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Taliban expected to release last of govt prisoners ahead of Eid

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(Last Updated On: July 30, 2020)

Suheil Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, said on Wednesday night that the group would release the remaining prisoners before Eid al-Adha. 

In a statement on Twitter, Shaheen said: “Today, a total of 28 soldiers and policemen of the Kabul Administration were released from prisons of the Islamic Emirate in Baghlan and Logar provinces. They were sent to their families after having received financial help for transportation fare.”

He then called on the Afghan government to reciprocate by releasing the remainder of the 5,000 Taliban prisoners, as per the US-Taliban agreement signed earlier this year in Doha. 

Shaheen also stated that this should be “according to the list already provided in order to pave the way for the inception of intra-Afghan negotiations.”

He said that the group’s decision to release the remaining prisoners in their custody was “a goodwill gesture” ahead of the Eid holidays. 

So far, the prisoner swap issue has been seen as an obstacle in the way of much hoped for intra-Afghan talks. 

However, President Ashraf Ghani said earlier this week while addressing the fourth Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) in Kabul that to demonstrate the government’s commitment to peace, they would soon complete the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners.

Ghani said that “with this action we look forward to the start of direct negotiations with the Taliban in a week’s time.”

He also called on the Taliban to join the government at the negotiating table and to call for a “permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.”

A “commitment to a ceasefire during the coming Eid will be an indication of things to come,” he added.

Within hours of Ghani having said this, the Taliban issued their statement on Twitter announcing the three-day ceasefire over Eid al-Adha.

Soon after, government announced it would reciprocate and also called a truce over Eid.

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‘Worried’ Afghan women appeal to female world leaders to help secure their rights

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(Last Updated On: August 8, 2020)

Afghan women have appealed to female world leaders to stand with them in order to protect women’s rights in Afghanistan as a political landscape shift looms. 

In an open letter to women world leaders, issued by Afghan Women’s Network, Afghan women said “we are writing to you because we are worried.”

They said in the letter that “so far, the talks have been a show of the strongmen in which mostly those who fought and killed our fellow citizens are talking.”

They stated that they are afraid their rights and freedoms are in danger of being compromised and that the way the talks process has been led shows an established disrespect for the rights and freedoms of Afghan women. 

“We are afraid that our hard-won gains are being jeopardized and eroded only for a short-term solution among these very strongmen. We are afraid of this visible pushback from all those who are part of this process,” the letter stated. 

Pointing out that so many simple things that women around the world take for granted, Afghan women are either deprived of or face losing after having worked so hard to achieve them over the past 19 years. 

These issues include having the right to earn a living and provide for their families to “every day little acts like leaving their house without fear of reprisal, taking a stroll in the park, and laughing with a friend in public.”

They stated in the letter that “these are some of the basic things we fear we will lose again. We cannot take a chance to lose what we have achieved with your help.”

Afghan women have said they know they have a long way to go to achieve equality for women in Afghanistan “but we, the women, cannot allow it to go back. We will continue to fight for and defend our rights and those of our children.”

Appealing to female world leaders, the letter states Afghan women desperately need the support of these leaders “who are in a position of influence on the future of Afghanistan.”

“We hope that you will speak for us and our desire to be respected as equal humans when your countries make their decisions on Afghanistan. 

“We hope you will speak for our desire for a peace that is just, inclusive, sustainable, and practical. We hope that you will stand with us and for women’s rights and a sustainable peace in Afghanistan. 

“As women leaders, we are certain that you will relate to us in wanting a sustainable peace and equal rights for all.”

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17 Loya Jirga delegates test positive for COVID-19

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(Last Updated On: August 8, 2020)

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health on Saturday confirmed 17 Loya Jirga delegates had tested positive for COVID-19. 

According to officials, the delegates infected with the virus had not been allowed to enter the hall. 

Noorullah Taraki, deputy spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health, said the members of the Loya Jirga who tested positive have been taken to a COVID-19 treatment facility in Kabul. 

Critics meanwhile raised their voices on Friday over the apparent lack of adherence to health protocols by the delegates on Friday in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.

It was clear that very few delegates wore face masks and no social distancing practices were followed as 3,200 delegates sat shoulder to shoulder in the hall. 

This comes after a Public Health Ministry report released last week indicated up to 10 million Afghans had been infected with coronavirus – which has had an enormous impact on the country’s already fragile health system and economy. 

The Jirga will decide on the fate of 400 Taliban prisoners and the way forward regarding intra-Afghan talks. 

Comprising tribal elders, community leaders and politicians, 3,200 people from around the country are attending the event. 

Chairing the Jirga is Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation. 

He said Saturday on Twitter that Friday’s deliberations had continued late into the night but that a resolution would be announced on Saturday. 

We began the second working day of the Consultative Peace Jirga. Yesterday 33 out of 50 working committees of the #CPJ submitted their suggestions, which continued till late evening. Today, the remaining 17 committees will submit their suggestions.

The outcome of the committees suggestions on the release of 400 Taliban prisoners & other peace related issues will be announced today. The people of Afghanistan, & the international community looking forward for a positive, & constructive outcome to start the intra-Afghan talks.”

 

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Zimbabwe cancels Afghanistan’s T20I cricket tour

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(Last Updated On: August 8, 2020)

The planned Twenty20 International cricket tour for Afghanistan to Zimbabwe has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to Zimbabwean media reports, the host government declined to approve the tour, citing health risks. 

The tour was expected to start this month and despite the Zimbabwean cricket federation having applied to government for the tour to go ahead, the five-match series was canceled. 

Zimbabwe’s Sports and Recreation Commission’s (SRC) director-general Prince Mupazviriho said this week: “It will not be proper at the moment for foreigners to come to Zimbabwe for sport considering that there won’t be enough time to go through the required quarantine period.”

“We also took into consideration the recent spike in Covid-19 cases and felt that such a tour would put the players and everybody at great risk. So the minister responsible (Sports minister Kirsty Coventry) decided not to approve the tour.”

Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani said the Afghanistan series cancellation was a huge setback for his country’s cricket team but added that the country is now hoping to travel to Pakistan in October to begin it’s World Super League commitments, a new ICC model that creates a pathway to the 2023 World Cup.

 

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