Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: The Turkish Coast Guard and the International Organization for Migration announced on Wednesday that they had detained a boat carrying more than 230 migrants in the Aegean Sea, most of them Afghan and some Iranian migrants. The Coast Guard has arrested two Turkish nationals who were piloting the boat.
About 200 of the 230 people on board were Afghans and the rest were migrants from Iran, Syria and Pakistan, Reuters quoted Turkish officials as saying. The Coast Guard escorted the migrants to the deportation center. Following the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan, government forces have become increasingly embroiled in clashes with the Taliban in recent weeks. About 1,500 migrants were detained last week. Turkey is one of the main crossings for asylum seekers to migrate to Europe. Asylum seekers cross the Iranian-Turkish border and move to western Turkish cities, including Istanbul and Ankara.
The United Nations estimates that 270,000 people have been displaced in Afghanistan over the past six months, bringing the number of people forced to flee their homes to 3.5 million.
Meanwhile, in other news, a number of Kandahar residents gathered in Kandahar on Wednesday and are calling on the parties to end the war. The protesters, which include civil society activists, youth and ordinary people, unanimously said that they can no longer fight and that the fire of war must be extinguished as soon as possible.
According to them, fighting and bombing take place every night in the city of Kandahar, as a result of which 7,000 families have been displaced and more than 10 civilians are killed and wounded every day. Demonstrators said that the people have fled their homes and businesses have collapsed due to the current unrest. They called on the government to pay serious attention to the security of the city. Speaking on behalf of the protesters, Mohammed Haron Almas called on the parties involved to work for a ceasefire, as the war has put people’s lives on the brink of disaster.
Kabul: The defense ministers of the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) highlight the need to counter the growing activity of terrorists after the pullout of foreign military contingents from Afghanistan, the SCO defense chiefs said in a joint statement following their meeting in Dushanbe on Wednesday.
The SCO defense chiefs “noted the need to prevent the situation from destabilizing in the SCO space and the activity of terrorist groups from growing significantly in the region after the pullout of the military contingents of NATO and other countries from Afghanistan,” the document reads.
The SCO meeting also approved a plan of cooperation between the bloc’s defense ministries for 2022-2023, “for the purposes of strengthening friendship and good neighborly relations between the SCO member states, maintaining peace, security and stability in the region, the defense chiefs spoke for building up SCO practical interaction with regional partner organizations,” according to the joint statement.
Meanwhile, in other news, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) announced that three people had been arrested on charges of falsifying the verdicts of the first vice-president. According to the AGO, these individuals were arrested on Tuesday by the General Directorate of Control and Surveillance of the Prosecutor’s Office.
According to the statement, the defendants had prepared and issued four forged letters from the address of the First Vice-President to the Attorney General’s Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Higher Education. It is said that the General Directorate of Control and Surveillance of the General Prosecutor’s Office, after receiving information, followed up the case and arrested the main perpetrators of the case. They are currently in custody and the case is being investigated by the judiciary.
The Attorney General stressed that the department is fighting corruption with all its might to ensure justice. Research findings will be shared with the public.
Kabul: US secretary of state Antony Blinken on Wednesday said that the US and India discussed regional security issues including Afghanistan, echoing Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s remark that there was much more convergence on the matter than divergence. Blinken stressed that both sides are committed to the proposition that there is no military solution to the conflict.
“There has to be a peaceful resolution that requires the Taliban and the Afghan government to come to the table and we both agree, I think, strongly that any future government in Afghanistan has to be inclusive and fully representative of Afghan people,” said the top US diplomat, adding that it has to be “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.”
The Taliban have been rapidly making advances in Afghanistan after US troops started withdrawal from the war-torn region. But Blinken said that the US remains engaged in Afghanistan through important programs that support the country economically through development and security assistance. “We are very much engaged in the diplomacy of working to bring parties together at the table for the resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan,” he added.
The high-level meeting between India and the US takes place at an important juncture when key global and regional challenges need to be effectively addressed, said Jaishankar during his opening remarks at the press conference.
Underlining the importance of peace negotiations in Afghanistan, Jaishankar spoke against the unilateral “imposition of will” in the war-torn country while calling for preserving the gains made over the past two decades. Jaishankar said, “The gains to Afghan civil society, especially rights of women, minorities and social freedom — over the last two decades are self-evident. Afghanistan must never be home to terrorism, nor become a source of refugees.”
Jaishakar made these remarks in the presence of Blinken, who is on his first visit to India after assuming office. He will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi later on Wednesday evening. This remark comes amid stalled intra-Afghan negotiations and the Taliban’s growing grip over the war-torn country. The minister said it is essential that “peace negotiations are taken seriously by all parties.”
“The world wishes to see an independent, sovereign, and democratic Afghanistan, at peace with itself and its neighbors. But its independence and governance will only be ensured if it is free from malign influences,” he added. Jaishankar said that “unilateral imposition of will” by any party “will obviously not be democratic” and can never lead to stability. “Nor such efforts can ever acquire legitimacy.”
Blinken also held talks with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on a range of bilateral and regional issues, including rapidly changing situation in Afghanistan, Indo-Pacific and global security. They also discussed strategic issues of importance in security, defense, economic and technology-related sectors. Both Blinken and Doval exchanged views on contemporary and futuristic issues related to regional and global security.
Blinken arrived in India on Tuesday for two days and is expected to lay the groundwork for the Quad (India, Japan, Australia, the US) summit later this year in the US.
Meanwhile, Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari called on Sri Lanka’s newly appointed Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa on July 27. The Minister was accompanied by his senior staff and Additional Secretary Ambassador Pakeer Amza of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The two sides had a wide-ranging discussion on the status of growing bilateral relations between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, potential areas of cooperation between the two sides’ Ministries of Finance, as well as an assessment of the recent security developments in Afghanistan with far-reaching implications for regional stability.
Both sides agreed that the Taliban and their affiliated regional and transnational terrorist networks not only destabilize Afghanistan, victimize its suffering people, and try to undo the country’s hard-won gains of the past two decades but they also pose a threat to the stability and security of every nation in the region. Ambassador Haidari noted that the international community, including Afghanistan’s near and extended neighbors, should tangibly support the government and people of Afghanistan. The Ambassador thanked the government of Sri Lanka for its consistent support of the Afghan peace process and for its repeated call on the Taliban to end its attacks on civilians and to engage in meaningful peace talks.
On the other hand, Iran’s ambassador to Kabul and EU Special Envoy for Afghanistan discussed the latest developments in Afghanistan. The meeting was held on Wednesday between the European Union’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Tomas Niklasson and the Iranian Ambassador to Kabul Bahador Aminian. During the meeting, the two sides discussed multilateral cooperation to advance the peace process in Afghanistan, also the increasing level of violence in the country.
Iran’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian Fard said on Tuesday that Iran is eager to strengthen cooperation between Kabul and Tehran in various fields, including border cooperation. Taherian Fard made the remarks in his meeting with Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar. Appreciating the positions of the Islamic Republic of Iran in supporting the peace process, Atmar explained about an end to the violence and arbitrary killings, torture of civilians, and human rights abuses in Taliban-held areas.
He announced the support of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the peace process in Afghanistan while preserving the achievements of the last two decades, saying that Iran is eager to further strengthen cooperation between Kabul and Tehran in various fields, including border cooperation and to establish more coordination between the relevant departments of the two countries.
Kabul: The Ministry of Justice has confirmed that Mohammad Gul Alam, the head of Logar province’s judiciary, was assassinated in the PD3 of Kabul. The incident took place on Tuesday evening, in the Silo area, according to the ministry’s statement.
The Ministry of Justice has attributed the incident to “enemies of peace and stability of the Afghan people” and condemned it. The ministry’s statement called on security agencies to identify the perpetrators of Alam’s assassination and bring them to justice. No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Also, local officials in Ghazni province confirmed that Taliban fighters have abducted three residents of Nawur district in the province. Taher Zahedi, Nawur district governor, told Etilaat Roz daily that the Taliban had abducted them on Wednesday from Rashidan district, 21km from Ghazni city.
Zahedi added that these people are all civilians and residents of “Jirghai and Borjigai” Nawur, and that they were abducted by the Taliban when they were moving from this area to the city of Ghazni. According to him, the Taliban have already transferred these people to an unknown location. A local source in Ghazni told the Etilaat Roz daily that the Taliban had taken them to the Rashidan district mosque.
Also, local officials in Daikundi province confirmed that the body of a man was found after two years in Kiti district of the province. Abdul Qayyum Sedaqat, the district governor of Kiti, said on Wednesday that the man’s body was found by people two days ago in a cave in the village of Sarkiso in the district. He said the villagers had found the man’s body in the cave while collecting firewood.
He added that the body belonged to a 30-year-old man from Kijran district of Daikundi who had disappeared two years ago. The man’s body has now been handed over to his family. He also stressed that the reason behind the death has not been determined yet and investigations are underway in this case.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries has expressed concern about the current situation in the country and its impact on trade.
Afsana Rahimi, chairwoman of the chamber, said on Wednesday in a joint meeting with representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, UNAMA and businesswomen that there are currently 75,000 businesswomen and workers working directly and indirectly in the country, which requires the government to pay serious attention. Rahimi also called on the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Investment to continue working together to make it easier for women entrepreneurs.
Leaders of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries called the role of women very important in the country’s economic growth and said that the role of women in the peace process should also be respected. On the other hand, Shafiqullah Atayee, head of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment, described the role of women in the country’s economic development as vital and promised that the leadership of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment would continue to support the private sector.
In fact, the Department of Refugees and Repatriations in Takhar Province said that of 12,000 displaced families in the province, 8,600 are in urgent need of food assistance. Ahmad Yasin Labib, the head of Takhar province’s refugees and returnees, told Hashte Subh daily on Tuesday that thousands of displaced families were in need of food aid and shelter as the districts of Takhar fell and the fighting spread to the provincial capital. According to him, about 12,000 families have fled from insecure areas to safe areas in the province.
Labib stated that of 12,000 displaced families in the city of Taloqan, the department has provided assistance to only 3,400 families. According to other families, they are not in a good condition and need urgent help. The head of refugees and returnees said that due to the high price of raw materials in the province, displaced families cannot afford to buy their livelihoods.
According to Labib, there are few aid providers in Takhar province, and the institutions that work in this direction are facing a shortage of resources. On the other hand, he states that with the escalation of the war in this province, the number of displaced families will increase. However, the head of Takhar province’s refugees warns that if the security situation in Takhar and the plight of the displaced are not addressed, a humanitarian catastrophe will befall the people.
Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) announced on Wednesday the daily statistics of the coronavirus infection on Wednesday.
According to the ministry, 37 COVID-19 patients have died in the country during the past 24 hours. The Ministry tested 2,821 suspected cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, of which 444 were found to be positive.
With the new count of cases, the total number of coronavirus patients in the country has reached 145,994. The ministry added that 912 COVID-19 patients had recovered during this period. Thus, the total number of recoveries has reached 95,726.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Higher Education has recently launched a campaign to implement the coronavirus vaccination drive in all public and private educational institutions. “If a student refuses to do so, such a student will not be allowed to enter the university and dormitory,” Minister of Higher Education Abbas Basir told a news conference on Wednesday.
In this campaign, about 450,000 students of public and private higher education institutions are to be vaccinated. Basir added that in 11 provinces of the country, where the number of patients is less than 35, the regular (physical) courses of public universities will start.
Universities and educational centers have been closed for a while to prevent the spread of the third wave of the coronavirus. The closure of universities, training centers and schools was first implemented in 16 provinces of the country and then nationwide.
Kabul: UN Special Representative for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons on Wednesday said that she does not see the Taliban as a partner without progress in peace talks and preventing human rights abuses.
During her opening remarks at the special joint coordination and monitoring board (JCMB) meeting held at the Presidential Palace on Wednesday the UN Special Representative stressed that peace talks must be initiated in a serious and honest way to address Afghanistan’s long-standing issues. The United Nations has said that the purpose of the special meeting of the JCMB is to recognize the current crisis in Afghanistan by international donors, as well as to make sure they are confident of the Afghan government’s strategic vision for managing the crisis. Lyons noted that the only way to resolve the Afghan issue is to speed up peace talks that can be vigorous and honest.
Meanwhile, she reiterated that the Taliban’s increase in violence and war has put responsibility on the group. She added that the world is closely monitoring how the group acted. She also reiterated that the main international donors do not support the repression of women, discrimination against minorities, denial of girls’ education or the precepts of an authoritarian state.
The UN Special Representative for Afghanistan said that 18 million Afghans desperately need humanitarian assistance and that their needs should be prioritized. Meanwhile, the organization called on the government and international support to address the needs of these people.
Lyons added that the United Nations continues to provide humanitarian assistance in the country as a civilian body alongside the Afghan people and those in need. “The issue on our agenda of preserving the gains has never been more urgent nor indeed more challenging. Our job today is to set a course to the Senior Officials Meeting in November that will lead to renewed support for the Afghan state. But let us be frank, with one another, today: while the partnership is strong and the commitment from both sides – Government and the International Community – remains sincere, the transformational effort that is underway is itself is in crisis. Donors in particular will seek to be reassured from the government today that it recognizes the nature of the crisis and that it has a strategic outlook that addresses the current, worrying circumstances,” she said during the ceremony.
Stressing on the ways to move forward, Lyons said, “We need to address first the immediate humanitarian crisis, as well as come up with a medium-term strategy that restores Afghanistan to its original positive pathway towards sustainability and self-reliance, that everyone in this room has worked so hard to create. In both of these discussions, the reality must be faced: With the territory they have taken the Taliban have inherited responsibilities. The world is watching closely how they are acting, especially towards civilian populations, women, and minorities. The Taliban have gained a certain legitimacy in recent years through their negotiations in Doha, but this legitimacy is premised on their commitment to a political negotiation with the Government of Afghanistan, a commitment which their battle-focused strategy casts into doubt. If there is no movement at the negotiating table, and instead human rights abuses and worse still atrocities occur in districts they control, the Taliban will not be seen as a viable partner for the international community.”
“To address Afghanistan’s longer term issues peace negotiations must proceed in earnest and with real sincerity so that a sustainable, inclusive, and equitable peace can be reached. The world has now recognized that the Taliban must be a partner in Afghanistan’s transition to self-reliance. International donors have signaled their willingness to continue to support Afghanistan after a peace agreement is reached,” she added.
Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani said that the only solution for the Taliban is a political agreement that satisfies all people. He said that the war waged by the Taliban had no religious roots and that they are fighting for power. Ghani said that all world scholars, especially Pakistani religious scholars, had condemned the war in Afghanistan and said that the war in Afghanistan is for power.
Ghani stressed at the meeting, “The war waged by the Taliban has no religious dimension; this is a war for power and sovereignty. At the same time, he stressed that the war in Afghanistan is not a civil war, but a war between terrorist networks.”
The president said that the people want peace and that our neighbors’ benefit is in the peace and stability of Afghanistan. Ghani added that the Afghan government has never asked NATO and the United States to reconsider their decision to leave Afghanistan. Ghani also stated that with the departure of NATO and the United States, Afghanistan has entered a new chapter in relations with the world and he is happy about this. “Our constitution is the most Islamic constitution in the world,” the president said, emphasizing the Islamic constitution of Afghanistan.
Ghani also said at the meeting that most of the country’s resources are used by the Ministry of Interior and Defense, which intends to reduce the additional spending of these ministries for more management. On the other hand, Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said at the meeting that the increase in violence had a negative impact on people’s lives and that the peace process in Doha is not proceeding as quickly as expected.
Abdullah also stressed the importance of women’s rights, including the right of women and girls to education in peace talks. Abdullah stated that if one side believes that a military solution to the Afghan crisis will be found, they will not achieve anything.
Abdullah said that peace is a great opportunity and the Taliban should not miss it. “With the start of the peace process, there was a lot of hope of reaching an agreement,” Abdullah told a special meeting of the Joint Monitoring and Cohesion Board on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, this did not happen as we expected. Peace is now a great opportunity. We call on the Taliban not to miss this opportunity to get through the war and achieve security and development.”
He added that peace in Afghanistan also means peace in the region and the world, and for that reason, establishing peace requires the serious cooperation of the international community and the countries of the region.
Abdullah said Afghanistan and the international community had made great sacrifices to shape the current structures, the constitution, the security forces and democracy. According to him, the people of Afghanistan want to elect the leader of the country of their own free will, and the government is emphasizing these achievements in the peace process. He said the continuation of the war only adds to the suffering of the Afghan people and pushes the country backwards. There is no other solution without dialogue and peace, he said.
Abdullah also expressed hope that the international community’s assistance to Afghanistan would continue and that the achievements of the past 20 years would be preserved.
Also, EU voiced its concern about the increase in civilian victims – particularly women and children – in Afghanistan, at the JCMB. “The EU calls for full investigation into targeted killings against media and CSO representatives. The Afghanistan Partnership Framework, agreed between international partners and government, encompasses core principles – on human rights, gender equality, anti-corruption and open civic space. The EU’s support will remain conditional on core principles and key reforms in the APF,” it said in a statement.
The EU representative for Afghanistan also said that the Afghan government recognizes civil society and the media as its strategic partners in achieving peace, freedom and an open society. EU Ambassador to Afghanistan Andreas von Brandt also said at the meet that the government should make the protection of women and girls’ rights a priority. “Under Afghan law, government agencies must be able to operate freely,” Brant said. The EU Representative in Afghanistan also called on the Afghan government to effectively fight corruption with the support of civil society.
This meeting comes even as a Taliban political delegation headed by Mullah Baradar visited China. Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban in Qatar, said the nine-member delegation led by Mullah Baradar had left for China. Naeem tweeted that the delegation had traveled to China on Tuesday, at the official invitation of China.
He added that the delegation met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Representative for Afghanistan. According to Mohammad Naeem, peace, political, economic and security issues were discussed during the meetings. The spokesman for the Taliban’s political office said the group had assured China that Afghan territory would not be used against the security of any country.
He stressed that China also continues to cooperate with the Afghan people. Mohammad Naeem added that China has assured that it will not interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Foreign Ministry reacted to the visit of the Taliban delegation. In a statement released it said, “The Government of the People’s Republic of China recently informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan that a Taliban delegation is supposed to visit China. The invitation is intended to express China’s concern about the security situation in Afghanistan, the presence of foreign fighters and terrorists alongside the Taliban, and the Chinese government’s support for peace talks and a political agreement. During the meeting, the Chinese government expressed its deep concern over the recent Taliban attacks, which have resulted in the increasing killing of innocent people and the displacement of tens of thousands of people, and called on the Taliban to accept a political solution and cut ties with regional terrorists. Given the common security threats and common political and economic interests, and in light of recent talks between the two presidents and foreign ministers, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan expects the Chinese government to strengthen regional consensus and put international pressure on the Taliban to end the violence, establish a ceasefire, ensure peace and end the presence of foreign terrorists in Afghanistan, and play a valuable role.”
Kabul: Officials in Samangan province said that Taliban fighters have shot killed three Hazara civilians in the Dar-e-Suf district of the province.
Samangan Governor Mohammad Dawoodd Kalakani told Subhe Kabul daily that the three were working on a poultry farm in Dara-e-Suf and were shot dead by the Taliban in the Chahar Toot area of the district on Tuesday night. He added that the Taliban had also stepped up their attacks to seize security checkpoints in the district, which had met with resistance from security forces.
According to him, one security guard was killed and two others were wounded during the clashes, and Taliban fighters suffered heavy casualties.
On the other hand, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied the shooting of civilians by Taliban fighters; however, it was reported that two security checkpoints fell and two security forces were killed in the attack of the group in the district in Samangan province.
On the other hand, in an interview with CNN, the chief of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) expressed his appreciation for the Taliban. Noor Wali Mehsud said Afghan Taliban’s victory is a victory for all Muslims. The relationship between TTP and the Afghan Taliban is based on sympathy, brotherhood, and Islamic principles.
Also, Pakistan National Security Adviser (NSA) Moeed Yusuf and the Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan, Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, reached the US capital on Tuesday for talks with their American counterparts on Afghanistan and other issues of bilateral interests. In Washington, the visit is seen in the backdrop of renewed US efforts to formulate a regional response to the Afghan crisis aimed at preventing a Taliban takeover in Kabul.
Meanwhile, in other news, by a decree, the Government of Tajikistan instructed the country’s ambassador to Kazakhstan to sign an agreement on the provision by Kazakhstan’s Government of military-and-technical assistance in ensuring security in Tajikistan’s districts bordering Afghanistan. The draft agreement notes that the military-and-technical assistance is provided to Tajikistan in a form of gratuitous transfer of military property.
“The names and volumes of military equipment are coordinated by the authorized bodies of the Sides through diplomatic channels within a two-month period after the signing of this agreement,” the draft agreement says. The assistance received reportedly must be used solely for the purpose of ensuring security along the Tajik-Afghan border.
This comes even as Russia is ready to provide its ally Tajikistan with any assistance needed amid a worsening conflict in neighboring Afghanistan, the TASS news agency cited Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu as saying on Wednesday. Shoigu said the additional supply of Russian arms to Tajikistan had already been arranged and that Russia was continuing to train Tajik military personnel, against the backdrop of a US-led troop withdrawal after a 20-year intervention.
In fact, Shoigu also said that the US-NATO mission in Afghanistan has utterly failed, and the situation there is rapidly deteriorating with the authorities having practically lost control of the situation. “The developments on the country’s northern border areas and the mass exodus of Afghans into the territory of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan show that the accords between the United States and the Taliban Islamic movement (outlawed in Russia) are not being fulfilled,” Shoigu said at a meeting of the defense ministers from the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
The situation in Afghanistan “is quickly degrading and has gone out of the authorities’ control, while the Taliban group is already controlling most of the country’s territory,” Shoigu pointed out. “A cause for particular concern is that the ISIL [the former name of the Islamic State terrorist organization outlawed in Russia] and other international terrorist groups are strengthening their positions there, which has increased the danger of their infiltration into neighboring countries. Therefore, we have to state that the US and NATO mission in Afghanistan has failed,” Russia’s defense chief said. Russia’s defense minister earlier pledged that the Russian 201st military base in Tajikistan would provide military assistance to Tajikistan, if the country’s security was endangered by the developments in neighboring Afghanistan.
Also, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon discussed the situation in Afghanistan with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe in Dushanbe on Tuesday, the Tajik presidential press service said. “The Tajik leader spoke with alarm about the critical development of the situation in this neighboring country, including districts bordering Tajikistan, and informed the defense minister of friendly China about the measures being taken by Tajikistan to reinforce the Tajik-Afghan border and bolster its defense capability on the whole,” the press service said.
“Agreeing that the dramatic exacerbation of the military-political situation in the northern and northeastern districts of Afghanistan is prompting tension and negatively affecting regional security in general, the parties stressed the importance of continuing close coordination between relevant services and specialized agencies of the two countries,” it said.
They also acknowledged the importance of comprehensive assistance in promoting the intra-Afghan negotiating process. Rahmon described defense and security cooperation between the two countries as an important element of relations between the two countries. Joint efforts against terrorism, extremism, separatism, transnational organized crime, including illegal drug trafficking, cybercrimes, and other threats, are a significant area of security cooperation between Tajikistan and China, he said.
Kabul: Officials at the Afghan Telecom authority in Paktia said that Taliban fighters have destroyed 11 sites on the Salam telecommunication network and looted its equipment in the occupied districts of the province. Salam Telecommunication Company in Paktia operates under the auspices of Afghan Telecom.
They said that the Taliban have closed seven other sites and have not allowed them to operate. According to officials, the telecommunication sites, all of whose equipment was looted, are located in Samakani, Lajamangal, Ahmadkhel, Mirzaka, Ahmadabad and Sayed Karam districts.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Farhad Azimi, Governor of Balkh, while representatives of the people of Balkh in national and provincial councils, representatives of political parties, the commander of the 209th Shaheen Corps, the police chief, the head of NDS and some commanders of popular uprisings were present, discussed the security situation in Balkh province. The Governor of Balkh, Mohammad Farhad Azimi welcomed the Minister of National Defense, and said that his visit was important and necessary in sensitive security conditions, as well as the security situation in Balkh, the cooperation of national and provincial council members, and the cooperation of political parties in mobilizing people to fight. He gave a brief explanation against the enemy and the operations carried out.
Then, the Representatives of the people of Balkh in the parliament, expressed their views on the security situation and emphasized on strengthening the forces and better coordination, creating timely movements, and expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the sincere efforts of the national defense and security forces. The head of Balkh Provincial Council spoke about a series of ideas and suggestions for better security and insisted on clearing another district of Balkh province of the Taliban terrorist group.
Representatives of political parties also made a specific proposal to improve the security situation in Balkh province and announced that they will fight to the best of their ability alongside the country’s defense and security forces to defend the homeland and destroy the enemy. General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, Minister of National Defense, while stating the purpose of their visit, greeted the souls of the martyrs and prayed for the wounded for immediate healing, and considered the defense of the homeland and national honor as the duty of every citizen and all officials.
The Minister of National Defense called on the representatives of the political parties and the Representatives of the national and provincial councils to work on strengthening and attracting the youth within the framework of the regional army. The Minister of National Defense once again expressed his gratitude for the widespread support of the people for the system and announced the launch of operations to retake the lost districts.
Meanwhile, the head of the Afghan Parliament’s internal security commission on Tuesday accused the Office of National Security Council (ONSC) of incompetence, saying interference by the ONSC in the affairs of the country’s security agencies is complicating the war effort on the battlefield. Khan Agha Rezaee, the head of Parliament’s internal security commission, said that officials from the security institutions do not have enough authority to act, stating that all affairs in the security entities are being monitored by the ONSC.
“The interference which exists today has led to the inability of the security and defense forces, they (NSC) shouldn’t be allowed to do so, they must only give suggestions and conduct monitoring,” said Khan Agha Rezaee, the head of Parliament’s internal security commission.
Although there has been no official comment from the ONSC regarding the allegations, legal experts have said that the ONSC is a policy-making and consultative institution, adding that dismissals and appointments in the security sector by the concerned institution are in contrast to the prevailing laws of the country.
The Afghan president has authority over the ONSC. However, the monitoring of decisions made by the council is done by the secretary, who answers to the National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib. Mohib has long been presiding over and leading the meetings of the heads of the security agencies.
In other news, a video posted on social media showing Taliban members slapping a Kandahar-based comedian and satirist Mohammad Khasha, has sparked a wave of reactions from Afghan users on Facebook and Twitter. Khasha was arrested by Taliban members in Kandahar on the last day of Eid al-Adha this year and shot dead in Dand district of the province.
A video recorded before his death, recently posted on social media, shows his hands tied behind his back, and after a few words, a Taliban member slaps him. A number of high-ranking government officials, including vice-presidents, have condemned the Taliban’s behavior. Amrullah Saleh, the first vice-president, called on artists, literature and civil society to speak out against the actions.
Sarwar Danesh, the second vice-president, wrote on Facebook that the slap to the comedian is a slap in the face to all Afghans and an insult to humanity and human dignity. Arif Rahmani, a member of the House of Representatives, wrote on Facebook, “The slap was a slap in the face of culture, art, vitality, life and humanity. These killings and slaps and atrocities, massacres and field executions show that the Taliban have not only not changed, they have not smelled of humanity and kindness.”
In addition, a number of Twitter users have expressed disgust with the group, recalling scenes of a video of the Taliban slapping Khasha.
In related news, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Wednesday that Afghan authorities must immediately release journalists Bismillah Watandoost, Qudrat Soltani, Moheb Obaidi, and Sanaullah Siam, drop their investigation into their work, and allow members of the press to report freely. CPJ was unable to determine if the four have been officially charged. Steven Butler, CPJ Asia’s program coordinator, in Washington, DC, said, “Journalists in Afghanistan must be given full freedom to report on all aspects of the conflict without fear of arrest or harassment.”
Meanwhile, Xinhua News Agency said that Sanaullah Siam, a journalist arrested by NDS forces in Kandahar a few days ago on charges of propaganda for the Taliban, is not a reporter for the agency and only occasionally sent photos to the media. “One of the detained journalists in Kandahar, named Sanaullah Siam, claimed to work for the Xinhua news agency,” the Xinhua news agency said in an email to Kabul’s Subhe Kabul daily. “Xinhua denies any claims by Siam that he was employed by the media.”
The email states that Xinhua only confirms that Siam sometimes sold his pictures to the media. “Sometimes Xinhua and other news agencies bought photos of him, and buying photos does not mean that he is a Xinhua employee.”
In other news, Manzoor Ahmad Pashteen, leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, said that Pakistan had always used its territory against Afghanistan and that Islamabad’s negative interference in Afghanistan’s affairs should be stopped. He wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday after the movement’s large gathering in the Makin region of South Waziristan, “The clear message of this gathering was that we will no longer allow Pashtun-like territory to be used against Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan is wreaking havoc on the Pashtun areas of Pakistan (across the Durand Line) and” we will not accept any policy of war in this land,” Pashteen said.
Kabul: Officials at the Kunduz National Directorate of Security (NDS) said that three Taliban members have been arrested in connection with the transfer of pieces of security armored tanks captured by the Taliban in recent wars to transfer to Pakistan under the name of “damaged irons”.
According to them, the ammunition, which includes about 12 armored tanks, was loaded from the Imam Sahib district by the Taliban and transported in a Pakistani Kamaz vehicle and was identified in the city of Kunduz. However, rejecting the issue, Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said the group had banned the export of scrap metal from inside the country. According to him, these pieces of iron may be vehicles that fell into the hands of civilians during the explosion of mines.
Meanwhile, anti-narcotics police in Paktia province discovered and seized a consignment of weapons. The shipment includes 6,500 rounds of M16 rifles, 18 rounds of RPG rocket launchers and 5,600 rounds of Kalashnikov rifles. Two arms smugglers have been arrested in connection with the case, and 200,000 Pakistani rupees have been seized from them for selling weapons and ammunition.
Also, on Tuesday evening, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani met with Jasper Wieck, Germany’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, at the Presidential Palace. During the meeting, both sides discussed Afghanistan’s relations with the international community in the new chapter of cooperation, security plan, ongoing violence by the Taliban and the expansion of relations between the two countries.
In other meetings, Chairman of High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) Abdullah Abdullah met Faisal Al-Baqami, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia, and reminded him that Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia have a good and long-term relationship that is based on many religious and cultural commonalities. They further welcomed the declaration of the ulema of the Islamic countries at a recent meeting held in Saudi Arabia and stressed that the continuation of the war in Afghanistan is not legitimate.
Referring to the long-term relations between the two countries, the Saudi ambassador said that Saudi Arabia wants an end to the war and peace and stability in Afghanistan, and called on the Taliban to sever ties with terrorist groups and return to peace and dialogue.
Abdullah also met with Deborah Lyons, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and referring to the publication of the report of the United Nations Mission on the increase of civilian casualties in the first six months of this year, which has deeply affected our people, Abdullah said that the report reminded that, unfortunately, the consequences of the war are no different. He further stressed that the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has worked to end the war and bloodshed and achieve peace, but the Taliban should know that the continuation of the war only adds to the suffering of the Afghan people.
Lyons said the rise in civilian casualties had raised concerns. She stressed that the parties to the conflict must accept that the escalation and continuation of the war is not the solution. She also reaffirmed the United Nations’ continued efforts to reach a political agreement in Afghanistan. The Doha meeting also discussed the preparations for a special meeting of the Joint Monitoring and Cohesion Board to be held tomorrow.
In other news, Turkey and Azerbaijan are discussing the issue of ensuring security in Kabul. This is what Chairman of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey Mustafa Sentop said during the first trilateral meeting of the parliamentary speakers of Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Turkey on Tuesday, local media reported. “I would like for the Taliban to refrain from implementing its goals so that the situation in Afghanistan is resolved,” he added.
Ankara has undertaken the initiative to assume management of the airport in Kabul following the pullout of US and NATO troops. Turkey has requested financial and material assistance for this. The talks between the US and Turkey over this issue continue. On the other hand, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is all set to extensively deliberate on the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan with the Taliban increasing its hostilities in an attempt to seize control of new areas in the country, with the Indian External Affairs Minister, during his visit to India.
This comes even as the top members of the Appropriations Committee, reached a roughly $2 billion deal on Tuesday to provide new funding to the Capitol Police. In addition to emergency funding for the Capitol Police, it’s also expected to reimburse the National Guard for $521 million, provide funding for security improvements around the Capitol and include an unrelated issue of visas for Afghans who aided the U.S. military effort.
The deal, which is expected to be just over $2 billion, will include $100 million for the Capitol Police and more than $300 million for the security measures around the Capitol complex, according to a source familiar with the agreement.
The deal will include more than $1 billion for the Pentagon, divided up between the money for the National Guard and roughly $500 million for the Afghan special immigrant visas program. The State Department would get an additional $600 million for the program and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement would get $25 million; the source added.
Meanwhile, the U.S. and NATO have promised to pay $4 billion a year until 2024 to finance Afghanistan’s military and security forces, which are struggling to contain an advancing Taliban. Already, the U.S. has spent nearly $89 billion over the last 20 years to build, equip and train Afghan forces. Yet America’s own government watchdog says oversight of the money has been poor, hundreds of millions of dollars have been misspent and corruption is rife in the security apparatus.
Monitoring where the future funding goes will become virtually impossible after August 31, when the last coalition troops leave. Nearly $83 billion has been spent to build, equip, train and sustain Afghanistan’s national security forces, which include the military, national police and elite special forces. That figure covers a wide range of items. For example, the U.S. spent nearly $10 billion for vehicles and aircraft. It spent $3.75 billion on fuel for the Afghan military from 2010-2020.
Separately, an additional $5.8 billion went into economic and government development and infrastructure since 2001, with the expressed goal of winning public support and blunting the Taliban insurgency. The figures are from reports by John Sopko, the special inspector general on Afghanistan reconstruction, tasked with monitoring how U.S. taxpayer dollars are spent.
The U.S. allocation for 2022 is $3.3 billion. It will include $1 billion to support the Afghan air force and special mission wing, $1 billion for fuel, ammunition and spare parts, and $700 million to pay salaries for Afghan soldiers. More than 80% of the Afghan government budget is paid by the U.S. and its allies, according to the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR. Afghanistan’s growth rate was to be 3.4% in 2021 but instead shrunk by 2%. In the last four of seven years, Afghanistan has missed its economic growth targets.
Throughout the war, U.S. air support has been a crucial edge for Afghan forces on the battlefield. So building Afghan capabilities to carry out the role was vital, and the U.S. spent more than $8.5 billion to support and develop the Afghan air force and special mission wing. However, the Afghan air force risks being largely grounded once the coalition leaves. The Afghans’ fleet of fighter jets is serviced by U.S. contractors, who are leaving along with the troops. Afghan officials say the coalition never gave them the training or infrastructure to carry out maintenance themselves.
The same holds for much of the arsenal of armored vehicles and heavy weapons the Americans have left for the Afghan military. Several Afghan officials who spoke to the Associated Press were deeply critical of the U.S. and NATO failure to invest in factories to make spare parts, manufacturing plants to produce ammunition and training to produce skilled Afghan mechanics.
Also, more than 40 UK military chiefs urged Boris Johnson to speed up the relocation of interpreters from Afghanistan. In a grim warning to the Prime Minister, they say Britain faces ‘dishonour’ if those who served with UK troops are left to be murdered by the Taliban. In the open letter they claim the public has been told the Government is doing everything it can when in fact British policy is over-complicated and mean-spirited.
More than 500 cases have been rejected under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Program in the past three months, at least 130 of them involving interpreters. They all face reprisals from the Taliban. Seven former coalition interpreters are thought to have been killed this year.
To qualify for relocation, interpreters must fulfil a list of conditions as well as prove they were in an exposed role that now puts them in ‘imminent danger’. Meeting all the criteria can be impossible because of missing paperwork. The British embassy in Kabul, which administers the ARAP, is short staffed, leading to delays and clerical errors when dealing with the huge caseload.
More than 1,000 interpreters – 35 per cent of the total – had their service terminated, a fact that generally rules out the chance of a successful application. The officers, including former Army chief Lord Dannatt and former special forces leader Brigadier Ed Butler, argue the criteria should be less onerous. Their letter says, “Time is of the utmost essence to save the lives of those who served alongside our servicemen and women in Afghanistan and who saved countless British lives. It is clear there is insufficient capacity for ARAP to cope with the scale and pace required. If any of our former interpreters are murdered by the Taliban in the wake of our withdrawal, the dishonor would lay squarely at our nation’s feet. ARAP is not providing the sanctuary that the British public have been led to believe is being granted to our former Afghan interpreters and colleagues.”
Britain has begun the biggest rescue operation for nearly 50 years with around 3,500 Afghans, including 800 interpreters and their families, expected to be relocated to these shores. ‘Freedom Flights’ have been arriving in the UK with joyous families celebrating their liberty and safety from attack.
Also, dozens of interpreters that worked for the Dutch armed forces in Afghanistan are still trapped in the country and in real danger. That despite the Dutch cabinet promising to get them to safety quickly after the Dutch soldiers withdrew from the country, Trouw reports based on conversations with those involved. The interpreters are at risk because the Taliban considers them traitors to their country. After the Dutch military withdrew from Afghanistan last month, following the lead of the United States, caretaker Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld promised to do her very best to get the interpreters and their families to safety in the Netherlands.
Despite this, at least 70 of the 273 interpreters who worked with the Dutch armed forces are still in Afghanistan with their families, according to Trouw. And as more NATO troops withdraw from the country, the Taliban is gaining more ground, making it increasingly unsafe for the interpreters. The number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan increased significantly over the past few months, the United Nations reported. The Ministry of Defense told Trouw that most of the interpreters who are still in Afghanistan only submitted their application for rescue last month.
Even the Czech Republic has a program to help Afghans who worked with Czech soldiers in their country and have remained there following the withdrawal of Western armies, the minister of defense, Lubomír Metnar, said on Wednesday. Speaking on Czech Television, Metnar said the provision of asylum to such persons had not been ruled out. Christian Democrat MP Jan Bartošek, who is on the lower house’s defense committee, said he welcomed the plan but that other countries had put such schemes in place more quickly.
Kabul: A senior UN official in Kabul said on Tuesday that the rise in fighting has reduced hopes for peace talks and that the Afghan government and the Taliban should return to the table of negotiations and end the unprecedented violence.
Lisa Reefke, Senior Political Affairs Officer at the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said that there is a need for international and regional consensus on Afghan peace to achieve results from it. “The start of the Afghan peace negotiations in September last year generated hopes that talks will create space for Afghans to come together and negotiate a path to peace,” she said at a gathering of women in Kabul. “Today, action on the battlefield seems to compete with the peace negotiations in Doha.”
She added that women’s presence in the peace negotiations is necessary. “UNAMA remains committed to supporting the parties within its mandate and in cooperation with all Afghans with the region and with the international community to move the peace process forward,” the UN official said.
Women at the event said that at least 57,000 women have invested in various areas in the last 20 years and have created over 130,000 jobs. They highlighted Afghan women’s abilities and said they can play a good role in the peace process. “Many of these women have created hundreds of jobs for men and women,” said Manizha Wafiq, the chairperson of women’s chamber of commerce and industry. “They can rarely travel to some provinces and remote villages to keep contact with farmers,” said Karima Sediqqi, the deputy chairperson of the chamber of commerce of women in the western zone of Afghanistan.
The participants of the event said there is a need for a meaningful role for women in any peace process and their achievements should not be compromised.
On the other hand, the spread of war and insecurity in many provinces of the country has disrupted the education system and the mid-year and final exams in schools. Education departments in some war-torn provinces say they have submitted plans to the Ministry of Education to find a solution and are waiting for further guidance from the center.
Takhar in the north and Ghazni in the southwest of the country are among the provinces where, according to the representatives of these provinces in the provincial council, the war has reached the gates of the city. Representatives of these provinces say that if the government, and especially the Ministry of Education, does not find a reasonable solution to this problem, there will be an “educational catastrophe” in the country’s education system.
Wafiullah Rahmani, chairman of the Takhar Provincial Council, told Hashte Subh daily that the fighting is currently going on at the gates of Taloqan city and that most government officials and families, teachers and students had been displaced. Rahmani added that some teachers and even government officials could not attend due to the war. Also, according to the chairman of the Takhar Provincial Council, many students have left schools in their home areas.
According to Rahmani, it is not possible to open schools unless the security situation improves and the war does not move away from the city center. The head of the Takhar Provincial Council added, “I am not sure that school exams will be held until the war is over and the conflict is at least as far away from the suburbs as possible.” According to Rahmani, all 16 districts of Takhar are under Taliban control and the fighting has reached the four gates of Taloqan city.
Fatema Rahimi, a member of the Ghazni Provincial Council, also told Hashte Subh daily that Ghazni city and districts of the province are currently facing serious security challenges. Rahimi said that schools in war zones have not been reopened yet, and that schools have reopened in some areas, and students go to school in fear and apprehension. She cited the example of Malistan district in the province and said that not a single school has been opened in this district so far. Also, many schools have not been activated in Nawur district and there are security threats in the border areas of Jaghori district; but the Ghazni Department of Education says there is no problem in the districts, but that some schools will not be reopened in parts of the city center only due to fighting between the Taliban and security forces. The Ghazni provincial council member stressed that it would be impossible to restart schools until security was restored.
Shafiqullah Qarizada, director of publications at the Ghazni Department of Education, told Hashte Subh daily that the Taliban are currently on the outskirts of Ghazni. According to him, many students have left the city center following the recent fighting in Ghazni. According to him, the matter has been discussed with the Ministry of Education. He added that efforts are underway to address this issue.
However, the Ministry of Education says it has plans in place and that residents of the country’s war zones, especially students, should not worry. According to the Ministry of Education, according to an exceptional decision, schools in the country’s war zones will remain closed, and whenever the security situation improves, mid-year exam scores will be calculated together with the final exam at the end of the year.
Najiba Arian, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education, described the decision as “exceptional” in an interview with Hashte Subh daily. Also, according to the decision of the Ministry of Education, students who have been displaced to other areas can pass the mid-year exam in the second school according to the bill of the Ministry of Education. According to the spokesman for the Ministry of Education, if students are unable to return to their home areas on time, a temporary education plan will be put in place for displaced students. According to Arian, these students can join the system as official students if they submit their educational documents to the administration of the second school. Najiba Arian emphasized that according to the new decision of the Ministry of Education, mid-year exams will be refused in war-torn areas, and the exams of the students of these schools will be held at the end of the year, and their grades will be calculated from 100.
Meanwhile, the Takhar Department of Education has announced that the mid-year exams for students in 16 districts, with the exception of Taloqan city, the provincial capital, will begin on Wednesday. According to the announcement, the school exam in the center of Takhar province, due to the existence of the war, is taken together with the end of year exam and grades are calculated from one hundred. The Baghlan Department of Education has also announced that, based on the guidance of the Ministry of Education, the results of the displaced students’ exams will be calculated on an end year exam percentage basis.