Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) Special Forces have killed a prominent al-Qaeda operative and a Taliban commander in the Gian district of Paktika province in a special operation.
NDS in a statement said that security forces killed Dawlat Beg Tajik, known as Abu Muhammad al-Tajiki, a prominent al-Qaeda member in the Indian subcontinent, and Hazrat Ali, known as Hamza Ali Muhajir, a key resident of Waziristan, the commander of the Taliban group, who were among the masterminds of the complex joint Taliban and al-Qaeda attacks.
According to the statement ,these individuals were liaisons between al-Qaeda and the Taliban and were responsible for equipping the Taliban.
The statement cited that they were working on large-scale spring attacks by the Taliban.
Abu Mohammad Tajik and Hamza Muhajer in Afghanistan also provided advanced weapons and military training to the Taliban in Ghazni, Logar and Zabul provinces.
The Azerbaijani foreign minister on Tuesday said his country remained committed to supporting the reconstruction and economic development of Afghanistan.
“We remain committed to supporting the stabilization, peaceful reconstruction, and development of Afghanistan through bilateral efforts as well as active participation within the multilateral platforms,” said Jeyhun Bayramov at the 9th Ministerial Meeting of Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, co-chaired by Tajikistan and Afghanistan, in the Tajik capital Dushanbe.
“We closely follow the intra-Afghan peace talks with the hope that this process will eventually lead to the establishment of durable peace and security in the country in full respect to Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity,” Bayramov added.
“Azerbaijan regards the Istanbul Process as a valuable mechanism of attaining peace, reconciliation, security and economic development of Afghanistan.
“Azerbaijan is among the first and most active supporters of Afghanistan in its endeavors to overcome the ongoing challenges. Since joining the Process in 2012, we have been actively participating in this multilateral platform,” he added.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday called on the international community to play a more important role in promoting peace and development in Afghanistan.
Wang made the remarks when attending the ninth foreign ministers’ conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan via video link.
The current peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan is at an important juncture and the political settlement of the Afghan issue is facing a historic opportunity, he said.
The international community should work together to maintain the momentum of peace talks and reconciliation in Afghanistan, increase the impetus of Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development, and adhere to the general direction of anti-terrorism cooperation related to Afghanistan.
China will do its best to continue to support, mediate and facilitate the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan, and make joint efforts with all parties in the Istanbul Process and the international community to support and help Afghanistan achieve peace and development at an early date, said Wang.
The Istanbul Process on Afghanistan was established in 2011 as a regional cooperation mechanism concerning the Afghan issue.
The foreign minister of Iran called on the United Nations to facilitate the intra-Afghan negotiations, which he described as a requisite for peace and stability in Afghanistan.
In an address to the 9th annual ministerial meeting of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul initiative in Tajikistan on Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif invited the UN to help facilitate the intra-Afghan negotiations.
He also emphasized that any peace agreement in Afghanistan should guarantee the right of self-determination for the Afghan people.
Zarif also highlighted Iran’s efforts to ensure regional convergence and help Afghanistan take a role in regional developments, and maintained that peace and stability in Afghanistan would be possible only on the basis of intra-Afghan negotiations.
Highlighting the Afghan people’s valuable achievements in creating the rule of law and adopting a constitution, Zarif said it is necessary for the regional states to facilitate the intra-Afghan peace talks.
The Turkish foreign minister today welcomed peace negotiations between the representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar.
“Intra-Afghan negotiations have raised hopes to achieve lasting peace,” said Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu at the 9th Ministerial Meeting of Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan.
“Afghanistan’s security, stability and well-being are important for all of us,” he said, adding that the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process is “still the most inclusive platform on Afghanistan” since its establishment 10 years ago.
He said that “the idea that gave birth to this initiative still stands strong: The problems of our region can only be addressed in a spirit of regional cooperation and ownership. The confidence building measures within the Istanbul Process are valuable in various fields, ranging from counter-terrorism to trade.”
Noting that the peace process in Afghanistan has reached an important point, the Turkish minister thanked Qatar for its efforts.
“However, the violence still continues. We need a comprehensive cease-fire for a political settlement. Despite the slow pace of progress, the peace process is the only way forward, and we should all give our full support,” he argued.
Recalling that a senior-level meeting for Afghan peace talks is planned to be hosted by Turkey in Istanbul, he said the forthcoming session would “complement and energize Doha talks.”
“We hope the meeting will make a significant contribution to existing peace efforts and meaningful progress can be achieved in the discussions on a future political roadmap for Afghanistan,” he said.
The Turkish foreign policy chief said Afghans “deserve a brighter future of peace and prosperity,” and “there is a great potential for regional connectivity.”
“Afghanistan will be among the leading beneficiaries of increased regional connectivity,” he added.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Tuesday reported 70 new positive cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported eight deaths and 705 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 56,454 the number of total reported deaths is 2,484 and the total number of recoveries is 51,373.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Balkh, Nangarhar, Helmand, Maidan Wardak, Logar, Badghis, Kunar, Laghman, Panjshir, and Nuristan.
At least three members of polio vaccination team, all of them women, were shot dead by unknown gunmen in eastern Nangarhar province on Tuesday, local officials said.
Attaullah Khogyani, the provincial governor’s spokesman, said the incident took place before noon in the provincial capital Jalalabad on the second day of a nationwide polio vaccination campaign for an estimated 9.2 million children below the age of 5.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
On Monday, the Ministry of Public Health urged the Taliban to extend support and allow the vaccination in areas under their influence.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday underlined the need for power transfer in a constitutional and democratic manner.
The transfer of power to a future president of Afghanistan must take place in line with the county’s constitution, he said at a conference in Dushanbe.
Addressing the 9th Heart of Asia ministerial conference, he once again asked the Taliban to declare call a ceasefire, which should be monitored by the global fraternity.
Instead of fighting, the Taliban should put their legitimate demands on the negotiating table, the president stressed while calling for the restoration of peace in the country.
A stable and peaceful Afghanistan was in the best interest of all countries in the region, he said, adding Afghans had been denied their right to peace for more than 40 years.
He added: “Today, peace is not just a wish of our people, but it is a necessity. We and our partners are looking for peace.”
A regional consensus on peace is vital to the Afghans, said the president, who hoped the Heart of Asia Conference would help end the conflict in Afghanistan.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told participants of the Heart of Asia Conference on Tuesday the Afghan peace process is at a “defining junction” and Afghanistan has never been so “close to turning the tide”.
“As we gather here today, the Afghan peace process stands at a defining junction,” said Qureshi while addressing the ninth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process (HoA-IP) in Dushanbe, Tajikstan.
The Pakistan’s foreign minister is leading a Pakistani delegation comprising Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood, Pakistan’s Ambassador in Tajikistan Imran Haider and senior officers of the country’s Foreign Office.
“Having faced conflict and instability for over 40 years, Afghanistan has never been so close to turning the tide,” Pakistan’s top diplomat continued in his address.
The Pakistani foreign minister recalled how the Afghan parties gathering in Doha in September 2020 was a milestone that had occurred after the US-Taliban peace agreement was signed in February 2020.
“The progress made, thus far, has indeed created a historic opportunity for the Afghan leadership to achieve an inclusive broad-based comprehensive negotiated political settlement,” said Qureshi.
He added the world had acknowledged that there was no military solution for Afghanistan, adding that this belief is needed to continue to guide the Afghan parties and the international community.
Indian Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar says the members of Heart of Asia summit and supporting countries should make it a priority to press for an immediate reduction in violence leading to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire in Afghanistan.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs in a statement said that during the Istanbul conference, Minister Jaishankar said that a stable, sovereign and peaceful Afghanistan is truly the basis for peace and progress in the region.
“For a durable peace in Afghanistan, what we need is a genuine ‘double peace’, that is, peace within Afghanistan and peace around Afghanistan. It requires harmonizing the interests of all, both within and around that country. India has been supportive of all the efforts being made to accelerate the dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban, including intra-Afghan negotiations,” Indian Minister said.
Jaishankar stated that if the peace process is to be successful, then it is necessary to ensure that the negotiating parties continue to engage in good faith, with a serious commitment towards reaching a political solution.
Jaishankar noted that India welcomes any move towards a genuine political settlement and a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire in Afghanistan.
“We appreciate the international recognition of foundational principles that will determine their contours. We support a regional process to be convened under the aegis of the United Nations. UN stewardship would help to take into account all relevant UN resolutions and improve the odds for a lasting outcome,” he added.
More than 11,000 students will benefit from the new school buildings and renovated facilities that were inaugurated in Takhar province by the Afghan-German Cooperation on Monday.
Around 200 people including students, parents, teachers, elders and civil society activists attended the celebration in Takhar.
The Provincial Education Department (PED) implemented the projects with the technical support of the Afghan-German Cooperation’s Regional Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF). The projects are funded at a total of about AFN 167 million.
‘The inauguration and opening of these two schools are exemplary for Takhar Province. I ask the Department of Education to take good care of the operation & maintenance. These newly constructed schools have the highest standards in the province of Takhar. The quality of education will improve a lot,” said Abdullah Qarluq, provincial governor of Takhar.
Number Awal and Bibi Maryam Girls’ High Schools are the two largest girls’ high schools in Taloqan City. They are also among the oldest schools in the city, established between 30 and 40 years ago. The existing buildings of both schools were in poor condition and not resistant against earthquakes. Nearly 90 per cent of classes took place under tents or in open air.
Classes often remained closed during rainy seasons and the sanitary facilities were inadequate.
On the second day of the Heart of Asia Summit in Dushanbe, the Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon said that the bitter experience of the last four decades in Afghanistan shows that there is no military solution to the Afghanistan issue.
The President of Tajikistan also stated that they will take effective steps to resolve the crisis in Afghanistan.
He added that Tajikistan wants peace in Afghanistan and cooperation with Afghanistan is a priority in Tajikistan’s foreign policy.
Mr. Rehmon says that in the Afghan peace talks, all the people of this country should be considered.
He noted that 1,500 Afghans have been educated in Tajikistan for the past ten years.
Mr. Rahmon expressed his country’s firm support for the Afghan peace process and said he is ready to share all of his country’s experiences for peace with the Afghan people.
He also called on other countries to cooperate with Afghanistan in achieving peace.
The President of Tajikistan emphasized that there are many opportunities for cooperation in the energy sector between the two countries. He stated that his country is ready to work with Afghanistan to implement joint programs.
Tajik President announced at the Heart of Asia Summit that more electricity would be transferred to Afghanistan.
Mr. Rahmon cited that the pain of the Afghan people is the pain of the Tajik people.
He added that the participants of the meeting will take effective steps to resolve the crisis in Afghanistan.
The May 1st deadline to remove all U.S. troops from Afghanistan is “not a deadline that could have ever been achieved,” US former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Monday.
But Hagel, a US retired sergeant and former Republican senator for Nebraska, also said it’s high time for U.S. forces to vacate America’s longest war.
“I think it’s time that we will have to leave and I think we will leave, but it has to be done responsibly,” Hagel told The Hill’s Steve Clemons.
Roughly 2,500 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan with the war in its 20th year, but President Biden is facing a May 1 deadline to withdraw them all under a deal brokered between the Trump administration and the Taliban last year.
Hagel, who called the Trump-era agreement “very irresponsible,” as it cut the Afghan government out of the peace process, said the United States still must move to untangle itself from military commitments in the country, albeit carefully and with coordination with NATO allies and partners also with interests in the region.
“We can continue to support [Afghanistan] and we will in some ways, but we can’t continue what we’ve been doing and I think the American people are aware of that, they want that, and I think the Congress is very clear on this point as well,” Hagel added.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Monday said that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict, stressing that an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement was the only way forward to achieve peace in the war-torn country.
Qureshi met his Turkish counterpart on the sidelines of the 9th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia — Istanbul Process in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
During the meeting, the two foreign ministers discussed various dimensions of bilateral relations, including political and diplomatic engagement, economic cooperation, defence ties, and collaboration in education and cultural fields.
Views were also exchanged on the regional situation, the Foreign Office said in a statement.
Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani on Monday and had a discussion on the Afghan peace process.
“Honour to call on President @ashrafghani before the commencement of @HeartofAsia_IPConference. Shared our perspectives on the peace process,” Jaishankar tweeted.
Jaishankar and Ghani are in Dushanbe to attend the ninth Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process conference.
Tajikistan is hosting the conference which is focused on strengthening a regional and international consensus for Afghan peace.
Last week, Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar visited India and held-back-to-back talks with Jaishankar and NSA Ajit Doval.