Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Citing credible sources, Afghan National TV (RTA) reports that the intra-Afghan talks between the Afghan government’s negotiating teams and the Taliban will begin an August 16.
The BBC also quotes Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, as saying that the group was ready to start the intra-Afghan talks within a week of the prisoners’ release.
Earlier, controversy over the release of 400 dangerous Taliban prisoners was seen as a major obstacle to the start of intra-Afghan talks.
President Ashraf Ghani had said that he could not release this number of prisoners due to committing serious crimes and delegated the decision-making process on the 400 Taliban prisoners to the Peace Consultative Loya Jirga.
The Peace Consultative Loya Jirga began on Friday and ended yesterday with the confirmation of the release of 400 Taliban prisoners.
Local officials in Ghazni have confirmed that at least nine people were killed and wounded in the clashes between the Taliban and locals over the collection of Ushr and Zakat (illegal taxing) by the Taliban.
Ghazni governor’s spokesman Wadullah Juma Zadah told Reporterly on Monday that clashes between local residents and the Taliban had started two days ago in the Bala area of Andar district and are still sporadically continuing.
Juma Zadeh added that the clashes began after people refused to give the Usher and Zakat to the Taliban.
The spokesman for the Ghazni governor said that two members of the Taliban, including the head of one of its commissions, had been killed and another wounded in the clashes.
Juma Zadeh added that two locals were killed and four others were injured in the clashes.
The spokesman for the Ghazni governor continued that the two sides were still on standby mode and that there were sporadic clashes, and that the mediation of local elders was continuing to end the clashes.
According to Juma Zadeh, the government forces could not enter the area from the ground due to roadside mines, but the security forces are trying to cover the clashes and help local residents.
The pilot project of the Iran-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan transit corridor became operational under the TIR system with two trucks started transporting goods from Iran to Afghanistan and finally to Uzbekistan on Monday.
According to Iranian media, quoting IRICA Director of Transit Bureau Mostafa Ayati, following the recent successful opening of the KTAI corridor and the shipment of goods from Shahid Rajaee customs in south Iran to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on 5 August, two transit cargoes from this customs left Dogarun border customs for Afghanistan and then to Uzbekistan on Monday.
“The development of transit corridors through Afghanistan as a short and low-cost route to Central Asian countries has been done via TIR system and with the cooperation of the International Road Transport Union (IRU), and Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), IRICA, and Iran Chamber of Commerce,” Ayati said.
“With the pilot opening of this corridor, it seems that Afghanistan is seriously determined to develop transit in its territory and connect Central Asian countries to southern waters, including the ports of the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman (Chabahar),” he added.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry has announced that Afghanistan’s exports have increased by 29% in the first seven months of this year.
The Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on Monday (August 11th) that following the outbreak of the Corona virus and the precautionary measures taken by the other countries, trade and transit relations between the countries have reached their lowest level in decades.
The ministry said in a statement that Afghanistan’s trade relations with the other countries in the region had reached their lowest level this year, and that the government, in cooperation with the private sector, had paved the way for the resumption of trade and transit with the region and the world.
The Ministry of Commerce emphasizes that the normalization of trade and land transit between Afghanistan and the world is progressing well and new statistics show that the volume of Afghanistan’s exports through the air corridor in the first seven months of the year compared to the same period last year, have increased 29 percent And its value has increased by 17%.
According to the Ministry of Commerce, Afghanistan has returned to normal trade relations with India and the United Arab Emirates through the air corridor and is expected to resume exports with other countries soon.
Trade in Corona Time
However, after the outbreak of the Corona virus and the closure of crossings in a number of neighboring countries, as well as air corridors, Afghanistan’s trade and transit process, which is mostly based on imports, was affected widely.
Earlier, the finance ministry said the outbreak of the coronavirus had had a profound negative effect on the economy, tax collection and government funding, and that government revenue had fallen sharply since the same time last year.
Earlier, with the outbreak of the corona in Afghanistan, the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Investment said that the private sector was not immune to the effects of the outbreak of the coronavirus and lost more than one and a half billion dollars.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) reported 56 new COVID-19 cases within the past 24 hours, bringing the total tally to 37,162 cases, the country’s Ministry of Public Health confirmed.
“Within the past 24 hours, 332 suspected cases were tested, out of which 56 cases were tested coronavirus positive,” the ministry said in a statement.
A total of 7 COVID-19 patients succumbed to the virus, taking the number of people who lost their lives to 1,328 since the outbreak of the pandemic in February.
The government delegations of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan held talks via videoconference, which confirmed their mutual interest in expanding bilateral cooperation and ensuring stable economic and infrastructural development in the region.
According to the Uzbek media, the current issues of interaction in trade, energy, transport communications and logistics, as well as the implementation of a number of important investment projects of regional significance were considered.
The delegations were headed by Deputy Prime Minister of Uzbekistan, Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade Sardor Umurzakov, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan Hanif Atmar and Chief of Staff of the President of Afghanistan Mohammad Shaker Kargar. The talks were also attended by the heads of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Transport, Energy, as well as other relevant agencies and companies of the two countries.
The parties spoke in favor of further intensifying cooperation in the energy sector. An agreement was reached on continuation of interaction in organizing the supply of electricity from Uzbekistan to Afghanistan and development of appropriate infrastructure for this, including the implementation of the project for construction of Surkhan – Puli-Khumri power transmission line.
The US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad on Twitter welcomed President Ashraf Ghani’s decision and the declaration of the Loya Jirga, a traditional meeting of Afghan tribal elders and other stakeholders convened to decide the release of Taliban prisoners.
Khalilzad cited that in “the next few days we expect the completion of prisoner releases, then travel of the Islamic Republic team to Doha, and from there the immediate start of intra-Afghan negotiations.”
“The parties will embark on a process to reach an agreement on a political roadmap & a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire to end the Afghan war,” he said.
The US envoy stated, “As we have supported the Afghan people for the past 19 years, so do we now support Afghan men and women to achieve the sustainable peace for which they have long yearned.”
“With these bold steps, after 40 years of war, a historic opportunity for peace is now possible; one that benefits all Afghans and contributes to regional stability and global security,” he added.
The Afghan “Loya Jirga” on Sunday advised the government to release 400 Taliban prisoners that removed the main hurdle in the start of the negotiations between the Taliban and the government.
The Afghan government had earlier refused to release 400 Taliban prisoners because of their involvement in the major crimes.