Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
A study by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) found that women and girls in conflict settings, especially in Afghanistan, have not experienced global rates of progress in terms of gender equality over the past 25 years.
“The prevailing narrative is that we have made tremendous strides over a relatively short period of time in accelerating progress for women and girls – which is true in some cases,” said Kristin Kim Bart, senior director for gender equality, International Rescue Committee.
“Unfortunately, these opportunities and benefits have not been experienced by all.”
Women and girls living in countries with high levels of refugees and displacement were found to not only be unable to reach the same level of advancement, but actually witnessed declines in core areas.
Looking at measures such as rates of school enrolment, literacy, access to birth certificates, and more, they found that refugees and internally displaced people in Afghanistan suffer.
The findings indicated there has been a nearly 44% percent increase in refugees since 1995, with Afghanistan having the largest displaced population at 2.7 million – a 350% increase.
In some areas, gains for women and girls have been encouraging as in the past 25 years, there has been a 38% worldwide reduction in maternal mortality.
Afghanistan has seen declines in maternal deaths of more than 50%.
Although the world has seen an 11% increase in gender parity within primary and secondary school enrolment, Afghanistan has never met this global standard or the one for female literacy rate.
With a 46% spike, Afghanistan also experiences the highest increase in reports of domestic violence when compared to other conflict zones.
Pakistani officials and members of an Afghan advance team are discussing arrangements for Abdullah Abdullah’s upcoming visit to Islamabad scheduled for next week.
The chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation said that he intends to visit Pakistan in an official capacity, and called it his first time there since 2008.
The trip will last three days and is scheduled for Sep. 28.
He is expected to meet senior Pakistani civil, political and military leaders to build consensus on regional security and cooperation to push the ongoing peace process forward.
“Dr. Abdullah will seek support from the Pakistani government’s leaders and politicians for the peace process, which still faces challenges as fighting still continues despite the U.S.-Taliban agreement,” an Afghan diplomat told a Pakistani publication.
In a recent interview with the U.S.-based Council for Foreign Relations (CFR) Abdullah said that during his Pakistan trip he will interact with the leadership and institutions there to build trust and address issues such as “extremist terrorist elements” who are taking advantage of regional grievances.
“The way forward is really to realize that these extremist terrorist elements which are taking advantage of the situation, like Al Qaida and Islamic State, or any other terrorist organization, they are not serving any country’s interest. They’re only after the opportunities,” Abdullah had said.
Commander of NATO Resolute Support General Scott Miller said the Taliban violence has intensified and it needs to reduce.
Miller accompanied acting Minister of Interior Masoud Andarabi and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Yasin Zia, on a trip to Kandahar on Wednesday to assess the security situation of the province.
During the trip, Miller said that the Afghan security forces have coped well.
“Although the security forces have defended well, the Taliban have intensified their attacks… The whole world is aware of this situation and the violence must be reduced,” the Kandahar governor’s office said, quoting Miller.
“The violence is too high, Taliban violence has to slow down – it has to stop, what it is driving is an increase in violence across the country,” Miller added.
According to the press statement, COAS General Zia said the Taliban had increased their attacks, including use of roadside mines.
“The Taliban are abusing the current negotiations,” he said.
Referring to the escalation of Taliban attacks, acting Interior Minister Andarabi also said that the Afghan military had responded strongly to the Taliban attacks and that the group had failed to achieve their goals.
This comes amid a revelation by Arif Rahmani, member of the Internal Security Committee of the Lower House of Parliament, who tweeted a quote by a senior security official on Thursday.
The official said that while the Afghan government maintains that they are in a state of “active defence,” they have been carrying out nine to 13 offensive airstrikes every day to clear Taliban-controlled areas.
Acting Minister of Higher Education Abbas Basir said on Thursday that public higher education institutions in Afghanistan only had the capacity to enrol 10% of the university entrance exam (Kankor) applicants and there was urgent need of more investment in higher education.
At a ceremony announcing the results of the exam, Basir praised the National Entrance Examination Office for organising everything in a transparent manner, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.
Basir said Afghanistan’s higher education sector lacked capacity and was thus, unable to accept more students. He said in the coming years, efforts will be made to increase enrolment.
According to him, investing in research is one of the ways to achieve this goal.
The head of the Ministry of Higher Education also said their academic curriculum should be in line with the needs of the domestic and foreign markets.
He added that the ministry is setting up 122 scholarships for the top 20 scorers across Afghanistan and the other 102 for the top three places in each province. The scholarship holders will have the opportunity to study abroad for continuing their higher education.
Top scorers in Kankor
Shamsia from Kabul aced the exams with 353.185 marks. Media reports claim she is a survivor of the IS-K (Daesh) attack at the Mowud Education Centre in August 2018.
Nematullah from Kabul came in second place with 353.133 marks while the third place went to Mohammad Mojtaba from Kabul with 350.061 marks.
All three plan to study medicine at Kabul Medical Univeristy.
Badakhshan police said Taliban killed five members of a family, including two children, in Darayim district of the province on early Thursday morning.
Badakhshan police spokesperson Sanaullah Rouhani said the incident took place at 4 a.m. in the Bagh-e Sufi village.
The victims were attacked while they were on their to a school in Patawak village.
Another person was wounded during the Taliban attack.
Rouhani added that the police have begun investigations.
The Taliban have not commented on the incident yet.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said in the past 24 hours, they tested 188 samples of which 25 were found positive for Coronavirus, pushing the national tally to 39,170 confirmed cases.
Five people succumbed to the virus while nine recovered.
The new cases were reported in the provinces of Kabul (11), Herat (9), Balkh (3) and Badakhshan (2).
There are currently 5,100 active COVID-19 cases in Afghanistan with 32,619 recovered and 1,451 dead.
President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday, told the World Economic Forum (WEF) that the spread of COVID-19 has reduced Afghanistan’s economic growth by nearly 30%.
Addressing the WEF meeting on combatting the Coronavirus, Ghani said the Afghan government had used domestic resources and invited international aid to fight the pandemic.
According to the Presidential Palace, the meeting was attended by a number of international heads of states and the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Ghani also answered questions from participants about the impact of the virus and called the outbreak an “unexpected event” which has had a “negative impact” on the Afghan economy, the region and the world.
The president said that they worked with international cooperation to check the virus when the country’s borders opened in the region.
They also worked with the private sector to keep the markets open and maintain food prices, and launched a national programme to distribute dry bread.
He added that the Afghan government has strengthened their health sector and governance to cope with the pandemic.
Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) signed four public-private partnership renewable energy projects with USAID-funded Independent Power Producers on Wednesday.
Attaullah Naseeb, the head of Afghanistan Investment Facilitation Unit, said, “The four new power purchase agreements are some of the biggest by DABS, which represents a total of $160 million of investment and about 110 megawatts of generation capacity to be added to the national grid over the next 18 to 27 months.”
Ross Wilson, the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires to Afghanistan, said access to electricity is essential for improving the lives of the Afghan citizens and the projects are an important part of the America’s effort to improve lives in this country and to promote economic growth.
“Congratulations to everyone who made this happen. The successful and timely completion of these projects will send a clear signal to the private sector that Afghanistan is ready and open for business,” said Wilson at the signing ceremony hosted by President Ashraf Ghani.
Ghani talked about the energy potentials of Afghanistan from hydro, solar and wind, and said Afghanistan wants to become the roundabout of energy and a hub of production and green energy.
The projects will increase access to reliable and affordable electricity for Afghans which currently constrains the country’s economic growth and development.
All these efforts will contribute to the economic development of the country and attract private sector investment.
Iran’s Energy Ministry has adopted a plan to meet Afghanistan’s electricity needs, and will be announcing it soon, said Tehran’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Bahador Aminian on Wednesday.
“The two countries have many opportunities for ties development in different fields that aliens should not be allowed to sabotage them, so if Afghanistan intends to develop its ties, Iran would be the best option,” he said on the sidelines of the joint exhibition being held in Kabul.
The Iranian delegation also met Political Deputy Mirwais Nab at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Nab called the expansion of trade and investment relations with neighbouring countries and the region one of the fundamental priorities of Afghanistan’s foreign policy.
Referring to the problems and investment opportunities in Afghanistan and Iran, he expressed hope that the opening of the first joint municipal services exhibition in Kabul would be a “good start” for the growth and development of trade, transit and joint ventures between traders and investors of the two countries.
The representatives of the private sector and investors also shared their views and questions about trade and investment in both nations.