Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
One of thousands of Afghans badly injured during years of conflict, Nilofar Bayat hopes for peace so that her wheelchair basketball team can take part in the Paralympics but fears a return to power by the Taliban could quash her dreams, Reuters reported.
Bayat, now 26, suffered a spinal cord injury at the age of two when a rocket hit her house, killing her brother. Her injury limited her ability to run or jump but has not deterred her from studying, getting a job and pursuing her love of basketball.
“I hope Afghanistan’s situation gets better, so I can train with a relaxed mind, doing my work, and having a better life,” Bayat said following a practice match with her teammates at a gymnasium in Kabul.
“I hope to see the development of my team… I hope we can go to the next Paralympics,” said Bayat, a law school graduate who now works as a data entry operator.
She began playing basketball with a team organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) eight years ago.
An explosive-laden motorcycle detonated near the attorney general’s office, resulted in nine civilian injuries, including one woman, according to an interior ministry spokesman. The injured were transferred to hospital.
The blast took place at 3:30p.m. on Faiz Mohammad Katib road in Police District 6 of the city, a spokesman for city’s police said.
Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for Interior Ministry, said that a woman was among nine civilians who were wounded in the blast.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahd said that the group was not behind the blast.
Rahimi said that police were working to find out who carred out thebombing.
The blast comes during the final days of a reduction in violence agreement between the US and the Taliban. If the blast is determined to be a breach of the agreement, it will throw into question whether the final Afghanistan peace deal can be signed on Saturday, as currently scheduled.
Pakistan will hold a national dialogue on the Afghan peace in the last week of March to formulate a strategy, the country’s National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser announced on Wednesday.
The Pakistani NA Speaker, while issuing the directives, said that the dialogue will focus on the situation in the Afghanistan after the Afghan Taliban and US signed a peace deal.
The dialogue will also look at Pakistan’s role in the whole process. The Pakistani speaker hoped that the dialogue would draw out a future strategy to bring about peace in Afghanistan.
The dialogue is expected to be held in the Pakistan National Assembly secretariat.
An explosion went off in Afghan capital Kabul on Wednesday, police said.
The blast happened at 3:30p.m. on Faiz Mohammad Katib road in Police District 6 of the city, eyewitnesses said.
There was no information about the casualties and the nature of the blast.
The blast comes on fifth day of a seven-day reduction in violence ahead of US-Taliban deal.
US Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H. has said that she is hopeful for a peace deal between the United States and the Taliban that would end the United States’ longest war, but it is important the country not return to being a safe haven for terrorists like it was before the 9/l1 attacks.
“We need to keep our country safe from terrorism, and that’s why we’re over there,” Hassan told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom,” adding it is important for Afghanistan to develop its own ways to fight terrorism.
However, the United States cannot trust the Taliban and will have to continue to have mechanisms for oversight, accountability, and enforcement in the agreement, Hassan said.
“We do have a very tenuous political situation in Afghanistan,” Hassan said. “It will be delicate and important to get details about this agreement, to see what kind of enforcement provisions are in it, and to make sure we either have a partnership with U.N. peacekeepers or our own presence there.”
Hassan also discussed the ongoing coronavirus situation, noting there was an all-Senate briefing Tuesday and it is good to see the Trump administration request more funds to help the United States be prepared.
US Peace Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad has said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the postponement of tomorrow’s planned Presidential inauguration ceremony.
“I welcome President Ghani’s decision to postpone the event until March 9,” he said.
“This will allow time for necessary consultations so that the best interests of Afghanistan and its people are reflected and preserved by the new government,” he added.
Khalilzad emphasized that as the electoral process has concluded, President Ghani, as the declared winner, and other leaders should ensure that the new government is inclusive and reflects the aspirations of all Afghans.
The Amnesty International South Asia has expressed concern over referral of 40 people in Afghanistan to the Attorney General Office for social media posts.
“We are deeply concerned by the referral of 40 people in Afghanistan to the Attorney General’s office for social media posts critical of Amrullah Saleh,” the AI said in a statement.
AI has stressed that no one should face reprisals for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.
This comes as Afghanistan Green Trend (AGT), a social and youth empowerment organization, which is led by Amrullah Saleh, the former Directorate General of National Directorate of Security (NDS) and the first running mate to President Ashraf Ghani, has referred at least 40 social media users to the Attorney General for “using insulting and abusive language” against Saleh.
According to the Green Trend, some of those sued are government servants who work in the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Higher Education.
However, NAI (an NGO supporting open media in Afghanistan) has also described the move by the Green Trend as a violation of the law.
Gen. Scott Miller, commander of Resolute Support MIssion and US forces in Afghanistan visited southern Kandahar province on Tuesday and said that so far violence is decreasing, suggesting that the reduction in violence plan is being upheld.
“We’re seeing what we would call a downward trend in violence, which is great for the Afghan people. It’s great for the country of Afghanistan,” according to Miller, who visited the province alongside acting Defense Minister Asadullah Khalid.
“There’s still some incidents and we’re working through those incidents. We remain committed in our support to the Afghan security forces,” MIller said, adding that “The minister and I are talking about it every single day to make sure we’re seeing what’s happening on the ground together.”
India and the US have extended their support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process that results in a sovereign, democratic and inclusive Afghanistan.
The support came in a joint statement issued after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump, who was on a two-day official visit to India. “India and the United States share an interest in a united, sovereign, democratic, inclusive, stable and prosperous Afghanistan. They support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process that results in sustainable peace; cessation of violence; elimination of terrorist safe havens and preservation of the gains of the last 18 years,” the joint statement said.
US President Trump welcomed India’s role in continuing to provide development and security assistance to help stabilize and provide connectivity in Afghanistan.
Ambassador-at-large of the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan Talgat Kaliyev has been appointed as Special Representative of Kazakhstan for Afghanistan, Akorda reported.
The decree was signed by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
The head of state earlier on the sidelines of the 56th Munich Conference for Security held talks with President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani and then he told him about creation of the new position of Special Representative of Kazakhstan for Afghanistan.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has called on all Afghan political actors to refrain from taking steps that would escalate tensions and undermine political stability.
Stoltenberg in a press release said that any concerns about the electoral process should be addressed according to constitutional and legal procedures.
“I commend the determination of the Afghan people, who exercised their democratic right to vote in the elections, and I pay tribute to the Afghan security forces, who served with professionalism and bravery to secure the vote,” NATO Secretary-General said.
Stoltenberg urged all Afghans to demonstrate national unity in support of the peace process.
“This is a time when all responsible political forces must engage in dialogue and unite behind the peace process, which is the priority for all Afghans,” he said.
Stoltenberg emphasized that NATO remains firmly committed to Afghanistan’s long-term security and stability.
“We continue to provide the Afghan security forces with training and financial support, so that they can fight terrorism and create the conditions for peace,” he added.