Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Biden administration will keep Zalmay Khalilzad, former President Trump’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Process, in place for the time being, CNN reported.
Quoting three sources familiar with the matter, CNN report says that traditionally an incoming administration replaces politically appointed officials with their own team, particularly on foreign policy matters with such significance.
The report noted that the US State Department did not comment when asked about Khalilzad staying on board.
Khalilzad, an Afghan-American diplomat has served as the top US negotiator for Afghanistan peace with the Taliban since September 2018.
During his mission for the Afghan peace process, one of Khalilzad’s achievements in this mission was the signing of a peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban on February last year.
Khalilzad’s presence in the Afghan peace process has been repeatedly criticized by the Afghan government and a number of politicians in the country.
In the latest case, President Ghani has reportedly refused to meet him during his recent visit to Kabul.
The chairman of High Council for National Reconciliation (HCRN) Abdullah Abdullah says the talks with the Taliban are underway to reduce violence and establish a ceasefire in the country.
During the inauguration ceremony of the Youth Commission of High Council for National Reconciliation in Kabul, Dr. Abdullah said that in order to achieve peace, a plan to reduce violence must be fully implemented and a ceasefire should be established.
“Currently, the level of violence is unacceptable,” Abdullah said. “The Afghan people expected the Afghan government and the Taliban to agree to reduce violence at the beginning of the talks; “But because of the Taliban’s insistence on continuing the war, an agreement has not been reached yet.”
According to Abdullah, the reduction of violence and the establishment of a ceasefire will help the people to be confident in their future and to support the peace process.
This comes as the second round of peace talks began in Qatar last week.
Details of the talks have not yet been released; But Mohammad Amin Ahmadi, a member of the Afghan government’s negotiating team, has recently said that the Taliban thought that the United States would release its prisoners without ending the war and establishing a ceasefire, and that it would continue to fight, regardless of considering the republic system’s demand for a ceasefire.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has removed the Finance Minister Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal and replaced him with Khalid Payenda, the President Administrative Affairs Office (AAO) said on Saturday.
The Presidential Deputy Spokesperson, Fatima Morchal in a video message cited at least five reasons behind the presidency’s decision.
“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 among the reasons,” Morchal said.
Arghandiwal was appointed as acting minister of finance last year in March. He was approved by the parliament as finance minister last year in November.
It is worth mentioning that previously, Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, in a letter issued to the Office of the President, opposed the dismissal of 59 employees of the Finance Ministry and the head of human resources of the Ministry of Finance by the President.
He has said that these individuals would continue to perform their duties in accordance with the law until the competitive recruitment process for their posts finalized.
Earlier, AAO in a letter said that the recruitment of the director of human resources at the Ministry of Finance and 59 other employees of the Ministry was carried out in a non-competitive manner and that they have been fired under the instruction of the President.
Following these issues, the Attorney General’s Office has announced that Mohammad Gholam Mulakhail, the director of human resources at the Ministry of Finance, had been arrested on charges disobeying Presidential orders and misusing authority.
The Arad border police have caught six migrants from Afghanistan, who tried to leave Romania hidden in two trucks, according to AGERPRES.
They were hidden among the boxes with spare parts for cars, which were to be transported to Poland, the Arad Border Police informed on Friday.
“The six Afghans, four adults aged between 18 and 26, and two children of 15 and 16 years old were discovered in another truck driven by a Turkish citizen, at the PTF Nadlac I, during the check-out upon their exit from the country,” Arad Police said.
In all these cases, the border police are investigating an attempt to cross the state border illegally, and Turkish drivers could be prosecuted for trafficking in migrants.
The new US presidential administration’s attempts to find some links between Moscow and the Taliban group cannot succeed, and if the investigation is fair, the US side will understand that this is just nonsense, Russia’s special presidential representative for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov has said.
“They can only invent something, as such facts just do not exist. If the new administration has a desire to conduct an in-depth study, we can only welcome that. We are confident. If the investigation is fair, they will understand they are just doing stupid things,” the Sputnik quoted Kabulov as saying.
The attempts to find some “link” between Moscow and the Taliban “cannot be successful,” Kabulov added.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has stated that there had been such statements before but no proof of those claims was ever produced.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Saturday reported 36 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 882 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 5 deaths and 31 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 54,595 the number of total reported deaths is 2,378 and the total number of recoveries is 46,943.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Kandahar, Balkh, Takhar, Paktia, Parwan, Nimroz, Ghazni, Helmand, Khost and Faryab provinces.
The economic impact of COVID-19 on the world’s most populous region is threatening to further undermine efforts to improve diets and nutrition of nearly two billion people in Asia and the Pacific, particularly Afghanistan who were already unable to afford healthy diets prior to the pandemic, says a new report published by four specialized agencies of the United Nations.
The report highlights the dire situation in Afghanistan, which has the highest prevalence of undernourished children in South Asian countries – double that of other countries. In Afghanistan, 5 out of 10 poor children show signs of irreversible chronic malnutrition.
COVID-19 is making the situation worse. “We are seeing increases in number of children identified as wasted month by month,” said UNICEF Afghanistan Country Office Chief of Nutrition. “We estimate there will be just under one million children in Afghanistan severely wasted in the next 12 months which is 30% higher than last year. We attribute this to the effects of COVID-19 on poor families.”
According to the report, UNICEF works closely with government partners and other UN agencies to improve the diets of mothers and children in Afghanistan, focusing on meeting the urgent needs of severely malnourished children.
The European Human Rights ambassadors have strongly condemned the increase in civilian casualties in Afghanistan.
The ambassadors in a joint statement said that a significant majority of the civilian casualties in Afghanistan is caused by the Taliban and various terrorist organizations.
“The increase in civilian casualties, especially the targeted killings of human rights defenders, officials, judges, journalists, media workers, and other civil society actors is unacceptable, with female representatives particularly vulnerable,” the statement reads.
According to the statement, the European ambassadors reiterated the importance of accountability and the need for a through investigation of all attacks.
“All prepatrators must be brought to justice,” the statement said.
“Upholding human rights, a strong civil society, and a free and an independent media, are important gains of present day of Afghanistan, and crucial for any democracy and contribute to durable peace and sustainable development. A free flow of information and the right to freedom of expression are crucial in the context of of the current peace negotiations in Doha,” the statement added.
The European Human Rights ambassadors called for immediate reduction of violence, and compliance with the international humantarian law and International human rights law and continue to support human rights defenders, journalists, media workers, and civil society actors in Afghanistan.