Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Saudi Arabia pledged to build “100 schools” in Afghanistan and approved financing of 35 development plans, the Afghan Senate said in a revised statement.
In the meeting between Jassim Alkhaldi, ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Kabul and Senate Speaker Fazl Hadi Muslimyar, they discussed the construction of an international university, hospital and other projects.
The embassy of Saudi Arabia in Afghanistan released an official statement emphasizing that the meeting “focused exclusively on issues related to improving bilateral relations between the two countries… on the development aid that Saudi Arabia provides to the brotherly people of Afghanistan in the fields of healthcare and educational institutions.”
They discussed the construction of an international Islamic university in Nangarhar, a $30 million 100-bed hospital in Kabul and a $200 million investment assistance to the Afghan health sector.
The Afghan government welcomed the pledge by Saudi Arabia, calling it one of the “good partners of Afghanistan,” Sediq Sediqqi, the presidential spokesperson said on Monday.
Initial statements on Sunday said the Saudi government had pledged to build “100 religious schools,” however after a public uproar accusing them of spreading extremism, it was found to be an “error made during the translation” published by the Senate, Sediqqi said.
The embassy’s statement said they “would like to stress that some media reporting on this meeting made reference to issues that were not discussed and urges all media outlets to verify the sourcing of their reporting and to make sure that their accounts are accurate prior to publication.”
The Kingdom’s envoy also indicated they might revise the Afghan Hajj quota in the future.
During a remote meeting, Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Youth, and Tahir Zuhair, the Afghan acting Minister of Information and Culture, discussed ways of reinforcing the cultural and creative cooperation between the two countries on Monday.
“We aim to reinforce our cultural ties with Afghanistan and strengthen our partnership in various knowledge and artistic areas, as well as implement joint projects and initiatives that will reinforce our ties, through an annual cultural agenda and joint initiatives,” Al Kaabi said.
Al Kaabi and Zuhair also discussed hosting the “UAE-Afghanistan Cultural Days” in Abu Dhabi, which will aim to enhance their communication and exchange cultural experiences, as well as develop joint cultural interaction tools, promote the culture, heritage and history of both countries, and highlight Afghanistan’s history to the local public in the UAE.
Al Kaabi then praised the “Peace Carpet Initiative” launched by Fatima bint Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan that provides Afghan women with employment in carpet weaving while reinforcing the culture of peace and hope among women.
The project was established in 2010, and has provided thousands of job opportunities in traditional carpet production in Afghanistan, and helped improve local living standards in rural areas. Over 4,000 people work for the project, with 70% of them being women.
The UAE and Afghanistan have established solid ties based on mutual respect and many common factors, such as Islamic culture, and over 130,000 Afghan citizens reside in the UAE, Zuhair said.
Nafia Hijran, a member of the Logar provincial council, was wounded when gunmen shot her car on Monday morning in the capital Pul-e-Alam city.
Local police said one person has been arrested and Hijran was in a stable condition.
Hasibullah Stanikzai, head of the council said that Hijran has been rushed to Kabul for treatment.
Shahpoor Ahmadzai, spokesperson for the Logar police, said Hijran’s driver was also wounded in the shooting.
Investigations are ongoing into the attack which no one has claimed responsibility for.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) asked families to wait a few years before planning for the next child as Coronavirus symptoms were more severe in pregnant women.
Akmal Samsor, spokesperson for the MoPH, addressed a press conference on Monday and told families to delay their plans to prevent maternal mortality.
“Those who plan to have children, wait till the spread of the virus stops or when we get the vaccine,” Samsor said, advising women to use birth control interventions.
Recent studies by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) showed that only 5% of Coronavirus patients in Afghanistan needed serious medical care.
The announcement came as the country reported 239 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, pushing the tally to 33,190 confirmed cases to date.
Akmal Samsor, spokesperson for the MoPH, said 95% of the people showed mild symptoms and almost 72% of the people who had tested positive were men.
He also added that the majority of 898 fatalities were seen in the 60 to 69 years age group while more people in the 20 to 29 years age group were hospitalized.
The MoPH reported 34 fatalities and 737 recovered cases in the past 24 hours.
New cases were reported in the provinces of Kabul (90), Ghazni (51), Herat (23), Bamyan (16), Baghlan (9), Paktia (8), Kandahar (7), Zabul (6), Logar (5), Kunduz (5), Kunar (4), Laghman (3), Panjsher (3), Parwan (3), Helmand (2), Samangan (2), Nangarhar (1) and Takhar (1).
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has called on both the Afghan government and the Taliban to establish a ceasefire and focus all their efforts on ensuring peace amidst the recent surge in violence.
On Sunday, OIC’s Secretary General Yousef Al Othaimeen urged “all Afghans to redouble their efforts to achieve long lasting peace and reconciliation through an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led process.”
In his statement, Othaimeen deplored all acts of violence and said both parties have to “exercise maximum restraint to achieve a sustainable ceasefire, and strive for the long-awaited peace by the people of Afghanistan.”
The Secretary General also expressed hope that the ongoing peace efforts would bring security and stability for the people’s well-being, prosperity and development of Afghanistan.
In May 2019, the OIC had issued resolutions in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, urging the Taliban to enter into a dialogue with the government.
A regional peace summit on Afghanistan is scheduled to take place this evening in Kabul with the participation of 20 countries and various international organisations, including the OIC, to build the regional consensus on the Afghan peace process.
Mafia groups do not pay taxes and force customs officers to sign illegal documents and threaten them with knives, rifles, rocket launchers and even abduction at the Islam Qala border terminal said provincial Governor Waheed Qatali at a press conference on Sunday.
Qatali said forgery of documents, tax evasion purchase and sale of customs papers were prevalent.
“The customs office incomes in Herat have been looted for several years. Who can investigate it?” said Qatali.
There is widespread corruption at Herat customs with at least 90% of the goods imported from Iran going unchecked.
“Only 10% of the traders pass their goods [through the customs office] and 90% others through the mafia,” added the governor saying he would go head-t-head with the mafia to prevent this.
He has ordered the investigation of trucks suspected of evading taxes and has seized them.
At least one insurgent was killed and another arrested after a police encounter in Kabul province’s Shakar Dara district on Sunday night.
The Afghan security forces said the insurgents had targeted a security checkpoint in the Mir Bacha Kot district of Kabul from where they were chased until they reached the Pul-e-Sofiyan area of Shakar Dara district.
The army statement said, “One insurgent was killed and another was captured. The Taliban attacked but has been pushed back.”
Rockets were also seized from them.
The Taliban have yet to comment on the attack.