Newsfeed; Tuesday, May 18 2021

Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…


  • 18 May 2021 Share this post

    Protesters Block Roads Leading To Government Offices In Faryab

    Kabul: Protesters staged a second sit-in tent on Monday night at the headquarters of the 1st National Army Brigade in northern Afghanistan, and on Tuesday, closed four surrounding areas around the brigade. The street leading to the provincial headquarters and the first brigade of the Afghan army has also been blocked by protesters, a day after the official introduction of Mohammad Daud Laghmani as the Faryab governor.

    Laghmani, meanwhile, told BBC that he assured the people of Faryab that he is working in the areas of good governance, security of the city and districts, balanced development of districts and improving health and education in accordance with the country’s applicable laws. On Monday, a government delegation officially named Mohammad Daud Laghmani as the governor of Faryab at the headquarters of the 1st Brigade of the Afghan Army.

    “I will do everything I can to serve the people of Faryab,” he added.

    However, Ehsan Qawanch, head of the youth section of the Afghan National Movement Party, told the BBC that their protest would continue until Laghmani returned to Kabul and the protesters’ demands were accepted.

    The protesters have changed their strategies and instead of holding protest marches, they are now organizing sit-in tents and blocking government offices.

    Meanwhile, Bator Dostum, a member of the Afghan House of Representatives and the son of Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, the leader of the National movement party, wrote on his official Facebook page: “People want justice and I stand against any injustice and tyranny of the government.”

    Protesters in Faryab province oppose the appointment of a new governor by the Afghan president and have called for provincial, municipal and district seats to be elected via election.

    The controversy in Faryab began when the Afghan Independent Directorate of Local Governance announced a month ago that Mohammad Daud has been appointed as the new governor of Faryab province.

    Enayatullah Babar Farahmand, deputy head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, criticized the decision by local authorities to remove former Faryab governor Naqibullah Fayeq and replace him with Mohammad Daud, accusing the presidential palace of “consolidating dictatorship”. Farahmand is close to Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, the leader of the National Movement Party of Afghanistan.

    Following the opposition of the National Movement Party, which has a lot of influence in the province and its neighboring provinces, large-scale protests were held in Faryab, Jawzjan and Balkh with the appointment of a new governor of Faryab.

    Following the escalation of the protests, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani named former Faryab Governor Naqibullah Fayeq an appointed member of the Senate and awarded him a government medal.

    Protesters, however, continued their marches.

  • 18 May 2021 Share this post

    101,000 Displaced In Afghanistan Since January

    Kabul: Over 101,000 people have been displaced due to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan since January 1, 2021, which is more than what was reported during the same time last year, according to the United Nations (UN) data.

    At least 29 of the country’s 34 provinces have been affected by the displacement, the office for the coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced on Monday.

    The number includes at least 14,764 families, with children under 18 accounting for at least 60 percent of displaced people. Last year, it took until late July to reach the figure of 100,000 internally displaced people.

    According to OCHA data, the highest numbers were recorded in the eastern and north eastern provinces of the country.

     

    Last year, around 400,000 people were internally displaced due to the conflict across Afghanistan overall, according to OCHA report.

    The conflict between the militant Taliban and the Afghan government has intensified in recent months. The number of attacks by the Taliban and the number of civilian casualties significantly increased in the first quarter, according to military and UN figures.

  • 18 May 2021 Share this post

    Taliban Wants To Continue The War: Rahmatullah Andar

    Kabul: The Taliban has no will for peace and is focused on continuing the war as it has ideological and economic ties to other terrorist groups, making it difficult to separate them, said National Security Council spokesperson Rahmatullah Andar on Tuesday.

    “Foreign nationals are still active on the battlefield with the Taliban, and their identities are being revealed from time to time, which is why the United States has evaluated the Doha Agreement,” Andar wrote in a series of tweets.

    Andar added that Taliban militants were doing their best to seize areas and then destroy them, forcing people to be displaced and damaging public places. Violence has escalated dramatically over the past one year since direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban began.

    In addition to the day-to-day fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters in which civilians are also killed, the level of targeted assassinations and the detonation of magnetic and roadside bombs in Afghanistan has increased in recent months.

    The level of violence, however, intensified after the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan on May 1, and further spread to war fronts and remote areas. Taliban fighters have been trying to seize control of some areas and districts in recent weeks; but they are countered by defense and security forces.

  • 18 May 2021 Share this post

    Taliban Destroys Key Bridge In Herat

    Kabul: Taliban insurgents have destroyed a major bridge in the Obe district of the Herat province with a roadside bomb, said Herat Governor Sayed Abdul Wahid Qatali on Tuesday.

    He added that the bridge connected two parts of the bazaar in Obe district and that its destruction had created a transportation problem for residents of Obe.

    Qatali also said that by destroying the bridges, the Taliban believe that they will create problems for government’s supply routes.

    The governor of Herat said that 3 Taliban insurgents, including one of their commanders, had been killed in clashes between security and defense forces and Taliban fighters in Obe district.

    According to him, the clash lasted since Monday night to Tuesday morning.

    The Taliban have not commented on the matter yet.

  • 18 May 2021 Share this post

    52,000 Civil Employees To Get Capacity Building Training

    Kabul: At least 52,000 civil employees of government offices will receive capacity building training in the solar fiscal year 1400, as per the Ministry of Economy and the Independent Administration Reform and Civil Services commission.

    A joint statement issued by the two agencies released on Tuesday said that 1,712 capacity building programs for staff will be launched this year, including 719 vocational programs, 812 management programs, 107 higher education programs, 42 computer programs, and 32 foreign language teaching programs.

    Of a total of 1,712 capacity building programs, 1,463 are to be launched domestically and another 249 abroad.

    According to the declaration, the training programs will include governance, economic affairs and agriculture, industry and trade, energy, mining, transport, telecommunications, housing and social adjustment, education and culture.

    The programs are expected to benefit 51,800 government employees, 17,093 of whom are women.

    According to the joint declaration, of a total of 1,712 capacity building programs, 1,125 programs will be implemented by government departments and 587 programs by partner institutions.

    In addition, 1,031 capacity building training programs will be funded from the internal budget of government departments and another 681 will be funded by partner institutions.

  • 18 May 2021 Share this post

    Policeman Killed in Nangarhar Roadside Mine Blast

    A policeman was killed in a roadside bomb blast that targeted a police vehicle in eastern Nangarhar province on Tuesday morning, security sources said.

    The blast occurred in Jalalabad city when the vehicle of the police chief of PD8 of Jalalabad was hit by a roadside mine, the source said.

    “One of the bodyguards of Khwaja Mohabbat, the police chief of PD8, was killed and the police officer himself was wounded in the blast,” the sources said.

    Before this, Nangarhar police said a policeman was wounded in the blast.

    However, no group including the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the blast.

  • 18 May 2021 Share this post

    Dasht-e Barchi Hospital To Be Named After “Maryam Noorzad”

    Kabul: Vahid Majrooh, the acting minister of Public Health, says that the 100-bed hospital in Dasht-e-Barchi will be named after “Midwife Maryam Noorzad”.

    Noorzad and 23 others lost their lives in an attack by armed assailants on the hospital on May 12, 2020.

    The Ministry of Public Health on Tuesday commemorated the role of midwives with the slogan “invest on midwives” and Majrooh said that the role of midwives in improving the provision of health services is important and functions of midwives and nurses working in the most remote districts of the country are commendable.

    “Reducing maternal and child mortality is one of the major achievements of the Ministry of Public Health over the past two decades,” he said.

    Emphasizing support for midwives, he also said that they are working to provide training to improve the capacity of midwives, as well as to improve the ability of the midwives’ department. Good treatment of patients will increase public confidence in the health sector and doctors.

    According to the Ministry of Public Health, there are currently 34,000 midwives across the country, of which 6,000 work within the ministry.

  • 18 May 2021 Share this post

    If Peace Not Chosen, Decision Will Be Made On The Battlefield: Ghani

    Kabul: Stating that the Taliban are a “destructive force” and their attacks are sporadic, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Monday in an interview with PBS News Hour that if the Taliban wants peace, then it has to be peace that respects the gains of the citizens of Afghanistan and among them, first and foremost, women.

    Ghani also said if the Taliban does not want peace and wants to gain power through violence and impose a “dictatorial regime” then “all the patriotic forces of Afghanistan would have to rally and make a decision. And that issue, unfortunately, would have to be decided on the field of battle”, he said.

    In terms of foreign troops withdrawing and the possibility of increased violence, Ghani said the Afghan security forces are ready for battle as the US withdrawal is a strategic decision. “We have been ready for months. The war will become simpler, because their — all their allegations of international conspiracy or international desire to stay permanently, has now come to an end. We need to work together,” he said.

    Despite a push by the Taliban to gain territory in provinces, Ghani said, “The Taliban are not holding. Arghandab was the only district in Kandahar where they tried to hold. And now the people hate them with passion.”

    On peace talks, Ghani said that the key to a political dialogue is that the Taliban accept that the future political system of Afghanistan is based on elections. “That is the fundamental bottom line. Other things are discussible, negotiable. But if that fundamental issue is not granted, then the question of rights and the question of gains that have occurred in the last 20 years will be questioned,” he added.

    Asked whether he would step down Ghani said that he will only hand over power to an elected leader. “If there is war, I am the commander in chief. I will not abandon my people. I will not abandon my forces. I am willing to die for my country. I have no interest in power. I’m committed to the principle of ensuring order. Afghan society wants order.”

    However, he said the threat of terrorism has changed. It has not disappeared. The terrorist networks are not just from the region, he said.

  • 18 May 2021 Share this post

    Milley Undermined Trump, Pentagon Officials On Afghanistan: Report

    Kabul: As per classified intercepts, it has been revealed that the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley had allegedly undermined the then-President Donald Trump and the Pentagon’s civilian leadership as they worked to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan.

    Trump administration officials reviewed classified National Security Agency communications that led them to believe Milley was undercutting the president and Defense Department leaders, Axios reported, according to three sources with firsthand knowledge of the documents.

    Milley apparently did not agree with Trump’s plans to drastically reduce or completely withdraw troops from Afghanistan and this was revealed through a conversation between a senior Afghan official and an American who had spoken to Milley, with the American saying that he was told the Joint Chiefs chairman had no confidence in the civilian Pentagon leadership, Axios reported. The DOD was led at the time by Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and chief of staff Kash Patel, among others.

    In another intercept, Afghan officials were alleged to have understood that the top US generals planned to defy the president’s order for a fast troop drawdown and would, at best, slowly respond to Trump’s instructions in hopes of delaying and hopefully stopping the pullout.

    The revelation comes at a time when the US is withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and will finish the process by September 11. There are concerns about a power vacuum in the war-ravaged country and the take over of Taliban due to a hasty withdrawal.

    Meanwhile, regional partners are keeping busy by discussing their steps towards the Afghan peace process. On Monday, European Union Ambassador to Pakistan Androulla Kaminara called on Pakistan Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and discussed the regional security situation, including the recent Afghan peace developments.

    Kaminara appreciated Pakistan’s sincere efforts for bringing peace and stability in the region, especially the Afghan Peace Process.

  • 18 May 2021 Share this post

    Operations To Recapture Three Districts Begins

    Kabul: The Afghan security forces have launched operations to recapture three districts–one in Baghlan, one in Maidan Wardak and one in Logar province which fell to the Taliban recently, according to army forces on the ground.

    “In order to deploy our forces in areas where our troops made a tactical retreat, there is a proper military plan. We will be redeployed in centers of Charkh district in Logar, Burka district in Baghlan and Nerkh district in Maidan Wardak with more power and the enemy will not be allowed to grow,” said Rohullah Ahmadzai, spokesperson for the Defense Ministry.

    Meanwhile, Nangarhar, Laghman, Maindan Wardak and Kunduz have faced attacks in the last 24 hours. The Afghan army said that the Taliban has suffered “heavy losses” in Afghan forces operations.

    Also, local officials in Badakhshan province said that security forces have repulsed a Taliban offensive to seize Tishkan district.

    The Taliban launched a large-scale offensive on Monday night, in the center of Tishkan district in the southwest of Badakhshan province, said Nik Mohammad Nazari, spokesperson for the Badakhshan governor.

    Nazari said security forces were not harmed in the clash, but that the Taliban had suffered casualties.

    Also, army forces in the north of the country have said that 19 Taliban fighters, including two shadow district governors, have been killed in a targeted airstrike in Faryab province.

    The 209th Shaheen Corps said in a news release on Tuesday that the attack on a key Taliban base in the Khawaja Namusi area of Pashtun Koot district in Faryab province was launched on Monday. Among those killed were Zainullah, known as Khalid, the Taliban’s shadow district governor for Almar Faryab; Mullah Asadullah Turkmen, the Taliban’s military commission chief for the province; and Noorulhaq, the Taliban’s shadow district governor for Bala Murghab Badghis.

    The 209th Shaheen Corps has confirmed that in addition to high-ranking Taliban members, three Pakistani members of the group were among those killed.

    The corps also added that 15 other fighters of the group, including Damla Shoaib, the head of the Taliban military commission for Faryab province, were wounded. Two were arrested on suspicion of links to the Taliban during the attack.

    At least 18 vehicles, including cars and motorcycles, were destroyed as a result of the airstrikes.

    The Taliban have not yet commented on the matter.

  • 18 May 2021 Share this post

    MoPH Says It Doesn’t Have Financial Resources For COVID Vaccination

    Kabul: The Afghan Ministry of Public Health on Tuesday said that it does not have the financial resources to deliver the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine to 10 percent of the country’s citizens even as distribution of the vaccine continues in 34 provinces of the country.

    Mirwais Alizai, the ministry’s deputy spokesperson, said that 16 million doses of the vaccine for 20 percent of Afghan citizens would soon reach Afghanistan through the COVAX joint program, however, he said that the ministry was currently facing a budget shortfall to deliver the vaccine to 10 percent of Afghan citizens.

    “For 60 percent of the population, we needed $225 million for the vaccine, most of which was funded by the government, but due to some loopholes, we are facing a lack of funding to deliver the vaccine to 10 percent of the population,” he added. “The government is working to ensure that we can deliver the vaccine to all our citizens on schedule by 2022.”

    Alizai added that the ministry, based on China’s commitment, has also started the administrative process of transferring vaccine doses from that country to Afghanistan.

    Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Tuesday reported 303 new positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the last 24 hours.

    The ministry also reported 11 deaths and 108 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.

    The total number of cases now stand at 64,122, while the number of reported deaths is 2,762 and the total number of recoveries is 55,118.

    MoPH added that the new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Balkh, Nangarhar, Kunduz, Nimroz, Faryab, Parwan, Helmand, Bamiyan, Wardak, Badakhshan, Daikundi, Ghazni, Kunar, Laghman, Panjshir, Zabul, Uruzgan, Khost and Farah provinces.

  • 18 May 2021 Share this post

    Opinion Of People Important While Determining Governors: Abdullah

    Kabul: Reacting to the explosive situation currently emerging from the northern regions including Faryab province, Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), expressed concern and said that he would refrain from addressing issues that undermine political consensus and people support for the regime.

    “At this stage, when people are concerned about the security situation in their provinces, the opinion and support of the people should be taken into account in appointing senior officials and governors,” Sepidar said in a statement quoting Abdullah.

    Abdullah emphasized that currently it is necessary that there is unity, solidarity and political consensus in the country so as to support the defence forces fight the Taliban attacks and to address the existing challenges.

    Adbullah stated that there is a need to solve the problem through dialogue and understanding with political leaders and the people. “At this stage, more than ever, we need understanding, mutual acceptance and consensus in defense of the country and the system,” he added.

    His remarks come as President Ashraf Ghani appointed Mohammad Daud Laghmani as Governor of Faryab to replace Naqibullah Fayeq. The people of Faryab and supporters of Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, the leader of the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan and former first vice-president, have opposed the appointment.

    Protesters, then, staged a sit-in in front of the Faryab governor office for several days, preventing the new governor of Faryab from being introduced. Meanwhile, Mohammad Daud Laghmani was introduced as the governor of Faryab province on Monday, at the headquarters of the 1st Brigade of the Shaheen Corps in Faryab province, amid protests.