Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
In a meeting with the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), Abdullah Abdullah said that human rights and values were some of the most important achievements of the new Afghan political and social system and that these will not be traded.
Abdullah who is the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation stressed that the Afghan government is committed to human rights.
Abdullah called on the AIHRC and other legal and civil institutions necessary for an effective peace process. He said the Council would continue to support the efforts of such institutions and seek guidance from them, acknowledging AIHRC’s independent and supervisory role in the process.
He said peace talks between the Afghan delegation and the Taliban would begin soon and that the Afghan people would be informed of the exact date soon.
Abdullah also said the Afghan negotiating team considers human rights and civil rights to be fundamental during the peace talks.
He said that the Afghan people were thirsty for peace, but that peace should not threaten their many years of achievement.
Naeem Nazari, AIHRC commissioner for the Human Rights Commission, welcomed the formation of the Council led by Abdullah and expressed hope that the move would lead to lasting and global peace in the country.
Nazari also emphasised that minority rights, women’s rights and victims of war should not be neglected in the peace process.
He referred to human rights as a “red line” that should not be trampled on during the talks.
He also requested the Afghan government and the Taliban to adhere to the global conventions of human rights.
This comes after calls from several nations for the Council to be more inclusive of women and minorities. AIHRC later confirmed in a tweet, that the Afghan government’s negotiating team would consist of four women and five men, with a woman heading the commission.
The latest statements on the peace process
On the other hand, eight foreign embassies in Kabul along with the European Union, issued a joint statement today emphasizing the significance of women participating in the process.
“History shows that peace agreements, in which women are fully involved, are more sustainable and successful.”
The embassies added that Afghanistan and the Taliban should involve women in all aspects of the peace process, including the leadership council, negotiating teams, advisory councils and technical and advisory teams.
Meanwhile, Russia’s TASS news agency reported that U.S., China, Russia and Pakistan have pledged to speed up peace talks in Afghanistan and make every effort to facilitate them.
A group of 40 Wisconsin National Guard soldiers has returned to the U.S. from Afghanistan after deployment as “guardian angels” to provide protection for coalition forces and Afghan troops.
The soldiers arrived at Fort Hood, Texas, for demobilization and will return home to Wisconsin later this month.
They’re the second group of 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry soldiers to return early from their deployment due to a planned drawdown of forces from Afghanistan announced earlier this year. Approximately 150 soldiers from the battalion returned to Wisconsin on April 28.
More than 200 soldiers from the unit remain in Afghanistan to support the Army’s 3rd Security Force Assistance Brigade. The battalion mobilized for deployment last July.
Ebrahim Mohammad Eshaq has been dubbed the “mask master” by his co-workers at Ventura Manufacturing, reports MLive.
The Afghan refugee, who is now settled in the state of Michigan in the U.S., can sew between 120 to 150 masks a day for local healthcare centres to use during the Coronavirus pandemic.
“It makes me feel proud to be able to help the community, to help prevent people from catching the virus,” Eshaq told the publication.
He started at Ventura manufacturing other products but when the pandemic hit, they began manufacturing masks for distributing locally.
Eshaq was 15 when the family left Afghanistan and sought refuge in Iran, before moving to Turkey and finally resettling in the U.S. in 2019.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) announced the arrest of three people in Zabul for smuggling 10,000 kilograms of narcotics.
“The anti-narcotics police in Zabul province have arrested three people in connection with the smuggling of 10 tons of narcotics from the Bakurzoi area of Qalat city,” the Ministry wrote on their Facebook page.
The men had the narcotics in their car and had been planning to smuggle it to Kandahar.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) reported 787 new Coronavirus cases in the country over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 18,054.
The daily death rate has been increasing with the total number of deaths at 300. Meanwhile 63 patients have recovered, bringing the total to 1,585.
New cases were reported in Kabul (323), Herat (110), Kandahar (65), Nangarhar (54), Badghis (48), Khost (40), Paktia (36), Balkh (34), Paktika (32), Nimor (18), Kunar (15), Takhar (8), Bamiyan (2) and one each in Logar and Parwan.
The Ministry has tested 43,569 samples to date.
The newly appointed Acting Minister of Public Health Ahmad Jawad Osmani pledged to reform the healthcare sector and draw an effective plan to fight Coronavirus by increasing capacity.
Pakistani agricultural traders have requested their government to allow import of fruit and vegetables from Afghanistan, particularly onions and tomatoes, reports The News International.
The All Pakistan Agricultural Produce Traders Federation (APAPTF) said if the imports were not allowed immediately, then domestic prices of produce would rise dramatically in Pakistan.
They also asked the government about progress on keeping the Torkham border open.
The government had announced that the border would be opened around the clock earlier.
APAPTF said currently the border opened only for 12 hours daily wherein barely 200 trucks of Afghan Transit Trade were allowed.
They said Pak-Afghan bilateral trade was at its lowest and the government had not been taking adequate measures.
Since Iran eased its lockdown early in April, many companies had also shifted base to the Iran borders.
“We must be consistent in every area, especially in society and in the correctness of coherent actions, to overcome COVID-19 and to ensure the commitment and honesty of our nation,” said President Ashraf Ghani as he appointed new ministers to key cabinet roles.
The Presidential Palace announced the appointments on Twitter.
Ghani appointed Mahmoud Karzai as the acting minister of Urban Development and Land, Hasina Safi as the acting minister of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and Ajmal Ahmadi as the acting governor of the Central Bank.
He had already announced the new Acting Minister of Public Health Mohammad Jawad Osmani on Sunday.
The new cabinet members will continue as ‘acting’ heads until their appointment is approved by the Parliament.
In his first press conference, Ahmad Jawad Osmani, the newly appointed Acting Minister of Public Health, outlined his plans to reform the healthcare system and said effective plans are being made to fight the Coronavirus.
With the rise in the number of infected people, Osmani said a number of people who tested positive had to come back home as the hospital system is under a heavy burden.
He said home quarantine for such people was “painful.”
On his first working day, Osmani said that the health sector had failed to gain the trust of the public over the past two decades due to the poor quality of healthcare services, and that the health services’ capacity, especially in hospitals, had been much lower than needed during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The head of the MoPH, stressed that the MoPH’s work lies in three areas – the fight against Coronavirus, hospital system reforms, and healthcare reforms.
He said the ministry would be working on more practical and effective plans to provide a solution to fight against the virus. All the activities would be coordinated to increase the detection of the diseases.
Osmani said that COVID-19 centres and hospitals should turn into places where people can confidently quarantine themselves and prevent further infecting others.
He added that patients in hospitals should be provided with standard services that meet their satisfaction and saves their lives.
On the other hand, Firozuddin Firoz, the outgoing minister, mentioned his achievements at the ceremony. He lauded that during his tenure, they had built more than 400 health centres and reactive hospitals that had been lying vacant for several years.
He said that Afghanistan is currently facing major problems and all the attention is on the healthcare workers who must work hard.
So far, 17,267 people have tested positive for the virus in Afghanistan, of which 294 have died and more than 1,522 have recovered.
In October 2019, three Indian engineers who were abducted in Afghanistan were released in exchange for 11 Taliban members, including a commander sanctioned by the U.S., according to a UN report.
The report, from the UN Security Council’s Analytical Support and Sanction Monitoring Team, said the Taliban members released from the Bagram detention facility included “former shadow governors Sheikh Abdul Rahim and Mawlawi Rashid Baluch.”
Rahim is believed to be appointed by the Haqqani Network which is managed by Taliban’s Sirajuddin Haqqani and has close ties to Pakistani security establishments.
Baluch was previously listed (sanctioned) by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which called him a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT)” and emphasized his role in “the Taliban and Al-Qaida nexus.”
The three Indian are believed to be a part of a group of seven engineers who were kidnapped in Baghlan in 2018. They had been working on power projects run by the Afghan government.
The world’s poorest nations, that are low income or lower-middle income, may have to restructure their debt in the future instead of skipping payments, said the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These economies have been heavily affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.
In the past years, low interest rates had meant many poorer nations were able to raise money cheaply to finance their growth. Reuter reports that IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said some who had not been prudent fiscally and had high debt burdens as a result, may have to restructure their debt instead of simply freezing payments.
IMF had expanded two emergency loan programmes in and103 countries have applied to it for aid to remain solvent during a global shock. They have also suspended the payments owed by 76 countries this year.
Estimates put the borrowers’ needs at $2.5 trillion.
Georgieva said they had disbursed about $260 billions of their $1 trillion in lending power as of now. They have also provided emergency financing to 63 countries, including Afghanistan who had asked for $220 million to deal with the economic impact of the pandemic.
Data collected from just 10 airstrikes by the U.S. military and Afghan government showed 115 civilians were killed, more than 70 of them children, reports The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ).
Over the past two years, over 60% of the casualties of the Afghan war were children.
TBIJ crowdsourced information on particular strikes that hit family compounds in 2018 and 2019. Then it worked with an Al Jazeera film crew, who were on the ground in Afghanistan, to meet the survivors and confirm the casualties.
Of the 10 airstrikes, four have no official explanation. The other six were explained by the U.S. military as a self-defense measure.
Experts told TBIJ that the number of civilian casualties and the stories around the airstrike “raise serious concerns around compliance with the law of armed conflict.” The principle of proportionality does not hold, they explained. According to the laws of war, this means that it while it is legitimate to attack a Taliban fighter, the attack may not cause disproportionate harm to civilians or their property.
Patricia Gossman, a senior researcher on Afghanistan for Human Rights Watch, said that high number of civilian casualties and children meant that “these strikes may have been disproportionate.”
The victim families have said even if the targets were the fights occurring nearby, striking their homes and killing civilians was unjustified. Compounding the issue was the fact they have never received any accountability or explanation for the killing.
In March, the International court of Justice had ruled that an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the U.S. and other parties in Afghanistan could proceed.