Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: The US general leading the war in Afghanistan, General Austin Miller, relinquished command on Monday, in a symbolic end to America’s longest conflict even as Taliban insurgents gain momentum. He transferred authority to General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, in a ceremony in Kabul on Monday.
Miller will become America’s last four-star general on the ground in Afghanistan in a ceremony in Kabul that will come ahead of a formal end to the military mission there on August 31, a date set by President Joe Biden. McKenzie, whose Florida-based Central Command oversees U.S. forces in hot-spots including Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, flew into Kabul to underscore America’s future assistance to Afghan security forces.
“Admittedly, it’s going to be very different than it was in the past. I’m not going to minimize that,” McKenzie told a small group of reporters. “But we’re going to support them.” But he also cautioned that the Taliban, in his view, appeared to be seeking “a military solution” to a war that the United States has unsuccessfully tried to end with a peace agreement between the Taliban and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government. He cautioned that provincial capitals were at risk but noted that the U.S.-backed Afghan security forces “are determined to fight very hard for those provincial capitals.”
Even after Miller steps down, McKenzie will still be able to authorise U.S. air strikes against the Taliban through August 31 in support of Ghani’s Western-backed government. But after that, the Marine general said when it came to U.S. strikes in Afghanistan, his focus will shift squarely to counter-terrorism operations against al Qaeda and Islamic State.
As he steps down, Miller, 60, has spent longer on the ground than any of the previous generals to command the war. He had a close call in 2018 when a rogue Afghan bodyguard in Kandahar province opened fire in and killed a powerful Afghan police chief standing near Miller. A U.S. brigadier general was wounded as were other Americans but Miller emerged unscathed. After Miller leaves the post, the Pentagon has engineered a transition that will allow a series of generals to carry on with supporting the Afghan security forces, mostly from overseas.
Beyond McKenzie’s overwatch from Florida, a Qatar-based brigadier general, Curtis Buzzard, will focus on administering funding support for the Afghan security forces – including aircraft maintenance support. In Kabul, Navy Rear Admiral Peter Vasely will lead a newly created U.S. Forces Afghanistan-Forward, focusing on protecting the embassy and airport.
Meanwhile, head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, who attended the event said that the Taliban cannot take over Afghanistan through military means. Hamdullah Mohib, the country’s national security adviser, said that the Taliban still maintain ties with al Qaeda.
Meanwhile, Wahid Omar, Director General at office of public and strategic Affairs of the Afghan government, emphasized on the escalation of violence and conflict in the country, saying that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are operating jointly and still have strong ties. “This is a relationship between two like-minded groups, two groups that believe in violence, believe in threats, believe in killing and believe in terrorism,” Omar told reporters on Monday. “On the surface, it is shown to be negligent, but in practice it has a great depth, and the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are one, they think alike, they act alike, and they have one purpose.”
On the other hand, he added, the Taliban have imposed barbarism and terror on the people under their control. “Now is the time for all of us, as the pillars of a civilized society, to stand in a single line against this horror and their barbarism,” he said.
Also, US Chargé d’Affaires Ross Wilson tweeted, “I condemn the Taliban’s assaults on correctional facilities and assassination of prison officials working to ensure a safe and secure Afghanistan. Such actions show utter disregard for the rule of law and an intent to sow fear by releasing murderers, rapists, Daesh and other terrorists onto the Afghan public.”
In other news, the Foreign Ministry is aware of Taliban delegation’s trip to Turkmenistan. The trip has been scheduled at a time when the group’s attacks in recent months have caused the death of over 3,500 individuals and displacement of over 200,000 and disrupted normal life of the people and economic activities across several districts, said MoFA.
The MoFA appreciates all measures aimed to strengthen the peace process in Afghanistan, and believes that an end to fighting is possible only through political solution as a result of real peace negotiations.
The Afghan government appreciates the support of regional and international partners from the Afghan peace process and expects that these efforts should be focused on direct consultations with the Afghan government to strengthen regional and international consensus for provision of a ceasefire and an end to fighting and severing Taliban’s ties with regional terrorists.
Meanwhile, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan and Director of the Foreign Ministry’s Second Asian Department Zamir Kabulov told TASS on Monday that what is unfolding in Afghanistan is alarming, yet Moscow had foreseen this course of events. “It is alarming yet predictable. What we’ve forecasted is happening,” he said in response to a corresponding question.
However, Deputy Commander of Iran’s Law Enforcement Police Forces Brigadier General Qassem Rezayee said that the US and other foreign forces deployed in Afghanistan are responsible for the long-term insecurity in the war-torn country. “The US-led colonial powers, with their illegitimate presence in the region, have created a terrible situation for the Afghan people,” General Rezayee said while visiting the Southeastern borders of Iran on Monday.
In other news, the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) presented two epic songs, re-organized and re-sung by ANIM, to the ANDSF. Unveiling the songs at the Government Media and Information Center (GMIC), ANIM Head Ahmad Naser Sarmast said that the songs were re-sung by the symphony orchestra led by Qanbar Ali Noshad.
Sarmast hoped that the media would broadcast the songs during popular hours to fulfill their mission in order to raise the national spirit, resistance, and create unity and empathy in society. Noshad said that the epic songs have been reorganized and re-sung in support of ANDSF sacrifices, who are in the hotbeds of the battle against the enemies of the country and people.
President Ghani’s Senior Advisor and Director General of Office of Public and Strategic Affairs, Waheed Omar, emphasized on the effective role of music in society, and added that history has shown that in a state of war and oppression, coercion and violence, it is important to build and maintain moral, resistance and motivation. Omar appreciated ANIM’s work and added that all society has to fight for the country’s, children’s, women’s, and youths’ future so that all can have the right to work, get an education, and practice art, and everyone has the opportunity to do the work they are interested in within the framework of law.
This comes even as dozens of local residents of Khwaja Du Koh district, Jowzjan province, have picked up arms to fight the Taliban. Provincial council head Babur Ishchi said that he has mobilized over 100 local residents, to defend the district. Ishchi added that these forces will fight the Taliban anywhere across the province, if necessary, and that people’s forces are increasing on a daily basis. Those who have picked up arms in Khwaja Du Koh and Sheberghan vowed to defend their land under any circumstances.
Kabul: Iranian deputy foreign minister for South Asia affairs Rasoul Mousavi in an article published in an Iranian newspaper has elaborated on the details of Tehran initiative for establishing peace in Afghanistan. He wrote, “The Afghan delegation headed by Yunus Qanuni, former foreign minister of Afghanistan and Taliban’s delegation headed by deputy head of Taliban’s political office Shir Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai sat at negotiating table in Tehran on July 7 and started intra-Afghan peace talks.”
Tehran initiative for Afghan peace talks dates back to the visit of the then Afghanistan National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar to Iran five years ago. Atmar who is now the foreign minister of Afghanistan met with Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani and Mohammad Javad Zarif and expressed his country’s interest in Iran playing role for peace talks with Taliban.
After Atmar’s trip, Tehran tried to encourage Taliban to negotiate with Afghan government which resulted in Taliban agreeing to start negotiations with Afghan government. The issue was raised by Shamkhani during his meeting with his new Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib in Kabul. Afghan officials welcomed Shamkhani and vowed to give their official response to Tehran initiative.
While the US was trying to justify its military failure by managing Doha peace process, Moscow format (1 + 3 process), and the UN 2+6 initiative emerged. “Russian initiative lacked content and idea and just focused on the structure. It has only verified what was decided in Doha. Recently, the UN Secretary General tried to revive his initiative to define a new role for the UN in the Afghan peace process, but due to the lack of US and Russia support for the UN role in the peace process, he failed,” wrote Mousavi.
Istanbul initiative was the last attempt to establish peace in Afghanistan but since it was similar to that of Doha, it met the same fate.
Tehran Initiative believes that peace belongs to Afghan people and that intra-Afghan talks is the only way for maintaining peace in Afghanistan. The following topics were highlighted in Tehran initiative statement – war is not the solution and Afghanistan issues should be solved through political channel; Negotiations were explicit and clear and included all topics; Deciding to continue talks after consulting with higher levels on how to move from war to peace, the mechanism for establishing a new political system and accepting the Tehran meeting as a new process to reinforce peace, as per Mousavi.
Focusing on the aforementioned principles and comparing them with content of the previous initiatives indicate that Tehran meeting was the first real meeting of representatives of people and ethnic groups who determine the future of Afghanistan, he added.
On the other hand, a spokesperson for Taliban Suhail Shaheen has said that Pakistan is welcome to help the Taliban arrive at a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan but it “cannot dictate to us or impose its views on us”. Shaheen’s remarks came during an interview with Geo News on Sunday. “They can help us in the peace process, but can’t dictate to us or impose their views and this is against international principles,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations reported that 22,416 families have been displaced across various provinces, over the past two months. Media Advisor to the Ministry Abdul Basit Ansari told Hashte Subh daily that the majority of those displaced belong to Kunduz, Baghlan, Helmand, Ghazni, Takhar, and Badakhshan provinces, whilst the Ministry provided food, carpets, and tents to 20,000 families, and called on aid organizations to cooperate with the Ministry, to provide assistance to the displaced families.
Also, Herat’s Provincial Governor Abdul Saboor Qane met with UN Secretary General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan Ramiz Alakbarov and his accompanying delegation, to assess the general situation including the activities of international organization, provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance to war victims, and internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Alakbarov pointed to the change in the UNAMA policy in the field of development of plans, and policy of institutions, and added that project designing and program development will occur in locally and zone-based. Alakbarov assured that the activities of international organizations will continue on a larger scale in the province. Qane explained the situation, and welcomed the continued presence and increase in assistance and cooperation of international organizations, and added that necessities for IDPs, drought and war victims have increased and hoped that cooperation of the organizations will eliminate the problems.
Qane said that support and cooperation of the people with the local government and ANDSF in the province is valuable and promising. It’s the first time that a high-level UNAMA delegation visits Herat province.
Meanwhile, International Federation of Journalists said that as per Afghanistan Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA), the Taliban threatened at least eight media outlets during an attack. The IFJ said, “The Taliban’s assault on Qala-e-Naw left media displaced, leaving them vulnerable to further attacks. The IFJ calls on the Taliban to respect the media’s role in protecting independent journalism and allow a peaceful transition in the region as the United States withdraws troops.”
On the other hand, in accordance with the provisions of international humanitarian law, the parties to an armed conflict are required to treat the dead bodies of armed conflict with respect, said the ICRC. “The respect is not only for preserving the dignity of the dead, but also for their families and communities, and the families have the right to know about the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones and mourn for them. The focus of the corpse transfer program is on providing respect for the corpses and helping the parties to the armed conflict to fulfill their responsibilities to the victims and their families,” it stated.
The ICRC and Afghan Red Crescent Society support all parties to the armed conflict in carrying out their responsibilities. The ICRC and Afghan Red Crescent Society temporarily do this act when the parties are unable to perform their duties due to security risks, crossing frontlines, and occasionally because of the large number of corpses and the complexity in evacuation.
Kabul: Rahmatullah Nabil, the former director of National Directorate of Security, said that the Taliban are planning to launch large-scale attacks in southern Afghanistan.
Nabil wrote on Twitter on Monday, “Haji Yusuf, known as Wafa, the Taliban’s nominee governor for Kandahar, is planning large-scale attacks in accordance with the orders of Taliban leaders and in coordination with the Pakistani military in southern Afghanistan in the coming months.”
According to him, the Taliban’s strategy is that if they can maintain their dominance in northern Afghanistan, they will put maximum pressure on the southern part of the country. Nabil added, “Although, I doubt they will succeed in this sinister decision; rather, they will fail and will only cause more death, destruction and displacement.”
Meanwhile, local sources in Ghazni province said that the clashes have reached three kilometers from the governor’s office. Nasir Ahmad Faqiri, head of the Ghazni Provincial Council, told Hashte Subh daily that PD6 Ghazni fell after heavy fighting on Sunday evening.
The head of the Ghazni Provincial Council said that the Taliban have entered residential houses and high-rise buildings and are using the houses as their bases. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied the allegations, saying only military bases were targeted by the group’s fighters.
The areas of Nawabad, Qalay Shada, Haidarabad, Mohajerin Town, Qalay Amir Mohammad Khan and Khak-e Ghariban have witnessed heavy fighting between government forces and the Taliban in the past few days. During this period, residential houses were hit by rockets and mortars, and according to local residents, at least 17 civilians were killed. The head of the Ghazni Provincial Council confirmed the loss of civilians and the destruction of people’s homes due to the clashes.
In other news, Kabul’s PD12 police personnel arrested a group of armed robbers from Block12 of the PD, during an operation conducted last night. The arrested were involved in robbery in PDs 1, 8, 12, 16, and Bagrami district.
A gun and a corolla vehicle have been confiscated from these individuals and the case in under investigation.
Also, the NDS Special Forces arrested an Islamic State – Khorasan Province (IS-KP) member, who involved in targeted killings, with two mobile sets, during an operation in Behsud district. The arrested was facilitating targeted killings in Jalalabad city. Additionally, the NDS Special Forces killed an IS-KP member, named Mawlawi Hafiz, in Joy Haft area of Jalalabad’s PD7, during an operation. Hafiz was a key member of the group’s targeted killers and previously served as the group’s judge and commander, as per Nangarhar Governor’s Office statement.
Kabul: The Ministry of Justice announced that in the first six months of the 1400 fiscal year, seven foreign nationals had applied for Afghan citizenship, and that applications of 10 foreign nationals had been finalized, including this year and last year.
The ministry did not provide details about those who obtained Afghan citizenship, but said that the 10 were citizens of different countries who had officially become Afghan citizens after the Ministry of Justice finalized their citizenship applications and received issued presidential decree. According to the Ministry of Justice, the cases of applicants for citizenship have been reviewed by the Commission for Review of Citizenship and Acquisition, and with the finalization of 10 cases, only three citizenship cases are under the Ministry of Justice and will be finalized soon.
The Ministry of Justice has said that during this period, 102 Afghan citizens have applied to renounce their Afghan citizenship in order to obtain the citizenship of second countries. The ministry says that the cases of leaving the citizenship of these people have been processed by the relevant commission. The Ministry of Justice has stated that in the first six months of the current fiscal year, 178 cases of renunciation of citizenship, including this year and last year, have been finalized and approved by the President after the approval of the Cabinet. The ministry says the main reason for renouncing Afghan citizenship is the laws and regulations of a number of countries where Afghan nationals live and wish to acquire citizenship.
The Ministry of Justice has emphasized that the process of leaving the citizenship and acquiring citizenship cases is relatively long due to sending the files to the security departments, the Ministry of Finance and the Census Bureau to ensure criminal irresponsibility, finances and identification. The Ministry has asked the departments to cooperate with the Ministry of Justice in order to speed up the process of these cases so as not to confuse the applicants.
Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Kabul has announced that it has begun the process of issuing and applying for special immigration visas to Afghans, but the process of issuing nonimmigrant visas is also pending. The US Embassy said in a statement that applicants whose interviews had been postponed to avoid the risk of coronavirus would be considered in the first instance.
According to the statement, in the second phase, the Consular Section of the US Embassy, in coordination with the National Visa Center, will schedule new immigrant visa appointments for applicants who have completed their paperwork and will not be able to make immediate appointments. The US embassy has said that visa-related appointments will be reduced due to ongoing measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The embassy also said that in order to resume interviews for visas, the health and safety of applicants and staff is a top priority for the consulate.
The US Embassy said in a statement that visa applicants may face cancellation or suspension of appointments in the future. Meanwhile, Ross Wilson, head of the US Embassy in Kabul, tweeted on Monday that a special immigrant visa has helped more than 15,000 Afghans who have served the United States to move. Wilson wrote that more than 1,600 people have been interviewed with their families since April.
The process of issuing a residence visa for the United States, which was suspended due to immigration orders of former President Donald Trump, resumed in February of this year with the appointment of Joe Biden, but stopped again due to the pandemic. Special immigrant visas are issued to Afghan citizens who have previously worked with US forces or other US citizens in Afghanistan and whose lives are currently in danger.
Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Sunday reported 1,236 new positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 58 deaths and 1,509 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The total number of cases now stand at 135,889, while the number of reported deaths is 5,849.
The Ministry of Health has called on Afghan citizens to follow health guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Kabul: Deputy Spokesman for the Ministry of Defense (MoD) Fawad Aman claimed that dozens of foreign nationals among the Taliban were killed in Ghazni, Takhar, and Badakhshan provinces, over the past two days.
Aman added that four among the 16 Taliban insurgents, who were killed in Ghazni on Sunday, were Pakistani nationals, whilst thousands of foreign fighters are fighting the ANDSF alongside the Taliban in Kandahar, Helmand, Takhar, Badakhshan, and Ghazni provinces.
Aman told Hashte Subh daily that Pakistani, Uzbek, Tajik, and Chechen nationals are among the Taliban, and documents, ID cards are obtained after their deaths.
Also, the Taliban conducted attacks against the ANDSF and people’s forces in Taloqan, Takhar’s provincial capital, from two directions on Sunday night, and the attacks were repulsed. As a result of counterattacks by the ANDSF and people’s forces in support of airstrike, 14 Taliban fighters, including foreign nationals, were killed and 15 others were wounded. A number of weapons and ammunition were also destroyed during clashes, said the 217th Pamir Corps.
In other news, NDS Special Forces conducted an operation in Shinwar district, and arrested a Taliban member with four IEDs and three mobile phones. The suspect will be referred to legal agencies, after the completion of legal procedures. Also, NDS Special Forces conducted an operation in Jalalabad city, Nangarhar province, and arrested a smuggler with 45 pistols on a corolla vehicle, as per the Nangarhar Governor’s Office.
Meanwhile, ANP arrested three individuals with a pistol in connection with assassination of an ANDSF member in Charikar, Parwan province, on Sunday. The arrested are Taliban members and have been involved in targeted assassinations in the province, said the MoI. Also, a roadside IED detonation in PD2 of Gardez city, Paktia province at 09:30am, killed a counter-crime member of the provincial police headquarters, local officials reported. In fact, three civilians were killed and six more were wounded in a roadside bomb blast in the southern province of Helmand on Monday morning, security sources said. The incident happened at around 8am local time when a civilian vehicle struck by a roadside mine in Bolan area Lashkargah city’s District 3, sources said.
Meanwhile, the media office of Malistan district of Ghazni province has announced that Taliban fighters have attacked the center of the district from several directions and the security forces of this district need immediate help to repel the Taliban attacks. A statement from the Malistan District Media Office, released on Monday, said that the district security and defense forces had been fighting the “enemy” empty-handed for several days.
The statement said that despite repeated requests, no assistance had been provided by the central government and that a “dangerous catastrophe” would occur in the district if the security forces in Malistan district were not assisted as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Aref Bahonar, Jaghori district governor, said the Taliban had advanced in parts of Malistan district on Sunday night, but there were plans to crack down on the group. He stressed that the situation will soon change in favor of the security forces and there are no concerns. Taliban attacks on parts of Malistan district of Ghazni province started two nights ago.
On Sunday, Malistan district governor Amir Mohammad Javed told Etilaat roz that the Taliban attack in the Shirdagh and Kharzar areas of the district had met with resistance from security forces, and that more than 40 Taliban fighters had been killed in clashes between the two sides.
Kabul: Mir Rahman Rahmani, speaker of the Lower House of Parliament, said that the treatment of Amrullah Saleh, the first vice-president, with Amir Shah Naebzada, a member of the parliament, was hasty and illegal. Speaking at the plenary session of the parliament on Monday, Rahmani said that according to Article 102 of the constitution, whenever a member of the National Assembly is accused of a crime, the responsible official is obliged to report it to the parliament.
“No official information has been given to the House of Representatives about Naebzada,” he added. In the case of an apparent crime, only the officer in charge can prosecute the accused without the permission of the parliament. “Whenever prosecution legally requires detention, the officer in charge is still obliged to inform the parliament and obtain its approval.”
According to Rahmani, Saleh’s treatment of Naebzada by threatening and publishing it in the media had no legal justification and it was a hasty and illegal act, he added. He stressed that if government officials and law enforcement do not consider the law, the structure of the legal system will disintegrate and discredit institutions and the government.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives said, “If Naebzada has acted in violation of national security, he should be investigated through the judiciary for obvious and objective reasons, and otherwise, his ban on leaving and the siege of his house is against the law. And it is immunity and not acceptable to the House of Representatives.”
A few days ago, following the Taliban’s attacks on Badghis province and the entry of the group’s fighters into the city of Qala-e-Naw, the capital of the province, an audio file of the phone call of Amrullah Saleh, the first vice-president, with Amir Shah Naebzada, the representative of the people of Badghis in the House of Representatives was posted on social media, in which Saleh accused this member of parliament of supporting the Taliban.
In this audio file, Saleh told Amir Shah Naebzada, “We have received repeated credible reports that you encourage the ANDSF to surrender. If you don’t stop and accept your mistake, you will not be forgiven.”
Amir Shah Naebzada, Badghis’s representative in the House of Representatives, confirmed the phone call, saying that Saleh had spoken irresponsibly because there is no evidence in this case. “I am someone who fought against the Taliban for years. I am not responsible for the collapse of districts and ports,” he said.
Meanwhile, as the Taliban intensifies its attacks in the country and reports of the group’s fighters mistreating women in the occupied territories, the House of Representatives has called on the United Nations to protect Afghan women from Taliban threats. “Discrimination and inhumane treatment of women in Taliban-held areas is worrying,” Rahmani said.
In addition to the United Nations, Rahmani called on the Afghan Human Rights Commission, the European Commission, and women and human rights organizations, as well as domestic and international organizations, to address and support concerns about the Taliban’s mistreatment of women. Residents of a number of areas that have recently fallen to Taliban militants have said that the Taliban have imposed restrictions on women when they enter the area.
They added that the group’s fighters treat women as they did during their Emirate in Kabul. The Taliban did not allow women to leave their homes without a male and forced them to wear burqas. Balkh Governor Mohammad Farhad Azimi also said a few days ago that the Taliban had flogged women in the province in some cases for failing to comply with the group’s principles.
Also, addressing the Lower House of Parliament, MP for Jowzjan province Halima Sadaf Karimi claimed that the Taliban have stated that widows and young girls marry Taliban fighters and be transferred to Pakistan’s Waziristan for Islamic teachings. Karimi added that the Taliban have flogged women who have gone out to find a piece of bread, and that no one should remain silent against Taliban’s oppression.
On the other hand, Amrullah Saleh, the first vice-president, on Monday said that the Taliban are a group fighting for a package of mixed interests, and the group’s rule in Afghanistan is impossible. “Who the Taliban are, where they are being supported, what they are looking for, what ugliness they have in mind, and what their strategy is to conquer the land,” Saleh wrote on his Facebook page on Monday. “The issue can be summed up in one word: the Taliban is our enemy and we must do everything we can to destroy this enemy.”
According to him, the main reason for the recent developments was the reckless relocation of the defense and security forces, which was not based on military judgment and instead of a strong presence in several points, there was a weak presence in hundreds of points and even this part was not considered correctly. Saleh wrote, “The enemy is neither six meters tall nor winged. From an organizational point of view, the strength of the enemy is divided into three parts. The first is the trained forces, which will be led directly by the Pakistani Special Forces from Peshawar-Quetta and elsewhere. Google communication tools and maps make it very easy. The second part is the local units that work under the name of the Military Commission. These, too, do not play much role except in extorting money from the people and imposing a party on the locals. The third part is the recent recruits who have no morals.”
Saleh called the first part the main strength of the Taliban and described their training as similar to that of Lashkar-e-Taiba, who are trained in Pakistan. He has said that in recent months, one of the Taliban’s advantages has been the possession of camera, weapons and snipers; but the security forces have more modern and better weapons than the Taliban. “The withdrawal of foreign forces created a very immediate vacuum, and part of the recent developments was predictable,” the first vice-president wrote. “Our main focus is on deployment, so that we can then take the next step in picking up the enemy. We do not need village forces, but agile forces that are moving quickly,” he added.
He said that all ethnic groups, provinces and most political forces (except Pakistani pensioners) were in favor of the victory of the army and that the Afghan armed forces had played a central role in the minds of the people and even the gaps created in recent weeks showed public respect for the forces.
Kabul: President Ghani met with Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, former President Hamid Karzai, and jihadi leader Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, at the Presidential Palace on Sunday evening.
They exchanged views about the current situation, and emphasized on a unified stance, strong political consensus in support of the ANDSF, the republic system, and lasting peace and stability, said the Presidential Palace in a statement.
In fact, a Taliban delegation led by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai traveled to Ashgabat at the official invitation of Turkmenistan, Taliban’s political office spokesman Mohammad Naeem stated. The delegation met with deputy Turkmen foreign minister and discussed relevant political, economic, and security issues, Naeem added.
The Qatar Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani also on Sunday met with the visiting UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy on Afghanistan and Regional Issues Jean Arnault. During the meeting, they reviewed Qatar’s mediation efforts to achieve stability in light of the current developments, and its commitment to encouraging dialogue between Afghans and working to facilitate peace talks until a just, comprehensive and lasting political settlement is reached in the country.
Also, Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar met separately with Norwegian and US Charge d’Affairs. Norwegian diplomat spoke about the continuation of his country’s support and cooperation within the new chapter of cooperation, and assured Atmar of particularly supporting the preservation of past achievements and the success of peace process. Norwegian Charge d’Affaires submitted a written statement of his country’s Foreign Minister to Atmar, on the presence and the continuation of activity of Norway’s military hospital at the Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA), and called for legal facilities to enable the hospital continue its operation in Afghanistan.
Atmar appreciated Norway’s support and cooperation with Afghanistan over the past two decades, and emphasized on the importance of Norway’s cooperation in preserving joint achievements. Atmar pointed to the security agreement between Afghanistan and NATO and ensured of Afghan government’s commitment to providing necessary legal facilities for the continuation of international community’s cooperation, particularly Norway in the new phase of cooperation.
During the meeting with US Charge d’Affaires Ross Wilson, Atmar referred to the recent travel by high-level Afghan delegation to the US, and appreciated Washington’s continued support and cooperation after the withdrawal of foreign forces. Atmar spoke about the latest developments in the peace process, political situation, and security issues, and emphasized on the importance of U.S.’s support to strengthen regional consensus for the success of peace process. Atmar stressed on the need for continued bilateral consultations and strengthening political dialogue. Wilson assured Atmar of his country’s commitment to continuing its support for the preservation and strengthening of past achievements.
Meanwhile, a security source at the Ghazni Police Command said that the PD6 and the third mission of PD1 of Ghazni City have fallen to Taliban fighters. The source, who did not want to be named, told Etilaat roz daily that the they were captured by Taliban on Sunday evening.
He added that the forces stationed at these police stations had retreated under the command of Ghazni police. Latifa Akbari, a member of the Ghazni Provincial Council, also confirmed that the area had fallen to Taliban fighters. On the other hand, the security source said that during the clashes in this Taliban attack, the Taliban, security and defense forces and civilians were also killed, but the number has not been determined yet.
Ghazni is one of the most insecure provinces in the southeast of the country, where Taliban fighters are active. The group has recently intensified its attacks in the province, including the city of Ghazni and the safe districts of Malistan, Jaghori and Nawur.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) reported the arrest of three individuals from Qarabagh district of Kabul, and one from Mohammad Agha district of Logar, in connection with the Taliban. The MoI stated that the individuals were arrested along with a pistol and some ammunition during two separate operations conducted by Special Police Unit forces.
Also, local officials in Sar-e-Pul province said that three districts and the provincial capital have been cleared of Taliban insurgents. Abdul Haq Shafaq, the governor of Sar-e-Pul, told the Subhe Kabul that two weeks ago, a large-scale operation was launched against Taliban fighters in the province. According to him, a security belt was created for the capital of Sar-e-Pul province a few days ago, after which Taliban fighters could no longer advance towards the center.
Shafaq added, “In Balkhab district, the Taliban attacked from several directions for four days and sometimes made progress; but they failed to capture the district center and were eventually besieged at one point in the village of Hoosh.” He said that more than 50 Taliban fighters have been killed, 30 wounded and 17 others detained as a result of airstrikes and ground operations in Balkhab district and central Sar-e-Pul. The governor of Sar-e-Pul said that finally, after midnight on Sunday, Taliban fighters fled from all parts of Balkhab district and the displaced returned to their homes. Shafaq said that the defense and security forces will no longer allow insecurity to spread in Sar-e-Pul province.