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six killed in Kabul suicide attack

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: As many as six persons were killed in a suicide attack at a National Directorate of Security (NDS) office in Kabul City on Monday morning.

Officials told local media outlet that the suicide bomber detonated his explosives close to an NDS office in Kabul around 8am.

Nusrat Rahim, spokesman of the Interior Ministry, also confirmed the attack and adding that the security forces have arrived at the blast scene and have cordoned off the area.

However, no group including the Taliban has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.


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Ismail Khan asks govt to refrain from politics of removal

Monitoring Desk

HERAT: Announcing support for the former governor of Balkh Atta Muhammad Noor, a renowned member of Jamiat-e-Islami Ismail Khan said on Sunday the government should refrain from adopting the politics of elimination.

The presidential office recently announced accepting the resignation of former governor of Balkh Atta Muhammad Noor. After the announcement, Atta Muhammad Noor opposed the decision of the presidential office and accused Chief Executive Officer Dr Abdullah Abdullah of hatching conspiracies against him.

Both Dr Abdullah and Atta Muhammad Noor are the members of Jamiat-e-Islami. They were supporters of reforms and cooperation team in the previous presidential election.

Addressing a press conference in Herat on Sunday (December 24), former governor of Herat, former water and energy minister, influential figure and member of Jamiat-e-Islami under the leadership of Salahuddin Rabbani, Ismail Khan announced his support for Atta Muhammad Noor.

He said those people who came from abroad to Afghanistan with a particular thinking of forming a government of their choice should understand that the ouster of former mujahideen has not yielded any outcomes since the government of Hamid Karzai.

The sacking of Atta Muhammad Noor would pave way for Taliban, Daesh and corruption, he said. It would create a perception among people about the politics of removal of the government. If the government did not pay attention to the demands of Jamiat-e-Islami, he said the country would face crisis. He asked the National Unity Government not to ignore the share of Jamiat-e-Islami in the government.

At a time when differences existed in the government and the first deputy president is out of the country, he said if the Kabul administration did not implement its first agreement it would pave way for another disaster.

Asking the president to allow Atta Muhammad Noor to continue his job, Ismail Khan said the incumbent government had been formed on the basis of understanding. Noor was a part of this compromise, he added.

On the basis of their experience in the region, he said the US and Britain should convince President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani to quit the politics of removal. He stressed that the sacking of Atta Muhammad Noor was tantamount to the removal of a powerful party.

The sacking of Atta Muhammad Noor would pave way for Taliban and Daesh in the north and frauds in the next elections.

If the National Unity Government took improper steps, he said the incumbent Kabul administration would see collapse like the setups of Khalq and Parcham.

Concerns about the disintegration of Afghanistan have taken birth due to the lack of thinking in the present government, he added.

On the other side, former chief of National Directorate of Security and another member of Jamiat-e-Islami, Amarullah Saleh announced to support Dr Abdullah Abdullah and the National Unity Government.

On his Twitter account, Saleh said he had supported Dr Abdullah Abdullah in the previous presidential election as both had similar viewpoint on politics.

He said Dr Abdullah was capable of holding contacts with people, adding that he represented various circles against Taliban and terrorism. Due to these reasons, he said they supported Dr Abdullah.

Meanwhile, a press release the party of Amarullah Saleh, green trend, stated the incumbent government was legal, and that it should complete its legal tenure. According to the press release, the party supported Dr Abdullah Abdullah. The removal of one person from the group of reforms and cooperation could not damage the legal status of the chief executive’s office and influential role of Dr Abdullah.

It is believed that the son of former defence minister Marshal Muhammad Qasim Fahim and present deputy chief of NDS, Adeeb Fahim has also announced to support Dr Abdullah. He has termed Dr Abdullah as a representative of millions of people in the government.

Former governor of Balkh, Atta Muhammad Noor made enraged remarks against the chief executive’s office yesterday.

It was believed that Chief Executive Officer Dr Abdullah Abdullah would make remarks about the recent political crisis in the country. However, the press conference of Dr Abdullah is delayed due to unknown reasons so far. It is pertinent to mention here that newly appointed governor for Balkh has not taken over the charge of his responsibilities so far.

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13 Taliban suffer casualties in incidents

Monitoring Desk

HERAT: Thirteen Taliban suffered casualties in separate incidents in various parts of Herat province, officials said on Sunday.

A clash erupted between the Afghan security forces and Taliban in Qilla Pasar area in Shindand district, Herat governor’s spokesman Jilani Farhad told media.

Three Taliban fighters, including a commander identified as Mullah Abdul Qadir were killed and two more sustained injuries in the gunfight, he said. The Afghan forces did not suffer casualties in the clash, he said. The situation had returned to normalcy in the, he added.

In a separate incident, he said aircrafts conducted bombardment against Taliban hideouts in Dara Takht area in Chisht Sharif district.

Resultantly, he said eight Taliban fighters were killed and multiple more sustained injuries. Eight motorcycles and many weapons of the Taliban were also destroyed in the blitz, he added.

He, however, did not disclose whether the Afghan or foreign forces had conducted the bombardment.

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

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Qatari investors in Farah for inauguration of plans

Monitoring Desk

FARAH CITY: More than 29 Qataris traders led by Al-Gharrafa Charity Director Sheikh Ali bin Abdul Al-Sani, have arrived in western Farah province to put into service development projects.

Hikmatullah Nazari, the governor’s spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News about 30 Qataris Sheikhs reached Farah City, the provincial capital.

Several projects funded by Al-Gharrafa would be put into service, Nazari said without giving details.

Farah Civil Society Network head Brayalai Ghafari said the projects included a zoo, a rehabilitation centre for drug addicts and a township for refugees.

Several school buildings, a runway and a terminal at the provincial airport and a fire brigade centre would be built by the Qatari investors, he added.

However, he did not disclose the cost of the projects. According the civil society activist, the Qatari traders have built several mosques in Farah city.

Another provincial official, who did not want to be named, said the Qataris would announce several other projects in the province in the next few days.

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37 agreements signed

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Rural Rehabilitation and Development Ministry of Afghanistan signed the agreements of 37 irrigation projects with various development councils and private sectors on Sunday.

Talking to reporters, Minister for Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Mujeebur Rehman Karimi said the projects worth over 426 millions of Afghanis would provide irrigation water for lands of 102,000 farmers.

The projects would provide thousands of jobs for youths, he said. It would help reduce unemployment ration in the country, he added.

The projects would be executed in nine provinces of the country. Twelve of them would be launched in Kandahar, seven in Ghor, six in Kunar, five in Daikundi, three in Nangarhar, two in Paktiya and one each in Badakhshan, Baghlan and Panjsher provinces.

The purpose of the projects was to provide easy water access to formers, he said. It would help improve agricultural economy in the rural areas, he added.

“The project would provide water to more lands. Resultantly, farmers would be able to get access to water in time and easily,” he added.

He said that access to enough water in time would result in increased agricultural production. It would also improve the quality of imports. It is pertinent to mention here that the ministry has already launched about 1100 projects by spending over $ 5 billion in the country. Millions of people have got benefit from these programmes.

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Seven civilians killed, three injured in Helmand explosion

Monitoring Desk

HELMAND: As many as seven civilians were killed and three others were injured in IED explosion in southern Helmand province early Sunday.

As per the local media outlet, the incident took place in Marjeh district of the province when a civilian vehicle hit a roadside mine in which seven civilians were killed including women and children.

Spokesman of Provincial governor, Omar Zwak, confirmed the killing of civilians but did not confirm the exact details about the number of the casualties yet.

The victims have been taken to the nearby hospital.


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Govt to enforce environmental laws

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: President Ashraf Ghani has issued a decree on the environmental law, stating any person found guilty of committing major pollution-related crimes can face between 16 and 20 years in prison. The law also reportedly states that if inspectors fail to enforce the law they can also face imprisonment or a fine of up to 60,000 AFs while an offender, whose actions have led to the death of a person, can get the death penalty.

Members of the public and health experts have welcomed the enforcement of this law and said that the high levels of pollution, especially in Kabul, has resulted in a marked increased in illnesses. According to the Criminal Act, in relation to environmental crimes, Section 838 states that a person who deliberately disposes of toxic substances and waste, of mercury or other matter harmful to the public health’s – especially in wells, water tanks, public storage facilities or other unauthorized sites – can be sentenced to prison.

However, the law states that if such action leads to the death of an innocent person, the guilty party can get the death penalty. One major issue of contention has been that of the import and use of low-grade fuel in Afghanistan – used by both motorists for vehicles and for heating purposes.

Semin Barakzai, an MP, noted that this sector also needed to be monitored. Afghanistan’s environmental laws are clear and take air pollution, noise pollution, and the condition of water and soil and the preservation of forests into account.

“Offenders will be cautioned and warned and, if they do not pay heed to the warning, they will be finally referred to judicial institutions,” said Ghulam Mohammad Malikyar, deputy head of the National Environment Protection Authority.

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Afghan analysts pessimistic about outcome of Beijing trilateral talks

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: As the foreign ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan are preparing to meet in the first round of trilateral talks to be held in Beijing on Tuesday on promotion of Pak-Afghan relations, some Afghan analysts and politicians believe that Pakistan may not sincerely cooperate with the Afghan peace.

According to Chinese foreign ministry, the three countries will have” in-depth discussions on three topics: mutual political trust and reconciliation, development cooperation and connectivity, and security cooperation and counter-terrorism.” Ustad Latif Nazari, a Kabul based political analyst, said the three countries should speak openly in the trilateral dialogue and Pakistan should accept that insecurity in Afghanistan is no more their choice.

“China has close relations with Pakistan and also has huge influence on them. So the Afghan government should convince China to increase pressure on Pakistan,” he told media persons.  Waga Safi, member of parliament, said Pakistan always make promises in such meetings but fails to meet it, therefore, China should make Pakistan bound to fulfill their promises.

She said the trilateral talks would only succeed in brining Pakistan and Afghanistan closer when the decisions and pledges of the meeting are fulfilled. Being a good friend and neighbor of Afghanistan, China should persuade Pakistan to cooperation with Afghanistan’s stability for the sake of stability of the region, he said. Husain Sajadi, another political expert, suggested that the Afghan side should take up the issues in the trilateral meeting which they could not raise on other forums.

China and Pakistan have a massive economic project, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and Afghanistan should warn China that the continuation of insecurity in the region would pose threat to the CPEC, he said. “Undoubtedly, Pakistan is behind these threats. So, the trilateral meeting should be used an opportunity, not a symbolic, like the previous meetings,” he said.

The presidents of China, Afghanistan and Pakistan had agreed on the sideline of SCO summit to hold trilateral talks on Pak-Afghan relations. Similarly, Chinese prime minister had offered on the sideline of SCO summit that his country was ready to mediate between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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Clear strategy needed to attract investment

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Businessmen have said that along with the lack of security, the absence of a clear strategy to attract investment is also to blame for the economic recession in Afghanistan. They are firm in the belief that government needs to draw up a solid strategy to attract investors.

Many businessmen have painted a gloomy picture, especially in terms of bringing in foreign investment – despite government’s efforts to this effect. Many economic analysts said insecurity, lack of regulations in support of domestic and foreign investors, the lack of infrastructure, and the shortage of electricity and land are among key challenges faced by investors. They say that there is so far no clear framework to attract investment in order to grow the commercial sector in the country. “Although, there is interest for investment in the country, so far government does not even have a clear vision for sustaining investments and improving the status of investments in the country,” Azarakhsh Hafizi, a global affairs business expert, said.

The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) believe that government has not done enough to solve the challenges around attracting investors. The spokesman for the ACCI Siyam Psarlai, said problems faced by current investors goes unresolved. “Currently there is no law for industrial parks, and alongside insecurity, the lack of land and electricity for investors is still among the major challenges,” says Psarlai a spokesman for ACCI.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry Musafir Quqandi, said the ministry has implemented plans for investment development in the country. Quqandi, said in addition to reviewing the country’s investment law, the ministry has also provided support for domestic products.

“The government has so far done a lot to improve the status of current investments, as well as to provide new investment opportunities; it has also revised the Investment Law,” said Quqandi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

So far, foreign investors, including Gulf traders, and businessmen from many Asian and European countries, have visited Afghanistan to explore investment opportunities – but little has come about after these visits. Considering current problems, many experts have called on government to clarify its vision for short-term and long-term investment attraction.

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Taliban’s IED expert killed

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: A prominent Taliban group figure and explosives expert of the group was killed during an operation of the Afghan intelligence operatives, National Directorate of Security (NDS), in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The provincial government media office in Nangarhar in a statement said the Taliban explosives expert famous as Osama was killed during a night raid. The statement further added that the operation was conducted in Surkh Rod district and as a result another militant was arrested and a rifle was also confiscated.