Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
United States, Europe, and other defenders of the free world need to establish military leverage in order to create the conditions for peaceful political solutions to violence in Afghanistan, argued United Nations diplomat Staffan de Mistura in the most recent episode of Hoover’s Battlegrounds series.
De Mistura has served on twenty-one missions in his over forty years in diplomatic service to the United Nations; He discussed his work as a special envoy in Syria (2014–18), Afghanistan (2010–11), and Iraq (2007–9), and how each country might secure a future of peace and stability.
De Mistura likened the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan to Obama’s Iraq policy a decade ago.
He said that while American leaders should be responsive to their citizens’ wishes to end the war in Afghanistan, an exit strategy should be achieved in a manner that helps secure the gains made by coalition forces.
He advocated that future development aid be contingent upon Kabul’s support for the education and professional growth of Afghan women.
Fundamental change can only be brought about in Afghan society, de Mistura argued, if women, who make up 51 percent of the population, can fully participate in that country’s nascent democracy.
As a member of the UN Security Council, Norway will chair the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Sanctions Committee, the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee and will also be penholder for the situation in Afghanistan, the Norwegian government has said in a press release.
“These are challenging and demanding tasks that Norway is prepared to take on. It is a vote of confidence that Norway will have the responsibility for some of the key chair positions of Security Council’s subsidiary organs,” said Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Erikshumanitarian.
The press release said that in a world dealing with the ongoing pandemic, climate change, increasing poverty, enormous humanitariani needs, high numbers of refugees and displaced people and complicated conflict situations, it is vital that the UN Security Council’s efforts to promote international peace and security are successful.
“Norway will be a co-penholder for the situation in Afghanistan and for the humanitarian situation in Syria,” the press release reads.
“We have in-depth insight into the conflicts in Afghanistan and Syria, and are therefore well placed to play a constructive role that can lead to common solutions. It is important to strengthen the Security Council’s capacity to carry out peace diplomacy and conflict prevention, and incorporate this into processes of addressing country and conflict situations. Both Afghanistan and Syria have great humanitarian needs that the Security Council must assure are addressed. Some of the country situations on the Security Council’s agenda are complicated and have led to polarisation among members of the Security Council, which means that our ambitions have to be realistic,” said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
Members of the Security Council has recently established an informal expert group on the linkage between climate change and security risks in the various country situations and Norway will co-chair the group
Indian embassy here on Thursday announced the completion of a high-impact development project on increasing the economic opportunity for Afghan women through handicrafts in Ghor province.
In November last year, India had announced a new phase of over 100 high-impact community projects in Afghanistan worth USD 80 million.
“@IndianEmbKabul announces successful completion of a “High Impact Community Development” Project on enhancing the economic opportunity for Afghan women through handicrafts in Ghor Province. @MEAIndia @economy_of,” the Indian embassy tweeted.
India’s development portfolio in Afghanistan has to-date amounted to over USD 3 billion, according to Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
The Afghan National Security Council (NSC) has issued a statement condemning the killing of miners, including seven Afghan nationals, in Pakistan’s Balochistan region.
According to the statement, Afghan government will pursue the case of seven of its citizens who were killed in the incident through diplomatic channels.
NSC announced on Saturday, that the Afghan government wants to conduct a comprehensive investigation and bring the perpetrators of this incident to justice.
The NSC statement has stated that the Government of Afghanistan is ready to cooperate with the Government of Pakistan in this regard.
The National Security Council says it is in contact with the families of the victims and is arranging air facilities to transport the bodies of the victims to Daikundi province.
Eleven coal miners were killed on Sunday morning in Mach village of the Bolan district of Pakistan’s Balochistan province.
The IS-K group claimed responsibility for the incident.
The leadership committee of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) in their fourth meeting on Saturday approved the guideline for the ongoing peace negotiations between the Afghan Republic team and the Taliban.
HCNR office in a statement said that
the leadership discussed the peace process, the start of the second round of the talks and reiterated their full support to the Afghan negotiating team.
According to the statement, they exchanged views on the guideline for the talks and insisted on unity and inclusivity.
The chairman of HCNR, Abdullah Abdullah said in the meeting that the negotiating team has full authority in talks on the agenda of the negotiations.
He noted that the negotiating team will keep the leadership committee updated about the negotiations and will refer to the committee if consultations and decision-making are required.
The leadership committee said that the country’s achievements and national sovereignty should be preserved in the talks and that Afghans are seeking permanent, dignified and nationwide peace, according to a statement by the council.
Members of the leadership committee of HCNR, including former president Hamid Karzai, former mujahideen leader Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, said the meetings of the committee will be held in short gaps aligned with progress in the peace talks.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Saturday reported 84 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 1,003 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 12 deaths and 300 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 53,462 the number of total reported deaths is 2,279 and the total number of recoveries is 43,740.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Kandahar, Balkh, Takhar, Paktia, Baghlan, Bamyan, Daykundi, Wardak, Logar, Paktika, Panjshir, Faryab and Sar-e-pol provinces.
Afghanistan is conducting negotiations with Tajikistan on increasing the electricity supply, Avesta news agency has reported.
Afghan state-owned utility company Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) has applied to the Tajik authorities asking to increase the power supply to Afghanistan from 80 megawatts (MW) to 120 MW.
DABS says similar negotiations on increasing the power supply are being conducted with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan as well.
Afghan state-owned utility company said on January 6 that Uzbekistan has stopped supplying electricity to Afghanistan “for technical problem.”
Afghanistan suffers from a chronic power shortage, with less than 40 percent of the population even connected to the grid, according t World Bank data.
Three-quarters of the country’s electricity is reportedly imported from the neighboring countries of Uzbekistan, Iran, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
As the talks on setting the agenda for the intra-Afghan talks begin in Doha, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) announced that it has launched a campaign to gain international support for the success of the peace process, the ongoing negotiations and the fulfillment of the Afghan people’s demands.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Gran Hewad said in a video message today (Saturday) that Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar has started efforts to succeed in the process with major countries and international institutions following the visit of the government’s negotiating team to Doha and the start of the second round of intra-Afghan talks.
Hewad said the aim of these efforts is to gain international support for the success of the peace process, the success of the peace talks and the aspirations of the people and the government of Afghanistan.
According to him, the Foreign Minister also spoke about the peace process with the US Special Representative for Afghanistan and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.
Hewad stressed that the desire of the people and the government of Afghanistan is to reduce violence, ensure a ceasefire, establish lasting peace and dignity which these issues are also important priorities of the government.
Meanwhile, Fereydoun Khozoon, spokesman for the High Council for National Reconciliation said that the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan would begin its main discussions with the Taliban delegation today.
Najiyah Anwari, a spokeswoman for the State Ministry for Peace Affairs, also said that their team is fully prepared and would put the issue of ceasefire on the table during the talks.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) has announced that three perpetrators of the assassination of Yusuf Rashid, the head of Free and Fair Elections of Afghanistan (FEFA), have been arrested.
“Three people have been arrested in connection with the assassination of FEFA head, Yousef Rashid,” Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said on Saturday.
In the meantime, Amrullah Saleh, the first Vice President, said in today’s morning meeting that three people who were directly involved in the assassination of Yusuf Rashid have been identified and two of them have been arrested.
“One of the murderers, in excuse of studying, made himself a classmate of Mr. Rashid’s son in order to complete the whole program. The terrorists belong to a small group of Taliban operating in Logar under the pseudonym Muslimyar.”
FEFA head Yousef Rashid was shot killed in Kabul by gunmen in Kabul. Mr. Rashid’s driver, who was injured in the incident, also died at the hospital.
No group has claimed responsibility for the incident.
Seven of the 10 coalminers who were killed in Balochistan’s Machh belonged to Afghanistan’s Daikundi province, the Afghan consulate in Quetta said Friday.
The Afghan coalminers were identified as Chaman Ali, Aziz, Naseem, Abdullah, Sher Muhammad, Hassan Jan and Anwar Ali.
Four of them belonged to Shahristan district while the others hailed from Miramor, the Afghan consulate said in its letter to Pakistani authorities. At least four of them had refugee cards.
The coalminers were executed by unidentified men in their sleeping room in the Machh coal field area on January 3. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State’s Wilayah Pakistan arm.
Afghan protesters have been staging a sit-in at a highway near Quetta for the last six days and have refused to bury their loved ones.
They say they won’t bury the victims until PM Khan arrives in Quetta and meets families of the slain coal miners.
India looks forward to working towards a peaceful, prosperous, sovereign, democratic and united Afghanistan, said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) as New Delhi is all set to chair crucial Taliban sanctions committee and the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the UN Security Council during its tenure as a non-permanent member of the UN body.
As per Ani report, Indian MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava during a weekly virtual briefing said India and Afghanistan as contiguous neighbours share a natural historical relationship and the strategic partnership.
“We began our two-year tenure at the UN Security Council as a non-Permanent Member on the first of January. During our tenure, we will be guided by a commitment to promote responsible and inclusive solutions to international peace and security, a new orientation for a reformed multilateral system and a world view anchored in our ethos of VasudhaivaKutumbakam,” Srivastava said.
India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti recently announced that India has been asked to chair three important committees of the Security Council, which include the Taliban Sanctions Committee, Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) and the Libyan Sanctions Committee.
Mette Knudsen has been appointed today by the UN Secretary-General as his new Deputy Special Representative (Political) for Afghanistan in the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
UNAMA in a press release on Friday said that Ms. Knudsen succeeds Ingrid Hayden of Australia, to whom the Secretary-General expresses his gratitude for her dedicated service.
“Ms. Knudsen, of Denmark, brings to the position over 28 years of professional experience in diplomacy, international cooperation and economic development. Most recently, she served as Ambassador of Denmark to Afghanistan,” the press release said.
According to UNAMA, Ms. Knudsen holds a Master’s degree in Political Science from Aarhus University in Denmark and has a supplementary degree in Modern Greek language.
The chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) Abdullah Abdullah has met and held talks with Iranian Ambassador to Kabul Bahador Aminian.
In this bilateral meeting, the two sides exchanged their views on the second round of peace talks in the Qatari capital Doha.
The Press Office of HCNR in a statement said that Abdullah Abdullah met and held talks with Ambassador Aminian on the trend of peace talks and the role of Iran and regional countries for ensuring lasting peace in Afghanistan.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has always supported the position of the Afghan government, the Constitution, and the republic in Afghanistan and has said that it supports the position of the Afghan government and demands of its people in the peace process with the Taliban,” the statement said.
The second round of Afghan peace talks with the Taliban will be started in Doha today Saturday.