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Kabul Process: President Ghani Reiterates Call on Taliban to Join Peace Talks

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(Last Updated On: June 6, 2017)

President Ashraf Ghani reiterated call on the Taliban militant group to join peace talks, stressed that it would not be an “open-ended opportunity”.

Opening a peace and security international conference “Kabul Process” on Tuesday in Kabul, Ghani described that the location for peace talks with Taliban can be anywhere based on mutual agreement. He said it can be in Kabul or anywhere else.

“If there is an agreement to develop a peaceful path, acceptable for both sides, we will allow the Taliban group to open representative office… We are offering a chance for peace but we must also be clear that this is not an open-ended opportunity,” Ghani said.

He urged a lessening of violence and meaningful negotiations to end the conflict in country, citing the government’s success in making peace deal with the Hezb-e-Islami in forty years of conflict.

Ghani said that the UN’s mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) should be strengthened to be a key counterpart in peace process with Taliban, and the UN would facilitate “a neutral, third party monitoring mechanism’” for the peace talks with the group, “so that when a peace agreement is in sight, there is also the means to verify compliance and resolve disputes.”

The conference was hosted representatives from 27 nations including Pakistan, Russia and China.

The President stressed that Afghanistan suffers “undeclared war of aggression” from Pakistan.

Ghani further said that in the early months of his administration, he had gone out on a limb to offer an olive branch to Pakistan, but it was ignored.

‘We want peace with Pakistan. We want to be able to trust Pakistan.  And we want the chance for friendly, cooperative relationships that will reduce poverty and promote growth on both sides of the Durand Line.”

“Our challenge is we cannot figure out what is it that Pakistan wants. What will it take to convince Pakistan that a stable Afghanistan helps them and helps our region?” Ghani said.

In the last two years, the president said, 75,000 Afghans were killed and injured, adding that 11,000 terrorists had come to Afghanistan in the last two years, as “Taliban sponsored terrorism is creating a platform that is bringing terrorists from all over the region to Afghanistan.”

Ghani also urged the international community to strengthen the Afghan security forces. “Strengthening security forces means that Taliban cannot win militarily.”

The “Kabul Process” international meeting in Kabul comes in the wake of recent terror attacks in the city, including a tanker bomb blast which left more than 150 dead.

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Neighbors ‘colluding’ with Taliban over drone warfare: military experts

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(Last Updated On: January 19, 2021)

A number of former military chiefs and members of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) have said the Taliban are not able to get access to hi-tech drones without the help of neighboring countries. 

The use of drones is one of the Taliban’s latest tactics. The group has not only used the devices to gather surveillance footage of possible targets but have also used them to carry out bombardments against military installations. 

Sources in Kunduz said on Monday the Taliban also carried out an airstrike on a national army battalion in Imam Sahib district of the province on Sunday – using drones. This comes after they dropped explosives on the 217 Pamir Corps.

The use of this technology by the Taliban is not new, but in recent months such attacks by the group on military bases have increased. 

“The use of drones by the Taliban has concerned the people. The group has attacked the 217th Pamir Corps and an ANA battalion in the Imam Sahib district of Kunduz,” said Mohammad Yusof Ayoubi, head of Kunduz Provincial Council.

Military experts say the use of such technology by the Taliban alone is not possible, and that countries in the region are involved in the attacks. 

They say there are now free markets in parts of Pakistan, where the Taliban obtain drones and advanced weapons.

“Advanced weapons are still sold freely in parts of Pakistan. The Afghan military can easily thwart Taliban airstrikes, even with Kalashnikovs,” said former military chief Dawlat Waziri.

Although the Ministry of Defense did not comment on the use of Taliban drones, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) has already confirmed the use of such technology by the group.

The House Defense Committee also says the Taliban are active near military bases due to the lack of intelligence.

“Weak intelligence has led to a large presence of the Taliban near military bases. This must be stopped,” said Mir Haidar Afzali, Chairman of the Defense Affairs Committee of the Wolesi Jirga.

Military experts say the attacks are dangerous, but say security and defense agencies could easily prevent them.

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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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