International Bakhtar News Agency is the official state news agency of the Afghan government, based in Kabul. The agency is a major source of news for all media in Afghanistan, gathering domestic and international news and providing information to outlets. http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af Tue, 19 Nov 2019 05:27:38 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Pakistan Has Played Active and Negative Role in Afghan Affairs for Many Years: US Congressional Report http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/40877-pakistan-has-played-active-and-negative-role-in-afghan-affairs-for-many-years-us-congressional-report.html http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/40877-pakistan-has-played-active-and-negative-role-in-afghan-affairs-for-many-years-us-congressional-report.html

Friday November 8, 2019
Kabul (BNA) For decades, Pakistan has played an active however negative role in Afghanistan, a Congressional report has mentioned, asserting that Islamabad desires a weak authorities in Kabul.
In its newest report on Afghanistan, the impartial and bipartisan Congressional Analysis Service (CRS) recognized Pakistan as crucial neighbor of Afghanistan.
Pakistan, it mentioned, has played an active, and by many accounts, a negative role in Afghan affairs for many years.
“Pakistan’s security services maintain ties to Afghan insurgent groups, most notably the Haqqani Network, a US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) that has become an official, semi-autonomous component of the Taliban,” CRS, which periodically prepares reviews on points of significance for Congressmen for them to make knowledgeable choices, mentioned.
Afghan leaders, together with US army commanders, attribute a lot of the insurgency’s energy and longevity both immediately or not directly to Pakistani help, the report mentioned, including that President Donald Trump has accused Pakistan of “housing the very terrorists that we are fighting”.
US officers have lengthy recognized militant secure havens in Pakistan as a risk to Afghanistan’s safety, although some Pakistani officers dispute the cost, it mentioned
“Pakistan may view a weak and destabilized Afghanistan as preferable to a strong, unified Afghan state (particularly one led by an ethnic Pashtun-dominated government in Kabul; Pakistan has a large and restive Pashtun minority),” the CRS mentioned.
Nevertheless, instability in Afghanistan might rebound to Pakistan’s detriment; Pakistan has struggled with indigenous Islamist militants of its personal, the report added.
Afghanistan-Pakistan relations are additional sophisticated by the presence of over 1,000,000 Afghan refugees in Pakistan, as properly an extended-operating and ethnically tinged dispute over their shared 1,600-mile border.
“Pakistan’s security establishment, fearful of a strategic encirclement by India, apparently continues to view the Afghan Taliban as a relatively friendly and reliable anti-India element in Afghanistan,” the CRS mentioned.
“India’s diplomatic and commercial presence in Afghanistan and US rhetorical support for it exacerbates Pakistani fears of encirclement. Indian interest in Afghanistan stems largely from India’s broader regional rivalry with Pakistan, which impedes Indian efforts to establish stronger and more direct commercial and political relations with central Asia,” the CRS mentioned in its newest report on Afghanistan.
The CRS mentioned rebel and terrorist teams have demonstrated appreciable capabilities in 2019, throwing into sharp aid the daunting safety challenges that the Afghan authorities and its US and worldwide companions face. On the similar time, prospects for a negotiated settlement, pushed by direct US-Taliban talks, are unsure in gentle of the September 2019 cancelation of these negotiations and the Taliban’s continued refusal to speak to the Afghan authorities, it mentioned.
The CRS warned {that a} potential collapse of the Afghan army and/or the federal government that instructions it might have vital implications for the US, significantly given the character of negotiated safety preparations.
Regardless of how doubtless the Taliban can be to realize full management overall and even most of the nation, the breakdown of social order and the fracturing of the nation into fiefdoms managed by paramilitary commanders and their respective militias could also be believable, even possible, the report added.
Timesofindia
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International Fri, 08 Nov 2019 16:55:12 +0000
Afghan Pols’ Secret Dubai Mansions http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/40876-afghan-pols’-secret-dubai-mansions.html http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/40876-afghan-pols’-secret-dubai-mansions.html

Friday November 8, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Leaked documents have unmasked senior Afghan officials and their families as recent owners of luxury offshore property in Dubai, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal.
Included in the documents seen by the Bureau are relatives of two former presidents, a presidential candidate whose brother was reported to have flown into the UAE with more than $50 million in cash, and a senior intelligence official whose father was implicated in involvement with the transfer of large sums of money from Afghanistan.
Holding property overseas is not illegal and does not in itself imply any wrongdoing. But concerns have been mounting generally about alleged corruption among some senior Afghan officials. Few, if any, of the properties appear to have been declared on official registers, as is required by Afghanistan’s often ignored and broadly ineffective anti-corruption rules.
The evidence of luxury property ownership in Dubai raises concerns that merit further investigation, according to a leading anti-corruption charity.
“It’s too easy for officials to buy property in Dubai with anonymity,” said Maira Matini, from Transparency International. “There's no information available that would help detect wrongdoing. There needs to be more transparency.
“This doesn’t mean that those officials are corrupt,” she added. “However, it does raise red flags and needs to be investigated by the authorities.”
Over the past twenty years, Afghanistan has been rocked by numerous corruption scandals, some of which have gone to the very top. From wartime contracts to unchecked foreign aid and CIA suitcases full of cash funneled to favored politicians and warlords, corruption has proved a stubborn problem to solve. The U.S. special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction has said: “While Afghanistan undoubtedly had a corruption problem prior to 2001, U.S. and coalition spending acted as gasoline thrown on an already burning fire.”
Despite numerous initiatives, critics have lambasted government programs to tackle corruption, with one calling them “cosmetic.”
The reputation of the Afghan government has ramifications for the country as a whole. Last month the U.S. announced it would cut $160 million in aid, accusing Afghanistan of failing to fight corruption—only a week before the country’s presidential elections began. It is rare for Washington to withhold direct funding from Kabul, which relies heavily on its support.
The Bureau’s findings are based on a leak of property data in Dubai, first obtained by the U.S. non-profit C4ADS and shared with the Bureau by Finance Uncovered and OCCRP. The Bureau then cross-referenced this data against official and public records to corroborate the findings.
The results shed light on assets held in the usually secretive emirate. The Bureau found numerous Afghan officials and relatives have recently owned property in Dubai, including members of prominent political families that have been linked to some of Afghanistan’s biggest corruption scandals.
One leading Afghan found to have owned property in Dubai is Ahmad Wali Massoud, who is currently running for president. A leaked diplomatic cable alleged that in October 2009, his brother Ahmad Zia Massoud, then the vice-president of Afghanistan, flew into the UAE with $52 million in cash.
Also in the records was Adib Ahmad Fahim, a senior intelligence official. His late father, General Mohammed Qasim Fahim, another former vice-president, was identified as the part owner of Pamir Airways in a U.S. diplomatic cable. The airline was believed to have ferried money to Dubai hidden in airplane food trays. Fahim’s uncle Haseen was also a major shareholder in Kabul bank, which was at the centre of a massive scandal over millions of dollars allegedly given out in suspect insider loans before it collapsed in 2010.
Ghulam Farooq Wardak, the state minister for parliamentary affairs, appears in the records with his wife. They recently owned two properties in exclusive areas of Dubai, including one on Jumeirah beach.
Wardak was previously Afghanistan’s education minister, and his successor in the post raised concerns over possible corruption at the ministry. An investigation ordered by President Ashraf Ghani is said to have found evidence of embezzlement within the ministry and inaccurate data records on the number of schools that diverted money from donors.
Two members of Afghanistan’s parliament appear in the list. Saleh Mohammad Lala Gul and Feda Mohammad Ulfat, who are father and son, owned a villa in the springs and another in the Jumeirah Park area. Both are flashy residences with features such as man-made lakes and swimming pools.
Close relatives of two former presidents also appear in the list. One is Fatima Rabbani, whose late father, Burhanuddin Rabbani, led Afghanistan in the late 1990s. Her brother was, until this week, a foreign affairs minister. She runs various businesses in Dubai, including an upmarket restaurant and a business selling luxury products with the niece of another person in the records, former Afghan ambassador to Jordan, Sayed Mohammad Gailani.
The other is Mahmood Karzai, the brother of the former president Hamid Karzai. He was also a shareholder of Kabul bank and, alongside Fahim’s uncle, there have been concerns that he sought to use his closeness to the very top of Afghanistan’s leadership to assist in protecting the bank from greater scrutiny.
In an email, Mahmood Karzai confirmed ownership of a property in Dubai and said he had lived in the country since 2007. He denied any wrongdoing or corruption, and said he had attempted to sue the private investigation firm Kroll for a report it wrote alleging misconduct on his part in Afghanistan.
None of the other people named in the records responded to multiple requests for comment in English, Dari or Pashto.
Afghan law appears to require people in positions of authority – known as “politically exposed persons”—to publicly declare their assets and source of funds, as well as those of their close relatives. Few, if any, of the individuals named in the leaked Dubai documents appear to have declared such assets, but experts say the laws are not fit for purpose, and contain many loopholes that could allow someone to not disclose an asset without breaching the rules.
Sayed Ikram Afzali, the director of anti-corruption organization Integrity Watch Afghanistan, said the disclosure system had proved useless.
“The asset forms are largely incomplete, the data published is inconsistent and not verified, and even at times contradictory. You could say it’s a useless system,” he said. “It’s an ineffective system and it's not meant to be effective. It's a system the government is following to keep international donors happy.
“I doubt that the Afghan government means to achieve anything through this process, aside from ticking a box to keep the international community happy,” Afzali added.
Anti-corruption efforts in Afghanistan have a checkered history. President Karzai attempted to clamp down on corruption, partly in efforts to please international partners, setting up an anti-corruption office in 2008 whose duties included registering the assets of public officials. The office was quickly mired in controversy—after damning criticism of its first attempts, Karzai appointed a new head, choosing an official who had been previously accused of election fraud.
That office was eventually shut down, and there have been successive attempts to get Afghan officials to register their assets. Stronger legislation was introduced in 2017, but years on, asset registration for officials is seen as a failure.
The body in charge of the current register has been placed under the office of the president, raising concerns from anti-corruption activists. Questions have been raised over its independence: its latest director, Naheed Esar, has recently been appointed the new deputy foreign minister.
Sarah Chayes, an anti-corruption expert who has advised the U.S. military in Afghanistan, said the Afghanistan needed to work on tackling corruption and rebuilding trust in its ruling class in a root and branch way.
“Corruption in Afghanistan is systemic. It is perpetrated by networks,” she said.
“For years I heard comments from my neighbors like: ‘The Taliban shakes us down at night, and the government shakes us down in the daytime.’” Chayes added: “The difference is, the government is supposed to be upholding the law, but is violating it.”
Thedailybeast
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International Fri, 08 Nov 2019 16:54:42 +0000
OIC Secretary General Commends Afghanistan for the Conduct of Presidential Elections http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/40256-oic-secretary-general-commends-afghanistan-for-the-conduct-of-presidential-elections.html http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/40256-oic-secretary-general-commends-afghanistan-for-the-conduct-of-presidential-elections.html

Friday October 4, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen praised the people of Afghanistan for the conduct of presidential elections on 28 September 2019 and commended all who participated in and supported the electoral process.
The OIC Secretary General recognized Afghanistan’s remarkable endurance, and strong determination to build a peaceful and prosperous future.
SPA
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International Fri, 04 Oct 2019 10:17:17 +0000
Pak PM Meets Khalilzad on the Sideline of UN General Assembly http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/40121-pak-pm-meets-khalilzad-on-the-sideline-of-un-general-assembly.html http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/40121-pak-pm-meets-khalilzad-on-the-sideline-of-un-general-assembly.html Pak PM Meets Khalilzad on the Sideline of UN General Assembly

Tuesday September 24, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan met with the United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, in New York on Sunday.
The meeting took place on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
During the meeting, Khalilzad informed Imran Khan about “how far his negotiations with the Taliban had gone, the nature of the talks and what expectations he holds in the future,” Pakistan’s foreign minister said.
“So, he presented his entire analysis of the US-Taliban talks,” Shah Mahmood Qureshi said.
The meeting comes after US President Donald Trump declared talks with the Taliban as dead, citing the group’s continued violence.
Earlier, Pakistan’s Khan said that he would encourage US President Donald Trump to restart talks with the Taliban to end the Afghan conflict.

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International Tue, 24 Sep 2019 07:44:37 +0000
US Working For A Good Deal To Guarantee A Bright Path For Afghans: Pentagon http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/39908-us-working-for-a-good-deal-to-guarantee-a-bright-path-for-afghans-pentagon.html http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/39908-us-working-for-a-good-deal-to-guarantee-a-bright-path-for-afghans-pentagon.html

Sunday September 8, 2019
Kabul (BNA) U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Saturday that while it was seeking a political agreement with the Taliban, Washington would not accept just any deal after a wave of violence cast a shadow over its talks with the insurgent group.
Afghan leaders including President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani have been increasingly critical of the apparent draft deal reached between U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban representatives in Doha this week as the violence has escalated.
“The United States’ View is that the best way forward is a political agreement and that (is  what) we’re working diligently on right now, that doesn’t mean we’ll take any deal,” Esper said during a press conference in Paris with his French counterpart.  “We will make sure we have a good deal, a good enough deal that guarantees at least the security of our countries going forward and a brighter path ahead for the Afghan people.”
Under the draft accord with the Taliban, thousands of U.S. troops would be withdrawn over the coming months in exchange for guarantees that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for mi8litant attacks on the United States and its allies.  However, according to the agreement, a full peace agreement to end more than 18 years of war would depend on subsequent “intra Afghan” talks.  The Taliban have rejected calls for a ceasefire and instead stepped up operations across the country.  On Friday. U.S. envoy Khalilzad was back in the Qatari capital Doha, along with General Scott Miller, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, to continue talks with the Taliban, who said the meeting had gone well.
Yarzada

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International Sun, 08 Sep 2019 11:28:26 +0000
Graham Warns Trump on Taliban Deal in Afghanistan: Learn From 'Obama's Mistakes' http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/39568-graham-warns-trump-on-taliban-deal-in-afghanistan-learn-from-obamas-mistakes.html http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/39568-graham-warns-trump-on-taliban-deal-in-afghanistan-learn-from-obamas-mistakes.html Graham Warns Trump on Taliban Deal in Afghanistan: Learn From 'Obama's Mistakes'

Monday August 18, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a foreign policy hawk and close ally of President Trump, warned the White House against withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in a deal with the Taliban.
“American service members are not acting as policemen in Afghanistan. They are the front-line defense for America against the reemergence of radical Islamist groups who wish to attack the American homeland,” Graham said in a statement. “To trust the Taliban to control al-Qaeda, ISIS-K, and other radical Islamist groups present in Afghanistan – as a replacement for a US counter-terrorism force – would be a bigger mistake than Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal.”
“Any peace agreement which denies the US a robust counter-terrorism capability in Afghanistan is not a peace deal. Instead, it is paving the way for another attack on the American homeland and attacks against American interests around the world,” he added.
“President Trump should learn from President Obama’s mistakes. Be smart, take your time, and listen to your national security team.”
Graham has long advocated for a more muscular foreign policy, including advocating for strong U.S. intervention in the Middle East, saying a physical force in the region is needed to prevent terrorist attacks from reaching the mainland. He was harshly critical of President Obama’s decision to withdraw from Iraq, saying the move helped lead to the rise of groups like ISIS.
Graham’s statement comes after reports surfaced that Trump was set to meet with his national security team Friday afternoon to discuss a pending peace agreement with the Taliban. A senior official noted to reporters that Trump has “been pretty clear” about his desire to withdraw from Afghanistan.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the special envoy for Afghan peace talks, has been negotiating with the Taliban for months on a deal to end America’s war in Afghanistan that would see a withdrawal of troops in exchange for assurances from the group that it would not let the country become a base for terrorist organizations to launch attacks against the U.S.
Khalilzad said the last round of talks earlier this month was “productive,” though a deal’s finalization has been hindered by the Taliban’s refusal of inter-Afghan talks that the U.S. has pushed.
The Pentagon has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan on a dual mission of both training, advising and assisting local forces in the fight against the Taliban and running counterterrorism operations against groups like al Qaeda and ISIS.
Thehill
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International Mon, 19 Aug 2019 07:46:47 +0000
EU Warns Hungary over Afghan Refugees http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/38017-eu-warns-hungary-over-afghan-refugees.html http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/38017-eu-warns-hungary-over-afghan-refugees.html EU Warns Hungary over Afghan Refugees

Friday May 17, 2019
Kabul (BNA) The European Commission has warned Hungary over its ill-treatment of migrants and refugees, including depriving some of food, and trying to force others back to Afghanistan in violation of human right laws.
"We are concerned of the reports of the treatment of migrants in Hungary, we take such allegations quite seriously," a European Commission spokeswoman told reporters in Brussels on Monday (13 May).
The expression of concern from the Berlaymont follows Hungary's failed efforts last week to deport three families back to Afghanistan, in what Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, described as deeply shocking.
Two families were forced back into Serbia, while a third family remains in Hungary's transit zone after the European Court of Human Rights granted an injunction preventing them from being removed.
Budapest had drafted in the EU's border agency Frontex to carry out the Afghan returns, posing questions on possible EU complicity.
But the commission said neither itself, nor the Warsaw-based Frontex, has any say over the return decisions, despite having launched two court cases against Hungary over its migration and asylum policies.
"We have a case before the Court of Justice regarding Hungarian legislation in asylum and 'return', both cases are before the court at the moment," said the spokeswoman.
Hungarian legislation automatically dismisses asylum claims by anyone transiting from Serbia - which Budapest deems a "safe country."
That means people who have passed through Serbia cannot claim asylum in Hungary, even based on merit - despite EU laws that are supposed to provide safeguards against the abuse.
This appears to be part of a larger strategy by Hungary's right-wing government under Prime Minister Viktor Orban to demonize refugees and migrants, which it views as a national security threat.
Hunger tactics
The Budapest-based Hungarian Helsinki Committee last August had also documented cases in Hungary's transit zone, along the Serbian border, of people being denied food, sometimes for up to five days.
Despite promises by Hungarian authorities to start feeding the failed asylum seekers, the NGO documented another eight cases between February and April this year.
A total of twenty-one people have gone hungry in what the NGO describes as "starvation cases".
"Pending the enforcement of the expulsion, adults, unless they are pregnant or nursing women, are starved in detention," said the NGO.
Pressed on the issue last September, Orban's spokesperson Zoltan Kovacs took a defiant tone, telling reporters in Brussels that "we are not providing a free meal, free food for any illegal migrants".
Orban earlier this month toured the Hungarian transit zone and razor-wire border fencing with Italy's far-right deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini.
The pair are ratcheting up the anti-migrant rhetoric ahead of the European Parliament elections at the end of this month. Salvini is hoping to increase the European Alliance of Peoples and Nations political group in the next parliament.
The move seeks to bridge an alliance against immigrants with other far-right leaders like France's Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders of the Netherlands, and Germany's AfD, among others.
Salvini's League party and his wider crusade against migrants has also helped spread the rise of Italian disinformation networks on Facebook.
The social media giant shut down 23 Italian Facebook pages, with over 2.46 million followers, for peddling hate against immigrants and Jews and spreading debunked anti-vaccine conspiracies.
Over a dozen of the pages supported the League party and its populist government coalition party, the Five-Star Movement.
The Facebook removals follow an investigation by Avaaz, a global activist NGO.
"Facebook has done a good job in taking these pages down, but it says a lot that a multi-billion dollar company is relying on a crowd-funded Avaaz investigation to defend Europe's democracy," said Christoph Schott, Avaaz campaign director, in a statement on Monday.
Euobserver
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International Fri, 17 May 2019 11:04:26 +0000
India, Iran Discuss Afghanistan, Regional Situation http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/38015-india-iran-discuss-afghanistan-regional-situation.html http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/38015-india-iran-discuss-afghanistan-regional-situation.html India, Iran Discuss Afghanistan, Regional Situation

Friday May 17, 2019
Kabul (BNA) External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday told visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif that India would take a decision on continuing oil imports from Iran "after the elections keeping in mind our commercial considerations, energy security and economic interests", Government sources said on Tuesday. On the issue of oil imports, it may be recalled that India has been in the process of completely stopping its oil imports from Iran to escape US sanctions.
However, the new government that is expected to be in place within the next three weeks in New Delhi is expected to take a final decision on the matter.
Iranian foreign minister Zarif had made a brief visit to New Delhi on Tuesday to hold talks with Ms Swaraj. The ministry of external affairs meanwhile only issued a brief statement, saying Ms Swaraj and Mr Zarif “held constructive discussions on all bilateral issues of mutual interest” and that there was a “good exchange of views on the evolving regional situation, including Afghanistan”.
The Indo-Iranian strategic cooperation on the Chabahar port was also discussed, with government sources saying “both sides expressed satisfaction at the operationalisation of the interim contract on the  Chabahar Port”.
New Delhi has been worried over the impact that American policy against Iran will have on the Indo-Iranian strategic partnership for the development of Chabahar port in Iran that gives New Delhi crucial sea-land connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.
It may be recalled that the United States had earlier given six-month waivers to eight countries including India, China, Japan and South Korea for exemption from the November 4 deadline last year of stopping Iranian oil imports completely. India relies heavily on foreign oil imports to meet its energy demands.
Deccanchronicle
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International Fri, 17 May 2019 11:03:58 +0000
Senators Want Visas For Afghans Now Stranded After Helping U.S. Forces http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/38014-senators-want-visas-for-afghans-now-stranded-after-helping-us-forces.html http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/38014-senators-want-visas-for-afghans-now-stranded-after-helping-us-forces.html Senators Want Visas For Afghans Now Stranded After Helping U.S. Forces

Friday May 17, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Republican and Democratic U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday revived an effort to provide visas to move to the United States for Afghans who worked for Americans during the long war in their country and are now stranded, their lives at risk due to that work.
The bill would provide 4,000 Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) for the rest of the federal fiscal year ending on Sept. 30, and also try to address obstacles that have prevented Afghans from getting visas under previously passed legislation.
National Public Radio (NPR) reported on May 1 that President Donald Trump’s administration had cut by 60 percent the number of U.S. visas provided to Afghans who risked their lives assisting American forces. About 1,650 were approved in 2018, down from more than 4,000 in fiscal year 2017.
Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen sponsored the bill with Republicans Thom Tillis, Roger Wicker and Cory Gardner and Democrats Jack Reed, Richard Blumenthal and Tim Kaine.
Backers of the plan said Washington needs to protect Afghans who worked for U.S. forces in order to ensure local support.
Army General Austin Miller, commander of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, sent a letter to Shaheen backing the bill, calling the SIV program critical to success in Afghanistan.
“If the program is not fully resourced, our credibility and the sacrifices made by thousands of Afghans in support of Americans and our Coalition partners could be undermined,” Miller wrote.
Shaheen was a lead sponsor of similar legislation passed in previous years, along with late Republican Senator John McCain, who was chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
His widow, Cindy McCain, backed the bill, saying McCain would be pleased to know that the bipartisan measure continued his legacy.
Backers said they felt the measure stood a good chance of passing, possibly as a provision of one of the larger must-pass spending bills Congress will consider later this year, despite Trump’s efforts to tighten immigration, particularly from Muslim-majority countries.
Reuters
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International Fri, 17 May 2019 11:03:56 +0000
Iran Supports Ongoing Afghan Peace Talks http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/37811-iran-supports-ongoing-afghan-peace-talks.html http://www.bakhtarnews.com.af/eng/world/item/37811-iran-supports-ongoing-afghan-peace-talks.html Iran Supports Ongoing Afghan Peace Talks

Wednesday May 1, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Tuesday that Iran supports any efforts or talks that help establish peace, stability and security in Afghanistan.
“Iran supports any process and dialogue in line with Afghanistan’s independence, peace and stability,” Mousavi stated.
A four-day consultative grand assembly, known as a Loya Jirga, started meeting in Kabul on Monday. The rare consultative meeting is aimed at finding ways to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban and end the long-running war in Afghanistan.
It is an attempt by President Ashraf Ghani to influence peace talks between the U.S. and the Taliban, which the Taliban have excluded his government from.
“It is a proud moment for me to have representatives from all over the country here and today we are gathered to speak about the peace talks,” Reuters quoted Ghani as saying in an opening ceremony in huge tent set up for such assemblies in central Kabul.
This week’s meeting, being attended by 3,200 tribal elders, and community and religious leaders from all 34 provinces, aims to set out Kabul’s conditions for any peace deal.
But opposition political leaders and government critics, including former president Hamid Karzai, are boycotting the assembly accusing Ghani of using it as a platform to boost his status as leader in an election year.
Ghani has invited the Taliban, but they have rejected the offer and urged others to boycott it.
The group has also alleged that this is an attempt by the government to deceive the country and extend its “illegitimate rule”.
“Do not participate in the enemy’s conspiracy under the name of Jirga; instead find ways to further sideline the shaky administration of Kabul,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement, according to Press TV.
Tehrantimes
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International Wed, 01 May 2019 11:07:38 +0000