Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Afghan environmental officials have prepared long-term and short-term plans to combat pollution, the country’s National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) announced on Wednesday.
The plans would be submitted to Afghan Presidential Office soon, as President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has earlier ordered a 10-day deadline for 22 relevant institutions including the NEPA, to take serious actions in the reduction of pollution, the agency said in a statement posted on its website.
The agency has listed vehicular traffic, the use of old vehicles, import of old and second-hand cars from overseas, burning wood, plastic, used motor oil for heating house and public bathrooms, and use of animal residue and tires as the major sources of air pollution in Afghanistan.
Among other factors, the re-suspension of dust to build house or road, windblown dust, old-fashioned brick kilns and the use of coal during winter to heat houses are also contributing to the air pollution in big cities.
The joint campaign teams of Abdullah Abdullah, Rahmatullah Nabil and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar signed a petition on Wednesday, calling on the Attorney General Office (AGO) to suspend a commissioner of the Independent Election Commission (IEC).
The three electoral teams in a joint press conference has called on AGO to prevent Mohammad Hanif Danishyar, the IEC commissioner, from continuing his job because he does not meet the minimum age requirement.
The teams claim Danishyar fabricated documents as he did not meet the requirements that a commissioner should meet.
“We call for dismissal and prosecution of the commissioner Danishyar,” Noor Rahman Akhlaqi, a member of Abdullah Abdullah’s campaign team said.
This comes as an investigative report by the Etilate Rooz Newspaper has revealed that Mohammad Hanif Daneshyar has forged documents such as his passport and identity card and was 33 years old when he was introduced to the IEC, while the commissioners of the election commission must be over 35 years old.
The second session of Regional Security Dialogue with a focus on Afghanistan kicked off in Tehran on Wednesday with the participation of high-ranking security officials from Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, China, India, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Terrorism, extremism, narcotics and non-state actors, sponsored by some states, are drivers of political instability and perilous threats that jeopardize security in our region, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Hamdullah Mohib told the 2nd session of Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan which is underway in Tehran.
“Afghanistan is, unfortunately, one of the countries that have unbearably suffered from regional threats,” NSA said.
Mr. Mohib declared that the region is vitally important in terms of “threats” and “opportunities”.
“Diverse energy resources, key energy transmission routes, workforce, young population, production potentials and trade opportunities are exceptional factors that attach particular importance to region.”
In the meantime, the National Security Adviser declared that the Afghan National Defense and Security forces are not only fighting for security and sustainable peace to the country, but for security and stability of the region.
“As a nation and government, we are fully determined to overcome terrorism and establish peace in our county and the region. Particularly significant, hundreds of IS-K combatants surrendered to the Afghan government in the month of November,” Mohib asserted.
He emphasized that Taliban along with Al-Qaeda and IS-K group, are the terrorist groups that provide space for other terrorist and destructive groups and they also provide grounds for terrorists including of those from Central Asia, Caucuses, South Asia, Arab countries, China, Iran and other countries.
Mr. Mohib further added that the government of Afghanistan welcomes support of its neighboring countries, regional and international partners for reaching a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan.
Intelligence agencies in India have started to verify the details of a group of women released by the Afghan government from a Kabul prison six days ago. Agencies suspect that the group includes women from Kerala who left for Syria along with their husbands to join the Islamic State (IS) in 2016.
As per the Indian Express report, Intelligence Bureau of India (IB) is collecting the details of the 25 women who were freed on December 11 on the basis of a presidential decree in connection with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
“It is suspected that the group of prisoners includes a couple of women from Kerala. As per our information, there were no women prisoners at this prison earlier. We are collecting the details from all available sources. The Afghan Islamic Press has already reported the release of the prisoners. The government is yet to take a final decision on bringing Indians, if any, back to the country. A detailed process needs to be completed for bringing them back as they have been part of a globally proscribed terrorist organisation,” said an intelligence officer.
Already, the agencies have been able to ascertain a few details about the three women from Kerala who are in the surrendered group.
“No concrete details from Afghanistan are available with the intelligence agencies right now on the women who are suspected to be from Kerala. The women might be Thasleem of Pappinassery in Kannur, Aysha alias Sonia Sebastian from Ernakulam and Rahaila of Kasargod,” said an officer.
While Sonia is the wife of Abdul Rashid Abdullah, who is reportedly the kingpin of the module that left for Syria from Kasaragod and Palakkad in 2016, Thasleem was an activist of Popular Front of India in Kannur.
Rahaila is the wife of Dr Ijas Kallukettiya Purayil from Padanna in Kasaragod, who was reportedly killed in a US drone attack. Another woman from Thiruvananthapuram, identified as Nimisha, who married a Muslim convert from Palakkad, is also suspected to be in the surrendered group.
Her husband Bexen alias Eesa is said to have been killed in a US attack. There have been also unconfirmed reports on the death of Kerala IS module leader Abdul Rashid Abdullah in a US attack which the Indian agencies have evaluated as a ploy by IS group in Afghan to help him return to India under a new identity after propagating false news of his death.
So far, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has managed to confirm the deaths of Muhammed Murshid, Hafeezudeen, Shihas, Ajmal, natives of Padanna, Muhammed Marvan and Muhammed Manshad of Thrikkaripur and Palakkad natives Bastin and Shibi. These persons were part of the 23-member group that left the country in June 2016 to join the IS.
Sahra Karimi, the writer and director of Afghan cinema and director of “Afghan Film” has met with Managing Director of Farabi Cinema Foundation Alireza Tabash and Deputy Director for International Affairs Raed Faridzadeh.
During the meeting, Tabash emphasized the drafting of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Farabi and Afghan Film as the main Afghan state-owned cinema institution and concluded that it is a prelude to strengthening long-term cinema cooperation between Iran and Afghanistan.
The Director of the Farabi Foundation further noted the deep cultural, religious and historical ties and the common Farsi language between the two countries as an important benchmark for the expansion of cultural exchanges, collaborative film production and the creation of a regional market with the presence of other countries such as Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Iraq, and Oman as serious plans of the Farabi Cinema Foundation in the international arena.
Referring to the International Children and Youth Film Festival in Isfahan and the Teenage Film Olympiad, the Iranian official announced the readiness to transfer Iranian experiences in discovering Afghan and young Afghan talents to Afghan Film.
Afghan local officials say at least 17 Taliban insurgents have been killed and wounded in Ghazni province.
The Ghazni governor’s press office in statement on Wednesday said that the Taliban insurgent stormed a joint outpost of the Afghan army and national police on Kabul-Kandahar highway in Shahbaz area of Ghazni province.
According to the statement, at least eleven Taliban militants have been killed and six others have been wounded during the clashes and air operation by Afghan forces in Esfanda, Noghai, Shahbaz, Qara Baghi and Mangor areas.
The statement added that two security forces including the highway company commander have been wounded during the clashes.
After the recent bombings in Balkh and Khost provinces, President Ashraf Ghani has said the Taliban group had nothing to give the Afghans except terror, crimes, murders and miseries.
At least 10 civilians were killed in a bomb explosion in Khost province on Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, five traffic officers were among 18 others wounded in a magnetic bomb blast in Mazar-i-Sharif, capital of Balkh province.
The Presidential Palace in a statement said that President Ghani condemned the incidents and said the Taliban had nothing for people but terror and crimes.
The Taliban by targeting civilian facilities and people with terrorist attacks would receive only hate in return from the public, he said.
“Our brave security forces would definitely take revenge of these attacks against our people. They will chase them anywhere and kill them,” Ghani said.
He shared his sympathies with the bereaved families and prayed for the recovery of those who injured in these incidents.
Afghan Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock Nasir Ahmad Durrani has announced that over 600,000 women would become self-reliant through an economic empowerment program in agriculture.
The program includes nursery farms, greenhouses, processing agricultural products, distribution of poultry farms, bee farms, goat, sheep and other livestock that would help 616,000 women across the country become self-reliant.
The Ministry has implemented such programs in the past in 14 provinces since 2015 that has helped 400,000 women to improve their economy.
The program also provides exhibition opportunities for women to showcase their products.
Based on the figures from the Ministry of Finance, eight out of a total of 54 government institutions have spent less than 50% of their development budget.
As per Wasdam report, the National Authority for Disaster Management is the only government institution that has spent 0% of its development budget during the current fiscal year.
The highest amount of budget spent is by the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation: 99% of its development budget.
The overall budget for the current fiscal year was $5 billion, of which $3.7 billion was allocated for ordinary budget and the remaining $1.4 billion for the development budget.