Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Afghanistan scores 16 out of 100 in the 2019 global corruption index, according to a report Thursday by graft watchdog Transparency International (TI).
Afghanistan’s ranking falls from 172 to 173, with Transparency International urging governments to address issues with party financing.
The report noted that countries where political party financing and elections are open to influence from special-interest groups were less able to combat corruption.
“Governments must urgently address the corrupting role of big money in political party financing and the undue influence it exerts on our political systems,” Transparency International head Delia Ferreira Rubio said.
The lowest-ranked countries in this year’s index — Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen — are all areas caught up in violent conflicts and political instability.
At least four Afghan security personnel were killed and seven others wounded, when Taliban militants attacked a checkpoint in northern Baghlan province on Thursday, a local official confirmed.
A group of Taliban insurgents stormed a police security checkpoint on the highway linking Baghlan’s provincial capital between Pul-e-Khumri to Baghlan-e-Markazi district, killing four police and wounding seven others, Khanzada Mazlomyar, the district chief said.
Baghlan-e-Markazi district in the northern Baghlan province has been regarded as Taliban hotbed in the northern region.
The Taliban ambushed and killed an Afghan intelligence official in southern Helmand province as he was walking home from work, an official said on Thursday.
The officer, who headed the intelligence department’s press office for the province, was ambushed late on Wednesday, according to the Helmand police chief’s spokesman Zaman Hamdard. Another member of the intelligence department was wounded in the attack, the spokesman said.
An investigation was underway to find the perpetrators, Hamdard added.
Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the attack.
The first deputy of the “State Builder” electoral team, Amrullah Saleh says the Taliban group should give information of their relations with Pakistan, as they know all intelligence relations of the Afghan government with the United States.
“I am asking the Taliban to dare and say why they have relations with Pakistan, if I am working with US, the result is asphalted road, university, airlines, government system, institutions, army, police, intelligence, defending Afghan culture. Why are you working with ISI?,” the running mate of Ashraf Ghani, Amrullah Saleh said in a peace event at the Institute of War and Peace Studies (IWPS).
He declared that the Taliban claims that they are fighting against the foreigners in Afghanistan are “completely baseless”.
“Taliban are murderers of Afghanistan’s elites, they should answer why they killed them. Pashtuns suffered the most from Taliban over the last 18 years,” he asserted.
Saleh noted that peace talks in Qatar may end war between Taliban and Americans, but it will not end Taliban-Afghanistan fighting.
“No foreigners can reflect our interests in negotiations with Taliban and no foreigners can impose their deal on us,” he said.
Saleh added that the Afghan people will defend their soil and rights if there are foreigners in Afghanistan or not.
The Embassy of Afghanistan to US has recently partnered with the Independence Fund to host children of American veterans as well as children of Afghans living in the U.S. Army Major Adam Armstrong served in Afghanistan and brought his children.
Roya Rahmani, Afghanistan’s first female ambassador to the United States said, “Forty years of war has left us with deep wounds. This is the very legitimate demand of our people. Stop killing us to start with.”
In the meantime, Sarah Verardo is CEO of the Independence Fund, committed to helping the nation’s catastrophically wounded in combat. Her husband was wounded in Afghanistan.
“We know that for the wounded veteran and that family,” said Verardo, “the road home from war is lifelong.”
The Independence Fund and Ambassador Rahmani hope bringing these children together during uncertain times give them perspective and a greater understanding.
Construction work of the Central Asia-South Asia power project (CASA-1000) is going to begin soon.
In an exclusive interview with Radio Liberty, Afghan Ministry of Energy and Water spokesperson, Seyar Nikzad, said the construction work involves excavation for foundation, installation of electricity poles and transfer of equipment.
‘The construction of the project will take around 3 years to complete and we are optimistic that it will be completed in due time,’ said Nikzad.
Nikzad also said that the preliminary survey and the route map of the power transmission line have been completed and the equipment are ready for transfer.
Insecurity has been a major factor behind the delay in the completion of the project.
The flagship project is the first of its type, connecting Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in electricity grid.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) says at least 101 Taliban militants have been killed during the past week.
MoI in a press release on Thursday said that the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces have conducted 39 joint operations in various parts of the country in the past week.
“At least 101 Taliban insurgents have been killed, 25 insurgents wounded and 13 others arrested,” the press release said.
According to MoI, security forces also sized 19 weapons, eight heavy rounds, two radios and four vehicles.
However, the press release did not mention any statistic about the Afghan forces casualties.
The State Ministry for Peace Affairs has announced that an International Peace Support Group will be formed based on a Presidential decree.
The Ministry in a press release on Thursday said that the aim of this group is to coordinate the international efforts in the Afghan peace process and emphasized that the state ministry will act on behalf of the government and lead group.
The State Ministry added that the minister’s consultative meetings with international partners to form an international peace support group have already been started as Salam Rahimi has met with ambassadors in Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Turkmenistan, Spain and Russia and discussed about the peace process.
Police in Kabul have announced that security forces arrested a 14-member network of scammers during an operation in PD11 of Kabul city.
According to Police, the scammers had deceptive activities in a company under the name of QNet on how to become rich.
Police stated that the deceptive network has shown a variety of ways to show false and imaginative trust to people, including; opening short seminars to change their minds, displaying images of wealthy and world-renowned people, and even giving letters of appreciation to people, especially the youths.
Security officials added that the detainees have admitted to their crimes and nine computers along with a number of documents were sized from them.
Italian Defense Minister, Lorenzo Guerini has assured his country’s continued presence and assistance to Afghanistan within the NATO framework.
The Executive Office in a statement said that the Italian Defense Minister, Lorenzo Guerini met with the Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in the Sepidar Palace on Wednesday.
During the meeting, Mr. Guerini called Afghanistan as a close friend of Italy and reassured his country’s presence and assistance to Afghanistan, the statement said.
Guerini stated that the purpose of his trip to Kabul is to assess the situation in Afghanistan closely, emphasizing that he was scheduled to meet with NATO forces and Afghan military officials.
In the meantime, the CE Abdullah for his part, welcomed Guerini’s visit and his accompanying delegation to Afghanistan, praised Italy’s and Afghanistan’s good relations and noted that Italy is assisting Afghan troops in various sectors.
“The two countries’ forces have jointly fought terrorism to secure regional and global peace,” Abdullah said.
The CE added that Italy continues to work with the Afghan government and people in infrastructure, development, cultural and refugee care programs.
The statement added that both sides also discussed about the Afghan Presidential election and efforts for achieving peace after the recent regional tensions.
At least three security forces have been killed after the Taliban insurgents attacked their outpost in Baharak district of Takhar province.
The Takhar Police press office in a statement said that the Taliban militants attacked the Chaila security outpost in Baharak district on late Wednesday night.
The Taliban’s attack was thwarted after the reinforcements arrived to the area, the statement said.
Takhar Police added that at least four Taliban insurgents and two Police soldiers were killed and one Police was injured during the clashes.
A survey launched by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Afghan Policy Group says that every Afghan wants peace. It says that 60 per cent of Afghans are optimistic to gaining of peace, while 40 per cent express concerns over the process, looking at it from ambiguity glasses.
The survey has interviewed 600 people from different social classes in the provinces of Balkh, Bamyan, Kandahar, Nangarhar and Herat in a two-month job.
It has asked questions about peace and economic development, peace and neighboring states, peace and co-existence, peace and security, peace and education as well as peace and justice.
Afghan local officials say at least five people have been killed in a traffic accident in Herat province.
The spokesman of Herat governor, Jilani Farhad told Reporterly, “At least five people including a woman were killed after two a corolla type vehicle collided with a transit vehicle on Herat-Islam Qala highway at around 19:00pm on Wednesday night.”
Farhad said the reason of most accidents are the drivers who fail to comply with the traffic principles, adding that the bodies of the victims have been transferred to the hospital.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Wednesday his government is ready to reintegrate the Taliban only if they are ready to shun violence rather than seeking to overthrow the system and the society. Ghani was speaking at a panel discussion on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“Are the Taliban sufficiently ready to engage? All wars must end politically and we have to find a political end to this war. The good news is that the ranking Taliban fighters are sick of fighting. The people sitting in Doha [insurgents’ Qatar office] are getting their fourth or fifth wives and are enjoying themselves. They have become investors,” Ghani said in remarks televised live by the state broadcaster RTA.
He said the Afghan society has seen 40 years of violence. “They have to see the end of violence, now it depends very much on the Taliban to end the violence,” Ghani added.
Ghani stated that five years ago there were over 140,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan–with 100,000 of them Americans–and there were rumors that the country would collapse once the foreign forces withdrew. However, he said, all the predictions proved false and Afghanistan survived and is making progress today.
“The Afghan security forces have emerged to a significant force, our commandos are second to none in the region, our air force is tripled, our commandos and Special Forces have doubled. We have taken eight districts back from the Taliban,” he said.
This comes as the Taliban has, after consultations in Pakistan, proposed a temporary cease-fire to pave the way for the signing of deal with the US.