Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: Taliban insurgents captured a key district just outside the Afghan capital of Kabul in central Wardak province, forcing government forces to retreat, security officials said on Tuesday.
The seizure of Nerkh district comes amid intensifying violence following an announcement by the Taliban of a three-day ceasefire in Afghanistan for Eid.
Tariq Arian, interior ministry spokesperson, said that the government troops made a “tactical retreat” from the district center, which is a gateway to Kabul, after a heavy firefight with the Taliban.
Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesperson, wrote on Twitter that they had killed and captured some members of the Afghan security forces after seizing the district. He added that they had also seized a large cache of ammunition.
The Afghan government did not comment on the casualties among the security forces.
Kabul: The Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Haneef Atmar held a video conference with Finnish Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari to discuss the Afghan peace process and bilateral cooperation.
Atmar said that “the Taliban aim to seize power by force and do not seem to believe in peace,” while referring to the latest developments in the peace process and calling the high level of violence and civilian casualties in the country, calling it unacceptable.
Expressing his condolences, Skinnari condemned the perpetrators of the barbaric attack and termed Taliban violence unacceptable. He called on the Taliban to accept a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire and pave the way for a political solution and lasting peace.
The Finnish Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade assured Atmar of his country’s continued assistance in development, governance, human rights, and economy, especially in the field of energy after the withdrawal of the Resolute Support Forces from Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, US Senator Jack Reed during an event at the Reagan Foundation, said that the United States must view its withdrawal from Afghanistan not as closure, but as a transition.
“We still have vital security issues in the region, and the United States must continue to ensure that Afghanistan will not become a safe haven for terrorism, and do all we can to empower the legitimate government of Afghanistan,” said Reed. His remarks come even as there is growing violence in Afghanistan since May 1 when the US began the drawdown.
Reed, who chairs the US Senate Armed Services Committee, said the United States must learn from the past and keep a strong presence in the region to ensure that another situation such as the rise of another terror group does not happen again.
Kabul: With rising cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection being reported in the country daily, the Acting Minister of Health, Vahid Majrooh, has urged citizens to refrain from visiting relatives and observe Covid-19 appropriate behavior to prevent the spread of the virus during Eid al-Fitr.
Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, Majrooh said that Afghanistan now has the capacity to test for any strain of the coronavirus, and that 55.5 per cent of newly infected patients had the English-type virus, according to tests.
The Acting Minister of Health did not rule out the spread of the Indian-type coronavirus in Afghanistan; but he said that the speed and strength of the virus was different from that of a virus that had spread in India.
He called on the citizens of Afghanistan to follow precaution during Eid and to refrain from going to each other’s houses.
“Help each other have a good Eid and not endanger the health and lives of our family members and friends,” Majrooh said. “If the negligence continues, like the last days of Ramadan when people rushed to the market, Eid will become a day of mourning and calamity.”
He also said that the Ministry of Health is fully prepared to fight the third wave of the coronavirus.
On the other hand, Aminuddin Mozaffari, Deputy Minister of, Hajj, in this meeting, asked the people to hold Eid prayers in the open air and not to go to each other’s houses.
According to the solar Hijri calendar, tomorrow (Thursday) coincides with the first day of Eid al-Fitr.
Kabul: The Taliban is only interested in seizing power and not peace, said the Afghan ambassador to the US, Roya Rahmani, in an interview with The World.
During the interview, Rahmani stated that the security situation in Afghanistan is not changing and Afghans are suffering daily because the conflict is about power for the Taliban. “The Afghan government is doing all that they can. There is an environment of conflict that is continuing to exist because of the Taliban’s continuous violence. The president has done everything that we can do to move the negotiations forward and is working continuously with all the political factions in Afghanistan. He is trying to solidify the consensus for a united front. During the negotiations, he has announced that he is willing to shorten his term and resign for his successor, given that they would continue a peace mandate. So, from our side, we are willing to do all we can. The problem is that the Taliban, unfortunately, have presented that they are not interested in peace, but in power,” the ambassador stated.
On the deadly attack on the school in Kabul, Rahmani said, “The people who are behind these attacks are terrorists. To stop it, we need the support of our international allies, the regional community, the regional countries, because we have to also look at where the terrorists are able to get their finances there, how they are able to get the explosives within the country, how they are managing these attacks. All of these different aspects of this conflict need to be addressed.”
When asked if the withdrawal of troops will help solve the Afghan crisis, she said that the conflict will continue as long as any group would try to impose on the Afghan people their way or their view. “We respect the decision that the US has made. But as President Ghani has said, it is a risk and opportunity at the same time. There is no reason for this conflict to continue. The very basis of the continuation of conflict by the Taliban was that there is the presence of foreign troops. But, that is finished. The troops are withdrawing. So, what is the reason that the Afghan people are continuously suffering and bearing the brunt of this? It is a conflict and perpetuation of violence merely for power and at the expense of innocent citizens of Afghanistan,” she said.
Meanwhile, Shaharzad Akbar, the chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, also stated concerns about the representation of women in peace talks and rising violence against women and girls. “If there are no women in the room or very few women in the room, of course there will be no meaningful discussion about women’s rights in the future of Afghanistan or even human rights in the future of Afghanistan. If there are no victims of war who are being represented and being heard by both parties, there will be no attention to justice and human rights,” she said.
The rights’ activist also stated that there is an urgent need to put pressure on the international community, including the US and the UN, about the responsibility that they have to the Afghan civilians and to the Afghan public in general and reminding them that military withdrawal should not mean forgetting Afghanistan and the Afghan public in this difficult moment. The activist called for an immediate end to the rising violence.
Even Masoom Stanekzai, the head of the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Qatar, said that sacrificing people and destroying the country, is neither in line with Islamic principles nor in the national interest of the country.
Stanekzai tweeted on Wednesday that even on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr when everyone celebrates, people of Afghanistan have been mourning for many years.
“The scholars of the country and the world and the leaders of the Islamic countries have a great responsibility. They should not just watch the ongoing tragedy in Afghanistan continue, but should take responsibility for putting out this 40-year-old fire,” he said in his Eid message.
Meanwhile, the level of violence and attacks by the Taliban has increased sharply during the days of Ramadan, and during this month, seven provinces of the country witnessed heavy clashes between government forces and Taliban fighters.
Kabul: Two employees of the Ministry of Finance have been arrested on charges of taking $10,000 in bribes after a complaint from an employee of a private company on May 10, announced the Attorney General’s Office of Control and Surveillance on Wednesday.
According to the statement, the representative of the private company stated in his complaint that he had applied to the Ministry of Finance to transfer the company’s statistics from Kabul to one of the provinces, but the Ministry of Finance employees first requested $15,000 to do so and finally agreed to do so after taking $10,000.
After analyzing and evaluating the complaint, the Attorney General’s Office of Control and Prevention arrested the accused in an operation in cooperation with the National Security Forces from the Kabul First Security Zone.
The Attorney General has said that the case is under investigation.
Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Wednesday reported 370 new positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 12 deaths and 67 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The total number of cases now stand at 63,088, while the number of reported deaths is 2,725 and the total number of recoveries is 54,570.
MoPH added that the new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Balkh, Nangarhar, Baghlan, Kunduz, Takhar, Nimroz, Paktia, Parwan, Wardak, Helmand, Bamiyan, Badakhshan, Daikundi, Logar, Ghazni, Kunar, Laghman and Panjshir provinces.
Kabul: At least 24 billion afghanis has been collected since the introduction of the 10 percent tax on mobile credit cards, said Minister of Communications and Information Technology Masouma Khavari on Tuesday at the Senate summoning session.
Telecommunications companies submit their reports to the Ministries of Telecommunications and Information Technology and Finance and the ATRA Office every 15 days, according to which tariffs are arranged and handed over to companies to pay the revenue of the telecommunication services’ product to the Ministry of Finance within five days.
The process is overseen by a team of 12 people, added Khavari. At least 22.3 billion Afghanis had been collected since the imposition of this tax in 2015 and up to last month of the last solar year, which is an average of 4.46 per year, 22.3 billion afghanis had been collected as per the ministry statistics.
According to her, the 10% tax is collected and monitored by the real-time system. However, Senate Speaker Fazl Hadi Muslimyar said that the system has not been activated and expressed concern about the inactivity of the real-time system, saying that people have a right to know how and where the money collected from the increase in their consumer credit cards has been deposited.
Khavari, however, said that the real-time and billing system is the technical work of the Afghanistan Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ATRA) and has nothing to do with the Ministry of Telecommunications. The real-time system contract was signed in May 2017 with the foreign networks. Since then, officials at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology have repeatedly reported delays in activating the system.
The failure to establish the system during the term of Abdul Razzaq Vahidi’s ministry led to his introduction to court. Finally, Vahidi was acquitted in the third session of the Special Court of Ministers.
Kabul: Stating that foreign troops should withdraw from Afghanistan in an orderly and responsible manner to prevent any hasty action from adversely affecting and seriously interfering with the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday elaborated China’s position on the Afghan situation.
The remarks came at a meet with foreign ministers of countries including Uzbekistan and Tajikistan who came to China to attend the second China + Central Asia (C+C5) foreign ministers meeting in Xi’an, capital city of northwest China’s Shaanxi province.
Wang said that it is necessary for neighboring countries of Afghanistan, including Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, to coordinate their positions in a timely manner, speak with one voice, and fully support the Afghan domestic peace process to overcome difficulties and move forward.
China reiterated its stand to support a peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan which is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned and sought Afghanistan to form inclusive political arrangements to make sure that all ethnic groups and parties could participate in political life in the future and enjoy equal political rights.
However, the Chinese side also asked the Afghan national governance to not copy foreign models and understand the country’s needs first, including a moderate Muslim policy and avoid extremist tendencies, oppose all forms of terrorism and not allow the resurgence of terrorist forces in Afghanistan.
The Chinese FM also emphasized the role of close neighbors of Afghanistan and asked Central Asian countries to contribute to the final settlement of the Afghan issue, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to also play its due role for the long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan, China and Pakistan also signed first Asian bilateral cooperation agreements on Asian Cultural Heritage Protection during an online workshop on Tuesday.
Quoting Li Qun, head of China’s National Cultural Heritage Administration (NCHA), Global Times reports that based on a document titled “China-Afghanistan and China-Pakistan Joint Statements on Cooperation in the Asian Initiative for Cultural Heritage Conservation,” the three countries will carry out all-round cooperation in joint archaeology, preservation and restoration of cultural property, conservation, management, and sustainable development of world cultural heritage sites, exchange ideas for exhibitions and preservation technology and the prevention of trafficking of cultural property.
The report says that Afghanistan’s acting minister of Information and Culture Mohammad Tahir Zuhair and Joint Secretary of National Heritage and Culture Division in Pakistan Muhammad Murid Rahimoon both expressed their great willingness to promote the development of Asian Cultural heritage.
Zuhair said that Afghanistan is an important hub on the ancient Silk Road, and has a brilliant and rich cultural heritage. But due to wars, he said, many cultural sites have been damaged and need to be restored.
Global Times reports that China will also hold the Asian Cultural Heritage Protection Dialogue in Beijing in October.
Kabul: Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi, the deputy head of the Taliban splinter group in the western part of the country, has been severely wounded in an armed attack on the border between Guzara and Adraskan districts of Herat, according to a source aware of the developments but who did not want to be named.
Two other men were also wounded and three others were killed in the armed attack. The source added that the bullet hit Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi in the head, who is currently being treated at Herat Central Hospital and is in critical condition.
So far, local and security officials in Herat have not commented on the attack. No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi was the deputy head of the Taliban’s splinter branch led by Mullah Mohammad Rasul and a staunch opponent of the Taliban led by Mullah Hebatullah Akhundzadeh.
Meanwhile, in other news, Akhtar Mohammad Shahin, the former police chief of Paktia province, was also killed along with three other people in an ambush by gunmen in the village of Zhai in the Tani district of Khost province on Tuesday evening.
Khost police chief Brigadier General Mohammad Daud Amin said one of those killed was Commander Shahin’s uncle.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Akhtar Mohammad Shahin resigned after a month and a half of work, early last month.