Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Wednesday reported 63 new positive cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 5 deaths and 177 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 56,517 the number of total reported deaths is 2,489 and the total number of recoveries is 51,550.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Baghlan, Nimroz, Nangarhar, Parwan, Helmand, Logar, Kunar, Laghman and Nuristan.
Turkish Brigadier General Selçuk Yurtsizoğlu assumed command of the NATO-led Train, Advise, Assist Command-Capital, receiving his flag from Lieutenant General Nicola Zanelli, Deputy Commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission, NATO said in a statement on Wednesday.
According to the statement, NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan Ambassador Stefano Pontecorvo and Turkish Ambassador to Afghanistan Oğuzhan Ertuğrul also attended the ceremony.
“Your outstanding effort in training, advising and assisting the 111th Capital Division of the Afghan National Army, the Kabul City Police center, and other security agencies here in Kabul is paramount, not only for the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, but also for the success of our Mission and our force protection,” Lieutenant General Zanelli said. “My thanks today mean the appreciation of the entire Resolute Support family for your commitment and effectiveness.”
Brigadier General Yurtsizoğlu said that the Train, Advise, Assist Command-Capital and the Turkish contingent “will continue to serve in close cooperation with Resolute Support and Afghan counterparts, as it has always been.”
The US Special Envoy for Afghanistan’s Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad met with senior Taliban leaders including Mullah Baradar, the head of the Taliban’s political office in Doha and discussed the provisions of the US-Taliban peace agreement, said Taliban’s spokesman Mohammad Naeem.
The meeting takes place as the deadline for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan ends on May 1.
According to Taliban’s spokesman, both sides reaffirmed their commitment to the implementation of the Doha accord.
Naeem said that the Taliban called for timely withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan as it is the main step towards solving the country’s problems.
This comes as the US President Joe Biden has recently said it will be hard to meet the May 1 deadline for getting troops out of Afghanistan for “tactical reasons.”
Calls for the increased protection of women’s rights, access to education and women’s inclusion in peace talks dominated discussions in the latest series of UN-backed events across Afghanistan.
UNAMA in a statement on Wednesday said that throughout March, grassroots events involving several hundred participants were held in more than 30 provinces as part of International Women’s Day to draw attention to the rights and leadership of women.
According to the statement, the events provided platforms for women’s voices to be heard on vital matters effecting society, as well as for extensive dialogue.
Each year the United Nations in Afghanistan drives efforts at inclusion with several thousand women, youth, minority and others enabled. Over the last two years the UN has given particular support to women, youth and others having their voices heard on peace.
At least 17 members of the Haqqani network in Khost province and four security personnel were killed in Kapisa, Sar-e-Pul and Logar provinces.
Kapisa police spokesman Abdul Shayeq Shoresh on Wednesday said that around 8pm, “Atiqullah”, a security assistance for Hese Dowom-e Kohistan district and his cousin were killed by unknown gunmen.
According to him, the incident took place on Mullah Khalil Road in the district.
Meanwhile, the police of Sar-e-Pul province also confirmed that a Humvee vehicle of the security forces hit a roadside mine at around 6:30am this morning on the Sar-e-Pul-Sayad highway.
Sar-e-Pul police added that two members of the regional army were killed and two others were wounded in the blast.
Meanwhile, the Paktia governor’s office said in a statement that Fereydoun Fayyaz, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the Border Forces of the 203rd Thunder Corps, was ambushed by the Taliban on the Logar-Paktia public highway in the Khezr Bazaar area of central Logar this morning and one of his bodyguards was injured.
The Taliban have not yet commented on the incident.
In the meantime, the National Directorate of Security said in a statement today that based on intelligence information and requests from residents of Sabri, Zazai Maidan and Bak districts of Khost province,
security forces launched operation against the Haqqani Network and the Taliban.
According to the statement, the operations were carried out in the areas of “Maktab Bazaar, Zumbar, Mirshah Chineh and Tuda Kalay” and as a result, 17 key members of the Haqqani network, including Sabil Hamdi, a commander of the network, were killed.
NDS added that a woman and a child were killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in the Zumbar Clinic area.
Afghan security officials say at least two civilians were killed and 16 more were wounded in a magnetic IED explosion in Balkh province on Wednesday.
Adil Shah Adil, the spokesman of Balkh Police said that the incident happened in the bazaar of Balkh district at around 13:00 today.
According to him, the detonated explosives were placed in a wheelbarrow.
Adil noted that two civilians including a child were killed and 16 people including three soldiers and women and children were wounded in the incident.
No group has claimed responsibility for the incident so far.
A border forces commander was killed in a Taliban attack in Logar province today, local officials said.
Emal Momand, the spokesman of 203 Thunder Corps said that the commander of 2nd brigade of border forces, Feraidon Fayaz was killed by Taliban on Logar-Paktia highway at around 10:00am on Wednesday.
According to Momand, Fayaz was on his way from Kabul to Gardiz city of Paktia province who came under Taliban’s attack along with one of his bodyguards.
The bodyguard of Fayaz was wounded in the incident, he added.
USAmbassador Ross Wilson, Charge d’Affaires, U.S. Embassy in Kabul and Dr. Tina Dooley-Jones, Mission Director, U.S. Agency for International Development in a statement jointly said that Afghanistan remains one of the world’s most challenging places to be a woman—with high maternal mortality, endemic gender-based violence, and limited access to employment opportunities, education, and health care.
“Afghanistan had its share of historic firsts for women in 2020. A long-overdue breakthrough to put more women in positions of authority saw 21 women appointed deputy provincial governors following a July 2020 Presidential decree mandating women deputy governors in all 34 provinces,” the statement said.
According to the statement, gains made over the last 20 years have been threatened by the world-altering COVID-19 outbreak, high levels of violence and targeted killings of women, and uncertainties in the peace negotiations.
“Women’s inclusion in many spheres is challenged, and a 97 percent increase in gender-based violence has occurred over the last twelve months.”
The statement reads: “This year, as the world celebrates women’s achievements, we must collectively challenge those who undermine or dismiss the often-selfless efforts of women, especially Afghan women who continue to be marginalized. #ChooseToChallenge has been more than just a campaign slogan—it’s a call to action. It’s a call to speak directly to those who oppose women exercising their rights as full and equal citizens. Our actions can isolate destructive agendas, societal discrimination, and institutional barriers that work against women’s full participation in society.”
The US officials said that they celebrated incredible achievements and contributions made by women all around the world, including in Afghanistan, on International Women’s Day that we observe on March 8 every year.
“Those commemorations remind us that work remains if we are to truly achieve equality. The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 was “Choose to Challenge: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World.”
Since 2002, the United States Government has invested significant resources to empower women and advance the participation and rights of women and girls around the world and Afghanistan.
The statement added that the U.S. government’s strategy for women’s empowerment in Afghanistan, developed and implemented largely through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), focuses on expanding access to quality health and education, creating sustainable economic opportunities, and advocating for women’s rights.
Trying to keep former President Donald Trump’s May 1 deadline for a total US military withdrawal from Afghanistan is unrealistic and dangerous, US House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith said at virtual panel discussion.
Last week, President Joe Biden said it was unlikely that the US would meet the Doha pact deadline due to “tactical reasons.” Meanwhile, the Taliban have threatened to shoot any Americans who are on the ground in Afghanistan after May 1.
“It is time for us to get out of Afghanistan [but] to get them out in three and a half weeks is unrealistic. It is also downright dangerous,” Smith said on Tuesday.
It was not the job of the United States to use the US military to enforce peace and stability on a country that did not have it and the US government should get out of the business of indulging in such a “fool’s errand,” Smith, a Democrat said.
“If the Taliban take over [in Afghanistan], we can’t solve that problem. We can keep a stalemate in place but we cannot stop the Taliban from having a level of influence in the country. There is incredible expense and incredible risk in our sticking around,” Smith added.
At least two civilians have been killed in a mistakenly shooting by the uprising forces in Uruzgan province.
Muhammad Omar Shirzad, the governor of Uruzgan said that two civilians riding motorcycle were killed after they did not stop their motorcycle in a checkpoint of the security forces.
He noted that the uprising forces opened fire on them as they thought they were Taliban militants.
He added that investigations are underway regarding the incident and the uprising forces have been arrested.
Afghanistan has welcomed remarks made by the External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar at the ‘Heart Of Asia’ conference in Dushanbe on Tuesday.
Making reference to the presence of foreign fighters and support of terrorism in Afghanistan by the foreign government Jaishankar had said, “For a durable peace in Afghanistan, what we need is a genuine ‘double peace’, that is, peace within Afghanistan and peace around Afghanistan.”
Talking exclusively to ANI, the Afghan envoy to India backed India’s position and said that support to non-state actors from foreign government must stop.
India has stepped up its role and involvement in Afghan solution, recently Afghanistan foreign. Minister was in New Delhi, he urged India to be part of all forum where peace in Afghanistan is discussed as it has huge stakes in the development of the country.
Afghanistan envoy to India said, “Troika echoed the opinion of international community produced a very good statement that level of violence should be dropped, this is a very principle position from India, it is a very strategic partner, it is the largest contributor to development in Afghanistan, it has stakes in Afghanistan, India wants peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan, we are grateful India is supporting the position of the Afghan government, violence has to be stopped, violence has to dropped in weeks and months ahead.”
According to Indian diplomatic sources, the Indian External Affairs Minister is expected to make a visit to Kabul soon, it is learnt during India visit foreign minister of Afghanistan Mohammed Hanif Atmar invited Jaishankar to Kabul and he accepted the invitation, dates are being worked out.