Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Addressing a press conference on Thursday, presidential spokesman Sediq Seddiqi said that Taliban are the main obstacle to peace, and Afghan government has done its utmost to end war.
He said that continuing violence and carrying terrorist attacks against the people and public facilities, illustrates that Taliban has no commitment towards the peace process.
Seddiqi said that, “The main condition of the Afghan people is that the Taliban must stop violence and war against the Afghan people immediately and enter into negotiations with the Afghan government”.
He emphasised that Taliban leaders’ visits to regional countries is waste of time and instead it would be better if they engage with Afghan people.
With regards to Pakistan he said, “We expect the Pakistan government to cooperate honestly in the Afghan peace process and so far we have not seen any serious measure from Pakistan”.
He further noted that the Afghan government does not have the authority to make political decisions on the Durand imaginary line, it is up to the Afghan people to decide.
In reaction to remarks of former president Hamid Karzai who said that the election is under the absolute influence of foreigners and at this time of ongoing war will not be fair and independent, he said that the government expects Mr. Karzai to support the national process of elections, a process through which he was elected twice.
Regarding International forces in Afghanistan, Mr. Seddiqi said that the presence of international forces in the country is based on the will of the Afghan people.
Finally he said that terrorist attacks in the cities shows the weakness and defeat of the enemy on the battlefields, and urged all Afghans to participate in the elections, which will prove to be strong slap on the face of enemies of this process.
Russia expects to hold a new round of consultations on Afghanistan later this month with China and the U.S. plus Pakistan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, Russia’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov told Anadolu Agency.
At the prospective meeting, Russia hopes to help the U.S. and Taliban overcome the impasse in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump canceling talks at Camp David with the Taliban and the Afghan government earlier this month, apparently on the verge of an agreement.
“We have been providing diplomatic assistance,” said Kabulov, pledging consultations with both sides as well as with the regional partners to reopen the talks.
Kabulov said Russia is stressing the need to continue the dialogue, while the Taliban has “certified its readiness to retake its place at the negotiating table.”
“In addition, we count on holding consultations with our American partners in the nearest future and urge them to return to the dialogue,” he added.
“We also maintain contact with colleagues from other countries on the Afghan settlement, discussing the pause in the U.S.-Taliban dialogue. In the same vein, we expect that we will be able to hold the next round of the Russia-China-U.S. ‘Troika’ meetings with the integration of Pakistan on the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly in New York.”
The United States was behind an airstrike in eastern Afghanistan that is blamed for the deaths of at least 30 civilians, a spokesperson for U.S. forces in the country told The Defense Post.
At least 30 people were reported killed and 40 injured in the early morning airstrike in Nangarhar province that was orginally reported as being an Afghan operation.
The air raid was aimed at destroying an Islamic State “hideout” in the Khogyani district of the province, Reuters reported government officials as saying on Thursday, September 19.
But the strike, reported to be by drone, killed dozens of civilians who were working in the pine nut field in the Wazir Tangi area of the district. At least 40 more people were reported injured.
“U.S forces conducted a precision strike against Da’esh terrorists in Nangarhar early this morning,” U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesperson Colonel Sonny Leggett said in an emailed statement.
“We are aware of allegations of the death of non-combatants and are working with local officials to determine the facts to ensure this is not a ploy to deflect attention from the civilians murdered by the Taliban at a hospital in Zabul earlier today,” he said.
Earlier Thursday the Taliban said they were responsible for a deadly vehicle bomb that killed and injured over 100 people in Zabul province. The insurgent group said it was targeting the National Directorate of Security, but the attack destroyed a hospital.
At least seven people were killed in a road accident on Thursday at around 10:40 AM in central Ghazni province, security officials confirmed.
Ahmad Khan Serat a spokesperson for Ghazni police told Reporterly on Thursday that the incident happened when a vehicle hit a bus in the vicinity of Ghazni entrance gate.
He added that as a result of the crash, 7 people including a woman and a child were killed.
“The dead bodies of the victims were transferred to a hospital and traffic personnel have gone to the area for further investigation”, Ahmad Khan Serat said.
The former president, Hamid Karzai has called on the US government to resume the peace talks with the Taliban, but said that the Taliban will not rule in Afghanistan with dealing US alone—they must negotiate with Afghans.
Speaking to reporters in Kabul on Thursday, Mr. Karzai said, “The US should soon resume the peace talks with Taliban and we want the peace talks to be transparent and clear.”
Karzai urged the Taliban to seek peace talks with Afghan people, and begin intra-Afghan talks.
“We must strive for peace, and the Taliban must know that they will need to share power in Afghanistan.”
He thanked Russia, China, and Germany for their call on the resumption of the Afghan peace process.
“China and Russia would be happy that peace comes to Afghanistan, but I don’t know about Pakistan,” Karzai said.
He called the Taliban’s visit to Russia and China a thoughtful act by the group, adding that the US showed that it did not recognize us as a government by revealing the agreement draft to government and not giving it to them.
Speaking about the current situation of the country, Karzai said, “it is a fact that massacre is going on in Afghanistan, Afghans are being killed at home, mosque, weddings, school, and bazar, this is nonsense and Afghans should put an end to it.”
Karzai called on the Taliban to stops attacks. “By conducting attacks and killing Afghans you will not defeat the US in Afghanistan,” he added, “we will have peace when we come together.”
He said that the cause of the war in Afghanistan is the US and Pakistan and that peace would be achieved when the US has honesty in Afghanistan or withdraw from the country.
Regarding presidential election, ex-president said, it is under the absolute influence of foreigners and it will be held at a time while war is ongoing over Afghanistan and in this situation the election will not be fair and independent.
The election will be “free” when there is peace in the country, Karzai assured.
The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has issued a statement saying that Washington hopes that the Afghan government makes preparations for a credible and transparent presidential election.
“Along with other international donors, we have called repeatedly for the Afghan government and electoral institutions to make preparations for a credible and transparent presidential election. Afghan voters who risk their lives to participate in elections deserve to know the outcome accurately reflects the voters’ choice. Coalition forces and donors who have sacrificed to give Afghans the ability to choose their leaders deserve to have this confidence as well,” the statement reads.
The statement also called on the Taliban to not disrupt the process and to refrain from violence.
“We expect Afghanistan’s institutions to take all necessary steps to ensure the election is transparent and credible to Afghan voters. We hold all candidates accountable to the code of conduct they signed. We call on all parties, including the Taliban, to ensure Afghan voters can go to polling centers on Election Day without fear of intimidation, attack, or violence. We strongly condemn the threats made today by the Taliban against election workers and voters. Any attempt to intimidate, coerce, or buy voters is an attack on democracy. We offer our strong support to the Afghan National Security Forces, who day-in and day-out sacrifice their lives for the cause of peace and stability,” concluded the statement.
This comes as the Taliban on Wednesday warned teachers and students to avoid working with electoral staff in the run-up to the nation’s Presidential vote or risk being killed.
A statement from the militant group said: “Do not allow election organisers to turn your schools and institutions into electoral centres, and teachers and students should not work as electoral staff.”
Afghanistan’s elections are in ten days’ time and will be heavily reliant on schools and universities, which make up more than 70% of voting centres across the country.
A draft agreement for peace between the U.S. and the Taliban in Afghanistan got a lot of hopes up late this summer, but the former head of U.S. special operations most well-known for overseeing the mission that ultimately took out Osama Bin Laden said that making concessions to the extremist group is the wrong move.
As per the Military Times report, the retired Adm. Bill McRaven, now a national security professor at the University of Texas in Austin, likened negotiating with the warlords who control much of Afghanistan’s square mileage to sitting down with ISIS, in a discussion Wednesday at the New America Special Operations Forces Policy Forum in Washington.
“And maybe that’s not a good comparison,” he said. “But I do believe that if we negotiate some sort of settlement with the Taliban, and that settlement involves the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, that, you know, it won’t be six months or a year before all of the blood and treasure we have put into Afghanistan will have been reversed because the Taliban will come back in and do what the Taliban do.”
Multiple international news outlets reported in late August and early September that the Taliban and U.S. diplomats had reached an interim peace agreement after nine rounds of peace talks in Qatar.
The deal fell apart just before the 18th anniversary of 9/11, when President Donald Trump canceled a secret meeting with Taliban officials at Camp David, a direct response to the Taliban’s car-bombing of an 82nd Airborne Division soldier which killed him and 11 others days before.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said that the causalities of Zabul truck bomb blast reached to 15 killed, 66 wounded and the figure may rise.
The spokesman of MoI, Nasrat Rahimi said, “Based on primary reports, 13 civilians, two policemen were killed and 66 others including women and children were wounded in the truck bomb explosion near Zabul central provincial hospital on Thursday morning”.
The spokesman of Zabul governor, Gul Islam Seyal also told Reporterly that the building of the provincial hospital has been destroyed in the explosion.
Meanwhile, the Taliban group has claimed responsibility for the incident, saying the group targeted the National Directorate of Security (NDS) office in the province.
Guaranteeing press freedom is essential for a just and lasting peace in Afghanistan, two press freedom organizations; Reporters Without Borders- Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) and the Federation of Associations and Media in Afghanistan said at a press conference in Kabul.
In a joint statement, the two organizations urged the Afghan government and the Taliban to resume peace talks, and called on civil society, politicians and, in particular, candidates for the 28 September presidential election to back their campaign, which is entitled: “There will be no just and lasting peace without guarantees for press freedom.”
The two organizations believe that peace and peaceful coexistence will not be possible in Afghanistan without the entire society’s participation, and that this needs guarantees for a free and independent press.
RSF and the Federation of Associations and Media in Afghanistan ¬also call on the Taliban to explicitly undertake to respect international humanitarian law’s basic treaties, starting with the Geneva Conventions.
An undertaking to this effect would be a guarantee for the safety of journalists.
Media personnel have paid a heavy price in Afghanistan since 2001. At least 100 media workers, including 16 foreign journalists, have been killed in connection with the provision of news and information, More than 40 media outlets have been attacked and destroyed during the same period, while hundreds of threats against journalists and media outlets have been reported.
According to the press service of the region’s governor, the meeting attendees have concluded a memorandum on cooperation.
“We will control the trade between our region and the Republic of Afghanistan at the level of government bodies. This will minimize the risks of entrepreneurs”, K. Aksakalov said.
Mr. Qayoumi noted that there will established a special working group. The group’s representatives will study the range of goods needed for both export and import.
The plans are to increase the supply volume up to USD1 billion. It is notable that last year trade between the North Kazakhstan region and Afghanistan amounted to USD43 million.
Within 7 months of the current year it amounted to USD76 million. The region exports crops, lentils, flax, and eggs to Afghanistan.
Afghanistan plans to supply fruits and vegetables. It bears to remind that in July the current year Mohammad Farhad Azimi Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the Republic of Kazakhstan visited North Kazakhstan region.
The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, spoke by telephone yesterday with President Ashraf Ghani.
Expressing condolences and sympathy to the President over Tuesday’s attack in Charikar, which killed and injured dozens, the High Representative underlined the European Union’s support to the Afghan people and stressed the importance of an inclusive, Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process that would pave the way to peace and prosperity in the country.
Following the setback in the US-Taliban talks and the intra-Afghan Dialogue, elections are needed more than ever.
For this reason, Federica Mogherini expressed her hope that the presidential elections of 28 September will be held in a calm, fair and transparent manner.
Regretting the suspension of the US-Taliban peace talks and the intra Afghan-Dialogue, the High Representative/Vice-President highlighted that direct peace talks between the Government and the Taliban remain the only way forward towards lasting peace, with a balanced agreement in favour of all Afghans, accompanied by a ceasefire. In this context, the High Representative confirmed that the EU will continue its support to the Afghan people.
The car bomb explosion near a provincial hospital in Qalat city of Zabul province left 12 people killed and 60 others wounded, local officials said on Thursday.
The spokesman of Zabul governor, Gul Islam Seyal told Reporterly that the truck bomb occurred near the central provincial hospital and also close to the National Directorate of Security (NDS) office.
According to Seyal, all the victims of the incident are civilians, doctors and employees of the hospital.
Officials said, the victims have been taken to private hospitals.
Meanwhile, the Taliban group has claimed responsibility for the incident, saying the group targeted the NDS office in the province.