Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: The people of Qalandar district expressed their support for the republic and the national security forces during a gathering. Qalandar District Governor Gulab Mangal and others in their speeches supported the republic, ANDSF and the provincial government and assured their full cooperation.
They said that the republic is the demand of the people and they will defend the republic and the land alongside the ANDSF, and will not allow anyone to destroy public facilities in their area, disrupt people’s lives, and hinder development and prosperity. Khost’s Provincial Governor Mohmand Katawazi thanked the Mangal tribal elders, youth and religious scholars for their support and cooperation with the ANDSF.
Katawazai saidd that all the civilian and military leadership are well coordinated, they will not allow any enemy to disturb the peaceful situation of Khost and the province will remain calm with the help of its people. Katawazi added that the lives and rights of all the people are protected in the republic and the government brings prosperity to the people, unlike the enemy who has temporarily occupied some areas, destroyed public facilities there and started harassing the people. The enemy is destroying public facilities for the benefit of foreigners, loots people’s homes and threatens people’s lives. The governor urged them to stop fighting for the benefit of foreigners and try for peace.
Also, sources told Salam Watandar that heavy clashes are ongoing in PD6 of Maimana city, as the Taliban have attacked from 3 directions. Fighting is also underway in Sabz area of Pashtun Kot district. Provincial Police Spokesman Abdul Karim Yourish confirmed clashes in Maimana city and assured that the ANDSF are fully prepared to defend the city against the Taliban.
In other news, President Ashraf Ghani announced at a cabinet meeting on Saturday, that Bagram Airport is worth $ 3 billion and that its facilities will be used properly. Bagram Air Base in Parwan Province has been home to US forces for the past 20 years. Following the withdrawal of the field by US and NATO forces, responsibility was handed over to the Afghan security forces.
Ashraf Ghani said $ 3 billion had been invested in Bagram Airport. Ghani stated that there are tens of billions of dollars worth of capital at Bagram Airport in terms of reserves. The president says Bagram Hospital is unique in the region in terms of facilities and is dedicated to security forces, but is jointly managed by the civilian and military sectors. According to him, cold stores and facilities at Bagram Airport will be used to export Afghanistan’s agricultural products. The president said all facilities at Bagram Airport would be listed. He explained that the airport is completely under the control of the security forces and rumors about the looting of its facilities are not true. President Ghani referred to other areas and bases that have been handed over from US forces to security forces in Helmand and Kandahar provinces, and stressed on the need to use and protect them effectively. President Ashraf Ghani had visited Bagram Airport last week.
Also, security officials in Jowzjan province reported that 888 police unit entered Sheberghan city to suppress the Taliban. Provincial Police Chief Khwaja Jailani Abu Bakr said that Taliban attacks against Sheberghan city has been repulsed by the ANDSF, supported by the Air Force. Abu Bakr added that over 100 Taliban insurgents, including 3 key commanders, were either killed or wounded in the city. Abu Bakr added that with the arrival of reinforcements, a clearance operation will soon begin.
Meanwhile, Amrullah Saleh, the first vice-president, has said that the Taliban desires to establish a fanatical dictatorship and to obey Rawalpindi and destroy Afghanistan’s material and spiritual assets under the guise of religion. “This false wish will never be fulfilled, and the dignity of the homeland depends on the courage and ability of the soldier,” Saleh wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday.
Saleh went on to say that for the Taliban, history is 26 years old in terms of time, and in terms of location, it starts from Akura School in Khattak and Kachlaq town of Balochistan, Pakistan. “I begin my days by talking to soldiers on the scene, and there is no defense or security unit that I have not contacted or taken care of,” the first vice-president wrote.
In another post, Saleh wrote: “Pakistan put a special and tough Abdali name on its rockets without permission, and we could not do anything about this spiritual theft; because we were scattered and fragmented. Now the war is on the outskirts of Kandahar. Baba is buried in the grave and asks you not to allow the mercenaries of Rawalpindi to conquer a city with this name and strength and to celebrate the plunder of Kandahar in Islamabad and Lahore.” Saleh made the remarks after he said that Pakistan had not allowed the Afghan Air Force to attack Taliban fighters in the area after the fall of the Spin Boldak crossing in Kandahar province.
Meanwhile, members of parliament and women political activists continued their talks with members of parliament around the world on Friday about Afghanistan’s peace talks and the role of women in the process, following the withdrawal of Resolute support forces. The meeting was attended by Afghan Ambassador to Belgium, EU and NATO, Nazifullah Salarzai; Chairwoman of the Parliamentary Women’s Affairs Committee Naheed Farid; Shinkai Karokhail, Chair of the Women in Parliamentary Group for Political Participation; Shukria Issakhel; Mariam Solaimankhel; Nazifa Bek and Zahra Tokhi Members of parliament were attended by Dr. Alema, Deputy Minister of State for Peace, and Frozan Nawabi, Director of Human Rights and Women’s Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Referring to the problems of different segments of the population, especially women and girls in the Taliban-controlled areas, the Afghan delegation stressed that if the international community and the European Union do not support the Afghan security and defense forces against terrorists, they will see an influx. The influx of Afghan refugees to countries in the region and the world will increase drug trafficking and the victory of extremism and terrorism in Afghanistan and the region. The delegates of Afghanistan called the EU’s support for the country’s security and defense forces against the Taliban and other terrorist groups important and valuable, and called for the continuation of the EU’s cooperation with the country’s defense and security forces.
Members of the European Parliament called the high level of violence unacceptable and called on the Taliban to end the war, secure a ceasefire and resolve the crisis through negotiations. Participants stressed the need to eliminate safe havens for terrorists on Pakistani soil and called on Pakistan to bring the Taliban back to the negotiating table. In continuation, Europe Parliamentarians, talked about how the bloc continued to support Afghanistan and promised that they would not allow Afghan women to return to the dark ages.
Kabul: Ajmal Omar Shinwari, spokesperson for the country’s armed forces, said that three Blackhawk UH-60 helicopters had been delivered to the Afghan Air Force by the United States. Shinwari tweeted that the country’s air force had delivered the helicopters on Saturday.
According to him, these helicopters have been used to help Afghanistan equip the country’s defense and security forces in accordance with the US commitment made during President Ghani’s visit. Two days ago, the Ministry of Defense announced that seven helicopters had been provided by US to Afghanistan. The helicopters were flown to Kabul last Thursday, said Fawad Aman, deputy spokesman for the Ministry of Defense. He added that the helicopters were formally handed over to the Afghan Air Force at a special ceremony. He also said that more helicopters from the United States would help Afghanistan in the coming months.
Also, local sources confirmed that the Surkh-o-Parsa district of Parwan has been liberated from Taliban control following attacks by uprising forces in coordination with security forces. The uprising forces in these districts are led by Commander Naeem, brother of late jihadi commander Amir Sattar. According to sources, uprising forces from Bamyan province attacked the Taliban, and the Taliban fled the district. Sources say there is now intense fighting between government forces and popular uprisings with the Taliban in the Turkman Dara and Surkh-o-Parsa areas.
Also, security officials in Kapisa province said that they have repulsed a major Taliban attack in the Nijrab district of the province. Shayeq Shoresh, a spokesman for the Kapisa police, told Hashte Subh daily that the Taliban launched an attack in the middle of the night on Friday, to seize Nijrab district from Afghaniya, which was met with heavy resistance from security forces and popular uprising forces. He said the Taliban had retreated with heavy casualties. Shrish claimed that 12 members of the group, including Taliban commander Mawlawi Ehsanullah, were killed and 17 Taliban fighters were wounded in the attack.
Kapisa police say that as a result of operations by security forces and popular uprisings, Sabat Mountain, Antanha mountain, Tap-e Khaki, and Dara Afghaniya have been cleared of the Taliban and Taliban fighters have fled the area.
Meanwhile, at around 12:00 noon on Saturday, in Shahrak Amneiat area of the PD12, terrorists planted a remote-controlled mine with the aim of killing people which was discovered and defused by a joint security team before the explosion with the cooperation of the people, said Ferdaws Faramarz, Kabul police spokesperson.
In other news, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement on the abduction Silsila Alikhel, the daughter of the Afghan ambassador to Islamabad, Najibullah Alikhel. It stated, “MoFA announces with great regret that the daughter of the Afghan ambassador to Islamabad was abducted and severely tortured by unknown individuals on her way home. After being released from the kidnappers’ hold, Silsila Alikhel is now under medical care at the hospital. The Ministry strongly condemns this heinous act and expresses its deep concern over the safety and security of diplomats, their families and staff members of the Afghan political and consular missions in Pakistan.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also called on the Government of Pakistan to take the necessary and immediate action to ensure the full security of the Afghan Embassy and Consulate and the immunity of the country’s diplomats and their families in accordance with international treaties and commitments. The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs is pursuing the matter with the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and urged the Pakistani government to identify and prosecute the perpetrators as soon as possible. The Pakistan Foreign Office on Saturday said that the culprits behind the incident are being traced to be brought to justice. A statement issued by the FO, quoting the spokesperson, Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, said, “Immediately after the disturbing incident was reported, the Islamabad Police launched a thorough investigation. The Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and relevant security authorities are closely in contact with the ambassador and his family and extending full support in the matter.” It said that the security of the ambassador and his family “has been beefed up” and in the meanwhile, law enforcement agencies “are trying to trace and apprehend the culprits to be brought to justice”.
Meanwhile, following the non-introduction of Murad Ali Murad as the governor of Daikundi, the province’s representatives at the Lower House of Parliament have written an open letter to President Ashraf Ghani. The letter, signed by Sayyed Mohammad Dawood Sadat Naseri, Ali Akbar Jamshidi, Reyhana Azad and Mohammad Zafar Sadeghi, was published on Friday and emphasizes that the return of the plane carrying Murad Ali Murad from the city of Nili, the center of Daikundi, and his non-introduction as governor, has caused great sorrow and anger among the people of the province.
They added that Daikundi is currently at war and that the situation requires that a “well-known military man” like Murad to be appointed to lead the province in order to avert the dangers and threats and to unite the people in support of the regime. On the other hand, the representatives of the Daikundi people in the House of Representatives have emphasized that Murad, as a “neutral” person and a “military general”, is supported by all sections of society. According to them, all the people of the province support his nomination as governor.
In the meanwhile, a number of retired army officers have been on the frontlines in support of security forces in Sheberghan, the capital of Jawzjan province. Hamrah, a retired army officer, told Subhe Kabul newspaper that they had joined them to support the security forces. According to him, if necessary, they will take up arms and fight the Taliban. Meanwhile, on Friday, Taliban fighters arrived in Sheberghan, a few kilometers from the provincial capital.
Also, local officials in Ghor province confirmed that Taliban fighters have cut off an important water canal to residents of Dawlatyar district of the province for the past eight days. Mohammad Musa Kaleem, the district governor, told the daily Etilaat Roz daily that about 1,000 families in the district were using the water from the canal, and now it caused serious problems. Kaleem added that the Taliban had cut off the canal to put pressure on the people of district to stop supporting the government. Meanwhile, Atta Mohammad Dehqanpoor, Ghor MP, said that the Taliban would never be able to take control of the district by putting pressure on the people. The canal is located about 14 km east of the district.
Kabul: A two-day high-level meeting between representatives of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban began on Saturday in Doha, the capital of Qatar. The delegation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is chaired by Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR). The Taliban delegation is said to be led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
At the opening ceremony of the meeting, Abdullah Abdullah and Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai spoke on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Mawlavi Abdul Hakim spoke on behalf of the Taliban. In addition, Qatari Special Representative for Afghanistan Mutlaq bin Majid al-Qahtani spoke at the opening of the intra-Afghan summit.
“The people of Afghanistan are passing difficult days. The war is raging and the real victims are our people,” Abdullah said. He added that there is no military solution to the Afghan problem and that It does not matter if the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan uses force or Taliban movement seeks victory through violence and war; the main losers of the current war are the people of Afghanistan.
He added that Afghanistan still needs to rebuild relations with the region and the world, and that the region’s economic connection requires peace and stability in Afghanistan. According to Abdullah, the people of Afghanistan, with the help of the international community, have made great achievements in recent years, including the right to vote for a national leader, women’s rights and freedoms, minority rights, freedom of expression, war victims’ rights and other advances.
He stressed that perceptions of these achievements may be different, but that these differences of opinion should be subject to collective judgment by the people, and that imposition of perceptions and ideas in a non-peaceful way should be avoided. He said that the negotiating parties must reach a positive conclusion taking into account the demands of the people, otherwise the war will be prolonged and the country will once again become a ruin.
According to Abdullah, the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, has the authority to negotiate on behalf of the people on all issues, including the next steps needed to reach a final decision. He added that regional and global space has been provided for peace in the country, and that achieving peace requires the flexibility of both sides (the government and the Taliban).
“Afghanistan still needs reconstruction and constructive relations with the region and the world. The regional economic connectivity requires peace and stability in Afghanistan. The recent meeting in Tashkent, in which all the countries of the region and the world emphasized the role of peace in Afghanistan for regional development, is a noteworthy issue. If this opportunity is also wasted, we will be held accountable to God, the people, history and the world,” Abdullah said.
“We hope that this meeting will have good results for the sake of peace and prosperity in the country, and finally put an end to the longest tragedy and war in our country. Reaching peace requires flexibility on both sides. We believe that regional and global condition has been provided for peace in the country. We welcomed Qatar’s facilitation and mediation in cooperation with the United Nations and find it useful for the progress of negotiations,” Abdullah concluded.
Meanwhile, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, political deputy and head of the Taliban’s office in Qatar, stressed on an independent, central and powerful Islamic system during his speech. According to him, the Taliban expect the intra-Afghan talks to be successful. He also said that everyone should give up selfishness, self-interest and personal goals in order to achieve peace.
“Our country has vast resources and facilities and if the nation is at peace, in a very short time, we will have a prosperous, comfortable and dignified life. In order to achieve all this, a strong, centralized and independent Islamic system is necessary. In this regard, selfishness, personal interests and ambitions must be transcended,” he added.
Baradar said, “The inter-Afghan talks have been going on here for almost ten months now. Unfortunately, there are some problems. There is no progress as expected, but there is no despair. Taliban has tried its best to bring the talks to a positive conclusion; therefore, it appointed a strong negotiating team, bringing in its senior officials.”
He added, “We want progress, we want a good and comfortable life, but not at the cost of our Islamic values, independence and freedom.”
Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) announced on Saturday that it has recorded 378 new positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and 49 deaths in the past 24 hours.
The total number of cases now stand at 140,602, while the death toll is 6,147.
Meanwhile, on the second day of his visit to Uzbekistan, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani spoke via the telephone with Chinese President Xi Jinping. According to the Presidential Palace, the Chinese president assured President Ghani of his country’s cooperation in the areas of security, economic development, peace process and health.
Xi Jinping has said that in addition to contributing one million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, his country will also work on joint economic projects with Afghanistan. The Chinese president has expressed concern over the situation in Afghanistan and called on the Taliban to renounce violence and make peace. He also said that his country fully supports the fight against terrorism and the Afghan peace process.
Kabul: The top two lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee are calling on the Biden administration to take swift action to ensure the safety of Afghans who aided US intelligence agencies during the 20-year war — noting the current “increasingly precarious security situation in Afghanistan.”
In a letter sent to US President Biden, Senate Intelligence Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) cautioned that Afghan partners face an increased threat from the Taliban, and called for actions to be taken, such as authorizing special immigrant visas to ensure protections. “As your administration conducts its withdrawal of military personnel from Afghanistan, we ask that you ensure the safety and security of Afghans who have worked closely with our intelligence agencies and partners. For two decades, thousands of Afghans have risked their lives to work with intelligence professionals from the United States and other NATO countries to fight terrorist groups,” they wrote.
“Their efforts contributed to the decimation of Al Qaeda and its ability to attack the U.S. homeland. Given the increasingly precarious security situation in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s direct targeting of Afghan partners to the United States, we ask that you pursue a set of options to keep these Afghans safe, including approving Special Immigrant Visas, evacuations to a third country, and/or priority admission under the U.S. Refugee Admissions program.”
The lawmakers noted there are currently limited options for Afghan partners to obtain Special Immigrant Visas, adding that the lengthy process may not provide adequate time to protect the US allies. They argued that expediting and providing additional resources is critical in ensuring they remain safe and secure, amid “the rapid deterioration in security.”
Warner and Rubio warned that failing to provide support could be detrimental and potentially damaging to US foreign relations. The Biden administration said earlier this week it plans to evacuate Afghanistan citizens who aided US troops, announcing it would launch “Operation Allies Refuge.”
However, Jalina Porter, Principal deputy spokesperson, US State Department, said that their immediate focus is on eligible and interested Afghan nationals and their families, including women and minorities who are vulnerable and at risk – who have supported the United States and our partners in Afghanistan and are in the SIV application pipeline. “There are approximately 20,000 Afghan principal applicants at some stage of the SIV process, and as of July of 2021, approximately 50 percent of these applicants are at the initial stage of the process and are pending applicant application. Of that 20,000, approximately 10,000 of these applicants would need to take some action before the U.S. Government can begin processing their case,” Porter said.
On the deteriorating situation, Porter said, “We will always call for peace and an end to the violence that plagues Afghanistan. We have urged both sides to engage in serious negotiations when it comes to a just and durable peace settlement. A just and durable peace settlement is the only way forward in Afghanistan.”
In fact, Canadian Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino also said that Ottawa is working on a plan to help dozens of Afghans who are facing Taliban arrest or worse for having worked with Canada, but he stopped short of saying when that plan will become reality. The Canadian federal government is under mounting pressure to help dozens of former interpreters, translators and cultural advisers who aided the Canadian military and development efforts during the war in Afghanistan. Mendicino, in response to a reporter’s question while announcing a new refugee program to help people threatened for defending human rights, acknowledged the “tremendous urgency” of the situation in Afghanistan. Also, Sweden is halting all deportations to Afghanistan, stopping the expulsion of some 7,000 people, over the deteriorating security situation in the country. “The decision is effective immediately and will be in force until further notice,” Carl Bexelius, head of legal affairs at the Swedish Migration Agency said in a statement. The Swedish agency said it would continue to monitor the situation and would later evaluate on whether to reconsider denied asylum requests.
All this comes amid another development as per DPA International news agency that NATO has quietly wound down its military mission in Afghanistan after almost two decades as fears of civil war in the country grow. Any foreign troops still in the country – like those from the United States and Turkey – are solely under the control of their national chains of command, DPA learned from several diplomatic and military sources.
NATO spokesperson Piers Cazalet said on Friday however that the mission was still operational, and would only be officially terminated in the coming months with the approval of the alliance members. Washington always had troops stationed in the country that weren’t part of the NATO mission. Doing so allowed them to offer military support to Afghan security forces that wouldn’t have been possible within the remit of the non-combat NATO mandate.
Besides US troops, a number of Turkish, Norwegian and British personnel remain in Afghanistan. Turkey is to be responsible for security at Kabul Airport and Norway continues to run a field hospital there for the time being. Both are deemed crucial for ensuring foreign embassies and international representatives can stay in the country.
In other news, Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he believes Afghan forces can secure the country as the U.S. withdraws, but success will depend on whether they have the will to put up a fierce fight against the Taliban. In an interview with the Associated Press, Pompeo said he is confident Afghan forces can repel the Taliban, but it’s “a matter of will.”
Kabul: Dozens of Taliban fighters have been killed in ground and air strikes by security forces in the Nahr-e-Chaman area of Taloqan city, the provincial capital, the Takhar National Directorate of Security (NDS) said.
There were also reports of additional commandos and special forces being sent in as reinforcements to Taloqan to launch a clean-up operation. A statement issued by the provincial directorate on Saturday said that key Taliban members had also been killed in the operation. According to the statement, Abdul Qadir Fitrat, military deputy director of the Takhar Security Directorate, and Ahmad Shah Salehi, Farkhar police chief, were also released from the Taliban’s hold and returned to the battlefield. Meanwhile, Deputy spokesman of Defense Ministry Fawad Aman tweeted that security forces and popular mobilization in Takhar are advancing and that many areas on the outskirts of Taloqan had been cleared of the Taliban.
Clashes in parts of Taloqan, the capital of Takhar province, have been going on for days, and successive Taliban attacks to seize the city have failed.
Meanwhile, local sources in Ghazni province said that a delegation from Kabul has gone to Jaghori district of the province to check the security situation. Hassan Reza Yousufi, a member of the Ghazni Provincial Council, told Subhe Kabul daily that several MPs for Ghazni province and Dawood Naji, a senior political adviser to the National Security Council, are in the delegation.
“The Kabul delegation is scheduled to review the security situation in the three districts,” he added. “Measures are also being taken to rid the Malistan district out of the Taliban hands.” Yousufi also said that until two nights ago, fighting was going on in Jaghori district, but now it has stopped. According to him, in Nawur district, the Taliban also attacked the security forces from two resistances and were forced to retreat with heavy casualties.
According to members of the Ghazni Provincial Council, only Jaghori and Nawur districts and parts of Ghazni city are currently under government control, and the rest of the province is under the control of Taliban fighters.
This comes even as the installation contract of independent radars has been concluded by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) with the French company (Thales) for 112 million Euros. Afghanistan’s independent radars will be installed in 12 different parts of the country and will enable the control of Afghanistan’s airspace from zero point to 45,000 feet to have control and effective monitoring of Afghanistan’s airspace, as per the CAA statement.
Also, the United States provided seven new helicopters to the Afghan Air Forces, said the Ministry of Defense deputy spokesperson Fawad Aman, adding that the helicopters were brought to Kabul on Saturday and it is to be officially handed over to the AAF soon.
Meanwhile, Afghan government forces battled on Friday to retake a border crossing with Pakistan from Taliban insurgents, and the Reuters news agency said one of its photographers was killed in the area. The Taliban had overrun the Spin Boldak crossing earlier in the week. On Friday, witnesses on the Pakistan side of the border said they saw intense fighting and reported seeing bodies. Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian later tweeted that the government had retaken control of Spin Boldak. Reuters said Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Danish Siddiqui, who was embedded with the Afghan special forces, was killed as the commando unit sought to recapture Spin Boldak.
Kabul: Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, said that he hoped a ceasefire would be established between the Afghan government and the Taliban on Eid al-Adha, during a regional conference in the Uzbekistan capital, Tashkent.
He made the remarks in an interview with the Associated Press and added that the Taliban’s interpretation of the US-Taliban peace agreement was that a political agreement should be reached before a ceasefire reached and both announced at the same time. However, he said that a temporary ceasefire should be provided now during Eid al-Adha. “As far as a temporary ceasefire is concerned, that is, a reduction in violence or a continuing reduction of the war, it may be that you know it is Eid al-Adha in the next few days. I hope a ceasefire is declared these days. Second, the ceasefire may extend beyond the days of Eid and then agree to reduce violence.”
The US Special Envoy for Afghanistan stressed that the Taliban could not achieve complete victory through war. Khalilzad warned that if the Taliban did not reach a peace agreement with the Afghan government, then the United States would not recognize the Taliban-led government coming to power militarily.
Khalilzad also referred to the Taliban’s takeover of more areas in Afghanistan. He expressed surprise at the Taliban’s rapid sweep through swaths of Afghanistan. The Afghan government accuses Taliban fighters of receiving foreign aid to seize more territory in Afghanistan, and officials this time openly named Pakistan.
Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said in a speech on Friday in Tashkent that according to intelligence estimates, about 10,000 Pakistani and foreign fighters were killed in the past month. Ghani added that, according to credible documents, the Taliban had not severed ties with terrorist networks. “Intelligence estimates indicate the influx of over 10,000 jihadi fighters from Pakistan and other places in the last month, as well as, support from their affiliates and the transnational terrorist organizations,” President Ghani said at the summit named “Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity, Challenges and Opportunities.” “Contrary to the repeated assurances by Prime Minister Khan and his generals that Pakistan does not find a Taliban take over in Afghanistan in Pakistan’s interest, and assured of its use of force will use its power to influence to make the Taliban negotiate seriously, networks and organizations supporting the Taliban are openly celebrating the destruction of assets and capabilities of the Afghan people and state,” he said.
“To plunge Afghanistan into all-out war is to plunge the region into radical uncertainty. Pakistan, therefore, needs to be engaged coherently and urgently from the perspective of regional interest,” he concluded.
In his speech, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said Islamabad had done everything in its power to encourage the Taliban to negotiate and resolve the crisis politically. He also denied the accusations of the President of Afghanistan and said, “President Ghani, let me tell you, the country that is suffering the most from the unrest in Afghanistan is Pakistan. It is very unfair for Pakistan to take responsibility for what is happening in Afghanistan. I travelled to Kabul. If I did not want peace. So why did I travel there?”
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan urged Afghanistan to consider Pakistan as a ‘partner of peace’. This was the second and the last day of the conference and immediately after his address, PM Khan held delegation level talks with Afghan President. Khan said Pakistan had made every effort for peace in Afghanistan, including bringing the Taliban to the dialogue table. However, he said the right time to engage the Taliban in negotiations was way before the pull-out of the U.S. troops from Afghanistan. “Why would the Taliban listen to Pakistan at a time when they are gaining victory after the withdrawal of troops,” he pointed out. Also, Pakistan’s Director General Inter-Services Intelligence Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed rejected the allegations of infiltration levelled by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
He said that the Afghan president had levelled unfounded allegations against Pakistan. “We want peace in the neighbouring country as a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is in the interest of Pakistan and other countries,” Hameed said. He said that Pakistan is not supporting any faction in Afghanistan. We are interested in a negotiated settlement among all the Afghan groups.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has also denied allegations by Afghan Vice-President Amrullah Saleh that the Pakistan Air Force had issued an official warning to Afghan security forces to repel any action by the latter to dislodge the Taliban from the border crossing of Spin Boldak. Such allegations “undermine Pakistan’s sincere efforts to play its part in an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led solution” for restoring peace in the war-torn country, said a statement issued by the Foreign Office on Friday.
Coinciding with US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmai Khalilzad’s optimism about a ceasefire, Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation, headed a delegation to the Qatari capital Doha on Friday to meet with Taliban representatives. A 10-member team of key Afghan politicians left Kabul on Friday afternoon for a trip to Doha to hold talks with the Taliban amidst escalating violence in Afghanistan.
Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, former vice-president Mohammad Karim Khalili, Ata Mohammad Noor, head of the splinter faction of Jamiat-e-Islami, chief negotiator Masoom Stanekzai, Salam Rahimi, Fatima Gailani and State Minister for Peace Affairs Sadat Mansoor Naderi are part of the team. former president Hamid Karzai accompanied the delegation till the Kabul airport where he talked to reporters along with Abdullah Abdullah.
Meanwhile, Abdullah said that the Afghan delegation who will meet the Taliban in Doha is an inclusive team and represents entire Afghanistan. Abdullah added that he believes that there is still a chance for peace despite the ongoing heavy fighting between government forces and the Taliban in various parts of the country. He said the Afghan delegation that visits Doha is an authoritative team.
Another Afghan delegation is expected to travel to Islamabad for a meeting on Afghanistan’s peace on Saturday.
During their stay in the State of Qatar they will talk and exchange views with the Republic’s Negotiation Team in Doha, the Taliban and the host country. Upon departure from Kabul, Dr. Abdullah stressed that the consensus representing the Islamic Republic, reflects the Afghan people’s aspirations and will not spare any opportunity to end the 43-year-old war and agony. Pointing to the current level of conflict across the country, Dr. Abdullah said that no one side alone can bring peace. He added that he had a detailed meeting with the Republic’s Negotiation Team in Doha. “We listened to their report and had an open exchange of views on the peace talks, and the ways to accelerate the process,” added Abdullah.
The Taliban delegation is said to be led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the group’s political deputy. The agenda of the talks has not been officially announced yet, but earlier sources said that the Taliban had presented a package to the government and that the issues raised in Doha would also be discussed. The Taliban have offered a three-month ceasefire in exchange for the release of 7,000 prisoners. Transitional government, release of prisoners and ceasefire are on the agenda of talks between Afghan republic’s delegation and Taliban, source tells 1TV. HCNR spokesman wrote in a tweet that peace is possible only through negotiations and the delegation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has gone to Doha with the real intention and will of peace.
In another development, the Afghan Peace Conference scheduled in Islamabad from 17-19 July has been postponed, the Pakistan ambassador for Afghanistan Pakistan ambassador Mansoor Khan said. He added that the new dates will be worked out after Eid.
Meanwhile, Qatar too has reiterated its commitment to continue supporting the peace process led and controlled by the Afghans, in order to consolidate the gains made in the course of the Doha negotiations in co-operation with international partners aimed at ending violence and achieving stability, comprehensive peace and development in Afghanistan. This came in a speech delivered by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad al-Muraikhi at the “Central and South Asia Regional Connectivity, Challenges and Opportunities” conference in Tashkent. Al-Muraikhi stressed that Qatar will continue its effort in bringing the point of view of the Afghan government and Taliban. He said that promoting peace, security, and development in Afghanistan will benefit the region and the world.
Al-Muraikhi expressed Qatar’s appreciation to the important role Uzbekistan plays in development in Afghanistan, which includes bolstering strategic roads. He said that these efforts will help enhance peace and security in Afghanistan in particular, and Central Asia in general. He said that this conference is taking place at a time when the world continues to face common economic and health challenges, which further demonstrates that regional and international co-operation is a must.
Also, UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ in his video message to the High-level International Conference on Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity, in Tashkent said, “Connectivity is central to trade, economic growth and sustainable development. But connectivity is not just about economics. It drives regional cooperation and encourages friendly relations among neighbours, near and far. Enhanced connectivity that is environmentally sustainable and based on the rule of law can contribute to building long-term peace, stability and prosperity in Central and South Asia. This is crucial now more than ever. The countries of Central and South Asia can only fully benefit from potential opportunities if the region at large is at peace. This places an even higher premium on the importance of active and collective engagement in support of Afghanistan’s peace and security.”
According to a joint statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday, it stated, “We hope for constructive talks between official Kabul and the Taliban with the aim of drafting coordinated approaches to the cessation of a lengthy war and development of Afghanistan as a peaceful, independent and sovereign state,” the statement says. In this context, the ministers welcome efforts to achieve national reconciliation in Afghanistan at all dialogue venues, including the Istanbul process, with consideration for the results of the 9th Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process ministerial conference held in Dushanbe on March 30, 2021, the extended Troika (Russia, the US, China and Pakistan) and the Moscow format of consultations on Afghanistan.
Participants of the meeting noted that the current situation in Afghanistan causes deep concern due to the withdrawal of foreign troops from that country and the subsequent escalation of hostilities between government forces and the Taliban, especially in the northern provinces bordering on the Central Asian states. “At the same time, the ministers believe that, given this new geopolitical reality, it is necessary to look for ways to stabilize the military-political situation and establish peace in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IRA),” the ministers said.
“In this context, they urge all parties involved in the conflict in Afghanistan to refrain from the use of force and destabilizing actions with a view to creating favorable conditions for promoting peace,” the joint statement reads. “We are convinced that it is only possible to establish a comprehensive and durable peace in Afghanistan with direct, inclusive talks on a political settlement between the Afghans, under the leadership of the Afghan people, and with the more active assistance of states and international agencies to Afghanistan’s recovery in the post-conflict period.”
The ministers of the five Central Asian states and Russia strongly condemned terror attacks in Afghanistan, in which civilians are killed or injured. According to the top diplomats, the continued presence and activity of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levante (ISIS), Al-Qaeda and other international terrorist groups is one of the key factors that foment instability in Afghanistan, including in some of its northern regions. “We are concerned about the expansion of drug crops and the high level of drug production and illegal arms trade. These are some of the main sources of income for terrorist groups and illegal arms turnover and we expect Afghanistan’s authorities to increase efforts on countering these threats,” the statement says.
Meanwhile, Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of EU commission, said that lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan is a common goal and responsibility for the region and beyond during his meeting with President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday. He added that EU stands firmly in favour of an inclusive, Afghan owned peace process.
During the Tashkent conference, Borrell said the vision of regional connectivity is “facing a massive and urgent challenge”. “I am referring to the current developments in Afghanistan. A peaceful and stable Afghanistan is crucial to the stability and development of the whole region,” he said. “Connectivity can be an essential building block for jobs, development and peace in Afghanistan, but today unhappily we are witnessing a different reality.” Also, while acknowledging that the conflict in Afghanistan makes building regional links more difficult, speakers including the Uzbek president were hopeful that the promotion of regional trade, bringing prosperity, new jobs and higher living standards in its wake, would contribute to lasting peace and stability in the region; there was consensus that a solely military solution to the violence in Afghanistan is not an option.
Also, even Chinese President Xi Jinping held a phone conversation on Friday with Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani. Xi stressed that China firmly supports the Afghan government’s endeavor to safeguard national sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, which is in the interests of the Afghan people and countries in the region. China always believes that political dialogue is the fundamental way to achieve national reconciliation and lasting peace in Afghanistan, Xi said, pledging China’s continued support for the “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned” principle, the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan, and an early peaceful reconstruction of the country.
The Chinese side is glad to see that the Afghan government and relevant parties in Afghanistan have reached positive consensus during the recent dialogue in Tehran, he said. China, he added, hopes that both sides engaged in the dialogue will put the interests of the Afghan people first, and agree on a political solution through negotiation at an early date. China will, as always, play a constructive role in the process, Xi said.
President Ghani said that the Afghan government is dedicated to seeking a political solution to the current crisis and achieving lasting peace in the country. Noting that China has always been an important and positive force in maintaining regional security and stability, he said he looks forward to China continuing to play an important role in pushing for a political settlement of the Afghan issue.
Meanwhile, representatives of the United States, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed in principle to establish a new quadrilateral diplomatic platform focused on enhancing regional connectivity.
The parties consider long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan critical to regional-connectivity and agree that peace and regional connectivity and mutually reinforcing. Recognizing the historic opportunity to open flourishing international trade routes, the parties intend to cooperate to expand trade, build transit links and strengthen business-to-business ties. The parties agreed to meet in the coming months to determine the modalities of this cooperation with mutual consensus, as per the Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also strongly welcomed the EU parliament statement on 6th EU-Afghanistan Inter-parliamentary Meeting to support the Afghan Women. The statement states that “members fully support the requests from Afghan women to be more involved in the negotiations on the part of the Afghan Government, and in general, in the political life of the country.” The Afghan government remains strongly committed to empowering women and their active participation in an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and Afghanistan’s political future. We also commend EU Parliament Members stance on urging Pakistan “to convince the Taliban to enter meaningful peace negotiations.”
The Afghan government calls on all regional and international partners to exert necessary pressure on the Taliban to return to the negotiating table to reach a political settlement and end the decades-long bloodshed in Afghanistan.
Kabul: The Ministry of Defense has announced that the Sheikh Ali district of Parwan province has been cleared of Taliban fighters. Fawad Aman, deputy spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, wrote on his Facebook page that the Sheikh Ali district had been cleared of Taliban fighters on Friday night.
According to him, as a result of the operations of the security and defense forces and the mobilization of the people, the Taliban fighters suffered heavy casualties and some of their weapons and ammunition fell into the hands of the security forces. Sheikh Ali district of Parwan province fell to Taliban fighters about a week ago.
Also, as clashes continue in various provinces, the Defense Ministry said on Friday that Afghan National Defense and Security Forces retook the control of Saighan and Kahmard districts in Bamiyan and Chakhansur district in Nimroz in the last 24 hours. “In an operation that began this morning, districts were retaken in a short time by security forces, and the country’s flag was raised back on the districts,” Bamiyan governor Tahir Zuhair said on Friday.
The Ministry of Defense said the operations by Afghan security forces are underway to push back the Taliban attacks on cities and to retake the areas that are under Taliban influence. “Operation by the ANDSF to retake districts that were under the influence of the enemy is underway,” Defense Ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai said.
Taliban claimed on Friday to have entered the city of Sheberghan, the center of Jawzjan province in the north, but local officials said the attacks were pushed back. “People are mobilized and have taken arms in all streets and there is no problem at the moment,” Jawzjan Police Chief Khwajah Jilani Abu Bakr said. Reports suggest that the security situation in the city of Taluqan, the center of Takhar, is concerning. “We are legitimate, and the country is ours. God willing, victory is ours,” said Pir Mohammad Khaksar, a commander of public uprising forces in Taluqan. “All their offensives were pushed back. We have taken positions with a group of security forces and the public uprising forces,” Takhar governor Abdullah Qarluq said. Also, one person was killed and six more were wounded in a magnetic bomb blast in the city of Kunduz on Friday morning, the provincial police said.
On the other hand, the Afghan Air Force carried out an attack on the Sarghalam Bazaar in the Shohada district of Badakhshan on Thursday, which, according to local sources, also resulted in civilian casualties. The attack took place at 1:30 pm in the main square of Sargholam Bazaar.
The Ministry of Defense said that in this attack, the deputy shadow district governor of Taliban was killed along with a large number of members of the group and another prominent commander was wounded. A video released from the address of the Ministry of Defense shows that two Humvees were also targeted. Locals said that Mawlavi Amanuddin, a prominent Taliban commander, and his men were present in the area, but left an hour earlier and went to the Zardio area.
A number of Taliban insurgents held a meeting at the Shohada District Police Command where the planes mistakenly targeted the education building instead. Eight civilians, including a doctor, were killed and 13 others were wounded at the Sargholam clinic, as per locals. The videos, which were reviewed by Hashte Subh daily, show that a large part of Sargholam market, education building and clinic in this district have been destroyed.
Also, security officials in Kapisa confirmed that Aziz-ur-Rahman Tawab, the deputy governor of Kapisa, had been killed in a clash with Taliban fighters in the Afghaniya Valley in the Nijrab district of the province.
A security source told Hashte Subh daily that the deputy governor of Kapisa was killed at 2:00 pm on Friday. According to him, the incident took place when there was a face-to-face battle between security forces and the Taliban in the Kuh-e Khaki area of the Afghaniya Valley. According to the source, the deputy governor had gone to Najrab Kapisa to motivate the security forces and lead the war.
Meanwhile, local officials in Parwan province confirmed that a pilot of the Afghan Air Force was killed in a shoot-out by unknown individuals in Bagram district of the province. Lala Shirin, Bagram district governor, in Parwan province, told Hashte Subh daily that the incident took place at the intersection of Qalay Nasroy in Bagram. The incident happened at 6:30 pm on Friday.
Bagram district governor emphasized that according to police findings, Nasrullah Kushan, a pilot of the country’s air force, first clashed with gunmen and then died. No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Also, after the fall of Kandahar’s Spin Boldak district, Daman district police chief Abdul Wadud told his forces to leave several checkpoints. A security source told Hashte Subh daily that Commander Abdul Wadud had robbed ordered everyone to leave the security checkpoints and steal the equipment of checkpoints. The Deputy of the Ministry of Interior, General Abdul Rahman Rahman, has requested the police chief of Daman to be introduced to the judiciary.
Kandahar governor’s spokesman Bahir Ahmadi confirmed the news and said that Daman district police chief Abdul Wadud had been referred to the prosecutor’s office by the deputy interior minister on charges of negligence and was currently under police custody.
In other news, according to the decision made by the provincial military council of Kandahar, starting from 9:00pm to 5:00am tonight (July 16) until further notice, all movement is banned in Kandahar. Residents of all 15 districts in the city should abide by the curfew terms and stay at home, without fact a serious problem, and fully cooperate in providing security, as per Kandahar governor’s office. The governor’s office reduced curfew hours, and now it starts from 10:00pm to 4:00am, due to complaints by local residents. Also, as the security situation has deteriorated across the country, Sar-e Pul’s provincial military council has decided to ban motorcycles across Sar-e Pul city until further notice. Culprits will face serious consequences and their motorcycles will be confiscated.
Also, Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, the leader of the Afghanistan Islamic Movement Party, who spoke online at a meeting, said that the forces under his command in the north of the country had not received any help from the government. Marshall Dostum answered reporters’ questions at an online meeting in Kabul on Friday. He said a number of government spokesmen said they would not provide weapons or ammunition to those who were not part of the Afghan army and had not been trained.
He stated that a large number of people have come out voluntarily to defend the country and should be supported. According to Marshal Dostum, 170 people under his leadership who are fighting the Taliban in the north of the country are registered as uprising forces. Marshal Dostum noted that when he called the NDS chief, he had sent him only two million afghanis.
He added, “Two thousand people are fighting there, with two million afghanis how will we buy ammunition, livelihood and ammunition, buy fuel for their cars or buy medicine?” Dostum said that his son Yar Mohammad Dostum, told him, “We have received a report that they have bought 2,000 bullets or 5,000 bullets. Imagine, there are more than 2,000 people, Is 2,000 bullets or 5,000 bullets enough for them?”
Meanwhile, Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum clarified that he had repeatedly told the presidency and the Security Council: “One day we will be grounded. We must hire commanders of popular uprisings. Our soldiers and army is young,” he told the presidency and the National Security Council.
Marshall Dostum said that for the past 20 years he had been repeating to the authorities the plan to use the forces of popular uprising; but it was not heard. Dostum added that if his words were heard, the government would prevail, the geography would be narrow for the Taliban, and the districts would be liberated from the Taliban. The leader of the Islamic Movement Party stressed that such a situation has occurred in the country due to poor management.
Marshal Dostum also spoke about the situation in Sheberghan, the capital of Jawzjan province. He added that the war is taking place five kilometers from the city of Sheberghan and the city center is safe and quiet.
Meanwhile, Atta Mohammad Noor, the former governor of Balkh, called on the Taliban to make peace or they would be severely repressed. Speaking to a group of hundreds of his armed supporters, Noor stressed that if the Taliban did not abide by the peace, the group would fight back with war. Atta Mohammad Noor called on his supporters to prefer “martyrdom” and to “boldly stand up and defend their land.” He said that the forces under his command are on standby and would fight alongside the regime against the Taliban if peace is not accepted.
Hundreds of Atta Mohammad supporters in Mazar-e-Sharif took up arms and prepared to fight the Taliban. Noor called on the Taliban to abandon the war and return to the peace negotiating table. “Our war is for peace,” said the former governor of Balkh. “Do not let your nation be trampled by a handful of ignorant, and self-serving elements in the proxy wars of foreigners,” he said.
Noor told the gunmen under his command to lay down their arms now if any of them are unable to confront the Taliban. Atta Mohammad Noor said, “Our expectation is that you stand up boldly, stand up manly. Anyone who is not capable of war should lay down their weapons from now on. Anyone who wants comfort should be in a place where they feel comfortable right now. The former governor of Balkh emphasized that he has all kinds of weapons at his disposal. “We have artillery against the enemy, we have tanks, we have facilities, we have everything,” he said. Atta Mohammad Noor’s supporters took up arms after Taliban fighters reached near the city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Noor has led operations on the front lines of the war several times. Atta Mohammad Noor has now left for Doha as a delegation to negotiate with the Taliban.