Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: Over 100,000 people in Afghanistan, including healthcare workers and security personnel have been vaccinated against the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) announced on Wednesday.
Health officials said that Afghanistan has so far received over 900,000 doses of the India-made AstraZeneca vaccine.
Based on the figures, 67,684 members of the health system, 18,447 teachers, 3,792 elderly people, 1,602 govt employees and 1,904 media employees have so far received the vaccine shot.
Meanwhile, doctors at the Afghan-Japan hospital in Kabul have said that those recently diagnosed with COVID-19 have recent travel history drom Iran and Pakistan.
“On the recommendation of the World Health Organization, we also included the most vulnerable segment of the society and the elderly people or those who are suffering from chronic diseases,” said Mustafa Lais, head of Covid combat cell at the ministry.
“More people are consulting us on a daily basis since March,” said Mohammad Tariq Akbari, the head of Afghan-Japan hospital.
Currently, up to 70 cases of COVID-19 are being registered in Afghanistan.
Kabul: Afghanistan’s saffron exports to India increased by 80 percent during the past five years, participants of an event in Mumbai were told on Wednesday. In 2019, Afghanistan saffron exports to India were $17.38 million and in 2020, the exports reached $19.08 million.
The Afghanistan Commercial Attaché office in Mumbai, in association with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP), and Indian Chamber of International Business (ICIB) hosted the Afghan Saffron Promotion Virtual Conference on Wednesday.
The program focused on promoting the trade of Afghan saffron to India. Afghan Saffron recently won the International Taste Award – World’s Best- in Brescia, Italy.
Manpreet Singh, President of the Indian Chamber of International Business, added, “The market opportunity in India for saffron and Afghanistan is wide open. I know that Afghan saffron is winning international quality and taste awards. The price is also right. The only problem is that consumers do not know this.”
Kabul: After the first vice-president, Amrullah Saleh, announced on Wednesday that the perpetrators of Yama Siavash’s assassination had been arrested, the Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan-Nai has called on the government to provide documents in this regard.
“The government should provide documents related to this detention as soon as possible, which show the connection between the detainees and the murder of Yama Siavash,” the Nai statement said. “For any other reason, it cannot be said that progress has been made in investigating the targeted killings of journalists.”
According to Nai, the government had previously claimed that the perpetrator of Yama Siavash’s murder had been arrested, but now it has once again announced new arrests in a new allegation.
Nai noted that Siavash’s family had described the detainees as “false and lie.”
The first vice-president on Wednesday morning had tweeted that an 11-member group had been arrested in connection with the assassination of Yama Siavash. Saleh added that these people are members of the Taliban and are involved in the murder of Yama Siavash as well as many explosive attacks in Kabul.
Yama Siavash and two of his colleagues were killed in a magnetic mine explosion last year in the Makrorian area of Kabul’s PD1. Siawash’s family has repeatedly called on the government to prosecute the perpetrators, and has also complained to international organizations.
Kabul: Russia and Pakistan have agreed to provide assistance to Afghanistan in creating inclusive power structures, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference on Wednesday after talks with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
“We have agreed to further contribute to creating conditions to ensure that the conflicting sides achieve constructive solutions, which will allow them to end the civil war in Afghanistan through the agreements on forming inclusive power structures,” Lavrov said.
According to Russia’s top diplomat on his second day of his trip to Islamabad, terrorists are gaining ground in northern and eastern Afghanistan, arousing concerns of Moscow and Islamabad. It was the first time a Russian foreign minister had visited Pakistan in nine years and it comes at a sensitive time for Afghanistan with peace talks making little headway and a deadline looming for the United States to withdraw its forces.
As per Pakistan ‘s Foreign Ministry both the countries agreed to cooperate more there so that all sides can reach an agreement and that the war can be resolved through negotiations. Russia had hosted an international conference on Afghanistan in Moscow last month at which the participants, including the United States, China and Pakistan, issued a statement calling on the warring Afghan sides to reach a peace deal and curb violence.
Meanwhile, Lavrov also met separately with Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday noon, but the media has not yet been informed about the meeting.
Kabul: Water management and construction of dams is the right of the Afghan people, said Mir Rahman Rahmani, Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament, on Wednesday.
Rahmani’s remarks come in response to the resolution of the Assembly of Iran and the reaction of the country’s representatives to the inauguration of the Kamal Khan Dam, located on the border between Iran and Afghanistan. The dam was inaugurated by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani this month. At the inauguration ceremony, the president said that Afghanistan was committed to respecting Iran’s water rights under an agreement signed during the presidency of Mohammad Shafiq.
He stressed that he would no longer supply water to Iran for free, but would do so in exchange for oil. However, recently, a video of the session of the Islamic Assembly of Iran has been made public, which shows the approval of a plan in response to the opening of the Kamal Khan Dam in Nimroz province on the border with this country.
The resolution requires the Iranian government to take political, economic and civil action to “stabilize, perpetuate and increase” its water rights in Afghanistan and report to parliament.
At Wednesday’s session, members of the House of Representatives in Afghanistan called the statements of Iranian officials in response to the operation of the Kamal Khan Dam and Afghanistan’s water management contrary to all international standards and agreements.
“As an independent geographic entity, in accordance with international law and treaties, we can manage our country’s national waters and make great use of them,” Rahmani added.
Mir Rahman Rahmani stressed that Afghanistan is interested in a peaceful life without interference and with good neighborliness with its neighbors.
Kabul: Roshan Telecommunication Company on Wednesday has objected to the decisions of the Afghanistan Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ATRA) while rejecting the allegations wherein ATRA accused the company of repeatedly violating the law and the terms of the license, violations, operational violations and incorrect financial reporting, as well as non-payment of loans.
Roshan Company has denied the allegations made by ATRA’s management regarding violations, misrepresentation, and has said that it has sought legal advice from stakeholders. The decisions of ATRA regarding Roshan Company were made public on Tuesday. The board of directors of ATRA has issued guidance in three cases in the 60th meeting of this board.
Under the direction of the first issue, the CEO, Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Chief Operating Officer of Roshan Company will be fired and other new individuals will be introduced to the ATRA office within a month.
Guideline No. 2 of the ATRA Board of Directors states that the withdrawal and transfer of money outside the account of Roshan Company should be prohibited and that this company should not be introduced to national and international offices in order to carry out major operations and obtain financial cooperation.
The ETRA Board of Directors has also instructed Roshan to conduct a full financial audit. ATRA employees are prohibited from meeting with Roshan employees. Only Roshan’s partners and members of the ATRA Board of Directors can meet to find a solution.
Guidance No. 3 of the Board of Directors of ATRA states that Roshan Company will repay the debts of this Authority within 15 days and provide a schedule to the office of ATRA within seven days for the payment of the contractors’ debts. According to this guidance, Roshan Company’s partners are obliged to meet with representatives of ATRA’s office within three days to find a solution.
The board of the ATRA has emphasized that these decisions have been taken based on the reports of different sections of the office and the complaints of the people against the interruption of telecommunication services in different parts of the country.
According to a statement from ATRA, the purpose of these decisions is to rectify the deficiencies and legalize the company’s actions.
Meanwhile, a statement from Roshan Telecommunication Company stated that it regretted the decision of the Board of Directors of ATRA and its “baseless accusations” against Roshan Company and its employees.
Roshan Telecommunication Company added that the decision of ATRA Board of Directors regarding this company was issued on March 9 of this year. The company has stressed that discussions are currently underway to resolve the misunderstandings between the two parties, which are mentioned in the decision of the board of directors of ATRA.
On the other hand, officials at the telecommunications company say it is clear that last solar year, despite the problems which companies face, it paid about 3.5 billion afghanis in loans to the government. At the same time, they say that Roshan’s company has “several hundred million afghanis” in charge of ATRA, but it has not mentioned it at all.
According to Roshan officials, ATRA officials do not comply with the Residual Education Act, which authorizes the finance minister to give companies up to ten years in installments to pay off their loans.
Roshan Telecom officials also say that investing in Afghanistan is very difficult without a legal framework and legal immunity.
Kabul: The governor’s office in the capital of southern Kandahar province was attacked by mortar shells on Wednesday at 10:30am, a credible security source, aware of the developments said.
According to local media reports, no casualties were reported even as at least two mortar shells hit the building while two other shells landed near former police chief Gen. Abdul Raziq’s tomb.
Reports claim that the Taliban was behind the mortar strike and that the police reached ground zero and were investigating the incident.
Three days ago, two mortar shells struck the Khirqa shrine, however, there were no casualties.
Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Wednesday reported 70 new positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported two deaths due to the virus and 11 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The total number of COVID-19 cases now stands at 56,943 and the total reported deaths is 2,516 while the number of recoveries is 51,940.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Balkh, Kunduz, Maidan Wardak, Nangarhar, Nimruz, Kapisa, Kunar and Logar provinces.
Kabul: An attempt to target a police post in the Panjwai district of southern Kandahar province through a car bomb was foiled, an official said on Wednesday.
Kandahar police spokesperson Jamal Nasir Barakzai said that insurgents attacked the police post in the Salawat area of the district on Tuesday night.
He added that the militants simultaneously planned to detonate an explosives-laden vehicle at the security post, but police fired at it and destroyed the car bomb.
Separately, two militants wanted to plant a roadside bomb in the Eidgah area of Kandahar City on Tuesday night.
Barakzai said one of the rebels was killed in a clash with the police and the other detained was wounded due to a landmine.
The Taliban have not yet commented on any of the incidents.
Kabul: Two civilians have been killed and 18 others have been wounded in a bomb blast which took place in the eastern province of Nangarhar on Wednesday morning, the Ministry of Interior said.
The incident happened at 6:30am local time in Jalalabad city’s district when the security forces were passing from the area and a bomb was placed on a roadside.
“Some policemen were also wounded in the blast, but most of the victims are civilians as the mine exploded in a crowded area,” according to the MoI statement.
Local health officials said that four of the wounded are in critical condition. No group has claimed responsibility for the blast.
Kabul: A roadside bomb explosion killed four passengers and wounded 14 others in Maiwand district of southern Kandahar province on Wednesday, officials said.
A passenger bus hit a planted roadside bomb when Taliban insurgents forced the driver to change the direction of the bus to a dusty road, the official added.
The incident comes as Taliban militants intensified violence across the country and recently four Afghan security forces lost their lives in a Taliban car bombing in Kabul city.
Kabul: The US special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation has shared the forthcoming Istanbul Summit’s date and agenda with the peace negotiating teams.
Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad informed both government and Taliban negotiators of the date for the UN-backed Turkey conference on Afghanistan through a letter.
A private TV channel quoted Qatar-based sources as saying that political consensus around an early solution to the crisis, creation of a broad-based government and international consensus on peace were the main focus points.
The two teams, after multilateral meetings in Qatar to firm up the conference agenda, failed to make any tangible progress, TOLOnews reported. The negotiating parties have not yet commented on Khalilzad’s letter.
However, the agenda could be made public, if accepted by the two sides. Earlier in the weeks, media reports suggested discussions on April 16 as a possible date for the conference were ongoing.
Kabul: Reiterating that Afghanistan can never again become a platform for terrorist attacks that would threaten the US or its allies, Ned Price, US State Department Spokesperson, said that the removal of US troops from Afghanistan would be orderly and in consultation with its allies and partners.
At his daily press conference held on Tuesday, Price, said, “President (Joe) Biden has been clear that he wants to see an end to our military presence in Afghanistan. As he has said, as Secretary (of State, Tony) Blinken has said, as (Defense) Secretary (Lloyd) Austin has said, as others have said, we are committed to bringing a responsible end to the conflict, removing our troops from harm’s way, and ensuring…importantly, that Afghanistan can never again become a platform, a launch pad, for terrorist attacks that would threaten the US or our allies.”
“The international community is similarly united in the belief that there isn’t a military solution to what we have long faced in Afghanistan. It’s a conflict that has to end through a political solution and a comprehensive ceasefire, processes that are at their core Afghan-owned and Afghan-led,” Price asserted.
Meanwhile, he also confirmed that there is no update on whether the US government would be able to meet the May 1 deadline of withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Biden has ruled out withdrawal of US troops by May 1.
“Any removal of troops, any withdrawal plan, would be orderly and it would, of course, be informed by those consultations with our partners and allies,” Price said.
Kabul: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who is in Islamabad, appreciated the role of Pakistan in the peace process of Afghanistan on Wednesday.
He said that Russia expects that the meeting of the extended ‘Troika’ on March 18, 2021 will give a necessary impetus to the Intra-Afghan negotiation and active role of Pakistan in the preparation of this event is appreciable.
“We note the active role of the Pakistani side in the preparation of this event. Moscow also hosted separate meetings between the Afghan delegation (headed by the Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah) and representatives of the Taliban. We consider it important that both sides speak in favour of intensifying the intra-Afghan negotiation process,” said the Russian Foreign Minister in an interview.
He also added that disagreements between states in any region of the world including, of course, South Asia, should be resolved in a peaceful, civilized manner based on international law, when asked about New Delhi’s participation in the “Quad”.
Lavrov added that in modern conditions there is demand for such multilateral associations, initiatives and concepts which are based on the principles of inclusiveness, collegiality and equality. It is this philosophy that underlies the activities of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, of which Moscow, Islamabad and New Delhi are members, he said.
Kabul: Eight documents on advancing partnership in production sector, education, trade in food and beverages were signed by Belarus, Tajikistan and Afghanistan, representatives of the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BelCCI) told BelTA on Tuesday.
Representatives of Belarusian enterprises and organizations held negotiations with businessmen from Afghanistan and Tajikistan during the Tajikistan-Belarus-Afghanistan business forum held in Dushanbe on April 6.
Ivan Krupko, Belarusian Agriculture and Food Minister; Sulaymon Ziyozoda Rizoi, Tajikistani Agriculture Minister; Vladimir Ulakhovich, Chairman of the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Oleg Ivanov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Tajikistan and over 200 representatives of Belarusian, Tajik, and Afghan companies took part in the forum.
Participants of the forum noted that despite last year’s pandemic Belarus-Tajikistan trade has more than doubled and positive dynamics was secured in cooperation with Afghanistan.
Representatives of the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that the main purpose of doing business is to preserve and raise the current level of mutual trade.
The Tajikistan-Belarus-Afghanistan business forum has earned a reputation as a convenient negotiation platform that allows finding of new business partners and serves as a foundation for joint projects, an effective tool for promptly resolving business matters and accelerating cooperation.
Prospects of expanding trade and economic cooperation of Belarus, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan in mechanical engineering, agriculture, food production, tourism, pharmaceutics, and education were discussed during the forum meet.
Topical aspects of interaction between business circles were reviewed. Presentations of the industrial potential, export potential, and tourism potential of the three countries took place in addition to presentations of promising investment projects.