Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation today met with Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan peace.
During the meeting, Zalmay Khalilzad stressed the continued support of the United States for Afghan peace efforts.
He said the parties should make the most of the opportunity to achieve lasting peace and end the war in the country.
Khalilzad called the increase in violence unacceptable and stressed a significant reduction in violence.
In the meantime, Abdullah Abdullah said the increase of violence and targeted killings in Afghanistan unacceptable and stressed the need to establish a permanent ceasefire in order to achieve lasting peace.
This comes as the second round of peace talks in Qatar is set to begin soon. The Afghan Government Negotiating Committee left Kabul for Doha this morning.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Tuesday reported 94 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 1,820 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 7 deaths and 136 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 53,105 the number of total reported deaths is 2,244 and the total number of recoveries is 42,666.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Balkh, Nangarhar, Takhar, Paktia, Baghlan, Kunduz, Parwan, Nimruz, Daykundi, Ghazni, Logar, Kapisa, Kunar, Ghor, Panjshir, Faryab and Paktika provinces.
Sarwar Danesh, the second Vice President, says that the Afghanistan constitution is a symbol of the Islamic identity of the country’s citizens and that the claims of the Taliban or any other group that it is a none-Islamic constitution are baseless.
“The constitution should not be sacrificed for peace,” said Mr Danesh, speaking at a meeting marking the 17th anniversary of the adoption of the constitution on Tuesday.
“Peace must not damage the core structure and legitimacy of the constitution,” he said.
According to him, the Afghan constitution has the capacity to provide any kind of peace plan.
Mr. Danesh stressed that the Taliban’s goal in denying the constitution is to dismantle the system, and without the constitution we will not have any system acceptable to all.
“The interim government plan also means repealing the constitution,” he said. “An interim government plan does not mean the relocation of a person or persons. This means abandoning the entire government and restarting the systematization process. It is important for everyone to maintain the system and maintain the framework and values of the constitution.”
According to Danish, if the Taliban group accepts the constitution and all the achievements and values of Afghanistan over the past 20 years, everyone will welcome then with open arms any agreed mechanism for a fair share of power.
The second Vice-President added that amending and revising the constitution is also a necessity; Because in some cases there are shortcomings that need to be remedied even without the issue of peace.
At least two Afghan security forces were killed and five more were wounded in an insider attack in Ghazni province, security officials said.
The 203 Thunder Corps press office in a statement on Tuesday said that a Taliban infiltrator attacked the security forces in a checkpoint in Tawhid Abad area of Ghazni city at around 03:00am on Tuesday.
According to the statement, the Taliban’s infiltrator escaped the area with the cooperation of other members of the group.
The statement said that the reinforcements have been deployed to area and the checkpoint is now under the control of security forces.
In the meantime, the Taliban group has claimed that at least seven Afghan security forces were killed and one other was captured by their fighters.
President Ashraf Ghani bad a phone conversation with the Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday and discussed the Afghan-led peace process, the Presidential Palace (Arg) said.
Arg in a statement said that the two sides emphasized the immediate ceasefire in Afghanistan, and the President of Indonesia emphasized his country’s cooperation in creating an international consensus of religious scholars.
This comes as the government’s negotiating delegation left for Doha today, and the Minister of State for Peace, Seyed Saadat Mansour Naderi, said that the delegation had more than 86 meetings with various segments of society in the past three weeks.
He said that the will of the people and government of Afghanistan is a nationwide ceasefire in the country.
Afghan authorities must conduct a swift and through investigation into the killing of journalist Bismillah Adel Aimaq and take all possible steps to protect members of the press, the Committee to Protect Journalists has said.
“The killing of Afghan journalist Bismillah Adel Aimaq is a tragic start to the new year and shows that the alarming increase in attacks on the media in Afghanistan is continuing in 2021,” said Aliya Iftikhar, CPJ’s senior Asia researcher. “Afghan authorities must swiftly determine the motive in this killing, bring the perpetrators to account, and do everything in their power to ensure the safety of journalists.”
Abdul Mujeeb Khalvatgar, head of Nai, a local press freedom organization, told CPJ via messaging app that the group believed the November attacks were related to Aimaq’s work, but said they did not know who was responsible for them.
CPJ in a statement said that it emailed the Afghan Ministry of Interior for comment, but did not immediately receive any reply.
On January 1, unidentified attackers shot and killed Aimaq, the head of local broadcaster Radio Sada-e-Ghor and a human rights activist, while he was driving on the outskirts of Feroz Koh, a city in the central Ghor province.
The provincial governor’s spokesperson, Arif Abir, said that the other passengers in the car, including Aimaq’s brother, were unharmed.
At least five journalists were murdered in Afghanistan in retribution for their work in 2020, making it one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the press, according to CPJ research.
The chairman of High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) Abdullah Abdullah has said that the Afghan Republic’s peace negotiations team has the full support of the nation and has the mandate to discuss the peace agenda.
Dr. Abdullah in a series of tweets said, “Yesterday evening the Leadership Committee of the HCNR in a joint meeting with the Islamic Republic’s Negotiation Team discussed the latest developments in the peace process, & provided a clear guideline for the team for the next round of the peace talks.”
“The Republic’s Negotiation Team will depart it was planed, to Doha-Qatar to begin the second round of peace talks with Taliban. The team enjoys the full support of the republic, & has the mandate to discuss the peace agenda,” Abdullah said.
“I thank the international community for its continued support for the peace process, and the State of Qatar for hosting the second round of the peace talks. We are committed to achieving a lasting peace, and ask the Taliban to do so. We are looking for a successful second round,” he added.
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad departed for travel to South and Central Asia and the Middle East on Monday.
According to an official statement issued by the US State Department, Khalilzad will be meeting with the two Afghan teams in Doha, encourage them, and offer US support to accelerate the peace process — an immediate, significant reduction in violence and ceasefire and an agreement on a political roadmap and power-sharing as soon as possible.
In the region, Ambassador Khalilzad will encourage Afghanistan’s neighbours to support an end to the violence and a political settlement as soon as possible, the Department said.
It further said that in Kabul, Ambassador Khalilzad will meet with Afghan leaders and convey US support for the Afghan people and security forces.
During this trip, Ambassador Khalilzad will continue to encourage projects and plans for expanded regional connectivity, trade, and development which will be aided by an Afghan peace agreement and will help sustain peace.