Newsfeed; Saturday, June 12 2021

Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…

  • 12 Jun 2021 Share this post

    New Commando Forces Arrive In Sar-e-Pul To Suppress Taliban

    Kabul: The Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced on Saturday that commandos and special forces arrived in Sar-e-Pul province before noon on Saturday as reinforcements, to suppress the Taliban.

    Rohullah Ahmadzai, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, said the forces were to launch operations to eliminate threats around Sar-e-Pul city, retake checkpoints and separate checkpoints in Baghawi, Sayed Abad and Sar-e-Pul districts.

    At the same time, it was reported that the Sayyad district of Sar-e-Pul province had fallen to the Taliban.

    The army base in Baghawi area and Suzma Qala district of Sar-e-Pul province fell to the Taliban on Friday. The capital of Sar-e-Pul province has been under siege by the Taliban for some time.

    In addition, telecommunication networks in Sar-e-Pul have been shut down and detailed information on the war situation in the province is not available.

  • 12 Jun 2021 Share this post

    UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy On Afghanistan And Regional Issues Arrives In Kabul

    Kabul: Jean Arnault, UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy on Afghanistan and regional issues, arrived in Kabul on Saturday.

    He met with Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar at the Foreign Ministry headquarters and the Foreign Minister congratulated Arnault on his appointment as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and the Region.

    During the meeting, Arnault called the continuation of the attacks and the escalation of violence unacceptable to the United Nations and the supporters of peace in Afghanistan. He also stressed on the need to speed up peace talks and ensure an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire.

    Arnault described the continuing violence and the failure to start meaningful intra Afghan peace talks and the Taliban’s failure to agree to an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire to jeopardize the success of the peace process.

    According to the Foreign Ministry, he expressed concern over UN Security Council Resolution 2513 and the Taliban’s failure to live up to its commitments to sever ties with regional and international terrorist groups, and described the situation as destructive to achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan.

    During the meeting, Hanif Atmar spoke about the Afghan government’s plans in the political, security and peace sectors, and stressed on the need for implementation of the global call for ceasefire and the importance of peace talks.

    At the end of March last year, Jean Arnault was appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and the region, focusing on the peace process. He has just started his mission and has already traveled to countries in the region.

  • 12 Jun 2021 Share this post

    Saudi Council Of Senior Scholars Call On Parties To Afghan Conflict To Respond To Call For Peace

    Kabul: The Council of Senior Scholars in Saudi Arabia welcomed the outcomes of the Declaration of Peace in Afghanistan conference, which was held under the umbrella of the Muslim World League and the auspices of Saudi Arabia.

    In a statement on Friday, the Council’s general secretariat called on all parties in Afghanistan to respond to the call for peace, knowledge and wisdom issued in the declaration for the sake of their country’s interest.

    The Council commended the efforts of Saudi Arabia, which it said has always stood with Islamic Afghanistan, calling for unity and providing all kinds of support to achieve this goal. Senior Islamic scholars from Pakistan and Afghanistan signed on Thursday the historic “Declaration of Peace in Afghanistan”, paving the way for a solution to the long-standing Afghan crisis. The Declaration supports negotiations between the warring factions and rejects all acts of violence and extremism in all forms and manifestations.

    Meanwhile, a meeting of the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Vepa Hajiyev with the Special Representative of Japan for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Katsuhiko Takahashi was held via videoconferencing, said Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan.

    During the meeting, the parties expressed the standpoints of Turkmenistan and Japan on Afghan issues. It was stated that the situation in Afghanistan continues to be in the center of attention of the international community and is directly related to the security and stability level on the regional and international level.

    The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Vepa Hajiyev once again confirmed the assuredness of Turkmenistan in that the process of reestablishment of peace in Afghanistan can be carried out only through the political-diplomatic means, involvement of Afghanistan in the processes of world economy and humanitarian assistance.

    Ambassador Katsuhiko Takahashi noted that the Japanese side supports the position of Turkmenistan on the given matter and highly appraises the energy and transport projects implemented in Afghanistan with the assistance of Turkmenistan, including the initiatives of humanitarian scope. The Special Representative also confirmed that Japan is going to provide financial support worth millions of dollars to Afghanistan during the period of 2021 – 2024 for the development of the country and its humanitarian needs.
    The diplomats exchanged views regarding further development of the situation in Afghanistan and agreed to continue active dialogue for the search of reasonable forms of cooperation for assisting the country.

  • 12 Jun 2021 Share this post

    Kabul Explosions Kill 5; Casualties May Rise: MoI

    Kabul: Two blasts targeted minivans carrying civilians in two areas in the west of Kabul on Saturday afternoon, the Ministry of Interior Affairs said.

    One of the blasts occurred in the Dasht-e-Barchi area in Kabul’s District 13 and another happened after less than 30 minutes near Ali Jinnah Hospital in Kabul’s District 6.

    The ministry said that five people were killed in the two blasts and that the casualties may rise. The blasts are similar to two explosions that happened in Kabul earlier this month, killing at least a dozen people, all civilians.

  • 12 Jun 2021 Share this post

    Clashes Between Taliban, Afghan Government Forces Intensify Across Provinces

    Kabul: Clashes between the Taliban insurgents and Afghan government forces have intensified in several provinces across the country.

    With the fall of Ishkamash district in Takhar province, hundreds of families have been forced to flee their main neighborhoods due to fighting. The displaced say they have given up everything and have been forced to flee on foot to save their lives.

    According to local officials and residents, Taliban fighters seized the Ishkamash district of Takhar province in northern Afghanistan on Friday night and launched their offensive to take control of Bangi district in the province. Azar Afzali, secretary of the Takhar provincial council, said the Taliban had also taken control of the Siah Ab checkpoint in Bangi district.

    Government forces are currently retreating to the center of the district. Zabihullah Qarizada, Bangi district governor, who spoke to the BBC, said, “Responsible institutions have been asked to help fight the Taliban.”

    Dozens of families have taken refuge in Taloqan, according to local officials, and some have fled to other safe villages in the province. Bangi district is located on Takhar-Kunduz-Badakhshan highway and Ishkhamsh district is bordered by Burka / Baraka district of Baghlan.

    Local officials have said that insecurity in the two districts could affect the security of other districts if action is not taken to retaliate and bring security to Bangi. The Afghan Ministry of Defense did not comment on the fall of Ishkamash district, but said it had killed eight members in an airstrike on a Taliban rally in the district on Friday.

    Meanwhile, the Afghan Ministry of Refugees says about 6,000 families have been displaced from different provinces in the past month due to the fighting. The ministry is currently assisting local IDPs with partner institutions.
    At the same time, there have been reports of clashes between government forces and the Taliban in Sar-e-Pul province, another northern province of Afghanistan. Enayatullah Babar Farahmand, the first deputy head of the Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation, wrote on Facebook that the war was taking place in the central belt of Sar-e-Pul province.

    Farahmand said that Suzma Qala district of the province is under siege with all military equipment and the military is facing a shortage of ammunition / bullets and food. He said that although some commandos had been sent from the center to the province on Friday, the number of troops was not enough to prevent “a humanitarian catastrophe and rescue light and heavy military equipment”.

    209 Shahin Corps in the north has announced that Commander Ghulam Mustafa Wardak has gone to the province with the deputy commander of the corps and the newly recruited commandos to “control the situation, repel the enemy and suppress the Taliban.”

    Meanwhile, three people have been killed and four others injured in a mortar shelling in Bangi district of Takhar province on Friday night, said Mohammad Azam Afzali, a member of the Takhar Provincial Council.

    According to Afzali, the dead were members of the Uprising Forces who went to Khanabad from Ishkhamsh district of the province and from there to Bangi district to save the district from Taliban fighters. He added that the troops were moving in a mosque near the police headquarters when they were hit by a mortar shell.

    Clashes between security forces and Taliban fighters have been going on for several days in several districts of the Takhar province.

    On the other hand, the Taliban has claimed that the Zari district of Balkh province in the north of the country has fallen as a result of an attack by its fighters. Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesperson for the Taliban, claimed that the group’s fighters had taken control of the district buildings and the Zari district police headquarters on Saturday morning.

    He also claimed that the Taliban had seized a large number of light and heavy weapons and ammunition from security forces. The Taliban spokesman added that security forces also suffered casualties during the clashes.

    However, the 209th Shaheen Corps has announced that the center of Zari district has been relocated to the village of Tashkelin and Omki due to the lack of security and defense forces in the village of Tashkelin and Omaki.

    A statement issued by the corps said that the facilities and manpower of Zari district and the defense and security forces were transferred to the village at around 8:00am on Saturday between Zari and Kusha districts. However, Ghulam Sokhi Lale, a member of the Balkh Provincial Council, confirmed that the Zari district had fallen to the Taliban. He said that security and defense forces had been transferred to Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, after being transferred to the Tashkelin and Omaki districts.

    He also said that one soldier was killed and another was wounded during a Taliban attack in the center of Zari district.

    Apart from this, Atta Mohammad Dehghanpour, a representative of the people of Ghor in the House of Representatives, said that the Taliban had demolished the district buildings and the Tulak police headquarters on Saturday.

    Dehghanpour, however, stressed that until a few hours ago, security forces only controlled a checkpoint on a mountain in the center of Tulak district, adding that “it is not yet clear whether this checkpoint has also fallen to the Taliban.” Meanwhile, he added that Suleiman Yousefi, the district governor of Tulak, had surrendered to the Taliban along with a number of district officials.

    On the other hand, the member of the House of Representatives stressed that according to preliminary statistics, 25 security forces were killed during a Taliban attack in the center of district. But Karamuddin Rezazada another Ghor MP, confirmed that the Tulak district had fallen to the Taliban and that 18 security forces had been killed in a Taliban attack in the district.

    Rezazada added that among those killed were the director of national security in Tulak district and Fazlullah Khan, commander of the district uprising forces. He also said that six other security personnel were wounded during the clashes and some of them were captured by the Taliban. Ghor local and security officials have not yet commented on the matter.

    Meanwhile, a group of Taliban fighters who were planning to attack Farang district of Baghlan province were captured by security forces after a series of clashes.

    Javed Besharat, Baghlan police spokesperson, said that 10 Taliban insurgents who were planning to attack Farang district in Baghlan province were captured by security forces in a joint operation by police and popular uprising forces on Saturday.

    Besharat added that two Taliban insurgents were killed and another was wounded in the clashes.

    Also, detainees during the clashes were the Taliban’s shadow district governor men for Farang and his military commander.

    The Taliban have not yet commented on the matter.

  • 12 Jun 2021 Share this post

    Ministry Of Public Health Reports 973 New COVID-19 Cases

    Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Saturday reported 973 new positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the past 24 hours.

    The ministry also reported 67 deaths in the last 24 hours and the death toll due to the virus in the country is now 3,527. Meanwhile, the ministry has resumed the COVID-19 vaccination drive across the country on Saturday. MoPH Spokesman Dastagir Nazari stated that vulnerable individuals, those over 55 years of age, and with chronic diseases will be prioritized. The MoPH stopped providing vaccines on June 7, as it ran out of COVID-19 vaccine doses.

    The total number of positive cases now stand at 89,861. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs announced new directives to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

    The directives include the temporary closure of all religious schools and institutions, and a halt in condolence ceremonies, religious studies within mosques, and large gatherings of clerics.
    Additionally, the Ministry stated that prayers must be concise in an open space, observing social distancing and other health instructions.

    Meanwhile, due to the deteriorating situation related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the consular section of the Embassy of Pakistan in Kabul will remain closed for one week from June 13 to June 17. Further announcement would be made on Thursday (June 17). However, the Embassy would continue to be operational for online visas issuance facility.

  • 12 Jun 2021 Share this post

    5 Killed In Gunmen Attack In Paghman: Police

    Kabul: At least five people were killed in an attack by unknown gunmen in the Paghman district of Kabul province shortly after midnight on Friday, police said.

    Kabul police in a statement said that five members of one family were returning from a wedding ceremony when they were abducted by gunmen and killed later. Police blamed the Taliban for the attack.

    Taliban so far has not commented on the attack. A security official in Paghman who wished not to be named told a local media outlet said that a former mujahideen commander Ghazi Oryakhil is also among those killed in the attack. Others killed in the attack are the commander’s relatives, the source said.

    Meanwhile, one person was killed and three others were injured in an explosion in Mazar-e-Sharif city of Balkh province on Saturday.

    Adel Shah Adel, a spokesperson for the Balkh police, said the blast occurred at 10:19am on Saturday in the PD6 of Mazar-e-Sharif.

    A Balkh police spokesperson said that the blast was caused by a magnetic mine placed in a bicycle. Adel added that all the victims are civilians.

    No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the blast.

  • 12 Jun 2021 Share this post

    3rd COVID Wave: Ministry of Health Warns Of Lack Of Oxygen, Humanitarian Catastrophe

    Kabul: Following the increase in complaints of lack of oxygen in COVID-19 hospitals in the country, officials of the Ministry of Public Health said that an “oxygen deficiency crisis” and “humanitarian catastrophe” were imminent.

    Ministry officials have also urged people to remember the situation in hospitals in India and other neighboring countries a few days ago and not to ridicule healthcare professions and messages. The Ministry of Public Health has closed all public and private education centers across the country, including schools, institutes, universities, courses, religious schools and kindergartens, as well as wedding halls, for two weeks from today, Saturday.

    Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Health also announced an agreement with Iran to import oxygen needed by the western provinces of the country. Accordingly, two oxygen vehicles, each with a capacity of 2,000 balloons, are scheduled to enter Herat from Iran every week.

    In recent days, complaints of oxygen deprivation in COVID-19 hospitals in the country have increased. Residents of a number of provinces are complaining of severe oxygen shortages and are urging health officials to take action. Concurrent with the lack of oxygen and there are growing concerns about the lack of beds for COVID-19 patients in most provinces, the Ministry of Public Health has warned that if the people not take the ministry’s recommendations seriously, the situation in the country will worsen.

    “Since the start of the third wave of COVID-19, the Ministry of Public Health has repeatedly stated that the issue of restrictions and the ‘oxygen crisis’ could lead to one of the most dangerous ‘human catastrophes’,” Nazir Dastgir, a spokesman for the Ministry of Public said.

    According to him, so far none of the patients in the country have lost their lives due to lack of oxygen, and to date, the Ministry of Public Health has managed the oxygen issue.

    Patients admitted to COVID-19 Herat Hospital claimed that the reason for the lack of oxygen is the cessation of production in production plants due to power outages imported from Iran. Jilani Farhad, spokesman for the governor of Herat, said that under the guidance of the governor, a joint meeting of public health officials, the private sector, the Chamber of Industries and oxygen producers was held under the supervision of the deputy governor of Herat and the necessary measures to meet the needs of factories.

    According to him, local officials in Herat stressed on the need for accurate and rapid distribution of oxygen to patients, and the problem is expected to be resolved soon.

    Meanwhile, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday that Afghanistan has received 1,000 balloons of oxygen from Uzbekistan. The Foreign Ministry said in a press release that Balkh Governor Farhad Azimi received the oxygen balloons in the port of Hairatan in Uzbekistan.

    The balloons were handed over to the governor of Balkh in the presence of Esmatullah Irgshaev, the Uzbek president’s representative for Afghanistan. According to the statement, Uzbekistan has donated this number of oxygen balloons as a result of the Foreign Ministry’s efforts to attract assistance and cooperation from countries to fight Covid 19 in Afghanistan.

    Appreciating Uzbekistan’s assistance, the Foreign Ministry said it was working with other relevant institutions to conclude contracts with various countries in the region and the world to provide oxygen balloons and other equipment needed to fight Covid 19.

    Meanwhile, Amnesty International has said that the Afghan Government must immediately address oxygen shortages and procure adequate Covid-19 vaccines and other essential medical supplies with support from the international community.

    “Afghanistan’s Covid-19 case numbers have been steadily increasing and these latest figures are of grave concern. It’s clear that the country has been hit by the third wave of Covid-19 and without urgent international support to contain this surge, the situation could quickly spiral out of control, with existing shortages of life-saving supplies posing serious challenges,” said Zaman Sultani, South Asia Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “At the same time, Afghanistan’s vaccination drive has also been held up due to supply shortages. We have seen a similar situation unfolding in Nepal and India and one of the main lessons is to learn from their mistakes and be prepared for the worst before it’s too late,” Sultani added.

    According to the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), Afghanistan currently has only around 2,000 oxygen concentrators and 1,063 hospital beds dedicated to Covid-19 treatment to service a population of 39 million. According to MoPH, the country only a total of 1,500 ICU beds. On June 4, the MoPH reported that the country was facing an oxygen shortage and appealed for support from other countries in the region. Local media has reported that more than 50 percent of those hospitalized with Covid-19 are requiring oxygen. On June 8, an official at the MoPH told Amnesty: “I do not want to give any false hope. We have managed the situation for now, but if the situation gets worse it would be really difficult [without oxygen].”

    On June 10, the UN Secretary General`s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan announced on Twitter that the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF had provided Afghanistan with 3750 ‘oxygenators’ and that ten oxygen plants would also to be given to Afghanistan by UN agencies. “The lack of emergency preparedness and the state of Afghanistan’s public health infrastructure means the country is not equipped to deal with the type of surge we have seen elsewhere in the region. Afghanistan must make diagnostics widely accessible to effectively detect outbreaks and proactively address an imminent outbreak of cases,” said Zaman Sultani.

    The current wave poses an even greater risk of infection for Afghanistan’s four million internally displaced people (IDPs), who are living in overcrowded conditions, with insufficient access to water, sanitation, and health facilities. In March 2021, Amnesty International published a briefing calling on the Afghan government and the international community to urgently scale up targeted support efforts to this highly vulnerable group. “During this crisis, the Afghan government must ensure that IDPs can access healthcare, sanitation and clean water and develop a plan that prioritizes vaccinating IDPs, whose living conditions leave them extremely vulnerable to a highly infectious virus like Covid-19,” said Zaman Sultani.

    According to a World Bank announcement, sufficient budget should already exist to vaccinate 40 percent of the population, with 50 percent of that covered by the COVAX Facility – a global initiative to help low- and middle-income countries access vaccines – and the other half covered by funds from the World Bank and the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund. The Asian Development Bank has also committed around $50m USD to support vaccinations and other Covid-19 related programs.

    However, to date, Afghanistan has received 968,000 vaccine doses from the Indian Government and the COVAX Facility, which can fully inoculate only 484,000 of Afghanistan’s 39 million people, representing only 1.24% of its population.

    Local media reported on June 10 that Afghanistan had received 700,000 doses of vaccines from China. However, Amnesty International spoke to an official at the MoPH, who could not provide an exact date for the next delivery of vaccines shipment from COVAX. The next shipment is tentatively scheduled to arrive by August.

  • 12 Jun 2021 Share this post

    Members of European Parliament Say Failed State Scenario Has To Be Avoided In Afghanistan

    Kabul: The European Parliament has condemned the alarming increase in violence in Afghanistan and called on the Taliban to immediately cease their attacks against civilians and the national forces, and to fully respect international humanitarian law.

    In the resolution adopted on Thursday, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) point to “the confluence of the fragile domestic situation, a deteriorating security situation, intra-Afghan peace talks effectively at a stalemate and the decision to withdraw US and NATO troops by September 11.”

    All this could intensify internal conflicts and create a vacuum that, in the worst-case scenario, will be filled by the Taliban, they added. “This would be very worrying for the country and for the sustainability of the socio-political achievements and progress of the last 20 years”, warned the MEPs.

    They particularly stressed on the progress made in the rights of women and girls, which is now under threat and must urgently be preserved and strengthened. The resolution expressed concern about the fragility and instability of the Afghan Government and its lack of control over much of the country and stresses the need to avoid a ‘failed state’ scenario.

    The European Parliament reiterated its commitment to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and post-conflict reconstruction as the only credible path to inclusive, long-term peace, security and development. It urged the European Council, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Commission to prepare and present to Parliament, as soon as possible, a comprehensive strategy for future cooperation with Afghanistan once NATO allied troops have withdrawn, and urges the EU and its member states, NATO and the US to remain engaged with this objective.

    “The peace talks in Doha must resume immediately to achieve a political settlement to the conflict and a permanent, nationwide negotiated ceasefire,” MEPs said. Finally, the MEPs emphasized that European support will remain conditional on preserving and building upon the achievements of the past twenty years, on effectively enhancing inclusive and accountable governance, strengthening institutions, democratic pluralism, the rule of law, combating corruption, strengthening independent media, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all Afghans. The resolution was adopted by 610 votes in favor, 34 against and 39 abstentions.

    Meanwhile, the World Bank Vice-President for the South Asia Region, Hartwig Schafer, in meetings with President Ashraf Ghani and the acting finance minister over the last three days has also pledged to continue its assistance to Afghanistan within the framework of the commitments made in last year’s Geneva conference.

    According to the World Bank officials, in the discussions, the Afghan side committed to expedite efforts for reforms in the areas of services and development of private sector. World Bank has suggested the Afghan government encourage the private sector to expand its activities and make the necessary plans to attract foreign investments to help protect the achievements of the Afghan people.

    The organization has also called on the donor nations to continue their support to Afghanistan for another four years in the structure of Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF).

    Also, following a Thursday meeting with Poland’s Deputy FM Marcin Przydacz in Warsaw, deputy FM of Afghanistan Mirwais Nab told Polish Radio that his country looked forward to deepening its hitherto cooperation with Poland. “I am satisfied that we can meet during the first bilateral political consultations in many years,” Deputy FM Przydacz said.

    The consultations discussed the state of bilateral relations in their political, economic, and development aid dimensions. “Poland has supported Afghanistan for two decades through the deployment of the Polish Military Contingent as well as aid projects, and has provided almost EUR 30 million to Afghanistan and its inhabitants during this period,” said Przydacz.

    “Given the importance of Afghanistan for regional and global security, Poland has a strong interest in stabilizing that country, restoring peace there, and fully upholding human rights, including those of women and minorities,” stressed Deputy FM Przydacz.

    Thursday’s meeting in Warsaw, being the first such encounter after three-decades-long hiatus in Polish-Afghan consultations, came three months ahead of the planned NATO pullout of Polish and the US militaries from Afghanistan. While the return of the troops would bring an end to their 20-years-long presence in the country, Afghan officials’ presence in Warsaw foretokened the government’s interest in opening a new chapter in both countries’ bilateral relations.

    As Afghan Deputy FM Mirwais Nab told Polish Radio, cooperation in the field of security would be of crucial value. This would boil down to the pumping of funds into the local military and police but also tackling illegal migration from Afghanistan. “We understand how this matter is seen by the public eye in Poland and we want to stop illegal migration and human trafficking but also money-laundering,” Nab said.

    “We are ready for peace talks, albeit, should the Taliban opt for war, our forces are ready to protect the country. There is no day that clashes would not occur in our provinces, which is something that tells us the Taliban are bent on war, not peace talks,” Nab said.

  • 12 Jun 2021 Share this post

    Turkey Should Pull Troops From Afghanistan: Taliban

    Kabul: In a big development, a Taliban spokesperson on Friday stated that Turkey should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan under the 2020 deal for the pullout of US forces, effectively rejecting Ankara’s proposal to guard and run Kabul’s airport after US-led NATO forces depart.

    As per a Reuters report, the development raises serious questions for the United States, other countries and international organizations with missions in Kabul about how to securely evacuate their personnel from landlocked Afghanistan should fighting threaten the capital. It also appeared to smash Ankara’s hopes of using the securing of Kabul airport to help improve ties with Washington – strained by Turkey’s purchase of Russian defense systems – in talks set for Monday between President Joe Biden and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

    Asked in a text message whether the Taliban rejected Turkey’s proposal to keep forces in Kabul to guard and run the international airport after other foreign troops leave, the Taliban spokesman in Doha responded that they should go as well. “Turkey was part of NATO forces in the past 20 years, so as such, they should withdraw from Afghanistan on the basis of the Agreement we signed with US on 29th Feb 2020,” Suhail Shaheen told Reuters.

    “Otherwise, Turkey is a great Islamic country. Afghanistan has had historical relations with it. We hope to have close and good relations with them as a new Islamic government is established in the country in future,” he added.

    Meanwhile, the United States believes keeping an international diplomatic presence in Kabul requires a “functioning, secure” airport, a US State Department spokesperson said on Friday, suggesting that embassies could be forced to close without one.

    The statement came a day after a Taliban spokesman effectively rejected Turkey’s proposal that its troops remain to guard and run the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the departure of the rest of the US-led foreign force. Australia shuttered its embassy in Kabul last month because of security concerns. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week vowed to keep the US embassy open.

    President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw from America’s longest war, stalled peace talks and unrelenting violence are fueling fears that Afghanistan is headed into an all-out civil war that could return the Taliban to power.

    Biden is expected to discuss the issue when he holds talks with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Brussels on Monday.

  • 12 Jun 2021 Share this post

    UNSC Condemns Attack On Humanitarian Mine Clearance Workers in Afghanistan

    Kabul: The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Friday condemned in the strongest terms the targeted attack against humanitarian mine clearance workers that took place in Baghlan-e-Markazi, Afghanistan, on June 8.

    Council President Sven Jürgenson (Estonia) said, “The attack resulted in at least 10 people killed and wounded more than a dozen people, many of whom were of the Hazara minority. The members of the Security Council expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government of Afghanistan and they wished a speedy and full recovery to those who were injured. The members of the Security Council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security. Deliberately targeting humanitarian workers is especially abhorrent and must be condemned.”

    The UNSC also underlined the need to hold perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism accountable and bring them to justice. They urged all nations, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with the Government of Afghanistan and all other relevant authorities in this regard.

    The members of the Security Council also reiterated that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed. They reaffirmed the need for all countries to combat by all means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and other obligations under international law, including international human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.

    Meanwhile, even the International Rescue Committee (IRC) condemned the attack on Halo Trust aid workers. Sanna Johnson, Acting Vice President of Programme Delivery, said, “Our colleagues at the Halo Trust have suffered a grievous loss, and our thoughts are with the families, friends and co-workers of the victims. It is an appalling reminder of the dangers faced by humanitarians the world over, especially in Afghanistan, which is one of the most dangerous places for aid workers in the world. In recent years we have witnessed unprecedented violence against humanitarians, human right activists and civilians – barbarous attacks that represent the insidious and dangerous reality for those who dedicate their lives to serve others.”

    “The world cannot afford to turn its back on Afghanistan, and humanitarian workers will continue to provide lifesaving help to those who need it most. The IRC calls upon the international community to take a stand against this brutal violence. Aid workers should never be a target of violence, and the attack on Halo trust is an attack on all humanitarians. The IRC condemns this horrific violence and stands in solidarity with Halo trust and all humanitarians,” Johnson said.

    In fact, as a co-founder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Human Rights Watch joined these organizations and expressed condolences to the victims and their families.

    International humanitarian law prohibits attacks on humanitarian workers. The Afghan government should work to bring the perpetrators of this apparent war crime to justice, the human rights watch said. The attack on the Afghanistan deminers this week is a stark reminder of the dangers humanitarian workers around the world confront as they work to save lives and livelihoods, it added.

  • 12 Jun 2021 Share this post

    Declaration Of Peace In Afghanistan Signed By Islamic Scholars At Mecca

    Kabul: Diplomats and leading officials from Islamic organizations on Friday praised the historic “Declaration of peace in Afghanistan” conference for paving the way for a solution to the long-running crisis in the war-torn country.

    The conference, hosted in Mecca on Thursday by the Muslim World League (MWL) under the auspices of Saudi Arabia, brought together for the first-time senior Afghan and Pakistani scholars, along with government ministers from the two countries, in an effort to help bring about reconciliation among the people of Afghanistan. The declaration was co-signed by the Minister for Religious Affairs Dr. Noorul Haq Qadri and Afghan Hajj, Guidance and Endowments Minister Mohammed Qasim Halimi.

    The participants offered their support for negotiations between the warring factions in the country and rejected all acts of extremism. “This historic announcement reflects the great efforts made by the Kingdom (of Saudi Arabia), as the current president of the Islamic Summit, and its pivotal role in reconciliation among the parties in the Islamic countries,” said Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

    He added that he values the work of the MWL that led to Thursday’s declaration and an agreement to find a lasting and comprehensive solution that will support the process of peace, reconciliation, stability, progress and prosperity in Afghanistan.

    Sayed Jalal Karim, the former Afghan ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told Arab News, “The peace conference was very fruitful for peace and stability in Afghanistan. It came at a very good time that will help to further strengthen relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

    Meanwhile, on the other side of the peace front, The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Friday elaborated that India has in fact opening up channels with Taliban and that it supports peace talks in the wake of US forces pulling back.

    Indian MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “We support all peace initiatives and have been engaged with several stakeholders including regional countries.” The move marks a significant shift from New Delhi’s position of not engaging with the Taliban.

    The remarks come as there were reports that India is opening up channels of communication with Taliban factions and leaders, including reportedly Mullah Baradar. Bagchi added, “Our relations with Afghanistan are historical and multi-faceted. We have been engaging with Afghans across ethnicities. As a friendly neighbor, we are concerned about peace and security in Afghanistan and the region. We support all peace initiatives and have been engaged with several stakeholders including regional countries.”

    It is pertinent to note that the Indian External Affairs Minister participated in the inaugural ceremony of the Afghan talks held in Doha last year. A senior official delegation attended the talks in Doha. In the recent past, India has had visits by multiple Afghan leaders to India, and vice-versa.