A prominent Pashtun political leader says cordial relations between Islamabad and Kabul are important for regional security and the fight against terrorism.
Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) chief, called for sustained dialogue between the neighbors to eradicate terrorism and extremism from the region.
The two countries should cooperate on eliminating insecurity on both sides of the Durand Line, he proposed, demanding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor be extended to Afghanistan.
Sherpao, also a former chief minister, opined political considerations should not influence Afghan-Pakistan transit trade. Such a step would benefit the people, he argued.
Addressing a party meeting in Mardan district, the QWP chairman said grievances of tribal people should be redressed by launching uplift activities in the Federally Administered Tribal Area.
The tribesmen had rendered meritorious sacrifices in the fight against terrorism, but their contribution had not been acknowledged, he said, stressing justice in the killing of a young Pakhtun named Nqeebullah Mehsud.
The Taliban group has responded to President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s call for the participation of the group in upcoming elections.
The group issued a statement two days after President Ghani said the Taliban group should participate in the elections by taking into consideration that opportunity available for peace process.
However, Taliban emphasized that the fight against the foreign forces was still a priority for the group, claiming that all the decisions on political and military level are taken by the foreigners.
The group also claims that only those will reach to power that have already been elected by the White House and Pentagon.
Calling the elections a fake and exhibitory process, Taliban also emphasized that the nation should not participate in the parliamentary and district councils elections.
President Ghani on Saturday inaugurated the voter registration process as the parliamentary and district councils elections are scheduled to be held in October this year.
In his speech after the inauguration of the voter registration, President Ghani said the Taliban group should use the opportunity to participate in the elections.
He said the group should return as a political movement by taking into consideration the opportunities available with the announcement of government’s offer for peace process.
President Ghani also added that elections play a key role to bring reforms on political level through the votes of the people, emphasizing that the people are tired of war.
Afghan Special Security Forces have eliminated 22 Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) fighters attempting to defend the group’s strategic center of Darzab district in northern Jowzjan province, a statement from the US forces said on Monday.
The operation occurred six days after Qari Hekmatullah, the IS-K emir for northern Afghanistan, and his bodyguard were killed by a US airstrike in Darzab on April 5.
Since the beginning of 2018, persistent military pressure in Jowzjan province applied by Afghan and US Special Operations Forces (SOF) have reduced IS-K to an isolated group of fighters devoid of leadership.
The fighters that choose to stay with IS-K face a similar fate as its leaders. Afghan and US special operations coupled with US airstrikes continued to decimate the heart of IS-K in Darzab, the statement reads.
Afghan and US forces have killed 90 IS-K fighters this year, a majority were eliminated in Darzab.
“The recent Afghan and US special operations raid will lead to the tactical defeat of IS-K in northern Afghanistan,” stated Gen. John Nicholson, US Forces - Afghanistan commander. “Pockets of former Taliban fighters may claim allegiance to IS-K, but they are isolated and losing. We have them on the defensive. They will not win.”
A series of Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF) and US SOF counterterrorism operations focused on dismantling the terrorists’ leadership leaves IS-K without direction.
IS-K in Jowjzan now selects its leaders from a dwindling, revolving door of insurgents with a history of divided loyalties, Resolute Support said in the press release.
RS further added that like Hekmatullah, IS-K’s new leader in northern Afghanistan is Mawlavi Habibul Rahman, a native Uzbek, and has had intermittent ties to both the Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
ASSF and US SOF killed an IS-K platoon commander and another terrorist fighter during a partnered nighttime raid in Mughul, Mar. 26-27. Four days earlier on Mar. 22, ASSF and US SOF eliminated four IS-K fighters in Darzab.
On Mar 16, a US airstrike killed IS-K platoon commanders, Omair and Abu Samaya, as the duo met in Sar-e Pul province. Later that evening, an ASSF nighttime raid on the IS-K headquarters in Jowzjan resulted in the removal of another 13 terrorists.
Afghan forces captured Omair and Abu Samaya’s predecessor Khitab Aka, IS-K’s former head facilitator of foreign fighters in Jowzjan on Jan 28.
Five Iranians imprisoned in Afghanistan jails were transferred to Iran on Monday, said an Iranian consulate authority in Kabul.
The transfer was made in Kabul airport following an agreement between Afghanistan and Iran, an Iranian media report quoted Mohsen Rezaee, as saying.
He said that Iran would also transfer 120 Afghan prisoners to their own country in the near future.
The agreement of exchanging inmates between Iran and Afghanistan was signed 12 years ago.
Apart from today's transfer, 620 Afghans imprisoned in Iran and 53 Iranians in Afghanistan jails have been exchanged so far. The prisoners have mostly been sentenced due to narcotic-related crimes.
The authorities in southeastern Paktika province on Monday launched issuance of paper national identity cards to residents of 18 districts, amid an ongoing nationwide voter’s registration process.
Half of Paktika’s population is said to be without paper identity cards locally called Tazkira.
Deputy governor Attaulah Fazli told Pajhwok Afghan News the paper national identity cards were being issued to those who had not taken one in the past.
He said people could vote in the Oct. 20 Wolesi Jirga and district council elections if they possessed the old paper Tazkira therefore and that was why the card’s distribution process was launched in the province.
Meanwhile, Noor Mohammad, a resident of Sharana, the provincial capital, said it was good news that paper ID cards were being issued to people ahead of the elections and amid an ongoing voter’s registration drive.
However, he feared many people might miss obtaining ID cards and registration to vote in the absence of awareness campaign.
According to Mohammad, Paktika’s population is 1.2 million people and half of them (0.6 million) don’t have Tazkiraz so far.
“Our population is counted based individuals who have national identify cards and but in many areas people don’t have these cards.”
On the other hand, Paktika population department head Mohammad Anwar said they had appointed a number of contract employees to distribute Tazkiras.
About public awareness, he said they had signed an agreement with the Hajj and Religious Affairs Ministry on training some Islamic scholars and other people about the process.
A number of Wolesi Jirga members said Pakistan had proposed preconditions for restoring relations with Afghanistan.
Speaking at the plenary session on Monday, they claimed that Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abasi presented at least six prerequisites to the Afghan government in his recent visit to Kabul.
They did not provide further details about the conditions, but said they included removal of Kandahar police chief General Abdul Raziq and intelligence exchange.
“Pakistan has set six preconditions for Afghan government. Intelligence should not be exchanged with Pakistan. This is not acceptable for Afghan people, and that President Ghani must not ignore this sensitivity,” said Asifa Shadab, a member of Wolisi Jirga.
The parliamentarians opposed the demands, calling it against national interests.
“If Afghanistan is a sovereign state, how the Pakistani prime minister comes here and proposes the dismissal of General Raziq? Raziq has many achievements in providing security and fighting against militants,” said Shakiba Hashemi, representative of Kandahar at the Parliament.
In the meantime, the chairman of the Lower House, Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, noted that Pakistan has always played a double game against Afghanistan and the government must prevent the conspiracies of Islamabad.
“Raziq is a brave general and has popularity among the people. Pakistan completely knows everything about him, that is why it proposed his dismissal,” Ibrahimi concluded.
Although, in past few months Pakistan has apparently intensified attempts to mend relations with Afghanistan, it continues with its cross-Durand Line incursions. Clashes broke out between Afghan and Pakistani forces along the de facto frontier. in Khost and Paktia provinces this week. According to reports, five Pakistani soldiers and two Afghans were killed in Khost clashes.
Unknown gunmen have been threatening and extorting physicians in eastern Nangarhar province, the Physicians Defense Association (PDA) said on Sunday.
The association claims at least two doctors are being threatened on daily bases and if demand for money is not met they attack the doctors. The physicians revealed threat to themselves after a blast in the check-up room of a doctor in Nangarhar in which the doctor was killed and four other people were injured. In addition, Dr. Baz Mohammad Sherzad, the former Public Health Department director and current advisor to the Public Health Ministry, was attacked in the Sara Roaud distract but he survived the attack.
Dr. Emal Hassanzai, head of the PDA told Pajhwok Afghan News at least two doctors were being threatened by unidentified gunmen on daily bases. He said the doctors were being extorted and if they denied the armed men attack them or kidnap their family members.
Sherzad said he was attacked by armed men on the Sukhab Bridge when he wanted to go back to Kabul after spending holidays at home.
He said the armed men had more demands besides asking for cash money and they carried out a blast in front of his home as well.
Sherzad who is also in charge of the Public Health Ministry’s emergency department added unknown armed men had threatened him in the past as well and had some demands but he rejected their demands.
Public Health Ministry’s spokesman Waheed Majroh acknowledged health officials had been attacked and received warning in recent past in Nangarhar and other provinces of the country.
He said such activities had created difficulties for doctors and faced the health ministry with immense problems.
He acknowledged armed attack on Public Health Ministries’ Advisor Baz Mohammad Sherzad and added the issue had been shared with security officials and asked them to take action.
Private telecommunication companies have suspended services in southern Helmand province for an indefinite period in compliance with orders from the Taliban, an official said Sunday.
Omaidullah Zaheer, head of the Information and Telecommunication Department (ICD), told reporters in Lashkargah, the provincial capital, that the telecommunication companies had stopped functioning since Saturday 5:00pm.
He said the government could not pressurize the private companies to resume their services. “If we put pressure on them, the Taliban may torch mobile signal towers or other facilities”, he said.
Zaheer said currently 162 mobile towers were functional in the province while 10 towers of Salaam --- a state run telecommunication company --- were always functional.
Provincial Council Head Attaullah Afghan said the private companies should prefer public demands instead of bowing to Taliban’s pressure.
“Businesses and common people are customers of the private telecom companies but these firms always accept Taliban’s demands”, he added.
He asked the government to deal with the private companies in line with the law over suspending their services on Taliban’s order.
Javed Khan, a resident of Lashkargah, confirmed telecom companies had stopped services in the city since Saturday, creating problems for people.
The Taliban also confirmed the ban on mobile services in Lashkargah. Their spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said the move was taken to ensure security of people.
Unidentified gunmen have torched a school’s lab and its documents in the Momand Dara district of eastern Nangarhar province, an official said on Sunday.
Mohammad Asif Shinwari, provincial education department spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News that masked gunmen torched some parts of a school in the district late on Saturday night.
He said the gunmen initially tied up the hands of the watchmen and then collected all documents and torched them in a lab room. Parts of the lab were also torched, he added.
Shinwari urged security organs to arrest the criminals and bring them to justice in order to prevent such incidents in the future. Zartaj Gardiwal, a resident of the areas confirmed the arson.
Governor Gulab Mangal has directed concerned authorities to take action against individuals involved in the torching of school, according to a statement.
This was the third incident of burning schools in Momandara in recent times.
At least three Pakistani security personnel were killed and four others captured alive during a clash with Afghan forces in southeastern Khost province on Sunday, officials said.
Khost police Chief Abdul Hanan Zadran told Pajhwok Afghan News the border skirmish erupted in Zazi Maidan district shortly after 8am in the morning.
He said the Pakistani security forces initiated the skirmish by storming three Afghan check-posts in the area.
One civilian was also killed and three others wounded on this side of the Durand Line, Zadran added.
Talib Mangal, the governor’s spokesman, said three Pakistani forces were killed and four others held alive during the skirmish.
In Pakistan, Dawn.com reported that at least two security personnel deployed on the Pak-Afghan border were killed in the attack from across the border.
The attack was carried out from Khost province on a border post in Laka Tika area of Lower Kurram Agency, according to officials in the political administration.
Tribal elders reportedly made announcements at several mosques in the nearby areas, appealing tribesmen to join the security personnel on the border.
Following the announcements, several armed tribesmen, belonging to Toori Bangish and other tribes started approaching the border posts.
In Kunar, Pakistani forces fired at least 183 rockets into Dangam, Sheltan, Marawara districts since Saturday morning, injuring a girl, said police spokesman Fareed Dehqan.