Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: With the emergence of the new strain of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in Afghanistan and increasing number of daily patients, the Ministry of Public Health has said that the prevalence of the virus in the country has increased, though it is not the third wave yet. It added that vaccine implementation is the priority currently.
According to officials at the ministry, a new strain of the coronavirus, also known as “UK type”, is now prevalent in the country.
Statistics from the ministry show that about 200 people are currently infected with the virus. Officials warn that the situation could spiral out of control if citizens ignore the precautions and do not get vaccinated.
In addition, officials at the Ministry of Public Health state that the process of getting the vaccine for the public, above the age of 18, has begun. Mirwais Alizai, deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Health, said that the prevalence of the virus had increased by 50 percent as compared to the previous month.
He added that although the infection was on the rise, it could not be called the “third wave”.
Over a 100 people are infected with the virus daily. According to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Public Health, 105 people were infected with the virus in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Kunduz, Kapisa, Logar, Ghazni, Khost and Farah provinces on Sunday.
Kabul: At least 35 of the 609 prisoners who had been deported from Iran a month ago, have been released from prison in Herat on Monday.
Under the Afghan law, the length of their detention has been considered sufficient and hence, they are released. Local officials said that the case of other detainees exchanged with Iran is also under process currently and will be adjusted, according to Iranian law.
Mohammad Sharif Fani, head of the Herat Court of Appeals, said that most of these prisoners were arrested for drug trafficking in Iran, who had been exchanged under a memorandum of understanding between the two countries, including 22 men and 13 women, including those released from prison.
Nasir Ahmad Bahir, acting head of the Herat Appellate Prosecutor’s Office, said of 609 prisoners exchanged, 360 had been sent to the Herat court and some had been released after reviewing their terms of imprisonment. He emphasizes that in the first stage, 40 cases have been processed, 35 of which have been released, and the rest must serve their sentences.
Amrullah Noorzai, the director of Herat Central Prison, insists that the cases of the prisoners be exchanged, sent to the judiciary, and based on the decision of these institutions, these prisoners are either released from prison or spend the rest of their imprisonment in this prison according to their crimes.
Kabul: Preparing for the impending troop withdrawal, the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) on Monday announced that there is a need for transition of responsibilities from NATO to ACAA, adding that, “we would like to take over the full operations of Control Tower at Hamid Karzai International Airport by May 1”.
ACAA in a statement said, “We have to look at ways to make our air operations safer and ensure uninterrupted services. Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) is one of the main gateways, bearing considerable political, economic and security importance to Afghanistan.”
“We have experienced a hasty exit of NATO from the Ahmad Shah Baba (Kandahar) airport earlier this year, so we plan to step up our plan by identifying the gaps and properly managing the handover at HKIA, to curb potential challenges,” the statement reads.
“We would like to take over full operations of control tower at HKIA by May 1 and subsequently commence practical negotiations on Mission Essential Equipment in HKAI ground to discuss the handover of resources upon complete NATO/RS withdrawal,” the statement added.
US President Joe Biden last week announced a full drawdown of foreign troops from Afghanistan after 20 years by September 11. Only forces remaining on ground will be to help the diplomatic mission in Kabul.
Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Monday reported 139 new positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported five deaths and 74 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The total number of cases now stand at 58,037 while the number of reported deaths is 2,550 and the total number of recoveries is 52,224.
MoPH added that the new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Balkh, Nangarhar, Baghlan, Kunduz, Paktia, Daikundi, Kunar, Laghman, and Uruzgan provinces.
Kabul: In order to make the global leaders believe that the Taliban seek to ensure peace in the country, the Taliban must include human rights and women’s rights in their future plans, the Human Rights, Civil Society and Women’s Affairs commission of Parliament issued a joint statement on Monday.
The joint statement, read by Nahid Farid, chairperson of Parliament’s women affairs commission, also called on the Taliban to establish girls’ schools in the region as the first step.
Farid also said that Afghan women see the peace process as a process that “really” puts an end to all women’s worries and that the process should be done in a transparent and inclusive way with meaningful and quality presence of women in the peace process.
“The world must stand with the women of Afghanistan at such a critical juncture in history,” she added. Nahid Farid also called on the United Nations to assist Afghanistan in the fight against global terrorism and to uphold the common democratic values of women’s rights and human rights during the peace process.
Farid added that the withdrawal of troops brings a certain level of uncertainty regarding women’s rights, especially given Taliban’s past with women’s right. This comes at a time when the world is calling on the Taliban to stop violence against women and also include them in the peace talks.
In the Doha agreement, only one women representative was present from the side of the Afghan government and Taliban had none. Hence, calls for more representation of women in the peace talks is also growing.
Kabul: Now, with the foreign troops withdrawing from Afghanistan and the sole burden of protecting the sovereignty of the country left with the government, Mir Rahman Rahmani, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has called on all the regional and global players to encourage all stakeholders, including the Taliban to participate in the Istanbul Summit.
The Summit, led by UN will see participation of the US, Qatar and the Afghan government which is fully ready with a unified peace plan to ensure peace and stability in the war-ravaged country.
The Speaker added that the influential actors should ask the Taliban to attend the meeting and present their demands when concluding the open discussion of Monday’s plenary session of the Power House of Parliament.
Rahmani also called on the Taliban to use the Istanbul Summit for the benefit of the Afghan people. With US President Joe Biden announcing an extension to the timeline of the withdrawal of troops from May 1 to September 11, the Taliban has refused to participate in any peace conference and has warned of violence if the May 1 deadline, set as per the Doha agreement, is not met.
With the foreign troops withdrawing, the Afghan government may face a civil war and is likely to see the Taliban wield its power in the region, if a global consensus is not reached during the Istanbul Summit. He added that the Istanbul summit raised high hopes for an end to the war and a peaceful solution to the Afghan crisis.
According to him, the existence of a regional and international consensus and the readiness of the High Council for National Reconciliation to participate in the Istanbul Summit have also raised optimism for the outcome of the negotiations.
Mir Rahman Rahmani added that the people of Afghanistan and the National Assembly consider the Istanbul meeting a historic opportunity. He added that preservation of the system, the constitution, and freedom of speech and civic values are among the most important achievements of Afghanistan’s contemporary history, the preservation of which is important and beneficial for all parties.
According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the main goal of the Istanbul summit is to accelerate the Afghan peace process, complete the intra-Afghan talks in Doha and reach a just and lasting political agreement.
Kabul: At least 1,000 families have been displaced by the Taliban in the district center due to the raging clashes in Qarabagh district of Ghazni province for a week now.
Ghazni governor’s spokesperson Wahidullah Jumazada said on Monday that the Taliban are using civilian homes as strongholds and that people have been forced to flee from their homes.
He said that about 150 families had arrived in central Ghazni and that first aid had been distributed to them. The families have been provided shelter at the Islamic Culture Center in Ghazni.
The Taliban attacked the center of Ghazni’s Qarabagh district about a week ago, four times. Local officials in Ghazni say the attack was aimed at capturing Ghazni’s Qarabagh district.
Wahidullah Jumaezada said that the clashes were currently ongoing and security forces had prevented the Taliban from advancing further into the district.
The spokesperson added that the Taliban had suffered heavy casualties, but no casualties were reported from government forces and civilians.
However, two days ago, local officials in Ghazni had announced that two civilians had been killed in a roadside bomb blast. Residents say Qarabagh district has been under siege by the Taliban for a week now, and the residents have limited access to food during Ramadan.
Sultan Mahmoud Hospital and School, which has about 1,500 students, has also been closed.
The Taliban have not commented on the matter yet.
Kabul: In a devastating development, a rising star was crushed too soon as Nooria Tabesh, the captain of the “Peacekeepers” handball team in the Sar-e-Pul province, was killed by her ex-husband in Sar-e-Pul city, as per local sources.
Noor Agha Faizi, spokesperson for the Sar-e-Pul Police , said that the incident took place two days ago in the “Imam Kalan” area of the third security PD3 of Sar-e-Pul.
Faizi added that Nooria Tabesh had been shot and her brother’s wife was also killed in the incident. Nooria Tabesh’s mother and brother were also shot at by her ex-husband.
Noor Agha Faizi stressed that the person accused of killing Nooria Tabesh and his brother’s wife had fled from Sar-e-Pul to areas under the control of Taliban insurgents. According to him, the accused had already joined the Taliban.
The Taliban have not commented on the matter yet.
Kabul: On the second day of his three-day visit to the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday said that facilitation by Pakistan led to the US-Taliban peace agreement in Doha and subsequent intra-Afghan negotiations.
Qureshi said Pakistan hopes that Afghan parties would work constructively to achieve shared objective of a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan through an orderly and responsible withdrawal of foreign troops.
Qureshi highlighted Islamabad’s consistent policy to enhance bilateral relations and facilitate Afghan peace process. “We support reconciliation in Afghanistan and progress in peace process, in Istanbul. I look forward to meeting FM Atmar at the Istanbul summit and to hosting him in Pakistan soon after to discuss a way forward post conf,” the foreign minister tweeted.
This comes even as President Ghani on Sunday said that Pakistan has to decide if it wants friendship or enmity with Afghanistan as an unstable Afghanistan can lead to an unstable Pakistan.
Kabul: The Taliban launched a group attack on the Baghlan industrial sugar factory on Sunday night, said Baghlan police spokesperson Ahmad Javid Besharat.
Besharat added that the Taliban attack was countered and two security forces have been killed and six others have been wounded in the clashes.
He said that six Taliban insurgents have been killed and eight others have been wounded in the Taliban attack.
Taliban have not commented on the incident yet.
Kabul: With foreign troop withdrawal imminent, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the US administration to support human rights in Afghanistan.
With peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban at a deadlock, fears are rampant that a power vacuum left by Washington’s departure could threaten key gains in the fields of human rights, in particular women’s rights, education and press freedom.
“President Joe Biden’s announcement of withdrawal of US forces has raised fears that further insecurity may erode important gains in human rights that have allowed Afghans, women and girls in particular, to enjoy greater freedoms and better education and health,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director for HRW.
The rights watchdog praised US support for legal reform in the war-ravaged country, something which it said enhanced women’s access to justice and enabled training for hundreds of legal professionals. But it called on Washington not to cease improving the enforcement of laws protecting women and the provision of legal aid.
In light of Biden’s promise to use Washington’s “full diplomatic, humanitarian, economic tools” to protect gains made by Afghan women and girls over the past two decades, HRW remarked that previous White House administrations had failed to prioritize human rights in Afghanistan.
The Taliban have not offered tangible commitments to protect rights in a transitional government or after a peace agreement and still restrict the rights of women and girls to education in areas under their control, HRW said. They also regularly threaten and attack those linked to Afghan media, including prominent women journalists and broadcasters.
Violence against civilians, especially women and children has surged over the past year, according to UN statistics. Taliban control of Afghan territory is now at the highest level it has been since the US invaded to topple the group.
Kabul: Several rockets were launched by the Taliban at the Jabul Saraj district building in the Parwan province at 8:10pm on Sunday.
Saifullah Bidar, Jabul Saraj district governor of Parwan, said that the rockets were fired from the Garz Payeen area.
According to the district governor, a security guard was wounded and windows of the district building were broken.
Meanwhile, locals say that after more than five rockets hit the police HQ, the district and security forces also responded and the shooting continued for several hours.
Kabul: Dismissing criticism of Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by September 11, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the US completed its goals of ensuring the country doesn’t become a haven for terror attacks and killing Osama bin Laden.
“America went to Afghanistan 20 years ago, and we went because we were attacked on 9/11, and we went to take on those who had attacked us on 9/11, and to make sure that Afghanistan would not again become a haven for terrorism directed at the United States or any of our allies and partners,” Blinken said.
The country’s top diplomat said that al-Qaeda has been “significantly degraded” and its ability to attack the US as it did on September 11 from Afghanistan “is not there”.
“And of course, Osama bin Laden was brought to justice 10 years ago,” he said.
Blinken argued that terrorist organizations have spread to other parts of the globe and the Biden administration has other pressing issues to deal with at the same time.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Trump pal, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), both attacked Biden for saying he’d withdraw troops. Graham even called it a “disaster in the making.
There were reports that even his generals wanted Biden to leave a residual force or consider withdrawing after a peace agreement was signed. However, many lawmakers were of the opinion that it was finally time for the US to end the war in Afghanistan.
Kabul: At least one person has been killed and two others have been injured in two separate incidents reported from the city of Jalalabad of Nangarhar province on Sunday evening.
In the first incident, unidentified gunmen shot at a National Directorate of Security official in the PD4 of the city and fled the scene, local officials said.
In the second incident, an explosion took place near Qasr-e Safid Hotel in the city, injuring two people.
Zahir Adel, spokesperson for the Department of Public Health, said that one died in the first incident. No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attacks yet.
Kabul: Even though the former US President Donald Trump released a statement on Sunday that the US government is doing a “wonderful and positive” thing by withdrawing all its forces, he stressed that the timeline was not right.
Trump said that the US “should get out earlier”. The former US president even suggested US President Joe Biden to consider pulling out all troops by May 1.
The Trump administration had signed a peace deal with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, promising troop withdrawal by May 1. However, when the Biden administration took charge, it rejected the deadline stating that troop drawdown by May 1 was impractical due to “logistical” reasons. In fact, Joe Biden last week announced full withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan by September 11, which marks the 20th anniversary of the attack on the twin towers in New York.
Trump has, however, stated that the September 11 deadline is not good as it is a solemn day to remember those who the Americans lost on that day. In fact, all republicans have outright criticized Biden’s troop withdrawal plans stating that it is a disaster in the making and suggested keeping a residual force to help the war-ravaged combat terrorism on ground.
As per reports, even Biden’s generals suggested the same, however, the US president rejected their advice. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Trump pal, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), both attacked Biden for saying he’d withdraw troops. Graham even called it a “disaster in the making.”
Meanwhile, a peace summit is scheduled to be held in Istanbul from April 24. The Afghan government has stated that it is ready to participate in it, however, the Taliban has said that it will not come to the negotiating table till all foreign troops are out of Afghanistan.