Afghanistan News & Discussion

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby SSridhar » 06 Feb 2016 05:31

During his recent visit to India, CEO Abdullah Abdullah said that three Mi-35s supplied for India have boosted the morale of the ANA troops fighting the Taliban and the fourth would also join action very soon.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby SSridhar » 07 Feb 2016 07:37

Kabul-Taliban talks by month-end
Direct peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban are “expected to take place” by the end of the month, representatives from four countries {the Quadrilateral Group} involved in precursor road map negotiations said in a joint statement issued on Saturday in Islamabad. The statement by delegates from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States came after a third round of talks between the four powers and is the strongest indication yet the Taliban are willing to return to negotiations six months after an earlier round of direct dialogue failed. The statement added that the group would hold its next meeting on February 23 in Kabul. — AFP

It is very obvious that Pakistan is deftly manipulating the Taliban, offering talks now and withdrawing from talks later etc. It is simultaneously part of the group that also 'facilitates' what are anything but 'Aghan-led and Afghan-owned talks'.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby Prem » 09 Feb 2016 09:20

Senior Taliban leader Mullah Hassan Rahmani dies
http://www.khaama.com/taliban-leadershi ... -dies-4563

senior member of the Taliban leadership council Mullah Mohammad Hassan Rahmani has passed away.Taliban write in a statement that Rahmani died of illness early on Tuesday.Images published on social media show an elderly aged man, identified as Rahmani, lying on a bed in a hospital. However, the location of the hospital is not mentioned.Rahamni reportedly died of cancer or hepatitis.Mullah Mohammad Hassan Rahmani was a close aide Mullah Mohammad Omar who served as the governor of southern Kandahar province and head of the southern zone during Taliban regime.Rahmani was among the Taliban leaders who had been involved in meetings for reaching to a peace deal with government including one that was organized in Urumqi city of China.He was one of the few Taliban commanders who initially opposed the selection of Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour as the leader of Taliban after the death of Mullah Omar.But sources later said that a compromise had been reached and Rahmani too pledged allegiance to Mansour.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby SSridhar » 09 Feb 2016 11:17

Mullah Hasan Rahmani is a well-know pro-ISI guy. It was Jalil (a former Taliban deputy foreign minister and a pro-ISI, pro-Akhtar Mansour guy) and two colleagues, Mullah Hassan Rahmani and Abdul Razaq, who held secret talks with Afghan officials in China in May 2015. Mullah Rahmani is a known ISI favourite.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby SSridhar » 19 Feb 2016 17:29

Penetrating Every Stage of Afghan Opium Chain, Taliban Become a Cartel - Azam Ahmed, NYT
ZARANJ, Afghanistan — Shortly after sunrise, an Afghan special operations helicopter descended on two vehicles racing through the empty deserts of southern Afghanistan, traversing what has become a superhighway for smugglers and insurgents.

Intelligence showed that the men were transporting a huge cache of drugs and weapons from Helmand Province to Nimruz Province, a hub for all things illegal and a way station on the global opium trail. Hovering above, the troops fired tracer rounds into the sandy earth beside the vehicles, which skidded to a stop.

It was an impressive take for the Afghan forces that day, July 12, 2014. They seized nearly a metric ton of opium in various phases of processing, three AK-47 assault rifles, an automatic handgun, a PKM machine gun, a rocket-propelled grenade, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, four two-way radios and two satellite phones.

But the biggest coup was neither the drugs nor the weapons. It was a passenger who gave his name as Muhammad Eshaq, a 40-year-old carpet seller from Nimruz. After a later inquiry by international officials, the police discovered that Mr. Eshaq was actually Mullah Abdul Rashid Baluch, the Taliban shadow governor of Nimruz Province: a man with blood on his hands and with direct links to the top Taliban leaders in Pakistan.

In many respects, Mullah Rashid embodies the evolution of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. As a hardened insurgent, most notorious for planning a mass suicide attack in Nimruz during the holy month of Ramadan, he had become among the most powerful drug smugglers in all of southern Afghanistan.

That he was picked up during a drug raid, not a counterterrorism operation, was a fitting end. He was, in the eyes of many, more of a criminal than an insurgent ideologue. Prosecutors brought him to the country’s elite drug court, and within four months, he was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Mullah Rashid is just one of dozens of senior Taliban leaders who are so enmeshed in the drug trade that it has become difficult to distinguish the group from a dedicated drug cartel. While the Taliban have long profited from the taxation and protection of the drug trade in Afghanistan, insurgents are taking more direct roles and claiming spots higher up in the opium chain, according to interviews with dozens of Afghan and Western officials, as well as smugglers and members of the communities where they reside.

This includes high-level commanders, like Mullah Rashid, personally escorting large shipments. And it goes straight to the top: The new Taliban leader, Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, is at the pinnacle of a pyramid of tribal Ishaqzai drug traffickers and has amassed an immense personal fortune, according to United Nations monitors. That drug money changed the entire shape of the Taliban: With it, Mullah Mansour bought off influential dissenters when he claimed the supreme leadership over the summer, according to senior Taliban commanders.

In some areas of Afghanistan, the Taliban have provided seeds for farmers to grow opium on the insurgents’ behalf, or paid middlemen to purchase opium for them to store while they wait for prices to increase.

In its most recent monitoring report, the United Nations warned that the Taliban’s deeper drift into the drug business was bad news for the prospect of peace. “This trend has real consequences for peace and security in Afghanistan, as it encourages those within the Taliban movement who have the greatest economic incentives to oppose any meaningful process of reconciliation with the new government,” the authors wrote.

Some of the change in the nature of the Taliban movement can be attributed to the devastating military campaign to take out its leaders, leaving younger, more radical commanders on the battlefield. With competing conflicts diminishing some of the money from traditional donors in the Persian Gulf, the Taliban have been forced into greater self-reliance, cobbling money together from a variety of sources. Those sources include gem and lumber smuggling, but drug trafficking has become, by far, the Taliban’s most important and steady revenue source.

Mullah Rashid is one of the highest-ranking Taliban members to be directly implicated in drug smuggling in recent years. He owned homes in the notorious smuggling haven of Baramcha and controlled narcotics traffic through the open deserts in southern Helmand Province that connect Nimruz, Pakistan and Iran.

“He started as an idealist but became a professional smuggler,” said one top intelligence official in Nimruz Province
, who has tracked Mullah Rashid for five years. “When he became the shadow governor, the trade became so lucrative, he could not give it up.”

According to government officials, Mullah Rashid was appointed to the governorship of Nimruz more than four years ago, after his predecessor was killed. He was a strategic pick for the Taliban, which hoped to benefit from his ethnicity as well as his experience. He is of Baluch descent, which made it easier for him to operate and recruit in the borderlands, where his tribesmen are prominent.

As an insurgent commander, his highest-profile acts were a series of suicide attacks in Zaranj in August 2012, which claimed the lives of nearly 30 people during Ramadan, officials familiar with his tenure said. He was also a key figure in coordinating contacts between the Taliban and Al Qaeda, setting up high-level meetings in Pakistan between the two groups.

But soon, his main focus became the drug business. Mullah Rashid consolidated his power in the smuggling zones of southern Afghanistan, a vast expanse of desert used for decades by smugglers hoping to evade detection. Knowledge of the routes and landscape, which has no formal maps or roadways, is the difference between life and death. The police, for the most part, are unable to patrol or secure this area outside of a few highly selective special operations missions.

Government and law enforcement officials familiar with Mullah Rashid said he had monitored and overseen a majority of drug smuggling through his area of influence. On July 12, 2014, he took a particularly active hand, personally joining a convoy transporting nearly a ton of opium, most of it in the cooked-down form that precedes heroin processing.

In the lead vehicle, a pickup truck, two men transported the drugs, along with some of the weaponry. One man involved, Noor Ahmad, was driving the shipment to pay off a $4,000 debt. Another was hoping to earn the $2,000 promised for such journeys, the authorities said.

In the tail car, a Toyota Corolla, four others traveled: a mixed bag of men, including a businessman, a farmer and another mullah in addition to Mullah Rashid, all trailing the main convoy by about 500 feet and carrying most of the weapons that were seized, according to court records. During questioning after their arrests, the men claimed that the weapons had been planted on them and that they had not been a part of any convoy.

Around 6:30 a.m., as the convoy was traveling through the Garmsir district, helicopters piloted by coalition forces appeared on the horizon. Special forces units from the Afghan police’s 444 division emerged and fired warning shots at the vehicles. The passengers in the last car fled but were quickly caught.

It was not until weeks later that the Afghan government came to find out, almost accidentally, that the man who had identified himself as Muhammad Eshaq was really Mullah Rashid.

According to the chief prosecutor of the criminal justice task force, Yar Mohammad Husseinkhel, British officials asked to speak with Mr. Eshaq, who was imprisoned at the time in Kabul.

Two Czech women had been kidnapped in the deserts of Baluchistan Province, Pakistan, and Western officials hoped that Mr. Eshaq might help. They knew at the time what the Afghan government in Kabul did not: that Mr. Eshaq was in fact the shadow governor of Nimruz, Mullah Rashid, an ethnic Baluch who they hoped might be able to share information or broker the women’s release.

Mr. Husseinkhel declined to say whether Mullah Rashid had provided information or helped in any way. But in the spring of 2015, more than two years after their abduction and about 10 months after officials sought Mullah Rashid’s help, the women were finally released. Mullah Rashid remains in the custody of Afghan officials.

After the women’s release, the United States Treasury Department designated Mullah Rashid a global terrorist — a year after his arrest.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby vishvak » 19 Feb 2016 23:13

There is absolutely no grand vision in forming drug cartels, as in the Latin America, that Taliban seem to have been indulging in. Just to note that it is clear from above.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby member_29325 » 20 Feb 2016 01:09

Paki Army gets to finance its terrorists and the officer lifestyles with drug trade in full bloom. Russia is probably interested in having leverage over pakis to stop this from affecting Russia..others have tried and failed (like the USA).

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby NRao » 20 Feb 2016 11:56

ThiruV wrote:Paki Army gets to finance its terrorists and the officer lifestyles with drug trade in full bloom. Russia is probably interested in having leverage over pakis to stop this from affecting Russia..others have tried and failed (like the USA).


The US has not been able to do much against the cartels in Latin America, I doubt anyone can do much with the Pakistani army, a cartel by itself. Not just in drugs but nukes, terrorism, etc.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby ramana » 23 Feb 2016 06:00

There was some news about Helmand on the radio. Didn't catch the drift.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby Prem » 23 Feb 2016 06:53

ramana wrote:There was some news about Helmand on the radio. Didn't catch the drift.

All India Radio NewsVerified account ‏@airnewsalerts 1h1 hour ago
#Afghanistan : Suicide bomber kills 13 in northern Parwan province

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby Austin » 27 Feb 2016 10:31

JANES:Russia donates 10,000 AK-47s to Afghanistan

http://www.janes.com/article/58368/russ ... fghanistan

Russia has donated 10,000 AK-47 assault rifles and about one million rounds of ammunition to Afghanistan as part of its military aid to the country. The arms and ammunition arrived on 24 February in a Russian aircraft at the military airport in Kabul. As IHS Jane's reported earlier, the donation was announced back in November 2015.

In a small ceremony the arms and ammunition were received by Alexander Mantytskiy, the Russian ambassador in Afghanistan, and Mohammad Anif Atmar, Afghanistan's national security advisor.

Mantytskiy put the donation of the AK-47s in the context of Russia's longstanding support of the Afghan government, while Atmar described the donation as "an important aid, from an important friend of Afghanistan at an important time" as part of an earlier signed co-operation agreement between Moscow and Kabul.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby SSridhar » 02 Mar 2016 12:58

Explosions, gunfire heard near Indian consulate in Jalalabad - ToI
Explosions and gunfire rocked the area near the Indian consulate in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Wednesday.

"It was a suicide explosion outside Indian consulate gate, all consulate staff are safe," ANI reported, quoting an MEA official.

Blasts shattered windows and doors in nearby buildings and destroyed at least eight cars.

No militant group (It is the terrorist country, Pakistan) has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby arun » 04 Mar 2016 11:08

X Posted from the Pakistani Role In Global Terrorism thread.

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan via their Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, confirms the well know allegation that the Islamic Republic provides a safe haven for Taliban’s leaders, medical facilities for Taliban members and refuge for their families. The specific words of Sartaj Aziz are “And now, we have some influence on them because their leadership is in Pakistan, and they get some medical facilities, their families are here. So we can use those levers to pressurize them to say: Come to the table.”:

AFP via Yahoo News

CFR Transcript is available here:

A Conversation With Sartaj Aziz

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby SSridhar » 04 Mar 2016 11:57

arun wrote:The Islamic Republic of Pakistan via their Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, confirms the well know allegation that the Islamic Republic provides a safe haven for Taliban’s leaders, medical facilities for Taliban members and refuge for their families. The specific words of Sartaj Aziz are And now, we have some influence on them because their leadership is in Pakistan, and they get some medical facilities, their families are here. So we can use those levers to pressurize them to say: Come to the table.”

Very reminiscent of what Jinnah said to Mountbatten about the NWFP jihadis on a rampage in J&K, way back in 1947. The more it changes, the more it remains the same.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby Haresh » 04 Mar 2016 21:09

Taliban's Pakistan Links Are No Surprise

http://news.sky.com/story/1652707/talib ... o-surprise

How many soldiers have the west lost in Afghan? Killed by their friends and allies in the war on terror, the one's they gave most favoured non nato ally status too??

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby SSridhar » 05 Mar 2016 17:38

Afghan Taliban refuse peace talks with government - AP
The Taliban said on Saturday they will not participate in a peace process with the Afghan government until foreign forces stop attacking their positions and leave the country.

A statement emailed to The Associated Press by spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the insurgents “reject” peace talks and that reports of their participation were “rumours.”

Face-to-face talks were expected to take place in Pakistan in early March
, but Afghan officials said in recent days that they have been postponed for at least a week. Senior government officials had characterised the meeting as the first real step in a peace process aimed at ending the war, now in its 15th year.

Javid Faisal, a spokesman for Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, said the government “has no problem holding the first round of direct peace talks.”

The Taliban have meanwhile accused the United States of boosting troop numbers and carrying out airstrikes and night raids on residential compounds. They also accuse Afghan forces of stepping up operations.

Mujahid said the leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, had not given any order to take part in talks and that the “leadership council of the Islamic Emirate” had not discussed the matter.


The talks were decided on by delegates of four countries Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States who met in Kabul last month. No date was set, and no names of participants were announced.

The last attempt at direct talks broke down last summer after just one round when Kabul announced the death of longtime Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.


Clearly, Pakistan is playing its cards here.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby ramana » 06 Mar 2016 07:02

Saw the Hollywood movie Whiskey Tango Foxtrot with Tina Fey in the lead role of a female reporter in Kabul.

Highlights were her repeated invocation of ISI while searching for news leads!!!

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby SSridhar » 07 Mar 2016 11:43

‘Taliban peace talks within weeks’ - AFP
Afghan officials voiced optimism Sunday that Taliban peace talks would resume “within weeks” even after the insurgents rebuffed calls for dialogue, with analysts dismissing their seemingly tough stance as a bargaining ploy. Talks brokered by a four-country group were expected to start in early March, but the Taliban on Saturday stressed longstanding preconditions for dialogue including the departure of foreign troops from Afghanistan. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday said he was “hopeful” about peace talks aimed at ending the Taliban’s 14-year insurgency. :rotfl: — AFP

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby SSridhar » 07 Mar 2016 12:11

ramana wrote:Saw the Hollywood movie Whiskey Tango Foxtrot . . .

That title 'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot' endorses STFU for the TSP thread !

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby ramana » 07 Mar 2016 21:59

Exactly. Movie highlights whats so wrong with Islamist countries. Ignore main story but see the underlying circumstances. Also gives insight into ratings driven news media culture.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby Mort Walker » 08 Mar 2016 10:01

In 1959 Eisenhower was the first sitting US president to visit the Indian sub-continent. He first went to Karachi and held discussions with Ayub Khan, then to Afghanistan to discuss the security situation there. The Afghans told Eisenhower that Pakistan was trying to destabilize Afghanistan and Pakistan was seen as their biggest security threat. From Kabul he flew on to Delhi where he was greeted by over a million people and had discussions with Nehru. It looks like nothing much has changed.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby SSridhar » 08 Mar 2016 15:09

Mort Walker wrote:In 1959 Eisenhower was the first sitting US president to visit the Indian sub-continent. He first went to Karachi and held discussions with Ayub Khan, then to Afghanistan to discuss the security situation there. The Afghans told Eisenhower that Pakistan was trying to destabilize Afghanistan and Pakistan was seen as their biggest security threat. From Kabul he flew on to Delhi where he was greeted by over a million people and had discussions with Nehru. It looks like nothing much has changed.

Nothing would change because that was what the Americans, as a legatee of the British Imperial government, received from Sir Olaf Kirkpatrick Caroe, the last foreign secretary of the British Raj and the Governor of NWFP.

Olaf Caroe told the Americans in the 1950s that the operations in Mesopotamia (Iraq) in WW I and in Iran in WW II were made possible from bases in Imperial India and with the independence of India he suggested replacing Imperial India with Pakistan.

The Americans followed it to a ditto and soon found more exciting adventures were possible with the Pakistanis than what the staid Britishers were wont to let happen. The floodgates were thrown open and the damaged gates cannot even be repaired or replaced because the floods haven't stopped. And, who is ensuring the floods, the Pakistanis themselves. Circular.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby deejay » 15 Mar 2016 11:08

https://twitter.com/Pashtunist/status/709622627783069696

Ahmet Yar
‏@Pashtunist
Update: Taliban overran 7 military bases last night & took control of #Khanashin district of #Helmand #Afg


http://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-talibantalks-idUSKCN0WG2LM?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&utm_content=buffer12c71&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Pakistani officials threatened to expel Afghanistan's Taliban from bases in Pakistan if they did not join peace talks this month, but the militants rebuffed their traditional patron, two officials said, casting doubt on how much influence Islamabad retains over them.

After the secret meetings with Pakistani officials about two weeks ago, the Taliban's Supreme Council met at an undisclosed location and voted to reject the talks scheduled for early March with the Afghan government, according to a council member.

Instead, the insurgents are now pouring back into Afghanistan for what they say will be a fierce spring offensive to be launched soon.

Pakistan's influence over the insurgents is the lynchpin to the peace plan developed over last few months by Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China to bring an end to the 15-year-old war in Afghanistan.

A Pakistani official in Islamabad said the Taliban's recent success on the battlefield inside Afghanistan had changed the equation.

"They no longer need their Pakistan bases in the same way, so if Pakistan threatens to expel them, it does not have the same effect," said the official, a retired military officer close to the talks.

The insurgents have won new zones of influence - if not outright control - from Afghan security forces since the United States and its allies pulled most combat troops from Afghanistan at the end of 2014, Afghan and Western officials acknowledge.

"Pakistan's trump card - safe havens on its soil - is in danger of being snatched away," said Michael Kugelman of the Woodrow Wilson Institute, a Washington-based think tank.

"The Taliban have little incentive to step off the battlefield now, given recent gains and those likely to come in the next few months. In effect, why quit while you're ahead?"

Nafees Zakaria, a spokesman for Pakistan's Foreign Office, said he had no knowledge of meetings with the Taliban but added, "We usually don't know who has met with whom" in the sensitive and high-level peace initiative.

In Kabul, however, members of the Afghan government were skeptical about Pakistan's assertions.

"Pakistan's honesty and sincerity with regard to the Afghan peace process has always been a question," said an Afghan cabinet member, echoing the sentiment of several officials interviewed there.

Pakistan's military has long been accused of fostering the Taliban as a way of pursuing regional rivalry with India.

Pakistani officials, however, deny the charge and insist the government and military recognize that Afghanistan's war threatens their own security .

THEIR DREAM"

A member of the Taliban's leadership council, or shura, whose members are mostly based in Pakistan and Afghanistan but also travel between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, said rebel representatives met in Islamabad with Pakistani officials a little more than two weeks ago.

"They have asked our representatives to bring more decision-making people to the next meeting ... to the meeting with U.S. and Afghan officials. This is their dream, but they will not be able to see our senior commanders," the Taliban council member said.

A senior Pakistani security official with knowledge of the talks said: "I don't think the talks are dead, but they are definitely plagued by a serious illness.

"The ones who are in Pakistan ... We have told them repeatedly that they will have to leave if they don't participate in the process," the Pakistani official said..

"We have done what we can ... but influence does not mean control. Those days are long gone."

The Taliban source had knowledge of, but did not attend, the meeting with Pakistani officials in Islamabad. He was at the subsequent Taliban council meeting to decide on whether to join the peace talks.

The pro-talks camp largely comprised supporters of nominal Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour, believed to be hiding in Pakistan after being shot in a leadership dispute last year and rumored killed, and his chief rival, Mullah Mohammad Rasoul, who is believed to be in Afghanistan.

"I personally feel that Mullah Mansour and some other leaders are in favor of peace talks and they don't want to annoy Pakistan ... but they can't make decisions without approval of other shura members," said the Taliban council member."

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid declined to comment on any meetings with Pakistani representatives. He confirmed the Leadership Council meeting but would not give details.

Publicly, both the Afghan and Pakistani government are expressing hopes that peace talks can begin before the traditional Taliban spring offensive .

Pakistan's top diplomat Sartaj Aziz spoke last week of progress in restarting talks "in coming days".

However, Taliban commanders told Reuters that with the council's decision, they are focusing on launching their annual fighting season with the hopes of grabbing more territory.

"We already have started focusing on the spring offensive, and that's why the majority of the fighters and commanders are going there (Afghanistan)," said a senior Taliban figure, based in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan.

(Additional reporting by Josh Smith and Hamid Shalizi in Kabul; writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby deejay » 15 Mar 2016 11:12

Came across this video (Graphic) of Talibani men lashing a women.

https://twitter.com/OnlineMagazin/status/707863773047078913

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby deejay » 18 Mar 2016 12:25

Taliban cliams to have shot down US helicopter. All on board probably dead.

https://www.rt.com/news/336059-us-helicopter-downed-afghanistan/

Taliban extremists claim they have shot down a US helicopter in southern Afghanistan, reports on social media say, adding that all American soldiers on board were allegedly “killed on the spot.”
The incident is said to have taken place in the Shawal Manda area of Nad Ali district in Helmand province, the largest province in Afghanistan.

The photo below, posted on Facebook by Watan Press, a Kabul-based newspaper, claims to depict the downed helicopter.
Image

According to unconfirmed social media reports, four soldiers aboard the helicopter were killed in the incident.


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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby SSridhar » 26 Mar 2016 07:47

Prospects of Taliban peace talks dim as frontlines shift - AP
Prospects of jumpstarting peace talks with the Taliban are becoming increasingly dim amid recent battlefield gains by the insurgents in Afghanistan, an embattled government in Kabul and growing suspicions of Pakistan's good intentions in facilitating such negotiations {Whoever believed in Pakistan's 'good intentions' in the first place is a fool of the highest order. On May 12, 2015, Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif along with Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif and the ISI Chief Lt. Gen. Rizwan Akhtar visited Kabul when Nawaz Sharif boldly said that the latest ‘spring offensive’ launched by the Taliban was an act of ‘terrorism’. Pakistan even ‘warned’ the Taliban that it would launch a counteroffensive along with the ANA against it. Since the spring offensives of the earlier years were launched by the Taliban in connivance with the ISI and the Pakistani Army, this declaration was meant to ensnare the new Afghan President into a deeper relationship with Pakistan, a duplicity to which the Afghan President Ghani fell. It turned out in the end, that the Spring Offensive 2015 was the bloodiest in the history of post 9/11 Afghanistan. So much for Pakistan's 'good intentions'} .

Even if Pakistan wanted to bring the warring sides to the negotiating table, its leverage as a safe haven for the Taliban has weakened as the insurgents' southern Afghan heartland has expanded, providing them with more places to hide at home. {Not true. The Taliban leadership and their families as well as the Shura live in Pakistan under ISI protection. Sartaj Aziz boasted that they have enough leverage as medical facilities, residence permits etc ! All of a sudden, all these have evaporated?}

The Taliban were toppled in the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan and have fought against the Kabul government and Nato forces ever since. Their insurgency escalated after the end in 2014 of the US-Nato combat mission.

That pullout left inexperienced and poorly trained Afghan forces to battle insurgents largely on their own. When the Taliban launched their annual warm-weather offensive last year, Kabul responded with large-scale military operations, but the Taliban gained ground.

A report released this month by the independent Afghan Analysts Network offered a breakdown of the southern Helmand province, showing the Taliban in control of parts of many districts and all of other districts, with the exception of district capitals.

The AAN, which is based in Kabul, concluded that the Taliban have become better armed and better organized, and have established "well-equipped and mobile commando-like" units.

As a result, neighboring Pakistan, which has acted as a traditional go-between, has lost some of its leverage over the insurgents and may no longer have the authority to bring the Taliban into the talks.

"Pakistan has derived its influence over the Taliban through the safe havens it provides to the group on its soil," said Michael Kugelman, a senior associate for South and Southeast Asia at the US-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

"Now the Taliban are developing new sanctuaries in Afghanistan, and they may not have as much need to heed the requests of their patron," Kugelman told Associated Press. "In effect, if the Pakistanis come calling, the Taliban may choose not to listen, and simply keep on fighting."

A four-nation group that included Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the United States launched efforts earlier this year to try to bring Afghanistan's protracted war to a negotiated end. They developed a roadmap and promised an early start to talks. Pakistan was seen as key to bringing the Taliban to the table.

But the Taliban issued a statement saying they would not participate in the talks and their new leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, claimed the Taliban were winning the war and were "in a better state than at any other time."

Meanwhile, Islamabad's commitment to moving things forward has come under scrutiny, particularly after reports surfaced this week that Mullah Mohammed Rasool, leader of a renegade Taliban faction, was arrested in Pakistan.

While Islamabad has refused to confirm Rasool's arrest, an intelligence official and two senior Taliban figures told the AP that he was detained by Pakistani authorities {This was like Mullah Baradar's arrest six years back} — a development that came after he expressed a willingness to speak directly with the Afghan government. The Pakistani official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence data. The Taliban sought anonymity because they did not want to come to the attention of the Pakistani authorities.

If confirmed, the reports would feed into the perception that Pakistan might be reluctant to pressure the Taliban to come to the talks.

It wouldn't be the first time Pakistan has detained a Taliban leader who tried to talk peace directly with Kabul. In 2010, Islamabad arrested Abdul Ghani Baradar after reports emerged that he had tried to talk to Afghanistan's president at the time, Hamid Karzai.

According to the two Taliban figures, Mansoor — who took over as Taliban leader after the insurgents announced last summer that their founder, Mullah Mohammed Omar, had been dead for two years — told his commanders who are still in safe havens in Pakistan to go to Afghanistan if they cannot resist the pressure from Islamabad. {Coming from 'Taliban sources' of the Mansoor faction, this is planted news to suggest that the Mansoor-faction of Taliban are not under the ISI control}

Despite gains on the ground, Mansoor has also had to deal with rifts and infighting since officially taking over the Taliban — along with a new rival, the emerging Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan. This makes him likely more intent on rallying followers to unite in battle against Kabul than on getting into any peace talks.

Some observers have also questioned what Kabul can bring to the negotiations.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani faces plenty of troubles at home — from the surging Taliban, a contracting economy and political divisions, to a desperate need to keep funds from the international community flowing in after the Nato pullout of combat troops.

Anatol Lieven, a professor at Georgetown University in Qatar, who is also closely involved in efforts to bring warring Afghan sides to the table, said he was struck on recent trips to Kabul by a "paralysis" in the power-sharing system between Ghani and his Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

Ghani's recent attempt to strike an intelligence-sharing deal with Pakistan fell through following opposition from Abdullah.

"It seems to me that whatever Kabul could offer ... is far, far short of a settlement that the Taliban would be asking for," said Lieven, who has also written a book on Pakistan, titled, "Pakistan: A Hard Country."

Pakistan's special adviser on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, told the AP that Islamabad is trying to persuade the Taliban leaders who are in Pakistan to join the talks. He also acknowledged that some key Afghan Taliban figures live in Pakistan and receive medical care here.

"They are scattered all over the country. I am not saying we are hosting them. For the last 35 years they have been coming and going," said Aziz. :rotfl: "All I will say is we are trying our best to persuade them to talk."

Pakistan, which sees most foreign policy issues through the prism of its shaky relationship with nuclear archrival neighboring India has expressed concern about India's increasing influence in Afghanistan, particularly in the field of defense, says Amir Rana.

Rana, of the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies in Islamabad, said Pakistan first and foremost wants a peace process where its concerns are addressed.

Even if a peace process got off the ground, questions remain what it could accomplish.

"I can't imagine any sort of power-sharing arrangement between the Afghan government and Afghan Taliban," said Kugelman.

ramana
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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby ramana » 28 Mar 2016 21:26

How are the Hazaras treated in Afghanistan?

Do they feel kinship to Kabul or Tehran?

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby deejay » 28 Mar 2016 21:48

Ramana ji, Hazaras have suffered from biases against them. The Kite Runner from Khaled Hosseni is an excellent book to understand the social status of Hazaras in Afghanistan. One can also see the movie on the book.

You may also check this link though it appears leftist leaning:

http://minorityrights.org/minorities/hazaras/

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby habal » 28 Mar 2016 22:09

ramana wrote:How are the Hazaras treated in Afghanistan?

Do they feel kinship to Kabul or Tehran?


there are atleast a million hazara from afghanistan in Iran
Many deployed to syria by Iran.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby Agnimitra » 29 Mar 2016 18:44

ramana wrote:How are the Hazaras treated in Afghanistan?

Do they feel kinship to Kabul or Tehran?

Very hardcore Shi'a, so religious affiliation with Tehran, but strong identification with their position in the Afghan mosaic - though educated Hazaras will often say, 'Earlier (premodern times) borders had no meaning' - indicating a discomfort with limited modern nation-states, because clearly they see their place as more secure in an extended regional geographical framework not limited to the current borders of Afghanistan, but rather in 'greater Khorasan'.

Even among foreign students in India, Afghan Hazaras typically hang close with those Irani students who do not consider it beneath their dignity to hobnob with 'Afghans'. But Hazara refugees have been mistreated with contempt within Iran itself. They do identify with Afghanistan strongly.

Interestingly, BBC Farsi and British agencies strongly advocate the Hazara identification with Iran, even more aggressively than Irani TV.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby Prem » 30 Mar 2016 07:54

President Ghani opens campaign for the cleaning of Kabul city
http://thepashtuntimes.com/president-gh ... abul-city/

KABUL: A campaign to clean capital Kabul was launched today with President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani participating in the opening of the campaign in a bid to encourage the citizens of the country to contribute and keep the cities clean.The campaign was launched from Bibi Mehro area of Kabul city today which comes as the residents of Kabul city have long been criticizing the government for remaining reckless to resolve the issue.In his speech during the inauguration of the cleaning program, President Ghani said Kabul city and Bagrami district will be cleaned in the initial phase of the campaign and the garbage will be shifted to Gazak area.He said an international firm will be appointed in the second phase of the campaign for the filtration of the garbage so that they can be used to produce energy.President Ghani further added that the third phase will include the creation of a work force so that they can persistently continue with the cleaning work of the city and steps for the third phase will be announced later.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby deejay » 01 Apr 2016 23:20

Vice had published a few video reports from Afghanistan in Nov after the Taliban's Kunduz offensive. I saw one just today. The video has been made in the Kunduz area and discusses the Taliban resurgence in the 02 yrs prior. Briefs on the Kunduz takeover and withdrawal by Taliban, MSF hospital bombing, the Jihadi mindset in the Afghani youth are available. 18 mins of insights into Afghan's and their respect for their government vis-a-vis Taliban.


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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby arun » 02 Apr 2016 09:23

X Posted from the STFUP thread.

What irony. The tactical brilliance of the Uniformed Jihadi’s of the Punjabi dominated Military shines through. Victim of the Uniformed Jihadi’s of the Punjabi dominated Military of Islamic Republic of Pakistan policy of fomenting cross border Mohammadden Terrorism and consequently becoming one of the worlds terrorism blackspots, Afghanistan, refuses to s to send her cricket team to Pakistan due to terrorism related “security reasons” :rotfl: .

Afghanistan calls off Pakistan tour

Afghanistan have refused to visit Pakistan next month due to security reasons, Dunya News reported on Thursday.

Afghanistan were scheduled to play a three-match series against Pakistan in the second week of April.

On the other hand, head of ICC Executive Committee Giles Clarke has called off his visit to Pakistan. He was due in Pakistan next week to monitor security arrangements for World XI’s Pakistan tour.


Besides Afghanistan, Kenya has also aborted the tour of their women’s cricket team due to the “precarious security situation” in the Mohammadden Terrorism fomenting Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The fomenting of Mohammadden Terrorism by the Uniformed Jihadi’s of the Punjabi dominated Military of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is certainly coming back to haunt the Islamic Republic of Pakistan :

Afghanistan, Kenya cancel tours

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby SSridhar » 05 Apr 2016 18:51

Understand that Mullah Omar's son, Yakoub, has been inducted into Akhtar Mansour's Taliban group with the position of a Commander for nearly half of the Taliban. If true, this is a significant achievement by the ISI. In July 2015, Mullah Omar’s son Mohammed Yacoub and Mullah Omar’s brother Mullah Abdul Manan Hotak walked out of the shura protesting the choice of Mansour as the new Emir. Yacoub had earlier got the support of Sirajuddin Haqqani whom the Pakistani ISI presuurized to shift to Mansour. A grateful Mansour appointed Sirajuddin Haqqani as his Deputy.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby SSridhar » 12 Apr 2016 12:15

Afghan Taliban announce start of 'spring offensive' - DAWN
The Afghan Taliban announced Tuesday the start of their "spring offensive" even as the government in Kabul tries to bring the insurgents back to the negotiating table to end their drawn-out conflict.

The Taliban said in a statement they would "employ large-scale attacks on enemy positions across the country" during the offensive they have dubbed "Operation Omari" in honour of the movement's late founder Mullah Omar, whose death was announced last year.

The annual spring offensive normally marks the start of the "fighting season", though this winter they continued to battle government forces without a seasonal break for the first time.

The statement promised "martyrdom-seeking and tactical attacks against enemy strongholds", a reference to suicide bombings ─ a strategy the group has long resorted to against its enemies the Afghan police and army, whom they view as “stooges” of the West.

On Monday, 12 fresh recruits were killed in one such attack in the country's east.

The Afghan Taliban who have been waging an insurgency since being toppled from power in 2001, also promised attacks on the 13,000 Nato troops currently stationed in the country, officially on a training and advisory mission.

The Taliban have made the departure of all foreign forces a precondition to the resumption of direct peace talks with Kabul, which began last summer in Pakistan but ended abruptly after it was revealed that Mullah Omar had been dead for two years.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby devesh » 13 Apr 2016 08:11

^^^
the continued fighting even in winter is a sign of their confidence in their position.
remember, Abdali's final campaign in India (the one which proved disastrous to Marathas) lasted almost an year-and-half. before that, it was always raids/rape/pillaging in winter and Spring, and retreat back across the Khyber before Summer reaches full blast (they couldn't take the Indian tropical summer heat). But the 1759-1760 campaign surprisingly lasted all through summer that year, winter, and finally climaxed on Jan 14, 1761.

surviving purely as a war economy - rape, pillage, genocidal campaigns - has become such a finely ingrained instinct for them that they have very good sense of timing when it comes to war tactics and gaining strategic leverage through military tactics.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby deejay » 15 Apr 2016 17:13

Al Masdar is reporting a Taliban claim of blowing up an Afghan helicopter (Mi 8 family) with video. Personally I am not sure of the vintage. The video is a big AoA moment.

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/video-taliban-blows-military-helicopter-afghanistan/


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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion

Postby Rahul M » 19 Apr 2016 21:36

new thread here.

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7203


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