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Living with so much violence is no way to live: Khalilzad



(Last Updated On: December 25, 2020)

US Special Representative for National Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has condemned the recent assassinations of public figures, and said such levels of violence “breed a climate of fear” and could drive more people away from their homeland.

Khalilzad’s statement came just hours after the latest in a string of targeted attacks, which claimed the life of Freshta Kohistani, a women’s rights activist, who was gunned down in Kapisa province on Thursday evening.

In a series of tweets overnight Friday, Khalilzad also reacted to the killing of Yousef Rasheed, the CEO for Afghanistan Free and Fair Election Foundation (FEFA).

Rasheed was killed in a targeted shooting outside his house in Kabul on Wednesday morning. The FEFA CEO and his driver both died in a hail of bullets.

Khalilzad said: “Yousef Rasheed’s assassination is reprehensible. We condemn it. We also condemn the recent murder of several doctors working in Puli Charkhi and women’s rights activist Freshta Kohistani.”

He said the perpetrators of these attacks “must be held accountable.”

“Yousef was a patriot. He dedicated himself to making his country a better place. He advocated peace and progress. He was sensitive to grievances of all sides,” Khalilzad stated.

“People like Yousef and Freshta are essential for any society. They are its conscience and keep its heart beating. They should not be fearful, intimidated, or worse, killed,” he stated.

“Living with so much violence is no way to live. It breeds a climate of fear. Fear will drive more Afghans to leave their homeland. Who will then be left to advocate for rights and freedoms?

“This is not the way a society will thrive and prosper.

“These targeted killings and assassinations must stop. They threaten the peace process. The Afghan people demand peace.


“A ceasefire and political settlement remain urgent. I urge the negotiating parties to redouble their efforts. We stand ready to help,” Khalilzad said.

Psychological war game

On Thursday, Second Vice President Sarwar Danesh said Afghanistan’s enemy was playing a “psychological war game” by trying to create fear, panic, despair and division as it stepped up high-profile targeted assassinations around the country.

Referring to recent assassinations and attempted assassinations, Danesh said under the current circumstances “we need to tighten our ranks in every way and not give in to the enemy’s psychological warfare.”

Danish said the aim of recent attacks was to destabilize the entire system, the values of the past 20 years, to create fear, panic, despair, division, distance between government and the people, to gain points at the negotiating table or to stop the peace process.

A marked increase in violence has wracked the country since the start of the peace talks process in Doha in September but in recent weeks targeted killings have also been on the rise.

On Wednesday, Rasheed and his driver Sami were killed in Kabul by unknown gunmen, a day after five doctors were also killed in the city in a targeted IED explosion.

On Monday night, Rahmatullah Nikzad, a freelance reporter and head of a media safety union was gunned down in Ghazni while he was reportedly on his way to mosque.

Nikzad with the fifth journalist killed in the past two months.

Since November 7, former TOLOnews presenter Yama Siawash; Radio Azadi reporter Elyas Daee; Enekaas TV presenter in Nangarhar Malala Maiwand; and Ariana News presenter Fardin Amini were all killed in separate incidents.

Other targeted attacks over the past few months have also included government figures, including the failed attempt on the life of the First Vice President on September 9.

Amrullah Saleh survived the targeted IED explosion against his convoy of armored vehicles but 10 civilians in the immediate area were killed.

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Magnitude 5.6 quake hits western Afghanistan, killing more than 20



(Last Updated On: January 18, 2022)

An earthquake rocked western Afghanistan on Monday, killing more than 20 people and destroying hundreds of homes, local authorities said.

The 5.6 magnitude tremor shook the western province of Badghis, bordering Turkmenistan, in the afternoon, reducing brick homes to rubble, according to photos shared by local authorities, Reuters reported.

“Unfortunately, our initial reports show that 26 people, including five women and four children, have been killed and four others injured,” said Baz Mohammad Sarwari, the director of Information and Culture of the Badghis provincial administration.

“The Mujahideen have reached to some of the affected areas, but Badghis is a mountainous province, the number of casualties might go up,” he added, referring to Taliban fighters, and adding that heavy rain was also lashing the area.

Mullah Janan Saeqe, head of the Emergency Operations Centre of the Ministry of State for Emergency Affairs, confirmed the death toll and said more than 700 houses had been damaged, Reuters reported.

Sanullah Sabit, the head of the nursing unit at the main hospital in Badghis’ capital said they had received five patients injured in the quake, mostly with broken bones and fractures.

The quake was at a depth of 30 km (18.64 miles), according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre.

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China’s birthrate falls to lowest level in 61 years



(Last Updated On: January 17, 2022)

China’s birthrate has fallen to its lowest level in six decades, barely outnumbering deaths in 2021 despite major government efforts to increase population growth and stave off a demographic crisis.

Across China, 10.62 million babies were born in 2021, a rate of 7.52 per thousand people, the national bureau of statistics said on Monday.

In the same period 10.14 million deaths were recorded, a mortality rate of 7.18 per thousand, producing a population growth rate of just 0.34 per thousand head of population, the Guardian reported.

The rate of growth is the lowest since 1960, and adds to the findings of last May’s once-a-decade census, which found an average annual rise of 0.53%, down from 0.57% reported from 2000 to 2010.

China, like much of east Asia, is in the grip of a population crisis, with lowering birthrates, and predictions of imminent negative population growth and an ageing population. Monday’s figures showed the proportion of over-60s in China rose from 18.7% in 2020 to 18.9%.

Beijing has announced major reforms to address the decline, including raising the retirement age. A three-child policy has replaced the two-child policy that was introduced in 2016 and had sparked a slight increase in births before falling again.

The high cost of living, delayed marriages and lack of social mobility are frequently cited as contributing factors to young Chinese people’s reluctance to have children.

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CSTO to take anti-drug trafficking measures at Afghanistan border



(Last Updated On: January 17, 2022)

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) will hold a three-phase anti-drug trafficking operation at the border with Afghanistan, the organization’s Secretary General Stanislav Zas told Russia-24 news outlet.

He said the CSTO has a range of activities planned for 2022, including military security and the fight against terrorism, Russia-24 reported.

“These are measures of fighting against the illegal circulation of narcotics. This subject is especially important on the backdrop of the recent events in Afghanistan. Here we plan three stages of anti-drug trafficking measures,” Zas said.

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