Pakistan’s hosting of Taliban leaders angers Afghanistan

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani
Updated 05 October 2019

Pakistan’s hosting of Taliban leaders angers Afghanistan

  • Islamabad said on Thursday that it would continue making efforts for “lasting peace in Afghanistan” after holding initial talks with the Taliban leaders

KABUL: The Afghan government has slammed Pakistan for hosting Taliban leaders and demanded Islamabad stops sheltering militants on its soil.
A high-level Taliban delegation, led by the group’s deputy head Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday to hold talks with Pakistani officials, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and the country’s intelligence chief.
“Hosting an insurgent group is against all norms and principles among countries,” said Sediq Seddiqi, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s chief spokesman.
Islamabad said on Thursday that it would continue making efforts for “lasting peace in Afghanistan” after holding initial talks with the Taliban leaders.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said the meeting with Pakistani officials involved discussions on Afghan refugees, businessmen based in Pakistan and regional security.
The Taliban delegation arrived in Islamabad when the US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad was also present and sources in the US Embassy confirmed that a meeting did take place between the two sides.
The development comes weeks after US President Donald Trump abruptly called off peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar after nearly a year of intense engagement that had created high hopes of a deal to restore peace and stability in war-torn Afghanistan.

FASTFACT

Senior Afghan Taliban leaders and Pakistani officials have called for the resumption of peace talks to end the war in Afghanistan.

Trump linked his move to the killing of a US solider in Kabul by the Taliban in a suicide attack which also claimed the lives of 10 Afghans.
Khan, who met with Trump in New York at the UN General Assembly, urged the stalled peace dialogue to resume and offered his country’s positive role to help support the two sides.
However, Sediqqi said that the Taliban’s recent Islamabad visit would not help the peace process in Afghanistan.
“The peace process can be effective when it is led and owned by the government of Afghanistan and we do not see any sign of commitment for peace from the Taliban group,” he said.
“Our usual demand from Pakistan has been to destroy the safe havens of Taliban and terrorists on its soil and play a positive role in the security of the region,” he added.
Pakistan was among the few countries to recognize the Taliban’s government, which ruled much of Afghanistan from 1996 until it was ousted by US-led troops in late 2001.
Islamabad has been accused by both the Afghan government and US officials for backing and giving shelter to the Taliban on its soil, an allegation Pakistan has vehemently denied.
Ahead of the trip to Pakistan, the Taliban delegation also visited Russia, China and Iran, propagating the group’s point of view that it was interested in resuming talks with Washington while blaming Trump for canceling a peace deal that had reached its final stage.


Iran dismisses ‘desperate’ US move to end nuclear waivers

Updated 28 May 2020

Iran dismisses ‘desperate’ US move to end nuclear waivers

  • ‘Ending waivers for nuclear cooperation with Iran ... has effectively no impact on Iran’s continued work’

TEHRAN: Tehran on Thursday dismissed the impact of what it called Washington’s “desperate attempt” to end sanction waivers for nations that remain in the Iran nuclear accord.
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said the United States had made the move in a bid “to distract public opinion from its continued defeats at the hands of Iran.”
“Ending waivers for nuclear cooperation with Iran... has effectively no impact on Iran’s continued work” on what the Islamic republic insists is a purely civilian nuclear energy program, its spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi added in a statement published on the agency’s website.
The US decision, he said, was in response to Iranian fuel shipments to Venezuela — which is also under US sanctions — and the “significant advancements of Iran’s nuclear industry.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the United States was responding to Iran’s “brinksmanship” — its scrapping of certain nuclear commitments aimed at pressuring Washington to remove sanctions as called for by the 2015 accord.
“These escalatory actions are unacceptable and I cannot justify renewing the waiver,” Pompeo said in a statement.
President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the landmark agreement — also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA — and reimposed sanctions on Iran in 2018.
The remaining parties to the deal include Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.
In May 2019, Iran announced it was suspending nuclear commitments to the deal, starting with removing limits on its heavy water and enriched uranium stockpiles.
It was in retaliation for US sanctions and what Iran deemed Europe’s inaction to provide it with the JCPOA’s economic benefits.
Washington had until now issued waivers to allow companies, primarily from Russia, to keep carrying out the nuclear work of the agreement without risking legal ramifications in the US economy.
It will end waivers that allowed the modification of the heavy water reactor in Arak, which prevented it from using plutonium for military use, as well as the export of spent and scrap research reactor fuel.
Kamalvandi said ending the waivers would not impact Iran’s continued work on the Arak reactor and “other equipment” by Iranian experts.