Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Afghan President Ghani said at a reform review meeting at the Ministry of Defense on Monday morning that the reforms will be implemented for the sake of the stability of the armed forces and the consideration of the demands and suggestions of the brigadiers and the front-line soldiers.
Ghani stressed that the budget, funding, equipment and training of the security and defense forces will not be reduced, and that the international community will continue to support them, in addition to the government’s attention.
The President has stated that he will confer the medal of Ghazi Wazir Akbar Khan to Mohammad Yassin Zia, the General Chief of Staff of the Army, on his constant greetings of the soldiers of the first lines.
Ghani stressed that he would also award government medals to a 100 soldiers who are fighting on the front lines.
Referring to the peace talks, he said the government is committed to peace but wants a positive peace in which justice is served, greater participation and the rights of the people are protected.
As the second round of intra-Afghan talks in Doha begins, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has written a letter to the leadership of negotiation teams of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban calling for a ceasefire in the country, victims’ rights human rights on the agenda and the need for victims to participate in the peace process.
The letter, released by (AIHRC) on Monday, welcomed the finalization of the Afghan peace negotiation procedures as a major step forward and congratulated the Afghan people and the parties to the negotiations.
The letter from the Afghan Human Rights Commission emphasizes that it is “impatiently” waiting for the return of the negotiating delegations to the negotiating table on January 5 (tomorrow).
“These talks provide a historic opportunity to end the war and pave the way for lasting peace in Afghanistan,” the Human Rights Commission has written in the letter.
AIHRC says the escalation of violence, civilian casualties and the financial damage inflicted on the people on a daily basis has reduced the hope for peace, violence continues to further harm civilians, including women and children, and to affect public participation in the peace process.
The commission added that the escalation of violence, on the other hand, undermined the active participation of women, the media representatives and religious scholars in the public gatherings.
The letter called on the two sides to set up “joint committees” to look into issues such as ceasefire, monitoring mechanisms on the issue of ceasefire, as well as a joint team to investigate ongoing incidents and violent cases such as targeted attacks, including attacks on journalists and Defend human rights defenders.
The second part of the letter emphasizes that the war in Afghanistan has left millions of civilians victims and that there are millions of widows, orphans and people with disabilities across Afghanistan.
The letter stated that the war has left the neighboring countries and the region affected and that the victims are the reality of Afghanistan who have legitimate rights and demands.
The commission called on both negotiating teams to establish a mechanism to ensure that victims are present at the negotiating table and let their voices to be heard.
Addressing the rights of victims
In addition to the ceasefire and the presence of victims in the talks, the Human Rights commission has written in its letter calling for victims’ rights to be included in the negotiating agenda, saying that victims will play an important role in the reconciliation process.
The Commission emphasized that the inclusion of victims’ rights in negotiations provides the possibility of peace at the community and at the national level, and the Commission, as a national human rights body, strives to support the human rights of all citizens in every national process and to promote and realize their rights.
The Human Rights Commission has stated its readiness to provide expert human rights advice to both parties to the negotiations if necessary.
According to the agreement between the two sides, the second round of intra-Afghan talks is scheduled to start tomorrow in Doha, but the Afghan delegation has not yet arrived in Doha.
Fawzia Kofi, a member of the Afghan negotiating team, said that the delegation’s visit to Doha had been postponed for one day and that the delegation would leave for Doha tomorrow, Tuesday.
Iran has expressed dissatisfaction with the recent move of Iraq and Afghanistan in the review of Iranian sanctions at the United Nations, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a press conference.
Recently, the United States sought to revive a committee and expert group on sanctions against Iran by adding an article to the 2021 UN budget during a meeting of the Fifth UN Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Affairs.
Iraq reportedly had abstaining vote to the US proposal and Afghanistan also did not attend the meeting.
At the meeting of the UN Budget and Administration Committee, the US proposal was not approved by 110 votes to 10, with 32 abstentions.
“We have expressed our dissatisfaction with our neighbors. Of course, the Iraqi prime minister has said he will pursue this issue. The neighbors themselves know how much the US adventure is to the detriment of the countries in the region,” the spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry said in response to his neighbors’ decision.
The Minister of Interior said the Taliban are preparing for a “full-scale war” next year and that security forces are ready to repel it.
Interior Minister Massoud Andarabi said at the Lower House of Parliament’s session on Monday that the war was reduced every year in the winter and that preparations were made for a possible war next year.
According to him, this year the Taliban, however, have instructed their fighters not to leave Afghanistan and to continue the war.
“In recent years, Taliban fighters have been going to “their homes in Pakistan” and reporting the killing of Afghans,” Andarabi said.
The Interior Minister told Afghan lawmakers about the formation of a special operations unit consisting of national security forces, special police unit and army commandos.
According to him, while the security forces have complied with all the flexibility and restrictions imposed on achieving peace, they are also prepared to defend themselves.
Andrabi said that work is being done in various dimensions to repel the group’s attacks in a timely manner against the Taliban attacks.
Massoud Andarabi explained that the security agencies have so far led and managed the second round of “war and peace” after negotiations with the Taliban, and that they have prevented the Taliban from capturing cities in order to gain points at the negotiating table.
He cited Taliban attacks in Helmand and Kandahar provinces, saying about 1,000 Taliban members had been killed.
The Minister of Interior noted that a special unit consisting of national security forces, special police and army commandos is operating in Farah province on a trial basis, inflicting heavy casualties on the Taliban.
In the meantime, the Interior Minister reiterated that the Taliban are behind the targeted attacks, which in some cases no group has claimed responsibility for.
According to Andarabi, those arrested in connection with the targeted assassinations have confessed to being assigned by the Taliban.
Andarabi also said that there are global commitments in equipping and financing security forces, and that the interior ministry is working hard.
The chief of National Directorate of Security also attended today’s session of the House of Representatives and spoke about the Taliban’s efforts to transfer its leadership from Pakistan to the country.
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) says that the informations show that the Taliban group is trying to facilitate the transfer of its leadership and commissions from Pakistan to the country by increasing violence and war.
Ahmad Zia Siraj, speaking at the Lower House of Parliament on Monday, said the Taliban had expanded the geography of war in the southern and southwestern provinces of the country.
The NDS chief said that when Taliban leaders leave Karachi and Islamabad for Qatar, they feel remorse and therefore try to prepare the ground for their presence in Afghanistan.
According to Saraj, the Taliban’s efforts in the past to secure the group’s leadership presence in Afghanistan have failed and will not be succeed.
He also said that the current movements of the Taliban show that the group is focused on Nangarhar province for this purpose.
Ahmad Zia Saraj, meanwhile, said that with the start of the second round of talks, we will enter an “important and key” period, and the information received shows that the Taliban do not believe in peace.
According to him, the Taliban is trying to delay the talks so that foreign troops can withdraw completely from Afghanistan in May.
The chief of NDS also said that the Taliban had violated most of the provisions of the agreement they had signed with the United States. He cited rising violence, attacks on highways and cities, the return of released prisoners to the battlefield, and targeted assassinations by the Taliban as examples.
Saraj said the Taliban had resorted to targeted assassinations to undermine trust between the nation and the government.
The NDS chief said that targeted assassinations and magnetic mine explosions in Kabul and other major cities were also organized and carried out by the Taliban for the same purpose.
Ahmad Zia Saraj stressed that Rahmatullah Nikzad had been killed in Ghazni by a released Taliban prisoner who had been detained by security forces.
Interior Minister Massoud Andarabi also said that the Taliban are ready for a full-scale war next year. The interior minister also stressed on the security forces’ readiness to repel the attacks.
Afghanistan has let off the 10 Chinese nationals caught on 10 December for operating a terror cell in the capital city of Kabul and allowed them to leave the country, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.
The 10 members of the module were flown out of the country in a plane arranged by the Chinese government, the Hindustan Times reported.
Hindustan Times had reported the detention of the 10 Chinese nationals by Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) for being part of an espionage module on 25 December.
Afghanistan had offered to pardon the 10 Chinese nationals on the condition that Beijing apologise for deploying the 10 persons including at least one woman, believed to be linked to China’s spy agency, Ministry of State Security.
The terms of the release of the 10 Chinese spies is not known.
Diplomats and security officials in Kabul, however, confirmed to Hindustan Times that the 10 had been allowed to board a chartered aircraft that flew them out of the country on Saturday after clearance from President Ashraf Ghani.
The 10-member module, evacuated after 23 days in detention, had not been formally charged.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Monday reported 203 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 1,575 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 7 deaths and 168 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 53,011 the number of total reported deaths is 2,237 and the total number of recoveries is 42,502.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Balkh, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Takhar, Baghlan, Nimroz, Ghazni, Kapisa, Helmand, Sar-e-pol, Kunar and Ghor provinces.
At least three Policemen were killed in an armed attack in a checkpoint on Kabul-Kandahar highway on Sunday night, local officials said.
Ahmad Khan Sirat, the spokesman of Ghazni Police chief said that unidentified gunmen killed the three Policemen in PRT area of PD4 of Ghazni province.
No group has claimed responsibility for the incident so far.
First Vice President Amrullah Saleh said on Monday, at the 6:30 am meeting, that Kabul police had found a safe house in PD8 of Kabul city.
The safe house reportedly belonged to the Taliban militants, in which the group have stored different types of IEDs and Magnetic Bombs.
Saleh added, that Kabul police detained four individuals in relation to this case, and have seized explosive devices and mines.
“A terrorist attack in which a magnetic IED targeted an ANA vehicle this morning occurred in the same area, the incident left no severe casualties”, First Vice President indicated.
This comes as suicide attacks and magnetic mine explosions have recently increased in Afghanistan provinces, particularly Kabul.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) says at least 38 Taliban militants have been killed during Afghan forces operations in Zherai and Arghandab districts of Kandahar province.
MoD in a statement on Moday said that the Taliban insurgents attempted to attack security outposts, but faced Afghan forces’ resistance and their attacks thwarted.
MoD added that at least three other members of the Taliban group were wounded and a number of arms and weapons were seized by security forces during the operations.
At least four people were wounded in an IED blast which was attached to a local Police vehicle in Nangarhar province this morning, local officials said.
The spokesman of Nangarhar Police, Ahmad Farid Khan told Reporterly that the incident happened in Sabzi Market area of PD4 in Jalalabad city.
Khan added that the wounded have been transferred to the provincial hospital.
No group has claimed responsibility for the incident so far.
President Ashraf Ghani met with Afghan Republic negotiators on Sunday evening and assured them of the government’s full support, the Presidential Palace (Arg) said.
Arg in a press release said that the negotiating team of Afghanistan will leave for Doha today Monday to begin the next round of the negotiations on Jan. 5.
Peace negotiators representing the Afghan republic said that the next round of talks will mainly focus on ending the violence and the structure of a future government.
According to the press release, the chief negotiators Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, first shared with the President the report of the meetings and consultations of the negotiating delegation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan with various segments of the Afghan people in the past few weeks.
He added that the delegation listened to the demands and views of various segments of the people, including the people’s representatives in the National Assembly and representatives of women, youth and civil society, on peace, in order to better represent the Afghan people in the second round of talks.
At the end of the meeting, President Ghani thanked the good representation of the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the first round of peace talks in Doha.
The President appreciated the meetings of the Peace Negotiating Committee with various segments of the people and summed up their views for use in the second round of peace talks, adding that the views and opinions of different segments of the Afghan people, the Loya Jirga Consultations on Peace and the Constitution, determines the limits of competencies and agenda.
Addressing the negotiating team, the President said that the government and people of Afghanistan support them and expect to negotiate in the light of the constitution and the views of the Afghan people, so that these negotiations will be successful.
Recalling the successful international experience in the peace talks, President Ghani assured the full support of the government to the peace negotiating team and wished them success in the new round of peace talks.