The Chief Executive of the Government of National Unity Abdullah Abdullah and the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım held talks regarding the return of the First vice President of Afghanistan Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum to Kabul.
Speaking during a press conference with Mr. Yıldırım, the Chief Executive of the Unity Government Abdullah Abdullah said he had negotiated Mr. Dostum’s return with the Turkish Prime Minister.
Dostum is currently residing in Turkey and is accused of grave human rights violations, including a sexual assault and kidnapping of his political rival and ex-Jawzjan governor Ahmad Ischi by his guards, a charge which he and his office have repeatedly rejected.
Dostum left the country for Turkey few months earlier amid ongoing controversies regarding his alleged involvement in the sexual abuse of Ishchi. A spokesman for Junbish-e-Millie party Kanishka Turkistani earlier this year said that the health condition of Gen. Dostum had improved, his medical treatment had concluded along with some other works in Turkey, and he would return to the country soon as there are no barriers available at the moment for his return.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has said that the Kunduz incident involving airstrike and civilian casualties is being probed precisely as he strongly reacted regarding the civilian casualties, emphasizing that the civilian casualties during the Afghan armed raids is not acceptable.
The Office of the President, ARG Palace, said President Ghani met with a number of the wounded individuals who were shifted to Shahid Daud Khan Hospital in Kabul.
In his reaction regarding the civilian casualties, President Ghani said necessary precautions should be taken to prevent the civilian casualties.
The provincial officials in Kunduz had earlier confirmed that both the Taliban and civilians suffered casualties in the airstrike last week. The Ministry of Defense officials are saying that the airstrike was carried out on a main stronghold of the Taliban group in Dasht-e-Archi district which was also being used as the training camp by the group.
According to the defense officials, the raid was conducted based on accurate intelligence information and as a result several Taliban insurgents including eighteen of their leaders were killed.
In regards to the civilian casualties, the Ministry of Defense spokesman Gen. Radmanish said the Afghan army helicopters attacked the compound with rockets but the civilians sustained casualties from small fire arms.
According to Gen. Radmanish, the Taliban militants initially opened fire on army helicopters after their base was attacked with rockets and later opened fire on civilians.
However, President Ghani said a thorough and precise investigation is underway regarding the incident and civilian casualties by the delegation appointed by the government.
The construction of the Afghan section of gas pipeline from Turkmenistan has seen no progress more than a month after it was launched.
Abdul Qadir Mutfi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, told 1TV that the construction would begin soon.
He said that some contracts on land, demining and mapping have been signed by TAPI limited since the launch of Afghan section of the project. According to the spokesman, implementation of the project is easier than entering into legal contracts.
Meanwhile, local officials in Afghanistan’s border province of Herat said that work on land survey and demining on route of the project was still ongoing, but security forces had not been deployed yet to secure the project. 85 percent of cost of the project is funded by Turkmenistan. Afghanistan, Pakistan and India have five percent share each in the project.
The project is expected to carry 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year along the 1,800 kilometer route from Galkynysh, one of the world’s biggest gas fields. It is expected to be completed in 2019.
Residents have warned of halting ongoing construction work on the Kabul-Gardez highway if the process of land acquisition is not completed soon.
Work on the Kabul-Gardez highway, kicking off two years back, is still ongoing. The land acquisition process, part of the project, has been snail-paced, affected owners complain.
Bismillah, a resident of the Safaid Sang area of Mohammad Agha district, told Pajhwok Afghan News the second Kabul-Gardez road passed through their lands.
“The road occupies one acre land of mine. The government had pledged two years back providing compensation to those who have lost their land. But the authorities have failed to honor the promise.”
Mahboob, hailing from the Zahidabad area, situated close to the road, said: “Nearly 10 acres of land in our village have been provided for the road. But nobody has received compensation yet.”
He added: “1.5 acres of my land has been lost to the road. An acre accounts for 200,000 Afghanis. The government should compensate me.” They have visited the governor’s house several times but no one had heard their voices, he grumbled.
Abdul Wali Wakeel, deputy head of the provincial council, said the Gardez-Kabul road was an important national project. “Under the law, the government has to pay money for a piece of land or house acquainted for national projects.
“The Kabul-Gardez road is a national project and the government should pay recompense to the affected people,” argued the public representative, who called for an amicable settlement of the issue.
Saleem Saleh, the governor’s spokesman, confirmed to Pajhwok Afghan News the government had not yet paid the affected individuals. “These people often come and we convey their demands to higher authorities…”
Work on the Kabul-Gardez highway, which will be completed in three phases, was launched in 2016.
The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MoCIT) had promised with Mashrano Jirga or upper house of parliament last December to create a transparent system for 10 percent telecom tax collection within two months if the senators approved a presidential decree imposing the tax on mobile phone users.
Not only the system has not been introduced but also no actions to bring transparency to the process have been taken so far about five months after the pledge.
Some members of Mashrano Jirga say they had conditionally voted through the presidential decree, warning that if the MoCIT doesn’t respond to their questions within a few days, they will vote down the decree after forming a joint committee of Wolesi Jirga and Mashrano Jirga.
Mohammad Hashim Alakozai, a senator, told The Heart of Asia that the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology could not keep its promise with Mashrano Jirga about the creation of a transparent system for telecommunication tax collection. “Now in the joint committee of Wolesi Jirga and Mashrano Jirga, we are discussing to reject the presidential decree if MoCIT fails to respond to our queries and create the system.”
According to Alakozai, there are serious allegations of corruption in the collection of 10 percent tax on mobile phone users, but they have not yet been investigated.
Saleh Mohammad, another member of Mashrano Jirga, alleges that the revenue collected from telecom tax goes to the pockets of a few corrupt circles instead of public treasury.
Asif Habibi, an Afghan information technology expert living in Germany, says the possibility of corruption in most common tax collection systems is low; however, the possibility of embezzlement of revenue in the way MoCIT collects telecom tax is very high.
Telecom tax is collected in many countries around the world, he adds, but there are specific systems to ensure transparency in the process, which assures the taxpayers of their money.
The MoCIT, however, argues that the telecom tax collection system contract has been delayed by the National Procurement Commission (NPC).
Khan Zaman Amarkhail, an adviser to MoCIT, told The Heart of Asia that the Ministry has finalized all processes, and also picked a firm out of a pool of six companies two weeks ago as per its promise to develop a system for the 10 percent telecommunication tax collection.
The president and the National Procurement Commission have some considerations about the issue, Amarkhail reveals, adding that a commission has been tasked to assess it.
Avoiding to provide details about what the president’s remarks are, he insists that the Ministry has prepared all systems and also hired professionals, as it had promised, and they will start installing the system once the NPC completes its procurement processes.
The Heart of Asia could not reach the Presidential Palace for a comment despite repeated attempts.
A local commander of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group has been killed by Afghan security forces in the northern province of Jawzjan, Afghan officials say.
Provincial police chief Faqeer Mohammad Jawzjani said on April 7 that the IS commander, Qari Hekmat, was killed by Afghan forces’ air strikes on April 5.
The official told RFE/RL that Hekmat was killed along with his bodyguard and two other militants in Jawzjan’s Darzab district.
Jawzjani said the government forces continue a military operation to clear out the area from IS militants.
Afghan officials earlier said that IS militants in Jawzjan appointed Mawlawi Habib-ur-Rehman, an IS fighter from the northern province of Balkh, as the extremist group’s new local commander.
IS militants have a presence in several Afghan districts, mostly in the country’s east near the Pakistani border, but also in some northern provinces, like Jawzjan and Kunduz.
IS doesn’t fully control any Afghan district, and it fights both the Afghan government forces and the Taliban for territorial control.
IS has claimed responsibility for several deadly suicide attacks in the capital, Kabul, and other cities, including Herat and Jalalabad.
Dozens of public schools that were shut down by the Taliban in Charkh district of Logar are set to reopen after a deal was reached with the militant group, an official says.
Salim Saleh, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said that classes “are expected to resume in the afternoon on April 8” in at least 30 schools after a week-long interruption.
The Taliban closed the schools on March 31 after several militants and one of their commanders were killed in a night raid by government forces.
Media earlier reported that Mualvi Mohammad, a Taliban commander, was killed in the Afghan army operation in the area late on March 30.
Saleh told RFE/RL on April 7 that the deal to reopen the school was reached after negotiations between the Taliban and tribal elders in the area.
The official had previously said that authorities were in contact with influential tribal elders and religious scholars in Charkh in an attempt to secure the schools’ reopening.
Saleh said the Taliban’s move left some 12,000 students out of school in Charkh, which is about 60 kilometers south of the capital Kabul.
For the first time a woman has been appointed as chairperson of a district in Mazar-e-Sharif city in Balkh province.
Friba Ahmadi was appointed chairwoman of the 5th district of Mazar-e-Sharif and took up the reins this week.
The 36-year-old university graduate said she was confident of her abilities and addressing people’s problems would be her priority.
Ahmadi graduated from the literature faculty of Balkh University.
Addressing District 5 employees, Ahmadi said: “I can work and if anyone of you says that I am not able to work then when the district office is questioned every one of us will be questioned; so we must work well together.”
On her first day in the job, Ahmadi visited Faqirabad village, a remote area in District 5, and listened to the residents problems.
“No help has been provided to the people through the district office,” said Fateh, a tribal elder in the village.
After listening to the people’s problems, Ahmadi told TOLOnews that the roads in the areas are not paved, there is a shortage of water, and not enough bridges.
She said she would try to resolve these key problems.
“The priority of my work is that I have to figure out which are the most challenging areas in the 5th district, what problems do I have to deal with in the first step,” said Ahmadi.
Meanwhile, Balkh women’s affairs director Shahla Hadid welcomed the appointment of Ahmadi.
“We have capable women who can work in high positions, and if the men support such talent there will be a day that brothers and sisters will stand shoulder to shoulder and will work in different positions in order to rescue the country from its miseries,” said Hadid.
The National Security Advisor of Afghanistan Mohammad Hanif Atmar phoned the Chief Executive of Jamiat-e-Islami and former governor of Balkh province Atta Mohammad Noor, weeks after the government and Noor reached to an agreement to end the months-long stalemate over Balkh political leadership.
The Office of the National Security Council in a statement said Mr. Atmar phoned Atta Mohammmad Noor on Friday evening and praised him for his services and achievements.
Atmar further added that Noor has taken important and right decisions as the country was going through a critical moment.
The National Security Advisor also added that he respects Noor for being one of the key political leaders of the country.
In his turn, Noor thanked Atmar for the phone call and said he has always served the country and vowed to continue his efforts for the interests of the people and the country.
According to the Office of the National Security Advisor, Noor has said that he is fully supporting the current political system and is committed to support and empower it.
This comes as Noor and the government of national unity reached an agreement to end the impasse over the political leadership of Balkh province which resulted into the introduction of the new governor of the province.
The Office of the President announced around four months ago that Noor had submitted his resignation and that it was approved by President.
However, Noor was refusing to step down and was insisting that the resignation letter was handed over during the negotiations with the government as guarantee to step down once his and his party’s demands were met by the government.
The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces have thwarted a plot by the anti-government armed militants to carry out a rocket attack on Kabul.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officials said Friday that the militants were looking to target the city with a BM-1 rocket from Chahar Asiab district.
The officials further added that the rocket along with a mobile phone device was discovered from the vicinity of Char Asiab district before the militants manage to carry out an attack.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officials said Wednesday that the Afghan security forces have confiscated a cache containing ammunition for heavy weapons during an operation in Kabul city.
According to the officials, the cache was discovered during an operation in the vicinity of the 13th police district of the city.
The officials further added that the Afghan forces confiscated three rounds of 822mm mortar, two artillery rounds, six rounds of heavy anti-aircraft gun munitions, and seven other types of mortar rounds from the cache.
The CID officials also said that the militants were looking to use the munitions to carry out terrorist related activities in the city.
This comes as the anti-government armed groups are attempting to carry out attacks in the key provinces and cities of the country during the recent months.
At least six Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers were wounded in an explosion in Kabul city on Wednesday morning.