Category Archives: Business & Finance

Karzai: Trump’s Afghan Strategy Fueling War, Regional Rivalries

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN Former Afghan President, Hamid Karzai is continuing his criticism of the new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan, asserting it does not bring a message of peace but instead increases war and fuels regional rivalries over his strife-torn country.

Addressing a news conference in Kabul, Karzai disclosed he has written a formal letter to President Ashraf Ghani, urging him to convene an emergency traditional grand assembly of elders, or Loya Jirga, for discussing Trump’s war plan and finding a way out of the conflict. The jirga meeting is needed to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming victim of rivalries between big powers, insisted the former president.

Karzai added he also has written a letter to the Taliban calling on the insurgent group to attend the meeting to help find a politically negotiated settlement to the Afghan war.

America’s new strategy for Afghanistan does not bring us a message of peace but a message of more hostilities and increases regional rivalries, said Karzai, who himself is being accused of stoking rivalries between Russia and the U.S. by issuing such statements.

Washington supported and installed Karzai as the head of the government in Kabul after a U.S.-led foreign military coalition ousted the Taliban from power in 2001 for sheltering al-Qaida. He went on to rule Afghanistan until 2013, and he developed deep differences with his U.S. allies on a variety of issues toward the end of his long rule.

The former president remained under fire for his inconsistent polices, a lack of key reforms and for not taking steps to stop rampant corruption in state institutions while the U.S. spent hundreds of billions of dollars on Afghan security and reconstruction projects.

Karzai said the regional cooperation Kabul and the United States were receiving until a few years ago in their efforts to stabilize Afghanistan has diminished and instead turned into a rivalry. He apparently was referring to increasing contacts Russia and Iran have established with the Taliban while the insurgent group continues to use alleged sanctuaries in Pakistan.

No I am not, Karzai replied when asked about allegations he was fueling conflict between major powers.

I am trying to bring a balance back in Afghanistan. I am trying to create an environment of cooperation between the big powers in Afghanistan and the neighbors because that is what we need exactly, and very much badly in our country, he insisted.

Karzai has been among a few prominent Afghans who have opposed from the outset President Trump’s strategy that he outlined in August. The plan allowed a modest U.S. troop surge and stepped up airpower to help Afghan security forces break the military stalemate with the Taliban.

President Ghani’s National Unity Government and many Afghans in general have welcome the new U.S. plan, hoping it will enable Afghan forces to reverse Taliban gains and pave the ground for a peaceful settlement to the Afghan war.

Ghani’s spokesman, Shah Hussain Murtazawi, dismissed Karzai’s assertions, saying the Afghan government is moving in the right direction to ensure security of its citizens.

America’s new strategy is for permanent peace and stability in the region and is based on views of the [Afghan] people and the government [of Afghanistan]. Foreign forces are only advising and training Afghan forces who are leading and themselves conducting security operations, Murtazawi noted.

U.S. officials so far have not responded to Karzai’s allegations.

Karzai also questioned the emergence of Islamic State in Afghanistan in the last few years, citing the development for Moscow and other nations, including Tehran, to engage with the Taliban in order to keep the Syria-based terrorist group from threatening their territorial boundaries using ungoverned Afghan spaces.

It is for the last four years, five years that they [Russia and other nations] have taken a different attitude because of the emergence of Daesh, because of the emergence of those other radical groups. They are wondering why? How come? Because the U.S. presence here was supposed to end extremism not to add to extremism, lamented the former Afghan leader.

Russian and Iranian officials have acknowledged maintaining contacts with the Taliban, which controls or contests more than 40 percent of Afghan territory. Moscow, Islamabad and Tehran have expressed concerns that the continuation of hostilities, particularly in Afghan border regions, will create security challenges for them.

Source: Voice of America

Karzai: Trump’s Afghan Strategy Fueling War, Regional Rivalries

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN Former Afghan President, Hamid Karzai is continuing his criticism of the new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan, asserting it does not bring a message of peace but instead increases war and fuels regional rivalries over his strife-torn country.

Addressing a news conference in Kabul, Karzai disclosed he has written a formal letter to President Ashraf Ghani, urging him to convene an emergency traditional grand assembly of elders, or Loya Jirga, for discussing Trump’s war plan and finding a way out of the conflict. The jirga meeting is needed to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming victim of rivalries between big powers, insisted the former president.

Karzai added he also has written a letter to the Taliban calling on the insurgent group to attend the meeting to help find a politically negotiated settlement to the Afghan war.

America’s new strategy for Afghanistan does not bring us a message of peace but a message of more hostilities and increases regional rivalries, said Karzai, who himself is being accused of stoking rivalries between Russia and the U.S. by issuing such statements.

Washington supported and installed Karzai as the head of the government in Kabul after a U.S.-led foreign military coalition ousted the Taliban from power in 2001 for sheltering al-Qaida. He went on to rule Afghanistan until 2013, and he developed deep differences with his U.S. allies on a variety of issues toward the end of his long rule.

The former president remained under fire for his inconsistent polices, a lack of key reforms and for not taking steps to stop rampant corruption in state institutions while the U.S. spent hundreds of billions of dollars on Afghan security and reconstruction projects.

Karzai said the regional cooperation Kabul and the United States were receiving until a few years ago in their efforts to stabilize Afghanistan has diminished and instead turned into a rivalry. He apparently was referring to increasing contacts Russia and Iran have established with the Taliban while the insurgent group continues to use alleged sanctuaries in Pakistan.

No I am not, Karzai replied when asked about allegations he was fueling conflict between major powers.

I am trying to bring a balance back in Afghanistan. I am trying to create an environment of cooperation between the big powers in Afghanistan and the neighbors because that is what we need exactly, and very much badly in our country, he insisted.

Karzai has been among a few prominent Afghans who have opposed from the outset President Trump’s strategy that he outlined in August. The plan allowed a modest U.S. troop surge and stepped up airpower to help Afghan security forces break the military stalemate with the Taliban.

President Ghani’s National Unity Government and many Afghans in general have welcome the new U.S. plan, hoping it will enable Afghan forces to reverse Taliban gains and pave the ground for a peaceful settlement to the Afghan war.

Ghani’s spokesman, Shah Hussain Murtazawi, dismissed Karzai’s assertions, saying the Afghan government is moving in the right direction to ensure security of its citizens.

America’s new strategy is for permanent peace and stability in the region and is based on views of the [Afghan] people and the government [of Afghanistan]. Foreign forces are only advising and training Afghan forces who are leading and themselves conducting security operations, Murtazawi noted.

U.S. officials so far have not responded to Karzai’s allegations.

Karzai also questioned the emergence of Islamic State in Afghanistan in the last few years, citing the development for Moscow and other nations, including Tehran, to engage with the Taliban in order to keep the Syria-based terrorist group from threatening their territorial boundaries using ungoverned Afghan spaces.

It is for the last four years, five years that they [Russia and other nations] have taken a different attitude because of the emergence of Daesh, because of the emergence of those other radical groups. They are wondering why? How come? Because the U.S. presence here was supposed to end extremism not to add to extremism, lamented the former Afghan leader.

Russian and Iranian officials have acknowledged maintaining contacts with the Taliban, which controls or contests more than 40 percent of Afghan territory. Moscow, Islamabad and Tehran have expressed concerns that the continuation of hostilities, particularly in Afghan border regions, will create security challenges for them.

Source: Voice of America

FIFA Suspends Pakistan Football Federation

FIFA says Pakistan’s Football Federation (PFF) has been suspended for “third-party interference.”

Zurich-based FIFA said on October 11 that the PFF offices and its accounts remained in control of a court-appointed administrator, violating the global soccer governing body’s rules on independence.

Following FIFA’s decision, Pakistan’s national and club teams are banned from international competition with immediate effect.

The suspension will be lifted once the PFF resumes control of its offices and accounts.

Pakistan’s national team is scheduled to play in the South Asian Football Federation Cup, hosted by Bangladesh, in September 2018.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

FIFA Suspends Pakistan Football Federation

FIFA says Pakistan’s Football Federation (PFF) has been suspended for “third-party interference.”

Zurich-based FIFA said on October 11 that the PFF offices and its accounts remained in control of a court-appointed administrator, violating the global soccer governing body’s rules on independence.

Following FIFA’s decision, Pakistan’s national and club teams are banned from international competition with immediate effect.

The suspension will be lifted once the PFF resumes control of its offices and accounts.

Pakistan’s national team is scheduled to play in the South Asian Football Federation Cup, hosted by Bangladesh, in September 2018.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

Taliban Dismissive of Four-Nation Afghan Peace Talks in Oman

ISLAMABAD The Taliban’s stance of not engaging in peace talks with the current Afghan government remains unchanged” and the insurgent group has nothing to do with next week’s four-nation dialogue in Oman aimed at seeking a politically negotiated end to the war, a senior insurgent official said Tuesday.

Negotiators from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States are scheduled to meet in the Gulf state on October 16 to revive discussions on encouraging the Taliban to come to the negotiating table and enhance regional anti-terrorism cooperation.

Nobody has contacted us, nor are we participating in this meeting, a senior Taliban official told VOA when asked whether the Islamist insurgency intends to join or approve the so-called Quadrilateral Cooperation Group, or QCG. He requested anonymity as he was not authorized to publicly discuss Taliban political matters.

Our stance on talks with the Kabul government remains unchanged. We have nothing to do with this meeting. It is their [member nations] own affair, the official said.

The Taliban has long refused to engage in any Afghan peace talks until U.S. and NATO forces completely withdraw from Afghanistan. The insurgents have also been calling for, among other demands, recognition for their so-called political office in Qatar.

The QCG was launched in January 2016, but the peace process broke down after a fifth session in May of that year, when a U.S. drone attack killed the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, while he was traveling through the Pakistani province of Baluchistan.

QCG members were supposed to use their respective influence on parties to the Afghan conflict to nudge the Taliban to the negotiating table; however, the Taliban’s reluctance to engage in peace talks, along with Kabul-Islamabad relations marred by mistrust, have been blamed for preventing any progress in previous QCG sessions.

Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria says that as a member of QCG, his country has always played the role of a facilitator along with China and the U.S to promote Afghan peace and reconciliation.

“Pakistan supports negotiated settlement of issues and national reconciliation in Afghanistan. We do not believe that military approach can bring peace in Afghanistan,” he told VOA when asked about Islamabad’s expectations from the upcoming QCG meeting.

Pakistani officials blamed Washington for scuttling the four-way process by eliminating Mansoor. Afghan and U.S. officials have long complained the Taliban uses sanctuaries on Pakistani soil to orchestrate insurgent attacks on the other side of the border.

The QCG process is being revived at a time when the U.S. military has stepped up counter-Taliban operations in Afghanistan in a bid to halt resurgent Taliban advances and pressure them to engage in peace talks.

The latest official data shows U.S. forces dropped 751 bombs in September against the Taliban and militants linked to the Afghan branch of the Islamic State terrorist group, the largest number of weapons employed in a single month since 2012.

This increase can be attributed to the president’s strategy to more proactively target extremist groups that threaten the stability and security of the Afghan people, according to a U.S. airpower monthly summary.

In August, U.S. President Donald Trump announced his new strategy for the Afghan war, America’s longest overseas military engagement, promising intensification in military efforts and asking Pakistan to end safe havens on its territory. Islamabad rejected the charges as an attempt to scapegoat Pakistan for U.S. failures in Afghanistan.

Skeptics are unsure whether the latest QCG process will produce results in the wake of growing contacts Russia and Iran have established with the Taliban.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said last week that Moscow’s influence on the Taliban may have increased to the point that Moscow would be better able than Islamabad to coax the insurgents into peace talks.

“At least for our influence on Taliban today, there is a mistrust… perhaps they have more influence from other countries in that region than in our Pakistan,” Asif told VOA when asked whether he was referring to Russia.

The Pakistani foreign minister, however, appeared upbeat about the coming QCG meeting in Oman’s capital, Muscat. The quadrilateral arrangement will again be in operation. So, that is something we still hope will… still work,” Asif said.

Islamabad, Moscow, Beijing and Tehran are pushing for a political solution to the Afghan war, saying 16-year of military efforts have failed to achieve peace in Afghanistan.

Analysts like former U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Olson, at a recent public talk in Washington, also emphasized the need for making a political settlement with the Taliban a central element of the U.S. policy.

I would say that the first step in a modality, that is to say the first step in getting a peace process going, would be to… open formally the Taliban office in Doha for the purposes of discussing peace with the Afghan government in a publicly recognized way, Olson said.

The former U.S. envoy also noted that regional countries would have to be involved in Afghan peace building efforts because of an increase in the hedging strategies by countries around Afghanistan.

Russia and Iran have been building their relationships with the Taliban despite a lack of ideological religious affinity, especially on the part of Iran. Pakistan has never really abandoned a hedging strategy with regard to Afghanistan, said Olson, who also served as Washington’s ambassador to Kabul and Islamabad.

Source: Voice of America

Taliban Dismissive of Four-Nation Afghan Peace Talks in Oman

ISLAMABAD The Taliban’s stance of not engaging in peace talks with the current Afghan government remains unchanged” and the insurgent group has nothing to do with next week’s four-nation dialogue in Oman aimed at seeking a politically negotiated end to the war, a senior insurgent official said Tuesday.

Negotiators from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States are scheduled to meet in the Gulf state on October 16 to revive discussions on encouraging the Taliban to come to the negotiating table and enhance regional anti-terrorism cooperation.

Nobody has contacted us, nor are we participating in this meeting, a senior Taliban official told VOA when asked whether the Islamist insurgency intends to join or approve the so-called Quadrilateral Cooperation Group, or QCG. He requested anonymity as he was not authorized to publicly discuss Taliban political matters.

Our stance on talks with the Kabul government remains unchanged. We have nothing to do with this meeting. It is their [member nations] own affair, the official said.

The Taliban has long refused to engage in any Afghan peace talks until U.S. and NATO forces completely withdraw from Afghanistan. The insurgents have also been calling for, among other demands, recognition for their so-called political office in Qatar.

The QCG was launched in January 2016, but the peace process broke down after a fifth session in May of that year, when a U.S. drone attack killed the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, while he was traveling through the Pakistani province of Baluchistan.

QCG members were supposed to use their respective influence on parties to the Afghan conflict to nudge the Taliban to the negotiating table; however, the Taliban’s reluctance to engage in peace talks, along with Kabul-Islamabad relations marred by mistrust, have been blamed for preventing any progress in previous QCG sessions.

Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria says that as a member of QCG, his country has always played the role of a facilitator along with China and the U.S to promote Afghan peace and reconciliation.

“Pakistan supports negotiated settlement of issues and national reconciliation in Afghanistan. We do not believe that military approach can bring peace in Afghanistan,” he told VOA when asked about Islamabad’s expectations from the upcoming QCG meeting.

Pakistani officials blamed Washington for scuttling the four-way process by eliminating Mansoor. Afghan and U.S. officials have long complained the Taliban uses sanctuaries on Pakistani soil to orchestrate insurgent attacks on the other side of the border.

The QCG process is being revived at a time when the U.S. military has stepped up counter-Taliban operations in Afghanistan in a bid to halt resurgent Taliban advances and pressure them to engage in peace talks.

The latest official data shows U.S. forces dropped 751 bombs in September against the Taliban and militants linked to the Afghan branch of the Islamic State terrorist group, the largest number of weapons employed in a single month since 2012.

This increase can be attributed to the president’s strategy to more proactively target extremist groups that threaten the stability and security of the Afghan people, according to a U.S. airpower monthly summary.

In August, U.S. President Donald Trump announced his new strategy for the Afghan war, America’s longest overseas military engagement, promising intensification in military efforts and asking Pakistan to end safe havens on its territory. Islamabad rejected the charges as an attempt to scapegoat Pakistan for U.S. failures in Afghanistan.

Skeptics are unsure whether the latest QCG process will produce results in the wake of growing contacts Russia and Iran have established with the Taliban.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said last week that Moscow’s influence on the Taliban may have increased to the point that Moscow would be better able than Islamabad to coax the insurgents into peace talks.

“At least for our influence on Taliban today, there is a mistrust… perhaps they have more influence from other countries in that region than in our Pakistan,” Asif told VOA when asked whether he was referring to Russia.

The Pakistani foreign minister, however, appeared upbeat about the coming QCG meeting in Oman’s capital, Muscat. The quadrilateral arrangement will again be in operation. So, that is something we still hope will… still work,” Asif said.

Islamabad, Moscow, Beijing and Tehran are pushing for a political solution to the Afghan war, saying 16-year of military efforts have failed to achieve peace in Afghanistan.

Analysts like former U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Olson, at a recent public talk in Washington, also emphasized the need for making a political settlement with the Taliban a central element of the U.S. policy.

I would say that the first step in a modality, that is to say the first step in getting a peace process going, would be to… open formally the Taliban office in Doha for the purposes of discussing peace with the Afghan government in a publicly recognized way, Olson said.

The former U.S. envoy also noted that regional countries would have to be involved in Afghan peace building efforts because of an increase in the hedging strategies by countries around Afghanistan.

Russia and Iran have been building their relationships with the Taliban despite a lack of ideological religious affinity, especially on the part of Iran. Pakistan has never really abandoned a hedging strategy with regard to Afghanistan, said Olson, who also served as Washington’s ambassador to Kabul and Islamabad.

Source: Voice of America