Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: The Ministry of Defense (MoD) has limited the number of military flights, until further notice.
MoD spokesperson Rohullah Ahmadzai told Subh-e Kabul daily that the Afghan Air Force (AAF) is now going to focus on its main duty, setting aside side duties, including non-military transportations.
Ahmadzai added that conducting airstrikes, supporting the ground forces, on-time transfer of those killed and wounded to the healthcare centers, and transfer of forces and equipment to military personnel are the main priorities for the AAF.
Deputy MoD spokesperson Fawad Aman told Subh-e Kabul daily that the AAF has been ordered to avoid transporting political figures and irresponsible men, during this sensitive condition.
Recently, a number of social media users reported that Chief of Army Staff Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai had ordered the AAF to halt all military flights, including for offensives and logistics, until he takes command.
Kabul: Sources close to Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum have confirmed on Sunday that he had been transferred to Turkey due to a “sudden illness”, but said that his condition has “improved” now.
The sources told BBC that he had spoken to some local commanders in Jawzjan last night about the security situation in the north of the country and called on them to mobilize against the Taliban. Enayatullah Farahmand, deputy head of the High Council for National Reconciliation and a close aide of Dostum, tweeted that he had called his soldiers and supporters to stand up to the Taliban and promised to return to Afghanistan soon.
Marshal Dostum has considerable influence in northern Afghanistan, especially in Faryab and Jawzjan provinces. Earlier, some media outlets reported his “poisoning” and his immediate transfer to a hospital in Turkey, but the news of his poisoning has not been confirmed by his relatives.
Meanwhile, in other news, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) announced that two National Directorate of Security (NDS) officials have been sentenced to 5-10 year imprisonment, on suspicion of receiving $30,000 USD as bribe.
The AGO stated that the preliminary court of the Anti-Corruption Justice Center issued the sentence on Sunday. The AGO added that these individuals were arrested while receiving bribe in return for the release of a suspect, who had been arrested on suspicion of cooperating with the Taliban to assassinate government employees.
The court also directed those sentenced to pay a fine of $30,000 USD and 104,355 Afghanis.
Kabul: Classified UK Ministry of Defense documents containing details about HMS Defender and the British military have been found at a bus stop in Kent. One set of documents discusses a possible UK military presence in Afghanistan after the US-led Nato operation there ends.
The government said an investigation had been launched. A Ministry of Defense spokesperson said that an employee had reported the loss of sensitive defense papers, adding, “It would be inappropriate to comment further.”
The documents, almost 50 pages in all, were found in a soggy heap behind a bus stop in Kent early on Tuesday morning. A member of the public, who wishes to remain anonymous, contacted the BBC when he realized the sensitive nature of the contents. The BBC believes the documents, which include emails and PowerPoint presentations, originated in the office of a senior official at the Ministry of Defense (MoD).
There are also briefing notes for last Monday’s session of the UK-US Defense Dialogue, including observations on President Joe Biden’s first months in office. But one document, addressed to Ben Wallace’s private secretary, and marked “Secret UK Eyes Only”, outlines highly sensitive recommendations for the UK’s military footprint in Afghanistan, following the end of Operation Resolute Support, the NATO operation currently winding down in the wake of President Biden’s decision earlier this year to withdraw American forces.
The document discusses an American request for British assistance in several specific areas, and addresses the question of whether any British special forces will remain in Afghanistan once the withdrawal is complete. Media reports have already suggested Britain is considering leaving some forces behind.
Due to the sensitivity of the document, the BBC has decided not to report details which could endanger the security of British and other personnel in Afghanistan. But amid reports of a worsening security situation in the country, it sounds several warnings.
“Any UK footprint in Afghanistan that persists… is assessed to be vulnerable to targeting by a complex network of actors,” it says, noting that “the option to withdraw completely remains.” Afghanistan, it says, is already becoming more dangerous.
The reduced presence of NATO forces “is already impairing the situational awareness that we (and the US) used to enjoy across the country”. No Britons have been killed in Afghanistan since the US-Taliban deal in February 2020, it says, but “this would be unlikely to remain the status quo”.
Rarely has a collection of lost documents covered such a wide range of important areas. This is a major embarrassment for the Ministry of Defense, which is currently carrying out a detailed investigation into how the papers came to be lying on a street corner, in the rain, in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Kabul: Hundreds of residents of Injil district, Herat province, held a gathering to condemn Taliban’s violence and attacks, and stated that they will support the ANDSF against the Taliban.
District Governor Hafizullah Nab along with former jihadi commanders urged the public not to listen to Taliban propaganda, and added that they are responsible to support the current system and preserve the past achievements. Provincial Governor Abdul Saboor Qane said that the gathering and public mobilization sent a clear message to the Taliban that the war is illegitimate, and the Taliban must know that the people are opposed to the group. Qane called on the Taliban to stop violence, destroying roads and infrastructure, and extortion.
Ghulam Farooq Nazari, a representative of the people of Herat in the House of Representatives, told Hashte Subh daily that the people were tired of war and bloodshed and took up arms to support the defense and security forces to say no to the Taliban and other terrorist groups and to protect the achievements of the last two decades. In recent days, popular mobilizations have been mobilized in several provinces to fight the Taliban. The Ministry of National Defense has said that it manages the people’s mobilization forces.
Ministry of Interior also stated that residents of Samangan province took up arms in support of the country’s security and defense forces. Hundreds of Paktia residents too rallied in support of Afghan forces and against the Taliban. They said that they have taken up arms in support of the security forces and will not allow the militants to seize territory and disrupt public services.
The Badakhshan governor’s media office also quoted Ahmad Bashir Samim, the governor of the province, as saying that more than 400 people had taken up arms and moved to different parts of the city, Faizabad, without any concessions. The governor of Badakhshan called the people’s move “a confrontation with Taliban”.
“The Taliban should know that they have no place among the people,” said the governor of Badakhshan. In recent days, after the fall of Khash and Arghankhah districts, the road from part of Badakhshan to the provincial capital has been closed and the Taliban have reached several kilometers from the center of Badakhshan.
Meanwhile, the Department of Refugees and Repatriations of Baghlan Province announced that about 8,000 families have been displaced in the past month due to the escalation of the conflict in the province. Sharifullah Shafaq, director of refugee affairs in Baghlan province, told Hashte Subh daily on Sunday that the families had been displaced from Nahrain, Baghlan-e Markazi, Baraka, Dahne Ghori and other insecure districts in the province.
Of the 8,000 displaced families in the past month, 1,000 have been assisted, Shafaq added.
According to the head of the Baghlan Refugee department, the survey and assistance process has been underway for a month now, and the department’s survey teams are surveying 7,000 families. He added that in the near future, with the completion of the survey, food and non-food aid will be distributed to these families. Meanwhile, as a result of heavy fighting in the past month, several districts in Baghlan have witnessed clashes between the government and the Taliban.
Meanwhile, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) commemorated the 1st death anniversary of its two employees, Fatima Natasha Khalil and Ahmad Jawed Folad, who had been killed in an explosion in Kabul.
The AIHRC stated that relevant government authorities are yet to identify the perpetrators, and provide a full response on the investigation. The AIHRC expressed its regret that authorities have failed to address complaints about targeted killings of other media and civil rights activists, and human rights defenders.
The AIHRC added that the government must be accountable and effectively fight impunity, so that the human and citizen rights of all are fully protected. The AIHRC also called for an international fact-finding delegation appointed by the UN to investigate crimes against civilians, including targeted killings, attacks on ethnic and religious minorities, and educational institutions. The AIHRC urged the government to support the demand and cooperate in establishing this body and its investigation.
Kabul: The Torkham Border will be opened next Saturday and Sunday (July 3 and 4) for Afghan students studying in Pakistani universities on scholarship for their entry into Pakistan.
According to a statement issued by the Pakistan Embassy in Kabul, the permission has been granted to Afghan students currently stuck in Afghanistan to travel to Pakistan for continuation of their studies under Allama Iqbal Scholarship Programme.
The statement further said that all the students will be required to provide negative report of the PCR Test from Afghanistan.
It further said that antigen test for coronavirus will be conducted at the entry point and the students will undergo 10 days mandatory quarantine provided by government of Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Health recorded 1,531 new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and 80 deaths in the last 24 hours. The total cases now stand at 115,615 while death toll is 4,730.
Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) has inaugurated a significant project to train community midwives in remote and underserved areas of Afghanistan. At a total cost of $490,055 (around QR 1.8 million), the scheme is co-implemented by the Afghan Welfare Society, Organization for Promotion of Health and Community Development (OPHCD), Ministry of Health (MoH), and provincial health chapters.
The purpose of the new project is to qualify 24 trainees as community midwives in remote and inaccessible areas of eight provinces. During the 24-month training, the trainees will acquire the relevant knowledge and skills, through theoretical and applied training programs at specialized hospitals and/or health centers, in accordance with MoPH’s training program.
After that, the trainees will receive graduation certification from Afghanistan’s Supreme Council for Nursing and Midwifery. They can find jobs at fixed or mobile health facilities in remote areas, operated by MoPH or other service providers, such as the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) or other partners. Alternatively, they can be self-employed, offering basic health services in their own districts.
Apart from the theoretical and practical aspects, the program also provides all training resources, such as trainers, materials, and full board accommodation. After graduation, each midwife is expected to offer primary health services, particularly in reproduction health, for up to 4,800 cases per year within her own demographical sphere, which means an annual average of 84,480 in all locations of the graduates. The inauguration ceremony took place at the Moora Center in Afshar District, Kabul, which hosts the classes and dormitory. It consists of an elementary-and-high school, as well as a university for girls, with colleges like the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Therefore, the premises are perfect for the girls from rural areas. The ceremony was attended by representatives of MoPH, ARCS, the Ministry of Economy, the Supreme Council for Nursing and Midwifery, Shura Councils, and health offices in target provinces. Other attendees included teachers, supervisors, trainers, trainees, and local community leaders. Zabihullah Atal, MP for Badakhshan, said, “I would like to thank QRCS and all partners and contributors for this vital project.”
Kabul: Amrullah Saleh, the first vice-president, described the recent visit of the Afghan delegation led by President Ghani to Washington as fruitful. Saleh wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday that he explained the role of the region in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the United States and NATO, the strengthening of relations, bilateral cooperation, the discussion on the effective use of US aid, and ensuring accountability and transparency.
The methods agreed upon by both parties were important aspects of this trip. “Explaining the complexities of the peace process, explaining and providing information on the strategy of the Taliban and its supporters, and the extent of military operations by terrorists were also discussed during the visit,” he added.
According to Saleh, the leaders of the two major US parties, one now in power and the other in opposition, jointly welcomed the Afghan delegation and stressed on their continued support for the country. “President Joe Biden, in a cordial and respectful atmosphere, said that “the people of Afghanistan should know that I am their friend in the White House. The narrative of escaping from our obligations is baseless and wrong. We do not turn away from our friends and allies. The United States continues to provide security, defense, economic, humanitarian and diplomatic assistance to Afghanistan”, wrote Saleh.
The first vice-president said that it was not possible to achieve anything bigger than this in a day and a half, and it was perhaps one of the most successful trips in the history of foreign travel. President Ghani headed a high-level government delegation to Washington on Thursday to meet with President Joe Biden, Speakers of the House and Senate, and other US officials. This comes even as the Dutch military presence in Afghanistan will come to an end this month after almost twenty years. To commemorate this moment, the Ministry of Defense has handed over two Dutch mission flags to the National Military Museum in Soesterberg. “We are leaving with mixed feelings. We see the images of Taliban progressing,” caretaker Dutch Defense Minister Anke Bijleveld said in a speech. “The security situation is worrying and some of the progress may be lost,” said Bijleveld.
Dozens of people attended the flag ceremony, but 25 chairs were left empty to represent the 25 Dutch soldiers who died in Afghanistan. There was also a moment of silence observed for the “many Afghans who have died, the soldiers and colleagues”, said Bijleveld. After twenty years, all 10,000 foreign soldiers are withdrawing from the country, including the 160 Dutch soldiers who were still on the ground there. The Dutch soldiers had been in Afghanistan since 2002, mainly in the province of Uruzgan. Later, the Netherlands helped train the Afghan police force in Kunduz with the aim of improving security and stability of the region. Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Sigrid Kaag emphasized that the Dutch have a lasting relationship with Afghanistan. “We have entered into a long-term relationship with the Afghan people. A relationship that we do not want to break 20 years later,” she said.
Meanwhile, Rustaq, the northeastern district of Takhar province, collapsed to Taliban on Saturday night as per sources who told Hashte Subh.
There were more than 2,000 forces in Rustaq when the district fell as per the sources and only Hakim Baloch commander and his men held the line and were forced to leave their stronghold after other forces retreated.
Other sources added that the fall of the Rustaq district was a tactical more. More than 2,000 different forces defending Rustaq have retreated to Kishm district of Badakhshan.
The fall of Rustaq will make the situation extremely critical not only beyond Takhar, but also in Badakhshan.
On the other hand, Taliban’s reacted to the US drone strikes in northern Afghanistan and said, ““We condemn in strongest terms bombings by US invaders in some provinces. Such provocations open the door for a response. Invaders should focus on withdrawal, not embroil themselves in war nor prolong tragedy for Afghans. Else, they will be responsible for consequences.”
Kabul: Sources at Breshna Company said on Sunday that three Breshna employees in Baghlan province died of an electric shock.
A source in the company said that three staff members of Breshna Company in Pul-e-Khumri city of Baghlan died while repairing medium voltage lines. The incident occurred on Saturday afternoon.
According to the source, the lack of coordination during the repair of power cables during the work of the technical team caused this event. The imported power line was cut off a few days ago from Khenjan district of Baghlan. One week ago, a power pole was destroyed by a roadside bomb in Salang Parwan district.
Breshna Company announced four days ago that 72 hours of electricity supply to Kabul and 10 other provinces should be cut off for the overhaul of power bases.
Meanwhile, a power pylon was damaged in an explosion in Rabat area in Bagram district of Parwan on Saturday evening, affecting electricity supply to Kabul and some other provinces, said Rohullah Sajid, head of DABS office in Parwan.
After the destruction of the imported electricity tower in Bagram Parwan district, Breshna Company has once again asked the security agencies and the people to seriously cooperate with this company to prevent the destruction of electricity facilities in the country.
Breshna Company issued a statement on Sunday, saying that the work of repairing the destroyed pylons in the “Robat” area of Bagram Parwan district is continuing rapidly.
The imported power pylons were destroyed at around 9am on Saturday, an hour after repairing the destroyed power pylon in Salang district of the province and connecting electricity to Kabul and 10 other provinces.
According to Breshna officials, the imported power line in Khenjan will also be connected soon.
At the same time, Breshna Company has asked the people and security institutions of the country to cooperate seriously to ensure the security of electricity towers. Two weeks ago, two other pylons were blown up in the Parwan.
Meanwhile, authorities have announced a new plan to protect power pylons following the ongoing demolition by violence. According to the officials of Breshna Electricity Company, based on this plan, guards will be hired to protect any imported electricity base in the northern districts of Kabul and Parwan province “with the cooperation of local authorities.”
The explosion of power pylons in recent weeks has caused widespread power outages in Kabul and several other provinces, severely disrupting normal life in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Kabul: Pakistan Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed expressed hope on Saturday that Taliban will not allow militant outfits to conduct terror activities against Pakistan. He added that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had clearly said that Pakistan will not give any military bases to US for operations against militants in Afghanistan.
Sheikh Rashid further said that the government has taken concrete measures to make the borders with Iran and Afghanistan fully protected. He said 88 percent work for fencing on the Durand line has been completed to prevent any illegal entry into Pakistan. Earlier this month, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated that Pakistan is ready to be a US partner for peace in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib on Saturday said that Pakistan was taking all solid decisions in its larger national interest and always desired for political settlement of Afghanistan peace process.
He said that a stable, peaceful and sovereign Afghanistan was imperative and mandatory for Pakistan and the entire region. Farrukh Habib said that Pakistan had rendered unprecedented and supreme sacrifices in war against terrorism to eradicate it completely. He said Pakistan was hosting Afghan refugees in its soil from many decades and it would give importance to facilitate its people rather than Afghanis.
Replying to a question, the minister said the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) had recognized Pakistan’s progress and efforts to come out of its grey list. Pakistan was included in FATF grey list during the tenure of previous government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) as it did not make any proper legislation in that regard, he added. He expressed hope that Pakistan would not be included in FATF black list. The whole nation was well aware about those who were involved in money laundering, he concluded.
In fact, Pakistan Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has said that stability in Afghanistan is very important for Pakistan. “Pakistan urges the Taliban to hold talks with the US and Afghan government,” Chaudhry said on Saturday, while speaking to the media about Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent interview to an American newspaper.
In his interview, PM Khan described a new dimension of relations with the United States, where he emphasized on economic, rather than security ties, Chaudhry said. Khan believes that if the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates, they may consider sealing their border, Chaudhry said, adding that Pakistan has fenced off 90% of the Durand Line border. “We are in a position to seal the border with Afghanistan completely,” he said.
The minister said that the solution to the Afghanistan problem must come out in such a way that all the warring factions are involved.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was never founded and is not active on Afghan soil. On the basis of Afghanistan’s National Security Policy, along with other terrorist groups, this movement has been recognized as the enemy of peace, stability, and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region, and the Afghan government fights against this terrorist group like any other terrorist groups, without discrimination.
The Afghan government has constantly called for the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions and the Doha Agreement on the severance of ties between the Taliban and other regional and international terrorist groups, including TTP, Lashkar-e Taiba, Jaish-e Mohammad, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Turkistan Islamic Movement, al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State (IS). In order ensure lasting peace in Afghanistan and to guarantee stability and prosperity in the region, the Afghan government calls on all countries, particularly Pakistan, to treat terrorist groups jointly, equally, and without discrimination, not to allow these closely linked and organized groups to collude with each other, to endanger the security and stability of our countries.