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Afghan pilot told to rejoin air force or leave US protection

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2020)

An Afghan major under US protection at an American base fears he could be in danger of being killed by the Taliban after being given an ultimatum following the Pentagon’s reversal on its asylum decision.

Major Mohammed Naiem Asadi, one of Afghanistan’s few elite attack helicopter pilots, his wife and four-year-old daughter had been approved in October to move to the US but this month that decision was overturned.

According to Asadi he has been told he will be forced to leave the US base in Afghanistan on Monday if he does not rejoin the Afghan Air Force, Stars and Stripes reported.

In a letter to US officials, Asadi’s lawyer Kimberly Motley said she was “extremely concerned” the major would be imprisoned and separated from his family if turned over to the Afghan military.

According to Stars and Stripes, the Afghan government has threatened to imprison pilots in the past for attempting to gain asylum in other countries.

For the last month, Asadi and his family have been living under US military protection, but on Sunday afternoon, US and Afghan military officers told Asadi that if he does not rejoin the Afghan Air Force, he will be forced to leave the base, Asadi told Stars and Stripes.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Defense Ministry has said it is committed to protecting him, Asadi said he doubts the Afghan government’s ability and willingness to protect him at a time when the country is witnessing a wave of assassinations by the Taliban.

Asadi meanwhile is said to have killed more Taliban than any other pilot in the Afghan Air Force during thousands of flight hours, Afghan and US military officers told Stars and Stripes.

In the summer, he protected an American pilot who crashed his A-29 Super Tucano attack turboprop in northern Afghanistan, a letter of commendation signed by US Air Force Captain Robert V. Yost said.

Asadi led a flight of two MD-530 attack helicopters that scrambled to protect the crash site in Taliban-contested territory, and Asadi’s efforts were vital to the pilot’s rescue, Yost wrote.

“The incident was just one of countless events where Maj. Asadi’s actions have protected and saved lives,” he wrote.

Asadi applied for asylum in the US under Significant Public Benefit Parole, a temporary status for noncitizens in need of protection. He then passed several background checks, with a US military contractor confirming the authenticity of the Taliban death threats he received, Stars and Stripes reported.

According to Motley, risks to Afghan pilots from the Taliban dramatically increase once it’s known they are applying for a visa to leave the country.

“It is also quite clear that the Afghan government cannot (or will not) protect the Asadi family from the Taliban,” Motley said in her letter. “They simply do not have the capacity or ability.”

Asadi told Stars and Stripes on Sunday he is concerned with what may happen to him and his family should they leave the base.

“It’s very scary for me,” Asadi said. “My wife, she knows too. She is very sad, she didn’t eat lunch or breakfast; we didn’t sleep last night. It’s a very bad situation.”

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Two police personnel killed in targeted explosion in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: January 16, 2021)

At least two Afghan National Police (ANP) personnel were killed in an early morning IED explosion in Kabul on Saturday. 

According to police the explosion happened in PD3 in Dehbore square area of Kabul. 

Police said a Land Cruiser, belonging to Kabul Police Headquarters, had been targeted in the IED explosion. 

One other ANP member was wounded in the explosion. 

So far no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

This comes after a marked increase in targeted killings across the country – specifically against public figures, government workers, journalists and civil society members.

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12 local police killed in Taliban attack in Herat

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(Last Updated On: January 16, 2021)

At least 12 members of Afghan local police were killed in an attack by Taliban “infiltrators” in Herat province, local officials confirmed Saturday.

Herat police spokesman Abdul Ahad Walidaza said the incident occurred on Friday night in Ghorian district.

According to Walizada a delegation has arrived in the area to investigate the incident.

So far the Taliban has not commented.

Earlier sources in Herat province said three Taliban infiltrators killed at least 12 members of the local uprising forces, took their weapons, ammunition and fled the area.

Sources added that Taliban infiltrators had joined the force three nights ago.

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Parliament rejects draft budget for second time

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(Last Updated On: January 16, 2021)

Members of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) have rejected the proposed budget for the new fiscal year 1400 for the second time.

MPs said the second draft budget is also unbalanced and still does not address the issue of equal pay for government employees.

MPs said they will not approve the budget until the money has been allocated appropriately and that demands of the parliament regarding the equalizing of salaries are taken into account.

They said that the government also added two more articles to the draft budget which were not acceptable to them. 

MPs first rejected the draft budget on December 30 citing “serious problems” which they said hinged on the disproportionate allocation of money to projects and emergency codes. 

The draft budget was approved by the cabinet in November following adjustments in the Public Finance and Expenditure Management Regulation, a draft plan of hydrocarbons regulation; draft statute of Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (the Afghan power company); and the draft law on cadastre.

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