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Uzbekistan on Tuesday hosted an international conference on Afghanistan and offered to host peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in an effort to help end more than 16 years of war in the country.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev told senior diplomats from regional as well as NATO member states that his county was ready to host direct talks with the Taliban.
“We stand ready to create all necessary conditions, at any stage of the peace process, to arrange on the territory of Uzbekistan direct talks between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban movement,” Mirziyoyev said at the conference.
The Taskhkent conference comes almost a month after the Kabul Process Conference in which the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered unconditional peace talks with the Afghan Taliban and pledged to recognize the insurgent group as a legitimate political party if it agreed to give up violence.
The insurgents have yet to formally respond to the Afghan government’s offer.
Expert offer different explanations to Taliban’s silence.
Rebecca Zimmerman, a policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, believes the apparent silence suggests there is some space for negotiations.
“In the past, they [Taliban] haven’t been shy about publicly rejecting talks for failing to meet preconditions, even while they have been having private conversations. So in this case, I think keeping a low profile means there may be some negotiation space.” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman’s analysis of the situation is not too far from the calculation of some in the Afghan government.
Optimism inside government
Mohammad Akram Khpalwak, chief secretary of the High Peace Council, a government funded body tasked with talking to the insurgents, told reporters earlier this month that they are waiting on an official response from the Afghan Taliban and that their sources indicated that the peace offer has led to high level deliberations among insurgents about what to do with the offer.
Afghan National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar told VOA’s Afghanistan service last week that if the Taliban need more time than they would grant it.
“They [Taliban] neither rejected nor accepted our offer yet,” Atmar told VOA. “If they [Taliban] need more time, they can have it. However, they [Taliban] should be aware that each day by choosing to fight, they cut a day from peace.”
P.J. Crowley, former assistant secretary for Public Affairs and spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State during Obama administration said the Taliban taking time to respond is not unprecedented.
“Going back to the process in the early stages of the Obama administration, there was months at a time where we had to determine if Taliban representation was authoritative,” Crowley said.
“The fact that there would be a conversation and then there would be a lengthy period before we got an indication that there was a response or that there were actions that led us to believe that Taliban were serious, those steps took a long time,” Crowley added.
The Taliban did respond to a letter published in The New Yorker magazine by Barnett Rubin, an Afghan expert and associate director at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, in which Rubin urged the Afghan Taliban to accept ceasefire and talks with the Afghan government.
Without explicitly referring to the peace offer, the insurgent group offered a rather cold response arguing that Afghanistan was “occupied” and that the Kabul Process was seeking the “surrender” of the Taliban.
Speaking to VOA, Rubin said it is not about whether the Taliban want to talk or not, but rather about who they want to talk to and about what.
“U.S. says talk to the Afghan government. Taliban say they [Afghan government] are not the decision makers. That is not who overthrew us. It is the Americans. We [Taliban] want to talk to the Americans. It is pointless to talk to other Afghans until we [Taliban] solve our problems with the Americans,” Rubin said.
“So it is not talks verses no talks. It is whom do they talk to and about what,” Rubin added.
Thomas H. Johnson, author of the book “Taliban Narratives” and director of the cultural and conflict studies program at the Naval Post Graduate School echoes Rubin’s assessment that Taliban views Washington as the real power and wants to talk to the U.S.
“This position also corresponds with their narrative they have suggested since the beginning of the conflict and also served as an explicit informational response to Trump’s suggestion that the U.S. will not negotiate with the Taliban,” Johnson said.
“Taliban presently control more of Afghanistan since 2001 and their power and influence appear to be on the rise. It is reasonable to conclude that many Taliban including its leader Hibatullah Akhundzada believe they are winning and thus see no need for negotiation,” Johnson added.
Waheed Muzhda, a Kabul-based analyst with sources inside the Taliban believes their position has not changed in regards to talk with the Afghan government.
“I think they [Taliban] have time and again said that they do not want to talk to the Afghan government because it [government] does not have the real authority,” Muzhda said.
“The silence does not necessarily mean anything positive in terms of Taliban accepting the offer, as suggested by some in the High Peace Council,” he added referencing to officials’ remarks who suggested that Taliban are mulling over their response.
U.S. wants the Taliban to talk to the government of Afghanistan and welcomed the Afghan government’s gesture to offer unconditional peace talks to the insurgents.
“There is a path to peace and stability with dignity for those members of the Taliban who are prepared to reject violence, end their ties with terrorists, and to accept the constitution and its provisions for minorities and women,” Alice Wells, deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asia told VOA’s Uzbek service last month. VOA
When it comes to our day-to-day life, there are several things which help us enhance our day with every step. One such thing is music. It enhances, motivates and boosts certain aspects of our personality in ways that may not come into notice. There have been several researches on how music affects human brain. Studies show it helps us in recovery and healing, and also, encouraging us to be better if exposed to the right kind and fit.
From kids to elderly, music as a commodity, can be consumed by all. It is the universal language that is spoken by each and every being, from animals to humans to plants, each respond to it in their own ways. Suffice to say, we are united by music and the effect it has over us. Plants, for example, grow better when exposed to good music. Many songs are being composed specifically to enhance and boost their growth. Same is the case for humans. For humans, the right kind of music can boost good health, physically as well as mentally. You might have noticed how in gyms, upbeat music is played. That is to channel energy into everyone present. It adds to the workout. Several researches around the world have shown better physical output when exposed to appropriate music. Fast paced songs with upbeat nature channeled speed and the slower ones slowed downs the listeners, without them noticing. The sub-conscious effects of music are continuously being studied.
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Our heart starts beating according to the music we are listening to.Unsplash
Listening to upbeat or happy music also reduces stress and pressure from our minds. Many people become relaxed while listening to calming music. This is why calming sounds are used during a yoga session. Classical music seems to have the same calming and soothing effect. Furthermore, classical music has much more advantages over metal or techno music, it has proven to enhance learning and improve sleep in its listeners. A study was conducted in which participants were divided in groups where one group was exposed to classical music, another to metal and last one was supervised without any music. The group exposed to classical music showed healthier sleeping pattern than the rest.
Also Read: Undiscovered Music Trends For Indian Music
Several brands and outlets encash on different characteristics of music. Calm and soothing music is used in spas to help customer relax. It is a known fact that our heart starts beating according to the music we are listening to. So, music with faster beats will have our heart beating faster and the slow one will have calmer effect. This is why slow music channels calm. And the same fact has led to faster and upbeat music being played in food outlets. A study conducted in a farm, where people were invited to have food, where one half was exposed to slower music and for other fast-paced music was played. Not only did the group exposed to fast-music ate faster but also ate more than the group who ate in slower one. Next time you are in a food outlet or a restaurant observe the kind of music they are playing and the eating pattern.
Music can even be a facilitator of communication. We can sometimes convey our thoughts through the medium of a song. Sometimes someone’s words justify our inner feelings better than us. Or sometimes a song brings back certain memory or a place, and takes us to that certain moment. To say music is a time-machine would not be wrong. It is a dynamic blessing that can be used throughout our lives.
Key Words: Music, Calm, Soothing, Effects of Music
As more and more people are acknowledging the importance of their mental well-being, the wave of awareness the acknowledgment has brought is unprecedented. It may not have paved a clear path towards complete healing but it certainly has shown the way. The awareness is the key to heal. Healing begins only after the problem is identified. Similar to physical illness, the identification of the problem area is the first step. Even in case of a minor wound, when we go to the hospital the nurse first locates the wound. They, then, ask how we got hurt and identify the nature of the wound. Only then, they clean, put ointment and wrap it up if it needs wrapping and protection from air and dust. Sometimes, that protection is not needed. The wound heals out in the open. Same goes when it comes to healing of a mental trauma or illness. Sometimes, we confine in professionals or our loved ones, in order to let it out and process it openly. Sometimes, the trauma reduces with time. In any way, being aware and vigilant is the way to go.
Being knowledgeable about life in general, opens many channels for you. Being knowledgeable about yourself, opens gates inside you that lead to spiritual and general awareness about the concept of self. And the inner awareness is not necessarily internal, it can be seen from the outside as well. When we have positive energy from within it radiates physically as well. Have you encountered someone who’s spiritually awakened and aware? Do they stand out in the crowd? There are prominent examples of people who have made their mark in history, there is Swami Vivekanada, his awakening has revolutionised generations, one live example we can witness is The Dalai Lama.
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Healing is part of the spiritual journey.Unsplash
Also Read: Follow These Tips For a Better Mental Health
Awareness is the first step towards the staircase of spirituality. Healing is part of that journey. In our world, we go by our lives without paying much attention to causes of our actions. Every little thing we do, we do it for a reason. We might be suffering without being aware of it. There might be certain actions which are screaming those are trauma-response and not really us. But we go by our days, without paying heed to the fact that it really is the small actions that carry weightage in our lives. When we become attentive and thoughtful with what we do, we introspect, and then act. Thoughtless actions do not bear much fruit anyway. Thoughtfulness not only benefits us personally, but makes world a better place to live in. It really is the need of the hour to introspect every little doing and if it does not fit with the idea of self, then, it is time to find the root cause of what has us where we are.
Being self-aware is crucial as a human quality as well. When we face our problems, we gain experience, that experience leads us to understand and empathise with others’ sufferings too. It is a wholesome development.
Key Words: Self-awareness, Spirituality, Thoughtfulness, Mental Health
Honestly, who hasn’t watched one of the epic series of HBO– Game of Thrones?
There’s no question that when the first episode of Game of Thrones was released on April 11, 2011, the youth population of the world became exuberant. The main reasons behind this reaction was, first, the theme of the show, and second, the hidden lessons which it put forward.
Some of the valuable lessons which the Game of Thrones taught us are:
1. The pack always survives. This aptly meant that whether your pack consists of your family or your friends, you are the strongest when you are surrounded by a support system. This is what Ned Stark taught his children, to be together when “the winter comes”.
2. Never forget who you truly are. One of the most important lessons was given by Tyrion Lannister. He taught us that we should never forget who we really are. This means that we must not forget our bad habits and where we lack. So, once we know who we are, no one could ever use our lagging points against us.
3. Reading is necessary. Tyrion Lannister said, “A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone.” There is absolutely no denying that reading is not a habit now-a-days, but a necessity. If you want to be sharp and smart, then you must devote sometime to books, for they would teach you a lot!
4. Always pay your debts. Well, one of the most philosophical and learned houses if Game of Thrones is House Lannister. And so, one of the sayings of their house is, “A Lannister always pays his debts.” From here we get another life lesson that we must always pay off what we owe from people.
5. Always believe, “You know nothing.” Ygritte said this to Jon Snow in a teasing manner. But, this is actually for all those who believe that they know each and everything. Well, never believe that you know everything. Always learn from new experiences and never hesitate to take advice from others.
So, these were five most significant lessons which the series Game of Thrones offered us. In reality, we all are aware of these lessons, but we never really work upon them. But now, let’s try to understand each lesson and become the heir someday!
Keywords: Entertainment, Game of Thrones, HBO, Series, Youth, Lessons.