Newsfeed; Thursday, December 24 2020

Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…

  • 24 Dec 2020 Share this post

    Taliban Confirmed Mullah Baradar’s Visit from a Hospital in Pakistan

    The Taliban confirmed Mullah Baradar’s visit from a hospital in Karachi city of Pakistan.

    Speaking to the BBC, the Taliban spokesman confirmed that Mullah Baradar, during his recent visit to Pakistan, had met with a number of sick and vulnerable Afghans living in the country.

    In a video that goes viral on social networks, “the deputy leader of the Taliban,” apparently speaking to some members of the group, and says to them: “Your efforts will never be forgotten. We reassure you to maintain the wills of martyrs, patients and the people.”

    Taliban’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid says it is natural that Mullah Baradar, as the deputy leader of the Taliban, “feel responsible for the refugees and the vulnerables and address them.”

    The exact location of Baradar’s speech is not clear, but it is said that there is a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan.

    Inside Afghanistan, the video followed harsh reactions of people.

    Amrullah Saleh, the first Vice President of Afghanistan, said in a tweet that Mullah Baradar had done three major things in Karachi; He met the wounded Taliban at a government hospital in Karachi, who are there without a visa, he visited a training center to inspire students to carry out terrorist acts and he thanked the government of Pakistan for its generous support to the Taliban up to today.”

    Last week, after a two-day break in the intra-Afghan peace talks, a delegation led by Mullah Baradar traveled to Pakistan and met with the country’s Prime Minister and foreign minister.

    During the meeting, Pakistani PM Imran Khan said that Pakistan was watching the escalation of violence in Afghanistan and called on all parties to seek lasting peace.

  • 24 Dec 2020 Share this post

    MoIC Calls on HCNR to Make Journalists’ Impunity A Priority in Peace Talks

    As the assassination of journalists continues to escalate over the past month, the Ministry of Information and Culture has called on the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) to make the impunity of journalists a priority in peace talks.

    The Acting Minister of Information and Culture, Mohammad Taher Zaheer, called the threats against journalists a matter of concern at a press conference on Thursday and called on the security agencies to take serious and practical action to address these concerns.

    Zaheer also called on security agencies to take action to ensure the security of journalists and to create a safe working environment for the media.

    The Acting Minister of Information called the process of killing journalists a perfect example of a crime against humanity.

    Zuheer also called on all pro-freedom organizations and Afghan journalists and international advocates involved in Afghanistan’s affairs to put pressure on terrorists to save the lives of journalists, who he said were neither armed nor involved in the war.

    The Acting Minister of Information and Culture also asked journalists and the media to share their strategies, ideas and views with the Ministry regarding the preservation of journalists’ lives, which will then be coordinated with the security agencies in order to achieve a favorable result.

  • 24 Dec 2020 Share this post

    EU Deputy Head of Delegation Calls for Effective Measures to Protect Human Rights Defenders

    The European Union Deputy Head of Delegation Arnout Pauwels at the National Human Rights Defenders Conference on Thursday called for effective measures to protect human rights defenders and media representatives in Afghanistan.

    “Today, human rights are increasingly under pressure around the world, including in Afghanistan. Only in the last few months, we have seen several targeted attacks against journalists, civil society activists and prosecutors. It is becoming more and more difficult for human rights defenders, civil society and media representatives to do their work. I have also understood that ACSFo later in the conference will present additional findings when it comes to threats against human rights defenders. I reiterate our expectation that all these attacks and targeted killings are thoroughly and transparently investigated by relevant authorities, and that effective measures are taken to protect human rights defenders and media representatives. The perpetrators must be brought to justice,” Pauwels said in a press release released on Thursday.

    He stated that human rights defenders play a key role in defending fundamental rights and in protecting victims, combating the impunity of those responsible and raising awareness of human rights both at national and local level, despite an often hostile environment.

    “Without your courage and daily struggle, Afghanistan would be a different place and democratic progress would not be possible. As we will be updating our Human Rights and Democracy country strategy, I very much look forward to coming consultations and exchanges with civil society,” he asserted.

    “The establishment of the new government commission, tasked with protection of human rights defenders and strengthening human rights advocacy is a welcome progress. We encourage Afghan authorities to uphold the respect for the rights of human rights defenders, especially women, to protect them from attacks and threats from non-state actors and to work to increase knowledge by law enforcement officials of the state’s obligations in this field. I hope that the commission will soon become fully operational and take practical and tangible actions for concrete follow-up of cases and better protection of human rights defenders,” he added.

  • 24 Dec 2020 Share this post

    Foreign Fighters Moved in All Across Northern Afghanistan: Noor

    As insecurity rises in the country, Atta Mohammad Noor, the former governor of Balkh province, says foreign fighters have moved in all across the northern provinces and he had previously warned the government leaders that the warning had not been taken seriously.

    Atta Mohammad Noor on Thursday commemorated Rahnavard Zaryab death, criticizing the increase in violence and insecurity in the country, and told the government that if it could not provide security, it would allow jihadi leaders to use their popular influence to secure the country.

    Noor called the security situation in the country very “inflamed” and “complicated”, adding: “Good governance is almost gone from Afghanistan. Instead of holding regular show meetings, it is better to make efforts for the national unity, security and their immunity.”

    The former governor of Balkh noted that the presence of foreign fighters in the northern provinces has made some central and northern provinces insecure.

    “I say again that it is difficult for me to see our people in front of our eyes to be slaughtered and shed their blood,” Noor said, adding that he had repeatedly raised security concerns with the National Security Council.

    Without naming any individual or group, Atta Mohammad Noor accused some circles in the government of trying to assassinate a number of influential figures under the pretext of the National Security Pact.

    “We do not believe in peace, but we must support the peace process, having a national consensus, and put an end to the war,” Atta Mohammad Noor said of the peace talks.

  • 24 Dec 2020 Share this post

    Head of Kandahar Hajj Department Wounded in a Targeted Attack

    Local officials in Kandahar say Mohammad Omar Akhundzadah, the province’s head of Hajj department, was wounded in a targeted attack.

    The accident took place in the “Juni” area of PD1 of Kandahar city.

    Local officials in Kandahar say the head of the province’s Hajj department was shot wounded at around 9:30 a.m. on Thursday.

    Mr. Akhundzadeh’s driver was killed and five others, including the head of the Kandahar Hajj department, were injured in the attack.

    No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack.

    It is worth mentioning that the rate of assassinations has increased in the Afghan cities these days.

  • 24 Dec 2020 Share this post

    Jusuf Kalla Calls for MUI Involvement in Afghanistan Peacemaking

    Former Indonesian vice president Jusuf Kalla in his visit to Afghanistan has called for Indonesian ulemas to be involved in Afghanistan’s peacemaking process and suggests the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) could help accommodate a dialogue between Taliban figures and the Afghan government in Jakarta.

    “One of the options is to invite the parties in conflict to a dialogue in Jakarta. We [Indonesia] will invite them through the Indonesian Ulema Council,” wrote Jusuf Kalla in a written statement.

    The former VP said he will report soon to the current vice president Ma’ruf Amin on his plan to help realize peace in Afghanistan as soon as he arrives in Indonesia.

    He also stated that the peace program was initially proposed by the Indonesia government and that his visit to Kabul had been notified to the VP, who he said welcomes his suggestion.

    Reported previously, the Indonesian Ambassador to Afghanistan Arief Rachman said Jusuf Kalla’s visit to Kabul had been mostly expected by the Afghans who he claims receives Kalla’s proposition positively.

  • 24 Dec 2020 Share this post

    Ministry of Health Reports 234 New Cases of COVID-19

    The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Thursday reported 234 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 2,568 samples tested in the last 24 hours.

    The ministry also reported 9 deaths and 662 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.

    The cumulative number of total cases is now 51,594 the number of total reported deaths is 2,135 and the total number of recoveries is 40,582.

    The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Balkh, Takhar, Nangarhar, Baghlan, Bamyan, Kunduz, Nimruz, Daykundi, Ghazni, Logar, Badghis, Badakhshan, Maidan Wardak, Kapisa, Kunar, Zabul, Uruzgan, Farah, Samangan, Jowzjan and Sar e Pol provinces.

  • 24 Dec 2020 Share this post

    Turkish Parliament Extends Deployment of Troops in Afghanistan & Libya for 18 Months

    The Turkish parliament has extended the deployment of Turkish troops in Libya and Afghanistan for 18 months, Evrensel newspaper reported.

    The bill on Libya recalls the support that the Turkey-backed Government of National Accord in Libya has asked for.

    The opposition voted against the bill.

    The bill has given President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan the opportunity to send Turkish troops abroad for military operations.

    The Turkish parliament also gave consent to the bill on extending the period of presence of Turkish troops in Afghanistan.

  • 24 Dec 2020 Share this post

    US Congress Demands Pentagon Take Russian Bounties in Afghanistan Seriously

    US top military officials have largely played down media reports that Russia offered Taliban-linked militants bounties to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but lawmakers are clearly not satisfied, according to Task & Purpose report.

    As part of the omnibus spending bill passed by the US House and Senate, the defense secretary and director of national intelligence would be required to provide a report to congressional defense committees on “Russia’s malign activities in Afghanistan,” including any activities that target U.S. and coalition troops, according to the House Appropriations Committee.

    US Congress also wants to know what steps President Donald Trump’s administration has taken in response to Russia’s actions, the report said.

    The US Defense Department declined to provide a comment for this story about the pending legislation.

    At the moment, it is not clear whether Trump will sign the spending bill, which is part of a spending package that includes the latest relief bill for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • 24 Dec 2020 Share this post

    International Community’s Response to Terrorism Has No Clear Criteria: First VP

    Amrullah Saleh, the first Vice President, said that the complaint of Yama Siavash’s family to the international authorities is one of the best things to do.

    Mr. Saleh wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday that he wished that the world authorities would come and see this case and other cases where the assassination originated and what the reason was.

    “Unfortunately, the attitude of the international community and major countries towards terrorism has no clear criteria, and the discussion of national interests has overshadowed all other dimensions. In the early days of the 6am meetings, I told people that the Taliban had decided to target civil society and any circle that raised the voice of Afghanistan. The purpose of that declaration was to mobilize the people against terrorism,” he said.

    According to Saleh, the families of the victims can access the pending and resolved cases by contacting the Government of Afghanistan.

    Nearly 50 days after the assassination of Yama Siavash, a former journalist and tv presenter and two of his colleagues at the Central Bank, the Afghan government has so far failed to identify and arrest the perpetrators.

    Recently, Yama Siavash’s family filed a lawsuit in the International Criminal Court.

  • 24 Dec 2020 Share this post

    US State Dept Condemns Killing of FEFA Head in Afghanistan

    The US Department of State Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs on Wednesday condemned the “barbaric and senseless assassination” of Yousuf Rasheed, CEO of the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA).

    “We join the Afghan people in condemning this barbaric and senseless assassination of Yousuf Rasheed, who was a tireless advocate for democracy. We offer our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends,” tweeted the bureau.

    “The United States has repeatedly made clear that our vision for peace is of a sovereign, unified, and democratic Afghanistan. Yousuf Rasheed was a courageous advocate for that vision. His voice will not be silenced,” it continued, “The future of Afghanistan cannot be foreclosed by murder but must be resolved at the negotiating table.”

    Yousuf Rasheed, CEO of the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA), was killed by unknown gunmen in Kabul city on Wednesday morning, his brother confirmed.