Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), on Monday at a press conference said that the Afghan people will defend the country if war is imposed on them.
“Peace was always the demand of the people of Afghanistan, but if the war has been imposed on them, they have no choice but to defend themselves,” Abdullah said, “however, peace efforts are ongoing.”
“My message in the last meeting with Taliban representatives in Moscow was that both sides will not reach a result by force- by war. This will not be possible if the Taliban try to reach their target militarily,” Abdullah said.
In a meeting with US President Biden in Washington, Abdullah said that Biden pledged that the US “will be with the people of Afghanistan in the peace process and will also continue to support the Afghan security forces.” “The US president also emphasized the need for political consensus,” he said.
Abdullah said that the US will end its military presence in the country but will continue its assistance to Afghanistan. On Friday, President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah met with Biden at the White House and the US president promised a “sustained” partnership, said the Afghan leaders. President Ghani and Chairman Abdullah also met at the Pentagon with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. While Biden vowed that the US was committed to assisting Afghanistan, he also insisted that it was time for the American military to step back, according to the Associated Press.
On Friday, President Ghani said that Afghans will not be compelled by force and that the Taliban should agree to a ceasefire and enter a political process. Ghani spoke at a press conference following meetings with President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other American officials and lawmakers, and said that the Afghan forces are prepared to ensure the country’s security and that he respects the decision by the United States to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.
“Force is not a way to compel an Afghan to submission. We still call on them to have a ceasefire and to engage in a political process because a political settlement is the ultimate mechanism of ending a war. As Lincoln said, the best way of treating an enemy is to turn him into a friend,” he said. Violence remains high in the country amid stalled peace negotiations. Several districts are contested between the Afghan forces and the Taliban.
In fact, the Afghan delegation in Washington was told that the US will provide 37 Black Hawk helicopters and two A-29 Super Tucano fixed-wing attack aircraft to Afghanistan, sources told TOLOnews on Monday.
The US officials also assured the Afghan delegation that 200 US contractors, mostly working with the military aircraft, will remain in Afghanistan until the end of September. Currently, Afghan forces have more than 160 helicopters and aircraft. Abdullah also said that the US will end its military presence in the country but will continue its assistance to Afghanistan and the Afghan air forces.
This comes even as Iran’s Director General of Foreign Ministry’s West Asia Department said that the Americans are withdrawing from Afghanistan ‘irresponsibly’ and that they put the country of Afghanistan on the brink of civil war.
In a tweet on Monday, Seyyed Rasoul Mousavi pointed to the irresponsible withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and said that it is essential that the Afghan government, Taliban, Mujahideen and all Afghan National Forces save the country by taking a responsible approach to the future of Afghanistan and adopting courageous decisions in this regard. Earlier, assistant to Iranian Foreign Minister and Director General of West Asia at Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in another tweet wrote, “The reason for Iran’s concern about the developments in Afghanistan is not the transfer of power, because it (Iran) is sure that Afghanistan has no military solution and the transfer of power through the military is impossible and will not maintain peace and stability in this country.”
Several US officials have previously told the Associated Press that about 650 US troops will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in July (next month) to ensure the safety of US diplomats. According to the Associated Press, the main US forces in Afghanistan will complete the process of withdrawing from Afghanistan in the next two weeks, but several hundred US troops will remain as part of a security program, especially at the US Embassy and Kabul Airport.
In other news, Georgia has completed withdrawing its troops stationed in Afghanistan after the last remaining unit of the 32nd Battalion returned home, Georgian Defense Ministry reported on June 28. The 32nd Battalion, of Georgia’s Western Command’s 3rd Infantry Brigade, served in Afghanistan under US command as part of the Resolute Support Mission.
Georgia began the drawdown on May 21, after the NATO Allies decided in April to begin withdrawing the Resolute Support Mission forces starting May. Georgia had been part of NATO-led missions to Afghanistan since 2004, first participating in the International Security Assistance Force and then the RSM. Prior to the withdrawal, Georgia was contributing some 860 servicemen in Afghanistan. Overall, more than 20,000 Georgian troops have participated in multiple rotations since 2004.
Also, Romania brought back its last military detachment from Afghanistan on Saturday night, June 26. Between February and June 2021, Romania had 600 troops stationed in Afghanistan for the last rotation of the allied forces. The repatriation activities were synchronized with NATO allies and the US strategic partner within the SAFE RETURN operation. Since 2002, over 32,000 Romanian soldiers, coming from all combat structures of the Land, Air, Naval Forces, Special Operations Forces and Military Intelligence structures, have participated in international missions and operations in Afghanistan, according to the Defense Ministry.
Kabul: Security sources in Parwan province said on Monday that three people have been arrested in connection with the explosion of power pylons in the province.
Abdul Salim Noori, a spokesperson for the Parwan police command, said that the men were arrested by the police in the Salang district of the province on Sunday. Noori added that an investigation is underway to determine which networks the arrested belonged to.
However, he stressed that according to preliminary information, the detainees were relatives of Mamati Salang, who was arrested in 2018 and later sentenced to 16 years in prison for destroying the infrastructure of the Parwan-Kabul power towers.
Meanwhile, DABS reported the destruction of two electricity pylons in Paghman district, Kabul province. DABS stated that the pylons were destroyed on Monday afternoon and halted power supply to Maidan Wardak, Nangarhar, Ghazni provinces and Paktia region.
DABS did not provide further details, but added that its personnel were deployed to the area to repair the pylons.
Kabul: Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh on Monday said that Tehran believes that talks among different Afghan groups can resolve the crisis in the country, adding that the Taliban does not represent entire Afghanistan.
“We are holding talks with different parties of Afghanistan. We believe that the genuine intra-Afghan dialogue is the only solution for Afghanistan. We have always said that we are ready to facilitate talks,” Khatibzadeh said during a press conference.
“The Taliban are not all Afghanistan. They are part of Afghanistan and part of the government and the future solution of Afghanistan,” he added. “This is an issue that has been said many times, and what is important is an inclusive government that includes all the genuine Afghan groups and achieves a peaceful and lasting solution in Afghanistan.”
“The security of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Afghanistan is very closely linked,” Khatibzadeh noted, stressing, “What is important to us is security, unity, an inclusive and authentic government in Afghanistan.”
“Violence in Afghanistan has escalated to alarming levels and some minorities are under pressure. We want everyone to respect their rights. Only a political solution can guarantee Afghanistan’s future,” he said.
Meanwhile, Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar met with Iranian Foreign Minister’s special envoy for Afghanistan affairs Mohammad-Ebrahim Taherian, Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry announced in a statement. “Taherani briefed Atmar on the outcome of his recent visit to Pakistan,” the statement said.
Referring to the importance of regional consensus and strengthening relations among Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Taherani proposed a trilateral foreign ministerial meeting. Underscoring the need for further cementing friendly relations between Kabul and Tehran, Atmar noted that consolidating and expanding bilateral and multilateral relations were of vital importance.
He supported in principle the proposed trilateral meeting, hoping it would prove instrumental in further boosting regional consensus on the success of the Afghan peace process. Given the importance of practical cooperation between the two countries, the foreign minister underscored convening of the sixth Joint Economic Commission meeting between Afghanistan and Iran.
Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Monday reported 1,407 new positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 64 deaths and 917 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The total number of cases now stand at 117,158, while the number of reported deaths is 4,794 and the total number of recoveries is 69,205.
The Ministry of Health has called on Afghan citizens to follow health guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Prisons Administration’s healthcare department concluded delivering the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at Pul-e Charkhi prison, Kabul Detention Center, female prison, special drugs prison, and juvenile rehabilitation center in Kabul province.
The process has concluded in prisons across the country. Also, the 2nd dose is being given in other provinces. It’s worth mentioning that preventive measures for the prisoners and wardens were already implemented by the healthcare department of the Office, and detergents, sanitizers, masks, and gloves have been distributed to prisoners and wardens.
In other news, the head of Panjshir’s Provincial Ulema Council, Mawlawi Fazal Wahab Fazli, has died of COVID-19 as per BBC reports. The Supreme Court and the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs confirmed Fazli’s death, without providing the reason behind his death.
Kabul: Interior Ministry spokesperson Tariq Arian on Monday said that until further notice, “documented and undocumented” motorcycles will be banned in the city and districts of Kabul.
Arian wrote on his Facebook page, “Realizing that it will be a temporary problem for some of our compatriots; but there is a demand for comprehensive cooperation with the security forces in this regard.”
According to him, if the rule is ignored, the motorcycle will be stopped by the police. He did not provide further details.
Meanwhile, as residents of a number of provinces mobilized against the Taliban, Mir Rahman Rahmani, speaker of the House of Representatives, said that the government should “fully support” them under the name of the local army within the Ministry of National Defense.
Speaking at a plenary session of the House of Representatives on Monday, Rahmani said that the people’s mobilization forces had taken up arms to defend the territorial integrity and values of the republican system and to support the defense and security forces, and that their activities should be legalized.
Rahmani added that a number of members of the House of Representatives have also mobilized against the Taliban in different provinces of the country. “We all have a duty to support our system and government in any way possible in the [current] sensitive situation and to stand by our military forces,” he added.
On the other hand, the Speaker of the House of Representatives called on the members of the House of Representatives to seriously and comprehensively evaluate the fall of the districts and the reasons for it and to submit the results to the administrative board of the parliament in writing.
According to him, following this assessment, the House of Representatives, in coordination with relevant government agencies, will make fundamental decisions to prevent further collapse of the districts. Mir Rahman Rahmani also called on the Taliban and government forces not to harm civilians or their property.
Referring to the demolition of shops in Andkhoi district of Faryab and Siahgerd districts of Parwan, he said that the aim of settling civilians and their property was contrary to Islamic and moral teachings and the provisions of the laws of war.
Earlier, Rahmani had said that the House of Representatives welcomed the people mobilization against the Taliban within the framework of the popular uprising. He called on the government to fund, equip and manage these people. The speaker of the House of Representatives had stressed that these forces should be managed by the government so that they do not become “anti-security” currents in the future.
Recently, following the fall of the districts, residents of a number of provinces mobilized against the Taliban and fought alongside government forces with the group’s fighters.
Meanwhile, as a number of districts have fallen to the Taliban, Shamim Khan Katawazai, head of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance, said that the Ministries of Interior and National Defense are investigating the fall of the districts and the negligence of the authorities in this regard.
Narges Momand Hassanzai, a spokeswoman for the IDLG, said that Shamim Khan Katawazai raised the issue on Sunday in Paktia province.
According to the head of the IDLG, the morale of the security and defense forces in the districts is strong at the moment, and the people are standing by these forces. He stressed that with the courage and perseverance of these forces, the security situation in the country will soon return to normal. On the other hand, Shamim Khan Katawazai said that in each of the districts where government troops are stationed, the government immediately provides all the facilities for governance.
Kabul: Pakistan’s interior minister said that the families of Taliban reside in his country, including in areas around the capital, Islamabad, and the insurgent group’s members receive some medical treatment in local hospitals.
The admission by Sheikh Rashid Ahmed came during an interview aired by a privately-owned Pakistani television channel, Geo News. It is a significant departure from Islamabad’s consistent rejection of allegations leveled by Afghan leaders that the Taliban use Pakistani soil to direct and sustain insurgent activities in Afghanistan.
“Taliban families live here, in Pakistan, in Rawat, Loi Ber, Bara Kahuh and Tarnol,” Rashid said, adding, “Sometimes their dead bodies arrive and sometimes they come here in hospitals to get medical treatment.”
Separately, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters on Sunday that violence and chaos could grip Afghanistan after the United States and NATO allies withdraw all their troops from the country by a September 11 deadline.
“Violence is increasing there (in Afghanistan) and obviously Pakistan is worried about it,” Qureshi said in Multan, his native city, which is in eastern Pakistan. He warned that if the Afghan security situation worsens and turns into a civil war, it would be detrimental for Afghanistan, but it could also undermine Pakistani gains against terrorism as well as trigger another exodus of Afghan refugees into Pakistan.
“We are already hosting and looking after almost three million Afghan refugees and we can’t take more because are we not in a position (economically) to shoulder the burden,” Qureshi said. However, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reacted to remarks made by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi about refugees and urged the country not to use the issue of refugees as a tool to put pressure on Afghanistan.
The Afghan Foreign Ministry has emphasized that Afghanistan has always wanted the continued and dignified return of Afghan refugees to the country, and is working within existing structures of bilateral cooperation, including the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for APAPPS Peace and Solidarity with Pakistan. Foreign Ministry statement issued on Monday, said that neighboring countries were not expected to use the issue of migrants as a tool to put pressure on Afghanistan.
The Ministry has stressed that Pakistan’s sincere cooperation in ending the bloodshed and ensuring lasting and inclusive peace in Afghanistan is far more effective than the disturbing comments and predictions made by Pakistani government officials.
In fact, Pakistan also dismissed on Monday Kabul’s assertions that the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) did not operate on Afghanistan soil, saying that these remarks are contrary to facts on the ground. In a statement on Monday, the Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) said that Afghanistan’s remarks that TTP did not operate on Afghan soil are contrary to the various United Nations (UN) reports corroborating the presence and activities of over 5,000-strong TTP in Afghanistan.
“Over last many years, TTP has launched several gruesome terrorist attacks inside Pakistan using Afghan soil without any retribution from its hosts. The 12th Report of the UN Monitoring Team, issued in June 2021, acknowledges TTP’s ‘distinctive anti-Pakistan objectives’ and notes its location within Afghanistan ‘near the border with Pakistan’,” FO said. Pakistan’s commitment to fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, without any discrimination is unwavering and unambiguous, the FO said.
The FO added that Pakistan has been making serious and sincere efforts to facilitate intra-Afghan peace process and hopes that Afghans would seize this opportunity to achieve lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. The statement by the FO comes following Kabul’s remarks that ‘TTP is neither founded in Afghanistan nor operates on our soil’. “In order to establish lasting peace in Afghanistan and to ensure stability and prosperity in the region, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan calls on all countries, especially Pakistan, to treat all terrorist outfits equally and without discrimination, and not allow these closely linked and organized groups to collude with each other to jeopardize the security and stability of our countries,” Afghanistan’s Ministry of Affairs said in a statement on Sunday.
The Afghan ministry’s statement came after Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said that Pakistan also expects the Afghan Taliban to not allow TTP and other elements to carry out any activity which causes harm to Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the US Chargé d’affaires Ross Wilson has criticized the Taliban’s behavior and actions while they fight the Afghan government, demolish the infrastructures and public properties.
“The Taliban’s burning of shops and govt buildings, detaining of people, and destruction of infrastructure and communication networks demonstrate their extremism and their disregard for the human rights of the Afghan people”, Ross Wilson tweeted.
This comes as the Taliban insurgents set fire to at least 100 stores and 20 residences in the Andkhoy district of Afghanistan’s northern Faryab province, authorities reported on Sunday. On Wednesday, fighting began between government troops and attacking Taliban insurgents in the restive Andkhoy area, which the terrorists overran on Thursday after security forces retreated.
In other news, on Sunday morning, an armed group of the Taliban attacked an Afghan border checkpoint located in the town of Chukchuk of Kaldor district of the Balkh province of Afghanistan, Trend reported. As a result of a fierce clash that lasted until 12:50pm, 17 personnel of the Afghan government forces were forced to retreat to Tajikistan through the 1st post of the Shaartuz border detachment, reported the Tajik Border Troops Press Center.
The Tajik border guards, guided by the principles of humanism and good neighborliness, allowed the Afghan military who broke through the state border to freely enter their territory. The situation in this border area remains tense, and fighting between the Taliban armed group and Afghan government forces continuing.
This comes even as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mohammad Hanif Atmar met with the Special Representative of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian.
Referring to the importance of regional consensus and strengthening relations between the three countries, he proposed a trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. Underscoring the need to further strengthen friendly relations between Kabul and Tehran, Minister Atmar noted that consolidating and expanding bilateral and multilateral relations were of vital importance. Atmar acknowledged in principle the proposed trilateral meeting and states that the holding of the meeting was instrumental for strengthening regional consensus for the success of peace process. Given the importance of practical cooperation between the two countries, Minister Atmar underscored convening of the sixth Joint Economic Commission meeting between Afghanistan and Iran.
Kabul: Local sources in Ghazni province confirmed that Younis Ramazani, the police chief of Ghazni’s PD6, and three other policemen were killed in a roadside bomb explosion in the city.
Fatema Rahimi, a member of the Ghazni Provincial Council, said that the incident took place on Sunday evening in the Bakawal area of the PD6 of Ghazni city.
Rahimi added that three other policemen were also injured in the blast and that the incident was caused after the vehicle ferrying the officials collided with a roadside mine when they were on patrol.
The Ghazni provincial council member stressed that the mine had been planted by the Taliban. The Taliban have not yet commented on the matter.
Meanwhile, security sources in Khost province said that a vehicle loaded with explosives was discovered and defused in the Nader Shahkot district of the province before reaching its target. Adel Haidar, a spokesperson for the Khost Police, said that the vehicle, which was carrying about three tons of explosives, was discovered in the “Spin Ghor” area around 7pm on Sunday.
Haidar also said that the insurgents wanted to detonate the explosives embedded in the vehicle in crowded areas of Khost. According to him, a person who is a resident of Logar province has been arrested in connection with this case and an investigation is underway.
Even Bamyan police said that a group of Taliban insurgents’ attacks on Dahan-e-Saighan checkpoints in the Saighan district of the province have met with strong resistance from police and national security forces.
The Bamyan Police statement said that the attacks started at around 10:00 pm on Sunday and continued until 3:00am on Monday. According to the statement, Taliban suffered heavy casualties.
The Bamyan Police Command further said that security forces were not harmed during the clashes. The Taliban have not yet commented on the matter.
In other news, at least one civilian was killed and four more were wounded–including two women–in a blast that targeted a vehicle in the eastern province of Nangarhar on Monday morning, local security officials said.
The blast took place in PD5 of Jalalabad city, the capital of the province, when a vehicle was hit by a roadside mine, said Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesperson for the provincial governor. “A man who had a rickshaw was killed and two women, a child and a man were wounded in the blast,” he said, adding that “the wounded were taken to a nearby hospital.”
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast.
Meanwhile, local residents of Alingar district, Laghman province, said that fierce clashes occurred between the ANDSF and Taliban, on Sunday night, and a number of shops were destroyed in the district bazaar.
They added that eight shops were gutted during the clashes that left about three million Afghanis in financial losses. Head of Alingar district’s youth council, Jaber Alokozay, urged the government to provide assistance to these shopkeepers. Provincial Governor’s Spokesman Asadullah Dawlatzai told Hashte Subh daily that Taliban’s mortar landed in the district bazaar, which burned four local shops. Provincial officials pledged to assess the losses, and compensate them. The Taliban have yet to comment on the report.
This comes even as local sources and members of the Ghazni Provincial Council confirmed on Monday that the Muqur, Waghaz and Khwaja Omari districts of the province have fallen to Taliban.
Fatema Rahimi, a member of the Ghazni Provincial Council, told the Etilat Roz daily that Muqur district and Waghaz district had fallen to the Taliban. Rahimi added that in the Muqur district, about 50 uprising forces had surrendered to the Taliban. The Taliban released them after disarming.
Also, 80 army personnel and 60 policemen stationed in the district retreated to Zarkashan Mountain and were transferred to Ghazni city on a flight at around 12:00 PM. The Ghazni provincial council member said that after a week of siege in Waghaz district, 14 km southwest of Ghazni city, government forces retreated from the district to the provincial capital at 1am.
At the same time, a government source in Ghazni confirmed that this morning the Khwaja Omari district, 16 km north of Ghazni city, had fallen to the Taliban. According to the source, the Taliban launched their attack on the district late last night and have now taken control of the district. He added that five members of the security forces were killed and three others were wounded in the Taliban attack. According to the source, the Taliban have also planted mines on the transportation route of this district with Ghazni city.
On the other hand, he said that the Taliban attacks in the center of Ghazni city have intensified and the city is in danger of falling. The source expressed concern that the city would collapse if immediate steps were not taken to retake the districts around Ghazni city and suppress the Taliban. Ghazni province in the southeast is one of the most insecure provinces in the Taliban. Seven Ghazni districts have fallen to the Taliban.
Meanwhile, the Taliban claimed that the Khoshamand district of Paktika province in the Ghazni neighborhood had also fallen to its fighters. But local officials have denied the fall of the district to the Taliban.
Meanwhile, security officials in Faryab province said that the Imam Sahib bazaar and several villages in the Pashtoonkot district of the province have been cleared of Taliban fighters.
Faryab police spokesman Karim Yurish told Hashte Subh daily that a joint security operation is underway in the Dahdandara area of the district. According to him, eight Taliban fighters were killed and five others were wounded during the operation.
Yurish said that a police officer was also killed during the clash. Meanwhile, some districts in Faryab province have recently fallen to Taliban militants. Security forces have also been conducting operations for several days to retake the lost areas in the province.
Also, Acting Interior Minister Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal traveled to Helmand province, to assess the security developments. The Ministry of Interior (MoI) stated that met with provincial officials and elders, and reviewed the ongoing military operations and future military plans. Mirzakwal called for suppressing terrorists and issued necessary directives to repulse enemy attacks, the MoI added.