Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Presidential Palace (ARG) said that some Cabinet ministerial candidates nominated by Abdullah Abdullah do not meet the legal and eligibility criteria.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Sediq Sediqqi, the president’s spokesperson, said that President Ashraf Ghani wants to form a professional Cabinet that would be inclusive, to gain the people’s trust.
He added that the “problem” for this vision is that those who have so far been nominated by the government’s political allies do not meet the required criteria of merit, service to the people and political weight.
In the political agreement signed between Ghani and Abdullah, both have the authority to appoint half of the Cabinet.
While Ghani has announced quite a few members, Abdullah has not officially announced his picks or confirmed if a list has gone to the Presidential Palace.
Sediqqi implied that the candidates shortlisted by Abdullah so far, were not up to par since the lists have to be sent to the House of Representatives for a Vote of Confidence.
The spokesperson said that the government may have to wait for a “long time,” if needed, since it was committed to forming a “professional Cabinet.”
After the implementation of the Security Pact programme in Kabul, a number of drug traffickers had been arrested with the cooperation of the citizens, the Office of the First Vice President said on Tuesday.
According to the office, a joint operation by the Anti-Narcotics Department of the Ministry of Interior and the Kabul Police Command, led to the arrests of 10 drug traffickers along with two police officers who were accused of collaborating with the smugglers.
The Security Pact bulletin, which is published by the Office of the First Vice President, said that 22 kgs of various types of narcotics along with six different foreign currencies was seized from the smugglers.
The police also found and confiscated 150 fake IDs from drug traffickers.
Since the implementation of the new programme, the security forces have been combatting terrorists, criminals and organized crime “in an unprecedented way,” the bulletin said.
Presidential spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi told a press conference on Tuesday that 55% of the Afghan population lives below the $2 poverty line.
Reacting to the House of Representatives’ rejection of the Dastarkhan Milli, “National Dining Table” food aid programme, Sediqqi said that the people needed the government’s support, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak.
He said the programme was a major initiative to combat the negative economic effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Our expectation from members of the House of Representatives is to stand by their [Afghan] people and support the programme that the government is pursuing,” Sediqqi said.
He called on the parliamentarians to collect more information on the food aid programme since they decided in a majority vote to reject it.
According to Seddiqi, the last survey on poverty in Afghanistan was conducted in 2016, which shows that about 55% of the population was below the poverty line.
“After 2016, no official survey has been conducted on the poverty rate, but the Central Statistics Office is working on it and soon, new statistics on the poverty rate in Afghanistan will be prepared.”
He clarified that fears of corruption and waste of resources should not stop people from receiving help.
He added that the Afghan government is ready to provide a clear answer on all stages of implementation of the Dastarkhan Milli.
National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib arrived with his delegation to Kunar on Tuesday morning, and expressed sympathy for those who had suffered in the past week from cross-border rocket attacks by Pakistan, and warned of retaliation.
Mohib, who visited Sarkano district and the provincial capital, Asadabad city, met with the families of those who had been injured in the attacks.
He said that the “enemy,” Pakistan, would not be allowed to build facilities on the Afghan side of the Duran Line and their rocket attacks would not go unanswered.
He also called on the Taliban to unite with the Afghans in “defeating the common enemy.”
Mohib led a delegation to meet with civilian and military officials in Asadabad where they discussed the security situation in the province, the status of the roads leading to the districts, rocket launchers and the measures taken.
Sarkano district and parts of Asadabad city have witnessed Pakistani shelling in the past week.
At the same time, there have been reports of clashes between the Afghan and Pakistani forces at Zero Point over the construction of new facilities that encroach on the Afghan side.
Russia’s Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said no contacts on Afghanistan are currently being planned in any format as the prisoner exchange process between the Afghan government and the Taliban has completely stalled.
Kabulov told state media agency TASS, “No such plans [for the intra-Afghan talks] so far, as the prisoner exchange process is being protracted. Any contacts are senseless unless it [prisoner exchange] is over.”
Under the Doha Agreement signed between the U.S. government and the Taliban, the Afghan government would have to release 5,000 of the group’s prisoners. The Taliban would, in exchange, release 1,000 Afghan government forces.
However, in the past few weeks, the Afghan government said they would not be releasing 592 detainees on the Taliban’s list for legal reasons and committing moral and criminal offences.
The Taliban are pushing for the release of their prisoners, according to the original list shared with the Afghan government.
Maulawi Mohammad Nabi Omari, a member of Taliban’s political office in Qatar, accused the government of falsifying the prisoners’ files and called for an investigation into the offences committed by the detainees.
In response, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) asked both sides to share information about the detainees with the public. The rights commission also insisted that detainees convicted of war crimes should not be released due to any circumstances.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) reported 112 positive cases of Coronavirus in the past 24 hours across Afghanistan, with the national tally now at 35,615 cases.
The MoPH said that 333 samples from 13 provinces were tested in the past 24 hours.
Three people had died in the past day, marking the second day of low fatalities, since two deaths were reported on Monday.
The ministry also said that 76 people have recovered.
The country currently has 10,690 active cases of COVID-19 since 1,186 have succumbed to the virus while 23,739 have recovered.
New cases were reported in the provinces of Balkh (38), Herat (23), Ghor (20), Paktika (12), Paktia (7), Badghis (4), Kandahar (2), Nimroz (2), Nuristan (2), Nangarhar (1) and Laghman (1).
On Monday, MoPH spokesperson Akmal Samsor had said that COVID-19 transmission rates have been higher in the provinces of Herat, Badghis and Bamyan.
Baghlan police said a civilian was killed in a landmine explosion in the provincial capital of Pul-e-Khumri, early on Tuesday morning.
Ahmad Javed Besharat, spokesperson for Baghlan police, said the IED explosion happened near the police headquarters at 6:30 am in the first district of the city.
The blast caused damage to nearby buildings and vehicles near the scene.
Taliban claimed responsibility for three attacks on Monday, two in Kunduz and another one in Wardak.
On Monday, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said eight Army personnel were killed and nine others wounded in a suicide car bombing attack on their convoy in Wardak.
In their tweet, the MoD said the attack happened during the afternoon. Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid claimed the group’s “martyrdom seeker” was responsible for the attack.
The Taliban figures claimed they had destroyed seven military vehicles and left 48 officers and troopers killed, wounded.
Two Taliban attacks in Kunduz province on early Monday morning killed and wounded at least eight Afghan security forces, according to provincial officials.
Kunduz governor’s spokesperson Esmatullah Moradi said that at around 1 am on Monday, Taliban attacked the second district of Kunduz. The clashes lasted for two hours, and five police officers were killed and three were wounded.
During the clashes, the Taliban also suffered casualties, but the exact number is not known, the official said.
Muradi also said that 13 Taliban militants were killed in clashes in the Shinwari village near the provincial center.
Taliban’s Mujahid confirmed the attack and said the group had killed nine Afghan security personnel. A Humvee was also destroyed and all aboard were killed and wounded when they tried to provide reinforcement to the Afghan forces.
He also said a Humvee was destroyed as it “came out for operations against Mujahidin” in the Kucha Qazaq area of Aliabad district and they killed eight security forces and wounded five.
Illegal Taliban checkpoints in neighbouring Baghlan province have also raised the insecurity in the region.
Drivers have complained that the militants have been stopping vehciles along the Kabul-Mazar-e-Sharif highway and charging a fee for letting freight trucks pass.
These attacks and acts have come at a time when the international community has been pushing the Afghan government to facilitate the start of the negotiations with the Taliban as soon as possible.
Since the opening of the Wagah border crossing between Pakistan and India, six more trucks from Afghanistan crossed over on Monday to facilitate transit trade.
Six Afghan trucks, three carrying liquorice and three carrying dried fruits, crossed over, an Indian customs official said.
On Saturday, two trucks, both carrying liquorice had also entered.
Afghan exports to India had been suspended due to the COVID-19 induced lockdown and Pakistan’s subsequent closures of its borders with both countries.
“Proper norms for he containment of the Coronavirus are being followed while unloading the Afghan goods at the Integrated Check Post,” the Indian official said.
Exports from Afghanistan to India resumed on July 15 when Pakistan announced it would be reopening the Wagah border crossing to facilitate Afghanistan’s transit trade.
Family members wearing just a face mask and without other protective equipment, help care for admitted Coronavirus patients at the Afghan Japan Hospital in Kabul, reports the Associated Press (AP).
The attendants said they had no choice because there were not enough nurses and other medical staff.
The 13-bed ICU ward only has patients who are in critical condition, hooked up to ventilators or oxygen tanks. The guardians are also worried that the oxygen tanks would get stolen because there is a shortage of that also.
An attendant told AP that he struggled to guard the oxygen tank which was keeping his father alive in his last days. The relative of another patient came over and threatened to take the tank.
“Your father is dying, but mine is alive, he told me,” the attendant recounted to AP.
The Afghan Japan Hospital in western Kabul is one of only two facilities for COVID-19 testing and treatment in the capital. Many newly graduated doctors who joined the staff, and experienced physicians quit, a few months ago, fearing the virus.
More than 1,700 medical workers have been infected in Afghanistan so far, including 40 at the Afghan Japan Hospital; 26 have died.