Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Women in Afghanistan have had to overcome many social and cultural taboos, including driving a car.
The head of the license section at the Traffic Department in Balkh Sarman Abdullah, at least 44 women have obtained driving permits in Balkh province.
According to Abdullah, more than 300 women have been trained in driving vehciles in Mazar-e-Sharif since the beginning of the current year.
However, several women can be seen driving in some provinces of the country as they complain of harassment at the hands of men.
Staffs from the Afghanistan Ministry of Transport have recently travelled to China to be trained in railway management, signaling and operations. This included a visit to a high speed rail training center.
As per Railway Gazatee report, the Afghanistan Railway Authorities said the engineers have acquired a wealth of technical skills during the visit, which they would pass on to other Afghan staff to help support the country’s railway plans.
Afghanistan Railway Authority staffs have previously visited countries including Iran and Tajikistan for technical training, as part of the authority’s work to develop domestic railway capabilities.
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) says at least six Taliban militants including two Pakistani members have been killed and six others have been arrested in Helmand province.
NDS in a press release on Sunday said that the NDS operatives have conducted an operation on a key Taliban commander’s hideout named Mawlawi Mujibullah in Safar Bazzar village of Garmsir district.
According to the press release, Afghan forces sized 10kg of explosives, five anti-vehicle IEDs, ten military uniforms, three radios, two vehicles and three motorcycles during the operation.
NDS further added that a bomb-making factory of the Taliban group has also been destroyed in the operation.
Amid ongoing nationwide protests against Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 in India, the country’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that as many as 914 Afghan refugees were given citizenship during the last six years.
She said, “Till 2014, over 566 Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan were given Indian citizenship. During 2016-18 under Modi government, around 1595 Pakistani migrants and 391 Afghanistani Muslims were given Indian citizenship.”
In the meantime, in an exclusive interview with the Times of India, ex-Afghan president Hamid Karzai said that Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) is an internal matter of India.
Karzai added, “India is the greatest friend of Afghanistan. India has been a tremendous contributor to Afghanistan, but the impact that Pakistan can make in Afghanistan, is a lot greater than any other country.”
Afghan security officials say at least eight armed individuals have been arrested in Baghlan province during the past two days.
The Baghlan Police commander, Muhammad Wais Samimi told reporters that the gunmen were arrested during a two-day operation in collaboration with the Pul-e Khomri district Police and the criminal crimes management department.
According to Samimi, the police have also seized three AK weapons, 9 pistols and some liters of alcoholic drinks.
The Baghlan Police added that the operation is underway and investigations will continue two days in a week.
The Afghan security officials say at least six members of a family have been shot killed by the Taliban insurgents in Faryab province.
The 209th Shahin Corps in a statement on Sunday said, “The family members were killed by Taliban in Khanqah village of Andkhoy district at around 19:15pm (local time) on Saturday.”
According to the statement, the Taliban militants have entered a residential house and killed the family members of the house.
The statement further added that at least six people including women and children were killed without any reason and one woman with a child were wounded in the incident.
A “large” drug smuggler group has been arrested during an Afghan forces operation in Chark district of Logar province, the security officials said on Sunday.
The Special Operations Corps in a statement said that the commando forces launched a special operation in Charkh district on Saturday night.
According to the statement, a group of the drug traffickers have been arrested along with a large number of drugs.
The statement further added that the smugglers have attempted to transfer the drugs to Pakistan.
Germany’s Special Envoy to Afghanistan Potzel Markus has met with Afghan politicians and discussed the concept for another round of intra-Afghan dialogue and possible steps towards peace, the Germany’s embassy in Kabul said.
“Potzel Markus is in town together with Hans J. Giessmann of Berghof Foundation to discuss our concept for another round of intra-Afghan dialogue and other possible steps towards peace,” the Germany embassy said in a tweet.
In the meantime, the former President Hamid Karzai in his twitter account has written: “It was a pleasure to meet special envoy, Potzel Markus and Ambassador Peter Prugal today. Discussed the next steps in the peace process and thanked Germany for its peace efforts in Afghanistan.”
Afghan ambassador to Pakistan, Omar Zakhilwal also added, “Today had the pleasure to meet German Special Envoy, good friend Potzel Markus for discussion on ongoing efforts for peace, challenges, opportunities and Germany’s important role in support for Intra-Afghan talks.”
The Taliban’s chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said less than two weeks ago that the war will come to an end in Afghanistan once the US forces withdraw from the country.
“The war will end when the US withdraws from Afghanistan,” said Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the founders of the Taliban and the group’s chief negotiator with the US, told FRONTLINE in a Jan. 6 interview in Qatar.
Speaking to FRONTLINE correspondent Najibullah Quraishi, Baradar described the US “invasion” of Afghanistan as a big mistake.
“(The) Americans made a huge mistake by coming to Afghanistan and starting this war in Afghanistan,” Baradar told FRONTLINE. “Because their main goal was just one person — Osama bin Laden — and he is now gone. …We are obliged, as it is our country, to defend it with our lives.” Baradar said, as quoted by FRONTLINE.
“There has been no change in the Taliban in this regard,” Baradar said. “We accept all the rights that God has granted to women…. Under Islamic law, if they want to live and work, of course we will allow it.”
But media reports and sources close to the current peace talks in Doha say that the Taliban is open to a temporary reduction in violence.
The chairman of the Lower House of Parliament, Mir Rahman Rahmani in reaction to the Hijab campaign of Mawlawi Mujibur Rahman Ansari, a religious scholar said that no one is allowed to define the laws on their own.
Ansari has recently installed banners across the Herat city, promoting strict Muslim hijab for women.
Ansari, head of Herat’s Gozargah mosque and a prominent cleric in Herat city, has always been critical of women’s dress code and has been seen threatening to take matters into his own hands if authorities failed to address an increasing disregard to compulsory hijab.
In the meantime, Abdul Qayyum Rahimi, the governor of western Herat province said that they support women as it is one their priority, insisting that necessary measures have been taken to prevent the growth of extremism in the province.
Herati women during a meeting with the Herat governor and dozens of women, including officials of institutions, employees, civil activists, members of social organizations and journalists, described selective approaches against women contrary to the prevailing laws, urging officials to react against factors insulting women.
The US chargé d’affaires in Kabul, Ross Wilson has arrived in Kabul, saying “I am excited to start work at the US embassy in Kabul during this crucial time in the history.”
“Be it Afghan Elections, the quest for peace, or other priorities, my country and I strongly support all Afghans as they choose the future of this proud country,” Wilson said in a tweet.
Ross Wilson, who spent nearly four decades in the U.S. Foreign Service before retiring near the Twin Cities, accepted U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s request this month to lead the U.S. Embassy in Kabul until the Senate confirms a permanent ambassador.