Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: As the violence is spreading to cities now, in an announcement by the 215th Maiwand Army Corps it has asked the residents Lashkargah city to leave the areas as soon as possible and go to safe places if the terrorists move in their houses.
“The enemies of peace of the people in the last few days have started their extensive attacks on the city. The ANSDF have responded decisively to the terrorists’ movements and inflicted heavy casualties on the terrorists in the past few days, and will launch extensive ground and air operation to clear the city of terrorists. Preventing damage to the people and their homes is our priority, but terrorists are fighting the ANDSF by using civilians and their homes as shield,” the announcement read.
“We will fight hard against the terrorists and the enemies decisively to protect the peace and life of the people, and the ANDSF will do their best to return the people’s life to normal as soon as possible. We assure the people of Lashkargah that no living terrorists will leave Lashkargah,” it concluded.
Meanwhile, Sami Sadat, commander of the 215th Maiwand Army Corps, told the media that “Early this morning, the Taliban tried to attack the Lashkargah prison, detonating several IEDs behind the prison wall but were unable to enter the prison. The Taliban were killed there and their bodies were left there and were defeated.” The Ministry of Defense said that the operation against the Taliban has begun and 77 Taliban have been killed in the city since Monday.
Also, commenting on the civilian deaths, UNAMA said, “There is deepening concern for Afghan civilians in Lashkargah as fighting worsens. Latest reports show 118 civilians injured and 40 killed within last 24 hours as Taliban continue ground assault and Afghan Army attempts to repel. The UN urges immediate end to fighting in urban areas.”
UNAMA added that civilians are bearing the brunt as fighting enters Afghanistan’s cities. “At least 10 civilians killed, 85 wounded in Lashkargah and at least five killed and 42 wounded in Kandahar in the last three days alone along with thousands being displaced,” it said.
So, in a joint statement, the diplomatic missions of Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the EU delegation, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, the Office of the NATO Senior Civilian Representative, Sweden, the UK and the US condemned Friday’s attack on the UN compound in Herat that resulted in the loss of a life and also the subsequent violent incidents involving the UN compound on Saturday. “Any attack on a civilian humanitarian facility protected by international law should be investigated as a possible war crime. The Taliban must stop denying their involvement in human rights violations and follow the rule of law to investigate and prosecute those responsible in their ranks. The Taliban’s offensive is in direct contradiction to their claim to support a negotiated settlement of the conflict and the Doha peace process,” the statement said.
It added that along with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, it demands the Taliban to allow humanitarian assistance access the millions of Afghans in need. They called for an immediate end to the ongoing violence and for a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire and for an inclusive political settlement that safeguards the human rights of Afghans, particularly women, children and minorities.
Meanwhile, the 203rd Thunder Army Corps Commander Dadan Lawang arrived in Ghazni province on Tuesday along with other senior security officials. The purpose of the visit is to assess the general security situation in Ghazni province and take serious military action against the existing security threats. In a security meeting between the security delegation from Gardez and local officials of Ghazni province, Governor Mohammad Daud spoke about the ongoing security situation in the capital and all districts of the province, the existing threats and the security situation.
The Governor praised the hard work and dedication of the heroic Afghan security forces against the enemy in all areas of the province, but called for serious attention to the needs of the security forces. Lawang spoke about the security situation in Ghazni province and the activities of the ANDSF in the southeast. At the end of the meeting, Lawang assured that immediate steps would be taken to eliminate security threats and ensure long-term security throughout Ghazni. He also made some recommendations to the security officials of Ghazni province to improve the current security situation in the province and the people living there to live in a secure environment, as per the Ghazni Governor’s Media Office.
Former President Hamid Karzai is in favor of a political confrontation with the Taliban, according to an interview with Russia Today. The former Afghan president holds a strong belief that the Afghan people will rise against the Taliban if they trample basic rights of Afghan people including right to education.
“There is immense violence in Afghanistan; there is immense anger in our country. But, I also see the Afghans waking up to the new reality, and those who want to opt to stay in Afghanistan will make it better and the region, specially Russia, China, Iran and hopefully also very important, Pakistan which realizes and recognizes the dangers of continued instability in Afghanistan. This is a great opportune moment for Afghanistan to take a turn towards betterment. I must not forget India, another great neighbor of Afghanistan, that has to recognize this,” Karzai said in the interview.
On his views of the Taliban, Karzai said, “My views of them are those of the Afghan people – meaning that they are the Afghan people. I rose against them when they were in power because I saw them violating the rights of Afghan people and I saw them allowing foreign influence into Afghanistan, individuals from Arab countries and official forces from Pakistan and disregarding the unity of Afghan people were the reasons I based my opposition and my resistance to them like many Afghans did. But when my government came, when the republic came, they were pardoned.”
Karzai said that the Taliban must agree to a political solution, or they would be defeated. “Afghan people will rise against them. Afghan people have given them an opportunity for peace; this means an opportunity to co-exist and to allow the country to progress,” he added.
On the rising violence and deteriorating security situation in the country, Karzai said, “Physical security is more of an appearance rather than a reality when it comes to threats. Security has to be mental, and that means a security we have in our resolve to continue the progress Afghanistan needs and that progress fundamentally lies in the Afghan girls and women be able to educate and go to work. And that is a fundamental right that I am seeking and will pursue further.”
He said that once you have peace and stability in Afghanistan and a government that governs the whole country, the threats that can be posed to Russia and to the region automatically go away.
“Violence has been at its highest in the past few years, unfortunately. And Daesh was responsible for some of the most horrible attacks, especially against schoolgirls and the most vulnerable and people in the cities. Daesh is an entirely foreign phenomenon. The Taliban are rooted in our country, they come from our villages. But Daesh is entirely foreign to our country. Therefore, Daesh must be treated as an extremely violent terrorist group and it is upon all of us to fight against it,” he added.
Meanwhile, in other news, Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar said that he had attended two meetings with ambassadors and representatives of neighboring countries, the region and international organizations to discuss the Afghan government’s plans for lasting peace, security and a campaign to prevent Taliban violence.
Atmar told a news conference on Tuesday that closing the Taliban’s political office in Qatar would not cure the pain, but those whom the international community tolerated in Doha for 10 years for the sake of peace, must be held accountable. He added, “The Qatar talks must succeed. One obstacle to peace is the Taliban’s totalitarianism. The Taliban’s emphasis is on a military solution. Our message to the Qatar office and the international community is that an inflexible group should not endanger the lives and people of Afghanistan and the security of the region. We must work together to make the Doha talks a success and end war and violence.”
Atmar said the Taliban had waged a brutal war against people across Afghanistan in violation of the Doha agreement. According to him, the Taliban are not alone in this war, and their attacks are carried out in direct collusion with more than 10,000 regional terrorists; Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Ansarullah, Jundallah, al-Qaeda, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, and the Uzbek Islamic Movement.
“We call on the international community to work with the Afghan government and people to prevent war in the cities,” Atmar said. “The focus of the Taliban and their foreign allies is on the cities. We called for a special session of the UN Security Council to take political, legal and security action against the Taliban, and the international community responded positively.” Speaking to representatives of the international community, the Foreign Minister said that he called for the investigation, documentation and punishment of the perpetrators of the recent war crimes in Afghanistan. “The actions taken by the international community are not enough,” he added. “The criminals who kill people today should not be exempted tomorrow, either peacefully or through political secrecy.” Atmar said that two important meetings will be held in Qatar in the coming days, and that the Afghan government has asked the participating countries to send a clear and decisive message to the Taliban.
Asked about Pakistan’s role in the Afghan peace process, he said: “We want good and honest relations with Pakistan. But the persistence of terrorism and the existence of terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan is a major obstacle to good relations, stability and regional co-operation.”
On the other hand, in a joint operation with the NDS on Monday afternoon, Kabul police eliminated an organized criminal group in Kabul’s PD10. During the operation, which was launched on the 11th street of Qala-e Fathullah, an armed clash took place between the police and the criminal group, in which 3 members of the group were killed and 1 of them was wounded. He was arrested by the police. The criminal group was wanted for most cases of kidnapping, armed robbery and extortion by the police. A kidnapped person was also released during the operation. Additionally, three vehicles, six guns, a grenade launcher, six hand grenades and a quantity of ammunition were also seized from this group. Two members of the Kabul police were also killed during the operation.
Kabul: Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar announced that the government in Afghanistan is ready to make peace and share power with the Taliban. In an interview with Izvestia newspaper, Atmar said, in case the Taliban meet certain conditions, the Afghan government is ready to make peace with the group.
“We are ready to work with the Taliban. We are ready to bring them to the government. We are ready for peace and sharing of power with them,” he said. Atmar added, “It is the free will of the Afghan people that determines the future of this country. Afghanistan should not be a threat to any country and there should not be a single foreign terrorist on its territory.” He noted that the Afghan government is ready to accept the Taliban as part of its body, provided that the group does not support terrorism.
However, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said that talks on forming an interim coalition government in Afghanistan will take a long time. During online discussions hosted by the Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund on Tuesday, Kabulov said, “It will be a long process. And it doesn’t mean that peace and calm will immediately come to Afghanistan, we realize that. However, this will be the beginning of a road to peace and prosperity in Afghanistan.”
According to Kabulov, members of the Extended Troika on Afghanistan (Russia, the US, Pakistan and China) seek to use their influence to encourage the parties to the conflict to start making agreements. According to the Russian presidential envoy, Iran is one of the key players on the “Afghan track.” He also added that the current tense situation in Afghanistan stems from strategic mistakes made by the United States and its allies. The United States made a big mistake when it engaged in creating a network of military bases on the territory of Afghanistan instead of assisting the country’s recovery, Kabulov said. Taliban has its own vision of the country’s future and is conducting combat operations more successfully than any other forces, which means it will have to be reckoned with when launching substantive and productive intra-Afghan negotiations, Kabulov added. “According to our estimates, about two-thirds of this movement, including the top brass, are in the mood for settling the Afghan crisis by political means,” Kabulov said. In the meantime, one-third of the insurgents, including some field commanders, remain radically-minded.
Kabulov also dismissed reports of links between the Taliban and al-Qaeda as speculation. “According to our estimates, al-Qaeda is now a small group, fewer than 500 people, which is inactive and poses no direct threat. It does not take part in hostilities in Afghanistan in any form,” the diplomat added. However, he added that the presence of Taliban in Afghanistan’s north will suppress the growth of threat from the Daesh terrorist group to Central Asian countries.
This comes even as Russian Mi-8 military transport helicopters and Mi-24 assault gunships have redeployed from the Novosibirsk Region in Western Siberia to the Gissar airfield in Tajikistan for trilateral drills at the Kharb-Maidon training ground 20 km from the Afghan border, the press office of Russia’s Central Military District reported on Tuesday. “The four combat helicopters have been airlifted from Russia by an An-124-100 Ruslan heavy transport plane. During the main phase of the joint exercise, the army aviation crews will land a tactical assault force and provide air support for the advancing troops in the course of eliminating an outlawed armed gang,” the press office said in a statement.
The helicopters were partially disassembled before their transportation. Upon the gunships’ arrival at the destination airfield, the ground personnel assembled the helicopters while the pilots made test flights, the statement says. The joint drills of Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan will run at the Kharb-Maidon training ground on August 5-10. Overall, the drills will involve 2,500 troops, including 1,800 personnel from Russia, and also about 500 items of armament and military hardware. The Russian military contingent in the drills will mostly comprise units of Russia’s 201st military base in Tajikistan.
Kabul: The Ministry of Justice held a conference on Monday to discuss the draft law on conflict resolution in the jirgas. At the conference, the Minister of Justice described Afghanistan as a traditional country with jirgas and stressed on the fact that to prevent injustice, we have no choice but to legalize jirgas.
Justice Minister Fazal Ahmad Manawi said at the conference that to prevent injustice in society, limits and principles should be set for these jirgas. He emphasized that the jirgas also have a special place in Islamic law.
He added that in a country where people live in masses, it is not possible to prevent jirgas. He also pointed to the importance and position of jirgas in the Qur’an and hadiths and said that there is a great emphasis on peace and resolving disputes through the jirga there. “Opposition to the jirgas is opposition to sharia,” the justice minister said. “The jirga is not a sin in terms of sharia, but a virtue.”
He stated that completing the draft law on resolving disputes in the jirgas is one of his responsibilities in the Ministry of Justice and said that the implementation of this law will be one of the honors of his work at the Ministry. Manawi said that the quick resolution of disputes, especially civil disputes in the jirgas, the right to go to court if justice is not provided in the jirgas, resolving the roots of issues and other issues are among the advantages of the jirgas.
Members of the Jirga Dispute Resolution Law Draft Conference (the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court, the Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of the Constitution, the Independent Human Rights Commission, UNAMA and the German Cooperation Office) are scheduled to review all articles of the draft law in two working days and share their corrective views on it.
Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani has said that billions of dollars have been spent in recent years on international investment in electronic system.
“In recent years, billions of dollars have been lost in the international investment on electronic system, and even a ministry has not been able to set up a system,” Ghani said. According to him, in the past, the Ministry of Finance had no connection with the treasury and payments department, the Ministry of Education did not know the number of teachers and their salaries, and in the Ministry of Interior, there were 17 parallel structures.
Ghani said that at present, the process of digitalization and the use of open systems is in the hands of Afghans. In another part of his speech, the President called the opening of a program to pay the salaries of civil servants electronically as a positive step towards the digitalization of the government. “With the inauguration of this system, the security forces can send their salaries to their families whenever they want,” he added. “Also, after this, the salaries will be paid and paid on time.”
Ghani said that with the opening of this program, no department can hide the number of its employees and structure, and the ground for the implementation of the law on access to information will be provided. Nader Naderi, head of the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission, also said at the ceremony that with the opening of the program, no more imaginary salaries would be paid and corruption would be prevented.
Ajmal Ahmadi, the Central Bank Governor, also said at the ceremony that the plan to pay salaries and transfer money via mobile phones without internet is very important and all civilian and military employees can check their accounts and transfer their salaries to their families or anyone they want by having a phone.
Meanwhile, Zabihullah Ziarmal, General Director of the National Standards Authority, said that he is working to transform the agency to a certification and accreditation body. Addressing a press conference, Ziarmal described the agency’s activities in three areas of national, regional and international.
He added, “The National Standards Authority is obliged to develop the national infrastructure at the national level, which includes the establishment of quality certificates for imported goods and domestic products, the promotion of quality brands and national standard brands and the establishment of a quality star rating system.” Ziarmal said that strengthening regional standards is one of the agency’s priorities, and said that talks have begun with some countries in the region, including Uzbekistan.
Ziarmal emphasized that the Authority has also taken the first steps to gain international recognition and membership in international organization for standardization. Quality control of imported goods in customs, quality control of domestic products and ensuring the rights of depreciation, are the main responsibilities of the Authority.
In other news, the State Ministry for Disaster Management announced that the process of providing assistance to the victims of the deadly flood in Kamdesh district of Nuristan province has begun. Samiullah Zarbi, deputy spokesman for the Ministry, told Hasht-e Sobh Daily on Tuesday that 233 families in the district had been provided with non-food aid by the International Organization for Migration.
The aid includes a complete package of kitchen utensils. Zarbi added that the process of transferring food to 233 other families began on Tuesday morning, which includes basic foodstuff and will meet the two-month needs of these families. Extreme levels of flood danger were announced in Kamdesh district of Nuristan on Wednesday last week, with heavy casualties. As a result of the flood, 113 people died and 34 others were injured. Also, 173 houses, 10 shops and 1,100 acres of agricultural land, 2 mosques and 6 large bridges were destroyed. Zarbi said that assistance is being provided in cooperation with charities, the Red Crescent Society and the State Ministry for Disaster Management.
Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Monday reported 361 new positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 32 deaths due to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The total number of cases now stand at 148,933, while the number of reported deaths is 6,836.
The Ministry of Health has called on Afghan citizens to follow health guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Kabul: An Afghan security team called on the Islamabad inspector-general of police (IGP) at the Foreign Office Tuesday, in connection with the probe into the abduction of Afghan Ambassador Najib Alikhil’s daughter.
Reports surfaced that the ambassador’s daughter, Silsila Alikhil, had been abducted and tortured. The Afghan foreign ministry had said that the girl was “abducted for several hours” in Islamabad last month after which Pakistani authorities launched a probe into the incident. Islamabad Inspector General of Police (IGP) Qazi Jamilur Rehman briefed the Afghan delegation headed by DG Security and Border Affairs, Hassan Faizi, about the investigation report of the incident.
This comes even as Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Monday had said that Pakistan had completed the investigation into the alleged abduction of the daughter of the former Afghan ambassador to Pakistan. Ahmed had said Pakistan would inform the Afghan team from Kabul about the investigation of the incident, adding, “If the Afghan team wants it can also hold meetings with the taxi drivers in which the ambassador’s daughter had traveled”.
The four-member team from Afghanistan had arrived in Islamabad on Sunday. Earlier on July 18, Shaikh Rasheed Ahmed had said that the incident involving the ambassador’s daughter “was not an abduction” at all.
Meanwhile, in other news, the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC), released a statement regarding the detention of Shakib Shams, a local reporter for Salam Watandar, and Estorai Karimi, a correspondent for Pajhwok Afghan News, on August 1, by the Taliban, when they were covering the frontline in the southwestern part of Herat.
The Committee strongly condemned the act and said that, based on Islamic norms and the four Geneva Conventions and its protocols, journalists are considered civilian targets. “Any kind of violence, deprivation of liberty, coercion and interference in the work of journalism is against the above principles. In order to realize the rights of journalists and their freedom of action, it requires that the parties involved have specific solutions for the protection of journalists. Journalists are free to conduct their journalistic work in accordance with the principles and fundamentals of journalism and the laws of the country. Any imposed interview is against the freedom of the media. The Committee calls on the Taliban to clarify the matter. The Committee also urges the media and journalists to adhere to the rules of safety and not to do anything that would jeopardize their safety while covering the war,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, Russia is ready to maintain counterterrorism contacts with the United States, including in the context of Afghanistan, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for New Challenges and Threats chief, Vladimir Tarabrin, said.
“As for counterterrorism contacts with the Americans, including in the context of the Afghan affairs, we are ready for such interaction, but we cannot be more interested in it than our partners are,” Tarabrin said. From 2018-2019, Moscow and Washington maintained a full-fledged cross-agency dialogue on the entire spectrum of counterterrorism issues, but this cooperation was suspended under a contrived pretext at the US initiative, the diplomat recalled.
Nevertheless, Moscow continues pragmatic cooperation with the US Department of States’ Bureau of Counterterrorism where this meets Russia’s practical interests, Tarabrin added. “We are ready to continue counterterrorism cooperation, including the exchange of views on Afghanistan, both bilaterally and within multilateral formats if there is mutual interest,” Tarabrin concluded.
Kabul: The Taliban launched attacks from several directions against Sar-e Pul prison and the main highway security belt, which faced strong resistance from the brave ANDSF and sustained heavy casualties.
Also, Faqir Mohammad Jawzjani, provincial police chief, arrived on the battlefield, closely controlled the situation and foiled the enemy plot, as per the Sar-e Pul police headquarters.
Also, as per the Ministry of Interior, the ANDSF will work in full coordination to free the people of Lashkargah, Helmand province, from the evils of the insurgents. The Taliban use civilians as shield and their homes as strongholds, which sometimes hinders the speed of operations.
Also, Herat health officials said that an explosion in Haji Abbas area of Herat city’s PD9 has killed three people and injured 10 others. Aref Jalali, the chief physician of the Herat Regional Hospital, said that the dead included two women and a man, and the wounded included two women and eight men. He added that the health condition of the injured is critical. Reportedly, an IED was placed in a minivan, which went off on Monday evening.
Meanwhile, unidentified gunmen shot dead Imdadullah Hamdard, an advisor to Nangarhar provincial council, in Jalalabad city on Monday evening. Provincial officials said that Hamdard was targeted in front of his house in Majboor Abad area of Jalalabad’s PD4. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the incident.
Also, as per the Kunar’s provincial governor’s office, at a gathering, tribal elders, religious scholars and youth from three districts of Kunar, announced their full support for the ANDSF. Tribal elders, clerics and youths from Pech Dara, Wata Pur and Chapa Dara districts gathered at the center of Pech Dara district yesterday and announced their strong support for the ANDSF.
The tribal elders also took joint decisions on strengthening security in the districts, unity of the people, formation of 20-member committees at the district level and a number of other important issues. Pech Dara District Governor Mawlawi Enayatullah Rahmani said there were strong tribal structures and agreements to strengthen security and local governance. He said there was good coordination between the local administration, the people and the security forces and together they were preventing the implementation of the enemy’s evil aims in the district.
This comes even as Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar met with Stefano Pontecorvo, NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative for Afghanistan. During the meeting, the Foreign Minister praised NATO’s cooperation with Afghanistan over the past two decades and welcomed NATO’s commitment to continuing the organization’s diplomatic presence in Afghanistan and to continuing training cooperation with the ANDSF, especially the training of special forces.
Atmar also spoke about the importance of necessary legal adjustments in the documents of the bilateral cooperation agreements between Afghanistan and NATO, taking into account the evolution of relations between Afghanistan and NATO. Considering the importance of NATO-Afghanistan strategic relations, Pontecorvo spoke about the role and plans of the organization to strengthen and enhance the capacity of the ANDSF, and the security of Hamid Karzai International Airport and its importance for the continued presence of diplomatic missions in Afghanistan, international organizations and the continuation of international development assistance. Pontecorvo also proposed to Atmar the establishment of an academy to train Afghan personnel to manage and lead the country’s airports, which was welcomed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Atmar also met with Deborah Lyons, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, on the current developments, peace talks, the escalation of Taliban attacks on cities, Taliban’s human rights abuses and the group’s crimes against humanity. The Foreign Minister strongly condemned the Taliban attack on the UN office in Herat province. Expressing concern over the escalation of Taliban attacks on populated cities and centers, he called the group’s inhumane crimes intolerable for the people and government of Afghanistan. Atmar called on the international community to prosecute the perpetrators of this war crime using international structures and mechanisms.
Atmar also emphasized the role of international institutions, including the International Criminal Court and the United Nations Human Rights Council, in investigating, documenting and punishing perpetrators of recent war crimes in the country. Noting that the priority of the people and government of Afghanistan is immediate ceasefire and reaching a comprehensive peace agreement, the Foreign Minister called on the United Nations and the international community to put pressure on the Taliban to stop the killing of Afghans and find a political solution. Lyons thanked the ANDSF for their timely support and response to curb Taliban attacks on the UN mission in Herat province, and expressed grave concern about the escalation of Taliban attacks on cities and the killing of innocent people. Lyons also cited the high level of civilian casualties and potential threats to employees of charities and international organizations as serious causes of the failure of humanitarian aid and development projects, and stressed the need to stop it immediately.
Atmar also met ambassadors and representatives of regional countries and focused on six key areas, like the security situation; presence of foreign fighters alongside the Taliban; the dire humanitarian situation; the Taliban’s widespread crimes and human rights abuses; the government’s new security plan, and important areas of cooperation with the international community.
Atmar said that the spread of violence in recent months have killed more than 3,000 people, displaced more than 300,000, and disrupted order and services in half of the country’s districts. Currently, 18 million people are facing a dire humanitarian situation. The foreign minister said that the Taliban attacks were carried out in direct collusion with more than 10,000 regional terrorists (Lashkar-e-Taiba, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Ansarullah, Jundallah, al-Qaeda, East Turkestan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan).
Atmar said that the Taliban’s war crimes were indescribable. He cited the massacre of more than 100 people in Spin Boldak district, the forced marriage of women, the destruction of more than 300 public infrastructure, and the closure of services in Taliban-controlled areas. Atmar also clarified the government’s regional and global security and diplomacy plans. He said that the government’s security plan will be prepared and implemented soon in coordination and support of all political and social strata in order to strengthen the government’s positions in strategic points and metropolitan areas. He also referred to the joint program of the government and human rights organizations to document Taliban crimes and hold the Taliban accountable worldwide.
At the end of the meeting, Atmar spoke on the four pillars of cooperation with the international community, including repelling Taliban attacks on metropolitan areas; preventing human catastrophe and human rights abuses; accelerating the peace process, and implementing the six-month security plan.
During the meeting, regional countries and the UN expressed their support for the immediate cessation of violence and the strengthening of the peace process. Lyons said that the attack on Herat and the UNAMA office showed that what was promised was not being carried out. She added that this is not just an Afghan struggle, but a struggle that we should all pay close attention to. Referring to the current difficult situation facing Afghanistan and the international community, the Turkish ambassador said that we need to act in a coordinated manner in addressing the issue of Afghanistan.
Kabul: The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has said that if the Afghans do not reach a political agreement, the country could plunge into a prolonged war.
In an exclusive interview with Radio Azadi, Khalilzad said that the parties involved should prioritize national interests. “The peace talks that began after the [Qatar] agreement have not progressed much and the two sides are focusing more on a military solution. It is time for the leaders to prioritize and take the talks more seriously to reach an agreement more quickly instead of thinking they can resolve the issue through war,” he said.
Khalilzad said that the Doha agreement necessitated and committed the Taliban to negotiations for a new Islamic government in Afghanistan and a comprehensive cease fire. “The Taliban cannot conquer Afghanistan and have a government that has the support of the overwhelming majority of the Afghans and international support. Maybe some Taliban think there is a military solution to the conflict although they tell us otherwise. When they speak to us the Taliban says there is no military solution. But if some commanders or some military leaders think that they are miscalculating because there will be resistance and even if they take over the country, there will be resistance and there will be international opposition that they won’t be recognized that they will not receive international assistance, and they will become a pariah state which they say they don’t want.”
Khalilzad said that it is now the obligation of the Afghan leaders, Taliban and the Afghan government to recognize that there is no military solution and their engagement with each other will bring peace.
Khalilzad added that the continuation of the war would have no consequences other than inflicting casualties on the Afghan people. He made the remarks as the fighting intensified in Herat, Helmand, Kandahar and a number of other provinces. Clashes in Kandahar city and provincial districts have forced 22,000 families to flee their homes in the past three weeks. Dost Mohammad Nayab, provincial director of refugees and repatriations affairs, told Radio Azadi that most of the IDPs, who are women and children, have been relocated to government buildings. “Nearly 22,000 families have been evacuated from 7 PDs of Kandahar city and districts of the province, where the clashes are ongoing, to safe areas. We have relocated almost 9,500 people to government buildings, most of whom are women and children,” said Nayab.
This comes even as at least 80,000 children in Afghanistan have fled their homes since the start of June as violence has swept parts of the country, Save the Children warned on Monday, and are in dire need of food, shelter and medical care. “Many of the children are living with their families under tarpaulin sheets held up with sticks, with nothing but a few rugs to soften the hardened clay and some surviving on energy drinks and bread,” the organization stated.
According to the UN, around 130,000 people have had to leave their homes and villages in the past two months alone, 60% of them children. In total, more than 613,000 people, including 362,000 children, have been displaced over the past 12 months. In the northern province of Kunduz, which is home to the country’s highest number of internally displaced people (IDPs), there are more than 60,300 people living in makeshift camps. Save the Children warned that hundreds of thousands more children are at risk of becoming severely malnourished due to a lack of food and other basic needs in the camps, exacerbated by the worst drought in years.
Displaced children are also at increased risk of being forced into marriage or child labour or recruited into armed groups, Save the Children warned. Chris Nyamandi, Save the Children’s Country Director in Afghanistan, said, “The many thousands of children who have been forced to flee their homes in the past few months could not be any clearer indication of the catastrophic impact that the recent escalation of the conflict is having on children. In addition to those living in horrific conditions in displacement camps, we’ve seen a record increase in the number of children killed or injured in the crossfire of the conflict, as well as the destruction of schools and health facilities. This should be a wake-up call to the international community to keep investing in Afghanistan’s future before any progress that has been made here unravels completely. We call on all parties to stop the violence and protect civilians, especially children and respect their obligations under international humanitarian law. All efforts must be made to agree on an enduring peace settlement so that future generations of children can grow up in a country free of the fear of violence, death, and injury.”
In fact, even MSF stated that between July 29 and 31 alone, MSF treated 70 war-wounded patients. In total from May 3 until July 31, we have treated 482 war-wounded people, nearly all (92 per cent) for injuries caused by shells and bullets, and around a quarter (26 per cent) aged under 18. The patients seen by MSF are just a fraction of the total number injured by the violence, it said.
“The fighting exacerbates health needs beyond trauma care. Given the lack of well-functioning and affordable medical facilities in Helmand, people rely on the 300-bed Boost hospital, the only referral hospital in the province, for essential neonatal, paediatric, inpatient, intensive care, maternity, malnutrition, and surgical services among others. Since May, however, MSF staff have witnessed an alarming increase in the severity of patients’ illnesses when they arrive at the hospital. People have described how, despite needing medical care, they have been forced to wait at home until the fighting subsides or to take dangerous alternate routes. With fighting taking place not far from Boost hospital, and people too afraid to leave their homes due to the violence, access to healthcare is dangerously limited,” it added.
Kabul: The ANDSF with air support conducted a clearance operation in Nijrab district on Monday, as a result, 18 Taliban insurgents were killed and the group’s shadow governor for the district was wounded, and a large amount of their ammunition and weapons were destroyed. Additionally, the district was cleared of insurgents.
Also, the Ministry of Defense in a statement said that on Monday, the ANDSF, commandos and the popular forces with air support targeted the Taliban terrorists in Herat city, the provincial capital. “As a result, 41 Taliban terrorists were killed, 32 others were wounded, and some of their weapons and ammunition were destroyed. Also, Pul-e Pashtun, Pul-e Malan, Asya Klokhi, Pul-e Rawashan, and Hawadeh areas were cleared of the enemy,” the MoD statement read. Also, Ross Wilson, the US charge’d’affaires talked to Commander Ismail Khan and expressed interest and support for efforts, together with the Afghan Defense and Security Forces, to defend Herat and its people against Taliban attacks.
Meanwhile, Brigadier General Abbas Tawakoli, Commander of the 217th Pamir Army Corps, arrived in Faizabad on Monday afternoon with a number of commandos and visited the ANDSF in Badakhshan province. Tawakoli spoke to members of the 2nd Brigade, located in Faizabad, praised their efforts in securing the lives and property of the people, assessed the security situation, held a meeting with senior provincial security officials, issued serious directives to improve the security situation, and called on all the ANDSF to defend the people and their compatriots in full coordination. The ANDSF promised that they would spare no effort to ensure the security of the people of Badakhshan.
Then, 209 Shaheen Army Corps said that the Taliban attacked the security belts of Sheberghan from two directions on Monday. Fortunately, with the resistance and quick reaction of the ANDSF and people’s forces along with air support, these attacks were repulsed. During the clash, counterattack and two airstrikes on enemy gatherings in Hassan Tabin area of the Sar-e Pul to Jowzjan highway and south of Sheberghan city, 57 Taliban terrorists including three key commanders were killed, 18 others were wounded, a Ranger Ford, 35 motorcycles, a DShK and large quantities of enemy weapons and ammunition were destroyed.
This comes even as the Afghan Independent Journalists Association reported that the Taliban captured Helmand’s RTA on Monday. Also, in a statement, the Ministry of Information and Culture, said, “We are saddened to learn that 11 radio and four television stations have been shut down due to Taliban attacks and threats in Helmand, and that people are unable to stay up to date with news events. The Ministry of Information and Culture expresses its deep concern in this regard and strongly condemns the attacks and threats of the armed Taliban, which show their hostility to freedom of expression and the media. Terrorists do not want the media to publish the facts and expose their injustices.”
The Ministry of Information and Culture expressed its firm support and solidarity with all journalists and staff of Helmand radio and television networks, and called on the national security and defense forces, as well as the proud Helmandis, to help reactivate these media outlets as soon as possible.
In another related news, Nai again released a statement regarding the July 26 arrest of four journalists by the Kandahar National Directorate of Security (NDS).
Nai believes that such behavior by the security agencies at a time when sensitivities towards journalists have become serious than any time ever can cause great harm to the journalistic community and at the same time significantly increase restrictions on freedom of expression and access to information. Nai wants the NDS to first reconsider the statement issued in connection with the arrest of journalists in Kandahar province. Also, since the NDS has described the four detainees, in its statement, as journalists; in the light of Article 43 of the Media Law, their case must first be referred to the Media Violations and Complaints Commission, and the journalists must be released from detention until the Commission determines the status of the journalists. The NSA should also acknowledge the charges against journalists, if the charge is a non-media crime, so that the Afghan media community becomes aware.
Recently, the NDS issued a statement claiming that Saday-e Millat Radio was not licensed to broadcast and was operating illegally in the province. However, a written copy of the Ministry of Information and Culture letter, obtained by Nai, shows that Radio Zewar’s property was transferred to Watandost in 1399, and after this transfer, it has existed under the name of Saday-e Millat. Also, a letter from Kandahar finance department, obtained by Nai, shows that Watandost is in charge of the radio. On the other hand, the NDS statement claimed that China’s Xinhua correspondent Sanaullah Siam had misused the media name and was not a reporter for the outlet and had been operating illegally, while Siam has been working with this news agency as a freelance reporter for a while.
NDS had arrested four journalists, Bismillah Watandost, head of Saday-e Millat Radio, Qudratullah Sultani and Mohibullah Obaidi, the radio employees, as well as Sanaullah Siam, a Chinese Xinhua correspondent who went to a Taliban-held war zone.
UNAMA also tweeted on Tuesday, stating, “Civilians are bearing the brunt as fighting enters Afghanistan’s cities. At least 10 civilians killed, 85 wounded in Lashkargah and at least five killed, 42 wounded in Kandahar in last three days alone. Taliban ground offensive and ANA airstrikes causing most harm.”
It also said that there are deep concerns about indiscriminate shooting, and damage to/occupation of health facilities and civilian homes. “Parties must do more to protect civilians or impact will be catastrophic,” it added. In fact, the US embassy in Kabul tweeted that the targeted killing of Hazaras has been a devastating focus of both ISIS-K and the Taliban and adding that they are getting reports of Taliban’s murder of 40+ civilians in Malistan, Ghazni.
The US embassy said that if the reports are true, these could constitute war crimes and human right abuses must be investigated.