US violates agreement again, strikes Taliban targets in Afghanistan

News Network
July 24, 2021

Kabul, July 24: US military aircraft struck a number of Taliban positions this week in support of faltering Afghan government forces, in one of the first significant American reactions to the anti-occupation forces’ blistering advance across Afghanistan as US troops withdraw.

At least one of the strikes was against Taliban positions in the key southern city of Kandahar, slowing an advance that threatened to take over the city.

The Taliban called the strikes “disobedience” to last year’s withdrawal agreement with the Americans, and they warned of unspecified “consequences” — an indication that the airstrikes had an impact on Taliban.

The scale and pace of the Taliban advance has provoked alarm among top US military and civilian officials in recent days. The Taliban now emerged stronger in most of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals and even Kabul, the national capital. The group has overrun more than half of the country’s 400-odd districts, in many cases seizing them without a fight, since it began its offensive in earnest in May.

This week’s airstrikes, which took place Wednesday and Thursday, reflect both the level of American worry and the Afghan military’s continued need for US air support, as Washington attempts to end nearly 20 years of war in the country.

Afghan forces have been reeling in the face of the Taliban offensive, as the United States nears completion of a pull-out of its remaining forces. The United States and other major powers are pushing for a peace deal between the Taliban and the Afghan government, but the Taliban believe they are winning the war, leaving little incentive to negotiate.

Several Pentagon officials confirmed that additional bombing raids around Kandahar and other contested areas are likely in the coming days. “We’ve been doing it where and when feasible, and we’ll keep doing it where and when feasible,” one official said, speaking anonymously to describe operational planning.

Pentagon officials confirmed the recent US strikes but were tight-lipped about specifics. They have been similarly ambiguous for weeks about the scale and scope of continued US military involvement in Afghanistan’s war, though they indicated earlier this month that it could continue at least until the withdrawal was completed at the end of August.

The Taliban said the airstrikes were carried out in Kandahar and in the neighboring province of Helmand.

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News Network
September 3,2021

Bengaluru, Sept 3: Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arvind Bellad has given clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government holding Afghanistan’s Taliban completely responsible for price rise in India!

Bellad, who is an MLA from Hubli-Dharwad (West), claimed that Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was the actual reason for the rise in fuel prices. 

 “Taliban problem has started. Internationally, prices are up and hence the gas rates are up. All over the world, gas and oil supplies have been hit. That’s why the rates are up in India too,” he claimed. 

“Voters are mature. They will understand the reality and vote for BJP,” he added.

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News Network
September 5,2021

Bengaluru, Sept 5: In a high-level meeting with the technical experts, the state government Sunday decided to relax the prevailing guidelines to allow partial Ganeshotsav celebrations and setting up of pandals.

The decision to approve partial celebrations comes in the wake of fears looming over the possible third wave of Covid hitting the state.

Permission to erect pandals has come as a major relief to idol-makers, who had gone bankrupt last year due to the ban on Ganeshotsav during Covid lockdown in the country.

Pandals install big Ganesha idols which brings good income for them.

According to the guidelines, not more than one Ganesha pandal can be set up in each ward. They also disallow immersion of the idols post 9 pm.

Ganeshotsav festivities have been permitted for a maximum of five days, and cultural programmes have been completely banned.

Ganeshotsav celebrations are banned in border taluks where positivity rate is found over two per cent

Apartment associations have been permitted to celebrate on their premises, but a maximum of 20 people present at a time.

Karnataka Saturday had reported 983 new infections and recorded 21 deaths, taking the total caseload to 29,54,047 and the toll to 37,401.

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News Network
September 4,2021

Washington, Sept 4: India and the United States are closely watching Pakistan’s actions in Afghanistan, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Friday.

In the limited engagement that India has had with the Taliban, the new Afghan rulers have indicated that they would be reasonable in addressing New Delhi’s concerns, the foreign secretary added.

“Obviously, like us, they're also watching carefully and we have to watch Pakistan’s actions with a fine tooth comb,” he told a group of Indian reporters at the end of his three-day official visit to Washington DC adding that the US will have a wait-and-watch policy with regard to how the situation evolves in Afghanistan.

India also has a similar policy. “That doesn't mean you don't do anything. It simply means that you have to... the situation is very fluid on the ground, you have to allow it to see how it evolves. You have to see whether the assurances that have been made publicly are actually maintained on the ground, and how things work out,” he said.

 “Our engagement with them (the Taliban) has been limited. It's not that we have (had) a robust conversation. But for whatever conversation we've had so far, they've been sort of. At least, the Taliban seem to indicate that they will be reasonable in the way they handle this,” Shringla said.

He was responding to a question about the recent meeting that India’s Ambassador in Qatar had with a senior Taliban leader in Doha.

“In our statement, we have said that we have told them that we want them to be cognizant of the fact that there should be no terrorism that emanates from their territory directed against us, or other countries; that we want them to be mindful of the status of women, minorities and so on so forth. And, and I think they have, also, you know, made reassuring... from their side,” he said.

The top Indian diplomat was in Washington DC for a series of meetings with his American counterpart and top officials of the Biden administration in addition to interaction with representations from the industry and think-tanks.

On Thursday, he had called on the Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Observing that the situation in Afghanistan is very fluid and moving fast, Shringla said that both India and the US are keeping a close watch on it. “Look on 15th of August, you had a situation where (Afghan) President (Ashraf) Ghani suddenly left. You had the Taliban come in. The situation is moving so fast it's so fluid that is difficult to comment at this point of time on anything,” he said.

Shringla said the US is watching the situation in Afghanistan very closely. “They will obviously see how different players get engaged in the situation in Afghanistan. Pakistan is a neighbour of Afghanistan. They have supported and nurtured the Taliban. There are various elements there that Pakistan supported,” he said.

At the same time, he noted that the UNSC resolution on Afghanistan adopted during India’s presidency makes mention of the proscribed entities in the UN sanctions list, including the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Lashkar-e-Taiba. “We do have concerns about the free ingress that these two terrorist groups have had in Afghanistan, their role and we will watch that carefully. The role of Pakistan has to be seen in that context,” Shringla said.

Responding to a question, the foreign secretary said the Americans have always said the Taliban has committed to them that they will not allow Afghan territory to be used again in any manner that is detrimental to any country outside Afghanistan.

The US has made it clear to the Taliban that they would hold them accountable if any terrorist activities are emanating from Afghanistan. The international community is on the same page, he said.

“We are obviously very much engaged with US on Afghanistan on the situation there, the role of Pakistan there, and of course looking at how the situation would evolve in that country,” he said.

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