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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

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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
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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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All You Need To Know About India’s Strategic Chabahar Port

The Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar, which is on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran-Pakistan border.

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Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons

By Ruchika Verma

  • The Chabahar Port is of great strategic importance for India
  • It is in Iran and is being built and operated by India
  • This port will increase India’s trade with Central Asia and Europe

The Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar, which is on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran-Pakistan border. Chabahar is the trans-shipment and logistics hub for the Makran Coast and Baluchistan province of Iran.

Chabahar Port is built and operated by India. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port is built and operated by India. Wikimedia Commons

The tension between India and Pakistan is nothing new. There are several instances where both the countries have tried to obstruct each other’s political or economic agendas. This obstruction, along with other strategic reasons, resulted in the India and Iran’s deal on the Chabahar Port, which is crucial because of several reasons.

Here are few things about it you may not have known before :

  • Under the Trilateral Transit and Transport Agreement of 2016, the Chabahar port is the gateway to the Transport Corridor between India, Iran and Afghanistan, which allows multi-modal goods’ and passengers’ transport.

Also Read: India and Iran sign agreement to develop Chabahar Port

  • The agreement also states that India will develop and operate two berths in the first phase of the port. The contract is for 10 years and extendable. This time period excludes the first two years as they will be used for construction.
Chabahar Port will make India's trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port will make India’s trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons
  • The Chabahar Port’s first phase, which was developed by India, and inaugurated by Iran on 4th December 2017, is of great strategic importance as it makes it easier for India to conduct trade with Central Asia and Europe.
  • Iran’s Chabahar port is also important for India’s trade because of Pakistan’s reluctance in allowing India to send goods to Iran and Afghanistan through its land territory.

Also Read: Gwadar Port: China Turning Pakistan Port Into Regional Giant 

  • The development of Chabahar Port will increase the momentum of the International North-South Transport Corridor whose signatories include India, Afghanistan and Russia. Iran is the key gateway in this project. It will improve India’s trade with Central Asia as well as Europe.
    The Chabahar Port has also reduced Afghanistan’s dependence on the transit road, which went through Karachi. Now, trade can be conducted via Chabahar Port too. Islamabad has accused India of trying to use this development as a means to destabilise Pakistan.

    The Chabar Port is the said to be the counter to the Gwadar Port. Wikimedia Commons
    The Chabar Port is the said to be the counter to the Gwadar Port. Wikimedia Commons
  • The Chabahar Port also acts as a counter to the barely 100 km away, Gwadar port in Pakistan, which is developed by China. However, Iran has defended that Chabahar is not a rival to Gwadar and Pakistan is invited to join in its development.
  • In October 2017, India sent its first shipment of wheat to through Chabahar to Afghanistan, in order to test the viability of the route.
  • India will also construct a 900-km Chabahar-Zahedan-hajigak railway line that will connect Port of Chabahar to Hajigak in Afghanistan. It will also connect Mashad in the north, providing access to Turkmenistan as well as northern Afghanistan.This project is worth $1.6 billion.

    India will supply $400 million worth of steel rails to Tehrain. Wikimedia Commons
    India will supply $400 million worth of steel rails to Tehran. Wikimedia Commons
  • It is being said that India will supply $400 million of steel rails to Tehran. There are also possibilities of setting up a fertilizer plant through a joint venture with the Iranian government.