Newsfeed; Wednesday, June 3 2020

Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…

  • 3 Jun 2020 Share this post

    COVID-19: Afghan Gov’t Makes Face Masks Compulsory, Tightens Rules for Older People

    The office of second vice-president announced about new plans for prevention of the coronavirus which were approved at an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday.

    The meeting was held on Wednesday morning, chaired by Sarwar Danesh, the Second Vice President and Chairman of the National Committee for countering coronavirus at the Presidential Palace.

    The measures to combat coronavirus are considered in “short-term, medium-term and long-term stages”.

    In the first phase, which is planned for three months is that wearing face mask becomes mandatory, observing a distance of two meters between the people and older people banned to leave their homes in extended lockdown.

    The disinfecting of workplace, providing sanitary facilities for employees and observing two shifts at this stage are compulsory.

    According to the Office of the Second Vice President, the plan is scheduled to be submitted to the Cabinet for final decision after a series of reforms.

    At the extraordinary meeting of the anti-corona committee, the plan to “create a national movement and mobilize against COVID-19” was also approved.

    The plan, drafted by the Kabul Medical Council, emphasized all the coordination between citizens, the private sector and government agencies to combat the coronavirus and its consequences.

  • 3 Jun 2020 Share this post

    Spain to withdraw troops from Afghanistan

    The Spanish authorities decided to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan, El Pais reported.

    As for Afghanistan, the troops will be withdrawn at the end of this year or the beginning of the next.

    According to the agreement between the US and the Taliban, concluded at the end of February, the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan should occur before May 2021.

    Madrid is not going to wait until the last. Moreover, participation in this NATO mission led to the largest losses in the Spanish army over the past 40 years.

  • 3 Jun 2020 Share this post

    Afghan Lawmakers Call on Gov’t to Introduce Cabinet Members for Vote of Confidence

    The Lower House of Parliament has called on the government to introduce the cabinet members for a vote of confidence.

    Parliament Members emphasized that running ministeries by the acting ministers must end and the new ministers should be introduced at the earliest time that they can be responsive to the people.

    In the meantime, the Afghan government stated that the introduction process of the
    new ministers is underway and they will be introduced to the Parliament in the near future.

  • 3 Jun 2020 Share this post

    Taliban Calls UN Report ‘False’, ‘Baseless’ and ‘Bigoted’

    Taliban rejected the UN report on Afghanistan that said it was concerned whether the terrorist group will follow the terms of its agreements with the U.S. to end the war.

    The group called the report “false” and the findings “baseless, intelligence-based and bigoted remarks” against the Taliban.

    “All in all this [U.N.] report is constructed with the aim of harming and derailing the U.S.-IEA [Taliban] agreement … to keep the fire of war raging in our homeland,” the harshly worded Taliban statement said.

    The report also showed that Taliban maintains its links with Al-Qaeda despite saying it will sever ties with the militant group.

    The group insisted it was committed to implementing its end of the U.S.-Taliban peace deal.

  • 3 Jun 2020 Share this post

    Afghan Student in India Charged for Molesting Woman

    An Afghan national was booked for allegedly molesting a woman on the campus of GB Pant University in the northern state of Uttarakhand.

    The 23-year-old Afghani student, Kareemullah, was studying horticulture at the university. He was staying in a hostel on-campus.

    He has been accused by a 22-year-old woman who was waking past the hostel at night. The incident took place on June 1.

    “The accused stopped the woman and molested her besides passing lewd comments. Following this, she informed her brother over the phone, who immediately arrived at the spot with his friends and nabbed the accused and handed him over to university security,” a police official told Hindustan Times.

    The police booked him under Indian Penal Code Section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty).

  • 3 Jun 2020 Share this post

    Exports to Afghanistan Up 30% Says Iran

    Afghanistan has seen a 30% hike in Iran’s exports in the last two months, when compared to the same time period in 2019. Iran’s exports valued at US$341 million.

    A spokesman for Iran’s Customs Administration (IRICA) said, “Islamic Republic of Iran exported 1,067,350 tons of products to neighbouring Afghanistan, showing a 3.5% and 31% growth in terms of weight and value respectively.”

    Iran reported these figures for the first two months of its current calendar year which starts on March 21.

    The IRICA spokesman pointed that exports had grown amidst the COVID-19 outbreak because of two reasons. Firstly, Iran was one of the countries that had “managed to observe health protocols amid pandemic.” Secondly, he said Afghanistan had kept its borders open while focusing on implementing the appropriate preventive measures.

  • 3 Jun 2020 Share this post

    Australian Soldier Accused of Covering Death of Afghan Detainee

    Former Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) soldier Ben Roberts-Smith has been accused of unlawfully killing and then covering up the deaths of two Afghan detainees.

    Smith, a decorated veteran, sued The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald over reports that he allegedly murdered seven people, including committing acts of war crime when he was deployed overseas between 2009 and 2012. Smith denied the allegations and said they were defamatory.

    The media organisations are fighting the defamation lawsuit and have brought in fresh witness statements that show Smith was complicit in pushing a handcuffed Afghan detainee off a cliff in September 2012. Then he and another soldier covered the incident by shooting the man and planting evidence to suggest he had been an enemy, reports The Age.

    Smith then radioed a message confirming that an enemy had been killed moments before a helicopter was due to arrive to retrieve the Australians.

    The newspapers’ lawyer said the death was a murder because the detainee was handcuffed. He reiterated that Smith was complicit and responsible for the event.

  • 3 Jun 2020 Share this post

    Ghani to Taliban: Refrain From Violence for Intra-Afghan Peace Talks to Begin

    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called on the Taliban to continue the ceasefire so that the intra-Afghan peace negotiations can begin soon.

    Ghani made the statement while he was paying tribute to Mullah Mohammad Ayaz Niazi, the imam of the Wazir Mohammad Akbar Khan mosque in Kabul, who was one of the two victims killed in the suicide bombing last night.

    Ghani requested the Taliban to continue the Eid Al-Fitr ceasefire as it had “pleased the people.” He also urged the group to refrain from any violent attacks so that peace talks could begin soon.

    The Afghan peace talks have entered a new phase, Ghani said referring to his discussions with the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. They had spoken about setting the location of the intra-Afghan talks.

    Earlier, Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation had also expressed hope that the peace talks would begin in the next two weeks.

    Tribute to the Imam

    Ghani called Niazi one of the most enlightened scholars, saying he had been killed by people unaware of the rules and customs of Islam. He accused the perpetrators of violating human rights.

    The ceremony took place today at the Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan Hospital.

    He called on religious scholars across the country to work and promote peace and stability in Afghanistan. This would help the nation achieve the peace and values mentioned by the religion and the Constitution.

    The president also stressed that the perpetrators of the suicide bombing attack, would be arrested and punished for their actions.

    Although the Taliban has denied responsibility for the bombing of the mosque, first Vice President Amrullah Saleh had accused the group of being involved.

  • 3 Jun 2020 Share this post

    COVID-19: Afghanistan Reports 758 New Cases; Tally at 17,267

    The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) reported 758 new Coronavirus cases in the country over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 17,267.

    The daily death rate showed a considerable rise with 24 people dying, bringing the total to 270. The number of recovered patients was 78, bring that to 1,450 recovered cases in all.

    Kabul, once again led the provinces as the hotspot for positive cases, reporting 332 in a single day.

    New cases were reported in Herat (216), Kandahar (54), Balkh (52), Jawzjan (48), Logar (19), and 11 each in Faryab and Kunar. Five cases each were also reported the provinces of Badakhshan and Nuristan, three cases in Nangarhar, and two in Samangan.

    The total number of active cases in the country is 15,451.

    The ministry tested 1,323 samples over the past day. International agencies have pointed that Afghanistan is able to test fewer than one in 10 Coronavirus samples daily. Of those, more than 30% are consistently testing positive, suggesting that there may be more hidden number of Coronavirus cases in the country.

    The MoPH has said they receive up to 20,000 samples a day but can only process a maximum of 1,500 a day due to limited equipment.

  • 3 Jun 2020 Share this post

    5 Killed and 9 Wounded in Kandahar Blast

    roadside mine blast in Arghistan district in southern Kandahar province today.

    The police confirmed the incident happened at 10:45 am local time, after a civilian vehicle struck a roadside mine.

    No group has claimed responsibility for the blast.

  • 3 Jun 2020 Share this post

    COVID-19: Police Chief, District Governor Die of Coronavirus in Kunduz

    A top official of the Afghan National Police and head of the Kunduz forces, Abdul Rasheed Bashir, and Fahim Qarluq, the governor of Qala-e-Zal district, have both died of the Coronavirus.

    District officials confirmed Qarluq’s death on Wednesday.

    The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said Bashir had contracted the disease a while ago and had been undergoing treatment at a military hospital in Kabul. He died last week.

    “He had a problem with breathing,” according to the MoI.

    According to the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), the country has so far recorded 16,509 positive cases of Coronavirus.

    Vice President Amrullah Saleh also warned the citizens that the peak of infections would be arriving soon and advised them to take precautions.

  • 3 Jun 2020 Share this post

    Turkmenistan Continues Construction of TAPI Pipeline

    The Turkmen side is finally starting to construct its part of the transnational Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline.

    Myratgeldy Meredov, a deputy chairman of the Cabinet of Turkmenistan reported that their section was fully supplied with steel pipes and can begin construction. Their national gas company, Turkmengaz, signed an agreement with a Hong Kong-based company to oversee the construction operations.

    The project started in Turkmenistan in 2015 and would supply natural gas from the Galkynysh Gas Field in the country through Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The 1,814-kilometre pipeline was supposed to be operational by 2019.

    As of now, pipes have been welded completely in Afghanistan’s territory. They continue to lay down the welded pipes and have brought the pipeline all the way to the Afghan-Turkmen border.

    Turkmenistan face a problem with the supply of the steel pipes. The most recent consignment of 150,000 tons of corrosion-proofed, high-strength pipes came from Russia’s Chelyabinsk Pipe Plant.

    Turkmengas is looking into the supply of the gate valves and various auxiliary equipment for the Turkmen section of the gas pipeline. They have planned to install large-sized valves along the gas pipeline.

    Summarising it, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said the TAPI project is progressing at fast pace and noted that it is an important component of Turkmenistan’s energy strategy.

    Turkmenistan is also drawing up plans for laying down a Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan high-voltage power line that would run along the gas pipeline.

  • 3 Jun 2020 Share this post

    India Reacts to UN Report on Afghanistan: Pakistan Remains Epicentre of Global Terrorism

    Reacting to the UN report that around 6,500 Pakistani fighters are present in Afghanistan, India said it vindicates their long-standing position that Pakistan remains the epicentre of terrorism.

    India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) urged the international community to “hold Pakistan accountable and seek sustained, verifiable and irreversible action by Pakistan against terrorism.”

    The UN Security Council’s Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team released a report that said Pakistan-based groups like Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan are among some of the terror outfits that pose a serious threat to Afghanistan’s security.

    “Pakistan has failed in fulfilling its international obligations, including under relevant UNSC resolutions and the Financial Action Task Force, to put an end to support to terrorism emanating from territories under its control,” the MEA said.

    India also said it will continue to contribute and support all efforts towards securing peace, security and stability in Afghanistan.