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Afghan Taliban take control of Friendship Gate with Pakistan

In their major advance Taliban fighters in Afghanistan Wednesday seized control of one of the main border crossings with Pakistan.

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Afghan Taliban take control of Friendship Gate with Pakistan
Afghan Taliban take control of Friendship Gate with Pakistan

The latest seizure is perhaps the most strategic objective they have captured so far in a rapid advance across the country as US forces pull out.

A Pakistani official said fighters had taken down the Afghan government flag from atop the Friendship Gate at the border crossing between the Pakistani town of Chaman and the Afghan town of Wesh.

The crossing, south of Afghanistan's main southern city Kandahar, is the landlocked country's second busiest entry point and the main link between its vast southwest and Pakistani ports. Afghan government data show it is used by 900 trucks a day.

The takeover forced Pakistan to seal parts of its border with Afghanistan after heavy fighting between Taliban and Afghan forces around Wesh.

 

Afghan officials said government forces had pushed back the Taliban fighters and were in control of the Spin Boldak border district in Kandahar province. But civilians and Pakistani officials said the Taliban controlled the Wesh border posts.

"Wesh, which has great importance in Afghan trade with Pakistan and other countries, has been captured by the Taliban," said a Pakistani security official deployed at the border area.

Officials in Chaman said the Taliban had suspended all travel through the gate.

"The mujahideen have captured an important border town called Wesh," Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.

 

The Taliban, fighting to expel foreign forces and defeat the U.S.-backed government in Kabul since they were ousted in 2001, have in recent days seized othermajor border crossings, in Herat, Farah and Kunduz provinces in the north and west.

Control of border posts allows the Taliban to collect revenue, said Shafiqullah Attai, chairman of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment in the capital, Kabul.

"Income has started to go to the Taliban," Attai told Reuters, though he could not say how much they were earning.

President Ashraf Ghani travelled to northern province of Balkh on Tuesday to assess security after the Taliban pushed government forces out of several districts there.

 

Ghani, 72, met civilians and assured them that "the Taliban's backbone will be broken" and government forces would soon retake all of the areas lost to the militants, the Tolo News network reported.

'CREATING FEAR'

Separately, Vice President Amrullah Saleh said on Twitter that the Taliban were forcing members of a small ethnic minority to either convert to Islam or leave their homes in the northern province of Badakhshan.

"These are minority Kerghiz who lived there for centuries ... They are now in Tajikistan awaiting their fate," he said.

 

A Taliban spokesman was not immediately available for comment but the U.N. mission in Afghanistan said it was increasingly concerned about reports of rights abuses as the fighting spreads.

"The reports of killing, ill-treatment, persecution and discrimination are widespread and disturbing, creating fear and insecurity," the mission said in a statement.

Educated Afghans - especially women and girls who were barred from school and most work under the Taliban - have expressed alarm at their rapid advance, as have members of ethnic and sectarian minorities persecuted under their severe interpretation of Sunni Islam.

Taliban spokespeople reject accusations that they abuse rights, and say they will not mistreat women if they return to power.

 

"The best way to end harm to civilians is for peace talks to be re-invigorated in order for a negotiated settlement to be reached," the U.N. mission said.

The Taliban made a commitment to negotiate with their Afghan rivals as part of an agreement under which the United States offered to withdraw its forces. But little progress has been made towards a ceasefire in several rounds of talks in Qatar.

Senior politicians from Kabul were preparing to leave for Qatar for more talks this month as Western diplomats urged the rival sides to work towards a power-sharing agreement.

SOURCE: REUTERS

Faisal Ali Ghumman is a senior editor at GNN, known for writing top quality content which garner very high readerships and has been covering every field of journalism, including politics, media, sports and scholarly articles. Faisal Ali Ghumman is nothing less than a Veteran Editor and has been writing for GNN for the past 3 months.

Pakistan

‘Covid fourth wave’: Pakistan's coronavirus positivity rate falls to 5.45%

Islamabad: Pakistan is witnessing daily surge in COVID-19 cases with authorities linking the upswing to the deadly fourth wave. Today country’s positivity rate is on 5.45%.

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‘Covid fourth wave’: Pakistan's coronavirus positivity rate falls to 5.45%

As per National Command and Control Center (NCOC), Pakistan conducted a total of 57,792 tests in the last 24 hours.

Around 3,153 cases of coronavirus were reported while 58 people succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 26,720.

As per the command centre, total confirmed cases are 1,204,520 whereas 5,370 are under critical care.

Punjab              

The number of patients swelled to 413,182 in the province with 12,211 causalities.

Sindh

The number of infections has surged to 444,464 in the province, while the death toll has reached 7,133.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

The confirmed cases have surged to 168,258 in the province with 5,250 casualties.

Balochistan

There are 32,569 confirmed cases while 342 patients have died from the infection so far.

AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan

There are 33,268 coronavirus cases in the AJK while the death toll has reached 718. On the other hand, there are 10,162 cases in GB with 179 coronavirus deaths.

Islamabad

There are 102,617 cases in the capital city while 887 people have lost their lives.

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Entertainment

BTS takes over UNGA, performs ‘Permission to Dance’ inside assembly hall

BTS’ speech was followed by a pre-recorded performance of their latest song ‘Permission to Dance’ which in itself is a message of positivity and hoping for an end to the pandemic.

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BTS takes over UNGA, performs ‘Permission to Dance’ inside assembly hall

New York: Acclaimed K-POP band BTS addressed the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) as the special presidential envoy for future generations and culture from their native South Korea— expressing their faith in young people's ability to imagine a better world despite pandemic.

They spoke about climate change, and sustainable development amid the pandemic. The band discussed the difficulties that the youth encountered as a result of the pandemic.

The group leader Kim Namjoon (RM) taking centrestage, began in Korean, “It is an honor to be here today, where BTS has been appointed as Special Presidential Envoy for The Republic of Korea. We’re here today to share the stories of a future generation. Before we came here, we asked the young people in their teens and 20s around the world about their past two years and about the world they find themselves in today".

BTS’ speech was followed by a pre-recorded performance of their latest song ‘Permission to Dance’ which in itself is a message of positivity and hoping for an end to the pandemic.

The artists took turns on stage during their seven-minute speech, but it wasn't all about UN goals. 

The pre-recorded video was presented soon after all members of the band- Jimin, J-Hope, Jin, Suga, RM, Jungkook, and V- spoke about the possibilities of the future generation and their ability to adapt to changing times amid a raging coronavirus pandemic.

Korean President Moon Jae-in, at the conclusion of his speech in session, introduced the seven band members as the ‘World's most loved artist’.

The UNICEF tweeted, “Today, BTS returned to #UNGA to share a powerful message on climate action, COVID-19 vaccines & the importance of taking care of ourselves and our communities. Thank you, @BTS_twt for inspiring a generation of young people. Together, we can create a better world. #BTSLoveMyself".

It is pertinent to mention here that BTS began their ‘Love Myself campaign’ with UNICEF in 2017, and it was the subject of RM's first UN speech, which he gave in English.

The band virtually attended the 75th Assembly. It took place last year and offered its message through a film that brought people comfort.

This time, the band members took turns speaking in Korean, which was simultaneously dubbed in English.

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Pakistan

Pakistan: Daily COVID-19 cases drop below 2,000

Pakistan is presently experiencing the fourth wave of coronavirus which is said to be deadlier and more contagious than previous three COVID waves.

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Pakistan: Daily COVID-19 cases drop below 2,000

Islamabad: Pakistan's coronavirus positivity ratio decreased to 4.10% from more than 11% a couple of weeks ago.

Pakistan is presently experiencing the fourth wave of coronavirus which is said to be deadlier and more contagious than previous three COVID waves.

According to National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), around 1,897 cases of coronavirus were reported while 81 people succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 27,327. The daily Covid-19 positivity rate in Pakistan is at 4.22%.

The total number of cases has reached 1,227,905.

As many as 1,137,656 patients have recovered from the disease with 4,846 critical cases.

Punjab            

The number of patients swelled to 423,670 in the province with 12,449 causalities.

Sindh

The number of infections has surged to 451,448 in the province, while the death toll has reached 7,289.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

The confirmed cases have surged to 171,589 in the province with 5,426 casualties.

Balochistan

There are 32,772 confirmed cases while 344 patients have died from the infection so far.

AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan

There are 33,821 coronavirus cases in the AJK while the death toll has reached 733. On the other hand, there are 10,257 cases in GB with 182 coronavirus deaths.

Islamabad

There are 104,348 cases in the capital city while 904 people have lost their lives.

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