Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Herat security officials said that two separate roadside explosions injured nine policemen in the province on Tuesday.
Abdul Ahad Valizadeh, spokesperson for the Herat Police Command, said that in the first incident, five policemen were injured when their car struck a mine in the Band Baba area of Kushki Kuhna district.
The commander of the operational unit of the Herat Police Command is also among the wounded.
In the second incident, four policemen were wounded in a roadside bomb blast in the Kamarkolagh area of Injil district along the Herat-Turghandi highway.
No group has taken responsibility for planting the mines.
Farah officials confirmed that a young girl has died by suicide in the provincial centre on Wednesday.
Farah Police spokesperson Mohibullah Mohib told Reporterly that the 18-year-old girl, identified as Mojhgan, was found hanging in her home in Ishaqazi village, near the outskirts of the capital.
She had lost her two brothers in the ongoing conflict and decided to take this step as she had been left “homeless,” the police said.
Her older brother was killed by the Taliban last year for working with the government and the second brother had joined the military. He was also killed last week by the Taliban.
The girl and her mother were the only remaining members of the family.
Parwan officials said a police officer was shot dead in the provincial capital of Charikar city on Tuesday night.
Wahida Shahkar, the Parwan governor’s spokesperson, told Reporterly on Wednesday, that the officer’s bopdy was found in the Parche Yazdah area.
Investigations found that the policeman was posted in Wardak and had come to Parwan for a vacation.
Shahkar said that three people had been arrested in connection with the case and that an investigation is under way.
Kapisa officials reported the death of a 15-year-old girl under mysterious circumstance in the Hesa Awal Kohistan district on Wednesday.
Sabawoon Kohistani, Criminal Director of Kapisa Police, told Reporterly that the girl was found dead in the Bakukham area of Sakhi Khail village.
While the cause and reason of her death are not known, initial findings indicate it may have been suicide.
Kohistani said that the girl’s body was transferred to the forensic department for further investigation.
Changing the political system of Afghanistan may cause another war, Second Vice President Sarwar Danesh told Indian Ambassador Rudrendra Tandon on Wednesday.
Danesh said during the meeting, that some countries or groups involved, continue to insist that peace could be achieved by changing the political system.
“Any other plan, whether the interim government or the Taliban Emirate, would not lead to peace. It will trigger another cycle of conflict and violence.”
Danesh said that in the peace process, the Afghan government insists on establishing a mechanism based on the participation of all ethnic groups, including the Taliban, in order to build a consensus and maintain the achievements of the past two decades. He said that this could be the key to ending the war and violence.
Danesh stressed that the new wave of violence has left Afghans “disappointed and pessimistic” about the ongoing negotiations.
The positive, he noted, was the strengthening regional consensus to ensure peace.
The Indian envoy said that they believe that if the peace process is led by Afghans, a solution will be found to end the war and bring stability.
Tandon called for international and regional consensus for peace in Afghanistan, adding that putting pressure on Afghan leaders would not lead to peace.
More than 50 members voted to pass the amendment to the electronic ID cards on Wednesday and it was finally approved by the House of Representatives.
The amendment to the Population Registration Law specifies that nationality and ethnicity will not be included on the electronic ID cards.
The members of parliament (MPs) asked for the process of card distribution to be halted for the changes to go into effect.
“The draft amendment has now been submitted to the Internal Security Committee of the House of Representatives to follow with the relevant channels,” said Arif Rahmani, member of the Internal Security Committee.
Residents of Badakhshan and Takhar have protested in front of the electronic ID distribution centers due to the controversial inclusion of ethnicity and nationality.
The main disagreement between lawmakers in parliament’s lower house and upper house was whether the term “tribe” or the term “Afghan” should be used on the identity cards.
Ultimately, the law Parliament passed included only the citizen’s name, father’s name, grandfather’s name, current residence, original residence, and date and place of birth
Once the relevant commissions have approved the amendment, it will be sent back to the House of Representatives for the bill to get passed.
The Wednesday session at the House of Representatives was accompanied by a physical altercation between the members of Logar and Paktia.
During the session, Speaker Mir Rahman Rahmani discussed the findings of the Board of Inspectors and the introduction of 21 Herat officials on charges of corruption and embezzlement of 20 million AFN from the Coronavirus budget.
At the request of Herat’s representative, Rahmani ordered the formation of a commission to investigate the charges.
Disagreements were heard till a physical clash started between Paktia representative Yarbaz Hameedi and Logar’s Shahpoor Hussainzoi over which commission would appoint the board.
Hameedi is a member of the Health Commission while Hussainzoi is a member of the Commission on Central Audit.
Some members from Herat also insisted that the delegation should consist of representatives from the province.
At the same time, the live broadcast of the session was interrupted, but it resumed after a while.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) announced that in the past 24 hours, 113 new Coronavirus cases were found positive from the 576 samples tested across Afghanistan.
According to the MoPH, six people succumbed to the virus while 20 have recovered, pushing those figures to 1,529 deaths and 34,237 recoveries.
New cases were reported in the provinces of Balkh (22), Herat (21), Kabul (19), Ghazni (10), Badghis (8), Baghlan (7), Kandahar (7), Takhar(6), Kunduz (4), Samangan (3), Zabul (3) Nangarhar (1), Nimruz (1) and Kunar (1).
With the addition of new cases, Afghanistan has confirmed 41,145 COVID-19 cases so far, of which 5,379 are active.
Acting Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar has been invited for a virtual meeting of foreign ministers of central Asian countries and India’s external affair minister on Wednesday.
While India, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan will be represented by their foreign ministers, Kyrgyzstan will be represented by their First Deputy Foreign Minister.
“The Ministers will exchange views on a wide gamut of areas including political, security, economic and commercial, humanitarian and cultural spheres and international issues of mutual interest,” the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.
Given the importance of Afghanistan’s geographical location with respect to central Asia, Atmar has been invited.
India and central Asian countries are working to start an air corridor to boost connectivity as well as increase trade. The focus is also on how Chabahar port in Iran can help increase India’s connectivity to Central Asia via Afghanistan and their existing air corridor with the nation.
Atmar talks to Pakistan’s Qureshi
Atmar spoke to Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday evening regarding resolving visa issues and expanding consular capacity for Afghan citizens.
They spoke about the latest progress in the Afghan peace talks and joint cooperation between the two countries in this regard, especially the role that Pakistan can play in ensuring the resumption of talks by aiding with the removal of hurdles, reducing violence and ensuring a nationwide ceasefire.
The two sides exchanged views on strengthening regional consensus on peace talks.
Atmar also expressed his gratitude for the assistance and cooperation of Pakistan with Afghanistan and Afghan refugees, especially in times of the pandemic.
The last such meeting was held in January 2019 in Uzbekistan.
First vice President Amrullah Saleh said that “means of repelling” Taliban sniper attack and Bezbak weapons had been tested and will be provided to all security checkpoints in Kabul on Wednesday.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Saleh said that the Taliban have recently been able to kill a number of “heroes” of the security forces using “bezbak” (night vision scope equipped) weapons.
He stressed that the office of the National Security Council would provide devices to all vulnerable security checkpoints across the country to thwart future Taliban sniper attacks.
Saleh, who temporarily took charge of Kabul security last week, said that all terrorists who are present in the Kabul area and have their homes in Pakistan, will have their pictures posted at the gates of Kabul to make it easier for them to be identified. He said such people could have easily traveled around the city before as their photos had not been made public.
Talking about the city’s internal security, the leader said that all settlements have been asked to submit their documents to the Interior Ministry’s Criminal Investigation Department to check for encroachment and land grabbing.
The process of detaining people accused of committing various crimes in Kabul continues and dozens of people have surrendered to the police or been arrested so far.
“Unfortunately, some of these people are the same ones who were pardoned because of the Coronavirus,” Saleh said.
According to him, crime in Kabul has decreased, but has not yet achieved the desired result.
The Presidential Palace welcomed the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) call for ending violence and urging dialogue on Wednesday.
OIC reiterated its call upon all parties in Afghanistan to concentrate their efforts on achieving success in the ongoing intra-Afghan peace talks.
The 57-member international organisation deplored the recent surge in violence in Afghanistan that has caused many casualties including women and children.
The General Secretariat called upon all Afghan stakeholders to “reduce violence, declare an immediate ceasefire and resort to dialogue as the only way forward towards reaching comprehensive reconciliation and lasting peace” in the country.
OIC Secretary-General Yousef Al Othaimeen referred to the resolutions adopted by the Islamic Summits and Council of Foreign Ministers, stressing the importance of the Makkah Declaration adopted in 2018 by the International Ulema Conference for Peace and Security in Afghanistan, which calls for dialogue, reconciliation, and tolerance based on the noble values of Islam in fulfilling the aspirations of the Afghan people.
The UN Security Council (UNSC) on Tuesday, strongly condemned the “atrocious and cowardly terrorist attack” at the Kowsar-e Danesh tuition centre in Kabul, which was claimed by the Islamic State (IS-K) and killed at least 24 people, including students.
Expressing deep concern over the continuing high level of violence and security situation in Afghanistan, especially the civilian casualties, the 15-nation Council stressed the importance of sustained efforts to reduce violence.
The UNSC also underlined Secretary-General António Guterres’ call for a global ceasefire in the light of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The members reaffirmed that “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.”
“Deliberately targeting children and education facilities as such is especially abhorrent and must be condemned,” the statement said.
They underlined the need to hold perpetrators, organisers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism accountable and bring them to justice.
Guterres is also following with great concern the violent incidents which have occurred in Afghanistan over the past several days.
A statement issued by his spokesperson said these incidents have claimed the lives of over 40 civilians and injured several others, including women and children.
At the end of the two-day Pakistan-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Forum 2020, officials from both countries adopted over 140 recommendations and agreed to solve 16 of the 21 issues affecting bilateral trade.
The remaining issues are related to the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) and will be addressed when the Pakistani commerce minister visits Afghanistan soon.
The forum, which ended on Tuesday, recommended the Pakistani government to allow five-year business and residence visa to Afghans who are willing to start businesses in Pakistan, along with granting them legal rights to open bank accounts, own property.
The Committee to Review Transit Trade Regime came up with 44 recommendations that mostly relate to further facilitating people involved in cross-border trade, improving infrastructure and reducing the wait time at the ports and border terminals.
The Committee on Trade and Investment Opportunities in Manufacturing Sector also proposed 39 recommendations, with a focus on doing away with discriminatory policies. They called for internationally acceptable mode of payments and increasing security for the business community on both sides.
Acting Afghan Minister of Industry and Commerce Nisar Ahmad Ghoriani was also present for the signing of a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement for the establishment of electronic data interchange.
The agreement will ensure reduced clearance time as well as optimum trade facilitation for import, export and transit cargo between the two countries.
It will also ensure reduced risk of evasion of taxes and effective control over smuggling.
The Pakistani government also allowed exports to Afghanistan via the Kharlachi border crossing which connects the Kurram tribal district to Paktia province.