Prisoner swap deal failed

The Afghan Taliban have officially announced that the swap of its three senior members with two lecturers of the American University of Afghanistan had not been made. The Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the media that the three Taliban prisoners Anas Haqqani, Hafiz Rashid, and Mali Khan were supposed to be transferred by Americans to Qatar and the Taliban were to hand over the two teachers to the US inside Afghanistan, but the swap deal did not happen for unknown reasons. Anas Haqqani and two others, according to the Taliban, are now kept at Bagram Prison. On the other hand, speaking at the US Institute of Peace, Rula Ghani – the first lady of Afghanistan – has meanwhile said the prisoner swap deal did not happen and the two professors may not be freed but pointed out that she did not know the reasons.

Earlier developments

President Ghani’s confirmation of this prisoner swap came as no surprise, as negotiations behind the scenes have been happening for some time. The deal, between The Taliban and the Afghan government, will see the release of two university professors – one Australian and one American, who were kidnapped in Kabul three years ago. Until recently, Ashraf Ghani made it clear the release of Haqqani Network members was a red line for his government, but it now seems the President is willing to make a range of concessions to the Taliban if it paves the way to direct peace talks.

 

Latest Developments in Election

UN says electoral commissions are facing serious challenges in finalizing the electoral process and voices readiness to provide assistance to the commissions. UNAMA says Mohammad Abdullah, a commissioner of the Independent Election Commission, has mistreated an employee, but Abdullah says this is a conspiracy against him. He vows to take legal actions against false allegations. Previously, presidential candidate Gulbuddin Hekmatyar had said that his electoral team does not accept the recount process before separating invalid votes from genuine ones. Presidential candidate Rahmatullah Nabil had also called for standing against those who allegedly committed fraud in the process.

 

Tensions in Kabul and Islamabad ties

Tensions between Kabul and Islamabad have increased following summoning of the Afghanistan ambassador by Pakistan’s spy agency. The Afghan Foreign Ministry has described the move as a violation of diplomatic norms and principles. Meanwhile, the Afghan parliament’s lower house has also urged the Afghan government not to remain silent over the issue.

Gen. Faiz Hamid’s Kabul visit

The National Security Council (NSC) says Afghan national security adviser has met Gen Faiz Hamid, head of Pakistan’s spy agency (ISI) and deputy foreign minister of Pakistan in Kabul and discussed bilateral relations and ways to address problems of Afghan market in Peshawar. Video shows Kabir Haqmal, the spokesman for NSC speaking. Mr. Mahmood and Gen Hameed met Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib in Kabul. A spokesman for the Afghan National Security Council Kabir Haqmal confirmed the meeting to reporters in Kabul and said the two sides discussed ways of normalizing relations. The agenda of talks, according to sources, included the dispute over an Afghan market in Peshawar, border firing incidents and mutual allegations of harassment of diplomats.  The Afghan government had last month protested over a police raid on the market in Peshawar following an ownership dispute over the property. Kabul had then also closed its consulate in Peshawar. The Pakistan government has been contending that the dispute over the market was between a private citizen and an Afghan bank and that a court had decided the litigation in the matter in favor of the private citizen in 1998. The local administration, it was said, undertook the enforcement action after the Afghan bank had exhausted all legal remedies.

 

Other news

A blast in the Afghan capital Kabul has killed at least seven people and wounded a number of others. A car bomb exploded on a street near the interior ministry. A government spokesman said the victims were all civilians. No group has admitted carrying out the attack. It comes a day after the Afghan government announced it would free three Taliban prisoners to secure the release of two foreign nationals held hostage by the militant group.

The US army chief of staff says he has to keep troops in Afghanistan for years to deter the terrorist groups. He says the US mission has not yet ended in Afghanistan. The Taliban in a statement has condemned his remarks. EU foreign ministers will discuss the situation in Afghanistan in a session this evening. National Security Adviser has met a UN delegation. Video shows the spokesman for the National Security Council (NSC) speaking.

Second Vice-President Sarwar Danesh says factional and ethnic approaches in Education ministry have created challenges for the education sector in Afghanistan. Education minister says they face some problem due to lack of proper curriculum.

Ministry of Housing and Urban Development says they have taken preparation for the implementation of the TAPI pipeline project inside Afghan soil.

The US army chief says US forces will not leave Afghanistan anytime soon. Afghan MPs say the USA needs to stay in Afghanistan to ensure global security. The Afghan National Security Council (NSC) says the Afghan forces are making sacrifices in the fight against terrorism.

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