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75 Taliban join peace process

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: At least seventy five Taliban militants including five of their commanders joined peace process in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. According to the local officials, the Taliban militants renounced violence and reconciled with the government due to the efforts of Afghan intelligence directorate.

The officials further added that the militants involved in anti-government armed insurgency activities in Bati Kot district for 16 years. Provincial governor Hayatullah Hayat said the militants were led by Qari Faiz.

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Abdullah leaves for Tajikistan

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Chief Executive Officer Dr. Abdullah Abdullah on Thursday left for Tajikistan at the head of a high-level delegation to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit.

Faridoon Khwazoon, deputy spokesman for the CEO, told Pajhwok Afghan News Foreigner Minister Salahuddin Rabbani and a number of government officials were accompanying Abdullah. Khwazoon said the CEO would deliver a speech to the Shanghai summit and meet the president of Tajikistan and prime ministers of Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

 

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Envoy assures UN’s support to Afghan peace

KABUL (TOLONews): Toby Lanzer, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said there are hopes for achieving peace in the country and that the organization will use all its resources for making a better future for Afghanistan.

“Everybody that I have listened to whether it is a boy or a girl or a man or a woman, they have always said to me we want peace, we want to get through this terrible period in our history. We want Afghanistan to be a safe and secure place,” Lanzer said.

The UN official said the international community’s cooperation will further help the efforts of the Afghan government for peace.

“It is my job to be realistic and to help people in any way that we can to find a better tomorrow. It is my job to believe that that is possible and I do. Io think that there is hope,” he said.

The High Peace Council spokesman meanwhile said they hope that the trip of Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan’s Peace, will push Pakistan towards practical cooperation in the Afghan peace process.

“We hope that with the cooperation of the United States and the trip of Mr. Khalilzad to Pakistan, Islamabad will practically help the peace process in Afghanistan,” said Sayed Ehsan Taheri, spokesman for the High Peace Council.

An analyst said he believes that the prospect of peace in Afghanistan is not clear so far.

“Considering the airstrikes and civilian casualties and stances of American generals against the Taliban, I do not think that they are close to the goal,” said Mohammad Motmaen, a political analyst.

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Hekmatyar calls Wolesi Jirga polls ‘a shameful game’

KABUL (Pajhwok): Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar on Thursday announced the formation of “Grand Gathering of National Unity (GGNU),” a coalition of several political parties and said the coalition might field a joint presidential candidate.

In his address to the gathering, Hekmatyar said their purpose was not making an electoral alliance but they wanted to bring together like-minded individuals.

The HIA leader asked foreigners to stop interfering in Afghanistan’s matters and said the alliance demands included a bilateral ceasefire, a temporary government and elections under the temporary set up, a timetable for withdrawal of foreign forces and standing against those who opposed peace.

Hekmatyar termed the upcoming parliamentary elections “a joke” and “shameful” and demanded the conduct of free, fair and transparent polls. He alleged the government and foreigners wanted the elections to be rigged and full of fraud like the previous elections.

Hekmatyar said the country’s current situation needed creation of a joint front which could bring well-known figures with similar ideology together to mutually take decisions regarding major issues.

“No sensible person can stay silent over the ongoing bloody conflict in the country,” he said, adding foreign forces, government troops and armed opponents were all involved in the bloodshed of innocent Afghans.

Hekmatyar said the GGNU would create a jirga comprised of impartial people who would create a comprehensive and inclusive strategy for peace.

Another option for peace, he said, could be a non-battle zone where the armed opponents could stay and the area is controlled by those acceptable to all.

Armed opponents would live there with complete immunity in this area, suggested Hekmatyar.

Wolesi Jirga election

The HIA leader said the government and foreigners wanted to pave the ground for fraud in the upcoming parliamentary elections as they did in the past.

“The poll results may create many problems and the government may not be able to solve them, this is not an election but a shameful game, dirty hands and a dirty plan are behind it,” he said.

He criticized the postponement of district council polls and said the district council election was important for holding a Loy Jirga (Grand Council).

“Elections are useless if political parties are not allowed to participate, such polls are used to deceive people and designed the way so political parties could not participate or observe it,” he said.

He added many political parties had shared their plans with foreign and local organizations, but the government and foreigners opposed their plan under the pretext of time shortage.

He said in the current election system a candidate was declared winner for receiving 300 votes and failed for receiving more than 20,000 votes.

He said in their peace agreement with the government, both sides agreed on a new election system and giving HIA representatives part in election bodies, but the government did not implement the agreement, Hekmatyar said.

About the number of voters the IEC has registered, the HIA leader said the commission’s claim of registering 9.5 million voters was a lie and even four million people could not participate in the upcoming Wolesi Jirga polls.

He criticized the current election system and said the system needed to be changed and they would struggle for that.

Presidential elections

Talking to the meeting, Hekmatyar saidL “I believe you can win the upcoming presidential election if you remain united as the Grand Gathering of National Unity (GGNU) and make a strong solidarity, let’s do this and make a national solidarity, also choose a single ticket for the presidential poll.”

He said there were many alternate plans with the GGNU including choosing one candidate for upcoming presidential election, inviting political parties to agree on a single candidate or parties in two or three coalitions choose separate candidates.

Sayed Hamid Gilani, head of the Mahaz-I-Milli party who also attended the meeting, expressed his concern over the current situation of the country and said all parties and politicians should agree on a comprehensive plan and rescue the country from its security and political crisis.

He said some politicians wanted to create differences between different ethnic groups.

Stana Gul Shirzad, head of Afghan Millat party, also spoke on the occasion and said the Taliban should be given a chance and time to participate in upcoming presidential poll.

He said if the Taliban wanted a provisional government, their demand should be accepted.

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Dozens killed in Afghan clashes as election nears

KUNDUZ (Reuters): At least 15 Afghan border police were killed battling Taliban insurgents on Thursday, an official said, as fighting continues ahead of this month’s elections, with 21 Taliban killed in an operation in Wardak, west of the capital Kabul.

Amruddin Wali, a member of the provincial council in Kunduz in northern Afghanistan, said 15 members of the paramilitary border police were killed when Taliban fighters attacked a checkpoint in Qala-e Zal district.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid put the casualty total at 25 and said seven police were wounded.

The latest violence follows increasing pressure by the Taliban on Kunduz, the northern city they twice overran in 2015 and 2016. The city has remained relatively secure over the past two years, but the insurgents control many of the surrounding districts.

Earlier, Afghan special forces, backed by air strikes, killed at least 21 Taliban, including senior commanders, as they gathered to plan attacks aimed at disrupting parliamentary elections on Oct. 20, the National Directorate of Security said in a statement.

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Three former MoI officials sentenced to 8 years in jail

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The special anti-corruption and serious crime court has sentenced three accused persons to eight years in jail each over miss use of authority in the arson case of 307 foreign forces vehicles, according to a statement.

The court had freed four more, whose involvement was also alleged, a statement from the Government Justice Task Force (GJTF).

Twelve people were arrested on the charges of miss use of authority in the arson case of 307 oil tankers in the Loy Sawan Parking situated in the Arghandi Chock of capital Kabul back in 2014.

Investigation showed that the fire was erupted due to a megnatic bomb attached to one of the tanker and as a result available oil in the containers of 307 vehicles, including the vehicles perished.

The statement said that open court hearing of the special anti-corruption court was held today and the court after hearing the arguments of both sides sentenced Maj. Gen. Abdul Razzaq Ameri, operation head and deputy head of the Public Order Police (POP), Col. Atta Mohammad Rokai, head the planning and oversight director of POP, Waheedullah Rahel, general finance and business director of POP sentenced each to 8-year in jail.

The statement mentioned that the court freed Col. Mohammad Hashim, representative of non-government projects, Col. Sher Mohammad in general in charge of operation, Lt. Noor Mohammad intelligence representative and Emal Shinwari, project manager. The court order further investigation into M. Khybar Sediqui, Abdul Ghafar, Bator and Mohammad Nasir Mujadidi in the case.

 

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40 militants eliminated in countrywide operations: MoD

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Ministry of Defense (MoD) on Wednesday said 40 militants had been killed and nine others wounded in clearing operations across the country over the past 24 hours.

A statement from the ministry said the security forces conducted 21 joint clearing operations, including 213 commando raids and eight airstrike, against the insurgents nationwide.

It added during the operations 40 militants were killed and nine others wounded. Eight fighters were killed and three wounded in the capital of central Uruzgan province.

Another eight fighters were killed and two of their vehicles destroyed in the Adraskan district of western Herat province. Six rebels were eliminated Faryab, five Zabul province and four in Farah.

Three guerrillas were killed and two wounded in Balkh, three killed in Greshk and two Daesh fighters put to death in Nangarhar, the statement concluded.

 

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Teachers, MoE staff to receive salaries thro mobile phones

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Afghan Minister of Telecommunication and Technology Aryubi and Afghan Minister of Education Balkhi signed a memorandum of understanding which will facilitate payment for teachers through mobile.

The Government Media and Information Center said the agreement was signed.

“At the first stage, it is planned to pay salaries of teachers and employees of the MoE in Kandahar, Parwan and Nangarhar. This process will then extend to all the country,” said Minister Shahzad Aryubi.

Mirwais Balkhi acting minister MoE said the purpose of this MOE is to prevent unauthorized payments, to removal of trustees from the salary system, to expedite payment of salaries, to ensure transparency, and to identify the exact number of teachers across Afghanistan. Minister Balkhi also added that with the cooperation of MCIT, all teachers through this MoU will go through biometric system.

The biometric registration of teachers and employees of the MoE will eliminate the possibility of ghost teachers in the ministry.

 

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15 drug smugglers arrested in a week: CJTF

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Criminal Justice Task Force (CJTF) said 15 people, including a woman, have been detained on drugs smuggling related charges in capital and provinces duirng a week.

Ahmad Khalid Muahid, CJTF spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News that 18 kilograms of heroin, 147 kilograms of opium, 236 kilograms of hashish and 439 kilograms of Shisha or ice were recovered from the detainees. He said the detainees’ cases had been reffered to judicial organs and they would get jailed from five to six years. He further said 10 people, who wanted to smuggle heroin in their stomachs to India and Turkey, were detained at the Kabul International Airport.

The alleged smugglers had been detained in Kabul, Nangarhar, Takhar, Herat, Helmand, Uruzgan, Sar-i-Pul and Nimroz provinces and handed over to the CJTF special court.

Around 46 kilograms of heroin, above 476 kilograms of opium, more than four kilograms of hashish, 1214 tablet of (K), 118 kilograms of solid chemical, one weapon, 23 mobile sets, 26060 afghanis, $1600 in cash and five vehicles were recovered from the detainees, the statement said.

 

 

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Industrialists say struggling with power, land shortages

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Afghanistan Industrialist Association (AIA) said 420 new factories were set up in capital Kabul during the last eight years, but the plants lacked urban services, enough electricity and land.

A meeting titled ‘A dialogue about industrial factories’ problems’ was held today at the Pul-i-Charkhi Industrial Park. The meeting was attended by the labor and social affairs minister and some other officials as well as a number of industrialists.

Some industrialists also engaged in a verbal dispute with the Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) (power utility) head and accused the department of corruption.

Sakhi Ahmad Paiman, head of the AIA, told the meeting that 15,000 people would work 280 factories at the Pul-i-Charkhi Industrial Parks in 2010, but now 40,000 workers worked in 700 factories in the park.

He said 200 of the factories functioned in rented buildings due to the lack of land while the factories also faced a 40 megawatts of electricity shortage.

“Canalization problems still exist in the Pul-i-Charkhi Industrial Parks and some roads of the park remain unconstructed despite the fact that factory owners pay millions of afghanis in tax to the government for urban services”, he said.

Electricity shortage increased in winter, further affecting production, Paiman said, calling imports of similar products as another problem. He asked the government to take industrialists’ problems serious and resolve them.

The industrialists also asked the government to provide them with enough electricity and land for their factories as well as simplify the license issuance process.

They said the government should increase levy on import of products that were also produced inside the country.

Faizullah Zaki, labor and social affairs minister, who attended the meeting, said that efforts had been made to simplify the license issuance process for both national and foreign investors and the process would be even further simplified in future.

He said a plan was also underway for creating a professional and technical institute in Pul-i-Charkhi Industrial Parks and other industrial parks of the country.

However, the shortage of electricity issue turned into a verbal dispute between the DABS head and industrialists.

DABS head Amanullah Ghalib said he could not supply more electricity as it was not available with his department. “The electricity shortage is a problem for all of us, the electricity does not come from the air so I can distribute it to you.”

Currently 1,400 megawatts of electricity existed in Afghanistan; but the country needed 2,000 megawatts, he said, adding the whole of the country faced with shortage of electricity.

Ghalib said the power consumption increased during winter season and it affected all people.

He criticized industrialists and said some of them defaulted on power bills. “We have repeatedly told you for cooperation in renewing the power cables for prevention of power loss and we will count it in your bills, but we did not hear a response from you.”

Ghalib promised he would work for solving the power shortage problem and asked industrialists to help DABS in this regard.

Mohammad Azim Karimi, head of the AIA, agreed that some industrialists had defaulted on power bills, but he accused DABS of corruption.

Another industrialist, who wished to go unnamed, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the power utility was deeply rife with corruption as one power transformer was counted for millions of US dollars in DABS.

However, Amanullah Ghalib in response, said: “I agree corruption exists in all government offices, but if you have any evidence about corruption in our office please present it, I will remove the corrupt officer immediately, please talk evidently.”

Representatives of industries and the ministries of commerce, finance and Kabul municipality also promised to work for solving industrialists’ problems.