Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
A German-Afghan translator for the German army goes on trial Monday along with his wife on charges of treason for allegedly spying for Iran, AFP reported.
Abdul S., 51, stands accused of “a particularly serious case of treason” and of “violating state secrets” in 18 instances, according to the higher regional court of Koblenz in western Germany.
His 40-year-old wife Asiea S. will be in the dock with him, after prosecutors in December charged her with aiding and abetting treason.
Asiea S. is accused of “helping her husband from the very beginning” with his espionage activities for Iranian intelligence services, the Koblenz court said.
Abdul S. worked for several years as a civilian translator and cultural adviser to the German Bundeswehr at the Heinrich-Hertz barracks in the town of Daun, near Koblenz.
Officials have been tight-lipped about the case, revealing no details about the information that was allegedly leaked.
Abdul S. himself “has yet to comment on the accusations against him,” the court said in a statement, adding that much of the legal proceedings will take place behind closed doors.
Abdul S. risks a life sentence if found guilty, which in Germany usually means at least 15 years.
His wife faces a maximum of 11 years in prison.
Afghan Journalist Safety Committee (AJSC) and UNESCO convened a roundtable in Kabul on Monday to spotlight the threats and violence against reporters in Afghanistan.
A number of journalists, along with government officials and members of the international community, participated in the event as the second Vice President Sarwar Danish chaired the discussion.
The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto declared that ensuring reporters can work without threats or violence is vital to protecting advances.
“If media freedom is challenged, society as a whole suffers”, Yamamoto said at the Afghanistan journalists safety roundtable today in Kabul.
He emphasized that the vibrant and pluralistic media in Afghanistan is a success story to be championed and defended.
Building on Kazakhstan’s 10-year $50m commitment to educate Afghans in Kazakh universities, a new joint programme between Kazakhstan, the European Union, and UN Development Programme will graduate 50 Afghan women with bachelor, graduate and technical degrees.
As per EU reporter, the students will be empowered to be net contributors to the future global economy that will put a premium on more specific technical skills.
The first cohort of students arrived in Kazakhstan in October to start an eight month-long English course, which will prepare them for Bachelor’s, Master’s and vocational education programs in Kazakh universities.
The initiative aims to provide educational opportunities for Afghan women, who face disproportionate barriers to education and employment compared to their men counterparts back home.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini announced in September in her video message to the regional conference in the Kazakh capital on empowering women in Afghanistan that the EU will provide $2.2 million for the programme.
At least 21 Taliban militants have been killed and 17 others wounded in multiple extensive military crackdowns carried out by the Afghan security forces across the country in the past 24 hours, security officials said.
Ministry of Defense in a statement said the Afghan National Army (ANA) in collaboration with Afghan National Police (ANP) and National Directorate of Security (NDS) personal conducted joint operations against insurgents in different areas of Nangarhar, Jawzjan, Helmand, Urzgan, Kapisa and Balkh provinces, in which 21 militants were killed and 17 others wounded.
Afghan security forces arrested three rebels and handed them over to the judicial organs for further inquiry.
Afghan National Defense and Security Forces shelled and bombed the enemies’ positions and sanctuaries by artilleries and air forces.
During these operations, 11 Taliban fighters were killed, four wounded, one vehicle and three motorbikes were seized in Khogyani and Shirzad districts of Nangarhar, five insurgents were killed and nine wounded in Faizabad district of Jawzjan, three militants were killed in Nahar Saraj district of Helmand and one insurgent was killed and four others were wounded in Khas-Uruzgan district of Uruzgan province.
The German special representative for Afghanistan, Markus Potzel says his country will host a new round of intra-Afghan peace talks.
The National Security Adviser (NSA) Hamdullah Mohib has met with Mr. Potzel in Kabul and discussed peace and security issues, the NSA office said in a statement.
According to the statement, Mohib called peace as one of the top priorities of the Afghan government and praised Germany’s efforts regarding it.
“Both sides also exchanged views on the upcoming intra-Afghan dialogue. The NSA offered his observations on how to make the next round more fruitful,” the statement reads.
In the meantime, the German’s envoy stated that his country will host a dialogue between the Afghan government, Taliban and Afghan people aims to hear the views on how to facilitate the cooperation between the Taliban and the peace process.
Office of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock in Balkh have reported about significant increase in the production of sesame and linseed in the province.
According to the officials, sesame production has gone up by 46% abc linseed had ginger up by 28%.
As per Wasdam report, this year, the farmers have collected 11,239 tons of linseed from 13,223 hectares of land and 3,243 tons of sesame from 4,700 hectares of land.
“Sesame and linseed are the top oil producing products of Balkh,” said Zabiullah Zobeen, head of agriculture department in Balkh.
The official cited continuous rainfall, support from the government and distribution of modified eggs to the farmers as the main reasons behind the hike in the production of sesame and linseed.
Afghan security officials say Mullah Haqyar, the education director of Taliban group for Qarqin district has been killed in Faryab province.
The spokesman of 209 Shahin Corps, Hanif Rezai told Reporterly, “Mullah Haqyar who was also involved in killing of six members of a family has been killed along with one of his men during a special operation in Andkhoy district.”
According to Rezai, the operation was carried out after the Haqyar’s hideout was firmly recognized.
He added that another key Taliban member named Feda Muhammad known as Feda Koor was wounded during the operation.
This comes as the Taliban insurgents have recently shot killed six members of a family, including an infant girl, in the remote village of Khanqah in Andkhoy district.
The Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah says the people of Afghanistan have the right to take a position regarding the peace process.
Speaking at a Ministerial Council session on Monday, CE Abdullah said, “peace is not one person’s monopoly, one person’s wish– but it is a collective desire.”
He emphasized that the negotiation team for the peace process should be comprehensive, including the government.
“By no means can a ministry facilitate peace. Previously there were remarks that peace should be handled by a ministry, which I think were not well-considered,” he said.
This comes as the office of Chief Executive on Sunday defended the second deputy of the office, Mohammad Mohaqiq’s trip to Pakistan regarding the peace process.
“This trip was done based on the invitation of the Lahore Center for Peace Research and peace talks were the topic of the trip,” CE office said in a statement.
However, the Presidential Palace declared that it was not informed about the trip. The High Peace Council stated it sees no benefit in Mohaqiq’s trip for the peace process and calls for an explanation.
Russia’s Acting Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s says Moscow and Tashkent have paid efforts to create a pacified condition in Afghanistan, where all aspects of the society can feel comfortable.
Talking at an MGIMO University in Uzbekistan, Lavrov said, “This is manifested most vividly on the Afghan track where Russia and Uzbekistan act hand in hand. They perceive national reconciliation and the creation of favourable conditions that would allow all ethnic, political and social groups, as well as religious denominations, to feel comfortable in Afghanistan as the only goal that can pacify the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.”
This comes as Lavrov has earlier expressed optimism for a peace deal between US-Taliban that can pave the ground for direct-Afghan-talks.
Four members of one family were killed in an attack by unidentified gunmen in Kabul’s police district 7 (PD7) Chehel Sutoon area on Sunday night.
The spokesman of the Ministry of Interior (MoI) Nasrat Rahimi said, “Unknown armed men entered a residential house in PD7 and killed four members of a family on Sunday night.”
According to Rahimi, the father of the family is an employee of the Ministry of Transportation.
The relatives of the family said those killed include three women – including two daughters of the family – and a son of the family. They were killed by an ax, according to their relatives.
Rahimi added that investigations have been started regarding the incident.
Popular Afghan actor, Saleem Shahin has been sentenced to two years in prison for for ‘cybercrime’ conviction by a court in Kabul.
A first trial approved a 3-year jail period for Saleem Shaheen convicted of blackmailing a girl in Kabul whose video footage was with him. He was asking the girl to pay her a certain amount of money.
The second trial court has reduced his jail period to 2 years.
Based on reports, Saleem Shaheen was detained 3 months ago from Kabul airport when he was going to attend a festival in India.
The man they call the “sultan of cinema” in his native Kabul was not screening one of 111 gonzo feature films he has shot since 1985.
With 110 movies under his belt, Afghan filmmaker Salim Shaheen has finally made it to the red carpet in Cannes as the star of a charming and hilarious documentary portrait by French journalist Sonia Kronlund.