Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The United States is not ready to abandon its agreement with the Taliban in Afghanistan, but the general in charge of U.S. forces in the region says there are signs the deal ultimately may be doomed.
U.S. Central Command’s General Kenneth McKenzie said Thursday that despite a pledge to reduce violence, the frequency of Taliban attacks across Afghanistan remained troubling.
“I would not consider what the Taliban is doing as consistent with any path to going forward to come to a final end state agreement with the current government of Afghanistan,” McKenzie told U.S. lawmakers.
“The attacks are largely generated against Afghanistan outposts, checkpoints and isolated combat units,” he said. “That level of attack by the Taliban is not consistent with an organization that intends to keep its word going forward.”
The deal signed by the United States and the Afghan Taliban in Doha in February requires all U.S. and coalition forces to leave Afghanistan in the next 14 months.
The traditional spring festival of Nevruz will not be held this year in Afghanistan amid fears of the novel coronavirus, an official statement announced.
The country’s national security council announced on Thursday that the festival would not be publicly observed this year as the World Health Organization (WHO) described COVID-19 as a pandemic — suggesting the disease was spreading across the globe, for the first time on Wednesday.
As a war-ravaged country with a fragile health system, Afghanistan has so far confirmed seven positive cases of the virus. There are also at least 60 suspected cases in the country.
Pakistan’s (APP):Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said the path to regional stability and peace passed through Afghanistan and Pakistan was ready to play its role to meet all challenges with utmost sincerity.
“The Path to regional stability and peace passes through Afghanistan. Collaborative approach and patience can help overcome all challenges for which Pakistan is ready to play its part with utmost sincerity, ” he emphasized.
The forum also discussed emerging situation with regards to COVID-19 and preventive measures taken at Army Level.
U.S. envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad has called on Afghan leaders to end their standoff over a disputed presidential election and seize a “historic opportunity” for peace.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan by telephone from Kabul on March 12, Khalilzad said the time had come for all Afghans, including the Western-backed Kabul government and the Taliban, to “join hands and learn from the terrible lessons” of decades of conflict.
Khalilzad’s remarks come days after President Ashraf Ghani and his main election rival, former Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, held dual and competing inauguration ceremonies on March 9.
Russia has never planned to deploy troops to Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, commenting on a foreign article which claimed that Russian Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov allegedly speculated about possible deployment of forces to fight terrorism upon Afghan government’s request.
“I would like to state with all responsibility — and I use this phrasing intentionally — that this allegation is absolutely false and has never been expressed in any form by the Russian presidential envoy,” she said. “Russian position on this issue is well known: under no circumstances did Russia plan to send its troops to Afghanistan and it does not plan to do so now.”
Zakharova explained that only issues of “possible expansion of cooperation with Afghanistan on fighting terrorism and drug threat through military-technical sphere and training of qualified personnel, which happens already” could be on the table.
According to the spokeswoman, the false statement was attributed to Kabulov by only one internet edition. No other media, whose representatives were also present at the Presidential Envoy’s briefing, have published such information.
“All this could be viewed as a very poor interpretation of the Russian diplomat’s words. I hope we are not dealing with intentional distortion or some fake news. I rather believe that we are dealing with wording problems in those who prepared this story for the website,” she said.
Officials in Afghanistan’s western province of Herat are bracing for a rise in coronavirus infections, as thousands of Afghans return from neighboring Iran every day.
The provincial Public Health Department told RFE/RL on March 12 that nearly 10,000 Afghans had entered Herat from Iran the previous day alone.
That’s a twofold increase from March 9, when local officials said about 4,800 Afghans had crossed the border from Iran in one day.
Afghanistan has so far reported only seven cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Vietnam is ready to assist Afghanistan in the latter’s peace building and development process, Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, head of Vietnam’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, said.
He made the remark while addressing a session during which the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2513 that welcomed the peace agreement signed between the US and the self-proclaimed Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, known as the Taliban, on February 29 and a joint statement inked between the US and Afghanistan on February 28.
The resolution stressed that the peace process must be led and controlled by Afghans. It called on all parties concerned in Afghanistan to promote negotiations towards a ceasefire and political settlement.
In this resolution, the UN Security Council also expressed its readiness to consider the start of the review of the status of designations of individuals and entities on the sanction list against the Taliban.