Newsfeed; Monday, April 12 2021

Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…


  • 12 Apr 2021 Share this post

    Istanbul Summit Not Similar To Bonn Conference: Saleh

    Kabul: The Istanbul Summit will bear no resemblance in terms of “content and mission” to the Bonn Conference held in Germany in 2001, clarified Afghan First Vice-President Amrullah Saleh on his social media page on Monday.

    “We read and analyze the views of our dear and peace-loving people, both critical and supportive, and what we have presented as a plan is an extract of their demands,” he wrote.

    Saleh in the post called the Turkish summit a “rare and important” opportunity to turn the “atmosphere of war” into an “atmosphere of discourse and understanding”.

    According to Saleh, the importance of this meeting is that all countries of the world that are interested in or involved in the case of Afghanistan, closely support and monitor it. “In the Turkish summit, those who fear peace and interaction with the people will face domestic and international judgment,” the first vice-president said.

    “The central pillar of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s plan is to find a solution that the people will implement and support, and that there will be no panic or anxiety in any part of the country about why it is being debated,” said Saleh.

    Saleh concluded by emphasizing that the version of peace must have the approval of the “heart and mind” of the Afghan people through its specific channel, the Loya Jirga and the elections.

    The Istanbul Summit is scheduled to take place in the coming days. This meeting is considered crucial for Afghanistan. Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said that he has received the final draft of the peace proposal from the sub-committee of the Leadership Committee of the reconciliation council on Sunday. The Afghan vice-president Amrullah Saleh also announced that the Turkish Summit is likely to convene this week. World leaders, the United Nations, the Taliban and other stakeholders are expected to meet in Istanbul on April 16 to discuss the peace roadmap for Afghanistan and possible ceasefire in the region. President Ghani too, while emphasizing that there is no shortcut to peace and that the peace process cannot be carried out in a hurry, said on Sunday that his plan to move beyond a state of war to just and lasting peace in the country is very clear.

  • 12 Apr 2021 Share this post

    Taliban Forcefully Recruits People, says NDS

    Kabul: The Taliban suffered heavy casualties over the past year and the group has been recruiting people by force, said the head of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS).

    Zia Siraj, NDS head, told a meeting of the Lower House of internal security and defense commissions on Sunday that more than 20,000 Taliban fighters had been killed and 11,000 wounded over the past year.

    Siraj said that the group was sending new fighters from Pakistani religious schools to Afghanistan and that the recruitment process had not stopped. “In the areas under their control, the Taliban are pressurizing people to either compensate them or send someone to join their group,” he added.

    According to Afghanistan’s NDS statistics, more than 4,500 people affiliated with the Taliban, IS-K and other armed opposition groups have been arrested in the past year as a result of Afghan military operations.

    Afghanistan’s NDS chief says the Taliban are under pressure to move their military and civilian councils from Quetta and Peshawar into Afghanistan, and are working to intensify their attacks in Helmand, Zabul, Kandahar and parts of Uruzgan and take control of areas.

    The senior Afghan security official said that none of the Taliban’s plans would be successful as the Afghan military is fully prepared to fight the group.

    According to Afghan security agencies, at least 20 provinces are witnessing insecurity and clashes between Afghan forces and Taliban fighters.

  • 12 Apr 2021 Share this post

    Afghanistan Produced Over 261,000 Tons of Chicken Meat In Past One Year

    Kabul: At least 261,048 tons of chicken meat was produced in the country during the last solar year, announced the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock on Monday, stressing the fact that Afghanistan is nearing self-sufficiency in the poultry sector.

    Most of the meat was produced in Kabul, which topped the list with a production of 47,110 metric tons, Herat, Nangarhar, Takhar, Kandahar, Balkh, Helmand and Farah provinces, as per the ministry statement.

    The Ministry of Agriculture also stated that there are currently 9,247 large and small egg, meat and breeding poultry farms in the country. These farms include 3,520 egg farms, 5,723 meat farms and four breeding farms.

    Kandahar province has the most broiler farms with 1,100 farms. The fourth breeding farm is located in Kandahar and Balkh provinces.

  • 12 Apr 2021 Share this post

    Istanbul Summit: UNAMA Head Meets Ghani, Abdullah

    Kabul: In the run-up to the Istanbul Summit, scheduled to be held on April 16, Deborah Lyons, head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), spoke to President Ashraf Ghani and some Afghan officials about the preparations for the Turkish summit.

    UNAMA said on Monday that Lyons had met President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani; Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), and Sayed Saadat Mansour Naderi, Minister of State for Afghan Peace, separately.

    In the meeting with President Ghani, Lyons stressed on the “urgent need to end the violence through a political agreement”. The UNAMA head said that the political agreement should “meet the aspirations of all Afghans, including women”.

    According to the UNAMA statement, Abdullah called on Lyons to “take part in the latest efforts to end the war in Afghanistan and to work for a common vision among Afghan leaders at the Istanbul Conference”.

    The two sides stressed on the fact that the voices of women, youth, victims and members of civil society should be heard at the meeting.

    Meanwhile, Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said that he has received the final draft of the peace proposal from the sub-committee of the Leadership Committee of the reconciliation council on Sunday. The Afghan vice-president Amrullah Saleh also announced that the Turkish Summit is likely to convene this week. World leaders, the United Nations, the Taliban and other stakeholders are expected to meet in Istanbul on April 16 to discuss the peace roadmap for Afghanistan and possible ceasefire in the region. President Ghani too, while emphasizing that there is no shortcut to peace and that the peace process cannot be carried out in a hurry, said on Sunday that his plan to move beyond a state of war to just and lasting peace in the country is very clear.

  • 12 Apr 2021 Share this post

    COVID19 Vaccination Drive Launched in Kabul

    Kabul: The Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) on Monday launched a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination drive in Kabul to promote the safety of the vaccine and to encourage the public to take the vaccine.

    Over 100,000 people in Afghanistan, including healthcare workers and security personnel have been vaccinated against the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection till April 7, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) had announced. However, there are still concerns among the public about the efficacy of the vaccine and hence, people are not stepping out to get the vaccine jab.

    “As part of duty of care, ARCS volunteers explained the importance of the vaccine and how no one is protected until everyone is protected. The priority is for people across Afghanistan to get the COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19’s spread has shown that equitable access is key to ending this pandemic,” said Pedro Schaerer, Head of the delegation in Afghanistan of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

    The COVID-19 vaccination drive was organized at the request of Ministry of Public Health in Afghanistan and the Afghan Red Crescent Society in support with the ICRC.

    The aim is to support national vaccination campaigns and immunization services in areas covered under ICRC’s operations and in hard-to-reach areas of Afghanistan.

    “We also stand ready to exercise our role of neutral intermediary to facilitate “last-mile” access of the COVID19 vaccine for Afghan communities across front lines and in hard-to-access areas,” added Schaerer.

    Currently, the total number of positive cases in Afghanistan stands at 57,364 while the number of reported deaths is 2,529 and the total number of recoveries is 52,005, as per the MoPH data.

  • 12 Apr 2021 Share this post

    UN To Send 15 Election Experts, Advisers To Afghanistan

    Kabul: The United Nations on Monday said it will send 15 international election experts and advisers to Afghanistan by the end of April.

    A statement from the Independent Election Commission (IEC) said that Abdullah al-Dardari, the head of the United Nations Development Program, had raised the issue during a meeting with the IEC leadership.

    According to the statement, the election experts and advisers will soon begin their work in the IEC.

    Meanwhile, the head of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), Awrang Zeb, praised the cooperation and support of the United Nations in the past elections and called for healthy and useful cooperation from the international community in various election processes.

    According to the statement, the leadership of the Electoral Commission has handed over the new electoral reform policy to the head of the UN Development Program. The two sides have pledged to work together to implement this policy.

    Meanwhile, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) has already announced its readiness to hold four elections (Ghazni parliamentary elections, provincial councils, district councils and a number of municipal elections) and has proposed the current month for this election.

    Earlier on April 6, For the first time in Afghanistan, a ballot box had been installed to elect district governors in Panjshir province. For each of Panjshir’s seven districts, three people will be elected and then, nominated for appointment.

  • 12 Apr 2021 Share this post

    Uproar in Parliament Over “Ethnic Composition” of Turkish Peace Summit Delegation

    Kabul: Even as Mir Rahman Rahmani, Speaker of House of Representatives, said that the list of participants for Istanbul Summit circulated in the media is incorrect and has not approved by the office of the High Council of National Reconciliation (HCNR), the composition of the Afghan government delegation and the Taliban to the Turkish peace conference caused heated debates in the Lower House of Parliament on Monday.

    The Presidential Palace added that the issue was also discussed in the meeting between President Ashraf Ghani and Zalmai Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan.

    At today’s session of the House of Representatives, Niloufar Ebrahimi, a Badakhshan representative from Afghanistan, called the Afghan war “ethnic” and said that “90% of Pashtuns” are attending the peace conference on behalf of the Taliban.

    In response, Paktika representative Nader Khan Katawazai, said that “the Taliban have no ethnicity and are fighting according to their ideology and not according to their ethnicity”. He added that the Pashtun people and Pashtun provinces were “destroyed by the Taliban and Pashtun children were deprived of education”.

    Mehdi Rasekh, a representative of Maidan Wardak, said that addressing the tribes and social groups of Afghanistan as “minority and majority” is far from the dignity of the House of Representatives and the official position of the government.

    Tensions in the Afghan parliament have risen amid hopes that a Turkish peace summit will be held in Istanbul on April 16. The meeting is considered decisive and similar to the Bonn Conference in 2001.

  • 12 Apr 2021 Share this post

    IFJ Welcomes Arrests of 11 Taliban Insurgents in Connection with Journalists’ Killing

    Kabul: The International Federation of Journalists has welcomed the arrest of 11 Taliban members on April 7, who were arrested by the Afghan police for their suspected role in a series of targeted killings, including that of journalist Yama Siawash.

    The organization has also sought justice for the victims in accordance with the rule of law.

    Acting on a tip-off, the Kabul police located and arrested 11 members of a Taliban cell, including Abdul Saboor, the main commander of the group. According to Afghanistan’s First Vice-President, Amrullah Saleh, a stash of ‘sticky bombs’ and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were found in the group’s hideout during a police search.

    Eight of the Taliban group members were arrested in Kabul and another three were arrested in the Logar and Laghman provinces. Following the arrests, the Interior Ministry presented the arrested suspects before the media on April 8. Nine of the suspects confessed their involvement in a series of targeted murders.

    Saboor was reported to have confessed to plotting the murder of Yama Siawash. However, Siawash’s family rejected the claim that the perpetrators of Yama Siawash’s killing had been arrested and said the government must produce plausible evidence in connection to the murder.

    Journalist Yama Siawash was killed on November 7, 2020, in a targeted explosion in the Makrorayan-e-Char area of Kabul.

    According to the IFJ killed list report 2020, nine journalists and media workers were murdered in 2020 in Afghanistan. Targeted killings of journalists, right activists, religious leaders and civil society activists have become more frequent in recent months as violence escalates in Afghanistan despite ongoing peace talks with the Taliban.

  • 12 Apr 2021 Share this post

    5 Afghan Security Forces Killed in Herat, Balkh In 24 Hours

    Kabul: At least five Afghan soldiers have been killed by roadside bombs and targeted attacks in Herat and Balkh provinces in the past 24 hours, as per officials of the provinces.

    Adel Shah Adel, spokesperson for the Balkh police, said that Saleh Mohammad Saleh, the chief physician, and a brigadier general were killed in an attack by unidentified assailants on a Ranger of the 209th Shaheen Corps. Adel added that at around 5am on Monday, two gunmen on a motorcycle in PD5 of Mazar-e-Sharif opened fire at the Ranger.

    Meanwhile, a roadside bomb blast in Herat province killed three security personnel.

    Abdul Ahad Valizadeh, spokesperson for the Herat Police, said that a mine planted around the Karizak security checkpoint in the PD11 of Herat city exploded on Sunday evening. Valizadeh added that the commander of PD11 was killed along with two soldiers in the explosion.

    No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the incidents yet.

  • 12 Apr 2021 Share this post

    End War, Bloodshed in Afghanistan: Jirga Council of Afghans in Europe

    Kabul: The fifth international meeting of the Jirga-Council of Afghans in Europe called for an end to the war and bloodshed in the country.

    On the occasion of the forthcoming peace summit in Turkey, the participants stressed the importance of achieving peace and seizing this opportunity.

    Mehrab Ahmadzai, one of the organizers of the online meeting, told RFE/RL, “In the first part of the conference, most participants called on Taliban for a ceasefire and called on the Afghan government for investment in building peace for the youth and people of Afghanistan.”

    Speakers included Asghar Khel Mangal, Speaker of the Afghan-based Jirga; Christopher Alexander, former Canadian Ambassador to Afghanistan; Kizia Mardila, Member of the German Parliament; Ali Ahmad Jalali, Professor at the US National Defense University in Washington; and Ramazan Bashardost, Member of the Wolesi the Lower House of Parliament.

  • 12 Apr 2021 Share this post

    Ministry of Health Reports 122 New Cases of COVID-19

    The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Monday reported 122 new positive cases of coronavirus tested in the last 24 hours.

    The ministry also reported no cases deaths and 16 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.

    The cumulative number of total cases is now 57,364 the number of total reported deaths is 2,529 and the total number of recoveries is 52,005.

    The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Balkh, Nangarhar, Baghlan, Kunduz, Nimroz, Ghazni, Helmand, Laghman and Uruzgan provinces.

  • 12 Apr 2021 Share this post

    0.1% of World’s Greenhouse Gases Produced In Afghanistan

    Kabul: Afghanistan is the only source of 0.1% of greenhouse gases in the world, with the main greenhouse gases being carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), according to the first national report on Afghanistan’s greenhouse gas inventory list released by the Afghan National Environmental Protection Agency on Sunday.

    With rising global warming concerns across the world, the report reveals pertinent details about the environment and report examines the gases from energy production, agriculture, industry and waste in the period 1990 to 2017. Of these, the share of energy production with 49.8% in greenhouse gas emissions is higher than any other sector. In addition, 46.2% of greenhouse gases come from agricultural activities, 3.5% from waste and 0.6% from the activities of manufacturing plants.

    Ezatullah Siddiqi, deputy director of the National Environmental Protection Agency, described the report as one of the country’s serious needs for effective planning to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As per Sediqi, this report has also been sent to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and has been approved by them.

    Rafi Ghazizada, director general of natural resources at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, said the organization is working to play a vital role nationally and internationally in creating compatibility and carbon sequestration through appropriate methods of agriculture, reforestation and development, green cover and vegetation.

    “In the solar year of 1,400, the ministry plans to rehabilitate more than 25,000 hectares of forest,” he said. “Similarly, the ministry intends to manage more than 100,000 hectares of pastures in a healthy manner. At the same time, more than 5,000 areas of our decomposing medicinal plants are to be rehabilitated. More than 61,000 cubic meters of leachate (small holes for water storage) and more than 420 small water reservoirs are also being created to absorb water.”

    Greenhouse gases are known to be one of the major causes of global warming. Although Afghanistan has a small share in the production of these gases, because these gases know no boundaries, it has also affected Afghanistan.

  • 12 Apr 2021 Share this post

    Turkish, Afghan foreign ministers discuss Afghan Peace Talks

    Kabul: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Sunday spoke to his Afghan counterpart Mohammad Hanif Atmar via the phone, said Turkish diplomatic sources.

    Mevlut Cavusoglu and Mohammad Hanif Atmar discussed the Afghan peace process, according to the sources, who were aware of the developments but spoke on the condition of anonymity.

    The two top diplomats discussed the developments regarding the forthcoming peace conference in Istanbul. The Taliban and Afghan government representatives had deadlocked during peace talks in Qatar meant to end decades of war and come up with a path for a post-war Afghan society.

    Turkey has fully supported the dialogue process and is in contact with all stakeholders for reduction in violence in the war-torn country.

    “We need a comprehensive cease-fire for a political settlement. Despite the slow pace of progress, the peace process is the only way forward, and we should all give our full support,” Cavusoglu had told the 9th Ministerial Meeting of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, last month.
    World leaders, the United Nations, the Taliban and other stakeholders are expected to meet in Istanbul on April 16 to discuss the peace roadmap for Afghanistan and possible ceasefire in the region.

  • 12 Apr 2021 Share this post

    Progress on Women’s Rights At Risk If US Hurries Withdrawal: Report

    Kabul: The progress made in the field of women rights and civil society in Afghanistan since 2001 is at risk if the United States makes a hurried withdrawal from the country, are some of the concerns voiced by bipartisan US lawmakers and Afghan women’s rights activists.

    President Joe Biden had recently hinted that meeting the May 1 deadline for US troops to leave the country as dictated in the deal the Trump administration signed with the Taliban is difficult logistically. However, there are fears that if the US withdraws troops before the conditions on the ground are right — regardless of the date on the calendar — there will be a sharp and possibly catastrophic backslide.

    “Today women in Afghanistan have a very special place. They are stronger than ever and they have achieved what has never been achieved before: they cannot be ignored. They will not be ignored,” Fatima Gailani, an Afghan women’s rights activist and one of the four women on the Afghan government’s negotiating team, said at a recent congressional Women, Peace, and Security Caucus virtual discussion.

    This comes even as Shaharzad Akbar, Chairperson of Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), in a series of tweets expressed regret on the ongoing peace process saying that the consultations seem to be happening mainly with male political leaders on April 7, Human Rights Watch too stated that women should have full participation in the talks between Afghan government officials, opposition political leaders, and the Taliban under United Nations auspices.

    Fawzia Koofi, one of the other women on the government’s team for talks with the Taliban, recalled that “in 2001, when the Taliban government was thrown out of power, I along with thousands and millions of Afghans could walk in the streets of Kabul freely without the fear of being whipped or beaten up for what I wear.”

    “Then the important thing for me was not who is in Afghanistan, which superpower is in Afghanistan, the troops of which country is in my country. The important thing for me was, as a human being, I could walk and breathe free,” said Koofi, a former member of Parliament who has survived two assassination attempts — at least one by the Taliban.

    “Afghanistan has transformed and we have all invested blood and treasure to bring Afghanistan to where it is,” she said.

    World leaders, the United Nations, the Taliban and other stakeholders are expected to meet in Istanbul on April 16 to discuss the peace roadmap for Afghanistan and possible ceasefire in the region.

  • 12 Apr 2021 Share this post

    Chief Physician At 209 Shaheen Corps Shot Dead In Balkh

    Kabul: Mohammad Saleh, the chief physician at 209 Shaheen Corps, and his driver were shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Balkh province on Monday morning, according to police spokesperson Adil Shah Adil.

    As per the police officials, the attack occurred in Ferdawsi square in district 5 of the city of Mazar-e-Sharif when gunmen opened fire at the doctor’s vehicle.

    The gunmen managed to escaped from the area. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

  • 12 Apr 2021 Share this post

    Blinken To Return To NATO HQ For Talks On Afghanistan

    Kabul: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will return to Brussels this week for discussions on Iran, Afghanistan and Ukraine, a US official said.

    Blinken will join US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in Brussels, Reuters reported. Austin was scheduled to visit the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters in Belgium on a trip that started on Saturday and also includes Israel, Germany and Britain, the Pentagon said last week.

    Blinken’s discussions on Afghanistan comes close on the heels of the upcoming Afghan peace Summit in Istanbul, Turkey. Discussions are in their penultimate stage. In fact, a document highlighting guiding principles and other pertinent points for the Istanbul Summit, scheduled to be held in Turkey from April 16, was handed to the negotiators of the Afghan peace process, as per media reports on Sunday.

    Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said that he has received the final draft of the peace proposal from the sub-committee of the Leadership Committee of the reconciliation council on Sunday. The Afghan vice-president Amrullah Saleh also announced that the Turkish Summit is likely to convene this week. World leaders, the United Nations, the Taliban and other stakeholders are expected to meet in Istanbul on April 16 to discuss the peace roadmap for Afghanistan and possible ceasefire in the region. President Ghani too, while emphasizing that there is no shortcut to peace and that the peace process cannot be carried out in a hurry, said on Sunday that his plan to move beyond a state of war to just and lasting peace in the country is very clear.