan, Pakistan, Afghanistan,
Pakistan”s Prime Minister Imran Khan is seen during talks in Beijing, China, VOA

The U.S. envoy’s visit followed President Donald Trump’s formal request for Khan’s help in finding a political solution to the Afghan conflict.

“U.S. leadership looked forward to working with Pakistan in furthering the shared goal of peace through a political settlement in Afghanistan,” the Pakistani statement quoted Khalilzad as saying.

The Trump administration has tasked the Afghan-born former U.S. ambassador to Kabul to persuade the Taliban to join an Afghan peace process for ending the protracted war.

U.S. and Afghan officials have long accused Pakistan of sheltering Taliban leaders and allowing them to orchestrate attacks inside Afghanistan. Islamabad rejects the charges.

Afghanistan, USA, Pakistan
Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, center right, and U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad,center left, meet in Kabul. VOA

Khalilzad is on an 18-day trip to region, his third since taking office, and plans to visit Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Russia, UAE and Qatar, where the Taliban maintains its so-called political office.

During his previous two trips to the region, Khalilzad also traveled to Qatar and held marathon meetings with Taliban representatives there. He has held talks with Afghan politicians inside and outside of the government in Kabul.

Taliban officials insist that in talks with the U.S. they are seeking the withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO forces from the country before agreeing to join an intra-Afghan peace dialogue.

In a statement issued Tuesday, insurgent spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said they “will not tolerate foreign occupying and military presence under any circumstance.”

Mujahid also dismissed reports that Khalilzad is discussing with the Taliban possible future political dispensation in Kabul and other related issues.

 

Taliban, Afghanistan, Pakistan
Taliban fighters are seen gathered in Surkhroad district of Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan. VOA

 

“The formation of a government, establishing security and developing Afghanistan is a matter concerning the Afghans. No foreign occupying force has any legal right for determine the fate of Afghanistan, interfere in its matters or make comments as a proprietor,” said the Taliban spokesman.

Khalilzad has shared few details of his talks with the Taliban, though he said last month he was “cautiously optimistic” about achieving a peace deal.

Pakistan’s relations with the U.S. have dipped to historic lows in recent years over allegations of supporting the Taliban and other militants in the region. President Trump’s letter to Khan on Monday was a rare positive development in the fragile bilateral ties.

Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, chosen to be the next commander of U.S. Central Command told Senators on Tuesday that Pakistan’s assistance is key to finding any solution in Afghanistan.

“It is in Pakistan’s long-term interest to have a government in Afghanistan that is stable that they can do business with. It will be hard to reach a settlement without some form of assistance from Pakistan,” McKenzie said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Donald Trump, democrats, government,, pakistan
U.S. President Donald Trump. VOA

Islamabad has long urged in talks with the U.S. that rival India’s growing influence in Afghanistan was a matter of concern for Pakistan. Pakistani security officials blame Indian intelligence operatives for supporting anti-state militants planning terrorist attacks in Pakistan from Afghan soil, charges both Kabul and New Delhi reject.

Also Read: U.S. President Donald Trump Seeks Pakistan’s Cooperation For Bringing Peace in Afghanistan

“I believe Pakistan knows very clearly that their assistance will be required to reach an end state in Afghanistan. I think the chance that we have is to make it attractive to them so that they see that it is in their best interest to do that,” noted the U.S. commander.

Khan said Monday that Trump wants Pakistan to use its influence to nudge the Taliban to participate in Afghan peace talks. (VOA)