US-Taliban Talks paused to mark the beginning of Ramadan

Peace talks between U.S. negotiators and Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar, have been interrupted to mark the beginning of Ramadan. A Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen was quoted by media that the talks were pausing for the first day of the holy month of Ramadan — when Muslims fast during the day — but would be resumed “the following day.”

Can this round be the reason for anxiety in the Afghan Government?  

The sixth round of talks between the US peace envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban representatives started last week as the Afghan Government hosted a rare grand council, the Consultative Peace Loya Jirga, with over 3000 delegates from across the country. The talks, as in the previous rounds, remain highly confidential and behind closed doors. Most of the time, analysts and journalists do guesswork based on social media engagements of the two negotiating parties. During the latest round, Khalilzad has toned down his demand and replaced push for ceasefire to reduction in violence in his latest tweet. A BBC correspondent, in the meantime, has reported that some Taliban representatives had hinted to him that the environment around the negotiation table has been pleasant and visible progress has been made.

In the light of latest dynamics, speculations and change in the stance of American officials mean that the Afghan Government will once again be uncomfortable about the proceedings. However, the US Envoy met Afghan leadership in Kabul prior to resumptions of talks in Qatar; yet, the current state of affairs will certainly leave the Afghan Government in a state of bother. Previous such situations resulted in the public outbreak of Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib. He accused Khalilzad to be behaving like a viceroy which strained relations between the two strategic partners. A repeat of similar attitude and unilateral decision making has the potential of further distorting the already strained relations.

 

 Ban on Secondary Schools’ for Girls in Sar e Pul

Officials in Sar e Pul province say hundreds of secondary schools’ girls were deprived of going to schools after insurgents banned at least 30 schools. Ahmad Khan Bikzad the head of the Education Department told the media that these schools were in areas under the Taliban control. The local government official claimed that insurgents have also warned families in under government areas not to allow their girls to go to school beyond 6th grade, adding two schools are suspended after no girl was allowed in. The Taliban rejected the claim saying they were not behind the ban.

 

China Treats 400 Children suffering from congenital heart defects

Afghanistan and China signed an agreement that China treats 400 Afghan children suffering from congenital heart defects. Over 16 thousands children with VSD (Ventricular Septal Defect) are recorded in the past decade in Afghanistan; most of them have received treatment.  China Red Crescent has also vowed to equip a number of hospitals in Afghanistan to provide services for these children. Earlier India and Germany treated a number of these children but still, about six thousand others are in waiting list.

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