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South Asia: Afghan government to examine reports of Taliban chief’s death

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Kabul: The Afghan government on Wednesday said it was examining reports that Taliban leader Mullah Omar is dead – which comes as Afghan officials and Taliban representatives are set to hold a second round of peace talks in Pakistan on Friday.

The Taliban has denied reports of the death of the reclusive, one-eyed leader, whose death has been reported earlier too, and promptly denied. The deputy spokesperson for the Afghan president, Zafar Hashemi, at a press conference in Kabul said the government is aware of reports that Taliban head Mullah Omar has been dead for two years but he said he cannot confirm or deny the report as it has to be examined.

The first round of peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government was held in Pakistan on July 7.

In the first round of talks, the Afghan government was represented by Hekmat Khalil Karzai, the deputy foreign minister, and the Taliban delegation was led by Mullah Abbas Durrani.

The two sides had agreed to meet again after Ramadan to find a solution to end the war. The US and Chinese representatives were also present at the meeting on ways to bring peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Ironically, on July 15, in a Eid-eve message that the Taliban attributed to Mullah Omar, the chief had hailed as “legitimate” the peace talks between his group and the Afghan government aimed at ending the 13-year war in Afghanistan.

“If we look into our religious regulations, we can find that meetings and even peaceful interactions with the enemies is not prohibited,” Omar said in his message on the eve of Eid, without directly mentioning the July 7 talks in Pakistan.

“The objective of our political struggle, contacts and interactions with countries of the world and our own Afghans is to bring an end to the occupation and to establish an independent Islamic system in our country,” he said.

He also for the first time supported the setting up of a political office in Qatar to help run their affairs and rejected the impression that the Taliban were controlled by Pakistan or Iran. Earlier in the day, Tolo news of Afghanistan ran the breaking news quoting sources close to the president of Mullah Omar’s death.

However, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid rejected the report as baseless, saying Mullah is “alive”.

He died two to three years ago, BBC quoted Afghan government and intelligence sources as saying. There have been several reports of Mullah Omar’s death in the past.

The US had announced a $10 million award for the rebel’s capture or death.

Mullah Omar, who was Afghanistan’s de facto head of state when the Taliban was in power from 1996 to 2001, had earlier disappeared from Pakistan’s Quetta city.

Mullah Omar’s Taliban regime in Afghanistan had sheltered Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in the years prior to the September 11 attack on the US.

That prompted the US to declare war on the Taliban and overthrow its regime with the help of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.

Taliban fighters then fled to Pakistan in large numbers to regroup.

Mullah Omar was earlier widely said to be living in hiding in Quetta, a Pakistani city close to the Afghan border.

(IANS)

 

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Afghan Taliban members meet officials in Pakistan to discuss recent Secret Talks with Kabul held in Qatar

The two rounds of talks are the first known negotiations to have taken place since a Pakistan-brokered process broke down late in May following Mansour's death

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Representational image. Wikimedia Commons

Islamabad, October 23, 2016: At least three Afghan Taliban members have met officials here to discuss recent secret talks with Kabul held in Qatar, a Pakistani official said on Saturday.

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An Afghan diplomat as well as a Taliban member also confirmed the Friday meeting after the peace process, started in 2013, broke down following the death of Taliban founder Mullah Omar’s successor, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, News International reported.

Afghan ambassador to Pakistan Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal said he was aware of the meetings but refused to offer details.

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Islamabad is playing its role to ensure peace in Afghanistan, said the Pakistani official who confirmed the meetings between the Taliban and Pakistani authorities.

“We will keep making efforts to facilitate talks between Kabul and the Taliban as we did in July last year but the world knows who scuttled the peace process at the time and we do not want to discuss those bitter things,” the Pakistani official said.

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The two rounds of talks are the first known negotiations to have taken place since a Pakistan-brokered process broke down late in May following Mansour’s death in a US drone strike in Pakistan. (IANS)

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Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada wants to build Diplomatic relations with the World

The Talibanhas a political group in Qatar that has in the past made attempts to hold peace talks

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A Taliban terrorist group member. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

KABUL, Sept 10, 2016: Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada on Saturday said the militant group wants to build a relationship with the world that would allay international concerns about violence in the country.

The country has in recent years seen an upsurge in violence and an increase in civilian casualties, Efe news reported.

“We want to have relations with the world and answer their questions and mitigate their concerns so that we will protect our country from being harmed by others in the future, and others will also not be harmed by our country,” he said.

Akhundzada said the group “has been continuing to make diplomatic efforts aimed at resolving the issue”.

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“We have nominated the political office for this purpose as well as for maintenance of relations with the world and pertinent entities (for peaceful and diplomatic efforts),” he said.

The Taliban has a political group in Qatar that has in the past made attempts to hold peace talks.

However, after being appointed the Taliban’s leader in May, Haibatullah said he would follow in the footsteps of his predecessor Mullah Akhtar Mansour and not join any peace talks with the Afghan government.

Hibatullah Akhundzada. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Hibatullah Akhundzada. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

“Now that we have control over many areas of the country, it is time for us to reap the fruit of the 15-year-long jihad” since the US-led invasion toppled the Taliban regime in 2001, said the leader in his message.

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According to US sources, the Taliban currently controls around one-third of the country, amid increasing violence and civilian deaths since the NATO military mission ended on January 1 last year.

On Wednesday, the UN appealed to the international community to step up aid to Afghanistan. (IANS)

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More than 400 victims in Afghanistan in two days

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Photo Credit: http://delhipolicygroup.com

Kabul: In the bloodiest attacks after the death of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, there have been more than 400 victims between the dead and wounded over the last two days in Afghanistan, especially in Kabul and among civilians.

Photo credit: articles.latimes.com
Photo credit: articles.latimes.com

At the same time, internal disputes broke out among the Afghan Taliban about who would take over Mullah Omar’s leadership, reports Efe.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan(UNAMA), released a statement on Saturday that Friday saw “the largest number of civilians killed and wounded in one day” since the count of victims began in 2009, with 42 civilians dead and 313 wounded in the Afghan capital alone.

UNAMA condemned the series of attacks that began at dawn Friday, the first since Taliban leader Mullah Omar died and the new insurgent chief, Akhtar Mansour, was named in a context of internal rivalry over the succession.

The Taliban accepted responsibility for the attacks then perpetrated by suicide bombers, including one in Kabul at the Police Academy that left 40 dead and wounded, many of them civilians, and another against a NATO base that killed one US soldier and eight Afghans, members of the civilian personnel of the allied mission.

NATO called a halt in 2014 to its combat mission in Afghanistan, substituted since January by Operation Resolute Support, which has some 4,000 soldiers engaged in assistance and training tasks.

The US is keeping 9,800 military deployed until the end of the year as part of its “anti-terrorist” mission in Afghanistan.

(IANS)