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US Mission in Afghanistan Has Not Changed: Esper

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(Last Updated On: October 21, 2019)

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper says Washington will continue to pursue an aggressive military campaign against Taliban and other terrorist groups until Afghanistan reaches to a political settlement.

In a surprise visit, the Pentagon chief arrived in Afghanistan on Sunday.

On Monday, Esper appeared at a joint press conference with Afghan Defense Minister Asadullah Khalid, Interior Minister Massoud Andarabi and U.S. top commander in Afghanistan General Scott Miller.

Speaking at the conference with his Afghan counterparts, Esper said the United States is supporting peace efforts led by the Afghan government.

“The United States remains fully committed to helping Afghans create a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan,” he added.

Esper said he had a good meeting with President Ashraf Ghani upon his arrival and the two sides have spoken about the importance of relationship between Afghanistan and the United States.

He reiterated that his country remains committed to the success of Afghan security forces who have taken the lead of security in the war-torn country.

The U.S. official also praised Afghan forces for their success to provide security of the Afghan presidential election that took place on September 28 despite of Taliban’s repeated threats.

“Regardless of the outcome of the election, our security partnership with Afghanistan will remain strong. Our mission in Afghanistan has not changed,” Esper emphasized.

During his one and half day stay in the capital of Afghanistan, Pentagon chief also visited U.S. soldiers based in camp Moorhead in southeast of Kabul.

“Just finished lunch with Afghan Security Ministers including @MoDAfghanistan Defense Minister Khalid and Interior Minister Andrabi. We all agree that a political settlement is the only long-term solution for peace and security in Afghanistan,” Esper wrote on Twitter as he departed from Afghanistan.

By Hesamuddin Hesam

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Afghanistan’s population closes to nearly 33 million

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(Last Updated On: June 1, 2020)

According to the 1399 census – Persian calendar – the population of Afghanistan is estimated at 33 million roughly.

The National Statistics and Information Authority said that 51 percent of the country’s population is male, and more than 23 million Afghans live in rural areas.

The population of the country in 1399, the Persian calendar, saw an increase of almost 700,000 people.

The number of nomads is estimated at 1.5 million, and the youth under the age of 15 make up to 15.5 million.

Sixteen million and eight hundred thousand people are men and sixteen million and one hundred thousand are women, according to the authority.

A number of sociologists believe that in the official procedure of census, the estimation faces technical challenges, and therefore, there is social skepticism about these statistics.

On the other hand, some citizens say that the war in Afghanistan has been going on for years and that the government has not been able to keep track of the count on those living under the Taliban dominance.

It is worth noting that currently over 54% of the Afghans live under poverty, and as the population grows, so will the poverty.

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COVID-19

Coronavirus update Afghanistan; outbreak rapidly on the rise

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(Last Updated On: June 1, 2020)

The outbreak of the Coronavirus in Afghanistan is shocking, and the Ministry of Public Health says it will be difficult to manage if people do not follow the health guidelines.

According to the ministry’s deputy, 545 cases of the Coronavirus have been reported in the past 24 hours, bringing the number of infections to 15,750 in the country.

The Ministry of Public Health said that 265 people have died and 1,428 others have been cured so far.

“In the last 24 hours, 1,166 samples were tested, of which 545 were positive, with ten deaths and 100 recoveries,” said Wahidullah Majrooh, a deputy of the MOPH.

He added, “The message from the Ministry of Health is that the Coronavirus is controllable with the cooperation of people. If people work together to follow the advice, the ministry will be able to stop the circulation of the virus in the community.”

Meanwhile, the ministry emphasizes that the increase in the number of infections is concerning, and if people ignore the pandemic, they will risk their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

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Shaheen: The number of prisoners released by the gov’t is conflicted

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(Last Updated On: June 1, 2020)

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has said that the government has released less than 2,500 prisoners while claiming the release of 3,000.

According to him, the government has so far released only 2,284 Taliban prisoners, to be exact.

Shaheen added that the release of prisoners had to be transparent, and there should not be any flaws in the process.

Meanwhile, Jawed Faisal, the spokesman for the National Security Council, said that 1,000 Taliban prisoners had been released before Eid-ul-Fitr.

According to him, on the occasion of the Eid, the president announced the release of 2,000 Taliban prisoners, out of which, 1,000 were released over Eid holidays.

Reportedly, in the past three days, the government has released 710 Taliban prisoners and another 290 are expected to be added to the number, bringing the total of the released prisoners to 3,000.

Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban member, said that according to some credible sources, some drug traffickers had also been released among the Taliban prisoners.

According to the government, civilians are included among the over 400 prisoners released by the Taliban and were claimed as men of the government.

The government’s negotiating team has been urging the Taliban to start the Intra-Afghan negotiations soon.

Farooq Majrooh, a member of the government’s negotiating team, said that some countries were ready to host the talks and that the government and the Taliban had to agree on a specific location as soon as possible.

On the other hand, the High Council of National Reconciliation, which is responsible for advancing the peace talks, has announced working on the structure of the council.

Fawzia Kufi, a member of the government’s negotiating team, stressed that women should leading roles in the High Council for National Reconciliation.

The release of 2,000 Taliban prisoners came to an end on Sunday, but the government has said nothing about future steps in the matter; however, the Taliban’s technical team to verify the detainees is still in Kabul.

Earlier, sources told Ariana News that the Intra-Afghan talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban will begin between 10th and 15th June – no official acknowledgment has been made though.

The government hopes that the release of prisoners could lead to starting the Intra-Afghan talks and a reduction in the level of violence; while the Taliban insist on the release of all 5,000 prisoners as a precondition to the talks.

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