18 June 2019

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Wednesday, 05 June 2019 10:19

Afghan Activist: We Want a Country of Peace

Wednesday June 5, 2019 Kabul (BNA) "I'm fine, but I have no more news of 25 comrades who were marching in the territories controlled by the Taliban,” Bacha Khan Muladad, head of public relations for the "People's Peace Movement" (PPM), a group of Afghan peace activists tells AsiaNews. Courageously, along with a dog and a child, about thirty of them set off towards the Taliban stronghold in Musa Qala last week to bring a message of peace, challenging the heat and physical exhaustion exacerbated by fasting Ramadan. Yesterday, however, Mr. Muladad, "25 of my friends were taken by the Taliban and we don't know where they were taken". Muladad is tired, after a day spent searching for news from his companions and answering the phone calls of so many people worried about their fate. He also apologizes for his "poor English", but is keen to talk about the group's initiative. Because the hope of a better life, "like the one you have in your country", he says, is great. He is in Lashkar Gah, the capital of the southern province of Helmand, far from the comrades who were in the area of Nawzadrod at the time of the kidnapping, a few kilometers from the destination. The group had stopped because the previous day the Taliban had taken four more people. Yesterday the people held and taken to an unknown location, rose to 25. The news of the disappearance of the comrades does worry him, however it could be a good sign of the Taliban's desire to establish a dialogue of peace. The initiative of the group was launched precisely with this objective: to try to reconstruct a way for negotiations after the numerous failures of international diplomats, especially from the US. Their march is not a sporadic event. For over a year, activists have been carrying their message of peace and reconciliation throughout Afghanistan. In total, Muladad reports, "we walked about 1,700 kilometers". The reason is only one: "We want to shout "peace" out loud. The world must know that the people of Afghanistan want peace, not war. We want to live in a good country, like many others where people live happily. We want our children to receive a good education. We hope that peace returns and we are working towards this ". For all this, they are willing to meet the Taliban, even at the expense of their own lives. "The Taliban - he concludes - as well as the soldiers of the national army, are our brothers. We want peace between the Taliban and the government ". Asianews Ansari
Wednesday June 5, 2019 Kabul (BNA) At the plenary meeting of the Afghan National Army Trust Fund Board - held today (04 June 2019) at NATO Headquarters - NATO Allies and partners confirmed their steadfast support to the financial sustainment of the Afghan security forces. Together with representatives of the donors’ community, they reviewed the Trust Fund management, implementation and performance; and they outlined future requirements. Participants included the Canadian Ambassador in Kabul, Dave J. Metcalfe (donor nation co-chair of the Trust Fund), Mr. Colin F. Jackson, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia (representing the Trust Fund manager), Lieutenant General Jim Rainey, Commander Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan, Mr. Mohammad Humayoun Qayoumi, Acting Afghan Minister of Finance, Mr. Abdul Hai Rauf, the Afghan Deputy Defense Minister; and Ms. Pesce-Monteiro, Director of the United Nations Development Program Representation Office in Brussels. “In the framework of the Chicago Summit in 2012, the international community committed to supporting the Afghan security forces beyond the end of the 2014 transition period and pledged funding for 2015 to 2017. At the Warsaw Summit in 2016, nations agreed to continue the financial support for the sustainment of the Afghan security forces until 2020. Last year, at the Brussels summit, donors agreed to extend their funding support through 2024,” Mr. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General said. “It is difficult to overstate the political significance of the demonstration of long-term commitment by the international community to Afghanistan’s security and how much this commitment is influencing the Taliban’s considerations to enter into a discussion on a negotiated solution to the conflict in Afghanistan; and the Afghan National Army Trust Fund plays an important part in linking this international commitment with worthwhile projects that improve the capabilities of the Afghan forces and help keeping them in the fight,” Mr. Stoltenberg added. Today’s meeting “is evidence of strong and continued commitment to the financial support of the Afghan security forces, improving chances for a negotiated solution to the conflict and for peace that all Afghans demand,” the NATO Secretary General highlighted. As of 15 May 2019, total contributions made to the Trust Fund amount to 2.8 billion U.S. dollars. The ANA Trust Fund is open for contributions by the broader International Community. The NATO-run Afghan National Army (ANA) Trust Fund is one of three funding streams used by the International Community to channel its financial support to Afghanistan’s security forces and institutions. The other two are the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA), administered by the United Nations Development Program, and the United States Afghanistan Security Forces Fund (ASFF). LOTFA is used to pay the salaries of police and corrections personnel and to build the capacity of the Afghan Ministry of the Interior and the police. The ASFF pays for equipping and running Afghanistan’s security forces, as well as facility and infrastructure repair, renovation and construction. Nato Ansari
Wednesday June 5, 2019 Kabul (BNA) Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will be visiting Islamabad on June 27 for a daylong trip. He has spoken of mending ties with Pakistan and given an undertaking to open a new chapter in Pak-Afghan relations. Ashraf Ghani who has made the announcement in his Eid-ul-Fitr message is coming to Pakistan when it has been complaining of presence of elements in the Afghan tribal areas who are bent on creating disturbance inside Pakistan. Such elements are working at the behest of Indian terror sponsoring intelligence agency RAW. Ashraf Ghani said he would visit Pakistan on June 27 to open a new chapter in his country's relationship with its neighbor and mend ties that are often characterized by mistrust and tit-for-tat accusations. According to wire reports, President Ashraf Ghani in his Eid message said he had agreed to the visit after his meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan last week on the fringes of OIC summit in Makkah. "I hope the visit will be positive," Ghani said. During their meeting on the sidelines of the OIC summit, Prime Minister Imran and President Ghani exchanged views on bilateral relations and the Afghan peace process. Prime Minister Imran had reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, according to a PM Office statement. The prime minister also underlined Pakistan’s firm support to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process for political settlement. It is expected that the Afghan president will have an important meeting with Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and will be guest at the banquet to be hosted by President Arif Alvi. The visiting president will also meet President Alvi. President Ashraf Ghani will be heading a delegation consisting of stalwarts belonging to various Afghan outfits and organizations. The sources said US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad’s shuttle diplomacy had also played an important role in paving way for the visit. President Ashraf Ghani will also visit India next month, the sources added. Thenews Ansari
Wednesday June 5, 2019 Kabul (BNA) Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday expressed his government’s readiness to observe ceasefire if the Taliban outfit does. "The government of Afghanistan is always ready to observe ceasefire but the Taliban group isn't," President Ghani said in his message on Eid-ul-Fitr. Afghan president also said that the people of Afghanistan were hopeful that the Taliban group may observe ceasefire at least on the three-day Eid-ul-Fitr festival, but the militant group has rejected. President Ghani in his message also praised his security forces bravery in the fight on militants, saying the security forces were able to foil the anti-government insurgents' vicious plans to destabilize the security and peace process. The Taliban outfit leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada who has repeatedly rejected the government offers for talks, in his message on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr, once again rejected the offer for talks with Afghan government and vowed to continue the war till the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan. President Ghani in his message also wished happy Eid-ul-Fitr festival for every compatriot across the militancy- plagued Afghanistan. Thenews Ansari

Friday May 31, 2019
Kabul (BNA) A new polio case has been reported from Watapur District of Kunar Province which permanently paralyzed a 3 months old male child. This new case brings the total number of polio cases for Afghanistan to 8 in 2019. This is the first case from the Eastern Region this year, the rest 7 cases have been reported from Southern region.
There are relatively large areas in Watarpur that have been inaccessible for most of the polio vaccination campaigns and routine immunization. Around 85% of target children (8,500 out of 9,821) were inaccessible in last Subnational Immunization Activity conducted in April. Inaccessibility in Watapur district has been dynamic since many years now. This area has been under Daesh control since August 2018 and before that, it was under the control of Taliban.
The Afghan Minister of Public Health, Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz expressed his deepest concern saying that the inaccessibility was a big challenge in reaching every child with two drops of polio vaccination as the children’s right to a healthy life.
There are two major challenges ahead of polio eradication efforts in Afghanistan: first, the inaccessibility that means many children are unable to be vaccinated in every round of polio vaccination campaign due to security problems and second, the low awareness of community about importance of polio vaccine and risk of polio virus to their children.  Combined, these two issues mean that many children are needlessly at risk of permanent paralysis due to polio.
Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease. There is no cure and the polio vaccine is the only safe and effective way to protect children. All children should be vaccinated against polio during each campaign, until they reach the age of five. House-to-house vaccination is the only effective way to achieve polio eradication because it means every child has access to vaccination. This strategy has been implemented in all countries, and has proven to be most effective. However, if parents live in areas where there is no house-to-house campaign available, they should take their children to the local health facility for free polio vaccine.
The polio vaccine is safe, even for sick and newborn children. It is very important that newborns and sick children get the vaccine, because they may have lower immunity which makes them more susceptible to the virus.
Polio vaccination has also been strongly endorsed by national and global Islamic scholars.
Currently, only Afghanistan and Pakistan are reporting endemic polio cases. So far, in 2019, Afghanistan has reported 8, and Pakistan has reported 19 positive polio cases.
M.A.Ansari


 

Friday May 31, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Afghanistan is "closer to peace", a deputy of the country's High Peace Council said on Wednesday.
Haji Deen Mohammad, who is also an aide for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, voiced cautious optimism as the second day of the intra-Afghan talks start in Moscow via the body tasked with striking a peace deal between the government and Taliban.
The talks were not the first to be held between representatives of the different Afghan sides, Mohammad told Anadolu Agency, saying that the regular meetings showed progress achieved in the peace process.
"I am the person who tries to bring all the sides to the talks and to solve the problems of Afghanistan, especially the bloodshed," he said, adding that the Taliban had sent a large delegation, indicating the importance it placed in dialogue and negotiations.
He expressed hope that the talks would result in a coalition government that included representatives from all sides.
"This is the time for all to sit together and solve our problems through face-to-face discussions," he said.
Afghan Ambassador to Russia Latif Bahand thanked Moscow for its contributions to the Afghan peace process.
"This is not the first time we have been at the same table with the Taliban, I feel normal sitting at the same table with them, we are fellow citizens, there are similar contradictions that now exist between the Afghans in all countries of the world," he said, underlining that Russia went through such a period in its own history.
On a possible visit of the Afghan president or foreign minister to Russia, Bahand said there was "no case when an invitation to visit Russia remained unanswered", though a visit was unlikely this year due to an upcoming presidential election in the country next September.
On May 28-29 Russia and Afghanistan celebrate the centenary of relations between the two countries. This year, Moscow organized an informal meeting between different Afghan parties aiming at to push the peace process forward.
Yenisafak
Ansari

Friday May 31, 2019
Kabul (BNA) The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) expressed “grave concern” over “credible accounts” it has been given that Taliban militants have been mistreating prisoners, which in some cases “may amount to torture”. Based on UNAMA findings, a number of prisoners who were freed from the Taliban-run detention facilities reported about torturing and even killing of civilians and security forces. “I am gravely concerned about these serious allegations of ill-treatment, torture and unlawful killing of civilians and security personnel, as well as the deplorable conditions of detainees,” UN Special Representative for Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto said. UNAMA received the information while it interviewed with 13 captives rescued as a result of an operation conducted by Special Forces in Uruzgan province.
This comes as Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) says that any group and individual who commits such a treatment with detainees should be legally pursued. AIHRC executive head Mousa Mahmoudi said that captives should be treated in accordance with international laws and humanitarian dignity. Terrorist groups such as Taliban have never observed conventions and agreements, they have never considered values and regulations and this is not something new, a legal expert Hashimi said. The Presidential Palace said that any group including the Taliban that committed such an improper behavior with captives are not bound with any law.
Ill-treatment of the Taliban with prisoners won’t be far from the truth and the government of Afghanistan is also concerned in this regard, the presidential spokesperson Haroun Chakhansouri told media.
To annihilate terrorist groups, the Afghan National Army Special Forces have conducted operations in a number of provinces which resulted in killing 39 Taliban and destruction of their ammunition depots
Local officials in Helmand said that our operations have been successful in the province and a number of security forces and civilians who were captivated by the Taliban have been rescued. UN officials have earlier reported on horrible condition of prisoners in the government and Taliban detention facilities, but the government of Afghanistan calls itself committed to observing humanitarian laws and principles and called any misbehavior with prisoners in contrary with international norms. This comes as the Taliban had also been accused of torturing held civilians and security forces in the past which raised concern in national and international levels.
Suraya Raiszada
Ansari

Friday May 31, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Afghanistan Independent Election Commission (IEC) has informed of appointment and introducing two international members for the commission. The new appointment is in accordance with the electoral law that recommends the appointment of two international election specialists as non-voting members of the IEC for the purpose of further transparency in the election process. The two international members have been officially introduced by the United Nations office in Afghanistan through a presidential decree.
Ahmad Ishaq Ahsan, a citizen of Kenya, who has worked as the head of Electoral Commission of Kenya for eight years and Alveena, a citizen of Bulgaria who has worked as an electoral official for four years in his country, are the new IEC members of Afghanistan. Soon after the country’s parliamentary elections was held in October last year, the electoral law was amended and modified. Based on the new electoral law, for further transparency in elections process, the government with agreement of the United Nations can appoint two international election specialists as non-voting members of the election commission.
According to Afghan political experts, transparency is a key principle in elections and maintaining a fair and transparent election is part of the rights of the people. It means besides that the people have the right to take part in the election and use their vote for their favorite candidate, they have the right to be aware of transparency in the process and results of their votes. This can be possible when their votes are dealt honestly and all election-related processes are transparently reviewed. All talk and stress on holding a fair and transparent elections in the country. In the meantime, efforts in national and international level to monitor the elections can result in somehow cutting down fraud and shortcomings in election process as cutting down the impetus of fraud can help increase transparency in elections. Fraud can be one of imaginable challenges in holding the elections. Nevertheless, if the election process is dealt with serious determination and full monitored, pavements for possible frauds get limited.
Holding timely presidential elections is something must as President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has instructed all relevant government organs to provide necessary resources for holding timely presidential and provincial councils’ elections set to be held on September 28. According to officials for Independent Election Commission (IEC), new online biometric system will be used during the upcoming presidential elections and the results will be announced within two days. Holding timely, fair and transparent presidential elections will play key and positive role in maintaining and institutionalizing of democracy, security and economic development in the country.
Lailuma Noori
Ansari

Friday May 31, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Attacks on schools in Afghanistan increased almost three fold last year, making it increasingly difficult to ensure an education for children in many parts of the country, the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said in a new report released recently. The agency, which promotes education and children’s rights, said the number of attacks against schools in Afghanistan jumped from 68 in 2017 to over 190 last year. It was the first time since 2015 that a rise in attacks had been recorded.
“Education is under fire in Afghanistan,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “The senseless attacks on schools; the killing, injury and abduction of teachers; and the threats against education are destroying the hopes and dreams of an entire generation of children.” More than 1,000 schools across the country are closed because of security threats from groups such as the Taliban and Islamic State, which have sought soft targets for attacks aimed at extending and consolidating their influence through intimidation.
UNICEF said the use of school buildings as voter centers during last year’s parliamentary election may have been a factor behind the rise in attacks. Afghanistan has a young and fast-growing population but about 3.7 million children, or nearly half of all school-age children, are not in formal education, UNICEF said. Expressing concern over increasing attacks on schools, the ministry of education stressed that education sector should not be used for holding upcoming presidential elections. The ministry’s spokesperson Nooria Nehzat says that the ministry of education is talking with the presidential office so the country’s schools not to be used for upcoming elections. She added usage of schools for elections had cost a lot for the country’s education sector last year. A number of experts and political elites say that schools are public places and should not be used for political issues.
This is a clear fact that everyone has the right to educate, therefore, children should not be deprived from this wealth, a university lecturer Aminzoy said. Another political expert Jawid Kohistani believes that using public places doesn’t have room in any law, but unfortunately, schools are used as headquarter in Afghanistan. He stressed that government’s armed insurgents should know that schools are the places where the children get educated, thus, they should stop attacking on them.
Afghans ask security entities to make effort and ensure security of schools across the country so their children can get educated in a calm atmosphere. The UNICEF report regarding increasing of attacks on schools comes at a time when a large number of schools are still remained closed in southern and western parts of the country. For example, dozens of schools remained closed in Ghazni, Zabul, Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgan and Farah provinces due to increasing of insecurities.
Suraya Raiszada
Ansari

Thursday, May 30, 2019
Kabul (BNA) The national defense ministry reported from killing of 22 armed oppositions across the country.
National Defense ministry spokesman office with releasing a statement told BNA, the security and defense forces in the last 24 hours conducting joint clearing operations to annihilate strongholds of insurgents in different parts of the country, killed 22 armed oppositions and wounded another.
The operations with support of afghan air forces conducted in Ghazni, Paktia, Helmand, Kandahar, Herat, Kunduz, Kapisa, Balkh and Samangan provinces.
T. Yarzada

 

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