Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
As the country’s annual school exams begin, the education officials in Takhar province say the Taliban militants in some areas under their control threatened people that the girls should not attend schools after the grade seventh.
Qutbuddin, the director and financial deputy of Takhar’s education department said that the Taliban had warned schools in Baharak district and some areas in Taloqan city that girls must not attend their secondary educations.
He said, despite the Taliban’s warning, girls have attended schools and the annual examination process is underway.
The Taliban have not yet commented.
The Taliban are active in some districts of Takhar and the provincial capital.
Three women employees of the Enikass TV network were killed in two separate armed attacks in Jalalabad city of Nangarhar province this afternoon, officials confirmed.
Confirming the incidents, Zalmay Latifi, head of the Enikass TV said unidentified gunmen attacked two of their employees in the dubbing unit named Shahnaz and Sadia in PD1 of Jalalabad city at around 04:00pm and both died of injuries at the hospital.
“In similar incident, another employee of the TV network named Mursal Habibi was also killed in an attack by an armed man,” Latifi said.
In the meantime, doctors at the provincial hospital of Nangarhar said a woman pedestrian who was at the scene was also injured and immediately transferred to the hospital.
Juma Gul Hemat, a Police commander in Nangarhar said the murderer of Mursal has been arrested and investigations are underway.
No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
In a phone call today, the Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan and Japan discussed the Afghan peace process, continuation of Japanese assistance to Afghanistan, aid effectiveness and the fight against corruption, the investigation into the assassination of Tetsu Nakamura, and the expansion of bilateral relations between the two friendly countries.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in a press release on Tuesday said that Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar called Japan a trusted and generous partner and expressed gratitude for Tokyo’s continued assistance.
Mr. Atmar shared the latest developments in the peace process with his Japanese counterpart, including the Taliban’s breaches of their commitments.
He briefed the Japanese Foreign Minister about the Government of IRoA’s commitment to advance the peace process and fulfill its obligations in this regard.
In the meantime, the Japanese Foreign Minister condemned the targeted killings and car bombings in Afghanistan, calling for a reduction in violence and making progress in the peace process.
Mr. Toshimitsu Motegi assured FM Atmar that Japan would continue to provide aid assistance to Afghanistan until 2024 and help our country fight the Covid 19 pandemic.
He highlighted the effectiveness of aid assistance and stressed the importance of combatting corruption in this regard. Mr. Motegi also thanked Afghanistan for investigating the murder of late Mr. Tetsu Nakamura.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Tuesday reported 17 new positive cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also said no deaths from coronavirus were recorded and 3 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 55,776 the number of total reported deaths is 2,446 and the total number of recoveries is 49,347.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Takhar, Kunduz, Logar, Laghman and Norstan provinces.
Ministry of Public Health said that 16,659 health workers have been vaccinated since the first day of the corona vaccine.
The Minister of Interior, Mohammad Massoud Andarabi says the Taliban militants have suffered a heavy defeat in the battlefields and warned that they would be suppressed if not accepting peace.
Speaking at the government’s accountability program to the nation on Tuesday, Minister Andarabi said the people had expected the peace process to succeed over the past year and ending of the war; but it has not happened yet.
“We have taken many steps towards peace; But the Taliban did not seize the opportunity, thinking that they could gain more power by increasing violence and intimidating the people,” he said.
According to Mr. Andarabi, Taliban attacks across the country, especially in Kandahar and Helmand provinces, failed, and Taliban fighters suffered heavy casualties during the clashes.
“600 Taliban were killed in Kandahar and Helmand alone,” he said. More than 400 members of the Taliban’s multi-member network were arrested. The Taliban have even lost their credibility among their own members. In Arghandab district of Kandahar, there was a sharp division between the group’s members,” Interior Minister said.
Commenting on a recent allegation by Anas Haqqani, a member of the Taliban leadership, of having drones and missiles, Mr. Andarabi said, “From where did they steal the weapons and now they are showing the media that we have advanced weapons. They have nothing. All their weapons are made in Pakistan. Taliban group propagandizing and has nothing.”
Referring to the Taliban’s readiness to escalate the war in the next spring, the Interior Minister said the Afghan government had not declared war; Rather, the Taliban have done just that.
US President Donald Trump’s last defense secretary and President Barack Obama’s first defense secretary say they would advise President Biden against pulling all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan in time to meet a looming May 1 deadline.
In an interview Friday with Brookings Institution analyst Michael O’Hanlon, Mark Esper said the withdrawal deal negotiated with the Taliban a year ago was always contingent on conditions that the Taliban clearly have not met.
“We implemented our side of it in good faith, but it’s fair to say the Taliban have not,” Esper said, noting the Taliban have not delivered on any of their key promises, namely a reduction in violence, good faith negotiations with the Afghan government, and a full break with al Qaeda.
Esper said he would have opposed Trump’s post-election order to reduce U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan to 2,500, which he says has effectively undercut any leverage the U.S. had over the Taliban. “I made this clear when I was in the administration at the end, I thought we should hold it 4,500 until the conditions on the ground were met.”
Trump has put Biden in a tough spot, Esper says. “We have to make sure that again, Afghanistan doesn’t become a safe haven for terrorism. And I say that as somebody who wants to get out of there as badly as anyone else.”
In the meantime, Robert Gates, who resisted sending more troops to Afghanistan, argued the “least bad option’ is for the U.S. to stay until the Taliban get the message that the U.S. won’t leave until they get serious about peace.
“My view is that I think the steps the president has taken in terms of hinting that we might not pull the rest of our troops out on the first of May is exactly right. I think that we do need to take into consideration the possibility of having a presence in Afghanistan at roughly the current level, or maybe even slightly more, along with our NATO allies,” said Gates in an interview with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius.
Bulgarian Defense Minister Admiral Emil Eftimov has announced sending off the 42nd Bulgarian military contingent designated to participate in train, advise and assist Resolute Support NATO mission in Afghanistan.
According to Sofia news agency, the contingent is made up of up to 120 servicemen and with a National Element structure, a security company and staff officers.
During the mission, the servicemen will perform tasks related mainly to the security of the internal perimeter of Bagram Airport base, be on stand-by duty at the base operational center, as well as perform various functions at the mission headquarters.
At least two security forces were killed and four others were wounded in an explosion in Herat province yesterday evening, local officials said.
The governor of Herat province, Sayyed Wahid Qatali said a motorcycle bomb blast targeted a ranger type vehicle of the security forces on Herat-Islam Qala highway.
He added that the vehicle of border forces was the target of explosion.
US Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) on Monday called for the Biden administration to declassify intelligence related to reports that the Kremlin offered bounties to Taliban forces for targeting U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the Hill reported.
“While any intelligence assessment on this matter is understandably sensitive, the American public, and Gold Star Families in particular, have a pressing need to know if there is any truth to these claims,” Duckworth wrote in a letter to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines first obtained by Politico.
“I believe such a finding may be presented while protecting classified information.”
The intelligence, first reported last year, was dismissed as a “hoax” by then-President Trump. Last September, Gen. Frank McKenzie, who oversees U.S. troops in Afghanistan, said the military was still investigating, adding that the report “has not been proved to a level of certainty that satisfies me.”
Haines has been tasked with reviewing intelligence on recent Russian activity, including the alleged bounty initiative.
In her letter, Duckworth asked for Haines to publish an unclassified report to “provide urgently needed transparency on this grave matter.”
Duckworth, a veteran who lost both legs in Iraq, was one of the leading voices calling for action in response to the report last year. In July, she led a letter from Senate Democrats asking to see the then-president’s intelligence briefings relating to the alleged bounties.
Mir Rahman Rahmani, Afghanistan Parliament’s speaker on Monday met with Tajikistan Parliament Speaker Mohammad Taher Zakerzada.
During the meeting, Mr. Rahmani said that strengthening and expanding good inter-parliamentary relations could have an impact on the relations between governments and nations.
He stated that Afghanistan and Tajikistan have ancient historical ties and religious and linguistic commonalities, and that political and geographical borders have never been able to separate the two countries.
The Speaker of Afghan Lower House noted that the Taliban and other terrorist groups are active in Afghanistan with the support of a number of countries in the region and the intelligence agenciagencies of neighbouring countries.
According to him, these groups have spread war and insecurity through targeted killings and assassinations across Afghanistan.
Rahmani emphasized that Afghanistan has become a geography of proxy wars and the countries of the region are using their proxy groups to fight against the Afghan people and government.
Rahmani cited that the only way to prevent the spread of terrorism and extremist thinking in the region is to unite these countries.
He added that the Taliban did not seek to establish peace and end the war in Afghanistan, but to seize the country through war and violence.
Rahmani also said the Taliban had not yet presented any plans for peace in Afghanistan and had abandoned the negotiating table for no good reason.
In the meantime, Tajik Parliament Speaker Mohammad Taher Zakerzada said that the development and relations of bilateral cooperation between Afghanistan and Tajikistan have always been in the focus of their President.
He added that talks on finding a beneficial path to global peace and stability in Afghanistan and the development of relations between the two countries in various fields are among Tajikistan’s demands.
Mr. Zakirzada stressed that the policy of the Tajik government has always been to expand good relations with neighboring countries, especially Afghanistan, and the President has stated this in his official speeches and statements.
The speaker Tajik House of Representatives called for the expansion of economic and trade relations between Kabul and Dushanbe, noting that the volume of trade between the two countries reached $ 70 million last year.
Mirwais Nab, the Deputy Political Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, Sirajuddin Mehraldin, in Dushanbe city, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ said in a statement.
The Deputy Foreign Minister called the holding of the Ninth Conference of Foreign Ministers of the Heart of Asia – the Istanbul Process, extremely important in the current sensitive situation, emphasizing the commitment of the Government of Afghanistan to continue peace talks while maintaining the achievements of the last nineteen years.
He called it important for the stability and security of the region and the economic development of the countries of Central and South Asia, MFA said.
In the meantime, Tajik Foreign Minister assured Mr. Nab of Dushanbe’s preparations for the 9th Conference of Foreign Ministers of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process. He considered the two countries as friends and brothers, MoFA added.
According to MoFA statement, referring to the friendly relations between Kabul and Dushanbe, Mr. Mehraldin said that his country supports the position of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in peace talks with the Taliban.
On the one-year anniversary of the peace deal between the Taliban and the United States, Barnett Rubin, a former adviser to the United Nations and U.S. State Department, says Washington and the Taliban are looking for ways to revive their agreement, which has hit numerous roadblocks, Gandhara reported.
There’s still hope for salvaging the agreement, Rubin maintains, if Washington finds a way to recover the time lost in disagreements over the prisoner release.
In a wide-ranging interview, Rubin offers his insights about where the deal stands today a year after it was signed in the Qatari capital, Doha, on February 29, 2020.
He also weighs in on the deal’s inherent flaws and whether it main goal is to bring peace back to Afghanistan or facilitate Washington’s extraction from the longest war in its history, which has cost the United States more than 2,300 American lives and $1 trillion.