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Ghani dismiss Afghanistan’s envoy for Commonwealth of Nations

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has dismissed Afghanistan’s special envoy to Commonwealth of Nations, the Office of the President said.

According to a statement released from the Office of the President, the decree by President Ghani also orders the cancellation of the Special Envoy’s Office to the Commonwealth of Nations.

The decree states that Afghanistan’s Special Envoy to Commonwealth of Nations Mohammad Shaker Kargar dismissal and cancellation of the Special Envoy’s Office have been approved as per the item 13 of the article 64 of the constitution of Afghanistan.

No further details have been given regarding the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of Mr. Kargar and cancellation of the Special Envoy’s Office to the Commonwealth of Nations. (Khaama Press)

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Hundreds of passengers close Kabul highway

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Hundreds of passengers on Tuesday staged a protest and closed the Kabul-Kandahar highway for two hours in the Company area of the capital.

The passengers, who have spent several nights at Kabul hotels due to the closure of the highway in the Maqur district of southern Ghazni province for the past six days, blocked the busy road from 7:00am till 9:00am.

Haji Zherai, a passenger from the Maiwand district of Kandahar province, told Pajhwok they were living in a Kabul hotel for the past five days and most of them were laborers who had spent their money on food and rent.

He urged the government to address their problem and reopen the highway in Maqur at the earliest possible.

Bahram Bai, another passenger from the Darzab district of northwestern Jawzjan province, also took part in the protest along with 10 friends. He said they planned to travel to Iran but spent all their money in Kabul because of the road closure.

He accused government of ignoring their plight. “If President Ashraf Ghani doesn’t have the power to implement his orders, why did he boast of creating new districts…? We are ruined.”

Meanwhile, Kabul police spokesman Basir Mujahid told Pajhwok they had taken appropriate security measures to cope with the protest in Company area. (Pajhwok)

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Khalilzad, Sayyaf discuss Afghanistan peace process

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad meet with Former Jihadi leader Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayyaf in his residence. Productive discussion with Professor Sayyaf this morning (Monday morning), Khalilzad tweeted.

“We agree that a national, inclusive, and unified Afghan negotiating team is urgent and necessary,” Khalilzad said in his twitter.

Khalilzad in an exclusive interview with TOLOnews on Monday, said the integration of a strong and unified negotiating team under Afghan government’s umbrella is needed for achieving a breakthrough in the strides for peace in Afghanistan, but rejected rumors that the talks had hit a deadlock.

“There are difficulties, but we have agreed with the Taliban to meet again on the 25th of February in Doha. We agreed in principle to talk in details and with more authenticity about two topics to find whether there is the possibility to make more progress on the issue of terrorism and the issue of forces,” Khalilzad said.

“But I want to reassure the people of Afghanistan that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. The two points that you mentioned are largely related to the Afghans. The first issue is that when the ceasefire will be announced, I want a broad-based ceasefire to be announced as soon as possible. Secondly, there is a need for discussions and consultations among Afghans including the [Afghan] government to start soon.”

This comes a week after President Ashraf Ghani called for a grand consultative Jirga, a traditional assembly, on the peace process in the country. Ghani said the Jirga will be convened within a month.

The US envoy said his message to the Afghan government and Afghan elders is that “the time has reached that they sit together and agree on a team” in order to prevent a repeat of another Moscow talks. (TOLOnews)

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More than half of schools in Paktiya have no buildings

Monitoring Desk

KHOST: More than half of schools are running without proper buildings in Paktiya province, education officials said on Tuesday.

Talking to Afghan Islamic Press (AIP), Paktiya education director Kochi Zazai said they had taken up the issue with the ministry time and again. However, no worthy step had been taken in this regard so far, he added.

“Most of the schools located in the remote areas have no buildings. It is not a new issue. The students have been acquiring education under open skies for several years,” he said.

Currently, he said about 400 schools were operational in the province, adding that 250 of them were without buildings.

When contacted, Paktiya provincial assembly member Taaj Muhammad Mangal said children in the remote areas were still acquiring education under the open skies.

Mangal said he had taken up the issue with the high-ups time and again. However, the concerned officials have not taken any steps in this regard so far.

Buildings would be constructed for many schools under the national reconciliation programmes so far, he said. He, however, added the programme needed time.

According to information, the residents of some districts provided about 72 acres of land worth millions of Afghanis for construction of school buildings.

A tribal elder of Zazi Aryub district, Haji Karim said that he had given one acre of land for school building.

Paktiya education director Kochi Zazai yesterday told media that the residents of Paktiya province had given 72 acres of land to education department for construction of school buildings.

According to education department officials, buildings for 40 schools for boys and girls would be constructed in Ahmad Khel, Syed Karam, Dand Patan and other districts of Paktiya province next year. The education ministry would be allocated funds of about Afghanis 600 million for the project. (AIP)

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Waheed appointed as senior presidential advisor

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The former Afghan Ambassador to Italy Waheed Omar has been appointed as senior presidential advisor in public and strategic relations.

The Office of the President in a statement said President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has issued a decree confirming the appointment of Waheed Omar as senior presidential advisor in public and strategic relations as per the item 13 of the article 64 of Afghanistan’s constitution.

The decree also states that the senior presidential advisor in public and strategic relaions would participate in cabinet, national security and high economic council meetings.

The senior presidential advisor in public and strategic relations would also be responsible to codify policies and basic lines of strategic relations, overview its implementation and coordinate the relevant institutions.

Mr. Omar had earlier announced that he has resigned from his position and will soon assume new responsibilities upon his arrival to Kabul.

In a statement posted online, Mr. Omar has said that he has also stepped down as Afghanistan’s Permanent Representative to UN offices in Rome.

He had also added that his new responsibilities in the framework of the system would be centric on efforts to realize the ambitions of the current generation of the country, preserve the values of the system and constitution, and achievements of the past 18 years. (Khaama Press)

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32 killed, hurt during clash between Afghan forces and Taliban

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: At least 32 people including Taliban militants and soldiers of the Afghan Local Police were killed or wounded during an overnight clash in Qaisar district of Faryab province of Afghanistan.

The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North in a statement said the clash took place late on Sunday night in Arkalik Village leaving at least 17 Taliban dead including one of their prominent commanders who has been identified as Esmat Esmatyar.

The statement further added that the clash also left at least 8 Taliban militants wounded.

According to 209th Shaheen Corps, at least three Afghan Local Police soldier also lost their lives during the clash and four others sustained injuries.

The anti-government armed militants including Taliban have not commented regarding the clash so far.

Faryab is among the relatively volatile provinces in the North of the country. The security situation in some of its districts has deteriorated sharply during the recent years. (Khaama Press)

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One killed in IED explosion in Kabul

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: One person was killed on late Sunday night when a magnetic IED was detonated in Kabul, Kabul police said.

Basir Ahmand Muhajid the spokesman for Kabul police confirmed the blast and said that the explosion occurred in Panshir Wat area in Kabul’s PD11 when a magnetic IED placed in a vehicle was detonated.

The IED was placed under the driver’s seat. The victim, Nasrat, was known as Tofan, the owner of a pharmacy.

So far no group has claimed responsibility for the incident. (TOLOnews)

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Export via Torkham up by 19.8 per cent

Monitoring Desk

JALALABAD: Exports to foreign countries through Torkham port has been increased by 19.8% and goods worth 126 billion Afghanis have so far exported during the current solar year, an official said on Monday.

Ghulamullah Afghanyar, The Economy Department Director in eastern Nangarhar province, said this to reporters in Jalalabad while providing information about the local administration’s performance during the last one year

He said that 259 projects worth of 3.5 billion Afghanis were approved for Nangarhar for 1397 solar year but 167 projects were currently under work while 11 others were under process with the National Procurement Commission and 13 projects were at standstill.

Afghanyar said that projects were not implemented in the past and Hesarak, Sherzad, Pachiragam, Chaparhar and Lalpoor districts had not paid attention, a problem he added was mostly controlled in 1397.

He added that 103 projects were approved for Nangarhar for 1398 fiscal year as 31 of the projects were new and the rest were incomplete from last year.

On the other hand, Afghanyar said Afghanistan exports to Pakistan and other countries through Torkham port increased by 19.8 percent in 1397 solar year.

“In 1396 solar year, we had exported goods worth of 91.11 billion Afghanis through Torkham compared to 126 billion Afghanis in the outgoing 1397 solar year,” he said.

He said dried and fresh fruits; vegetable, leather and some other products were part of the exportations. (Pajhwok)

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Govt urged to ensure transparency in appointment of new commissioners

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Electoral Support Group (ESG) in an open letter congratulated the Afghan people on their commitment to the democratic process, as demonstrated at the 2018 parliamentary elections.

“We will support the right of the Afghan people to decide their future through a credible electoral process and look forward to the swift finalization of the parliamentary election results,” reads the letter.

“We take note of the recent amendments to the 2016 Electoral Law and the decision of the Government of Afghanistan to replace the Commissioners of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC),” it added.

The ESG expected the selection process and the ultimate appointments to the Commissions to be transparent and unequivocally aimed at strengthening the independence and integrity of the electoral institutions and reinstating the Afghan people’s trust and confidence in the electoral process.

The group strongly urged political parties, civil society organizations, presidential candidates and the Government to discharge this important responsibility in good faith by nominating and selecting qualified, non-partisan and professional individuals with integrity, electoral and management experience, and moral standing, and who meet the legal requirements.

“We call on the Government and all stakeholders involved to commit to transparency in all stages of the selection process, including by publishing the selection criteria, procedures, the full list of nominees, and by regularly updating the public.”

The appointments should be made quickly, so as not to delay the necessary preparations for the presidential election. We also urge the Government and all relevant stakeholders to give the Secretariats of the IEC and ECC the necessary support to continue urgent preparatory work.

The Election Support Group (ESG) comprises the key donors– the European Union, the Governments of Australia, Sweden (on behalf of the Nordic plus), Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, the United States of America – as well as NATO and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). It is chaired by UNAMA and convenes on a weekly basis. (Pajhwok)

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Inmates in Gardiz jail receive vocational, literacy education

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Prison officials in southeastern Paktia province say many inmates in the central jail receive literacy and vocational education so they would be able improve their economy themselves after released.

The officials say the prisoners were getting skills in tailoring, carpentry, metal working and constructions as well as getting literacy education and memorizing the holy Quran.

One of the inmates in Paktia, Mohammad Rahim, told Pajhwok Afghan News that he was tailoring since the last one and half a year in the jail and tailored dresses for other inmates and workers of the jail.

He said that his occupation in the jail helped him to improve his economy besides donating some money to the training section of the inmates.

“I make a dress for 300 Afghanis, we also pay money to the jail and save some for my own needs,” he said.

Iqbal, another prisoner in Paktia said that the people in jail had high capacity for work but there were limited machinery and resources to train more inmates. “I have been working since five years, I also train other jailers, but sewing machines are limited and I cannot help more people,” he said.

Shafi Rahman, a prisoner who got carpentry profession, said that he can make his life better when released from the jail using his skills.

“Anyone (in jail) can get their skills in tailoring, carpentry, wielding and other professions here so they would be able in the future to help their families,” he said.

Haji Mirajuddin said that he got his profession in constructions in jail and can make around 200 Afghanis a day. “I receive money for my work; an ordinary worker receives 120 Afghanis and a skillful person 200 Afghanis a day, we are happy to be buys it passes our time and improves our economy,” he said.

A number of other inmates are getting literacy education and memorizing holy Quran but they face shortage of stationary and books.

On the other hand, Gardiz jail director, Brig. Gen. Afandi Gul Rubati, told Pajhwok that dozens of inmates in the jail were currently getting vocational and literacy education.

He said that there was high capacity for different professions among inmates in the jail but there was no good markets for prisoner’s industrial and vocational products.

He said that the vocational training and products made by inmates would be accelerated if at least the government made a contract about products made inside the jail.

“Prisoners work in several different sections, but there is no market for products they make, if there is good market for these products it would make professional inmates more effective for people and our administration,” he said.

About three months back, eight inmates memorized the whole holy Quran in Gardiz Central Jail. Around 400 people including four women are imprisoned in Gardiz jail. (Pajhwok)