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NSA says govt will maintain peace by force if talks fail

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(Last Updated On: January 17, 2021)

The National Security Advisor (NSA) Hamdullah Mohib said on Sunday that government will maintain peace by force if intra-Afghan peace negotiations currently underway in Doha fail.

Speaking during a visit to the southern province of Helmand to assess the security situation, Mohib told Afghan soldiers that the Afghan security and defense forces have the capability of eliminating the armed opposition.

“Those (Taliban) who do not want, despite government’s willingness to compromise; but they want to fuel insecurity in the country and disturb the people; if it is not achieved via dialogue (peace), we will maintain peace by force.”

Meanwhile, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and Commander of US forces in Afghanistan General Scott Miller on Saturday met with the Taliban delegation in Doha to discuss issues around peace negotiations.

The Taliban delegation led by the group’s deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar discussed the importance and implementation of the agreement and the current situation of the country with the US officials, the Taliban political spokesman Mohammad Naeem said.

“All sides emphasized that issues should be solved via dialogue and every side should fairly fulfill its responsibilities in this regard,” Naeem tweeted.

The Taliban also discussed “the issue of the release of its remaining detainees and the removal of [their members from the US] Blacklist, which are the text and important items of the [US-Taliban] agreement.”

“The lack of total implementation of the agreement, and especially not taking serious measures about the above mentioned two articles, which should have been acted on to the large extent, can affect the ongoing process of negotiations,” Naeem stated.

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EU-Afghan working group tackles human rights issues

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(Last Updated On: February 24, 2021)

The third meeting of the EU-Afghanistan Special Working Group on Human Rights, Good Governance and Migration was held on Wednesday virtually in which parties involved expressed grave concern about the continuing high level of violence, and condemned the increasing number of targeted killings of media workers, civil society activists and law enforcement officials.

In a statement issued late Wednesday night, the European Union stated the parties discussed human rights and fundamental freedoms in the context of the ongoing Afghan peace process.

The parties “expressed grave concern about the continuing high level of violence, and condemned the increasing number of targeted killings of media workers, civil society activists and law enforcement officials, who are essential bastions of a democratic and open society.”

The EU called on the Afghan government to “provide for the security of these important actors in society, as well as conduct thorough investigations, bring the culprits to justice and keep the Afghan public fully informed about the measures taken.”

The EU also emphasized the importance of respecting and promoting International Humanitarian Law to protect civilians in conflict by all parties to the conflict.

“The protection of civilians, medical and education facilities as well as humanitarian workers, cannot wait for peace. The parties stressed that only an immediate cessation of violence would restore confidence in the sincerity of the Taliban for a political settlement to end the war,” the statement read.

The EU and Afghanistan meanwhile agreed on the importance of an enhanced promotion of inclusivity in the peace talks, notably the involvement of women, youth, minorities, internally displaced persons, refugees and victims of war, to ensure an ownership of the process by all Afghans.

They also underlined that the preservation and further strengthening of the democratic and human rights gains of the last 20 years is indispensable during and after the peace process, and referred to the broad-based consensus on this, as expressed at the Geneva Conference for Afghanistan in November 2020.

“In the areas of women and children’s rights, the necessity to enforce legislation against widespread violence and harmful practices was highlighted, as well as the need to address discrimination against religious minorities.

“In the field of governance, the EU and Afghanistan emphasised the importance of free, fair, credible, transparent and inclusive electoral processes that would facilitate legitimate transfer of power, and discussed the experiences of their electoral cooperation and the prospects of continuing electoral reform.

“Anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) issues were also addressed, in view of the EU’s ongoing assessment of Afghanistan’s AML/CFT regime,” read the statement.

Afghanistan’s anti-corruption efforts were also discussed along with the regional dimension of migration.

The parties discussed the measures taken by the Afghan Government and commended their joint coordination in the area of anti-corruption policy and institutional reforms, and committed to keep the matter high on their bilateral agenda.

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200 corruption cases tackled by AGO in past two months

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(Last Updated On: February 24, 2021)

The Attorney General’s Office said Wednesday during a state accountability program briefing that 200 corruption cases, mostly involving government officials and government employees, have been investigated in the past two months.

“In the past two solar months the Attorney General has handed over 224 corruption cases to the High Court and 500 people have been charged,” said Jamshid Rasouly, spokesman for the AGO.

“The defendants include high-ranking officials such as deputies, governors, heads of departments, members of the provincial council and parliament, who have been charged with embezzlement, bribery, abuse of authority, money laundering, forgery of documents, also among these, there are 76 military cases and 178 defendants are included,” Rasouly added.

Rasouly said more than 1,700 corruption cases have been investigated this (solar) year. He said government officials, a number of members of the National Assembly and Provincial Councils are among those charged.

“In one year, the tireless efforts of the Attorney General’s Office to establish a modern anti-corruption mechanism have led to far-reaching changes. Today, the results of this national struggle in 1399 solar year are 1,791 cases, which shows that this promise has been increasingly fulfilled,” Rasouly said.

But Integrity Watch Afghanistan says that there has been no reforms at the Attorney General’s Office in the fight against corruption.

This comes after President Ashraf Ghani said about a month ago the leadership of the Attorney General’s Office needed to ramp up efforts to fight corruption and questioned the body’s performance.

A number of MPs in the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) and civil society members have claimed the Attorney General’s Office and the Afghan judiciary deal with cases of corruption politically.

In addition to this, it has been three months since the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commission and according to Afghan oversight bodies and civil society, the commission has so far provided no results in the fight against corruption.

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Ghani claims Afghanistan in best position yet to achieve peace

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(Last Updated On: February 24, 2021)

In a meeting with a number of Wolesi Jirga MPs, President Ashraf Ghani said on Wednesday that now more than ever, the grounds for a free and just peace have been laid.

“Afghanistan is in a better position than ever to achieve a free and just peace, and there will be extensive consultations with the National Assembly in the coming months,” Ghani said.

Ghani also stated that NATO’s decision not to stay or leave Afghanistan is a big message to the Taliban, who expected the people to surrender.

“The fact that NATO has not yet decided is a big message, and the claims of those to whom the people will surrender will end; now the serious negotiations to reach a solution will pave the way for it (peace),” Ghani added.

On the other hand, the Afghan government’s peace negotiating team says that the Taliban have promised to resume talks after members of their delegation and their leadership return to Qatar.

“The Taliban themselves stated we should be at the negotiating tables to start talks when their leaders have returned,” said Harifa Zurmati, a member of the Republic’s negotiating team.

The State Ministry for Peace also said its contact groups have started work and are holding meetings in Doha.

“Meetings between the contact groups were not held for about a month, but now they have been held for the past two days and fortunately the meetings have started and are continuing,” said Najia Anwari, Strategic Communication General Director and spokesperson for the State Ministry for Peace.

The delegation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan says that the first issue on their agenda is a nationwide ceasefire, while the Taliban has their first issue as that regarding the ruling system.

NATO, the European Union and other foreign partners have backed the call for a ceasefire so as to end violence and civilian casualties.

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