Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Bishwa » 04 Dec 2016 02:16

I read a report that the 4th Mi24 Hind was handed over to Afghanistan. Report was on President Ashraf Ghani's visit.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby arun » 07 Dec 2016 15:29

X Posted from the “Pakistani Role In Global Terrorism” thread.

Former US Army Vice Chief of Staff (1999-2003) General John M. Keane in testimony to the US Senate Committee on Armed Services confirms the Mohammadden Terrorist fomenting ways of the Uniformed Jihadi’s of the Punjabi dominated Military of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In testimony to a hearing on “Emerging U.S. Defense Challenges and Worldwide Threats”, Gen, Keane testifies that “Two Taliban sanctuaries exist in Pakistan where the Pakistan military provides intelligence, training, and logistics assistance to enhance the Taliban operational performance while providing continuous safe haven.”

See here: Clicky

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby SSridhar » 09 Dec 2016 14:01

Russia-Taliban ties worry Afghan, US officials - Reuters
Afghan and American officials are increasingly worried that any deepening of ties between Russia and Taliban militants fighting to topple the government in Kabul could complicate an already precarious security situation.

Russian officials have denied they provide aid to the militants
, who are contesting large swathes of territory and inflicting heavy casualties, and say their limited contacts are aimed at bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table.

Leaders in Kabul say Russian support for the Afghan Taliban appears to be mostly political so far. But they say a series of meetings taking place recently in Moscow and Tajikistan has made Afghan intelligence and defence officials nervous about more direct support including weapons or funding. A senior Afghan security official termed Russian support for the Taliban a “dangerous new trend”, an analysis echoed by the top US commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson.

He told reporters at a briefing in Washington last week that Russia had joined Iran and Pakistan as countries with a “malign influence” in Afghanistan, and said Moscow was lending legitimacy to the Taliban.

Russia’s ambassador to Kabul, Alexander Mantytskiy, told reporters on Thursday that his government’s contacts with the militant group were aimed at ensuring the safety of Russian citizens and encouraging peace talks.

“We do not have intensive contacts with the Taliban,” he said through an interpreter, adding that Russia favoured a negotiated peace in Afghanistan which could only happen by cultivating contacts with all players, including the Taliban.

Mantytskiy expressed annoyance at persistent accusations of Russian collaboration with the Taliban, saying the statements by American and Afghan officials were an effort to distract attention from the worsening conflict. “They are trying to put the blame for their failures on our shoulders,” he said.

Afghanistan has long been the scene of international intrigue and intervention, with the British and Russians jockeying for power during the 19th Century “Great Game”, and the United States helping Pakistan provide weapons and funding to Afghan militants fighting Soviet forces in the 1980s.

Taliban officials said the group has had significant contacts with Moscow since at least 2007, adding that Russian involvement did not extend beyond “moral and political support”.

“We had a common enemy,” said one senior Taliban official. “We needed support to get rid of the United States and its allies in Afghanistan and Russia wanted all foreign troops to leave Afghanistan as quickly as possible.”


Moscow has been critical of the United States and Nato over their handling of the war in Afghanistan, but Russia initially helped provide helicopters for the Afghan military and agreed to a supply route for coalition materials through Russia.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Prem » 10 Dec 2016 05:08

Al-Masdar News ‏@TheArabSource 41m41 minutes ago
Additional 2,300 US soldiers heading to #Afghanistan

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby SSridhar » 16 Dec 2016 12:43

India cautions Russia and Iran against engaging with Taliban - ToI
India sounded a warning on Thursday to countries like Russia and Iran, which appear to be trying to change the ground situation in Afghanistan by engaging Taliban politically.

In a response, MEA spokesperson said, "In so far as the Taliban is concerned, they have to respect the internationally agreed red lines, give up terrorism and violence, sever all ties with al-Qaida, agree to follow democratic norms and not do anything which will erode the gains of the last 15 years."

This is an unusual cautionary note from India aimed at its oldest strategic partner.
Even though India prefers to treat Russia with kid gloves, it feels Moscow's latest moves in Afghanistan have the potential to stir serious trouble. MEA spokesperson Vikas Swaroop stressed India and Russia's special relationship.

"We do not see any downward trend in our bilateral relationship," he said. But it is clear that India has been disturbed by recent events.

Addressing Afghanistan's upper house on the weekend, Russian envoy Alexander Mantytskiy was quoted as saying, "Zamir Kabulov (a high-ranking official in Russia's foreign ministry) said our interests are the same as Taliban in fighting Daesh." Russia now says it regards Taliban as a "national military-political movement", but IS as a global jihadist movement that could destabilise Russia's 'near abroad' - central Asia.

Even Iran has been reaching out to Taliban, with the aim of keeping IS out of the Afghan region. According to an Iranian news agency, an influential Iranian cleric declared this week that Tehran has invited "moderate figures such as Taliban" to attend a conference on international Islamic Unity, saying, "Iran has always held contacts with some parties in the Taliban movement."

Iran denies any ties with Taliban, but Afghan officials have recently accused Tehran of not only harbouring families of senior Taliban commanders, but supplying them with sophisticated weapons that are destabilising the country.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Viv S » 18 Dec 2016 14:14

Russia to host meeting with Pakistan, China
December 18, 2016

ISLAMABAD - Russia, Pakistan and China will hold the next round of three-way counterterrorism talks in Moscow December 27, primarily focusing on turmoil-hit Afghanistan.

Russian Ambassador to Islamabad Alexey Dedov disclosed the details in an interview with state-run Radio Pakistan. This will be the third meeting of the “trilateral working group on Afghanistan”, he said, following meetings in Beijing and Islamabad.

“What we see in Afghanistan, unfortunately, is worrisome because it does not bring us optimism. There is a lack of three crucial elements; that is a stable self-sufficient economy, good governance and strong army,” observed Dedov.

A deterioration in security and the emergence of Islamic State affiliates in volatile border regions of Afghanistan have necessitated the trilateral consultations with an aim to form a “regional anti-terrorism structure” to counter “spillover effects” of terrorism, insist Pakistani, Russian and Chinese officials. “In particular we are especially concerned about the growth of Daesh (Arabic acronym for IS), which is proliferating its influence to some northern areas of Afghanistan, which directly border territories of our allies in our brotherly Central Asian republics,” he added.

Dedov rejected media reports as ”fantasies” that Russia is assisting the Taliban in the fight against US-led forces in Afghanistan. “We have never ever provided any kind of assistance to (the) Taliban,” the ambassador said. Instead, he said, Russia is assisting the Afghan government and has granted “some light weapons” to its forces and is running programmes to train Afghan police and military personnel in Russian institutions. Dedov added that Moscow strongly supports the Afghan peace and reconciliation process, saying improvement in the situation in security in Afghanistan is in the interest of Russia.

“But what we can see that the progress there (in Afghan peace efforts) is very difficult to be seen. That’s very pity. So, I think that will be a very good discussion in two weeks in Moscow on Afghan matters.”

Responding to a question, the Russian envoy said that Russia has strongly supported China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project as it is crucial for Pakistan's economy and regional connectivity.

He pointed out that CPEC is component of China's Silk Road and his country was also working on a similar Eurasian Economic Union and China and Russia are holding discussions to merge the two projects.

Asked about North-South gas pipeline project of Pakistan government, the Russian ambassador said they are eager to realise the project at the soonest.

The ambassador said the two countries are closely cooperating in different areas but there is need to enhance the volume of bilateral trade.

About MI-35 gunship helicopter deal between the two countries, he said the contract has already been signed and it is now for the officials concerned to define a timeframe for the purpose.

Replying to a question, the Russian ambassador said his country wants Pakistan and India to resolve all issues including Jammu and Kashmir through peaceful means.

He said Pakistan and Russia are also closely cooperating in efforts for restoration of peace in Afghanistan.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Falijee » 25 Dec 2016 03:26

First Female Pilot in Afghanistan Requests Asylum in U.S.
Afghan air force Capt. Niloofar Rahmani says she’s too scared to return home


As the first female airplane pilot in Afghanistan, Niloofar Rahmani became a powerful symbol of what women could accomplish in the post-Taliban era. But in the ultraconservative country, the limelight also brought threats, sending her into hiding from insurgents and vengeful relatives.Now, more than three years after she earned her wings, the 25-year-old Afghan air force pilot hopes to start a new life in the U.S. where she has applied for asylum, saying her life would be in danger if she returns home.
As the first female airplane pilot in Afghanistan, Niloofar Rahmani became a powerful symbol of what women could accomplish in the post-Taliban era. But in the ultraconservative country, the limelight also brought threats, sending her into hiding from insurgents and vengeful relatives.Now, more than three years after she earned her wings, the 25-year-old Afghan air force pilot hopes to start a new life in the U.S. where she has applied for asylum, saying her life would be in danger if she returns home.
If she is granted assylum, it will create misunderstanding between US and Afghanistan.But for sure her life is not safe in Afghanistan !
Despite those obstacles, Capt. Rahmani in 2013 became the first woman to graduate from the pilot-training program run by the U.S.-led military coalition in Afghanistan and became a public figure, even a celebrity, in Afghanistan.But she soon received threatening phone calls and a written death threat from the same branch of the Pakistani Taliban that notoriously shot and wounded the schoolgirl and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai.The biggest danger, however, came from distant relatives, who believed her career choice had brought dishonor to the family. They wanted her punished and repeatedly tried to track her down in Afghanistan.They also viewed Capt. Rahmani’s father and brother as accomplices to her offense and sought to punish them, forcing them to move every few months along with her and other members of her immediate family. Her brother was attacked twice, once in a shooting and then by a car that sped away.The U.S. State Department last year gave Capt. Rahmani an International Women of Courage Award, acknowledging the dangers she has faced because of her career.
Under U.S. immigration law, an applicant for asylum must show a well-founded fear of persecution because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.Capt. Rahmani’s lawyer, Kimberly Motley, who worked in Afghanistan for years, said her client’s asylum application meets those criteria.“There are great concerns for her safety if she returns. The threats she has received have been well documAented,” she said. “Unfortunately, some of her superiors within the Afghan military have failed in their duty to protect her.”

Conclusion: Any decision won't please both parties !

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Falijee » 28 Dec 2016 17:23

China, Russia, Pakistan hold trilateral talks on Afghanistan issue

China, Russia and Pakistan held secretary-level trilateral talks in Moscow on Tuesday to discuss regional stability, including the restoration of peace in Afghanistan.Strange ! Afghanistan's fate being discussed , but Afghanistan not invited !
Afghanistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Monday showed displeasure over the trilateral meeting, the Tolo News reported.Afghan foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmad Shekib Mustaghni said that the agenda of the meeting was a matter of concern."Talking on Afghanistan without consulting the country raises serious questions for the Afghan people. We are worried that what are the reasons behind the meeting and want the relevant parties to explain," the report quoted Mustaghni as saying.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Bhurishravas » 29 Dec 2016 02:28

http://www.mining.com/taliban-says-ok-c ... pper-mine/
Taliban says ok for China to develop huge Afghan copper mine


"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan directs all its Mujahideen to help in the security of all national projects that are in the higher interest of Islam and the country," the Taliban announced on Nov. 29, adding that a massive copper mine called Mes Aynak is among the sites it is "committed to safeguarding."


Clearly, Taliban continues to be under the Paki thumb still. And Pakistan is guaranteeing China and now Russia that its interests will be taken care of by the Taliban.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Neshant » 29 Dec 2016 06:14

Hold a conference with India, Iran and Afghanistan in New Delhi.

Invite US as well. But I don't think they will want to sit in with Iran.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby pralay » 29 Dec 2016 10:21

Pakistan is just trying to bring more cows in the Tabela (Afg) for milking them, as the only cow(US) in theTabela is not giving enough milk for free.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Paul » 29 Dec 2016 12:27

Russia and the Taliban: A Closer Look
Why is Putin reaching out to the Afghan Taliban?

By Samuel Ramani
December 29, 2016



On December 8, 2016, Russia’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Alexander Mantyskiy, announced that the Russian government had made a diplomatic outreach to the Taliban’s leaders. In a press conference, Mantyskiy countered international criticism of Russia’s Taliban links by insisting that Moscow’s contacts with the extremist group were limited and aimed at ensuring the safety of Russian civilians.

Even though Russian President Vladimir Putin’s diplomatic engagement with the Taliban has strained Moscow’s relationship with the Afghan government, the Kremlin has continued its dialogue with the Taliban for two main reasons. First, Kremlin policymakers believe that engagement with the Taliban is necessary for the preservation of long-term political stability in Afghanistan. Second, Russian diplomats believe that they can strike a deal with the Taliban on drug trafficking and use the Taliban’s opposition to Islamic State (ISIS) to further Russia’s counterterrorism objectives.

The Link Between Russia-Taliban Cooperation and Afghanistan’s Political Stability

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Even though Putin supported the Bush administration’s 2001 decision to overthrow Afghanistan’s Taliban government, the degeneration of the U.S. war in Afghanistan into an intractable stalemate caused Putin to change his views on the Taliban. As Washington’s struggles in Afghanistan occurred in tandem with the deterioration in U.S.-Russia relations under Bush and Obama, Putin concluded that U.S. military activities in Afghanistan were contributing to the destabilization of the country.

This perception caused Moscow to establish diplomatic relations with the Taliban, as Russian policymakers believed that the Taliban could act as a check against reckless U.S. power projection in Afghanistan. A senior Taliban official told Reuters in early December that Russia’s relationship with the Taliban began in 2007, as Moscow shared the Taliban’s objective of forcing all U.S. troops to swiftly withdraw from Afghanistan.

The official end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan in 2014 did not cause Russia to distance itself from the Taliban. Instead, Russian policymakers expanded their diplomatic outreach with the Taliban, on the grounds that long-term peace in Afghanistan would be impossible if the Afghan government excluded the Taliban from peace talks. This position differed markedly from the Russian Foreign Ministry’s 2001 statement that Taliban participation in Afghan politics is incompatible with the creation of a multi-ethnic, democratic state.

Critics of Russian foreign policy argue that Putin’s outreach to the Taliban is a cynical ploy to undermine the legitimacy of President Ashraf Ghani’s U.S.-backed government. Some Afghan policymakers and General John Nicholson, a leading U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, have publicly given credibility to this contention.

The Russian government has responded to these criticisms by insisting that its support for Taliban participation in peace negotiations will not necessarily result in the Taliban becoming an Afghan government coalition partner. Containing the Taliban’s influence will be more difficult for Moscow to achieve than its rhetoric suggests, however, as major Russian strategic partners, China and Iran, have also supported the Taliban’s participation in the Afghan government.

Why Russia Views the Taliban as a Security Partner in Afghanistan

Even though Russia’s relationship with the Taliban soured during the 1990s over the Taliban’s sponsorship of Chechen rebels and provision of sanctuary for Central Asian terrorist networks, Kremlin policymakers no longer view the Taliban as a major threat to Russia’s security. Instead, Russia has viewed the Taliban as a more effective anti-drug and counterterrorism partner than the Afghan government.

As Stanford University Professor Kathryn Stoner noted in a 2015 interview, Russia views the Taliban as a more reliable partner than Ghani in the struggle against drug trafficking. Stoner justified this bold claim by noting that the current Afghan government accrues more illegal revenues from heroin sales than the Taliban regime, which ruled Afghanistan from 1996-2001.

Opponents of diplomatic engagement with the Taliban have noted that the extremist organization earns between $100-300 million per year from illegal drugs and actively helps traffickers transport opium in exchange for a share of the profits. Yet Kremlin policymakers believe that the Taliban’s position on the illegal drug trade is negotiable. This conclusion is based on Moscow’s past success in forging deals with the Taliban. Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s special envoy to Afghanistan, successfully negotiated the release of seven hostages from Taliban control in 1996, and seeks to use knowledge gleaned from that experience to extract more concessions from the Taliban.

As Russian diplomatic overtures give the Taliban critical international legitimacy, Kabulov could make continued Russian diplomatic recognition of the Taliban conditional on the organization suspending its drug sales to Russia. If Moscow can prove that it can successfully strike a deal with Taliban on drug trafficking, Putin will achieve a major diplomatic victory that could greatly bolster Russia’s bargaining position in future negotiations on Afghanistan’s political future.

In addition to exploiting the Taliban’s leverage over drug exports destined for the CIS region, Russia believes that the Taliban is a useful counterterrorism partner due to its opposition to the Islamic State (ISIS). In December 2015, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova revealed that Moscow engaged in intelligence sharing with the Taliban to help the Taliban vanquish the 3,000 ISIS members who reside in Afghanistan.

Over the past year, Putin has highlighted Moscow’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against ISIS and anti-American foreign policy orientation to deepen Russian anti-ISIS cooperation with the Taliban. To keep this cooperation outside the international spotlight, Russia has held negotiations with the Taliban on ISIS in Tajikistan’s Kunduz province.

Citing a high-level Taliban official, The Daily Beast reported in October 2015 that Moscow also encouraged Tajik intelligence operatives to facilitate the shipment of Russian arms to the Taliban. This revelation, if true, would flagrantly contradict Russia’s pledge to uphold the international arms embargo against the Taliban.

While the extent of Russian military assistance to the Taliban against ISIS remains unclear, Moscow’s counterterrorism cooperation with the Taliban has further undercut international confidence in the Afghan government’s ability to combat ISIS. Russia’s ability to cooperate with both the Afghan government and the Taliban on counterterrorism also gives it a unique advantage over NATO countries, which have used military force to contain the Taliban’s resurgence and relied exclusively on Ghani’s cooperation against ISIS.

Even though Russia’s diplomatic overtures toward the Taliban have received extensive international criticism and could undercut Moscow’s burgeoning alliance with India, Russian policymakers continue to support Taliban participation in Afghanistan’s reconstruction process and cooperate with the Taliban on security issues. If the Taliban continues to recapture territory in southern Afghanistan and make a push for control of Kabul, Russia will be uniquely placed to have a decisive role in shaping Afghanistan’s political future.

Samuel Ramani is a DPhil candidate in International Relations at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford. He is also a journalist who writes regularly for the Washington Post and Huffington Post. He can be followed on Twitter at samramani2 and on Facebook at Samuel Ramani.


Around the time of Yeltsin, there was another Russian Leader who was a POW in the mujahideen camp but was released through Paki efforts. He was sympathetic to Pakistan's interests in Afghanistan. Philip might remember his name.

Russian sympathies for Pakistan go back to Khrushchov era......This will come to pass. Putin's hots for Taliban predate ISIS as well....if this report is true.

http://thediplomat.com/2016/12/russia-a ... oser-look/
Last edited by Paul on 29 Dec 2016 12:39, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby JE Menon » 29 Dec 2016 12:30

Gents parse very very carefully when reading such articles...

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Bhurishravas » 29 Dec 2016 13:42

Neshant wrote:Hold a conference with India, Iran and Afghanistan in New Delhi.

Invite US as well. But I don't think they will want to sit in with Iran.


The Pakis and their friends have agreed on expanding the talks after criticism from Afghanistan. IMHO, it will include Iran and perhaps Afghanistan.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/indi ... 228906.cms

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Neshant » 29 Dec 2016 13:45

Perhaps Russia is trying to finance a guerrilla war against the US troops in Afg.

Just as US is financing an ISIS guerrilla war against Russia in Syria.

Big mistake in my opinion.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Paul » 29 Dec 2016 13:57

The current changes are not without their +ves for India. We finally are coming closer to getting a seat in the high table on Afghanistan....courtesy Uncle Sam of course!

When the time is right, we can host our own trilateral conference with US and Afghanistan in Delhi.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby SSridhar » 29 Dec 2016 14:13

Russia, China and Pakistan for flexible ties with Taliban, India ignored - Indrani Bagchi, ToI
As Russia, China and Pakistan work towards building a new axis in Afghanistan to accommodate Taliban as a tool against the Islamic Sate terror group, it could have unforeseen consequences for the Russia India relationship.

On Tuesday, China, Pakistan and Russia met in Moscow to discuss Afghanistan's "deteriorating" security situation, despite strong protests from the Afghan government. The three countries relented towards the end of the day's discussions and said that they would expand the group to include Afghanistan the next time. There is already a move to induct Iran into this group.

Nandan Unnikrishnan, Russia analyst at Observer Research Foundation, said, "In the present context of limited communication between India and Russia, Russia's actions could lead to a drift in relations." India only recently reaffirmed its ties with Russia by announcing almost $10 billion in defence purchases from Moscow.

The statement issued at the end of the meeting said, "The Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China as the UN Security Council permanent members confirmed their flexible approach to delisting Afghan individuals from the UN sanctions lists as their contribution to the efforts aimed at launching peaceful dialogue between Kabul and Taliban."

This could, if Russia and China press ahead, and if the US does not block, result in the removal of some top Taliban leaders from the UNSC sanctions list. Afghanistan, incidentally, has asked for the new Taliban chief to be included in the list.

Conspicuous by its absence at the meet was India, which continues to hold Taliban as the biggest threat in Afghanistan. Besides India, the Afghan government and the US both agree to this.

The Afghan government is currently going through its own political crisis, with the two key leaders of the unity government, President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah, at loggerheads. The US, which has 9,800 troops in a counter-terrorism role is unsure of how it will utilise its presence in Afghanistan under a Trump administration.Afghan-led and more Pakistan-led, putting Pakistan once again in the driver's seat on Afghanistan's future.

Iran, which has been doing its own outreach to Taliban, is equally apprehensive of the fallout of IS cadres relocating to Afghanistan as they get driven out of Syria and Iraq.

This is essentially a return to the good-Taliban, bad-Taliban argument, as everybody wants to do a peace settlement in Afghanistan. India will remain out of this move yet again. Russia is looking for two things -an opening to Pakistan and a lever against IS that Moscow believes could be at its doorstep, given Russians form the largest group of IS fighters.

The last time Russia was on India's side. But this time, Russia says its more worried about the IS than about losing India's friendship.

India is holding on to the "red lines" for integration of Taliban into the Afghan government but that seems to be getting diluted by the new axis, which is less Afghan-led and more Pakistan-led, putting Pakistan once again in the driver's seat on Afghanistan's future.

Iran, which has been doing its own outreach to Taliban, is equally apprehensive of the fallout of IS cadres relocating to Afghanistan as they get driven out of Syria and Iraq.

This is essentially a return to the good-Taliban, bad-Taliban argument, as everybody wants to do a peace settlement in Afghanistan. India will remain out of this move yet again. Russia is looking for two things -an opening to Pakistan and a lever against IS that Moscow believes could be at its doorstep, given Russians form the largest group of IS fighters.


The last time Russia was on India's side. But this time, Russia says its more worried about the IS than about losing India's friendship.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby sum » 29 Dec 2016 16:18

This is essentially a return to the good-Taliban, bad-Taliban argument, as everybody wants to do a peace settlement in Afghanistan. India will remain out of this move yet again. Russia is looking for two things -an opening to Pakistan and a lever against IS that Moscow believes could be at its doorstep, given Russians form the largest group of IS fighters.

So the Pakis somehow land up in the driver seat yet again?

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby schinnas » 29 Dec 2016 16:32

Putting boots on the ground (atleast active advisors, special forces and airpower) is one way India can command a seat in Afghanistan and reduce moving room for Pakistan. Needless to say, it needs to be fully thought through and we should get into it if and only if the odds of successfully turning the tide are higher. Similar to Putin's gamble in Syria.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby jagga » 29 Dec 2016 17:07

sum wrote:
This is essentially a return to the good-Taliban, bad-Taliban argument, as everybody wants to do a peace settlement in Afghanistan. India will remain out of this move yet again. Russia is looking for two things -an opening to Pakistan and a lever against IS that Moscow believes could be at its doorstep, given Russians form the largest group of IS fighters.

So the Pakis somehow land up in the driver seat yet again?

Yes, same way like in streets of UK and New York. Driving is in Paki blood. You know easy tax free money. The reality is, even after having all this tax free money Pakistan is still in deep Pakistan. And, overseas pakistanis are also still in deep pakistan, although they are living in foreign lands.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby SSridhar » 29 Dec 2016 20:43

sum wrote:So the Pakis somehow land up in the driver seat yet again?

Pakistan has many times been lucky to have situations develop to its advantage; some times, it contrived to make the situations go in its way. However, all that were achieved shamelessly and all advantages were squandered away as far as human development or economic progress was concerned. All efforts focussed on India and therefore the armed forces to the total exclusion of everything else.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby chanakyaa » 29 Dec 2016 21:06

Putting boots on the ground (atleast active advisors, special forces and airpower) is one way India can command a seat in Afghanistan and reduce moving room for Pakistan. Needless to say, it needs to be fully thought through and we should get into it if and only if the odds of successfully turning the tide are higher. Similar to Putin's gamble in Syria.

Instead of trying to demand respect in a round about way, putting boots on the grounds in PoK, and slicing throat of CeePeck, and extending border all the way to Afg has the potential to change or open opportunities to change many equations. Of course easier said than done. Cost of human life and short/mid term economic pain can very very painful, but DeMo wasn't easy decision either. Putin did not demand respect in Syria, they went in and did it any way.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Yagnasri » 29 Dec 2016 22:08

When we show out strength, we get the seat automatically. For that, we need to kick a&& of pakis first. As along as we do not do that, we will not command respect as per our abilities.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby rsingh » 29 Dec 2016 23:14

All is not well between Russia and China. Russia is just playing for time. If Russia is going paki, let them. They will regret sooner or later. India can give acceleration to the process by ignoring Russia as if nothing happened. Oil price and Chinese double and triple speak will bring them back to the natural state.
Meanwhile bit old article but more and more relevant article about Russi-Chini phai phai.
http://hir.harvard.edu/will-china-colon ... e-siberia/

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Falijee » 31 Dec 2016 18:58

Afghan Government Rejects Taliban Peace Proposal

A senior Afghan official has rejected a preliminary peace plan backed by the Taliban insurgents that could lead to a final reconciliation deal possibly ending nearly four decades of war in Afghanistan.

After years of consultations with the two sides and civic leaders, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, a nongovernmental organization focused on conflict resolution, sketched out 17 points toward peace between Kabul and the Taliban. Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians, soldiers, and militants have been killed in clashes between the two sides during the past 14 years.Akram Khpalwak, a political adviser to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, says they were not consulted on the final draft that could serve as the first roadmap for peace among the warring Afghan sides.“Pugwash did not send this [draft] to us, and we were we not consulted. We believe that, instead of promoting dialogue among Afghans, some nongovernment organizations have their own goals,” Khpalwak told Radio Mashaal. “Afghanistan is a country of jirgas (tribal councils), and we are in favor of a dialogue among Afghans. Instead of outsiders drafting proposals for us or others trying to reach their own goals by making proposals for us, we can better solve our issues among ourselves.”So, the GOA was sidelined in the preparation of the final draft :roll:
An official in the Taliban’s contact office in the Qatari capital, Doha, praised the plan. Requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly speak on the issue, the official acknowledged they were consulted on the plan. ( But GOA was not !) He said that although the framework does not reflect their official position, it could provide a good basis for talks
Khpalwak, however, says the Taliban first need to free themselves from Pakistani influence. Successive administrations in Kabul have accused Islamabad of supporting the Taliban in an effort to influence Afghan politics and hinder the current Western-backed government.“Even those fighting the government know they are being sacrificed for foreign interests in a war that damages the Afghan people,” he said. “The Taliban need to show an Afghan and Islamic resolve. They should join direct talks with us and present their demands directly. We will welcome such a step.” The Pakistani concept of so-called strategic depth needs to be abandoned
Since the departure of most NATO troops by the end of 2014, the Taliban dramatically expanded their insurgency. The insurgents now control large swathes of rural provinces and have even threatened several provincial capitals across Afghanistan. (As someone recently remarked, the Taliban would collapse in one month, if not for Pakistan support !)One of the world’s foremost peacebuilding organizations, Pugwash was founded in 1957 in Canada. It won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995 for its nuclear disarmament efforts

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Y I Patel » 01 Jan 2017 03:58

Russia's interest is understandable given the serious inroads Taliban have made in Kunduz Province and the portent that this holds for other Northern Provinces. Now, with Trump in power, they might sense a larger opening to negotiate with the Kabul regime with tacit American acquiescence. But that remains to be seen, and is largely premised on a significant upturn in US-Russia cooperation.

India has always had a weak hand to play in Afghanistan, given lack of direct access to the country. Pakistan's main strategy remains to shield Taliban from direct engagement with India and thereby limit India's influence on the overall outcome of the Afghan peace process. However, the more Taliban are exposed to negotiations with outside entities, the weaker Pakistan's hold gets over them. Ultimately, any settlement can be expected to include Taliban in a power sharing arrangement - more directly in the provinces, and maybe through some more complicated arrangement in Kabul. So long as India retains access to Kabul, it will eventually establish an equation with whoever the ruling regime is. Especially with those from the current regime that continue to retain some level of authority at the center.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby ramana » 01 Jan 2017 05:13

JEM and SS, Also factor the so called ISIS in Afghanistan. What does all this mean?

Pak has created both taliban and ISiS in Afghanistan and both under US patronage.

then there is good and bad taliban.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Prem » 01 Jan 2017 06:01

Afghan leadership invites General Qamar Bajwa to visit Kabul
http://www.dawn.com/news/1305620/afghan ... isit-kabul
( Baajwaa assumes the treaditional role of Head of Paki State/Qabila/Gang/Beggers)

The Inter-Services Public Relations chief said that General Bajwa telephoned Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah and his Afghan counterpart on Saturday and felicitated them on the eve of New Year.The army chief also reiterated the resolve to work together in the coming year for the peace and stability in the region, the tweet read.“On the occasion, Afghan [civil and military] leadership extended invitation to the army chief to visit Kabul,” Ghafoor said.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby arun » 01 Jan 2017 09:44

Wide ranging interview of Russian President Vladimir Putin's Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Director of Russian Foreign Ministry's Second Asian Department, Zamir Kabulov, by Turkey’s Andalou Agency.

Russian Foreign Ministry's Second Asian Department covers India besides Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka:


Exclusive interview with Russian diplomat Zamir Kabulov

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby g.sarkar » 03 Jan 2017 13:16

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/featur ... 40860.html
The decline of Afghanistan's Hindu and Sikh communities
"I am an Afghan first... But if our life is under threat, if our families are faced with risks, we have to leave."
Kabul, Afghanistan - Hidden in plain sight, on a poorly lit busy road, the exteriors of the Asmayee temple are deceiving - a plain, old building that could easily be confused for any other building in Kabul.
In contrast, the mosque next door stands out with its beautiful, intricate architecture. The call for evening prayers from the mosque intertwines with the sounds of the Hindu chants resonating from within the halls of the temple.
Several finely dressed, middle-aged women, move in and out of the many rooms of the vast temple complex, offering prayers and lighting candles. There are seven rooms built in a circle that serve as the temple for the various Hindu goddesses and gods, and one expansive hall, colourfully decorated and covered in Persian carpets, that serves as the community prayer room.
The women celebrate separately from the men. There is also a separate dining hall and community kitchen for the men and women who come to the temple.
Ramnath, 25, explains that "this is because the culture among Afghan Hindus is predominantly Pashtun".
Over the years, Hinduism in Afghanistan survived and thrived in Pashtun-dominant provinces, resulting in a confluence of cultures that combines practices and rituals of the region.
"If you go up the hill, there is another small temple of the Sherawali," says Ramnath, referring to the Hindu goddess Durga by one of her many names.
"It was said that years ago, a white river of milk flowed down from the foot of the statue of the goddess to Kabul. This is how this place got its name joy-e-sheer, which translates to 'stream of milk' from Dari," Ramnath tells as the men gather quietly in one of the rooms over a cup of tea.
Ramnath, like many Afghans, only uses one name.
"Of course, those are reminiscent tales of the past. Who can tell how much of that legend is true?" he adds.
.....
"If you go through the evidence and data from the 1970s to date, you will be able to see how drastically their population has fallen," says Ehsan Shayegan, an Afghan researcher with Porsesh Research and Studies Organization studying the minority religions of Kabul.
"In the 70s, there were around 700,000 Hindus and Sikhs, and now they are estimated to be less than 7,000," Shayegan says.
Although there is no census data available in the country to estimate exact numbers due to years of war and conflict, the community members themselves speculate that there are perhaps no more than a few thousand Hindus and Sikhs left in Afghanistan today.
"It is estimated that Hindus and Sikhs make up around 3,000 Afghans scattered across provinces of Kabul, Nangarhar and Ghazni," says Singh. "In 1992, they were a 220,000-strong community, just before the start of the civil war in Kabul. It was also around the same time that our problems started," he says.
According to Singh, during the years of Mujahideen rule and the civil war in the early 90s, after the fall of the Soviet-backed government, were the worst for Afghan religious minorities.
"We were harassed, our lands were forcefully taken, we were persecuted and even killed for even slightest display of our faith. Kidnappings of Hindus and Sikhs were rampant," he recalls.
Many Hindus and Sikhs who spoke to Al Jazeera agreed that in comparison, the Taliban regime that followed, although extremely conservative and discriminatory, offered a relief from the repression of the Mujahideen.
.....

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Nick_S » 03 Jan 2017 17:14

ET Defence ‏@ETDefence 15m15 minutes ago
On possibility of defence exports to Afghanistan, Parrikar merely says Afghanistan is s good friend.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Falijee » 03 Jan 2017 23:44

Exclusive interview with Russian diplomat Zamir Kabulov

Vladimir Putin's envoy to Afghanistan speaks about the country's past, present, and future in wide-ranging interview with a Turkish Reporter


It appears from the interview that whatever the Russian policy in Afghanistan will be the opposite of the US policy, and in that sense it could be labelled as "pro -Taliban ; whether Kabulov's view of Afghanistan is Russia's new policy is anybody's guess !

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Bhurishravas » 04 Jan 2017 00:50

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2 ... liban.html
Russia’s New Favorite Jihadis: The Taliban
In its latest ploy to undermine NATO, Russia is urging cooperation with the Afghan extremists even as their ties to al Qaeda grow deep.

According to Reuters, Zakharova added that China, Pakistan, and Russia agreed upon a “flexible approach to remove certain [Taliban] figures from [United Nations] sanctions lists as part of efforts to foster a peaceful dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban movement.”
The Taliban, which refers to itself as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, quickly praised the “Moscow tripartite” in a statement posted online on Dec. 29.
“It is joyous to see that the regional countries have also understood that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is a political and military force,” Muhammad Sohail Shaheen, a spokesman for the group’s political office, said in the statement. “The proposal forwarded in the Moscow tripartite of delisting members of the Islamic Emirate is a positive step forward in bringing peace and security to Afghanistan.”

Regardless, Russia is now enabling the Taliban’s disingenuous diplomacy by pretending that ISIS is the more worrisome threat. It’s a game the Russians have been playing for more than a year.
In December 2015, Zamir Kabulov, who serves as Vladimir Putin's special representative for Afghanistan, went so far as to claim that “the Taliban interest objectively coincides with ours” when it comes to fighting ISIS head Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s loyalists.

According to Nicholson, the Russian “narrative” is “that the Taliban are the ones fighting the Islamic State, not the Afghan government.” While the Taliban does fight its jihadist rivals in the Islamic State, this is plainly false.
The “Afghan government and the U.S. counterterrorism effort are the ones achieving the greatest effect against Islamic State,” Nicholson said. He went on to list the U.S.-led coalition’s accomplishments over the past year: 500 ISIS fighters (comprising an estimated 25 to 30 percent of the group’s overall force structure) were killed or wounded, the organization’s “top 12 leaders” (including its emir, Hafiz Saeed Khan) were killed, and the group’s “sanctuary” has been reduced from nine Afghan districts to just three.

Regardless, the Russians continue to press their case. Their argument hinges on the idea that ISIS is a “global” force to be reckoned with, while the Taliban is just a “local” nuisance.

Kabulov, Putin’s special envoy to Afghanistan, made this very same claim in a newly-published interview with Anadolu Agency. Kabulov contends that “the bulk, main leadership, current leadership, and the majority of Taliban” are now a “local force” as a “result of all these historical lessons they got in Afghanistan.”

“They gave up the global jihadism idea,” Kabulov adds. “They are upset and regret that they followed Osama bin Laden.”

Someone should tell the Taliban’s media department this.
Earlier this month, the Taliban released a major documentary video, “Bond of Nation with the Mujahideen.” The video included clips of the Taliban’s most senior leaders rejecting peace talks and vowing to wage jihad until the end. It also openly advertised the Taliban’s undying alliance with al Qaeda. At one point, an image of Osama bin Laden next to Taliban founder Mullah Omar is displayed on screen. Photos of other al Qaeda and Taliban figures are mixed together in the same shot.
An audio message from Sheikh Khalid Batarfi, an al Qaeda veteran stationed in Yemen, is also played during the video. Batarfi praised the Taliban for protecting bin Laden even after the Sept. 11, 2001 hijackings. “Groups of Afghan Mujahideen have emerged from the land of Afghans that will destroy the biggest idol and head of kufr of our time, America,” Batarfi threatened.
A narrator added that the mujahideen in Afghanistan “are the hope of Muslims for reviving back the honor of the Muslim Ummah [worldwide community of Muslims]!” The Afghan jihadists are a “hope for taking back the Islamic lands!” and a “hope for not repeating defeats and tragedies of the last century!”

The Taliban’s message is, therefore, unmistakable: The war in Afghanistan is part of the global jihadist conflict.


All of this, and more, is in one of the Taliban’s most important media productions of 2016. There is no hint that the Taliban “regrets” allying with al Qaeda, or has given “up the global jihadism idea,” as Kabulov claims. The exact opposite is true.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Bhurishravas » 04 Jan 2017 01:07

http://thediplomat.com/2017/01/the-rise ... diplomacy/
Finally, Ghani to get support from all those countries for the Afghan security forces. Russia and India were asked for attack helicopters. As of this writing, India has provided four attack Mi-17 helicopters. Recently, Afghan side also asked New Delhi to help and assist Afghan security forces, and according to Afghan media reports the Indians again replied positively.


During the first year of the NUG, the Afghan government seemed to have been successful in this step of getting support from regional countries. However, recent events indicate setbacks, perhaps due to conspiracy theories that allege the Afghan government and Washington are behind the emergence of Islamic State in Afghanistan to destabilize Central Asian republics, China, and Russia.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby devesh » 06 Jan 2017 07:25

Unless Putin faces a reversal in Syria (perhaps through Turkish treachery) or a renewed Chechen Jihad backed by the sunni monarchies with tacit Turkish approval - current Russian trajectory will continue.

Putin is showing signs of being too clever. Tactically brilliant moves (aka...)

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby nirav » 06 Jan 2017 19:07

its ridiculous, to think that supporting the talibs will keep a check on ISIS.
both are cut from the same cloth ..

We must use our good offices with Afghan govt and get them to thoroughly reject all "peace" talks with talibs by Russia,bakis and the chinese.

We could also encourage Afghan govt to insist for India having a seat at the table .. The Chinese have no locus in the Afghan equation yet are butting in in negotiations about Afghanistan which btw doesnt include Afghanistan itself !

With the Russians outsmarting India from the Tajik air base, perhaps its time for us to have a military presence(base) in Afghanistan itself, something Russia,bakis and the Chinese dont have..

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Falijee » 11 Jan 2017 07:14

Blasts in Afghanistan kill 39, UAE's envoy wounded in Kandahar attack
AFP

At least nine people were killed in an explosion in the governor's compound in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province on Tuesday during a visit by the UAE ambassador, local media reported.The UAE's Foreign Ministry made the statement Tuesday night, describing the attack as “heinous.” It identified the wounded ambassador as Juma Mohammed Abdullah al-Kaabi.Afghanistan's Tolo News said the blast left nine people dead and 16 others wounded.The statement did not say how many Emirati diplomats were wounded. It said they were there as part of a humanitarian mission.
Earlier in the day, twin Taliban blasts struck near the Afghan parliament in Kabul, killing at least 30 people and wounding 80 in a rush-hour attack that shattered a relative lull in violence in the capital.
Earlier in the day, twin Taliban blasts struck near the Afghan parliament in Kabul, killing at least 30 people and wounding 80 in a rush-hour attack that shattered a relative lull in violence in the capital. So, the Taliban claimed responsibility for Kabul , but have remained silent on the Kandahar attack for obvious reasons :twisted: . IMO, the UAE and Qatar have got out of their way , partly due to Pakistan diplomacy , to show a favourable public stance towards the Taliban ! If they conclude that Taliban was making them a target, they may retaliate against the Pakistan proxy in more than one way and make life difficult for these "Islamic warriors" !
The situation in Afghanistan will be an urgent matter for the new US president, even though America's longest war got scarcely a passing mention in the bitterly contested presidential election.President-elect Donald Trump has given few details on his expected foreign policy, with even fewer specifics on how he will tackle the war in Afghanistan.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby abhishek_sharma » 11 Jan 2017 13:11

ANI ‏@ANI_news · 22m22 minutes ago

UPDATE: United Arab Emirates confirms death of 5 diplomats in #Kandahar suicide attack #Afghanistan (Source: TOLO News)

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby Singha » 11 Jan 2017 13:49

if we really want the afghani govt to survive we must be prepared to work with iran in moving mountains of small arms and basic artillery in there, a military training mission and a air force component. no risk, no reward. TSP will control all the levers if we dont get in there.
russia who was not a player in syria marshes has made itself the #1 playa there in 1 yr by diverting some training budgets and not losing much lives.

else all we can do is wail as TSP puts its men in charge of whatever ugly beast succeeds the current govt.

islamists of all stripes are very hard on civilians - whether it be tspa, talibs or isis. they only pull back when confronted with forces prepared to fight hard.

we must be prepared for mil intervention in east africa too. if we cannot even control the IOR and make sure coups like Maldives are not tolerated we are already ceded all that ground to china-pak combine to do as they see fit.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion - April 2016

Postby schinnas » 11 Jan 2017 15:12

Afghanistan tries to outflank Pakistan regarding Taliban
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/worl ... 473816.cms

KABUL: Afghan officials are pushing to create a "safe zone" for Taliban insurgents in a bid to wean them away from traditional sanctuaries inside Pakistan, in a radical and contentious strategy to de-escalate the conflict.
The plan underscores desperation in Afghanistan for out-of-the-box solutions to tackle the 15-year insurgency, as peace bids repeatedly fail and US-backed forces suffer record casualties in stalemated fighting.
If implemented, the strategy — aimed at undercutting Pakistan's influence over the Taliban — could, for better or for worse, be a game changer in a strife-torn nation where ceding territory to insurgents is seen as tantamount to partition.
"I urge the Taliban to return to Afghanistan. We should make a safe zone for them and their families," Kandahar police chief Abdul Raziq told a gathering of religious scholars and tribal elders last month.
"We can no longer rely on foreign governments and embassies to end the war. The Taliban belong to this country, they are sons of this soil."
That Raziq, arguably the most powerful commander in southern Afghanistan and long one of the staunchest anti-Taliban figures, would suggest such an idea amplified the shockwaves it created.

"The government shouldn't be giving safe zones to terrorists," warned former Helmand governor Sher Mohammed Akhundzada, while some observers dismissed the strategy as "illogical" as the Taliban already control vast swathes of Afghan territory.
Raziq did not respond to repeated requests for an interview, but a senior security official told AFP the government's goal "is to bring the Taliban from Pakistan to Afghanistan".
"We will separate a territory for them to come with their families. Then whether they want to fight or talk peace, they will be relieved from the pressure of Pakistan," he said, speaking anonymously.
Pakistan began supporting the Taliban movement of the 1990s as part of its policy of "strategic depth" against nemesis India.
Seen by many Afghans as the biggest obstacle to lasting peace, Islamabad has long been accused of playing a "double game" in Afghanistan: endorsing Washington's war on terrorism since the 9/11 attacks, while nurturing militant sanctuaries.
After years of official denial, a top Pakistani official in 2016 admitted for the first time the Taliban enjoys safe haven inside his country, which Islamabad uses as a "lever" to pressure the group into talks with Kabul.
However, Pakistan has hosted multiple rounds of talks ostensibly to jumpstart a peace process — without result.
The "safe zone" strategy appears to have taken shape as prominent Taliban figures call to make the insurgency independent of Pakistan's powerful intelligence agency, which they accuse of manipulating the group.
"The presence of our movement's key decision makers and institutions inside Pakistan means they can impose things that are against the interests of our movement and Afghanistan," Sayed Tayyeb Agha wrote in a letter last year to Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada.
"To be able to make independent decisions, our leadership... should leave Pakistan," the former head of the Taliban's political commission added in the letter seen by AFP.
Afghanistan's National Security Council did not officially confirm the government strategy, saying only: "The Taliban are allowed to relocate to Afghanistan under state protection."
The Afghan security official said the government was in contact with Taliban leaders over the proposal, a fact corroborated by militant sources in Pakistan.
He refused to specify the potential location for the safe zone, and whether it will be immune from aerial bombardment or ground assault, but insisted no areas with military installations will be handed over.
Speculation that the government was furtively trying to cede territory recently grew when local media cited secret military documents revealing Afghan forces were planning to retreat from two Helmand districts during a winter lull in fighting.
Afghan officials dismissed the report, while also rejecting longstanding claims that the Taliban leadership council — Quetta Shura — has relocated to Afghanistan.
But multiple insurgent sources told AFP that prominent members, including the Taliban's military chief Ibrahim Sadr, recently moved to an undisclosed location in Afghanistan.
"Ibrahim also urged Haibatullah to come to Afghanistan but he refused," a top Quetta Shura member told AFP.
Obaidullah Barakzai, an MP from Uruzgan province, argued that giving the Taliban a permanent address in Afghanistan would make it easier to convince them to participate in an "Afghan-owned, Afghan-led peace dialogue without interference from our neighbour".
However Timor Sharan, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, said the strategy was flawed.

"It's like asking the Taliban to leave their brick-built houses and settle in a tent in the desert with half-hearted guarantees that they will not be bombed," Sharan told AFP.
"The Taliban need to receive a strong assurance from coalition forces, in particular the US, before making the move."
But the Afghan security official insisted there was no military solution to the conflict.
"If this plan does not work, Afghanistan will be ready for another tough year of fighting," he said.


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