Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Habiba Sarabi, Member of the Negotiation Team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, participated in an online meeting held on the occasion of March 8, International Women’s Day, organized by the “Hazara Council of Great Britain”.
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Peace Team in a statement said that the meeting was also attended by Sima Samar, former State Minister for Human Rights and International Relations.
According to the statement, Ms. Sarabi spoke about the importance of the role and presence of women in the peace process and their political participation.
Ms. Sarabi said: “The International Women’s Day is being celebrated while Afghanistan peace negotiations are underway, and I am happy to represent Afghan women in these negotiations. My colleagues and I will spare no effort to protect the rights and achievements of women.”
She added: “Unfortunately, the Afghan people are suffering from the violence and targeted killings that have recently been increased, and our efforts are focused on achieving a comprehensive ceasefire and stopping the ongoing violence.”
Ms. Sarabi called the presence of women at various levels of decision-making, important and valuable. She emphasized the development of women’s capacities as one of the necessities of the present age to better move their responsibilities forward.
Following the visit of Afghan political leaders to Pakistan, Mohammad Mohaqiq’s office said in a statement that Pakistani Ambassador Mansour Ahmad Khan met President’s senior Adviser on political affairs and invited him to pay an official visit to Islamabad to meet with Pakistani leaders and officials.
According to the statement, Mohaqiq accepted Pakistan’s invitation and said he would go to Islamabad at an “appropriate time.”
The Pakistani ambassador was quoted in the statement as saying that his country was implementing a series of aid projects in western Kabul, Bamyan and Logar provinces.
Previously, Abdullah Abdullah, Karim Khalili, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Ahmad Wali Massoud had trips to Islamabad.
The United States congratulates Afghanistan on the successful arrival of 468,000 doses of the COVISHIELD vaccine, from the AstraZeneca Serum Institute, on March 8, 2021, the US embassy in Kabul said in a statement.
This shipment was made possible through the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, a global initiative to support equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
The United States recently announced the provision of an initial $2 billion—out of a total planned $4 billion—to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, making the United States the single largest contributor to COVAX.
Afghanistan is among the first countries in the region to have received COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility.
“The United States stands with Afghanistan in its fight against COVID-19, which poses an unprecedented global health threat,” said U.S. Charge d’Affaires Ian McCary. “Defeating the pandemic is a global challenge and the United States is working both at home and abroad to stop the spread of the disease. Working together, we can defeat COVID-19 and prepare ourselves for future threats.”
The U.S. contributions to COVAX, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), will support the purchase and delivery of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for the world’s most vulnerable and at-risk populations in 92 low- and middle-income countries.
This support is critical to controlling the pandemic, slowing the emergence of new variants, and helping to restart the global economy, the statement said.
President Ashraf Ghani met with Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, the former First Vice President, at the Presidential Palace.
Based on the reports, the focus of the talks between the two sides in this meeting was the current situation in the country, the national consensus for the success of the peace process and the security situation in the country.
So far, the Presidential Palace has not said anything about the meeting, but Rahela Dostum posted a video of the meeting on Facebook, saying that the current situation in the country and the peace process were discussed during the meeting.
The meeting is said to have lasted for an hour and a half.
In addition to the president and Marshal Dostum, national security adviser Hamdollah Moheb, Bator Dostum, a member of the government’s negotiating team, and Rahela Dostum, the secretary of the Senate, also attended the meeting.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry plans to hold a conference in Moscow on March 18 to discuss Afghanistan, the TASS news agency reported, without providing any details on participants.
The March 9 announcement came amid Western media reports of a U.S.-drafted peace plan for the war-wracked country that calls for the current government in Kabul to be replaced with an interim administration until a new constitution is created and elections held. A joint commission would monitor a cease-fire, Reuters reported.
The Associated Press said the plan outlines the terms of the cease-fire and its enforcement, calls for the protection of the rights of women, children, and minorities, and envisions a truth and reconciliation commission aimed at healing decades of conflict.
The State Department did not confirm the contents of any plan as reported by Reuters and the Associated Press.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said it is too early to say how Afghan peace talks were going but that Washington believes progress is possible.
Rulla Ghani, Afghanistan’s first lady, has called for an increase in the economic role of women, calling it effective in economic development and reducing violence against women.
The first lady has said that women’s economic growth is not only constructive in reducing violence against women, but also in improving the political situation and economic development.
Rula Ghani criticized the limited role of women in economic activities in a ceremony entitled “Women’s Empowerment Roadmap” on occasion of International Women’s Day.
“When women play an active role, they can contribute to the country’s economic growth, politics and progress. Unfortunately, when the economic activity of a country is measured, the economic role of women is ignored. There must be a basis for small and large business for women,” she said. “It will increase the political and economic stability of the country.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs has launched the “Women’s Empowerment Roadmap” program for this purpose.
The Acting Minister of Women’s Affairs Hosseineh Safi said the program aims to empower and grow women economically.
“The goal of the program is for institutions working in the economic sector to launch a national roadmap for women’s empowerment. This program is a vision and a goal. We want to work to empower women in the city, the countryside and at home,” Ms. Safi added.
The U.S Department on Moday said that it is very early to discuss how afghan peace process is going, but the U.S believes this is the moment and progress is possible, Reuters reported.
Ned Price, spokesman to the State Department said in a regular press briefing that U.S special envoy for Afghan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad will remain in Doha for some time.
“We have continued to encourage all sides to take part constructively and with a degree of alacrity, knowing that this is a moment in time where progress is possible,” Reuters quoted Price.
He added, that “We want to do everything we can to facilitate that progress, to support dialogue, the inter-Afghan dialogue between the various parties. That’s precisely why we’re there”.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Tuesday reported 14 new positive cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported no deaths and 7 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 55,894 the number of total reported deaths is 2,451 and the total number of recoveries is 49,409.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Balkh, Nangarhar, and Laghman.
The Afghan Ministry of Economy says that 54,000 women in the country have made small investments in various sectors till date.
The Economy Minister Karima Hamid Farabi said that 54,000 women are currently involved in small investment , and efforts are underway to expand their businesses.
“Afghan women are specialized at producing Afghan products, but insufficient financial resources limit their business growth,” said Minister Farabi.
In addition to security and social problems, lack of access to investment and lack of suitable market for their products are among the problems faced by women investors.
UK Army’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Sir Nicholas Patrick Carter called on Pakistani Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, a statement issued by the country’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) stated on Tuesday.
As per ISPR, matters of mutual interests including the Afghan peace process, as well as evolving global geostrategic environment were discussed.
The visiting dignitary acknowledged Pakistan’s continuous efforts for peace and stability in the region and pledged to further enhance bilateral relations between both countries.
Earlier, United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad called on General Bajwa at the General Headquarters. During the meeting, matters pertaining to the regional security situation and the Afghan peace process were discussed.
The United Nation’s envoy for Afghanistan is due to arrive in Qatar on Tuesday to meet with Afghan government and Taliban representatives this week in a fresh push on the fractious Afghan peace process, Reuters reported quoting two sources familiar with the talks.
The visit comes as the United States is seeking to shake-up the stalled Qatari-hosted talks between the warring sides, including proposals for an interim government
U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons was also expected to with meet U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and Qatari officials during the visit, the sources said.
These are crucial meetings as the outcome will decide the fate of year-long talks in Doha whether they should be continued or put under a moratorium, one of the sources said.
Russia has sent an invitation to the leadership of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) to attend a Moscow Peace Summit.
The HCNR says it has received the invitation and its leadership is consulting on this.
“The leadership of the government, some political leaders, the leaders of the Taliban, and some countries in the region and the US have also been invited to the meeting,” HCNR spokesman Faraidoon Khawzon said.
This comes as the US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is on a regional tour where he has presented the new US plan – which involves the establishment of a transitional government.
Abdul Rahman Fateh, the Police acting chief for Deh-e Yak district of Ghazni province has been killed in a roadside bomb blast in Tasen area of the district, the provincial Police spokesman, Sardar Wali Tabasom confirmed.
Tabasom told Reporterly that the blast happened yesterday evening when Fateh was procurement process in the district.
However, the Taliban group claimed that at least four more security forces were killed in the incident.
But the Ghazni Police rejected Taliban’s claim, adding that no other security forces were harmed in the incident.
Afghan local officials confirmed that at least four security forces were killed when Taliban militants attacked security forces’ outpost in Pato district of Daikundi province.
The deputy governor of Daikundi, Muhammad Ali Uruzgani said that the Taliban launched their attack in Tapa-e Afghan Bisim area of Pato district at around 01:00am today.
At least two security forces were also wounded in the incident, he said.
Uruzgani added that the attack pushed back after several hours of clashes and now the area is under the control of security forces.
The United States says no decision has been made about its military commitment to Afghanistan after May 1, a deadline for the remaining 2,500 U.S. troops to withdraw from the country in line with a year-old peace pact with the Taliban group, VoA reported.
According to VoA report, the comments came in response to reports that Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, warned that Ghani’s government may have to deal with a Taliban onslaught on its own if the Afghan leader fails to urgently consider proposals on accelerating U.S.-initiated peace efforts.
When contacted by VOA, a US State Department spokesperson said, “As a general matter, we do not comment on alleged correspondence with foreign leaders.”
The spokesperson also said, “We have not made any decisions about our force posture in Afghanistan after May 1. All options remain on the table.”
Senior Afghan officials and opposition politicians confirmed that Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the country’s peace council, had received the letter.
They said the U.S. peace envoy to the country, Zalmay Khalilzad, discussed and explained the proposed peace plan outlined in the correspondence.
The Deputy Foreign Minister, Mirwais Nab, met with, Charge d’ Affaires of the US Embassy in Kabul, Mr. Ian J. McCary at the Storay Palace yesterday afternoon.
The Ministry of Foriegn Affairs (MoFA) in a statement said that Mr. Nab spoke about his recent visit to the Republic of Tajikistan which was aimed at coordinating the 9th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process to be held in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, and stressed the importance of Central Asian countries’ support for peace talks.
The statement added that both sides discussed issues of mutual interest, including the peace process and the expectations of the Afghan government and people of the ongoing endeavors towards restoration of security and stability, emphasizing the importance of supporting national, regional and global peace talks.