Thursday, June 13
Presidential Election Preparation and Politics
Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) and Electoral Complaint Commission (ECC) have organized a one day conference with participation of political parties and election-related monitoring bodies to discuss the transparency in the upcoming presidential election. Both electoral bodies called on political parties and civil society organizations to introduce their observers to monitor the election operation process. IEC officials also said that there is a possibility of change in presidential election budget. In another development, however, President Ghani said he was ready to negotiate on ordaining the election ethical principles, but, the Presidential Candidates Council said that President Ghani should be ready to negotiate with them in another place rather than Arg. At the same time, the presidential candidate claim that the President has created networks and opened offices for his election campaigns using government assets and facilities. In contrast, ARG rejects these allegations and accuse the candidates of campaigning before the scheduled date.
Suicide Bomb killed and injured about 20 Afghans
A suicide bomber walked up to an Afghan police vehicle in Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, and detonated an explosive device that killed three police and six civilians on Thursday, provincial health department official Shoaib Sahak told the Associated Press. He said another 13 people were wounded, some of them seriously. Attahullah Khogyani, the spokesman for the provincial governor, said security forces were the target of the attack. Several of the injured were police, he said. No one took immediate responsibility for the attack, but both the Daesh affiliate, known as Khorasan Province and the Taliban operate in Nangarhar province, considered a Daesh stronghold.
Clashes across the country and the ANDSF retook control of Khwaja Ghar District
Local officials in Takhar province told the media that a day after Taliban overrun Khwaja Ghar District, The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces retook the control of Khajaghar district last night. Local residents say that people were stuck in the battlefield between Taliban and Afghan forces for the last two days. The clearance operation is still ongoing in the district.
Clashes between the Taliban and ANDSF have been reported from different parts of the country. In Dai Chopan district of southern Zabul, a Taliban attack on a police checkpoint left eight dead and wounded seven others, provincial council member Hashim Gerani said. Meanwhile, in Oba district of the western Herat province, a clash between Taliban and police left three dead, including one police officer, according to provincial council member Ahmad Karokhi. Another provincial councilor, Sardar Bahaduri said that Taliban have killed the son of a tribal leader along with his two companions in Ghoriyan district of the province.
Wednesday, June 12
Taliban Attack Three Districts of Takhar
Taliban insurgents launched a coordinated attack on three districts of the north-eastern province of Takhar last night. Officials confirm that the Taliban took control of the strategic district of Khowaja Ghar for a couple of hours but were pushed back early in the morning. Locals say fighting is ongoing between Afghan forces and the Taliban. Governor spokesman says additional troops have been dispatched. Meanwhile, Taliban attacked Baharak and Namakab districts but there has been no advancement toward the districts’ centers.
Germans to Boost up US-Taliban Talks
Germany Special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Markus Putzel addressed a conference on the role of women in Peace talks told reporters after six rounds of US- Taliban talks didn’t produce a breakthrough, so the US envoy for Afghan Peace Zalmai Khalilzad offered the European countries to get involved. Mr. Putzel said that ceasefire and intra-Afghan dialogue will be also discussed in the next round of US-Taliban talks scheduled for late June in Qatar. Afghan government hopes that the next round of US- Taliban talks, pave the way for an Intra-Afghan talk that would include the government which has been rejected by the Taliban so far.
Tuesday, June 11
Germany to Facilitate Intra-Afghan Talks
Afghan High Peace Council has confirmed that Germany will be the facilitator of the next round of ‘Intra-Afghan’ peace talks to be held in Qatar at the beginning of July. No further detail is given, but a week ago Zalmai Khalilzad the US special envoy for Afghan Peace talks in his visit to Berlin twitted that “We reviewed German-Qatari hosted intra-Afghan dialogue and our focus was intra-Afghan negotiations and who can do what to make it happen ASAP.
Prisoners freed from two Taliban prisons
Afghan commandos freed about 50 people, including security personals, from Taliban Jails in Kunduz and Baghlan provinces. Seven army soldiers, seven policemen, three NDS personnel and 17 civilians were among those freed, Baghlan police said in a statement. At the same time, 13 prisoners were released from another Taliban prison in Aqtash district of Kunduz province, a spokesman for the Afghan Defence Ministry, Zubair Arif told the media.
Roadside blast kills six civilians in southern Afghanistan
At least six people were killed after a roadside bomb ripped through their vehicle in southern Afghanistan. It is the latest violence to hit the war-weary country where ordinary Afghans continue to bear the brunt of decades of conflict. The vehicle was traveling from Kandahar’s Dand district to the provincial capital when the bomb detonated near the car, killing everyone inside, according to provincial police spokesman Qasim Afghan. “Four children — two girls and two boys — are among those killed in the blast. They are all members of one family,” he told AFP. Haji Abdullah, governor of Dand district, said the bomb was placed by the Taliban on a road frequently used by foreign and Afghan forces. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, and the Taliban were not immediately available to comment on the incident. Insurgents, however, often use roadside bombs and landmines to target Afghan security forces — but the lethal weapons also inflict heavy casualties on civilians. Years of conflict have left Afghanistan strewn with landmines, unexploded mortars, rockets, and homemade bombs — and many are picked up by curious children. (AFP/APP)
Monday, June 10
Hundreds of Taliban militants released from jails
The Afghan government has released hundreds of Taliban prisoners following President Ashraf Ghani’s announcement during his Eid public speech. Media reported that around 200 insurgents released from Pul-e-Charkhi and another 130 jail inmates are expected to be freed on Tuesday. President Ghani, during his Eid public speech, said around nine-hundred Taliban prisoners would be released as a goodwill gesture, and also in response to a peace proposal by the council of tribal elders or Loya Jirga. But the decision has triggered criticism with many on social media expressing concern that some of those released may return to fighting. Previously, Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib said that all of the almost 900 inmates who are soon to be released from prison are Taliban members. “The release of prisoners for goodwill is one of the demands of the Loya Jirga (grand assembly) … All of them are Taliban members,” Mohib said in an interview with Tolonews channel. “The people of Afghanistan should be aware that 887 inmates will be freed as a sign of respect on Eid based on the demands of the people”, Ghani said. The Taliban are currently engaged in peace talks with the US but have refused to engage the Kabul government, who they regard as a puppet of the West. Taliban welcomed the move of the Afghan government.
Zalmay Khalilzad met President Ghani to discuss the ongoing peace talks
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has met US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, stressing the need for the beginning of intra-Afghan peace negotiations. In a series of tweets on early Monday, he said an agreement has been reached over the significance of preparation for intra-Afghan negotiations. “Good meeting w/ Pres @AshrafGhani & his team. Discussed building further intl [international] consensus for #peace. Also, regional requirements & implications for peace including recent positive movement in AfPak [Afghanistan-Pakistan] relations & opportunities peace will provide for regional connectivity & development’, Khalilzad said in a Twitter post. According to the Afghan president’s office, the U.S. envoy presented a briefing about his latest shuttle diplomacy for peace that took him to Europe as well as Pakistan. “Both sides expressed pleasure over the role of Germany in this regard [intra-Afghan dialogue for peace] and expressed hope to initiate the first round of intra-Afghan dialogue at the earliest,? it said. The U.S. envoy has so far held at least six rounds of talks with the Taliban since taking charge in September last year, but the Taliban continue to refuse pressing demands for a ceasefire in Afghanistan. Last month, Khalilzad had expressed dissatisfaction over the pace of these talks. The annual fighting season is in full swing in war-ravaged Afghanistan as the warring sides failed to reach an agreement for a ceasefire in the holy month of Ramadan and for the Muslim holy festival of Eid al-Fitr. (Source: APP).
Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister visited Pakistan
Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister, Idrees Zaman, accompanied by a high-level delegation arrived in Pakistan on Monday to be a part of the first review session of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) in Islamabad. During the talks, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood will lead the Pakistan delegation while Zaman will lead the Afghan side.
Sunday, June 09
FIFA bans ex-Afghan football boss for life over sexual assault
The Attorney General’s office in Afghanistan says it has issued an arrest warrant for the former president of the national football association after FIFA banned him for life for sexually abusing female players. At least five players from the Afghan women’s team accused Keramuddin Karim of repeated sexual abuse between 2013 and 2018. He has denied the accusations. FIFA on Saturday said Mr Karim was guilty of abusing his position and it also fined him about a million dollars. He was suspended from his post after the allegations emerged late last year. (The Afghan Attorney General’s office is conducting a separate criminal investigation on the issue).
NNAMA voiced concern over civilian casualties
United Nations Assistance Mission, UNAMA issued a statement on civilian casualties during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. In its statement, UNAMA said that civilians had been “deliberately and knowingly” targeted during Ramadan (May-June) by “anti-government” elements. “The United Nations maintains that attacks deliberately targeting civilians run counter to the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and remains committed to an Afghan-led peace process that will end the ongoing war,” the UN agency said in its statement. In recent weeks, both the Taliban and the Islamic State group have ramped up their attacks in the Afghan capital, targeting both military and civilian installations. In a statement provided to the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news agency (AIP), Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid rejected UNAMA’s allegations, calling part of a “conspiracy” against the group. “The attribution of attacks that were carried out by Daesh (Islamic State group, IS) or other unidentified circles to mujahedin of the Islamic Emirate is an act by UNAMA that reveals they want to hatch a conspiracy (against the Taliban),” he said.
Saturday, June 08
Independent Election Commission (IEC) launched the voter registration process for the upcoming presidential elections with no use of the biometric identification system. “This process has started in all 34 provinces,” Hawa Alam Nuristani, head of IEC told a press conference in Kabul. It is planned to open over 450 registration centers in all provincial capitals and district centers, over half of them will be launched in Ghazni province, where voter registration didn’t happen in the past Parliamentary election. The process will last 20 days. IEC says over 23 million Afghans are eligible to vote, but only 9 million were registered in last year parliamentary election. The election commission’s chairperson said those who are 18 years old or will reach 18 years of age until September can register their names to vote in the presidential elections which are scheduled for September 28. She said the 9.5 a million voters who registered last year in April can also use their vote in the upcoming polls. The Afghan government and the international community have allocated $23 million for awareness on presidential elections but the election commission officials said the money will be invested in media ads. The IEC’s decision on removing the use of a biometric system in voter registration was faced with criticism by members of electoral monitoring organizations who said that the decision will affect the transparency of the upcoming polls. According to the election commission, the voter registration will be conducted from the beginning only in central Ghazni province and those who have registered last year will have to go through the process once again. The process will last 20 days. IEC says over 23 million Afghans are eligible to vote, but only 9 million were registered in last year parliamentary election.