Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The delegation of Foreign Ministry Turkmenistan headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Rashid Meredov visited Afghanistan on Feb 2.
A wide range of issues concerning further intensification of political-diplomatic collaboration, expansion of the economic cooperation, development of cultural-humanitarian ties between the two countries was discussed during the meeting.
The parties paid special attention to the implementation of large-scale and long-term infrastructural projects currently realized by both countries. The most notable among those are the construction of the “Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India” (TAPI) pipeline, power lines and fiber-optic communication systems on “Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan” (TAP) route, the railways from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan.
Turkmen delegation informed the Afghan side about the readiness of Turkmenistan to continue further on a systematic basis the provision of humanitarian aid to the neighboring country.
The Turkmen delegation also met with the Chief Executive of Afghanistan Dr.Abdullah Abdullah, National Security Advisor of the President, Minister of Foreign Affairs and a number of executives of the state entities of Afghanistan.
Turkmen delegation held talks with the Head of UNAMA Tadamichi Yamamoto in the Kabul headquarters of the UN Assistant Mission in Afghanistan.
The Taliban insurgents have opened fire on four donkeys in Chardara district of Ghor province for transferring food from Taliban’s territory to the government’s area.
The spokesman of Ghor province, Abdul Hai Khatibi told Reporterly, “The Taliban shot killed four donkeys for transferring food to the people who support the government.”
Reports suggest that the Taliban militants have arrested a woman and three children who owned the donkeys and took them with themselves. However, the spokesman of Ghor governor rejected the claim.
At least 30 Taliban insurgents, including a group commander, have handed in their weapons to the Afghan security forces in western Herat province, said the Ministry of Defense (MoD) in a statement.
According to the statement, a Taliban commander and his 29 fighters surrendered in Austora village of Chesht-e-Sharif district, Herat.
The statement identified the Taliban commander as ‘Sahib Khan, who was involved in destructive activities in the Shahrak district of Ghor province in the last few years.
The MoD added that so far, 292 militants in Shahrak and 48 others in Chesht-e-Sharif districts, have laid down their weapons.
At least six members of the Taliban Red Unit have been killed in an ambush by Afghan security forces in Jawzjan province, local officials said on Monday.
The Special Operations Corps in a press release on Monday said that at least six Taliban fighters were killed and two others were wounded in the ambush in Khanqah district.
According to the press release, the killed Taliban rebels were related to the Mawlawi Ahmad Shah group, a commander of Taliban’s Red Unit.
Previously, Mawalwi Ahmad Shah has been injured in a clash with security forces in Mangejak district.
The Taliban militants burned down a girls’ school in Takhar province, local officials confirmed on Monday.
The spokesman of Takhar governor, Jawad Hejri said, “The Taliban group burned the school in Bodla area of Taloqan city in Takhar province on Monday.”
Previously, the Taliban group also burned and destroyed a girls’ school in Shakardara district of Kabul province.
As the insurgency has strengthened and spread from insurgents in the northern provinces, female educational facilities, students and teachers have come under vicious attack.
Chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, Ami Bera cast aspersions on the short-term prospects of a peace agreement between the United States and Afghan Taliban, but admitted that the group may be given a role in the future government.
The Indian-American congressman declared that there was a long way to go for peace in Afghanistan.
“We have to define what sustaining peace in Afghanistan looks like. And, I think, there is still a long way to go,” Bera said during an exclusive interview with Geo News in which he talked at length about US, Iran and the prospects of a peace deal in Afghanistan.
The US and the Taliban have come close to a peace deal at multiple occasions over the past few months, but realities on the ground have halted the developments.
In a series of events organized by UNAMA’s regional office in Kunduz, young people from Badakhshan, Baghlan, Takhar and Kunduz came together to discuss their role in building peace in their communities and talked about how they can participate more substantially in Afghanistan’s development agenda.
According to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) report, in the wide-ranging discussions at each of the events, participants not only recognized the potential of young people as powerful agents of change in preventing and resolving conflict, but also underscored the importance of involving youth in any peace efforts and national decision-making processes.
“Peace efforts without engaging youth will not last,” said Salahuddin Qazizada, a university lecturer and participant during one of the televised events in Badakhshan last year. “It is essential for youth to be heard and for youth to participate in efforts to create peace and stability in the country.”
The report added that in another event in Baghlan, activists spoke about how the ongoing violence continues to affect the ability of youth to participate in public processes.
“At the Baghlan event, and in the other events across the northeast, participants exchanged ideas about how youth can make a difference in the context of the ongoing conflict and participate more fully in Afghanistan’s social, political and economic life,” the report reads.
Afghanistan has one of the largest youth populations in the world. According to some estimates, three-quarters of the country’s population is below the age of 30, making young people a vital demographic.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) in its new quarter report to US congress said that only 21.84% (1,824,401) of Afghanistan’s more than 8 million registered voters cast ballots in September’s presidential election.
“Daykundi (56.69%) & Bamyan Provinces (48.52%) had the highest percentage of registered voter turnout,” SIGAR said in its report.
The report also cited that the assigned Afghan National and Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) strength stands at 77.5% (roughly 79,000 personnel short) of its authorized strength.
“This quarter’s reported strength in APPS is 12% lower (roughly 36,000 personnel) than the Afghan self-reported strength provided during the same period in 2018,” the report reads.
“Despite this decrease, the funds CSTC-A provided for Ministries of Defense and Interior salary and incentive pay thus far in Afghan fiscal year 1398 (December 22, 2018 to November 1, 2019) stayed about the same compared to roughly the same period in the previous fiscal year,” it added.
Afghanistan has suspended exports to China through air corridors in an attempt to prevent spread of coronavirus.
Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries CEO Sayed Zaman Hashemi said the only private airline that exported up to 20 tons of goods to China daily has suspended its flights to China due to the coronavirus outbreak.
As per Wasdam report, based on the figures, Afghanistan has exported over 1800 tons of pine nuts worth millions of dollars to China during the current fiscal year through the air corridor.
The annual trade volume between China and Afghanistan has reached $1.5bn.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (named “2019-nCoV”) that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and which continues to expand. Chinese health officials have reported thousands of infections with 2019-nCoV in China, with the virus reportedly spreading from person-to-person in many parts of that country. Infections with 2019-nCoV, most of them associated with travel from Wuhan, also are being reported in a growing number of international locations, including the United States. The United States reported the first confirmed instance of person-to-person spread with this virus on January 30, 2020.
On January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concernexternal icon”
Afghan Ministry of Industries and Commerce announced the launch of biometric system for business licenses under the General Directorate of Central Registration and Intellectual Property.
As per Wasdam report, the Acting Commerce Minister Ajmal Ahmady has inaugurated the biometric system.
“This system was much needed in order to make license processing easy and efficient,” said a statement from the ministry.
According to the statement, the General Directorate of Central Registration and Intellectual Property has made various reforms and was able to distribute 19,000 licenses in 2019, which is 5,000 more than what was distributed in 2018.
The statement further adds that the ministry has implemented necessary reforms in Herat, Kandahar and Balkh provinces.