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About Javid
Javid Ahmad is a journalist based in Srinagar, India.
Investigative Journalism Fact Checking
Politics War Reporter Investigative Reporting

After al-Zawahiri, what’s next for America’s Taliban policy?

04 Aug 2023  |  thehill.com
The killing of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan highlights the enduring alliance between jihadists and the Taliban. Despite the Doha agreement's counterterrorism promises, the Taliban's deepened ties with various jihadist groups pose challenges for U.S. policy. The article suggests that the U.S. should declassify parts of the Doha agreement, redefine its regional counterterrorism strategy, and engage with the Taliban's clerics for religious diplomacy. It also discusses the need for a regional counterterrorism monitoring station and the expansion of targeted activities against Taliban operatives involved in jihadist activities.

Irksome Traffic Jams On Boulevard Road, An Agonising Experience for Both Locals & Tourists

14 Jul 2023  |  The Global Kashmir
The article discusses the severe traffic congestion on Boulevard Road in Srinagar, which has become a significant problem for both locals and tourists. The congestion, particularly during the spring season, affects daily commutes, social and professional lives, and even medical emergencies. The author suggests immediate and long-term solutions, including road widening and developing alternative routes under the SMART-CITY Project, to alleviate the issue.

It’s Time To Recognize the Taliban

23 May 2023  |  flipboard.com
The absence of a U.S. diplomatic presence in Afghanistan leaves Washington powerless and strengthens the Taliban in Kabul. The article argues that the United States should diplomatically recognize the Taliban to regain influence and stability in the region.

IEA renews commitment for cordial relationship with world

23 Mar 2023  |  pajhwok.com
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has reiterated its commitment to fostering a cordial relationship with the international community and seeks global recognition of its government. Mawlavi Abdul Kabir, the political aide to the acting prime minister, expressed this during a meeting with UNAMA Deputy Head Markuz Potzel. The IEA government assured full security for aid agencies operating in Afghanistan. UNAMA emphasized the importance of reopening schools and universities for Afghan girls and women.

Turkey, Syria quake casualties’ toll passes 113,000

12 Feb 2023  |  pajhwok.com
The death toll from the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria has surpassed 28,000, with over 85,000 more people injured.

Businessman rescued; 4 kidnappers shot dead in Kabul: MoI

03 Jan 2023  |  pajhwok.com
Security forces in Kabul have successfully rescued a businessman from abductors and killed four kidnappers during a raid, according to the Ministry of Interior.

The Taliban’s dangerous hermit kingdom

30 Dec 2022  |  thehill.com
The article discusses the Taliban's efforts to isolate Afghanistan from external pressures and internal dissent, transforming it into a hermit kingdom. Despite U.S. assurances, the Taliban has adhered to its historical religious guidebook, leading to a paradox where Afghanistan appears both safer and more dangerous. The Taliban's return has enabled a commercial jihadist enterprise, with various terror groups negotiating accords under its protection. Domestically, the Taliban consolidates power through vice and virtue politics, with women bearing the brunt of its brutality. The article highlights the need for Washington to diversify its approach, engage the Taliban's clerical leadership, and influence developments in Afghanistan to avoid future U.S. involvement.

Afghanistan Is Still Too Dangerous to Fail

01 Aug 2022  |  nationalinterest.org
Afghanistan remains a complex and dangerous region, with the Taliban's return to power exacerbating the threat landscape. The Taliban's intricate relationships with various jihadist factions, including Al Qaeda, have evolved, posing significant challenges. The killing of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul underscores the ongoing threat. The Taliban's internal dynamics, particularly the influence of the Haqqani Network, complicate the situation further. The U.S. must reconsider its approach, potentially engaging with Taliban clerics in Kandahar and exploring regional solutions without over-relying on Pakistan. The Taliban's re-Islamization campaign aims to reshape Afghan society, but no viable non-Taliban alternative has emerged.

Imran Khan’s Conspiracy Play

07 Apr 2022  |  WSJ
Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan claimed a foreign conspiracy against him, leading to a constitutional crisis after his party blocked a no-confidence vote and he dissolved Parliament. The Supreme Court intervened, declaring the ruling unconstitutional and ordering a no-confidence vote. Opposition parties accused Khan of economic mismanagement and toxic governance, while Khan labeled his opposition as national traitors conspiring with the U.S.

Afghanistan needs a political roadmap to reduce economic hardship

01 Feb 2022  |  Atlantic Council
Afghanistan is facing acute poverty due to international sanctions, frozen financial assets, and a recession after the Taliban's takeover. While humanitarian aid is crucial, it is not a sustainable solution for the long-term. A two-pronged policy approach is needed, involving the Taliban and Afghan and foreign stakeholders, to address governance issues and develop a consensus on the way forward. Political engagement and a national roadmap are essential to address human rights, political representation, and economic challenges. Proposals include formalizing a national consultation process, drafting a new constitution, and enhancing governance standards. Economically, solutions such as injecting liquidity, creating a trust fund for civil service salaries, and stabilizing the currency are being considered. Ultimately, Afghans must decide on the best process and mechanisms, with the Taliban's readiness to engage being a critical first step.

Pakistan is opening a dangerous Pandora’s box with the Taliban

20 Dec 2021  |  thehill.com
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's remarks at the OIC meeting insulted Afghanistan by associating Pashtuns with the Taliban and opposing girls' education. Pakistan's long-term strategy to influence Afghanistan is evident as it treats the country as an extension of itself. The Pakistan military's ideology, rooted in jihad, has been a part of state ideology since General Zia-ul-Haq's era. The Taliban's ideology is being pushed by Pakistan, which risks igniting Pashtun nationalism. The Taliban's adherence to their own constitution and the emirate raises questions about the viability of a non-ideological Afghan state. Concerns about radicalization within Pakistan's military and internal tensions due to income discrepancies are also growing. By promoting the Taliban's ideology, Pakistan is opening a dangerous Pandora’s box that could be difficult to manage.

All schools open in fallen districts in Balkh: Official

08 Aug 2021  |  pajhwok.com
Education officials in Balkh province, including director Aliullah Amiri, confirm that all schools in Mazar-i-Sharif and other districts are open, with first-term exams in progress. This includes areas controlled by the Taliban, who have allowed schools to operate and girls to continue their education with Islamic Hijab. Some school buildings have been damaged due to conflicts, but efforts are being made to repair them. There have been no changes to school subjects by the Taliban, and the education sector remains apolitical, with calls for it to be spared from conflict.

ENIC process at a snail’s pace: Balkh residents

25 Jul 2021  |  pajhwok.com
Residents of Balkh province are frustrated with the slow process of obtaining electronic National Identity Cards (ENIC). Over 150,000 people are awaiting the biometric process, with some facing urgent needs for passports and medical treatment. The National Statistics and Information Authority acknowledges the delays and has requested additional ENIC distribution centers to address the backlog.

Foreign aid to fade away if corruption not curtailed: Ghani

13 Jul 2021  |  pajhwok.com
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, during his visit to Balkh province, emphasized the importance of religious scholars, women, civil society activists, and youth in voicing Afghanistan's needs. He highlighted the government's efforts in mosque construction and pledged further support for educational and religious infrastructure. Ghani warned that continued corruption could halt foreign aid and stressed the need for government reforms. Discussions also included the provision of aid to displaced persons, with efforts to ensure transparency and proper identification of those in need.

2 injured in blast near Atta Mohammad Noor’s residence

01 Jul 2021  |  pajhwok.com
At least two people were injured in a blast near Atta Mohammad Noor’s residence in Mazar-I-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province. Noor, head of the Jamiat-I-Islami Afghanistan splinter group, is in Balkh to combat the Taliban and reclaim districts recently captured by the Taliban.

Ongoing insecurity hampers businesses in Balkh

27 Jun 2021  |  pajhwok.com
The ongoing insecurity in northern Balkh province and along the northern highway has negatively impacted business activities, according to sources.

If peace comes, I will return home and farm my land: Gul Noor

31 May 2021  |  pajhwok.com
Gul Noor, a 65-year-old man displaced by war in Balkh province, Afghanistan, dreams of returning to his arid 25-acre farm once peace is restored. Living in an IDP camp in Mazar-i-Sharif, Noor, along with around 50 families from his village, fled due to safety concerns. He lost 15 relatives in conflicts over four decades and urges the Taliban and government to reach a peace agreement. The withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan raises concerns about escalating violence and further displacement. The Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation estimates 4.1 million people are displaced nationwide, with 25,000 families in Balkh province alone, many in urgent need of assistance.

Afghan Power Sharing Deal Breaks Kabul’s Political Impasse and Raises Hope for Unity

20 May 2020  |  RealClearDefense
A power-sharing agreement reached on May 15 between President Ashraf Ghani and former chief executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah aims to end a political stalemate in Afghanistan following disputed presidential election claims. The deal includes structures for reflecting both leaders' interests and involves various Afghan societal segments in the political and reconciliation process. The agreement's success and its impact on the Taliban's stance remain uncertain. Experts from the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center, including Ambassador James B. Cunningham, Shuja Nawaz, Javid Ahmad, and Sahar Halaimzai, provide insights on the agreement's significance, the role of the U.S. in the peace process, and the challenges ahead for Afghanistan.

Iran, Russia, and the Taliban exploited informational void in U.S. military plane crash

06 Feb 2020  |  medium.com
Shortly after a U.S. military plane crashed in Taliban-controlled territory in Afghanistan, pro-Taliban sources, along with Iranian and Russian media, began circulating unproven claims about the crash's cause and the identities of the passengers. The Taliban used the incident to exaggerate its military successes, while Iranian and Russian media capitalized on an unverified narrative to suggest a successful anti-U.S. operation. The U.S. confirmed the crash but disputed enemy fire involvement. Disinformation spread by these entities filled the informational void, highlighting their role as unreliable narrators in geopolitical contexts.

What does Soleimani’s death mean for Afghanistan?

05 Feb 2020  |  thehill.com
Iran's influence in Afghanistan is poised to grow following the death of Qassem Soleimani, with his successor Ismail Qaani likely to continue and expand subversive activities. Iran has historically supported various Afghan factions, including the Taliban, to undermine US efforts. The Quds Force, under Qaani, is expected to enhance its support to Taliban factions and other proxies, potentially increasing the provision of advanced weaponry. Tehran's strategy includes leveraging Afghan proxies, fostering political disruption, and expanding soft influence through educational and media investments. The article argues for a continued US military and intelligence presence to counter these threats.

America’s ‘catastrophic success’ in Afghanistan

16 Dec 2019  |  thehill.com
The 'Afghanistan Papers' published by The Washington Post reveal the U.S. administrations' overly optimistic portrayal of the Afghan war, highlighting the lack of a consistent war strategy and the entrenchment of corruption in Afghan politics. The U.S. faces a dilemma in disengaging from Afghanistan due to the ongoing terrorist threats and the Afghan government's inability to manage them alone. The Taliban's strong ties with criminal groups and Pakistan continue to challenge U.S. efforts for a political solution. The article suggests the U.S. should maintain a counterterrorism presence, seek a negotiated settlement with the Taliban, and push for Afghan ownership and accountability in the use of financial aid.

How the U.S. can help ensure Afghanistan’s peace process succeeds

08 Aug 2019  |  washingtonpost.com
Javid Ahmad, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, critiques the U.S. peace process with the Taliban, highlighting flaws such as internal Taliban frictions, exclusion of the Afghan government from talks, and Pakistan's ambiguous role. He expresses concern over the draft deal's terms, including the Taliban's depiction as an 'emirate' and the U.S. pledge to release Taliban prisoners. Ahmad suggests the U.S. condition its withdrawal on the intra-Afghan agreement's implementation, engage the U.N. Security Council for endorsement, cautiously release Taliban prisoners, maintain a counterterrorism force, and facilitate Afghanistan-Pakistan dialogue. He emphasizes the need for a robust deal to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a failed state.

Afghanistan: Recovering from the Brink of Economic Collapse?

31 Jul 2018  |  nationalinterest.org
Afghanistan has implemented a series of economic reforms to stabilize its economy after facing a potential collapse four years ago. These reforms, part of President Ashraf Ghani's self-reliance agenda, include a more measured budget process, increased privatization, new tax tiers, and expanded trade engagements. The country has seen GDP growth, record revenue collection, and low inflation despite currency depreciation. Reforms in the customs system and tax administration have been introduced, and Afghanistan has aligned its budget with national priorities, resulting in increased public-private partnerships and improved fiscal sustainability. The government plans to focus on agriculture, extractive industry, regional connectivity, and human capital to further grow the economy. However, the economy remains donor-dependent, and challenges such as unemployment and corruption persist.

The Major Flaws in Afghanistan's Intelligence War

14 Feb 2018  |  www.realcleardefense.com
The recent bombings in Kabul, resulting in nearly 150 deaths, highlight significant intelligence failures in Afghanistan. The violence, attributed to the Taliban and possibly Pakistan, challenges President Donald Trump's new Afghanistan strategy, suggesting that American pressure tactics are ineffective and ill-advised.

Mafia politics threaten Afghan security as much as insurgency does

04 Jan 2018  |  thehill.com
Afghanistan's stability is threatened by internal power struggles among warlords and political elites as much as by external insurgency. The conflict between the Kabul government and regional strongmen, such as the former governor of Balkh province Atta Mohammad Noor, is driven by a predatory political system fostered by post-9/11 Western intervention. This system has led to criminal activities and human rights violations by influential political figures. The U.S. military campaign and Afghanistan's security are at risk due to these internal tensions, which could affect upcoming elections. The U.S. is urged to hold Afghan warlords accountable to support President Trump's strategy for Afghanistan.

The Art of a Political Deal With the Taliban

18 Oct 2017  |  www.realcleardefense.com
The Trump administration is considering closing the Taliban political office in Qatar while the United States has revived the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) to negotiate an end to the War in Afghanistan. Negotiators from Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, and the United States met in Oman to encourage the Taliban to join peace talks, but the Taliban did not attend. Speculations suggest Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada recently entered Afghanistan to strategize with regional commanders in response to increased U.S. airstrikes.

Finally, an Afghanistan Strategy that Puts Pressure on Pakistan

25 Aug 2017  |  Modern War Institute
President Donald Trump's new Afghanistan policy, which applies pressure on Pakistan, is a significant shift from past US strategies. It moves away from a calendar-based approach to one based on conditions on the ground, signaling an unwavering US commitment. The policy identifies Pakistan as an adversary, acknowledging its role in providing sanctuary to terrorists. The article suggests that Pakistan's cooperation is essential for peace, but its military's support for the Taliban complicates the situation. The US plans to deploy additional troops to assist Afghan forces, while Pakistan's response to the policy is uncertain. The article argues for concrete US actions against Pakistan if it continues to support terrorist groups and for Kabul to avoid peace talks that favor Pakistan's interests.

How to Negotiate With the Taliban

26 Jul 2017  |  WSJ
Washington's experts largely advocate for a political solution to the Afghan war, suggesting negotiations with the Taliban. However, the article argues that this approach is flawed, as it emboldens the Taliban, undermines the Afghan war effort, and disrespects American sacrifices.

America Must Confront Pakistan's Support of Afghan-Based Terrorism

01 Jun 2017  |  nationalinterest.org
Kabul has experienced a series of deadly attacks, including a truck bomb by the Haqqani Network, a Pakistan-based group with a history of terrorism and ties to the ISI. The Haqqanis, who have aligned with Al Qaeda and the Taliban, operate a criminal enterprise in Afghanistan funded by various illicit activities. Despite U.S. actions, including drone strikes and designating the group as terrorists, Pakistan has not acted against Haqqani sanctuaries. The article argues that the U.S. should apply financial sanctions and travel restrictions on Pakistani intelligence officials and target financial networks to pressure Pakistan and address the ongoing insurgency in Afghanistan.

What Drives Insider Attacks in Afghanistan?

05 Apr 2017  |  Foreign Affairs
Insider attacks in Afghanistan, often referred to as green-on-blue attacks, have become a significant threat to NATO and Afghan forces. These attacks are increasingly driven by Taliban infiltration, influence, and impersonation, rather than just personal grievances. The Taliban exploits weaknesses in Afghan security institutions, including poor vetting and corruption, to infiltrate and coerce Afghan soldiers. Measures taken by NATO and Afghan commanders, such as improved training and biometric registration, have reduced the frequency of these attacks, but significant operational gaps and political interference continue to undermine Afghan security forces' effectiveness. Addressing these issues is crucial to minimizing Taliban infiltration and improving cooperation between Afghan and international forces.

To Save Afghanistan, Put Pressure on Pakistan

23 Feb 2017  |  WSJ
The situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating with the Taliban controlling more territory than at any time since 2001 and Islamic State making significant inroads in the eastern parts of the country. The article argues that Pakistan's support for the Taliban is a critical issue and calls for increased pressure on Pakistan to help stabilize Afghanistan.

Dirty Money in Afghanistan

07 Sep 2016  |  www.foreignaffairs.com
Afghanistan's illicit economy, including drug trafficking and smuggling, is hampering economic development and funding terrorist groups. Money laundering, facilitated by the informal hawala system, is a significant issue, with the government struggling to enforce regulations and prosecute cases. President Ashraf Ghani has taken steps to combat corruption and strengthen financial oversight, including establishing an Anticorruption Justice Center and improving coordination among government agencies. International support, particularly from the United States, is crucial for the success of these reforms.

Happy to be Moving in the Wrong Direction

17 Nov 2015  |  Foreign Policy
A 2015 Asia Foundation survey reveals a pessimistic national mood in Afghanistan, with significant concerns over security and the economy. Confidence in the government and public institutions has declined, although there is high confidence in the Afghan army and police. Despite the challenges, three-quarters of Afghans report being generally happy with their lives. The survey highlights progress in women's rights and basic services. The Afghan government is implementing structural reforms to boost the economy and restore confidence. The article emphasizes the need for continued international support and a firm stance on Pakistan's role in Afghanistan's instability.

Afghanistan Is Not Iraq

15 Oct 2015  |  Foreign Policy
The article argues that Afghanistan's situation is fundamentally different from Iraq's, emphasizing three main points: the Afghan government's security pact with the U.S. and NATO support, the strong public confidence in Afghan security forces, and the Afghan people's optimism about their country's future. It highlights the challenges faced by Afghan forces, including high casualties and limited resources, but asserts that Afghanistan is not on the brink of collapse like Iraq. The article concludes that the U.S. should maintain its troop presence based on ground conditions, as indicated by President Obama's recent decision.

Afghans Can Pull Through, With U.S. Help

07 Oct 2015  |  WSJ
The Taliban's recent control over Kunduz province has brought Afghanistan's situation to the attention of the U.S. This development should not be seen as a descent into chaos but as a reminder of the need for continued U.S. military support. The Afghan unity government, while weak, is widely legitimate, and the Afghan army and police hold high confidence among the populace, according to the Asia Foundation survey.

Duck and Cover in Pakistan

15 Sep 2015  |  Foreign Policy
Pakistan is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal, potentially outpacing India and becoming the world's third-largest nuclear power within a decade. This expansion is driven by a combination of security concerns, particularly regarding India, and a belief in the deterrent power of nuclear weapons. The United States plays a critical role in this dynamic, both as a source of military aid and as a potential mediator in crises. The article suggests that the U.S. should impose stricter conditions on its assistance to Pakistan to curb its nuclear proliferation and address the associated risks.

Duck and Cover in Pakistan

15 Sep 2015  |  Foreign Policy
Pakistan is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal, potentially outpacing India and becoming the world's third-largest nuclear power within a decade. This expansion is driven by security concerns, particularly regarding India and the United States. The Pakistani army views its nuclear program as a deterrent against India's superior conventional military strength. The United States is urged to facilitate direct military communication between Pakistan and India, engage in nuclear diplomacy, and impose strict conditions on its assistance to Pakistan to ensure it is not used for further nuclear development. The text highlights the historical and ongoing public support for Pakistan's nuclear program, despite its potential risks.

The Enemy of Iran’s Enemy in Afghanistan

21 Jun 2015  |  Foreign Affairs
Iran's strategic engagement in Afghanistan involves supporting the Taliban to counter U.S. influence and the threat of ISIS. Historically, Iran has had a complex relationship with the Taliban, including opposition and support at different times. Iran's current involvement includes economic investments, supporting Afghan media and political candidates, and leveraging its influence in peace talks. The rise of ISIS has further complicated the dynamics, with Iran viewing it as a significant threat. Iran's actions are driven by a desire to maintain regional influence and counter Sunni extremism, particularly from Saudi Arabia.

Ashraf Ghani’s Afghanistan

04 Jun 2014  |  Foreign Policy
Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister and current presidential candidate, is positioned as a reformist leader capable of transforming Afghanistan's economy and governance. His tenure as finance minister saw significant reforms, including the introduction of a new currency, centralization of government revenue, and anti-corruption measures. Ghani's vision for Afghanistan includes leveraging the country's mineral wealth, water resources, and agricultural potential to create a self-sustaining economy. His plans emphasize public investment, infrastructure development, and private sector involvement. Despite the challenges, Ghani is portrayed as a beacon of hope for Afghanistan's future.

Afghanistan’s crowded electoral roster

08 Oct 2013  |  Foreign Policy
The registration phase for Afghanistan's 2014 presidential election concluded with an unexpectedly high number of candidates, leading to a complex and fragmented political landscape. President Hamid Karzai's influence and political maneuvering are highlighted as significant factors contributing to the disarray. The article discusses the challenges of coalition-building, the potential for voter apathy, and the importance of a transparent and credible electoral process. It emphasizes the need for candidates to engage with the electorate and address key issues facing the country, while also urging Karzai to remain impartial to preserve his legacy.

Afghanistan’s special forces are a bastion of hope

24 Jan 2013  |  Foreign Policy
The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have shown growth but face significant challenges, including high attrition rates and limited capabilities without international support. The Afghan Special Operation Forces (SOF) stand out for their competence and minimal casualties, yet their small size and lack of enablers hinder their effectiveness. The Pentagon is urged to increase the size and resources of Afghan SOF to ensure stability post-2014. The Afghan Defense Ministry plans to reduce overall troop numbers while increasing pay to improve retention. The success of the ANSF and Afghan SOF will depend on continued U.S. and NATO support, particularly in providing necessary equipment and training.

Afghanistan’s political crisis: A short-term solution

10 Jul 2012  |  Foreign Policy
Afghanistan faces a critical political crisis as it approaches the 2014 presidential elections, with the need for a smooth transition of power from President Hamid Karzai to a capable successor. The political landscape is marred by infighting and factionalism, threatening the legitimacy of the elections and the stability of the country. A potential solution involves Afghan leaders compromising on a shortlist of vetted candidates and possibly convening a Loya Jirga to ensure political legitimacy. The international community, particularly the United States and European partners, has a role in supporting credible elections through independent monitoring. Long-term political development in Afghanistan requires the establishment of issues-based political parties and a move away from factional politics. The urgency for Afghan leaders to take responsibility and act decisively is emphasized to prevent the country from descending into chaos reminiscent of the 1990s.

Election 2014: Afghanistan’s chance to get it right?

10 May 2012  |  Foreign Policy
The upcoming 2014 Afghan presidential election faces significant challenges due to systemic corruption, nepotism, and a lack of a clear political strategy for a post-Karzai government. Concerns are rising about President Karzai's potential manipulation of the election process, including handpicking a successor. The U.S. is perceived as a kingmaker, and its involvement in Afghan politics is controversial. The article emphasizes the need for political reform, the development of a mature political class, and the nurturing of new, capable leaders to ensure Afghanistan's future stability and governance.

Bonn and beyond: Afghanistan’s uncertain future

14 Nov 2011  |  Foreign Policy
World leaders will convene in Bonn, Germany, to discuss Afghanistan's future beyond 2014, focusing on security transition, reconciliation, and long-term engagement. The Afghan government and regional countries have expressed support, but skepticism remains among Afghans about the effectiveness of such conferences. Concerns include the exclusion of civil society, potential power abuse by President Karzai, and the Taliban's exclusion from peace talks. The upcoming Loya Jirga and the formation of the National Front of Afghanistan highlight internal political tensions. The conference aims to ensure regional support and a functional roadmap for Afghanistan's political, security, and economic transition.

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