Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Thursday reported 80 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 1,866 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 7 deaths and 128 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 54,483 the number of total reported deaths is 2,370 and the total number of recoveries is 46,887.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Baghlan, Nangarhar, Badakhshan, Wardak, Ghazni, Logar, Laghman, Kunar, Kapisa, Faryab and Panjshir provinces.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during his visit to Herat province today, met with the representatives of women in the province, the Presidential Palace (Arg) said.
Arg in a press release on Thursday said that President Ghani heard Herati women’s demands and suggestions in various fields.
According to the press release, the Herati women made their demands and suggestions regarding the government’s attention to security, education and health, creating sufficient conditions for women to work outside the home, paying attention to businesswomen and the appointment of women to high positions.
They also called on president to provide scholarships to the families of martyrs and the disabled, award scholarships to women, and to care for teachers.
In the meantime, President Ghani thanked the active participation of Herati women in different sections of the society and said: “Our way of governing is to leave a legacy that our transformation will not go back to the past time. Afghan women are not willing to go back and there is no power to take them back to the past.”
The President called on the women of Herat to expand their networks and communications, because the louder, more logical and coherent their voices be, the sooner they will reach their goal.
Emphasizing that women’s voices will be heard in peace talks, Ghani said that serious attention will be paid to the security of Herat and the whole country, but in this regard, the important issue is better management, leadership and better use of resources.
At the end of his speech, the President stated that his respect and trust in women stems from the authentic Afghan culture.
“The national unity in Afghanistan is unprecedented. On the way to the republic, martyrdom is an honor, and without a republic system, life is worthless,” Ghani added.
The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) has called the recent controversy between the Afghan government and the Lower House of Parliament over the draft budget for the fiscal year of 1,400 “alarming”.
FEFA in a statement on Thursday said that differences between the House of Representatives and the government over the draft budget for the next fiscal year should not go beyond what is common and lead to a confrontation and hostility between the two sides.
According to the statement, FEFA has said that the two sides should work with restraint to address the shortcomings and gaps in the draft budget.
The election watchdog said the parliament’s demand for a fair pay for civilians and military personnel is legitimate, and that the Ministry of Finance should prepare a plan and submit it to parliament for approval.
“Since a big part of the draft budget for the fiscal year of 1,400 is the salaries of government employees, and any change in it requires more time, FEFA proposes to the Lower House to approve the draft budget conditionally; In that case, the government will be obliged to present a plan to justify the salaries of government employees in the draft budget,” the statement reads.
The statement cited that the House of Representatives and the Ministry of Finance, in consultation with the institutions involved can use the opportunity to work together on a plan to equalize the salaries of government employees.
FEFA added that in order to resolve the dispute between the government and the House of Representatives over the next year’s draft budget, it has prepared a comprehensive plan that includes specific proposals to resolve the issue and has discussed it with the National Assembly and the Ministry of Finance.
It is worth mentioning that the House of Representatives has twice rejected the draft budget for the next fiscal year, and the third draft is scheduled to be sent to the House of Representatives next week.
Afghanistan Ministry of Foriegn Affairs (MoFA) says a summit of world’s Islamic Scholars will be held for ending the war in Afghanistan.
MoFA in a statement on Thursday said that the issue was discussed between Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar and the Secretary General of the Islamic World League, Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Issa in the Saudi Arabia’s Capital, Riyadh.
On a three-day official visit to Saudi Arabia, Atmar and Sheikh Al-Issa discussed ways to end the bloodshed and secure peace in the country, as well as the fight against extremism and terrorism.
According to a statement, FM Atmar spoke about the dimensions of the war in Afghanistan, and outlined the activities and agendas of trans-national and trans-regional extremist and terrorist groups in the country and in the region.
He also highlighted the horrific crimes committed in Afghanistan that not only contradict Islamic values and teachings, but are incompatible with any religion.
He said extremists from various countries and organizations have turned Afghanistan into a war zone to pursue certain goals, and that rescuing Afghanistan from the current war actually means saving the Islamic world and human society from the growing threat of violent extremism and global terrorism.
“Through the peace process, we want the Taliban to separate from other foreign extremist groups in the region and return to a peaceful and political life in their country,” he said.
In line with this, he called for the cooperation of the Islamic world, the statement reads.
Sheikh Al-Issa in turn said that crime and terrorism have no place in Islam and that criminal and terrorist acts should not be attributed to Islam.
“We consider it our responsibility to help end the war and ensure peace in Afghanistan,” he said.
Sheikh Al-Issa promised that in the near future, in accordance with his previous commitment, the Muslim World League will bring together influential thinkers, scholars and muftis of the Islamic world in a historic conference and seek a fundamental solution to the Afghan crisis from a religious perspective.
He also said the outcome of the conference should be decisive and non-negotiable. He added that a solution will be found to follow up on the results and implement the decisions of the conference, and to this end, the Taliban will be invited to attend the conference.
The community leaders in the southern provinces of Afghanistan say peace remains the foremost priority for the country.
UNAMA in a press release said that the Afghan community leaders across the southern provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgan and Zabul participated in several events and initiatives promoting dialogue on local conflict resolution and the national peace process and discussed the peace issue throughout the year 2020.
According to the press release, during a recent event, mostly tribal leaders and youth from Kandahar’s Panjwai district shared their perspectives on ongoing Afghanistan Peace Negotiations in Qatar.
“While appreciating the many challenges, participants said they have to maintain hope that the two sides will reach a settlement,” the press release reads.
According to the press release, the participants described the kind of peace and country they want as one underpinned by social justice, the rule of law and equality for Afghans, echoing views expressed across the country.
The press release added that UNAMA committed to continue to work with advocacy groups and institutions – including religious leaders, youth groups, women’s groups and local media outlets – to create platforms, using radio, social media and television, to enable Afghans to engage in dialogue on pressing issues affecting their communities.
Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar in his visit to Saudi Arabia held talks with Yousef al-Othaimeen, the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and discussed the reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
The Ministry of Foriegn Affairs (MoFA) in a statement said, discussions were held on the peace process, and forms of support the OIC can provide to Afghanistan.
According to the statement, Al-Othaimeen reiterated the OIC’s commitment to support the Afghan people, and development projects in Afghanistan.
Intra-Afghan talks began after a February 2020 agreement between the Taliban and the United States that sets a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.
The Proof of Afghan Refugees registration (PoR) would be verified and new biometric documentation to be issued by the government of Pakistan in 2021, United Nations Refugees Agency UNHCR said.
According to UNHCR, the PoR card is an important protection tool that is issued by Pakistani government and provides temporary legal stay and freedom of movement to the 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees in the country.
The four PoR Card Modification centers are located in Peshawar, Quetta, Karachi and Rawalpindi.
Pakistan hosts of refugees, which was the second largest number in the world after Turkey, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The chief of immunisation for UNICEF in Afghanistan, Mohammed Mohammedi, has voiced concern that the poliovirus circulation in the country will continue to pose a serious threat not only to Afghan children, but to the rest of the world as well.
The increase in the number of polio cases, particularly in the southern provinces, necessitates a more integrated approach to service delivery and a greater participation by the Taliban in the policy-making process and implementation of the vaccination programme.
Afghanistan reported 56 polio cases of WPV1 in 2020 compared to 29 in 2019 and 21 in 2018. In 2019 and 2020, 70 percent of all the polio cases were reported from the southern provinces of Helmand, Kandahar and Uruzgan.
At epidemiologic week 47 of 2020, Helmand reported 16 polio cases, Kandahar 14 and Uruzgan four. This represents 60 percent of the total cases reported in the war-torn country.
Afghan local officials say the Taliban militants launched their attacks on several parts of Argo district of Badakhshan province this morning.
The spokesman of Badakhshan Police, Samaullah Rouhani said the villages of Deh Magasam, Deh Bala, Deh Payan, Barlas Wakhian, Changa and Tajika that have been previously cleared of insurgents by security forces were collapsed to Taliban.
According to Rouhani, Afghan security forces retreated to a school in Darkhan village of Argo district after Taliban’s attacks.
Rouhani noted that a commander of the uprising forces was killed and two more were wounded during the clashes.
He added that one Taliban militant was also killed during the clashes
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs has announced that the start of supplying coronavirus vaccines neighbouring countries have been started.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs says the process of supplying corona vaccine packages has begun to a number of countries, including Afghanistan.
Indian MEA said its government will continue supplying vaccines to “partner countries” in a phased manner over the coming weeks and months.
“It will be ensured that domestic manufacturers will have adequate stocks to meet domestic requirements while supplying abroad,” the MEA of India said in its statement.
“India is deeply honoured to be a long-trusted partner in meeting the healthcare needs of the global community. Supplies of Covid vaccines to several countries will commence tomorrow, and more will follow in the days ahead” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani leading a high level delegation arrived in Herat province on Thursday to evaluate the overall situation of the province.
“President Ghani reached Herat to assess the overall governance in the province,” the Deputy Presidential Spokesman Dawa Khan Menapal tweeted.
Mina Pal said the president would hold separate meetings with civil, military officials, ulema, women, youth, and members of provincial council, civil activists and businessmen.
Upon the arrival of President Ghani to Herat province, the name of Herat Airport during a special ceremony changed to “Khaja Abdullah Ansari International Airport”.
President’s visit from Herat comes as the residents of the province complained the increase of insecurities, particularly kidnappings and targeted killings.
Afghan security officials say the commando forces have carried out an operation on a Taliban’s prison in Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province on Wednesday night.
The Special Operations Corps in a statement said that at least 27 prisoners were released from the Taliban’s captivity during the operation.
According to the statement, one of the guards of the prison was killed, and Afghan commandos also seized a rocket, an AK, 2 radios and other equipments which were used for planting bombs on the roads.
Deputy of Foreign Minister Mirwais Nab has hold a virtual conversation with the EU Special Envoy for Afghanistan Roland Kobia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said.
MoFA in a press release said that the Deputy Foreign Minister expressed his gratitude to the EU for its positive and effective role in supporting the legitimate demands of the people and the government and Afghanistan in the peace talks and touched on the latest in the cooperation on combating terrorism and drug trafficking.
According to the press release, Mr. Nab called the NATO Defense Ministers meeting an important opportunity to discuss the peace process in Afghanistan and its links with stability in the region and beyond, and the continuation of cooperation between Afghanistan and its strategic partners, including the European Union and NATO.
He highlighted the reduction of violence, establishment of a ceasefire, and the preservation of the achievements of the last two decades in the country as important and fundamental demands of Afghanistan and its regional and global partners.
In the meantime, the EU special envoy while endorsing the Deputy Foreign Minister’s views, condemned the killings of defenseless civilians, journalists, national figures, and government officials, as well as the continuation of crimes against the Afghan people as a whole.
Roland Kobia called for unified decisions by countries and regional and international organizations to condemn these crimes.
Mr. Kobia praised the Afghan government’s efforts to build a regional and global consensus in support of the peace talks, especially the support of Islamic institutions and scholars in the Islamic world, and the issuance of declarations regarding the illegitimacy of the current war in Afghanistan.
He hoped that countries, regional and international organizations work unitedly and sincerely to prevent the killing of the defenseless people of Afghanistan and support the success of peace talks and the establishment of stability in Afghanistan.
President Ashraf Ghani had a phone conversation with JustinTrudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada on Wednesday evening, the Presidential Palace (Arg) said.
Arg in a statement said that during the conversation, Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau expressed concern over escalation of violence in Afghanistan and underscored that his country will support the type of peace that ensures a sovereign and stable Afghanistan with a democratic government.
According to the statement, the two sides also exchanged views on the Conference of NATO Defense Ministers which is due to be held in Feb 2021 in Brussels.
“They also highlighted that the conference should adopt a common and coherent policy towards Afghanistan for the peace talks to achieve the desirable outcome,” the statement added.