Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: Deputy Foreign Minister Mirwais Nab met with Turkish Ambassador to Kabul to discuss the peace process and the expansion of bilateral relations.
Nab praised the efforts of the Republic of Turkey in supporting the peace process in Afghanistan and stressed the importance of Turkey’s effective role in the success of the negotiations and the provision of a lasting and just peace based on the will of the Afghan people. Nab noted that despite the presence of foreign fighters and terrorists in the ranks of the Taliban, the country’s defense and security forces have been able to repel their attacks and in recent days have had significant success in battles against the Taliban and their supporting foreign terrorists. While emphasizing that there is no military solution to the Afghan problem, Nab expressed the commitment and goodwill of the Afghan government to find a political solution.
The Turkish Ambassador reaffirmed his country’s continued support and assistance to Afghanistan in the post-withdrawal phase, as well as Ankara’s readiness to make any efforts to find a political solution to the Afghan issue to the political deputy. The Deputy Foreign Minister and Ambassador also spoke about the importance of ensuring peace and stability in the country, emphasizing joint work and continuing consultations to strengthen the consensus to persuade the Taliban to end the violence and return to the negotiating table.
Also, as the US military withdraws from Afghanistan, the United States is increasing diplomatic, economic, political, and humanitarian engagement with the government and people of Afghanistan, expanding the partnership and gains of the past 20 years. To increase power supply, USAID built two substations and 110 kilometers of transmission lines in 2017 and one substation in 2019—critical to supplying power to highway tunnels, homes, and businesses—and is constructing 16 additional substations and 492 kilometers of transmission lines in Afghanistan’s northeast and southeast corridors. USAID also completed the construction of three power generation plants in 2009, 2016, and 2019 and is building three solar power plants and a wind farm that will add 110 megawatts of power to the national power grid. When construction is completed by the end of 2023, an estimated 3.5 million additional citizens of Afghanistan will have access to reliable and affordable energy.
USAID is also providing desperately needed safe drinking water to Afghans in remote communities. USAID has helped provide clean drinking water to 800,000 citizens of Afghanistan and has helped improve access to basic sanitation services to 1.2 million people in 27 provinces. Between 2003 and 2017, USAID built and improved 2,000 kilometers of roads, linking Afghanistan’s five most populous provinces and facilitating travel and commerce. The 2,000-kilometer road—which includes one of Afghanistan’s longest continuous roads, the Gardez-Khost highway—has bolstered economic growth along the entire corridor and improved the lives of hundreds of communities by connecting once-remote villages with schools and health clinics.
Meanwhile, in other news, the Attorney General’s Office announced on Thursday that three people had been arrested on charges of threats and extortion in the city of Jalalabad in Nangarhar province.
The Attorney General’s Office said that one of the suspects for allegedly extorting $ 6,000 from an exchange shop in Jalalabad. The agency also added that two other people involved in the case have been arrested and detained as a result of the efforts of the department’s staff. According to the Attorney General’s Office, the defendants in the case “fraudulently” accessed the personal photos of the money changer’s family and threatened that if he did not pay, they would post them on social media and damage his honor and reputation.
According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, the three were arrested and prosecuted by the General Prosecutor’s Office for Control and Surveillance following a complaint from a Kabul citizen in an operative operation. The prosecutor’s office added that the case of these people has been sent to the relevant prosecutor’s office to complete the investigation and prosecution, and after completing the investigation, a legal decision will be made.
Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health on Thursday recorded 1,226 new cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and 84 deaths in the past 24 hours.
The total number of cases now stand at 131,586, while the death toll is 5,561
Meanwhile, Acting Public Health Minister Vahid Majroh held an emergency meeting with healthcare providers on Wednesday, to stress the need to strengthen the provision of emergency health services across all health centers.
Majroh described the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) as an impartial and non-political body, and called on healthcare providers to maintain their neutrality, in providing health services, in accordance with the principles of medical care, and treat all patients and wounded individuals regardless of their factional ties.
Majroh added that the country is in a state of war and that taking care of citizens’ health is the main priority for the MoPH, and he instructed healthcare providers to strengthen the fight against COVID-19 and routine health services, in addition to dealing with emergency cases.
Healthcare providers pledged to continue providing health services across healthcare centers, and urged the MoPH to cooperate to address challenges.
Also, 50 machines of 10 liters of small oxygen generating machine (Concentrator 10L) with the help of Singapore Red Cross machine were sent to Covid-19 hospital and the rest 50 others will be sent soon. It is worth mentioning that the Singapore Red Cross had already donated 100,000 masks to the Afghan people.
On the other hand, MoPH has developed a plan with educational institutions according to which schools and universities will reopen after Eid al-Adha (Eid days are from July 20-22). Publicizing the plan, the MoPH stated that despite the fact that COVID-19 is still on the rise, a plan was developed on the reopening of schools and universities, to prevent the adverse economic effects of the virus.
The MoPH added that the plan was developed in collaboration with the Ministries of Higher Education and Education, Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority, and the union of private schools, which envisions options for schools and universities to open gradually after Eid al-Adha. The MoPH noted that the plan is feasible if COVID-19 vaccine is implemented, maximum use of open space is observed during examination, and other teaching conditions such as wearing masks, maintaining a standard social distancing, and providing soap and water are observed. The MoPH added that employees of educational institutions over 18 should be vaccinated, which will start on July 10 and will complete within 2 weeks.
Kabul: Local officials in Ghazni province said that Taliban fighters have been defeated in Nawur district of the province.
Taher Zahedi, Nawur district governor, told the Etilaatroz daily on Thursday that when the reinforcements arrived from Jaghori and Malistan districts, the Taliban were pushed back from Hesarak area of Nawur district. Zahedi added that the situation in the district is currently under the control of security forces.
He also said that one civilian and one soldier were killed during the clashes in the Taliban attack. The civilian killed was a shepherd from the Hesarak area who, according to the Nawur district governor, was killed in a Taliban shooting. According to him, seven members of the security forces and civilians were also injured during the clashes in the Hesarak area.
Also, during the clashes, at least 13 Taliban fighters were killed. Meanwhile, Amir Mohammad Javed, Malistan district governor, also said in a news release that the situation in Nawur district is now under the control of the security and defense forces of Malistan, Jaghori and Nawur districts.
He added that the security and defense forces of Malistan and Jaghori had been sent to Nawur under the leadership of Esmatullah Piruz, Ghazni police chief, and Nusrat Dashti, the commander-in-chief of the 41st regional army.
On the other hand, the Taliban, led by their shadow governor and the commander of their Red Unit, gathered in the eastern part of Firuzkoh and planted roadside mines to close the Ghor-Kabul highway to public traffic. However, in the presence of Dr. Abdul Zahir Faizzada, Governor of Ghor, along with the Commander of the Police, the Taliban ambush was repulsed near the village of Tasarki and the insurgents fled.
Several landmines planted by the Taliban to target civilians and travelers on the public road were also defused and detonated. Dr. Abdul Zahir Faizzada, the governor of Ghor, emphasized that the Taliban will no longer be given the opportunity to operate, and that the heroic forces of the security, defense and leadership of the Ghor local government will suppress them wherever it disturbs the people. After the presence of the governor and military officials of Ghor, the insecure parts of the Ghor-Kabul highway were cleared of the Taliban.
Meanwhile, clashes between government forces and the Taliban resumed after the Taliban attacked Qala-e-Naw, the provincial capital, from several directions, said Hesamuddin Shams, the governor of Badghis in western Afghanistan. He added that the Taliban attacked the city with light and heavy weapons and that security forces were fighting against them. He said the Taliban had infiltrated the city from the southeast and were retreating with casualties.
The Afghan Ministry of Defense announced today that it had sent a large number of special commando forces to Qala-e-Naw on Wednesday night. According to this institution, with the arrival of these forces, the security situation of the city is improving and soon the city will be completely cleared. Meanwhile, the 201st Selab Army Corps reported that 16 Taliban insurgents, including Haji Abdul Wahid, the group commander for Laghman province, were killed and 18 others, including Qari Zain-ul-Abedin, Taliban’s shadow governor for the province, were seriously wounded, during operations conducted by the ANDSF in Alishing and Badpash district, last night.
In other news, addressing a press conference, State Minister for Disaster Management Ghulam Bahauddin Jailani reported that over five million people were forced to evacuate their homes and shift to secure areas, due to war and violence, over the past two years.
Jailani said that 62,480 families have been displaced due to violence, over the past 6 months – 32,384 families displaced across 25 provinces over the past month alone. Jailani expressed concern about the developments and added that the continuation of violence has caused lots of financial and human losses. Jailani highlighted that the Ministry has used all its facilities to address the problems of those displaced, as it has provided assistance to 52,000 families, over the past 6 months, and its employees are currently busy conducting survey and identifying displaced families.
Jailani explained that the Ministry has provided and transported to provinces wheat for 96,000 families, rice for 42,000 families, food supplies for 100,000 families, and non-food packages for 100,000 other families, in addition to 191 million Afghanis cash to assist those displaced. Jailani mentioned that the Ministry requires further facilities and 500 million Afghanis cash, as further people are displaced on a daily basis, and he called on the government and national and international organizations to provide the required assistance to help it address the problems of those displaced.
Kabul: Mutlaq bin Majed Al-Qahtani, senior Qatari official dealing with the Afghan peace process, is expected to arrive in Islamabad on Thursday for talks with Pakistani officials on ways to push the fragile peace process, diplomatic sources said on Wednesday.
Qahtani is expected to hold talks with Pakistan’s special representative for Afghanistan Mohammad Sadiq and also meet Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, sources said. In fact, the Qatari envoy last visited Islamabad in February.
In fact, Pakistan Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who is on a two-day official visit to Qatar, called on Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Affairs Khalid Bin Mohammed and its core military leadership. Bajwa appreciated the role of Qatar in the Afghan Peace Process. The Qatari leadership also appreciated Pakistan’s continuous efforts for peace and stability in the region and pledged to keep working for better relations between the two brotherly countries.
This comes even as Iran hosted political envoys of the Taliban and Afghan government officials in Tehran in an attempt to end the stalemate in the intra-Afghan negotiations. Qahtani was in Afghan capital Kabul over the past few days where he held talks with Afghan leaders and diplomats on his country’s role in the peace process. Qatar has hosted the Taliban political headquarters since 2013.
In the joint statement released by the representatives of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban, the warring factions agreed that war is not the solution to Afghanistan’s problem and that all efforts should be focused on achieving a political and peaceful solution. The statement added that both the Afghan government and the Taliban share a common understanding of the dangers of continuing the war. It also condemned the attacks on people’s homes, schools, mosques and hospitals, the loss of civilians and the destruction of public facilities, calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
Participants in the Tehran meeting said that the talks took place in a cordial atmosphere and all issues were discussed in detail and “explicitly”. The statement did not specify the issue, but stressed that Afghan government delegations and the Taliban had decided at the Tehran meeting to discuss issues that needed further consultation and clarity at subsequent meetings. These issues may include the creation of a mechanism for the transition from war to lasting peace, among other things.
The joint statement issued by representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban called the Tehran summit a new opportunity to strengthen the political solution to the Afghan crisis and thanked Iran for holding the summit. The meeting started on Wednesday and continued till Thursday.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also welcomed the meeting between representatives of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Taliban, held in Tehran Iran on 7-8 July. The Ministry stated that the Afghan government appreciates and supports any genuine move and effort that leads to the realization of the legitimate aspirations of the Afghan people to end the war, ensure lasting peace, and preserve the achievements of the past 2 decades. The Ministry appreciated Iran’s efforts to advance the Afghan peace process and hoped that these efforts will lead to an end to violence and the start of serious negotiations aimed at ensuring lasting and nationwide peace.
Meanwhile, the UNAMA chief Deborah Lyons concluded her Doha visit with discussions on UN’s support to peace process with negotiators from Taliban and Afghanistan and Qatari officials. The UN envoy stressed urgent need for negotiators to return to the table, seek a peaceful solution.
Meanwhile, the meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, and Central Asian countries co-hosted by Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and the UNRCCA Center was held in Ashgabat. The video meeting was attended by the Foreign Ministers of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Republic of Tajikistan and Republic of Uzbekistan, the Special Representative of the President of Kazakhstan, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Central Asia, and Head of UNRCCA, Deputy Foreign Minister of Kyrgyz Republic and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (Political) UNAMA.
This meeting (C5 + 1 Central Asia + Afghanistan) is the first format at the level of Foreign Ministers to discuss the peace process, economic development, regional security, and the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan. Participants considered Afghanistan as an integral part of Central Asia and said that the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace talk is the only solution to the country’s current problem. Representatives of these countries stressed economic development, regional connectivity, strengthening trade cooperation, and regional solidarity, and expressed concern about the current situation in Afghanistan.
Central Asian countries while emphasizing the end of war and violence in Afghanistan called the implementation of regional projects such as TAPI, TAP, CASA 1000, and railway projects that connect Central Asia to South Asia through Afghanistan, important.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar appreciated the full and continuous support from the Central Asian countries for Afghanistan and the Afghan peace process, over the past 2 decades, and emphasized on the importance of continuing this support. Atmar blamed Taliban’s lack of commitment to fulfilling their commitments to sever ties with international terrorist groups, reduce violence, and participate in meaningful peace talks as the major cause for the expansion of the crisis, and highlighted the Afghan government’s implemented commitment to the lease of over 6,000 Taliban prisoners.
Atmar stressed on the need for the continued political consultations and provision of an immediate ceasefire to prevent a wider humanitarian crisis, and reiterated the strong commitment of the Afghan government to push back the Taliban and ensure the security of borders, major cities, and routes.
Kabul: Herat’s provincial military council announced that Zinda Jan and Kushki Kuhna district headquarters were relocated to a new location, in order to better use forces, coordinate the ANDSF and prevent civilian casualties.
The council stated that 20 Taliban insurgents were killed and wounded during ANDSF operation in Pashtun Zarghun districts, Taliban attack against Shindand district repulsed, where insurgents sustained heavy casualties; however, the Shindand police headquarters has been shifted to the district center, from its previous location.
Additionally, the council reported that Special Forces were deployed to Salma Dam to improve security. The council assured the people that Taliban attacks will not remain unanswered, as serious measures are in place to suppress the enemy.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed that the group captured Zinda Jan and Kushki Kuhna district and police headquarters, along with all other administrations, and captured a large amount of ammunition and weapons.
Meanwhile, the Herat Media Center was established on Wednesday, on the direction of provincial governor to facilitate journalists’ access to information. The provincial government stated that government officials will regularly hold press conferences at the center and provide answers to journalists’ questions.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) also announced the deployment of Commando forces to Qala-e Naw city, Badghis province, who arrived there on Wednesday night. The MoD added that ANDSF operation has been accelerated, the security situation in the city is improving, and it will be completely cleared of the Taliban soon.
On the other hand, a gathering was held in Mazar-e Sharif city, Balkh province on Wednesday, with the participation of senior provincial officials, ulema, civil rights activists, elders, and youth to announce support for the ANDSF. Provincial Governor Mohammad Farhad Azimi appreciated sacrifices made by the ANDSF, and called on the people to support the security forces in these sensitive, historic, and crucial circumstances.
Azimi stated that the government remains committed to the continuation of peace negotiations, prevention of bloodshed, strengthening governance, protection of ANDSF, and preservation of human and women’s rights, as war doesn’t benefit anyone, and causes the destruction of infrastructure, migration of millions of people, and bloodshed. Azimi added that if the Taliban want peace and are sincere in the process, they should enter peace negotiations, and stop hostile acts. Azimi highlighted that the ANDSF are Afghanistan’s national hero, dignity, and authority, and public support and cooperation is imminent and necessary in the fight against terrorists, although peace is the only way out of the existing crises, and security and stability is the only way for progress and excellence of the country.
Azimi assured that ANDSF that they are considered the only real protectors of this country and no other force can replace them. Provincial council head Mohammad Afzal Hadid said that praised the ANDSF, described them as the main owners of this land, and assured that the people will never leave the ANDSF alone, and will strongly support them. Other participants also praised ANDSF’s sacrifices and announced their support for them. The 209th Shaheen Army Corps Commander Khanullah Shuja appreciated public support and vowed to bravely and honestly fight the country’s enemies until the last drop of blood to protect the homeland and national honor.
Dozens of residents also picked up arms in Sheberghan city, Jowzjan province on Wednesday, and announced support for the ANDSF, and added that the Taliban cannot win militarily.