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Afghan Air Force to start using Black Hawks from today

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters will start operations in support of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces as at least 60 Afghan Air Force personnel have fully completed their training for the historic operations debut.

“A historic day for the Afghan Air Force today, Afghanistan’s first UH-60 Black Hawk mission-qualified crews graduated. Tomorrow, they begin operations in support of Afghanistan’s national security and defense,” according to a short statement posted online by the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.

“The introduction of the UH-60 marks the dawning of a new age for the Afghan Air Force,” said United States Air Force Brig. Gen. Phillip Stewart, Train, Advise and Assist Command-Air commander.

According to the Resolute Support Mission, Gen. Stewart was joined after graduation by Maj. Gen. Abdul Raziq Sherzai, Kandahar Air Wing commander, and Maj. Gen. Mohammad Shoaib, Afghan Air Force commander.

The UH-60 is a capable, versatile, combat proven aircraft that will enhance the war fighting capabilities of the Afghan Air Force.

This comes as efforts are underway to boost the capabilities of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), specifically the Afghan Air Force.




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Police officer shot dead

Monitoring Desk

SHEBERGHAN: The Taliban shot dead a police officer in Sare Pul city on Tuesday, officials said. The deputy head of second security zone in Sare Pul, Kamesar Irgish was returning from Qoshtipa after establishing a new security checkpoint when Taliban ambushed his convoy, Sare Pul police operational chief Syed Naqibullah said. Kamesar Irgish was killed and his two security guards were injured in the gunfight, he said. The Taliban used a nearby house of civilians to target the security forces, he said.

A woman was injured in the house during the gunfight, he added.

Meanwhile, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and their spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Irgish was killed and his two security guards were wounded in the gunfight.


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Residents’ demands large scale military operations in Badakhshan

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Residents of Badakhshan demanded from the government to start large-scale military operations to eliminate the militants from the area and restored peace in the province.

The residents of Badakhshan held a meetig in Faizabad on Tuesday and they said that Wardooj, Yumgan, Jurm districts and Faizabad city are in serious threats as the militants continuously carrying out terrorist activities in the area without any fear and adding that now it is time to restore the peace by initiating large scale operations against these militants.

They blamed that Badakhshan officials are weak and they were failed to provide security to the people in the province.

Meanwhile, some members of Badakhshan Provincial Council claimed government does not have any will to clear the province of militants.

Moreover, Governor Badakhshan province, Ahmad Faizal Begzad told Afghan media that Afghan forces are fighting against Taliban militants in Kohistan and Teshkan districts.


This comes after Kohistan district in Badakhshan fell to the Taliban last week on Thursday.


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President vows timely, transparent elections

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: President Ashraf Ghani, denouncing recent attacks on voter registration sites, on Monday pledged the timely conduct of Wolesi Jirga, district council and presidential polls.

The president held out the pledge while addressing the 5th Afghan Women International Symposium here. The assurance comes days after deadly attacks in Kabul and Khost provinces.

Referring to recent attacks in Kabul, Kandahar, Nangarhar, and Khost provinces, the president said armed militants had no positive idea for the future of Afghanistan and if they had any, they must come forward.

Ghani added the recent blasts carried aimed to scuttle the election process were not against a single tribe or community. Media  reports show 1,018 people were killed and 792 others injured in 173 attacks in April.

Ghani promised election would be held on schedule. In mid-May 2019, he said, all of government figures would cease work.

Article 61 of the constitution says: “The president shall be elected by receiving more than 50 percent of votes cast through free, general, secret and direct voting.

“The presidential term shall expire on the 1st of Jawza of the fifth year after elections. Elections for new president shall be held within thirty to sixty days prior to the end of the presidential term.

“If in the first round none of the candidates gets more than fifty percent of votes, elections for the second round shall be held within two weeks from the date election results are proclaimed.

“In this round, only two candidates who have received the highest number of votes shall participate. In case one of the candidates dies during the first or second round or after elections, but prior to the declaration of results, re-election shall be held according to provisions of the law.”

The national unity government (NUG) was installed as a result of an agreement between President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah after months of a deadlock.

Some experts believed future presidential elections may be delayed.

The president said until last week 24 percent of women were registered as voters, a low percentage. Earlier, the Independent Election Commission had announced documenting 1.4 million voters.

The process of voter registration kicked off on April 14. “Your presence in this symposium is a clear response to terrorist attacks. Women of this country are discussing peace and stability and are cooperating and coordinating in this way.”

He hoped the Afghan women would not go back to the times of oppression, poverty and backwardness. The women were present and their presence was durable, he concluded.


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Saudia to boost cooperation with Afghanistan

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has pledged boosting cooperation with Afghanistan, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Abdullah Abdullah’s office said on Monday.

The new Saudi ambassador to Afghanistan held out the promise of enhanced cooperation at a meeting with Dr. Abdullah in Kabul, the CEO spokesman said in a statement.

Ambassador Jassim Mohammad Al Kadi met Abdulla at his office in the morning. The CEO hailed Saudi Arabia as an Afghanistan’s longstanding friend and supporter.

Relations between the two countries had been cordial, he said, appreciating the oil-rich country’s presence and support for Afghanistan. He urged enhanced bilateral; cooperation.

The new diplomat expressed happiness over and emphasized friendly relations between the two nations. He hoped Kabul-Riyadh ties would gain further strength during his diplomatic assignment in Afghanistan.

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Religious seminary targeted in Dasht-e-Archi blitz: UNAMA’s report

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said on Monday that the airstrike in Dasht-e-Archi district of Kunduz on April 02 was conducted against a religious seminary.

According to the report released by UNAMA, 107 Afghan civilians suffered casualties in the blitz.

In its report, the UNAMA said that 36 people including 30 children were killed while 71 more persons including 51 miners were injured in the bombardment. The UNAMA repeatedly said that the Afghan Air Force targeted a ceremony meant for graduates of a religious seminary.

The casualties were proved in the light of the clear policy of UNAMA, the press release stated. However, the UNAMA has received some reliable reports which suggested that 122 people suffered casualties in the blitz.

That UNAMA questioned as which steps had been taken by the Afghan government to avoid civilian casualties if military target existed in the area. The report has been prepared on the basis of interviews with 90 people, the press release said. The people interviewed for the report included education, health and other government officials, legal advisors, security officials, tribal elders, commanders of foreign forces and several others in Kunduz and Kabul.

The press release said the UNAMA was not in a position to confirm the presence of Taliban leaders or their activities at the time of the attack in the area.

In the report, the UNAMA has not openly accused the Afghan government of breaching the international human rights. It, however, expressed doubts on the remarks and statements of Afghan government. The UNAMA demanded of all the sides to ensure protection to civilian lives.

Afghan Air Force targeted a ceremony meant for the graduates of a religious seminary in Daftanio area in Dasht-e-Archi district on April 02, this year. Local residents told AIP that 70 people were martyred and dozens more injured in the bombardment.

However, the Afghan government claimed that a meeting of high-ranking Taliban officials including members of council was in progress in the area. Dozens of Taliban fighters were killed and multiple more injured in the blitz, the Afghan government said.

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Five cops killed, 15 injured in Kandahar

Monitoring Desk

KANDAHAR: Five police personnel and 15 Taliban fighters were killed in gunfight in Maroof district in Kandahar province the other night, officials said on Monday.

The armed opponents attacked police outposts in Maroof district near the Durand Line the other night, Kandahar police spokesman Zia Durrani told Afghan Islamic Press. The gunfight lasted till yesterday afternoon.

Five police personnel were killed and nine more sustained injuries in the clash, he said. Similarly, he added that 15 armed opponents were killed and 11 more injured in the gunfight, he added.

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Qari Muhammad Yousaf Ahmadi told AIP that their fighters attacked military checkpoint and other supporting troops in Salison area in Maroof district. Resultantly, he claimed that 22 security personnel were killed, eight more injured and eight others were captured alive by Taliban.

He went on to say that a Taliban fighter was killed in the clash. Taliban seized multiple weapons in the gunfight, he added.




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Logar School serving as a voter registration centre blown up

Monitoring Desk

PUL-I-ALAM: The Taliban insurgents have blown up a school serving as a voter registration site in central Logar province, police said on Monday.

Shahpur Ahmadzai, police spokesman, told Afghan media the school in a refugees’ town in the provincial capital was destroyed early in the morning.

No one has been detained so far in connection with the attack, according to the spokesman, who said a search had been mounted for the assailants.

Department of Education spokesman Mohammad Shahpur Arab confirmed the school bombing. “As many as 1,100 students were enrolled in the school that also served as a voter registration centre.

“Fortunately, the explosion occurred early in the morning and no one was harmed,” Arab said, adding the school had been closed for students and teachers.

Resident Jamil confirmed the incident, saying the security forces had ringed the school. He said students had not come to school, whose boundary wall has been damaged and windowpanes shattered. A day earlier, a mosque chosen as a voter registration site in southeastern Khost province came under bomb attack, which killed 17 people and wounded dozens.


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Dilemma of low turnout in voter registration, electoral system hunt polls

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: As the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced the parliamentary and district council elections would be held on 20th October this year, the issue of low turnout in voter registration process and electoral constituencies is the important question that remains unresolved.

Credible sources in Presidential Palace divulged to Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) that President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani will meet representatives of political parties Monday’s evening to discuss with them whether the parliamentary election should be held on old electoral constituencies system or it should be changed.

Afghanistan used the Single Non-Transferable Voting (SNTV) system with province-wide, multi-member constituencies in the parliamentary elections in both 2005 and 2010. However, they system was widely criticized by political parties.

The sources said the peoples’ demand of holding elections on constituency basis in some provinces was justified because they might not able to elect a representative from their respective area if the old electoral system remains unchanged.

According to the source, the government intended to conduct elections on its scheduled time but some of the problems still remain unresolved.

“There exist numerous resolved questions about the nature of the electoral system. These questions become more serious with passing time, “said Qazi Muhammad Hasan Haqyar, a Kabul based political analyst.

He told Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) that IEC has not yet clarified if the elections would be held old province-wide constituency system or to divide a province into several constituencies.

He continued that security, low turnout in voter registration and some other issues were the questions needed to be answered.

Haqyar, however, said President’s meetings on electoral system is meaningless at this time because more than one million people have registered themselves for province wide constituency.

Abdul Shakoor Dadras, a legal expert, believes that the low turnout would be question mark on the legality and completeness of the elections.

He feared that the elections might be delayed on the same pretext.

“There are four ways to elections: The government should pave way for elections on its scheduled time on the old mechanism of province-wide constituency; divide each province in several constituencies; give share to [political] parties in parliament or hold presidential and parliamentary elections jointly,” he stated.

He said it was the right of the people to ask from IEC that when and on what mechanism the polls would be held.

He disclosed that the government might announce another plan for the elections.

The public awareness campaign launched by the IEC does carry the date of election but only urges the people to registrar as voter the coming key and historical day.

The IEC, however, says the elections would be held on its scheduled time.

The IEC also announced the other day that they have started preparations for presidential election in 2019.

Around 1.2 million people have registered their names as voters for the upcoming parliamentary election at a time when there are only five days to the closing of the process.



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80pc of Pato residents without Tazkira

Monitoring Desk

NEILI: An overwhelming majority of Pato Ghar district residents in central Daikundi province do not have Tazkira or paper national identity card which is required for registration to vote, residents say. Mullah Ahmad Gul, a resident of Pato Ghar district, said an absolute majority of the district dwellers had no Tazkira.

“If the government does not distribute ID cards to the residents of Pato district, they will not be able to participate in the election process.”

Qasim, another resident, said: “We could not obtain Tazkira in the last few years due to insecurity, now as the elections are approaching, people have found interest to participate in this process but the government does not task a Tazkira distribution team to do its job in the district despite our requests.”

Haidar Ali Dawlatyar, a civil society activist in Daikundi, said people of Pato district were ready to even pay money from their pockets to finance mobile Tazkira distribution teams.

He said the issue had several times been shared with the local administration, but the officials concerned remained unconcerned.

On the other hand, a provincial council member Ghairat Ali Jawaheri said the government was not issuing ID cards to people in Pato Ghar where security situation was stable in most of its parts.

Pato residents warned of staging protests if the government did not resolve the problem.

The residents said The government had paid little attention to the district during the last 17 years and its people remained deprived of services including Tazkira.

Pato was part of Gizab district of Uruzgan province before being declared an independent district and would be soon added to the organizational units of Daikundi province.

Daikundi Governor Mahmod Baligh said Pato had been among unstable districts last year. He said no survey had so far been conducted to determine the town’s population.

However, he estimated Pato’s population at around 50,000 to 60,000 people but said 80 percent of them lacked Tazkiras.

“The district will be formally inaugurated in few days and some mobile Tazkira distribution teams will be deployed there”, the governor concluded.