Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has welcomed NATO’s stance on the ongoing Afghan peace process and fully supports the Organization’s conditions-based approach in Afghanistan.
MoFA in a press release has echoed recent remarks by NATO’s Secretary General Mr. Jens Stoltenberg that “the Taliban must reduce violence, negotiate in good faith and live up to their commitment to stop cooperating with international terrorist groups.”
“The Afghan government has fully implemented its commitments towards peace, including the goodwill release of thousands of Taliban prisoners. However, the Taliban have failed to meet their obligations to reduce violence, cut ties with terrorist groups, continue the peace talks in good faith, and prevent the released prisoners from returning to the battlefield,” the press release reads.
“We believe that all involved parties must fulfill their commitments and obligations for the peace process to move forward,” the press release added.
MoFA further reiterated that the “conditions-based” approach is highly essential for the success of the peace process, preserving the hard-won de
Russia Special Representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov in an interview with Sputnik said that Moscow calls on all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan agree on the establishment of an inclusive and transitional coalition government.
“Russia believes that it would be good if there was a transitional coalition government in place in which the Taliban had political status,” Kabulov said.
He stated that the peace talks in Doha have failed, and he called for the peace process to proceed in the Moscow format where there is also the presence of the US, Russia, China and Afghanistan’s neighboring nations.
“I have been assigned a task by the leadership to facilitate the start of intra-Afghan talks by undertaking discussions within the framework of a (three-way party meeting) which includes Russia, the US and China. We have agreed about such a meeting with the US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad; there is a possibility that this meeting will be held in Moscow,” Kabulov said to Sputnik.
Kabulov said that the Taliban’s insistence on the return of the emirate will jeopardize the peace process.
“If the discussion is focused on taking complete control, this will be a bad scenario,” added Kabulov.
The head of U.S. forces and the NATO-led non-combat Resolute Support mission, Gen. Scott Miller says nearly a year after Washington signed a troop-withdrawal deal with the Taliban that called for a reduction in violence by all sides, attacks by the group have escalated.
“Taliban violence is much higher than historical norms,” Miller told Reuters. “It just doesn’t create the conditions to move forward in what is hopefully a historic turning point for Afghanistan.”
Miller said that the fighting now was an indicator that not only would there be a spring offensive – a move many diplomats view as against the spirit of the Doha agreement – but that it could be more intense than before.
“If the violence isn’t reduced, it’s going to make a peace process very, very difficult; it would be very difficult for any side to make the necessary compromises,” Miller said.
This comes as negotiations have largely stalled in Doha in recent weeks and Taliban leaders have left Qatar, a senior US state department official told Reuters, leading to growing fears that talks could be on the brink of collapse.
The Lower House of Parliament’s Finance and Budget Commission on Wednesday said the salaries of low ranking and contractual teachers would be increased by 2,000Afs.
Sayed Azim Kobarzani, secretary of the Finance and Budget Commission of the House of Representatives, said that after the rejection of two draft budgets for the 1,400 fiscal year, the commission and the Ministry of Finance agreed that both sides should show flexibility.
He noted that according to the agreement, the increase of 2,000 Afghanis in the salaries of 445,922 government employees will cost the government more than 10 billion and 70 million Afghanis.
The secretary of Finance and Budget Commission of the Lower House added that an increase of 2,000 afghanis in the salaries of government employees, including teachers, is a step forward, but not enough.
According to him, five billion Afghanis will be included in the third draft of the budget, and another five billion Afghanis will be added in the middle of the year to the special amount allocated for equalizing the salaries of government employees.
This comes as the draft budget for the next fiscal year has twice been rejected by the House of Representatives. Discussions are underway in parliamentary committees on the third draft.
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) says its operatives have arrested a key member of Taliban’s terror cell in Logar province.
NDS in a statement on Wednesday said that the detainee is identified as Mesbullah who was involved in targeted assassinations and bomb planting.
According to the statement, the key member of Taliban had planned to assassinate the deputy and an adviser of Logar governor, and senior Police officials of the province.
NDS added that Mesbullah, under the guise of a pharmacist in one of the drug stores in Pul-e Alam city of Logar was in charge of monitoring, pursuing, planting mines and assassinating government employees.
Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, says no one can achieve power with the targeted assassinations of human rights activists, the journalists and civilians.
“The Taliban need to know that the way to achieve peace is through dialogue and a place for important and substantive discussions at the negotiating table, not the battlefield,” Dr. Abdullah said during the inaugural ceremony of Human Rights Commission of HCNR on Wednesday.
He stated that targeted assassinations have recently increased and that human rights activists are the main victims.
According to him, if the Taliban thinks that by killing innocent people and human rights activists, they are showcasing capabilities, it is a miscalculation and makes it difficult to reach peace peacefully.
The chairman of HCNR stressed that targeting innocent people is rejected in every principles.
Dr. Abdullah called the establishment of the Human Rights Commission a serious need to coordinate with other human rights institutions and stressed that Afghanistan is at a critical stage in the peace talks and this commission can coordinate with other institutions to reflect the demands of Afghan citizens and institutions.
He added that the human rights violations are one of the causes of the war in Afghanistan.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Wednesday reported 17 new positive cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported two deaths and 112 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 55,557 the number of total reported deaths is 2,430 and the total number of recoveries is 48,262.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Baghlan, Parwan, Nimroz, Maidan Wardak, Badakhshan, Helmand and Faryab provinces.
Afghan local officials say at least five security forces were killed in a roadside bomb blast in Kijran district of Daikundi province on Wednesday.
Ghairat Jawaheri, a provincial council member of Daikundi said that the blast happened when a Humvee tank hit a roadside bomb.
According to Jawaheri, the deputy of security battalion was among the five killed and their commander along with his bodyguard were wounded in the incident.
He added that the incident occurred in Tangi Soof Kariz area of Kijran district before noon today.
No group has claimed responsibility for the incident so far.
The Afghan Taliban have kept up a close relationship with Al Qaeda despite pledging to stop cooperating with terrorist groups, permitting the militants to conduct training in Afghanistan and deploy fighters alongside its forces, according to the head of a U.N. panel monitoring the insurgency.
The Taliban’s association with al Qaeda has continued even though the insurgency signed an agreement with the United States a year ago that bans cooperation with or hosting terrorist groups — and despite a public statement by Trump administration Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the Taliban had “made the break” with terrorist groups, NBC News reports.
“There is still clearly a close relationship between Al Qaeda and the Taliban,” said Edmund Fitton-Brown, the coordinator of the United Nations panel charged with tracking the Taliban and terrorist groups in Afghanistan.
The U.N. Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team’s reports are based in part on information shared from foreign governments’ intelligence services.
According to the U.N. monitoring team’s last report, there are 200 to 500 Al Qaeda fighters across about 11 Afghan provinces.
Experts say untangling two groups that have lived and fought alongside each other for decades — and have even intermarried — will be difficult.
The European Union (EU) has announced support for all Afghans who stand up for democracy, human rights and have human mechanisms in place to help affected human rights defenders and journalists.
EU in a statement called the recent UNAMA’s report a timely reminder that the murders of HRDs, journalists and others continue in Afghanistan.
According to the statement, EU strongly condemned the killings of HRDs and journalists, saying Taliban bears responsibility for the majority of violence.
EU also called on the Afghan government to redouble efforts to strengthen protection measures and to ensure justice for victims.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in it’s new report released on Monday said that the killing of human rights defenders and media professionals has generated a climate of fear among the population in Afghanistan.
UNAMA in its report analysed data and trends connected to the killings from 1 January 2018 to 31 January 2021. It traced the changing patterns of attacks on these key sectors of civil society and provides recommendations.
According to the report, no fewer than 11 human rights defenders and media workers were killed in targeted attacks in Afghanistan from the 12 September 2020 start of peace negotiations through to 31 January 2021.
Iranian Vice-President Sorena Sattari says the country is prepared to provide laboratory equipment for the universities of Afghanistan.
According to Iranian media, the Iranian vice-president said currently the majority of lab equipment are being manufactured inside Iran.
Speaking in a meeting on Tuesday with Abdul Zahir Shakib, the president of the Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan, Sattari said Tehran is prepared to cooperate with Afghanistan in supplying the lab equipment needed by Afghan universities.
“Iran has this capability, and all this equipment can be supplied to Afghanistan with special conditions and reasonable prices,” he noted.
In turn, the Afghan official said the two countries are neighbours and friends with lots of cultural, religious, and lingual commonalities, which should be used to develop their relations.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is in talks with Afghanistan to expand its flight operations to the neighboruing country’s other destinations, with a special focus on increasing cargo business to facilitate trade between the two countries, a statement by Pakistani airway authorities said on Tuesday.
CEO of PIA Air Marshal (Retd) Arshad Malik, in this regard, met with Afghan Aviation Head, Dr Qasim Wafaizada in Kabul.
According to the statement, Malik discussed avenues for increasing air links between the two countries.
It said the head of national flag carrier informed Afghan authorities that PIA was planning starting flights to/from Kandahar and Mazar-e Sharif and was exploring avenues for increasing air cargo operations.
Malik also met with officials of Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and proposed expanding PIA’s network to the business centers of Afghanistan.