Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi, the minister for the refugees and repatriation (MoRR) said Sunday at the “state accountability program to the nation” that in 1398 (lunar year) over 500,000 Afghan immigrants have returned to the country.
During the FY 1398, the MoRR provided humanitarian assistance for 116657 families which are addressing the needs and other problems of these displaced families.
“According to the National policy of displaced, opportunities of integration for 63349 internal displaced families were established into their own villages,” said Mr Balkhi. “7219 families were relocating from the Ministry’s discretionary budget and 56070 families have returned to their original locations spontaneously,” he added.
The first vice president General Abdul Rashid Dostum says the intra-Afghan talks would have effective results when the people’s representatives are involved in the talks.
Dostum in a press release on the occasion of the Women’s International Day has expressed hope that the intra-Afghan talks to be started which led to a lasting ceasefire and overall peace in the country.
Pointing to the Presidential elections, Dostum cited that the election crisis was staggering, and election commissions and the dominant team in Presidential Palace violated the people’s clean votes and the election results.
“”We are determined to defend the votes of the poor people and continue to stand firm and resilient to our rightful struggles until we get our rightful place in the elections,” he said.
Dostum stressed that women are half of the body of society and must stand united in the face of injustice, discrimination and inequality through the use of democracy and freedom of expression.
The Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA) celebrated the International Women’s Day in Afghanistan on March 8.
The women’s minister, Delbar Nazari has announced her support from Afghan women’s position and their achievements in the past 19 years in the country.
According to the minister, she has shared the problems of Afghan women with the related institutions to address them.
She stressed on empowerment of Afghan women and added that the Afghan women will have a key role in the peace process.
In Afghanistan the education system has been gutted by four decades of conflict.
Literacy is below 32 percent, so the government knows countering novel coronavirus misinformation is an uphill battle, though it is trying.
“I heard from people and the internet that the source of this virus comes from an atomic bomb that has leaked somehow,” said Abdul Qader in a narrow alley of Kabul’s busy Bird Street market while a crowd that has gathered around him nods.
Posters that rely heavily on visual cues have been plastered on walls around the country.
Television ads also inform people how to avoid coronavirus and halt its spread while in rural areas, where there is little television coverage, the message is relayed through radio.
Hospitals wings have also been made ready across the country in case a major outbreak occurs.
“We have made preparations for 100 patients and in case of an increase we are prepared for more,” said Dr. Mohammad Khan Hedayat, head of COVID-19 case management at Kabul’s Afghan-Japan Hospital.
A camera drone belonging to the Taliban fell in northern Kunduz province on Sunday, an official said.
Esmatullah Muradi, a spokesman for provincial governor, said that the drone came down around 9:30a.m. in Kote Gird area of the provincial capital, also Kunduz.
There was no immediate comment from the Taliban.
The Presidential Palace in a message on the occasion of the Women’s International Day said that no decision will be made in the peace process without the women’s viewpoints.
“Women’s rights and their position on the issue of peace are importance to us; therefore, no decision will be taken without women’s views on the issue of peace,” President said as quoted in the message.
The Presidential Palace also said that the country’s constitution guarantees the position of women. “Women have been on the upswing after years of bitter and past experiences. In all three pillars of the government of Afghanistan, women have a significant and active presence today.”
ARG added that the president noted that with all the achievements and advances made to women over the past few years, there are still many problems with women’s healing and progress that need to be overcome.
Abdullah Abdullah, the current Cheif Executive and the rival of Ashraf Ghani, has issued invitations to a parallel swearing-in ceremony due to take place on Monday, his spokesman said.
“We’ve sent the invitation to all national and international organizations and all necessary preparations have been taken,” Fraidoon Khwazoon, Abdullah’s spokesman said; a similar date as Ghani’s inauguration ceremony.
In February, Afghanistan’s Electoral Commission announced Ghani as the winner of September’s presidential election, but Abdullah claimed that he and his allies had won the polls and insisted that he would form a government.
Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for Ghani, emphasized that his side was the recognized winner of last year’s polls.
“The election season is over and President-elect Ghani was given the winner’s certificate by the independent election commission based on the outcome of the election and country’s constitution,” Sediqqi said.
NATO senior civilian representative to Afghanistan Nicholas Kay reaffirmed NATO’s commitment to stand with Afghan women and support their rights.
“On International Women’s Day, NATO stands with the women of Afghanistan and supports an enduring peace, built upon respect for human rights and full respect for women’s rights,” Kay said.
“I respect the courage and determination of Afghan women today and every day as they build a better future for all,” he added.
The Presidential Palace says it has assigned a fact-finding commission to investigate into the shooting took place on Friday at the memorial event in Kabul.
Gunmen opened fire on a memorial ceremony Friday in Kabul, killing at least 32 people and wounding dozens more in the first major attack in the Afghan capital since the U.S. signed a peace framework with the Taliban late last week.
Several prominent politicians, including the country’s chief executive and recent presidential candidate, Abdullah Abdullah, were in the audience but escaped unharmed.
A spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of the Interior said the gunmen retreated to a nearby building, where they were killed during an hours-long standoff with security forces.
An Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack. The ceremony marked 25 years since the death of Abdul Ali Mazari.
The Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah says no group or individual will be allowed to deny women’s rights in the political future of Afghanistan.
The Executive Office in a press release on the occasion of Women’s International Day said, “I pledge to the women of Afghanistan that I will make every effort to ensure justice, equality and will not allow any individual or group in the political future of the country to deny their rights. We consider it our responsibility to accompany women for the next steps and pave the way for the growth and self-realization of women’s empowerment.”
The press release added that the remarkable achievements of the women of the country in the last 18 years have been valued, will not be denied and the Afghan woman will not go back to the past.
US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad says that they are committed to a strong female representation at intra-Afghan negotiations.
“All Afghans must be prepared to work together – with our support – to design a future for Afghanistan that honors internationally recognized values around the rights and roles of women,” Khalilzad said.
He noted that they have many means of diplomatic leverage that do not require brute force and will not hesitate to use every tool to ensure that a future Afghanistan builds on the gains of the last 19 years.
“Earlier this week, I talked business with a group of female entrepreneurs from AWCCI2. These impressive leaders are shaping Afghanistan as they grow their businesses,” he added.
A member of Logar provincial council was killed along with his two guards in a shooting in Kabul city on Sunday, Kabul police confirmed.
Nasir Ghairat was killed around 9:20a.m. in Qalae Koche Barqi area, Police District 8 of the city, Ferdaws Faramarz, a police spokesman said.
His driver was injured in the shooting, Faramarz said.
Earlier, Mohammad Qasim Khoshiwal, deputy head of provincial council in Logar, said that the attack left four people dead including Ghairat and his three guards.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the assault.
Faramarz added that the investigations have been started regarding the incident.
Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said that New Delhi has “friends and influence” in Afghanistan.
The comments come even as US and Taliban signed a deal that lead to American troops leaving the landlocked south Asian country but questions still remain on intra-Afghan talks.
Indian EAM, speaking at an event in Delhi said, “Today, we Indians, have a very high standing, in Afghan society. People genuinely like us. A lot of the work we have done is appreciated. And when it comes to Afghanistan, my own sense is, people tend to be too hard on ourselves. I think we have influence, I think we have a record, I think we have friends, in Afghanistan, and around Afghanistan. And my own sense is that serious conversations about Afghanistan have only now just begun. We are entering a new phase, that phase has only just begun now,” he said.
New Delhi was represented by Indian envoy to Qatar P Kumaran as a witness at the signing of the US Taliban agreement signed on 29th February.
This year again we, the Ambassadors of the European Union and the Member States based in Kabul and the Ambassador of Norway, seize the opportunity of 8 March, the International Women´s Day, to offer our support to the women and girls of Afghanistan. But this year is different. Just a few days ago, on 29 February, respectively in Kabul and in Doha, a Joint Declaration was adopted and an Agreement was signed. Both documents share the aspiration to bring peace. Still, we hear that many Afghan women have received them with mixed feelings of hope and fear. These sentiments have inspired our message.
At the outset of these remarks, we express our admiration to the Afghan women we meet in our daily life in Kabul or during visits to the provinces. Be they politicians, rights activists, entrepreneurs, journalists, public servants, medical doctors, farmers or members of the Community Development Councils, members of the ANSDF, or involved in so many other roles, we see them as a vibrant testimony of the progress achieved over the last 18 years as much as a clear denial to those who see no space for Afghan women outside their homes. In the face of so many challenges, these resilient, brave, talented, dedicated women are today an asset for their country.
They will be even more an asset tomorrow provided they become active players in the peace process, taking their rightful seats at the negotiation table. International experience offers an important lesson for Afghanistan at this critical juncture: a peace process is much more likely to be successful if women are closely involved and their voices influence decisions. Already in Doha last July, on the occasion of the Intra-Afghan Dialogue organized by Germany and Qatar, the large participation of women made the Taliban understand that Afghanistan in 2019 had little to do with the desolated country they had left behind in 2001 after five years of a devastating rule. Their presence and resolute participation in the deliberations also suggested that these changes are irreversible.
Indeed, when considering the gains of the last two decades, without hesitation we characterize promotion of women´s and girl’s rights as the most iconic among other progresses achieved and also as the most promising for the future of Afghanistan. It is therefore essential that in the context of the peace negotiations, not just women are part of the negotiating Parties but that the status of Afghan women and girls in the post-conflict scenario is considered a matter of the highest priority.
Ensuring gender equality is a matter of rights. It is also a manifestation of good economic sense. Often borne out of personal ambition or to escape poverty, many women have over the last years become economically active, in employment and as entrepreneurs. Besides raising the children of this country, providing care for the elders and the victims of this war, women now also bring financial support for their families. They are an integral part of the economy. And Afghan women have all reasons to be proud of this achievement.
In the coming months hard work is required towards establishing new common ground so that we may see dignity, self-determination and respect of women and girls ensured in a future Afghanistan. Progress of women is progress for all of Afghanistan. It is not an option but a necessity. An equal Afghanistan is an enabled Afghanistan.
We have made the values and principles of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan the cornerstone of our partnership with your country. 2020 will be the year of a new pledging conference for Afghanistan where donors will sit with the Government to discuss our financial commitments and associated objectives for the next four years. No doubt that our renewed engagement will be for a large part inspired by the great example offered not just to this country but to the world by the courageous women of Afghanistan.
So let’s, as Europeans and as Afghans, celebrate Women´s Day and be determined to make a difference for gender equality!
Croatia’s job in Afghanistan is done and going there is probably the last Croatian army contingent, President Zoran Milanović has said.
The Croatian army has participated in the missions in Afghanistan since 2003. The 12th contingent is departing for the Resolute Support mission. A decision to that effect was signed by Milanovic, the Armed Forces Supreme Commander.
“I didn’t want to dismantle a system that was built for 16 years and not sign the decision on sending another contingent to Afghanistan only two weeks after stepping into office,” he told reporters.
“But after that, especially in light of the US-Taliban agreements, our job there is done. Especially considering that the US signed those agreements on its behalf. The Afghan government didn’t participate in that, we even less. Therefore, we will be there for the next six months and I think that’s fair enough.”
He said a decision on the Croatian army leaving Afghanistan must be made by Croatian politicians. “Not the army, not our allies, not NATO and not the US on our behalf without our knowledge in negotiations we didn’t even know were taking place.”
Moscow expects that a peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia) will be fully implemented, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing .
“We do hope that the agreement signed by the US and the Taliban movement will be fully implemented,” the diplomat pointed out, adding that the agreement had not led to immediate positive changes in Afghanistan.
Zakharova stated that establishing sustainable peace should be a top priority for all of the country’s political and social forces.
“We also expect that all obstacles hindering the implementation of the agreement will be removed in the near future. It particularly concerns the release of 5,000 Taliban members and 1,000 government troops ahead of the launch of intra-Afghan talks on peace and a post-war government,” the Russian diplomat emphasized.
The US and the Taliban signed a peace agreement in Qatar’s capital of Doha on February 29. According to the deal, the US and coalition forces will withdraw from Afghanistan within 14 months. The Taliban, in turn, guarantee that Afghan soil will not be used to plot or carry out attacks against the United States and its allies.
Intra-Afghan talks on a comprehensive ceasefire are set to begin on March 10.