Friday, June 21
Pakistan Hosts Afghan Peace Conference
Senior Afghan political leaders have been invited to a peace conference in Pakistan ahead of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to Islamabad. Lahore Center for Peace and Research (LCPR) has initiated a dialogue under the banner of Lahore Process and its first formal moot is being held at Bhurban (Murree) on Saturday. “This conference is being attended by over 55 delegates representing about 18 political parties and groups from a brotherly neighboring country besides the host country”, said the organizers of the conference. Ghairat Baheer, a Hizb-e-Islami key member confirmed that Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is among the senior Afghan politicians who have confirmed participation. Several other important leaders including Mohammad Karim Khalili head of High Peace Conference (HPC), presidential candidate Haneef Atmar, Jamiat-e-Islami leadership member Atta Mohammad Noor, former minister Younis Qanooni and former governor Ismail Khan are also invited to this conference. The Lahore Center for Peace Research (LCPR) and the South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI) are organizing the event. Pakistani media said that the event will also provide a greater depth and meaning to president Ghani’s June 27 visit as an important people-to-people interaction.
Afghan Agricultural Products Exhibition
Afghan Ministry of Agriculture has organized an exhibition of Afghanistan’s agricultural products in Mumbai city of India. Nearly 60 Afghan companies have exhibited their products in this exhibition. Spokesman of Afghan Ministry of Agriculture told the BBC that 800 Indian companies have been invited. According to officials, there is a huge demand for Afghan agricultural products in India. Officials and Afghan traders are optimistic that a number of Indian companies will sign agreements with Afghan companies.
Thursday, June 20
World Refugees Day
Today was marked as the World Refugee Day under the theme of “Step with Refugees”. Reports say 200,000 Afghans have voluntary returned or have been deported to Afghanistan in the last six months. The Afghan government has announced that Iran and Pakistan have agreed to stop deporting Afghan refugees. International Organization of Migration says over 112 thousand Afghans were deported from these two countries since the beginning of 2019, while about 93 thousands other have returned spontaneously. Iran and Pakistan are hosting over four million Afghans at the moment.
UN special envoy for Afghan on civilian causalities and elections
The UN’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto’s briefing to the Security Council about the situation in Afghanistan. He said almost 1800 Afghan civilians were killed or injured in the first quarter of this year. Tadamichi Yamamoto said though it is less than in previous quarters, but still far too many. He pointed out that the egregiousness of deliberately targeting civilians by anti-Government elements is a war crime and must be stopped. Mr. Yamamoto added that the impact of the conflict on children is particularly alarming and the number of attacks on schools almost tripled between 2017 and 2018.
Mr. Yamamato also said that the presidential election, scheduled for 28 September, would be a “key moment to reaffirm the legitimacy of Afghanistan’s democratic political structure”, Tolo News reported. Referring to the alleged irregularities during last year’s parliamentary elections, he said: “The IEC needs to demonstrate that it can address the problems which marred the parliamentary elections and integrate the lessons learned into preparations for the upcoming vote.” “Afghan citizens have displayed an enduring commitment to choosing their political leaders through elections in the face of threats and adverse security conditions”, the UN envoy further said.
Wednesday, June 19
Parliament ‘Final vote’ on Speakers Election Row
MPs resort to physical clashes following controversy over the election of parliament speaker. According to reports, some tables in the parliament hall have also been broken during the clashes today. The clashes started after supporters of MP Rahman Rahmani said they wanted to sit him on lower house speaker seat by force, as their demands were not accepted. Crisis over speaker post came after both leading candidates for the speaker post somehow failed to get appropriate MPs’ votes on April 26.
Khalilzad Reacts to Taliban’s Comment
The relations between Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy on Afghan peace talks, and the Taliban have become tense ahead of the seventh round of peace talks in Qatar. The Taliban have quoted officials of their Qatar office, saying that the USA has agreed to pull out all its forces from Afghanistan but Khalilzad in reaction to this has written on his twitter handle that they seek a comprehensive agreement on peace not the withdrawal of their forces. Zalmay Khalilzad has insisted that nothing is agreed with the Taliban until everything is agreed. His reaction came after a Taliban spokesman posted on Twitter that “US has agreed to withdraw all forces from Afghanistan & to not intervene in future Afghan affairs.” Mr. Khalilzad twitted that “as we prepare for the next round of talks with the Taliban, important to remember we seek a comprehensive peace agreement, NOT a withdrawal agreement.” Both sides comments on social media came as the eighth round of talks between US and the Taliban are expected in late June.
Germany, Qatar working on ‘inter-Afghan’ talks: UN
Germany and Qatar are working to organize an “inter-Afghan dialogue,” a United Nations official said on Wednesday, in an effort to start formal talks between the Kabul government and Taliban. “Direct talks between the United States and the Taliban continue with broad international support,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, who heads the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, told the UN Security Council. Besides that effort, “Afghanistan and some of its international partners, in particular, Germany and Qatar, are preparing for an inter-Afghan dialogue,” he said without giving details or a timetable. “All these efforts need to be directed towards one common objective: to start formal negotiations between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban to reach a peace agreement,” added Yamamoto, who also serves as the UN secretary general’s special representative for Afghanistan (AFP).
Tuesday, June 18
Afghanistan National Security Advisor in Russia
Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib has traveled to Russia to attend a conference on international security. Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said: “The National Security Adviser has begun an official visit to the Russian city of Ufa where he will participate in a security meeting. In addition to delivering a speech in the meeting, he will also attend meetings with some participants of the high-profile security meeting.” Officials from several countries are attending the Ufa meeting which is being held from 17 – 20 June.
Reactions of the press to the Taliban’s diplomacy
Some newspapers in Afghanistan have commented on the Taliban’s recent visit to China and their relations with other countries. Private Daily Afghanistan has discussed Taliban leaders’ recent visit to China in a commentary headlined “Ups and downs in Beijing’s ties with the Taliban”. “We can say that the presence of US forces (in Afghanistan) and Washington’s aggressive approach towards Beijing have made the Taliban and Beijing join their paths,” the paper said. The state-run Eslah has discussed the issue in its editorial headlined “Taliban seeking international supporters”. “Since the fall of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate in 2001, it is for the first time that foreign countries have adopted an unprecedented stance in hosting the Taliban and negotiating with them… Before this, the Taliban did not get an opportunity for such moves at the international level”, the paper said. Citing Afghanistan affairs’ experts, the paper further said that “rivalries among various regional countries and that of other countries with the USA are reasons of change in some countries’ stand towards the Taliban.” Private Weesa newspaper has criticized the US and NATO forces over civilian casualties during anti-militant operations in Afghanistan. “When NATO and US forces heavily bomb our villages and homes and carry out night raids, killing dozens of Afghans and injuring dozens of others, it is one aspect of the current atrocities, which is inflicted by Afghanistan’s so-called international friends,” the paper said. It went on to say that the foreign civilian workers based in Afghanistan are “involved in corruption” and “fomenting divisions and discord in the country”.
The debate over Lower House Speaker Ignites
Weeks after crisis over lower house’s speaker election, the Parliament held its general session with the speaker seat empty again. The initial hour of the session turned noisy and once again the pro and against MPs started to exchange hard words. The election of the lower house speaker became problematic as one of the two contenders came only one vote short of the 50%+1 required for the seat. In the last three weeks, several plans and decisions failed to tackle the row. The issue has undermined activities of the newly inaugurated 17th round of Afghan lower house and has divided the MPs in the very early weeks of their term.
Monday, June 17
Quadrilateral Meeting over Afghan Refugees
Afghanistan-Iran-Pakistan and UN officials held a meeting in Pakistan to discuss problems of Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan. Officials of Ministry of Refugees and Returnees say they try to create facilities for refugees in Iran, Pakistan and some other countries. The quadrilateral meeting discusses a roadmap for the repatriation of millions of Afghan refugees from Pakistan and Iran. From Afghanistan side, Sayed Hussain Alimi Balkhi minister of refugees has attended the conference. The quadrilateral dialogue comes on the eve of the celebration of World Refugee Day under the theme of “Step with Refugees”.
Afghan media also reported on the deportation of Afghan refugees from Germany and Norway as its third lead story. A plane carrying 11 Afghan refugees deported from Germany landed in Kabul International Airport. Amnesty International has requested Norway to rethink its decision to deport three members of an Afghan family. The global rights body has said that Afghanistan is not a safe place; therefore the refugees should not be deported.
Chief Executive Chaired the Cabinet Meeting
Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah, chairing a meeting of the council of ministers says the release of Taliban inmates by President Ghani is part of efforts by the Afghan government to show goodwill towards peace and reconciliation with the Taliban, adding that nobody should use such issues as an opportunity for election campaigns. He called on residents to register their names for the upcoming presidential elections. Independent Election Commission (IEC) says some 50,000 residents have registered their names in the strengthening process of voters’ registration process.
Voters Registration Update
Afghanistan Independent Election Commission says over four hundred thousand voters are registered since the program is launched on June 8th. In a meeting to encourage women to register as a voter in the upcoming presidential election, the head of IEC said over thirty percent of the registered voters are women. Meanwhile, the IEC announced that over half of the 247 voters’ registration centers considered for Ghazni province is shut. Logistical shortages, triable elders opposition and education ministry disagreement over the use of schools are the main reasons behind this
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to the UK
During the visit, the Afghan leader has met British Prime Minister Theresa May, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for International Development Rory Stewart, Secretary of State for Defence Penny Morduant and other senior officials. UK foreign secretary during his meeting with President Ghani in London said UK will do all it can to ensure peace and stability and strengthen democracy in Afghanistan. In the meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jeremy Hunt said that his country would make all possible efforts for the success of the Afghan peace process. Ghani has visited London at a time when he will also visit Pakistan in ten days. Observers say the UK can persuade Pakistan to cooperate in the peace process.
Sunday, June 16
Breast Cancer Death Toll Worrying
Afghan Ministry of Health says due to lack of awareness and cultural complexities, more than half of women diagnosed with breast cancer died last year. According to officials figures from the ministry, last year they registered more than 3,000 breast cancer cases and 1700 died due to the disease. So the today the ministry of health organized a symposium for public awareness, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer in Kabul. They have invited some international experts to discuss the issue and seek better ways for public awareness and treatment of the disease.
Dollar Smuggling to Iran: Radio, TV
US sanctions on Iran has triggered dollar smuggling trend from Afghanistan to Iran. Traders in western Herat city say around $2 million are smuggled across the border every day. An official source told the BBC that in 2018, four to five billion dollars were illegally smuggled of Afghanistan and that the figure is to be higher this year.
Turkmenistan & Afghanistan Sign two Economic Agreements:
Turkmenistan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov is visiting Herat province in the west of Afghanistan today to sign two strategic agreements on economic cooperation between Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. It’s said one of the agreements is about the development of railways between two countries and the other is about the attracting of investment in Afghanistan. Mr. Meredov who came to Herat through Torghundi border this morning was welcomed by Herat governor he will attend a joint press conference with Afghan finance minister Homayoun Qayoumi later today. Officials say the projects are very important for TAPI.
Saturday, June 15
CICA Summit in Tajikistan
The Fifth Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) is going on in Dushanbe capital of Tajikistan. Leaders and officials from 27 countries are attended there, From Afghanistan; CEO Abdullah Abdullah is there and addressing now. A statement from CEO office says Mr. Abdullah will emphasize on joint efforts to fight against terrorism and drugs in the region. The CICA summit is holding every four years in one of the members’ countries.
CEO Abdullah Abdullah, speaking during the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit in Tajikistan, says terrorist groups in Afghanistan and region are obstacle for improvement and peace in Afghanistan. He says joint and sincere efforts are needed to tackle terrorism in Afghanistan. Afghan observers say Afghanistan needs balanced relationships with international and regional organizations. The CICA Summit adopted a Declaration centered on the theme of ‘Shared Vision for a Secured and More Prosperous CICA Region’. The declaration inter alia called for building common, comprehensive and sustainable security in Asia as well as the pursuit of common development, partnerships, and connectivity in Asia. It underlined the need for devising a comprehensive strategy to combat terrorism including through elimination of conditions conducive to terrorism. The summit declaration also cautioned against the politicization of the UN Security Council counter-terrorism sanctions architecture, noting that such steps undermined UN Charter principles and sanction regime. Consisting at present of 27 members from Asia and over a dozen Observers, CICA was launched in 1993 as a platform for dialogue and consultations to promote cooperation in the areas of peace, development, and stability in the region through confidence-building measures.
Case of Police Food Defalcation would be investigated in the Attorney General
Afghan Ministry of Interior says it has referred the case of individuals who are accused of 600 million Afghanis defalcation to Attorney General Office to be investigated. The ministry arrested some officials including a private company chief who had a contract of food and meat for police soldiers in ten provinces. It has also banned a number of officials from traveling to abroad the country. Attorney-General’s Office said it was processing the embezzlement case in the meat contract for the Ministry of Interior. Several people have been arrested in this connection.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
The United Nations General Assembly has designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of Afghanistan says they are working on a plan to give concessions to the elderly people in their homes. In most countries, there are spec agencies and organizations for the care of the elderly, but in Afghanistan, many elderly people are living in a bad situation.