At least one civilian was killed in artillery shelling from the other side of Durand Line in eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan, the local officials said Tuesday.
Provincial governor’s spokesman Abdul Ghani Mosamim confirmed that artillery shelling on Kunar continues from the other side of the line.
He said the latest shelling has claimed the life of a civilian in Sarkano district while a residential house was destroyed in Dangam district.
This comes as President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani shared Kabul’s concerns with Pakistani Prime Minister regarding the persistent artillery shelling from the other side of Durand Line on Afghan soil.
The Office of the President, ARG Palace, said Friday that President Ghani had serious talks with the Pakistani Prime Minister regarding the issue.
According to ARG Palace, President Ghani told the Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi that the current situation is in the favor no one, emphasizing that all concerns should be shared through official channels and must be resolved through negotiations.
Earlier, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan had said that the Pakistani fighter planes dropped four bombs in Shahidan Saro area of Dangam district late on Wednesday last week causing property damages to the residents of Kunar.
At least 14,000 domestic and foreign tourists visited verdant landscapes of northeastern Badakhshan province last year, say government officials. According to them, the number of tourists is on the rise.
Information and Culture Director Naqibullah Saqib told Pajhwok Afghan News around 136 foreign tourists from the US, Italy and Germany visited different areas of Badakhshan in the solar year 1396.
Dr. Shams Ali Shams, director of the Aga Khan Foundation in Badakhshan, said under an agreement with the Ministry of Information, tourist spots in Wakhan, which were neglected during the war, had been rehabilitated.
The Wakhan areas had been rehabilitated to promote tourism in the province, he said, adding guesthouses and modern bathrooms had been established in different parts of the district.
He said: “The Aga Khan Foundation has successfully projected the historical importance of Pamir to the world. Jointly with the Ministry of Culture, we are making efforts to promote tourism in the province.”
Siddiqui Lalzad, director of information and culture, told Pajhwok the people of Wakhan and Ishkashim districts had earned about $200,000 last year, a crucial step toward the growth of the region’s economy.
Faiz Mohammad, a resident of Wakhan, said the number of tourists to Pamir had increased. “The services we have provided to them have led to a remarkable income.”
Ministry Of Defense (MoD) said on Tuesday the Taliban’s shadow deputy governor for Uruzgan province Abdullah was killed during Afghan security forces operations in the province on Monday.
Mohammad Radmanish, the ministry’s deputy spokesman, said Abdullah was killed in Khas Uruzgan district of the province.
Radmanish said that in the past 24 hours, 45 insurgents, including Abdullah, were killed in different parts of the country.
According to Radmanish, 13 insurgents were killed in Shah Wali Kot district of Kandahar, six insurgents including Abdullah were killed in Khas Uruzgan, six others were killed in Nad Ali district of Helmand province, three insurgents were killed while planting mines in Gereshk district of Helmand province, six insurgents were killed in Zurmat district of Paktia, four insurgents were killed in Bala Block district of Farah, four were killed in Kohistan district of Faryab and three were killed in Shahjoy district of Zabul province.
During the operations 37 other insurgents were wounded, Radmanish said adding that 25 more were arrested.
No details were given about casualties among security forces.
Taliban have not yet commented about the operations.
Some residents in several districts of southeastern Paktika province have accused police of cutting down pine nuts trees, a charge the force denies.
Speaking to Pajhwok, Niamatullah, a resident of Ziruk district, said police had recently started cutting down the pine nuts in the district’s forests.
“What the police are doing is illegal, they then sell the trees to timber traders,” the resident alleged.
Yehya Zadran, a resident of Washana area of the Ziruk district, said: “We have several times shared the issue with security officials but so far no one has taken action to prevent it. Police continue to cut down the pine nut trees on a daily basis.”
He said local tribal elders had signed agreements with the government on preventing all people from cutting the chilghoza trees, but police were doing it at force.
Mursal, a resident of Gayan district, said both police and border forces were involved in the illegal deforestation.
A number of other residents of Paktika held similar views and they asked the government to prevent the ‘felony.’
Noorullah Sabawon, Paktika’s agriculture director, also confirmed pine nut trees had been cut down in a number of Paktika districts. However, he did not name the perpetrators.
“We have shared this issue many times with the governor’s house, but no solution could be found so far,” he said.
He added Sar Hawza, Gayan, Zirouk, Omna, Nika, Gomal and Barmal districts had wide pine nut forests and keeping the trees was responsibility of every Afghan.
But Paktika police spokesman Shah Mahmod Aryan denied the police were complicit in the cutting down of pine nut trees.
“We have tribal agreements in many districts based on which no one including police can cut down pine nut trees,” he said. However, he said the issue would be investigated.
Pine nut trees in Paktika, like in many other provinces, are public property but both their protection and colleting harvests is the responsibility of local people.
Former Taliban ambassador in Islamabad Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef says Pakistan has 'increased pressure' on the Taliban to join the reconciliation process but the insurgents will not bow to this, Pakistan’s Daily Times reported.
"Pakistan has increased pressure on the Taliban but they will not accept what Pakistan wants them to do. Pakistan has detained some senior Taliban leaders at a time when efforts are underway in the region to encourage the Taliban to come to the negotiating table," Zaeef told the Daily Times by the phone.
This comes just days after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah where they mapped out the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS), which is a joint plan for cooperation in key areas of counter-terrorism and the reduction of violence and promotion of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
Abbasi welcomed Ghani's recent peace offer to the Taliban and both leaders called on them to respond positively to the offer and to join the peace process.
"Taliban do not want any deal through any country, including Pakistan and Iran, but they want to solve the problems with the US without involvement of others," Zaeef said.
Zaeef was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and handed over to the United States months after American military toppled the Taliban government.
The US held Zaeef at Guantanamo Bay for a few years but released him in 2005. He was put on the list of designated terrorists but his name was removed in2010.
Zaeef told the Daily Times the Taliban has not accepted the offer to join the political system as yet.
"So far, the Taliban consider the Kabul government an unconstitutional. Secondly, the Taliban want to liberate Afghanistan from clutches of occupation forces. They want to introduce Islamic government in Afghanistan," he said.
"I believe the Kabul government is not willing to understand objectives of the Taliban. Some Taliban leaders believe there is a conspiracy theory hidden behind recognition of the Taliban as a political power and, therefore, they do not accept this offer," he said when asked about President Ghani's offer to recognize them as a political party.
According to the Daily Times Zaeef further added that the Taliban would not accept the demands of any country unless the foreign forces leave Afghanistan. He said the United States was still engaged in creating problems for the Taliban and the people of Afghanistan and the region. The regional situation had deteriorated after the US entered Afghanistan, he stated.
"Washington should avoid making it an issue of pride and refrain from bringing further instability to the region in general and Afghanistan in particular,” he said.
Some jihadi figures and political leaders have supported the launch of negotiations with Pakistan, the Presidential Palace said on Monday.
As part of consultative meetings, the president received some jihadi and political leaders at his office on Sunday evening, a statement from the Palace said.
Ghani held detailed discussions with his interlocutors on the peace process and state-to-state relations with Pakistan. He said his government had full internal and external support on the issue and provided the required conditions for peace talks.
The jihadi and political leaders expressed their views on the peace process and relations with Pakistan, calling the engagement beneficial for the people.
They stressed the need for the continuation of consultative meetings, as well as development of national consensus on national and international issues.
“I believe in consultations and would continue holding such meetings with political parties, parliamentarians, civil society, media professionals, women and people from different walks of life,” Ghani said.
The president often desires direct talks with Pakistan on overcoming mistrust. The Pakistani prime minister’s recent visit was part of this strategy.
Turkey says it is deporting hundreds of Afghans back to Afghanistan, in a major operation after thousands of them allegedly illegally entered the country in recent weeks.
On April 8, 227 Afghan migrants boarded a charter flight from the northeastern city of Erzurum to Kabul, Turkish news agencies reported.
They said an additional more than 400 Afghans were set for deportation in the coming days.
Migration officials in Erzurum were quoted as saying that the authorities planned to deport all 3,000 Afghan migrants who are currently in the city.
In Kabul, a spokesman for the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations insisted that they were coming back home of their own will.
"They are the ones who wanted to use Turkey as a transit route to other countries, but when they failed they decided to come back," Islamuddin Jurat said.
During a visit to Kabul for talks with Afghan leaders, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on April 8 that Ankara was grateful for Afghanistan's cooperation over the matter.
"There is no problem here," Turkish state media quoted Yildirim as saying at a news conference with Afghan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah.
Turkey is a key transit route for migrants from Afghanistan and other countries in Asia and the Middle East seeking to reach Europe in search of better lives and work.
Turkish media have reported that several thousand migrants from war-plagued Afghanistan had crossed into Turkey in recent weeks. They were believed to have crossed from Iran into Turkey and then walked for days from the border to reach Erzurum.
Rights groups have criticized Ankara for deporting migrants back to conflict-torn countries such as Afghanistan, saying it was putting their lives at risk.
The Asian Competitiveness Annual Report 2018 released on Sunday on the sidelines of China’s Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is being extended to Afghanistan.
CPEC is the flagship project of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which aims to connect Asia, Europe and the Middle East and Africa with a vast logistics and transport network.
“China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project under the Belt and Road Initiative, has not only improved local infrastructure but also is extending toward Afghanistan, reducing poverty, the hotbed of terrorism, and bringing better prospects for local people’s lives,” state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the report as saying.
The plan was first unveiled by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in December 2017 during his meeting with his Pakistani and Afghan counterparts.
“China and Pakistan are willing to look at with Afghanistan, on the basis of win-win, mutually beneficial principles, using an appropriate means to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan,” Wang had said at the trilateral foreign ministers’ meeting.
A ceremony was organized to celebrate the construction of a major town for the Afghan women police kicked off in Kabul.
The Canadian Ambassador to Kabul François Rivest, NATO Commander General John Nicholson, Afghanistan’s First Lady Bibi Gul Ghani and other senior officials participated in the ceremony to celebrate the start of the project.
The NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in a report stated that the Women’s Police Town complex is being built on the grounds of the Afghan Ministry of the Interior Affairs to ensure women have a safe, secure environment to fully integrate into the police force.
“Successful recruitment and retention of female police officers is vital for peace and stability in Afghanistan,” said François Rivest, Canadian Ambassador to Afghanistan. “Canada is pleased to support the full participation of women in Afghan society through our sponsorship of the Police Town project.”
According to Resolute Support Mission, Women’s Police Town will be a separate secure complex adjacent to the existing Male Police Town to ensure the safety, security and privacy of policewomen and their families. The project includes construction of 10 apartment buildings, each with 30 units, able to house 300 Afghanistan national policewomen and their families.
The report by Resolute Support Mission further adds that the proposed complex will be constructed in four phases and will also include an elementary school, children and infant day care facility, women’s medical clinic, fitness center and community center. The elementary school and day care center will be managed and operated by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA).
“Today’s celebration has been years in the making,” said General John Nicholson, Resolute Support commander. “It would not have been possible without the continued dedication of many organizations, nations, and individuals who all see a common goal: the full participation of women in all aspects of Afghan society.
“This celebration brings us one step closer to that goal, and symbolizes the dreams of millions of women in their grate nation, to serve proudly and play a pivotal role in its future and security.”
Women’s Police Town construction project has been developed in coordination with GIRoA and funded by the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund. The Government of Canada contributed $26 million to fund the first phase of construction. Their contribution acknowledges the international community’s commitment to gender equality and the future vision of the Afghanistan National Police. The project is expected to be completed in 2020.
Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Sunday that Russia was the only force that could help Afghanistan fight terrorism, Sputnik News reported.
"I understand perfectly well that if you [Russia] build new relations with Pakistan and Afghanistan, you can help us. Not the Britons as we kicked them out of the country several times, not the Americans as they've been killing us for 17 years, but Russia only. We [Afghanistan] are the last barrier from terrorists. We've been fighting continuously for a century and a half," Karzai told the Russian NTV.
"Moscow has always helped us, even when its forces invaded Afghanistan at the invitation of then-president Babrak Karmal. We surely fought each other at those times, but you [Russia] used to build schools and hospitals in Afghanistan. Americans lie when they say that al-Qaeda emerged as the result of your invasion. They used the war to grow al-Qaeda in Pakistani military camps. They wanted to be the only superpower and they did it. The USSR collapsed and one of the reasons was the Afghan war," Karzai said.
The former president noted that, when the US had declared war against the Taliban, he had told Russian President Vladimir Putin that "something wrong began to emerge."
"The Americans deceived everyone again at that time. What kind of war with terrorism is it? The Taliban has more and more weapons…and we can't handle them without Russia's help, because we understand that the Taliban is being fuelled from Pakistan as the group partly consists of foreigners," Karzai noted.
According to him, the US firstly pumped billions into Pakistan and then declared there were no special relations with the country as the Asian nation failed the US.
For all requests to explain its actions, the US answered with neutral phrases, like "in order to defend stability in the region," Karzai explained, adding that he had decided to resign after he had come up with the idea that Afghanistan was just being used.
"People used to come to me continuously from four different provinces, saying that foreigners had come by unidentified choppers to kick them out of their building and kill them….The foreigners are much more dangerous, they called themselves 'the caliphate.' There are several thousands of them now in Afghanistan," the ex-president uttered.
At the same time, Karzai noted that Afghanistan's airspace was "fully controlled by the Americans."
"Nothing flies without their permission. They have mercenaries in Afghanistan with their own army, aviation and security service. I tried to kick them out of the country, but I failed," Karzai concluded.
Afghanistan has long suffered from political, social and security-related instability because of simmering insurgencies, including by the Taliban and Daesh. The US and the Kabul government have been fighting a war with the Taliban since 2001. Before that, the country faced nearly two decades of civil war, remaining divided into several warlord-controlled regions throughout much of the 1990s.