Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Two days after the Afghan government said they were ready to start the peace negotiations with the completion of the prisoner exchange process, the High Council for National Reconciliation said the Taliban were delaying the talks.
“Afghanistan’s negotiating team is ready to take part in the talks. The release of prisoners is over and there is no excuse for delaying the talks,” said Faraidoon Khwazoon, spokesperson for the Reconciliation Council on Saturday.
“The Taliban are still not ready to take part in the talks. We expect the Taliban to be ready and willing to start negotiations.”
The government’s negotiating team which was supposed to depart for Doha, Qatar on Friday, has delayed the trip with some sources saying that they may arrive today.
Various media reports have indicated different reasons for the delay.
An outlet quoted government sources who said the team had not travelled to Qatar due to the absence of key Taliban negotiating team members.
Suhail Shaheen, spokesperson for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, has said in some interviews that a concrete date for the intra-Afghan talks has not been set yet due to some “technical issues” which need to be addressed.
He told another media outlet that Mullah Baradar, the head of the political office and deputy leader of the Taliban, has arrived in Doha along with the other members of the negotiating team.
According to the Taliban, they had previously said they would be willing to sit for negotiations with the government, a week after the completion of the prisoner exchange process.
Members of the Advocacy Committee for the Rights of Ethnic and Religious Minorities asked for their representative to be present during the intra-Afghan peace negotiations with the Taliban.
In a meeting with Shaharzad Akbar, chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), the members of the minorities committee discussed the Afghan peace process.
While showing their support for the negotiations, they asked for their representative to be present at all stages of the process, and also emphasized the legal rights of all religious and ethnic minorities in the country.
Akbar emphasized that the AIHRC works to ensure the rights of all citizens and expressed hope that representatives from all segments will participate in the peace talks.
The production of electricity, especially solar energy, is of prime interest to the current Afghan leaders said De Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) officials on Saturday.
Mustafa Aria, senior advisor at DABS said that the goal of Breshna is to facilitate foreign and domestic investments to increase the opportunities for electricity production in Afghanistan.
Mojtaba Hoshmand, renewable energy adviser at DABS, said that Tajikistan is ready to resume electricity exports to Afghanistan.
“Last week Tajikistan assured that water levels in the country’s power export dam has returned to normal and that it is ready to transfer 150MW of electricity to Afghanistan,” he said.
In early July, Tajikistan had cut electricity to Afghanistan from 450MW to 40MW drastically, leading to power shortages in around 11 provinces.
Afghanistan signed a 10 year-power agreement with Uzbekistan that would establish a 550kV transmission line between the two countries.
The 203rd Thunder Corps said on Saturday, two Pakistani nationals were among the five Taliban fighters killed in Ghazni.
The Taliban had attacked the Afghan security forces in the Arzu Khurd area of the province on Friday.
In the counterattack, five Taliban members of the Mullah Tabet and Irshad group were killed, including the Pakistani citizens.
There were seven more Taliban fighters who were injured. The Afghan forces had no casualties.
The Taliban is yet to comment on the attack.
Farid Mamundzay, the new ambassador designate for New Delhi, in a series of tweets, referred to India as a “generous neighbour” and said he would uphold the friendship between the two.
“I am honoured and humbled to have been designated as the new Afghan ambassador to India, a traditional and historic friend of Afghanistan. India is a generous neighbour who has stood with us in difficult times and have shared their bread with us,” Mamundzay said in a tweet.
Calling India a “strategic partner with strong historical, political and cultural links,” he said he would “further strengthen our ties at all levels for a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan and India.”
He concluded his tweet in Hindi by saying he hopes to maintain and grow the friendship between the two nations.
Mamundzay was also welcomed by the Chargé d’Affaires at the Afghan mission in Delhi, Tahir Qadiry, welcomed the appointment of new envoy and said, “As a CDA here for over a year, I realized the indispensability and vitality of Indo-Afghan ties and this decision will only bolster our Mission to further strengthen our bilateral ties”.
Meanwhile, Qadiry said the Air Bubble Agreement between the two countries has been worked out with Air India and Ariana set to resume their operations between Delhi-Kabul soon.
Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that they were concerned about the security situation in Afghanistan and will continue to support the effort of its people and the government for peace.
In his address at the combined meeting of defence ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Collective Security Treaty Organisation and Commonwealth of Independent States members, being held in Russia, Singh said that India was keenly following the evolving political situation in Afghanistan since the U.S. signed the peace deal with the Taliban.
“Our goal should be security and growth for all in the region, but we are far from achieving security and growth for all,” he told the ministers.
At the SCO meeting, Singh said India will continue to support an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled inclusive peace process.
He also praised the SCO Contact Group on Afghanistan, saying it is useful for exchanging notes among the member states.
The SCO comprises of eight member states – China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group was established in 2005 before being suspended in 2009. It resumed functioning again in 2017.