Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Taliban warned the United States on Friday against defying a May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan, promising a “reaction” though failing to specify exactly what it would be.
The Taliban issued their warning at a press conference in Moscow, the day after meeting with senior Afghan government negotiators and international observers to try to jump-start a stalled peace process to end Afghanistan’s decades of war.
“They should go,” Suhail Shaheen, a member of the Taliban negotiation team, told reporters, warning that staying beyond May 1 would breach the deal.
“After that, it will be a kind of violation of the agreement. That violation would not be from our side … Their violation will have a reaction.”
He did not elaborate on what form the “reaction” would take, but in keeping with the agreement they signed in February 2020, the Taliban have not attacked US or NATO forces, even as unclaimed bombings and targeted killings of Afghan security forces and civilians have spiked in recent months.
“We hope that this will not happen, that they withdraw and we focus on the settlement, peaceful settlement of the Afghan issue, in order to bring about a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire at the end of reaching a political roadmap [for] Afghanistan,” Shaheen said.
EU ambassador to Afghanistan, Von Brandt in his Nawruz message wishes a prosperous Afghanistan, where every woman and man can live in peace.
“The European Union is a longstanding friend of the people of Afghanistan, and together with our member states we are in 2021 the largest donor contributing to the development of Afghanistan,” ambassador Brandt said.
He said that with EU support, more people in this country have access to better health care and electricity, increased income through trade and profitable agriculture.
“We are the leading advocate for human rights and a pluralistic society where everyone is respected and can lead a dignified life. Our substantial contribution gives people increased access to efficient justice all over the country,” ambassador said.
EU ambassador stated that the EU provides space for civil society and we support a free and independent media. We listen to the people of Afghanistan.
“The EU is also the world’s largest and most successful experiment of peace-making through dialogue, co-operation and integration. Therefore, also achieving peace in Afghanistan is one of our main interests. We believe in the power of fair processes and institutions. Institutions to constantly find acceptable compromises. Hence, we stand ready to also help you maintain fair processes and institutions to make peace,” Mr. Brandt asserted.
“As we look forward to a new year, this support and these achievements will have to be safeguarded,” he added.
The IRA Peace Negotiations Team says the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is a system based on the principles of Islam and the Afghan people’s good traditions which has a judicial system fully based on Islamic principles.
“This system is based on the people’s votes, and its values, such as democracy and elections, are not in conflict with Islamic values,” the IRA team said in a statement.
“Article 3 of the Constitution of Afghanistan, which the Loya Jirga approved with the collective view of the Afghan people, states: “No law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam,” the statement reads.
It added any misinterpretation of it can be considered just a political and demagogic statement.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Saturday reported 10 new positive cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 1 death and 42 recoveries from COVID-19 in the same period time.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 56,103 the number of total reported deaths is 2,463 and the total number of recoveries is 49,723.
The new cases were reported in Kabul and Herat.
Three days after an army helicopter crashed in Behsud district of Maidan Wardak province, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said that the helicopter was shot down by the commander of People’s Resistance Force, Ali Pur’s affiliated men.
Fawad Aman, the Deputy Spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, said today that the Ministry of Defense “at any cost” will avenge the blood of those killed and punish its perpetrators.
Mohammad Hussain Tavana, a close associate of Alipour, claimed that their men had shot down an army helicopter in the Hese Awal of Behsud district.
He added that they shot down the chopper after their positions were targeted by the government forces.
Mr. Tavana added that six members of the Ali Pur were killed and two others were wounded during the airstrikes.
Also two days ago, the Ministry of Defense announced that nine people, including four crew members and five security personnel, had been killed in the crash of an MI-17 helicopter belonging to the 777th Air Force Brigade.
The Afghan delegation concluded two days visit to Moscow to attend the ‘Extended Troika’ peace conference on Afghanistan, hosted by Russia, said Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR).
“We, on behalf of the Republic of Afghanistan and the HCNR, welcomed the timely initiative of Troika and reiterated our commitment for a political settlement in Afghanistan,” Abdullah said.
“We called for the acceleration of the negotiations, boosting of the Doha talks, an immediate end of violence, targeted killings and a comprehensive ceasefire. We also insisted on protection and development of citizens’ rights and especially women’s rights in any peace settlement,” The chairperson of HCNR asserted.
“We considered Moscow’s Conference a step forward to boost Doha talks and support Turkey’s peace conference on Afghanistan. We also welcomed the UN Secretary-General
appointment of John Arnault as his personal representative in Afghanistan,” Dr. Abdullah said.
The Afghan delegation also welcomed the strong Joint Statement of Extended Troika on Peaceful Settlement in Afghanistan, and their support for the acceleration of the peace talks.
In an annual UN-sponsored report, Afghanistan is ranked the least happy country in the world.
Data from analytics researcher Gallup asked people in 149 countries to rate their own happiness.
Measures including social support, personal freedom, gross domestic product (GDP) and levels of corruption were also factored in.
The country deemed the most unhappy in the world was Afghanistan, followed by Lesotho, Botswana, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.
The report authors said that there was a ‘significantly higher frequency of negative emotions’ in just over a third of the countries.
However, they added that things got better for 22 countries.
It is worth noting that several Asian countries fared better than they had in last year’s rankings’ China moved to 84th place from 94th.
Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar spoke on telephone with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi about expanding bilateral ties and strengthening the Afghan peace process.
The Ministry of Foriegn Affairs in a statement said that the Foreign Minister described the recent declaration of the Moscow Summit as an important step towards strengthening the Afghan peace process and stressed the role of countries in the region and the world, including Pakistan, in making the peace process a success.
The two sides also discussed the Moscow peace talks and the expected outcome of the Ankara talks, calling the Moscow-Ankara summits a continuation and complement of the Doha peace process.
In the meantime, Mr Qureshi assured that Pakistan would participate actively in future meetings of the Afghan peace talks, including the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the next round of peace talks in Turkey, as well as a virtual meeting of foreign ministers.
During the talks, the two sides also discussed the strengthening of economic ties between the two countries through existing mechanisms and stressed the importance of implementing regional peace and stability connectivity projects, through Afghanistan that Connects South Asia to Central Asia.