Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: The stakes are very high in the Afghan peace process as with the stability of Afghanistan, there will be stability in the region, said Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to local media during an interview.
“If there’s progress, there can be peace and the region collectively will benefit from the outcome of a peace process,” Qureshi said, adding that there is a rising concern about a civil war breaking out in the country after the troop withdraw, if there is no peace agreement and political settlement.
The process which started in Doha, Qatar, should come to a logical conclusion through the Istanbul conference, the minister stressed.
Recently, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey foreign ministers held a trilateral conference to discuss the Afghan peace process.
Kabul: At a time when the US and NATO troops are preparing their withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the world is safer from terrorism now than when the United States was attacked almost 20 years ago.
“We remain vigilant,” Morrison, however, said. “The safety has come at great cost as we lost 41 Australians in Afghanistan,” he added at the Anzac Day Dawn Service in Canberra to pay tribute to the “bravest of this generation” who served in Afghanistan during Australia’s longest war.
Over 39,000 Australians have served on operations in support of Australia’s mission in Afghanistan and while US and NATO forces have reiterated that they will continue to oversee military operations in the war-ravaged country if terrorism flourishes again there, Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton said that if there was an ongoing issue with the Taliban or a major terrorist attack “we will do whatever is humanly and legally possible to keep our people safe”. However, Australia will not send troops on the ground and will look at dealing with threats in some other way, he added.
Labor defence spokesman Brendan O’Connor said that when the war began there were fears Afghanistan, if unchecked, would become a haven for terrorism.
“And whilst there is no perfect way to end a war, or certainly withdrawing forces, I think we’re doing the right thing following a decision of the United States to withdraw,” he said.
Australia has meanwhile added that it would continue to provide support and advice to maintain as much sustainability as possible.
Kabul: At least 2.5 million afghanis (about $33,000) from CASA-CSP have been pooled with nearly 320,000 afghanis ($4,144) in community contributions to rebuild the irrigation canal in the Qala-e-Malik village in Laghman province, which is one of the hundreds of Afghan communities eligible for support of a cross-regional energy project.
The Central Asia-South Asia Electricity and Transmission Trade Project (or CASA-1000) aims to boost electricity trade between the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan in Central Asia and Afghanistan and Pakistan in South Asia. A $30 million Community Support Program (CASA-CSP) will help ensure that communities that sit alongside the new transmission lines benefit from increased access to electricity and other services.
This energy project aims to improve access to electricity in Afghanistan and raise the living standards of thousands of Afghans, the World Bank said. CASA-CSP is supported by the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, a multidoor trust fund managed by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donors.
Qala-e-Malik residents needed help to line the canal with concrete to allow water to reach the farm downstream. The decision to rebuild it was made after a series of community-driven exercises and consultations with the residents of the area in the format of the Community Development Council (CDC).
“Residents of this community are really poor and the COVID-19 pandemic has made them poorer,” says Lal Mohammad, a member of the Qala-e-Malik CDC. “With this project, the community was able to provide a solution to unemployment and our irrigation needs, ensuring our lands will bear food for our family and children for years to come,” he added.
The Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Ministry of Finance, and Afghanistan by Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), the national power utility company are working to connect Afghanistan to the most ambitious energy project in the region. CASA-1000 is supported by the International Development Association, the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries.
In coordination with local Afghan Community Development Councils (CDCs), the project will finance specific initiatives, such as expanding the current power grid, improving access to potable water and sanitation, and building new roads or irrigation systems.
Kabul: The 9th report of the steering committee on the implementation of Afghanistan and the United Nations joint action plan for children affected by armed conflicts held a meeting on Sunday at the Storai Palace of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Deputy Foreign Minister Mirwais Nab chaired the meeting which was attended by deputy ministers and representatives from stakeholder departments of the committee.
Nab called the finalization of the 9th report valuable for fulfilling the Afghan government’s commitments towards the United Nations and emphasized fulfilling the Afghan government’s commitment to preventing underage enrollment in the national defense forces.
In the meeting, the recommendations of the participants were analyzed and then the steering committee stressed on the relevant entities to share their recommendations with MoFA immediately so that the report can be finalized and sent to the United Nations and relevant organizations.
Kabul: In a big development for the Afghanistan peace process, General Scott Miller, commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, told reporters on Sunday that process to withdraw their forces from the war-ravaged country has begun.
Miller said that after the withdrawal of forces from the ground, the Afghan administration and people must work together towards a consensus and with unity.
When asked if he thinks the violence would increase after May 1, he said that foreign forces would continue to support the Afghan military and an increase in attacks would be a mistake.
A joint committee of Afghan and US officials has reportedly overseen the handover of US airfields and bases. Afghan government officials have said the International Forces will also hand over $ 1 billion worth of military equipment.
US troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan before 9/11 after US President Joe Biden made the announcement recently, ending America’s longest war. The US has also deployed an aircraft carrier and bombers in the region to support the withdrawal process.
Kabul: First stage of the entrance exam for the solar year 1,400 has been scheduled to take place on April 28. Registration of the biometric information of the candidates of the first round started in 25 provinces of the country on Sunday.
Examiners and biometric information registration technical team have been sent to the provinces, as per National Examinations Office. Abdul Qadir Khamush, head of the National Examinations Office, said that this year, the exams have been organized for the first time in 25 provinces with strong measures.
This year, the entrance exam has been organized in three rounds and the process of registering the first round of biometric information has started and will continue till April 27. The entrance exam will be on April 28.
The first round of entrance exams for general, miscellaneous, religious sciences, and night entrance exam candidates from Samangan, Sar-e-Pul, Ghor, Nimroz, Badghis, Farah, Nuristan, Paktika, Daikundi, Zabul, Uruzgan, Helmand, Kandahar, Bamyan, Maidan, Paktia, Khost, Kapisa, Panjshir, Laghman, Kunar, Parwan, Nangarhar, and Baghlan are taken.
The second round of the entrance exam is scheduled to be held in eight provinces of the country, including Faryab, Kunduz, Jawzjan, Ghazni, Balkh, Herat, Takhar and Badakhshan.
The third stage of the entrance exam in Kabul will be held in mid-May. About 200,000 applicants are expected to take the entrance exam this year.
Kabul: At least 400,000 doses of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine will be provided to Afghanistan soon, said Wang Yu, China’s ambassador to Kabul, at the signing ceremony of China’s emergency humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.
Clarifying, Dastgir Nazari, spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Health, added that these doses are not part of any new commitment and are rather the ones which had been promised to Afghanistan earlier.
Speaking to local media, Nazari said that 400,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine, which had previously been provided to Afghanistan by China, would be delivered to Afghanistan in the near future.
Afghanistan has already received over 900,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine via two shipments from India and COVAX, the coordinating body for global efforts to provide countries with access to the Covid vaccine.
According to official figures from the Ministry of Public Health, 59,015 people have been infected with the COVID-19 infection in Afghanistan so far, of which 52,489 have recovered and 2,592 have died
Meanwhile, Ghulam Bahauddin Jilani, Minister of State for Disaster Management, said at the signing ceremony of the China Emergency Humanitarian Aid Document to Afghanistan that China has provided 5,266 metric meters emergency food aid to Afghanistan in the past three months.
Jilani said the food aid included 1,284 tons of wheat and 3,982 tons of Chinese rice, valued at 50m Chinese yen, equivalent to 550m afghanis.
With the signing of the Chinese Emergency Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan, this aid has been officially handed over to the state Ministry of Disaster Management.
Ghulam Bahauddin Jilani said that the aid received from China has started due to the vulnerability of the provinces in terms of natural disasters, quotas and transportation, and its distribution process in a fair and transparent manner for the deserving families.
Kabul: A high-level delegation led by Pakistan’s Special Representative on the Afghanistan peace process arrived in Kabul on Sunday for discussions with Afghan government officials, said Mansoor Ahmad Khan, Pakistan’s Ambassador.
Khan tweeted that the delegation arrived in the country to discuss Afghan reconciliation. “Pakistan’s Special Representative on Afghan Reconciliation Ambassador Muhammad Sadiq arrives in Kabul leading a high-level delegation for discussions with Afghan side on peace, security and related matters,” Khan tweeted.
Sadiq is likely to discuss other security related issues with the Afghan government.
Recently, Pakistan’s House of Representatives Asad Qaisar’s visit to the country was canceled because of security issues as IEDs were reportedly found at the Hamid Karzai International Airport.
Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Sunday reported 172 new positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 10 deaths and 97 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The total number of positive cases now stand at 59,015 while the number of reported deaths is 2,592 and the total number of recoveries is 52,489.
The new cases were reported Nangahar (60), Kabul (33), Kandahar (8), Takhar (1), Baghlan (5), Kunduz (2), Parwan (7), Helmand (13), Maidan Wardak (10), Kapisa (7), Kunar (3), Laghman (8), Panjshir (4), Zabul (1), Uruzgan (6) and Paktika (4) provinces.
So far, 395,395 samples have been tested at government centers and there are 3,934 known active COVID-19 cases in the country, data by the ministry indicates.
Kabul: A key commander of the Taliban was among the five insurgents killed in the Dand district of Kandahar province, the Ministry of Defense said.
The Ministry of Defence stated that during the operation carried out by ANDSF and AAF in Takaneh and Pol-e-Mehrab areas of Jalriz district, Mawlawi Jafar, a key Taliban commander for Dand district along with four of his bodyguards were killed. Jafar led a 150-member Taliban group and played an active role in planning “terrorist” attacks in the region.
The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces are advancing and taking control of areas in the Jalriz district of Maidan Wardak province too. On Sunday, MoD stated that Taliban in region have also suffered heavy casualties.
Fawad Aman, deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense tweeted that ANDSF were advancing in the region. He indicated that 28 Taliban fighters were killed during AAF airstrikes and Afghan commando operations.
A large amount of Taliban weapons and ammunition were also wrecked during the operation.
Previously, acting Defense Minister General Yasin Zia said that Taliban violence has faced heavy challenges and casualties in Kandahar, at least 1,100 Taliban affiliates were killed in the Arghandab district alone.
Kabul: The plan to vaccinate over 60 percent of the population in the country has been prepared by the Afghan Ministry of Public Health.
The move comes three months after the first batch of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine arrived in the country, Dastgir Nazari, spokesperson for the ministry, said. Recently, the government had announced vaccination for all above the age of 18 as the country is looking at an impending third wave of the viral infection.
“A total of $113 million has been pledged by the World Bank to implement the coronavirus vaccine; $50 million is being provided by the Asian Development Bank, and 20% of the population is expected to receive the coronavirus vaccine through COVAX and the World Vaccine Program,” Nazari said.
As per Nazari, so far, there are a total of 968,000 doses of vaccine to be adapted to more than 450,000 people in Afghanistan, including 150,000 tons of vaccines that have been delivered to the country’s security sector.
Kabul: At least 63 civilians have been killed and over 180 others have been wounded in Taliban attacks over the last 10 days, said the Interior Ministry.
Interior Ministry spokesperson Tariq Arian said that the Taliban had carried out six suicide attacks and 62 explosions between April 15 to April 25 this year. Along with the loss of life, huge financial losses have been inflicted on the people, added the ministry.
In response to the attacks, a number of prominent commanders and members of the group had been killed by government forces too.
The Taliban have not commented on the matter yet.
The two warring sides have been accusing each other of killing civilians by publishing the number of civilian casualties. Examination by independent bodies such as UNAMA and the Independent Human Rights Commission, however, shows that more civilians are being killed in Taliban attacks.
Kabul: At least 28 militants have been killed after commandos and air forces targeted a Taliban gathering in Jalriz district of Maidan Wardak province on Saturday, said Ministry of Defense (MoD).
According to the Ministry of Defense, some weapons and ammunition of the group were destroyed in the attack.
The Taliban have not commented on the matter yet.
Kabul: Unidentified gunmen shot at and killed a government employee in Paghman district of the province on Saturday night, said Kabul Police officials.
The incident took place at 8pm in the Qala-e-Ahmad area of Paghman district, Kabul police spokesperson Ferdows Faramarz said.
Faramarz identified the victim as “Qari Fawad” and added that he was an employee of the civilian sector of the government.
No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
On Saturday, four soldiers and a private university professor were assassinated by unknown gunmen in Paghman district and the Kabul city.
Kabul: As per a report by the Sunday Mirror, Afghan interpreters have urged the British government to protect their lives in the event of the foreign troop pullout.
Interpreters had put their lives at risk for UK troops in Afghanistan and live in constant fear of executions at the hands of the Taliban as they work in coalition with the foreign forces. Figures from the military show that 2,500 Afghans had helped British troops in the war against terror from 2001 to 2013. Over 20 of them lost their lives, as per the Sunday Mirror report.
There are concerns that their lives may be more in danger given the foreign troop pullout by September 11. In fact, Jahir Ban, 28, said that targeted killings of interpreters were happening on a daily basis. Only 450 interpreters and their families have been relocated so far, according to the Ministry of Defence.
Nasir, another interpreter who worked with the British for four months in 2009, said he was being hunted by the insurgents. He flee to Kabul to save his life. “My mother then called and told me the Taliban had killed my father,” he added.
Another interpreter who chose to be anonymous stated that he was told by the British officials in Kabul that he must wait 12-18 months for his relocation application to be processed.
Ex-army chief General Sir Richard Dannatt said, “We must stand alongside those who stood beside us in matters of principle even if it means helping them come back to the UK.”
Over 30,000 Afghans needed the UK’s help, claims Col Diggins, who has also served as military attaché at the British Embassy in Kabul. “There are British soldiers alive today thanks to the bravery of Afghan interpreters. The way they have been treated by the government is a disgrace,” remarked Ex-Sgt Trevor Coult, who did three tours of duty in Afghanistan.
The Commons Defence Committee chair, Tobias Ellwood, opined the UK’s inability to relocate interpreters in fear of their lives might imperil future operations.
Kabul: Bodies of two men and one woman killed by shooting have been found in the Kamarkalagh area north of Herat city, the Herat police said on Sunday.
Abdul Ahad Valizada, spokesperson for the Herat Police Command, said that the motive for the killings is still unknown.
Some sources allege that one of the two men was a police officer.
Herat Police said that efforts by security forces and intelligence units are on to determine the motive for the mysterious murders and arrest the perpetrators continue.
Kabul: Afghanistan peace process, Istanbul conference, foreign troop withdrawal and bilateral ties were discussed when Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi met Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavutsoglu on Saturday.
The meeting of the two foreign ministers comes after a trilateral conference was held between Afghanistan, Turkey and Pakistan in Istanbul. Emphasizing the need to have a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, Qureshi highlighted Pakistan s consistent efforts to support the Afghan peace process. He expressed the hope that the Afghan parties would realize the opportunity and work out an inclusive politically negotiated settlement. The foreign minister also lauded Turkey’s invaluable efforts to re-energise the Afghan peace process.
Various dimensions of bilateral relations including political and diplomatic engagement, economic cooperation as well as the regional security situation were also discussed.
The two sides also spoke about the ongoing preparations for the 7th Session of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC) that will be held in Turkey after Ramadan.