Newsfeed; Wednesday, October 21 2020

Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…


  • 21 Oct 2020 Share this post

    McMaster: Trump’s Afghanistan Policy A ‘Travesty’

    Former U.S. national security advisor HR McMaster called President Donald Trump’s Afghanistan policy a “travesty,” and that his deal with the Taliban constitutes appeasement similar to Europe’s accommodation with Adolf Hitler in the Munich agreement of 1938.

    The Washington Post said that McMaster, who is promoting his new book, gave an online talk at the Alexander Hamilton Society, a non-profit foreign policy network, and said that the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan had been on track to be sustainable and effective when he had still been the national security adviser.

    But in making a deal with the Taliban, McMaster said that Trump has now betrayed the mission and undermined U.S. security.

    By trying to bring the Taliban into the Afghan government and then pressuring the Afghan government to go along, Trump repeated and then exceeded the flaws of the Obama administration’s approach to Afghanistan, McMaster said.

    Trump, he said, apparently forgot that the Taliban are the enemy, and that they are intertwined with terrorist groups.

    “These are some of the most horrible people on earth. These are the enemies of all civilized people.”

    By dealing with the Taliban, the U.S. cancelled out its legal and moral motivation for its intervention, McMaster said, adding that Trump’s strategy “renders the war unjust, because we no longer have defined a just end.”

    “It is just a travesty,” said McMaster, predicting failure. “We will pay the price, and we will be back. We will have to go back, and at a much higher cost.”

    Gabriel Scheinmann, executive director of the Alexander Hamilton Society, asked McMaster: “Is this our Munich agreement? Are we pursuing a policy of appeasement with Taliban?”

    “Yes, yes, we are,” McMaster replied.

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  • 21 Oct 2020 Share this post

    AIHRC: Nearly 40,000 People Displaced In Helmand Conflict

    The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Organisation (AIHRC) said on Wednesday, that 39,200 people have been displaced during the recent conflicts in Helmand.

    They found that 5,600 families had fled to government-controlled areas and 3,500 to Taliban-controlled areas during the clashes in Lashkar Gah.

    At least 15 people were killed, and 111 others were also injured in roadside bombings, airstrikes by foreign forces and rocket attacks.

    The dead included a woman, five men and nine children, and the injured included 82 men, 14 women and 15 children.

    The commission condemned the killing of civilians and called on both sides to end the war and agree on a ceasefire to address the plight of the displaced and to stop the violence. and destruction.

    They also called on the government, humanitarian agencies and social workers to rush to the aid of the displaced.

  • 21 Oct 2020 Share this post

    MoD Says 115 Taliban Killed In Past Day, MoI Says 840 Taliban Killed In Past Month

    The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Wednesday, that 115 Taliban militants had been killed and 39 others had been wounded in by the Afghan security forces across 26 provinces in the past 24 hours.

    The MoD specified that the casualties were a result of “reciprocal” attacks after the Taliban launched offensives on Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) positions.

    The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said on Tuesday, that in the past month, security forces had carried out attacks in response to Taliban movements, and as a result, 840 Taliban fighters were killed while 385 others were wounded.

    Tariq Arian, spokesperson for the MoI, said that 40 Taliban militants had also been arrested.

    The MoI also released their report on civilian casualties that showed at least 180 people were killed and 375 injured in the past month.

    “The Taliban are responsible for killing people. This group has not fulfilled its obligations at any stage,” Arian tweeted.

  • 21 Oct 2020 Share this post

    Stoltenberg: Around 12,000 Troops In Afghanistan, Further Reductions Conditions-Based

    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday that the current troop levels in Afghanistan are at around 12,000 and any further adjustments will be conditions-based.

    Addressing the issues ahead of the Allied Defence Ministers meeting, Stoltenberg said they will scrutinise the NATO training mission in Afghanistan, since it is their largest.

    “In Afghanistan, NATO has around 12,000 troops in the Alliance’s biggest mission. As part of the peace process, we have adjusted our presence. Any further adjustments remain conditions-based,” he said.

    He also called on the Taliban to live up to their commitments as part of their agreement with the U.S.

    “The Taliban must live up to their commitments, significantly reduce the levels of violence, and pave the way for a ceasefire. They must break all ties with Al-Qaeda and other international terrorist groups. And they must negotiate in good faith.”

    Emphasising that the talks in Doha were of great importance, he called them the “best chance for peace in a generation.”

    “They must preserve the gains made at such high price over the last two decades, including for women and girls.”

    He also said that NATO remains committed to Afghanistan’s long-term security as can be seen for their work with the Afghan National Army Trust Fund Board.

  • 21 Oct 2020 Share this post

    Mir Rahman Rahmani Invited To Pakistan For Strengthening Bilateral Trade

    Mir Rahman Rahmani, speaker of the House of Representatives, will lead a 17-member parliamentary delegation to Pakistan and participate in a two-day seminar on bilateral trade and investment.

    The Pakistani National Assembly said on Wednesday, that the invitation was extended by their Speaker Asad Qaiser for the event which is scheduled to take place on Oct. 26-27 and will have Prime Minister Imran Khan as the chief guest. President Ashraf Ghani will also deliver a video message during the inauguration.

    The seminar is the culmination of activities of the executive committee of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Parliamentary Friendship Group which is working to enhance bilateral relations and eliminating the impediments to transit and bilateral trade.

    Rahmani’s delegation will consist of political leaders, while representatives from the trade and investment community are also participating in the seminar, alongside academics, investors and Pakistani businessmen.

    Inter-Parliamentary contacts, bilateral relations on trade, regional security issues, and strategies to resolve all outstanding issues between two countries would be deliberated upon in the seminar.

  • 21 Oct 2020 Share this post

    COVID-19: Afghanistan Sees Large Single-Day Spike Of 141 New Cases

    The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) reported a large single-day spike in new Coronavirus cases as 141 of the 468 samples tested were found to be positive in Afghanistan in the past 24 hours.

    Of the total cases, 105 were reported in Herat along, with eight each in Takhar and Balkh, seven in Kunduz, six in Kabul, two in Kandahar, two in Zabul, two in Paktia and one in Bamiyan.

    The MoPH also reported that two COVID-19 patients had succumbed to the illness while 34 had recovered in the past day.

    Afghanistan has confirmed 40,510 Coronavirus cases so far, of which 5,185 are active while 1,501 are dead and 33,824 have recovered.

  • 21 Oct 2020 Share this post

    Over 25 Security Personnel Killed By Taliban In Takhar

    Takhar officials confirmed that over 25 Afghan security forces have been killed during clashes with the Taliban in Baharak district since Tuesday night. The number of wounded was not confirmed as the fights are ongoing.

    Jawad Hijri, spokesperson for the Takhar governor’s office, told Reporterly on Wednesday, that a large-scale Taliban ambush on Afghan security forces turned into the clashes.

    Hijri said that the head of security of Takhar Police Command Mohammad Doar Andish, was also killed.

    However, media reports, quoting sources that around 45 Afghan security personnel have been killed so far, while medical sources said that 34 bodies have been taken to the provincial hospital.

    Several security personnel have also been reported missing in the Taliban attack in the Masjid Sefid area of the district.

    Police have not yet determined the exact number of victims and how the Taliban attacked.

    Contradictory reports have been published about the casualties of the security forces in this attack.

    In recent days, Taliban attacks around Takhar’s provincial centre were also fended off with Chief of Army Staff Gen. Yasin Zia leading the operations.

  • 21 Oct 2020 Share this post

    AIHRC: Mass Emigration Of Hindus, Sikhs Shows Authorities ‘Lack Of Care’

    Following the mass emigration of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Organisation (AIHRC) called out the government for their “lack of care” for their citizen’s human rights and the right to life.

    In a statement on Wednesday, the AIHRC said that the government is obliged to protect the rights of minorities under national and international law.

    “They [Sikhs and Hindus] have been in a state of emergency for a long time,” the commission said.

    They expressed concern and regret over the migration and called on the government to seriously and effectively protect the rights of the Hindu and Sikh citizens.

    The rights commission also called for an end to the war and said that it was the “main cause” of the country’s catastrophe and destruction.

    A peaceful Afghanistan would mean that citizens do not become more victims, are not harmed and are not forced to leave the country, the AIHRC emphasised.

  • 21 Oct 2020 Share this post

    Saleh: Posters Of Criminals To Be Placed Around Kabul City

    First Vice President Amrullah Saleh announced his fourth order regarding the rptoection of Kabul city on Wednesday in a detailed Facebook post.

    He announced that the photos of criminals and fugitives will be printed on posters and placed around Kabul to help people, and to inculcate the fear of public shaming within the wrongdoers.

    Kabul Municipality has also been tasked to clear the sidewalks from encroachment so that people can see the impact in the coming days. Saleh said the partial clearing of sidewalks was not a deterrent and greater action was needed to punish the encroachers.

    Police checkpoints will also be equipped with sound-recording cameras so that those who use physical “force” or their official “position” to misbehave with the police will be identified.

    Saleh also noted that foreign and domestic “enemies” publish a list of rumours against the security forces every day and this is rooted in “psychological warfare.”

    He dismissed the accusations as “baseless slander” and said the police will not let this go unanswered and the accusers must be willing to provide proof or an apology.

    According to him, defending the military uniform is defending the “skin and cover of the system.”

    The first vice president says that the tax bill and the work on undocumented vehicles will be completed as such vehicles will be confiscated within the next two months and be given to the police for patrols.

    He also said that they are working on a plan to increase the number of public toilets.

  • 21 Oct 2020 Share this post

    SIGAR: US Lost $19 Billion To Waste, Fraud, Abuse In Afghanistan Since 2002

    The U.S. has lost $19 billion in Afghanistan since 2002 due to “waste, fraud and abuse” the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said in a new report released this week.

    The oversight authority, which is mandated to review U.S. congressional spending supporting reconstruction activities in Afghanistan, analysed just a portion of the government funds.

    SIGAR said that the U.S. Congress has appropriated nearly $134 million (as of Dec. 31, 2019) for Afghanistan reconstruction since 2002.

    “Of that amount, SIGAR reviewed approximately $63 billion and concluded that a total of
    approximately $19 billion or 30 percent of the amount reviewed was lost to waste, fraud, and abuse,” SIGAR found.

    From their 111 published reports and 55 closed investigations between Jan. 2018 and Dec. 2019, they were able to identify approximately $1.8 billion in waste, fraud and abuse.

    These, coupled with the $15.5 billion reported in July 2018, bring the total amount lost by the U.S. government to approximately $19 billion from May 2009 through Dec. 31, 2019.

    Waste accounted for approximately 90% of the 323 instances SIGAR reported ranging from theft, embezzlement and bribery valued between $13.7 million and $14.3 million.

    They also identified 30 instances of federal procurement and contract fraud with a total value of almost $300 million.

    Of three instances of abuse, one of which was worth $34 million was when the U.S.-contracted agency was unable to complete its objective to regulate Afghanistan’s mining sector due to abuse of power by Afghan government officials.

    The oversight office is tasked with reviewing reconstruction funding and presenting recommendations for putting the money to better use for other programs or efforts in Afghanistan.

  • 21 Oct 2020 Share this post

    12 Killed In Stampede Near Pakistan Consulate In Jalalabad

    At least 12 women were killed and as many wounded in a stampede that occurred in a football stadium where people had gathered to apply for visas at the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad city of Nangarhar on Wednesday.

    Nangarhar governor’s spokesperson Attaullah Khogyani said that stampede was caused by the crowd of applicants who rushed in to collect the tokens needed to apply for the visa.

    The injured included several senior citizens. Khogyani said that “tens of thousands” of people had been inside the stadium.

    The Pakistani consulate in Nangarhar is issuing visas to residents of eight provinces, a process that had been stalled during the COVID-19 pandemic and had restarted. This past week.

    The embassy had been using the stadium nearby to maintain order and prevent overcrowding in their premises. Hundreds of police personnel had also been on site to facilitate the visa distribution process.

    The Pakistani embassy has not commented on the incident yet.