Iran official walks back comments on expelling Afghan immigrants

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi has said his comments on Tehran expelling Afghan immigrants if its economy worsens were “misinterpreted”. Araqchi had said on 8 May during a TV appearance that if US sanctions prove effective and Iran fails to sell its oil, Tehran will be forced to take drastic measures and “ask our Afghan brothers and sisters to leave”. Clarifying his remarks, Araqchi said on 11 May that his comments were misunderstood. “What you (the media) quoted me as saying was a misunderstanding and I never said such a thing. That is not my interpretation and we have no such plans (to expel Afghans). Such opinions do not exist in the country and in the Foreign Ministry,” he said during a TV appearance, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency. Araqchi had said last week that Afghan refugees “can return to their country or go to other countries – the choice is theirs”. Elaborating on that comment, Araqchi said today that “it is not about these immigrants returning to Afghanistan. New options have been put in front of them”. The diplomat said Europe should “meet its obligations” towards Afghan refugees. While threats of expulsion of Afghan refugees have been very common in Pakistani and Iranian diplomacy, its sounds that Iraqchi wanted to use the exclusion of Afghan refugees as leverage point with European countries who are striving to save JCPOA in whatever way possible.

 

Parliament cancels first plenary session amid protests 

Newly elected Afghan Parliament has canceled its first plenary session planned for today after angry demonstrators, mostly candidates of the last Parliamentary elections blocked their entry to the parliament. The parliament was commenced last week and was scheduled to have its first plenary session today in the absence of Kabul MPs whose results are yet to be announced. The demonstrators opposed holding of the parliaments first general session and the election of the administrative board including the speaker of the house as Kabul MPs are not yet there. Kabul parliamentary elections were held in over 500 polling centers on October 20 and 21 and although over six months have been passed since the poll, the final results have not been announced. The parliamentary election was the worst in the short history of democracy in Afghanistan and continued dragging of finalization of results just adds to the catastrophe. Similarly, so many makeshift arrangements have been made to get the parliament in place while breaching constitutional provisions.

 

Women and Children Killed in Rocket Attack

Local officials in Dara-e-Suf Payeen [lower] in the northern Samangan province claim that at least 3 women and a child were killed, and ten women and children were wounded in a Taliban ‘revenge attack’ on a compound housing family of a local anti-Taliban militia known as People’s Uprising force. District chief Abdul Yaqin Ahmadi claims that local uprising forces had already left the village when the Taliban launched a retaliatory attack on the fronts of Gola village and all the families including women and children had taken refuge in one compound. Such actions area clear indication that a state versus insurgents violence is deepening its root at the individual level. Hence, a post possible peace deal Afghanistan will have to put in place a comprehensive national reconciliation programme to address cases such as one under review.

 

Former Female TV Presenter Killed in Kabul

Afghan officials say a former prominent female television journalist in Afghanistan has been killed in Kabul. Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Raimi says Meena Mangal was shot dead in Kabul’s 8th district at 7:20 a.m. on May 11. Rahimi says Mangal was attacked by more than one assailant and that the attackers escaped from the scene after the shooting. She was currently working as a cultural advisor to the parliament. Meena worked with local media for many years. The social media speculations reveal that the targeted killing was motivated by the family feud between the deceased and her husband rooting in sociocultural customs. The killing of Meena Mangal reveals that after two decades of effort for the elimination of gender-based violence and investment of huge sums have not had much effect on the social and cultural practices in Afghanistan towards women.

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