Posts Tagged ‘President Ashraf Ghani’

More troops sent to west Afghanistan as Taliban step up attacks

March 14, 2018


© AFP/File | Afghan troops (shown firing artillery during an anti-Taliban operation in Farah in late January) regularly come under attack in the remote province
FARAH (AFGHANISTAN) (AFP) – Afghanistan has deployed more troops to a restive western province where a multi-billion-dollar pipeline is planned after the Taliban launched multiple attacks against security forces, causing heavy casualties, officials said Wednesday.The latest assault in Farah, which borders Iran, happened in the early hours of Wednesday when Taliban militants stormed a checkpoint manned by police and intelligence officers on the outskirts of the provincial capital of the same name, killing seven security forces.

It came as the Taliban face growing pressure to take up Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer of peace talks to end the 16-year insurgency, but so far the group has given only a muted response

 Image result for Anar Dara district, afghanistan, photos

“When commando forces were deployed they (the militants) retreated,” Jamila Amini, a member of the Farah provincial council, told AFP.

Four members of the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s spy agency, and three police were killed, she added.

The incident and death toll were confirmed by fellow provincial council member Gul Ahmad Faqiri.

“We have sent more troops and commando forces to Farah to contain the situation,” defence ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri told AFP, adding the army chief of staff had also visited the province.

“The situation will soon come under control,” he said.

Taliban fighters on Monday briefly took control of the administrative building of Farah’s Anar Dara district, killing eight police, before they were beaten back by security forces, officials said.

That came after an attack on soldiers in Bala Buluk district over the weekend that resulted in multiple casualties.

Image result for Anar Dara district, afghanistan, photos

A February 24 raid on an army base in the same district killed at least 18 soldiers, officials said, in one of the deadliest attacks on security forces in recent months.

Farah is a poppy-growing province in a hard to reach part of Afghanistan which a section of the multi-billion-dollar TAPI gas pipeline will traverse.

The conduit is named for the four countries involved: Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

Despite security concerns, the Taliban have pledged to cooperate with the project.

Farah has been the scene of intense fighting in recent years. In 2017 insurgents tried to overrun the capital three times, according to the Afghanistan Analysts Network.

“The security situation has been deteriorating day by day in Farah,” Faqiri confirmed, estimating around a dozen security forces are killed in the province every day.

Former Farah governor Mohammad Aref Shah Jahan resigned in January after days of protests in the provincial capital over rising insecurity.


Farah’s Anar Dara on Verge of Collapse: Officials

Provincial council members calls for reinforcements to the deployed to the district.


Anar Dara district of western Farah province is on the verge of collapse, provincial council officials warned on Monday.

Dadullah Qane, a member of the provincial council said that the Taliban attacked the center of Anar Dara early Monday and took control of the police headquarters.

He warned that “if reinforcements are not deployed to the district, Anar Dara will fall completely to the Taliban.”

Image result for Anar Dara district, afghanistan, photos

Until now, Anar Dara was one of the peaceful districts of the province.

However, local officials have not yet commented over the attack.

This comes after about 15 security force members, including eight Special Forces, were killed on Friday night in Bala Blok district of the province, according to local officials.

Head of Farah provincial council Farid Bakhtawar said the forces had gone to Fararod area in Bala Blok district on Friday night to launch an operation, but were ambushed by Taliban while on their way. Fifteen of them were killed and a number of them were captured by Taliban fighters.

According to the provincial council members, eight of the soldiers killed were Special Forces members.

“In total there are 18 persons of whom three have been captured and the rest including eight Special Forces have been killed,” said Bakhtawar.

“The Special Forces had launched a clearing operation, but they suffered losses in this operation,” said Dadullah Qane, a member of the provincial council.

Afghan defense ministry officials refused to comment on the incident on camera but they did confirm the death of four Special Forces members in the ambush.

Insecurity has increased in Farah province in recent months. Last month, more than 10 national army personnel were also killed in a Taliban attack on a military base.

Farah provincial council chairman said in this incident Taliban also suffered heavy casualties.

The group, however, said in a statement that they had killed dozens of security force members.


Militants attack army post near military academy in Afghan capital — Message to Trump for State of the Union

January 29, 2018


KABUL (Reuters) – Gunmen attacked an army outpost near one of Afghanistan’s main military academies on Monday and five soldiers were killed and 10 wounded before the attackers were subdued, the defense ministry said.

 Image result for Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers stand guard at the entrance gate of Marshal Fahim military academy in Kabul, Afghanistan January 29, 2018, photos

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

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack near the Marshal Fahim military academy in the western outskirts of the capital, Kabul, according to the militant group’s Amaq news agency.

It came two days after an ambulance bomb in the center of the city killed more than 100 people and just over a week after another attack on the Hotel Intercontinental, also in Kabul, killed more than 20.

Both of those attacks were claimed by the Taliban.

Ministry of Defence officials said the five militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles attacked the outpost near the well-defended academy just before dawn.

Two of the attackers blew themselves up, two were killed in fighting and one was captured, the ministry said in a statement announcing that the fighting was over. Five soldiers were killed and 10 wounded, it said.

“The Afghan National Army is the country’s defence force and makes sacrifices for the security and well-being of the people,” the ministry said.

While militants claiming allegiance to Islamic State operate in mountains in the eastern province of Nangarhar, little is known about the group and many analysts question whether they are solely responsible for the attacks they have claimed in Kabul and elsewhere.

The attack came as the president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, was due to visit Kabul.

Indonesia has the world’s biggest Muslim population and Widodo has proposed that Indonesian Islamic scholars could help promote Afghan peace, media reported recently.


 Image result for Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers stand guard at the entrance gate of Marshal Fahim military academy in Kabul, Afghanistan January 29, 2018, photos

An Afghan security force member stands guard in front of the Marshal Fahim military academy in Kabul, Afghanistan January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

Earlier, resident Mohammad Ehsan said he heard a series of explosions coming from the area beginning at around 5 a.m. (0030 GMT) and lasting for at least an hour, with smaller blasts continuing at less frequent intervals.

In October, a suicide attacker rammed a car full of explosives into a bus carrying cadets from the academy, known as the Defence University, which is home to one of Afghanistan’s main officer training schools, killing 15 of them.

The wave of attacks has put pressure on President Ashraf Ghani and his U.S. allies, who have expressed growing confidence that a new more aggressive military strategy has succeeded in driving Taliban insurgents back from major provincial centers.

The United States has stepped up its assistance to Afghan security forces and increased its air strikes against the Taliban and other militant groups, aiming to break a stalemate and force the insurgents to the negotiating table.

However, the Taliban have dismissed suggestions they have been weakened and said Saturday’s bombing was a message to U.S. President Donald Trump.

“The Islamic Emirate has a clear message for Trump and his hand kissers that if you go ahead with a policy of aggression and speak from the barrel of a gun, don’t expect Afghans to grow flowers in response,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement, using the term the Islamist militants use to describe themselves.

Saturday’s blast in one of the most heavily protected parts of the city, close to foreign embassies and government buildings, was the worst seen in the Afghan capital since a truck bomb near the German embassy killed 150 people in May.

With Ghani embroiled in confrontation with provincial powerbrokers defying central rule, pressure is mounting on the government to set aside political divisions and focus on security.

The United States and Afghanistan have accused Pakistan of helping the Taliban in a bid to undermine old rival India’s growing influence in Afghanistan.

Pakistan, which denies accusations it fosters the Afghan war, condemned the attack and called for “concerted efforts and effective cooperation” to tackle militancy.

Afghanistan declared Sunday a day of mourning for the victims of Saturday’s blast and said Monday would be a day off to allow care for the victims’ families.

Reporting by Omar Sobhani; Additional reporting by Nayera Abdallah in CAIRO; Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Robert Birsel and Paul Tait


BBC News

Afghan security forces patrolling a street near the site of the attack
Security forces have blocked off the roads near the site of the attack. Reuters photo

Militants have attacked an army base near a military academy in the Afghan capital, Kabul, killing at least 11 soldiers.

Sixteen other Afghan soldiers were injured, a defence ministry spokesman told the BBC.

Five militants were involved, said the spokesman. Four were killed in the attack but one was arrested.

The attack has been claimed by the Islamic State (IS), according to the militant group’s Amaq news agency.

Earlier reports said the attack had taken place at the Marshal Fahim National Defense University, which is near the military base.

It comes days after the deadliest bombing for months hit Kabul when an ambulance packed with explosives killed at least 100 people.

IS and the Taliban have increased their attacks on targets in the country in recent days.

Several explosions were heard, as well as small-arms fire, as the attack began at about 05:00 local time (00:30 GMT) at the military base of the Afghan National Army in the west of Kabul.

Two attackers blew themselves up, two others were killed by security forces and another one was arrested, defence ministry spokesman Gen Dawlat Waiziri told the BBC.

Four AK-47 assault rifles, one suicide vest and one rocket-launcher were seized, he said.


The president’s spokesperson said none of the attackers had been able to get further than the first gate, Afghan news website Tolo reports.

Afghan military institutions are frequently targeted by militants.

A surge in violence

The base is near the Marshal Fahim National Defense University which the Taliban have targeted before.

In October 2017, 15 military cadets were killed in an explosion outside the Marshal Fahim military academy as they were leaving by minibus.

The university is sometimes referred to as “Sandhurst in the Sand” as it is closely modelled on the officer training academy in Britain.

Monday’s deadly attack is the third in just over a week to have rocked the country.

On Saturday, more than 100 people were killed in a suicide bombing when attackers drove an ambulance past a police checkpoint into a district with many government buildings and embassies.

a group of men carrying a coffin up a dusty hill, with city buildings in the distance
Funerals for the victims of Saturday’s attack took place over the weekend. EPA

One week earlier, another attack on a Kabul hotel killed 22 people – mostly foreigners. Six militants stormed the hotel in suicide vests the attack continued for several hours until Afghan troops regained control of the building.

The Taliban said it had carried out both those Kabul attacks.

IS said it had carried out a suicide attack on the international charity Save the Children in the city of Jalalabad last week.

Three members of staff and at least two others were killed in the attack and the siege of the compound.

Pence makes surprise visit to Afghanistan for war meetings

December 22, 2017

The Associated Press

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Photo: Getty

KABUL, Afghanistan — Cloaked in secrecy, Vice President Mike Pence made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan on Thursday to meet with Afghan leaders and visit U.S. troops, arriving four months after President Donald Trump outlined a new strategy to break the stalemate in America’s longest war.

Pence’s surprise pre-Christmas visit was the first to the war-torn country by either Trump or the vice president, and it came as the Trump administration charts a pathway to ending the 16-year war in Afghanistan.

Under heavy security, Pence landed at Bagram Air Base, the largest U.S. base in the country, by military aircraft shortly after sunset and then arrived by helicopter in the capital of Kabul to meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. He later returned to the base to address U.S. troops and receive briefings from military leaders, including Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

Pence’s trip was focused on Trump’s new strategy, released in August, to “fight to win” in Afghanistan by attacking enemies, routing al-Qaida and preventing terrorist attacks against Americans. The first-year president has urged the U.S. to shift away from a “time-based” approach to the protracted conflict by linking U.S. assistance to results and cooperation from the Afghan government, Pakistan and other partners.

The White House has described the new Afghanistan plan as a “regional” strategy that aims to cultivate cooperation among other South Asian nations, including the overturning of Pakistan’s harboring of elements of the Taliban.

At least 15,000 U.S. forces are in Afghanistan after Trump decided to send about 3,800 troops to the country this fall to enhance U.S. efforts to advise Afghan forces and conduct counterterrorism missions.

The expected deployment of hundreds more U.S. Army trainers to Afghanistan early next year could increase the total number of American forces there to nearly 16,000, U.S. officials have said.

Top U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, met with Afghan leaders in recent months in hopes of stabilizing the country. But in a sign of the delicate security situation, the Taliban unleashed a barrage of rockets at the Kabul international airport in late September that targeted Mattis’ plane during his trip to the country. The U.S. responded with an airstrike.

The Trump administration has sought to foster strong relations with Ghani as he attempts to curb corruption and prepare for the parliamentary elections next year. Ghani has expressed hope of bringing 80 percent of the country back under the government’s control.

Pence met with Ghani in Germany in February and has spoken frequently with the Afghan president by phone or video conference. Pence met with Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah at the White House in November for consultations on the country’s security situation.

The U.S. and allied forces have been fighting a resurgent Taliban, which controls nearly half the nation, as well as an Islamic State group affiliate in Afghanistan, which continues to struggle with unrest following the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

The influx of U.S. trainers is emblematic of the military’s renewed focus on building up Afghan forces so they can fight the insurgents and take control of their country’s security. That approach aims to reverse setbacks experienced by Afghan forces in recent years, as the Obama administration steadily reduced U.S. troop levels from a peak of roughly 100,000 in mid-2010.

U.S. leaders have also pressed NATO allies to increase their troop commitments to Afghanistan to help train and advise the Afghan forces and redouble the U.S.-led counterterrorism fight.

In recent weeks, American aircraft have targeted drug producing facilities in Afghanistan in a new effort to cut off Taliban funding. U.S. officials have estimated that the insurgents generate an estimated $200 million a year from poppy cultivation and opium production.

Another part of the effort includes preventing militants in Pakistan from crossing the mountainous border with Afghanistan to wage attacks and then return to safe havens in Pakistan, where they have had a long-standing relationship with the country’s intelligence agency.

The trip to Afghanistan represented the vice president’s most high-profile — and secretive — foreign visit.

He presided over the Senate in an early Wednesday vote on a bill to cut taxes and then joined Trump for a Cabinet meeting and a White House event with Republican lawmakers celebrating final passage of the legislation. He slipped out of Washington on Wednesday afternoon and flew to Bagram aboard a C-17 military transport aircraft.

The trip followed an abrupt announcement from White House that Pence would postpone until mid-January a planned visit to the Middle East, including stops in Egypt and Israel. The vice president had been scheduled to depart for the Middle East on Tuesday night.

Afghan president faces backlash for ousting Balkh governor

December 20, 2017


Atta Mohammad Noor, governor of the Balkh province, speaks during an interview in Kabul, Afghanistan January 25, 2017. (REUTERS)

KABUL: Afghanistan’s Jamiat-e-Islami (JI) party has accused President Ashraf Ghani of pursuing a “hostile” course by replacing its prominent member, Atta Mohammad Noor, as governor of northern Balkh province.

The party urged Ghani to reverse his decision.
JI’s challenge came after the Presidential Palace said on Monday that Noor’s resignation had been offered some time ago and was now accepted. But Noor disputed the account and the validity of Ghani’s decision, setting off a wave of concern among Afghans fearing ethnic divide and increased terror attacks under a fragile government.
Owing to the gravity of the situation, Salahuddin Rabbani, a JI leader who serves as foreign minister, cut short his official trip to Europe and met the party leadership late Tuesday night.
In a statement issued in the small hours of Wednesday morning, the JI accused Ghani of pursuing a “hostile” course by removing Noor. It urged Ghani to reverse the decision and not to misuse the presence of the international community, apparently hinting at the presence of US-led troops in Afghanistan.
The statement said JI considered itself and its allies the winners of the 2014 elections but agreed to share power with Ghani in a US-brokered National Unity Government (NUG) owing to the sensitivity of the situation at that time, mainly caused by rigged polls, and to prevent the country from further crises.
The JI accused Ghani of not complying with the controversial deal and said he cannot sack Noor without accepting the party’s conditions, which include its involvement in domestic and international issues and inclusion in the composition of the Cabinet.
The party said it wants stability in Afghanistan but it would keep all its options open in case Ghani did not retract his decision.
“If the palace, through its monopoliztic measure, by misusing the presence of the international community (US troops), does not review its decision which is in contradiction of the NUG agreement … the JI is bound to exercise any option for defending the set and legitimate right of the Afghan people,” the statement said.
It gave no further details, but said the palace will be responsible for any “unpleasant outcome.”
Palace officials said Mohammed Dawood is now the government’s appointed governor of Balkh, where Noor ruled for almost the entire period since US-led troops overthrew the Taliban from power. Dawood has not officially assumed office yet.
Noor is the latest factional regional strongman to lose his office in Ghani’s divided administration.
Earlier this year, after months of publicly criticizing Ghani for alleged lack of reforms, nepotism, and sidelining the JI, Noor forged an alliance with Ghani’s first Vice President Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum and another northern regional leader who defected from Ghani along with a senior government official.
Critics say Noor built his own empire including a television network and vast businesses in the north on custom revenues, but his supporters point out the amount of reconstruction and security he has brought about in the province, which is seen as a model in Afghanistan while much of the rest of the country faces routine fighting and poor economy.
Lawmakers on Wednesday urged both the government and the JI to find a political settlement for what some consider a new chapter of crisis for Afghanistan while the country faces escalated attacks by the Taliban and affiliates of Daesh, particularly in some northern areas, despite the presence of coalition troops for 16 years.
In the face of rising tension, some military and civil servants in Balkh have vowed to stand behind Noor while his allies in the JI — which has long dominated Afghanistan’s politics and economy — threatened a march on Kabul.

Afghanistan executes five members of criminal gang

November 29, 2017


Afghanistan executes five members of criminal gang

© AFP/File | Nooses hang at Pul-e-Charkhi prison in October 2014 before an execution. Now five more criminals have gone to the gallows at the prison

Afghanistan on Wednesday executed five members of a gang involved in kidnapping and murder, as the government of the war-torn nation struggles to curb criminals who target foreigners and wealthy locals.

The hangings were carried out at Kabul’s Pul-e-Charkhi prison after the convicts lost three appeals and President Ashraf Ghani confirmed the sentences, the interior ministry said in a statement.

It said the group was involved in the kidnapping and murder of the deputy head of a construction company, and was also involving in counterfeiting and carrying illegal weapons.

With the fledgling and under-resourced police force fully occupied in fighting the Taliban, Islamic State jihadists and other insurgents, kidnapping and extortion has become a cottage industry.

The criminal gangs often sell abductees, especially foreigners, to insurgent groups for a higher price. The victims are then transferred to lawless areas across the border in Pakistan, according to officials.

In May 2016 Ghani approved the execution of six Taliban-linked inmates — the first hangings carried out as part of a new hardline policy against insurgents and criminals.

Kabul: Explosion rocks Afghan capital near political gathering, seven dead

November 16, 2017
Weapons seized by the local government in Bala Bolok district of Farah Province in early October

Weapons seized by the local government in Bala Bolok district of Farah Province in early October

KABUL (Reuters) – At least seven people were killed and many wounded in a suicide bomb blast that in the Afghan capital on Thursday near a gathering of supporters of regional leader Atta Mohammad Noor, according to the interior ministry.

Noor is the governor of the northern province of Balkh and a leader of the mainly ethnic Tajik Jamiat-i-Islami party.

The explosion was the latest in a wave of violence in Afghanistan that has killed and wounded thousands of civilians this year.

Political tensions are up as politicians have begun jockeying for position ahead of presidential elections expected in 2019.

A spokesman for the interior ministry said the suicide bomber approached a hotel hosting the gathering in the Khair Khana district of Kabul, on foot. The dead included five policemen and two civilians, and many more were wounded.

President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday sacked the chairman of the Independent Election Commission, raising doubts over whether parliamentary and council ballots scheduled for next year will take place as planned.

Reporting by Hamid Shalizi; Editing by Nick Macfie, Robert Birsel

US Secretary of State Tillerson in surprise visit to Afghanistan — Our mission is “to achieve peace in Afghanistan and deny safe havens to terrorists”

October 23, 2017


© POOL/AFP | US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is greeted by General John Nicholson (R) upon arriving at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on October 23, 2017

KABUL (AFP) – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Monday to discuss Washington’s new strategy with President Ashraf Ghani.

Tillerson reiterated the US commitment to working with the Kabul government and regional partners “to achieve peace in Afghanistan and deny safe havens to terrorists who threaten that goal”, said a US embassy statement posted on Twitter.

The meeting took place at Bagram Airfield, America’s largest base in Afghanistan, as the resurgent Taliban step up attacks on Afghan police and troops in response to the US strategy announced in August.

“Clearly we have to continue to fight against the Taliban, against others, in order for them to understand they will never win a military victory,” Tillerson told reporters after the meeting that was also attended by Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

It was Tillerson’s first trip to Afghanistan as secretary of state and comes several weeks after US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis also paid an unannounced visit.

The closed-door talks covered Ghani’s reform programme, his anti-corruption strategy and preparations for parliamentary elections due to take place next year.

US President Donald Trump “has declared that we are here to stay until we can secure a process of reconciliation and peace”, Tillerson said, adding: “It’s not an unlimited commitment.”

Tillerson’s unannounced visit follows one of the bloodiest weeks in Afghanistan in recent memory, with more than 200 people killed in multiple attacks on security installations and mosques across the country.

A spokesman for the militants told AFP last week the attacks were “a clear message… the enemy who thought they had scared us with the new Trump strategy have now been given a lesson”.

The Taliban have been rampant since the withdrawal of NATO combat forces at the end of 2014.

Trump has cleared the way for the deployment of thousands more US troops in an open-ended commitment and there has been a surge in US airstrikes, but the insurgency has only intensified.

Militants fired several rockets into Kabul on Monday morning but there were no casualties.

During Mattis’s visit last month Taliban militants fired multiple rockets towards the city’s international airport in an attack that killed one person and wounded 11 others.

Tillerson is due to fly to Pakistan on Tuesday where he will pressure Islamabad to take action on the support Taliban and other “terrorist organisations” receive in the country.

Islamabad needed to “take a clear-eyed view of the situation that they are confronted with in terms of the number of terrorist organisations that find safe haven inside” the country, he told reporters, according to a pool report.

“We want to work closely (with) Pakistan to create a more stable and secure Pakistan as well,” Tillerson said.

Joint military operation out of question, Pakistan will tell Tillerson — Does China’s Money Run Pakistan? Or The ISI?

October 22, 2017

By Amir Khan

Published: October 22, 2017
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is set to arrive in Islamabad on his maiden visit later this month. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is set to arrive in Islamabad on his maiden visit later this month. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

KARACHI: Pakistani policymakers have put together their agenda for talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who will arrive in Islamabad on his maiden visit later this month to enlist “Pakistan’s help for American effort to reach a peaceful solution in Afghanistan”.

Tillerson’s trip comes amid an uptick in Taliban violence in Afghanistan where US-led coalition forces have been battling to quell an increasingly bloody insurgency since the ouster of the Taliban regime in 2001.

President Donald Trump’s top foreign policy aide would be told that Pakistan is willing to further strengthen the intelligence information sharing mechanism with the US in consonance with its national security, according to the agenda shared with Daily Express.

Pakistan offered US joint operation against Haqqanis: Khawaja Asif

“He [Tillerson] will be told that only Pakistani security forces will conduct counterterrorism operations on its soil – and that a joint operation with American or Afghan forces is out of question,” a source said.

Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, who recently toured the US, said in a television interview that Pakistan has offered the United States a joint operation against terrorists on its soil. However, he later clarified that he never said Pakistan could allow foreign boots on ground.

According to sources, Pakistani officials have prioritised the issues to be taken up with Tillerson which include the recent strain in Pak-US ties; President Trump’s new Afghan strategy; Pakistan’s role in the Afghan peace process; and Pakistan’s reservations on India’s role in Afghanistan, etc.

Army says ‘joint operation’ on Pakistan’s soil out of question

Top government functionaries would also tell President Trump’s aide that the American policy of pushing Pakistan to ‘do more’ must end as no other country has done as much as Pakistan has in the global war against terrorism. “It would also be conveyed to Tillerson that Pakistan wants to promote relationship with the US on the basis of sovereign equality,” a second source told Daily Express.

The Pakistani side, especially the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) would stress the need for intelligence sharing in the fight against terrorists. The Americans would be asked to share actionable intelligence on terrorists on Pakistan’s soil, and Pakistani forces would take action against them.

US and Afghan officials allege that the Haqqani network, the Afghan Taliban faction responsible for some the most deadliest attacks in Afghanistan, maintains safe havens inside Pakistan – an allegation Islamabad vehemently denies.

‘Seven JuA militants killed in NATO, Afghan forces raid’

Sources said that Pakistani officials would also ask Tillerson to impress upon the administration of President Ashraf Ghani to dismantle the sanctuaries of terrorists who are using the Afghan soil as a launching pad for mounting attacks inside Pakistan. Though Kabul denies any sanctuaries of Pakistani terrorists on its soil, but Omar Khalid Khorasani, the chief of TTP-Jamaatul Ahrar, was killed in a US drone strike in eastern Afghan province of Paktia earlier this month.

Pakistan would also called for revitalising and reenergising the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) for finding a political solution to the insurgency in Afghanistan, sources said. The quartet, which is made up of Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and the United States, met on October 16 in Oman after a long hiatus in an effort to resurrect the moribund Afghan peace process.

President Trump’s Afghan strategy envisages a greater role for Pakistan’s arch-rival India in Afghanistan. But Tillerson would be told that Islamabad could never reconcile to this idea because it is convinced that New Delhi wants to use the Afghan soil to destabilise Pakistan.

Pakistan, Afghanistan to conduct joint border ops under US supervision: Kabul

The multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is also expected to come up for discussion during Tillerson’s visit. US Defence Secretary James Mattis said last week during a hearing of the US Senate Armed Services Committee that CPEC runs through a disputed territory — an allegation originally levelled by India to thwart the project.

The Pakistani side, according to sources, would make it clear to Tillerson that CPEC is very important project for the development of its economy and for regional connectivity and hence any attempt to make it controversial would not be acceptable.

Sources said that Tillerson’s visit is very significant as it would clarify Trump’s policy and set course for future Islamabad-Washington relations.




Pakistan tells Afghan Taliban to ‘prepare’ for political dialogue

October 16, 2017

Taliban yet to respond to the appeal * Islamabad can go tough on Taliban if they refuse to come to table this time

Afghan Governor Accused of Abduction, Assault — Adds to Woes for President Ghani

August 18, 2017

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan — A powerful Afghan governor is facing accusations he detained and assaulted a political rival in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif this week, the second senior Afghan official to be accused of violence in a year.

The fresh allegations add to Afghanistan’s domestic political woes, as President Ashraf Ghani’s government has struggled in the war against Taliban insurgents amid a fractious political arena that includes former warlords with armed followers.

Image result for President Ashraf Ghani, photos

President Ashraf Ghani

Atta Mohammad Noor, the governor of Balkh province, denies an accusation by provincial council member Asef Mohmand that Noor and his sons abducted him from the Mazar-i-Sharif airport and then assaulted him.

Mohmand told reporters one of Noor’s son bit off part of his ear during the beating.

A spokesman for Noor called Mohmand’s story a “pure lie”.

The claims come as Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum remains in Turkey amid unresolved accusations that he ordered his men to abduct, beat, and rape a political rival last year.

Noor was among several prominent politicians to form a coalition with Dostum and earlier in August he held a demonstration to call for the “unconditional return” of the vice president.

A government delegation has been dispatched to Mazar-i-Sharif to investigate the allegations against Noor, his office said.

On August 9, Mohmand held a press conference in Kabul criticizing Noor for corruption and running personal prisons. When Mohmand returned to Mazar-i-Sharif on Monday, he said he was met by Noor and “dozens of armed men”.

Mohmand, appearing at a press conference on Kabul on Thursday with a bandaged head, told reporters that he was taken to Noor’s house where the governor and his sons beat him.

“His son came forward and bit my ear as you can see,” Mohmand said. “His second son was punching and kicking me and saying, ‘Now you can see how powerful we are’.”

Mohmand said Noor himself stepped on his throat and accused him of trying to conspire against the governor.

Noor’s office rejected Mohmand’s account.

“Mohmand was directly taken to the police station and the injuries could have happened during his arrest,” said Muneer Ahmad Farhad, spokesman for the Balkh governor’s office. “He was not taken to the governor’s residence.”

Many of Afghanistan’s leaders, including Noor and Dostum, are former warlords who maintain large followings and armed militias.

After Ghani was elected in 2014, he removed all of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial governors.

Noor, however, refused to leave and has retained his position in Balkh.

(Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Nick Macfie)



  (Includes map)

Image result for Herat mosque explosion, photos
Security officials inspect the scene of the blast outside the Great Mosque in Herat, August 1, 2017.