Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
First-generation Afghan-American Zainab Mohsini, is running for the U.S. Congress from the 11th congressional district of Virginia and she has started her campaign asking the Afghan community to vote for her.
The UN High Commission for Refugees placed Mohsini and her family in Aloha, Oregon, in 2003, when she was about 14 years old.
From there, they moved to Northern Virginia, where she finished high school and worked her way through community college and later the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).
In 2015, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in communication and became the first person in her family to graduate.
Like many American college graduates, Mohsini entered the workforce weighed down by student debt worked temporary jobs and gigs.
Despite this, she consistently found time to give back to her local community by volunteering at immigrant organisations. She also completed volunteered for two terms as an AmeriCorps member at a college equity non-profit organisation. There she supported students with similar experiences as her own. She also led trainings on racial justice, women’s rights and LGBTQ+ issues.
Mohsini’s election campaign is focused on helping blue-collar workers who live paycheck to paycheck and get discriminated because of their name, class, religion, sex and ethnicity.
Dubai’s Emirates airline will start flights to Kabul, Afghanistan from June 25, bringing the total number of destinations offered by the airline to 30, according to a statement from Emirates.
In addition to Kabul, Emirates has previously announced flights to Bahrain, London Heathrow, Manchester, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Zurich, Vienna, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dublin, New York JFK, Chicago, Toronto, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta, Taipei, Hong Kong, Perth and Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Manila, the statement read.
From June 8, travelers from Pakistan will also be able to book flights from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.
President Ashraf Ghani met with Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa in Kabul today, to talk about the Afghan peace process.
Bajwa was accompanied by Director-General Inter-Services Intelligence Lieutenant General Faiz Hamid and the newly-appointed Pakistan’s Special Envoy to Afghanistan Mohammad Sadiq.
During the meeting, Ghani and Bajwa discussed bilateral issues, border management and the upcoming intra-Afghan peace dialogue.
Bajwa was on a one-day visit to the country after the Sunday meeting with U.S. envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad.
The Office of the National Security Council (NSC) said the Afghan government is fully prepared to start the intra-Afghan talks, and the Taliban must reciprocate in kind.
Javid Faisal, NSC spokesman, announced that the government had taken several steps as a confidence-building measure to advance the talks and their efforts will continue.
The Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan released 3,000 Taliban prisoners as part of its commitment to advancing peace efforts. Further releases will continue in tandem with reduction in violence and progress toward direct negotiations with the Government.
— Javid Faisal (@Javidfaisal) June 9, 2020
“We are fully prepared from our side. A negotiating team is ready. It is important that the Taliban take action at their end so that this process can move forward,” Faisal told a news conference later.
NSC chief Hamdullah Mohib also had a video conference with ambassadors of troop-contributing countries on Monday.
Mohib said they were “prepared to move forward on prisoners and peace,” adding that technical teams had made progress on difficult issues such as releasing Taliban prisoners who had been involved in large-scale attacks.
The NSC has sought advice from the Afghanistan Independent Human Right Commission (AIHRC) to confer with them on the list of prisoners which Taliban’s technical team had handed over in May.
Mohib said they would only go ahead with the prisoner release after the AIHRC has recommended on the rights of victims.
Contradiction over the number of prisoners released by Taliban
According to the Doha peace agreement signed between the U.S. and Taliban, the Taliban had to release 1,000 government prisoners in exchange for the release of 5,000 of the group’s militants.
Taliban had recently announced that 450 government prisoners had been released by them so far.
However, a spokesman for the NSC differed and said only 277 government prisoners had been released.
The prisoner exchange process, between the two, has been tense from the beginning with both sides accusing the other of inflating their figures.
Meanwhile, Abdullah Abdullah said yesterday that intra-Afghan talks between the government and the Taliban were set to begin in the near future.
Reports also indicated that the Taliban had started working on its agenda for the talks.
Under international agreements, Turkey will be sending a number of medical and lab devices, along with protective equipment and medications to Afghanistan, the Turkish Official Gazette said.
Turkey will be sending five patient observation machines, 10 ventilators, 10 oxygen concentrators, 10 oxygen regulators and 30,000 PCR testing kits, among others.
The medications will include 1,000 boxes of vitamin C, 1000 boxes of azithromycin, 1000 hydroxychloroquine sulphate and 500 boxes of vitamin D.
“The agreement between the government of the Republic of Turkey and the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan” was signed on May 15 as is a “gesture of friendship and goodwill,” according to the gazette.
Pakistan released 485 nationals, who had crossed over from Afghanistan at the Torkham border, to go home without putting them in quarantine.
According to the Pak-Afghan border sharing procedure, Torkham had reopened last week for pedestrian traffic.
However, both countries had said they would be screening their returning nationals and isolating them at camps along the border.
Pakistan had been quarantining their nationals entering from Torkham at facilities in Landi Kotal in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
According to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department, 422 Coronavirus cases had been found within people crossing at Torkham.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said 542 new cases of Coronavirus had been reported in the past 24 hours, while 15 more people had died and 480 more have recovered.
Afghanistan has confirmed 21,459 cases since the start of the pandemic and the total number of deaths have increased to 384, while the recovered patients are 2,651.
Wahid Majrooh, deputy health minister, said samples had been examined from 11 provinces.
Of these, positive cases were found in the provinces of Kabul (213), Herat (142), Nangarhar (92), Ghazni (36), Paktia (22), Laghman (12), Kunduz (8), Panjshir (7), Kapisa (5), Logar (4) and Kunar (1)
Eight people had died in Kabul last night, three in Paktia, three in Ghazni and another in Balkh due to the virus.
A specialist-funded laboratory, meant to diagnose and treat agricultural and horticultural products, was inaugurated in Kandahar province.
The facility has the capacity to diagnose a variety of vegetation diseases.
Officials at the Kandahar Department of Agriculture said all of the laboratory equipment had been imported from the U.S., Canada, China and India.
Agha Lalai Dastgiri, Kandahar’s deputy governor for social affairs, said such private facilities can help increase agricultural production.
The government is working on providing more such laboratories and refrigeration systems to help farmers.
In 2018, Sergeant Asfar Khan of the Afghan special forces planned the killing of his trainer, Major Brent Taylor, for weeks before fatally shooting him, found a U.S. Army investigative report.
The killing occurred when Taylor, 39, who served in the National Guard, had taken his trainees for their weekly training hike.
When they were on their way back to camp on November 3, Khan fired two to three shots, and hit Taylor in the back of his head and wounded another U.S. Army soldier.
Shots were exchanged and Khan was killed by Afghan commandos as he tried to escape.
The report, which was accessed by Standard-Examiner, revealed that U.S. Intelligence screeners had missed several opportunities to act swiftly enough when seeing signs of Khan’s radicalization, including his expressed disdain for Americans.
After the attack, investigators had found a video on Khan’s phone where he had outlined his plans to kill his supervisor because he received that an Afghan police chief had been killed by the U.S. forces.
“We could and should have done better. We will learn from this tragedy,” General Austin Scott Miller, commander of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan said.
Mostly women and children comprised the 200 people who fled from the isolation camps at the Chaman border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan on Monday.
According to local reports, a woman at the camp had been severely ill and wanted to shift to a hospital. Clashes broke out when the camp management refused to do so.
The people, who had just crossed into Pakistan, then broke the camp’s main gate and fled, along with the sick woman.
Pakistan and Afghanistan had opened their borders for pedestrian traffic and the returning people had to undergo mandatory isolation for 14 days.
The people who fled were unregistered, and their records had not been taken.
Along the same lines, they had complained over the lack of facilities. They had also gone on a food strike after complaining that camp management had not given them food for the last two days.
German Air Forces mobilised and transferred a sick Georgian soldier back home from Afghanistan on June 7.
The soldier had been serving in the NATO Resolute Support mission on an Airbus A 400M.
The German Embassy to Georgia said the illness was not related to COVID-19, however, its severity made it important to transfer him to Georgia.
The Georgian soldiers have been part of the NATO mission in northern Afghanistan for five years.
The Afghan security authorities have launched a new joint security plan to contain terror threats and crimes in Kabul, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said.
The new plans involve forces from the MoI and the National Directorate for Security (NDS). It will be conducted by the Joint Forces Command and will target planned terrorist attacks, killings, armed theft and other crimes.
The plan went into effect on June 7 and focused on removing tinted films on government and private luxury cars, forbidding the use of undocumented/unlicensed vehicles and seizing illegal weapons in the city and surrounding districts.
Government vehicles or vehicles with armed guards inside will not be allowed on the roads after official hours.
All violators will be swift and legally punished, said the MoI.
This comes after the suicide bombing of a mosque in Kabul’s high-security diplomatic area, that killed Mullah Mohammad Ayaz Niazi last week.
The week before, a roadside bomb had killed two journalists of a local TV channel.