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There are signs of progress in the ongoing peace talks between the United States and the Taliban in Qatar, leading some to think they could set the stage for a politically negotiated settlement to the 17-year-old war in Afghanistan.
The talks opened Monday with the U.S. team led by Washington’s special representative for Afghan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad. Pakistani and Qatari envoys also are present.
As the discussions entered a fourth day Thursday, highly placed sources told VOA the two sides have covered “significant” ground in their bid to reach an understanding on the two most difficult issues being negotiated in Doha, the capital of the Gulf state, where the Afghan insurgent group operates its political office.
The Taliban announced at the outset that its representatives would be seeking a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. and NATO-led foreign troops from Afghanistan, while the Taliban side would give assurances that Afghan soil would not be used to threaten the United States or any other country.
Sources anticipate the Taliban could announce a temporary cease-fire in the event of progress on its key demand of a foreign troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The peace dialogue started last summer and Pakistan reiterated Thursday it has brought the two sides to the table to help find a peaceful end to the increasingly bloody Afghan war. Islamabad insists it has convinced the Taliban to engage in a productive dialogue with the U.S. and the two negotiating teams would be solely responsible for its “success or failure.”
A Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed Pakistan is represented at the talks but gave no further details about any possible breakthrough.
“Pakistan, as part of its shared responsibility, is facilitating the ongoing round of talks between [the] U.S. and the Taliban in Doha. Negotiations are between the two parties, that is the U.S. and the Taliban. Pakistan and Qatar are providing the necessary support and are facilitating the talks,” Mohammad Faisal noted.
Faisal insisted that “taking the Afghan peace process forward remained a shared responsibility.” He went on to say that “ultimately the intra-Afghan dialogue would be vital to agree upon the contours of a future Afghan policy where Afghanistan becomes a stable and prosperous country and at peace with its neighbors.”
It remains unclear whether U.S. negotiators have persuaded Taliban representatives to engage in direct talks with the government. The militants have long opposed recognizing the elected government, insisting it is illegitimate.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also have played their role in influencing the insurgents, and their representatives were present in the last round of U,S.-Taliban talks hosted by Abu Dhabi in December.
Diplomatic sources privy to the current negotiations tell VOA that because the U.S. has already shown willingness to draw down troops from Afghanistan, they believe “the Taliban will also have to concede something for an agreement” to move the process forward. If the Doha dialogue secures “even a limited conditional cease-fire,” the sources say, it would be a major development because it will “practically make a political reconciliation process irreversible.”
New head of Qatar office
Meanwhile, in what some observers call a significant development to win support of military commanders on the ground, the Taliban appointed its co-founder, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, as the new head of the Qatar political office conducting the meetings with Khalilzad,
A spokesman for the insurgent group, Zabihullah Mujahid, announced late Thursday that the induction of Baradar is meant to “strengthen and properly handle the ongoing negotiations” with the American side. Additionally, Baradar will also serve as the deputy political affairs to Taliban chief Hibatullah Akundzada, Mujahid wrote in a statement released to media.
“With the appointment of the esteemed Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the negotiation team of the Islamic Emirate (the Taliban) will continue their talks with the United States and will not bring about any change,” noted the Taliban spokesman.
Baradar hails from southern Afghanistan and he is still believed to be highly respected among the Taliban. He had been under United Nations financial and travel sanctions since February 2001.
The Taliban spokesman claimed that besides Baradar’s appointment, the Taliban leadership has made “multiple changes” in its military and civilian departments “so that the ongoing jihadi process and political efforts can develop positively.”
Baradar, a former Taliban military commander and close associate of the Islamist group’s founding leader Mullah Omar, had been in Pakistan’s custody for more than eight years before he was set free last October at Washington’s request, hoping his involvement in direct peace talks with the insurgent group would boost the peace process.
The senior Afghan insurgent leader was captured in 2010 in a joint raid by Pakistani and American security operatives against his hideout in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city. He was the group’s second-in-command at the time of his arrest. (VOA)
The fast food giant collaborated with local Indian suppliers and pioneered the local production of iceberg lettuce in the country. Their lettuce undergoes 30 quality and food safety checks. After harvesting, the lettuce is pre-cooled to a temperate of below 40C at the farm gate to maintain its freshness. It is then transported in refrigerated vehicles to the world-class processing plant where it is shredded to a measured length and width and then washed and cleaned thoroughly before being vacuum-packed.
Today, the lettuce that goes into your favourite burger is produced at a pristine height of 10,000 feet under the rain shadow areas of the Himalayas in the Manali and Lahaul districts. Over the last 15 years, the farm base that produces lettuce for McDonald's menu items has grown from 5 acres to more than 100 acres. The process for growing lettuce is very rigorous and thoroughly monitored starting with the selection of seed variety, nursery production, fertigation, integrated pest management and post-harvest technology. Over the years, the company has continued to engage with local suppliers in good agricultural practices, meeting the Gold Standards of food safety and hygiene. It has transferred global best practices in irrigation, pest control, seed selection benefitting nearly 250 small and marginal farmers across the country. These practices ensure the right conditions for the iceberg lettuce to grow.
(Article originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: burger, india, lettuce, McDonalds, locals, North, East
By Devakinanda Ji
Derived from the Sanskrit word muc ("to free"), the term moksha literally means freedom from samsara, release from the cycle of rebirth impelled by the law of karma. The transcendent state attained as a result of being released from the cycle of rebirth.
62) OṀ MOKṢHASĀDHAKABHŨMYAI NAMAH:
OṀ (AUM)-MOK-ṢHA-SAA-DHA-KA-BHOO-MYAI— NA-MA-HA
ॐ मोक्षसाधकभूम्यै नमः
(Mokṣha: Liberation, not returning to saṃsāra; Sādhaka: Seeking, spiritual discipline)
Mokṣha is liberation from the trans-migratory existence and from the cycle of birth and death (what we call saṃsāra). The topic of bandha (bondage) and mokṣha (liberation) has been widely discussed in all the systems of Hindu philosophy. It is the last pursuit of the human goals in life. The synonyms for mokṣha are: mukti, kaivalya and nirvāṇa.
There are other schools which advocate nishkāma karma (action not motivated by selfish desires) or bhakti (devotion to God resulting in His grace) as the means to mokṣha.
Bhārata bhumi is conducive for the practice of one or all the paths enjoined by the Vedas, i.e., Karma yoga, Rāja yoga, Bhakti yoga and Jnāna yoga. To pursue these paths, we have thousands and thousands of temples, puṇyatīrthās, discourses by swamīs and gurus and many others. We have the Vedas, Upanishads, purāṇas, Brahmasūtrās, āgamās and many more sacred texts and literature for answers and clarifications. Beyond showing us the paths to liberation, our scriptures tell us how to be liberated while living. One cannot ask anything better than that. The prayers from the Upanishads, is apt: 'Asatomā satgamayā; tamasomā jyotirgamayā' meaning- 'lead me from unreality to reality and from darkness to light'. Here spiritual ignorance is compared to darkness, and self-knowledge is compared to light.
The land which teaches us to worship God with 'karmaphala tyāgam, niṣhkāmakarmam, Īsvarārpaṇa buddhi' and attain 'mokṣham' is thus 'Mokṣhasādhaka Bhūmi'.
The Indian space agency is working on a fleet of medium to heavy lift rockets with a carrying capacity ranging from 4.9 ton to 16.3 ton, said a senior official. The five rockets are in the project report stage and would come into operation in the future, said N Sudheer Kumar, Director, Capacity Building Programme Office (CBPO), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). He was speaking at the International Space Conference and Exhibition, organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in virtual mode recently. When that happens ISRO can not only launch its own communication satellites but also enter the global communication satellite launch market.
Kumar also said ISRO is working on upgrading Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mk III (GSLV-Mk III) which can carry up to four ton to Geo Transfer Orbit (GTO). Normally rockets eject the communication satellites into GTO. From GTO the satellites will be taken to geostationary orbit by firing their engines. India uses Ariancespace's Ariane rocket to orbit its communication satellites weighing over four ton. According to Kumar, ISRO is also working on upgrading the lifting capacity of GSLV-Mk III to six ton and 7.5 to GTO.
The Indian space agency is working on a fleet of medium to heavy lift rockets with a carrying capacity ranging from 4.9 ton to 16.3 ton, said a senior official. | Photo by Laurent Grattepanche on Unsplash
He said the six ton lift capacity will be achieved by miniaturization of avionics, uprating of its three stages/engines, structural mass optimisation and other means. Kumar said ISRO is on the verge of realising its semi-cryogenic engine - engine fueled by pure kerosene- which will soon power GSLV-Mk III so that the rocket can carry 7.5 ton payload to GTO with an upgraded cryogenic engine. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: ISRO, heavy, ton, rockets, GSLV, fleet, India