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Asghar Afghan sacked as captain over Zimbabwe loss

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(Last Updated On: May 31, 2021)

Afghanistan Cricket Board on Monday announced its board members have approved the proposal of a split-captaincy for the national team, which effectively removes Asghar Afghan as skipper.

A statement issued by the ACB said: “The decision to remove Asghar Afghan from captaincy was taken based on an investigation conducted by ACB’s Investigative committee which concluded that some of Afghan’s decisions as the captain of the team resulted in Afghanistan’s loss to Zimbabwe in the first Test of the series between both sides in Abu Dhabi in March.”

“As per the decision, left-hander Hashmatullah Shahidi is appointed the new ODI and Test Captain of the National team while Rahmat Shah will serve as the Vice-captain for both formats.

“Furthermore, it was decided that all-rounder Rashid Khan will remain the Vice-Captain of the T20I team while the decision to appoint the new captain will be taken soon,” the statement read.

Shahidi’s first assignment as the team’s captain is likely to be against Pakistan – which will see Afghanistan play three ODIs and as many T20Is in UAE in September against Pakistan.

Afghanistan is also set to face Australia in a one-off Test in November this year, which as per ICC’s original Future Tours Programme (FTP) was scheduled to be played last year, but was eventually postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Pakistan reopens Afghanistan border crossing held by Taliban

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(Last Updated On: July 27, 2021)

Pakistan on Monday reopened a major southwestern border crossing with Afghanistan that is currently under Taliban control on the Afghan side, Pakistani customs officials said, allowing over 100 trucks carrying goods to cross into Afghanistan.

The Chaman-Spin Boldak crossing, a key port for landlocked Afghanistan, had been closed by Pakistan for commercial traffic since fierce fighting for control of the crossing erupted between Taliban insurgents and Afghan security forces earlier this month, Reuters reported.

“Pakistan has opened its border with Afghanistan at Chaman today and resumed Afghan Transit Trade which was suspended since the last one month,” Arif Kakar, a senior official of the Chaman border district, told Reuters.

He said it would remain open six days a week.

Two Pakistani customs officials, requesting anonymity, told Reuters that Spin Boldak and the border town of Wesh were still under Taliban control, and they did not know what arrangements were in place across the border or who was clearing the goods through customs.

They said Pakistani officials were under pressure by traders to let trucks pass through as the goods they were carrying would otherwise perish, Reuters reported.

Afghanistan’s interior and finance ministries, and the Taliban spokesman, did not respond to requests for comment.

U.S. Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, which oversees American forces in Afghanistan, told reporters in Kabul on Sunday that Spin Boldak was a “contested space” and the Afghan government was looking to regain control of it.

Relations between neighbours Afghanistan and Pakistan have taken a sharp downturn in recent weeks, particularly over repeated allegations by Kabul that Pakistan is backing the Taliban – a charge Islamabad denies, Reuters reported.

The Taliban has escalated its offensive since the United States announced in April that it would withdraw its troops by September, ending a 20-year foreign military presence.

Reeling from battlefield losses, Afghanistan’s military is overhauling its war strategy to concentrate forces around critical areas such as Kabul and other cities, and border crossings.

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U.S. issues new flight restrictions over Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: July 27, 2021)

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Monday it has imposed new flight restrictions over Afghanistan for U.S. airlines and other U.S. operators in response to the changing security environment.

The FAA, in an emergency order effective Sunday, said flights operating below 26,000 feet are prohibited in the Kabul Flight Information Region, which largely covers Afghanistan, unless operating in and out of Hamid Karzai International Airport, citing the risk “posed by extremist/militant activity.”

The restrictions do not apply to U.S. military operations.

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US envoy says Taliban indifference to lives of Afghan civilians

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(Last Updated On: July 26, 2021)

Ross Wilson, Chargé d’ Affaires of the US Embassy in Kabul, said Monday that the Taliban is “reticence” to meaningful peace talks and that shows “their indifference toward Afghan civilian lives.”

Wilson said in a tweet: “Each day, this country suffers more death and destruction that could be stopped through good faith efforts at the negotiation table.”

This comes after the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afganistan (UNAMA) warned Monday Afghanistan could see the highest number of civilian deaths in more than a decade if the Taliban’s offensives are not stopped.

In its six-monthly report, released Monday, UNAMA also stated the pursuit of a military solution will only increase the suffering of the Afghan people and warned that Afghan troops and pro-government forces were responsible for a quarter of all civilian casualties.

According to the report, as many as 1,659 civilians were killed and another 3,254 wounded during the first half of 2021, a 47 percent increase compared with the same period last year, the UNAMA report said.

UNAMA blamed anti-government elements for 64 percent of civilian casualties — including some 40 percent caused by the Taliban and nearly nine percent by Daesh.

About 16 percent of casualties were caused by “undetermined” anti-government elements.

But Afghan troops and pro-government forces were responsible for 25 percent, it said.

UNAMA said about 11 percent of casualties were caused by “crossfire” and the responsible parties could not be determined.

According to UNAMA, women comprised 14 percent of all civilian casualties during this period, with a total of 727 women casualties recorded (219 killed and 508 injured), an increase of 82 percent compared with the first six months of last year.

Meanwhile, Ross Wilson stated that the UNAMA report is heartbreaking.

“The numbers in the UNAMA report are heartbreaking: 32% of the civilian casualties in the first six months of 2021 were children,” he said.

The US diplomat called on warring parties that “for the sake of the nation and the country’s future, Afghanistan needs a Ceasefire Now.”

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