Friday, 02 August

Khalilzad Visited Pakistan

Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad visited Islamabad on August 1 and 2 and held discussions with Pakistani leadership on developments in the Afghan peace process, a US State Department statement wrote. “These are hopeful times and the two countries should be ready to seize emerging opportunities” Khalilzad tweeted. The US State Department statement further added:

In his meetings with Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and Chief of Army Staff General Javed Bajwa, Ambassador Khalilzad outlined the positive momentum in the Afghan peace process and next steps. They also discussed the role Pakistan has played in support of the process and additional positive steps Pakistan can take. As Ambassador Khalilzad discussed in Afghanistan and Pakistan, consolidating peace will require reliable assurances from Afghanistan and Pakistan that neither side’s territory is used to threaten the other’s. Such assurances on top of an intra-Afghan comprehensive peace agreement will allow for increased regional economic integration, connectivity, and development.

“Peace will require reliable assurances from #Afghanistan & #Pakistan that neither side’s territory is used to threaten the other. Such assurances on top of an intra-Afghan comprehensive peace agreement will allow increased regional economic integration, connectivity & development”, another tweet from Khalilzad added.

 

 Thursday, 01 August

Presidential Election Campaign Latest

Afghan Presidential Election candidate Gulbuddin Hikmatyaar says he won’t deal on election issues and international forces withdrawal will be his priority. Speaking among his supporters in his resident in Kabul, he criticized his rival over CEO and third vice president posts. Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani, another candidate for the upcoming election is to address among a number of religious scholars in Kabul.

By and large, the election campaigns slow to start and with less fervor mainly due to the shadow cast by potential delay if the potential peace deal is agreed, rumors of fud among elections tickets and increasing insecurity. The election campaigns have begun with a slow pace with a lot of space for increasing the speed of affairs.

Khalilzad: He Backs Afghan Presidential Election If No Peace Deal

The U.S. peace envoy seeking to negotiate an end to the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan said peace negotiations between Kabul and the Taliban will determine whether the presidential election slated for September 28 is held. In an interview with RFE/RL in the Afghan capital on July 31, Zalmay Khalilzad said the vote “depends on the outcome of the negotiations among the Afghans.” “We support any outcome that is reached,” said Khalilzad, a veteran diplomat and a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. “But until that outcome is reached, we support [holding] the election.”

 

Wednesday, July 31

Dozens killed in blast in the south-western Afghan province

At least 34 people – most of them civilians – were killed when a passenger bus struck a roadside bomb along the Herat-Kandahar highway in the southwestern province of Farah this morning, the independent Tolo News TV reported on 31 July. At least 17 people, including several children, were also wounded in the blast. The rise in civilian casualties continue to remain high and challenge the stability of Afghanistan. As earlier has also been reported in these pages, the causalities are seen as a spoiling effort towards the peace process.

Khalilzad wrapped up his ‘most productive visit to Afghanistan’

The U.S. peace envoy seeking to negotiate a peaceful end to the Afghan war wrapped up his visit to Afghanistan and discussions with the Afghan government officials. “Wrapping up my most productive visit to #Afghanistan since I took this job as Special Rep. The US and Afghanistan have agreed on next steps. And a negotiating team and technical support group are being finalized”, he tweeted. I’m off to Doha, with a stop in Islamabad. In Doha, if the Taliban do their part, we will do ours, and conclude the agreement we have been working on.

 

Tuesday, July 30

The United Nation Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a report that around 4,000 civilians were killed or wounded as a result of war and explosions in the country in the first half of 2019. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Donald Trump wants to reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan before the 2020 US presidential elections. Some pundits question the abrupt withdrawal of US forces from the war-ravaged country, saying the US must provide a report to Afghans that whether it has fulfilled its commitments made to the world regarding Afghanistan in 2001.

 

Monday, July 29

The Council of Afghanistan’s Presidential Candidates has warned that if the government does not guarantee transparency in the next elections, it will boycott the polls. Calls of the boycott has been another reason deterring public confidence in the election process.

 

Sunday, July 28

Attack on Amrullah Saleh Office Killed 20

At least 20 people killed and 50 others wounded in an attack on the office of Amrullah Saleh – the former head of the Afghan spy agency, and Ashraf Ghani’s running mate in the upcoming elections. Some local residents said their houses have been completely destroyed. Saleh, who was present in the office at the time of the attack, was evacuated safely and moved to a secure place, Afghan media reported.

 Presidential Campaign Officially Kicked Off  

September 28th presidential Elections campaign officially started on the eve of this day to continue for 60 days. Some of the 18 Afghan presidential candidates attended rallies in different places in capital Kabul and announced their electoral programs. Incumbent President M Ashraf Ghani started his campaign with a message that the elections will happen ‘willy nilly’ perhaps addressing some of the speculations that a peace deal with the Taliban before polls questions the whole idea of elections in September. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah also launched his campaign.

Tajikistan Extradited 80 Afghan Prisoners to Afghanistan

The Tajik government extradited 80 Afghan prisoners to Afghanistan, the Afghan Foreign Ministry announced. “It is expected that 80 Afghan Nationals, who have been imprisoned in Tajikistan, will be extradited today [Sunday] to the Afghan government to continue their sentence in the country,” Sebghatullah Ahmadi, MoFA spokesman, said in a statement. Afghanistan and Tajikistan share a border that has been considered one of the main routes of traffickers. The ministry officials said that the request was made by the Afghan Foreign Minister in a meeting with Tajikistan’s President Emamali Rahman. It’s not clear how many prisoners are keeping in the two countries.

 

Saturday, July 27

Spending Cap Rises Ahead of Election Campaign

Less than 24 hours ahead of 28th September presidential election campaigns the Independent Election Commission IEC published a new expenditure procedure announcing a 40-time rise in the candidate’s expenses level. According to the procedure, each candidate can spend nearly 500 million AFN equal to over $ 5 million during the campaign. Previously it was 10 Million AFN. The campaign will last for 60 days up until 48 hours before the voting day.

A wave of Violence in Central Afghanistan

At least 14 police were killed and nearly 20 more wounded following the Taliban attacks in Ghazni and Dikundi Provinces in central Afghanistan. Early this morning, the Taliban detonated a car bomb in the gate of the compound of Aab-band District of Ghazni, the attack killed 4 police and wounded 11 others, said Arif Noori the Provincial governor spokesperson. Night of the same day, Taliban attacked Police check posts in Kajran District of Dikundi Province neighboring Ghazni, 10 police have been killed and 5 more wounded in the attack, according to the provincial governor office. Taliban claimed responsibility for both attacks.

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