Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: The Presidential Palace has appointed a delegation to investigate the escalation of violence in Badakhshan. According to the presidential Palace, Abdul Wadud Sabet, the presidential adviser, will chair the delegation, according to a decree issued by President Ghani.
Representatives from the Independent Local Governance Authority, the National Security Council, Ahmad Zia Yaftali, the Badakhshan People’s Representative in the House of Representatives, Sibghatullah, a former member of the Border Security Commission, a representative of the Ministry of Interior, and a representative with the National Directorate of Security are among the members.
The presidency has said that the commission is tasked with examining the problems and challenges of the people in depth and sending their findings and solutions to the office of the National Security Council as soon as possible.
A number of residents of Faizabad city, the capital of Badakhshan province, marched on Tuesday, to protest the lack of drinking water, electricity and insecurity in the city, which turned violent. As a result of the violence, four protesters were killed and 44 others were injured.
Protesters continued to demonstrate on Wednesday, carrying the bodies of those killed and demanding the removal of the governor of Badakhshan.
Meanwhile, Mir Rahman Rahmani, speaker of parliament, told a plenary session of parliament that according to the constitution, civil movements are one of the most fundamental rights of the country’s citizens, and it should not lead to violence.
Rahmani stated that the shooting of the protesters by the officials and the governor himself is illegal and a clear violation of civil values. Rahmani instructed the House Internal Security Commission to investigate the matter and present in parliament.
Interior Ministry spokesperson Tariq Arian said that the figure had been recorded from May 24 to June 7. He said that the Taliban had carried out 30 assassinations, 115 bombings and six suicide attacks in the past 15 days.
A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry added that dozens of homes had been destroyed as a result of Taliban bombings. Violence in the country has escalated since the beginning of the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Hafizullah Haqparast, a journalist was shot to death in Logar province on Wednesday as a result of clashes between the Taliban militants and ANA forces.
Family members of the victim claim that Hafizullah Haqparast was gunned down by the Afghanistan National Army forces while he was working in Pul-e-Alam city of Logar province.
Didar Lowang, a spokesperson to governor’s office told themedia that an investigation is underway and the result will be shared with media and general public as soon as the investigation is completed. Hafizullah Haqparast started his first job at Radio Paigham Milli in 2008 and since then he has worked for different media and news agencies as a local employee.
Kabul: After weeks of deadlock in the intra-Afghan talks, the members of the negotiating teams of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban met on Tuesday evening.
Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, Chairman of the Negotiating Committee of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Chairman of the Taliban Negotiating Committee, attended the meet.
The negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan said that during the meeting, an understanding was reached between the two sides on speeding up the negotiation process and its agenda issues.
Mohammad Naeem, a spokesperson for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, also confirmed the meeting between the two delegations. He said that the meeting focused on speeding up intra-Afghan talks and agenda issues.
Kabul: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Wednesday that Afghanistan has become a member of the UN Economic and Social Council for a four-year term after the recent UN elections with 181 votes.
According to the statement, Afghanistan’s membership in the United Nations Economic and Social Council is of particular importance as Afghanistan’s relations with the world enters a new phase politically and economically.
The Council is one of the six main pillars of the United Nations Economic and Social Policy Management. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also said that in addition to the post of member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, Afghanistan had nominated its candidate for the presidency of the 76th General Assembly of the organization. However, the ministry said that the candidate of the Republic of Maldives has won the election.
The Ministry in a statement also thanked all the countries that had voted for Afghanistan to join the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
Kabul: The protest by residents of Faizabad against the lack of drinking water, electricity and deteriorating security situation entered its second day in central Badakhshan.
The protest turned violent near the entrance to the Badakhshan governor’s office, killing four people and injuring 44 others on Tuesday. Protesters staged a sit-in near the provincial office on Wednesday, and chanted slogans calling for the removal and trial of the governor of Badakhshan.
The protesters closed the entrances to the new city and the old city of Faizabad and said they would continue to protest until their demands are met. They accused the bodyguards of the governor of Badakhshan of being guilty of shooting people and want to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Badakhshan police spokesperson Sanaullah Rouhani said police had not been involved in the incident. Nik Mohammad Nazari, spokesperson for the governor of Badakhshan, issued a statement urging the people to exercise restraint and patience, saying that a fact-finding mission would soon investigate the violence in the presence of the families of the martyrs and wounded.
The statement said that civil demonstration and protest is the right of every citizen. The shooting had many repercussions, and many former and current members of parliament in Badakhshan denounced it by posting on Facebook. The Independent Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has called for an investigation into the violence in Faizabad, and the House of Representatives has called the shooting of protesters “unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, the acting district chief of the Arghanj Khah district of Badakhshan province said that two key checkpoints of Afghan forces in the district have fallen to the Taliban. Ghulam Mohammad told RFE/RL that about 200 forces were surrounded by the Taliban after last night’s Taliban attack, and that fighting was raging in center of the district.
He added that if the extra forces do not arrive, the district will fall completely. Earlier, the Taliban reported the fall of several districts, including Dam and Jaghatu in Ghazni province, Dawlatabad in Faryab province and Jawand in Badghis province. Security and defense officials say Afghan forces have made tactical retreats from several areas.
Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Wednesday reported 1,843 new positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 51 deaths and 257 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The total number of cases now stand at 85,893, while the number of reported deaths is 3,456.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Health is concerned about the unprecedented increase in coronavirus patient and warned that the country will see “the worst-case scenario” in the next four weeks.
Acting Public Health Minister Vahid Majrooh told a news conference on Wednesday that in recent days there has been no decline in the coronavirus graph and the number of positive cases and deaths due to the virus has been increasing.
Majrooh noted that health officials had started rapid testing and perform about one to three thousand rapid tests daily. He also said that the number of coronavirus patients has increased in Kabul, Baghlan, Kunduz, Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgan, Maidan Wardak, Panjshir, Faryab and Badghis provinces.
The acting minister says that the number of cases of coronavirus has increased in other provinces and that the Ministry of Public Health is likely to impose restrictions in these provinces. Majrooh said that the country will see the worst in the next four weeks. However, he assured that the Ministry of Public Health is fully prepared to tackle the challenge.
Majrooh added that the Ministry of Public Health has no problems with equipment, facilities and the number of beds. Only oxygen remains a challenge.
He added that seven private companies produce oxygen in the country and the production capacity of these companies is about 3,500. Majrooh explained that private companies distribute only 200 to 300 balloons of oxygen to the Afghan-Japanese Hospital and another 20 to 30 balloons to the Mohammad Ali Jinnah Hospital in western Kabul and the Qasaba Hospital.
He says that the rest of the oxygen is being given to private hospitals. He added that during these days, due to the demand for more oxygen, its price has also increased. The minister accused private hospitals of wasting oxygen and urged them to save its use.
On the other hand, he called the excessive use of oxygen dangerous for patients. Excessive use causes death, he said. However, he reminded that the Ministry of Public Health is trying to provide oxygen generators. According to him, eleven bases of oxygen generating devices are to be imported from Turkey in one day.
He added that these devices are distributed according to figures in the provinces. According to him, these devices will be transferred to Faryab, Farah, Jawzjan, Paktia, Herat, Parwan Helmand, Samangan, Sar-e-Pul and Balkh provinces and will be installed in COVID-19 hospitals.
On the other hand, he criticized the recklessness of the people in the fight against coronavirus. He said people do not wear masks in the city or market and do not respect social distancing norms. According to him, people’s recklessness has led to an increase in coronavirus cases.
He urged people to wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and to follow strict health advice.
Kabul: In a huge development, the Indian government may have opened channels of communication with Taliban leaders including chief of their political office Mullah Baradar, as per reports by the newspaper Hindustan Times.
The communication channel is largely being led by Indian security officials and is limited to those Taliban factions and leaders that are perceived as being “nationalist” or outside the sphere of influence of Pakistan and Iran. The outreach has been underway for some months, though it continues to be exploratory in nature, the sources who spoke to the newspaper revealed.
In the case of Mullah Baradar, messages were exchanged by the two sides though there was no confirmation of a meeting. There have also been conversations with other Taliban factions despite a lack of trust on both sides, the report added. The link with Baradar is important because he signed the deal with then US secretary of state Mike Pompeo in February 2020 that paved the way for the current withdrawal of American troops.
“We have tried the earlier option of not engaging the Taliban and putting all our efforts into the Northern Alliance,” the paper quoted a source as saying, referring to the front that was created against the former Taliban regime in the late 1990s. “But there has been a huge shift since then and there are some who think it might be better to have a line of communication with some Taliban leaders,” the paper quoted another source as saying.
The move marks a significant shift from New Delhi’s position of not engaging with the Taliban, at a time when there might be a possibility that the Taliban will play some part in any future government in Kabul.
The sources who spoke to the newspaper made it clear that India’s outreach didn’t include the Haqqani Network or members of the Quetta Shura, who are seen as proxies of the Pakistani military.
There was no formal response from the Indian external affairs ministry on these developments. New Delhi is engaging with different segments of the Afghan leadership, including President Ashraf Ghani’s government and key leaders such as former president Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the High Council for National Reconciliation.
Kabul: In a press statement released on Wednesday, the White House defended the troop withdrawal process and stated that they have achieved their goals in Afghanistan.
“We have long since accomplished the objectives that sent us to Afghanistan. It has been 10 years since we delivered justice to Osama bin Laden. The terrorist threat from Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is significantly degraded. Over the last 20 years, however, the terrorist threat to the United States has become more dispersed around the globe. Keeping thousands of troops concentrated on the ground in Afghanistan no longer makes sense as the most effective counterterrorism strategy when the threat has metastasized across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Our focus and posture need to adapt accordingly,” the release stated.
The United States will reorganize counterterrorism capabilities and assets in the region to prevent the reemergence of a terrorist threat in Afghanistan. “We will hold the Taliban and the Afghan government accountable to their commitments not to allow terrorists to threaten the United States or its allies from Afghan soil. Over the past few decades, the United States and our partners have trained hundreds of thousands of Afghan troops. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces currently number close to 300,000, and they will continue to fight valiantly to protect the Afghan citizens. With the support of the Congress, we will continue to support the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. We will also continue to support the rights of Afghan women and girls and to maintain significant humanitarian and development assistance to Afghanistan,” the statement added.
The US continues to pursue diplomacy and fully support peace talks between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban, facilitated by the United Nations. It is time for other nations in the region, especially Pakistan, to do more to support Afghanistan and to support stability in the country. “However, we will not allow United States troops to be a bargaining chip between warring parties in other countries. That is a recipe for staying indefinitely in Afghanistan,” the White House statement added.
Meanwhile, there are some who are opposing the hasty withdrawal. Advocates for Americans held hostage overseas are raising concerns that the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan will make it harder to bring home captives from the country.
An annual report from the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, released on Wednesday, examines the status of US government efforts to secure the release of hostages and unlawful detainees in foreign countries. The report’s findings are based on interviews with former hostages and detainees or their representatives and relatives, as well as current and former government and military officials.
Among the concerns raised by hostage advocates interviewed for the report is that once American troops leave Afghanistan — a process the Biden administration has said will be completed by Sept. 11 — “it will become more difficult to generate the intelligence needed to find Americans and conduct rescue operations for current hostages held in the area.”
They include Mark Frerichs, a contractor from Lombard, Illinois, who vanished in January 2020 and is believed held by the Taliban-linked Haqqani network, and Paul Overby, an American writer who disappeared in Afghanistan in 2014.
“They also fear that the further reduction of US physical presence in the country is an erosion of the leverage needed to make progress on resolving these cases,” the report states. “It is perceived by some advocates that securing the release of these hostages was not made a precondition for any settlement during the peace talks in Doha, Qatar with the Taliban.”
The departure of all US special operations from Afghanistan will make counterterrorism operations, including the collecting of intelligence on al-Qaida and other extremist groups, more difficult. The administration hopes to be able to compensate through the military’s wide geographic reach, which has only expanded with the advent of armed drones and other technologies.
The top US peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, has told the US Congress that he has repeatedly demanded the release of Frerichs and has “enlisted the support of senior Qatari and Pakistani officials on his behalf.”
Kabul: Former UK military translators who fled Taliban death threats in Afghanistan and are now trapped in other countries are expected to be allowed to seek refuge in Britain.
In a major breakthrough for men who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with British troops, the UK Ministry of Defense is exploring ways for them to relocate to the UK from other countries. It will mean they no longer face returning to Afghanistan to submit an application to come to this country – a journey which, for many, is simply too dangerous.
Up to 20 former translators are trapped, mainly across Europe but also in India, Pakistan and Australia, according to estimates. Only a small number have so far been told they would qualify for sanctuary. Many fled Taliban death threats and attacks after being told they did not qualify for relocation under previous UK government policies. But now they are likely to be included under the revised Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy.
It is expected to see hundreds of interpreters currently in Afghanistan approved for sanctuary with their families. Under the new arrangements translators in ‘third countries’ would have their paperwork processed at a British Embassy before travelling to the UK.
Meanwhile, Australia is urgently working through protection visa applications for Afghan interpreters placed on Taliban kill lists. At least 300 interpreters who worked with Australian troops during the war are seeking protection in here as allied troops depart Afghanistan.
A letter was handed out to some interpreters making direct threats on their lives. However, on Monday, the Taliban claimed translators would not be harmed if they ‘repented’ for their work with foreign soldiers, but the interpreters do not trust their word.
Also, the Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton has defended overruling senior officials and allowing special forces troops to keep their meritorious unit citations from Afghanistan despite credible allegations of war crimes. Dutton was warned failing to strip the unit of its citation would harm the reputation of the Australian Defense Force at home and abroad.
But he defied the briefing from his department and stepped in to stop members of the Special Operations Task Group from being stripped of the military honors. “The job of a minister is to look at the options presented, to look at the information provided to me, and my job as minister is to make the decision,” Dutton told Sky News on Wednesday.
“I took the decision I thought was in the best interests of our country and in the best interest of the men and women of the Australian Defense Force.”
The move to revoke the unit citation was a key recommendation of the Brereton war crimes inquiry, which found credible allegations special forced troops committed 39 murders in Afghanistan. Dutton said he did not want the actions of a small group of soldiers to spoil the reputation of the vast majority of special forces troops who served with distinction in the Middle East.
Only those who are convicted of crimes will be stripped of their honors. “There are thousands of men and women who served with great honor and distinction in the Afghanistan campaign and in Iraq as well over the course of the last two decades and I am not going to dishonor their service,” he said.
Kabul: Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Gilad Erdan, on Tuesday was irked by Republican Ilhan Omar (D-MN) after she compared Israel to Afghanistan and the Taliban.
Omar had shared a video to Twitter of a conversation she had with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in which she asked Blinken what mechanisms are in place in the US for victims of alleged crimes against humanity in Israel, Palestine, and Afghanistan to seek justice. Omar compared Israel to Afghanistan and the Taliban where she called for “accountability and justice.”
“We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity. We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the US, Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban,” wrote Omar.
“I asked Secretary Blinken where people are supposed to go for justice,” she added. Erdan later retweeted Omar’s video and wrote, “How can a member of Congress compare Israel and the US – two vibrant democracies with robust legal systems and militaries that strive to avoid civilian casualties – with jihadi terrorists who purposely murder civilians? The difference should be clear to everyone.”
Omar specifically mentioned the Israeli Security Forces, Hamas, and the Taliban by name, comparing them with each other.
Kabul: Afghanistan Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Afghanistan Admiral Piyal De Silva, visited the International Chamber of Commerce in Afghanistan (ICC) to deliver a presentation to educate businessmen, businesswomen, and entrepreneurs on potential trade opportunities between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
The Chief Executive Officer of the ICC, Hujatullah Fazli along with some of the Board Directors of ICC welcomed the ambassador and discussed the matters pertaining to expansion of bilateral trade cooperation between two countries.
Silva emphasized on the National Export Strategy of Sri Lanka and the potential sectors available for import and export, particularly benefiting Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) of both countries.
The presentation included the production of apparel, tyres, rubber related items, electrical cables, electrical fittings, and bicycles which could have a place in the Afghan Market, and Afghan products such as dried fruits and nuts, carpets, saffron, emerald, and talc which could have a place in the Sri Lankan Market.
Kabul: Pakistan and Afghanistan have not yet come on the same page over the revised draft of transit trade agreement, leading to delay in the signing of the pact.
Pakistan and Afghanistan had extended the application of Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) 2010, by three months following its expiry on February 11, 2021. Now, Pakistan has approved another extension of six months in the agreement.
The commerce ministry took up the matter in a cabinet meeting last month. Sources told The Express Tribune that the ministry pointed out that the APTTA 2010 was a 10-year agreement, which was due to expire on February 11, 2021, but it was extended by three months by both the governments following approval of their respective cabinets and signing of an additional protocol.
It was estimated that 30% of Afghan transit trade (ATT) goods passed through Pakistan and the remaining via Iran, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Under the agreement, Pakistan’s exports to Central Asia go through Afghanistan.
For the revision in the APTTA, meetings were held in Kabul on November 16-17, 2020 and the 8th APTTA huddle was held in Islamabad from December 28-30, 2020.
In the Islamabad meeting, both sides agreed that the text of APTTA 2010 would be revised and updated. Afghanistan shared a revised draft of the agreement by incorporating its suggestions in the first week of April 2021 in response to the draft shared by Pakistan in December 2020.
Subsequently, nine sessions of technical negotiations were held between April and May 2021 via video link, co-chaired by the additional secretary, Ministry of Commerce. Despite the negotiations, disagreement persisted on many articles of the agreement. More sessions and interaction at the policy level would be needed to resolve the points of disagreement and finalize the APTTA 2021.
Once finalized and signed, the agreement will come into force one month after the exchange of instruments of ratification, which will also take time.
Hence, it was proposed that the APTTA 2010 might be further extended by six months beyond May 11, 2021.
As the signing of additional protocol for APTTA extension may take some time, it said the Pakistan of Ministry of Commerce might be allowed to issue directives to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to allow unhindered facilitation to ATT goods through Pakistan beyond May 11, 2021 and request reciprocal facilitation from Afghanistan for Pakistan’s transit goods. The cabinet discussed and approved the proposal.
Earlier, at the time of giving extension to the APTTA 2010 for three months, the Pakistan cabinet had alleged that the agreement was in favor of Afghanistan, which gave it access to the Wagah border for exports to India, but did not facilitate Pakistan’s trade with Central Asian states. Pakistan Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood explained that it was already mentioned in the agreement and the Commerce Division had only requested a three-month extension in the pact. He pointed out that by the end of March 2021, all relevant issues would be discussed with Afghanistan to boost Pakistan’s exports to Central Asia.
Speaking on the occasion, the minister for religious affairs and interfaith harmony complained that local businesses at the Torkham border had been severely hampered by the strict measures taken by border management forces.
Another cabinet member countered that the border was now open for trade six days a week, and in line with the directive of the prime minister, smuggling had been minimized.
Kabul: In less than a week, Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will meet United States President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the NATO leaders’ summit in Brussels where the two leaders will find an opportunity to discuss their troubled bilateral relationship.
Given that they will meet on the margins of a NATO summit that will focus on the alliance’s engagement with Afghanistan following the end of the 20-year mission, Erdoğan and Biden are expected to touch on this issue.
Turkey is planning to continue its presence in Afghanistan and securely run the Kabul International Airport on the condition that it receives logistical and financial support from its allies. As Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar stressed, Turkey wants to continue its presence in the country because of its historical bonds with the people of Afghanistan, where Turkey has been one of the active partners in the NATO missions since 9/11.
Many NATO allies deem Turkey’s readiness to extend its mission in Afghanistan important and are ready to meet the logistical needs required for the continuation of the mission. Keeping the airport is seen as one of the keys to maintaining a diplomatic presence in the Afghan capital. NATO countries have already agreed to fund the continued operation of the airport as the country’s main gateway to the outside world.
Another role Turkey is playing in Afghanistan is helping the Afghan government and Taliban narrow their differences and come to the table to finalize an agreement to end the conflict. Turkey and the United States have been trying to organize the Istanbul Conference, which had to be postponed due to the Taliban’s rejection. The idea of holding a conference is not dead but the priority now is securing the successful withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan, as well as the future of diplomatic representations.
Along with Qatar, Turkey has access both to the Afghan government and the Taliban and is placed to increase its influence in the country after the alliance’s withdrawal. In the meantime, senior Afghan government leaders will be in Turkey to attend the Antalya Diplomacy Forum where they will debate the Afghan peace process.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Hakan Tekin, director general for South Asia at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, met Massoum Stanekzai, the Afghan government’s top peace broker, in the Qatari capital Doha on Tuesday.
According to a statement by the negotiating team in Kabul, Stanekzai and Tekin discussed ways and means to expedite the stalled peace drive. Expressing “appreciation” of Turkey’s efforts in the Afghan peace process, Stanekzai said Turkey has historical relations with Afghans, and welcomed its “constructive role.”
The Turkish diplomat reiterated Ankara’s resolve to stand by the people of Afghanistan, and support an Afghan-led- and owned peace process.
Kabul: Jean Arnault, the UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy on Afghanistan and Regional Issues who is visiting Tehran at the head of a delegation, held talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the latest developments in Afghanistan.
In the Tuesday meeting, Foreign Minister Zarif elaborated on Iran’s viewpoint regarding Afghanistan, especially peace and security in the country and the peace process led by Afghans. He also expressed Tehran’s support for intra-Afghan talks and the need to protect the achievements of Afghan people in recent years, especially in terms of the basic rights of the people of Afghanistan.
Jean Arnault, in turn, highlighted the key role of neighbors and the fact that he has started his regional tour from Iran after being appointed to this position. He also noted that the issue of Afghanistan can be resolved through collective measures, and his efforts are focused on finding a way for realizing this collective cooperation.
Meanwhile, Iran’s special envoy for Afghanistan held a phone conversation with Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib regarding the recent developments in Afghanistan.
During the conversation, the Iranian official touched upon a trip to Iran by the UN’s special envoy for Afghanistan, and underscored the need to adopt a common stance by different Afghan factions with regards to the peace process in the country.
Mohib, in turn, appreciated the stances adopted by Iran on the peace trend in his country, and said Kabul would not accept solutions which are based on non-peaceful means.
He also emphasized the need to stand up to the fresh wave of violence in Afghanistan.
Kabul: The Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) has inaugurated a new initiative to perform 1,300 cataract surgeries and 2,300 medical examinations for poor patients with eye diseases in six Afghan provinces (Kunar, Laghman, Bamyan, Ghor, Kunduz, and Paktia).
The one-year project involves performing cataract examinations and procedures, providing medications and eyeglasses, implementing community awareness programs, and distributing informative fliers about prevention of eye diseases.
According to estimates, there are nearly 400,000 blind persons in Afghanistan and 1.5 million with low vision. Reports by the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) of Afghanistan show that cataract is the main cause of blindness in 60% of cases. There remain 200,000 cases on waiting lists for cataract surgeries.
Hence, QRCS launched this project to reduce vision loss rates and improve eye health among the populations of remote provinces. The inaugural ceremony in Kunar was attended by the Manager of Provincial Health Bureau and representatives of local authorities, QRCS, the Afghan Education and Aid Organization, and the Organization for Promotion of Health and Community Development (OPHCD).
During the ceremony, Wasifullah Wasifi, Deputy Governor of Kunar, welcomed the team and thanked QRCS for its support to such beneficial projects for the Afghan people, particularly the poor.
Dr. Azizurrahman Safi, General Director of the Health Bureau of Kunar, said the project would enable hundreds of patients, mostly women and poor people, to restore their vision and live normally. “MOPH appreciates QRCS’s support for our people in many provinces and areas of assistance,” he added.
Zikrullah Hashimi, Deputy Manager of the Afghan Education and Aid Organization, highly valued the countrywide partnership with QRCS in different areas, such as water, food, and nonfood assistance.
Kabul: At least 10 employees of a demining company, HALO Trust, were killed and 16 more were wounded after gunmen attacked their office in the northern province of Baghlan on Tuesday night, a security official spoke on the condition of anonymity said.
The incident happened in Baghlan-e-Marzaki district of the province. The bodies of the dead and the wounded were transferred to a public hospital in Pul-e-Khumri City, the center of Baghlan.
The Interior Affairs Ministry’s spokesperson Tariq Arian blamed the Taliban for the attack. The Taliban group has denied involvement in the incident.
The US Embassy in Kabul has described the attack as “horrific and pointless”. Ross Wilson, the charge d’affaires of the US Embassy in Kabul, condemned the attack in a tweet on Wednesday, and called for an investigation.
Wilson has said that humanitarian workers and aid workers are protected by international humanitarian law. He described mine workers as one of the bravest people. According to the US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, miners are making Afghanistan a safe place to live, grow their business, cultivate and enjoy life.
The presidential palace has blamed the attack on the Taliban. “The Taliban are targeting not only demining staff, but also mosques, schools, teachers and students, which is an act of hatred and a crime against humanity that has no rational justification,” President Ghani said.
According to Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, the Taliban are targeting clearing mine workers because they are clearing highways, farms and villages of mines and explosives, and preventing civilian casualties from being increased by the armed opposition.
The chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation also called the attack on the mine clearing staff “terrorist.” Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the council, said, “These employees took the most serious risks and fought hard to clear the areas of the deadly danger of mines and other explosives. They had the most difficult responsibility, and by doing so, they were saving the lives of civilians. Targeting them is a great and unforgivable crime.”
Meanwhile, the Taliban claim that they have shot down a military chopper in the Jaghato district of Maidan Wardak province on Tuesday night when it was there to provide logistical support to the Afghan military.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesperson of the Taliban has claimed the responsibility of shooting an ANA helicopter by the Taliban militants.
On the other hand, the Afghanistan Defense Ministry confirmed the crash of a helicopter in the Jaghato district of Maidan Wardak on Tuesday night, but claims the reason was a technical fault.
According to MoD, three people on board have been killed and one has been injured.