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UN: It’s Imperative to Commence Afghan-Taliban Talks

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(Last Updated On: September 11, 2019)

The UN Special Representative for Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto said Tuesday that the conflict of Afghanistan can only be resolved by direct talks between Afghan people.

Speaking at the UN Security Council, Yamamoto said that these talks must be inclusive, representing the whole spectrum of Afghan society.

The UN envoy tells that it is imperative that direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban commence as soon as possible.

“The events of recent days and weeks have shown, more than ever, the urgency of finding a political settlement to the long Afghan conflict,” Yamamoto said.

Pointing to the Afghan presidential election which is scheduled for September 28, Yamamoto said that credible elections would provide an important political foundation for the future of the country as well as legitimacy and authority to the elected President.

The UN envoy told the Council that despite preparations there are concerns over security, fraud and voter turnout.

He also said that attacks against polling centers and civilians participating in the electoral process are clear violations of international law.

“I urge the Taliban to retract this threat, and I urge the Government to provide adequate security arrangements to safeguard the electoral process,” he stated.

At the same event, Afghan envoy at the UN Adela Raz told members of the UN Security Council that the people of Afghanistan have always stressed that a real and genuine pledge to peace by the Taliban should be manifested in ending violence, as well as engagement in direct peace talks with the Afghan government.

“The government of Afghanistan has welcomed all international initiatives in support of our peace efforts that will lead to a dignified and lasting peace, and which preserve shared gains we have made, including but not limited to strengthening Republic and women’s constitutional rights,” Raz said.

The Afghan envoy urged the Security Council to “call on countries that could influence the Taliban to call for them to respect the aspiration of Afghan citizens, and prevent them from conducting attacks during Election Day”.

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MoD discovers and defuses over 4,000 IEDs in past six months

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(Last Updated On: September 20, 2020)

The Afghan Ministry of Defense said on Sunday the Afghan National Army (ANA) had discovered and defused 4,776 IEDs across the country in the past six months. 

The MoD stated the IEDs had been planted by Taliban on public roads, in residential areas and on highways.

A statement by the MoD said: “While Taliban’s explosive devices inflict heavy casualties on civilians, ANDSF risk their lives to discover and defuse the bombs to protect Afghans.”

“The IEDs, in addition to harming civilians, also destroy Afghanistan’s roads, highways and infrastructure.”

By finding and defusing the IEDs the lives of thousands of civilians were saved and “hundreds of kilometers of roads and hundreds of bridges and culverts were preserved,” the MoD stated. 

The ministry also said that in addition to the indiscriminate use of IEDs being a serious violation of the International Human Rights Law, “unfortunately, the Taliban continue applying it as a war tactic against the Afghan population.”

UNAMA said in July, in its mid-year report, that the use of non-suicide IEDs was the leading cause of civilian casualties by Anti-Government Elements during the first half of 2020, causing 688 civilian casualties (217 killed and 471 injured).

Almost half of all civilian casualties from IEDs – 45 percent – were caused by the Taliban’s widespread use of pressure-plate IEDs, which function as improvised anti-personnel mines.

Civilian casualties from these victim-activated devices increased by 50 percent during the first half of 2020 as compared to the same time period in 2019, reversing the trend of sizeable decreases over the last two years. 

UNAMA also noted that the week after the three-day Eid ceasefire, pressure-plate IEDs rose to the leading cause of civilian casualties.

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Ghani holds security review summit with senior officials in Bamiyan

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(Last Updated On: September 20, 2020)

President Ashraf Ghani and a high-ranking delegation of officials held a “mini-summit” on the country’s security in Bamiyan on Sunday.

Also in attendance with First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, Second Vice President Sarwar Danesh, National Security Adviser Hamdullah Moheb and other senior security officials.

After landing at Bamiyan airport, the president and his delegation were met by the provincial governor and local officials, including members of the provincial council.

The Kabul delegation then went into a meeting where they examined the security situation across the country, discussed plans and operations on thwarting enemy threats and dealing with challenges. They also discussed the capabilities of the security and defense sectors.

Officials from the security and defense agencies called for the expansion of governance and the need for improved services at a district level.

Emphasizing the security and defense priorities, Ghani said that serious attention should be paid to protecting the people and to the security of development projects.

He also said reform and development programs of the security and defense agencies should be implemented.

Ghani also ordered increased security along highways so as to prevent enemy groups from extorting money out of motorists and said changes need to be brought in police departments so that all staff criteria is met.

He said that security and defense officials who have excelled in their work need to be commended.

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India’s COVID-19 tally surges past 5.4 million mark

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(Last Updated On: September 20, 2020)

India’s COVID-19 infection tally has surged past the 5.4 million mark after adding 92,605 cases in the past 24 hours, the health ministry stated Sunday. 

Every day, since August, the country has recorded the highest single-day caseload in the world. 

According to the health ministry, 1,113 people died of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of deaths to 86,752. 

Infection is surging through the country on a “step-ladder spiral” a government scientist told BBC. 

It took India 170 days to reach the first million cases but only 11 days to reach the last million. 

More than 50 million Indians have been tested so far for the virus, and more than a million samples are being tested daily, BBC reported but stated the country still has one of the lowest testing rates in the world.

According to the report, epidemiologists have said that India’s real infection rates are far higher.

The government’s own antibody tests on a random sample of people nationwide estimated 6.4 million infections in early May, as compared to the recorded case count of 52,000 at that time. 

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