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Three suspects arrested for Yousuf Rashid’s assassination

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(Last Updated On: January 9, 2021)

Three suspects have been arrested in connection with the assassination of Yousuf Rashid, CEO of Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA), the Ministry of Interior confirmed Saturday.

Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the Ministry stated that the case is still under investigation, “other suspects are also involved in this incident.”

Meanwhile, First Vice President Amrullah Saleh stated that the culprits are members of a small group of Taliban – the so-called Muslimyar group – which operates in Logar province.

“One of the assassins had made himself a classmate of Yusuf Khan’s son in order to [collect information] and implement their plan,” Saleh added.

“I hope these assassins will be also executed once the case is complete,” he said.

Rashid was gunned down in December last year in PD7 of Kabul city.

The Taliban has not commented in this regard so far.

The group, however, has frequently denied its involvement in the recent targeted killings across the country.

The development comes after the Special Unit of the National Directorate of Security arrested two men on charges of killing Afghan journalist Rahmatullah Nikzad.

Nikzad was assassinated on December 21 in Ghazni City.

The NDS said in a statement that the perpetrators are Taliban militants who were among the 5,000 prisoners freed by the government last year under the terms of the US-Taliban agreement.

The militants were identified as Hamidullah and Zikrullah and “were among 5,000 Taliban prisoners that reunited with the Qari Obaid group, who are responsible for targeted killings in Ghazni,” read the statement.

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Ghani fires finance minister, appoints caretaker to the position

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday dismissed finance minister Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal from his post and approved a new acting minister, said the Administrative Office of the President (AOP) in a statement.

The AOP cited a number of reasons for this move including the delay in the collection of taxes, weak management, lack of commitment to good governance, not obeying Article 77 of the Constitution, violating Presidential decrees and directions, the lack of cooperation in an assessment of illegal appointments at the ministry and for trying to prevent the assessments, the statement read.

The AOP added that Ghani approved Mohammad Khalid Payenda as acting finance minister.

Arghandiwal was a close ally of Ghani during his election campaigns and was appointed as acting minister of finance in March last year. 

He received a vote of confidence from the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) in November last year.

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Biden to keep Khalilzad as peace envoy for now

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

Former president Donald Trump’s peace envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad will retain his position, for now, three sources familiar with the matter told CNN. 

This move is not typical as traditionally an incoming administration replaces all politically appointed officials – especially those dealing with foreign policy issues. 

Khalilzad, a diplomatic veteran, has worked on the peace process for more than two years and has been the key official from Washington to meet with both the Afghan government and the Taliban as well as all other stakeholders and regional leaders. 

No further details were released and according to CNN the State Department did not comment when asked about Khalilzad staying on board. 

However, in a statement issued late Friday, the US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib that the United States intends to review the February 2020 US-Taliban agreement.”

He also said Washington would assess whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders.

Sullivan also expressed America’s desire that all Afghan leaders embrace this “historic opportunity for peace and stability.”

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Washington to review US-Taliban deal, Sullivan tells Mohib 

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib on Friday evening and said Washington intends to review the US-Taliban deal signed in February last year and to assess whether the Taliban is adhering to its commitments. 

In a statement issued by the White House following the discussion between the two NSAs, Sullivan said the US will support the peace process with “a robust and regional diplomatic effort, which will aim to help the two sides achieve a durable and just political settlement and permanent ceasefire”. 

Sullivan also made clear “the United States’ intention to review the February 2020 US-Taliban agreement, including to assess whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders.”

According to the statement, Sullivan also expressed America’s desire that all Afghan leaders embrace this “historic opportunity for peace and stability.”

In addition, Sullivan and Mohib discussed the US’s support for protecting the gains made by Afghan women, girls, and minority groups as part of the peace process. 

Sullivan also “committed to consulting closely with the Afghan government, NATO allies, and regional partners regarding a collective strategy to support a stable, sovereign, and secure future for Afghanistan,” the statement read.

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