Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The US department of defense has included Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) among the three terrorist organisations posing the greatest threat to foreign troops in Afghanistan, with at least 300 LeT operatives active in the war-torn country.
LeT, designated a global terror organisation by the US and the UN, was responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that killed 166 people. The US has offered a $10 million bounty for the group’s founder, Hafiz Saeed, whose bid to be removed from a list of sanctioned terrorists was rejected by the UN in March.
There have been reports of LeT cadres fighting alongside the Afghan Taliban for more than a decade, though the report by the lead inspector general of the US department of defense’s office of inspector general is perhaps the first public acknowledgement of the threat posed by the group in Afghanistan.
The report for the period from January 1 to March 31 summarises significant events related to Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the official name for US-led military operations in Afghanistan.
National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib met with Indian Ambassador to Kabul Vinay Kumar on Thursday.
Mr Kumar reaffirmed India’s support for an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan controlled peace process for stability. He also said that recent media reports don’t reflect the official view of the government.
Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), the incumbent party, is leading with approximately 350 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha (lower house) Elections in India.
A “saffron wave” seems to have wiped off other parties in a way that it seems the largest democracy won’t even have a proper opposition this time.
The world didn’t waste any time in acknowledging the victory. Israel, China, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka have already poured in their best wishes to current and predicted Prime Minister of India, Narendra Damodar das Modi.
The world will remember this election of the largest democracy where the winning party gathered a vote share of 51.9%, something seen only after 1984. Narendra Modi is all set to be one of the most powerful democratically elected leaders of the world, a one in itself feat.
The interior ministry says that the core of IS-K has been eliminated in Afghanistan and only a small number of the group are present in Kunar province.
IS-K group is defeated in battlefields in Faryab, Jawzjan and Nangarhar provinces, and only a small number of fighters affiliated with Khorasan branch of IS-K are present in Kunar province, Interior Ministry spokesman Nusrat Rahimi at a news conference on Thursday.
Rahimi said that in the past 20 days, in 190 joint and special security forces operations, 816 people, including 24 commanders of the insurgents were killed, 318 wounded and 160 others were detained.
MoI spokesman added that in the past 20 days, in criminal offenses part, throughout Afghanistan, 534 criminal incidents have been discovered by police and in connection with these, 690 individuals have been arrested. Only 248 suspects were arrested in Kabul of these 18 were organized criminals, Rahimi said.
Mr. Rahimi has emphasized that in the past 20 days, 287 operations have been carried out in the fight against drugs, as a result 323 drug traffickers were arrested and 54 laboratories and two drug stores have been destroyed in Farah province
President Ghani says that five centers will be created in different parts of the country to prevent foreign products that are smuggled into Afghanistan.
Speaking with industrialists at the Iftar banquet on Wednesday evening, Mr. Ghani called on them to consider the government as their partner.
While stressing on customs control, president Ghani said that rent and lease of lands are included in the new procedure and all government properties have been allocated to the Ministry of Urban Development.
He emphasized the need for greater coordination between the government and the private sector, especially telecommunications, banking and the media adding that more mobility is required to provide a framework for participation in these areas.
Previously the Ministry of Industry and Trade had announced that industrial growth in Afghanistan had risen to 8 percent last year and exports rate have also increased.
Chairman of High Peace Council, Karim Khalili, has called on international community, especially countries involved in Afghanistan to focus their efforts on facilitating Afghan peace process.
At a meeting organized in Brussels by the European Institute of Peace for Reconciliation in Afghanistan, the diplomats of the United States, the European Union and the High Peace Council reviewed the most important challenges and outcomes and all aspects of peace process, said High Peace Council said in a statement on Thursday.
In addition to sharing the outcomes of peace process, Mr. Khalili emphasized on coordination and consistency of international community in support of the process.
Chairman of High Peace Council stressed that the peace process should be comprehensive, inclusive, and responsive to the aspirations of the Afghan people and ensure the satisfaction of all parties.
Security officials detained 6 individuals in Kabul on charges of cooperation with Taliban insurgent group.
As a result of night operation of police forces in Uzbin village in Sarawbi district of Kabul city 6 individuals affiliated with Taliban group were arrested, Ministry of Interior said in a statement on Thursday.
MoI said in another report that three drug traffickers were arrested on Wednesday from Hamid Karzai’s international airport.
Former governor of Balkh, Atta Mohammad Noor says that there is no national unity government after 22 May. In a message which was published last night, Mr. Noor considered the national unity government unlawful saying that it is based on lawful agreement. He said that after this, national unity government has no legitimacy even based on the agreement.
The former governor of Balkh emphasized that the Government of Afghanistan should deliver the power in a peaceful manner to the interim government or caretaker government. He elaborated that this government tenure should not continue illegally. Mr. Noor warned that after the holy month of Ramadan, they will march on roads and the highways and the ministries would be closed for what he called “to put an end to this imposed rule.”
Noor asked the armed forces to maintain their impartiality in this regard and not interfere in civil movements.
Mr. Noor, while supporting Mir Rahman Rahmani, the candidate for the speaker of the house, added that there was an intransigent movement against him, and he fully supports Mir Rahman Rahmani as speaker of the parliament.
He also expressed support to the statement of Council of Presidential Candidates and Peace and Moderation Election Group on the end of National Unity Government’s tenure .
As tensions between US and Iran rise, the Unites States Department of Defense is considering a US military request of sending troops to the Middle East region.
Two officials of US, as per Reuters said on Wednesday that a military request of 5000 additional troops is being considered due to tensions with Iran.
US has already made a strong presence in the Gulf ever since it had issues starting with Iran.
Former US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis spoke on the rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran, urging diplomacy rather than military aggression.
Mattis, who announced his resignation in December last year, struck a conciliatory tone, urging the two countries to work together to avoid a new war in the Middle East.
“The United States should buy time to keep peace and stability and allow diplomats to work diplomacy on how to keep peace for one more hour, one more day, one more week, a month or a year,” the general said Monday in the United Arab Emirates.
While in the UAE, Mattis also said that “Iran’s behavior must change.” The general said that unilateral action from the U.S. is not warranted at the time, noting that “military must work to buy time for diplomats to work their magic.”
Mattis resigned as Pentagon chief on principle after Trump decided to cut the presence of U.S. troops in Syria and Afghanistan, pointing out that his views did not align with those of the president.
Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have ratcheted up since the first anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from its nuclear deal with Iran. There has been a pressure campaign by the U.S. to target Iran’s finances in order to cripple its ability to fund foreign terror organizations and proxies in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere.
In addition to new sweeping sanctions against Iran’s metals industry, The U.S. deployed the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the Middle East earlier this month in response to what national security adviser John Bolton described as “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” from Iran.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country would start violating the nuclear treaty by stockpiling enriched uranium. A rocket of the same model used by Iran exploded outside of the U.S. embassy in Iraq Sunday. Trump responded by declaring that a war would be “the official end of Iran.”
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Tuesday that U.S. military presence in the region has put the threat from Iran “on hold,” for now.
“Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate,” Shanahan said.
US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is appearing before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday for a closed hearing on the Afghan reconciliation process, said US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Khalilzad will brief the committee on his talks with Abdul Ghani Baradar, Taliban’s political deputy and his team as well as negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar.
In the past nearly seven months, Khalilzad has met with Taliban representatives six times in Doha and UAE. In the sixth round of the talks in Doha last month, the two sides made “steady but slow progress” on key issues under debate.