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Indian woman NGO worker kidnapped in Afghanistan

Judith's family on Friday expressed hope that India and Afghanistan would act soon to have her released.

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  • The aid agency also confirmed to IANS that a “staff member of the Aga Khan Foundation” was abducted, but it did not name her
  • Judith’s family on Friday expressed hope that India and Afghanistan would act soon to have her released
  • The latest in a series of terror strikes on Indian interests in Afghanistan was on an Indian consulate on March 2

The Indian embassy in Kabul is in touch with senior Afghan authorities and the government, the sources said, adding that officials in Delhi were also in contact with her family in Kolkata.

They said all efforts are being made by the Afghan authorities to secure her release.

Judith DSouza, kidnapped in Afghanistan. Image Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com
Judith DSouza, kidnapped in Afghanistan. Image Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

The aid agency also confirmed to IANS that a “staff member of the Aga Khan Foundation” was abducted, but it did not name her.

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“An investigation by the authorities has been launched, in conjunction with security officials and various partners. Every effort is being made to secure the safe release of the staff member,” Aga Khan spokesperson Sam Pickens said in an email response.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that she has spoken to D’Souza’s sister.

“I have spoken to the sister of Judith D’Souza. We will spare no efforts to rescue her,” she tweeted.

“She is your sister and India’s daughter. We are doing everything to rescue her. Please take care of your sick father,” Sushma Swaraj added.

Agnes D'Souza the sister of Indian aid worker Judith D'Souza. Image Source: www.arabnews.com
Agnes D’Souza the sister of Indian aid worker Judith D’Souza. Image Source: www.arabnews.com

Judith’s family on Friday expressed hope that India and Afghanistan would act soon to have her released.

“It happened in a different country. The government of that country should take steps. She liked the place as she said there was a lot of work to be done,” Judith’s sister Agnes D’Souza told the media in Kolkata.

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“But if such a thing happens, who would want to go back? I am asking every channel to do their part. The government of India must do something and get my sister back. I want her back,” she added.

Asked about Taliban involvement in the crime, Agnes said: “I don’t know.”

Judith’s family came to know about the development around 1.30 a.m. on Friday from the Indian embassy in Kabul.

This is not the first time that an Indian aid worker has been kidnapped in Afghanistan. Taliban militants have mostly been blamed for the kidnappings.

Many Indian establishments have also been targeted in the past in Afghanistan where New Delhi has pledged and made huge investments to rebuild the war-torn country.

Family of Judith D'Souza. Image Source: Indian Express
Family of Judith D’Souza. Image Source: Indian Express

The latest in a series of terror strikes on Indian interests in Afghanistan was on an Indian consulate on March 2.

The abduction comes as the Indian embassy issued a security alert earlier last month for Indians residing in Afghanistan and travelling to the country.

“All Indians residing and travelling to Afghanistan are advised that the security situation in the country remains highly volatile. Terrorist attacks have taken place in the country against foreigners and are expected to continue. There is also the risk of kidnapping and hostage taking throughout the Afghanistan,” the embassy statement warned. (IANS)

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Taliban And The U.S. Set To Meet in UAE

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan 17 years ago and the war with the Taliban has since killed nearly 150,000 people, including Afghan civilians

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USA, afghanistan, taliban
U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, talks with local reporters at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 18, 2018. VOA

A Pakistan-arranged meeting between U.S. and Taliban officials will be held Monday in the United Arab Emirates to push a political settlement to the war in Afghanistan.

The special representative for Afghan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, will lead the U.S. team at the talks in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the gulf state, a senior Pakistani official privy to the development confirmed to VOA on Sunday.

The official, requesting anonymity, said Islamabad has facilitated the dialogue after President Donald Trump wrote to Prime Minister Imran Khan earlier this month seeking his cooperation in bringing the Taliban to the table for peace negotiations.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, in a brief statement sent to VOA, has confirmed participation of its political negotiators in Monday’s meeting with American officials, but said that representatives of the host country, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia will also be in attendance.

Imran Khan, Taliban
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Nov. 21, 2018. VOA

Initially, it was Khan who disclosed on Friday that Pakistan-aided talks between U.S. and Taliban officials would take place on December 17, though he would not say where.

The Pakistani prime minister, while speaking in the northwestern city of Peshawar, explained his country has agreed to assist in Afghan peace efforts because Washington has changed its position by requesting help, instead of saying Islamabad is not doing enough, as U.S. leaders have previously insisted.

A spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday hailed Khan’s remarks and support for a political reconciliation in the war-ravaged neighboring country.

“The United States welcomes any actions by the Pakistani government to promote greater cooperation, including fostering negotiations between the Taliban, the Afghan government, and other Afghans,” the spokesperson told VOA.

“Special Representative Khalilzad has met, and will continue to meet, with all interested parties, including the Taliban, to support a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan,” noted the U.S. embassy official.

taliban, afghanistan
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, right, head of the Taliban’s political council in Qatar, takes part in the multilateral peace talks on Afghanistan in Moscow, Nov. 9, 2018. VOA

 

In his speech on Friday, Khan said that if peace were achieved in Afghanistan, his country will be the immediate beneficiary in terms of security, economic stability and regional connectivity.

Khalilzad, is visiting regional countries to gather support for Afghan peace talks. He is 14 days into an 18-day visit to the region and has already visited Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Belgium.

Since taking office in September, the Afghan-born U.S. special envoy has held two meetings with the Taliban in Qatar, where the insurgent group operates its so-called “political office.”

But those talks have been for the sake of talks, say insurgent and Pakistani officials.

Demands, accusations

Pakistani officials privy to Khalilzad’s interaction with the Taliban have told VOA that until now no progress has been achieved because the insurgents adamantly demand “a date or timeframe” for all U.S. and NATO troops to withdraw from Afghanistan before the Taliban decides to participate in an intra-Afghan peace process.

Afghanistan, Taliban
Security forces inspect the site of a deadly blast in the center of Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 12, 2018. VOA

 

Washington has long maintained Taliban leaders are sheltering in Pakistan with covert support from the country’s intelligence agency. Washington has been urging Islamabad to use its influence to bring the insurgents to the negotiating table.

Pakistani officials say their influence over the Taliban has significantly declined over the years because the insurgents have gained control over large areas of Afghanistan and continue to pose serious battlefield challenges for U.S.-backed Afghan security forces.

Also Read: U.S. Welcomes Pakistan’s Actions Towards Peace in Afghanistan

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan 17 years ago and the war with the Taliban has since killed nearly 150,000 people, including Afghan civilians, security forces, insurgents and more than 2,400 American soldiers, according to an American University study released recently.

The longest war effort in U.S. history has also cost Washington nearly one trillion dollars. The Taliban has expanded its insurgent activities and currently controls or hotly contests about half of Afghanistan. The conflict is said to have killed more Afghan civilians and security forces in 2018 than in any other year. (VOA)