Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
After receiving criticism on social media, the National Statistics and Information Authority (NSIA) said on Thursday, they had removed the country’s official languages from the option of foreign languages in the electronic ID system.
NSIA head Ahmad Javid Rasouli said the bureau had “no double standards” against any language and their inclusion was based on the codes of the International Standards Office (ISO) and information from the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology.
Rasouli clarified that not only one language, but all official and national languages of the country are included in the list, such as Pashto, Turkmen and Baluchi, among others.
He said, however, that a number of citizens had misused the inclusion of a particular language and spread incorrect information.
“A number of languages spoken in Afghanistan are common in other countries as well, and for this reason these languages have been moved to both the national and official language lists and the foreign language list,” Rasouli explained.
He added that they have now removed all the languages that were included in the foreign languages option to prevent misunderstanding.
“There has been no other consideration,” Rasouli saidm adding, “I firmly say, we respect all languages and there is no double standards.”
The NSIA said that all languages have been included by the Ministry of Communications. He said that during 2017, the Ministry of Communications, in cooperation with the Population Registration Office, posted the information in the online form, and the NSIA did not interfere.
Two major road accidents in Herat on Thursday morning claimed the lives of 16 people and injured 10, provincial authorities said.
At least 11 people were killed and six were injured along the Herat-Kandahar highway in the Mirhala area of Adraskan district around 6 a.m.
Mohammad Ibrahim, head of Herat’s ambulance service, said that the accident occurred when a passenger bus hit a minivan.
Later in the morning, five people were killed and four were injured in an accident on the Herat-Islam Qala highway in Kahsan district.
Jilani Farhad, spokesperson for Herat governor’s office, said the collision happened between a station wagon (saracha) and an oil tanker at 9:45 a.m.
No reason was given for both accidents, but the main ones are over speeding and driver’s reluctance to follow traffic rules.
The Helmand governor’s office said at least five Afghan security forces and four civilians were killed, including two women, when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive-laden vehicle at a military checkpoint on Wednesday.
Omar Zwak, spokesperson for the provincial governor told Reporterly on Thursday, that the incident took place on the Helmand-Kandahar highway in the Nahr-e-Siraj district, on late Wednesday night.
The civilians were in a car passing by the checkpoint.
According to Zwak, four people were also injured, including three security forces and a child.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.
According to the Ministry of Public Health’s (MoPH), 17 new cases of Coronavirus were reported across Afghanistan in the past 24 hours.
The government’s laboratories tested 375 samples during the day.
The new cases were reported in the provinces of Kabul (9), Balkh (6), Baghlan (1) and Parwan (1).
The MoPH reported no new deaths and 53 recoveries.
Afghanistan has confirmed 39,285 cases of COVID-19 to date, of which 4,985 are active while 32,842 have recovered and 1,458 have succumbed to the virus.
In the past nine month, 2,088 cases of violence against women have been registered across Afghanistan, said the Office of the Attorney General (AGO) on Thursday.
Jamshid Rasouli, a spokesperson for the AGO said the cases included rape, domestic violence, harassment, force marriages, obstruction of the right to marry, misbehaviour, prohibition of inheritance, and murder, among others.
Kabul, with 662, reported the most cases of violence against women, followed by Balkh (256), Herat (208), Daykundi (119), Faryab (72), Bamiyan (69), Takhar (67), Nangarhar (66) and others.
“Most of these cases, which are 1,100 cases, have been physical assaults. There were 234 cases of harassment and 173 cases of rape,” Rasouli said.
The majority of the rape cases were again from Kabul (34), followed by Balkh (24) and Herat (17), among others.
Most perpetrators have been arrested, Rasouli said, and are facing legal proceedings.
Iran did not attend the opening ceremony of the peace talks in Doha due to tensions with the U.S., said Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, during an interview with VOA.
“Iran was invited…Sometimes their relations with the United States which [are] under a lot of tension at the moment, those things affect their decisions [of] participating in a conference or not,” Abdullah said in an interview published on Wednesday.
However, despite their absence from the event, Abdullah said that Iran supported the peace process.
He acknowledged that Tehran had “legitimate concerns” and “legitimate interests” in Afghanistan as a neighbour, adding that Iran’s contacts with various Taliban groups could be an opportunity to advance peace efforts.
This comes after Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that the U.S.-led approach in Afghanistan was flawed and compromised the rights of the Afghan people and the republic’s values.
“I think for the United States the ultimate objective was to simply find a way to leave Afghanistan. It did not have to impose all of that on Afghanistan and on the region. So we are very pessimistic about the process that the United States led, and that is why we did not participate in that process,” he had said during a webinar.
Later, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad admitted that U.S.-Iran relations were getting in the way of Tehran’s cooperation with Afghanistan and invited them for talks with Washington.
The diplomat had slammed Iran for trying to keep the U.S. “entangled… without winning or losing but paying a high price.”
Iran had once again refuted the claims and said they supported peace in Afghanistan.
Supporters of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e Islami party blocked the road leading to the Loya Jirga tent in Kabul city on Thursday, to block the supporters of former president Dr. Najibullah Ahmadzai from entering.
The demonstration was held to protest the commemoration of the 24th anniversary of the assassination of Najib which was to be marked today.
The rally ended without violence, the Kabul Police Command said.
The debate on holding the memorial ceremony also disrupted the plenary session of the House of Representatives on Wednesday. A number of lawmakers said that Najib’s supporters had the right to mark his anniversary under Article 36 of the Afghan constitution.
Last week, a memorial ceremony for Najib was scheduled to take place in the Loya Jirga, but opponents stormed the event and prevented it.
An audit by the U.S. State Department’s Office of Inspector General (IG) found $8.4 million was paid for unneeded meals that were not provided at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and other facilities in Afghanistan whose contracts were managed by DynCorp International.
In a report released on Tuesday, the IG said that the “[State] Department did not consider the declining number of personnel living and working at the embassy compound and outlying U.S. Government facilities when it decided to exercise option year 4. As a result, the number of meals estimated in the task order for option year 4 was higher than it should have been.”
Poor oversight by DynCorp International, poor record-keeping and insufficient monitoring by the contracting officer led to the expenditure, the report concluded.
The State Department had paid DynCorp about $353 million in 2015 for a five-year contract to provide food, security, fire protection and medical and other services.
As per contract stipulations, DynCorp was to provide three meals a day, seven days a week, across multiple dining facilities on the embassy compound as well as other outlying government facilities for about $21 each.
DynCorp receives a fixed amount to provide about 2.9 million meals each year but the actual number of meals needed dropped over the past few years as the U.S. mission in Afghanistan reduced its footprint and Camps Sullivan, Seitz and Eggers closed in 2019.
However, a contracting officer last year based meals on 2016 personnel figures, the IG said. By the time the State Department reduced the number of meals in November, millions of dollars had been wasted.
The IG concluded, that the U.S. cannot recover the $8.4 million paid for the meals due to poor record keeping and cannot be assured that DynCorp followed the terms of the contract.
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) said on Thursday, they rescued an 11 year-old child who was abducted in Herat.
The NDS said the child had been taken by a man identified as Sayed Mokhtar who collaborated with another accused, Sayed Mahmood.
Mokhtar was arrested after an operation by the Special Forces of the NDS.