Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Finnish government stated that it will tighten the terms and conditions for aid to Afghanistan at the forthcoming Geneva Conventions.
Finnish Foreign Minister, Pekka Haavisto said he will assess the aid provided to the conflict-ravaged nation to keep a check on international concerns over corruption in the country. He added that the scrutiny is also to oversee the progress made in Afghanistan since the decline of Taliban regime.
Haavisto outlined international community’s concerns over alleged corruption and that it does not want to risk its past achievements in Afghanistan.
French police today evacuated a street refugee camp outside the Stade de France stadium in north Paris in view of the threat of the Corona epidemic. The number of refugees in this camp has been reported to be around 2000, most of which are Afghan and African refugees. Dozens of policemen were deployed for this operation, who were given the responsibility for this work amid the ongoing lockdown across the country.
These refugees have taken in buses were taken to Covid 19 Testing Centers. Those found positive after the test have been placed in isolation, while those found negative have been taken to various shelter homes and sports halls located in the capital. Earlier, during the first lockdown imposed during March-April, a camp with 700 people was also evacuated from the suburb Aubervilliers.
Following the French police’s operation to evacuate the camp today, Paris Police Chief Didier Lallement told Reporters that those who did not have a bonafide asylum claim would not be allowed to live in French land.
It is important to note here that Paris is a major stop of the European Refugee Route. For this reason, the number of refugees here has been increasing, which has been dispersed by the police from time to time.
A joint civil society group has protested against the appointment of commissioners for the Anti-Corruption Commission. The group calls the appointment of commissioners by the government illegal.
Civic institutions have called on the government to abolish the Anti-Corruption Commission and to proceed with the formation and selection of commissioners in accordance with the law to be approved by the National Assembly. They have accused the government of violating the Anti-Corruption Law by setting up an anti-corruption commission.
The groups also claimed that the government’s decision to expel them from the selection process is contrary to Article 9 of the Anti-Corruption Law.
Sayed EKram Afzali, Executive Director of Integrity Watch and one of the group representatives, in a press conference on Tuesday stated that the government had taken six years to set up an anti-corruption commission.
He said the groups never let the government establish a politically motivated commission and by expelling civil society organizations from the selection process, the government has established the commission “illegally”.
Afzali added that political institutions are less effective in fighting corruption as they can use such institutions for vested interests.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani established the Anti-Corruption Commission on November 12 with five members, comprising three men and two women namely Homayoun Hamid, Maryam Zormati, Abdul Qayyum Nezami, Seyed Mohammad Hashemi and Farrokh Leghah.
Faryab police said, “In a massive car blast in the center of Qaisar district of the province, caused severe financial damages.”
Faryab police spokesman Abdul Karim Yurish said that the Taliban had detonated a car bomb inside a market in the center of Qaisar district at 10:00 P.M. on Monday.
“No one was injured in the attack, but the property of more than 100 shopkeepers destroyed in the attack”, Yorish added.
As per Yourish, security forces inflicting heavy casualties to the Taliban in the Qaisar district before the car bomb explosion.
Yourish said the Taliban car bomb attack took place half an hour after the Taliban were defeated in the Qaisar encounter. Taliban have not commented on the incident yet.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Tuesday reported 213 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 1,194 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 6 deaths and 24 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 43,681 the number of total reported deaths is 1,638 and the total number of recoveries is 35,160.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Balkh, Nangarhar, Takhar, Kunduz, Badghis, Maidan Wardak, Laghman, Farah, Zabul and Uruzgan provinces.
Afghan Peace Negotiations represent a historic milestone and offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring the conflict to an end, said participants at a gathering to discuss peace in the northeastern city of Faizabad.
Organised by the Provincial Peace and Mediation Network with support from UNAMA, more than 40 participants –mostly religious leaders from the provincial capital and surrounding districts—voiced their backing to the peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban taking place in Qatar.
They called on both parties to find common ground and explore all options to reach a workable political solution in the interest of all Afghans.
Afghanistan’s religious scholars, known as Ulema, play a crucial role in setting moral and ethical standards for their communities. They often work as peace brokers and mediators for conflict resolution and are respected at many levels of society, exerting influence on individual and community decisions.
Abdullah Naji Nazari, a member of the Badakhshan Provincial Council, told Reporterly that the Taliban attacked a security station in the Kibli area of Jurm district on Monday night.
Nazari added, that 12 security personnel, including one of their commanders, were killed and 14 others were wounded in the attack. while four others are missing.
As per Nazari, two tanks of the force were set on fire, and the Taliban left the security forces checkpoint after destroying and looting all the equipment. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the above attack, claiming that 4 security personnel were taken with them.
Afghan man Haji Najibullah pleaded not guilty in 2008 kidnapping of US journalist and two Afghan nationals. The Manhattan federal court pronounced Najibullah “not guilty” against the charges.
Najibullah has been accused of kidnapping, hostage, conspiracy and armed violence. Appearing before the US District Judge Katherin Pola Faila, he denied his alleged involvement in the crime.
On November 10, 2008, Najibullah and co-conspirators were charged for allegedly carrying machine guns and kidnapping David Rohde, a former New York Times and Reuters journalist along with two Afghan men. The accused allegedly forced trio to hike from Afghanistan to Pakistan.
Soon after the kidnapping, a video showing Rohde begging for help at gun point was circulated. The hostages were held captive for seven months, Reuters reported.
Rohde escaped from captivity in 2009. It was during his visit to Taliban commander, Abu Tayeb when he was kidnapped.
Iran’s Urban Development and Roads Minister Kheirollah Khademi expected train operations between Khaf-Herat to begin shortly. It is believed that this operation can start by the end of the Autumn. It is expected to cost a total of 2500 billion Toman.
Earlier this month, Iran’s Minister for Railway Development also said that the Western-Eastern Railway Corridor would connect China, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan directly to Iran with the operation of this 220-km-long railway route. According to him, the railway expects 6 million tonnes of luggage and 1 million passengers per year.
The aforesaid rail route is part of the Iran-Afghanistan Rail Corridor, which started in 2007-08. The railroad connects Iran’s eastern city of Khaf with Afghanistan’s western district of Ghoryan.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also hoped to strengthen the trade agreement with neighboring countries, including Afghanistan, by the introduction of this railroad.
US defense official on Monday said President Trump’s desires to get troops “home by Christmas” has rung chaos among NATO allies as they reiterate their “presence” stance in the conflict ravaged Afghanistan. NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu from Brussels underlined that the alliance’s stance over troops has not changed and that it will continue to adjust its presence. She added that no NATO ally wants to stay longer than necessary but it is also important to protect the gains with such sacrifice.
NATO’s mission Resolute Support has about 16,000 forces from 38 nations of which 12,000 have their presence in Afghanistan. More than half of these security forces are “non-US forces”, added Lungescu.
She said NATO allies that rely on US logistics will continue to consult on the Afghan mission that was established in 2015 under the UN Security Council resolution.
It will be a coordinated process based on conditions on the ground, Lungscue added.
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General, Jens Stolenberg and US Defense Secretary, Chris Miller emphasized on the importance of coordination with regard to NATO Missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. The peace process between Washington, Kabul government and Taliban has shown little progress due to increasing violence in the recent months. President Trump during the election campaign had emphasized for the US forces in Afghanistan to return home by Christmas.
The Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardekania and Afghanistan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mirwais Nab have held a meeting on bilateral cooperation.
A meeting on Monday emphasized the early formation of a Joint Economic Cooperation Commission because of the interests of the two countries.
There was also a detailed discussion between the two officials on the means of renewable energy, setting up wind energy farms on the borders of the two countries, and signing an agreement and implementing these plans.
On this occasion, minister Nab appreciated Iran for Afghanistan’s cooperation and reiterated Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s intention to cooperate between the two countries. He also added that President Ghani has issued all the necessary orders for shared cooperation related to projects.
US President Donald Trump is expected to make formal announcement to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan and Iraq before leaving office on January 20, say reports.
According to AP, about 2,500 US troops are expected to be called back by mid-January 2021. Not just Afghanistan, but US troops withdrawal is also expected in Iraq where there are currently 3,000 security forces stationed. While in Afghanistan, a total of 4,500 US troops are still posted.
On withdrawal of US troops, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell on Monday said, “A rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan now would hurt our allies and delight the people who wish us harm.”
He added that President Trump should be credited for ensuring the withdrawal of US troops to a sustainable level and the same approach should continue in the future as well.