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Afghans try hard to create “safe zone” for Taliban mutineers in a bid to wean them away from Traditional Sanctuaries inside Pakistan

Pakistan began backing the Taliban activities of the 1990s as part of its policy of "strategic depth" against nemesis India

FILE - In this Sunday, July 31, 2011 file photo, Taliban fighters hold their heavy and light weapons before surrendering them to Afghan authorities in Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan. VOA

Kabul, Jan 10, 2017: Afghan officials are putting effort into creating a “safe zone” for Taliban mutineers in a bid to wean them away from traditional sanctuaries inside Pakistan, in a radical and contentious plan to de-escalate the conflict.

The plan underscores desperation in Afghanistan for out- of-the-box measures to take care of the 15-year insurgency, as peace attempts repeatedly fail and US-backed forces suffer record casualties in stalemated fights.

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If implemented, the strategy – targeted at undercutting Pakistan’s influence and active effect over the Taliban – could, for better or for worse, be a game changer in a strife-torn country where ceding territory to mutineers is seen as tantamount to partition.

“I urge the Taliban to return to Afghanistan. We should make a safe zone for them and their families,” Kandahar police chief Abdul Raziq said at a meeting of religious scholars and tribal seniors last month.

“We can no longer rely on foreign governments and embassies to end the war. The Taliban belong to this country, they are sons of this soil,” he added.

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The shock-wave created was amplified by this proposal of Raziq, who is probably the most powerful commander in southern Afghanistan and long one of the staunchest anti- Taliban figures.

“The government shouldn’t be giving safe zones to terrorists,” former Helmand governor Sher Mohammed Akhundzada warned. A number of observers accepted the fact that this strategy can be considered “illogical” as the Taliban already are in control of vast swathes of Afghan territory, mentioned PTI report.

Raziq has not yet responded to the repeated requests for an interview, but a senior security official informed that the government’s agenda “is to bring the Taliban from Pakistan to Afghanistan.”

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“We will separate a territory for them to come with their families. Then whether they want to fight or talk peace, they will be relieved from the pressure of Pakistan,” he stated, speaking anonymously.

Pakistan began backing the Taliban activities of the 1990s as part of its policy of “strategic depth” against nemesis India.

Seen by many Afghans as the biggest hurdle when it comes to lasting peace, Islamabad has been allegedly playing a “double game” in Afghanistan for a long time: endorsing Washington’s war on terrorism since the 9/11 attacks, while supporting militant sanctuaries.

After years of official denial, it was admitted by a top Pakistani official in 2016 for the first time that the a country provides a safe haven for the militant group inside his country, which is used by Islamabad as a “lever” to pressure the group into talks with Kabul.

However, Pakistan has hosted multiple rounds of chats ostensibly to kick start a peace process – without result.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

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Won’t mind crossing border to protect Kashmir: Rajnath

On the issue of terrorism, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has succeeded in getting global consensus and managed to bring the international community on board

Mr. Singh mentioned the Indian brotherhood between Hindus and Muslims in India and mentioned strict action against Pakistan terror aids to India in his Kashmir speech
Rajnath Singh went harsh on Pakistan in his Kashmir speech
  • Union minister Rajnath Singh said that Kashmir is India’s
  • He said he’ll cross borders if he has to
  • He also praised Indian army for their services towards the nation

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said no power in the world can take Kashmir away from India and if need be forced can cross the border to protect the country’s territorial integrity.

“Kashmir is, was and will be ours always. No one can take it from us,” Rajnath Singh said, addressing the CNN News18 Rising India Summit.

Rajnath praises indian army for its services.

He praised the Indian Army for its valour to secure the country and warned Pakistan, saying “we not only secure India within but can also cross the border to protect the country, if needed. No one should take it otherwise.”

He said India wanted good ties with Pakistan, provided it stopped aiding terrorists.

“Now the US is condemning Pakistan. I don’t know what happened to Pakistan. We want good relations with Pakistan but it has refused to accept our offer of friendship.

“Pakistan is giving legitimacy to UN-designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed who is establishing a political party there and wants to contest in elections.”

The Minister said the government was keen on finding a permanent solution to the Kashmir problem and was open to speak to anyone.

To resolve the Kashmir issue, Rajnath Singh said, the government-appointed interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma, a former Intelligence Bureau chief, is moving forward and has invited people from all sections for talks.

Kashmir is ours and ours only, says Rajnath.

He said Kashmir’s children were like his own and would not allow anyone brainwash them into radicalisation.

“I want to tell those who are trying to teach jihad to innocent Kashmiri youths that they should first learn the real concept of jihad in Islam.”

The Minister said he had personally asked Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to ignore cases filed against the first-time stone-pelters.

Earlier in 2018, the Jammu and Kashmir government withdrew cases registered against 9,730 people involved in stone-pelting incidents, including first-time offenders.

Also Read: A look into the mind of a brainwashed Kashmiri suicide bomber

“We have forgiven first-time stone-pelters. They might have been influenced by others. They are young. We need to give them a second chance,” he said.

The Home Minister said the government never differentiated between the children in Kashmir and those in the other parts of the country.

On the issue of terrorism, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has succeeded in getting global consensus and managed to bring the international community on board. Rajnath Singh also highlighted the government’s efforts in dealing with Maoists.

Anything to protect Kashmir: Home minister, Rajnath.

“The battle against Naxals can’t be won through bullets. We are taking several developmental initiatives in this direction. We are trying to reach those areas which have remained unreachable since independence.

“Naxalism was a huge problem for India but in the last four years we have now achieved major success in that space.”