Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed over the phone with his Pakistani counterpart on Friday the ongoing process to end the Afghan conflict as the country enters a critical phase in peace talks.
In reading out Pompeo’s call with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, State Department spokesman Cale Brown said the top diplomats “discussed a range of issues” that included “the importance of US-Pakistan cooperation on the Afghan peace process and the importance of efforts to support regional stability.”
He did not offer further specifics on the other topics the officials addressed.
The US-Pakistan phone call comes as the Afghan capital on Friday began a legal assembly of elders — the highest consultative body — from across the country known as a Loya Jirga to discuss the fate of 400 Taliban prisoners and future of peace talks.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani promised the long-awaited direct talks with the Taliban would commence as soon as the council decides on the fate of captive Taliban insurgents.
“ … the sooner you [council participants] decide, the better it is so that the talks between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban begins,” said Ghani while defending democratic system in the face of insurgents bent upon reviving their “Islamic Emirate” in the country.
Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the 2020 Afghanistan peace Loya Jirga and the head of Afghan peace reconciliation office says the final decision will be announced tomorrow and inter-Afghan talks will begin three days after the release of 400 Taliban prisoners.
Mr Abdullah told a news conference on Saturday that a consultative jirga had been convened at a time when the issue of the release of 400 Taliban prisoners was seen as an obstacle to the start of intra-Afghan talks.
He added that members of the Jirga represent representatives of a wide range of Afghans and are present from all walks of life.
The Speaker of the Loya Jirga noted: “In general, I have concluded that everyone supports the start of negotiations. But there are differing views on how to overcome obstacles and how to negotiate. There are concerns about the release of 400 prisoners and their return to the battlefield.”
“At present, I can say in general terms that all members of the Loya Jirga called for the start of peace talks and the removal of obstacles to peace, but the final result of this Jirga will be announced tomorrow in a resolution,” Abdullah stressed.
In response to the release of 400 Taliban prisoners last night, he said that the list has not started yet, and that the release process will begin as soon as the Loya Jirga’s decision is announced.
Saying that intra-Afghan talks would begin three days after the release of the prisoners, Abdullah stressed that it will likely to be the first round of talks in Qatar and so far, with the exception of 400 prisoners, there are no obstacles to intera-Afghan dialogue.
Afghanistan has transited over 15,000 tons of commodities through Dogharoon border with Iran in the first four months of the current solar calendar year March 20-July 21.
The mentioned commodities have been sent to their destination markets through Iran’s southern ports or Western land borders, IRNA quoted Hamid Mohammadifaz, an official with the Iranian Road Maintenance and Transportation Organization (RMTO), as saying on Friday.
“These goods were imported by 610 trucks, of which 34 truckloads were transited to Turkey from the western borders and the rest went to the southern ports of the country,” the Iranian official said.
“While last year only 11 trucks transited cargoes from Dogharoon border crossing to the southeastern Chabahar port, this year, 256 trucks have transited Afghanistan’s goods through this route,” he noted.
Dogharoon is one of Iran’s top border customs in terms of employing modern management technologies, electronic infrastructures, and computerization which is located on the Iran-Afghanistan border in the northeastern Khorasan Razavi Province.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said they tested 1,497 samples for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours and found 54 new positive cases.
During the past day, 54 people succumbed to Coronavirus while 57 made a full-recovery, taking the country’s tally to 37,069 confirmed cases so far, with 1,312 fatalities and 25,960 people who have recovered.
A traditional Afghan council is set to meet again on August 8 in Kabul to decide whether the government should release 400 Taliban prisoners that have been convicted of involvement in high-profile attacks in the country.
The release of the prisoners is the last hurdle to opening peace talks between the internationally backed government in Kabul and the Taliban under a peace deal between the militants and the United States.
The chairman of the Conciliation Council Abdullah Abdullah said today, Saturday that on the second working day of the Peace Consultative Jirga, the remaining 17 committees of the Jirga will present their reports in the Assembly.
The Peace Advisory Jirga, which has 50 committees, 33 of them reported to the hall yesterday.
According to the Conciliation Council, the outcome of the consultations and reports of the committees will be determined after the submission of the reports of all these committees.
The Peace Consultative Jirga began yesterday with 3,200 participants in Kabul to secure the release of 400 Taliban prisoners, and today is the last day.
The jirga is chaired by Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the Conciliation Council.
President Ghani is scheduled to deliver a speech at the end of this jirga today.
The Ministry of Defense announced that as a result of the counterattack of the defense and security forces in Bala Murghab district of Badghis province, the Taliban insurgents have suffered casualties.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Defense on Saturday said that yesterday, Taliban insurgents planned to attack parts of Bala Murghab district in Badghis province.
Five Taliban insurgents were killed and 12 others were wounded in a counterattack by defense and security forces, according to the statement.
Badghis province in northwestern Afghanistan is one of the most insecure provinces and the Taliban are present even in the center of the province.