Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
US Charg’e D’ Affairs in Kabul Ross Wilson said the United States is committed to bringing about an end to conflict in Afghanistan through a political settlement that ensures this country remains sovereign, unified & democratic, is at peace with itself and its neighbors and can preserve gains made over the last 19 years.
“The first phase of Afghanistan Peace Negotiations in Doha constituted an important step forward, but much remains to be done. The United States remains firm in its call for an immediate reduction of violence and ceasefire,” Ross Wilson said.
According to him, he and US Special Representativ for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad have talked and will continue to talk with Afghans about the need to accelerate the talks in Doha and solicited from those we have met their ideas, as well as their concerns.
“We have not advocated, and the United States is not advocating, an interim government. The outcomes of Afghanistan Peace Negotiations are up to Afghans and we believe those outcomes should reflect the wishes & aspirations of the Afghan people,” he added.
The corruption cases of Coronavirus budget from seven provinces including Parwan, Logar, Bamiyan, Khost, Daikundi, Baghlan and Kunduz provinces have been submitted to the Attorney General’s Office (AGO).
The spokesman of AGO, Jamshid Rasouli said the corruption cases are under review of Anti-Corruption Judicial Center (ACJC) and AGO has appointed committees in the center and relevant provinces to complete the investigations.
This comes as after the coronavirus pandemic, the government has allocated a special budget to fight the Covid19 which the process of spending the budget followed by corruption in a number of provinces.
The President’s Inspector General office then took charge of investigating corruption on the Corona budget, and so far several officials, including the former Minister of Public Health, current and former Deputy Ministers, and former and current governors of a number of provinces, have been referred to AGO.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Wednesday reported 84 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 2,5109 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 6 deaths and 199 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 53,774 the number of total reported deaths is 2,314 and the total number of recoveries is 44,810.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Balkh, Paktia, Kunduz, Nangarhar, Bamyan, Badakhshan, Nimroz, Parwan, Logar, Helmand, Laghman, Khost, Faryab and Paktika provinces.
Mir Rahman Rahmani, the speaker of the House of Representatives, says that equalizing the salaries of government employees is the “red line” of the parliament.
Speaking at the plenary session of the Lower House today, Rahmani said that the Parliament will not approve the draft budget for the fiscal year 1400, until the government agrees with the equalization of salaries of teachers, families of martyrs, soldiers and retirees.
He stressed that the equalization of salaries will also be regulated from codes 21 to 25 of the financial budget.
The parliament had previously approved a plan to equalize the salaries and wages of officers, teachers, families of martyrs, soldiers, rand etirees.
Rahmani noted that the previous draft budget had been rejected by the House of Representatives due to non-observance of the principle of balance, fairness and equalization of government employees’ salaries.
In the meantime, Mir Rahman Rahmani asked the Finance and Budget Commission of the House of Representatives to consider the principle of equalization of salaries in the review of the second draft of the national budget.
Mr. Rahmani also stressed that any decision on the national draft budget is within the competence of the House of Representatives.
The second draft budget for the 1400 solar fiscal year was approved by the cabinet on Monday and sent to the House of Representatives for approval yesterday.
More than 20 billion Afghanis have been added to the draft budget, and a number of projects have been added and a number of others have been removed.
The second draft budget envisages more than 473 billion Afghanis for the 1,400 solar fiscal year, of which more than 311 billion Afghanis have been allocated for the ordinary budget and 161.842 billion Afghanis for the development budget.
Moscow does not rule out that US President-elect Joe Biden may tweak outgoing President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, but believes that game-changing changes are unlikely, Russia’s special presidential representative for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said in an interview with Sputnik.
“The change of the US administration is likely to have some influence on the process of a peaceful settlement to the situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. We do not rule out that Joseph Biden may introduce some adjustments to the decision by the previous administration to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, but these are unlikely to be profound changes”, Kabulov said.
Kabulov, who also heads the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second Asian Department, expressed the belief that Biden would only modify some parameters related to the withdrawal of US forces.
“However, other options are also possible, for example, replacing the regular US armed forces with private military companies — which we believe would be a mistake”, he added.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said on Wednesday that President Ashraf Ghani has assigned a fact-finding team to investigate into an airstrike launched by Afghan Air Force in Nimroz province.
MoD in a statement said that the team led by Abdul Qayoum Salarzai, the director of intelligence affairs of the ministry has arrived in Nimroz province to investigate the civilian casualties in a recent airstrike which reportedly killed at least 18 members of a family.
This comes as President Ghani has earlier vowed to investigate the incident and called on Afghan security forces to be serious and careful in their operations.
Previously, MoD officials claimed that at least 14 Taliban militants including 9 Pakistani nationals have been killed in the airstrike.
Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Haneef Atmar had a telephone conversation with NATO Senior Civilian Representative for Afghanistan, Mr. Stefano Pontecorvo, to discuss the resumption of the second round of negotiations in Doha and the future of NATO mission in Afghanistan.
The Ministry of Foriegn Affairs (MoFA) in a press release on Tuesday said that FM Atmar highlighted the importance of NATO’s continued support to peace, security, and stability in Afghanistan and expressed grave concern over the Taliban’s access to sophisticated weapons, including drones.
According to the press release, the Foreign Minister noted that for the peace process to succeed, the drawdown of NATO troops should be condition-based considering realities on the ground.
In the meantime, NATO Senior Civilian Representative for Afghanistan said that the ongoing talks in Doha between the Afghan government and the Taliban is the only path to peace, and NATO strongly supported ongoing peace efforts.
He added that NATO would closely work with Kabul to build a regional and international consensus in the peace process.
Afghan officials said on Tuesday that they had foiled a plan by the IS-K group to assassinate the top US envoy in Kabul.
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) in a statement said that the intelligence operatives dismantled a four-member IS-K cell in Nangarhar province that had planned to assassinate US Charg’ d’ Affairs Ross Wilson as well as Afghan officials.
According to the statement, the main assassin and facilitator of the cell, Abdul Wahed, had planned to assassinate the US ambassador in Afghanistan as well as some high ranking Afghan officials.
However, the US embassy in Kabul has not commented on the matter so far.