Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
A meeting is expected soon between Afghan and Russian health officials to discuss the supplies of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammed Haneef Atmar told Sputnik in an interview.
“We would like to have the Sputnik V vaccine [get] to Afghanistan, and we agreed that our health officials will be soon meeting and talking on a practical plan on how to get the vaccine into Afghanistan”, Atmar said.
Asked about the possibility of Afghanistan moving the vaccine’s production to its territory, as several importing countries have already done, the minister said it was up to the health authorities to decide.
Sputnik V is a dual human adenoviral vector-based vaccine that was developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Centre and registered by the Russian government on 11 August 2020. Interim results of Phase 3 clinical trials established its efficacy rate at 91.6 percent.
Following the resumption of peace talks in Doha, Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, who today arrived in Kabul, said the government should use the facilities to retake the districts collapsed to the Taliban.
Marshal Dostum, on Saturday in a meeting attended by Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) and Mohammad Mohaqiq, the senior adviser to President Ghani, said that he had come to Kabul to meet with the president and political officials and engage in war in case the intra-Afghan talks failed.
“We are at a critical historical stage. The president must bring politicians together. At this critical juncture, the slightest negligence would make the history against us, and we will be blamed again.”
The Afghan Marshal called the current situation sensitive and stressed that he was dissatisfied with the trips to foreign countries.
“The enemies of the Afghan people are trying to seize, which we should not give them a chance,” Dostum said.
He stressed that peace can not be achieved just by chanting slogans, using the facilities the highways should be reopened and the collapsed districts must be retaken.
Marshall Dostum said that he strongly supports peace and will resolutely defend the current system.
He called the security forces’ fight against the Taliban legitimate and assured the people that they would gain the victory in the battlefields.
According to him, if the National Security Council and President Ghani allow him, he will suppress the Taliban if the peace process fails.
Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum arrived in Kabul after a year and a half after having a strained relationship with President Ghani during the National Unity Government, despite being the first vice president.
Afghan private airline, Kam Air flew the country’s first flight with an all-female crew, the Business Insider reported.
Kam Air’s first female Afghan pilot, 22-year-old Mohadese Mirzaee, joined Captain Veronica Borysova in piloting the Boeing 737 from the capital city of Kabul to Herat in western Afghanistan on Wednesday. While they were at work in the cockpit, four female cabin crew serviced passengers for the routine 350-nautical mile flight while it journeyed across the country.
The 23-year-old Boeing 737-500 performing the flight was originally delivered to Continental Airlines in 1998, according to Planespotters.net, and delivered to Kam Air in April. It isn’t the oldest aircraft in Afghanistan but the type has long been retired by US airlines.
Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the Chairman of High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) says contacts between the Taliban and Islamic Republic Peace Negotiations Teams have increased in recent days.
Speaking at a welcoming ceremony for Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum in Kabul on Saturday, Mr Abdullah said: “The negotiating parties have been in contacts in recent days; But the expectations of the Afghan people have not yet been met.”
According to Abdullah, the targeted assassinations, violence and war are still going on and are taking victims from the Afghan people.
Mr. Abdullah stressed the need to establish a ceasefire as soon as possible and the acceleration of peace talks.
The second round of peace talks began in Qatar more than a month and a half ago; But since then, no formal meeting has taken place between the two sides.
During the time, the Taliban delegation has traveled to Iran, Russia and Turkmenistan.
However, on last Monday, the contact teams of the two sides’ delegations met after several weeks and talked about the agenda of the peace process.
At least one person was killed and two more were wounded in an IED explosion in Kabul city this morning.
Ferdaws Faramarz, Kabul Police spokesman said the blast happened on Kabul-Logar raod in Bagrami district at around 09:00am on Saturday.
Faramarz noted that the IED blast targeted a Corolla type vehicle.
He did not provide further details about the identities of the killed and injured.
This comes as security forces today detected and defused three planted bombs in Morgh Giran area of PD18 in Paghman district this morning.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Saturday reported seven new positive cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours.
The ministry reported no death and four recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 55,714 the number of total reported deaths is 2,443 and the total number of recoveries is 49,288.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Nangarhar, Helmand and Khost provinces.
A senior Pakistan diplomat on Friday stressed the need for the United States to demonstrate urgency in concluding its reassessment of a February 2020 peace pact with Afghanistan’s Taliban to enable the ensuing reconciliation talks between Afghans to move forward.
Pakistan Ambassador to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan advised U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration not to alter mutually agreed upon troop withdrawal timelines without consulting the Afghan insurgent group.
“We know the institutional review processes take time in the United States, but we hope that in the interest of taking this process toward its logical conclusion the review will be completed soon,” Khan said while delivering a public talk at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute think tank.
“The U.S.-Taliban agreement has mutual obligations for the parties and … whatever U.S. conclusions come out of this review they have to be addressed through interaction with Taliban,” the envoy stressed.
The Biden administration is studying the February 29 agreement his predecessor sealed with the Taliban one year ago. The document binds Washington to withdraw the remaining 2,500 American soldiers in Afghanistan by May 1, along with nearly 10,000 NATO-led allied troops, to close the longest war in U.S. history.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in his address at a ceremony on Armed Forces Day on Saturday said that the current war in Afghanistan has no religious legitimacy.
Ghani praised Afghan forces efforts, saying ANDSF has remarkably progressed during the past six years.
“Afghan forces carry out ovet 90 percent of counter-terrorism operations in the country and the level of support for Afghan forces is the highest in 140 years,” he said.
Afghan President stressed that the people of Afghanistan want permanent and dignified peace.
“We want peace and we want dignified peace and a peace that is ensured by the power of our security and defense forces and with the will of the people. This peace will come,” he said.
President stated that Afghans will decide on the next president and the next government.
“The people of Afghanistan have elected their government and president and they will elect the next president of Afghanistan,” Ghani added. “It is the right of the nation and the security and defense forces will prove that change will be legal and based on the nation’s will; otherwise, the tenure of the Republic is clear.”
An iodized salt factory and a plastic manufacturing factory have started operations in Nangarhar and Laghman provinces, respectively.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the salt factory in Laghman province is built at a cost of USD 60,000. The factory has the capacity to produce one ton of salt in a day.
The statement adds that a plastic goods factory in Nangarhar province started operating this week at a cost of USD 50,000.
The factory produces all kinds of plastic objects from raw materials obtained from inside the country.
Iran’s Director General of Dogharoun Border Customs Office Mahmood Koohgerd said over 200 trucks export Iranian products every day to Afghanistan as the border crossing has resumed activity after the huge fire in Herat province.
As per Fars news agency, Koohgerd said the export of goods, especially fruits and vegetables, to Afghanistan from the important border crossing is going after the trade stopped at the border gate due to a big fire in Afghanistan earlier in February.
The Iranian official added that the Iranian side has made every preparation to resume full operation at the border gate.
“Dogharoun customs was not damaged during the incident at the border facility of the neighboring country, but due to the critical situation in the area, its activities were stopped for a short period this month to prevent any damages,” he added.
Bulgaria’s 42nd military contingent has been found to be “combat-ready” for participation in the NATO-led train, advise and assist Mission Resolute Support in Afghanistan, the Bulgarian Defence Ministry has said in a press release.
The degree of preparedness, the skills and abilities of the command and the personnel of the contingent designated to carry out assignments during the forthcoming mission were evaluated by a Joint Forces Command (JFC) board chaired by Colonel Yulian Petrov, Chief of the JFC Joint Training Department.
That was the first certification of a Bulgarian Armed Forces element to be conducted according to NATO’s new Allied Command Operations Forces Standards (AFS) Vol. VII – Combat Readiness Evaluation (CREVAL).
The national element, the guard company and the staff officers of the 42nd contingent were found to be combat-ready.
The United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, yesterday afternoon, the UK government said in a statement.
According to the statement, the UK PM reiterated his country’s longstanding support for the Afghan government’s fight against the Taliban as part of the NATO coalition.
The statement cited that both sides agreed on the importance of making progress in peace talks to secure a sovereign, democratic and united Afghanistan, and to preserve the gains made by civil society and women and girls.
The UK Prime Minister and President Ghani also discussed global efforts to tackle the pandemic and the rollout of vaccines in Afghanistan and the UK.
Germany is committed to the peace process in Afghanistan, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Friday during a surprise visit to troops in Mazar-i-Sharif, where the majority of German troops are deployed.
Kramp-Karrenbauer arrived at the Bundeswehr camp in the north of the country in the early hours of the Friday morning in order to “get an overview of the current situation of the Bundeswehr contingent and the situation in Afghanistan in a direct exchange with the men and women of the Bundeswehr.”
“We are ready to continue supporting the peace process,” the defense minister said.
On Wednesday, the Cabinet in Berlin approved a 10-month extension until next January of Germany’s military mission there, a move that still has to be approved by parliament.
During her visit, Kramp-Karrenbauer said the country “urgently needs a settlement between the opposing groups of its society.”
Soldiers cannot replace these reconciliation processes, but they were “making an important contribution together with allies, especially in the north of the country,” she added.