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US, Taliban discuss Afghan peace process

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(Last Updated On: June 30, 2020)

US State Secretary Mike Pompeo spoke to Taliban deputy leader Mullah Baradar via video conference and discussed the Afghan peace process. 

Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban said in a tweet that the two sides discussed the implementation of Doha deal, US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the intra-Afghan peace talks.

Shaheen added that the US Secretary has called on the Taliban and the Afghan government to reduce violence. However, the Taliban blamed the Afghan government for the escalation of violence, saying that the Afghan forces patrol and establish checkpoints in the group’s controlled areas.

Meanwhile, Masoum Stanekzai, head of the government’s peace negotiating team claimed that the regional countries’ disputes have complicated the peace process.

“One of the things to do to start intra-Afghan negotiation is to reduce violence. Disputes between countries in the region have complicated the Afghan peace process,” said Masoum Stanekzai, head of the government’s peace negotiating team.

Meanwhile, the Taliban’s political bureau said that Ibrahim Taherian, Iran’s special envoy for Afghanistan, has also met with Mullah Baradar, the Taliban’s political deputy in Doha, the capital of Qatar.

Iranian media reported that the meeting focused on US non-interference in the Afghan negotiations, as well as on the interests of the two countries.

“Unfortunately, there seems to be no significant progress,” said Abdullah Qarluq, deputy leader of the National Movement Party.

The talks come as Zalmay Khalilzad and the CEO of the US-based Global Investment Company are also traveling to Qatar, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan to pave the way for intra-Afghan talks.

“As long as the United States does not reach an agreement with countries in the region, such as Russia, peace in Afghanistan will be fragile,” said Moqadam Amin, a military expert.

“Increased violence by the Taliban is hampering the peace process,” said Najia Anwari, a government ministry spokeswoman for peace.

Negotiations between Afghans are expected to take place next month. But the release of prisoners and the escalation of violence is still a point of contention between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

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Abdullah introduces list of cabinet nominees to Presidential Palace

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(Last Updated On: July 9, 2020)

Abdullah Abdullah, the Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation has introduced a list of cabinet nominees to the Presidential Palace.

Sources close to Abdullah, however, say that there are still differences over the proposed list between Abdullah front-rows over seat distribution.

Figures listed as candidates for the designated-ministers; Massoud Andarabi for the Ministry of Interior Affairs, Fazl Ahmad Manavi for Ministry of Justice, Anwar al-Haq Ahadi for Ministry of Agriculture, Noor Rahman Akhlaqi for Ministry of Immigration, Mohebullah Samim for Ministry of Borders and Tribal Affairs, Mostafa Mastoor for Ministry of Peace, Masoumah Khavari for Ministry of Communications, Nisar Ahmad Ghoriani for Ministry of Commerce, Mansour Saadat Naderi for Ministry of Economy, Bashir Ahmad Tahianj for Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Kanishka Turkestani for Ministry of Higher Education, Abbas Basir for Ministry of Transport and Najib Agha Fahim, Candidate for Ministry of Martyrs and Disabled.

The list of ministerial nominees for Abdullah Abdullah’s share, however, has clashed within his party members.

Sources close to Abdullah say that the National Movement Party wants three ministries from Abdullah’s share and does not agree with this list.

According to sources, the National Movement has nominated Bashir Ahmad Tahianj for the Ministry of Agriculture, Qudratullah Zaki for the Ministry of Transportation and Kanishka Turkestani for the Ministry of Immigration.

But some other figures close to Abdullah deny the disagreements within the group.

On the other hand, the Independent Directorate of Local Governance says that 11 new provincial governors have been nominated by the president so far and that this process will continue. Abdullah Abdullah, according to the power-sharing agreement between him and Ghani, can introduce 50% of the Afghan cabinet members.

Arg and Sapidar Palace have not officially commented on the matter.

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Afghanistan customs revenue lost to ’embezzlement’

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(Last Updated On: July 9, 2020)

Although taxpayers pay customs duties at the Afghan customs, not all of the revenue being collected in the Afghan government’s account, local officials said.

The ports of Torkham in Nangarhar, Islam Qala in Herat, Hairatan in Balkh, Aqina in Faryab, Spin Boldak in Kandahar, Shirkhan Bandar in Kunduz, Angur Ada in Paktika and several other ports in the north and south of the country have witnessed widespread corruption.

In these ports, although custom fees are paid by taxpayers, little money is raised in government reserves, most of the ports are said to be in the hands of gunmen and the powerful.

Local officials in the provinces where the ports are located say that corruption in customs has recently peaked.

On the other hand, the Integrity Watch of Afghanistan criticizes the lack of administrative reforms, adding that unreasonable appointments have increased corruption in the country’s customs and that the government has not yet taken any steps to reform the process. According to the head of the institution, the current situation has led to organized corruption in customs.

The Ministry of Finance also promises to bring transparency to the country’s customs.

Finance Ministry spokesman Shamrooz Khan Masjidi said customs revenues are being closely monitored to prevent corruption.

Earlier, the governor of Herat said that Islam Qala’s revenue was being looted by mafia gangs and the warlords. According to economists, this is the case in most of the country’s customs.

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COVID-19

Afghanistan witnesses decline in Coronavirus cases: MoPH

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(Last Updated On: July 9, 2020)

Jawad Osmani, Acting Minister of the Public Health, says the number of people infected with the Coronavirus decreased to halve compared to a month and a half ago. 

Coronavirus has declined in Afghanistan; as the Acting Minister of Public Health himself has removed the medical mask from his face at the press conference and used a home mask instead. 

Javad Osmani said: “Compared to two months ago, the infected patients to the virus decreased by 30 percent. If the Coronavirus patients do not reach less than 5%, the situation will not get back to normal.”

On the other hand, the Anti-Corona Emergency Committee warns that as of today, 15 moving teams are inspecting restaurants, cafes, and parks, and if they do not follow the health recommendations, they will be fined first and then they will be banned.

“Today we have sent 15 moving teams to the city to fine and block restaurants and cafes that have started arbitrarily, and this time nothing is acceptable,” said Mohammad Yaqub Haidari, Kabul’s governor.

Meanwhile, officials at the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs said that those citizens who remain out of the Hajj shift this year will be able to perform the Hajj next year while maintaining the same shift.

Officials at the Ministry of Public Health say that researchers have found that the Coronavirus can spread through the air. They warn people if they do not avoid unnecessary patrols and commute on Eid al-Adha, they will see the second wave of coronavirus.

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