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Abdullah says “lasting ceasefire” first issue to be discussed in intra-Afghan talks

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(Last Updated On: September 5, 2020)

The Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah says that a lasting ceasefire will be the first issue that the Afghan delegation would negotiate with the Taliban once the intra-Afghan talks are started.

In an interview with Al Arabiya, Abdullah said: “ The first issue to be discussed will be the issue of ceasefire a sort of long term ceasefire or lasting ceasefire which creates the environmentally better environment for the continuation of negotiations.”

He added that the people of Afghanistan want a dignified and lasting peace as they have suffered more than 40 of war, “over 40 years of war has taken its toll on the people.”

It comes as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Deborah Lyons while briefing the Security Council on the situation in Afghanistan, said that “the level of violence on the battlefield remains deeply worrying.”

She called on the two sides to consider a humanitarian ceasefire as one of the first items on the agenda of Intra- Afghan negotiations.

“For Afghanistan’s most vulnerable people, the stakes could not be higher. I urge all member states to amplify this call as the negotiations begin. And the negotiations will begin,” she noted.

“After four decades of war, the people of Afghanistan have more reason than ever to hope that this devastating conflict may come to an end,” the UN envoy said.

It comes as the intra-Afghan negotiation, aimed to find a political settlement for ending the long-term war in Afghanistan, is expected to kick start soon as the barriers for the process have been removed.

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Leaked documents indicate embezzlement of Parwan’s COVID budget

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(Last Updated On: January 18, 2021)

Documents leaked to Ariana News show that more than one million Afghanis (about $13,000) of the dedicated COVID-19 budget has been embezzled in Parwan province.

The documents indicate that the cost of health-related items recorded was double that of the actual purchase price. 

Chlorine powder was purchased for 405 Afghanis per kilogram, while studies show that the actual price is 350 Afghanis per kilo.

The documents revealed that 433,316 Afghanis too much was paid for 2,380 cases of surgical gloves; 307,692 AFs too much was spent on personal protective equipment (PPE); and the province paid double for handwash. 

Officials also paid too much for vitamin D ampoules, plastic bowls, thermometers and medical masks. 

According to the documents, the total difference against the actual prices of the goods was 1,137,094 Afghanis. 

While the provincial governor and the health director deny that the money was embezzled, the Attorney General’s Office has announced it will conduct a thorough investigation into the issue. 

“The issue of corruption in the special budget in the fight against coronavirus in Logar, Khost, Parwan, Baghlan, Kunduz, Bamyan and Daikundi provinces has been sent to the Attorney General’s Office and is under investigation,” said Jamshid Rasouly, AGO spokesman.

According to regulations around curbing the spread of the virus in the country, provincial governors have the authority to spend up to five million Afghanis on necessary medical items. 

However, according to a source, the governor of Parwan has already used eight million Afghanis. 

“In the coronavirus budget section, we had appointed a delegation, under the leadership of the deputy governor, and civil society which could look into the matter. We are accountable to all institutions,” Parwan’s provincial governor Fazluddin Ayar said.

But a researcher from Integrity Watch Afghanistan Nasir Temori said: “The national budget has been wasted due to the lack of regulatory bodies.” 

However, the governor of Parwan, the director of health, the head of pharmacy, the director of procurement, the director of remittances, the chief of the provincial hospital and several others have been referred to the Attorney General’s Office on charges of corruption.

It is not only the officials of Parwan province who have been accused of embezzling COVID-19 funds. Governors and officials of several other provinces have also been accused of embezzlement.

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Dostum returns to the battlefield to fight the Taliban

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(Last Updated On: January 18, 2021)

Former vice president Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum has returned to the battlefield and is leading troops to fight the Taliban in Qaramqal district of northern Faryab province.

In an operation led by him, parts of the district are said to have been cleared of militants within only 12 hours.

“Enter the houses like a wolf, check the houses, drill holes in the walls and see, but be aware of yourself. Taliban commanders are definitely here. Hit them all and one of your bullets should not go missed,” said Dostum.

The reason for the operation, led by Dostum, is to support government forces in the fight against Taliban insurgents.

“With the help of him (Dostum), we were able to retake the villages that were under enemy control,” said Mahbubullah, an army commander.

This is not the first battle Dostum has led. Over the years he has on a number of occasions led troops to fight the Taliban and although he is not formally employed by government he still heeds the call of duty when needed. He is also considered a major anti-Taliban figure.

Dostum served as Vice President of Afghanistan from 2014 to 2020. In 2001 he was the key ally to US Special Forces and the CIA during the campaign to topple the Taliban regime.

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Taliban asks for extra time to present peace talks agenda 

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(Last Updated On: January 18, 2021)

The Taliban negotiating team has asked the members of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s team for a few days to submit their agenda.

Sources from the Republic’s negotiating team confirm that the request was made during a meeting between the leaders and some members of the delegations on Sunday night in Doha. 

But the Republic’s delegation has already handed over its agenda to the Taliban.

“Yesterday in the meeting, they talked about the issues of the agenda and its order and how it has progressed. Regarding the meeting today, no decision has been made yet,” said Najia Anwari, a spokesperson for the State Ministry for Peace Affairs.

Meanwhile NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that NATO’s position on Afghanistan has not changed and the presence of its troops will be conditions based in Afghanistan.

In addition, Mir Rahman Rahmani, speaker of the Wolesi Jirga, said on Monday: “The complexity of the talks, the delay in setting the agenda, the indifference of the Taliban delegation, the lack of internal political consensus, the dispersal of the High Council of National Reconciliation have made it difficult to reach an agreement.”

This all comes after the US announced last week it’s troop levels were down to 2,500. 

In line with this, US Vice President Mike Pence has said that if the terms of the Washington agreement with the Taliban are implemented, the rest of the US troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan.

“The day will come when the war in Afghanistan will finally end. Your mission in Afghanistan has been vital to the security of the American people,” Pence said. 

Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the high council for national reconciliation, also dealt with peace talks issues on Monday and met with former President Hamid Karzai where they discussed the second round of Doha talks, the latest developments in peace talks and the strengthening of national and international consensus in support of the peace process.

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