Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
President Ashraf Ghani addressed the introductory meeting of the newly nominated ministers at the Presidential Palace on Monday, where he appointed 10 acting ministers.
According to the decree:
Fazal Ahmad Manawi to the Ministry of Justice
Qudratullah Zaki to Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation
Mohibullah Samim to Ministry of Border and Tribal Affairs
Bashir Ahmad Tahyanj to Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs
Noor Rehman Akhlaqi to Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation
Anwar-ul-Haq Ahady to Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock
Masooma Khawari to Ministry of Communications and Information Technology
Ghulam Abbas Basir, to Ministry of Higher Education
Nisar Ahmad Ghoriani to Ministry of Commerce and Industries
Karima Hamid Faryabi to Ministry of Economy
All the nominees thanked Ghani for their appointment and pledged to serve the people as a single team.
Their names will now be sent to the parliament for a vote of confidence.
Second Vice President Sarwar Danesh also addressed them and said the cabinet was nearing completion.
Referring to the intra-Afghan talks in Qatar, Danesh called it a result of the government’s efforts, and national and international consensus.
Ghani said that the cabinet would be working to negate the effects of COVID-19 on the country, improving the economy and employment.
At the end of his speech, he said that with the advent of peace, there will be an increase in the quality of governance and they are fully prepared to improving the living conditions of the people.
The House of Representatives on Monday summoned the acting Minister of Interior (MoI) and the acting head of National Directorate of Security (NDS) to address a plenary session about the Security Pact programme.
Acting Minister of Interior Masoud Andarabi emphasized that the programme was not to arm people and he “opposes the formation of militias.”
He also told them that the purpose of the pact was to better police relations with the people and mobilize institutions to reduce criminal activities.
He said in the past six months, they have arrested around 10,000 people, most of them between the ages of 12 to 25-year-old. He added that 2,500 security officials are also being investigated for corruption.
The acting head of NDS, Ahmad Zia Saraj, said that though the programme did not arm people, for many years they had weaponised themselves in the name of Uprising Forces who have been extremely effective in providing security against “enemies.”
He said about 80 people accused of planting mines have been detained in the past 20 days.
With the increase in wild polio cases this year, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) announced on Monday, that the delayed vaccination campaigns had started once more across 20 provinces.
The MoPH said that the polio vaccine campaigns had been delayed due to the COVID-19 lockdowns, exposing more than 9.9 million Afghan children under the age of five to the polio virus.
The campaign will aim to vaccinate 6.1 million children in east, west, south, central and northeast of Afghanistan.
The ministry said the vaccination drive had been suspended from February to July 2020, due to which Afghanistan had recorded 46 cases of wild polio this year, compared to the 29 in 2019.
Officials confirmed that 30 students of Ghor University had tested positive for Coronavirus, prompting the recommendation for shutting down the institution on Monday.
Masoumeh Jafari, deputy spokesperson of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), told Reporterly, that they had received news of 74 students showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Their samples were sent to the laboratory in Herat for testing, where 30 were found to be positive till now.
She added, “So far, the MoPH has not received official information about the closure of this university and the decision to close the university is up to the Ministry of Higher Education.”
The MoPH has recommended that the university be closed to prevent further spread of the virus.
Jafari also said that the infected students had been quarantined.
The Ghor governor’s office told Reporterly that the province’s Department of Public Health had confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the students but the university had not been closed yet.
Mohammad Aref Aber, spokesperson for the governor, said they are conducting more research before making the decision.
Following the decline of COVID-19 cases, the gates of public and private universities across the country were opened to students on Aug. 5, after a four-and-a-half-month lockdown.
U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad will be making a short trip to India on Tuesday to meet political leaders in New Delhi, Indian media reports.
According to diplomats, Khalilzad will be making a shout four-hour-long stop in India, where he will meet with Minister of External Affair S Jaishankar and share details of the Afghan peace process.
He has appreciated India’s constructive role in Afghanistan for the past 20 years.
India also participated in the talks with Foreign Ministry’s Joint Secretary (Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran) JP Singh leading a delegation to Qatar while Jaishankar delivered a virtual address at the opening ceremony.
There has been no official confirmation of Khalilzad’s trip from the U.S. Department of State yet.
From the 365 samples tested for Coronavirus, 56 were found to be positive over the past 24 hours, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said, taking the Afghan tally to 38,772 confirmed infections so far.
New cases were reported in the provinces of Herat (30), Badghis (11), Balkh (7), Kabul (2), Kandahar (2), Daykundi (2), Kunduz (1) and Wardak (1).
The MoPH reported five deaths and 435 recoveries in the past day.
Afghanistan has 5,274 active COVID-19 cases with 32,073 recovered and 1,425 fatalities.
U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is scheduled to arrive in Islamabad on Monday, to discuss the latest developments in the Afghan peace process with Pakistani leaders, local media reported.
Khalilzad is expected to meet Pakistan’s top civilian and military leaders and discuss the intra-Afghan dialogues, said local broadcasters citing Foreign Ministry sources.
Khalilzad’s visit to Pakistan – which is yet unconfirmed by the U.S. Department of State – comes two days after the start of the peace dialogues being hosted in Qatar.
The contact groups from the Afghan government and the Taliban’s negotiating teams held their first meeting on Sunday evening, and discussed the agenda, schedules of upcoming meetings, the code of conduct and relevant issues, according to Nader Nadery, a member of the Afghan peace delegation.
Nadery tweeted: “The first meeting between the contact groups of the two negotiation teams took place today. In this meeting code of conduct between two sides, schedules of upcoming meetings and relevant issues were discussed and progress were made.”
Taliban spokesperson Naeem Wardak also tweeted that the “communicating committees” of the intra-Afghan negotiating teams met and discussed the schedule and agreed on some ground rules.
The meeting was held behind closed door with another set to take place on Monday to finalize details before the peace talks can start, according to reports.
The first meeting of the negotiating teams was held on Saturday after the opening ceremony of the talks. The contact groups were established then.
Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, Nader Nadery, Zarar Ahmad Muqbil, Fawzia Koofi, Enayatullah Baligh, Mohammad Natiqi and Khalid Noor are the seven members of the Afghan government’s contact group.
The Taliban is represented by Mawlawi Abdul Kabir, Abbas Stanekzai, Noorullah Noori, Shaikh Delawar and Shaikh Qasim.
Chief Afghan negotiator, Masoom Stanekzai said, “There was a positive spirit [during the first meeting on Saturday]. There wasn’t any effort to drive the negotiations towards controversial topics.”
However, other Afghan leaders have urged for a reduction in violence or a humanitarian ceasefire to be one of the items on the agenda.