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Found 145 results

  1. Afghan security forces keep watch at a checkpoint near the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail LASHKAR GAH: Taliban militants have attacked an Afghan army post and killed 18 government soldiers, the defence ministry said on Saturday, while a suicide bomber in the capital killed one person and wounded six. Violence has intensified in Afghanistan since US President Donald Trump unveiled a more aggressive strategy in August with US-led forces carrying out more air strikes and the Taliban responding with bombs, ambushes and raids. Militants attacked a government army post overnight on Friday in the western province of Farah, a Ministry of Defence spokesman said. ?A large number of Taliban attacked an army outpost and we lost 18 soldiers and two were wounded,? said the spokesman, Dawlat Waziri. Waziri said he had no more details of the attack. The Taliban claimed responsibility and said two of their fighters were killed. The bomb in Kabul on Saturday was the latest in a spate of attacks in the city in which hundreds of people have been killed and wounded. The capital has been on high alert since a Taliban suicide bomber blew up an explosive-packed ambulance on a busy street on Jan. 27, killing more than 100 people and wounding at least 235. A week earlier, militants killed more than 20 people, including four Americans, in an attack on one of the city?s top hotels. The Taliban claimed that attack too. On Saturday, a bomber blew himself up on a road near the headquarters of Afghanistan?s NATO-led mission. The identity of the casualties was not known, said Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish. Daesh claimed responsibility in a message on their Amaq news agency. Daesh?s Afghan affiliate, which first appeared near the border with Pakistan in 2015, has become increasingly active and has claimed several recent attacks. The Western-backed government is under growing public pressure to set aside rivalries and improve security. President Ashaf Ghani has approved a new security plan for Kabul but it was not clear what steps could be taken in the city of 5 million people, which already has numerous checkpoints and vehicle restrictions. Also on Saturday, at least one civilian was killed and eight were wounded when a suicide bomber detonated a car-bomb in Lashkar Gah, the capital of the southern province of Helmand, said Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor. The Taliban, fighting to drive out foreign troops and re-establish their regime, claimed responsibility. In another attack in the province, a suicide bomber targeted an Afghan army post killing two soldiers and wounding one, Zwak said.
  2. US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells. Photo: AFP file The US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells on Monday said that a negotiated political solution that includes Pakistan needs to be found in order to ensure security in Afghanistan. In an interview with TOLOnews, during a three-day visit to Afghanistan this week, Wells stated that the solution to Afghanistan?s security and stability will lie in a political resolution and not only on the military battlefield. The US official stated that the US sees an opportunity for Pakistan to secure its legitimate interests through support for a negotiated settlement. ?We see the strategy for South Asia as an opportunity for Pakistan,? said Wells, adding that Pakistan needs to be part of a wider solution for Afghanistan. She also said that as the dialogue between Pakistan and the US continues, it is important to achieve results around peace that are mutually beneficial for both Pakistan and Afghanistan. On the recent spate of attacks in Kabul, she said the offensive was a testimony that some elements within the Taliban are not prepared to work for peace. Wells further added that the vision for peace has the support of the international community, which is scheduled to meet later this month for the Kabul Process. ?The United States understands the courage it takes to continue to stand for peace,? said Wells.
  3. KABUL: The Taliban said on Wednesday they want to end Afghanistan?s war through dialogue but warned that their willingness to find peace did not mean they were exhausted and that their armed campaign would be sustained no matter how powerful the US opposition. A more aggressive US strategy in Afghanistan, including a surge in air strikes, introduced by President Donald Trump in August has pushed the Taliban back from several district centers and two provincial capitals. But the militants control large parts of the countryside and have responded to the more aggressive US strategy with two attacks in Kabul in the past few weeks, killing nearly 150 people. The attacks have toughened both the US and Afghan government stand on trying to initiate talks to end nearly 17 years of war that neither side seems capable of winning. The Taliban offer of dialogue came in a statement addressed to the American people. ?Our preference is to solve the Afghan issue through peaceful dialogue,? the Taliban said. In their statement, the Taliban did not mention a Jan 27 raid on a top Kabul hotel, in which more than 30 people were killed, nor a bomb attack on a crowded street a week later that killed more than 100. They claimed both attacks. The Taliban, fighting to oust foreign forces and defeat the US-backed government, said the United States must end its ?occupation? and accept the Taliban's right to form a government ?consistent with the beliefs of our people.? The militants only mentioned the Afghan government to deride it on various grounds. A government spokesman declined to comment on the statement and a spokesman for Afghanistan?s NATO-led military mission was not immediately available for comment. It was not too late for the American people to realise the Taliban can solve problems with every side ?through healthy politics and dialogue?, the militants said, adding the chances for dialogue were ?not exhausted.? Preliminary talks on ending the war that kills thousands of people each year have stalled. But low-level contacts between the government, international groups including the United Nations and groups close to the Taliban have continued even as the insurgency has escalated. Progress has been blocked by the deep mistrust between the government and the Taliban. The Taliban said their willingness to play a ?constructive role in finding a peaceful solution? should not be taken as a sign of weakness. ?This can never mean that we are exhausted or our will has been sapped,? they said. They said they had no intention to damage any other country or let anyone use Afghan territory against anyone else.
  4. Afghan National Institute of Music started in 2010 in a rare coeducational initiative in the war-torn country STOCKHOLM: An Afghan music institute that has empowered girls in the war-torn country and metal pioneers Metallica on Wednesday shared the Polar Music Prize, often called music´s Nobel. The laureates will each receive one million Swedish kronor (101,000 euros, $125,000) at a televised gala in Stockholm on June 14 in the presence of King Carl XVI Gustaf. The Afghan National Institute of Music was honoured along with its founder, Ahmad Sarmast, who started the school in 2010 in a rare coeducational initiative in the war-torn country. The institute, which teaches both Afghan and Western music, helped generate the country´s first all-female orchestra which performed last year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Sarmast, who has faced substantial risk in a country where both music and girls´ education was banned under the repressive 1996-2001 Taliban regime, said he was "very excited, honoured and privileged" to win the prize. "We believe that our two recipients, although from very contrasting worlds, exemplify the mission of the Polar Music Prize, and that is to honour musicians and music organisations whose work has made a difference to people´s lives," Marie Ledin, managing director of the award, said in a statement. "Metallica is loved and admired by millions of hard rock fans across the globe," she said. Metallica is one of the most influential bands in heavy metal Sarmast and the music institute, meanwhile, have worked "to restore the joy and power of music to children´s lives," she said. Metallica is one of the most influential bands in heavy metal, helping bring the angry and aggressive music to the mainstream and preserving an avid fan base for decades. Lars Ulrich, the California band´s Danish-born drummer, called the Polar Music Prize "a great validation of everything that Metallica has done over the last 35 years." "At the same time, we feel like we´re in our prime with a lot of good years ahead of us," Ulrich said of the band, which released its 10th album, "Hardwired... to Self-Destruct" in late 2016. The Polar Music Prize was established in 1989 by the late Stig Anderson, best known as the manager of Swedish pop superstars ABBA, and selects two laureates each year. The prize´s stated goal is to "break down musical boundaries by bringing together people from all the different worlds of music." Past laureates have included Sting, Bob Dylan, Bjork, Sonny Rollins and Ravi Shankar.
  5. Operating choppers in a war zone is probably one of the toughest jobs on the planet that requires immense skill and control. Therefore, this particular photograph of an amazing rooftop landing in Afghanistan is considered to be a master class in dealing with difficult operating environment. © defrance All you need to understand in order to appreciate what the Chinook pilot achieved here is this – the CH 47 helicopter is a 50,000 pound beast that is as difficult to operate as it looks in the picture. The pilot, Larry Murphy, landed the tail end of the helicopter on a little shack perched atop a steep mountain to pick up “Persons under control”. Even a small lapse in concentration could have had disastrous consequences and therefore the whole operation required nerves of steel. © defrance The proper description of the whole incident as published on defrance.org is this: “Keystone Helicopter, an industry leader in helicopter services for 50 years, gave special recognition last week to pilot Larry Murphy for his recent skillful rooftop landing of his CH-47 helicopter to pick up Afghan Persons Under Custody during Operation Mountain Resolve in Afghanistan's Nuristan Province. Murphy, a 10-year Keystone Helicopter EMS pilot at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania, is currently on active duty with Company G, 104th Aviation Regiment.” While many descriptions of the photograph claim that the chopper was carrying wounded personnel, it was later confirmed that the mission brief was to fetch 'persons under control' from the rooftop. While it is not everyday that you see such heroic acts, this rooftop retrieval remains one of the most skilful chopper landings you'll ever witness.
  6. [embed_video1 url=http://stream.jeem.tv/vod/404cb0a4af4c9ea6844ff2b4f375f857.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wmsAuthSign=c2VydmVyX3RpbWU9Mi8xMC8yMDE4IDU6NTU6MTEgQU0maGFzaF92YWx1ZT1Qa2tZOU5BN2EzZlhNbUJZWjV0Z2x3PT0mdmFsaWRtaW51dGVzPTYwJmlkPTE= style=center] WASHINGTON: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari asked the United States Friday night if it plans to keep its troops in Afghanistan forever or would suddenly pull troops out of the war-torn country. Addressing a press conference in Washington, DC, Bilawal said the US should let Pakistan know of its plans as peace in his country was linked to peace in the region. Likewise, he added, economic stability in Pakistan would mean the same would happen in Afghanistan. However, terrorism and extremism are global issues which all the countries have to combat together, Bilawal stressed. Terrorism should not be linked to Islam, he added. About Pakistan's role against terrorism, Bilawal said the country carried out operations in North and South Waziristan, agencies in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which were once known as the hotbed of terrorism. Bilawal said Pakistan has succeeded in eradicating terrorism to a great extent as there has been a decline of 70% over the past decade. But the world did not know of Pakistan?s efforts and its viewpoint as the country did not have a foreign affairs minister for four years, he lamented. Speaking about his party, Bilawal said the PPP was the only party that could make Pakistan a peaceful and progressive country. 'PPP to contest upcoming elections solo' During the news conference, Bilawal said the PPP will contest the upcoming general elections solo but may consider coalition talks afterwards. He also spoke about development in Karachi, capital of the province, Sindh, where his party is in government. He highlighted the recent development in the city, including placement of dumpsters, construction of roads and underpasses, as well as lane expansion on Shahrah-e-Faisal, the main thoroughfare of the city. "There has been some improvement in Karachi," he said. ?More is to come soon." Bilawal said the Sindh government carried out the work on Karachi?s infrastructure with its own resources, adding the federal government should also focus on the city. Bilawal also met US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during his visit. He also met Sister Rosemary, named among TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People.
  7. Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers stand guard at the entrance gate of Marshal Fahim military academy in Kabul, Afghanistan, January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani/Files KABUL: Seven Afghan army officers, including two generals, have been sacked over a deadly attack on a Kabul military base, President Ashraf Ghani said Tuesday, as the Afghan capital braces for further assaults. At least five attackers ? gunmen and suicide bombers ? launched the pre-dawn raid claimed by Daesh on January 29, killing 11 soldiers and wounding 16. "Seven high-ranking officers including two generals committed professional negligence. All seven are sacked and referred for further investigations," Ghani said on Twitter after a probe into the incident. Ghani?s US-backed government is under growing public pressure to improve security in the capital after a series of attacks demonstrated the ability of the Taliban and Daesh to strike at the heart of the country. Since January 20, militants have stormed a luxury hotel, bombed a crowded street and raided the military compound in Kabul, killing more than 130 people. The assaults, including a devastating ambulance bomb attack that killed more than 100 people and wounded hundreds, have left already war-weary citizens grief-stricken and angry as the Taliban and Daesh escalate their offensives. Kabul remains on high alert for more attacks. The National Directorate of Security ? Afghanistan?s spy agency ? on Tuesday, seized a truck it said was carrying two tonnes of material which could be used to make bombs. The truck was travelling from Kabul to the northern province of Parwan where the US Bagram airbase is located, an official said.
  8. Ghani raised the possibility of reconciliation with some militants in a speech to Islamic clerics in Kabul-Reuters (Photo:File)1 KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani left open on Saturday the possibility for talks with militants who accept peace but said the door was closed to those who cause tragedies like recent attacks in the capital, Kabul. An attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul on Jan 20 and a suicide bombing on a crowded city street a week later have stoked public anger and stepped up pressure on Ghani?s Western-backed government to improve security. The attacks, which killed more than 130 people and were claimed by the Taliban, have also raised fresh doubt about long-running efforts to initiate talks with the insurgents. The president?s office said on Tuesday the militants had crossed a ?red line? and peace would have to be won on the battle field. But Ghani raised the possibility of reconciliation with some militants in a speech to Islamic clerics in Kabul. ?Those who are responsible for this tragedy and do not want peace, the door of peace is closed to them,? Ghani said. ?Those who accept peace, they will witness that the nation will embrace them. But there is a clear difference, our commitment to bringing peace does not mean we will sit quietly and won?t retaliate.? ?We will dig them out from any hiding holes.? Afghanistan?s government has made such vows for years but the insurgency appears ever more resilient. Peace efforts have been made in fits and starts but without progress. US President Donald Trump appeared to dash any hope for peace efforts on Monday when he condemned the Taliban for the Kabul violence and rejected the idea of talks. Trump last year ordered an increase in US troops, air strikes and other assistance to Afghan forces, to force the Taliban to negotiate. But his comments on Monday suggested he saw a military victory over the Taliban, an outcome that US military and diplomatic officials said could not be achieved with the resources and manpower he had authorized. US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said in Kabul on Tuesday the US strategy had not changed and the aim was still to press the Taliban militarily to convince them that they had to negotiate. Afghanistan has long accused Pakistan of failing to act against Taliban plotting violence from safe havens on the Pakistani side of the border. On Friday, Ghani accused Pakistan of being the ?Taliban centre? and said he was waiting for Pakistani action. Pakistan denies helping the Taliban and a Pakistani delegation led by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua visited Kabul on Saturday with the aim of fostering cooperation. Janjua called for both sides to stop the ?blame game?, Pakistani media reported. The United States said last month it would cut security aid to Pakistan, complaining it was not doing enough to fight militants sheltering there.
  9. Ambassador Yao Jing says China wishes for cordial ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan. PESHAWAR: Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing said on Friday that his country is in contact with the Afghan Taliban's Qatar office and has repeatedly requested them to participate in talks. However, the ambassador, in an interview with BBC Urdu service, said that China does not have influence over the Afghan Taliban. Speaking of relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, he said that his country wishes for cordial ties between the two neighbours and it is also striving for Afghan reconciliation process. Commenting on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Jing said the multi-billion dollar corridor will be expanded to other regional states, including Afghanistan, as well. He said the corridor is in its first phase, under which, work is ongoing on 21 projects, whereas another 20 are in the pipeline. The ambassador said that around 10,000 Chinese nationals have been working on CPEC projects in Pakistan, and he has been satisfied with steps taken by Pakistan for their security. Around 60,000 Pakistanis have also been working on CPEC-related projects, according to the ambassador. Jing said law and order situation in Pakistan has significantly improved, compared to the past. The ambassador further said he is hopeful that Gwadar is close to becoming an international trade hub.
  10. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi presides over 18th meeting of the National Security Committee in Islamabad on Friday. ISLAMABAD: The National Security Committee (NSC) on Friday said that the allegations by the Afghan government, following a recent spate of terrorist attacks in Kabul, are based on "misconceptions created by certain foreign elements", read a statement issued after the NSC meeting. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi presided over 18th meeting of the NSC here on Friday, which was attended by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Zubair Mehmood Hayat, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Naval Chief Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, Air Chief Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, Pakistan's National Security Advisor Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua, and other senior civil and military officials. The committee reviewed the security situation in the region and strongly condemned the recent spate of terrorist attacks in Kabul. It observed that the government and people of Pakistan shared the shock, grief and sorrow of their Afghan brethren and stood by their side in complete solidarity. The forum emphasised that the people of Pakistan understand the pain and anguish of the people of Afghanistan very well, since they are themselves the greatest victims of terrorism. The committee expressed the resolve to forge ahead, despite difficulties, with positive engagement with Afghanistan, including the already planned visit of the Pakistani delegation to Kabul on February 3, 2018, for discussions on Pakistan-proposed "Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Solidarity." Expressing satisfaction on the progress made with regard to border controls with Afghanistan, the NSC noted that the Afghan government should support the fencing of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border as being in the interest of both countries. The meeting also reviewed the actions taken by the federal and provincial governments to fulfil the country?s international responsibilities under the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) framework. It expressed satisfaction over the objectives achieved so far and directed the concerned ministries to complete the few outstanding actions at the earliest. The NSC directed that the achievements made by Pakistan in fulfilling its international obligations should be fully shared with the FATF, and expressed its hope that the task force will not be politicised by a few countries. Moreover, the committee reaffirmed Pakistan?s position of continuing to play its role for regional stability and peace.
  11. Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Dr Omar Zakhilwal. -File ISLAMABAD: Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Dr Omar Zakhilwal on Wednesday expressed his surprise after Pakistan's Foreign Office claimed a day earlier that the country had handed over 27 suspected terrorists to Afghan authorities in November 2017. On Tuesday, FO spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal had said that Pakistan had handed over individuals, who were suspected of belonging to Tehreek-i-Taliban Afghanistan (TTA) and Haqqani Network (HN), to Afghanistan. Zakhilwal, in a post on a social media platform, said it would be it would be a huge step in the bilateral relationship between the two countries "if this indeed happens". Afghan authorities, on a regular basis, blame Pakistan after major terrorist attacks in the country and accuse Pakistan of providing safe haven to terror networks operating inside Afghanistan. Pakistan, in its defence, counters the allegations by stating that a large portion of Afghan territory is outside of Kabul's influence and control, providing adequate room to terror outfits to carry out their activities in both countries. Faisal had also said that Pakistan has continued to push any suspected TTA and HN elements to prevent them from using Pakistani soil for terrorist activity in Afghanistan. Earlier in January, the United States announced that it was suspending the transfer of military equipment and security-related funds to Pakistan. The suspension of security assistance to Islamabad came after Washington accused Pakistan of playing a ?double game? on fighting terrorism and warned Islamabad it would have to do more if it wanted to maintain US aid. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley had also confirmed that Washington would withhold $255 million in assistance to Pakistan. Haley's statement followed an angry tweet from Trump that the US had been rewarded with ?nothing but lies and deceit? for giving Pakistan billions in aid. In August, Trump concluded a months-long review of America?s strategy to win the brutal war in Afghanistan ? now entering its 17th year ? and called for an increase in the tempo and intensity of strikes against the Taliban. The aim was to persuade some Taliban factions to enter talks with the government in Kabul. This month?s spate of bombings and Trump?s comments indicate that the end game may be further away than the White House would like.
  12. Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal/File photo ISLAMABAD: A high-level Afghan delegation comprising the country?s interior minister and the chief of National Directorate of Security (NDS) is on a visit to Pakistan to hold talks on bilateral cooperation, the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson said on Wednesday. ?Afghan government had requested that a high level delegation comprising Interior Minister and NDS chief would like to visit Pakistan with a message from Afghan President and for discussions about cooperation between the two countries. Delegation is here and will have talks today,? FO spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal tweeted. A renewed wave of terrorist attacks has hit Afghanistan in the recent weeks, as the Taliban and Daesh escalate their offensive. On Monday, Kabul suffered its third major assault in recent days when a suicide attack on an Afghan army battalion killed at least 11 soldiers and wounded 16. On Saturday, a Taliban suicide attacker driving an explosives-packed ambulance blew up in a crowded area of Kabul, killing at least 103 people ? mainly civilians ? and wounding 235, in one of the worst bombings in the city in recent years. Also read: US claims Haqqani network behind Kabul ambulance bombing And, on January 20, Taliban fighters stormed Kabul?s landmark Intercontinental Hotel and killed at least 25 people ? the majority of them foreigners ? in an assault lasting more than 12 hours. Pakistan has strongly condemned the terror attacks and conveyed its condolences at the bloodshed, with the FO spokesperson stressing that "terrorism is not the way forward".
  13. Taliban militants. Photo: File WASHINGTON: A US government watchdog said Tuesday the Pentagon has barred it from disclosing how much of Afghanistan is under Taliban control - a significant break from past accountability that comes amid mounting security woes in the war-torn nation. At issue are the number of Afghan districts, and the populations living in them, considered to be held or influenced by the Kabul government by insurgents or contested by both. The US government has sometimes referred to such numbers in the 16-year-old war to show how the Afghan security forces are faring against a resurgent Taliban. Trump says ?no? to Taliban talks after wave of attacks On Monday Kabul suffered its third major assault in recent days, as the Taliban and Daesh escalate their offensives But in a report published Tuesday, the US government´s office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said the Pentagon had instructed it to no longer disclose the numbers. "This development is troubling for a number of reasons, not least of which is that this is the first time SIGAR has been specifically instructed not to release information marked ´unclassified´ to the American taxpayer," wrote the special inspector, John Sopko, in SIGAR´s latest quarterly report. The move comes months after Washington last year agreed to an Afghan request to classify data on the number of Afghan security forces killed or wounded in the conflict. SIGAR said the Pentagon had also asked its office, for the first time since 2009, to classify the figures detailing the size and attrition rates of Afghan security forces. The Pentagon did not dispute that the data had been restricted, but denied it was the agency that had told SIGAR not to publish them, instead pointing to the US-led NATO mission in Afghanistan. "In this case, NATO´s Resolute Support, as the original classification authority, made a classification determination that restricted the public, unclassified release of the information," said Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews, a Pentagon spokesman. Cause for concern General John Nicholson, who commands US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has said 80 percent of the Afghan population can be under government control within about two years, up from less than two thirds today. But tracking progress toward such a goal would be difficult without any numbers being released. "Historically, the number of districts controlled or influenced by the government has been falling since SIGAR began reporting on it, while the number controlled or influenced by the insurgents has been rising," Sopko said. He added that this "fact that should cause even more concern about its disappearance from public disclosure and discussion." Militants including the Taliban and the Islamic State group have stepped up their attacks on beleaguered Afghan troops and police in recent months, sapping morale already hit by desertions and corruption. On Saturday, a Taliban suicide attacker driving an explosives-packed ambulance blew it up in a crowded area of the capital, killing at least 103 people -- mainly civilians -- and wounding 235 in one of the worst bombings in the city in recent years. On January 20, Taliban fighters stormed Kabul´s landmark Intercontinental hotel and killed at least 25 people, the majority of them foreigners, in an assault lasting more than 12 hours. And on Monday, gunmen and suicide bombers launched a pre-dawn attack claimed by IS on a military compound in Kabul, killing at least 11 soldiers and wounding 16.
  14. Members of the Taliban gather at the site of the execution of three men accused of murdering a couple during a robbery in Ghazni province, Afghanistan April 2015. Photo: Reuters WASHINGTON: The United States imposed sanctions on six men said to be linked to the Afghan Taliban and the 'Haqqani Network' on Thursday, less than a month after President Donald Trump ordered cuts in security aid to Pakistan over its alleged failure to crack down on terrorists. The designation of 'Specially Designated Global Terrorists' announced by the US Treasury Department bars the six individuals, including at least one Pakistani national, from accessing the US financial system. "This action supports the president's South Asia strategy by disrupting these terrorist organisations and publicly exposing individuals who facilitate their activities," said Sigal Mandelker, undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence. Four of the individuals ? Abdul Samad Sani, Abdul Qadeer Basir Abdul Baseer, Hafiz Mohammed Popalzai, and Maulawi Inayatullah ? were designated for acting on behalf of the Taliban, while the remaining two ? Faqir Muhammad and Gula Khan Hamidi ? were sanctioned for acting on behalf of the Haqqani Network, the US Treasury Department stated. Details of the sanctioned individuals can be viewed here. The press release by the treasury department further stated that the "Pakistani government must work with us to deny the Taliban and the Haqqani Network sanctuary and to aggressively target their terrorist fundraising". While unlikely to cause many problems for its targets, the move further underlines Washington?s frustration with Islamabad for providing sanctuary and other aid to the insurgent groups. Downturn in relations If aid curtailed, US will have to fight terrorism alone: PM Abbasi The prime minister said any sanctions against the state would be counter-productive to the country?s own battle against militants In a surprise tweet on New Year?s Day, Trump said the United States had ?foolishly? given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid and ?they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!? The announcement sent US officials scrambling to suspend security assistance, later estimated at up to about $2 billion, to the nuclear-armed ally. Pakistani officials were infuriated by the action. Its National Security Committee of senior civilian and military chiefs denounced it as ?completely incomprehensible.? US Ambassador David Hale was summoned to the Foreign Ministry for an explanation. Pakistan is a crucial gateway for US military supplies destined for US and other troops fighting a 16-year-old war in neighbouring, landlocked Afghanistan. A senior Trump administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said on Jan 5 that Washington hoped that the aid suspension would be enough to communicate its concern to Islamabad. Pak won?t ask for aid but expects recognition of contributions: COAS tells Centcom chief US Centcom chief and a senator called army chief to discuss Pak-US cooperation this week: ISPR But the official cautioned that the freeze was also not the only tool that America had to pressure the country ? suggesting it might resort to other measures, if needed. ?We are considering many different things, not just the (financial) assistance issue,? the official said. The United States has long blamed the militant safehavens in Pakistan for prolonging the war in Afghanistan, giving insurgents, including from the Haqqani Network, a place to plot attacks and rebuild its forces. ?We believe we owe it to the Americans in harm?s way in Afghanistan. We simply can?t ignore the sanctuaries if we are going to make progress in Afghanistan,? the official said.
  15. RAWALPINDI: Pakistan Army Spokesperson Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said on Thursday that the January 24 drone strike near the tribal areas targetted an individual who had mixed with Afghan refugees. In a tweet, the director general of the Inter Services Public Relations stated that the strike in Spintal, Hangu District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was not on any organised terrorists' sanctuary ? which have been eliminated. "Out of total 54 Afghan Refugees Camps / complexes in Pakistan, 43 are in KP with overlap in FATA," said a press release shared by ISPR. It said that the incident validates Pakistan?s stance that the remaining terrorists easily morph into Afghan refugees' camps/complexes. US drone strike targetted Afghan refugee camp, reiterates FO Earlier today, US embassy denied Pakistan's assertion of camp's targetting "Thus their early and dignified return to Afghanistan is essential. Pakistan?s brotherly hospitality to peaceful Afghan Refugees must not be exploited by the terrorists," the press release stated. Earlier today, Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal said that Pakistan sticks to its stance that the recent US drone strike targeted an Afghan refugee camp near Kurram Agency. He was likely responding to a statement by the US Embassy earlier in the day which denied Pakistan's claim that the drone strike struck an Afghan refugee camp. According to the embassy's spokesperson, ?The claim in an MFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] statement yesterday that US forces struck an Afghan refugee camp in Kurram Agency yesterday is false.? Pakistan had on Wednesday condemned the drone strike conducted by coalition forces near Kurram Agency and called the unilateral action detrimental to the spirit of cooperation between the two countries in the fight against terrorism. The Foreign Ministry had stated that the strike had targeted an Afghan refugee camp. According to political administration sources in the area, two people including a commander of the Haqqani Network were killed in the drone strike close to the Orakzai and Kurram Agency border.
  16. [embed_video1 url=http://stream.jeem.tv/vod/c945c975d70b364605336c92f60b37e6.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wmsAuthSign=c2VydmVyX3RpbWU9MS8yNS8yMDE4IDk6MTU6MjQgQU0maGFzaF92YWx1ZT1VVnhUOWIwNHFoS3dhM2R0b3p4NHFBPT0mdmFsaWRtaW51dGVzPTYwJmlkPTE= style=center] ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal said on Thursday that Pakistan sticks to its stance that the recent US drone strike targeted an Afghan refugee camp near Kurram Agency. Earlier today, a statement by the US Embassy denied Pakistan's claim that the drone strike struck an Afghan refugee camp. According to the embassy's spokesperson, ?The claim in an MFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] statement yesterday that US forces struck an Afghan refugee camp in Kurram Agency yesterday is false.? Pakistan had on Wednesday condemned the drone strike conducted by coalition forces near Kurram Agency and called the unilateral action detrimental to the spirit of cooperation between the two countries in the fight against terrorism. The Foreign Ministry had stated that the strike had targeted an Afghan refugee camp. US denies striking Afghan refugee camp in Kurram Agency A statement issued by a US Embassy spokesman termed the claim to be false. According to political administration sources in the area, two people including a commander of the Haqqani Network were killed in the drone strike close to the Orakzai and Kurram Agency border. During his weekly press briefing, Faisal informed that the United Nations Security Council sanctions? monitoring team is in Islamabad, adding that the team was briefed on Pakistan?s efforts regarding banned persons and organisations. Talking about India's frequent cross-border firing, Dr Faisal said the world should force India to cease human rights violations in occupied Kashmir. India conducted 1,970 ceasefire violations last year, he informed.
  17. ISLAMABAD: The United States on Thursday termed allegations that it struck an Afghan refugee camp in Kurram Agency a day earlier as false. According to a statement issued by a US Embassy spokesperson, ?The claim in an MFA statement yesterday that US forces struck an Afghan refugee camp in Kurram Agency yesterday is false.? Pakistan had on Wednesday condemned the drone strike conducted by coalition forces in Kurram agency and called the unilateral action detrimental to the spirit of cooperation between the two countries in the fight against terrorism. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement had stated that the strike had targeted an Afghan refugee camp. According to political administration sources in the area, two people including a commander of the Haqqani Network were killed in the drone strike close to the Orakzai and Kurram Agency border.
  18. Ubaidullah sitting with Foreign Secretary of Pakistan Tehmina Janjua at the Afghan Embassy in Islamabad. Photo: Geo News1 ISLAMABAD: Foreign Secretary of Pakistan Tehmina Janjua handed over the custody of an Afghan child to the Afghan Embassy in the federal capital on Friday. According to the Foreign Office, the child had come to Pakistan with his parents for the medical treatment of his father several years ago. However, during their stay in Islamabad, Ubaidullah went missing. Afghan boy Ubaidullah meeting Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua ? Photo Ministry of Foreign Affairs The mother of the child could not find his whereabouts and due to the sudden demise of Ubaidullah's father, left for Afghanistan. The child was reportedly found by Islamabad Police on November 7, 2015 and was referred to Child Protection and Welfare Bureau who took the custody of the child. Meanwhile, Pakistani authorities and the diplomatic mission in Kabul continued efforts for tracing his family in Afghanistan. Today, after the successful conclusion of these efforts, Ubaidullah was handed over to the Afghan Embassy in Islamabad. He would be traveling later today to reunite with his family in Afghanistan, stated a statement by the FO. According to a statement by Afghanistan?s embassy, the government and people of Afghanistan have deeply appreciated Pakistan's efforts for taking good care of the destitute Afghan child and his safe reunion with his family.
  19. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Photo: AFP file KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has criticised a recent Pakistani religious ruling by over 1800 scholars declaring suicide bombings un-Islamic. In an interview to VOA, Ghani said he believes an anti-terrorism Islamic edict, or fatwa, issued by Pakistan, should have covered the entire Muslim world, including Ghani?s war-torn nation. Speaking to a gathering of Afghan youth, women, civil society activists and clerics in Kabul he said that fatwas issued under Islam have never been confined to geographical boundaries of a single nation. Clerics in the audience agreed with the Afghan president after he asked for their opinion on the matter. He admitted that the Afghan army could not survive for more than six months without US aid because of a shortage of funds in the country. Ghani expressed concern at Taliban gaining strength again in the country, stating that the Taliban are sowing seeds of hatred and doubts for the government in the minds of the public. The Afghan president also admitted that approximately 21 international terrorist groups have a presence in Afghanistan and these groups are factories of suicide bombers.
  20. The picture shared with the story of Pajhwok news agency A meeting of various Afghan Taliban factions and the Afghan government is under way in Istanbul, the Pajhwok news agency of Afghanistan reported on Friday. The report stated that the "quadrilateral intra-Afghan peace dialogue" began in Istanbul on Saturday "to find a negotiated end to the decades-long conflict in Afghanistan". Quoting a reliable source, the report stated that the dialogue was arranged in cooperation with the Turkish government. Taliban?s Qatar Office members, Mullah Mohammad Rassoul splinter faction members, Afghan government officials and Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) members are attending the meeting, the report informed. Rahmatullah Wardak is representing the Taliban, Mullah Rauf and Abdul Halim are representing the Rassoul group, Haji Dawajan Ahmadzai and Homayoon Jarir the HIA and Dr Basir, an envoy of Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) chief Karim Khalili, is speaking on behalf of the government. The meeting follows as reports that the Turkish government has proposed the Taliban to open a political office in the country. A spokesman for the HIA, Mohammad Nadar Afghan, confirmed the gathering to Pajhwok. The report quotes a source close to Taliban admitting the talks but said "no one from their supreme leader Mullah Haibatullah group is participating in the gathering". According to the Taliban source, this was the third meeting of its kind taking placing between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives in Turkey.
  21. Daesh has claimed nearly 20 attacks across Kabul in 18 months, with cells including students, professors and shopkeepers evading Afghan and US security forces to bring carnage to the highly fortified city KABUL: Middle-class Afghans turned extremists have assisted Daesh´s expansion from its stronghold in Afghanistan´s restive east to Kabul, analysts say, helping to make the capital one of the deadliest places in the country. Daesh has claimed nearly 20 attacks across Kabul in 18 months, with cells including students, professors and shopkeepers evading Afghan and US security forces to bring carnage to the highly fortified city. It is an alarming development for Kabul´s war-weary civilians and beleaguered security forces, who are already struggling to beat back the resurgent Taliban, as well as the US counter-terrorism mission in Afghanistan. "This is not just a group that has a rural bastion in eastern Afghanistan -- it is staging high casualty, high visibility attacks in the nation´s capital and I think that´s something to be worried about," said analyst Michael Kugelman of the Wilson Center in Washington. The Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-K) emerged in the region in 2014, largely made up of disaffected fighters from the Taliban and other extremist groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia. It claimed its first attack in Kabul in the summer of 2016. There is no shortage of recruits, analysts say. Daesh has successfully tapped a rich vein of extremism in Afghanistan that has existed for decades and crosses socio-economic groups -- fanned by growing internet access among urban youth. "We are talking about a generation which has been desensitised to different types of violence and violent extremism," said Borhan Osman, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. "It should not come as a surprise that some of the youth inculcated in the ideology of jihadism embrace the next version of jihadism, the most violent one." Members and supporters of Daesh cells in Kabul hide in the open, living with their families and going to classes or work every day, Osman said. The militants meet at night to discuss ?holy war?, and plot attacks on targets in the city they know well -- well enough to adapt to changes, such as tightened security in the wake of a massive truck bomb in May that killed around 150 people. "It´s an adaptive structure reacting to the counter measures," a Western diplomat told AFP. "From May to December what we have seen is different types of attacks, smaller attacks that are getting through." An Afghan security source previously told AFP that "20 or more" IS-K cells were operating in the city. ´Hunt them down´ Osman, an expert on militant networks in Afghanistan, said it was difficult to know how many IS-K fighters were in Kabul but their ranks were constantly being replenished by the group´s recruitment efforts on social media as well as in universities, schools and mosques. "You can´t say they are all poor -- a number of them come from middle-class Kabuli families. Some are university educated. Some have a high school education," he said, adding that most have some religious education as well. An Afghan security source agreed. "The new wave of extremists is not an uneducated farmer. It is mainly people with a good level of education," he told AFP on condition of anonymity. While the Taliban remains by far the biggest threat to Afghanistan´s security forces and government, IS-K has dominated headlines in recent months with attacks in Kabul, including three last month alone which killed dozens of people. Some have come within metres of embassies and NATO´s Resolute Support mission, a disconcerting reply to vows by the head of US Forces-Afghanistan General John Nicholson to "hunt them down" until they are "annihilated". Last year the US dropped the so-called Mother of All Bombs, the largest non-nuclear weapon ever used in combat, on Daesh strongholds in Nangarhar. That has been followed by intense aerial bombing by Afghan and US forces. But analysts point out that the strategy has failed to destroy Daesh-- and may have even pushed more militants into Kabul, where using that sort of overwhelming firepower is not an option. New Daesh base? The group´s resilience has raised fears that Afghanistan could become a new base for Daesh fighters fleeing the battlefields of Syria and Iraq, where the group has lost swathes of territory. But the exact nature of links between Daesh in Afghanistan and the Middle East remains unclear. The Afghan government claims there is no connection. Analysts told AFP there is communication, and AFP reported last month that French and Algerian fighters, some arriving from Syria, had joined Daesh in northern Afghanistan where the group has established new bases. Regardless of links, the goals of Daesh in the Middle East and in Afghanistan appear to be aligned: stirring up sectarian violence. Its success in the capital aside, Daesh will struggle to turn Afghanistan into a new sectarian front, predicts Kugelman, who points out that most cleavages in Afghanistan are ethnic, not sectarian. At any rate, he says, "why would you want your new front to be in a place where you have some of the most relentless levels of firepower being used against you?"
  22. KABUL: An explosion in Kabul on Thursday claimed at least ten lives, according to statements of eyewitnesses. Initial reports indicate that the explosion occurred in Banaee area in Kabul?s PD9 at around 8:30 PM (Kabul time) on Thursday evening. According to a statement from Emergency Hospital in Kabul, almost 20 wounded were brought to the facility following the explosion, Afghan media reported. Eyewitnesses say it was a suicide bombing but police officials have not commented on the incident so far. Earlier in the day, a demonstration was launched by locals in the area.
  23. Afghan policemen investigate at the site of a suicide bomb attack in Nangarhar province, March 5, 2012. ? Reuters FILE JALALABAD: A suicide attacker blew himself up at a funeral in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing at least 15 mourners and wounding another 14, officials said, capping a deadly year for civilians. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Taliban and Daesh (Islamic State) militants have stepped up assaults in recent months, with ordinary Afghans bearing the brunt of the violence. "The death toll of the attack targeting a funeral ceremony in Behsud district of Nangarhar has increased to 15," Nangarhar governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP. Another 14 were wounded. All the casualties were civilians. An earlier statement from the governor?s office said 12 people had been killed in the attack near the provincial capital Jalalabad. The bomber struck during the funeral ceremony for a former governor of Haska Mina district who died recently of natural causes, the statement said. Provincial health director Najib Kamawal confirmed the toll. Photos posted on Twitter and Facebook purportedly of the scene showed pools of blood, clothes and shoes scattered on the ground. Other photos showed bodies lying in blood and a plume of black smoke rising into the sky. Terrified mourners, mostly elderly men, could be seen running from the scene. While the Taliban are still responsible for the majority of attacks and casualties across Afghanistan, Daesh militants have been on a rampage this month. The incident in Nangarhar, a restive province bordering Pakistan and a stronghold for Daesh, comes days after the group claimed an assault on a cultural centre in Kabul that left 41 people dead and more than 80 wounded. That followed a Christmas Day attack, also claimed by Daesh, near an Afghan intelligence agency compound in the Afghan capital that left six civilians dead. On December 18, militants from the group stormed an intelligence training compound in Kabul, triggering an intense gunfight with police, two of whom were wounded. The Middle Eastern militant outfit has gained ground in Afghanistan since it first appeared in the region in 2015, and has scaled up its attacks in Kabul and elsewhere, including on security installations. The latest news comes at the end of a particularly deadly year for Afghans, with the number of civilian casualties on track to be one of the highest on record since the US invasion in 2001. More than 8,000 civilians were killed or wounded in conflict-related violence in the first nine months of this year, according to data compiled by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. Last year?s civilian casualty toll of 11,418 was the highest for a single year since the UN began systematically documenting civilian deaths and injuries in 2009.
  24. An Afghan man mourns inside a hospital compound after a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, December 28, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail KABUL: Suicide bombers stormed a cultural centre and news agency in the Afghan capital on Thursday, killing more than 40 people and wounding scores, many of them students attending a conference. Daesh said in an online statement that it was responsible for the attack, saying the centre received support from Iran. It was the latest in a series that the movement has claimed on targets in Kabul. Waheed Majrooh ? a spokesman for the ministry of public health ? said 41 people, including four women and two children, had been killed and 84 wounded, most suffering from burns. The attack occurred during a morning panel discussion on the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan at the Tabian Social and Cultural Centre, witnesses said. The floor of the centre, at the basement level, was covered in blood as wailing survivors and relatives picked through the debris, while windows of the news agency, on the second floor, were all shattered. ?We were shocked and didn?t feel the explosion at first but we saw smoke coming up from below,? Ali Reza Ahmadi ? a journalist at the agency who was sitting in his office above the centre when the attack took place ? said. ?Survivors were coming out. I saw one boy with cuts to his feet and others with burns all over their faces,? he said. ?About 10 minutes after the first explosion, there was another one outside on the street and then another one.? 'Smoke everywhere' Deputy Health Minister Feda Mohammad Paikan said 35 bodies had been brought into the nearby Istiqlal hospital. Television pictures showed many of the injured suffered serious burns. ?There was a reading and an academic discussion and then there was a huge bang,? Sayed Jan ? a participant in the conference ? said from his bed in the hospital. ?I felt my face burning and I fell down and saw other colleagues lying around me and smoke everywhere.? The bloodshed followed an attack on a private television station in Kabul last month, which was also claimed by the local affiliate of Daesh. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement on Twitter denying involvement in the attack, which was condemned by both the Kabul government and Afghanistan?s international partners, including NATO and the United Nations. ?I have little doubt that this attack deliberately targeted civilians,? Toby Lanzer ? the acting head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan ? said. ?Today in Kabul we have witnessed another truly despicable crime in a year already marked by unspeakable atrocities.? Over the past two years, Daesh in Khorasan ? as the local group is known ? has claimed a growing number of attacks on targets in Afghanistan, where sectarian attacks were previously rare. The statement said the centre received Iranian support and was one of the largest centres of another religious sect in Afghanistan, sending youths to Iran for academic training. The movement ? which first appeared in eastern Afghanistan in 2015 ? has extended its reach steadily, although many security officials question its ability to conduct complex attacks and believe it has help from criminals or other extremist groups. Prior to Thursday?s attack, there had been at least 12 attacks on targets since the start of 2016, in which almost 700 people were killed or wounded, according to UN figures. Before that, there had only been one major attack, in 2011. Fortified zone The US condemned the attack, the White House said in a statement, pledging to work with Afghanistan?s government to find and punish the attackers and vowing that ?the enemies of Afghanistan will not succeed in their attempts to destroy the country and divide the Afghan people.? Backed by the heaviest US air strikes since the height of the international combat mission in Afghanistan, Afghan forces have forced the Taliban back in many areas and prevented any major urban centre from falling into the hands of insurgents. But high-profile attacks in the big cities have continued as extremists have looked for other ways to make an impact and undermine confidence in security. The attacks have increased pressure on President Ashraf Ghani?s Western-backed government to improve security. Much of the centre of Kabul is already a fortified zone of concrete blast walls and police checkpoints, following repeated attacks on the diplomatic quarter of the city. But militant groups have also hit numerous targets outside the protected zone, many in the western part of the city, home to many members of the mainly Hazara community. ?This gruesome attack underscores the dangers faced by Afghan civilians,? rights group Amnesty International said in a statement from Biraj Patnaik ? its South Asia director. ?In one of the deadliest years on record, journalists and other civilians continue to be ruthlessly targeted by armed groups.? According to a report this month by media freedom group Reporters without Borders, Afghanistan is among the world?s most dangerous countries for media workers, with two journalists and five media assistants killed doing their jobs in 2017, before Thursday?s attack. According to Sayed Abbas Hussaini ? a journalist at Afghan Voice ? one reporter at the agency was killed in Thursday?s attack and two were wounded.
  25. Khawaja Asif speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 6, 2014. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood/Files ISLAMABAD: Minister of Foreign Affairs Khawaja Asif on Monday demanded the United States to ensure the return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan. Pakistan had launched a fencing to secure its border with Afghanistan, he said in an interview with a private news channel, as it was imperative to combat terrorism. Afghanistan should focus on the "border management" and fulfill its responsibility in that regard, he added. Expressing serious concerns over the situation in the neighbouring country, Asif said the allied forces ? equipped with modern weapons and thousands of soldiers ? could not establish peace in Afghanistan. According to the information and reports, groups of Daesh extremists were operating in eight to nine provinces of Afghanistan, the minister explained, adding that these outfits were also active in vast areas of the neighbouring state. Expressing dismay over the peace situation in Afghanistan, he said a huge part was not under the control of Afghan government. Pakistan had extended a lot of cooperation with the US on different occasions in the past, he said, noting, however, that it had to face huge losses instead of receiving benefits. Some foreign forces did not want to see Pakistan as a powerful state but the nation could not be intimated with external threats, the foreign minister commented, saying the country's armed forces were fully capable to defend the motherland. On the other hand, Asif mentioned that nearly 9,000 tonnes of opium was being cultivated in Afghanistan and that it was strange that a huge cache of narcotics ? amounting to nearly $150 billion ? was being smuggled in the presence of allied forces. While the US had failed to establish peace in Afghanistan, Asif said it was blaming Pakistan after its failure. Pakistan had asked the US to provide actionable information but no such intel was provided. In response to a question regarding the Kulbhushan Jadhav's meeting with his family, he said, "On humanitarian grounds, Pakistan had given permission."