Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: The Ministry of Interior (MoI) announced that the Taliban ousted between 300 and 400 people from their homes and shot dead about 100 people after seizing the Spin Boldak district of Kandahar province.
Interior Ministry spokesman Mirwais Stanekzai told the daily Etilaat Roz on Friday that the bodies of civilians had been found in Spin Boldak Square and at the checkpoints. According to him, the civilians killed were from different walks of life, including athletes, writers, businessmen, bloggers and ordinary people.
Stanekzai added that the people of Spin Boldak, who live around the Durand Line, are enlightened and patriotic and could therefore be the first military target for the Taliban. The Interior Ministry spokesman said the Taliban had killed a large number of civilians in a “revenge” operation.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, however, denied the allegations of the arrest and killing of civilians in the district, saying that the “enemy” was carrying out “propaganda” against the group. In fact, the Human Rights Watch said that Taliban forces that have taken control of districts in Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province and have detained hundreds of residents whom they accuse of association with the government. The Taliban have reportedly killed some detainees, including relatives of provincial government officials and members of the police and army, as per HRW. Journalists told Human Rights Watch by phone that after Taliban forces took control of Kandahar’s Spin Boldak border crossing with Pakistan on July 8, 2021, and the Spin Boldak district center on July 16, they conducted searches to identify residents who have worked for the local government or security forces. Taliban forces that control areas around Kandahar city have carried out similar searches and have evicted some residents. Local media have reported that the Taliban have taken more than 300 people into custody and have detained them in unidentified locations.
“There are grave concerns that Taliban forces in Kandahar may commit further atrocities to retaliate against the government and security forces.” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Taliban leaders have denied responsibility for any abuses, but growing evidence of expulsions, arbitrary detentions, and killings in areas under their control are raising fears among the population.” The Taliban have told members of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), including police who have been the principal security force in Kandahar, to register with them to receive letters guaranteeing their safety, a local activist reported. Those who registered are required to report to the Taliban once a month. Taliban forces have gone to the homes of some ANDSF members who had registered, taken them into custody, and killed an unknown number of them.
Media reported that on July 19, Taliban forces shot and killed two sons of a provincial council member, Fida Mohammad, who had reportedly had a close relationship with the late Kandahar police chief, Gen. Abdul Raziq, whom the Taliban killed in 2018. “International humanitarian law prohibits summary executions, enforced disappearances, and other mistreatment of anyone in custody, which are war crimes. It is unlawful to detain civilians unless absolutely necessary for imperative reasons of security. Retaliatory attacks are a form of collective punishment and are also prohibited,” HRW added. “The UN, US, and other countries engaged in the peace talks should urgently call on the Taliban leadership to stop these killings and other abuses,” Gossman said.
This comes even as the United States Department of Defense (Pentagon) has confirmed that US forces have targeted Taliban positions in various parts of Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan in the past few days. Pentagon spokesman John F. Kirby told a news conference on Thursday that US airstrikes had been carried out in support of Afghan security and defense forces.
Kirby did not elaborate, but said the United States is also capable of carrying out airstrikes in support of Afghanistan’s security and defense forces. According to him, General Frank McKenzie, commander of US Central Command (Centcom), has the responsibility and authority to carry out these attacks. McKenzie recently took command of US forces in Afghanistan. According to some reports, US airstrikes were carried out on the Taliban to prevent the fall of Kandahar. The Pentagon has not officially confirmed the reports. Afghan officials have not yet commented. The Taliban claimed in a statement that US forces had bombed the group’s positions in Helmand and Kandahar provinces.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said the airstrikes were carried out two nights ago, killing civilians and fighters. The Taliban have called the US airstrikes a breach of the Doha agreement and warned of the consequences.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has said it is investigating allegations of civilian casualties in Kandahar province. Spin Boldak district fell to the Taliban a few days ago. With the fall of the district, the Spin Boldak border crossing has also fallen to the Taliban.
Meanwhile, Taliban insurgents took a police officer out of his home in Dand district of Kandahar province and then shot him dead. The victim was also a comedian. A security source in Kandahar told the daily Etilaat Roz that the incident took place on Thursday night in the Zakir Sharif area of Dand district. According to the source, this comedian was known among the people as “Kasha Jowan”. The Ministry of Information and Culture has named him Nazar Mohammad.
The source, who did not want to be named, added that people recorded his videos and posted them on social media. The source said that Nazar Mohammad’s body was found in Dand district. He said Taliban insurgents tied the policeman and then shot him in the head.
Interior Ministry spokesman Mirwais Stanekzai also confirmed the comedian’s murder on the day of the assassination, saying his body was found with his hands tied behind his back in Dand district. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the killings. A number of social media users have expressed outrage over the killing of the policeman and comedian.
On the other hand, the Herat governor’s media office said that a large-scale attack by Taliban fighters on the Salma Dam checkpoints in the Chesht district of the province had been prevented. The Herat governor’s office said in a statement that Taliban fighters had launched a large-scale offensive on the dam’s checkpoints on Friday after planting mines on the roads leading to the Salma Dam. According to the statement, two Taliban insurgents were killed and five others were wounded in an ambush by security and defense forces. Security and defense forces have discovered four improvised explosive devices (IEDs) with high destructive power.
Security and defense forces evacuated the Chesht district center last month. Currently, only Salma Dam is under government control, and all other areas of Chesht district are under Taliban control. Chesht district shares borders with the insecure provinces of Ghor and Badghis. The Salma Dam in the district has been repeatedly attacked by the Taliban. Herat governor had recently been warned of Taliban attacks and destruction, but Herat Governor Abdul Sabur Qane said there was no threat to Salma Dam and that if there was, security and defense forces would repel it. The Salma Dam was built by India on the Harirod River at a cost of about $ 290 million. This dam has a storage capacity of 633 million cubic meters of water and generates 42 megawatts of electricity.
In other incident, Herat Governor Abdul Sabur Qane said more than 70 Taliban fighters had been killed and wounded during a clearing operation in the Karukh district of the province. He said three Taliban leaders were among those killed. He said in a video message that dozens of Taliban fighters were moving from Badghis to Karukh district when they were ambushed by security and defense forces. The Taliban have not yet commented. Karukh district of Herat province was under Taliban control. A clearing operation was launched on Friday and the district was taken over by the government. Local officials in Herat say clearing operations are underway in other districts.
Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani spoke with US President Joe Biden on Friday evening. “We discussed the evolving but continuing relationship between the two countries. President Biden reassured me that support for the ANDSF will continue. We have confidence that they will protect & defend Afghanistan. We stressed on the importance of the Afghans coming together for peace and security and reiterated the enduring partnership, continued diplomatic and economic support for the Afghan government, security forces and the importance of preserving the gains of the last twenty years,” Ghani tweeted.
Also, President Biden emphasized on the continued U.S. support, including development and humanitarian aid, for the Afghan people, including women, girls, and minorities. President Biden and President Ghani agreed that the Taliban’s current offensive is in direct contradiction to the movement’s claim to support a negotiated settlement of the conflict. President Biden also reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to continue supporting the Afghan security forces to defend themselves. In fact, the FY2022 request to Congress for $3.3 billion for the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund prioritizes- a) $1 billion to ensure the Afghan Air Force and Special Mission Wing have the capabilities and maintenance to support ongoing combat operations, including by delivering additional aircraft, such as the three newly-refurbished UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters delivered to Kabul on July 16; b) $1 billion to purchase and deliver key supplies for Afghan forces such as fuel, ammunition, and spare parts; and c) $700 million to fund continued payment of salaries for Afghan soldiers.
They deplored the loss of innocent Afghan lives, including through continued targeted killings, as well as displacement of the civilian population, looting and burning of buildings, destruction of vital infrastructure, and damage to communication networks. The United States recently announced more than $266 million in additional humanitarian assistance and released $300 million in development and other non-humanitarian assistance to help the Afghan people. Biden has also requested an additional $364 million in development and other non-humanitarian assistance for the State Department and USAID for FY2022.
Kabul: The Ministry of Justice has said that in the first three months of 1400, 58 legislative documents have been processed.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Justice on Saturday stated that these documents include 18 laws, five amendments to law, 28 regulations, two amendments to regulation, two articles of the association, and there are three attached numbers in the legislative documents that have been drafted, verified and processed.
According to the statement, among these legislative documents, seven documents have published after being approved by the cabinet, the National Assembly and signed by the President. The documents include the law on the sale of used goods of government offices, the regulation of digital network services for televisions, the regulation of commercial advertisements of goods and services, the articles of association of the company Arzaq (a state-owned company involved in providing food-staff since 1937), and the amendment of Article 6 (1) of Article 17 of the Anti-Materials Law, drugs and intoxicants are the amendment and repeal of some articles of the Customs Law and the amendment of Article 26 of the Law on the Establishment and Jurisdiction of the Judiciary.
The Ministry of Justice has said that the bill on regulating firefighting affairs has also been finalized and will be published soon. The ministry said that three other legislative documents, including the draft law on the administration of technical, vocational education, the amendment to some articles of the Law on Translation and Certification of Official Documents, and the amendment to Article 35 of the Value Added Tax Law, after approval by the Cabinet were sent to the National Assembly for approval.
The Ministry of Justice has said that during this period, it has sent another 15 legislative documents to the Cabinet for approval, including the draft law on organ transplantation and human tissue, the draft regulation on student dormitories, the draft regulation on drinking water distribution, the draft regulation on agricultural pesticides and others documents.
It also said that it is currently working on 21 other legislative documents, including a draft law on the regulation of medicinal plants, a draft law on Takaful, a draft law on agricultural associations and cooperatives, a draft law on cooperation with the International Criminal Court, and a draft law on civil principles, a draft law on statistics, a draft law on anti-subsidy for domestic industries, a draft law on the principles of administrative trials, a draft law on the protection of human rights in government offices, a draft regulation on medical complaints and violations, a draft regulation on land vehicle licenses and other documents.
Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health on Saturday reported 203 new positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the last 24 hours.
At least 32 deaths and 665 recoveries from COVID-19 infection were also reported, while the ministry added that they tested 1,346 samples.
As per the ministry, 26 new cases were reported from Kabul, four from Kandahar, 18 new cases from Nangarhar, four from Kunduz, 12 from Takhar, 20 from Baghlan, 13 from Helmand, six from Bamiyan, 21 from Ghazni, eight from Nimroz, 15 from Daikundi, nine from Kunar, 16 from Laghman, 15 from Jawzjan and 11 from Sar-e-Pul provinces.
Meanwhile, five deaths were reported from Kabul, one from Kandahar, three from Balkh, two from Kunduz, two from Takhar, two from Faryab, one from Maidan Wardak, two from Helmand, one from Badakhshan, two from Nimroz, four from Paktia, one from Laghman, one from Ghor, four from Farah and one from Khost provinces.
Data by the ministry shows that the total number of cases now stands at 143,869, while the death toll is 6,425 and total recoveries are 91,835. Now, COVID-19 positivity rate in the country is 15.08%.
With the slight decline in cases, the Higher Education Ministry said universities and higher education institutes will reopen gradually within the next two weeks in provinces with low COVID-19 cases. But he added that prior to that, students will get vaccinated.
The Ministry of Higher Education announced that classes at all educational institutions will be started gradually. Hamid Obaidi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Higher Education, said on Saturday, that the decision was made based on a report by the Ministry of Public Health.
According to him, in the first step, universities and educational institutions in the provinces where the coronavirus positivity rate is less than 35% will be reopened in two weeks.
Kabul: Statistics recorded on the battlefield show that with the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country, the rate of violence and conflict has increased. According to statistics recorded by Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), from May 1 to July 15 this year, more than 2,900 security incidents occurred across the country.
As a result of these security incidents, more than 17,600 Taliban fighters, security forces and civilians have been killed. Based on the information of ACLED, the average death toll in the last two and a half months has reached 235 people per day. This is the highest number recorded in the country in recent months. Violence in the country has escalated as the Afghan government and the international community have repeatedly called on the Taliban to cease fire and take the peace talks seriously. These demands have not been met, however, and the clashes have intensified. President Ghani recently said that the Taliban have no will to make peace, so he has a plan on the table that will change the security situation in the next three to six months. The president’s remarks were met with a sharp response from the Taliban, who warned that any military change in the next six months was the responsibility of Afghan government leaders.
According to ACLED statistics, during the last 75 days, 2,903 incidents of clashes, explosions, airstrikes and riots have occurred. This includes 2,170 clashes, 610 explosions and 123 airstrikes of direct violence against civilians. As a result of this violence, 17,621 people were killed. ACLED statistics by zones show that the highest rate of conflict has occurred in the south, east and northeast of the country. According to the agency, in the past 75 days, Nimroz, Uruzgan, Helmand, Kandahar and Zabul provinces have witnessed 426 clashes, 120 explosions and 18 direct attacks on civilians. As a result of these security incidents, 4,753 Taliban fighters, security forces and civilians were killed. Thus, after the southern part, the northern and northeastern provinces of the country have witnessed the most security incidents. According to ACLED, the northern provinces of Balkh, Faryab, Jawzjan, Samangan and Sar-e-Pul witnessed 327 clashes, 116 explosions and 13 direct attacks on civilians. As a result of these incidents, 2,873 people were killed in these areas.
There were also 373 clashes, 74 explosions and 15 direct attacks on civilians in the northeastern provinces of Kunduz, Badakhshan, Takhar and Baghlan. 2,911 people were killed in these incidents. Similarly, the western part of the country, which includes Herat, Ghor, Farah and Badghis provinces, witnessed 278 clashes, 69 explosions and 18 direct attacks on civilians. In the last two and a half months, 2,410 people have been killed in these areas.
The eastern provinces of the country have also witnessed many security incidents. According to statistics, Nangarhar, Kunar, Laghman and Nuristan provinces witnessed 266 clashes, 76 explosions and 16 direct attacks on civilians in the past two and a half months. At least 1,764 people were killed in these incidents. Paktia, Paktika, Logar and Khost provinces were also uneasy and witnessed heavy clashes between security forces and Taliban fighters. According to the agency, there were 252 clashes, 73 explosions and 14 acts of violence against civilians in these provinces and 1,246 people were killed in these incidents.
ACLED also said that the central district witnessed the least security incidents. According to the agency, there were 197 clashes, 44 explosions and eight direct attacks on civilians in Bamyan, Daikundi, Ghazni and Maidan Wardak provinces. At least, 1,382 people were killed in these provinces. Thus, the least security cases have occurred in Kabul and northern Kabul. There have been 126 clashes, 55 explosions and 26 direct attacks on civilians in these areas. Also, 833 people have died in this area during this period.
This comes even as the Interior Ministry spokesman Mirwais Stanekzai told Hashte Subh daily that the Taliban had “sharply” escalated violence during the holiday, unlike in the past. He added that the Taliban had harmed civilians during the attacks and had often attacked civilians. However, he emphasized that the security forces were now tasked with stepping up their offensive operations and clearing the provinces of the Taliban. He referred to the president’s remarks and said that the security situation would change in the next three to six months.
The ACLED is a non-governmental organization that has been recording incident and conflict data since 1997. This institution collects the incidents, the type of incident, the date of the Incident, the cause of the incident, the victims of and the location of the incident and registers it with a specific code and then analyzes it. ACLED has recorded the number of incidents and casualties of the war in Afghanistan since the beginning of 2016.
On the other hand, CIA Director William Burns too said that Taliban forces are likely “in the strongest military position that they’ve been in since 2001,” as U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan. In an interview with National Public Radio that aired on Friday, Burns acknowledged that it’s possible that the Afghan government could fall as the Taliban advances. But he also said that Afghan officials have the capabilities to fight the Taliban forces. “The big question it seems to me and to all of my colleagues at CIA and across the intelligence community is whether or not those capabilities can be exercised with the kind of political willpower and unity of leadership that’s absolutely essential to resist the Taliban,” Burns told NPR.
“The trend lines are certainly troubling, I don’t think that that should lead us to foregone conclusions, or a sense of imminence or inevitability,” he added. U.S. military officials have already started removing troops from Afghanistan, and the Biden administration plans to complete its withdrawal by September. But as U.S. military presence recedes, it appears that the Taliban is quickly gaining strength.
With the growing violence, India on Saturday reiterated its security advisory for Indian nationals in Afghanistan. “Security situation in Afghanistan remains dangerous in several provinces. Terror groups operating in Afghanistan have escalated violent activities including targeting of civilians. Indian nationals are not exceptions, and they additionally face a serious threat of kidnapping,” the statement read.
“All Indian nationals visiting, staying and working in Afghanistan are advised to exercise at most vigilance and caution with regard to security at work place, place of residence and also during movement to their places work. It is recommended that all types of non-essential movements be avoided. Movements especially during peak commuting hours should also be avoided. While traveling on roads maintain distance from possible targets like military convoys, vehicles of government ministries, offices, high ranking officials, law enforcement agencies, and avoid visiting crowded markets, shopping complexes, restaurants and other public places. All essential movement may please be kept as discreet as possible traveling outside the main cities should be strictly avoided. All Indian nationals arriving in Afghanistan are advised to register with the embassy consulates on the website. Indian companies operating in Afghanistan are advised once again to make special security arrangements in respect of their Indian employees deployed at their project site. The statement also mentioned and gave special attention to members of the Indian media traveling to Afghanistan to cover events through ground reports. As recent tragic events showed, it is essential that all Indian press persons covering events on the ground established contact with the public affairs and security wing of this embassy for a personalized briefing including specific advice for the local they are traveling to. This will not only help mediapersons make a better assessment of the risks involved, but also make it easier for the embassy to render speedy assistance if needed,” the statement read.
Also, in an interview with Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade, Gen. Jack Keane (Ret.) explained the “failure” by the Biden administration that resulted in the Taliban making advances in Afghanistan after the U.S. announced a withdrawal of troops. He warned that Taliban will exert pressure on key cities in the coming weeks. “There is a possibility here with the momentum that the Taliban have gained largely due to lack of U.S. presence, particularly air power and robust intelligence capability. That is a possibility, certainly, that the Taliban is going to take control. Certainly, President Biden, when he made the decision to pull all U.S. forces out, does not want the Taliban to take control and al Qaeda and ISIS to resurge, which we know would likely happen,” said Keane.
“But what they failed to do is put in place a good transition and strategy to deal with the situation without those 2,500 U.S. forces on the ground. So, we have a huge problem on our hands. Taliban at some point is going to exert pressure on those capital cities. They may wait until the 31 of August when U.S. forces are officially out. I think they’ll probably start to move before that,” he added.
However, our other neighbor, Moscow expects that no one will dare embark on any sort of aggression against members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), taking advantage of the current situation in Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a webinar on Russia’s foreign policy. “Our position, as well as that of our Central Asian neighbors, is that all obligations within the CSTO remain in full effect. We certainly do hope that nobody will dare test the Collective Security Treaty and try to carry out aggressive actions against any of its members,” he emphasized.
Moscow also believes it essential to make sure that the situation in Afghanistan poses no threat to its partners, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “It is important for us to make sure that everything that is occurring in Afghanistan poses no threat to the borders of our partner countries, first and foremost, Tajikistan,” he said. But, he added that Russia has no plans yet to remove the Taliban from its list of banned organizations. “There is nothing new on the matter. If there is any news, we will let you know,” he said in response to a question. “Indeed, the Taliban movement is a tangible and quite a powerful force active in Afghanistan,” Peskov added. What is pertinent to note is that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier that resolving the situation in Afghanistan required an inclusive dialogue involving all of the country’s political and ethnic groups, including the Taliban, and Russia was focused on that goal.
This comes even as President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon held a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The situation in Afghanistan was considered among other issues. The Presidents agreed to further coordinate actions in connection with critical development of situation in that country.
In related news, the Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UN and other international organizations in Geneva A. Beishenaliev met with the Chief of staff of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) E. Ambrosi. During the meeting, Beishenaliev emphasized on the issues of migration of Kyrgyz. The parties also discussed topical issues of bilateral cooperation between Kyrgyzstan and the IOM, the current situation with ethnic Kyrgyz groups living in the Great and Little Pamir in Afghanistan and future areas of cooperation in the field of protection of the rights of migrants.
Kabul: The Afghan Ministry of Interior (MoI) on Saturday announced that night curfew has been imposed in 31 provinces to prevent Taliban insurgency. Ahmad Zia Zia, the ministry’s deputy spokesman, told VOA that Kabul, Nangarhar and Panjshir provinces were exceptions.
Zia added that after this, movement of people in these 31 provinces will not be allowed from 10 pm to 4 am. He called on the citizens of this country to refrain movements after 10pm in their cities and neighborhoods. The deputy spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior added, “Terrorist groups often carry out terrorist acts and acts of destruction in the late hours of the night, so it was decided to impose a series of restrictions on the movement of people by night to prevent this situation.”
Zia stressed that the police have taken steps to implement this plan. Meanwhile, Taliban movements have increased in some provinces, and according to Afghan security agencies, fighting between Afghan troops and Taliban fighters is ongoing in more than ten provinces.
The Afghan Ministry of Defense says that in the past 24 hours, Laghman, Nangarhar, Nuristan, Kunar, Ghazni, Paktia, Kandahar, Herat, Balkh, Jawzjan, Helmand, Kunduz and Kapisa provinces have witnessed clashes between the two sides. The ministry added that 262 Taliban fighters had been killed and 176 wounded in the past 24 hours. Also, Takhar’s provincial police reported that the Taliban launched attacks against three areas in Taloqan city last night, which the ANDSF and people’s forces repulsed, and killed seven Taliban insurgents, including two ringleaders, and wounded 10 others.
Meanwhile, in other news, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Hussain Chaudhry has reacted sharply to a meeting between Afghanistan’s national security adviser and former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in London, saying that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Afghan NSA Hamdullah Mohib or first vice-president Amrullah Saleh, every enemy of Pakistan, is a close friend of Nawaz Sharif.
“It was dangerous to send Nawaz Sharif out of Pakistan, because such people are collaborating in international conspiracies,” Chaudhry twitted. He called Mohib “the biggest ally of Raw (India’s intelligence agency) in Afghanistan” and said that the former Pakistani prime minister’s meeting with Afghanistan’s national security adviser was “an example of such an act”. The Tehreek-e-Insaf Pakistan, led by Prime Minister Imran Khan, also shared the tweet.
Mohib or Nawaz Sharif have not yet commented on the remarks. Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been strained recently, especially following the abduction of the daughter of the Afghan ambassador to Islamabad.
Meanwhile, the 6:30am security meeting was chaired by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and attended by First Vice-President Amrullah Saleh at the Presidential Palace. The Presidential Palace announced that the meeting was held on Saturday morning, and the President, referring to the function of these meetings, said that by improving coordination between departments; the status of the police has increased, the municipality is carrying out its work with seriousness and determination, and the functions of Kabul province have improved.
The President said that this meeting has created a narrative for Kabul, and according to him, the narration of Kabul is the narrative of the whole nation, it should be strengthened and implemented throughout the country. President Ghani has said that security in the four districts around Kabul has improved. He stressed that significant progress has been made in the fight against serious crimes, in close coordination with the prosecutor’s office and in pursuing every case down to the smallest detail, as well as in caring for the families of the martyrs.
Meanwhile, Rahmatullah Nabil, the former director of National Directorate of Security, said that if the Afghan government does not liberate Kandahar’s Spin Boldak district as soon as possible, at least 1,000 Pakistani militias and foreign terrorists would be allowed to enter the country every day and go to different provinces and prepare for war. Nabil wrote on his Facebook page on Friday night that the conspiracies are very big and should be stopped with proper management.
He added, “Currently, all terrorist recruiting centers are under the direct supervision and management of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad and the Mujahideen Party led by Hafez Saeed, Salahuddin, Abdul-Rahman Maki and other terrorist organizations and are raising money from all countries that are behind the spread of extremism in the region in pursuit of their goals.”
Calling the leaders of the Afghan government, Nabil said, “Wake up and do not waste the last chance to save the country and do not rely on foreigners anymore.” For several days now, the Spin Boldak district of Kandahar province has been under the control of Taliban fighters.
On the other hand, Tajikistan said that it was ready to accept up to 100,000 refugees from Afghanistan, where the Taliban have claimed huge military gains as US-led troops withdraw. The Central Asian country former Soviet country is working with international organizations to prepare for an influx of Afghans, the deputy head of Tajikistan’s emergencies committee Emomali Ibrokhimzoda told a press briefing.
Ibrokhimzoda said it was “currently possible to receive and place about 100,000 refugees from Afghanistan” at military training grounds in the country. Tajikistan is storing tents, bedding and other materials for potential refugees. He added that it could absorb more refugees if necessary. Tajikistan shares a border of around 1,300 kilometres (810 miles) with Afghanistan. The Taliban took control of the main crossing with Tajikistan in June.
On Thursday it checked the combat readiness of its soldiers in the biggest such exercise ever in the country, while Russian tanks arrived at training grounds near the border with Afghanistan ahead of joint army drills. The tanks were deployed from Moscow’s base in Tajikistan, whose neighbor Uzbekistan is expected to join the two countries for the drills that begin on August 5. Russian foreign ministry official Zamir Kabulov said that the drills would be a “signal” to Central Asian populations that the situation in Afghanistan will not threaten the region.
Also, Turkey’s Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop said on Thursday that Ankara aims to establish and maintain peace in Afghanistan through its recent efforts and initiatives. Şentop and Mir Rahman Rahmani, the speaker of Afghanistan’s House of the People, had a phone conversation on the occasion of the Muslim holiday Qurban Byram, also known as Eid al-Adha, according to a statement by Turkey’s Parliament Speaker’s Office. During their talk, Şentop and Rahmani exchanged holiday greetings and discussed bilateral relations. “We believe that peace will prevail in Afghanistan and be lasting,” said Şentop.
Underlining that this year marks the centennial of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Afghanistan, Şentop said: “In this special year, Turkey sincerely hopes that our Afghan brothers and sisters will reach the peace, tranquility and stability they have been waiting for so long.” Stressing that Turkey has closely followed recent developments in Afghanistan, Şentop said, “The safety of the Afghan people will always be one of the top priorities for Turkey in any dialogue conducted in this sensitive process.”
Rahmani, for his part, said, “We support all initiatives taken by Turkey for safeguarding Kabul airport (Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport). We believe that the Turkish Armed Forces would better assure the security of the airport than other countries.” Rahmani thanked Turkey for its recent efforts to establish lasting peace in Afghanistan, saying they reflect the longstanding historical ties between the two countries. “The Afghan parliament stands by Turkey,” Rahmani said.
Meanwhile, journalists and media activists in Herat have complained about the lack of information provided by government officials, calling the government’s silence on the demand for information a sign of disregard for freedom of expression. Journalists active in Herat insist that access to information in the province has become difficult in recent months, and that government officials, especially security agencies, have refused to provide information to the media. Statistics from media outlets in Herat show that over the past month, more than 100 complaints have been filed against government officials for failing to provide information to journalists.
Homayoun Nazari, head of the Committee to Protect Journalists in Herat, told Hashte Subh daily that the government was expected to share information with the media in a critical situation. Qadir Shahin, representative of the National Union of Journalists of Afghanistan in Herat, believes that the situation of access to information in Herat, Farah, Ghor, Badghis and Nimroz provinces is “critical” and very bad, challenging journalists and the media.
On the other hand, the Herat Local Government insists that access to information is the right of citizens and journalists, and the local government is obliged by law to provide access to information to journalists and to file complaints about lack of access to information.
Kabul: The Special Representatives and Special Envoys of the United States of America, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, NATO, Norway, and the United Kingdom met in Rome on July 22 to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and the developments in Afghanistan peace negotiations after the latest round of high-level talks in Doha on July 17-18, 2021.
The representatives reaffirmed that their countries and organizations are committed to a strong partnership with Afghanistan and will be closely monitoring ongoing developments in this new phase of transition with the withdrawal of international forces. They expressed concern about the high levels of violence, the Taliban’s military offensive, and the number of reported serious human rights abuses and violations alleged in communities most affected by the ongoing armed conflict across the country. The statement highlighted five elements of a final settlement that are most critical: (1) inclusive governance; (2) the right to elect political leaders; (3) protections for human rights, including rights of women, youth and minorities; (4) commitments on counter-terrorism, including to ensure that Afghanistan does not again serve as a safe haven for terrorists; and (5) adherence to international law, including international humanitarian law.
“We call on all parties to reduce violence and protect civilians, respecting their obligations under international humanitarian law. We call on the Taliban to end their military offensive, and on both the Islamic Republic and the Taliban to engage meaningfully in the peace process. We reiterate the urgency of reaching a ceasefire to ensure the success of negotiations, and we acknowledge the sacrifices of the Afghan security forces. We reaffirm that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, we stand by UNSC resolution 2513 (2020), and we do not support any government in Afghanistan imposed through military force,” the statement read.
The representatives also expressed full support to an inclusive Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process with full and meaningful participation of women that leads to a just and durable political settlement.
The parties also intend to maintain our support for Afghan institutions, including defense and security forces, to address the country’s urgent needs. They also reiterated that future assistance to Afghanistan is dependent on good governance and a commitment to the rule of law and human rights, including preservation of the gains made by women and girls over the past two decades, as well as the government taking meaningful steps to tackle corruption and to meeting commitments made at the November 2020 Geneva Conference.
The representatives also appreciated the talks held in Doha on July 17-18 between senior leaders of the two sides and welcomed the declared commitment of the two sides to accelerate negotiations toward an inclusive political settlement and to meet again in the near future. “We call on the two parties to negotiate in good faith in order to reach a just and durable political settlement. To promote progress in the negotiations, we support any third-party facilitation or mediation welcomed by the two sides. We reiterate that the Taliban and the Islamic Republic must deliver on their commitments (1) to prevent the use of Afghan soil by al Qaeda, Da’esh or other terrorist groups from launching attacks against, or threatening the security of, any other country; and (2) not to host members of these groups nor to allow them to recruit, train, fundraise or transit through Afghanistan,” the statement added.
The parties also urged the Taliban to reduce violence, uphold their commitments to protect Afghanistan’s infrastructure, protect civilians and cooperate on humanitarian assistance, particularly as the Afghan people suffer acutely from the effects of COVID-19 and drought, in addition to violence. They also called on the Taliban to allow and facilitate, without preconditions and consistent with international humanitarian law, access for delivery of humanitarian aid, to areas under their control.
In fact, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the statement that calls to stop violence by the Taliban, establish immediate ceasefire, and achieve a political solution in Afghanistan. As per MFA statement, “We consider and support the five principles set out in this statement, expressing the true will of the Afghan people and the government to ensure lasting peace and stability in the country. The Afghan government welcomes the position of countries and organizations condemning the escalation of attacks by the Taliban, foreign fighters and regional and international terrorist groups in the country, and supports the statement’s emphasis on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2513. The Afghan government considers the implementation of the provisions of this statement as a positive step towards ensuring lasting peace, stability and preserving the achievements of the last 20 years in the country, and expresses its commitment to its implementation.”
In other news, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and its permanent members and Asian partners met with the Afghan Embassy in Vienna to review the Afghan security situation and its regional implications, support for a peaceful resolution of the Afghan conflict and preserve the achievements of two decades. At the meeting, Deputy Foreign Minister Mirwais Nab, as keynote speaker, spoke about the group’s escalating indescribable violence and the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the group and its far-reaching humanitarian consequences. Nab added that the Taliban had not severed ties with terrorist groups despite their commitments, but continued to collude with regional and international terrorists to indiscriminately kill people, destroy Afghanistan’s infrastructure and grossly violate the rights of women and citizens. The minister stressed that the Taliban and their allied terrorist groups pose a major threat not only to Afghanistan but to the entire region and the world as violent extremism spreads. Nab lamented Pakistan ‘s disregard for the Taliban’ s terrorist and destructive activities and its security consequences, adding that “we expect the Taliban ‘s destructive actions to be condemned and the group to be barred from any illegal presence in other countries.”
Manizha Bakhtari, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to Vienna, also emphasized on the important role of the international community in preserving the achievements of two decades, especially women’s rights. Secretary-General of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Helga Shamid emphasized the organization’s support for Afghanistan and the peace process, and called for the protection of women’s rights as one of the key issues in the peace process.
Representatives and ambassadors from Australia, Japan, Thailand, Turkey, the European Union, Germany, Tajikistan, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation expressed their support for the people of Afghanistan, the preservation of women’s achievements and rights. They stressed the need for continued peace, ceasefire and immediate cessation of violence. They condemned the escalation of violence by the Taliban.
Meanwhile, the Taliban said that they don’t want to monopolize power, but they insist there won’t be peace in Afghanistan until there is a new negotiated government in Kabul and President Ashraf Ghani is removed. In an interview with The Associated Press, Taliban spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, who is also a member of the group’s negotiating team, laid out the insurgents’ stance on what should come next in a country on the precipice.
The Taliban have swiftly captured territory in recent weeks, seized strategic border crossings and are threatening a number of provincial capitals — advances that come as the last U.S. and NATO soldiers leave Afghanistan. Shaheen said the Taliban will lay down their weapons when a negotiated government acceptable to all sides in the conflict is installed in Kabul and Ghani’s government is gone. “I want to make it clear that we do not believe in the monopoly of power because any governments who (sought) to monopolize power in Afghanistan in the past, were not successful governments,” said Shaheen, apparently including the Taliban’s own five-year rule in that assessment. “So, we do not want to repeat that same formula.”
But he was also uncompromising on the continued rule of Ghani, calling him a war monger and accusing him of using his Tuesday speech on the Islamic holy day of Eid-al-Adha to promise an offensive against the Taliban. Shaheen dismissed Ghani’s right to govern, resurrecting allegations of widespread fraud that surrounded Ghani’s 2019 election win.
Asked about the Taliban demand that Ghani be removed as a condition of a peace agreement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday affirmed President Joe Biden’s support for the Afghan president. “The President and the administration supports the leadership of the Afghan people, including Ashraf Ghani,” Psaki said.
Ghani has often said he will remain in office until new elections can determine the next government. His critics — including ones outside the Taliban — accuse him of seeking only to keep power, causing splits among government supporters. Last weekend, Abdullah headed a high-level delegation to the Qatari capital of Doha for talks with Taliban leaders. It ended with promises of more talks, as well as greater attention to the protection of civilians and infrastructure. Shaheen called the talks a good beginning. But he said the government’s repeated demands for a cease-fire while Ghani stayed in power were tantamount to demanding a Taliban surrender. “They don’t want reconciliation, but they want surrendering,” he said.
Before any cease-fire, there must be an agreement on a new government “acceptable to us and to other Afghans,” he said. Then “there will be no war.” Shaheen said under this new government, women will be allowed to work, go to school, and participate in politics, but will have to wear the hijab, or headscarf. He said women won’t be required to have a male relative with them to leave their home, and that Taliban commanders in newly occupied districts have orders that universities, schools and markets operate as before, including with the participation of women and girls.
Shaheen said some Taliban commanders had ignored the leadership’s orders against repressive and drastic behavior and that several have been put before a Taliban military tribunal and punished, though he did provide specifics. Shaheen said there are no plans to make a military push on Kabul and that the Taliban have so far “restrained” themselves from taking provincial capitals. But he warned they could, given the weapons and equipment they have acquired in newly captured districts. He contended that the majority of the Taliban’s battlefield successes came through negotiations, not fighting.
“Those districts which have fallen to us and the military forces who have joined us … were through mediation of the people, through talks,” he said. “They (did not fall) through fighting … it would have been very hard for us to take 194 districts in just eight weeks.” “You know, no one no one wants a civil war, including me,” said Shaheen. Shaheen also repeated Taliban promises aimed at reassuring Afghans who fear the group.
Washington has promised to relocate thousands of U.S. military interpreters. Shaheen said they had nothing to fear from the Taliban and denied threatening them. But, he added, if some want to take asylum in the West because Afghanistan’s economy is so poor, “that is up to them.” He also denied that the Taliban have threatened journalists and Afghanistan’s nascent civil society, which has been targeted by dozens of killings over the past year. “We have not issued letters to journalists (threatening them), especially to those who are working for foreign media outlets. They can continue their work even in the future,” he said.