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Ex-Afghanistan Warlord Claims, ‘No Doubt’ Pakistan ‘Supports’ Taliban

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Afghanistan
Former Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar speaks to the media after arriving to register as a candidate for the presidential election at Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Kabul, Afghanistan January 19, 2019. RFERL

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of Afghanistan’s most notorious former warlords, said there is “no doubt” neighboring Pakistan supports the Afghan Taliban.

In an interview with RFE/RL in the Afghan capital on April 14, Hekmatyar also expressed hope that talks scheduled this week between the Western-backed Kabul government and the Taliban could prove a significant step towards ending the war.

U.S. and Afghan officials have long accused Pakistan of providing safe havens for the militants, a claim rejected by Islamabad.

Hekmatyar forged close ties with Pakistan’s shadowy military establishment and its notorious spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), a relationship that was built during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, when the mujahideen commander was one of the main beneficiaries of Pakistani and CIA money and weapons.

U.S.
Washington has said Pakistan is playing a positive role in the ongoing U.S.-Taliban peace talks in Qatar that are aimed at ending the nearly 18-year war. VOA

“Pakistan has an interest in Afghanistan’s political affairs,” said Hekmatyar, whose Hezb-e Islami militant group signed a controversial peace accord with the Kabul government in 2016. “Pakistan is supporting the Taliban. There is no doubt about it.”

Hekmatyar said Pakistan now sees the war in Afghanistan as “more harmful” than beneficial to its interests, especially because of a crippling financial crisis and growing international pressure on Islamabad to clamp down on the Taliban.

Washington has said Pakistan is playing a positive role in the ongoing U.S.-Taliban peace talks in Qatar that are aimed at ending the nearly 18-year war.

U.S. and Taliban negotiators have held several rounds of talks in the Qatari capital, Doha, culminating in the basic framework of a potential peace deal in which the militants would prevent international terrorist groups from basing themselves in Afghanistan in exchange of a withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan.

That framework deal is dependent on a political settlement among Afghans, including the Kabul government, the Taliban, and opposition figures.

The Taliban long refused to talk with Kabul, calling it a U.S. “puppet,” although Kabul has said a government delegation will meet the Taliban for introductory talks in Doha on April 19.

Pakistan
U.S. and Afghan officials have long accused Pakistan of providing safe havens for the militants, a claim rejected by Islamabad. Pixabay

Hekmatyar is a member of the Reconciliation Leadership Council, a new council led by President Ashraf Ghani, that will appoint negotiators for the April 19-21 talks with the Taliban, create their mandate for talks, and oversee their work.

The council is composed of both current and former senior government officials and leaders of political parties and opposition groups.

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The 69-year-old said he hopes the council will bridge chronic divisions among the political elite over peace talks with the Taliban, but warned that Kabul should not sideline powerful opposition figures from the process.

“Peace should not be monopolized,” said Hekmatyar, a candidate in the presidential elections scheduled for September. “Peace is a national issue. An agreement requires us all to engage honestly and unconditionally. (RFERL)

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Facebook Shares Data on Child Nudity, Terrorism, Drug Sales on Instagram

On spread of hate speech on its platforms, Facebook said it can detect such harmful content before people report it and, sometimes, before anyone sees it

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Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

Facebook has shared for the first time data on how it takes action against child nudity and child sexual exploitation, terrorist propaganda, illicit firearm and drug sales and suicide and self-injury on its photo-sharing app Instagram.

In Q2 2019, Facebook removed about 512,000 pieces of content related to child nudity and child sexual exploitation on Instagram.

“In Q3 (July-September period), we saw greater progress and removed 754,000 pieces of content, of which 94.6 per cent we detected proactively,” Guy Rosen, VP Integrity, said in a statement on Wednesday.

It is ironic that Instagram has also become a platform, like Facebook, for such acts.

“For child nudity and sexual exploitation of children, we made improvements to our processes for adding violations to our internal database in order to detect and remove additional instances of the same content shared on both Facebook and Instagram,” Rosen explained.

In its “Community Standards Enforcement Report, November 2019,” the social networking platform said it has been detecting and removing content associated with Al Qaeda, ISIS and their affiliates on Facebook above 99 per cent.

“The rate at which we proactively detect content affiliated with any terrorist organisation on Facebook is 98.5 per cent and on Instagram is 92.2 per cent,” informed the company.

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FILE – The Instagram icon is displayed on a mobile screen in Los Angeles. VOA

In the area of suicide and self-injury, Facebook took action on about 2 million pieces of content in Q2 2019.

“We saw further progress in Q3 when we removed 2.5 million pieces of content, of which 97.3 per cent we detected proactively.

“On Instagram, we saw similar progress and removed about 835,000 pieces of content in Q2 2019, of which 77.8 per cent we detected proactively, and we removed about 845,000 pieces of content in Q3 2019, of which 79.1 per cent we detected proactively,” said Rosen.

In Q3 2019, Gacebook removed about 4.4 million pieces of drug sale content. It removed about 2.3 million pieces of firearm sales content in the same period.

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On Instagram, the company removed about 1.5 million pieces of drug sale content and 58,600 pieces of firearm sales content.

On spread of hate speech on its platforms, Facebook said it can detect such harmful content before people report it and, sometimes, before anyone sees it.

“With these evolutions in our detection systems, our proactive rate has climbed to 80 per cent, from 68 per cent in our last report, and we’ve increased the volume of content we find and remove for violating our hate speech policy,” said Rosen. (IANS)