Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: The Ministry of Higher Education on Tuesday has announced that it intends to give scholarships to support the robotics girls team.
Minister of Higher Education Abbas Basir met the robotics girls team on Tuesday and said that they were the pride of the country and that the Ministry of Higher Education has a program to support elites and innovative students at the level of higher education institutions and has set up “creativity and innovation centers” in the country’s universities.
Meanwhile, girls part of the team, who are currently graduating from the 12th grade, applied to the Ministry of Higher Education for scholarships abroad. Basir also agreed to their request and assured that he would provide them with a field of study in one of the leading countries in the field of technology.
Kawsar Roshan, Saghar Salehi, Lida Azizi and Fatema Ghaderian are members of the girls’ robotics team that won silver medals in the 2017 competition in Washington and was recently featured in the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list.
Kabul: Ahmad Zia Saraj, the National Directorate of Security chief, said that the country will exchange Aslam Farooqi, leader of the Khorasan branch of the Islamic State (IS-K) with Islamabad if Pakistan agrees to handover one or two Taliban leaders to Kabul.
The exchange should be based on a clear definition of the bilateral relationship, he added. Abdullah Orukzai or Aslam Farooqi, is from the Orukzai region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, and was arrested by national security forces in southern Afghanistan in 2019, along with 19 of his men.
Saraj said that 309 foreign nationals belonging to al-Qaeda, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Taiba and the East Turkestan Movement are also being held in Afghanistan with greater crimes committing crimes against national and foreign security.
As per Saraj, foreign fighters enter Afghanistan through Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. Saraj, meanwhile, announced that Mawlavi Ahmad Kandahari, a key figure for the Taliban, had been killed in an attack by Afghan security forces on Monday in the area between Zherai and Maiwand districts in Kandahar province.
Kandahari, who is one of the group’s senior members, had organized dozens of major security incidents and his training centers were in the Chaman area of Pakistan.
The Taliban has tried in recent years to establish bases in Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgan and Zabul provinces to increase military operations in southern provinces, but the killing of Ahmad Kandahari has shown that there is no place in Afghanistan for “them”, said Saraj.
Kabul: Speaking candidly Afghanistan’s National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib said that the foreign troops’ withdrawal had come sooner than expected Stating that there hasn’t been a proper transition, Mohib said that the imminent withdrawal has “put us at risk” in some ways. However, he added that now the Afghan government has been forced to “expedite self-reliance and self-sufficiency with our security forces at a much faster pace than when what we were preparing for”.
Mohib’s only concern remains Taliban using this transition period as an opportunity to attack the country and take over provinces. “The capabilities we have built over the last 20 years have equipped us to be able to do the job relatively well. We have always emphasized that it’s not the number of US troops, it’s the capabilities that they provide us to do what we need to do but nonetheless we’re preparing for that zero troops option,” he said.
Mohib also said the Taliban should take peace negotiations seriously and have violated peace agreements signed earlier.
US President Joe Biden announced the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan by September 11 and NATO allies and the US has already started the retrograde mission. This however comes at a time when the Taliban has warned the global community that they won’t work on a peace agreement till all foreign troops are out of the country.
Kabul: As per President Ghani’s decree number 12, a number of women with infants will be released from prisons on the occasion of April 28th or Victory Day of the Afghan People’s Jihad, announced the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.
As per official statistics, there are nearly 1,000 women prisoners for committing various crimes, including murder, kidnapping and adultery.
The ministry said on Tuesday that their sentences would be reduced and the beneficiaries include female prisoners with infants serving up to five years in prison, regardless of the length of time spent.
The decree also calls on the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to provide adequate accommodation for prisoners released. The Ministry stated that it is committed to the timely implementation of the Presidential Palace’s provision of suitable accommodation for female prisoners to be released by the time of their male presence.
Kabul: The withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan after 20 years will not isolate the country from the global community, but it would rather start a new chapter in Afghanistan’s international relations, said President Ashraf Ghani at the Water and Electricity Week program held on Tuesday at the Presidential Palace.
Emphasizing that there will be no change in the economic aid sector, the President said that the government would present a clearer picture to the Afghan people on how to boost economy from domestic sources and redefine international resources.
He also said that the Afghan Air Force and Security Forces will continue to be funded and that there will be no problems in funding their equipment, assuring that international aid will not end.
This is a new chapter for Afghanistan as the country will be given the opportunity to achieve freedom, democracy, commitment to peace, national unity, Islamic identity, neutrality and international neutrality. He added that in the current context, international neutrality is a necessity.
He added that the arms of the republic are open to all; because the republic does not belong to him or anyone else and belongs to all Afghans. According to the Biden administration, the international forces will leave Afghanistan by September 11 this year and have already started this process.
Kabul: Instead of war and violence, the Taliban should take this peace opportunity and serve the people, said Amrullah Saleh, the first vice-president, at the Water and Electricity Week ceremony on Tuesday.
“The government is working with the global community for the development of Afghanistan; but Taliban is only destroying the country. We build and they destroy,” he said.
All schools and health institutions across the country, even the areas under Taliban control, are supported by the Afghan government. The Taliban only extorts money from teachers and health workers, he added.
“You can’t reach people’s heart through guns. We should compete to serve the Afghan people,” he said.
Taliban insurgents have repeatedly destroyed public utility projects in various parts of Afghanistan. On Monday, Taliban insurgents blew up the Dehla Bridge in Shah Wali Koot district of Kandahar province.
Kabul: The Pentagon is likely to send in a contingent of 650 troops to Afghanistan in the coming days to protect US forces as they withdraw from the country, according to several defense officials, CNN reported.
After US President Joe Biden announced the decision to end the 20-year war and drawdown troops from the war-ravaged country by September 11, the US had mentioned that they woild deploy some more troops to help the drawdown process in terms of logistics. The deployment was approved by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin late last week.
The 75th Ranger Regiment, which has some personnel in the region as part of a special operations force unit, is likely to be the regiment from which the 650 troops will be chosen.
A dedicated aircraft to transport them around the country as well as air support such as AC-130 gunships are being provided to the regiment to protect them if they are attacked along with departing troops.
Austin also approved extending the deployment of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower as well as B-52 bombers to the region to carry out airstrikes if needed given the level of threats by the Taliban to attack US troops. The Taliban had warned the global leaders that violence would increase if the troops are not out of the country by May deadline, set as per the Doha agreement.
US troops, located in southern and eastern Afghanistan, are likely to be among the first to be moved out, according to several officials.
Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Tuesday reported 145 new positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 13 deaths and 274 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The total number of positive cases now stands at 59,370, the number of reported deaths is 2,611 and the total number of recoveries is 52,794.
MoPH added that the new cases were reported in Kabul, Kandahar, Balkh, Nangarhar, Baghlan, Kunduz, Takhar, Paktia, Parwan, Bamiyan, Maidan Wardak, Badakhshan, Kapisa, Ghazni, Kunar, Laghman, Panjshir, Zabul and Khost provinces.
Kabul: The National Directorate of Security (NDS) operatives arrested 407 members of the IS-K group who are citizens of 14 different countries, announced NDS chief Ahmad Zia Saraj.
Detainees are nationals of 14 countries, including Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia, Algeria, Bangladesh, India and the Maldives and at least 60% of all detainees are from Pakistan.
The detainees had been involved in domestic and foreign security crimes. Saraj said that the current war in Afghanistan is a regional and global war and it is not right to put all the responsibility on the Afghan security forces.
The threat may spread to other countries if not controlled, he added saying that most of the group members were going to Iran and Pakistan through Turkey and entering Afghanistan through the borders of the two countries. Therefore, to prevent the entry of these people, negotiations have begun with Turkey and Iran to establish a tripartite cooperation.
NDS has been in contact with these countries to determine the fate of the detainees.
Meanwhile, activities of IS-K fighters have decreased significantly in recent months, as per the government. The government had previously announced that it had defeated the group in the east of the country and that all their cells in the eastern provinces had been destroyed.
Kabul: Vahid Majrooh, the Acting Minister of Public Health, on Tuesday warned the country that the third wave of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is at our doorstep, mentioning that the daily positive cases being reported in Afghanistan is also increasing.
A a joint press conference with the Minister of Hajj in Kabul, Majrooh said that the third wave will be far more dangerous than the second and first waves of the outbreak.
The acting Minister of Public Health also said that during the third wave of the coronavirus outbreak, Afghanistan is facing an “unequal war” and will not be able to do it alone. He called on the people to cooperate with the health sector and the government.
Emphasis was given on following the healthcare guidelines and recommendations, including observing social distance, wearing a mask and washing hands.
The Ministry of Public Health on Monday had announced that it will take a slew of measures to prevent the outbreak including suspending all Indian flights, imposing travel restrictions on the Pakistan-Iran border, night curfews, preventing gatherings and activating emergency committees.
The third wave of COVID-19 is yet to hit the country; however, the ministry is cautious in its approach. Osman Taheri, a public relations adviser at the Ministry of Public Health, added that if “the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates”, the third wave will be officially announced.
Since the outbreak of the virus in Afghanistan, 59,225 positive cases have been registered. Of those affected, 2,598 died and 52,520 recovered.
Kabul: Stating that the Taliban only wants war, elimination and a monopolistic policy, Sarwar Danesh, the second vice-president, said the Taliban should know that no one in Afghanistan surrenders to violence and terror.
On his social media page, the second VP write, “The 28th of April is a bloody day in the history of the country. A day that was followed by other bloody days, which means that blood can never be the solution. Blood always leads to blood, and violence is violence, and this lesson is always history.”
He asked all political groups, including the Taliban, to discuss peace as violence is not required for nation-building and governance. He added that a just and lasting peace is the only way to progress in Afghanistan.
Danesh said the Taliban were still fleeing the peace and thinking of a policy of war, elimination and monopoly. According to him, the targeted killing of innocent people is not a solution but a crime against humanity which shows that the Taliban does not believe in Islamic values or national interests and the commonalities of patriotism.
Concluding he wrote on his social media page, “The 28th April has many things to say, and lessons for all of us that if we do not learn from them, we will remain in the vortex of violence and conflict for many years to come. On 28th April of 1978, some people cheered and celebrated and danced for their victory; but a victory based on a drop of blood has never been a real victory.”
Kabul: At least seven people have been killed and 70 others have been wounded in a road accident when two passenger vehicles collided in Paghman district of Kabul province on Monday night, said Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian.
According to him, the dead and injured include women and children. Police and medical teams responded in a timely manner and transported the injured to medical centers in Maidan Shahr, the capital of Maidan Wardak province.
Cause of road accidents include carelessness of the drivers, but the lack of width and damage to the roads are also considered as other causes of traffic accidents in the country, added Arian.
Kabul: Tafsir Khan, a former Taliban commander, and four of his family members were killed by unidentified gunmen on Monday night, said local officials in Nangarhar province.
Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhel, governor of Nangarhar said the incident occurred in the Lalpur district and Khan’s brother was also killed in the incident.
The Taliban have not yet commented on the incident.
Meanwhile, military’s 207th Zafar Corps said in a statement released on Tuesday that at least nine Taliban insurgents were killed and 13 others were wounded in Herat province.
According to the statement, Afghan national defense and security forces backed by air support clashed with Taliban militants in the Bazar Kohna area of Pashtun Zarghun district in Herat province.
In another security incident, 11 members of Taliban were killed and wounded in Daimirdad of Maidan Wardak province. Reports indicate the group was badly hit in a rocket shell explosion as they were planning their attacks inside a Madrassa in the region.
Kabul: Reiterating that a stable and peaceful Afghanistan will in turn lead to a stable Central Asia, Mahmadtoir Zokirzoda, speaker of Majlisi Namoyandagon, Tajikistan’s Lower Chamber of Parliament, on Monday, said that collaboration with Afghanistan is one of their priorities.
Zokirzoda received Afghan Ambassador to Tajikistan Mohammad Zahir Agbar and said that Afghanistan is one of the most important things in their foreign policy. For establishing peace and stability in Afghanistan, there is a need to create favorable conditions for its peaceful development, Muhammadato Sultonov, spokesperson for the Majlisi Namoyandagon, said in an interview with local media.
The focus should be to expand trade and economic cooperation between the two friendly neighbours and cooperation between border areas of the two countries. Hence, development of the bilateral trade is of particular importance, Zokirzoda said, adding that Tajikistan plans to double the volume of trade with Afghanistan, irrespective of external factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over 500 Afghan students study at Tajik universities, added the Tajik parliament speaker and in the past decade, more than 1,500 Afghans, including more than 100 Afghan women, have graduated from various universities in Tajikistan and earned their degree.
Kabul: Import from Afghanistan via the Attari-Wagah border to India has reduced to almost zero over the past one week as the country sees an unprecedented rise in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.
This comes even as the Ministry of Public Health is planning to ban all flights to India and restrict traveling to the country which is facing the worst pandemic crisis. Sukhdev Singh, Land Port Authority of India (LPAI)’s Integrated Check Post (ICP) manager, said, “Earlier, we used to get over 50 trucks from Afghanistan bearing dry fruits and licorice. Over the 10 days only a couple of trucks came with the trade offer and there were no trucks from Afghanistan on Saturday and Sunday.”
The Attari integrated check post (ICP) facilitates India’s trade with Pakistan and Afghanistan and officials posted there said that the reduction in trade can be attributed to the surge in COVID-19 cases in the country. Before mid-April, nearly 15 trucks carrying goods came from Afghanistan on a daily basis. The daily count of trucks was recorded more than 50 till mid-March when apple was also being imported from the country.
A senior customs official said, “There is less import from Afghanistan due to off-season of dry fruits. We are following all Covid-19 protocols at the time of the unloading of trucks. A health department team gives clearance to truck drivers at the zero line before they cross over to India.”
Anil Mehra, President of Federation of Karyana and Dry Fruit Association, said, “Most of the dry fruit traders are based in New Delhi where a strict lockdown has been imposed due to COVID-19. Importers in Delhi have shelved their orders from Afghanistan. Besides, transportation has also been impacted due to a sudden surge in pandemic and Indian traders are not placing many orders.”