Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Aga Khan, on behalf of the Ismaili Imamat and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), has reaffirmed his enduring commitment to a peaceful and pluralistic Afghanistan, according to the AKDN.
In a statement delivered at the virtually held 2020 Afghanistan Conference, Aga Khan Chairman of the AKDN, noted that as the country entered into a new period of transition, it would need the contribution of all of its people to address their common challenges: rising poverty, climate disruption, an unforgiving pandemic.
“It will need all their talents to build an inclusive future with more opportunities, requiring more education, more knowledge, more private initiative. In these endeavors, AKDN is, and will remain, a steadfast partner,” said the Aga Khan, emphasizing that AKDN will maintain the breadth of its work in all sectors from education, healthcare and cultural restoration, as well as in economic development.
“During our 25 years in Afghanistan, AKDN has been guided by a fundamental belief that the key to the country’s future is in a vibrant, meritocratic, pluralistic civil society – in the Afghan people and in long-term institutions anchoring their contributions to the common good,” he said.
This year’s conference was organized by the Governments of Afghanistan and Finland, and the United Nations, and was held virtually on November 23-24. Over 70 countries, international organizations, and agencies attended the conference which built on previous ones held in Brussels in 2016, and Tokyo in 2012. The aim of the conference was to commit the Afghan government and the international community to shared development objectives for 2021-24.
Mahdi Rasekh, The representative of Maidan Wardak at the Lower House of Parliament said that Taliban insurgents had abducted 18 civilians in Jalriz district of the province.
Rasekh said that the Taliban had abducted the men today (Wednesday) from the Siah-e-Pitab area of Jalriz district and transferred them to a mosque in the area.
He added that the abducted people are the residents of Hes-e Awal Behsod district. “The Taliban have taken these people down from several passenger vehicles,” explained Mahdi Rasekh. “They then separated the women and children, took the men with them, and sent the women to Kabul in other vehicles.”
Rasekh noted that the people were abducted by the Sayed Taqi known as “Bacheyne Sayed Forotan” who was recently joined the Taliban group.
The Taliban have not yet commented.
Afghan health officials in Kandahar province say at least 21 wounded have been transferred to the hospitals from the explosion so far.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) says a car bomb explosion happened in PD11 of Aino Mina area of Kandahar city at around 10:30am on Wednesday.
The spokesman of MoI, Tariq Arian has previously confirmed six people were wounded in the incident.
Afghanistan Ministry of Women’s Affairs says violence against women continues in the country.
According to the ministry, although social violence such as sexual harassment and non-payment of alimony has decreased with the onset of the corona crisis in the country, acute violence such as murder has increased.
According to officials, the lack of access to justice for women during the Corona has led to minor family disputes leading to large-scale cases of violence such as murder.
Most Murder Cases in Sar-e Pul, Samangan and Jawzjan Provinces
Roya Dadras, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, said that 1,203 cases had been registered during the current solar year, most of which involved physical violence such as beatings, which included 1,108 cases.
Dadras added that acute cases of violence, which often lead to murder, have occurred in areas with greater insecurity. Sar-e-Pul, Jawzjan and Samangan are among the provinces with the highest murder cases. After that, Faryab, Nimroz, Ghor, Logar, Kabul, Daikundi, Badghis, Bamyan and Herat provinces have the highest number of cases.
The number of cases registered in Afghanistan’s 34 provinces includes violence, rape, beatings, harassment, forced marriage, obstruction of marriage, ill-treatment, compulsion to use drugs, underage marriage, prohibition of inheritance, prohibition Possession of property and rape. Coercion to commit suicide or self-immolation, injuries and fatalities are other cases of victimization of women.
The spokeswoman for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs added that after beating women, running away from home, murder, harassment and death threats, insults and humiliation had the highest statistics. “The coronavirus has prevented women from going to court because they thought the centers were closed,” she said. “As a result, family quarrels and controversies have become acute issues that have led to the murder or suicide of girls.”
Dadras said, underage marriages and beatings of women are among the most prominent forms of violence against women. Referring to the ministry’s work to raise awareness among women in the provincial capitals and remote districts, she said that although they had awareness-raising programs under the No-Violence Act this year, women’s illiteracy was a major obstacle to implementing them. A precise mechanism should be put in place by the government to eliminate it.
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
Every year on November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is celebrated around the world, and the government and women’s rights organizations are launching short-term programs to advocate for and protect women across the country.
“It is important that we raise the voice of Afghan women to the world,” Dardras said referring to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. “What women have done to combat violence, what support the government has provided, and how women can get out of this situation.”
International donors to Afghanistan have made disappointing funding pledges to a country where nearly 40 per cent of the population, 14 million people, are in desperate need of life-saving support, Save the Children said today.
An estimated total of $12bn has been pledged at the Geneva meeting for the next four year period (2021-2024), an alarming drop from the $15.2bn pledged by donors four years ago.
According to Chris Nyamandi, Save the Children’s Country Director in Afghanistan, this falls far short of what’s needed to meet growing humanitarian needs exacerbated by four decades of conflict and now the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Nyamandi said: “It’s been a terrible year for the children of Afghanistan, nearly 1,900 of whom have been killed or maimed in 2020. Their schools have been attacked, and universities too. Not even hospitals and clinics have been spared in the conflict.
“Now the COVID-19 pandemic is causing more suffering for the people of Afghanistan. The bitter winter months lie ahead, and we’re concerned this will impact families made homeless by the fighting and forced to live in flimsy makeshift camps without adequate protection from the freezing winter conditions. Food shortages are also a major concern,” Nyamandi asserted.
““It therefore beggars belief that despite a dramatic and alarming rise in humanitarian need, wealthy nations have given less than before to help ease suffering and to forge a better future for children in Afghanistan,” Nyamandi added.
During the plenary session of the High Level Conference on Afghanistan, the parties discussed issues of economic cooperation, said Embassy of Turkmenistan in Baku.
Speaking at the event, President Ashraf Ghani spoke about the economic situation in the country. Expressing gratitude for the aspiration of the world community to facilitate the involvement of Afghanistan in the world economy, he especially noted the important contribution of Turkmenistan.
As per Trends report, projects initiated by the Turkmen side were highlighted, in particular, the importance for Afghanistan of the construction of power transmission lines and fiber-optic communication along the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) route.
In turn, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan R. Meredov spoke in detail about trade and economic cooperation with neighboring Afghanistan.
He stressed that the leadership of Turkmenistan considers the regional economic integration of Afghanistan through the implementation of large-scale infrastructure projects as one of the main aspects of restoring peace in this country.
Thus, Turkmenistan has initiated a number of important economic projects with the participation of Afghanistan. The construction of the TAPI gas pipeline, electricity and communication lines along the TAP route, as well as railways connecting Turkmenistan with Afghanistan and other countries of the region continues.
The Turkmen side plans to complete the construction of TAPI on its territory this year, and start construction on the territory of Afghanistan next year. The final stage of the construction of power transmission lines and fiber-optic communications along the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan route was also highlighted.
The Canadian military’s special operations branch says while some of its members did work with Australian special forces in Afghanistan — some of whom are now accused of war crimes — no concerns were ever raised by Canadians about Australian conduct witnessed during those interactions.
As per the Global News report, the statement from the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command comes on the heels of a horrific war crimes inquiry report out of Australia last week that found elite Australian troops killed Afghan farmers, prisoners and civilians between 2009 and 2013.
Australian Defence Force (ADF) chief Gen. Angus Campbell has said the report outlined repeated instances of what was deemed “blooding” — where new members on a mission would shoot and kill prisoners, then plant weapons on them to make it look like the victim was an enemy combatant.
The report recommended 19 of those elite Australian special forces soldiers face formal police investigation for possible charges, including murder.
A spokesperson for the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command said they are aware of the report.
“Canadian and Australian Special Forces worked together on specific missions on a limited basis in Afghanistan,” Maj. Amber Bineau said in an email to Global News.
“CANSOFCOM was not aware of these allegations until this inquiry was launched. No concerns were raised by CANSOFCOM personnel who worked with their ADF counterparts in Afghanistan.”
The statement came in response to questions asking specifically whether Canadian special forces worked with any of the Australian troops or units in the inquiry report, whether they witnessed any of the behaviour or whether they ever raised concern about the activities of their Australian counterparts.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Wednesday reported 212 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 1,476 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 16 deaths and 23 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 45,490 the number of total reported deaths is 1,728 and the total number of recoveries is 36,145.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Balkh, Nangarhar, Kunduz, Baghlan, Parwan, Nimroz, Logar, Badghis, Maidan Wardak, Ghor, Kapisa, Farah and Zabul provinces.
The United States participated in the 2020 Afghanistan Conference on November 23-24, the sixth quadrennial gathering to coordinate international development support for Afghanistan.
The conference was hosted virtually by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Government of Finland, and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
At the conference, the United States emphasized its commitment to a secure, stable, democratic, and self-reliant Afghanistan that is at peace with itself and its neighbors.
The US Department of State in a press release underscored that it has announced the availability of up to approximately $600 million in civilian assistance for Afghanistan for calendar year 2021.
“We were pleased to pledge $300 million in civilian assistance today, with an amount of up to approximately $300 million also available in the near term depending on our assessment of progress in the peace process. Future assistance beyond 2021 is planned at comparable levels provided there is consistent progress on transparency and accountability, as well as on the peace process, on the part of the Afghan government,” the press release said.
According to the press release, the United States will continue to support Afghanistan Peace Negotiations and called on all sides must seize this historic opportunity for peace and commit to a reduction in violence that will enable these talks to succeed.
“We encourage Afghanistan to prioritize peace, security, protection of the rights of women and girls, as well as much-needed economic reforms, specifically its anti-corruption efforts, to achieve its goal of stability and self-reliance,” the press release added.
Germany is reducing its military presence in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz, a stronghold of the Taliban where German troops have been advising Afghan forces on the fight against the insurgents for years, the military said on Tuesday.
As per Reuters report, the move was planned by NATO’s mission in Kabul in late summer and is not a reaction to the United States’ announcement last week that it will cut U.S. forces in Afghanistan to 2,500 from 4,500 by mid-January, a spokesman for Germany’s Joint Operations Command said.
The drawdown of foreign forces, even though peace talks for the country are stalled, could mean greater influence for the Taliban in Afghanistan, marking further challenges for a nation torn by two decades of war and now ravaged by COVID-19.
Germany started to redeploy its around 100 troops from the camp in Kunduz, which is located inside a larger Afghan base, about a week ago, the German military spokesman said.
With roughly 1,200 troops, Germany has deployed the second largest military contingent in Afghanistan after the United States.
Pakistan have invited Afghanistan’s national cricket team on a recognised tour for the first time, Pakistani officials said, following a visit to Kabul by Prime Minister Imran Khan — one of the game’s greatest players.
“We’ll try to look for a possible window for this tour — and if not 2021, we’ll definitely try to plan a series in 2022 season,” said Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief executive Wasim Khan.
“A cricket series between Pakistan and Afghanistan could be a harbinger of love and peace between the two countries,” he told AFP.
An Afghan national side toured Pakistan in May 2011, although they only played a second-string side and matches were not given first-class status.
At least 17 people were killed and over 50 others wounded after twin explosions hit a market place in Bamyan city, capital of central Bamyan province, on Tuesday, authorities confirmed.
“The latest figures indicated 17 people, including a traffic police officer, were killed and over 50 wounded. Several wounded people were in critical condition,” an official from provincial health directorate said.
The death toll could rise, the official added.
Local officials said earlier that the explosions came in a very short span of time in the main crowded market place of the city roughly at 4:30 p.m. local time.
They noted the blasts were caused by improvised bombs.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far. The Taliban militant group denied its involvement in the blasts, which happened in the relatively peaceful province, about 200 km west of the country’s capital Kabul.