Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The British embassy in Kabul has wished a healthy and prosperous 2021 for Afghanistan.
The UK embassy in a statement said, “As we look ahead to 2021, the UK reiterates its commitment to helping Afghanistan seize the historic opportunity for a fair and inclusive political settlement to the ongoing conflict.”
The British embassy says the Afghan people have been the victims of high level of violence, and targeted attacks on human rights activists, journalists and government workers are on the rise.
“Peace is the only solution to bring an end to the bloodshed and create an Afghanistan where all of it’s people can live without fear. We call for an urgent end to the violence,” the statement said.
“We hope that next year brings greater peace and stability to the Afghan people. On behalf of everyone in the British embassy in Kabul, we wish you a happy, healthy new year,” the statement added.
US President Donald Trump received information earlier this month that China sought to pay non-state actors to attack American forces in Afghanistan, a US senior administration official said.
The intelligence, which will be declassified by the Trump administration, was provided to the President in his daily brief on December 17, the official said.
His national security adviser Robert O’Brien discussed the information with the President that same day, the official said.
News of the briefing and the administration’s intention to declassify the information was first reported on Wednesday by Axios.
Information of this alleged intelligence is thus far uncorroborated. The scenario is reminiscent of reports earlier this year that Russia allegedly offered Afghan militants bounties to kill US forces in Afghanistan.
That information also appeared in the President’s intelligence briefing although it was later revealed that the information likely went unnoticed for weeks.
Trump has yet to publicly call Russia out on the issue.
While it’s unclear whether President-elect Joe Biden has seen the intelligence, he would have had access to the same intelligence since he receives the President’s Daily Brief.
A Biden transition official told CNN that while they would not speak to the alleged intelligence reporting, or the motivation behind “the release, of what is reported to be uncorroborated information,” the President-elect “has no greater concern than the safety of our service members” and will hold to account anyone who endangers Americans.
“Our teams will seek to learn as much as we can about these allegations from the outgoing administration, and this is another illustration of why we need full cooperation, including from the Department of Defense,” the official added, referring to the contentious transition process between incoming Biden and outgoing Trump defense officials.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) has announced the arrest of the perpetrators of the assassination of Rahmatullah Nikzad, a freelance journalist and head of the Ghazni Journalists’ Union.
NDS in a statement released today stated that the detainees were identified as Hamidullah and Zikrullah.
According to the statement ,they were said to be among the group’s 5,000 released Taliban prisoners.
After being released from prison, they detainees rejoined Qari Obaid terrorist group who was responsible for targeted Taliban assassinations in Ghazni, the statement reads.
NDS statement cited that the detainees confessed to their crimes during an initial investigation and said that they had taken an active part in several other terrorist attacks.
The statement added that the detainees have previously assassinated four people in the past two months, including Rahmatullah Nikzad, a judge, and two employees of Ghazni Mustufit office.
Hundreds of Afghans who are working or have worked to support British Armed Forces will be able to relocate to the UK if they find themselves at risk due to their work, the UK government has announced.
The announcement came days before the next round of peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government is due to start on Jan. 5.
The legislation for a new Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy will be introduced in April 2021 so that current and ex-employees, such as embassy support staff, those in political or counter-terrorism roles, or cultural advisers, can relocate to the UK with their families if necessary for their safety.
“Under the new scheme, anyone facing imminent risk such as intimidation or threat to life will be offered priority relocation regardless of their employment status, rank or role, or length of time served,” the UK Defence Ministry and the Home Office said in a joint statement.
“Nobody’s life should be put at risk because they supported the UK government to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan,” UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.
“As the situation in the region evolves, it is only right we do more to protect local citizens who stood shoulder to shoulder with our armed forces,” he added.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has met with members of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Presidential Palace this morning.
Arg in a statement on Thursday said that Afsana Rahimi, Director General of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries, thanked the President and said, “We have made significant progress, but we need a transparent mechanism to deal with women entrepreneurs affected by the Coronavirus.”
According to the statement, the President stated that lands will be given to women entrepreneurs in Kabul and other provinces and directed the Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry to make clear use of women’s parks and markets.
Referring to the government’s attention to women entrepreneurs, the President cited that women entrepreneurs would be given a specific share in the Charchata and Machin Khana areas in Kabul and gave specific instructions to the relevant authorities to solve the problems of women entrepreneurs in other provinces.
In the meantime, the President emphasized on giving a broader role to women entrepreneurs in provincial entrepreneurship and said that the future of the market is linked to digitization, so women entrepreneurs should adapt their entrepreneurship to digitalisation.
Minister of Industry and Commerce of Afghanistan called for connection of Khaf-Herat Railway to Chabahar Port and termed it as a great achievement for the people of Afghanistan and business community of the country.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with IRNA in Islamabad on the sidelines of 8th Pakistan-Afghanistan Transit Trade Summit, Nisar Ahmad Faizi Ghoryani said, “By connecting this railway to Chabahar-Zahedan railway, another window will be opened for consolidation and development of joint trade with the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
He revealed the resolving banking problem facing Afghanistan regarding transit trade from Iran’s Chabahar Port.
Banking challenge and the difficulty in receiving money related to Afghanistan’s export of products to China and India through Chabahar Port created some problems that caused a slowdown in speed of transit activities, he added.
Afghan trade minister said that banking problem in Chabahar will be resolved within the next few days and there will be no more obstacles for sabotaging Afghanistan’s transit trade through this important Iranian port.
He called Chabahar as a strategic port to secure interests of Afghanistan and region and added, “Considering the recent remarks of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the railroad development between the two countries, it is hoped that Khaf-Herat Railway will be connected to Chabahar-Zahedan Railway project.”
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Thursday reported 85 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 1,412 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 6 deaths and 126 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 52,513 the number of total reported deaths is 2,201 and the total number of recoveries is 42,006.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Balkh, Nangarhar, Paktia, Nimruz, Wardakm, Kapisa, Kunar, Khost, Paktika, Faryab and Sar-e-Pul provinces.
Officials at the Ministry of Finance say that during the fiscal year of 99, revenues of 28 billion afghanis were collected from Herat, Farah and Nimroz provinces’ customs in the west of the country.
Fardin Maarefati, director of publications at the Ministry of Finance said that the amount of revenue collected from the three customs offices in the fiscal year of 99 has decreased by 768 million AFN, or 2.7%, compared to the previous fiscal year.
Mr. Marefti also said that during the fiscal year of 99, goods worth 5.45 billion Afghanis were exported through the three borders of the western provinces, a decrease of 414 million Afghanis, or seven percent, compared to the previous year.
According to him, the outbreak of the coronavirus and the closure of the market for Afghan exports have been among the reasons for the decline in exports.
However, the representatives of the western provinces in the House of Representatives have criticized corruption in the country’s customs and called on the Ministry of Finance to stop corruption.
One civilian was killed and two others were wounded in a blast targeting a car in Kabul city on Thursday morning, Kabul police said in a statement.
The blast happened at around 08:10am (local time) when a mine exploded on a Corolla-type vehicle in Chehel Sutoon area in PD7 of Kabul city on Thursday, the statement said.
The wounded were transferred to the hospital for treatment, it said.
The statement added that the blast occurred on a car of the employees of the Presidential Palace’s administrative affairs office.
This comes as Fazel Fazly, director general at the Administrative Office of the President of Afghanistan, confirmed that their office employees targeted this morning.
A number of foreign ambassadors in Kabul pledged support for the Afghan journalists, calling for elimination of threat against them.
Afghanistan Supporting Open Media (NAI) has said that increasing threats against journalists in Afghanistan made foreign ambassadors to raise voices of support for them.
Mojib Khalwatgar, head of Nai has called threats against journalists “serious and a matter of concern”.
He said that the US ambassador to Kabul Ross Wilson and other ambassadors had vowed to share their concerns in this regard with the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan.
“They said they would assess these issues and hoped to help Afghan media family. They also said they would seriously talk to Taliban to prevent such incidents if their fighters are behind attacks on journalists. They would also talk to the government of Afghanistan,” Khalwatgar said.
Ambassadors from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Denmark and European Union expressed support to Afghan journalists.