Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: Local officials in Badghis province said that the Taliban have declared a ceasefire in the province.
Badghis Governor Hesamuddin Shams said that the ceasefire had been accepted by the Taliban with the mediation of tribal elders. According to him, the ceasefire started at 12:00pm on Thursday.
In the past few weeks, Badghis province has seen intense clashes. A few days ago, Taliban fighters attacked the town of Qala-e-Naw in the provincial capital after capturing Badghis district. Security forces, however, were able to repel a Taliban attack on the provincial capital. Until yesterday, army operations continued around the areas of Badghis.
Meanwhile, the Taliban carried out their offensive attacks on the defense forces, security forces and popular uprisings in the Dahan-e Ab Spingal, along the Fayzabad to Baharak district highway, which met with strong resistance from forces and were repulsed from the area with heavy casualties. As a result, 10 people, including Zabih Tajik, were killed and 13 others were wounded. Also, as a result of the enemy’s offensive attacks, two members of the security forces were killed and four others were wounded.
Also, Taliban launched its offensive on Wednesday night in three strongholds of Sar-e-Pul province, which was repulsed by the strong resistance of the brave defense and security forces. As a result, four of them were killed and seven others were seriously wounded.
Meanwhile, Kunduz police spokesman Enamuddin Rahmani said that armed Taliban insurgents attacked Aliabad district police headquarters on Wednesday night, which resulted in heavy resistance from security and defense forces, who fled the area with casualties. Rahmani added that the security and defense forces had dealt a heavy blow to the enemy. The Taliban have been pushed back by security and defense forces with heavy casualties, as per the press office of Kunduz police.
Also, Baghlan Governor Mohammad Akbar Barikzai and Laghman Governor Abdul Wali Zahedi briefed the media on the situation of the provinces via separate video conferences on Thursday. Barakzai, who was connected to the government’s information and media center via video conference, described the security situation in Baghlan as “relatively good” compared to recent weeks, adding that the province’s police chief and security chief had just been introduced.
He added that of the total number of districts in Baghlan province, five districts are under the control of the government and in these districts, public services and local government are running normally. Barakzai emphasized that the defense and security forces in Baghlan province have high morale, adding, “People have been mobilized in every corner of the province to support the system and the defense and security forces of the country.”
Laghman Governor Abdul Wali Wahedzai also explained the situation in the province to the media in a video conference and said that there is the necessary coordination between the defense and security institutions and the leadership of the province. He added that a comprehensive plan has been made to strengthen the security belts of the province. According to the governor of Laghman, Alishang district, which has been under siege by the enemy for two months now, was broken as a result of a nine-day operation by the defense and security forces.
As a result of the nine-day operation, several prominent Taliban commanders were killed and the governor of the province was severely wounded. The governor of Laghman stated that the administrative units of Laghman province are active and provide services to the people normally.
Meanwhile, in Nangarhar, National Directorate of Security (NDS) personnel captured alive a Taliban militant named Raees Khan in Jalalabad who had recently killed two soldiers in two separate incidents near Farm Hada area. He admitted that he had been active in the Taliban for the past seven years and had planted landmines in addition to fighting. The National Directorate of Security (NDS) also arrested another Taliban insurgent in the Momandara district of the province. Also, Nangarhar’s security officials reported that an IED attached to the vehicle of head of a private tourist company detonated in Jalalabad’s PD1 at about 02:00pm on Thursday and killed him.
However, a group of Kapisa ulema came to the governor and in a meeting with the governor of Kapisa province called for security. The governor of Kapisa province met with the province’s ulema while the police chief, deputy director of national security and head of the Kapisa Green Process were also present. Abdul Latif Murad, the governor of Kapisa province said that they played a very big and valuable role and assured them that the mentioned issues will be comprehensively reviewed by the relevant departments and demands will be met as soon as possible.
On the other hand, family of Yama Siawash, a journalist and former public relations consultant for the Central Bank (Da Afghanistan Bank), has sent the case file of his assassination to the International Criminal Court and to the UN Rapporteur on Human Rights and Freedom of Expression. Mohammad Davood Siawash, the father of Yama Siawash, has expressed hope that these institutions will investigate the case of his son’s murder and punish the perpetrators.
“Now that the case of the killing of Yama Siawash is on the table of the International Criminal Court and the rapporteur of human rights and freedom of expression, I hope these are the highest international authorities on justice,” he said in a short video clip. Yama Siawash’s family is filing a lawsuit to investigate the murder of their son through a London-based law firm Bedford.
“It is alleged that the assassination of Yama Siawash was part of a targeted attack on members of the media in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, which escalated during the presidency of Ashraf Ghani,” the Bedford Legal Institute said in a press release issued on Thursday. The statement also said that the targeted killing of Yama Siawash was, in accordance with accepted standards, a crime against humanity and a war crime. Yama Siawash’s father appealed to the UN Security Council last year for what he called the Afghan government’s lack of attention to Yama Siawash’s case. The letter also stated that President Ashraf Ghani and Central Bank Governor Ajmal Ahmadi did not want to identify and arrest the killer of Yama Siawash for reasons that have not yet been clarified.
Yama Siawash and two other colleagues were killed in a magnetic mine explosion in the Macrorian area of the PD1 of Kabul last year.
In other news, there are reports that Pakistan guards used tear gas on Thursday to disperse hundreds of people who tried to breach a border crossing into Afghanistan, a day after the Taliban seized control of the Afghan side of the frontier, officials said. “This morning a mob of some 400 unruly commuters tried to cross the gate forcefully. They threw stones, which forced us to use tear gas,” said a security official at the southwest Chaman border, who asked not to be named.
“We had to baton charge because people were getting unruly,” said a second border official, who also did not want to be named. Jumadad Khan, a senior government official in Chaman, said the situation was now “under control”. The Taliban captured the strategic border crossing of Spin Boldak district on the frontier with Pakistan on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Kyrgyzstan will evacuate Kyrgyz refugees who fled from Afghanistan to Tajikistan, the Foreign Ministry of Kyrgyzstan said. The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry said that the first report about crossing of the border of Tajikistan by ethnic Kyrgyz from Little Pamir of Afghanistan was received from the Embassy of Kyrgyzstan in Kabul on July 12. The Embassy contacted representatives of ethnic Kyrgyz and confirmed Afghanistan’s Kyrgyz indeed headed to Kyzyl-Rabat village of Murgab district of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan.
It was reported earlier that 347 refugees, including 91 men, 77 women and 177 minors, all of them are natives of Andemin village, Wakhan district of Badakhshan Province of Afghanistan, fled to Tajikistan escaping from Taliban. The Kyrgyz Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed the Regional Office of the UN Higher Commissioner for Refugees in Central Asia and UNHCR Office in Kyrgyzstan concerning the situation with Afghan Kyrgyz, who were sheltered in Tajikistan, asked UNHCR’s assistance in organization of their evacuation to Kyrgyzstan.
The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry said the note was sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan with request to provide unimpeded travel of Afghan Kyrgyz until the crossing point into Kyrgyzstan. The respective request was voiced on July 13 by First Deputy Foreign Minister Nuran Niyazaliev on the sidelines of the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Foreign Ministers Council in Dushanbe.
Also, as per the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 11,200 people in Kandahar displaced by conflict according to initial reports, over 17,000 people affected by conflict provided with aid in the north-east provinces and almost 10,000 people displaced by conflict receive aid in the northern provinces.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) too said that it has temporarily suspended operations in the Spin Boldak area of Kandahar and Islam Qala in Herat. The organization said in a statement that the rapid escalation of clashes across Afghanistan has had a significant impact on border crossings. “The activities of the International Organization for Migration in Spin Boldak and Islam Qala have been affected by the recent wars and have been temporarily suspended,” the statement said. But the organization has said it is investigating the resumption of activities to provide timely humanitarian assistance to refugees returning to Afghanistan.
Kabul: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) foreign ministers have called on the conflicting sides in Afghanistan to abstain from using force or taking steps that can lead to destabilization in the republic’s border areas, a joint statement signed by the ministers on the outcomes of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group meeting on Wednesday informs.
“We strongly call on all sides involved in the conflict in Afghanistan to abstain from using force or taking action that may lead to destabilization and unpredictable consequences in the areas of Afghanistan’s borders with SCO member states,” the document says.
The activity of international terrorist organizations remains one of the key instability factors, the SCO member states stressed, expressing concern over the escalation of tensions in Afghanistan’s northern districts “as a result of a sharp increase in concentration of various terrorist, separatist and extremist groups”. “We consider it important to scale up joint efforts of the SCO member states with the aim of countering terrorism, separatism and extremism,” the statement notes. At the same time, the SCO member states have reaffirmed their readiness to cooperate with Afghanistan to deal with the threats and challenges in the region, which include terrorism and drug crime.
The countries also expressed their interest in Afghanistan becoming a peaceful, stable and prosperous country, reaffirming their respect for the traditions and culture of all nations populating the republic. “In accordance with the generally recognized principles and norms of international law, first and foremost, the UN Charter, the SCO member states reaffirm their respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan. They aim to aid Afghanistan on its path to becoming a country free of terrorism, war and drugs,” the document reads.
In order to stabilize the situation in the country, the SCO states call on other players and international structures to expand their cooperation with Afghanistan. “We confirm the readiness of our countries to expand further cooperation with Afghanistan in the spheres of politics, security, economic and humanitarian cooperation, namely through the complete implementation of the potential of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s participation in SCO activity as an observer state,” the representatives of the organization concluded.
In fact, Indian External Affairs Minister Jaishankar presented the Indian view at the SCO FM Contact Group meeting on Afghanistan at Dushanbe on Wednesday. He listed out three main focal points for Afghanistan, including- a) an independent, neutral, unified, peaceful, democratic and prosperous nation; b) ceasing violence and terrorist attacks against civilians and state representatives, settle conflict through political dialogue, and respect interests of all ethnic groups, and; c) ensure that neighbors are not threatened by terrorism, separatism and extremism.
“The challenge is to act seriously and sincerely on these beliefs. Because there are forces at work with a very different agenda. The world is against seizure of power by violence and force. It will not legitimize such actions,” tweeted Jaishankar.
He added that peace negotiations in earnest is the only answer. “An acceptable compromise that reflects Doha process, Moscow format and Istanbul process is essential. The future of Afghanistan cannot be its past. A whole new generation has different expectations. We should not let them down,” he said.
Meanwhile, a reliable source in Farah province told Etilaat roz daily that Mullah Ibrahim, the police chief of Pur Chaman district, had joined the Taliban with more than 150 soldiers.
The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the forces had joined the Taliban on Tuesday. The source added that with the fall of the district, all ten districts of the province have come under the control of the Taliban.
Shah Mahmood Naeemi, deputy head of the Farah provincial council, confirmed the fall of the district and the joining of the police commander to the Taliban, in an interview with the Etilaat Roz daily. The Taliban have also confirmed that Pur Chaman police chief has joined the group. Currently, Farah’s local and security officials are focusing on strengthening the city’s security belts.
Meanwhile, in a decree, President Ashraf Ghani has appointed Abdul Matin Bek as the President’s Chief of Staff.
President Ghani also held a phone conversation with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Wednesday, and praised the Italian government people for their effective security and development assistance, especially to Herat province, emergency hospitals in Afghanistan over the past two decades. Ghani hoped that bilateral relations will further expand and continue in the new chapter of relations between Afghanistan and the international community. Draghi said that Italy is a friend to the Afghan people, and its forces have withdrawn from Afghanistan, but Italian government’s and people’s commitment to the Afghan people remain untouched, and called for strong relations between Afghanistan and Italy.
In fact, National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib met with British Ambassador Laurie Bristow and discussed joint work in support of the republic, strengthen security, and peace efforts. Both sides also discussed human rights and regional dimensions of the security.
Also, Senior Presidential Advisor Mohammad Mohaqqeq met with Second Vice-President Mohammad Sarwar Danesh to discuss security and political developments in Daikundi province. Given the sensitive situation, it has been decided that the provincial leadership remain unchanged to honor the people’s approval and full consultation on the issue, and a qualified individual will be proposed to the President for the province, after a while, in a proper circumstance with consultations from both sides.
Kabul: Following the fall of a number of districts in the country to Taliban fighters, Ajmal Omar Shinwari, a spokesman for the armed forces, said that the lost areas would soon be recaptured.
Shinwari told a news conference in Kabul on Wednesday that a clearing plan had been drawn up to reclaim the lost sites and that “we will see the recapture of these areas as soon as possible”. He added that the country’s security and defense forces are already conducting large-scale operations in response to Taliban movements and activities, based on regular operational, defense and strategic plans. According to him, the security and defense forces have made significant achievements in this operation.
he spokesman for the armed forces also said that the Taliban had looted people’s property and destroyed public facilities in those areas while seizing a number of areas. He called the Taliban’s action inhumane and against all the principles and norms of war.
Ajmal Omar Shinwari, however, stressed that these forces have a strong will to protect civilians in any situation against any kind of terrorist attack. Shinwari also stressed that the Taliban “crimes” are not left unanswered by the security and defense forces.
At the same time, he said, the forces have launched 98 joint and independent operations in 25 provinces in the last three days. As a result of these operations, 1,369 Taliban fighters were killed and 605 other fighters of this group were wounded. He added that 49 other Taliban fighters had been detained.
Meanwhile, addressing an online press conference at the Government Media and Information Center (GMIC), Nangarhar’s Provincial Governor Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhel said that government agencies are normally operating across 21 districts and there is no security threat in these areas.
Amarkhel added that the Taliban are present in one district, and use the people as shield; thus, in order to protect civilian casualties, the ANDSF are cautiously acting to push the Taliban back. Amarkhel explained that 140 enemy attacks were repulsed in the province, over the past three months, and the enemy sustained heavy casualties, while he assured that the ANDSF will firmly respond to any threat against an outpost, a village, or a district in the province.
Kunar’s Provincial Governor Mohammad Iqbal Saeed addressed a separate online press conference, and assured of the necessary coordination between the ANDSF and tribal elders in the province, and said that the enemy is unable to threaten even a single outpost in the province. Saeed added that development projects are underway across the province, as scheduled, highlighted local residents’ cooperation with the ANDSF, which has left positive impact on the security of the province.
In a separate online conference, Zabul’s Provincial Governor Mohammad Amin Tokhi said that the security situation in Qalat city is normal, concerns over security issues have been solved, whilst 300 people’s forces are currently prepared alongside the ANDSF to defend the city against any enemy threat.
Also, Kabul’s provincial police reported that it detected and neutralized an IED, which was placed in Bazar-e Madrassa area of Char Asiab district, along the Kabul to Logar highway, on Wednesday. Also, security officials wanted to take away some prisoners from Kandahar’s central prison on Tuesday night, but prisoners opposed and protested the decision. Sources said that the police opened fire on prisoners, killing one and wounding 10 others. The Office of Prisons Administration accused the Taliban of killing a prisoner and wounding another, during a riot within Kandahar prison. Prisoners protested their transfer to Kabul on Wednesday afternoon and sustained casualties, after the protest turned violent. Administration’s Spokesman Faiullah Jalalzai told Hashte Subh daily that the prisoners were scheduled to be transferred from Kandahar province, due to some necessities, but the prisoners protested the decision and came out to the yard, when Taliban insurgents opened fire on them. Jalalzai added that a prisoner was killed and another was wounded, who is under treatment at the hospital; however, the prison is under wardens’ control now. The Taliban have yet to comment on the report.
On the other hand, local residents of Paktia rallied in Gardez city in support of the system and lasting peace, as the Afghan people are tired of the ongoing war, which has led to bloodshed, destruction, and misery. They called on the Taliban to put an end to the ongoing war, as the major victims over the past two decades have been civilians, and they are still suffering. They urged the Taliban not to look for excuses for peace, not to abuse government good intentions, seek peace, so that the people can live in peace and security, without fear and intimidation; likewise, they opposed the formation of private militias and emphasized on permanent ceasefire and an end to fighting.
In fact, addressing a press conference, the National Committee for War Victims called for an immediate end to violence and establishment of a ceasefire. Committee Chairman Massoud Safi said that the Committee has been formed to defend the rights of war victims, communicating their problems to those responsible, including the High Council for National Reconciliation and Islamic Republic’s negotiation team, about peace and a halt in fighting.
Safi added that with an increase in violence, the problems of war victims are also increasing and the war victims emphasize that the warring parties end violence, and know that war is not the solution, and violence should end through negotiations, the demands and rights of war victims should be seriously taken into consideration during the peace negotiations. In its declaration, the Committee emphasized on immediate and permanent ceasefire, and added that parties to the conflict need to declare a ceasefire during Eid al-Adha to stop violence and prevent further victimizations.
Preventing civilian casualties, protecting prisoners of war, protecting the residential areas in war-torn areas, not using residents’ homes in the war, not harming government institutions and public facilities, and keeping the economic ports and highways open to the people, are also included in the declaration.
Meanwhile, Amrullah Saleh, the first vice-president, said that the Taliban had expelled dozens of Kyrgyz families from the Pamir of Badakhshan. “The Taliban have expelled dozens of families from the Pamirs of Badakhshan and told them to either convert to the Taliban or leave,” Saleh wrote on his Twitter account on Wednesday.
According to him, these families are a Kyrgyz minority who have lived in the Pamirs of Badakhshan for centuries and survived hardships; but they did not leave. Saleh said the families are currently awaiting their fate in Tajikistan.
In fact, according to a Hashte Subh report, the border forces of Tajik National Security Committee said in a statement that 77 Kyrgyz Afghans, including 31 children, 20 women and 26 men, had sought refuge in their country out of fear of the Taliban. According to the Tajik State News Agency, the men, mostly Afghans of Kyrgyz descent, crossed the Tajik border at 4:00am on Tuesday.
The men are residents of Andmin village in Wakhan district of Badakhshan province, who, according to the Khawar news agency, entered the village of Qizil-Robot in Tajikistan’s Murghab district due to Taliban threats. Tajikistan has said it has allowed refugees in due to its good humanitarian relations with Afghanistan. According to Khawar, Afghan refugees also brought their animals, including 1,000 cows, 300 cattle, three camels and 30 horses.
Meanwhile, Badakhshan Governor Bashir Ahmad Samim said that the Badakhshan Pamir is controlled by the Taliban and that Badakhshan offices are not active there, and that he had not yet received any information about the expulsion of dozens of Kyrgyz families. Samim added, “People live in hardships in districts and areas where there are Taliban. The Taliban have put a lot of pressure on the people. We have not yet received official information about the eviction of families in the Pamirs.”
Also, Herat’s provincial Refugees and Repatriations Directorate reported that over 8,000 families have been displaced to the province, due to fighting and drought. Director Mobin Qaderi told Etilaat roz daily that over 2,000 families have been displaced to the province from neighboring province, only in the past month, but that the Directorate lacks adequate budget to assist those displaced. Qaderi called on aid organizations to act to support those displaced, to help decrease their problems.
Addressing a press conference, representative of Badghis and Herat provinces warned that if the deteriorating situation and problems of those displaced are not addressed, a human tragedy will occur. Also, local officials in Kunduz province reported that the ongoing war has displaced about 12,000 families in the province. The Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations reported that over 25,000 families have been displaced from various districts of Bamyan province to safer districts and hillsides within a week, fearing Taliban attacks.
Also, Badghis’ Refugees and Repatriations Director Abdul Zahir Badghisi stated that about 10,000 families have been displaced in the province due to recent clashes. Provincial council head Abdul Aziz Bek told a news conference that despite several requests from the 207th Zafar Army Corps for deploying reinforcement to prevent the fall of Qala-e Naw city, no reinforcements were deployed to Badghis province.
Bek added that a number of families left their homes after the Taliban attacked Qala-e Naw city. MP for Badghis province Ziauddin Akazi said that no reinforcements were deployed to the province over the past 10 days, as the Taliban have been attacking Qala-e Naw city. Spokesman for the 207th Zafar Corps told Hashte Subh daily that Special Forces are present in Badghis province and are clearing Qala-e Naw city of insurgents. Provincial Governor Hesamuddin Shams told the daily that three civilians have so far been killed and 72 others, including nine women and seven children, have been wounded in recent clashes; however, he said that the security situation has improved and the Taliban have retreated from some area. Shams hoped that MPs for the province will return to the province and support the ANDSF.
Kabul: Minister of Justice, Fazel Ahmad Manavi, went through the status of legal awareness of citizens and stressed on the need for change in this area. The meeting, which was held on Tuesday, was attended by the Deputy Minister of Social Affairs of the Ministry of Justice and a number of heads and officials of various directorates of the Ministry. The Minister of Justice emphasized that, “Legal awareness should be done using new approaches and under a clear and professional umbrella, and that the activities of this sector should be focused.”
Referring to the current classical method of legal awareness, he said that face-to-face awareness of citizens is not possible due to the facilities and resources of the Ministry of Justice and the wide audience of legal messages. Manavi stated that, the production of legal awareness messages should be increased and should be communicated to the people through various channels, especially the media.
He also instructed the establishment of a centrally managed team to be responsible for legal awareness and to report regularly on its activities. He also emphasized on getting cooperation of partner institutions of the Ministry of Justice in this field.
The Minister of Justice also stressed on the effectiveness of the 188-telephone counseling center and said that efforts should be made to make citizens’ calls to this number free; so that, they can receive legal advice from the center. Fazel Ahmad Manavi appointed a committee chaired by Dr. Zakia “Adili,” Deputy Minister of Social Affairs of the Ministry of Justice, to take practical actions as soon as possible in the mentioned areas.
At this session, the Deputy Minister of Social Affairs of the Ministry of Justice, referring to the need for equipment, resources and infrastructure to modernize legal awareness, said that, “The committee will start working soon to improve the legal awareness situation by addressing the challenges.”
In other news, sources said that the plane carrying Murad Ali Murad, the newly appointed governor of Daikundi, has returned from the province. Local media reported that Murad’s plane had landed at Abdul Ali Mazari Airport in Bamyan.
However, on Wednesday, Murad Ali Murad was scheduled to start his new appointment as the governor of Daikundi, replacing Rashida Shahidi. Reyhana Azad, Daikundi’s representative in the House of Representatives, told Hashte Subh daily that the reason for the return of the plane and the failure to introduce Murad was because the local authorities received a call from the center.
According to Azad, in this telephone call, Mohammad Sarwar Javadi, Deputy for Policy of Independent Directorate of Local Governance, was told not to introduce Murad and that he would be introduced “elsewhere.” Murad and Mohammad Taher Zaheer were appointed as governors of Daikundi and Bamyan on Tuesday.
Kabul: The International Conference entitled, Central and South Asia; Connectivity Summit, is scheduled for July 15-16 in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. Latif Mahmoud, the deputy spokesman for the Presidential Palace, told the Hashte Subh daily on Wednesday, that President Ashraf Ghani will also attend the meeting.
According to Mahmoud, the Tashkent International Summit will be attended by representatives of 40 countries, including the foreign ministers of 20 countries. Mahmoud said Central and South Asian issues will be discussed at the Tashkent summit. According to him, Central Asia is rich in resources and South Asia is in high demand for access to these resources and Afghanistan is the connecting point of these regions.
The deputy presidential spokesperson said that it has a decisive role in connecting the regions of Afghanistan and is considered as the junction of South and Central Asia and has the position of a vestibule. Latif Mahmoud added that Afghanistan, using active economic and political diplomacy, is trying to be the connecting point of Asia and play a decisive role in this regard.
The Tashkent International Summit will be held in three areas: security, transit, economy and cultural interaction. President Ghani is one of the speakers at this meeting. He will talk about Afghanistan’s role in regional connectivity, security challenges, trade development, and opportunities and challenges.
In other news too, Tajikistan’s Minister of Transport Azim Ibrohim told reporters in Dushanbe on July 14 that unstable political situation in Afghanistan has not become an obstacle in the way of Tajikistan’s international road cargo transportation. “For example, 123 trucks proceeded through the Panji Poyon – Sher Khan Bandar crossing on July 13; 51 of them entered the territory of Tajikistan and 72 trucks entered the territory of Afghanistan,” the minister said.
“In terms of throughput indicators, this border crossing point is second only to the Fotehobod-Oibek border crossing point on the Tajik-Uzbek border in Mastchoh district, Sughd province,” Ibrohim noted. The minister recommends freight carriers refrain from entering the territory of Afghanistan in case of any threats to their safety.
President Ghani is also scheduled to meet with the President of Uzbekistan and the Prime Minister of Pakistan on the sidelines of the Tashkent International Summit.
Meanwhile, looking at the increasing violence, former US President George W. Bush has criticized the withdrawal from Afghanistan in an interview with a German broadcaster released on Wednesday, saying he fears that Afghan women and girls will “suffer unspeakable harm.”
Asked in an interview with German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle whether the withdrawal is a mistake, Bush replied: “You know, I think it is, yeah, because I think the consequences are going to be unbelievably bad.”
In the DW interview, which marked outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s final official visit to the US, Bush said Merkel had supported the deployment in Afghanistan in part “because she saw the progress that could be made for young girls and women in Afghanistan.” “It’s unbelievable how that society changed from the brutality of the Taliban, and all of a sudden — sadly — I’m afraid Afghan women and girls are going to suffer unspeakable harm,” Bush said.
“I’m sad,” Bush said. “Laura (Bush) and I spent a lot of time with Afghan women, and they’re scared. And I think about all the interpreters and people that helped not only U.S. troops but NATO troops, and it seems like they’re just going to be left behind to be slaughtered by these very brutal people. And it breaks my heart.”
Meanwhile, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) Dr. Abdullah Abdulah warned that the continuation of war does not mean victory, but the continuation of suffering of the Afghan people. Addressing the national peace conference on Wednesday, Abdullah said that the Taliban are not yet present to discuss key issues; however, the republic will not close the door on negotiations under any circumstances, but will stand against the imposed war.
Abdullah added that the government is fully prepared for the peace talks, but the Taliban have intensified the war, and warned if the Taliban pursue their objectives through war and gain legitimacy through talks, they will not achieve any objectives.
Abdullah highlighted that scholars from Islamic countries considered this war illegal and forbidden, and the continuation of this war means the continuation of displacement, suffering, and misery of the Afghan people. In collaboration with civil society organization and women’s rights advocates, Women in Peace Coalition, which organized this conference, has collected signatures from 500,000 citizens across 33 provinces in a nationwide campaign to support the process.
It stated that all participants of the campaign demand permanent ceasefire, acceleration of negotiations, preservation of achievements, and meaningful participation of women, youths, and victims of war in the peace process. The Coalition urged the HCNR Chairman to include the mentioned points in the peace efforts. Abdullah assured that women’s legitimate demands are endorsed by the government and international community as priorities.
Kabul: Security officials in Kandahar province said that after a fierce battle between security forces and the Taliban on Tuesday night in the Spin Boldak district, the Vish market in the district has fallen to the Taliban.
The police chief of Spin Boldak district in Kandahar told Hashte Subh daily that parts of the township had fallen to the Taliban after Tuesday night’s fierce battle in the port of Vish between the Taliban and security forces. According to him, the war is currently going on in the areas between Vish Bazaar and Kandahar Spin boldak Port.
Meanwhile, he added, security forces are trying to regain the lost areas. The Taliban have issued a statement claiming that they have captured Spin boldak and that fighting is raging near the district police headquarters and that they have decided to take control of the police command building.
Also, Kandahar’s provincial police headquarters announced a one-week ban on motorcycles in Kandahar city from July 14, due to some serious security problems. The headquarters called on citizens to abide by the order to help ensure the city’s security.
Meanwhile, the NDS arrested a weapons smuggler with three pistols, 10 magazines, a 303 rifle, 16 M6 bullets, and other items in Surkh Rod district, Nangarhar province.
Also, Laghman’s military council decided to arrest Alingar’s district governor, acting police chief, an army commander, and deputy NDS, for negligence towards their duty, who are now under interrogation in NDS custody. The civilian and military officials have handed over large quantities of ammunition and equipment to the Taliban. Previously, over 100 military personnel were arrested for negligence in the province. The Taliban recently captured Alingar district.
The ANDSF also arrested three in Kabul’s Qarabagh district and 2 in Logar’s Mohammad Agha district yesterday, for cooperating with the Taliban. The ANDSF also seized a motorcycle and some ammunition, as per the Ministry of Interior statement.
Meanwhile, talking to BBC, Bagram Air Base Commander Asadullah Kohistani said that the government has deployed about 4,000 Afghan National Army (ANA) personnel to guard the Base, following the withdrawal of foreign forces from there. During a recent visit to the Base, President Ghani ordered that the Sardar Mohamamd Daoud Khan National Military Hospital should be partially moved to Bagram Air Base. According to officials, protecting the Base and activating its hospital is Afghan government’s main priority.
In other news, Russian president’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, has told Sputnik that any attempt by the Taliban to undermine security in Central Asia would lead to grave consequences. “We are closely monitoring the situation [in Afghanistan]. But when the Taliban see that any attempt to undermine the security of our allies in Central Asia will be fraught with great losses for them, they will start behaving”, Kabulov said.
The diplomat noted that serious negotiations between the government and the Taliban should not be expected before the fall. “It seems to me that in reality, the parties will be ready for substantial, productive negotiations in the fall. Both sides have been preparing for war for too long and until, as they say, they don’t blow off the steam, it is difficult to count on something serious”, Kabulov said when asked if peace talks were expected any time soon.
According to him, the only way for the warring Afghan parties to break the political deadlock and end the violence was to form a transitional government. “Now, before it is too late, the sides should come to their senses and launch substantial negotiations, which will inevitably end with the establishment of a coalition provisional authority. A coalition with the participation of the Taliban. What percentage and in what proportion the Taliban will be represented is the business of the Afghans. Let them decide for themselves”, Kabulov said.
The envoy went on to say that the Afghan government and the Taliban must come to the table and agree on a transitional body that would not be elected but rather be the subject of an agreement between the two sides.
Such an authority, according to Kabulov, should exist for two or three years. “It is important that there is no power vacuum, no chaos in the country, there is a need for a joint authority that will end hostilities and begin solving problems before proceeding with the final determination of the future of Afghanistan and the future form of government. They must bring order back to the country and solve the issues of integrating the Taliban into society”, the diplomat said.
Afghanistan is witnessing an escalation of violence since the United States and its NATO allies began the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in recent weeks, in accordance with a deal between Washington and the radical movement, signed in February 2020.
On the other hand, Afghan MPs and female political activists held a videoconference with Japanese parliamentarians to continue their inter-parliamentary talks with other countries. Afghan Ambassador to Japan Shaida Mohammad Abdali emphasized on the importance of cooperation between Afghan and Japanese MPs, and called for the expansion of this cooperation in various fields to support the Afghan people’s achievements, particularly women’s, in the past two decades.
Acting Women’s Affairs Minister Hasina Safi, MPs Shinkai Karokhail, Rahima Jami, and Habiba Danish, and Deputy Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Zohra Motahar Ahmadzai appreciated Japan’s continued support to the Afghan people, referred to the plight of Afghan women in Taliban-controlled areas and their obstruction from work, education, and movement without a male guardian, and called for Japan’s support to the Afghan people, particularly to women, and added that Japan’s role in the success of the peace process is important. Japanese MPs expressed concern about the situation of Afghan women and assured Japan’s continued support to Afghanistan, particularly to women.
Meanwhile, the United Nations in Afghanistan is increasingly concerned with the number of reported serious human rights abuses and violations alleged in communities most affected by the ongoing military offensive across the country. “The reports of killing, ill-treatment, persecution and discrimination are widespread and disturbing, creating fear and insecurity. Those who carry out any such acts must be held accountable,” the statement added.
The UN reiterated that parties are obliged to respect the human rights and dignity of all Afghans, especially those of women and girls who have in the past been subjected to particularly acute forms of discrimination and called for peace talks to be re-invigorated in order for a negotiated settlement to be reached. It also called for all parties to announce an Eid ceasefire that can give Afghans a respite from the conflict and that may contribute to sustained and meaningful peace negotiations.
Also, a video of the killing of commandos surrendered by Taliban fighters has prompted a backlash from human rights groups. Samira Hamidi, Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner, said, “This deeply disturbing footage offers a horrific insight into the increasingly desperate situation enveloping Afghanistan. What we are witnessing is the cold-blooded murder of surrendering soldiers – a war crime. This evidence suggests that the Taliban’s persistent claims to have changed their ways are predicated on a lie and completely undermines their claims that they will respect human rights in the peace process. The Afghan authorities should launch an immediate investigation into this reprehensible act in an attempt to bring those responsible to justice, however, should this fail the international community and the International Criminal Court must step in.”
Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) announced on Wednesday that it has recorded 1,210 new cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and 60 deaths in the last 24 hours.
The total number of positive cases in Afghanistan now stand at 137,853, while the death toll is 5,983.
This comes even as the third wave of the virus is spreading rapidly in the country and there health ministry has advised all citizens to adhere to COVID-19 protocols.
Kabul: Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mohammad Haneef Atmar met, on the sidelines of the fourth meeting of the Afghanistan Contact Group within the framework of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, with Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar to discuss political and security situation, peace process, and India’s cooperation with Afghanistan in various fields, including the joint fight against terrorism and the establishment of lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.
Minister Atmar elaborated on the political and security situation in Afghanistan, the outcome of Afghan President’s visit to Washington DC, and the United States’ continued support and cooperation with Afghanistan. Referring to the escalation of the Taliban attacks in collusion with foreign fighters and regional and international terrorist networks against civilians and the Afghan defense forces, Minister Atmar said overcoming this common threat was of vital importance to regional security.
Minister Atmar underscored the constructive role of India in strengthening regional consensus on the Afghan peace process and the preservation of the achievements of the last two decades. Expressing concern over the escalation of violence and stressing the need to end the bloodshed in Afghanistan, Jaishankar assured Atmar of India’s continued cooperation in strengthening regional and global consensus to achieve a political settlement in Afghanistan.
In fact, as per reports of NDTV, Farid Mamundzay, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to India, said that the government of Afghanistan may seek India’s military assistance, for training and technical support, if talks with the Taliban fail amid a withdrawal of US troops. “Should we not get to a stage in the peace process with the Taliban, then maybe a time (will come) where we would be seeking India’s military assistance, more military assistance in the years ahead,” he said. However, he clarified, “We are not seeking India’s assistance with sending troops to Afghanistan. Their footprint in Afghanistan to fight our war would not be needed at this stage.”
Jaishankar on Tuesday met his Uzbek counterpart Abdulaziz Kamilov in Dushanbe and discussed connectivity, bilateral ties and the situation in war-torn Afghanistan. “Met FM Kamilov of Uzbekistan today. Discussed connectivity, bilateral ties and the Afghanistan situation. Look forward to attending the Tashkent Connectivity Conference,” tweeted S Jaishankar. Jaishankar, who arrived in the Tajikistan capital, is on a two-day visit to attend the meetings of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers and the SCO Contact Group on Afghanistan that will meet on July 14 with the participation of the Afghanistan government. He was invited by Tajikistan Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin, to take part in the meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers on July 13-14. After attending the meetings in Tajikistan, Jaishankar will travel to Uzbekistan to attend the Tashkent Connectivity Conference.
Meanwhile, Atmar also met with Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov on the sidelines of the 4th Afghanistan-Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Both sides discussed the agenda, level of participation, and preparations for the “Central Asia and South Asia: Regional Interconnectivity, Challenges, and Opportunities” scheduled for 15-16 July in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and spoke about the plan to establish quadripartite cooperation framework between Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and the U.S., to expand economic ties between Central Asia and South Asia. Additionally, both sides stressed the need to address the challenges of the peace process and expand practical cooperation in three areas of peace, security, and economic cooperation, including the implementation of the Uzbekistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan railway project.
Atmar met with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi too in Dushanbe, to discuss strengthening regional cooperation over the success of the Afghan peace process, Pakistan’s practical cooperation with Afghanistan in the joint fight against terrorism, and ensuring lasting peace and stability in the country and region. Atmar spoke about the latest political and security developments in Afghanistan, emphasized on the importance of strengthening regional cooperation alongside support and cooperation from the international community to Afghanistan for the success of the peace process, called the presence of foreign fighters and regional and international terrorist networks alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan a great threat to the region and the world, and emphasized on the practical regional cooperation, particularly Pakistan, in closing Taliban sanctuaries and funding sources, encouraging the group to resume meaningful negotiations and find a political solution for the success of the peace process in Afghanistan. Qureshi described Afghanistan’s instability as regional instability and assured Atmar of his country’s continued support for a stable Afghanistan. Qureshi emphasized on the importance of reducing violence and establishment of a ceasefire in Afghanistan and reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to working to persuade the Taliban to negotiate and find a political solution.
Also, Britain said that it will work with the Taliban should they enter the government in Afghanistan, as per British Defence Minister Ben Wallace. Wallace told the Daily Telegraph in an interview, “Whatever the government of the day is, provided it adheres to certain international norms, the UK government will engage with it.”
Even Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday urged the Taliban to make a clean break with all terrorist forces and return to the mainstream of Afghan politics. Wang made the remarks during a joint press conference with Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin following their talks in Dushanbe. As a major military force in Afghanistan, the Taliban should realize the responsibilities it bears for the nation, Wang said. The Afghan government has done a lot of work to safeguard the unification of the country, maintain social stability and improve the people’s livelihood over the past years, he added.
However, due to the deteriorating security situation, France on Tuesday called on all its citizens in Afghanistan to leave the country as the Taliban pressed ahead with a major offensive amid the withdrawal of foreign troops. “The government will set up a special flight on the morning of July 17, departing from Kabul, in order to allow the return to France of the entire French community,” the French embassy in Kabul announced in a statement, adding that no payment would be necessary to board the plane.
“The Embassy of France formally recommends to all French citizens to take this special flight or to leave the country immediately by their own means”, the communiqué continued. The embassy said it would not be able to ensure the safe departure of citizens choosing to stay beyond July 17.
Even, the Canada embassy in Afghanistan released a statement on Wednesday warning all Canadians to avoid all travel to Afghanistan due to the unstable security situation, ongoing insurgency, terrorist attacks, risk of kidnapping and high crime rate. The statement added that if Canadians are already there, they should leave as the ability of the embassy of Canada to Afghanistan to provide consular and other support is very limited throughout the country. “The security situation is extremely volatile and unpredictable. Insurgents are engaged in a coordinated campaign to destabilize the government of Afghanistan through acts of terrorism and kidnapping. Foreigners whose country of origin has supported the US-led coalition forces, including Canadians, are preferred targets for terrorist attacks and kidnapping,” it stated.
In other news, Senior Deputy Interior Minister for Security Affairs Abdul Rahman Rahman met with French military attaché in Kabul and appreciated France’s support to the Afghan government over the past two decades, and emphasized on the importance of France’s role in supporting the ANDSF. Both sides discussed France’s continued cooperation in capacity building of the Afghan National Police (ANP), and the French attaché appreciated the ANDSF efforts and sacrifices in fighting crimes, terrorism, and drug trafficking, and assured of his country’s continued support in support of the ANP.
Kabul: Afghanistan’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce has announced on Wednesday an increase in Afghanistan’s exports to China, saying that in the first quarter of the 1,400 solar fiscal year, Afghanistan’s exports to China increased by 64 percent, compared to the same period in 1399 (2020).
According to the ministry, Afghanistan has exported $ 24.93 million worth of fresh and dried fruits, precious and semi-precious stones, saffron, black cohosh, medicinal plants and handicrafts worth $24.93 million this year. Last year, that figure was $ 8.98 million.
China and Afghanistan trade through the port of Hairatan by land, the port of Gwadar in Pakistan by sea, and air corridors, and China is Afghanistan’s third largest trading partner after Iran and Pakistan. Electrical and electronics, factory clothing, footwear and raw materials are some of the goods exported from China to Afghanistan.
In May of this year, the Afghan Ministry of Public Works announced that construction of a 50kilometer-long road between Afghanistan and China in Badakhshan was underway. This road starts from the “Boz Haye Gonbad Khord” area in the Pamir of Badakhshan and extends to the end of Wakhan district of Badakhshan, which almost reaches the Chinese border.
According to the Afghan Ministry of Public Works, according to the Afghan government’s plan, the road will form part of the Wakhan Corridor, a step towards connecting the regions of Afghanistan and turning the country into an economic policy-oriented country. The cost of building the road is estimated at more than 369 million afghanis (about $ 5 million), which has been contracted with 22 local councils and will be paid for by the Afghan government.
Meanwhile, the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced that after efforts by the CAA and Afghan Embassy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), transit flights through UAE resumed, so that compatriots can travel from Kabul to the UAE and later to their 3rd destination.
Only flights from Kabul to the UAE (point to point) are currently suspended to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It should be noted that direct flights from Kabul to the UAE will resume in the near future, with a decline in the spread of the virus in Afghanistan.
Kabul: A security source at the Ghazni Police Command confirmed that the Taliban fighters’ attack on the province’s central prison had been repulsed.
The source, who did not want to be named, told etilaat roz daily on Wednesday that the Taliban had launched an attack on the Ghazni Central Prison building in the city’s PD3 on Tuesday night. According to him, the Taliban attack was repulsed by security and defense forces at around 3:00 AM after several hours of fighting. The Taliban have not yet commented.
Also, security sources in Ghazni province confirmed that Taliban fighters have set fire to a school in Ghazni city. The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to Etilaat roz daily said that the incident took place on Tuesday evening in the “Haidarabad” area of the Ghazni PD5. He added that the school that was set on fire was a high school. The Haidarabad area fell to Taliban fighters a few days ago. The Taliban have not yet commented on it.
However, Ghani governor has reacted to the criticism and said, “The fall of districts and security bases did not begin with the arrival of Mohammad Daud as provincial governor, but several major districts and bases had already fallen and the enemy had announced that they would hold Eid al-Fitr prayers in Ghazni city. With his arrival, the ANDSF gained additional morale and cohesion among the ANDSF improved, compared to the past. Due to betrayal of a number of people within the system and the influence of spies disguised as elders, a number of districts and military centers across all provinces fell to the Taliban and threats have reached the cities. However, our security team inflicted heavy casualties to the Taliban and targeted their centers. The current critical situation requires unity and brotherhood among the people in Ghazni, support the ANDSF to save the province from the enemy.”
Meanwhile, the ANDSF killed a Taliban member named Shafiqullah, aka Khayat, and Abbas, aka Khorasani, along with two others in Mohammad Agha district, Logar province on Tuesday night. The ANDSF also confiscated their weapons, equipment, and vehicle, as per the Ministry of Interior (MoI).
Also, 17 Taliban insurgents including the group’s Red Unit commander Nasrullah were killed and five others were wounded during a targeted airstrike in Abdal village of Taloqan city, Takhar province, on Tuesday, as per the MoI.
In other news, security sources in Kapisa province said that Mawlavi Jan Agha, a teacher at the Darul Uloom Imam Azam and an Imam of a mosque in the Hese Dowom of Kohistan district was assassinated by unknown individuals. Abdul Shaykh Shooresh Kouhestani, a spokesman for the Kapisa Police, told the Etilaat roz daily that the incident took place at around 4:00am on Wednesday in the village of Khum Roba. Kouhestani also said that the Imam had been shot and killed by unknown individuals as he was walking towards the mosque to pray.
No individual or group has so far claimed responsibility for the assassination of the imam, and no one has been arrested in connection with it.
Meanwhile, the National Water Affairs Regulation Authority reported that a large number of mortar rounds were recently fired against the Salma Dam in Chishti Sharif district, Herat province, many of which landed near the dam. If these attacks continue, the Salma Dam will be damaged which will result in human and financial losses, it stated. “The lives and livelihoods of many of our compatriots across eight districts towards the south of Salma Dam depend on the water stored in the dam. Our demand to the Taliban is that the national asset belongs to all and should not be damaged by wars, the Salma Dam should be protected, and any attacks on it must stop,” it said.
In case of damage to the Dam, everyone from Chishti Sharif to Kohsan district will be affected, and the responsibility shall fall on them, which is a historical disgrace for perpetrators of this tragedy, it added.
In fact, even Bamyan Governor Mohammad Taher Zaheer said that they are fighting the Taliban and punishing those, who he says, speak in favor of the Taliban in Bamyan. Zaheer, on Wednesday, said that negative propaganda and demoralization of the people in the province should be avoided.
“The Taliban have no one,” he warned the Taliban. “It is a hated and despicable group. I instruct the head of national security to bring to justice anyone who exaggerates about this group,” he said. He noted that operations are under way to suppress the Taliban in all parts of the country and that all districts would soon be recaptured. He told Bamyan residents who had fled their homes due to security threats that security forces would not allow the Taliban to enter Bamyan.
On a good note, Zahra Jalal, a member of the reconciliation council and Khost provincial council who was abducted with her four sons in Logar on Tuesday has been freed following mediation by tribal elders, sources said.
In fact, Khost’s Provincial Police Chief Saifullah Sarhadi and Infantry Army Brigade Commander Gulbuddin Alokozay traveled to Musakhel district to praise the ANDSF involved in the ongoing clearance operation in the district, heard people’s problems, noted down points to strengthen some outposts, and establish new outposts there. Sarhadi said that new outposts will be established in some areas and the existing outposts will be strengthened in the district, directed by the central government, to defeat the enemy. Alokozay claimed that over 90 Taliban insurgents, including key commanders, were killed or wounded during the recent series of operations in the district, and the ANDSF seized their vehicles and ammunition.
Also, Gulbadin Hekmatyar of Hezb-e-Islami, told the Taliban that have fought for the cause of Islam even prior to the Taliban’s birth and added that if the Taliban can prove the ongoing war to be in favor of Islam and the people of Afghanistan, they-Hezb-e-Islami will too join them. He reiterated that the current conflict is neither in the favor of Islam nor the people of Afghanistan.
“There is neither rational nor religious justification for continuation of war”, Hekmatyar added. He suggested, reconciliation, peace, intra-afghan talks and dialogue should be deemed as the ideal and rational means through which the goals should be pursued. Hekmatyar said the Taliban should shun the war.
Earlier, former president Hamid Karzai also said that the Taliban with their current territorial gains can achieve nothing. He in similar call on both the Taliban and Afghan government said, the current opportunity for peace must be seized not wasted. It comes as 11-member delegation led by head of High Peace Council Abdullah Abdullah is due to visit Doha next Friday. The delegation also includes Hamid Karzai and Gulbadin Hekmatyar.