Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: Two mines with remote control and mobile system were defused in the area of Darwaze Malek in Herat by the engineering team of Herat Police.
The mines were planted by the armed opposition to target the security forces and the people, which were discovered and defused, as per the Herat Press and Public Relations Department.
Also, on Friday night, joint defense and security forces, backed by artillery and air forces, completely repulsed several Taliban attacks in Sayed Karam and Ahmad Aba districts, and Qala-e Sadiq, Choni and Robat areas of Gardez, the provincial capital of Paktia province. As a result, according to initial reports, more than 35 Taliban terrorists were killed and more than 20 Taliban terrorists were wounded, including foreign terrorists.
Also, four different vehicles and much of the enemies’ weapons and ammunition were destroyed. Unfortunately, five members of the defense and security forces were killed and eight others were wounded in these clashes.
Meanwhile, in other news, the rapid deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan is a “serious matter”, Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Saturday after meeting Qatari special envoy for conflict resolution Mutlaq bin Majed Al-Qahtani. Al-Qahtani, the Special Envoy of the Foreign Minister of Qatar for Counter-terrorism and Mediation of Conflict Resolution, is on a visit to India ostensibly to discuss the latest developments in Afghanistan.
In a series of tweets, Jaishankar said a peaceful and stable Afghanistan requires that the rights and interests of all sections of the society are promoted and protected. “Pleased to receive Qatar Special Envoy Mutlaq bin Majed Al-Qahtani. Shared the Indian perspective on recent developments in Afghanistan. Also, the concerns of the region that I heard during recent interactions,” he said.
“Rapid deterioration of the security situation is a serious matter. A peaceful and stable Afghanistan requires that the rights and interests of all sections of society are promoted and protected,” the external affairs minister added. Al-Qahtani had played a key role in the Afghan peace process and his visit to India comes amid mounting global concerns over escalating violence by the Taliban in Afghanistan. On Friday, Al-Qahtani met J P Singh, the Joint Secretary in the Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran division in the Ministry of External Affairs. Mr Singh has been India’s point-person for Afghanistan.
As a key stakeholder in Afghanistan’s stability, India has been holding talks with countries of the region and all leading players on the fast-evolving situation in the war-torn country. Qatar’s capital Doha has been the venue for the intra-Afghan peace talks and the Gulf country has emerged as a crucial player in facilitating the Afghan peace process. Al-Qahtani’s visit to India also comes days ahead of talks among Russia, China, the US and Pakistan on the situation in Afghanistan. The ”extended Troika” convened by Russia is scheduled to be held in Doha on August 11. India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process that is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.
Also, as clashes between government forces and Taliban militants intensify, Khodadad Saleh, head of the Ulema Council of western zone has called for a ceasefire by the Afghan government and the Taliban. Speaking at a public conference at the Herat Grand Mosque on Saturday, Saleh said that continuing the war is not in the interests of either side.
“The people want the ceasefire to be declared, and I call on the Taliban and the government to declare a ceasefire so that the city of Herat is not destroyed,” he said. He added that after the ceasefire was established, a people’s committee would be set up in Herat to monitor how the ceasefire was established.
According to him, the continuation of the war in Herat has no consequences other than destruction. However, Herat Governor Abdul Sabur Qane also insists on suppressing the Taliban. He told reporters that the security situation in Herat had improved and that Taliban movements had decreased in the past 72 hours.
He added that the initiative was now being taken by government forces and that they had launched targeted operations to suppress the Taliban. Herat National Security Chief Hasib Siddiqi also said that between 300 and 350 Taliban fighters had been killed during the recent war in Herat. According to him, among the Taliban killed were foreign fighters. With the beginning of the Taliban attacks in the districts of Herat, a movement called the “People’s Resistance of Herat” was formed on the axis of Mohammad Ismail Khan, and a large number of Herati people took up arms to defend the city against the Taliban.
On the other hand, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi has expressed concern about the growing number of internally and externally displaced people due to insecurity and the continuing conflict in Afghanistan.
Grandi tweeted on Saturday that an emergency solution is needed to end the conflict in Afghanistan; otherwise, forced displacement will be just one of the catastrophic human consequences of political failure. Grandi raised the issue as legal and illegal immigration increased following the Taliban’s attacks in a number of provinces and the fall of districts, and thousands of other families inside Afghanistan fled their homes and have been displaced.
Recently, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) announced that since the fall of Ghazni’s Malistan district, more than 2,500 families have been displaced from the district to Kabul and Nawur and Jaghori districts without access to health, education and shelter services. In another report released on Wednesday, the commission said that in the past six months, more than 62,000 families have been forced to flee their homes due to insecurity and violence by armed groups.
Kabul: The Ministry of Justice has announced that in the first six months of the 1,400 solar fiscal year, it has issued operating licenses to 551 social institutions.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Justice on Saturday, said, “These institutions include organizations, associations, councils, and foundations.”
The announcement states that with the issuance of licenses for these institutions, the total number of social institutions registered in this ministry has reached 4,665 institutions. According to the announcement, during this period, the activity licenses of 72 social institutions have been extended in accordance with the Law on Populations, and the documents related to 57 other institutions have been returned.
The Ministry of Justice has said that 240 institutions are currently in the process of submitting documents, which will be finalized soon. The ministry added that during this period, the activities of social institutions in the center and a number of provinces were monitored, and some of them were fined for non-compliance with the law.
The Ministry of Justice has said that in the first six months of the current fiscal year, it has also licensed a new political party, extended the licenses of six parties, and is renewing the licenses of seven other parties. At present, there are 73 active parties registered with the Ministry of Justice, the statement said.
In other news, the Railway Authority said that at around 8am on Saturday, a car carrying three Afghan Railway Authority employees on duty was targeted by a roadside mine in the PD12 of Kabul. Unfortunately, as a result of this incident, two employees of the Authority, including the driver of the car, suffered severe injuries, and another one received minor injuries, and the car was completely destroyed. The Railway Authority of Afghanistan condemned the targeting of employees of government offices and public utility facilities as crimes against humanity, enmity against the country’s progress and acts against Islamic and national values, and strongly condemns this terrorist incident and its perpetrators.
Kabul: The Taliban captured Sheberghan city in Jowzjan, the deputy governor said, the second Afghan provincial capital to fall to the insurgents in less than 24 hours.
According to credible sources, who confirmed the reports, the Taliban have claimed control of the provincial capital, police headquarters, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and the Jowzjan prison building in Sheberghan.
“The (government) forces and officials have retreated to the airport,” Jowzjan deputy governor Qader Malia told AFP. The city is home to Abdul Rashid Dostum, who only returned to Afghanistan this week from medical treatment in Turkey.
Mohammad Karim Jowzjani, a representative of the Jowzjan people in the House of Representatives, also said that the center of Sheberghan is currently under the control of the Taliban.
A credible source in northern Afghanistan says Taliban fighters have released prisoners after capturing the Sheberghan prison building, killing the prison director and several of his men. Meanwhile, some sources close to Marshal Dostum say that the Taliban have mobilized their fighters from neighboring Jowzjan provinces to attack the city of Sheberghan.
Local officials in Jawzjan have not yet commented on the latest details of the fighting in Sheberghan. It was reported yesterday that parts of the city of Sheberghan, including the police headquarter, Bandar-e Andkhoy and Dostum Palace, had fallen to the Taliban. Later in the day, the Ministry of Defense announced that the security and defense forces had completely cleared the city of Sheberghan of the Taliban.
On Friday, Zaranj city in Nimroz fell to the Taliban “without a fight”, according to its deputy governor, becoming the first provincial capital to be taken by the insurgents. There was more resistance in Sheberghan, several sources told AFP, but an aide to Dostum confirmed the city had been taken.
This comes even as Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, the leader of the Islamic National Movement Party, met with President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on Saturday. Ehsan Niroo, a spokesman for the party, told Hashte Subh daily that Marshal Dostum had suggested to President Ghani that the government should declare military status in the country.
The declaration in the country is part of Marshall Dostum’s security plan, which, according to Niroo, has not been rejected by President Ghani. Ehsan Niroo says that Marshal Dostum has proposed that a large meeting be held in one of the commando units with the presence of political leaders and that the military situation in the country be announced.
He suggested that the plan might be formally implemented in the next two days. The spokesman said that addressing the general situation in the country, the northern and northeastern provinces was one of the topics of discussion between Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum and President Ghani.
He stated that Marshal Dostum had proposed an extraordinary security meeting, which was accepted by the president. He added that the security of Kabul city and its belts, Hamid Karzai International Airport, the establishment of a regular force in the north of the country and the monitoring of the situation in Kabul city by national security are other pillars of Marshall Dostum’s security plan. Due to the security situation in Sheberghan, Marshal Dostum has proposed to the President to send 500 special forces to Jowzjan, which has been accepted by President Ghani.
On the other hand, health sources in Kunduz province confirm that at least 11 civilians have been killed in clashes between government forces and Taliban fighters in Kunduz city.
Ehsanullah Fazli, the director of public health in Kunduz, told Etilaat Roz daily that the bodies of civilians had been transferred to Kunduz hospitals from late last night until 1:30 pm today (Saturday). Fazli added that during this period, 41 wounded people were transferred to hospitals in Kunduz from the outskirts of Kunduz. On the other hand, the director of Kunduz Public Health said that the clashes are currently sporadic in several parts of Kunduz city. He added that the traffic routes in these sections are now completely closed to traffic.
On the other hand, security sources confirm that an Air Force pilot was killed in an explosion in Chahar Asyab district of Kabul province. According to the source, the explosion took place at 11:30 am on Saturday, in the village of Chaharso in the Chahar Asyab district. The source added that the explosion took place in the personal vehicle of the pilot. Five other civilians were injured in the blast. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
Also, a group of women from Herat rallied and marched in support of the security forces and the popular forces. The women marched from the provincial building to the house of Amir Mohammad Ismail Khan, the leader of the popular resistance forces against the Taliban, chanting “Allah Akbar, death to the Taliban, long live the security forces, long live the Mujahideen of the popular resistance.
Earlier, various groups in Herat spontaneously declared their support for the security, defense and popular resistance forces, as per the Herat Press and Public Relations Department.
Meanwhile, in a press conference, Herat Governor Abdul Sabur Qane praised the support of Herat citizens for the security and defense forces in suppressing the Taliban and said, “In the last 72 hours, Taliban movements and attacks have been severely reduced and the movement of the enemy has been prevented.”
The governor of Herat added: “The security forces have started their targeted operations to eliminate terrorist elements and the initiative is in the hands of the security and defense forces. The governor of Herat emphasized that the hard days of Herat are over and the life of ordinary citizens has become normal. General Sayed Merajuddin Sadat Herat Police Chief also assures that security forces with high morale, will suppress the enemy and continue clearing operations.
Gen. Hasibullah Siddiqi, head of NDS in Herat province, said the enemy’s conspiracies had been foiled, adding: “In one week, 300 to 350 Taliban fighters were killed in the city of Herat.” He announced the battle lines are on the outskirts of Herat city, adding: “The security forces are conducting their operations with caution in order to prevent casualties.” He also announced that foreign fighters had been seen among the enemy killed.
Kabul: The Ministry of Higher Education announced that in-person classes at universities in 11 provinces, including Kabul, began on Saturday.
Hamed Obaidi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Higher Education, told Hashte Subh daily that in-person classes are officially starting in 11 provinces where the prevalence of the coronavirus is below 35 percent. Obaidi added that universities in other provinces, where the coronavirus turnover is below 35 percent and will be reported by the Ministry of Public Health to the Ministry of Higher Education, will also begin soon.
Obaidi added that the Ministry of Higher Education is working to gradually start in-person classes in 23 other provinces. Universities and educational centers have been closed to prevent the spread of the third wave of the coronavirus. The closure of universities, training centers and schools was first implemented in 16 provinces of the country and then nationwide.
The Ministry of Public Health has extended the closure of universities and educational centers several times.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has urged citizens not to fall prey to rumors about the side effects of vaccines. Osman Taheri, a spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health, said all vaccines imported into Afghanistan were safe and sound. He emphasized that there is no problem with these vaccines and that all people can be injected with peace of mind. “People should not listen to rumors,” he said.
According to the Ministry of Public Health, about 1.4 million civilians across the country have been vaccinated. Afghanistan is currently in need of 48 million doses of vaccine. The Ministry of Public Health says the government has the capacity to purchase 42 million doses and will purchase the coronavirus vaccine as soon as a valid source of the vaccine is found.
So far, three types of adjuvant vaccines have been imported into the country. The first shipment of Johnson-Johnson Corona vaccine, which included 1.48 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, arrived from the United States. The shipment is the first to deliver 3.3 million doses of the Johnson-Johnson vaccine that the United States has provided to Afghanistan. A few days ago, Sweden donated 124,000 doses of vaccine to the Ministry of Public Health. In addition to India, 500,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine, the World Health Organization (WHO) has provided 486,000 doses of the 700,000-dose vaccine to Afghanistan through COWAX and China.
This comes even as the Ministry of Public Health on Saturday reported 218 new positive cases of COVID-19 of 2,473 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 10 deaths and 677 recoveries from COVID-19 in the same period. The figures show a significant decrease in the daily COVID-19 cases in the last week.
Data by the ministry shows that the total number of cases is 150,458 and the total number of reported deaths is 6,908.
Kabul: Army forces in the southwest of the country say 30 Al-Qaeda fighters have been killed in an airstrike in the Marjah district of Helmand province.
The 215th Maiwand Corps said in a press release that the airstrike was launched on Friday evening on a “terrorist” gathering in the Sistani area of Marjah district. According to the statement, the killed members of the al-Qaeda network were Pakistani citizens and members of the al-Qaeda network for the Indian subcontinent. The statement also said that two al-Qaeda-linked “Land Cruiser” vehicles were destroyed in the airstrikes.
Also, local officials in Balkh province say the Taliban have fired several rockets at the headquarter of the 209th Shaheen Corps in Balkh province. Sayed Mustafa Sadat, Dehdadi district governor of Balkh province, told Hashte Subh daily that the Taliban fired 11 mortar shells near the 209th Shaheen Corps on Saturday morning. The mortars hit the village of Posht Bagh, the center of Dehdadi district, an area for retired army officers, and around Division 18, Sadat said.
He added that no casualties were reported from the rocket attacks. According to him, a number of Dehdadi residents have left their homes. At the same time, the Taliban launched attacks on the Pul-e Imam Bakri checkpoint in Dehdadi district of Balkh province, said Mustafa Sadat. Two children were injured as a result of the mortar fire. Army sources have not yet commented on the matter.
Also, as per the Ministry of Interior, ten Taliban insurgents were killed and wounded in a counterattack by security and defense forces in the capital of Sar-e-Pul province. Last night, the Taliban group carried out terrorist operations in the “Toghani” area of the capital of Sar-e-Pul province, which was met with a strong response from the security forces. Following the clashes, four terrorists, including a Taliban leader named Matiullah Omari, were killed and six other members of the group were wounded. The security and defense forces of the country were not harmed in this incident
And, in a video conference with the provincial police chiefs, Gen. Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal, the acting Minister of Interior, listened to the report of the current security situation from the mentioned commanders and gave them the necessary instructions to suppress the terrorists and enforce the law. The acting interior minister also stressed in the video conference that counter-terrorism operations must be increased and that police forces must be armed and completed in a timely manner.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), in accordance with its legal duties and powers, investigated and documented the incident in Malistan district of Ghazni province which fell to the Taliban wherein there were numerous reports of human rights and international human rights violations, particularly the deliberate killing of civilians by the group. “Although investigating and gathering information about the incident was time-consuming and challenging due to serious security concerns and the inactivity of telecommunications networks, the Commission has made consistent efforts to interview eyewitnesses, victims’ families, displaced persons and other independent sources. It has obtained credible and needed information about what the Taliban have done in Malistan district. According to the findings of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, the Taliban, after seizing the center and parts of Malistan district, in addition to violence and inhumane treatment of people, looting citizens’ property, destroying homes and shops, killing civilians and thus creating an atmosphere Fear has displaced thousands of families, including women and children, from the district to far and near,” the statement said.
On July 10, 2021, the Taliban group attacked the security forces of Malistan district of Ghazni province from Kotal Kharzar, Kandalan-Shirdagh, Maknak and Zardak routes, which after two days of fighting, captured the center and parts of this district. Although three days after the incident, security forces attempted to retake Malistan district, they advanced to district center and the police headquarters, but were eventually forced to retreat and were unable to liberate the district from Taliban control. According to the findings of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, after the fall of Malistan district, Taliban group deactivated and disabling telecommunication networks and searching people’s homes in some areas, including Zardak, Shirdagh, Pashi, Miradina, Naiqul and Abdana villages. The Taliban have also destroyed a number of homes and shops and looted civilian property. They destroyed an antenna base belonging to Salam Telecommunication Network and transferred its equipment to Ajristan district, and also forcibly took away several vehicles and motorcycles of the residents of this district.
According to the findings of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), the Taliban violated the basic principles of humanitarian law and the rules governing armed conflict by deliberately killing civilians, which could be considered a war crime. Because, according to international humanitarian law, the warring parties are obliged to treat those who do not have a direct role in the conflict in a humane manner and should not harm their lives, morals or physical integrity. AIHRC has so far identified 37 people killed and wounded by the Taliban. According to the statistics, 27 people, including a woman, were killed and 10 others were injured. These individuals were all civilians and had no role in the conflict.
Also, as per AIHRC, 2,500 families, including women and children, have been displaced from different parts of Malistan district to Kabul and Jaghori and Nawur districts to escape Taliban violence. The results of the Commission’s monitoring show that displaced families are in a difficult situation due to the lack of basic and essential facilities, and many of them do not have access to food, safe drinking water, clothing and shelter. In addition, the families do not have access to health and education services, and according to information obtained from local sources, families and individuals living in Malistan district are facing serious problems and challenges due to the closure of schools and health centers.
On the other hand, the findings of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) show that the Taliban have informed residents of Malistan district that after this, women and girls have no right to leave their homes and schools without a Male. The Taliban has also insisted that it will punish violators. However, the human rights situation of families in Taliban-held areas in Malistan district faces serious challenges and concerns.
Thus, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) reiterates its call for the international human rights and humanitarian standards to be upheld by the parties involved, particularly the Taliban, and that the destruction of non-profit and non-public facilities Consequently, the killing of people who have no role in the conflict is considered a war crime.
Also, Supporting Open media in Afghanistan-Nai has condemned the assassination of Dawa Khan Minapal and called on the security services to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice. The assassination of Minapal could be a warning for media workers and journalists. previously, terrorist groups targeted and killed a large number of journalists and media workers by carrying out serial and targeted killings.
This comes even as local sources in Nangarhar province said that according to the decision of the tribal elders of Dur Baba district of the province, anyone who cooperates with the armed opposition will be fined one million Afghanis.
Ataullah Khogyani, spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar, wrote in a tweet that according to this decision, the house of a person who cooperates with the armed opposition of the government will also be set on fire. According to him, tribal elders, led by Gul Muslim, in the presence of Shamshad Omar, the district governor of Dur Baba, said they would first implement the new decision in the next week on families who would not leave the Taliban ranks. Earlier, tribal elders in the Spin Ghar district of Nangarhar province had decided to not give place to the Taliban in their areas, and anyone who cooperated with the Taliban or sought refuge with members of the group would be expelled from the district and fined.
Kabul: The U.S. Embassy urged all US citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately using available commercial flight options. Given the security conditions and reduced staffing, the Embassy’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is extremely limited even within Kabu, a statement read.
The U.S. Embassy can provide a repatriation loan for U.S. citizens who cannot afford at this time to purchase a commercial ticket to the United States, the statement added. The Travel Advisory for Afghanistan remains Level 4-Do Not Travel due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, armed conflict, and COVID-19. Domestic flights and ground transportation routes outside of Kabul are severely limited and subject to cancellation or closure.
Also, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advised against all travel to Afghanistan. It said that all British nationals in Afghanistan are advised to leave now by commercial means. “The level of consular assistance the British Embassy can provide in Afghanistan is extremely limited, including in a crisis. Staff from the British Embassy will not be able to travel outside of Kabul due to the security situation. Travel by road throughout the country, but particularly outside the capital Kabul, is extremely dangerous,” the statement sad.
On the other hand, the Taliban has allegedly removed Nishan Sahib, a Sikh religious flag, from a gurdwara in the Paktia province in eastern Afghanistan. Nishan Sahib was taken off from the roof of Gurdwara Thala Sahib in the Chamkani area of the Paktia province, according to images being tweeted on social media. However, Hindustan Times, an Indian daily, has not been able to independently verify whether Nishan Sahib was removed from the historical gurdwara, which was once visited by the founder Sikh religion Guru Nanak.
Also, Afghanistan’s ambassador to China told Reuters, that the Taliban cannot be trusted to keep their promise to China not to harbour Islamist militants seeking separatism in its Xinjiang region. The withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, and a surge in fighting as Taliban insurgents gain territory, raise concerns for China, which worries that more instability in the region will disrupt its Belt and Road plan for infrastructure and energy links to the west and embolden separatists to destabilise its far western Xinjiang region.
Last week Foreign Minister Wang Yi hosted a Taliban delegation in the northern city of Tianjin, days after meeting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in the same location. The Taliban pledged not to interfere in China’s internal affairs or allow Afghan territory to be used by anti-China forces. But Afghan ambassador to China, Javid Ahmad Qaem, was dismissive of Taliban promises.
“I don’t think even China believes in that,” Qaem told Reuters in an interview, adding that the Taliban were “only saying this to get regional support”. “The Chinese position is they want to mediate,” Qaem said, adding that the U.S.-backed Afghan government welcomed China’s involvement and he understood why it wanted to stick to the middle ground. The United Nations said in a report last month that the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a militant group affiliated with al Qaeda that China says wants to set up a separate state in Xinjiang, is active in Afghanistan in areas including the northeastern province of Badakshan, where China and Afghanistan share a remote 76 km border.
Meanwhile, Iranian Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf met with Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and underlined that peace in Afghanistan can only be achieved through talks among all political groups in that country. “The Islamic Republic of Iran supports any measure which would add to sustainable peace and security and prevent bloodshed in Afghanistan,” Qalibaf said. President Ghani visited Iran on Thursday to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
“Afghan people wouldn’t forget the sympathy and assistance shown by Iran’s people and government in different periods, especially in hosting Afghan refugees,” the Afghan president underlined. He dismissed war as a solution to the current problems in Afghanistan, and said that killing the innocent wouldn’t compensate the country’s backwardness.
The Iranian president said Iran stands ready to tap into its potential to help establish lasting peace and prevent further bloodshed in Afghanistan. Raisi said Iranian and Afghan people have deep-rooted, ideological and civilisational relations. “Iran wants security, welfare and dignity for Afghan people, and will spare no effort to achieve this objective,” the Iranian president underscored.
Raisi said Iran would welcome an Indian role in stabilising Afghanistan during a meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in Tehran. Jaishankar will meet Qatar’s special envoy on Afghanistan on Saturday, adding to a series of meetings on the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.
“Iran and India can play a constructive and useful role in ensuring security in the region, especially Afghanistan, and Tehran welcomes New Delhi’s role in establishment of security in Afghanistan,” a statement from the Iranian President’s office said after the meeting on Friday. “The fate of Afghanistan must be decided by the Afghans themselves, and we believe that if the Americans do not sabotage the situation, this issue will be resolved quickly,” Dr. Raisi said.
Also, Qatari special envoy for Counterterrorism and Mediation of Conflict Resolution Mutlaq Bin Majed Al-Qahtani arrived in Delhi on a two-day visit on Friday, and met the Indian Ministry of External Affairs’ (MEA) official in charge of Pakistan-Afghanistan-India Joint Secretary J.P. Singh. In June last, it was Qahtani who had given the first official confirmation that Indian officials were in talks with Taliban representatives based in Doha. Subsequently, the MEA confirmed that India is engaging “various stakeholders” in Afghanistan, and government sources said they had made contact with some Taliban factions.
While the meetings are likely to focus on the reconciliation process in Doha, where the Intra-Afghan dialogue has hit an impasse, New Delhi is also expected to point out that despite being regional powers, neither India nor Iran had been included yet in the meetings of the “Troika Plus” grouping of U.S.-Russia-China and Pakistan, due to be held in Doha on August 11. Both India and Iran have stressed on the “legitimacy” of the democratically-elected Ghani government in Afghanistan.
Kabul: Recent actions by the Taliban will not help them gain international legitimacy, the White House said on Friday, after insurgents from the group killed the government’s senior media officer in Kabul.
“Our view is that, if the Taliban claim to want international legitimacy, these actions are not going to get them the legitimacy they seek,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing. “They do not have to stay on this trajectory. They can choose to devote the same energy to the peace process as they are to their military campaign.”
Taliban attackers killed Dawa Khan Menapal, head of the Government Media and Information Centre, in the latest in a series of killings aimed at weakening President Ashraf Ghani’s democratically elected government.
Meanwhile, the Russian military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan will be used in protecting the borders of the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) member nations in case of a direct aggression from Afghanistan, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said on Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry press center says.
“Our base in Tajikistan is powerful and strong enough. Of course, if necessary, it will be involved in protecting the CSTO borders in case of a direct aggression. The same relates to our base in Kyrgyzstan. Such a need may also arise there,” the defense minister said at a meeting with the scientific community of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Novosibirsk in response to a question about measures being taken to ward off threats emanating from Afghanistan. The CSTO member states cannot be on a par with Russia by their scope and defense potential and need assistance in the Afghan direction as this finally concerns Russia’s military security, Shoygu pointed out.
“We hope that the agreements that exist with the Taliban will be fulfilled. However, considering the previous experience, it is hard to believe in this at once. It is necessary to tackle this issue so that all these threats do not confront our country. In this regard, it is necessary to support our CSTO partners in every possible way and help them,” Russia’s defense chief stressed. Moscow and Dushanbe are implementing a joint program of rearming the Tajik army but now a need has arisen to deal with strengthening the combat potential of the republic’s border guards, Shoygu said.
The Russian defense minister also said that Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan had launched large-scale drills to practice tasks related to the situation in the region. The Russian military base deployed in Tajikistan is subordinate to the Central Military District. It is Russia’s largest non-naval military facility outside the country.
In fact, the Collective Security Treaty Organization is closely monitoring the situation on the Tajik-Afghan border, CSTO spokesman Vladimir Zainetdinov told BelTA while commenting on the general situation on the border with Afghanistan and the exercise that began there.
“We welcome the exercise of the Armed Forces of Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan that began at training grounds near the border with Afghanistan today,” the spokesman said. “The CSTO is closely monitoring the situation on the Tajik-Afghan border and neighboring regions. In the event of an escalation and a threat to the Republic of Tajikistan, the CSTO will take all necessary measures to assist its ally in protecting the CSTO’s southern border. Now the Tajik security forces are keeping the situation on the border under control, and there is no need yet to use the mechanisms of the CSTO.”
Russia’s special military group maintains the security of command centers at the Russian-Tajik-Uzbek exercise, being held against the backdrop of destabilization in Afghanistan. The drills are underway at the Kharb-Maidon proving ground 20 kilometers away from the Afghan border, the press service of the Central Military Region said.
“The personnel of Russia’s 201st military base maintain the comprehensive security of field command centers in the course of a joint exercise by military contingents from Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. For this, a special group was created to operate on its own and together with the combat forces of mechanized infantry and reconnaissance, armor, artillery and other units. The group incorporates radio-electronic warfare crews and air defense, UAV, communication and guard units,” the news release states.
Central Asian countries are concerned over the possible infiltration by Afghan militants disguising as refugees, Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya told the Security Council Friday. “The risk of infiltration of Central Asian countries by Afghan militants disguised as refugees causes concerns among the countries of the region,” he said.
He added that Russia stays in contact with the Central Asian countries on this issue.
The leaders of five Central Asian countries gathered for talks in Turkmenistan on Friday, with the spiral of war in neighbouring Afghanistan topping their agenda as US-led forces leave the country.
The talks in the Caspian Sea town of Avaza come as the Taliban challenges Afghan government forces in several large cities after weeks of gains in the countryside, including in provinces next to the three former Soviet ‘stans’ that border the country – Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Turkmen president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov called Afghanistan “the question that worries all of us” on Wednesday as state television showed him receiving his Tajikistan counterpart Emomali Rakhmon for bilateral talks ahead of the summit.
Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian military’s General Staff, arrived in Uzbekistan for talks Thursday, and to observe military drills that are expected to wrap up next week. During a meeting with Uzbek counterpart Shukhrat Khalmukhamedov, Gerasimov said the drills took place “to practise actions to repel terrorist threats”. “The main threat to the Central Asian region today comes from the Afghan direction,” Gerasimov said, noting that Moscow was increasing its supplies of weapons to the region. The annual summit being held in Avaza is a rare instance of the Central Asian states convening for talks without powers from outside the region, such as Russia, China or the United States.
Also, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said, “We are deeply concerned about the situation in Afghanistan. And we are doing everything possible to support those people who have supported us in our efforts there, and we will work to find ways to speed up that process. We have now brought over 400 SIVs into the United States, and they’ve been processed into our program. And we have thousands more who have also applied for the program, and we’ll be working as expeditiously as possible to get them into the United States. As a refugee, a refugee has to be outside of their country of birth to apply for refugee status. And we will be building up our programs to support those individuals who reach out and apply for refugee status. The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights is an organization that is very much engaged on this and assisting those people who need protection. And we will be working closely with them as well as other organizations to find ways of supporting those individuals who will need protection moving forward.”
Kabul: Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar has called for an end to attacks, documentation of crimes and monitoring of Taliban human rights violations in Afghanistan.
Atmar raised the issue in an online meeting with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Friday. The foreign minister spoke at the online meeting about the unprecedented increase in Taliban attacks that have killed civilians and displaced them.
Atmar said the Taliban’s attacks were carried out in collusion with foreign fighters and terrorist groups and are a clear and widespread violation of international human rights law. He added that the people and government of Afghanistan want the United Nations to play a more effective role in putting pressure on the Taliban and their supporters in the region.
On the other hand, Bachelet expressed deep UN concern over the inhumane actions of the Taliban and foreign fighters who have caused the humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan, and the UN Human Rights Council’s commitment to working to end the violence, prosecute perpetrators of crimes against humanity and It has ensured the establishment of peace and stability in Afghanistan.
As violence intensifies across large areas of Afghanistan, civilians are at risk of being caught up in fighting between warring parties. Civilian casualties reached record levels in the first half of 2021. Unless steps are taken to de-escalate the violence, Afghanistan will see its highest ever number of such casualties in a single year. Some 360,000 people in Afghanistan have been uprooted from their homes by conflict since January, and an additional 30,000 are reportedly fleeing the country each day. Afghanistan has already produced the second-largest displaced population in the world, after Syria, and this number is expected to rise exponentially.
“The latest violence should be cause for great alarm,” says Vicki Aken, Afghanistan director for the International Rescue Committee (IRC). “Hundreds of thousands of people have already been internally displaced due to conflict as well as drought.”
“We are on pace for record civilian deaths and injuries, with the majority being women and children. Schools are closed, food shortages abound, and people are turning to desperate measures such as child labor and early marriage for girls.” Eighteen million people in Afghanistan are in dire need of humanitarian assistance—a situation that is only worsening as the conflict intensifies. The crisis ranks second on the IRC’s 2021 Emergency Watchlist, a global list of humanitarian crises that are expected to deteriorate the most over the coming year.
“Humanitarian organizations like the IRC are committed to remaining in Afghanistan and continuing to deliver support to its population,” says Aken. “It is vital that world leaders do the same.”
World leaders must ensure aid organizations have access to deliver lifesaving support to people who need it. They must also advocate for an immediate ceasefire and support a peaceful settlement to the conflict. “Afghanistan needs sustained aid and diplomatic support from both Western and regional powers,” says Aken. “Without this, there is little chance that needs will be met and peace will be found.”
Filipe Ribeiro, the Afghanistan representative for Doctors Without Borders, said that the situation is getting from bad to worse and it is very bad in most of the cities where we do work. “In Lashkargah, for almost a week now, even more than a week, the fighting is going wild, if I can put it that way, all over the city. It’s daily bombings as well as the night that you cannot sleep. They are stuck in the hospital. Basically, we have 250 people working in the hospital for 120 patients, more or less. They cannot leave the hospital. They are rushing all over the place, trying to treat patients because in such a situation, a lot of patients are coming to us.” Riberio added that the fight is almost everywhere, and the intensity of the fight is quite different.
According to the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM), the situation for people who have been displaced due to an upsurge in fighting in Afghanistan following the resurgence of the Taliban is expected to continue to deteriorate, unless more is done to assist them. The IOM estimates that more than 300,000 Afghans have been internally displaced by the recent intensification of the conflict and in June some 40,000 people a week fled to neighbouring Iran.
“The situation in Afghanistan is worsening daily from every perspective”, according to Stuart Simpson, IOM Afghanistan Chief of Mission. “Now is not the time to turn a blind eye to Afghanistan’s critical situation. International attention and advocacy is urgently needed to convey the suffering of Afghan civilians to the world. A negotiated ceasefire remains the best solution for Afghanistan’s civilian population to stay safe and potentially create the conditions for improved service delivery and the access required to reach vulnerable persons with care and assistance”. The UN estimates that almost half the Afghan population, 18.5 million people, will require humanitarian support in 2021 to cope with the multifaceted crisis, caused by conflict, COVID-19 and widespread under-development and poverty.
On the other hand, Task Force Eagle at Fort Lee, Virginia, is supporting the mission of relocating up to 3,500 Afghan special immigrant applicants in support of the State Department and as directed by the Defense Department. Army Col. Karin L. Watson, Fort Lee’s garrison commander, said the installation received notification of its role in support of Operation Allies Refuge on July 15. The operation supports the relocation of interested and eligible Afghans and families who have supported the U.S. government and are close to finishing the process of applying for special immigrant visas, according to the State Department.
The task force is charged with providing temporary housing, medical screening, food, religious support and other necessities to Afghan special immigrant applicants. The first group of about 200 Afghans arrived at Fort Lee on July 30. They are finishing the remaining steps on their path to becoming permanent U.S. residents.
“Fort Lee remains eager and committed to doing all it can to support the U.S. government’s efforts to help those who have helped us for many years,” said Army Maj. Gen. Mark T. Simerly, commanding general of the Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee. “We were able to accelerate the planning and preparation for this mission thanks to the responsiveness of the entire military enterprise,” Simerly said. “We are thankful for their support and are proud to support this valuable mission.”
On the other hand, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) strongly condemned the assassination of Dawakhan Minapal, head of the Government Information and Media Center, in Kabul, following the Taliban’s targeted attacks on civilian government employees. The Commission urges the group to strongly refrain from attacking government civil servants, media and civil society activists. It is obvious that according to national and international law, the designers, perpetrators of such crimes will not be subject to the passage of time and will be held accountable for their actions in any situation.
Also, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) visited Afghanistan from 21 to 31 July not only to show solidarity with Afghan journalists and media at this difficult time but also and above all to propose and promote – to journalists’ associations, media representatives and government officials – a plan for the protection of journalists adapted to the current environment. The Urgent Actions Protocol for the Protection of Journalists in Afghanistan (UAP) proposed by RSF is above all a concrete mechanism that takes account of the reality on the ground.
During this visit to Afghanistan, RSF met above all with representatives of media outlets, the Federation of Afghan Journalists and various journalists’ associations. As well as meetings with Vice-President Sarwar Danesh, RSF envoy Reza Moini also met with information and culture minister Mohammad Qasim Vafai Zadeh, High Council for Social and Strategic Affairs representative Wahid Omar, and National Security Council member Heshmat Natiqet. Zia Bumia, a journalist who is a member of the Federation of Afghan Journalists, and RSF envoy Moini, who heads the Afghanistan and Iran desk at RSF, held a joint press conference about the UAP on 30 July. “This protocol will be on the agenda of the joint government/media committee’s next meeting,” Bumia said, thanking RSF for its “presence alongside [Afghanistan’s] journalists and media at these historic moments.”
Moini said, “The aim of this Urgent Actions Protocol is to structure, concentrate and accelerate assistance to journalists and media outlets in an even-handed and generalised manner. The international community and democratic countries must protect Afghan journalists in their own country while avoiding the ‘Syria-isation’ of Afghanistan, that is to say, a situation of inextricable and deadly chaos.”
Kabul: Security officials in Badakhshan province said that Taliban attack on the provincial capital, Faizabad, has been repulsed.
Badakhshan police spokesman Sanaullah Rouhani told Subhe Kabul daily that Taliban fighters attacked the city of Faizabad from several directions on Friday night. According to him, as a result of the resistance of the defense and security forces, the attack was repulsed and the Taliban fighters suffered heavy casualties.
Rouhani did not elaborate on the exact number of Taliban fighters killed. The Taliban have not yet commented.
However, since Friday evening, the Taliban has carried out offensive attacks from several strongholds in the city of Taloqan, which have met with strong resistance from the joint security and defense forces and popular mobilizations. As a result of these clashes, in addition to defeating and repelling the Taliban group’s attack on that group, heavy casualties were also inflicted. Joint security and defense forces, in cooperation with popular mobilizations along all battle lines, have fought resolutely against the enemy and prevented the Taliban from entering the city.
Also, the Ministry of Defense said in a press release that security forces had recaptured the capital of Jawzjan province by launching an operation in Sheberghan city. “As a result of this operation, the Taliban terrorists have suffered heavy casualties and the provincial capital has been liberated from the control of terrorists and taken over by the defense and security forces,” the ministry said in a statement issued on Friday. According to the statement, special forces, popular mobilization and the air force took part in the operation.
The Taliban had previously claimed control of Dostum Palace, Bandar-e Andkhoy and Jowzjan police headquarters in Sheberghan. The Ministry of Defense emphasizes that the operations of the security forces in this province continue. Jowzjan in the north of the country has been witnessing heavy fighting between security forces and popular mobilization with the Taliban for some time now.
Relatives of Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Afghanistan, confirm the clashes in Sheberghan, but do not accept the Taliban taking over Dostum Palace. Local sources told Hashte Subh daily that the fighting was taking place in the area of Karte Panjsad, where Dostum house is located.
It is said that Mohammad Hashim Raees, the governor of Jowzjan and Yar Mohammad Dostum have been transferred to Karte Panjsad and Marshal Dostum’s special bodyguards are fighting the Taliban. Halima Sadaf Karimi, a member of the House of Representatives, said the Taliban attacked from the Bandar-e Sar-Pul, north of Sheberghan. According to the member of the House of Representatives, the Taliban set fire to people’s houses, Khatereha Hotel, Bandar-e Andkhoy and Dostum Palace.
He said the Taliban had raised their flag in the areas they had captured in Sheberghan, and that if left unchecked, Sheberghan could fall. Halima Sadaf Karimi criticized the government for ignoring the situation in Sheberghan. Babar Ishchi, the head of Jawzjan Provincial Council, says that the situation in Sheberghan is alarming.
According to him, government offices have not collapsed so far, but if reinforcements do not arrive, the city of Sheberghan is likely to collapse completely. The head of the Jawzjan provincial council said that the Taliban had seized and set fire to some areas, but that the extent of the damage had not yet been determined.
And a number of residents of Zaranj, the capital of Nimruz province, claim that the center of the province has been captured by the Taliban. Pictures posted on social media show Taliban forces entering the city of Zaranj. These pictures show that the central parts of Zaranj city, including the building of Nimruz province, have been captured by the Taliban.
Reports of the seizure of Nimruz airport have also been published. According to popular sources, a large number of residents of Zaranj left the city last night. Afghan government officials and the Taliban have so far said nothing about the Taliban’s takeover of the city, but the acting defense minister and Nimruz governor have recently assured that the city of Zaranj will not fall.
Meanwhile, the battles on the outskirts of Herat entered its tenth day. Bloody clashes have had negative consequences for economic activity in Herat, and the market situation in Herat has not returned to normal.
On the other hand, Takhar provincial police said that three women and a man have been killed in an attack by unidentified gunmen on a house in Taloqan, the capital of Takhar province. The incident took place on Thursday night.
Khalil Asir, spokesman for the Takhar Police headquarter, told Hashte Subh daily that at around 8:30 Thursday night, unidentified gunmen stormed a residential house in the Koche Bonyad area of Taloqan, killing four people, including three women. Police said the motive for the incident was personal animosity and that the attackers had fled the scene.
The spokesman for the Takhar Police added that the incident is under investigation by police. No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Kabul: Head of Iran-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce has said exports from Iran to Afghanistan have declined more than 85 percent due to the increasing tensions in the country, the portal of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA) reported on Friday. “With the escalation of the conflict in Afghanistan, the number of trucks carrying Iranian goods to this country has decreased from 100 trucks every day to two or three trucks per day,” Hossein Salimi said.
According to Salimi, Iranian exports to Afghanistan over the past two weeks have been only 15 percent of the figure for the same period in the previous year. “When turmoil or conflict arises in a country, the first area that will suffer is that country’s economy and trade,” he said, adding: “Unfortunately, the situation is so bad that at the moment it is not easy to predict what awaits us. We still do not have an accurate estimate of the amount of damage inflicted on Iranian traders. We have to see how long this situation will last.”
Underlining the probable decline in the two countries’ trade in case of the ongoing conflict, Salimi said: “If this situation continues for even another month, we will not reach 50 percent of our normal export volume to Afghanistan this year.” According to the official, Iran has targeted $2.7 billion of exports to Afghanistan in the current Iranian calendar year (started on March 21), but considering the current situation realizing this goal will not be possible.
Road Transport Deputy of Sistan and Baluchestan province said that ‘Milak’ Border Terminal was shut down due to the insecurity in Afghanistan. Teymour Bagheri said, “In cooperation and collaboration with the executive organizations based at ‘Milak Border Terminal’ and in order to avoid any problems for economic activists, Iranian traders and businesspersons have been urged to refrain from exporting their transit cargo to Milak Border Terminal until further notice.”
In this regard, exit of Iranian and transit trucks towards Afghanistan will not be possible until further notice, he reiterated. Elsewhere in his remarks, he stipulated that Iranian trucks and commercial cargoes which are returning from Afghanistan to the Islamic Republic of Iran will be able to enter the country with the previous arrangements made in this respect.
While emphasizing the protection of national interests, he said, “We hope that this will not be a long-term issue and we hope that our trade with Afghanistan will not be interrupted, so that economic activists of the country would be able to continue their activity with peace of mind.”
It should be noted that Milak Border Terminal is located in the vicinity of Helmand city, neighborhood of Nimruz province of Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the Taliban closed a key border crossing with Pakistan on Friday, saying no one would be allowed through until Islamabad dropped or relaxed its visa requirements for Afghans. The Taliban, wresting control of Afghanistan in the wake of a withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign troops, last month captured the southeast Chaman-Spin Boldak border crossing from Afghan forces. Pakistan initially closed its side of the crossing, landlocked Afghanistan’s second busiest entry point and main commercial artery to the sea, before reopening it last week.
But since the Taliban took control of Chaman-Spin Boldak, Pakistani border officials there have begun enforcing visa requirements for Afghans which previously were not as strictly observed. In a statement on Friday, the Taliban statement called on Pakistan to scrap all visa requirements for Afghans.
“(The crossing) will remain closed for all types of commuting, including transit and trade, for both sides, and pedestrians, until the Pakistani side leaves the gate open, morning to evening, for Afghans holding [Pakistani issued] migration cards or [Afghan] ID cards,” the insurgent group’s shadow governor for Kandahar province said in the statement. Pakistani border officials at Chaman told Reuters the Taliban had placed concrete barriers to block the road on their side of the Friendship Gate, the crossing point between the two countries.
Kabul: India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, TS Tirumurti, on Friday said that there should be zero tolerance for terrorism in all its forms and manifestations for enduring peace in Afghanistan and terrorist safe havens in the region must be dismantled.
Addressing United Nations Security Council (UNSC) briefing on Afghanistan, Tirumurti said, “It needs to be ensured that Afghanistan’s neighbours and the region are not threatened by terrorism, separatism and extremism.” “There needs to be zero tolerance for terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. It is equally important to ensure that the territory of Afghanistan is not used by terrorist groups to threaten or attack any other country. Those providing material and financial support to terrorist entities must be held accountable.”
The envoy said that the current situation prevailing in Afghanistan is of great concern to India. “The violence shows no sign of abating. The report of the UN makes it clear that civilian casualties and targeted killings have reached record levels. There have been targeted attacks on religious and ethnic minorities, girl students, Afghan security forces, Ulemas, women occupying positions of responsibility, journalists, civil rights activists and the youth.”
Making a reference to the recent killing of Indian journalist Danish Siddiqui and the attack on the Afghan Defence Minister, the envoy said, “More than 100 Afghan civilians were mercilessly killed in Spin Boldak. The rapid deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan constitutes a serious threat to regional peace and stability.” “It is, therefore, time for the international community and, in particular, this Council to take stock of the situation, and decide on actions that would help bring a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire and ensure an immediate cessation of violence.”
Anything short of this will constitute a serious threat to regional peace and security, Tirumurti added. Extending support for dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban, the Indian envoy said, “If the peace process is to be successful, then it is necessary to ensure that the Taliban engage in negotiations in good faith, eschew the path of violence, sever ties with the Al Qaeda and other terrorist organisations, and commit itself towards reaching a political solution.”
Violence and military threat cannot be used to strengthen the negotiating position of any side. A tangible demonstration of this commitment is required, he added. Tirumurti further said that India wishes to see an independent, peaceful, sovereign, democratic, stable and prosperous Afghanistan. “I would like to reiterate our support for an inclusive, Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process. Any political arrangement or settlement in Afghanistan must ensure that the gains of the last two decades are protected, and not reversed.”
He further said India supports a leading role for the United Nations and calls on the Secretary General to take an initiative towards finding a lasting and durable outcome. “We welcome any move towards a genuine political settlement that leads to these objectives. The only way forward are negotiations that will provide an acceptable compromise reflecting the Doha Process, the Moscow Format and the Istanbul Process.”
Lastly, he concluded by saying that India will continue to stand with Afghanistan in ensuring that peace and stability are restored through a legitimate and transparent democratic process that is essential for the long-term stability of Afghanistan and the region. “We will continue to provide all support to Afghanistan in realizing their aspirations for a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future, free of terror, where the rights and interests of all sections of the Afghan society are promoted and protected.”
Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, Senior Advisor for Special Political Affairs, during the UN Security Council briefing said, “The United States strongly condemns the increase in violent attacks in Afghanistan, in particular, last week’s attack on a UNAMA compound in Herat and the suicide bombing targeting the home of Afghanistan’s Acting Defense Minister in Kabul. The alarming rise in violence and civilian casualties caused by the ongoing Taliban military offensive further erodes the advances the Afghan people made in democracy and the rule of law over the last 20 years. The Taliban must hear from the international community that we will not accept a military takeover of Afghanistan or a return of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate.”
“The Taliban will be isolated and an international pariah if they choose that path, which would most certainly push the country to further violence and destruction,” DeLaurentis said. We urge the Taliban to immediately halt their offensive, pursue a comprehensive and sustainable political settlement, and uphold their commitments to protect Afghanistan’s infrastructure and its people, especially women, girls, and other vulnerable populations. We also call on the Taliban to permit humanitarian organizations to continue their vital work in Afghanistan, she added.
DeLaurenti also listed out five principles for a just and durable political settlement- inclusive governance; the right of Afghans to elect political leaders; protections for human rights, including rights of women, youth, and minorities; committing to counter terrorism, including to ensure that Afghanistan does not again serve as a safe haven for international terrorists; and adherence to international law, including international humanitarian law.
Also, Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia said in a Security Council meeting on Friday, that Afghanistan risks slipping into a full-scale protracted civil war amid the absence of progress on peace negotiations. “It is clear that there is no military solution to the Afghan situation, but, in the current situation, given the absence of progress on the negotiation track, the prospect of Afghanistan slipping into full scale and protracted civil war, unfortunately, is a stark reality. Therefore, the most important goal today is to swiftly launch substantive negotiations”, Nebenzia said.
The Russian envoy voiced hope that the upcoming talks on Afghanistan in Doha as well as the extended Troika plus Pakistan format will give an additional impetus to the political settlement process. “We are convinced that now it is more important than ever to consolidate all international and regional efforts and every measure should be taken to find a sensible solution taking into account the interests of all ethnic and religious minorities”, he said.
At the same time, the Russian diplomat stressed that Moscow is worried about escalating violence in Afghanistan which may spiral out of control. The situation also prompted concern from Kabul’s neighbours in Central Asia. “The risk of fighters infiltrating the region under the guise of being refugees cannot fail to cause concern among our Central Asian neighbors. We are in regular contact with all five Central Asian nations”, the Russian diplomat said.
Special Representative Deborah Lyons, head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said the advance of the Taliban in recent months, now targeting major cities, is reminiscent of the Syrian and Balkan wars. “Afghanistan is now at a dangerous turning point,” she said. “Ahead lies either a genuine peace negotiation or a tragically intertwined set of crises: an increasingly brutal conflict combined with an acute humanitarian situation and multiplying human rights abuses.”
Warning that the consequences could extend beyond the country’s borders, Lyons urged ambassadors to seize the opportunity and demonstrate commitment “to prevent Afghanistan from descending into a situation of catastrophe so serious that it would have few, if any, parallels this century.”
More than 1,000 casualties have been recorded in these three areas in the past month alone, while homes, hospitals, bridges and other infrastructure have been destroyed. Fighting has been especially fierce in Laskhar Gah, capital of Helmand province in the south, where at least 104 civilians were killed, and 403 wounded, over the past 10 days. “This is a different kind of war, reminiscent of Syria recently or Sarajevo in the not so distant past. To attack urban areas is to knowingly inflict enormous harm and cause massive civilian casualties,” she said.
The Taliban are not operating alone, according to Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Ghulam M. Isaczai. He told the Council that more than 10,000 foreign fighters are in the country, representing 20 groups including Al-Qaeda and ISIL. “There is mounting evidence that the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which have pledged allegiance to ISIL, fought alongside the Taliban in Faryab, Jowzjan, Takhar and Badakhshan provinces where they are currently present with their families under the Taliban control,” said Isaczai, delivering a statement on behalf of Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister.
“The link between the Taliban and these transnational terrorist groups is stronger today than at any point in recent times.”
Lyons recalled that over the past three years, the Afghan authorities, as well as the international community, have held numerous discussions with the Taliban towards finding peace and a political consensus. Each time, the expectation was that violence would diminish, and that the same would happen when foreign troops exited the country earlier this year.
Ahead of talks in Qatar next week, and the Council’s next meeting on Afghanistan in September, Lyons urged ambassadors to seize the opportunity to address the deteriorating situation in the country. The Security Council must issue an unambiguous statement that attacks against cities must stop now, she said, while countries meeting with Taliban representatives should insist on a general ceasefire and resumption of negotiations.
“We as the members of the regional and international community, so well represented by this Council, must put aside our own differences on the question of Afghanistan and send a strong signal—not only in our public statements but also in our bilateral communications to both parties—that it is essential to stop fighting and negotiate, in that order. Otherwise, there may be nothing left to win.”
Then a Chinese envoy called on the international community to carry forward the Afghan peace process by preventing all-out war, advancing peace and reconciliation, and fighting terrorism. Afghanistan is at a historic conjuncture of war and peace. With the hasty withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces, Afghanistan has seen increased violence, rising civilian casualties and a deteriorating security situation, said Dai Bing, charge d’affaires of China’s permanent mission to the United Nations.
Two decades of war in Afghanistan has once again demonstrated that there is no military solution. Any external power interference in Afghanistan is doomed to fail, he told the Security Council. The international community should help avoid the expansion of fighting and prevent all-out war in Afghanistan, he said.
Foreign troops should consult fully with the Afghan government on post-withdrawal arrangements to ensure a smooth transition in Afghanistan. They should be more transparent with regional countries and avoid leaving behind all the problems. A political solution is the only way out for Afghanistan. No government should be established in Afghanistan by force. China welcomes the recent resumption of dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, and their agreement to continue high-level talks and to accelerate the negotiation process, he said.
“We hope that negotiating parties can show flexibility, seek common ground while managing differences, and chart out a roadmap and timetable for reconciliation as soon as possible. We look forward to the rebirth of Afghanistan and the establishment of a broad and inclusive political structure in pursuit of a moderate and steady Muslim policy, with a commitment to friendly relations with all neighboring countries,” said Dai.
China is willing to host intra-Afghan negotiations in due course to support and facilitate the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan, he added. He also stressed the importance of preventing terrorist forces from gaining strength.
Terrorism remains a grave challenge for Afghanistan and regional countries. Terrorist organizations listed by the Security Council, such as the Islamic State, Al-Qaida, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, Pakistan Taliban, continue to launch frequent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan. The international community must not allow Afghanistan to again become a place where terrorists congregate, and should rather continue to support Afghan security forces in strengthening counter-terrorism capacity, said Dai.