Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Fatima Gailani and Ghulam Farooq Majrooh, members of the Negotiation Team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, have met with some Ulema (religious scholars) and women of Herat province thorough an online meeting.
According to IRA peace team, during the meeting, the participants shared their views, questions, and demands regarding the peace negotiation process with the negotiation team members.
The negotiation team members briefed the meeting on the current status of the peace negotiations process in Doha, saying that the negotiations between the two sides’ contact groups are ongoing and that the partner countries’ views in the peace process are always received.
Speaking about the upcoming meetings in Russia and Turkey, they said that these meetings’ results are expected to be useful for the negotiation process.
They also spoke about the collective efforts of the negotiation team members as a group to defend the demands of women and all segments of the society.
According to them, the Afghan people would make the final decision on the negotiations’ outcome, and they will spare no effort to fulfill the Afghan people’s demands.
The negotiation team members said that ceasefire and ending war is a commandment of Allah (Hukm-e-Ilahi).
Also, the ceasefire is necessary for building trust and demonstration of willingness from both sides. They added that the people’s demand is to ensure peace and stability, the rule of law, a prosperous life and the implementation of the commandments of Allah (Ahkam-e-Ilahi), and the willingness of the nation must be respected.
According to a new survey conducted by the “House of Peace and Democracy”, 83 percent of the country’s citizens consider the Islamic Republic and the preservation of the Afghan constitution to be a red line in the peace process.
The survey, which interviewed nearly 40,000 people, found that more than 90 percent of respondents believed the Taliban had no plans to govern Afghanistan, and that the United Nations could host a meeting to persuade the Taliban for a lasting peace in Afghanistan.
Ninety-six percent of those surveyed said the Taliban’s view of women had not changed. Seventy-seven percent of respondents said they did not support the creation of an interim government without elections, and another 63 percent called on the United Nations to hold a meeting to make peace with the Taliban.
Scammers posing as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan have used hundreds of social media accounts to try to defraud people in recent months, the US military said.
U.S. Forces-Afghanistan has reported almost 900 fake accounts posing as Gen. Scott Miller on sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram this year alone, the command said Wednesday.
Scammers have also been active on platforms like Google Hangouts, Pinterest and the online Scrabble app Word Wars.
The accounts are largely used to trick people out of money and items like gift cards and cellphones, USFOR-A warned.
“Gen. Miller does NOT use public accounts on social media. Scammers are using his likeness & photos,” USFOR-A spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett said in a tweet.
Anyone contacted online by someone claiming to be Miller can report it to USFOR-A and block the account, Leggett said.
Miller, the longest-serving commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has mostly remained out of the public eye during his nearly two-and-a-half years in charge.
He was assigned a Twitter account for the position of USFOR-A and NATO Resolute Support commander with the handle @Commander_RS, which uses his name and photo. However, Miller has not posted a single tweet since taking command, and his only retweet was Leggett’s warning of fake profiles Tuesday.
The number of targeted attacks on journalists and media workers has doubled in the past year, the Afghanistan Journalists Center (AJC) said.
The annual report of the Afghanistan Journalists’ Center, published on Wednesday, states that in the solar year of 1399, 11 journalists and media workers were killed as a result of targeted attacks in Afghanistan.
The report states that in 1399, the total number of acts of violence against journalists and media employees was two cases less than the 116 recorded in the previous year; But in terms of the number of victims, it shows a 50% increase.
According to the report, the number of victims in the year 1399, compared to five in 1398, not only increased significantly and reached 11 people; Rather, most of them were individually targeted and lost their lives.
Records show that in the last 12 months, four reporters, two presenters, three dubbing staff, a technical staff and a media driver have died.
The report said: “In 1399, at least 16 journalists and media workers were injured. “45 cases of threats, 13 cases of beatings, 12 cases of insult and humiliation, 8 cases of attacks, 6 cases of arrests and 3 cases of abduction of journalists and media workers have been recorded.”
According to the report, IS-K is accused of killing seven journalists, the Taliban of killing three journalists, and unidentified gunmen of killing a media employee.
In addition, 7 IS-K members, 5 unidentified gunmen and 4 Taliban fighters are also accused of injuring journalists and media workers.
US Forces in Afghanistan conducted airstrikes on Taliban’s positions in Kandahar province during the past 48 hours, said the spokesman of US Troops in Afghanistan, Sonny leggett.
Sonny Leggett in a tweet on Wednesday said that the US forces launched the airstrikes in Zherai, Spin Boldak districts and Kandahar city.
He emphasized that the United States continues to defend Afghan security forces in accordance with the US-Taliban agreement.
Leggett added that Taliban’s claims about the US forces’ airstrikes in Kandahar province are false.
The Taliban group in a statement said that US forces in Afghanistan targeted their fighters by airstrikes in Panjwayee, Khakriz and Arghistan districts of Kandahar province.
Taliban stated that US forces airstrikes are contrary to the bilateral agreement between the group and the United States.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Wednesday reported 28 new positive cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 2 deaths and 37 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 56,044 the number of total reported deaths is 2,462 and the total number of recoveries is 49,536.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat Kandahar, Nangarhar, Takhar, Helmand, Wardak, Badakhshan, Faryab, Uruzgan and Nuristan.
Afghanistan will receive over USD 225 million in payable loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to cover 46% deficit in the national budget for fiscal year 1400.
National debt has amounted to USD 1.5 billion, which is anticipated to be covered by loans, international aid, and income from various internal resources, according to the Afghan Ministry of Finance.
Finance Ministry’s spokesperson Rafi Taabeh said the loan would have repay policy.
The upcoming fiscal year’s total budget is over USD 6 billion, which consists of over USD 4 billion for the regular budget, and over USD 2 billion in the development budget.
The Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah says the leadership committee of HCNR today left for Russia to attend the Moscow peace summit on Thursday.
“Joined by political leaders, some members of the negotiating team & the leadership committee of the HCNR, we are heading to Russian Federation to take part in Moscow Conference on Peaceful Settlement in Afghanistan, organized by Troika member states and hosted by Russia,” Dr. Abdullah said.
“We are looking forward for a successful conference and exchange of views with the Taliban delegation and the host country. The conference focuses on ways of boosting the intra-Afghan talks in Doha, reducing the violence and ending the conflict in Afghanistan,” the chairman of HCNR said.
“It also debates the ways and means to promote the development of Afghanistan as an independent, peaceful and self-sufficient state, free from terrorism and drug-related crimes. We acknowledge the pivotal role of Afghanistan’s neighbors, and Russia in establishing a lasting peace in the country,” he added.
Dr. Abdullah thanked Troika and Russia for organising this timely and important conference.
“While, welcoming regional and international initiatives to support the peace process, we strongly believe that Moscow conference will boost the Doha peace talks, and the upcoming Turkey conference on Afghanistan,” Abdullah said.
Afghanistan Journalists Safty Committee (AJSC) has expressed deep concern over the current security situation of journalists and media workers in Afghanistan.
AJSC in a press release on Wednesday congratulated March 17, the National Journalists’ Day to all journalists and media workers in the country, saying this year is celebrated at a time that journalists, media workers, and the media face unprecedented and serious security and financial problems and especially concerns about the future of Freedom of Expression in Afghanistan.
According to AJSC’s findings, targeted attacks on journalists, which began in Nov 2020, have so far claimed the lives of 9 journalists and media workers.
The latest figures collected by AJSC on the presence of women in the country’s media show that 301 women have left or lost their jobs over the past six months (October – March 2021) due to factors, such as security threats, especially recent targeted killings and financial challenges that media face. This figure makes 18 percent of all women journalists across Afghanistan.
AJSC expressed deep concern about the current situation and urges the Government of Afghanistan and international organizations to address the following issues:
1. The Afghan government should conduct serious investigations into the murder cases of journalists and media workers to put an end to the impunity for crimes against journalists. In this process, information must be effectively shared with the public and the media community.
2. As the Afghan Peace Process accelerates, the media community is deeply concerned about the future of Freedom of Expression and the media. AJSC expects the government to implement recommendations of the media community to protect Press Freedom in the negotiation process.
3. AJSC calls on all international institutions and the Government of Afghanistan to uphold the principle of Freedom of Expression, which is an important achievement of the last two decades in Afghanistan, during the peace process, in accordance with international and domestic Afghan law.
“AJSC has scaled up its efforts over the past month to ensure the safety of journos and media workers (MWs). The cases of the murder of journalists and media workers have been seriously pursued, but the process of sharing information about cases by security agencies has not been satisfactory,” the press release added.
A conference in Moscow this week on advancing the Afghanistan peace process does not replace the negotiations in Doha between the Taliban and a delegation that includes Afghan government officials, the State Department said on Tuesday.
The Moscow meeting on Thursday “does not replace other ongoing talks in Doha,” deputy State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter told a news briefing.
This comes as a 15-member delegation of the Afghan government led by Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), will attend the Moscow conference on Thursday to discuss Afghan peace.