Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Turkmenistan will be sending COVID-19 diagnostic tests to Afghanistan as part of humanitarian aid.
President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow signed the decree instructing the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry of Turkmenistan to prepare sets of real-time polymerase chain reaction (Real-time PCR) systems.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will ensure that the cargo is dispatched and delivered to Afghanistan.
Another presidential decree from earlier, donated food products to Kabul.
A deal has been signed to facilitate and expand the transit and investment cooperation between Iran’s Chabahar Port and Afghanistan’s private sector.
Director General of Sistan and Baluchestan Ports and Maritime Organization Behrouz Aghaei said on Wednesday that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) had been signed to develop the transit and investment activities of the Afghan private sector in the fields of transporting, attracting investor, logistics, and transit within the framework of transit rules and regulations of Iran.
Under the MoU, the private sector of Afghanistan was committed to transferring Afghanistan’s transit goods via Shahid Rajaee Port in Chabahar to the target markets, Aghaei said.
Transit cooperation between Chabahar Port and Afghanistan has followed with considerable growth in recent years, he said.
The Afghan security forces foiled Taliban attacks in Dawlat Abad and Garziwan districts on Tueday and another attack in Qaisar district of Faryab on Wednesday morning, killing or wounding at least 13 militants.
The 209th Shaheen Corps said that an attack by the Taliban on checkpoints in Shashpar Village of Dawlat Abad and in the vicinity of the capital of Garziwan district was prevented, with the support of the Afghan Air Force.
The security forces killed at least four Taliban militants during the operations, including Maulawi Rofi who used to collect Zakat for the group, and wounded at least 7 others.
At 10:15 am on Wednesday, Taliban attacked the Afghan security forces in Arzalik village of Qaisar district, the 209th Shaheen Corps said.
At least two Taliban were killed and their bodies, weapons and motorcycles were left at the site of the clash.
No casualties were reported among the security forces.
The Taliban group has not commented so far.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said 47 positive cases of Coronavirus were reported across Afghanistan in the past 24 hours, and the tally has now reached 36,829 confirmed cases so far.
However, a survey by the ministry showed that 31.5% of the country’s population had contracted the virus, and around 10 million people may be infected.
The MoPH said that 11 people in Kandahar, nine in Balkh, eight in Herat, five in Takhar, three each in Kunduz and Kabul, two each in Wardak, Helmand and Paktia, while one each in Baghlan and Badakhshan had tested positive.
The ministry added that six people had succumbed to the infection while 186 had recovered, bringing the death toll to 1,294 and recoveries to 25,742.
The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved grants worth $380 million to help Afghanistan cushion the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes the financing of the Dastarkhan-e-Milli programme.
According to the World Bank, the financial aid package includes a $280 million grant to fund the COVID-19 Relief Effort for Afghan Communities and Households (REACH) Project.
REACH along with a parallel relief effort organized under the Citizens’ Charter Afghanistan Project, will cover 90% of households in the country under the government’s Dastarkhan-e-Milli programme which will benefit 4.1 million households.
“The living conditions of millions of Afghan families have severely worsened due to the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan.
Another $100 million grant has also been approved to fund the Emergency Agriculture and Food Supply Project (EATS) which aims to improve food security by increasing local food production and strengthening critical commercial food supply chains, especially wheat.
The EATS project will also provide short-term employment in rural areas in the development of productive assets such as irrigation schemes.
“These grants will help the government of Afghanistan address the urgent needs of most households and ensure that Afghan farmers can continue to produce food at a time when imports and exports are severely disrupted. This will extend economic opportunities and create jobs for the wider rural population,” said Kerali.
The REACH Project will be implemented through the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, the Independent Directorate for Local Governance, and the Kabul Municipality. The EATS Project is implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock.
Afghanistan’s exports to Pakistan fell to $121,832 million in July-June 2019-20, showing a negative growth of 28.53% compared to the previous financial year, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said.
In July-June 2018-19, Afghan exports were valued at $ 170,478 million.
Pakistan’s imports to Afghanistan also decreased by 25.46% during July-June 2019-20 when compared to the corresponding period of the previous financial year, SBP said.
The overall imports to Afghanistan were recorded at $888,913 million during July-June (2019-20) against exports of $1,192,559 million during FY 2018-19. The overall exports into Pakistan also witnessed a decrease of 18.22%, from $51,869 billion to $42,418 billion, according to the data.
Acting Minister of Public Health Ahmad Jawad Osmani said that 10 million people in the country may be infected with Coronavirus according to their survey.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) shared the findings of their survey on Wednesday that 31.5% of the country’s population had contracted Coronavirus.
They divided the 34 provinces into nine zones, with transmission rates varying across the region.
According to the MoPH, in Kabul, 53% of all residents are infected, and this figure reaches 42.3% in the eastern zone, 36.3% in the central zone, 34.1% in the western provinces and 32.4% in the north-eastern provinces.
The lowest infections rates were in Daykundi and Ghor provinces with only 21% of their population infected.
A doctor from the southern Indian state of Kerala, and on the country’s “most wanted” list, was among the three Indian nationals who were part of the 11 member IS-K team that stormed Nangarhar Prison in Jalalabad on Sunday.
According to the media arm of IS-K, Dr. Ijas Kallukettiya Purayil, was seen in the photo, face visible, standing before a black IS-K flag and holding an assault rifle.
The other two Indian nationals were masked and have not been identified yet.
India’s National Investigation Agency was supposed to go to Kabul to question the Indian nationals who had been arrested in November 2019 for being a part of IS-K. However, due to the international lockdown, they had been unable to go. They are now looking at the option of special flights to go to Afghanistan.
IS-K’s media arm had released a 20-minute audio message in which the group’s spokesperson detailed the attack and said the 11 members – four were Tajiks, three Indians, three Afghans and a Pakistani, who were divided into four groups.
The assault was to release the group’s prisoners, in keeping with a promise by new IS-K chief Shahab al-Muhajir.
Iranian Energy Ministry said their electricity exports to Afghanistan have resumed after the problem with the transmission lines was solved.
Spokesman for the Ministry Mostafa Rajabi Mashhadi said that their service to Afghanistan had stopped on Monday after the transmission lines were destroyed by a bullet in Herat’s Kohsan district in Afghan territory.
“Now the network linking the two countries is connected and there is no specific problem,” Mashhadi said.
When the transmission wires were cut, the supply from Iran had decreased by over 50%.
The Presidential Palace (Arg) and the House of Representatives have published different narratives of their meeting with President Ashraf Ghani regarding the Peace Consultative Loya Jirga on Tuesday.
At the meeting, Ghani briefed the parliamentarians on the need to convene a Peace Consultative Loya Jirga to determine the fate of 400 Taliban prisoners with the aim of starting the intra-Afghan talks, Arg said.
According to their press release, Ghani emphasized that important national issues will be decided in the Loya Jirga in the light of the consensus and views of the people and their representatives, including peace.
He also called the summit of the two powers a major example of the start of consultations.
“At the end of the meeting, the Speaker of the House of Representatives stressed the importance of the people’s support for the system and their consultation on national and crucial issues, and assured of its cooperation in this field,” Arg said.
What is the Parliament’s version of this meeting?
But the press office of Speaker Mir Rahman Rahmani said that during the meeting, the speaker of the House of Representatives, while referring to the views of the people on important national issues, emphasized that holding a consultative Loya Jirga for peace was against the law.
Rahmani noted that it is illegal to convene any consultative Loya Jirga as long as the real representatives of the people are present in the National Assembly.
Rahmani’s office said in a statement that the meeting had not been concluded after lengthy discussions, but that the presidency had called for a similar meeting with the chairman, board and officials of the parliamentary groups.
Loya Jirga consultative peace
Ghani, meanwhile, said in an Eid statement last Friday that a Loya Jirga would be convened to decide on the release of 400 Taliban prisoners.
He added that according to the Afghan Constitution and the penal code, he did not have the authority to release 400 Taliban prisoners and therefore an advisory Loya Jirga will bebheld to make the decision.
Ghani had asked the House of Representatives to return from their summer leave to do so.
The jirga, which is scheduled to take place on Aug. 7, will not only consider the release of 400 Taliban prisoners, but also other important issues, according to the presidential spokesperson.
The Assets Registry office has announced that the salaries and allowances of 197 high-ranking government officials and employees will be suspended due to the non-registration of their assets.
Abdul Wadod Bashiryar, head of Assets Registration and Verification Office, said on Tuesday, that the salaries and benefits of 172 members of the House of Representatives, 12 members of the Senate, two ministers, four governors and six deputies, will be affected.
The government officials who have not registered their assets, will be suspended based on the decision of the cabinet and the expiration of the three-week deadline.
Bashiryar added that this process will start on Thursday.
Ahmad Javad Dadban, a member of the Special Anti-Corruption Secretariat, said that most high-ranked government officials and employees had registered their assets.
Dadban added that a regulation has been drawn up to register, distribute and review the assets of the officials and employees.
He said that with the passage of this regulation, the process of registration and review of assets will be further improved.
A few days ago, however, the Cabinet announced that many high-ranking government officials had not yet registered their assets as directed.