Taliban will gain from ensuing chaos in Afghanistan, expert tells Arab News

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A wounded Afghan man sits on a wheelchair after receiving treatment at an Italian aid organization hospital in Kabul on Saturday following a series of explosions that targeted a funeral of a politician's son, who was killed during an anti-government protest a day earlier. (AFP / WAKIL KOHSAR)
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An injured Afghan man lies on the ground after a suicide attack blast in Kabul on Saturday. (REUTERS)
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Pakistani civil society activists hold placards against the recent attacks in the Afghan capital Kabul during a protest in Peshawar on Saturday. (AFP / ABDUL MAJEED)
Updated 04 June 2017

Taliban will gain from ensuing chaos in Afghanistan, expert tells Arab News

JEDDAH/KABUL: Explosions ripped through the funeral of an Afghan anti-government protester in Kabul on Saturday, killing at least seven people and wounding dozens in fresh carnage that saw tensions rise in a city already on edge.
The latest killings, which could provoke a new cycle of bloodshed, bring the number of people killed this week to 101, with hundreds injured in one of the worst bouts of violence in the Afghan capital for years.
Witnesses reported three back-to-back blasts during the burial of Salim Ezadyar, who was among four people killed on Friday when a protest over spiraling insecurity in Kabul degenerated into street clashes with police.
The hilly, windswept cemetery was littered with human remains, with one witness telling AFP that “people were blown to pieces” due to the impact of the blasts.
“So far seven dead bodies and 119 wounded people have been brought to Kabul hospitals,” Waheed Majroh, a spokesman for the Health Ministry, told AFP.
The funeral of Ezadyar, the son of an influential Afghan senator, was attended by senior government figures including Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, but they escaped unharmed.
No group has so far claimed the attack, with the Taliban — the biggest insurgent group in Afghanistan — denying any involvement.
The fresh killings are likely to further polarize a city that has been on edge since a truck bombing on Wednesday in Kabul’s diplomatic quarter killed 90 people and wounded hundreds, in the deadliest attack on the Afghan capital since 2001.
President Ashraf Ghani made a televised appeal for national unity after the funeral bombings. “The country is under attack,” he said. “We must stay strong and united.”
Baker Atyani, a veteran journalist who has covered militant groups for two decades, blamed the chaos on the power struggles within the Afghan government and the ineffective role of the international coalition led by the US.
“The Haqqani network has said it was not behind the attack; Daesh, which goes by the name the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP), did not claim responsibility for this attack; and we have heard the denial from Taliban — all this is strange,” said Atyani.
There is chaos in Afghanistan because “of there being a state with two heads — President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah,” he added.
Ghani is a Pashtun while Abdullah is of mixed Pashtun-Tajik heritage but is often seen as having supported the latter group more strongly. Atyani said the rivalry between the two ethnic groups is very well known.
He added that there has been uncertainty and a deep struggle for power in Afghanistan ever since Abdullah refused to accept the results of the last presidential elections. “It was the former US Secretary of State John Kerry who came up with this weird equation through which he created a slot for a chief executive when there was no such provision in the Afghan constitution,” said Atyani.
“If you look at the larger picture in Afghanistan, this is the failure of all those foreign countries who came into Afghanistan under the US leadership. They could not deliver what they promised to the Afghan people. The international coalition has, in the last 13 years, spent over $1 trillion and yet they failed to bring peace and development to the war-ravaged country,” said Atyani.
“Today, a mere 10 percent of the Afghans have access to electricity,” he added.
The government has blamed the Taliban-allied Haqqani network for the attack.
Atyani said he did not believe in the allegations leveled against Pakistan by the Afghan government. “There is no love lost between the NDS (National Directorate of Security of Afghanistan) and the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan). As an observer, I do not think someone should take the NDS allegations leveled against Pakistan seriously."
According to Atyani, the chaos in Kabul would directly benefit the Taliban. “In any case the writ of the Afghan government does not run large in many districts and towns. In some, there are shadow governments led by the Taliban and in some others there is Daesh which has added to the confusion. There has been no method in Daesh’s madness. All their attacks have been directed against the civilians.”


India celebrates Republic Day with military parade

Updated 35 min 55 sec ago

India celebrates Republic Day with military parade

  • Schoolchildren, folk dancers, and police and military battalions marched through New Delhi’s parade route

NEW DELHI: Thousands of Indians converged on a ceremonial boulevard in the capital amid tight security to celebrate the Republic Day on Sunday, which marks the 1950 anniversary of the country’s democratic constitution.
During the celebrations, schoolchildren, folk dancers, and police and military battalions marched through New Delhi’s parade route, followed by a military hardware display.
Beyond the show of military power, the parade also included ornate floats highlighting India’s cultural diversity as men, women and children in colorful dresses performed traditional dances, drawing applause from the spectators.
The 90-minute event, broadcast live, was watched by millions of Indians on their television sets across the country.
Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro was the chief guest for this year’s celebrations.
He was accorded the ceremonial Guard of Honor by President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Rashtrapati Bhawan, the sprawling presidential palace.
Bolsonaro joined the two Indian leaders as the military parade marched through a central avenue near the Presidential Palace.
At the parade, Bolsonaro watched keenly as mechanized columns of Indian tanks, rocket launchers, locally made nuclear-capable missile systems and other hardware rolled down the parade route and air force jets sped by overhead.
Apart from attending the Republic Day celebrations, Bolsonaro’s visit was also aimed at strengthening trade and investment ties across a range of fields between the two countries.
On Saturday, Modi and Bolsonaro reached an agreement to promote investment in each other’s country.
Before the parade, Modi paid homage to fallen soldiers at the newly built National War Memorial in New Delhi as the national capital was put under tight security cover.
Smaller parades were also held in the state capitals.
Police said five grenades were lobbed in the eastern Assam state by separatist militants who have routinely boycotted the Republic Day celebrations. No one was injured, police said.
Sunday’s blasts also come at a time when Assam has been witnessing continuous protests against the new citizenship law that have spread to many Indian states.
The law approved in December provides a fast-track to naturalization for persecuted religious minorities from some neighboring Islamic countries, but excludes Muslims.
Nationwide protests have brought tens of thousands of people from different faiths and backgrounds together, in part because the law is seen by critics as part of a larger threat to the secular fabric of Indian society.