Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The United States Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John F. Sopko on Wednesday stressed the importance of the US support to women in Afghanistan.
Explaining his new report, Support for Gender Equality: Lessons from the US Experience in Afghanistan, Sopko said the “US investment on Afghan women is an investment in Afghanistan’s future.”
“I do not believe gender equality is a zero-sum game. The US can continue to play a role in shaping an outcome that preserves gains made by Afghan women and girls by advocating that Afghan women have a meaningful role in the Afghanistan peace negotiations and that any future agreement includes protections for them,” Sopko said.
He said “this key question is vitally important in the context of peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban, and the answer may determine whether the successes and investment in improving the lives of Afghan women and girls will be remembered as a lasting legacy or historical footnote.”
“We cannot be naive about the challenges that women and girls in Afghanistan continue to face. Make no mistake – though they have greater access to health care and education and work as legislators, judges, teachers, health workers, civil servants, journalists, and business and civil society leaders – Afghanistan still remains one of the most challenging places in the world to be a woman,” Sopko added.
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has called on the parties involved in Afghanistan war to end violence as soon as possible and return to the peace negotiatings table.
A statement issued by AIHRC on Thursday stated that in the past eight days, 15 separate incidents have taken place in Helmand, Herat, Faryab, Kunduz, Nangarhar, Balkh, Kabul, Daikundi and Ghor.
According to the statement, twelve civilians, including five children, were killed and 24 others, including three children, were injured.
“These individuals were killed and wounded as the result of mortar shelling, car bombings, clashes between the Taliban and government forces, armed attacks, roadside bombings, direct Taliban attacks, police shootings, and magnetic explosions,” the statement reads.
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has called on the authorities to ensure that the prepatrators will be brought to justice by publishing their findings on identifying the perpetrators of targeted killings and prosecute them.
The commission also called on the Taliban to refrain from attacking civilians and using roadside and magnetic mines.
Ahmad Zia Saraj, the Director National Directorate of Security (NDS) says a two-day meeting of regional countries for the fight against terrorism has been held in Kabul, Afghanistan.
“This two-day meeting, titled ‘Regional Counter-Terrorism Conference’, was attended by the ministers and heads of national security and intelligence services from eight countries, including the United States, Pakistan and Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan,” Zia Saraj said at a pres conference on Thursday.
According to him, the meeting was held following the continuation of the Afghan government’s efforts to attract the support of regional countries and the world in the fight against terrorism -and support for the peace process led by Afghans.
Mr. Siraj said that high-ranking officials of the intelligence services of the mentioned countries praised NDS for the initiative for holding the meeting.
“Members of the meeting focused on common terrorist threats at three levels: national, regional and international,” he said. “Also at the meeting, a joint roadmap and mechanism was designed to address the common terrorist threats.”
Mr. Saraj said that during the meeting, the representatives of NDS presented information and documents on the presence and widespread activities of terrorist groups in Afghanistan, noting that the activities of the Afghan government in the fight against terrorism is a step towards peace and stability in the region.
“It was stated at the meeting that the Afghan Defense and Security Forces have a prominent role to play in the fight against regional terrorism. The main goal of these forces is to protect Afghanistan from common regional threats and to prevent the spread of these threats to countries in the region,” he added.
Mr. Saraj said that the representatives of the participating countries, while acknowledging Afghanistan’s prominent role in the fight against terrorism at the regional level, accepted the Afghan government’s concerns and acknowledged the growing number of terrorist groups in the region.
“Representatives of the participating countries stated that peace and stability in the region passes through Afghanistan and that a stable Afghanistan is equal to a stability in the region,” he asserted.
The director of NDS said that several issues were agreed upon at the meeting.
According to him, from now on, common threats will be identified and actions will be taken to eliminate them, and the process of information exchange between intelligence services will be accelerated.
He added that NDS intends to host regional security meetings in the near future to form a regional consensus against terrorism.
Afghan local officials say at least 19 people were killed and wounded in Taliban’s attack in Daikundi province this morning.
The spokesman of Daikundi governor, Nasrullah Ghori told Reporterly that the Taliban militants stormed the security outposts of uprising forces in Espermai area of Pato district at around 04:00am on Thursday.
According to Ghori, the clashes started at 4am and lasted for three hours.
He added that at least eight uprisings forces and one civilian were killed and ten more including uprising forces and civilians were wounded in the incident.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says 60 percent of the international community aid has been cut from the government’s budget.
“This is not a challenge from the international community, but from the Afghan government,” he said, speaking at a follow-up to the Geneva 2020 conference.
“Instead of criticizing, make the budget transparent, make it effective and hold national projects accountable, the money will back,” Ghani said.
He also stressed the need to save government spending, saying that the country’s resources should be used to the fullest and that the normal budget should be reduced and the development budget should be increased.
The Geneva Conference on Aid to Afghanistan was held in early December, at which the international community pledged $ 13 billion in conditional aid to Afghanistan for the next four years.
In today’s meeting, Mr. Ghani called the commitments made in this meeting the values and principles of his country’s constitution.
“The Ministry of Finance has my full support in this regard,” said President Ghani, noting that a major change in the budget should be unveiled this year and the basis of Afghanistan’s digitalization plan is also being established, and our goal is to have a digital government, economy and community.”
At the end of his speech, the President expressed his gratitude for the cooperation of the international community, saying that for the present and future generations, we will inherit a strong government, a mobile market, lasting and just peace and a single nation.
Hundreds of residents of the capital, Kabul today in a protest in front of the Lower House of Parliament accused the government of neglecting in addressing the cases of serial killings, religious scholars, journalists and media activists who have recently been mysteriously killed.
Abdul Sabur Fakhri, head of the Central Council of the Jamiat Islah, called on the government to stop negligence in investigating the serial killings and identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
According to Mr. Fakhri, they will continue their protests until the government identifies the perpetrators and brings them to justice.
“We strongly urge the Afghan government to end the series of targeted killings,” he said. “No logic can accept that the government exists, that the intelligence and security agencies spend a large budget; But there is no progress on addressing the serial killings.”
The establishment of an impartial fact-finding delegation by the House of Representatives, naming a university in after the slain Dr. Mohammad Atef, an end to targeted killings, and the preservation of the lives and property of the people are other demands of the protesters.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Thursday reported 18 new positive cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported no death and 172 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 55,575 the number of total reported deaths is 2,430 and the total number of recoveries is 48,798.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Balkh, Nangarhar, Parwan, Logar, and Helmand.
Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul witnessed two IED blasts on Thursday, killing two people as a result.
The first blast happened at 08:07am when a ranger type vehicle targeted by an IED blast in Saray Jali area of PD10, which had no casualties, security officials confirmed.
The second blast occurred on Ali Abad hospital road in PD3 at around 11:25am.
The spokesman of Kabul Police, Ferdaws Faramarz said at least two people were killed in the incident.
The second blast has reportedly targeted the vehicle of a Kabul University teacher named Bobasher Muslim Yar which he and he and his a companion were killed.
This comes as Kabul has witnessed a sharp increase in Targeted killings by IED explosions in the recent months.
Former Vice President Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum has said that Al-Qaeda group’s presence can be seen in northern provinces of Afghanistan.
Marshal Dostum stated that Nasruddin, who is the grandson of Al Qaeda’s founder Osama Bin Laden, and Saifuddin Haqqani, the son of Sirajuddin Haqqani, are currently in the Ghormach and Bala Murghab districts in the north.
He noted that the Taliban return to the negotiation table instead of making trips to regional countries, and tthat the group will not be able to achieve victory through war.
“I want to suggest that the security forces shoot them, after this. They should no longer fire in the air. Shoot them (the Taliban) in their foreheads and their chests so that they (Taliban) can see the reaction of their deeds—in case the Taliban do not accept the peace,” said Dostum.
Dostum made the remarks on Wednesday at a ceremony commemorating the 580th death anniversary of the prominent philosopher, poet and writer Amir Ali-Shir Nava’i.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and his UK counterpart, Stephen Lovegrove, have discussed the situation in Afghanistan, as well as issues related to China and Iran, reported Sputnik news agency, quoting the White House.
On Friday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold the virtual summit of G7 leaders, in which new US President Joe Biden will take part.
“National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke by phone today with Stephen Lovegrove, incoming National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Mr. Sullivan expressed support for the United Kingdom’s G7 presidency and welcomed the virtual leaders’ summit later this week. They agreed on the need for continued coordination on shared foreign policy priorities, including Afghanistan,” the White House said in a statement on late Wednesday.
The US Chargé d’Affaires Ross Wilson says the United States commitment to Afghan women is steadfast.
“From 2002 to 2020, we invested over $785mln to improve outcomes in health, education, political/economic participation and access to justice for Afghan women,” Mr. Wilson said.
Wilson stated that women worldwide are disproportionately affected by poverty, insecurity and harassment.
“But our work was not without lessons learned – nor is it complete. Afghan women face formidable cultural, social, political and security barriers in exercising their constitutional rights,” he said.
Mr. Wilson added that Afghan men must also be champions of this critical issue; their future depends on full female representation so that Afghanistan might advance the gains and accelerate towards a more prosperous future.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday had a telephone conversation with the US Secretary of State Amtony Blinken, the Presidential Palace said.
Arg in a statement said that the two sides discussed Afghan peace talks, bilateral relations and further cooperation of the two countries for the peace process.
According to the statement, the US Secretary of State praised the sacrifices made by the Afghan people, especially the security and defense forces, in the fight against terrorism.
In return, President Ghani said that the government and people of Afghanistan have a strong will and consensus that the peace process will succeed and that lasting and dignified peace will be established in the country.
The statement added that both sides also emphasized regional and international diplomacy for the success of the peace process.