Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
US Charge’ d’ Affairs Ross Wilson has said that the U.S. will continue its support to ensure sustainable meaningful advancement towards peace.
He stated that the United States joins the donor community in supporting Afghanistan as it moves towards self-reliance, building on the achievements and investments of the last nineteen years.
“I am pleased to join other donors in confirming our commitment to the people of Afghanistan; the US recognizes the social, economic, and political progress made over the last nineteen years and welcomes continued progress towards peace and stability,” Ross Wilson said.
The US charge’ d’ Affairs appreciated the significant improvements for Afghan women and girls, including access to education and health care.
“We will continue to promote women’s rights and economic empowerment, access to essential services, and prevention of and victim resources for gender-based violence,” he said.
He stressed that the United States will continue to work with Afghan people and institutions towards good governance, improved management and accountability, and strengthening the rule of law.
“These efforts are necessary to build trust among Afghan citizens,” he added.
An average of five children have been killed or wounded every day for the past 14 years in war-torn Afghanistan, a charity has found.
Data from the UN showed at least 26,025 children were killed or maimed from 2005 to 2019, said Save the Children.
The charity has urged donor nations to protect the future of Afghan children ahead of a key meeting in Geneva.
Violence has been rising in Afghanistan amid stalled peace talks and US troop withdrawals.
Afghanistan is among the 11 most dangerous nations in the world for children, according to Save the Children.
In 2019 it accounted for the greatest number of killing and maiming violations of all the global conflicts covered in the charity’s report, released on Friday, with 874 Afghan children killed and 2,275 maimed.
More than two-thirds of those killed and maimed last year were boys, it said, “as a result of ground engagements between pro- and anti-government forces or of improvised explosive devices in both suicide and non-suicide attacks”.
The report found that schools have routinely been attacked in the ongoing conflict that pits the Afghan government, supported by US troops, against the Taliban and other insurgents.
Save the Children said that between 2017 and 2019 there were more than 300 attacks on schools.
“Imagine living with the constant fear that today might be the day that your child is killed in a suicide attack or an airstrike. This is the grim reality for tens of thousands of Afghan parents whose children have been killed or injured,” said Chris Nyamandi, Save the Children’s country director in Afghanistan, in a statement.
An Afghan father shot his daughter and her male friend in the head for an alleged affair in Chal area of Jaghori district of Ghazni province, local officials said.
The spokesman of Ghazni governor, Wahidullah Jomazada told Reporterly that the father escaped after killing his daughter but was arrested by Police shortly after.
This incident was the latest reported case of violence against women in the country.
Afghanistan faces serious human rights issues, including physical and sexual violence against women and so-called honor killings that often involve immolation.
The First Vice President Amrullah Saleh says two Parliament Members have pushed for the release of their undocumented vehicles in PD5 and he warned them to not interfere in the implementation of law.
Saleh on Monday said that a number of undocumented vehicles were stopped in PD5 yesterday and were seized by the urban and rural patrols of the police.
He also called on all “political figures and government officials” not to interfere in the affairs of police, national security, general attorney and other government institutions using their bodyguards.
Saleh noted that a number of individuals involved in crimes at various levels have also been arrested in recent weeks.
He added that those who claim that they were not directly or indirectly involved in the crimes have the right to prove it and we will apologize.
A new poll by the Afghan Civil Society Complex (MAJMA) found that most of the respondents supported the talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in the hope of ending the war in the country.
The survey interviewed 1,750 people in various age groups. Most respondents also called the Taliban’s war against the government illegitimate, but said the Afghan government is also unable to provide security for its citizens.
98% of the interviewees said that there is corruption in the government and more than 70% have experienced corruption in the government.
The effectiveness of international community aid and its transparency are other questions raised in this survey.
The official investigation also found that “ethnic hegemony” was an important factor in the war, and that the Taliban were to blame for the continuing war in the country; And discrimination still exists dramatically in this country.
The purpose of this poll is to gather public opinion about government performance and government commitments after the Geneva 2018 conference.
Former Trump national security adviser H.R. McMaster criticized US President Donald Trump over his election attacks on Face the Nation, but he really went off on the president’s recent announcement about withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.
Margaret Brennan asked, “Joe Biden is the president-elect. President Trump has no viable legal pathway to litigate his way to 270 electoral votes. But he continues to raise doubts about the election and to sow doubt among the American public. How corrosive is that to our national security?”
“It’s very corrosive,” McMaster said. “What concerns me is that the president’s kind of playing into the hands of our adversaries. You know, what I write about in Battlegrounds is how Russia really doesn’t care who wins our elections as long as a large number of Americans doubt the legitimacy of the result. And I think what all of us need to do at this point is to demand better from our political leaders, in this case, especially the president, that they don’t play into our adversaries hands and divide us further and reduce our confidence in our democratic principles and institutions and processes.”
He said it was a “travesty” for Trump to fire Chris Krebs and assured that “we have in place a transition that will occur” that the current president “doesn’t get a say in.”
He went on to tear into the president for “paradoxically” doubling down on “all the flaws of the Obama administration approach to Afghanistan” with the recent troop drawdown announcement.
“I think what happened is the prioritization of withdrawal over our interests led to us actually empowering the Taliban,” McMaster continued. “I mean, if we were going to leave, just leave, but don’t force the Afghan government to release 5,000 of the most heinous people on Earth.”
“It’s abhorrent what we’re doing,” he said.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says no NATO Ally would like to stay in Afghanistan longer than necessary.
Speaking to the Halifax International Security Forum, Stoltenberg said, “We are in Afghanistan to make sure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists, a platform where terrorists can plan, organize, finance, launch terrorist attacks against our countries.”
“The US position is clear; they are going to reduce their presence in Afghanistan from roughly 4,500 to around 2,500 troops. At the same time, if we leave too early, if we leave too hasty, we may risk to lose all the gains we have made; and that’s a risky project,” he said.
NATO Secretary-General stressed that his message is that they need to assess whether the conditions for leaving are met.
“We need to make these decisions together with US. And as we have said many times in NATO: we went into Afghanistan together, we should make decisions on adjustments of a presence there together, and when the time is right we should leave together, but then in a coordinated and orderly way,” he asserted.
“What we’re going to assess together early next year and then make decisions together on whether to stay or whether to leave. And after it is certain that we will then do that, all Allies, of course, including the United States,” he added.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Monday reported 282 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 1323 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 8 deaths and 42 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 44,988 the number of total reported deaths is 1,695 and the total number of recoveries is 35,975.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Kandahar, Balkh, Nangarhar, Bamyian, Badghis, Daikundi, Logar, Parwan, Nimroz, Ghazni, Helmand, Maidan wardak, Panjshir and Zabul provinces.
In just three weeks, nine Australian soldiers have taken their own lives in the wake of damning reports of alleged war crimes they committed while deployed in Afghanistan. An edited version of the report was released on Thursday, after a four-year inquiry uncovered unlawful killings that took place outside of battle.
One female and eight male soldiers aged between 20 and 50 were reported to have taken their own lives in the past three weeks. This many soldiers brought to the edge of committing suicide in such a short space of time is considered to be a bizarre situation in recent Australian military history.
The stress of the inquiry is believed to have played a contributory factor in some of the suicides which had brought into light evidence of 39 murders by Australian Special Forces.
In recent years, there have been reports on the actions of the elite Special Forces with one involving a prisoner that was shot dead as well as that of a soldier that had killed a 6-year-old child during a house raid. Another case involved two 14-year-old boys who were determined to be Taliban sympathisers. The boys’ throats were torn, their bodies allegedly sacked and thrown into a nearby river. Some of the killings were described as possibly the most shameful in Australian military history.
In an article on Eminetra, Australian Defense Force chief Angus Campbell apologized for the unlawful killings of prisoners, farmers and other civilians. However, Abdullah Abdullah, head of national reconciliation for the High Council of Afghanistan, has accused him of murder.
Ex-infantry soldier and veterans’ mental health advocate Neil Wallace explained his view on the incidents:
“I think some of the media has been painting everyone with the same brush and people seem to have forgotten about innocence until proven guilty – and that adds additional stress.”
He emphasised that there are no clear suggestions that any of the nine soldiers who took their lives had anything to do with the alleged war crimes that were documented in the report.
From 40 veterans in 2019, at least 56 veterans committed suicide this year alone. The most recent suicide took place last Thursday.
Local officials and residents of Pato district of Daikundi province told media reporters that the Taliban militants have blocked the supply routes for thousands of families in the district for the past four months.
Officials in Pato district say that more than 30,000 residents of the Zain and Khalaj areas of the district are currently without access to food due to road closure.
Sayed Taher Etemadi, Pato district governor, said that the transportation route was blocked for about 80 percent of the district’s residents and that locals were facing severe economic problems and lack of food.
According to the Pato district governor, the Taliban have planted mines in parts of the district’s roads with Uruzgan province.
In the meantime, Daikundi Provincial Council member Ghairat Ali Javaheri said Taliban fighters had closed transport routes to about ten villages after locals took up arms to support security forces against the Taliban a few months ago.
Mr. Javaheri added that the Taliban blocked the roads in these villages, in addition to creating economic problems for the people, also it is impossible for the patients to reach the medical centers.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Ali Uruzgani, deputy governor of Daikundi, said that the local government had done everything to address the situation of the residents of the district; some help to the people through institutions and accident management offices.
However, locals say they are concerned that a famine in the district will cause a humanitarian catastrophe if the government does not pay serious attention to it.
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has welcomed Pakistan’s commitment to work for a reduction of violence and a ceasefire in Afghanistan.
“We welcome and are encouraged by the positive development in Pakistan-Afghanistan relations. If implemented, it provides an opportunity to move forward on peace and development in the region,” Khalilad said in a tweet.
“We congratulate both countries on emphasis Joint Vision places on: 1) preventing either’s territory to be used against the other, 2) inclusive governance, 3) stronger people/government/security ties, 4) more integrated economic connectivity, trade and development-linking Central Asia, Pakistan and Afghanistan,” he added.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan undertook his maiden visit to Kabul last week which the visit was important in the context of Afghanistan’s current situation.
While the intra-Afghan talks are underway in Doha, Pakistan and Afghanistan have been trying for months to remove mistrust between them.
This comes as now all eyes are on the intra-Afghan talks that what would be the result of the Afghan peace process.
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale will lead the United States delegation to the Afghanistan 2020 Conference, which will be held virtually November 23-24, the US Department of State said in a press release.
According to the press release, Hale will deliver a statement on behalf of the United States and introduce a video message from Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo on Tuesday.
The conference will also feature a U.S.-led side event on Economic Priorities and Aid Effectiveness with keynote remarks from Acting USAID Deputy Administrator John Barsa on Monday, the press release said.
The event is the sixth quadrennial gathering of approximately 70 countries and international organizations to coordinate international development support for Afghanistan.
The conference is being hosted by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Government of Finland, and the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.