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At least three killed in blast at Afghan mosque

Taliban will get invite to next ‘troika plus’ meeting on Afghanistan: Pakistani minister ISLAMABAD: Representatives of the Taliban government will be invited to the next troika plus meeting on Afghanistan, Pakistan’s foreign minister said on Thursday. Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s announcement came as American, Chinese, and Russian envoys took part in a meeting of the influential group…

At least three killed in blast at Afghan mosque

Taliban will get invite to next ‘troika plus’ meeting on Afghanistan: Pakistani minister

ISLAMABAD: Representatives of the Taliban government will be invited to the next troika plus meeting on Afghanistan, Pakistan’s foreign minister said on Thursday.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s announcement came as American, Chinese, and Russian envoys took part in a meeting of the influential group in the Pakistani capital Islamabad.

The tripartite consists of the US, China, and Russia, with Pakistan involved through its extended platform, the troika plus.

The meeting in Islamabad was the group’s first since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan on Aug. 15. It was also the latest in a series of diplomatic talks on the Afghan situation, after neighboring India held a conference for regional countries on Wednesday, which Pakistan and China did not attend.

Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi is also currently in Islamabad on his first Pakistan visit. While he did not take part in Thursday’s meeting, he is expected to meet the participating foreign diplomats on its sidelines.

Qureshi told a press conference: “It has been decided that in the next session of troika plus in Beijing, the Taliban will be officially invited so that they can be involved directly in this process.

“By their physical presence in troika plus they can share their concerns directly with the international community.”

He warned that Afghanistan was on the brink of economic failure and said that the international community must urgently resume funding, provide humanitarian assistance, and enable Kabul to access its assets frozen in foreign banks.

Qureshi said: “Enabling Afghanistan to access its frozen funds will dovetail into our efforts to regenerate economic activities and move the Afghan economy toward stability and sustainability. Today, Afghanistan stands at the brink of an economic collapse.”

The minister noted that Pakistan was already taking steps to help ease the situation, such as reopening its borders for Afghan trade, and providing aid to its neighbor.

But he pointed out that it was “a collective and shared responsibility of all countries,” as instability could lead to another conflict in the war-battered country.

“Nobody wishes to see a relapse into civil war, no one wants an economic collapse that will spur instability. Everyone wants terrorist elements operating inside Afghanistan to be tackled effectively, and we all want to prevent a new refugee crisis,” Qureshi added.

On the troika meeting in Islamabad and the offer to invite the Taliban to its next round of discussions, Pakistan’s former foreign secretary, Tehmina Janjua, told Arab News: “It showed the importance Pakistan attached to finding a solution to the Afghanistan situation.

The presence of Taliban in Islamabad at the same time has also made it more relevant.”

Afghan affairs expert, Muhammad Ayaz Wazir, said the troika plus forum was an established and influential platform and that during his Islamabad visit the Afghan foreign minister would be able to meet its members and discuss with them the possibility of recognizing Afghanistan’s new government.

“Along with discussing ways to help Afghanistan to avoid a humanitarian crisis they will also discuss possibilities of recognizing the Taliban government,” Wazir added.

On Pakistan and China’s absence from Wednesday’s summit in New Delhi, international relations expert, Prof. Zafar Jaspal, said: “Indian invitation has neither attracted Pakistan nor China, so after that the significance of the troika meeting in Islamabad multiplied, and now it is going to establish that the major stakeholders in Afghanistan are Pakistan, China, the US, Russia, and Afghans themselves.”

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Japan’s ex-princess Mako, husband arrive to new life in New York

COPENHAGEN: Premature deaths caused by fine particle air pollution have fallen 10 percent annually across Europe, but the invisible killer still accounts for 307,000 premature deaths a year, the European Environment Agency said Monday.If the latest air quality guidelines from the World Health Organisation were followed by EU members, the latest number of fatalities recorded…

Japan’s ex-princess Mako, husband arrive to new life in New York

COPENHAGEN: Premature deaths caused by fine particle air pollution have fallen 10 percent annually across Europe, but the invisible killer still accounts for 307,000 premature deaths a year, the European Environment Agency said Monday.If the latest air quality guidelines from the World Health Organisation were followed by EU members, the latest number of fatalities recorded in 2019 could be cut in half, according to an EEA report.Deaths linked to fine particular matter — with a diameter below 2.5 micrometres or PM2.5 — were estimated at 346,000 for 2018.The clear reduction in deaths for the following year were put down partly to favourable weather but above all to a progressive improvement in air quality across the continent, the European Union’s air pollution data centre said.In the early 1990s, fine particles, which penetrate deeply into the lungs, led to nearly a million premature deaths in the 27 EU member nations, according to the report.That figure had been more than halved to 450,000 by 2005.In 2019, fine particulate matter caused 53,800 premature deaths in Germany, 49,900 in Italy, 29,800 in France and 23,300 in Spain.Poland saw 39,300 deaths, the highest figure per head of population.The EEA also registers premature deaths linked to two other leading pollutants, but says it does not count them in its overall toll to avoid doubling up.Deaths caused by nitrogen dioxide — mainly from car, trucks and thermal power stations — fell by a quarter to 40,000 between 2018 and 2019.Fatalities linked to ground-level ozone in 2019 also dropped 13 percent to 16,800 dead.Air pollution remains the biggest environmental threat to human health in Europe, the agency said.Heart disease and strokes cause most premature deaths blamed on air pollution, followed by lung ailments including cancer.In children, atmospheric pollution can harm lung development, cause respiratory infections and aggravate asthma.Even if the situation is improving, the EEA warned in September that most EU countries were still above the recommended pollution limits, be they European guidelines or more ambitious WHO targets.According to the UN health body, air pollution causes seven million premature deaths annually across the globe — on the same levels as smoking and poor diet.In September, the alarming statistics led the WHO to tighten its recommended limits on major air pollutants for the first time since 2005.”Investing in cleaner heating, mobility, agriculture and industry improves health, productivity and quality of life for all Europeans, and particularly the most vulnerable,” said EEA director Hans Bruyninck.The EU wants to slash premature deaths due to fine air pollution by at least 55 percent in 2030 compared to 2005.If air pollution continues to fall at the current rate, the agency estimates the target will be reached by 2032.However an ageing and increasingly urbanised population could make that more difficult.”An older population is more sensitive to air pollution and a higher rate of urbanisation typically means that more people are exposed to PM 2.5 concentrations, which tend to be higher in cities,” said the report.

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Duterte’s daughter to run for Philippines vice president

KANDAHAR: A small carpeted room serves as a makeshift jail for 12 “criminals” who are awaiting Taliban justice, caught in the legal system which the militants are building at the heart of their new Afghan regime. None of the prisoners being held on the ground floor of the Taliban headquarters in Panjwai district in southern Afghanistan…

Duterte’s daughter to run for Philippines vice president

KANDAHAR: A small carpeted room serves as a makeshift jail for 12 “criminals” who are awaiting Taliban justice, caught in the legal system which the militants are building at the heart of their new Afghan regime.

None of the prisoners being held on the ground floor of the Taliban headquarters in Panjwai district in southern Afghanistan have yet seen the local judge, who is busy in another area.

Until he arrives, the Taliban fighters of the unit in Kandahar province represent the entirety of the justice system.

“They will keep me here until I can pay back the person I owe money to,” said Hajj Baran, a 41-year-old businessman arrested three days earlier for an outstanding debt.

“We have a good system of judgment with the Islamic law of the Taliban,” he said, as a guard watched closely.

After a nearly 20-year insurgency, the Taliban took power in Afghanistan in August by force.

But they long ago placed their version of justice at the center of their ideology, and have “made the courts a means of conquering power,” says Adam Bazco, a researcher who conducted a field investigation on the Taliban judicial system from 2010 to 2016.

From 2004 on, in areas the Taliban controlled, “people were turning to them because of growing discontent with the interference of Western groups in their land disputes and a judicial system that appeared increasingly corrupt and nepotistic,” Bazco says.

In the context of war, he explains, the severity of the Taliban punishments was welcomed by some.

They were known for their harshness — but also their impartiality, speed and predictability.

Three months after the Taliban seized power, however, they are still struggling to implement that system across the country.

At the nearby central prison in the city of Kandahar, the deputy director, Mansour Maulavi, brandishes a length of electric cable as a whip as he shows off the fetid barracks.

One wing houses 1,000 drug addicts going through forced withdrawal, he says. Now 200 “criminals” are also being held there.

“It is better for Islamic law to decide” who is a criminal, says Maulavi, who used to run the region’s clandestine Taliban prison. Under the previous ineffective and often corrupt system, “they didn’t know.”

Mohammad Naeem, sitting cross-legged in the prison yard, is among those awaiting judgment.

He was arrested two months ago while at home with his wife and a 14-year-old girl he said he wanted to marry.

“The girl agreed but the parents didn’t,” the 35-year-old says, explaining that the parents called the Taliban to complain of sexual assault.

If he is found guilty of having sexual relations outside marriage he risks being condemned to death by stoning.

“I just want to be judged according to Islamic law, because I did nothing wrong,” he says.

In some cases since the takeover, the Taliban judges — wary of losing support — have tried to avoid being too harsh.

Bazco recalls an infamous case from the Taliban’s previous regime in the 1990s in which a wall was pushed onto a man convicted of sodomy, killing him.

Now, he says, such cases “do not represent the daily life under Taliban justice.”

Instead, Afghanistan’s masters say they are seeking international respectability.

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Ecuador prison violence leaves at least 68 dead, dozens injured

KANDAHAR: A small carpeted room serves as a makeshift jail for 12 “criminals” who are awaiting Taliban justice, caught in the legal system which the militants are building at the heart of their new Afghan regime. None of the prisoners being held on the ground floor of the Taliban headquarters in Panjwai district in southern Afghanistan…

Ecuador prison violence leaves at least 68 dead, dozens injured

KANDAHAR: A small carpeted room serves as a makeshift jail for 12 “criminals” who are awaiting Taliban justice, caught in the legal system which the militants are building at the heart of their new Afghan regime.

None of the prisoners being held on the ground floor of the Taliban headquarters in Panjwai district in southern Afghanistan have yet seen the local judge, who is busy in another area.

Until he arrives, the Taliban fighters of the unit in Kandahar province represent the entirety of the justice system.

“They will keep me here until I can pay back the person I owe money to,” said Hajj Baran, a 41-year-old businessman arrested three days earlier for an outstanding debt.

“We have a good system of judgment with the Islamic law of the Taliban,” he said, as a guard watched closely.

After a nearly 20-year insurgency, the Taliban took power in Afghanistan in August by force.

But they long ago placed their version of justice at the center of their ideology, and have “made the courts a means of conquering power,” says Adam Bazco, a researcher who conducted a field investigation on the Taliban judicial system from 2010 to 2016.

From 2004 on, in areas the Taliban controlled, “people were turning to them because of growing discontent with the interference of Western groups in their land disputes and a judicial system that appeared increasingly corrupt and nepotistic,” Bazco says.

In the context of war, he explains, the severity of the Taliban punishments was welcomed by some.

They were known for their harshness — but also their impartiality, speed and predictability.

Three months after the Taliban seized power, however, they are still struggling to implement that system across the country.

At the nearby central prison in the city of Kandahar, the deputy director, Mansour Maulavi, brandishes a length of electric cable as a whip as he shows off the fetid barracks.

One wing houses 1,000 drug addicts going through forced withdrawal, he says. Now 200 “criminals” are also being held there.

“It is better for Islamic law to decide” who is a criminal, says Maulavi, who used to run the region’s clandestine Taliban prison. Under the previous ineffective and often corrupt system, “they didn’t know.”

Mohammad Naeem, sitting cross-legged in the prison yard, is among those awaiting judgment.

He was arrested two months ago while at home with his wife and a 14-year-old girl he said he wanted to marry.

“The girl agreed but the parents didn’t,” the 35-year-old says, explaining that the parents called the Taliban to complain of sexual assault.

If he is found guilty of having sexual relations outside marriage he risks being condemned to death by stoning.

“I just want to be judged according to Islamic law, because I did nothing wrong,” he says.

In some cases since the takeover, the Taliban judges — wary of losing support — have tried to avoid being too harsh.

Bazco recalls an infamous case from the Taliban’s previous regime in the 1990s in which a wall was pushed onto a man convicted of sodomy, killing him.

Now, he says, such cases “do not represent the daily life under Taliban justice.”

Instead, Afghanistan’s masters say they are seeking international respectability.

Continue Reading
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