Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The chairman of High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) Abdullah Abdullah has said that Tehran had already informed the Afghan government about the trip of Taliban delegation to Iran and received the ideas of HCNR about the issue.
Dr. Abdullah at a gathering titled “National Conference on Women’s Views and Demands on Ceasefire” said that the most important demand of the Afghan people in the peace process is to establish a nationwide ceasefire and preserve the values of the last two decades.
Abdullah warned that many opportunities in the peace process have been lost and that the current opportunity should not be missed.
“All Taliban prisoners would be released from prison and that the names of the group’s leaders would be removed from the UN blacklist, but only after an agreement is reached,” he said.
The HCNR chairman stated that the people of Afghanistan want a lasting peace, the protection of civil rights, women’s rights, freedom of expression and the rights of minorities, citing that ensuring a ceasefire can build trust among the people in the peace process.
“Terrorist activities led to the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan. If the activities of terrorist groups in the country stop, the people will demand the withdrawal of foreign forces, but this demand will be considered when we live together peacefully, despite the differences we have,” he said.
Dr. Abdullah appreciated the active, legitimate and cohesive presence of women in the peace process and noted that the people are witnessing the presence of brave Afghan women at the forefront of defending the country’s values.
“Without the dynamic and active role of the women of the country, who make up half of the population, a sustainable development and peace will not be possible,” Abdullah asserted.
“It is necessary for different sections of society to have a single voice in understanding and coordination to meet their legitimate demands.
There is strong and comprehensive support for the legitimate aspirations of the Afghan people to ensure lasting and dignified peace at the domestic and international levels,” he added.
Iran will never recognize the group that wants to rule Afghanistan through war, said the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) in his meeting with Taliban delegation in Tehran.
According to Iranian media, Taliban political delegation headed by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who arrived in Tehran yesterday, met and held talks with Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani on Wednesday.
Stating that Iran will never recognize any group that wants to rule Afghanistan through war, Shamkhani stressed the need for the participation of all ethnic groups in determining the fate of Afghanistan in a completely peaceful process.
Shamkhani called the security of Afghanistan, especially in the provinces bordering Iran, an important issue, stressing the Taliban’s cooperation with the Afghan government in combating any insecurity and countering ISIL moves.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, for his part, presented a report on the peace process in Afghanistan.
Referring to Trump’s actions in not implementing the peace agreement, he said, “We do not trust the United States and we are fighting any group that is the mercenary of the US.”
“We believe that all tribes and clans must participate and play a role in the future of Afghanistan,” he added.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar emphasized the security of the Afghan-Iranian border and announced the Taliban’s readiness to cooperate in this regard.
The delegation of the Taliban group arrived in Tehran early Tuesday to hold talks with Iranian officials on the Afghan peace process
Turkey and Afghanistan will sign a memorandum of understanding on Thursday for cooperation in research and development activities in the fields of motorways, railways and aviation, an official told Anadolu Agency.
Turkey’s Transport Minister Adil Karaismailoglu said in a statement after a meeting on Wednesday with his Afghan counterpart Kudretullah Zeki that Ankara will support infrastructure projects in the war-torn country.
“We are willing to undertake the necessary procedures to increase the possibility of rail transport between our countries and to create new cooperation opportunities,” Karaismailoglu said.
He added: “We are determined to connect Afghanistan with Europe via the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Line using the Lapis Lazuli route.”
Pakistan’s Provincial Home Minister Mir Ziaullah Langove has said that a mechanism would be evolved in consultation with the Afghan government for addressing the matter of lands belonging to villagers living on both sides of the Pak-Afghan border.
As per Dawn report, such pieces of land stand divided due to fencing by Pakistan to stop illegal crossing by citizens from both sides as well as to keep an eye on terror suspects.
The Pakistani minister was presiding over a meeting on Tuesday to review the fencing and land settlement issues.
Pakistan is erecting the fence along the Afghanistan and Iran borders to stop infiltration of illegal people into the country.
It has completed over 80 per cent fencing of the Pak-Afghan border and around 30 per cent of the Pak-Iran border.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Wednesday reported 37 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 1,729 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 8 deaths and 90 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 54,891 the number of total reported deaths is 2,398 and the total number of recoveries is 47,549.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Nangarhar, Kandahar, Baghlan, Parwan, Nimroz, Wardak, Kunar, Faryab, Khost and Paktika provinces.
The Pentagon’s new chief is expected to review troop levels in Afghanistan in an effort to examine American strategy in two conflicts, following former President Donald Trump’s drawdown of forces there, the Wall Street Journal reported.
President Biden’s defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, is facing a slew of issues in the U.S. and around the world, but Mr. Trump’s decision to quickly withdraw more than 3,000 troops from Afghanistan and Iraq before he left office this month forces the White House to confront how it will manage the long-running wars.
Austin’s spokesman, John Kirby, said officials hadn’t yet made a formal decision to review troop levels in either country.
“It stands to reason that the incoming administration will want to better understand the status of operations in both places and the resources being applied to those missions,” he said.
“Nothing has changed about our desire to defend the American people from the threat of terrorism, while also making sure we are appropriately resourcing our strategy.”
Kirby said any decisions on troop levels would be taken in consultation with the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan. He didn’t say who would be conducting the review nor when it could be completed.
Trump, who had railed against what he called “endless foreign wars,” drew American forces down in Iraq and Afghanistan to 2,500 personnel in each country this month, in an effort to bring the longstanding military engagements to a close.
At least two Afghan security forces were killed and four more were wounded in two separate explosions in Kabul city on Wednesday, according to local media reports.
The first blast happened when a ranger vehicle hit an IED in PD15 of Kabul city at around 08:00am this morning, leaving two Policemen wounded.
The second explosion took place as another ranger vehicle targeted by an IED blast in Salim Karwan road in PD12 at around 09:32am which two security forces were killed and two more were wounded.
No group has claimed responsibility for the incidents so far.
The World Health Organization’s COVAX programme has pledged $112 million to a vaccination programme in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has announced.
The Deputy Health Minister Waheed Majroh in a press conference said that the programme would cover the 20% of the population.
The COVAX programme is a global scheme to vaccinate people in poor and middle income countries against the coronavirus. It aims to deliver at least 2 billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021 to cover 20% of the most vulnerable people in 91 poor and middle-income countries.
Aside from COVAX, the country has also received a pledge of 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from India, Dr Ghulam Dastagir Nazari, head of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation at Afghanistan’s health ministry said.
President Ashraf Ghani has met with Lorenzo Guerini, the Italian Defence Minister at the Presidential Palace, Arg said.
Arg in a statement said that Minister Lorenzo Guerini expressed concern over escalation of violence and string of assassinations across Afghanistan and called for an immediate end to the violence.
According to the statement, the Italian Defense Minister praised the valor and bravery of the Afghan Defense and Security Forces in the fight against terrorism and said Italy supports a peaceful, united and democratic Afghanistan.
Minister Guerini stated that Italy remain committed to continuing its assistance with Afghanistan in various areas and in terms of presence of Italian forces in Afghanistan within the framework of NATO Resolute Support Mission.
The statement added that President Ghani also said people of Afghanistan and the world with a unified voice call for halting the violence and asserted Taliban must understand that protraction of the violence will prompt the people of Afghanistan and the world to mobilize against them.
Afghan National Security Adviser (NSA) Hamdullah Mohib has met the Italian Minister of Defense Lorenzo Guerini, who is leading a delegation to Kabul.
National Security Council (NSC) in a statement said that NSA Mohib expressed deep appreciation for Italy’s firm commitment to Afghanistan, its support to ANDSF, the sacrifices of its forces, and its principled position on peace.
According to the statement, Italian Minister Guerini said Italy remains committed to continuing to support Afghanistan within the NATO framework and is ready to strengthen bilateral cooperation in other areas and he said Italy supports NATO decisions to be made by members’ consultation and factor the Afghan government’s assessment of conditions, including on real reduction in violence, progress in negotiations, and severance of all of Taliban’s connections to terrorist groups.
“NSA Mohib and Minister Guerini agreed on the need to preserve the gains of the last two decades; to strengthen a unified, sovereign and democratic Afghanistan that is at peace; and to protect the rights of all Afghans, including those of women and minorities,” the statement added.