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Taliban issues order forbidding excavation and trade of artifacts 

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(Last Updated On: February 22, 2021)

The Taliban said Sunday it has instructed all its members including its “military units” to protect and preserve Afghanistan’s heritage sites and artifacts and to refrain from excavating and selling relics either in the country or internationally. 

In a statement published on the group’s website, the Taliban stated it has instructed: “all officials, commissions/departments chiefs, provincial and district governors, military unit and group commanders, the Mujahideen and all compatriots” to adhere to the order. 

The group stated: “As Afghanistan is a country replete with ancient artifacts and antiquity, and that such relics form a part of our country’s history, identity and rich culture, therefore all have an obligation to robustly protect, monitor and preserve these artifacts.”

According to the statement, no one may excavate, transport or sell, and all Taliban members “must prevent the excavation of antiquities and preserve all historic sites like old fortresses, minarets, towers and other similar sites so to safeguard them from damage, destruction, and decay.”

The Taliban said its Commission for Cultural Affairs is tasked with the duty of guarding and preserving ancient artifacts, and that all other branches of the group including their “military commission, governors and other Mujahideen must coordinate and cooperate with the Cultural Commission in protecting these artifacts.”

The group stated that all trade, contracts, and transport of artifacts are forbidden with immediate effect. 

“No one should try to disturb such sites or think about using them for profit,” the group stated. 

The Taliban has however in the past been accused of plundering and destroying ancient collections and heritage sites.  

In 1992, the Taliban reportedly looted the National Museum of Afghanistan which experts claim resulted in the loss of up to 70 percent of the 100,000 artifacts stored in the facility. 

In August 1998, the Taliban went on to destroy the Puli Khumri Public Library.

The library contained over 55,000 books and old manuscripts and was considered by Afghans as one of the most valuable and beautiful collections of their nation and culture in the country while through 2001 the Taliban was reported to have destroyed at least 2,750 ancient works of art at the National Museum of Afghanistan.

But the most devastating act was carried out in March 2001 when the Taliban obliterated the giant Buddhas of Bamiyan.

The Buddhas were blown up on the apparent orders of the then leader Mullah Mohammed Omar.

The act sent shock waves around the world and today all that remains of the statues that had stood in niches carved into a mountain overlooking the city of Bamiyan is the cavities in which they had stood for over 1,500 years. 

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Well known cleric shot dead in Kabul while on his way to mosque

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(Last Updated On: March 3, 2021)

Faiz Mohammad Fayez, former head of the Ulema Council in Kunduz province, was shot dead by unknown gunmen in PD17 of Kabul city early Wednesday morning, Kabul police confirmed.

Police said an investigation is underway.

Meanwhile, a number of residents of Kabul’s Sarkutal Golden Township area said Faiz Mohammad Fayez, was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen as he walked to a mosque this morning.

Kabul police spokesman Ferdows Faramarz confirmed the killing but said early reports indicate it was not a “terrorist act” but a case of murder.

This comes after a prominent Afghan cleric Mohammad Atif was killed about a month ago in an explosion, along with two others, in Kabu.

Mohammad Atif, a well-known cleric from a Kabul-based charity group, was killed when an IED on the vehicle he was traveling in exploded.

No group has claimed responsibility for that attack.

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Red Cross resumes work in Afghanistan after suspending operations

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(Last Updated On: March 2, 2021)

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it has resumed work in Afghanistan and is committed to delivering assistance and emergency aid even to areas under the control of warring factions.

The Afghan Red Crescent Society meanwhile said that in 2020 alone, it recovered nearly 2,000 bodies from the warring parties adding that it is concerned about rising casualties from the fighting in Afghanistan.

“In 2020, we were able to collect 1,693 bodies from war-torn parts of Afghanistan,” said Nilab Mobarez, Secretary General of ARCS.

“Considering the ongoing vulnerabilities, including climate change, the quantity and severity of needs in Afghanistan, the Red Cross and Red Crescent colleagues call on us to support our principled activities across Afghanistan and maximize collective aid and its impact,” said Pierre Kremer, Head of Afghanistan Country Office at International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The committee also extended its cooperation with the Afghan Red Crescent for another three years.

The International Committee of the Red Cross suspended its operations in Afghanistan a few months ago due to threats from the Taliban, but resumed its activities in the country after receiving assurances from the group that they could continue with their work.

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Khalilzad meets with key Afghans, explains US position

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(Last Updated On: March 2, 2021)

Zalmay Khalilzad met with a number of influential figures in Kabul on Monday including Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, members of the Jamiat Party, and others.

Some political figures in Kabul said that during the meetings, Khalilzad explained the position of the new US administration on peace in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, US House of Foreign Affairs Committee Member Michael McCaul says that the purpose of Khalilzad’s visit to Doha, Afghanistan and other countries in the region is to amend clauses of the peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban.

“Khalilzad has come to announce the new US administration’s approach to Afghanistan and the Taliban,” said Abdul Sattar Murad, a member of the Jamiat-e-Islami leadership council.

Khalilzad may also bring new proposals to Kabul and Doha, the two main centers of decision-making on Afghanistan’s future, sources said.

The US House of Foreign Affairs Committee Member Michael McCaul said that the revision of the Doha agreement, of clauses such as the release of 7,000 Taliban prisoners, the reduction of violence and the extension of the mission of foreign forces after May, is Khalilzad’s responsibility.

The US special envoy has also reportedly noted the views of Afghan government officials and the Taliban on the outcome of the Doha Agreement and negotiations between Afghans.

Some politicians said that Khalilzad did not come to Afghanistan and Qatar to announce the decision of the Biden administration but is rather initiating amendments to the US’s plans for Afghanistan.

“The United States wants to establish a partnership in Afghanistan, and this is not far off, and it wants to convince the Taliban to continue their presence,” said Sayed Ishaq Gailani, head of the National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan.

Khalilzad who started his trip in Germany will continue on to Doha and other countries in the region.

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