Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: The High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) on Monday said that the President’s peace plan for the Turkey Summit has been submitted to the council.
Preparations are currently underway for the Istanbul summit and the HCNR is working to present a unified plan at the summit.
Feraidon Khwazoon, HCNR spokesperson told RFE/RL that they are preparing a comprehensive plan for the Turkish summit.
Khwazoon added, “We are trying to come up with a plan. The meeting that was held on Sunday continued today. We have received various plans, including the plan of the president, Hezb-e-Islami party and some other proposals. We are trying to reach a consensus.”
On Sunday, Khwazoon announced the formation of a 15-member committee to collate all submitted plans, saying that the committee would be led by Younis Qanuni and Hamdollah Mohib, the national security adviser: Mohammad Hanif Atmar, the foreign minister, and two deputies to the HCNR Negotiating Board of the Government of Afghanistan; are members of this committee.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that the contents of the peace plan of Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has been shared with all countries contributing to the peace process in Afghanistan.
According to Reuters, President Ghani’s peace plan is a three-phased process.
Kabul: The US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) in a report released last month stated that 40 to 60 percent of the Taliban’s revenue is from narcotics.
The US watchdog in its report cites a meeting with Resolute Support officials in February 2018, saying that “a senior official from the Resolute Support Counter Threat Finance Cell estimated that between 40 to 60 percent of the Taliban’s revenue comes from narcotics trafficking”.
The Taliban rejected their involvement in the drugs and narcotics trade, but Afghan officials said the group has been involved in the illicit business.
SIGAR also quoted a UN report saying that Afghan officials estimate Taliban income from narcotics between June 2018 and June 2019 to be approximately $400 million. The primary sources of income for the Taliban remain narcotics, illicit mineral and other resource extraction, taxation, extortion, the sale of commercial and government services and property, and donations from abroad, SIGAR says.
According to SIGAR, the UN report also notes that the Taliban now controls all aspects of narcotics production, which likely indicates that their total revenues are even higher.
SIGAR quoted a UN Security Council report from June 2019 stating that the Taliban continue to adapt and expand their ability to maintain and generate financial revenues to support their operations.
The watchdog says that Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium and the source of more than 90 percent of the world’s heroin.
Since 2001, the United States has allocated more than $8 billion to fight opium production and trafficking in Afghanistan, the report says.
Kabul: According to local media reports at least 20 Afghan soldiers have been killed and 14 have been wounded in Taliban’s attack on a security outpost in Helmand province.
Official sources have not commented on the matter yet, but local media quoting credible sources said that the incident took place on Sunday night on the 601 Lashkar Gah-Kandahar highway in Nahrsaraj district.
According to reports, Taliban insurgents seized all military equipment in the outpost.
Meanwhile, in a separate incident, reports suggest a car bomb exploded near a police checkpoint in Nawa district of Helmand province on Sunday night, killing two police officials and injuring eight others.
Helmand police spokesperson Mohammad Zaman Hamdard confirmed that a car bomb had exploded at a police checkpoint in Nawa district, but said the car bomb had been recognized and targeted before reaching the target. According to him, only two police soldiers were injured in the incident.
Kabul: Dozens of disabled Afghan people demonstrated in Kabul on Monday to protest against the discrimination and violation of their legal rights.
Bashir Deira, deputy head of Kabul Martyrs’ Council for the Disabled and Heirs of the Martyrs, said that their problems remain unresolved even though they had been protesting for four months. He added that they also met various government agencies for help.
According to him, as per the law on the rights and privileges of the disabled, three percent of the employees of government offices should be disabled, but this has not been implemented yet and also 50 percent of the disabled have not received their monthly salaries for the past three years. The monthly salary of each disabled person is about five thousand Afghanis per month.
According to a survey by the Asia Foundation, more than 13 percent of Afghanistan’s population, which is about 4.5 million, are people with disabilities.
He says people with disabilities also complain of discrimination and, due to the poor economic situation, are calling for the implementation of dozens of memoranda of understanding signed with government agencies to facilitate their requests.
Deira added that after long protests, they were finally forced to gather at the Abdul Haq crossroads on Monday and demonstrate to close the gates of the presidential palace.
He stressed that if their problems are not addressed, they will continue their protests, go on hunger strike and file a complaint with the United Nations.
Zia-ul-Haq Fazli, spokesperson for the Ministry of Martyrs and Disabled Affairs, said that so far they have managed to employ 9,000 disabled people in government offices in cooperation with government departments.
According to him, three percent of government employees will be 12,500 people, and they hope that the remaining number will be employed in government offices soon.
He also mentioned the president’s promise to distribute 13,000 housing scores to the disabled, and said that there are hundreds of scholarships for them at the institution.
Fazli added that the payment of salaries and benefits to those disabled people whose documents have been approved by the commission started on April 6, but they will not be able to help those whose documents have been rejected.
The spokesman for the Ministry of Martyrs and Disabled Affairs said that the creation of an independent Ministry of Martyrs and Disabled Affairs reflects the government’s commitment to caring for the disabled and the heirs of the martyrs.
Hamidullah Farooqi, acting head of the Ministry of Martyrs and Disabled Affairs, also stressed on the need for greater cooperation and coordination to solve their problems. He announced a special cabinet meeting to address the problems of these people in the future and asked them to remove their tents due to security problems and unfavorable conditions.
Farooqi also promised that the problems and demands of the protesting disabled people would be addressed.
Kabul: The head of the Nangarhar Customs office was forced to resign from his post on charges of “violations and failures at work” by the Acting Finance Minister, said Ministry of Finance on Monday.
Mohammad Khalid Payenda, Acting Minister of Finance, on Sunday, headed a delegation to inspect the customs situation in Nangarhar and forced the resignation of the head of Nangarhar Customs after seeing violations and inadequacies, as per the Ministry of Finance.
The Ministry of Finance added that professional directors of export and import of Nangarhar customs too have been fired and new employees have been appointed in the said positions.
According to the Ministry of Finance, the leadership of the Ministry of Finance had previously given an April 4 deadline to the Nangarhar customs officials to achieve their goals by implementing the applicable laws and prevent violations.
The Ministry of Finance has also said that the ministry’s technical team is currently inspecting Nangarhar Customs and submitting its report to the Ministry of Finance to take further legal action.
Kabul: Open Media in Afghanistan-Nai has called upon the Taliban to stop attacks on civilians, especially journalists and media activists.
Nai on Monday issued a press release citing a statement from the Human Rights Watch stating that the Taliban were deliberately targeting journalists to intimidate them.
Nai has said that it has repeatedly raised concerns about the targeted killing of journalists and media activists, and the Human Rights Watch statement confirms Nai and the country’s media community.
Supporting open media in Afghanistan says that the killing of journalists, media activists and their families violates national law and international principles, and emphasizes that the killing of journalists and media activists as civilian groups violates the legal rules of war in the Geneva Conventions and is considered a war crime and is against humanity.
Nai called on the groups involved, especially the Taliban, to stop killing civilians, especially journalists and media activists, in their attacks in order to protect the role of information and the free activity of journalists in Afghanistan.
Kabul: Stressing that peace is necessary for progress and development, Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh Prime Minister, on Monday offered help to Afghanistan in their efforts for development.
Her remarks came when she met outgoing Afghan ambassador Abdul Qayoom Malikzad at her official residence Ganobhaban and added that peace is a must for development.
PM’s press secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters after the meeting. She said that non-government organizations like BRAC were working for the socio-economic development of Afghanistan.
The Bangladesh PM that said the government has involved the public so that their support can help establish peace.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Monday reported 62 new positive cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 4 deaths and 17 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 56,779 the number of total reported deaths is 2,512 and the total number of recoveries is 51,902.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Helmand, Kunar and Laghman.
Kabul: Iranian and Uzbek foreign ministers met on Monday to discuss bilateral ties and cooperation between the two countries on the Afghan peace process.
This is Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s first tour in the solar year 1,400 (which began on March 21) wherein he met his Uzbek counterpart Abdulaziz Kamilov in Tashkent for regional cooperation in Central Asia.
Cooperation on peace in Afghanistan and bilateral relations in the field of transportation, transit and energy, culture and tourism were discussed.
Emphasizing the regional position and international influence of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kamilov stressed on the expansion cooperation of the two countries in various fields, including cooperation in legal and international forums, parliamentary cooperation between the friendship groups of the parliaments of the two countries, and use of Iran’s port capacities along the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.
Iranian foreign minister is also scheduled to meet Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on Monday afternoon.
Kabul: Continuation of work by acting ministers paves the way for the spread of corruption and shrouds transparency and damages accountability, said Mir Rahman Rahmani, the speaker of the Lower House of Parliament on Monday.
Rahmani made the comments in the plenary session of the House of Representatives and added that the continuation of work of the acting ministers is unacceptable and against the principles of governance. The Ministries of Public Health, Interior, Women’s Affairs, Education, Rural Development, Information and Culture, and the Ministry of Finance are currently headed by Acting Ministers.
Rahmani called on the government to end the practice and nominate new candidates for a vote of confidence in the House of Representatives.
In addition, the Central Bank of Afghanistan and the Attorney General’s Office are also chaired by acting heads.
Kabul: A war of words broke out between the government forces in Afghanistan and the Taliban with both warring factions alleging that they have inflicted massive casualties in clashes and counter-clashes, even as the two are likely to discuss the Afghan peace process in the imminent Istanbul Summit in April.
According to a statement by the Afghan Defence Ministry at least 160 insurgents have been in operations by the national security forces in the last 24 hours across many provinces in Afghanistan. Security forces have also reportedly reclaimed a village from the Taliban in Arghandab district in Kandahar province.
On the other hand, the Taliban has also taken the responsibility of the Sunday car bomb blast incident on the security forces’ vehicles in Paghman district, which left at least three security personnel dead. Many were wounded and in critical condition, as per afghan officials.
With the May 1 deadline to withdraw foreign troops from Afghanistan soil round the corner, the Taliban has warned of more bloodshed if the deadline is not met. The Taliban in a statement said, “the (insurgent) commission for military affairs can take all necessary steps to defend itself and the local population if these operations (by Kabul) are not immediately suspended”.
However, Taliban remains tight-lipped about their casualties caused due to the security forces’ operations. With more operations and clashes being reported, human rights groups too are worries about the civilian casualties increasing due to the rising violence.
Meanwhile, a three-phase peace plan for Afghanistan will be presented by President Ashraf Ghani during the Istanbul peace summit likely to take place from April 16 for 10 days, which seeks to ensure a ceasefire between the Afghan government and Taliban before the elections. Three phases of Ghani’s peace roadmap include an internationally-monitored ceasefire and consensus on political settlement in the first phase; establishing a “government of peace” through elections in the second phase and building a “constitutional framework, reintegration of refugees and development” for Afghanistan in the third phase.
Kabul: At least 24 people have been killed and wounded over the past two days in security incidents in Kabul, according to statistics provided by Afghan officials.
Two landline explosions and a car bomb attack were reported from the Afghan capital city on Monday morning.
Kabul police spokesperson Ferdaws Faramarz said that at 7:00 this morning in the village of Sabzsang in Qarabagh district of the province, a vehicle belonging to a local army was targeted by a bomb blast, killing a security soldier and injuring four others.
Faramarz added that another IED was also discovered and defused by the security forces team on Monday. Police forces also defused a remote-controlled mine at 7:30am in the PD16 of ghe Qala-e-Zaman Khan area.
Kabul also witnessed a car bomb and a bomb explosion on Sunday evening. A car bomb exploded near a military vehicle in Paghman district, Panja Chenar area near Paghman district on Sunday, killing three security forces personnel and injuring 12 others.
On Sunday morning, an explosion in Qargha area of Paghman district of Kabul targeted a Ranger-type vehicle and killed one soldier and wounded three others.
The security incidents in Kabul occurred even as there were previous reports that a 6:30am morning security meeting chaired by the first Vice-President Amrullah Salah had been suspended. The Vice-President has not been attending the security meetings of late.
However, Rezvan Morad, the head of the press and public relations of the first vice-president office, denied the suspension of the security meetings, saying that the meetings continue to be held and only some changes had been made in the way they were organised previously.
Murad added that the morning meetings are held every day at the leadership level of the security sector.
Kabul: At least 37 Taliban insurgents have been killed and 28 have been wounded in an operation by the ANDSF backed by the air force in Arghandab and Zherai districts of Kandahar province, Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced on Monday.
In a statement, the MoD also said that the Afghan National Army seized 90 motorbikes belonging to militants in the area, apart from causing heavy Taliban casualties during the operations. Many Taliban weapons and ammunition were also destroyed by the security forces.
Apart from the military operation, the ANA reconstructed three sections of a bridge which had been destroyed by the Taliban and village of Tabin was cleared of the Taliban influence in Arghandab district.
The operation also led to neutralization of 76 landmines planted by the Taliban in the region. There has been no response from the Taliban on the matter yet.
Kabul: At least one member of the security forces has been killed and four others were wounded when an army vehicle was the target of an IED in Qarabagh district in Kabul on Monday morning, police officials said in a statement.
Police officials added that the explosion took place at Sabz Sang village in Qarabagh district at 7am. So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
“The security forces discovered another mine and defused it,” police officials added.
Earlier, in a car bomb attack on Sunday, at least three security force members were killed in Paghman district.
Kabul: An eight-day exhibition of artworks by Afghan artists living in Iran opened at the Iranian Artists Forum in Tehran on Monday.
The exhibition, Housemate, will showcase at least 70 selected paintings, calligraphy works, illuminations, sculptures and photos.
Mohammad-Hossein Ahmadi; Mohammad Arzgani; Zahra Esmaeili; Batul Akbari; Fatemeh Akbari; Mohammad-Musa Akbari; Gol-Ahmad Anvari Balkhi; Sorayya Jafari; Batul Rahimi; Ali Rahimi; Zara Rasuli; Hamideh Sohrabi; Shakila Alemi; Alikhan Abdollahi; Bahramshah Mahmudi; Mohammd-Mehdi Mirzai and Fatemeh Mirzai are some of the artists showcasing their work at the exhibition.
The exhibition has been organized in collaboration with Iran’s Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants Affairs.