Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Lower House of the Afghan Parliament has asked the government to introduce their candidates for a vote of confidence as soon as possible, speaker of the House Mir Rahman Rahmani said on Monday.
Rahmani cited Article 78 of the House of Representatives’ Rules of Procedure and said the commissions headed by him are awaiting the list of candidates to be vetted.
These five commissions include the Commission on Religious and Culture Affairs, Internal Affairs, International Affairs, Judicial and Justice, and the Central Investigation and Overseeing. After the review has been finalized, the deputies decide whether to give a vote of confidence to the candidates.
Internal Affairs reviews the identities and ages of the nominees. The International Affairs Commission examines the issue of dual citizenship, and the Judicial Commission checks for their criminal records.
The Central Investigation Commission reviews their tax filings, while Religious and Culture Affairs checks their academic background and qualifications.
The House of Representatives has stressed that if the nominees pass this stage, they will enter the voting stage of the general assembly.
However, the government has not yet nominated all cabinet members.
The Helmand governor’s office said 23 civilians were killed and at least 15 others wounded after four Taliban rockets hit a festival being held in Sangin district market on Monday.
The militants also detonated a car bomb nearby, the statement said.
According to the governor’s office, the incident happened in the Zol Bazar area and two Taliban members were also killed.
The car bomb blast was in a more residential area and damaged civilian houses and injured some people.
Helmand Governor Mohammad Yasin Khan assigned a security team to probe the incident.
Earlier, media reported that Afghan forces were responsible for the mortars fired at the market.
However, the Helmand media office denied the Afghan forces’ involvement in the attack and said Taliban had previously attacked security personnel in the area.
The Saturday airstrike in Sar-e-Pul province targeted the shadow deputy defence minister of Taliban and several other senior leaders, security officials said.
Officers of the 209 Shaheen Corps said the air raids involved several strikes at the gathering in Kata Qala village in Sozma Qala district.
According to the security forces, Mullah Muzamil, the shadow deputy defence minister of Taliban was also present at the gathering.
The Taliban has not commented on the attack.
However, Zabiullah Amani, spokesperson for the provincial governor had said on Sunday, that the Taliban suffered “heavy casualties” in the attack.
At least 10 civilians were killed and 15 injured after a mortar shell landed in a market in Helmand’s Sangin district on Monday.
Residents say the attack was at a cattle market.
Taliban released a statement saying that Afghan security forces had fired the mortar.
All the victims were civilians.
The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) said they have registered 399 cases of alcohol and drug trafficking in the past six months leading to 490 arrests.
Jamshid Rasouli, spokesperson for the AGO said that 220 cases have gone to trial so far as a result of which 525 individuals have been sentenced to fines ranging from 20,000 AFN or prison for up to 30 years.
The convicts included 32 public officials, four women and a foreign national.
Rasouli added that these cases occurred throughout the country and led to the seizures of 815 kgs of heroin, 86 kgs of morphine, 365 kgs of shisha, 54,298 kgs of marijuana, 10,145 kgs of opium, 1,884 kgs of hashish, and 3,275 litres of alcohol.
With 91 cases, Kabul had the highest number of drug-related crimes.
The AGO said 12.5 million AFN and $23,000 were sent to the government’s treasury after the cases.
The Interior Ministry has previously said it has arrested at least 30,902 drug traffickers across the country over the past 10 years.
The country is marking National Mobilization Week Against Drugs.
President Ashraf Ghani said a dangerous move has been launched to undermine the freedom and values that Afghanistan has achieved in the past two decades.
During Monday’s cabinet meeting, Ghani condemned the terrorist attack that killed employees of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) in a car bombing in Kabul.
Presidential spokesperson Sediq Seddiq had tweeted that Ghani called the blast a “terrorist and brutal” attack against the values of humanity.
Ghani said the government was “committed to preventing such movements” and ordered the security services to take special measures to ensure the safety of rights activists, civilians and prosecutors.
Last week, five employees of the Attorney General’s Office were also killed on their way to work at the Bagram Justice and Detention Centre.
India’s fifth consignment of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan has arrived at Iran’s Chabahar Port.
The ship carrying 7,500 metric tons of wheat has docked at the port, is waiting to be unloaded and then taken overland via trucks to Afghanistan.
Behrouz Aghaei, the director-general of Sistan and Baluchestan Ports and Maritime Department, said the vessel had 300 containers of wheat.
He noted that around 14 vessels carrying Indian cargo to Afghanistan have berthed at the port in the past two years.
The trucks will take the wheat to Afghanistan through the Milak border terminal.
The addition of 271 new Coronavirus cases has pushed Afghanistan’s totals to 31,238 cases, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) announced.
They also reported 12 new fatalities over the past 24 hours and 1,330 recoveries.
The positive samples came from Kabul (130), Herat (30), Balkh (28), Takhar (14), Bamyan (13), Kandahar (12) and Nimroz (12).
Seven people in Baghlan, five each in Kunar and Panjshir, four each in Helmand and Badghis, three in Nangarhar, two in Zabul and one each in Laghman and Wardak also tested positive.
The country’s current figures are 16,571 active cases with 13,934 recovered patients and 733 deaths.
An Australian Special Air Service (SAS) Regiment medic apologised to the sons of an Afghan farmer who was allegedly killed by a senior SAS official, in what constitutes as a war crime.
Almond farmer Haji Sardar, father of seven, was killed in March 2012 and is one of the 55 alleged war crimes by the SAS in Afghanistan that is being investigated.
Medic Dusty Miller issued a heartfelt apology to Sardar’s two sons over a video link that was documented by the news show “60 Minutes.”
“I am very sorry by what happened to your father and I wish I’d have done more,” he said. “You shouldn’t have lost your father that day and I am so sorry that that happened.”
Sardar’s sons, aged 34 and 22, thanked Miller and asked for his help to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Miller had treated Sardar’s injuries when he had been shot through the thigh as the SAS approached their village in March 2012. The injury was not life threatening.
The medic believed the patient would then be transferred to the provincial capital for treatment. However, a superior took Sardar with him.
Minutes later, the same senior officer returned and told him that the farmer had died.
“Straight away I knew that was impossible – absolutely impossible,” Miller told the sons.
“I assumed he was killed basically. He didn’t die of his wounds – I can promise you that.”
Sardar’s sons said that when they were allowed to see the body, he had bruises on his neck and boot marks all over the chest as though someone had stomped him to death.
Miller told 60 Minutes that his regret led him to developing severe post-traumatic stress disorder. He was determined to track down Sardar’s family to apologise.
He had planned to fly to Afghanistan, but due to the pandemic he was forced to communicate through a video call.
The death of Haji Sardar is just one of 55 cases of alleged misconduct by Australia’s special forces that was launched in 2016 by the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force.
The incidents are said to be mostly allegations of unlawful killings, but there are also allegations of cruelty.
At least four Afghan security forces were killed and two wounded in a Taliban attack in the Firozkoh district in Ghor on Sunday night.
Spokesperson for the provincial governor Aref Aber said the clashes took place after Taliban attacked security checkpoints.
He said the Taliban also suffered casualties but there is no exact information.
The Taliban have yet to comment on the incident.
Ainuddin Bahodury, head of the Access to Information Commission (AIC) issued a written warning to four government agencies for failing to provide information to applicants.
The AIC, which monitors rights to information, said the National Statistics and Information Authority, the Ministry of Defence, the Commission for Media Violation under the Ministry of Information and Culture, and the General Directorate of Physical Education and Sports, were issued the warnings.
AIC’s decision was also discussed with the Second Vice President, the Office of the President, the National High Council for Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption.
The warnings were issued after they received complaints from the media which often seeks it for their investigative reports.
Over 30 local media outlets had written a letter of protest in December 2019 against “severe restrictions on access to information” by some government agencies.
Pakistan’s Customs Agent Association and traders said slow documentation, processing and clearance of trucks transporting goods through Torkham is affecting their revenue collection at the border crossing.
They claim Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral and transit trade has slowed down and revenue has decreased due to the sluggish clearing process.
The unnecessary checking of the trucks at Torkham has created traffic problems on the highway.
The traders, importers and exporters reported they were facing financial losses due to these difficulties.
Even Afghanistan’s Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC) were not able to assess the issues at Torkham customs on their side of the border due to “threats and obstruction” by customs officials, they said on Sunday.
Afghan refugees in the capital of India are struggling financially to save themselves from starvation during the COVID-19 lockdown in Delhi.
Far away from their homes, most Afghan refugees are daily wage earners, working multiple jobs to survive with their families.
Many work as translators for tourists from Afghanistan, Iran and Tajikistan. However, since international flights are banned, they have been left unemployed for over three months. Those who worked as waiters of chefs at smaller eateries were let go off once stores closed.
There were the more well-connected Afghans, who would receive remittances from relatives living elsewhere, either in the U.S. or U.K. Now even those have stopped.
Neither are they able to begin earning due to the restrictions, nor do they have enough savings to tide them over till the market opens up again.
Landlords have begun harassing them for rent, even after a Central government ruling that tenants be given a one-month relaxation for payment.
However, the Afghan refugee community lacks these basic rights since India is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol that establish a framework for refugee protection and lays down rules so that they are not forcefully repatriated.
While the Delhi government does provide rations to the financially weaker communities, most of the refugees have not received any aid yet, not even from the UNHCR.