Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (IARCSC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the intention to start reforms within the MFA in the next two days.
The MoU was signed on Sunday by acting Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar and Ahmad Nader Nadery, Chairman of the IARCSC.
Nadery said that currently, the MFA was not “competitive and did not fit the conditions and expectations of the citizens.”
“One of the wishes and demands of His Excellency the President was that the Afghan diplomatic apparatus be a non-political apparatus. A body that secures, defends and protects Afghanistan’s political and economic interests abroad. Systematizing this process was a key need,” he noted.
A statement from the Commission said, “The recruitment commission manages the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ entry-level packages and oversees the Ministry’s internal competitive appraisal processes. The commission is also tasked with technically assisting in reforming and improving the Foreign Ministry’s diplomatic and consular rules.”
Atmar added that the new system of appointments was an “important step towards meritocracy and politicization of the country’s diplomatic apparatus.”
According to the MoU, the IARCSC will be involved in the establishment of an accountable, transparent, and competitive system for new staff hiring in the diplomatic, consular, administrative, and service sectors of the MFA.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said on Sunday, they had made all the preparations for managing the second wave of Coronavirus infections across Afghanistan.
MoPH spokesperson Akmal Samsor said that 560 oxygen generators had been sent to 34 provinces in the past two weeks.
“Currently, oxygen generators have reached 13 provinces and will soon reach other provinces,” he added, that this was all in preparation for a rise in cases.
“If positive cases [of COVID-19] increase in the fall or winter, we are fully prepared to treat patients.”
However, currently the cases seem to be declining, Samsor pointed. Due to this, efforts are being made to reduce the number of medical staff in hospitals, and even to close outpatient centres where no new cases had been admitted in the past few weeks.
This was being done to avoid wastage of resources and manpower.
Samsor added that currently there were 12 government laboratories and 10 private laboratories across Afghanistan, testing for Coronavirus, and plans were underway to establish more such facilities.
“The money that the World Bank has given to help fight the Coronavirus… MoPH cannot spend it directly and can only help manage it. The money must be spent through implementing agencies,” Samsor explained.
At least 30 Taliban militants were killed and six Afghan security forces were wounded in clashes in the Qadis and Muqur districts of Badghis on Saturday night, said the acting provincial Governor Abdul Ghafoor Malikzai.
An airstrike in Qarchaghi village of Qadis district, to support the ground forces, killed 12 militants and injured one, said the Special Operations Corps.
Local officials in Daykundi also reported a Taliban offensive in parts of the Pato district continued, forcing at least 100 families to flee following the attacks.
A provincial council member raised the danger of Taliban overrunning the area if no action was taken.
A blast was reported in PD12 of eastern Kabul city in the Salim Karwan area.
The police said two people were wounded in the mine explosion but did not clarify whether they were security officials or civilians.
Special Operations Corps also said that Taliban had attacked security checkpoints in the Arzoo Kalan area of the capital of Ghazni province on Saturday night.
During the clashes, four Taliban insurgents were killed.
Wahidullah Jumazadah, spokesperson for Ghazni’s governor, also reported that two policemen were killed in an attack by unknown individuals at a security checkpoint in the provincial capital on early Sunday morning.
The attackers fled the scene and an operation has been launched to identify them.
The Afghan National Police arrested five individuals involved in armed robbery and murder in Takhar and Panjshir provinces, said the Ministry of Interior.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said 82 positive cases of the Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) have been reported in Afghanistan this year, of which five have died.
Akmal Samsor, a spokesperson for the MoPH, said that 20 cases were registered after Eid al-Adha.
CCHF is a deadly viral disease that is transmitted directly to humans through tick bites or contact with the blood, secretions and flesh of infected animals.
Samsor said there had been 315 cases of CCHF reported in 2019, of which 42 had died.
He added that the reduction in cases was due to people following the health advisories.
It is difficult to prevent or control CCHF infections in animals and ticks, but the only realistic option is to use acaridices, a chemical to kill ticks, and to try to eliminate infestations by treating the animal to be slaughtered.
Most cases are reported during or after Eid al-Adha when people do not follow proper measures for slaughtering animals.
Officials from the United Nations (UN) met members of the Taliban’s Political Commission in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday, said the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
The meeting was for “expressing support for direct intra-Afghan talks starting this week” and they advocated for “reduced violence” to improve the atmosphere before the negotiations take place.
The UN also underscored its availability to give expert help to the peace process.
However, First Vice President Amrullah Saleh questioned the phrase “reduced violence” in a tweet on Sunday.
“Death with one bullet or hundred cuts is still death. Dying on the spot due to shot wounds or dying two days later of the same wounds is still a violent death. Missing principles,” he wrote asking people to find the historical usage of reduced violence as a phrase.
The Reduction in Violence (RiV) measure was a condition set by the U.S.-Taliban agreement in February as a confidence-building measure, along with the prisoner exchange.
However, officials have noted that while the Taliban have reduced attacks on U.S. and other foreign troops in Afghanistan, they have continued to clash with Afghan security forces and civilians.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) reported 48 new cases of Coronavirus in Afghanistan in the past 24 hours, bringing the tally to 37,599 confirmed cases so far.
The ministry was able to test a little less than 420 samples in the past day.
According to the MoPH, new cases were reported in the provinces of Ghor (15), Daykundi (5), Kunduz (5), Takhar (5), Kabul (4), Herat (4), Bamyan (4), Badghis (2), Nuristan (2), Baghlan (1) and Laghman (1).
The ministry added that five people had died in the past day and 57 had recovered, pushing the death toll to 1,375 and the recoveries to 27,223.
The final wave of Wisconsin National Guard soldiers who were deployed in Afghanistan, were able to go back home after their mandatory two-week quarantine in the U.S.
About 200 soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry returned home Friday after a year-long mobilization.
A traditional homecoming ceremony was not possible due to the Coronavirus restrictions, so a group of senior leaders from the Wisconsin National Guard greeted the soldiers when their plane landed in Eau Claire.
Hundreds of people had gathered for the event.
“You have all become American heroes and are part of something special,” said Lt. Col. Aaron Freund, commander of the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry Regiment.
The 128th Infantry had been serving as Guardian Angels since July 2019.
France has asked the Afghan government to not release Taliban prisoners who have been convicted of killing French nationals, as part of the prisoner exchange process with the militant group ahead of the peace talks.
The French Foreign Ministry on Saturday, said they had taken note of the Afghan government’s decision to release 400 “hard-core” Taliban prisoners in context of the peace process.
“France is particularly concerned by the presence, among the individuals liable to be released, of several terrorists convicted of killing French citizens in Afghanistan,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
“It [France] firmly opposes the liberation of individuals convicted of crimes against French nationals, in particular soldiers and humanitarian workers. As a result, we have immediately asked the Afghan authorities not to proceed with the release of these terrorists.”
The Taliban prisoners who are in contention include those who were responsible for killing Bettina Goislard, an employee of the UN refugee agency who was killed in 2003.
The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad condemned Friday’s attack on Fawzia Koofi, a member of the Afghan government’s peace negotiation team and urged for the peace talks to start as soon as possible.
Koofi, an outspoken critic of the Taliban, was returning from a meeting in Parwan when she was attacked near Kabul city and shot at. She received minor injuries with a wound on her right arm.
“We condemn the attempt on [Fawzia Koofi’s] life that took place in Afghanistan on Friday; a cowardly and criminal act by those who seek to delay and disrupt the Afghan Peace Process,” tweeted the U.S. envoy.
“Fawzia is an important voice, a member of the inclusive Islamic Republic negotiating team and has been a strong advocate of women’s rights. We are relieved she escaped without serious injury.”
The Taliban have denied that they were behind the attack which came as the two sides prepared for the start of the intra-Afghan talks.
Khalilzad called on both sides “who seek peace” to not only condemn the attack but to accelerate the peace process and start the intra-Afghan negotiations as soon as possible.
“Worrying pattern of targeted attacks that can negatively impact confidence in peace process,” wrote the chief of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, Shaharzad Akbar on Twitter.
Koofi is one of the few women to have taken part in the negotiations with the Taliban.
Tariq Arian, spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, said that the police were launching an investigation and no further details of the assault were available.
The Afghan government is also in the process of releasing the rest of the final 400 Taliban prisoners ahead of the direct negotiations with the group that would mark the end of the decades-long war.