Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: Security sources in Kunar told the media that Taliban insurgents launched a series of attacks on security checkpoints in some parts of the province on Wednesday morning. The 2nd Brigade Command in Kunar said that a series of attacks has been launched on security posts in Ghaziabad district since 4am on the second day of Eid al-Adha. There is no detailed information on casualties.
The brigade’s press officer, Shahed, told the media that Wednesday’s battle was led by the so-called Taliban’s deputy governor for Kunar, Qari Zia-ur-Rahman. According to Shahed, the Taliban’s officials include Pakistani nationals. Meanwhile, the Kunar police spokesman’s office said that the Taliban had launched a heavy attack on the security forces base called “Jalala” but that fresh troops had also arrived in the area.
Locals have also confirmed recent attacks on Ghaziabad district and fear that if air support does not reach the district, the district will soon fall to the Taliban. Meanwhile, the Taliban have blocked roads in Asadabad-Ghaziabad, Narai and Kamdesh and Bergamtal districts of Nuristan province, causing severe problems to the residents of those districts.
Also, an IED blast was reported in Nangarhar. Six people were killed in a magnetic mine explosion in Nangarhar province. Ayub Bahar, the district governor of Khogyani district, said that six tribal elders were killed and another was wounded in a magnetic mine explosion on a civilian car this afternoon.
On the other hand, in a sign-on letter by prominent leaders and individuals worldwide, friends and supporters of Afghanistan are urging NATO and the European Union that as U.S. and NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan: “We must not abandon the Afghan people and their democratic republic.” The letter—signed by former foreign ministers, former ambassadors to Afghanistan and diplomats, along with a range of civil society groups and leaders—says that while NATO armed forces are leaving Afghanistan, “It is the obligation of all NATO and European countries to continue to strongly stand by our Afghan partners.” The letter also urges NATO and the EU to continue the financial support to the Afghan state, protect the human rights of Afghan women and girls and continue to provide “robust financial” support to the Afghan national security forces.
The letter calls for support in six major areas, including protecting women’s rights and human rights and providing robust and sustainable support to the Afghan state. It asks to reaffirm robust financial support to the Afghan national security forces, continue development assistance to key Afghan institutions, support a strong UN role in the Intra-Afghan peace talks, and re-affirm support to civil society and human rights groups.
The letter highlights the current high levels of violence perpetrated by the Taliban and their affiliates “who are using violence to silence and oppress the Afghan people.” For over a year, the Taliban offensive attacks have been at their peak, targeting girls in school, women leaders, journalists, judges, doctors, charity workers, teachers, government officials, minorities and even religious scholars. Meanwhile, the Taliban said that it released 80 prisoners in eight provinces of Afghanistan on the first day of Eid-ul-Adha.
Also, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit India next week and hold discussions with Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, with Afghanistan being top on the agenda. This will be Blinken’s first trip to India as the Secretary of State and his third meeting with Jaishankar. The situation in Afghanistan is high on both countries’ agenda with the Taliban making rapid strides in the war-torn nation following the withdrawal of US troops, which is slated to be completed by August-end.
In other news, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai said on Tuesday that he has suspected for “a long time” that the United States and some of its allies have tried to create a weakened Afghanistan with a splintered government. Addressing an online forum of Russia’s Valdai International Discussion Club, Karzaid said: “I have been suspecting for a long time that there was an intention in Afghanistan by the United States and some of its allies to create a weakened Afghanistan where there is government in name in Kabul, and then there are splinters of governments or authorities around the country.
“This is something we have been working against. Some proposals of this nature were made to my government at the time to allow the Taliban to take one or two provinces to accommodate them and then to negotiate from there which I rejected and outrightly neutralized,” he said.
“Now in the past two months we see the situation moving in that direction and an official indication of this came in the remarks of the US President Joe Biden. When he recently spoke on Afghanistan, he referred to Afghanistan in two ways; one was that Afghanistan was never a unified country in his words and the other one was that Afghanistan may not have one government. “That’s what he precisely said. Now we don’t see this as an accidental remark. I see this more as something that probably someone is thinking about doing,” Karzai said.
He questioned why a country, such as the US, would go as far as suggesting that Afghanistan may not have one government unless there is a plan and a thought behind it. “If this is true, and the signs are there, this means Afghanistan is used for a larger global game in this region where all the major powers of the world are situated,” he said. “I have been urging the United States of America that if they are sincere towards peace in Afghanistan, if they really want peace in Afghanistan, then that is only possible if they engage with Russia and with other major powers in this region so we can have peace, not only peace but a stable and unified Afghanistan,” he said.
Also participating in the discussion was Russia’s Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov who said if no real progress is seen in the process of national reconciliation, the military-political balance in Afghanistan will be reformatted in favor of the Taliban. “And then their takeover in the country will become a very real prospect,” Kabulov said.
“So far, the Taliban is unable to capture big administrative centers in provinces. However, I don’t rule out that in the near future they will be able to take control of two or three administrative centers but they are not strong enough to seize and, importantly, to establish long-term control of the country’s big provinces,” he said. Kabulov said however that this process impacts the Kabul government, but that the Taliban’s offensive will not lead to the collapse of the entire government.
Also, referring to the firing of rockets near the Presidential Palace, the Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for a rocket attack near the Afghan presidential palace in Kabul on Tuesday as the country’s president Ashraf Ghani held outdoor prayers to mark the start of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday.
Meanwhile, the Balkh Department of Information and Culture said that of the seven print media outlets operating in the province, only one is now active. Matiullah Karimi, director of information and culture at Balkh, said that only the “Bidar” weekly is active and that other print media outlets have been shut down due to insecurity and financial problems.
“We are trying to turn Bidar Weekly into a newspaper so that we can send the same voice of justice and media to the citizens of Afghanistan,” he said. Bidar Weekly has a 100-year history. This is the first government publication run by a woman in Balkh. Statistics of the Department of Information and Culture of Balkh province show that there are 17 audio channels, nine local and international televisions, four news agencies and seven print publications in this province earlier.
Kabul: President Ashraf Ghani, while visiting the Special Operations Command Corps, said that any support that is needed will be provided and that the source of our will is the protection of Afghanistan, freedom, equality and the achievements of the past 20 years.
However, he said that the intention of the enemy is black. The President said that the strategic position is ours and that is why the enemies are conspiring and wanting to take revenge on us through war.
President Ghani, on Tuesday, also spoke with the governors, corps and police chiefs and officials of the security and defense sector through a video conference this afternoon and congratulated them on Eid-ul-Adha. After listening to their speeches, President Ghani gave them necessary instructions on maintaining the security of the people and dismantling and dismantling the enemy’s movements.
Ghani also announced the arrival of “hard days”. “The Taliban have no intention or will for peace,” he said in his Eid statement on Tuesday. According to the President, the reason for sending the delegation by the government to Doha was to complete the argument; because he believes the government intends for peace and has sacrificed for it, while the Taliban do not. The president added that although Pakistan calls the Taliban “wild” on paper and is unable to bring the group to the negotiating table, at the table it calls on the government to change the battlefield to change the group’s position.
He said that Pakistanis see the Taliban as a threat to themselves and that no politician or major party in the country wants to establish a Taliban regime in their country. According to the president, an urgent and practical plan has been put in place for three to six months, and it will not take long for the current situation to change. Ghani called the change conditional on a strong position and the right program, which is based on coordination between the people and the government.
“We told the world that the release of 5,000 prisoners was a big mistake,” he added. At that time, we told the world, politicians and experts that this had dire consequences. He said foreigners and some Afghans at the time suspected that the government had no intention of making peace, and that the government had released 5,000 prisoners just to start negotiations, without achieving anything or a clear solution. The president said that despite the move, the Taliban were not yet ready for “serious and meaningful talks.” “In the last two years, unfortunately, the republic has been destroyed on all sides,” said Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.
He criticized the Taliban for destroying infrastructure. According to the president, the Taliban have destroyed 150 mosques and 260 buildings, which he said were “made with the blood of the people.” Addressing the Taliban, the president said how the group’s relations with Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba and al-Qaeda were founded and what their secret commitments were. According to the president, the Taliban had previously claimed that the government had international relations, but now international relations have changed with the withdrawal of foreign troops. According to Mr. Ghani, if the Taliban are Afghans, they should gather within Afghanistan, otherwise the government will not give that group the right to turn the country into a terrorist battleground and take the lives of its citizens.
Ghani said that every member of society should defend his homeland, capital, assets and future. Ghani said difficult days had come, but there was no need to talk about people’s performance; Because, according to him, history has proven that the past cannot be changed, but the future of individuals depends on their actions today. At the same time, President Ghani said that he will refrain from any political interference in the security establishment.
The Eid prayer program in the presidential palace was disturbed when some rockets hit areas around the palace. The president also mentioned this in his speech and said, “Eid is always a time of joy, but you still see how many rockets are fired, thinking that the rocket will make us stop praying,” he said. He even stressed that the Taliban bring people to the altar instead of sheep.
President Ghani went on to point out the role of order and cohesion between the people and the government in the current war. He said not a single checkpoint had fallen in parts of Khost where the 1,700-strong Taliban were present and the other side was Waziristan. The main issue in the current situation, he said, is not capacity, it is management.
He said the reason for the recent meetings was to set priorities, and that has been done. However, the president said that in such a situation, no one should ask for concessions.
In other news, Afghan officials said that the recent fighting and violence have pushed up commodity prices in many parts of the country, raising concerns. The Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said that if the ongoing violence in the country continues, commodity prices in the markets will rise further. Meanwhile, Khan Jan Alokozai, a member of the board of directors of the chamber of commerce, said the arrival of supplies at some ports under the control of the Taliban was a matter of concern and put many traders in the country at risk.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross has described Afghanistan as the deadliest country for civilians in the world, and says violence against civilians in the country has risen to unprecedented levels in recent months. The committee said on Wednesday that it had treated 49,500 war-wounded individuals in the country in the first six months of this year.
“Every day, an average of 270 people need treatment and serious care for life-threatening painful injuries,” the committee said in a statement. The Red Cross also said that 2,366 people wounded in the fighting had been treated at Mirwais District Hospital in Kandahar alone, more than doubling last year. According to the committee, women and children make up almost half of the civilian casualties in the country. Physical rehabilitation centers and the implantation of Red Cross prostheses have also treated 7,130 new wounded during this period, of which more than 700 have lost part of their limbs to war. The Red Cross in Afghanistan has added that their teams have helped 80,000 people at seven physical rehabilitation centers across the country since January this year.
“Violence caused by the conflict, growing insecurity, the destruction of water and electricity infrastructure, lack of access, attacks on health facilities and health workers are among the major factors affecting the lives of Afghans,” said Ilwa Filion, head of the Red Cross Central Committee’s office in Afghanistan. Fillon called on the parties to the conflict to refrain from harming civilians in the country. He added that the Red Cross Committee in Afghanistan will continue to provide the much-needed assistance that Afghans desperately need.
Also, as per Khaama Press, following Australia’s hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan now, officials are considering resending a number of the country’s military, intelligence officers, diplomats and civilians who had humanitarian aid missions to Afghanistan. Australia hastily evicted its troops and diplomats from Afghanistan last month.
Australia’s Foreign Ministry has announced that it is continuing to work closely with the Afghan government and coalition member states, the Daily Mail quotes. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said Australia’s return to Afghanistan will come as soon as it is safe to do so. He has said Australia has always made it clear that it will do so if it meets the conditions of deploying Australian forces safely in Afghanistan and supporting their efforts there. Morrison has spoken to other world leaders, particularly at the recent G7 summit, about Australia’s absence and plans for his return to Afghanistan. He said he hoped to be able to do so as soon as possible, but he said it would only happen if it was safe to do so.
Meanwhile, a coalition of US news organizations in two different letters to US President Joe Biden and Minority and Majority leaders in the House of representatives asked for granting special US visas for Afghan journalists and support staff. The twin letters demand less than one thousand special visas for Afghan journalists, interpreters, supporting staff, and their families who have worked with US media. The letters are co-sent by 24 prominent outlets in the US on July 20.
The Special Immigration Visa (SIV) program is commended by the coalition as it indicates US commitment for airlifting their Afghan colleagues but is objected in the meantime as it does not reach the media workers in Afghanistan. US media is deemed as a legitimate target by the Taliban thus the families of Afghans who have worked with the media is directly subjected to these threats. We are doing what we can as a private organization to support our current and former colleagues in Afghanistan, but without US government assistance the people are facing grave harm in Afghanistan, read the letters. The letters have also pointed out the similar initiative by President Bush’s administration in 2008 for Iraqi journalists who had worked with US media. The US news organization asked for the same initiative to be launched for Afghans. Earlier, rights groups had also asked issuance of 2000 visas for female Afghan journalists, politicians, rights advocates, and minorities.
Kabul: Silsila Alikhel, daughter of Afghan ambassador to Pakistan, Najib Alikhel had filed a complaint that she was kidnapped and then tortured in Islamabad but police in the Pakistani capital said that they have found no evidence of the incident being as such.
“Our investigation is almost complete but Silsila’s impression of being manhandled does not match the evidence found”, said Islamabad police chief Qazi Jameelur Rehman.
On Monday, Pakistan foreign minister Mahmoud Qureshi, National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf, and Inspector General of Police of Islamabad briefed the media and apparently denied the Afghan envoy daughter’s allegation of being abducted. IGP Qazi Jameelur Rehman regarding his investigation conducted said that Silsila Alikhel had changed four taxis to different locations in Islamabad and was alone during her commute. He further said Silsila was using the internet during her time in taxis and was ultimately dropped at the location where the Afghan embassy is located.
Afghanistan foreign ministry Hanif Atmar in a telephone call with his Pakistani counterpart called the remarks by Rasheed unprofessional and premature which will lead to harm in bilateral relations.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Foreign Ministry has once again condemned the “non-muslim” comments by Pakistani officials in connection with the abduction of the daughter of Afghan ambassador to Pakistan Najibullah Alikhel. A statement issued on Wednesday said, “While the investigation process has not yet been completed and the perpetrators of the abduction have not been arrested, the continuation of “unilateral statements and unprofessional prejudices” will call into question the transparency of the investigation and increase distrust.”
The statement added that Alikhel’s daughter’s mental and physical torture was explicitly listed in the hospital report, and Kabul expects non-professional bias to be avoided before the investigation is completed. The ministry stressed that efforts should be focused on obtaining evidence and completing the investigation process, as well as arresting and prosecuting the perpetrators.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs further stated that it is committed to full cooperation in the investigation process through the cooperation of the delegations of the two sides. According to the ministry statement, Kabul hopes that the reasons for the incident and the results of the investigation will be completed and announced soon based on the findings of the delegations of the two countries. Silsila AliKhel, the daughter of the Afghan ambassador, was abducted in Islamabad and released after being tortured.
The Afghan Foreign Ministry has summoned its ambassador and senior diplomats to Kabul to remove all security threats. A day later, Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan Mansour Ahmad Khan also left Kabul.
Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad has previously said that according to the police investigation, the case of the daughter of the Afghan ambassador is not a kidnapping. He has also recently stated that no evidence has been found to substantiate the kidnapping case. According to him, the purpose of this incident was only to “discredit” Pakistan.
Kabul: The Interior Ministry said that Qari Saddam, the Taliban’s district governor for Nijrab district of Kapisa, was killed in an operation by government forces and popular mobilization. According to the interior ministry press release, the killed Taliban member was also in charge of the group’s military in Nijrab district.
The Interior Ministry added that several other Taliban members were killed during government military operations and popular mobilization. The Taliban have not yet commented.
Also, Afghan national security adviser, Hamdullah Mohib, is on an official visit to the UK on Wednesday. Mohib is scheduled to meet with UK political and security leaders to discuss issues of mutual interest during the trip, the Office of the National Security Council said in a statement.
Also, General Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai, chief of staff of the Afghan armed forces, is expected to visit India next Tuesday and discuss some issues with Indian officials. General Ahmadzai’s three-day trip to India will be aimed at expanding military relations between India and Afghanistan. General Ahmadzai will also meet with India’s National Security Advisor, Ajit Dual, during the visit.
In other news, local officials in Bamyan said that two people have been killed in an attack by gunmen on a residential house in the Hesa-e-Awal district of Yakawlang province. The incident took place on Tuesday night in Baghlak village of Dehsorkh district of the province, and another person was injured. Azim Farid, the district governor of the first part of Yakawlang, confirmed the incident and said that police investigations into the matter had begun. According to the Yakawlang district governor, a similar incident took place in the village in previous years. Meanwhile, Homayoun Ilkhani, spokesman for the Bamyan Police Command, said the attackers had been arrested by the anti-crime police in Hesse Awak of Yakawlang district. According to Mr. Ilkhani, the first police investigations show that the incident was caused by violence against a woman.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of foreign affairs announced that FM Mohammad Hanif Atmar had signed an agreement with Ross Wilson, Acting Secretary of the US Embassy in Kabul, for the transfer of land and property in the southern part of the embassy. According to the State Department, during Atmar’s meeting with Wilson, he discussed strengthening bilateral relations and the latest developments in the peace process. Atmar thanked the United States for its assistance to Afghanistan, in particular for donating 3.3 million doses of the Johnson-Johnson vaccine to Afghanistan. The Foreign Minister also spoke about the importance of continuing cooperation between Kabul and Washington in the post-withdrawal phase of resolute support for Afghanistan and the new chapter in Afghanistan’s relations with the international community. During the meeting, Wilson assured of continued US economic, political, military and security assistance, as well as US support for the peace process and a political solution to the Afghan problem.
Also, Abdul Hafiz Mansour, a member of the government’s negotiating team, said that the Taliban has angered Turkey, Iran and Qatar. “We are convinced that the Taliban are not a people of peace and understanding, but recent meetings have made it clear to various countries that they have not yet recognized the Taliban,” the member of the government’s negotiating team said. According to him, the two-day meeting in Doha ended in vain, and now Qatari officials are seeking a review of their policy towards the Taliban. Mansour explained that Turkey initially thought it would be a good host for the Afghan peace talks, but the Taliban thwarted Turkey’s plan by not attending the Istanbul summit, thus showing a different face to the country.
Abdul Hafiz Mansour continued, “Iran believed that it could play a constructive role in securing peace in Afghanistan. The country had relied on his contacts and cooperation with the Taliban for many years, and senior Iranian officials went to extremes in praising the Taliban, but at the negotiating table the Taliban did not listen to any of Iran’s proposals and eventually Iran found itself empty-handed in this deal. The member of the government’s negotiating team said that in the last case, Qatar’s optimism in this regard also turned into despair. According to him, Qatar was most hopeful that it could persuade the Taliban to end the war and establish a participatory government, but the two-day meeting in Doha ended in failure and Qatari officials are now seeking to reconsider their policies. Abdul Hafiz Mansour added that the three countries, Turkey, Iran and Qatar, are “angry” with the Taliban.
A high-level meeting between the delegation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan led by Abdullah Abdullah and the Taliban delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was held on Saturday and Sunday this week in Doha. Although the meeting issued a joint statement, it was inconclusive.
In fact, as violence escalates by the Taliban, Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, head of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s negotiating team, said that the “international community is part of the current crisis” in the country and should not be only an observer. Stanekzai, on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, said that the international community must help the people of Afghanistan bring peace.
According to him, the people of Afghanistan are “victims of foreign sedition” every day. The head of the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan also called the Taliban’s refusal to negotiate with the Afghan government a new sedition, adding that the group’s refusal to make peace under various pretexts would prolong the tragedy in Afghanistan. He stressed that accepting the ceasefire and stopping the “killing of Afghans” was the only way to build trust in the peace talks and then move them forward. The Taliban have recently stepped up their attacks in parts of the country.