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Concerns raised over govt official’s ‘involvement’ in Ghor journalist’s death

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(Last Updated On: January 16, 2021)

Media advocacy groups on Friday raised concerns over the safety of journalists after a Ghor provincial council member was killed in a skirmish with the National Directorate of Security (NDS) this week, who suspected him of having assassinated at least two public figures, including a journalist. 

The NDS had been investigating Ezatullah Bek in connection with the recent assassinations of journalist Bismellah Adel, and deputy head of the provincial council Abdul Rahman Atshan.

“If high-ranking government officials are involved in the murder of journalists, it raises our concerns and those of our colleagues; we urge the national security and the government of Afghanistan to make public all documents of the involvement of this member of the provincial council and other cases should be considered the same,” said Siddiqullah Tawhidi, Director of Media Watch.

The General Directorate of National Security (NDS) says that Bek was killed on Thursday after a clash with national security forces in the center of Ghor.

One NDS member was also killed in the skirmish and another was injured, the NDS added.

According to the NDS, Bek had been involved in targeted assassinations, equipping and financing the Taliban, and he was suspected of collaborating with the Taliban to eliminate internal opponents. 

The NDS meanwhile also published the confessions of a bodyguard as well as a member of Bek’s group. Both confessed to the assassination of Bismillah Adel and Abdul Rahman Atshan.

“Ehsanullah, who is the brother of Ezatullah, a member of the provincial council, repeatedly mentioned the name of a journalist Bismellah Adel and said that we should eliminate it,” said Nooruddin, a close ally of Ezatullah Bek.

“One morning Ehsan, the brother of Ezatullah, who is the commander of 20 Taliban, came to the back of the house and told us to take the mine (IED). We took the mine and stuck it on Abdul Rahim Rezazadah’s car,” said Rezwanullah, a bodyguard of Ezatullah Bek.

This latest development comes after a marked increase in targeted killings across the country – specifically against journalists and civil society members. 

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Pakistan wants political solution to Afghanistan issue: Qureshi

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(Last Updated On: February 25, 2021)

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Thursday that the establishment of peace in Afghanistan is essential for peace in Pakistan and the entire region.

Qureshi said this during discussions with the President Ashraf Ghani’s Special Representative Muhammad Umar Daudzai who arrived in Islamabad on Thursday.

During the meeting, Afghan peace talks, the regional situation and matters of mutual interest were discussed.

Qureshi said Pakistan wants a political solution to the Afghanistan issue through a comprehensive dialogue process.

He said Pakistan sees the process as a shared responsibility and will continue to play a conciliatory role.

“Pakistan has deep concerns over the increase of violence in Afghanistan,” Qureshi said.

Expressing concern over the high levels of violence, Qureshi emphasized the need for all parties to play a positive role in furthering the process of negotiations while reducing the levels of violence.

Qureshi said after the restoration of peace in Afghanistan, Pakistan will continue its role in helping to rebuild and develop the war-torn country.

Daudzai thanked Pakistan for its efforts in the peace process.

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Thousands of Afghans fleeing the country daily: Ministry

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(Last Updated On: February 25, 2021)

The Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations said Thursday that everyday about one thousand Afghan citizens leave the country illegally.

Ministry officials attributed this to poverty, unemployment and insecurity for most Afghan citizens, especially young people.

“About a thousand people migrate daily through Herat and Nimroz illegally, and then about a thousand return, and this migration and return is due to the economic situation or getting work,” said Reza Bahir, the ministry’s spokesman.

Insecurity and poverty are becoming more and more prevalent among the people of Afghanistan, so most of the country’s citizens, especially the youth, are migrating illegally to other countries by tackling difficult and even treacherous asylum routes, officials said.

Issa Mohammad, who wants to immigrate to Iran illegally through Nimroz province due to insecurity and unemployment, says the lack of work and the escalation of violence in the country has caused him to risk his life and leave his homeland.

“I am going to Iran illegally, it has problems. A few days ago, our friends were wounded and killed on the way,” said Issa.

Estimates currently indicate at least 6.7 million Afghans are currently refugees or asylum seekers around the world. Of this, three million are in Iran, two million are in Pakistan, 790,000 in Europe and 500,000 have applied for asylum in Australia.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice says that the United States will impose sanctions on Afghanistan if human trafficking is not stopped abroad.

“Efforts are underway to curb human trafficking and illegal migration so that migration can take place within a defined framework,” said Aman Reyazat, the ministry’s spokesman.
With the new solar year, in April, approaching, concerns have been raised that a large wave of Afghans will leave the country during this period over rising fears of violence.

The Afghan passport office meanwhile confirmed an increase in applications and stated it is currently issuing around 5,000 passports a day.

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US blames Taliban for high level of violence in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: February 25, 2021)

US Central Command chief, General Kenneth F. McKenzie on Thursday said the United States and NATO’s decision to withdraw troops will depend on conditions on the ground.

McKenzie also said that US and NATO in Afghanistan continue to support a negotiated settlement as the best possible outcome between the government and the Taliban going forward.

Speaking at a virtual Beirut Institute summit McKenzie said that the US still continues to see levels of violence that are way too high.

“I place a large measure of the blame on the Taliban who have continued to mount offensive operations and targeted killings of Afghan officials but the excessive violence has led the government to launch their own defensive operations to protect themselves – the violence while too high on both sides,” McKenzie said.

McKenzie also stressed that there is no sign that the Taliban had severed ties with al-Qaeda.

“In my clear judgment rests largely on the Taliban; we also continue to … look for signs of a Taliban break with al-Qaeda and I have not at this point seen any definitive signs that would lead to believe they’re prepared to or able to honor their obligations,” McKenzie added.

Meanwhile, a member of the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan said the path to peace in Afghanistan is difficult because the Taliban have always relied on war and violence and see it as an effective way to gain power.

“Taliban strategy is still focused on war, targeted killings and assassinations take place in cities as part of the same strategy,” said Amin Ahmadi, member of the Republic’s negotiating team.

On the other hand the German government on Wednesday agreed to extend its military mandate in Afghanistan by at least another 10 months.

Germany’s Deutsche Welle reported Thursday that the new draft mandate still needs the approval of the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.

“The people of Afghanistan and the government are committed to peace, only those who are not committed to peace are fighting, the Taliban want to come to power through explosions and suicide,” said Shah Mahmood Miakhil, defense deputy minister.

However, the Interior Minister said the only way left for the Taliban is peace, otherwise they will be suppressed.

“The only way left for the Taliban is to make peace, otherwise they will be suppressed everywhere in the country,” said Massoud Andarabi, the interior minister.

Although talks between Afghans have resumed over the last three days, no results have been achieved so far.

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