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Nuristani, Nawaz sworn-in

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Two more elective members of the Meshrano Jirga or upper house of parliament were administered oath of office on Tuesday, while one of them is yet to reach the legal age.

Ahmad Yusuf Nurisitani and Nawaz Sharif Hayat were introduced to the upper house by President Ashraf Ghani.

Tayyab Atta, secretary of the Meshrano Jirga, read out the president’s verdict on the appointment of the two new senators.

He said Nuristani and Hayat replaced outgoing senators Najeeba Hussaini and Shafeeqa Nawrozkhel.

Under Article 86 of the Constitution, the president appoints one thirds of the3 Senate members for a five-year term from amongst experts and experienced personalities, including two members from amongst the impaired and handicapped, as well as two from nomads.

The president shall appoint 50 percent of these individuals from amongst women. The individual selected as a member shall lose membership of the council, and another individual shall be appointed in accordance with the provisions of the law.

Nawaz Sharif Hayat, a tribal elder and Wolesi Jirga candidate Haji Hayatullah Khan were among four people killed in a suicide car bomb attack in Rudat district of eastern Nangarhar province on July 30th, 2018.

Two days back, Dr. Ghairat Baheer, Dr. Bakhtar Aminzai and Amanullah Azimi were sworn in as senator after being introduced by President Ghani.

 

 

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Ghani to leave for India today

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: President Ashraf Ghani is leaving for India on a state visit today (Wednesday) and will meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an official said Tuesday.

Haroon Chakhansori, a presidential spokesman, told Afghan News, President Ghani would have a special meeting with the Indian Prime Minister during his visit.

Ghani would also deliver a speech during a reception in his honor by the India Foundation, a think tank in Hyderabad city, he said.

The president would answer questions from participants of the India Foundation meeting and then return to the country, Chakhansori added. He said the president would be accompanied by a number of officials during his trip.

The India media said the Afghan President is coming to New Delhi to discuss security cooperation with the Indian leadership and also to request it to expedite work on various India-supported infrastructure projects, including the Chabahar Port.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had last week visited Kabul to extend an invitation to Ghani on behalf of Modi to visit India.

The visit is expected to build upon the recent high-level bilateral exchanges between the two countries.

 

 

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ANA troops among 19 security men dead, hurt

Monitoring Desk

HERAT: At least 19 security men including eight Afghan National Army troops were killed and wounded during separate clashes and attacks in western Farah province, sources said Monday.

Roadside bombs ripped through a Humvee and International vehicle of Afghan army in the Shewan area of Bala Balok district, killing three ANA troops and wounding five others, government sources told Afghan Islamic Press (AIP).

In Gazgeen area of Pusht-e-Rod district, Taliban attacked a police post, killing seven police and wounding two others, the source said.

Two more police were injured after Taliban attacked a police post in the Gulistan district of the same province, the source said, adding security forces’ posts were also attacked in Shebkoh district, Bala Balok and outskirts of Farah City but there were no reports of casualties, if any.

Government officials have not release any details in this regard.

Taliban spokesman Qari Muhammad Yousaf Ahmadi claimed that their fighters blew up three ANA vehicles in the Bala Balok district, killing and wounding numerous troops.

He also reported attacks on security forces in Pusht-e-Rod district and Kansak area of Bala Balok district, saying nine Afghan troops and a Taliban fighter were killed and three Taliban wounded in the Bala Balok clash.

He claimed that Taliban seized three Afghan troops.

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‘BSA review idea won’t help national security’

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah on Monday said the idea of reviewing the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between Afghanistan and the United States would not help the national security.

A number of Wolesi Jirga and Meshrano Jirga members, Sibghatullah Mujadadi, a former jihadi leader and some political figures had recently said that the US has failed in the ‘war on terror in Afghanistan’ and the BSA needed to be reconsidered.

The BSA between Afghanistan and the US was signed in September 2014 soon after the unity government came into power.

However, Abdullah told a meeting of the Council of Ministers on Monday that some political parties and organizations were raising the BSA issue for their personal interests.

“I take this issue as an excuse, I think it would not help improve the situation in Afghanistan,” he said.

The CEO said the country’s security situation was deteriorating with each passing day and terrorist sanctuaries still existed in Afghanistan, issues that created a dialogue between the Afghan people, the government and the international community.

“Questioning this issue is not the demand of the Afghan people, no anyone in this regard can represent the people of Afghanistan,” Abdullah added.

On the other hand, some Wolesi Jirga members too in Monday’s general session termed the demand of colleagues for a review of the BSA as ‘a hasty move’ and said cancelling the agreement in the current circumstance was not in Afghanistan’s interest.

Shukria Paikan Ahmadi, a lower house member from northern Kunduz province, said: “Reconsideration or cancelling the BSA in the current critical situation of the country is not in the interest of Afghanistan because the US pays salaries to Afghan forces besides implementing some development projects.” She said the idea raised last week by some lawmakers about reconsideration of the BSA was a decision based on emotions.

Zahra Tokhi Zabuli, a representative from Zabul province, said: “We cannot pay salaries of our forces even for a month, if we cancel the BSA, the war in Afghanistan which is imposed on us and it is an intelligence war will intensify, I hope people representatives would make their decisions with accuracy and avoid being emotional.”

However, Obaidullah Barakzai, a lawmaker from Uruzgan province, said he did not attach much hope with the BSA, but the Afghan government should task a committee with reviewing the agreement to find out how much it benefited Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Wolesi Jirga speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said: “The aim of reviewing the BSA is to ensure security which is the right of people.”

The Wolesi Jirga took this decision after security situation deteriorated in the country and interferences in Afghanistan’s affairs continued, he added.

He said the Wolesi Jirga international affairs commission had been tasked to review the BSA and share its report with the lower house.

Pakistan foreign minister’s trip to Afghanistan

Dr. Abdullah Abdullah also pointed to the recent visit of Pakistani foreign minister to Afghanistan and said: “We explained our concerns and told the Pakistani foreign minister that we have no bad will for any of our neighboring countries.”

Two days back, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign minister, at the head of a high level delegation visited Kabul and met with Afghan government leaders. It was Qureshi’s first foreign trip as Pakistan’s foreign minister.

Reports say the both sides talked various issues including security, peace and stability in the region, fighting terrorism, Afghanistan and Pakistan Action Plan and negotiations with the Taliban under Afghans’ leadership and the Pakistani side has agreed to support Afghanistan in the mentioned areas.

Abdullah said: “I hope no country would support groups that are involved in violent activities, terrorism and killing of civilians.”

Closure of IEC’s provincial offices

Abdullah expressed concern over the closure of Independent Election Commission (IEC) offices in a number of provinces and said it would not help bring transparency to elections.

A number of political parties and groups on Saturday closed IEC offices in Kandahar, Herat and Balkh provinces and warned they would also close offices of 20 other provinces if their demands were not accepted.

Changing the SNTV election system to MDR, registering voter’s biometric data and giving political parties the right to election observation are the demands of political parties and the movements.

The CEO said holding transparent and fair election was the demand of all people and political parties’ views and suggestions were being considered. He said the IEC could continue discussing with civil society activists and political parties if they had still any suggestions as transparency in election was an important issue for all.

USAID Promote project

About Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report regarding the failure of Promote project, Dr. Abdullah said that the title of the report was shocking, but the Promote project had been effective in different areas.

SIGAR’s recent report said Promote was too far from reaching its goals and the project was poorly designed.

However, Abdullah said a team had been tasked to review the report and discuss it with US officials responsible for the project.

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Afghanistan’s exports reach $56m via established air corridors

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Afghan officials are saying that goods worth around 56 million US Dollars have been exported to various countries via air corridors.

The head of the Public Relations of the senior Presidential Adviser for Banking and Financial Affairs Samir Rasa said the goods have been exported over a period of almost a year, since the establishment of the air corridors.

Rasa further added that the goods have been exported from Kabul and Kandahar airfields in 169 flights.

He said the goods have been exported to New Delhi and Mumbai cities of India, Kazakhstan, Turkey, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

According to Rasa, the Memorandums of Understanding have been signed for the establishment of similar air corridors with China, Dubai, and other cities of India.

Rasa says the main purpose of the establishment of further air corridors is to boost the exports of the Afghan goods to the international markets.

In the meantime, Rasa said the High Economic Council has also approved the policy for the Industrial parks.

He said the approval of the policy has paved the way for the distribution of lands to the entrepreneurs in 13 industrial parks in 11 provinces.

Rasa also added that the distribution of lands in Barikab industrial park will soon commence for the 16 factories.

 

 

 

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Five killed as mortar hits house

Monitoring Desk

KHOST: Five persons were martyred and three more injured as a mortar round landed in a house in Warmamay district in Paktika province. A mortar round fired by the armed opponents hit a house in Ghara area in the limits of Warmamay district, leaving five persons dead and three more injured, Paktika governor’s spokesman Muhammad Rahman Ayaz said.

The dead included four women and a minor, he said. According to local residents, Taliban fighters in large numbers had gathered to capture the Warmamay district headquarters.

The Taliban have not said anything in this regard so far.

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1.2m jeribs of state-owned land surveyed so far

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Afghanistan Land Authority, also known as ARAZI, says 643158 acres of state-owned land has been surveyed in 28 provinces of the country.

The government land was surveyed through the State Land Bank, a statement from the authority said. The survey was launched on April 28 based on a presidential order.

Over the past six months, more than one million and two lakh jeribs of land has been surveyed, including 158,860 jeribs in Kabul, according to the statement.

It added 115,599 jeribs of land was evaluated in Balkh, 131,799 in Nimroz, 59,930 in Paktia, 56,581 in Kandahar, 76,587 in Laghman and 686,961 in 22 other provinces.

The State-Land Bank of the Afghanistan Land Authority was established in accordance with Article No. 10th, 11th and 12th of the Land Management Law, which aims to survey and record state-owned land and public properties under government use, attract private sector investment, create jobs, increase national revenue and provide opportunities for Afghan government for proper implementation of socio-economic and national projects.

The Afghanistan Land Authority plans to register two million jeribs of state-owned land and public properties under government use by the end of the solar year.

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Kabulis concerned over private guards for Ashura

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The private guards armed and deployed by the government to ensure security of Ashura rituals in Kabul City has created concern among the people of the Afghan capital.

The private security guards were deployed following the decision taken by President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani at a security meeting held at Presidential Palace last week to avert any possible attack on the Ashura processions and worships.

The Afghan government had also hired and armed around 1000 people for the same purpose last year but failed to collect arms from these people at the end of the Moharram.

The government is paving way for war by arming the ethnic Hazara community members because they would use these weapons for illegal activities, said General Gharzay Khwakhogay, Kabul based security expert.

He told Afghan media that if Daesh or any other militant group conducts attack they would face these private guards and the fighting would rage on in the city while the security forces would do nothing.

He said if the government had sincere intention of adopting strict security for Ashura then they would have recruited or merged these guards in the regular forces.

Meanwhile, the dwellers of Kabul city say the security guards deployed to the security of Ashura have become another headache for the residents as they have started violating the law in city.

“There is a small Takyakhana [Shiite mosque] on the Shaheed Sher Wali Wardak road in Kabul’s 5th police district but these people have closed the main road. Similarly, tens of illegal armed people could be seen roaming there in the night,” said Shafiullah, a resident of the area.

Mujeebullah, another resident, said there is no guarantee that these armed people would not use their weapons for robberies.

He said the private guards wearing plain clothes were taking illegal advantage of their weapons and indulged in illegal activities.

 

 

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Free, fair polls is govt’s responsibility: Senate

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Some Meshrano Jirga or Senate members on Sunday joined the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Ministry of Interior in lashing out at protestors for closing IEC provincial offices.

The senators said if the government could not introduce the biometric system ahead of the election day, it should satisfy political parties.

Supporters of the Coalition for Salvation of Afghanistan on Saturday closed the provincial Independent Election Commission (IEC) offices in Kandahar, Balkh and Herat provinces.

Their demands include allowing representatives of political parties to monitor the conduct of elections, changing the current Single None-Transferrable Vote (SNTV) system to a transferable vote system and a fresh voter registration through biometric system

Meanwhile, a senior Ministry of Interior official ordered the police to use force if necessary in maintaining security of election offices.

Senior deputy interior minister for security Akhtar Mohammad Ibrahimi in a video clip said no one has the right to close election offices.

Addressing reporters in Kabul on Sunday, IEC head Abdul Badai Sayyad said closing IEC offices was a wrong culture and was unacceptable.

He said the closure of IEC offices meant the perpetrators wanted the elections to be delayed.

He said the induction of the biometric system was not possible in the time available till the election date, adding change in the election system was a shared responsibility of the government and Parliament.

The top electoral official, however, said the election commission was interested in political parties’ participation in the election process.

Referring to the closure of IEC offices, he said: “The government leadership has directed governors and district chiefs to stop powerful individuals from meddling in the election process.”

Meanwhile, some lawmakers demanded transparency in the election process and asked the government to stop possible rigging and fraud.

Lotfullah Baba, a lawmaker from Nangarhar province, said the government should stop individuals and groups operating under different names from sabotaging the election process.

Senate Chairman Fazal Hadi Muslimyar said the conduct of free and fair election was responsibility of the government. He asked the government to satisfy protesters if introduction of the biometric system was not possible in the stipulated time.

 

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Ghani, Abdullah hold talks on national issues with Sayaf

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and the Chief Executive of the Unity Government Abdullah Abdullah met with the former Jihadi leader Abdul Rab Rasool Sayaf to hold talks on key national issues.

The Office of the President, ARG Palace, in a statement said the leaders of the unity government visited the residence of Abdul Rab Rasool Sayaf in Paghman district earlier Sunday.

The statement further added that President and Chief Executive Abdullah were invited by Ustad Sayaf for the breakfast.

According to ARG Palace, the unity government leaders and Ustad Sayaf held talks on key national issues, including recent political and and security developments.

The statement did not elaborate further regarding the main topics discussed during the meeting but this comes as efforts are underway for the revival of an Afghan-led peace process with the Taliban group.

Sayaf is among the prominent Mujahideen leaders and former lawmaker representing Kabul in the Lower House of the parliament.

He has previously criticized the Taliban group as well as the government in some stances for its policies.

But the latest meeting takes place days after Ustad Sayaf said some prominent figures and the Grand National Coalition has decided to appoint a delegation for the talks with the Taliban group.