Pakistani National Security Advisor Sartag Aziz paid a short visit to new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani over the weekend, with future meetings set up between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Ghani forthcoming, an apparent sign of detente. A formal invitation was extended from Sharif to Ghani to arrange a meeting to ‘share his vision’ for ties between the two neighbors.
President Ghani accepted the invitation, delivered by Aziz, and called for ending the bitter dialogue between the two governments, calling it “a blame game.” In another surprising gesture, Sartaj also visited chief executive Abdullah Abdullah in Kabul, acknowledging the shared power structure of the new Afghan government. Relations between the two have been extremely tense in recent years, especially under Karzai who frequently ascribed blame for unrest in the southern border zones to the Pakistani Interservices Intelligence (ISI), the intelligence gathering arm of the Pakistani government.
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- Representatives from NATO and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization held talks in order to discuss future development in AFghanistan. Both sides have expressed interest in combatting increasing ISIL influence in Afghanistan through the curtailing of internet propaganda, and share the goals of retaking areas of AFghanistan currently controlled by Taliban forces.
- The US Senate approved the nomination of Pamela L. Spratien as the next U.S. ambassador to Uzbekistan. Spratlen is a Russian-speaking career U.S. Foreign Service member, previous U.S. ambassador to Kyrgyzstan and former chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Kazakhstan.
- Fighting around the contested Ukrainian city of Donetsk killed four civilians and wounded several others. There’s been no definitive stoppage to the violence in eastern Ukraine despite numerous attempts at brokering a cease fire, with Donetsk being the epicenter of most of the region’s violence. The civilians in question were killed by shrapnel that spilled over to periphery areas surrounding the fighting.
- Violence erupted in Xinjiang province over the weekend, with 22 more killed in an attack on a Kashgar prefecture’s Han Chinese Farmers Trading Center. The attack was allegedly perpetrated by four Uyghur men who attacked the market with knives and explosive. The attacks were directed towards ethnic Han Chinese, and represent but another in a series of ethnically-motivated attacks in the region.
- Afghan President Ashraf Ghani played host to Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan in Kabul this past weekend. The two heads of state came to terms on an agreement stressing stronger relations between the two countries and pledged stronger collaboration during Ghani’s time in office. Turkish forces remain in Afghanistan as part of reconstruction efforts, though Ankara has never allowed its forces to be involved in combat missions due to fears over backlash.