KABUL: The Taliban said Sunday they will send a delegation to Russia for a rare meeting with Afghan opposition leaders, just days after peace talks with the United States that excluded the Kabul government.
The two-day sit-down in Moscow, starting Tuesday, will be attended by some of President Ashraf Ghani’s chief political rivals, but none of the government envoys tasked with Taliban negotiations.
Ghani has appealed to the insurgents to talk after being frozen out of six days of discussions between the Taliban and the United States in Doha last month that sealed the outlines of a peace deal.
Instead the Taliban, which refuses to recognise Ghani’s government, will sit down in Moscow with some of the president’s main opponents to discuss the country’s future — stirring frustrations in Kabul.
“It shows the peak of depression, and begging to terrorists,” said Amrullah Saleh, who is running as vice-president on Ghani’s ticket in elections slated for July.
“A smile to the enemy is a blow to the national spirit,” he posted on his Facebook page on Sunday.
Among those, who have confirmed their attendance in Moscow, is Haneef Atmar, who is running against Ghani in the elections. Former warlord Atta Muhammad Noor and former Afghan president Hamid Karzai — both Ghani rivals — are also attending.
Noor on Sunday said the meeting was “a pathway towards strengthening the peace efforts led by the US” while Atmar described it as “an important step towards intra-Afghan peace talks”.
A government-appointed council tasked with Taliban engagement said Sunday it was not invited to Moscow.
A senior Taliban official said they would send a delegation, but described the meeting as non-political and “arranged by some organizations based in Moscow”.
The Russian Embassy in Kabul issued a statement late Saturday on behalf of the “Afghan Society of Russia”. The group said it had invited “influential figures” to the dialogue in the President Hotel in Moscow.
“We are ready to play our role in bringing peace to Afghanistan,” the statement read.
It is not clear what role, if any, Russia has in the summit. A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Kabul could not be reached for comment.
The Taliban are scheduled to hold another round of peace talks with the US in Doha on February 25.
7 militants dead in clash in N. Afghanistan
MAIMANA: Seven militants were killed and four others injured as clash erupted in Garziwan district of Afghanistan’s northern Faryab province on Saturday, an army spokesman in the northern region Mohammad Hanif Rezai said.
According to the official, the clash erupted early morning after the militants attacked some security checkpoints, and security forces retaliated forcing the militants to flee after leaving seven bodies behind, and four others injured. There were no casualties on security personnel, the official said.
Registered workers’ applications for Hajj!
ISLAMABAD: The Workers Welfare Fund (WWF), Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resources Development, has asked the registered workers of capital based factories/establishments to submit their applications for inclusion in Hajj draw by 28th February.
According to a WWF official, ten registered industrial workers from Islamabad would be chosen through balloting, whose hajj expenses would be borne by the Fund.
The minimum age of the applicants should be 40 years and must not be over 60 years. They should fulfill the criteria of a worker as defined by IRA-2017, and be registered with Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) or Employees Social Security Institutions (ESSI). They are required to submit an affidavit stating that they had not performed Hajj at least in last five year (from 2014-18).
The applying worker must submit a certificate from his respective institution that the institution is situated and registered within the limits of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT). In the case of women worker, all expenditure and another arrangement of her accompanying Mehram will be paid by herself.
WWF would pay the expenses as per the announced Hajj Policy 2019, complete applications should be sent to Assistant Director (Welfare) WWF, Building No 2, Street no 39, Mauve Area, G-10/4, Islamabad.
In case a selected worker is failed to go to perform Haj, he/she will not be entitled to receive the money. His berth will be allotted to next waiting candidate to avail the free hajj facility. The decision of WWF will be final and cannot be challenged in any case.
NASA welcomes Pakistani girl for one-week internship
NEW YORK: Raadeyah Aamir, 13, has been selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for a one-week internship.
She is a student of class eight at the British Overseas School, Karachi. Aamir is among a group of 26 students selected for NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre’s one week programme. She was selected for the programme after her outstanding academic performance and keen interest in aerospace.
Through the internship, she will be able to get training as the next generation of space explorers in the Astronaut Training Experience, land walk and drive on Mars through virtual and motion simulation, and conduct a spacewalk in a microgravity experience.
The group will depart for Florida today (Saturday).