Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
US former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said that Pakistan topped his list of most dangerous countries at an event in New York on Tuesday.
“Of all the countries I’ve known, I consider Pakistan to be the most dangerous,” Mattis wrote in his latest book, “Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead.”
“This is a much worse problem, I think than anyone is writing about today,” he said.
As per Business Insider report, Mattis’s career took him to Afghanistan, which shares a porous border with Pakistan.
In his book, he writes that Pakistan “views all geopolitics through the prism of its hostility toward India,” which has shaped its policy in Afghanistan to the detriment of Afghanis and the rest of the world.
Many detractors, however, say Pakistan has provided safe haven to members of the Afghan Taliban, and it also harbored al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and has provided material support to al-Qaeda.
Pakistan has its own share of extremist groups, including the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, which aims to overthrow the Pakistani government and establish a caliphate.
“We can’t have the fastest-growing nuclear arsenal in the world falling into the hands of the terrorists breeding in their midst,” Mattis writes in “Call Sign Chaos.”
“So when you take the radicalization of society, and you add to it the fastest-growing nuclear arsenal, I think, in the world, you see why one of the points I would make that we need to focus on right now is arms control and non-proliferation efforts,” he said.
Former Acting Director of the CIA Michael Morrell expressed the same concerns to Axios last year, saying “This anti-state jihadist extremism is growing in Pakistan, creating the nightmare society down the road — an extremist government in Islamabad with nuclear weapons.”
While US President Donald Trump recently hosted Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House, “It’s a very twisted relationship” between Pakistan and the US, Mattis said.
Under the Trump administration, the US has relied on Pakistan to keep withdrawal talks in Afghanistan going, NPR reports, but also pulled millions of dollars in military funding and accused Pakistan of harboring terrorists, further eroding the relationship between the two countries.
Afghanistan’s central bank launched the National Financial Inclusion Strategy of the country and announced the conclusion of the National Risk Assessment for Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing.
The Central Bank Acting Governor Wahid Nosher said at a press conference on Wednesday that the National Financial Inclusion Strategy is an important national document which focuses on four priorities.
He added that the strategy will first help individuals, micro, and medium-sized enterprises in key economic sectors, especially agriculture, access to funding and financing services which need to drive Afghanistan’s growth.
“The strategy aims to increase access to finance in critical areas of the Afghan economy and promote formal financial services for households and the private sector, including digital payments and services,” he said.
Meanwhile, World Bank Acting Country Director for Afghanistan Homa-Zahra Fotouhi said that achieving an inclusive financial system where all Afghan citizens and businesses have access to finance is key to boosting economic growth and reducing poverty across Afghanistan.
“The National Financial Inclusion Strategy is a major step forward to achieve that goal, and the World Bank will continue working closely with Central Bank to support its implementation,” she added.
A few anonymous armed men have killed four members of a family in Laghman province, local officials said.
Asadullah Dawlatzai, provincial spokesperson told Reporterly that the four members who were original residents of Nangarhar province were killed on Wednesday at around 03:00 AM in Mehr Karim area of Qarghayi district of Laghman province.
The family members killed by the unknown gunmen include a girl, two boys and a woman, Dawlatzai said. He added that preliminary investigations show the incident was caused on account of personal hostilities.
Police investigation is underway to arrest the perpetrators of the incident, Laghman provincial spokesperson confirmed.
At least 150 Taliban and IS-K fighters including their commanders have surrendered their weapons and joined the government, local officials said.
Kunar provincial Press Office in a statement said that 110 Taliban insurgents including Mawlavi Basir, Taliban shadow governor and 40 IS-K fighters joined the government on Wednesday.
The men laid down arms due to efforts of National Directorate of Security of Kunar province, the statement said.
The individuals were active in Chapa Dara, Manogi and Tapa Por districts and fought against the government, provincial governor Gul Mohammad Bedar said.
The statement said that the men also surrendered 150 various types of weapons. Kunar is among the provinces where Taliban group and IS-K have been active.
Presidential spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi said that the Afghan government is concerned about the consequences of US-Taliban deal and the government wants clarification on the draft to study its consequences and “prevent its risks”.
Sediqqi said that the Afghan people want peace and the government started the peace process. Holding Consultative Peace Loya Jirga, removing conditions for talks and last year’s ceasefire has been the practical steps the government has taken to begin the peace process, he added.
The Afghan government supports any progress in the peace process which will ensure sustainable peace and end the war in Afghanistan, presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi says. He stressed that the main concern in the US-Taliban draft agreement is how to prevent its consequences and risks.
The Afghan government is concerned about the consequences of US-Taliban deal like how ex-US envoys are concerned said presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi, adding that we want clarification on the document to study its consequences and “prevent its risks“.
These remarks come as Zalmai Khalilzad US special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation after the ninth round of talks with Taliban visited Kabul to brief the government about the agreement between the US and the Taliban.
Meanwhile, the majority of America’s ambassadors to Afghanistan since the removal of the Taliban government have condemned the US approach to negotiate a troop withdrawal, warning it risked a return to “total civil war”.
At least 28 Taliban insurgents were killed including its economic commission chief, in past 24 hours in Ghazni province, local officials reported.
Ghazni Press Office in a statement said on Wednesday that, as a result of clashes, Special Forces operations, and airstrikes, 28 insurgents including Noor Mohammad alias as Abu Hafiza, Taliban’s economic commission chief were killed.
The statement added that 13 other insurgents were injured during the operations.
The operations were carried out in Qarabagh, Andar, Deh Yak areas and the center of Ghazni province, the statement read.
The statement further added that 4 motorcycles, a vehicle and two explosive caches of the Taliban were destroyed.
Ghazni Press Office has not commented about the causalities of security forces but added that the clearance operation of Special Forces and NDS operatives are underway in Qara Baghi and Mangor areas of the center of the province.
Local authorities in Paktia reported that Ahmadabad district police chief was killed in a deadly roadside bomb blast.
Abdullah Hasrat, a provincial spokesperson told Reporterly on Wednesday that, the incident took place when the vehicle carrying Mohammad Sarwar Hussain Khel, Ahmadabad police chief and three police personnel hit a roadside bomb in Garaj region of the district.
He added that, as a result of the blast, Ahmadabad district police chief was killed along with police personnel and two others were injured.
The incident occurred on Tuesday night around 11 pm and the condition of the injured is stable, he added.
While the US is at the cusp of reaching a final deal, the majority of America’s ambassadors to Afghanistan since the removal of the Taliban government have condemned the US approach to negotiating a troop withdrawal, warning it risked a return to “total civil war”.
After a draft agreement was announced, the nine ambassadors, including a former deputy secretary of state, said they supported peace talks in Afghanistan and wrote an open letter to express their arguments.
Nevertheless, they warned the current approach risks generating more violence and insecurity because negotiators have cut the Afghan government out of discussions and have planned the departure of US troops before sealing a full peace agreement.
“We believe that US security and values, including support for women, require that a full troop withdrawal come only after a real peace,” said the open letter, published by the Atlantic Council.
The letter warned against the suggestion that the polling should be delayed if a deal with the US paves the way for inter-Afghan talks. “Afghans deserve to determine their government and who will represent them in peace negotiations. For this to happen, there is a strong argument that presidential elections planned for September should go forward,” the ambassadors wrote.
The signatories to the open letter have 12 years of experience at the US embassy in Kabul over the past two decades. They also include John Negroponte, the former deputy secretary of state and the first-ever US director of national intelligence. One of them is the incumbent, and the other is the lead US envoy to peace talks, Zalmay Khalilzad.
The ambassadors said, that the decision, driven by the Taliban’s refusal to speak to officials they denounce as “puppets”, was unwise and damaging to the Afghan government, “Whether or not the United States wants or is willing to keep some forces engaged, we should not undercut the legitimate government in Afghanistan by keeping them out of negotiations.”
The draft withdrawal deal also does not define how Afghanistan should be governed once American troops have gone. Critics say that could set the stage for an intensified civil war.
Most importantly the ambassadors said that “There is an outcome far worse than the status quo, namely a return to the total civil war that consumed Afghanistan as badly as the war with the Russians, and something that could follow a breakdown in negotiations if we remove too much support from the Afghan state,”
Finally, they said, “If the state totters, those with nasty memories of life under the Taliban will fight on.”
A representative of the Romanian Embassy in Afghanistan died and another Romanian citizen was severely wounded in Kabul’s recent terrorist attack on a compound, officials said on Tuesday.
The head of Romania’s diplomatic mission in Afghanistan and the Embassy’s head of security were evacuated to a nearby military base.
Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis and Prime Minister Viorica Dancila both condemned the Kabul attack and reaffirmed Romania’s commitment to continue fighting terrorism.
The Taliban suicide attack took place on Monday night, September 2, and killed at least 16 people, injuring over 100 others. The attack took place just hours after the US said it would withdraw 5,000 troops from Afghanistan after talks with Taliban representatives in Qatar. A tractor rigged with explosives hit the compound’s wall damaging the houses in the vicinity.
A similar attack on the same compound took place in January, also during talks between the U.S. and the Taliban.