Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Acting Defense Minister, Asadullah Khalid says Afghan National and Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) will not allow the past two decades to be sacrificed in any peace deal.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony of Afghan Commando forces, Minister Khalid has urged the commando forces must prevent civilian casualties during their operations.
He declared that the rime of nepotism and favoritism has gone in the ministry of defense.
“We witnessed our security forces being impartial during the past presidential elections, and they will also be impartial in the future,” the Defense Minister said.
He further added that Afghanistan has strategic partnership with United States and Americans are not in the country to stay forever.
Severe winter weather has struck parts of Afghanistan, leaving at least 18 people dead.
At least 18 people, including women and children, died due to the severe weather, according to provincial officials.
They said most of the main roads in Afghanistan were closed due to heavy snowfall and fears of avalanches.
Of the Afghan casualties, eight people were killed in southern Kandahar province, said a spokesman for the provincial governor.
Seven people died in western Herat province, including five members of the same family, police said. Three people were killed in southern Helmand province.
Residents of the Afghan capital, Kabul, where temperatures dropped to -15C, abandoned driving and struggled to get to work on snow-covered roads.
The Lower House of Parliament on Monday suspended the budget of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC) after its acting minister, Ajmal Ahmadi, “ignored” his summon by the MPs.
According to the Afghan lawmakers, Ahmadi’s absence led the Lower House to approve his disqualification and suspend the Ministry’s budget.
“President Ghani has previously pledged that he would present to Parliament every six months; now we even cannot see a minister in a year,” the chairman of Lower House, Mir Rahman Rahmani said.
In the meantime, a Parliament Member, Mohammad Ali Akhlaqi stated that the MoIC acting minister had repeatedly disregarded the Lower House and the Parliament must conclude that Ahmadi would not be able to make any decision afterwards and his signature would not be valid in any office.
However, suspending the MoIC’s budget was criticized by a number of other lawmakers which led some of them to leave the session.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says there is no place for the irresponsible individuals in Afghanistan law and the dignity of the country depends on Police.
Speaking at a police graduation ceremony in Kabul on Monday, President Ghani declared that Afghan Police have his full support in implementing rule of law.
“Afghan women and children must feel secure while going to the police. Residents should not be in fear of extortion,” President said.
He emphasized that the Afghan security forces have the right to use the power but they should know the limits.
“Only trial can order the execution. Security forces have no right to kill someone without trial,” he asserted.
Ghani further added that the interference from outside of the Ministry of Interior Affairs should be reduced to zero.
At least nine people have been killed and wounded in a traffic accident in Takhar province, Afghan local officials said on Monday.
The spokesman of Takhar governor, Jawad Hejri told Reporterly that a vehicle was collided in Ozon Kotal area of Rostaq district at around 19:00PM (local time) on Sunday night.
According to Hejri, at least three people were killed and six other were wounded in the incident.
He added that the incident occurred as a result of the driver’s excessive carelessness.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) says a customs office of the Taliban group has been destroyed in Farah province.
MoD in a press release on Monday said that a customs office of Taliban in Shib Koh district has been destroyed in continueation of the clearing operation under the name of “Bakhtawar” in Farah.
“The Taliban group has earned more than 2 million AFN per day from the vehciles passing by,” the press release said.
This comes as the “Bakhtawar” operation was started since the beginning of the first current winter season and is aimed in suppressing and clearing the insurgents from all insecure areas of the province.
Afghan local officials say at least seven inmates have escaped a Taliban prison in Paktia province.
Confirming the incident, a provincial member of Paktia, Allah Mir Khan Bahram Zoy told Reporterly, “Seven inmates succeeded to escape a Taliban prison in Paktia province on Sunday night.”
According to Bahram Zoy, the crimes of prisoners are unknown and it is unclear how the inmates have escaped the prison.
The Paktia provincial officials have also confirmed the incident, adding that an emergency meeting was held this morning with the provincial governor and a delegation has been appointed to investigate the incident.
NATO Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan Nicholas Kay says the future peace deal in Afghanistan needs to be built on the achievements of the past 18 years, including women’s rights.
Answering questions posed in his twitter account, Nicholas Kay said “It will be key to lasting peace and to continued international economic cooperation and economic assistance to Afghanistan.”
“NATO supports US-Taliban talks. But this is only a first step. Real peace will come from an intra-Afghan agreement that preserves the rights and freedoms Afghans have enjoyed for the last 18 years,” he asserted.
“Efforts to reduce violence will have an impact on lives of all Afghans, but specifics of an agreement will be for the parties to agree. We must be patient as these trust-building measures are worked out. We look forward to firm and credible guarantees from the Taliban for peace,” he noted.
He furthered that NATO encourages all regional actors to play a constructive role in stabilizing the region. “Like all neighboring countries, Pakistan’s role in supporting the peace process will continue to be crucial.”
“Our presence is based on needs of the ANDSF and will be determined by our Allies and conditions on the ground. Violence has to reduce as a first step to make way for peace.”
He added, “We continue to encourage all regional actors to play a constructive role in helping to stabilize Afghanistan through an Afghan-led peace process. At the end of the day, a more secure Afghanistan contributes to regional stability.”
Fourteen Romanian gendarmes, who participated for almost 6 months in the NATO mission to advise Afghan public order and security forces, returned home on Sunday.
In the nearly six months in Afghanistan, the Romanian gendarmes have successfully carried out dozens of advising and protection missions, confirming, once again, the value that the gendarmerie forces bring to peace-building missions in post-conflict areas, the Romanian Gendarmerie’s Facebook page reads.
As a sign of appreciation and recognition of the activity of the Romanian gendarmes, Major General Robert L. Marion, deputy commander of the CSTC-A (Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan), conferred the Romanian gendarmes the NATO non-Article 5 medal.
The US Department of Defense has identified two U.S. soldiers that were killed the day before in a roadside bombing attack in Afghanistan that was claimed by the Taliban.
The soldiers were identified as Staff Sgt. Ian P. McLaughlin, 29, from Virginia, and Pfc. Miquel A. Villalon, 21, from Illinois.
Both soldiers were assigned to 307th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C., the Pentagon said in a statement.
The soldiers were killed in action Saturday when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in Kandahar Province.
They had been conducting operations as part of NATO’s Resolute support Mission, according to the Department of Defense.
The incident is under investigation, the Pentagon said.
More than 2,4000 U.S. service members have been killed in Afghanistan, including 23 last year.