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NSC asks Afghan forces to increase operations against militants

KABUL (TOLONews): The National Security Council (NSC) has asked the Afghan forces to increase their offensive operations against militants across the country.

A spokesman of the NSC said in a recorded video message, received by TOLOnews on Friday, that the decision has been made to ensure the safety of the people and reduce casualties among government forces.

“The National Security Council has asked the security and defense agencies to increase their offensive operations against the enemy in all parts of the country to safeguard people’s lives. Currently, our National Security and Defense Forces are fighting against the enemies of the people in different parts of the country,” the NSC deputy spokesman Tariq Aryan said.

The remarks come after the Ministry of Interior on Sunday confirmed there has been a sharp rise in casualties among security forces in the past few weeks after Taliban insurgents expanded their attacks on multiple fronts.

“This year, the Afghan security forces had vast movements across the country, whenever the role of security forces is increased in war, it is natural the number of casualties would also increase,” the Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said this week.

Jaghor, Khogyani and Malistan districts in Ghazni; Dasht-e-Archi in Kunduz; Farah city in Farah; Barka and Dahan-e-Ghori districts in Baghlan; and Trinkot in Uruzgan are among the areas where the Taliban launched fresh offensives to challenge government forces in recent weeks.

According to reports, fighting is ongoing between the Taliban and Afghan forces in Ghazni’s Malistan and Jaghori districts.

The Ministry of Defense on Thursday said reinforcement troops have been sent to Jaghori district in Ghazni province and Baghlan’s Dahana-e-Ghori District to repel Taliban attacks in the two regions.

President Ashraf Ghani has also confirmed that government forces casualties are high.

“American losses in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014 were 2,357. And since 2015, still much regrettable, but the entire loss of American forces in Afghanistan is 58 Americans. In the same period (Since 2015), 28,529 of our security forces have lost their lives and become martyrs for our freedom,” the president said as he addressed audiences in Johns Hopkins University in US through a video conference.

Reports indicate that heavy fights are ongoing between government forces and Taliban in 11 provinces of the country.

A number of former military officers say that poor management and lack of equipment and on-time backup are the reasons behind an increase in insecurity and high death toll among Afghan forces.

According to former military officers, offensive operations of the Afghan forces would be more effective if they are equipped and managed well on the battlefields.

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Ghazni displaced families call for govt’s help

GHAZNI (TOLONews): Dozens of displaced families, including women and children, who have fled the conflicts in Ghani’s Jaghori and Malistan districts are in Kabul where they are passing difficult times.

Some of the displaced families said they are stationed at mosques in Kabul City and that they are facing numerous challenges in this cold season.

They called on government forces to ensure security of Jaghori and Malistan districts so that they can return to their homes.

Ishaq, a 90 years old displaced man from Malistan, said that this is the first time that he has been forced to leave his home due to insecurity so far.

“I asked my wife to prepare food. After we had the food, we saw that from 20 families in the village, only one family was there and the remaining had left,” said Ishaq.

Farzana, a student from Jaghori, said their school was closed after theclashes intensified in the district. Farzana said they hardly managed to reach Kabul.

“There was no car for passengers. We went from our house to another place and finally reached to Ghazni City. It took two days to arrive in Kabul,” said Farzana.

Hundreds of families from Malistan and Jaghori also have fled to other parts of the country and a big number of them have went to Bamiyan province.

“So far, 900 families have arrived in Bamiyan,” said Zia Rafat, head of Natural Disasters Management Department in Bamiyan.

“We ask President Ashraf Ghani to make Jaghori safe so we can return to our homes,” member of a displaced family said.

“We have lost whatever we had and we ask government to help us,” member of a displaced family said.

Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority said around 5,000 families have been displaced due to ongoing clashes in Malistan and Jaghori districts in Ghazni and Khas Uruzgan district in Uruzgan province.

Although according to Ministry of Interior, the Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mohammad Sharif Yaftali, Senior Security Deputy for Interior Ministry Gen. Akhtar Ibrahimi and deputy head of the National Directorate of Security with dozens of security forces have arrived in Jaghori and Malistan to launch a large-scale operations, but new reports indicate that fighting has intensified between security forces and Taliban in the districts.

“This action was taken very late. We criticize the delay. Government should have taken action when the clashes started,” Ghazni MP Shah Gul Rezaee said.

Fights in Jaghori and Malistan districts started over a week ago.

UN Paints Grim Picture Of Ghazni Situation

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in a report on Wednesday, November 14, said that the situation in Jaghori and Malistan in Ghazni province is “chaotic” and that thousands of families are fleeing the area due to ongoing clashes.

In a news brief on the situation in the two provinces, OCHA said that heavy fighting broke out between the Taliban, supported by some local Pashtun communities, against pro-government Hazara militias in Khas Uruzgan district in Uruzgan province in early November.

OCHA said the tension was initially centered on the villages of Hussaini, Karez and Kondala, but that then the fighting spread to the districts of Jaghori and Malistan in neighboring Ghazni province.

Clashes have escalated since Saturday, November 10, after reinforcement troops and air support were sent in.

OCHA reports that the affected districts are chaotic and that families have been moving repeatedly in search of safety. The organization reports that displaced people are fleeing to Bamiyan and Maidan Wardak provinces and to Kabul.

According to their report, civilian casualty numbers cannot yet be determined accurately but local sources have told them at least 15 civilians were killed in Malistan alone on Sunday, November 11.

OCHA said: “The total number of civilian casualties is likely to be higher.”

The organization also said reports have been received of violations of the International Humanitarian Law, with private houses burnt and civilian vehicles stolen or confiscated.

They said roads connecting Jaghori and Malistan to Ghazni city have reportedly been blocked, which is “preventing safe passage for civilians attempting to leave the area, and leaving people in siege-like conditions with no access to health facilities and limited availability to food, fuel, and medicine.”

“Families abandoning their homes are exposed to harsh winter conditions and in need of shelter and warmth,” they said.

In Ghazni City, Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority and the department of refugees and returnees registered 1,000 internally displaced families on 11 and 12 November.

The IDPs are living in schools, mosques and homes of local families, OCHA reported.

In Bamiyan Center, officials report that 400 displaced families have arrived but that there are reportedly up to 4,000 families headed towards Ghazni City and Kabul.

OCHA states however that no humanitarian response has been carried out in Jaghori and Malistan as partner organizations have not been able to access the affected population due to the fighting.

They also stated that in Ghazni city, provincial disaster management officials met on Monday and together with NGOs are now leading efforts to assess the situation and identify the needs of the displaced people.

In Bamiyan, organizations have already started to provide non-food items, including warm clothing, to displaced families.

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Number of girls graduated from Kandahar schools increases

KABUL (TOLONews): Figures by the provincial directorate of education in Kandahar reveal that at least 800 girls were graduated from high school in the province this year – which according to local officials shows a slight increase compared with previous years that was between 200 to 400 girls.

The Kandahar Education Directorate’s figures show that there are 377 schools in the province with 362,000 students including 79,000 girls. The figures show that almost 100 schools have remained closed in the province.

The figures further show that up to 60 percent of girls leave schools before graduation from high school due to security issues, families’ traditions and a dominant tradition against girls in the society.

“Last year, we reported that at least 60 percent of girls left schools before graduation but this year the number of high school graduates among girls was 800 while this figure was between 200 to 400 girls in previous years,” Abdul Qadir Paiwastoon, the provincial director of education, told TOLOnews on Thursday.

“There are some problems in this sector but we continue our efforts to address them and they will be solved in the near future,” he added.

Students from Kandahar girls’ schools said they pay lots of efforts for completion of their school terms due to problems in their society.

Maryam, a high school graduate from Kandahar, said three girls from her class left school at 10th grade.

“Many girls from our relatives and neighbors went to school and were very talented but they left school when they got married and all their dreams remained unfulfilled,” said Maryam.

Sona, a high school graduate from Kandahar, said she is concerned that despite some improvements still many families are not giving their daughters the equal rights as they provide it for boys.

“This problem is more common in Kandahar compared with other provinces because families are concerned about our security and they think that the society is not ready to accept that girls would go out of home for school and education,” said Sona.

Figures out by Ministry of Education in September show that 3.7 million children are deprived of education in the country.

According to figures by UNESCO in September, Afghanistan has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, currently estimated at about 31 percent of the adult population (over 15 years of age).

Female literacy levels are on average 17 percent, with high variation, indicating a strong geographical and gender divide, the UNESCO indicate.

The figures show that the highest female literacy rate, for instance is 34.7 percent, found in the capital, Kabul, while rates as low as 1.6 percent was found in two southern provinces of the country. Male literacy rates average about 45 percent, again with high variation. The highest male literacy rates are in Kabul, at 68 percent, while the lowest is found in Helmand, at 41 percent.

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Heavy clashes reported in Kunduz

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Heavy clashes erupted among the Afghan security forces and the Taliban militants in Kunduz late on Wednesday night, inflicting casualties both on the militants and the security forces. The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North in a statement said the Taliban militants launched coordinated attacks on security posts in Qala Zal district at around 3am local time on Thursday. The statement further added that the attacks were launched in Gansh, Afghan Tapa, Tapi Afghan, and Mazar areas of the district.

The Afghan forces responded to the attacks leaving at least 13 militants and 16 others wounded, the 209th Shaheen Corps said.

At least four commanders of the group identified as Mawlavi Khaksar, Qari Zabiullah, Ahmad Zia Waqari and Taliban’s Red Unit Commander Khalid were among those killed.

According to 209th Shaheen Corps, the local residents did not suffer any casalty during the clash but three armed forces embraced martyrdom and two others sustained injuries.

The anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban militants yet to comment regarding the clashes. (Khaama Press)





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AIHRC accused of monopoly, ethnic bias

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Participants of a meeting in Kabul accused the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) leadership of ‘monopoly and ethnic prejudice’ and claimed 70 percent of shortlisted eligible candidates for the rights body’s membership hailed from a single tribe.

They demanded the committee, tasked with selecting eligible candidates for membership of the AIHRC, to be dissolved.

Under the AIHRC law, the nine-member body, including women, is appointed by the president for a five-year term and their head is also picked by the president from among the members.

Abdul Rahman Hotak, an AIHRC commissioner, told reporters here that the president had ordered selection of new human rights commissioners five months ago.

Under the presidential order, a seven-member committee comprised of individuals from the civil society and a five-member government body was formed.

The committee shortlisted 81 individuals out of 390 persons, who applied for the AIHRC membership. These 81 persons were then referred to the five-member government committee for selecting nine persons for AIHRC membership.

“Among the 81 shortlisted individuals, 10 were Pashtuns, seven Tajik and seven Uzbek and the rest were picked from Hazara tribe,” he said.

Hotak said the selections showed the AIHRC continued to be monopolized by a particular ethnic group.

He demanded the government dissolve the seven-member committee and the list of 81 shortlisted persons and form a new committee of academicians and civil society organizations.

Mualvi Shahzada Shahid, a Wolesi Jirga member, said also demanded the removal of the seven-member committee. He said the AIHRC was one of important institutions but ethnic differences had plagued the body and was occupied by one ethnic community.

Civil society activist Fazal Minallah Mumtaz said: “I don’t call it AIHRC, it is Sima Samar’s commission. More than 80 percent members of the commission belong to Sima Samar.” The AIHRC was incepted in 2003 by the orders of former president Hamid Karzai. Sima Samar has since been heading the national institution.

Bilal Sidiqui, AIHRC spokesman, rejected the views expressed at the gathering in Kabul, and said: “No ethnic issues exist in the commission. Every ethnic group has representation in the nine member commission.” (Pajhwok)


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Afghanistan has no secret deal with India: Minister

Monitoring Desk

WASHINGTON: Describing India as a long-term partner of Afghanistan, Finance Minister Mohammad Humayon Qayoumi, has said that his country has no secret deal with New Delhi.

“Afghanistan has no secret deals with India,” he said at the School of Advanced international Studies of John Hopkins University. The relationship between the two countries is based on trust based between two sovereign governments. India, he said, has been a traditional and long-term partner of Afghanistan. “They have been a long-term partner. They will remain a long-term partner,” Qayoumi said.

Responding to a question, he hoped that Afghanistan has similar relationship with Pakistan. “But I think it’s Pakistan that has to decide what they would like to do as part of it in where they would like to be,” he said.

It is in the interest of the people of Pakistan that Pakistan has closer linkages and ties with India and Central Asia as a whole. “This whole region is ripe for being a very functioning economic ecosystem. Right now that is the least integrated region of the world economically. It’s not helping anyone,” Qayoumi said.

“We hope Pakistan can really see that as a way that on how we can work together as a region, as equals, as sovereign nations, but (also as a) region that can have a future together successfully where economically and politically the areas can work together,” he said. (Pajhwok)



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Tadin Khan vows to follow in his brother’s footsteps

Monitoring Desk

KANDAHAR: The police chief for southern Kandahar province, Tadin Khan, has pledged to follow into the footsteps of his slain brother and predecessor. Maj. Gen. Tadin Khan was appointed as the police chief of Kandahar after the killing of Gen. Abdul Raziq.

During an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, Tadin Khan assured of his efforts to improve the law and order situation and follow the mission of his brother for the country and people.

He said his brother stood against terrorists, thieves and militants and he would do the same. He thanked the people of Kandahar and Afghanistan for sharing their grief over the loss of Gen. Raziq, which strengthened his morale.

“I am new to the scene, the security policy and management will be the same it was at the time of my brother. All security personnel and officials have been cooperative with me the way they cooperated with Gen. Raziq,” he said.

He said intelligence agencies of Russia and Iran were involved in the killing of his brother, adding that he would never bow to them and rather stand firm as he is prepared to offer more sacrifices.

He made it clear he would avenge the killing of his brother: “Everyone who killed my brother, I want to tell them that we will reach you wherever you are and would take the revenge,” he said.

Gen. Raziq and provincial National Directorate of Security chief Abdul Momin Hussainkhel were killed in an insider’s attack that left some other officials including Governor Zalmai Wesa and a US general wounded after a high level security meeting at the governor’s house. (Pajhwok)


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‘Taliban kill over 35 security forces’

Monitoring Desk

FARAH CITY: At least 30 security forces have been killed during Taliban militants’ attack on battalion in western Farah province of Afghanistan, public representatives said on Thursday.

Sha Mahmood Naemi, the deputy provincial council head, told Pajhwok Afghan News the militants launched a coordinated attack on a joint Afghan National Army (ANA) and police battalion Aab-i-Khorma locality of Balablok district on Herat-Kandahar highway late on Wednesday night. He said at least 30 security forces were killed in the attack.

Meanwhile, Khir Mohammad Norzayee, a member of the provincial council, told Pajhwok that the exact number of soldiers killed in the incident was unknown so far.

He said 45 policemen and ANA soldiers were stationed in the battalion which was attacked. Initial reports indicate 15 ANA soldiers and 15 to 20 police personnel had been killed in the incident, Norzayee said.

He said the joint battalion of the ANA soldiers and policemen was located in Khak-i-Safid district but was shifted to Aab-i-Khorma area of the Balabolok district of the province three days ago.

Norzayee expressed concern over the security forces causalities and said at least 250 soldiers were killed during the Taliban coordinately stormed last month.

Meanwhile, provincial police spokesman, Mohibullah Muhib also confirmed the Taliban attacks in Balablok, Push Koh and Pusht Rod districts but said both sides suffered causalities in the attack. However, he had no exact number of the causalities. Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, the Taliban spokesman claimed killing 30 security forces in the nighttime stormed. (Pajhwok)





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Police intervene as Kabul University students fight over Ghazni unrest

KABUL (Pajhwok): A verbal dispute between students of Kabul University led to physical fight in the university’s hostile Thursday noon.

Fawad Ahmad, a student of third year of journalism faculty, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the clash took place after an argument over militants’ attacks in Malistan and Jaghori districts of southern Ghazni province turned serious.

As the quarrel continued, the police forces arrived and took control of the situation, he said. The dispute happened at 12:30pm till 1pm.

Other students confirmed the clash erupted over differences on views over Ghazni insecurity.

Basir Mujahid, the Kabul police spokesman, confirmed the fight and said police arrived to the scene and took control of the situation.

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Politicians warn govt against delaying elections

KABUL (TOLONews): In response to reports that Washington was pushing Afghanistan to postpone presidential elections next year, officials from some of Afghanistan’s influential political parties on Thursday reiterated calls for elections to be held on time.

Among those opposed to the idea was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of Hizb-e-Islami, who said the elections need to be held on time and that he was opposed to the idea of establishing an interim government.

In addition, other poltical parties such as Jamiat-e-Islami Party of Afghanistan and National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan also voiced their opposition to a delay. But some close aides to former president Hamid Karzai have said that the country needs to prioritize the peace process.

This comes after The Wall Street Journal on Monday morning reported that the US was pushing for the Afghan government to postpone next year’s elections – a move that could be linked to Khalilzad’s apparent six month deadline to broker peace with the Taliban.

However, the Afghan government immediately rejected the allegations and President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman was quick to say that government was committed to holding presidential elections as per the Afghan constitution and the date determined by the Independent Election Commission (IEC).

Ghani’s spokesman, Haroon Chakhansuri, tweeted that “Continuity in a democratic process is a must and any other proposal than the will of Afghans which is outlined in our constitution is simply not acceptable.”

Hekmatyar said on Thursday however that government has to take into consideration requests by political parties.

“If government does not respect the logical and legitimate demands of political parties and tries to conduct the elections in the same way as the parliamentary elections, based on fraud, or conduct it with the same old method, then we would not have another option except to press for the establishment of an interim government,” said Hekmatyar.

Noor Rahman Akhlaqi, a member of Jamiat-e-Islami meanwhile said reports of any delay are simply rumors.

“Jamiat-e-Islami party of Afghanistan has not made any kind of agreement with anyone to delay the elections and the rumors about the issue is just propaganda,” he said.

“We do not support the idea of a delay in presidential elections, [but if delayed, it must be] on condition that the war ends and peace is achieved,” said Abdullah Qarloq, deputy head of National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan.

But Karzai’s close aides have said the current situation does not lend itself to presidential elections.

“Parliamentary elections were different, but the presidential elections are held at a time that peace has not come to the country, this means that the Taliban will remain away from the scene,” said Karzai’s close aide Abdul Karim Khurram.

But the Afghan government and the US have rejected claims about any delay in elections.

The US Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert said Wednesday that Washington is committed to the election process and any decision to move out the date would be at Kabul’s discretion.

Nauert said: “One of the things that is important to us is we’re committed to the overall electoral process. If there were to be any changes made to the scheduling, that would entirely be a decision on the part of Afghanistan, one in which we would not interfere.”

In a meeting with the US ambassador to Afghanistan John R. Bass on Tuesday night, the CEO Abdullah Abdullah discussed some of these issues with him. However, after the meeting Abdullah tweeted that the scheduled elections would go ahead as planned.

Bass in turn responded and said: “We remain committed to helping the electoral commissions and the Afghan government prepare for presidential elections in April 2019. Timing of Afghan elections is for Afghans to decide.”