Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman High Council for National Reconciliation have met on Sunday evening at the Presidential Palace.
The Presidential Palace in a statement said that during the meeting, which was also attended by Hamdullah Moheb, National Security Adviser, the two sides discussed the “recent developments” in the peace process and regional issues.
According to the statement, Ghani and Abdullah expressed concern about the escalation of violence in the country and stressed the need for a ceasefire in the country.
The meeting comes as the second round of intra-Afghan talks in Doha is moving slowly. For several days now, Taliban and government delegations have not reported about their meetings.
Safiullah Amiri, deputy head of the Kunduz provincial council and his bodyguard were wounded in a blast on Tuesday morning, local media reported.
Muhammad Yusuf Ayoubi, the head of Kunduz Provincial Council said the blast happened in Haji Amiri valley in Kunduz city on Tuesday.
According to Ayoubi, an IED placed in a bicycle detonated when the vehicle of Amiri passed the area.
No group has claimed responsibility for the incident so far.
The Provincial Council, the Chamber of Commerce, the unions of craftsmen, doctors and money changers held a joint protest meeting on Monday and set a 7-day deadline for the government to remove the provincial Police chief.
The Police chief of Herat province Sultan Dawood was appointed as the province’s police chief in July last year.
Kamran Alizai, head of the Herat Provincial Council, said that the Herat police chief had “failed” to secure Herat and was selling out checkpoints and areas.
“If the government does not accept the demands of the people of Herat, the people of Herat will hold a mass protest on Tuesday next week and will not allow the Herat police chief to work,” Mr Alizai warned.
Although the Herat police chief refused to give an interview to the media reporters today, but previously he called the allegations “baseless and organized.
The Former Finance Minister Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal claims that certain circles at the presidential palace conspired against him in order to protect their interests.
Arghandiwal in a press conference on Monday said, “With my presence at the Ministry of Finance, the interests of certain circles, of which in many cases even the president is unaware, were jeopardized and their way to gold was blocked.”
He noted that he had asked the president to communicate his message and instructions directly to him, not through specific circles that pursue their personal interests.
According to Arghandiwal, the President also accepted the issue and said that he would meet with him; However, he was unable to attend the meeting due to illness, which led to his dismissal.
He stated that there was not a single illegal appointment during his tenure as finance minister.
Regarding one of the reasons for his dismissal, he said, “If managerial weakness meant that I should have given instructions by someone else and acted on someone else’s orders, yes, I had managerial weakness; But for me, national interests took precedence over everything else and will continue to do so.”
The former finance minister said he had repeatedly stood against some government contracts during his tenure as finance minister.
President Ghani on Saturday sacked Mr. Arghandiwal from the Ministry of Finance and appointed Mohammad Khalid Payena as the Acting Minister.
Delay in the collection of taxes, lack of cooperation in an assessment by a joint team of illegal appointments in the Ministry of Finance and prevention of the assessments, weak management, lack of commitment to good governance values, not obeying the article 77 of the Constitution in his activities, and violating decrees and directions of the High Office of the President were said to be among the reasons for the dismissal of Arghandiwal.
The US Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has suggested to the Afghan government to improve the screaning procedures at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
The US watchdog in a report has stated that at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, non-VIP passengers go through five checkpoints and six inspection sites, while very important people (VIP) or commercially important person (CIP) passengers are screened only once and VVIPs are not screened at all.
The report said that since the collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001, cash smuggling out of Afghanistan’s international air and land ports has been a concern for the Afghan government, the United States, and the international community.
According to the report, the principal difference between the screening processes for non-VIP and VIP/VVIP passengers is the level of screening and scrutiny.
“Vehicles transport a VIP passenger directly to the VIP terminal, bypassing the first four checkpoints/inspection sites,” the report said.
The report added that VVIP passengers bypass all security procedures and their vehicles are cleared to drop them directly near their planes on the tarmac.
After the inauguration of the new US administration, President Ashraf Ghani said that a new chapter in Afghanistan-US relations had begun and that the United States considered the Islamic Republic as its key partner.
Mr Ghani in today’s cabinet meeting said that the shape of Afghanistan-US relations will henceforth be at the highest level of government to government.
Pointing to the recent telephone conversation between the countries National Security Advisers, President Ghani said that a quick review of the US-Taliban peace agreement would be carried out by the US Security Council, followed by a key consultation with Afghanistan to develop a common roadmap for the interests of both countries.
The President stressed that the Kabul-Washington bilateral security agreement is in place and will be implemented.
Regarding the 6am security meetings of the first Vice-President Amrullah Saleh, Ghani stated that the results of these meetings have been positive and that in the first phase, the achievements were clear and that a positive leap had been made, but the dangers had not been vanished.
He called on government officials and governors to work together to implement the National Security Pact, adding that the security pact is not just about the security sector, but also about other fields, such as the usurpation of government property.
The US embassy in Kabul has announced that it will begin a phased resumption of immigrant visa interviews by early February.
“The initial phase will involve rescheduling applicants who had their interviews canceled due to the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section halting in person appearances because of COVID,” the US embassy said in a series of tweets.
The US embassy said that once the phase is complete, the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section, in coordination with the National Visa Center, will resume scheduling new immigrant visa appointments for applications that are documentarily complete.
According to US embassy, the Consular Section will schedule applicants in the order that they became documentarily qualified and will not have capacity for expedited appointments.
“Due to ongoing COVID-mitigation measures, the Embassy will have a reduced appointment capacity,” the embassy said.
“The health and safety of applicants and staff will be the first priority as the Consular Section resumes visa interviews and may require future cancellations or reductions in appointments,” the US embassy asserted.
“Applicants with a pending appointment or with a case that is ready for scheduling may still face significant delays. Nonimmigrant visa interviews remain suspended due to COVID,” the embassy added.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH)says India has pledged to help Afghanistan with 500,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
MoPH on Monday held a meeting with the participation of the Deputy Minister for Policy and Planning, Dr. Bashir Noormal and representatives of World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF on implementing the Coronavirus vaccines made in India.
Dr. Bashir Noormal said that with the supply of Indian COVID19 vaccines, 250,000 people are to be vaccinated in the country.
Dr. Noormal has called on the Corona Vaccine Implementing Authorities to take the necessary measures to implement the Corona Vaccine made in India.
According to him, people at risk are a priority for the Ministry of Public Health to receive the corona vaccine, and they will be vaccinated at the first stage.
The Ministry of Public Health has not specified when the Indian-made vaccine will arrive in Afghanistan.
India has launched a major global vaccination campaign which around 1.3 billion people are expected to be vaccinated in the country by the end of the campaign.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) says at least 42 Taliban militants were killed and wounded during Afghan forces’ operations in Kandahar province.
MoD in a statement said that 28 Taliban militants were killed and 12 more were wounded in Zherai and Andarghab districts on Sunday.
According to the statement, two hideouts of the Taliban group and a number of their ammunitions and weapons were destroyed in the operations.
The statement added that 17 IEDs were also discovered and defused by Afghan forces.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Manday reported 78 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 1991 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 4 deaths and 67 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 54,750 the number of total reported deaths is 2,390 and the total number of recoveries is 47,365.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Nangarhar, Kandahar, Takhar, Ghazni, Badakhshan, Laghman, Kunar, Helmand and Norstan provinces.
The speaker of Lower House of Parliament Mir Rahman Rahmani says the Afghan government has removed the lawmakers relatives from government positions in retaliation for the rejection of the budget for the 1,400 fiscal year.
Rahmani during Monday’s session at the Lower House said that the government, far from political and administrative ethics, had fired the relatives of a number of members of the House of Representatives “in retaliation and threats” to put pressure on the House to approve the draft budget.
“The fired individuals have served for the system for many years and their removal is far from political ethics,” Rahmani said.
Habib-ur-Rahman Pedram, the representative of Herat province also said that the government had fired the relatives of MPs because they had raised “red cards” for the 1,400 draft budget.
However, the government has not yet reacted to these allegations.
The House of Representatives has twice rejected the draft budget for fiscal year of 1,400. According to Mir Rahman Rahmani, the budget was rejected the first time due to 17 violations and the second time due to 19 violations.
The Cabinet is expected to approve the third draft budget at Monday’s meeting. Rahmani called on the government to include sensible proposals of the House of Representatives in the draft budget.
Amrullah Saleh, the first Vice President, says an abductor who was transferred to a local hospital under the guise of being mentally ill has escaped and the Attorney General Office (AGO) must provide clarification regarding it.
VP Saleh in a report of his 6am morning meeting on Monday wrote that is to fill the security gaps silently, but in some cases, sharing the shortcomings persuade the authorities to take actions.
Saleh stated that today’s meeting focused on implementing the President’s instructions and plans, including bringing the prosecutor’s office closer to the security agencies in order to eliminate deficiencies in the case of terrorists and criminals.
The first VP stressed that one of the “shocking” gaps was the escape of an abductor from a local hospital.
He noted that all those involved in the case have been arrested, but efforts are underway on all those who have created such an atmosphere.
In the meantime, Amrullah Saleh has also assured the people about the explosion of magnetic mines and that initiatives that have been started will solve this problem soon.
Saleh stressed that preparations are needed to detecting magnetic mines.
According to him, three terrorists were arrested yesterday in PD4 of Kabul while they were waiting to assassinate a civil activist.
Afghan local officials say a passenger bus hit a roadside bomb in Maiwand district of Kandahar province this morning.
The spokesman of Kandahar governor, Bahir Ahmadi said the incident happened in Bazaar Mira Khor area at around 07:00am on Monday.
According to Ahmadi, all wounded are men who have been transferred to the provincial hospital.
He added that the Bus was on it’s way from Herat to Kabul and the incident area is under the Taliban’s control.
No group has claimed responsibility for the incident so far.
The Office of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IRA) Peace Negotiation Team says Afghan peace negotiators have met the Indonesian delegation.
IRA Peace Negotiation Team in a statement said that Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, Head of the Negotiation Team, Sayed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, State Minister for Peace and Member of the Negotiation Team, Mohammad Nateqi, Sharifa Zurmati Wardak and Bator Dostum, members of the Negotiation Team of the I. R. of Afghanistan met with Jusuf Kalla, Chairman of Muhammadiyah Ulema Organization and former Vice President of Indonesia and his accompanying delegation.
According to the statement, the Chairman of the Muhammadiyah Ulema Organization said that the continuation of violence in an Islamic society calls into question the peace process.
Jusuf Kalla stated that the two negotiating parties are expected to bring peace and security through ceasefire and constructive negotiations.
Welcoming Mr. Kalla’s remarks, Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, Head of the Negotiation Team of the I. R of Afghanistan, said that achieving a comprehensive ceasefire and effective negotiations is the top priority for the negotiation team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Mr. Stanekzai praised Indonesia for its constructive role in the peace process and called for continued cooperation in supporting the Afghanistan peace process.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, met with members of the Shia Ulema Council at the Presidential Palace on Sunday.
Arg in a statement said that the meeting was also attended by Sarwar Danesh, the second Vice President, and Mohammad Mohaqiq, Senior Advisor to the President on Security and Political Affairs.
According to the statement, President Ghani expressed his gratitude for the clear and principled position of the Shia Ulema Council, saying that the republic is a system that the equality of all Afghans is ensured.
“The interruption in the republic will have a very high price. Our security and defense forces have not lost the war, and the international legitimacy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan remains. The United States is a partner of the Afghan government and our security and defense forces,” Ghani said.
President noted that setting the goal for peace with the world and the region is for an independent Afghanistan to have national sovereignty, democracy and national unity, and that the way to other stages of negotiations is to do it carefully, prudently and confidently.
“We will never apology and surrender. We want a peace in which there is survival, prosperity and national unity,” he added.