Russia to host Pakistan,
US, China for Afghan
talks on October 19

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MOSCOW (Russia): Moscow will host the United States, China and Pakistan next week for talks on Afghanistan, the Kremlin’s envoy to the country told Russian news agencies on Friday.

News agencies cited Zamir Kabulov as saying the meeting would take place on Tuesday and that the countries “will try to work out a common position on the changing situation in Afghanistan”. Kabulov said representatives of the Taliban have confirmed they will take part in the talks in Moscow next week.

Zamir Kabulov

Taliban’s foreign ministry spokesperson Abdul Qahar Balkhi confirmed this in a tweet, saying that Maulvi Abdul Salam Hanafi, deputy of the council of ministers in the Taliban government, will lead the delegation in the meeting.

Taliban officials have not yet announced the members of their delegation. According to Reuters, the Moscow talks also involve India and Iran alongside China and Pakistan.

Officials in Islamabad confirmed to Dawn.com that Pakistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Mohammad Sadiq will represent the country in two meetings in Moscow next week.

An official privy to the development said Sadiq will lead the delegation in the Troika-plus meeting on October 19 with China, Russia and the US and the Moscow-format consultations on October 20.

In this file photo, members of the Taliban’s peace negotiation team attend a meeting in Doha, Qatar, November 21, 2020.

Russia is hosting the two meetings on Afghanistan for the first time since the Taliban takeover of Kabul on August 15. Moscow had earlier hosted an international conference on Afghanistan in March at which Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan released a joint statement calling on the then-warring Afghan sides to reach a peace deal and curb violence.

Since then, the United States and its allies have withdrawn their troops after 20 years on the ground, the Taliban have seized power and the previous government has collapsed.

Russia is now worried about the potential for fallout in the wider region and the possibility of Islamist militants infiltrating the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, which Moscow views as its southern defensive buffer.

Open punishment stopped

The Taliban government in Afghanistan has directed local officials to avoid carrying out punishments in public unless the country’s top court issues the order for public execution.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid

In a tweet late on Thursday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the Council of Ministers has decided that no punishment will be carried out publicly when there is no need to publicise the convict and till the court issues an order for a public punishment.

“Public executions and hanging of bodies should be avoided unless the supreme court issues an order for such an action,” he said while giving details of the cabinet meeting.

The Council of Ministers is the name given to the cabinet in the Islamic Emirate.

“If the offender is punished, the punishment must be explained so that the people know about the crime,” the Taliban spokesman said.

Last month, the Taliban had hung the bodies of four alleged kidnappers in the western city of Herat. The incident had been widely criticised and condemned on social media and by rights bodies.