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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)

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U.S. peace efforts not aimed at seeking ways for exit from Afghanistan: Khalilzad

KABUL (Khaama Press): The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad has the objective of the United States is to ensure a lasting peace in Afghanistan through diplomatic channels in a bid to ensure that the benefits of two nations are secure.

Ambassador Khalilzad also added that the United States seeks bilateral cooperation with Afghanistan and efforts are underway to reduce the cost of the war.

He made the remarks during a meeting with President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, members of the political parties, civil society organizations, youths, religious clerics and other government officials during a gathering in the presidential palace on Sunday evening.

He also added that the United States is serious to a peace process considering the central role of the Afghan government and Afghan people, insisting that the United States wants a lasting peace in which the achievements are preserved and that results in to the conclusion of 40 years of war.

Ambassador Khalilzad further added that the objective of the U.S. peace efforts is not to seek a way for exit but is focused on maintaining peace in Afghanistan and strengthening of bilateral relations with Afghanistan would be discussed after a peace deal is reached.

Assuring that no difference exists in the views of the Afghan government and the United States in peace process, Ambassador Khalilzad said all steps and efforts are in preliminary stage.

Admitting that the progress has been limited but hopeful, Ambassador Khalilzad said he is hopeful to have more progress in this regard in coordination with the government and people of Afghanistan.

He went on to explain that the U.S. delegation had discussions on four issues during the past meetings with the Taliban representatives, including circumstances surrounding the relations of Taliban with Al-Qaeda network, presence of U.S. forces, direct negotiations between Taliban and Afghan government, and an overall ceasefire.

Ambassador Khalilzad also emphasized that there will be no progress until an agreement is reached regarding the four issues since the issue of ceasefire is one of the centric topics, promising that future decisions would be taken considering the central role of the Afghan government.

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Ghani wants Pakistan, Taliban to clarify their ties

KABUL (Pajhwok): President Ashraf Ghani and US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad have conferred on a wide range of issues around the Afghan peace process.

The Presidential Palace said on Monday Ghani told the visiting US diplomat that more action was needed to achieve lasting peace in the country.

Members of the Peace Consultative Board, the government’s negotiating team, politicians, representatives of political parties attended the overnight meeting.

Also in attendance were religious scholars, representatives of civil society, youth, women and high- a number of senior government officials, a statement from Ghani’s office said,

The president said his government had agreed on a new framework with Khalilzad. Actions would be taken based on the framework to advance the peace process, he promised.

Ghani was quoted as saying: “We want the Taliban to clarify their relationship with Pakistan. At the same time, we ask Pakistan to explain its relationship with the Taliban…”

On the occasion, Khalilzad said peace was a shared goal of the US and Afghanistan. Diplomatic efforts would be stepped up to achieve lasting peace in Afghanistan, he added.

The US was serious about a central role for the Afghan government and people in the peace process to preserve achievements of the past decade and a half.

“Our goal is to bring lasting peace to Afghanistan, and the expansion and strengthening of the two countries’ post-peace relations will be discussed with the Afghan government,” Khalilzad said.

The US was not aiming withdrawal, but sustainable peace in Afghanistan to end the 40-year-old crisis in the country, the US envoy maintained.

Khalilzad said that there were no differences of opinion between the Afghan government and the US on the peace process. Efforts in this regard were in a preliminary stage, he continued. Progress remained limited, but encouraging, he said.

A ceasefire and dialogue between the Afghan government and Taliban were the most important issues, Khalilzad remarked, welcoming Ghani’s initiative to hold a Loya Jirga on peace.

“I have announced holding of a consultative Peace Loya Jirga to let all people contribute to this constructive debate. In coming days, a women’s advisory jirga will be set up and delegates from 34 provinces will attend it,” Ghani said.

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Atmar accuses govt of purging politicians

KABUL (TOLOnews): Former National Security Advisor and presidential candidate Mohammad Haneef Atmar on Monday said that government has started purging politicians as a move against President Ghani’s political rivals ahead of the elections.

“The government has started the illegal process of purging its political rivals in state institutions. This move is targeting the Peace and Moderation team and currently, at least 12 people who had relations with this team have been fired or forced to resign including [second deputy chief execute Mohammad] Mohaqiq, governors and some advisors,” said Atmar.

President Ashraf Ghani last month issued a decree, removing a number of high-ranking officials, including Mohammad Mohaqiq, who still continues his job as the second deputy of chief executive.

President Ghani’s spokesman, Haroon Chakhansuri, said at a press briefing on Monday that government has fired the individuals based on its reform agenda and that the move does not have an electoral campaign motive.

Atmar’s election team is believed to be one of Ghani’s powerful rivals in the presidential elections set for July 20. Eighteen candidates, including Atmar, are running for president.

President Ghani last week signed off the amended election law based on which all members of the election commissions were dismissed.

Atmar said this move was a “unilateral decision” by the president.

He said presidential elections need to be held on time and should be independent and transparent.

According to him, government’s “monopoly” of elections needs to be ended and a reform package for elections has been submitted to government to overcome this problem.

On January 18, Atmar entered the race for presidential elections with former Vice President Mohammad Yunus Qanooni as his first Vice President and Deputy Chief Executive Mohammad Mohaqiq as his second Vice President.

He has served as interior minister during former President Hamid Karzai’s government as well as the national security advisor to President Ghani.