Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said the number of people infected with Coronavirus in Afghanistan has reached 38,398 with 74 new positive cases reported from 420 samples tested in the past 24 hours.
New cases were reported in Ghor (18), Kabul (14), Balkh (10), Badghis (6), Nangarhar (5), Kandahar (5), Herat (5), Sar-i-Pul (4), Panjshir (2), Nuristan (2), Kunar (1), Baghlan (1) and Herat (1).
The MoPH reported three deaths and 460 recoveries in the past day, bringing those figures to 1,412 deaths and 30,538 recoveries.
Acting Minister of Defence Assadullah Khalid said that despite the efforts to start the intra-Afghan talks with the Taliban, the violence in the country has not diminished and has in fact increased.
Speaking at a meeting in Laghman on Sunday, Khalid said the “enemy” may be trying to seek concessions and “gain points” by intensifying the war in the country.
He assured the people that despite this, the militant group would not be successful and no corner of Afghanistan would fall.
The acting head of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) acknowledged that there were problems and shortcomings on the battlefield and they will be resolved soon.
“Peace is the main will of the people and the priority of the Afghan government,” he said.
He added that the defence and security forces had overcome many restrictions during the negotiations with the Taliban to reach the goal of the intra-Afghan peace talks.
The military remains in a state of “active defence,” Khalid said.
Deborah Lyons, Special Representative of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General and head of the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), had also pointed that the country was seeing “near-record violence.”
Direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban are expected to begin soon.
Ghazni officials confirmed that protests in the province have ended and the Kabul-Kandahar highway has been reopened to traffic.
The sit-in protests over increasing insecurity in Ghazni had led to calls asking for the removal of high-ranking government and security officials in the province. Residents had blocked the highway and questioned the “inadequacy” of Ghazni officials in protecting the people.
Head of the provincial council, Nasir Ahmad Faqiri, said on Sunday that the protests had ended with the mediation of the local government.
“Today, the head of the local government bodies has a meeting with the President [Ashraf Ghani] regarding the situation in Ghazni, the protests and demands of Ghazni lawmakers. They have promised us that our council will be effective,” he added.
Faqiri said that they had been requested by the local government to open the highway for traffic.
While calling the establishment of the Youth High Council an important step, the National Youth Consensus for Peace (NYCP) asked President Ashraf Ghani to ensure transparency in the appointments.
Ghani had announced that the government was setting up a Youth High Council during the International Youth Day celebration on Aug. 16.
“Within 45 days, the Youth High Council will be formed to hold its first meeting. The youth representing 34 provinces will be its members and will work to resolve all the issues faced by young people,” he had said at the ceremony.
In a letter on Sunday, the NYCP said the Youth High Council was an “excellent and fundamental step for cohesion of Afghan youth.”
They proposed that the establishment and functionality of the Youth High Council be
“impartial and independent.”
In order to ensure “transparency” in the formation and operations of the Council, the NYCP called on the government to announce the appointment procedure for electing the provincial representatives and the responsibilities of the Council.
Three chartered flights were arranged to evacuate 420 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus to India from Kabul, the World Punjabi Organisation (WPO) told the Hindustan Times (HT).
Vikramjit Singh Sahney, international resident of WPO, said the last of the flights carrying 182 people had landed in New Delhi on Sept. 3.
“The first challenge was to evacuate them. There were no flights, so we arranged approvals for chartered flights,” Sahney told HT.
The flight costs were borne by Sahney.
“We had to cancel a flight twice because the people were unable to reach Kabul due to the civil unrest in that country. We chose not to go to the media because we didn’t want anyone to face threats,” he explains the logistic problems.
The families were spread across Afghanistan including Nangarhar, Kandahar and Ghazni provinces.
“Their Muslim neighbours never wanted them to leave. They lived like families and were in tears as they left. They were discouraging them from leaving. There is no animosity among people; only some radical groups create trouble,” he said.
Quarantine centres have been set up for the families and they are being sponsored under a programme called “My Family My Responsibility” by Sikh non-resident Indians, the WPO and the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee.
Under the programme, they will also help them meet their household expenses for two years, including their children’s education.
They are also being assisted with finding employment as an NGO has set up a skill centre to train some of them in data entry, mechanic, freighter, fashion design and embroidery.
The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad departed for Doha, Qatar for the start of the talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, the U.S. state Department said on Saturday.
In the statement, they said the U.S. envoy had departed on Sept. 4 and added that he will be traveling in the region to advance ongoing U.S. efforts to promote the immediate start of the intra-Afghan negotiations.
“The Afghan people are ready for a sustainable reduction in violence and a political settlement that will end the war. Afghan leaders must seize this historic opportunity for peace,” the press statement said.
“All sides have taken important steps to remove obstacles for the start of IAN [intra-Afghan Negotiations]. Now is the time to start.”
Last week, the Afghan government and the Taliban said they were ready to start the negotiations as the prisoner exchange process had been completed.
Senior Taliban members have already arrived in Qatar while the Afghan delegation is still to depart for the talks.