Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The independent directorate of local governance informed that on Tuesday, 43 returnees and 13 IDPs received cash by Laghman’s governor.
The post read “Muhammad Asif Nang, Governor of Laghman says that a total sum of $11200 cash assistance was distributed among the 43 returnees and 13 internally displaced families. Each family received $200, provided by the UNHCR.”
Afghanistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN Mahmoud Saikal said on Monday at a Security Council meet on the situation in Afghanistan that “The Chabahar Port remains an important gateway for providing commercially viable access to the sea linking the Indian Ocean with Afghanistan, Central Asia and beyond. In this regard, we appreciate the collaboration and flexibility of our strategic partner, the United States to work with Afghanistan, Iran and India towards exempting the port from its sanctions”.
Mr Saikal said since that last year, Kabul has operationalised air-cargo corridors with India, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Europe, Russia, UAE, Saudi Arabia and China, leading to a substantial increase in export of Afghan products abroad.
The year 2018 also witnessed the implementation of the Afghanistan section of the TAPI gas pipeline project, “which will revolutionise the energy sector in Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India”.
This appreciation for ‘flexibility’ shown by US for Chabahar port came after the Trump administration temporarily allowed 8 countries including Afghanistan to continue buying Iranian oil and also gave an exemption to India from imposition of sanctions in Chabahar port, which is a key link for trade for Afghanistan’s and India.
Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa along with the Defense Minister João Cravinho traveled to Afghanistan on Monday to meet with Portuguese troops.
The two traveled to KAIA QRF and training element.
Mr Costa also wrote on his social media that “I came to Kabul, to visit the components of the prominent national contingent in Afghanistan, in a court where they would like to be with their families, in their homes. I want to convey to all the national forces that the country is with you and that we greatly appreciate what you do for Portugal”.
The government media and information centre on Tuesday posted on social media about Sayed Aqa Hussain Fazel Sancharaki, Deputy Minister, MoIC’s address at an event for women’s participation in various fields.
Mr Sancharaki stated that “The government has a strong will to promote the presence of women in all fields. We are committed to ensure a fair participation of women in the government.”
He also added in his address that due to traditions and cultural issues, there are barriers for women’s progress. But he assured that “There are ongoing efforts to ensure gender balance in the media and media institutions.”
The Afghanistan Journalist Safety Committe (AJSC) on Sunday released a statement calling out the behaviour of president’s deputy spokesperson Shah Hussain Murtazawi over the issue of last week’s video footage of president’s guards assaulting a Herat resident.
The AJSC statement said on Monday, “Yesterday, Afghan President’s Deputy Spokesperson, Shah Hussain Murtazawi, was interviewed by the morning show of Radio Arman about the detention of an individual who addressed the President in Heraat to seek his attention about illegal confiscation of their property by powerful individuals. The individual was soon dragged out of the hall by the President’s guards. A video that was later posted by on social media shows the individual being physically assaulted by the president’s protection team”.
The piece continues “During his interview, the President’s Deputy Spokesperson began accusing Tolo News, Radio Arman and other media outlets for biased coverage of events related to the inauguration of the Lapis Lazuli Transit Route in Herat province and called the managers of these outlets illiterate”.
AJSC pointed that they believe that the approach and behavior of Mr. Murtazawi is “irresponsible, unprofessional and full of bias and grudge”.
Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC) reiterated their belief in freedom of expression and the right to access information which are provisions of fundamental rights of the citizens of Afghanistan, and how nobody in no position of authority has the right to suppress these rights.
AJSC subsequently called on Mr. Murtazawi to apologize for his “unprofessional and humiliating act” and refrain from any behaviors of such nature.
Talks between U.S. and Taliban officials aimed at arranging peace negotiations in Afghanistan were set for a second day on Tuesday after discussions around the future of foreign forces and a possible six-month ceasefire, Taliban sources said, as per Reuters.
The three-day meeting in Abu Dhabi is visibly the third that U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has met Taliban representatives as diplomatic efforts to end the 17-year war upped this year.
On Monday, a Taliban delegation met officials from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates ahead of their meeting with Khalilzad.
Taliban officials, speaking on condition of anonymity told Reuters that the U.S. delegation was pressing for a six-month ceasefire as well as an agreement to name Taliban representatives to a future caretaker government.
The officials said the Taliban, fighting to drive foreign forces from Afghanistan and bring in their version of strict Islamic law, were resisting a ceasefire as they felt it would damage their cause and help U.S. and Afghan forces.
“If these three countries – Saudi Arabia, UAE and Pakistan – become guarantors and the U.S. appoints the head of a caretaker government in Afghanistan that we nominate, then we can think about a ceasefire,” one senior Taliban official said.
There was no immediate comment from the U.S. embassy in Kabul.
The Union cabinet of India on Monday gave its nod to sign agreements with Afghanistan in the field of education which will allow students from Afghanistan to use courses devised on the portal.
The MoU would facilitate students and faculty of educational institutions in Afghanistan to register and use the SWAYAM courses.
SWAYAM is a government of India programme designed to achieve access, equity and quality in education. The initiative aims at taking the best teaching and learning resources to all, including the most disadvantaged by bridging the digital divide.
During overnight operations, two drug traffickers carrying 395kg hashish have been arrested by Afghan Counter-Narcotics Special Operation Police, a statement by Ministry of Interior confirmed.
The operations carried out in Surkh Rod and 6th districts, Jalalabad City capital of eastern Nangarhar province.
The two had skillfully placed the 395kg hashish in two vehicles.
Under the high patronage of Abdulaziz bin Mohamed Al-Rowas, the Advisor for Cultural Affairs to the Sultan of Oman, some 30 experts gathered in Salalah, Oman, from 3 to 5 December 2018, to discuss the future of the World Heritage property “Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley” and to enhance cooperation between relevant stakeholders.
Financially supported by the Government of Japan and organized jointly by the Government of Afghanistan, UNESCO, GUtech University of Technology in Muscat, and RIO – Research Centre Indian Ocean, a three-day technical meeting was organized to discuss the recent decisions of the World Heritage Committee and improve awareness on international debates around the ethics of recovery and reconstruction of cultural heritage, aiming at removing the property from the list of World Heritage in Danger.
The activities carried out by the Government of Afghanistan, UNESCO and national/international experts through generous financial assistance from the international community were presented to assess the progress of work in Bamiyan. During the meeting, development initiatives to increase the quality of livelihood of the local community were also presented by the Afghan Government, including a by-pass road and a stone-pavement road in front of the main Buddha cliff, as well as the Bamiyan Strategic Master Plan recently approved by the President of Afghanistan.
It was reported that Germany’s Minister of Defense Von Der Leyen arrived in Afghanistan on Monday night.
The minister of defense is here to meet with the German soldiers and she will be briefed about the scenario in the region.
US senator Republican Lindsey Graham landed in Kabul on Tuesday morning.
This was confirmed as Chief Executive Abdullah announced on social media that he met with Lindsey.
The statement also added that the two discussed Afghan-US relations, security, peace, elections and regional dynamics.
Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan has now taken credit yet another time, for having helped in dialogue between the Taliban and US in Abu Dhabi.
He wrote the statement on social media and added “Let us pray that this leads to peace and ends almost three decades of suffering of the brave Afghan people. Pakistan will be doing everything within its power to further the peace process”.
Last week, Khan had posted on social media, crediting his leadership’s efforts to facilitating a negotiation between US and Taliban.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal also stated that Pakistan is committed to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan along with other stakeholders and international community.
This comes as the presidential palace announced that the Afghan peace negotiating team led by chief negotiator Abdul Salam Rahimi have arrived in Abu Dhabi and are to begin ‘proximity dialogue’ with Taliban delegation there.
According to a statement by the presidential palace, the Afghan negotiating team led by chief negotiator Abdul Salam Rahimi arrived in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
The team is to begin proximity dialogue with the Taliban delegation and to prepare for a face-to-face meeting between the two sides.
The palace also says that the head of the Afghan negotiating team, Abdul Salam Rahimi, met with the US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and will meet the UAE and Saudi Arabia teams this week.
This comes after Taliban in a statement confirmed that their delegation had met with high-ranking officials of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, UAE and Taliban in Abu Dhabi and said it will continue on Tuesday.
The presidential palace released a statement informing that President Ghani met with a delegation of European Parliament who were visiting Afghanistan. The delegation is led by Petras Austrevicius.
In the meeting, the discussions were on elections, peace process and reforms in Afghanistan. The Delegation also pledged to support Afghanistan during as well as post peace negotiations.
President Ghani expressed his gratitude towards Europe and other partners of Afghanistan for his support and added that such partners of Afghanistan will have a roll which is vital in implementation of a prospective peace agreement.