Kabul attack: Several killed as rockets hit residential areas

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Peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government were expected to start in March after the United States and the group signed a landmark agreement in Qatar, the Taliban's base for diplomacy, on February 29.

Khan - this was his first visit to Kabul since he assumed the PM office - was received by Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar and Afghan President's Special Representative for Pakistan Mohammad Umer Daudzai.

Several members of the Afghan government's negotiating team recently returned to Kabul for final consultations, after which President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, who is heading the peace process for Kabul, are expected to announce a breakthrough, the official said.

"If the two sides agree on a mechanism that is acceptable for the people, I think the people will support it and peace will come", said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.

India's developmental footprint is, today, spread across every one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan and New Delhi has also prioritised Kabul in providing assistance to combat COVID. With Imran Khan's efforts and Pakistan's role in the peace process, the question is: will India lose its ground to Pakistan?

In an apparent reference to Pakistan, India on Friday told the United Nations that Afghanistan can succeed only when terrorism no longer flows across the Durand Line, asserting that those providing sanctuary to terrorists must be held accountable and the Security Council should speak unequivocally against such forces.

Ambassador TS Tirumurthy, India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said, "Our view is that the peace process and violence can not go together and we urgently call for a total truce". He had recalled New Delhi's development partnership with Afghanistan and stated that no part of Afghanistan is untouched by the 400-plus projects. It is the time for both the countries and its rulers to realise their prime responsibilities of helping the terror and violent affected people to get a relief-and the relief is possible in according to Premier Imran, 'by peace, trade and connectivity'. The Taliban have mostly ignored such previous requests. Still the Taliban have been waging near daily assaults on beleaguered Afghan security forces. Such reports put Khan's claims and the future of the relationship between the two countries to question.

Khan's visit followed that of Afghanistan's chief peace envoy Abdullah Abdullah, who visited Pakistan in September as the uneasy neighbors turned a corner from a relationship marked by suspicion and downright hostility toward a partnership for peace in the region. Establishing bilateral ties between the two has been hard because of Afghanistan's support to Pashtuns and Balochs.

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