09 April 2020

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Sunday March 22, 2020
Kabul (BNA) 1398 Afghan solar calendar year passed with all its ups and downs, the people of Afghanistan welcoming the New Year (Afghan Calendar) looking forward with great hopes.
BNA analyst commenting on the issue writes, Afghan people have passed 1398 with its all challenges and start New Year with full of hopes and wishes.
Explosions, suicide attacks, killing innocent civilians, as before intervention of external factors in Afghanistan’s war and double policies of foreigners have caused that thousands people lost their lives and wounded in last year in Afghanistan.
The policy and the viewpoints of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on forming a regional and beyond regional gathering on Afghan issue realized and the voice for ensuring security, political sessions in presence and non–presence of state representatives inside or outside of the country held and there is commitment for continuing the process. Without doubt the current opportunities are a part of state’s programs and comments for forming an opportunity for conducting a national and international gathering on Afghan issue.
Despite of holding presidential election during 1398 in Afghanistan, but the result of the election announced after five months.
Peace negotiation between US and Taliban have signed in Doha in 1398 as well.
Afghanistan during the last year succeeded to save itself from commercial monopolies and transit through only the soil of one country, air corridors increased and for assessing alternative transit roads fundamental works performed. There are also great achievements in education, higher education, economic and cultural areas. In spite of those achievements, 1297 was a challenging year from security point of view. During the year the conflicts became more serious, because armed groups tried hard via conducting military provocations find a proper place on political ground.
But this conception and poor view point took the lives of a great number of Afghan youths from the both sides of the conflict and achieving peace and security remained as a hope for the New Year.
The people hope the armed oppositions to start the New Year as the people expect and spare no any effort for settling via conducting political peace talks.
Also the people expect the authorities of government besides focusing their attention for ensuring security situation, should try to fulfill commitments for improving the people’s lives.
1397 in addition of having serious security problems, poverty and other social violence seriously suffered our people. 
The people hope the New Year be the end of all problem and violence that our people have experienced last year.
M.A.Ansari

Sunday, March 22, 2020
Kabul (BNA) Chaired by acting minister of information and culture Hasina Safi, a meeting was held to discuss the design and sketch of the information and culture ministry’s new building and national museum. In the meeting held the other day with participation of deputy minister of urban development and land, deputy minister of art and culture for information and culture Prof. Mohammad Rasoul Bawary, head of national museum Mohammad Fahim Rahimi and officials of the construction company, the design and sketch of the ministry and national museum’s building was discussed.
Acting minister of information and culture stressed that the new building of national museum should be built in an open and big area in accordance to international standard so that all historic artefacts showing the country’s identity are put in. Safi also said that a proper land should be considered for the new building of the MoIC and its sketch should show the real culture of the country as development of the country’s national culture was in top priority.
In the meeting, deputy minister of urban development and land asked the ministry of information and culture to provide list of the country’s all historic artefacts for construction of standard national museum, assuring that a proper land would be considered for the new building of the MoIC.
In the meeting, it was decided that all list of the country’s historic artefacts would be provided to the ministry of urban development and land within the two coming weeks.

Sunday, March 22, 2020
Pul-e-Khomri (BNA) Eight Taliban insurgents were killed in Baghlan last night.
Mohammad Nabi Nabizada Shaheryar public order commander stationed in Kelagai told BNA correspondent, the insurgents were killed while attacked on security bases in Baghlan Markazi district.
Three Taliban insurgents were also injured and other armed Taliban fled the area.
T. Yarzada

Sunday, March 22, 2020
Kabul (BNA) The foreign diplomats based in Kabul in their congratulatory messages on the occasion of Afghanistan’s New Year 1399 (Nowruz), called for greater efforts for peace by ending political discord, and urged more attention to fighting the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
The British Ambassador to Kabul Alison Blake said the world is facing an unprecedented challenge and “we need to come together and put aside political and all differences to tackle it.” She reiterated that the UK stands with Afghanistan and its people.
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, in his message on Nawroz called on Afghan politicians to reach an agreement on an inclusive government.
Khalilzad said the best gift Afghan leaders can give the country in the solar new year is to reach an agreement on an "inclusive government" to end the political crisis, take the "needed steps" to take advantage of a "historic opportunity for peace," and to work together--including the Taliban--to contain and take care of the people from the scourge of the coronavirus.
EU ambassador in Kabul, Pierre Mayaudon, wished a prosperous year for Afghans and said unity is crucial at this moment.
“We know that peace has never been so close but for this peace to correspond to your aspirations, to be a peace of freedom and dignity for all Afghans, it is absolutely crucial that you are united, you put national interests first and you stay firm in defending and promoting the gains of the last 19 years. In this endeavor, you have all the support of the European Union,” the EU envoy said.
“Nevertheless, in the interest of health, your health and the health of your families, I encourage you to follow the instructions provided by the official authorities,” he said, regarding the coronavirus.
NATO Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan, Nicholas Kay, also called for efforts to end the political crisis in the country.
“My hope this Nawroz is that Afghan people will have their wishes come true. They wish to see their political leaders unite themselves and unite the country in the interests of peace and fighting the coronavirus,” Kay said.
He called on the Taliban “to respect the wishes of the Afghan people to have a humanitarian pause in the combat so the country can unite and fight the coronavirus together.”
The Canadian ambassador to Kabul, Dave Metcalfe, said “this Nawroz brings special meaning to all of us with the prospects for peace within reach.”
“Canada proudly supports the efforts of Afghans for bringing positive change in the country and who fight tirelessly to build prosperity and advance the equal rights of every member of the society,” he said.
He said there could be nothing greater than the achievement of inclusive peace this year.
India’s embassy in Afghanistan, in a message on Twitter, wished Afghans a happy and prosperous Nawroz and recommended to Afghans to stay safe and take all precautions to avoid COVID-19.

Sunday, March 22, 2020
Kabul (BNA) In clear contrast to the usual hustle and bustle of spring festivals, Afghanistan on Friday marked Nevruz in calm amid fears of new coronavirus spreading globally.
The usual picnic resorts for families in the capital Kabul were clearly empty while the main attraction in north of the country, Mazar-e-Sharif, also presented deserted images with people adopting social distancing on government directives.
Nowruz marks New Year's Day in Afghanistan with the Solar Hijri calendar as their official calendar. In his Nevruz message, President Ashraf Ghani stressed unity among Afghans and drastic reforms in the system of governance were pivotal for peace.
This came as Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, strives to resolve the lingering electoral rift between President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and his former power-sharing Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, which lead to parallel oath taking ceremonies for the top position earlier this month.
In his Nevruz message, Khalilzad said: "The best gift Afghan leaders can give the country on this occasion is: 1. They reach an agreement on an inclusive government and end the political crisis; 2. They take the needed steps to take advantage of historic opportunity for peace; 3. They work together including the Taliban to contain and take care of the people from the scourge of the coronavirus."
As a war-ravaged country with a fragile health system, Afghanistan has so far confirmed 24 positive cases of coronavirus.
All confirmed cases have been linked to Iran, Dr. Abdul Hakeem head of public health department in the western border province of Herat.
Afghanistan shares a 920-kilometer (572-mile) porous border with Iran which reported over 18,000 coronavirus cases so far, making it the fourth-most-affected country after China, South Korea and Italy.

Sunday, March 22, 2020
Kabul (BNA) NATO is scaling down military exercises in Europe to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but alliance missions are continuing, including the drawdown of the U.S.-led force in Afghanistan following a peace agreement last month.
“Some of our exercises have been modified or canceled ... but our forces remain ready,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a video news conference the other day.
The U.S. Army has already announced a halt to movement of military personnel from the United States to Europe and said it plans to scale down its Defender Europe 20 exercises, billed as NATO’s biggest war games in Europe since the Cold War.
Stoltenberg encouraged NATO countries to maintain their military spending despite the economic shock of the virus outbreak, because of the role the military can play in helping to fight it.
“We see that in many allied countries, the armed forces are providing support,” Stoltenberg said, citing logistics, border security, military hospitals and other medical support.
Stoltenberg said there had been no reports of infections of the disease among members of NATO’s military mission in Afghanistan and that troops would continue to come home as agreed under a U.S. peace deal with the Taliban last month.
The head of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan said on Thursday that there was a temporary pause in new troops moving into the country, however.
U.S. General Scott Miller said that additionally, 1,500 service members, civilians and contractors who arrived within the past week would be staying in screening facilities as a precaution.
Germany said on Tuesday its troops going in and out of Afghanistan from Germany would be quarantined for 14 days to avoid the virus spreading into military operations.
NATO’s train-and-advise mission in Afghanistan will draw down to around 12,000 personnel from 16,000 over the next 135 days, Stoltenberg said, although he said this would depend on the Taliban continuing to reduce violence.
NATO is taking preventative measures across all its operations, including regularly taking the temperatures of its personnel, officials have said.

Sunday, March 22, 2020
Kabul (BNA) Kristalina Georgieva, Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund extended his congratulation to President Ashraf Ghani on securing the second term in office, a statement from the presidential press office said on Friday.
Having sent a letter to President Ghani, the IMF Executive Director has wished him and the government of Afghanistan success in efforts to address the challenges that Afghanistan faces, most crucially achieving long-lasting peace and prosperity for the Afghan people, according to the statement.
The letter reads, “Afghanistan and the IMF have a long history of close cooperation, including most recently in the context of the IMF’s Extended Credit Facility arrangement which was successfully completed last December.”
Kristalina Georgieva has reaffirmed the IMF’s commitment to build on the excellent relationship between Afghanistan and IMF and expressed support for the president’s reform efforts to achieve inclusive growth, strengthen macroeconomic stability and improve governance, the statement added.
According to the letter as quoted by the statement, the IMF said was keen to continue engagement with Afghan authorities including on the new arrangements in which the Afghan government has expressed interest.

Sunday, March 22, 2020
Kabul (BNA) President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani chaired a videoconference on Thursday to assess the COVID-19 outbreak in western Herat province, a statement from the presidential palace said.
Both vice-presidents, the president’s special advisor on trade affairs, the national security adviser, Herat officials, civil society activists and media representatives attended Thursday’s conference.
President Ghani has ordered preparations for dealing with any emergency situation, hinting at changes in the budget in case of need. All available resources would be used to battle the coronavirus, he said at the video conference on the government’s response to the virus spread in Herat province.
Herat Governor Abdul Qayyum Rahimi and provincial council members shared with the president their strategies for containing the COVID-19.
The officials said a team of experts from Kabul had arrived in Herat, where work is ongoing on a 100-bed hospital, according to the statement.
President Ghani said he would take stock of the coronavirus situation in every two days through video conferences with provincial officials. With regard to a proposal from Chinese advisors to quarantine Herat, the president suggested a comprehensive national debate on the topic.
"If Coronavirus gets stronger, we will change the entire national budget and go back to parliament. You have to pay attention to the private sector to be able to manage the situation,” the president told the meeting.
President Ghani directed the relevant organs to get prepared for a possible emergency situation. He assured the authorities concerned of full support from the government.

Sunday, March 22, 2020
Kabul (BNA) President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on Thursday evening, in a recorded video, wished the country a happy solar new year and called for unity among the people to achieve peace. President Ghani said the government dubs 1399 the "year of unity and reform."
“Now that we are hopeful for peace more than ever, there is a need for unity more than ever,” the president said, adding peace required unity and cooperation from all Afghans. “Therefore, a real peace and stability require us to be more serious in reforms.”
President Ghani said corruption is an enemy to the country, same as the war. “Bringing reform and making it succeed requires joining hands together and not staying stuck in the past, but moving forward together towards a brighter future,” he said. The president called on Afghan politicians to come together to overcome the political crisis in the country.
“The country’s political elites should join hands together and move forward towards implementing the wishes and demands of the people of Afghanistan, who are the real owners of this land,” he said.
The president said that this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, public gatherings on the New Year should be conducted in a way that does not attract crowds. “We can celebrate the new year by planting a sapling, cleaning a road, saving a tree, watering agricultural land, and in many other ways,” he said.
The president called on parents to pay attention to their children’s education at home, as schools are closed countrywide for a month over the coronavirus. 
“As you are aware, schools will be closed until the end of Hamal (April 18) over the coronavirus. We call on families to encourage their children in these days to not waste their time and continue their studies at home,” he said.
The First Lady Rula Ghani also sent a message to the people on the solar New Year and said she wishes that the country will overcome the health crisis of coronavirus in the near future.

Sunday, March 22, 2020
Jalalabad (BNA) Taliban senior commander was killed in clearing operation in Nangarhar last night.
Mullah Tahwel known Mansor was targeted by security forces raid in Shirzad district.
Selab army corps in east of country with releasing a statement said, the Taliban key commander was killed and three of his colleagues have been injured in Afghan security forces raid on a hideout of them in Shirzad district.
According to another report, police of Nangarhar discovered and defused ten mines from busy roads of the province and prevented from a series of explosions.
T. Yarzada

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