Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany held negotiations on development cooperation on Tuesday and the German government agreed to provide EUR 182.6 million (about AFN 17.4 billion) in funds for bilateral cooperation.
Deputy Minister of Policy, Ministry of Finance, Nazir Kabiri headed the Afghan delegation. Professor Claudia Warning, Director-General Middle East, Asia, Latin America, South-Eastern Europe and Eastern Europe, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), headed the German delegation. The conference took place virtually for the second time because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In her speech, DG Warning said, “We stand ready to work with the government and the many committed Afghans to contribute to a sustainable development of Afghanistan. We will only succeed in our joint efforts for a peaceful, socially just and economically strong Afghanistan if all actors are committed to a political solution to the ongoing conflict.’
The delegations agreed on the allocation of funding for development cooperation in 2021. Financial Cooperation projects will be allocated EUR 120 million (about AFN 11.4 billion) and Technical Cooperation projects EUR 47.6 million (about AFN 4.5 billion). An additional amount of EUR 15 million (about AFN 1.4 billion) is made available via the BMZ special initiative Tackling the Root Causes of Displacement – Reintegrating Refugees. The funds will be used to extend ongoing activities to improve access to basic services and legal assistance for refugees, returnees and IDPs.
BMZ is making further funding available directly to non-governmental organizations working with communities in Afghanistan. In addition, the German Federal Foreign Office provides substantial funding for stabilization and humanitarian assistance. Germany is thus on track to fulfil its pledge at the Geneva Conference 2020 to provide a total amount of up to EUR 430 million (about AFN 41 billion) in civil assistance for Afghanistan in 2021.
Kabiri said, “The friendship and good relations between Afghanistan and Germany have a long history of more than a century. The Government of Afghanistan acknowledges the assistance by the German Government and the German people for Afghanistan on its path to building a stable democracy and moving towards efficiency and self-reliance.”
Afghan-German development cooperation will take into account the newly developed eight National Priority Programs (NPPs) and full effort would be made to align with the government priorities. These NPPs are National Essential Infrastructure, National Human Capital, National Water and Resource Management, National Energy and Extractives, National Accountability and Digitalization, National Health, and National Financial Sector.
The aim of Afghan-German development cooperation is to bring about a lasting improvement in the living conditions and prospects of the people living in Afghanistan – so that they can enjoy a self-determined and peaceful life that is not overshadowed by poverty, displacement, violence and extremism.
Afghanistan and Germany will jointly work to enhance governance, strengthen institutions and combat corruption. Germany expects that the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Afghans be protected and strengthened, especially for women, children, all persons belonging to minorities and other groups at risk. This will ensure that all citizens can benefit from the economic, social, political and developmental achievements of the past 20 years and for the years to come.
These are also the principles that underlie both the mutually agreed Afghanistan Partnership Framework (APF) and the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework II (ANPDF-2). The German side encourages the Afghan side to take effective measures and make tangible progress in the implementation of ANPDF-2 and APF.
As in previous years, Germany has tied a part of its allocations to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) to progress in good governance. In addition to the funds committed on Tuesday, Germany will make available up to EUR 70 million (AFN 6.6 billion) to be channeled via the ARTF. However, this share of funding is linked inter alia to improvements in the human rights situation, anti-corruption measures, sound public financial management and improvements in the civil service, including a strengthened role of women. The decision on the release of the funding (or parts of it) will be taken in November 2021.
The German side will expand its cooperation with reform partners in Afghanistan and will make greater use of incentives to promote transparency, ownership and a focus on development. The German side also emphasized the importance of the sustainable operation of all existing and new infrastructure facilities in order to ensure their functionality for the benefit of Afghan people.
Kabul: The Ministry of Information and Culture announced on Wednesday that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has approved Afghanistan’s plan to include Herat province in the World Cultural Heritage List.
The Acting Minister of Information, Mohammad Taher Zaheer wrote on his Facebook page that a meeting of the Technical Coordination Committee for Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage was held on Wednesday. According to him, the meeting was also attended by Harun Hakimi, Deputy Minister of Culture and Arts of the Ministry of Information and Culture, Director of Historic Preservation and National Museum, and Deputy Director of the Uzbek Embassy.
The Acting Minister added that the ministry’s plan to include the city of Herat in the UNESCO World Heritage List had been approved by the organization. According to him, UNESCO has assured the Ministry of Information and Culture that the province has been inscribed on the World Heritage List and asked it to provide the necessary documents in this area.
The Acting Minister welcomed UNESCO’s approval for the city of Herat to be included in the World Heritage List, and stressed that the necessary documents in this regard will be prepared and submitted to this institution. He noted that the city of Herat is important for the government of Afghanistan and the world with its historical monuments, especially the monuments of the Islamic period, and with the inclusion of this province in the list of world cultural heritage, the world’s attention on it will be more.
In addition, Zaheer noted that in a meeting held for this purpose at the Ministry of Information and Culture, Ajmal Maiwandi, head of the cultural department of the Aga Khan Foundation and one of the foundation’s engineers, said that the renovation of the fifth minaret in Herat had been completed.
The deputy head of the Uzbek embassy also assured his country’s preparations for the restoration of ” Amir Ali Shir Navai garden and tomb” and said that he was waiting for the approval of the Ministry of Information and Culture to start the project.
Kabul: Second Vice-President Mohammad Sarwar Danesh accused the Taliban of ignoring the fatwa (religious decree) of world religious scholars, who described the Afghan war as illegitimate.
Addressing reporters at the Government Media and Information Center (GMIC) on Wednesday, Danesh said that the Taliban are not committed to Sharia as the ongoing war by the group is completely illegal under Islamic law. Danesh added that the ongoing war is external in nature, as senior foreign officials of neighboring countries have recently admitted where Taliban take their wounded and where their leaders are.
Danesh claimed that the Taliban abuse peace as slogans and violated its agreement with the Us, as the group had to implement a ceasefire and enter negotiations in line with the agreement, but it has kept away from the negotiating table. Danesh also said that the Taliban’s objective is to seize power by force, and despite government’s goodwill towards peace, the group has escalated violence.
Danesh stated, “This war is not only against the government, the Taliban are the enemy of the whole Afghan nation, parties, ethnic groups, and civil society, and do not represent any ethnicity,” as the group has fought all ethnic groups and destroyed Afghanistan’s infrastructure, over the past 27 years.
Danesh further added that the ongoing war is against all human rights values, the Taliban hasn’t changed, and consider democracy, elections, and the freedom of speech, human rights, rights of minorities, and women’s rights as being contrary to sharia law. Danesh said that all are responsible during these sensitive times, to support the system and the ANDSF.
Danesh also re-launched the National Fund to Support Journalists and Media Workers, with new members and mechanism. He stressed on the importance of the fund and added that its leadership board includes representatives of the Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan, Kabul University’s journalism faculty, journalists, non-governmental media, and a number of media supporting organizations, who have been elected for a 2-year term, and will work without payments.
He added that the fund is national and non-governmental, whilst the government will have observing role, and the fund’s new mechanism, describing all its financial resources and payments, which will provide support to all journalists and media workers. The government launched the Fund Financial Support of the Afghan Journalists seven years ago, but the Fund has been inactive over the past two years.
Meanwhile in other news, at least 30 Afghan nationals were held after being found inside a truck in northwestern Turkey, provincial security sources said on Wednesday. Police and Gendarmerie Command teams in Kirklareli province, which borders Bulgaria, stopped and searched a suspected truck at the entrance of the Kofcaz district, the sources said. The irregular migrants, who entered Turkey illegally, were caught and then referred to the provincial migration office, while the truck driver was arrested.
Kabul: Local officials in Kapisa province said that the Alaysa district of the province has fallen to the Taliban after days of siege. Mohammad Hussain Sanjani, head of the Kapisa provincial council, told Hashte Subh daily that the district fell on Wednesday.
According to the head of Kapisa Provincial Council, the Taliban are currently present at the headquarters of the district. There were reportedly two army units with 115 soldiers in the district, which surrendered to the Taliban after days of siege and lack of aid. This is the first district in Kapisa province to fall to the Taliban.
Security officials and members of the provincial council also claimed that Firuzan Khachir in Samangan, Gilan in Ghazni and Khakriz in Kandahar have been taken out of government control. In Samangan province, Firuzan Khachir district has also fallen to the Taliban. Munir Rahimi, spokesman for the Samangan Police Command, said that the security and defense forces, with all their facilities and equipment, had pulled out from the district last night to prevent a human catastrophe and casualties.
According to him, these forces have been relocated within three kilometers of the district. Rahimi emphasized that the police force had not been harmed in the tactical retreat. In addition to these districts, Abdul Jamei Jame, a member of the Ghazni Provincial Council, said that the Gilan district of the province had fallen to Taliban fighters.
Eight Ghazni districts have fallen to the Taliban since last month. Earlier, the Taliban had taken control of Muqur, Khwaja Omari, Waghez, Deh-e Yak, Jaghato, Qarabagh and Abband districts in the province. Nawa, Ajristan, Giro and Rashidan districts of the province were also previously under Taliban control.
However, the Special Operations Corps has announced on Wednesday that new commando forces have arrived in Ghazni province to suppress the Taliban .
The Special Operations Corps (IRGC) said that fresh troops had been sent to Ghazni province following the escalation of fighting in the province. According to the army, the security and defense forces, with the support of the country’s air force, are set to launch a purge operation in Ghazni.
The troops were sent to Ghazni province after a number of Ghazni representatives reported Taliban attacks on the outskirts of the provincial capital on Tuesday. Nasir Ahmad Faqiri, head of the Ghazni Provincial Council, told Hashte Subh daily that the Taliban had effectively entered the city and clashed with security forces in the first, second, fourth and fifth PDs.
Meanwhile, Sayed Jan Khakrizwal, head of the Kandahar Provincial Council, told the Etilatroz that the Taliban had also taken over the Khakriz district. In the past few days, Maiwand, Maroof and Ghork districts of the province have also fallen to the Taliban.
Meanwhile, local officials in Parwan province said that two individuals were killed when irresponsible armed groups clashed in Bagram district, on Wednesday afternoon. Bagram District Governor Lala Shirin Raufi said that the incident happened in Qala-e Nasro area, which also left one wounded. Raufi added that the clash occurred due to personal hostilities.
Local officials in Nangarhar province also reported an explosion in Jalalabad city, which wounded three civilians. Provincial Governor’s Spokesman Ataullah Khogyani said that the explosion took place near Sikh’s temple in PD1 at around 03:00pm, but it did not hurt Sikhs. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.
Also, the Ministry of Public Works reported that a roadside IED destroyed a culvert and part of the road in Kochiha area, near the entrance to Maidan Shahr city, on the Kabul to Kandahar highway on Wednesday morning. The Ministry stated that one lane of the highway has been closed to traffic, due to the incident.
Even, the Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority (ATRA) stated that 51 telecommunications towers have been destroyed or partially damaged due to fighting across the country, over the past three months. ATRA Spokesman Saeed Shinwari told Radio Azadi that the issue has caused $15-17 million USD in financial losses to the telecommunications sector. Shinwari added that 308 towers were also destroyed or partially damaged, last year. ATRA called on the public to help secure telecommunications infrastructure and stop attacks to damage them.
In fact, even Deputy chief of mission of US embassy in Kabul Ian McCary said, “We call on the Taliban to end the ongoing violence and return to the negotiating table.” He also added that like US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said on June 22, “The world will not accept the imposition … by force of a government in Afghanistan.” Meanwhile, the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) Dr. Abdullah Abdullah said that whenever the US encourages its allies to provide assistance to Afghanistan, they point to disunity and corruption as a problem.
Addressing the 6th meeting of HCNR’s Leadership Committee at the Presidential Palace, Abdullah said that Biden had told them that consensus among the Afghan people would help the US and its allies to provide assistance, which would be effective. Abdullah added that political leaders are responsible to unite, and that foreigners are not needed to urge Afghans to unite during this sensitive situation.
Abdullah said that the withdrawal of foreign forces created vacuums, which the Taliban used to intensify fighting. Abdullah called on the political leaders to consider the fate of the people, as it’s time to think about Afghanistan’s survival, and the warmongering individuals, who cause division, should be identified and stopped. Abdullah highlighted that the US will continue its support to Afghanistan.
He also said that the war has now reached the gates of cities and should not be ignored. “Today, the issue of survival, health, unity and integrity of the country is at stake,” said Abdullah, adding, “We need to make our priorities clear. No one is in favor of continuing and escalating the war; but in the face of this situation, we cannot remain silent.”
He stressed that with the support of the security forces and the Afghan government, the country’s survival will be guaranteed. He stated, “The Taliban should not think that with the withdrawal of foreign forces, they have the opportunity and can rule by force. Rest assured, that no one will allow this; but without a doubt, the war will continue.”
Abdullah said that a number of countries in the region are not happy with the presence of foreign forces and now the situation has changed and the continuation of the war has negative consequences for them.
The war has also resulted in displacement of families. The Kunduz Department of Refugees and Repatriations said that as a result of the war in the past month, 12,000 families have been forced to flee their homes. Ghulam Sakhi Rasuli, the head of Kunduz province’s refugees and returnees, told Hashte Subh daily on Wednesday that more than 12,000 families had been displaced as a result of heavy fighting between security forces and the Taliban in the province.
According to Rasouli, the number of displaced people is from Imam Sahib, Aliabad, Khanabad, Chahardara and central areas of Kunduz. The head of the province’s refugees’ department said that in the recent months, in coordination with aid agencies, of a total of 12,000 displaced families, 6,500 families needed help, and the process of distributing aid to these families is currently underway.
According to Rasooli, 20 survey teams are working to register displaced families in Kunduz. Meanwhile, Rasouli stated that about two thousand families have moved from Kunduz to Takhar, Baghlan and Kabul provinces. On the other hand, according to Ghulam Sakhi Rasooli, the number of displaced people in the province is increasing and there are many challenges to address them, such as blocked roads and the lack of food stalls.
Kabul: Italy has completed its troop pullout from Afghanistan, Rome announced on Wednesday, ending a 20-year deployment there as part of an accelerated withdrawal of NATO forces. Members of the US-backed alliance agreed in April to wrap up their 9,600-strong mission in Afghanistan after US President Joe Biden made the call to end Washington’s longest war.
“Last night, the Italian mission in Afghanistan officially ended,” Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini said in a statement, after dozens of soldiers landed at Pisa’s international airport from Herat. “However, the international community’s commitment to Afghanistan, starting with Italy, does not end here. It will continue in other forms, from strengthening development cooperation to supporting Afghan republican institutions.” According to the ministry, 50,000 Italian soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan over the past 20 years after the 9/11 attacks prompted US and NATO involvement in the country. Rome has begun the process of bringing to Italy those Afghan citizens who helped Italian forces during the deployment. The army has identified 270 eligible people, while studying the cases of another 400. Eighty-two Afghans, most of them interpreters and their families, arrived at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport on June 14.
Over that period, 53 soldiers died and 723 were injured. Italy was one of the five countries most involved in Afghanistan along with the United States, Turkey, Britain and Germany as part of “Resolute Support.” This NATO-led non-combat mission aimed to train Afghan forces into ensuring their country’s security after the departure of foreign forces.
Even, the last 12 Czech soldiers stationed in Afghanistan as part of a NATO mission returned home on Sunday along with all equipment and supplies, the Czech Army has confirmed. Since 2002, in total more than 11,500 Czech soldiers served in the Allied mission to Afghanistan, mostly in field hospitals, as members of surveillance, chemical and biological protection units, or as part of surgical or reconstruction teams. Fourteen were killed or died while on duty there.
During a conference on security issues last week, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said that he was opposed to the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan, echoing a statement by President Miloš Zeman. Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek (Social Democrats) has also questioned the move.
In fact, the UK RAF Puma detachment serving in Afghanistan in support of the NATO Resolute Support Mission since March 2015 has now returned to RAF Benson, as part of the withdrawal of NATO forces from the country. The three Puma helicopters and around 50 personnel from 33 Squadron and 230 Squadron based at Benson Joint Helicopter Command (JHC) that have been serving in Kabul have now returned to the UK. The aircraft were flown from Kabul to RAF Brize Norton on an Antonov AN-225. During Operation TORAL, the name given to the UK element of Resolute Support Mission, the Pumas were based at Kabul International Airport. From there, they were able to provide vital airborne transport to UK and NATO forces. This included transporting personnel and equipment around the different urban, mountainous and desert terrains in the Kabul area, as well as supporting the deployment of the NATO Security Quick Reaction Force as needed. Also, three homes in South Ayrshire will be made available to refugees from Afghanistan. The individuals, who had to flee Afghanistan for their own safety, will be offered to help staff who worked for the UK military mostly as interpreters in the country.
Germany too announced on Tuesday that all its troops had left Afghanistan as the largest pull-out, that of the United States, is ongoing. The withdrawal has fueled fears the Taliban could regain power in the country.
Meanwhile, Nai – Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan has stated that journalists and media workers should not be considered military targets. Nai added that journalists and professional media workers seem to be in difficult conditions to provide information in the government and Taliban-controlled areas, as insecurity increases in the north.
Nai said that the warring parties expect the media to provide information that favors them, and highlighted that the United Nations Security Council’s Resolution 1738 considered journalists, media, and associated personnel as civilians, who must be protected and respected.
Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Wednesday reported 1,557 new positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 91 deaths and 996 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The total number of cases now stand at 120,216, while the number of reported deaths is 4,962 and the total number of recoveries is 71,012.
The Ministry of Health has called on Afghan citizens to follow health guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Kabul: Security sources in the northeast of the country said that the Taliban attack on the port of Imam Saheb in Kunduz has been repulsed.
Abdul Hadi Nazari, spokesman for the 217th Pamir Corps in the Northeast, told Hashte Subh on Wednesday that the Taliban on Tuesday night tried to retake the port of Imam Sahib. According to Nazari, the attack was repulsed and the Taliban fled the area.
A spokesman for the 217th Pamir Corps said that 13 Taliban were killed and six others were wounded in the attack. The Taliban have not yet commented on the matter. On the other hand, local sources in Paktia province said that the Taliban have set fire to year-old crops of a farmer in the province. The Paktia governor’s press office said in a news release that the Taliban had set fire to a farmer’s wheat crop in the Ibrahim Khel area of central Paktia on Tuesday.
According to the statement, the farmer’s wheat crop had been harvested on three acres of land, which had been set on fire by the Taliban. According to the Paktia governor’s press office, the Taliban group in the province has put mines near roads and blown-up traffic bridges. The Taliban have not yet commented on the matter.
The Afghan Ministry of Defense also announced on Wednesday that government forces had liberated five cities from the Taliban in the past 24 hours. Government forces recaptured control of Khost in Baghlan, Shinwari in Parwan, Khan Chahar Bagh and Pashtun Kot in Faryab and Kaldar in Balkh, the Afghan Ministry of Defense added.
According to the reports, the Taliban group, after two months of rapid advance in different areas and capturing more than 60 cities, yesterday took control of the cities of Saydabad and Chak in Maidan Wardak province in the south of Kabul.
Meanwhile, spokesperson for Kabul’s Provincial Police Firdaws Faramarz reported the arrest of 24 suspects, during various operations, over the past 48 hours. Faramarz added that these individuals have been arrested on criminal charges from PDs 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, and 15, and the police also confiscated three guns from the suspects.
Also, in Herat Municipality, the new head and deputy head of the organization finally introduced themselves and began their work. The media office of the governor of Herat published a statement saying that Feraidoun Noorzai has been appointed as the mayor and Susan Behboudzada as the deputy mayor of Herat, according to the presidential decree. Noorzai and Behboudzada were officially announced on Tuesday.
Also, talking about the situation along the GBAO stretch of the Tajik-Afghan border, Gholib Niyatbekov, a spokesman for GBA governor, told Asia-Plus in an interview that the situation is calm, no refuges crossed the border. Meanwhile, Kaldar district of Afghan Balkh province has also been cleared of Taliban influence on Tuesday. Fawad Aman, deputy spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, said that the operation had resulted in heavy casualties for the Taliban.
Refugees from Afghanistan did not try to cross into the territory of Tajikistan and the situation along the stretch of the Tajik-Afghan border in the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) is calm and there is no cause for concern, added Niyatbekov. Recently, GBAO governor Yodgor Fayzov spoke about the need to strengthen border defense at a meeting with law enforcement and military officials in Khorog on June 20.
“Tajikistan should set aside accommodation and accumulate fuel, food, clothing, and transportation facilities in anticipation of a possible refugee crisis,” Fayzov told Asia-Plus in an interview, noting that Tajikistan is prepared to accept more than 10,000 Afghans seeking refuge.
Kabul: The US Central Command announced on Wednesday that 896 C-17 loads of material have been airlifted out of Afghanistan.
The command also turned over 15,943 pieces of equipment to the Defense Logistics Agency for disposition. The command has completed “over 50 percent” of the retrograde of US forces from the country.
The end of the retrograde end will signify the end of the US combat mission in Afghanistan. The US mission will transition to protecting US diplomatic efforts in the nation and to establishing the bilateral relationship between the United States and Afghanistan. The only American forces that will be left in the country will be there to protect the US diplomatic presence, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said.
Kirby would not put a number on the number of American troops that would remain to protect diplomats. “Afghanistan is not going to be treated like any other nation where we have … Marine security guard,” he said. “It’s Afghanistan and we understand the dynamic nature of the security threat there, so there will be some number of US troops.”
There will also be security at the Kabul airport to protect the diplomatic presence in the nation. “We are still working out some of the details of what the security situation is going to look like at the airport and how that’s going to be facilitated,” he said.
The Taliban is continuing attacks against Afghan government forces. “The violence is too high and … the security situation, certainly, is concerning over there,” Kirby said. “What’s important to say — and I’ll say it again — is that we want to see a peace process that’s credible and Afghan-led and leads to a negotiated settlement.”
In fact, Taliban’s political office spokesman Mohammad Naeem told Radio Azadi, “We believe from the beginning that the problems be resolved through negotiations. We remain committed to intra-Afghan negotiation, which are not one-sided. If other sides are unwilling and insincere, efforts by one side will lead to nowhere.”
Naeem even spoke about the capture of districts and said, “The majority of districts joined the Taliban without any clashes. The capture of over 100 districts in a short period of time isn’t possible through fighting. We have been saying from the beginning that we’ll not allow anyone to use Afghan soil against any other countries. It’s our policy.”
Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s ambassador to India said that India should hold talks with those Taliban leaders who are willing to reconcile, believe in the reintegration process and have faith in the Afghan constitutional democratic framework. “We would want India’s strong messages to those Taliban elements who are reconcilable, who believe in the reintegration process back into Afghan society and hopefully become part of mainstream political life,” Farid Mamundzay said in an interview with India’s digital publication The Print.
“We would welcome India’s messages to the Taliban — to cut ties with regional terrorist groups, to let violence go, and to tell the Taliban to preserve the gains of the past 20 years and believe in a constitutional democratic framework,” Mamundzay said. India on Thursday said it is in contact with “various stakeholders” in Afghanistan.
“India supports all peace initiatives and has a long-term commitment towards the development and reconstruction of Afghanistan. In this context, we remain in touch with various stakeholders, including regional countries,” said Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi. Mamundzay also said that Kabul will not fall into the hands of the Taliban as US troops leave, even though intense fighting is going on in some parts of the war-torn country.
The Afghan people would not want to reverse the gains their society has made in the past two decades, he said. Mamundzay said that after the exit of all international troops from Afghanistan, Kabul would seek to enhance military-to-military cooperation with New Delhi. He said that the two countries have a “strategic partnership agreement.” However, Mamundzay ruled out Afghanistan asking for Indian military troops to be stationed there.
Meanwhile, Walsall will soon be home to 80 Afghans who supported British troops overseas, it has been revealed. The veterans, who served on the frontline, providing interpretation and translation services, will be relocated under a government-funded program.
Kabul: The Pakistani government has put in place a system to reduce dwell time from the existing nine days to less than two days for Afghan transit containers at Karachi and Gwadar ports.
The target is to enhance Afghan cargo container clearance via the Green Channel to 80 percent at Pakistani ports under transit trade while only 20 percent containers may be marked for yellow channel (marked for assessment) or the Red Channel (marked for examination).
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has proposed several measures through a customs notification SRO829 to implement the system to drastically reduce the clearance time and minimize customs officials’ involvement in handling of Afghan cargoes. It is believed the new system will not only facilitate the cargo clearance at ports but will also lead to ease of doing business for importers.
Under the existing system, the goods declaration (GD) filing and its subsequent scanning, assessments for duty and taxes, examinations by appraisers took five days. However, the new system will reduce this whole process to 10 minutes in 80 percent cases, while 20 percent cargo will be selected by the risk management system for scanning. It will be determined in scanning whether to refer cargo for assessment or examination in case of any discrepancy otherwise it will be re-routed to green channel.
The customs computerized system will assess the pattern of GDs filed for local home consumption and the amount equal to leviable duty and taxes will be deducted from the face value of revolving insurance guarantee as customs security. The same amount will be credited after completion of cross border formalities at the border customs stations—Torkham, Chaman, Ghulam Khan, Sust, among others.
Kabul: Acting Interior Minister Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal held a videoconference with high-level officials and police chiefs of northern provinces on Tuesday evening, commended the Afghan National Police (ANP) for clearing some districts of insurgents and called for acceleration of the operations.
Mirzakwal called for addressing the requirements of the ANDSF in a timely manner. Provincial police chiefs ensured of launching joint operations to clear the districts of insurgents.
In fact, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) announced that the ANDSF and people’s mobilization forces recaptured Shinwari district of Parwan province. The MoI stated that 69 Taliban insurgents were killed and nine others were wounded, during the operation and the ANDSF are making advances.
MoI also announced the recapture of Khost wa Fereng district in Baghlan province. The MoI stated that the ANDSF recaptured the district after launching an operation and inflicted heavy casualties to the Taliban. Even hundreds of residents of Narang aw Badil district, Kunar province, marched in support of the republic and ANDSF, and vowed to defend the system until their last drop of blood. They added that they will defend the territory alongside the ANDSF, under any circumstances.
Meanwhile, the Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) reported that an electricity pylon has been destroyed in an explosion in Jangal Bagh area of Parwan province. DABS stated that unidentified individuals detonated the pylon, along the main road, with an IED at 04:25hrs, on Wednesday morning, which cut power supply to Kabul and neighboring provinces. DABS added that its employees have been deployed to repair the pylon and the road has been blocked to traffic.
However, good news to note is that amid the rise in violence in Afghanistan, prominent tribal leaders of Alokozai Tribe organized a rally in Afghanistan’s Kandahar on June 28 in support of the democratic system and peace process. The rally witnessed the participation of a large number of people from the Kandahar, Zabul, and Uruzgan provinces.
Rahmatullah Yarmal, former governor of Laghman criticized the Taliban insurgents for committing atrocities on the people of Afghanistan on the behest of Pakistan. He called on the public to rise against Taliban insurgents and stand behind the Afghan security forces to send a stern signal to Pakistan and defeat the Taliban on the battlefield.
Dawood Gulzar, Advisor to the Afghan President said that Pakistan is an obstacle to the peace process. “ISI has always played the “role of the devil” in Afghanistan and been interfering in the affairs of Afghanistan,” he added. Kalimullah Naqibi, who is also a member of the Afghan Delegation to Peace Talks in Doha noted the stalemate in the peace process and criticized the Taliban for intensifying the fighting and destroying lives and properties in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, parliamentary speaker Mir Rahman Rahmani led a high-level parliamentary delegation traveled to Tajikistan, in order to participate in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in Dushanbe, on July 1. Rahmani will deliver a speech about the dangers of international terrorism, domestic extremism, the continuation of violence, targeted killings, the peace process and the role of member states in the provinces.
Also, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday said that the meeting on national security in Pakistan, to be attended by representatives of all their nation’s parliamentary parties, would focus on the current security situation in Afghanistan and its impact on the region. He said Pakistan desired peace in Afghanistan and was playing a conciliatory role towards the success of Afghan peace process.
Kabul: The US military appears to be just days away from completing its withdrawal from Afghanistan, well ahead of the September 11 deadline set by President Joe Biden to end America’s longest war, US officials told Reuters on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The US could complete its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan within days, according to multiple US officials, making this a critical week even as US military officials warn the country could devolve into civil war. A formal conclusion this week to the US military withdrawal, or retrograde, would mark an astonishingly quick end to a process that Biden initiated in April when he ordered the military to leave by September 11. As many as 1,000 US troops could remain in the country after the formal withdrawal to assist in securing the US Embassy in Kabul and the city’s airport, a senior administration official told CNN, and it is now unclear how long NATO troops will remain.
In fact, Germany has completed its troop pull-out from Afghanistan, which started in May, the German defense ministry announced on Tuesday, ending a nearly 20-year deployment there alongside US and other international forces. “After nearly 20 years of deployment, the last soldiers of our Bundeswehr have left Afghanistan this evening,” said German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in a statement. “They are on the way back. A historic chapter comes to an end, an intensive deployment that challenged and shaped the Bundeswehr, in which the Bundeswehr proved itself in combat,” she added.
On Twitter, the minister offered her thanks to all the 150,000 men and women who had served there since 2001, saying they could be proud of their service. And she paid tribute to those killed and wounded in service there. “You will not be forgotten,” she said. According to the army, 59 German soldiers have been killed since 2001 in the course of their service in Afghanistan. The last of the troops were airlifted out of their base at Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan on two German A400 Ms and two US C17s.
A defense official insisted to CNN on Tuesday that the number of US troops in Afghanistan for embassy protection and airport security would not exceed 650 for now. Meanwhile, a lot is riding on a brewing deal between Turkey and the United States over the security of the Kabul airport ahead of the US withdrawal, the New York Times said on Tuesday.
Negotiations are underway with Ankara to secure the civilian airport that has served a main gateway to Afghanistan are happening as the Taliban advance across the country, the NY Times said, and failure to secure the deal could have dire consequences, including lack of access to the country by aid groups and US diplomatic presences. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan discussed Ankara’s plans for the airport with his US counterpart Joe Biden at the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels earlier this month, after which US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said an agreement had been reached without providing further details.
However, questions remain over the viability of the Turkish deployment without continued US air support, among other concerns. Without a secure airport, the ability to conduct day-to-day embassy operations in a large country like Afghanistan, is significantly diminished,” James G. Stavridis, a retired admiral who served as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s supreme allied commander for Europe, told the NY times. Even, Turkey’s proposal to keep troops in Afghanistan after the US and NATO forces leave by September 11 deadline has been rejected by the Taliban, which controls swathes of land across the country.
Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives passed the legislation on Tuesday that would make it easier for Afghans who worked for the American military or NATO to relocate to the US. Under the bill, former interpreters, drivers and others who supported the war effort would no longer be required to get a medical examination in Afghanistan as part of the application process for the special immigrant visa.
They would instead have to get one within 30 days of their arrival in the United States. Afghans have been required to get the examination at a single clinic in Kabul. Critics says that’s an unnecessary hurdle during the COVID-19 outbreak and in an already arduous process, made more urgent with the looming withdrawal of US and NATO troops from the country and the danger faced by those who helped fight the Taliban. “We cannot allow a slow bureaucracy to cost the lives of Afghans that served alongside our men and women,” said Democratic Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado, a former Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan and introduced the bill.
In fact, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) responded to the Biden Administration’s announcement of a humanitarian evacuation of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants to a third country. “While the IRC supports the evacuation of SIV applicants, the US administration must move rapidly to develop plans to keep Afghan partners safe, including by identifying a safe third country and providing details on evacuation plans; and developing a safe, secure, and efficient adjudication process that addresses the longstanding challenges in SIV processing that have resulted in years-long backlogs,” the statement said.
There are more than 18,000 applications in the current pipeline, impacting a potential total of 53,000 individuals including family members. The State Department estimates it will take more than two years to process those in the pipeline. There are also thousands of Afghans ineligible under this program who are in dire need of protection. Further, the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate as conflict, COVID-19 and the impacts of climate change impact millions, IRC stated. Nazanin Ash, Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy at the IRC said, “The US must be prepared to meet its commitment and moral obligation to help its allies escape violent retribution for their critical assistance to the United States. A plan for protection and processing of thousands of SIVs and other vulnerable people must factor centrally into the US’ withdrawal plans, however rapidly they unfold. The backlog in the system already means it will take an Afghan applicant 2-3 years or more to reach safety in the U.S. Given the uncertain security landscape, there is no guarantee that in-person interviews at the US embassy in Kabul will even be possible for those left after the withdrawal.”
The IRC further called on the US administration to take immediate steps to ensure the protection of at-risk persons who do not benefit from the impending evacuation, including US-affiliated Afghans who do not meet the strict SIV program eligibility criteria; family members of SIV holders left behind; would-be evacuees who are unable to depart due to extenuating circumstances, such as those facing medical emergencies or security-related travel restrictions; and thousands of other Afghans, including women and girls, in need of humanitarian protection.
On the other hand, even the Indian government on Tuesday issued a security advisory for Indian nationals in Afghanistan in the wake of the recent security-related developments in the war-torn country. Calling the situation in several provinces of Afghanistan “dangerous”, the advisory said Indian nationals face the additional risk of being kidnapped by terror outfits.
“The security situation in Afghanistan remains dangerous in several provinces. Terror groups operating in Afghanistan have escalated violent activities and carried out a series of complex attacks. Indian nationals are not exceptions, and they additionally face a serious threat of kidnapping,” the advisory issued by the Indian Embassy in Kabul said.
The Embassy has advised Indian nationals living or travelling to Afghanistan to “exercise utmost vigilance and caution with regard to security at work place, place of residence and also during movement to their places of work”. All Indian nationals arriving in Afghanistan have been asked to register themselves with the Embassy/Consulate on the website www.eoi.gov.in/kabul or by email to email@example.com.
Besides this, Indian nationals have been “strongly advised” to avoid all types of non-essential movements, especially during peak commuting hours. This comes even as Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and discussed the Indo-Pacific and the Afghan situation during the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Italy.