Afghan Taliban to pursue peace talks, but not end to violent attacks

Bonus read: “A Deadly Triangle: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India,” William Dalrymple (Brookings). Dual pursuit Last week’s opening of a Taliban office in Doha, Qatar raised international hopes that the once stalled peace talks would be restarted, but the group’s continued attacks in Afghanistan have thrown the future of the talks into doubt (Reuters). One Taliban ...

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594211_1714634242.jpg

Bonus read: "A Deadly Triangle: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India," William Dalrymple (Brookings).

Dual pursuit

Bonus read: “A Deadly Triangle: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India,” William Dalrymple (Brookings).

Dual pursuit

Last week’s opening of a Taliban office in Doha, Qatar raised international hopes that the once stalled peace talks would be restarted, but the group’s continued attacks in Afghanistan have thrown the future of the talks into doubt (Reuters). One Taliban representative explained the apparent contradiction by saying, “We don’t need to send commanders [to Doha]: we are not fighting in Qatar. We are fighting in Afghanistan.” Another representative stated the group is pursuing both political and military options because “there is no cease-fire… they are attacking us, and we are attacking them” (NYT). 

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the talks, Ambassador James Dobbins, the U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, told Pakistani officials on Tuesday that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was ready to engage the Taliban leadership and that it was up to the Taliban to decide whether or not it wanted to move forward with the peace process (Dawn, Pajhwok). Amb. Dobbins went on to say that while Pakistan does not have a controlling influence over the Taliban, the country does enjoy more influence over the group than others (ET, ET). Shortly after Amb. Dobbins’ visit to the region, British Prime Minister David Cameron called Karzai to discuss the reconciliation process and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif invited Karzai to Islamabad to discuss “issues of mutual interest” (Pajhwok).

Five Afghan Local Police (ALP) members were killed and two were injured on Tuesday when Taliban insurgents stormed three security posts in Faryab province (Pajhwok). District chief Abdul Jamil Sadiqui said the assault followed arbitrary actions taken by the ALP members but did not elaborate on what those actions were.  In Paktia province, parliamentarian Abdul Hanan Haq Wayoon survived a bomb attack on his vehicle Wednesday, though four of his bodyguards were wounded (Pajhwok). There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Border clashes

Clashes between the Pakistani Taliban and several other militant groups erupted near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border on Wednesday when hundreds of fighters attacked Taliban bases in the Mohmand agency in Pakistan and in the Kunar and Nangarhar provinces of Afghanistan (Dawn, ET). Omar Mukarram Kurasani, a Pakistani Taliban spokesman in Mohmand agency, said nearly 400 fighters for Ansar-ul-Islam, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the local anti-Taliban militia were behind the attacks. However, these affiliations and reports of casualties could not be confirmed due to the lack of independent journalists in the area.

At least nine people were killed and 15 others were injured in Karachi on Wednesday when a bomb planted on a motorbike exploded near the convoy of Sindh High Court judge Justice Maqbool Baqir (Dawn, ET, Pajhwok, Post). Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, said Baqir was specifically targeted for having made “anti-Taliban and anti-mujahideen decisions.” The judge was injured in the attack and is recovering at a local private hospital. It was the latest attack in Karachi, where almost 400 people have been killed in violent attacks over the last 42 days (ET). 

Elsewhere in Pakistan, at least one security officer was killed and three were injured in Balochistan on Wednesday when a remote-controlled roadside bomb exploded near their convoy (Dawn). And in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province’s Bannu region, another roadside bomb was detonated remotely on Wednesday, killing Malik Hashim Khan, the local peace committee chief, as well as his son and nephew (Dawn). While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack in Balochistan, the Pakistani Taliban said they were behind the attack on Khan in Bannu (ET).

Arbor day in Pakistan

The Sindh province forest department set a new world record last weekend for the most trees planted in one day, installing 750,000 mangrove saplings at Kharo Chan along Sindh’s coastal belt (ET). The 300 volunteers were likely too exhausted to celebrate their new statuses as the world’s number one tree-planters however, as it took them just over 12 hours of toiling in the hot summer sun to reach their goal. 

— Jennifer Rowland and Bailey Cahall 

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