Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
President Ashraf Ghani said that the Taliban value their deal with the Americans more than the Quran and Sharia in the peace talks.
Speaking on the occasion of Milad-un-Nabi on Thursday, Ghani said that Taliban have claimed to have “stood for religion” in the past 20 years but are now valuing the Doha agreement they signed with the U.S. and insisting on making it the framework for the negotiations.
He called on the Taliban to use the Quran and Sharia as a basis for the dialogue and invited them to hold discussions with Afghanistan’s religious scholars.
“What is achieved through peace is not achieved through war,” he said.
However, he called the Taliban “helpless” and said the government is building mosques and schools which the militants keep destroying.
He praised the constitution of Afghanistan and said that the country was an Islamic nation and system.
“Islam is our identity and no one can take that identity away from us,” he stressed and added that the security and defence forces operate in accordance to Islamic beliefs.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) announced that in the past 24 hours, 123 new Coronavirus cases were found positive from the 523 samples tested across Afghanistan, pushing the confirmed cases to 41,268 so far.
According to the MoPH, three people succumbed to the virus while two have recovered.
New cases were reported in the provinces of Herat (27), Daykundi (20), Kabul (19), Takhar(19), Balkh (14), Kunduz (6), Kapisa (5), Parwan (3), Panjshir (3), Nimruz (3), Kandahar (3) and Jawzjan (1),
Afghanistan has 5,497 active COVID-19 cases with 1,532 deaths and 34,239 recoveries.
First Vice President Amrullah Saleh said that some of the crimes that had plagued Kabul city residents have declined and are now close to zero.
“Crimes such as mobile phone theft, car theft, armed robbery, street harassment, public sale of drugs and extortion that were rampant have dropped to near zero,” Saleh said in the Facebook post regarding security decisions in the capital on Thursday.
He had previously made a similar announcement two days ago when a money changer was attacked and robbed in Kabul. However, he said that from Saturday, he will share the statistics and figures with the public so that they can compare the numbers for each district.
“Unfortunately, violence against women and their murder inside homes continues as an ugly phenomenon,” he said, sharing an incident where an Afghan national living in France came to Kabul to murder his wife in Paghman and was caught while trying to flee.
He explained that all areas of Paghman and Mosahi districts in Kabul should be provided security as there is active presence of the Taliban in some places.
Saleh said that he had considered a plan to improve and restore full physical and mental security for the residents of western Kabul and asked them to cooperate with the security forces to prevent the killing of innocent people.
In response to the recent suicide attack on in Dasht-e-Barchi, he said that he was formulating a plan to improve and restore “full physical and mental security” for the people in western Kabul.
He added that the plan had not been completed yet, and people will be informed.
He further said that the Security Pact is now nearly 2,000 pages and covers all the areas and security officials could not escape their duties by “generalising and theorising”.
The first vice president also directed the Kabul municipality to demolish the cinema in Shahr-e Naw Park or to modernise it into a major cultural centre in partnership with businessmen.
“The current situation is not acceptable,” he said and added that a similar option was given to the Khair Khana cinema.
The office of the first vice-president has also prohibited the use of loudspeakers for vendors.
U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad met with Taliban’s political deputy Mullah Baradar in Doha on Wednesday evening to discuss the Afghan peace process and high levels of violence, the Taliban spokesperson said.
Naeem Wardak, spokesperson for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, tweeted on Thursday that Khalilzad was accompanied by U.S. Forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A) and NATO Resolute Support commander Gen. Scott Miller.
Wardak said the discussion centred around a number of issues, including the full “implementation of the whole articles” of the U.S.-Taliban agreement signed in Doha.
He also said the release of remaining Taliban prisoners and the removal of members’ names from the U.S. Blacklist came up.
“Likewise, the causes of the increase in the level of war were discussed,” he added, citing reasons such as “humiliation” of dead Taliban members’ bodies, raids on released prisoners and their killing, and violation of the Doha agreement.
These causes, Wardak said, “do not lead the circumstances to a good direction.”
However, earlier on Thursday, First Vice President Amrullah Saleh while referring to the UN report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan, questioned the Doha agreement.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) found that the number of civilians killed and injured in the Afghan conflict has failed to slow since the start of the peace talks.
Saleh said the purpose of the Taliban prisoner release by the Afghan government was for a “measurable reduction in violence followed by ceasefire.”
“Let’s call a spade a spade. Good faith not reciprocated. Why?”
The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has sent the case of former Wardak governor and 16 others to the court on charges of embezzling more than 800,000 AFN from the Coronavirus budget.
Jamshid Rasouli, spokesperson for the AGO, told Reporterly on Thursday, the embezzlement case had been reviewed by them and then sent for prosecution.
The names of those investigated include the former governor, director of finance and administration, general director of revenue, director of procurement, administrative officer, ambulance operator, a member of the provincial council, a municipal employee, sector director, two employees of the National Security Directorate, the head of Milad Credit Company, the head of Shakir Ahmadzai Company, a civil society member and a journalist.
President Ashraf Ghani instructed the Inspector General to investigate the allegations after reports of embezzlement of the Coronavirus budget were made public by the media.
The AGO had earlier named 21 people, including the current Herat governor for embezzling the Coronavirus funds in the province.
Rasouli further said that in addition to the cases of Herat and Wardak provinces, the investigations are also ongoing in Badakhshan and Nuristan provinces and a final decision will be made soon.
He stressed that the fraud cases in the provinces of Samangan, Ghor, Takhar and Kandahar were also sent to the prosecutor’s office for further investigation.
Former Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati on Wednesday said Iran opposes the continuation of the war in Afghanistan and said any kind of war among Muslims was “foul” as he reiterated Tehran’s support for the peace process.
Velayati was meeting the Afghan Ambassador to Tehran Abdul Ghafoor Lival and voiced opposition to the presence of American forces in Afghanistan.
“Any kind of war among Muslims is foul because Muslim blood is sacred,” Velayati said.
Velayati also warned of the threat posed by the Islamic State (Daesh) to the prospects of peace and security in the country.
Lival thanked Iran for their long-held position for establishment of peace and security in Afghanistan.
Health officials in Herat said that eight prisoners were killed and 12 people, including security forces, were injured in the revolt in the province’s prison on Wednesday.
Jilani Farhad, spokesperson for Herat governor’s office, told Reporterly on Thursday, that the riots took place after the police started confiscating prohibited items and furniture inside the prison.
Herat Prison Director Maiwand Samadi said that the riots started at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, while food was being distributed and soon spread.
Residents nearby heard the sound of heavy firing as security personnel had to be deployed to the prison to manage the riot.
Samadi said the riot ended at 2 a.m.
Mohammad Rafiq Sherzai, spokesperson for the Herat Department of Public Health, said that the dead were all prisoners, one of whom was killed by a bullet and the other seven by unknown causes. The injured include eight prisoners and four security personnel.
The Herat governor’s office said that seven were killed and eight injured in the clashes. He said that the prisoners had set fire to parts of the prison to escalate the riots, but none had managed to escape.
The Prison Director claimed that only one person was killed while 18 were wounded, including eight security personnel.
There are currently more than 2,500 prisoners in Herat Central Prison, including 100 women, on various charges.
Acting Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar was especially invited for the India-Central Asia dialogue hosted by Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar with the attendance of counterparts from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and the first deputy foreign minister from Kyrgyzstan.
The meeting discussed cooperation in political and security matters, and all the countries called for settling the Afghan conflict on the principle of an “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process,” according to a joint statement.
According to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), they also condemned terrorism and reaffirmed their determination to destroy terrorist safe havens, infrastructure, networks, and funding channels.
“They also underlined the need for every country to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks against other countries,” the statement said.
Atmar noted that the ministers emphasized the importance of regional connectivity and Afghan peace for regional security and prosperity.
The ministers also appreciated New Delhi’s efforts to modernise Chabahar port in Iran as an important link in trade and transport between markets in Central and South Asia via Afghanistan.
India also extended a $1 billion cline of credit to the Central Asian countries for priority projects in connectivity, energy, IT and health care.
There are no changes, modifications and suspensions in the distribution of electronic ID cards, Fazel Fazly, director general of the Administrative Office of the President, wrote on Facebook on Wednesday.
In response to the approval of the draft amendment of the electronic ID card by the House of Representatives, Fazly said that law has not been amended yet and the distribution is going on as before and people can get the cards from the relevant departments.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved the draft amendment to the to the Population Registration Law to modify the electronic ID cards and removing nationality and ethnicity information from there.
The amendment had also been sent to the Internal Security Committee to be followed up.
Meanwhile, the members of parliaments had asked the National Statistics and Information Authority (NSIA) to stop the process of distribution of the ID cards so that the changes can be reviewed.
An Iranian passenger train arrived in Afghanistan through the Khaf-Herat railway on Wednesday, the provincial governor’s office said.
An Iranian delegation is in Herat to discuss the project and inaugurate the Khaf-Herat railway’s third phase from Iran’s Sham Tegh to Herat’s Rawzanak village.
The fourth phase – and the final one – which will end in Herat city will begin soon, the Herat governor’s spokesperson Jailani Farhad said.
On Wednesday, an agreement was signed for building a hangar along the route for unloading of the goods as the railway is expected to carry both passengers and goods.