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UNSG Report on Afghanistan

United Nations’ Secretary General Mr António Guterres  has submitted quarterly report on Afghanistan to the Security Council. According to the report, Afghanistan’s mainstream political parties and political movements have intensified their efforts ahead of October parliamentary elections with politicians insisting on reforms in the election system. Between 15 May and 15 August, UNAMA recorded a total of 5,800 security incidents, a 10 per cent decrease compared with the same period in 2017. Report stated that  the southern region saw the highest number of incidents followed by the eastern and south-eastern regions, with those three regions accounting for 67 per cent of all incidents. Although armed clashes continued to make up the largest number of security incidents (61 per cent of all incidents), the number of armed clashes fell by 14 per cent compared with the same period in 2017.

On the peace process between the Afghan government and the Taliban, the UN chief’s reported noted that the momentum in support of a peace process with the Taliban continued, aided by the increasingly active engagement of civil society and religious leaders calling for peace between government and the Taliban. In 2018, 178,002 people were newly displaced by conflict and the demand for trauma care for victims of war increased to 24,687 cases in 2018, an increase of 14 per cent compared with 2017. The report says that a total of 210,724 Afghan citizens, including spontaneous returnees, deportees and refugees, returned to Afghanistan during the reporting period.

Back home in Kabul, Chief Executive Officer of the National Unity Government Dr Abdullah Abdullah on  said on September 17 that some politicians were pushing for the review of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between Afghanistan and the US in pursuit of their own interests. “They once again brought it up for debate for their personal objectives, I don’t think that this will help the security situation of our country. In the wake of a sharp increase in fatalities among security forces in numerous provinces, former President Sibghat ullah Mujaddadi and a number of parliamentarians have called for the BSA to be assessed. They opined that the agreement has not been successful in the fight against insurgency. And that the US has failed to enforce the agreement when it comes to the mobilization of Afghan Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF). In the meanwhile, Taliban and the US are preparing for second round of their direct talks in Doha.

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Afghan peace process back to Doha

Marathon talks between US Special Envoy Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban, in Doha, are concentrating on two questions: continuation of American military bases in Afghanistan, and Taliban guarantees of not letting Afghanistan’s territory be used as launching pad against any third country. Taliban are also ready to undertake that they would not support Al-Qaida and Daesh. Mullah Berader is now leading Taliban’s team. Both sides have acknowledged progress on vital points. For the first time Afghan peace process may be moving in the right direction. During the fifth trip of US Special Envoy Ambassador Zalmay to Pakistan, both sided reiterated their shared intent of an Afghan led and Afghan owned political settlement of Afghan conflict. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the dispute highlights a split that has emerged among countries with an interest in the region, with Pakistan and the US pushing Taliban to open talks with Kabul and other countries, including Iran, supporting the Taliban’s stance; “Iran and Qatar are supporting Taliban’s way but Pakistan is saying what the Afghan government and the US wanted”.Pakistan is not averse to the US’ demands but wants a ‘regional consensus’ on it since permanent presence of the US military in Afghanistan would certainly raise eyebrows in Russia, Iran and even China. These countries fear that the US may use the Afghan soil to advance its own strategic designs in the region. For this reason, Pakistan is striving to evolve a regional consensus on the possible Afghan peace deal. Guarantees and assurances aimed at promoting peace and security of both Afghanistan and other countries are understandable. However, demand for permanent military presence is indicative of the desire not only to keep Afghans subjugated but also to brow-beat other regional countries.

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