Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
US Chargé D’Affairs Ross Wilson has met the representatives of a number of political parties in Afghanistan.
“Enjoyed meeting representatives of some of the diverse political parties in Afghanistan,” Ross Wilson said in a tweet.
Mr. Wilson emphasized that an inclusive range of views makes a democracy stronger.
“Appreciate their views on Afghan elections and peace,” he said.
He further added that he looks forward to working with a wide range of political leaders in the future.
A farewell ceremony for Japanese doctor Tetsu Nakamura, who was killed in Afghanistan in December, was held Saturday attended by about 5,000 people paying respect for his longtime contribution to development of the central Asian country.
“Our family wishes green to spread throughout Afghanistan, as my father hoped,” Ken Nakamura, his 36-year-old son, said at the ceremony at Seinan Gakuin University’s chapel in Fukuoka.
The 73-year-old doctor, head of the Afghan unit of the Peshawar-kai aid group based in the southwestern Japan city, and five Afghans were killed as armed men attacked their vehicle in Jalalabad in the eastern province of Nangarhar on Dec. 4.
Nakamura had been providing medical assistance near the Afghan border with Pakistan for years. He was also involved in tree-planting activities and a project to improve the water supply in poverty-stricken areas after a drought hit Afghanistan in 2000.
The attendees of the ceremony included Afghan Ambassador to Japan Bashir Mohabbat, who termed Nakamura a “permanent hero.”
Photographs of Nakamura and the five Afghans were displayed on the altar during the ceremony.
Italy has assured Afghanistan of continued presence and assistance within the NATO framework, says an official statement.
Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini has met Italian troops in the western Herat province.
‘Guerini visited TAAC (Train, Advise and Assist Command) West in Herat and praised women and men of the Italian armed forces stationed there for their role in training, advising and assisting ANDSF,’ the Italian Embassy tweeted.
Over 50 Italian soldiers have died in Afghanistan since Rome deployed more than 4,000 troops to Afghanistan to fight terrorism after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.
Afghan local officials have confirmed that families could be fined a hundred thousand Afghanis for not sending their children to school in Khost province.
The governor of Khost, Halim Fedayee said in a tweet that the decision has been made in consultation with the Khost inhabitants.
This comes as the Ministry of Education and UNICEF have previously said that about 60 percent of children in Afghanistan who deprived education are girls.
At least three Afghan army soldiers were wounded as their helicopter was shot down by Taliban in southern Helmand province, officials confirmed on Saturday.
The spokesman of Maiwand 115 Corps, Abdul Qadir Bahdorzai told Reporterly, “An army helicopter was brought down by a Taliban rocket at around 12:45pm on Saturday.”
According to Bahdorzai, the chopper crashed in Kajaki district of Helmand when it was transferring the military supplies.
He further added that the wounded soldiers and the pilots were transferred to a secure place.
Chief US diplomat for South Asian affairs, Alice Wells has appreciated the steps taken by Pakistan to advance the Afghan peace process.
The US diplomat, in a media briefing after her visit to three South Asian nations — Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka- said, “Pakistan has important leverage to promote lasting security and stability in Afghanistan.”
She said that she held several meetings in Pakistan with government, military, civil society, and business leaders.
“At the top of the agenda was understanding how we can grow our bilateral relationship commensurate with the cooperation that we are achieving in promoting peace in Afghanistan and regional stability,” she added.
Talking about the Afghanistan peace deal, she said that US Ambassador Khalilzad and his team were in Doha to encourage the Taliban to make a commitment toward a reduction in use of force that would allow Afghans to sit at a negotiating table.
Imagined by Microsoft New England Research & Development Center- (Sasaki), the Kabul Urban Design Framework creates a vision of what the city can become.
As per the Arch Daily, the project generates a set of guidelines that can transform the Afghan capital into a model of sustainable, equitable, and resilient development.
Commissioned by the Afghan Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, the Kabul Urban Design Framework consists of 3 main components: a Citywide Framework for urban development and growth, and corridor designs for two iconic roads: Dar ul-Aman Boulevard and Massoud Boulevard. These areas will become engines of urban and social regeneration, producing opportunities for millions of Afghans for generations to come.
The proposed master plan covers mainly the challenges that Kabul faces today, related to infrastructure, housing, mobility, and sustainability.
Moreover, the framework tackles also with social aspects that can be altered once the physical features are in question. Urban fabric, women in Kabul, higher education, and cultural conservation are few of these rethought topics.
“Kabul is a city at the crossroads of cultures, ecological systems, and political currents, each of which has contributed to the identity of the city today. 20 years into building a new civil society, the opportunity for Kabul in this moment is immense. The Citywide Framework establishes a design-driven agenda for Kabul’s evolution at the metropolitan scale. The challenges are significant: over 70% of the city has developed informally, and its population has grown by over 2 million people in just the last 10 years,” Sasaki said.
A group of unidentified men raped a 15-year-old girl in central Bamyan province, a police official said on Saturday.
A criminal officer in Bamyan told Reporterly, “The girl named Atefa was gang-raped on Friday by several men in Dost Bek Foladi village when she was busy washing clothes along the river.”
“The incident is under serious investigation, and the police are searching to find out the culprits and deal with them accordingly,” he said.
Relative of the teenage girl said, the victim is hospitalized and is now in a stable condition.
The United States has approved a plan to provide Ch-47 Chinook helicopters to the Special Mission Wing of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
The Department of Defense informed regarding the planned delivery of the helicopters in its semiannual report which it recently provided to the U.S. Congress, covering events during the period of June 1 to November 30, 2019.
The report, Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan, states that “The United States continued to provide the ANDSF the necessary equipment and training to improve their capacity during this reporting period and focused advisory efforts at the “point of need” with reliable security partners to increase their effectiveness.”
“DoD continued to provide additional combat aircraft to the Afghan Air Force and plans to provide CH-47 Chinook helicopters to the Special Mission Wing to support its counter-terrorism operations and replace its Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters,” the report said.
The report also added “During this reporting period, DoD approved a plan to provide the SMW with CH-47 Chinooks to fully replace its Mi-17 fleet by the end of 2023.”
Pakistan’s tax authorities have made installation of tracking and monitoring devices mandatory on all vehicles carrying cargoes from Afghanistan for transit trade from February 1, 2020, the News International reported.
“Presently, the consignments are not containerized and also tracking devices are not installed on vehicles carrying the goods,” an official at Pakistan Customs said.
“Therefore, it is decided that from February 1, 2020 all export goods (except fresh fruits and vegetables) from Afghanistan, in transit whether by seaports or land customs stations across Pakistan, would be in containers of international specifications and would also be secured through tracking device and seals of Pakistan Customs.”
The official said installation of tracking device decision has been taken in compliance with Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement 2010.
Amnesty International (AI) on Friday, in a message aimed at the US and the Taliban, stated that any potential agreement on the reduction in violence must include a commitment by both sides to abide by the laws of war and end all attacks on civilians.
“The USA and the Afghan Taliban’s negotiations over a reduction in violence must include a commitment by both sides to abide by the laws of war and end all attacks on civilians,” the watchdog said.
Over the past week, representatives of the USA and the Afghan Taliban have been engaged in closed-door negotiations in Doha, Qatar, apparently aimed at agreeing to levels of “violence reduction” in the conflict in Afghanistan.
“In a conflict marked by attacks on civilians, the term ‘violence reduction’ is an absurdity. There can be no acceptable level of violence. The USA and the Afghan Taliban must commit to abide by the laws of war and end all attacks on Afghan civilians,” said Omar Waraich, Deputy South Asia Director at Amnesty International.
Civilian casualties remain at near-record levels in Afghanistan. In the first nine months of 2019, at least 2,563 civilians were killed and 5,676 wounded, according to figures published by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).