04 August 2020

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Thursday, May 14, 2020
Kabul (BNA) India has called the terror attacks against innocent civilians, including women and children in Afghanistan “crimes against humanity” and sought accountability of the perpetrators and sponsors terrorism. In a formal condemnation issued by the Ministry of External Affairs, the India government called the terror attacks on the Dasht-e-Barchi hospital maternity ward, funeral in Nangarhar province and the Army check post in Laghman province, barbaric. “Such reprehensible attacks, including on mothers, newly born children, nurses and mourning families are appalling and constitute crimes against humanity,” the government said.
The India government called for an immediate cessation of terrorism in Afghanistan in strong words, saying that terrorists should be forced to evict “safe havens and sanctuaries that have abetted terrorism in the region for decades and caused immense miseries to untold number of people in the region.”
The US Department of State condemns in the strongest terms the “two horrific terrorist attacks” in Afghanistan today, a statement said.
“In an unconscionable assault, gunmen seized one of Kabul’s busiest hospitals, which housed a maternity ward run by Doctors Without Borders. In the hospital, the terrorists took the lives of at least 13 innocent people, including newborn babies, new mothers, and health care workers,” the US statement said.
The statement said any attack on innocents is “unforgivable”, but to attack infants and women in labor in the sanctuary of a hospital is “an act of sheer evil.” The statement also said that in the eastern province of Nangarhar, a suicide bomber attacked the funeral of a local police commander, “leaving at least 26 people dead and more than 68 wounded.” “Terrorists who attack mourners lining up for prayer at a funeral are only seeking to tear apart the bonds that hold families and communities together, but they will never succeed.
Our thoughts are with the victims and their families of both attacks, as well as the brave Afghan security forces who defended against the terrorists,” it said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia has also expressed the Kingdom’s strong condemnation of the two attacks in Kabul and Nangarhar province in Afghanistan.
The Ministry affirmed the Kingdom’s solidarity with Afghanistan and “against extremism, violence, and terrorism.” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said: “These terrorist acts are particularly despicable as they take place in the holy month of Ramadan and at a time when Afghanistan is grappling with Covid-19 pandemic.” The attack began with explosions and gunfire near a maternity hospital in the Dasht-e-Barchi area of PD13 in western Kabul on Tuesday morning, said residents, and Afghan security forces, including special forces, responded to the incident.
The Ministry of Interior announced the attack was over with all attackers killed after five hours of fighting. According to the Ministry of Interior, there were four suicide attackers in military uniforms that stormed the hospital and all were killed. The Ministry of Interior said that at least 14 civilians were killed, including two newborn babies, and fifteen others were wounded in the clash.
The Afghan forces rescued more than 40 people from the medical clinic in Kabul, said Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior.
At least 24 people were killed and almost 70 others were wounded in a bombing at a funeral in the eastern province of Nangarhar on Tuesday, local officials confirmed.
Eyewitnesses said that explosion happened in a crowd of people who were gathered for the funeral of Shaikh Akram, a former commander of public uprising forces, in Shewa district. Local officials said the casualties may rise as a number of wounded are in critical condition.
No group including the Taliban has claimed responsibility for either attack.


Saturday April 25, 2020
Kabul (BNA) The U.S.-led NATO alliance called on Friday for Afghanistan’s Taliban militants to cut violence levels and join peace talks, saying prisoner releases should also be speeded up.
The Taliban have rejected an Afghan government call for a ceasefire for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, raising concerns about a peace process after Taliban and the United States struck a deal in February on the withdrawal of U.S.-led foreign forces.
“The current level of violence caused by the Taliban is not acceptable,” alliance ambassadors in NATO’s North Atlantic Council said in a statement on the peace efforts.
“We welcome the establishment of an inclusive negotiating team to represent the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. We call on the Taliban to enter negotiations with this team without further delay, which is considered a key element of the U.S.-Taliban agreement,” the NATO statement said.


Friday March 6, 2020
Kabul (BNA) There are 208 refugees in Kyrgyzstan, Chairman of the State Migration Service Bolotbek Ibraimjanov said today in the Parliament.
According to him, 81 of them arrived from Afghanistan, 71 - from Syria and 24 - from Ukraine and other countries.
Mostly they are engaged in trade and receive the same medical service as Kyrgyzstanis do, Ibraimjanov noted.


Friday January 3, 2020
Kabul (BNA) The Afghanistan Papers (611 documents summarizing interviews of key US and British officials) released recently by the Washington Post have exposed successive US Administrations, from that of George W Bush onwards, hiding the truth, especially from the American public, that they were in the quagmire of an unwinnable war.
But then witness, for example, top US officials testifying at Congressional hearings about the fictitious nuclear programme of Iraq, used as the excuse to invade that country. However, the continued duplicity of Pakistan and the fact that it would never give up on terrorism was grossly ignored.
The Afghanistan Papers apart, numerous scholars, journalists and counter-terrorism experts in the US and Afghanistan have periodically reported intimate links between the Haqqani Network and Taliban and the Pakistani military, and that the real problem lay inside Pakistan.
Michael Hughes wrote in Huffington Post on July 6, 2010, “Nine years, nearly $300 billion dollars and 1900 dead coalition soldiers later, the US has officially verified that the entire war effort has been focused on the wrong side of the mountains”.
Despite this ‘officially verified’ indicator, Pakistan was left to its machinations, including sheltering Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. How much of the billions of dollars pumped into the war in Afghanistan was wasted by way of corruption was also ignored.
Now the US media is questioning what America has achieved from the war, having pumped in over $2 trillion into Afghanistan: $1.5 trillion spent on war; $500 billion on interest; $87 billion to train the Afghan military and police; $24 billion on economic development, and $10 billion on counternarcotic?
Despite such enormous expenditure, the number of Afghan National Security Forces originally planned to be maintained always could not be achieved, while the counternarcotic campaign was never enforced effectively, by default or design. As per the US Department of Defense, nearly 2,400 American service members have been killed since the start of US military operations in Afghanistan in 2001 up to mid-2019.
Additionally, over 20,000 US service personnel have been wounded in hostile action and 1,892 have died in hostile action. About 147,000 Afghans have been killed in the Afghanistan war since 2001, including 38,000 civilians, reflecting the misery of the Afghan population.
The irony has also been the frequent policy shift of US deployment in Afghanistan, not only by way of pullouts and reinforcements, but also vacating bases that the Taliban occupied and then trying to re-deploy in the same area. It is for such reasons that the Helmand region, bordering Iran, has become a Taliban stronghold. 
US President Donald Trump’s surprise visit to Bagram in Afghanistan for Thanksgiving, to be with the US troops and powwow with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, was perhaps the catalyst for Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) for finally releasing preliminary results of the presidential election on December 22, despite the election being held on September 28.
Why the results were held up for so long remains ambiguous. Ghani appears to be the winner, having won 50.64% of the votes compared to his closest rival, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, who won 39.52%. Abdullah’s office has however issued a statement saying, “We would like to make it clear once again to our people, supporters, election commission and our international allies that our team will not accept the result of this fraudulent vote unless our legitimate demands are addressed.”
This indicates continued political strife in Afghanistan. Abdullah had protested the presidential election results in 2014 also, but this time the difference in vote share secured being large, Ghani appears set for the next presidential term. Ghani and Abdullah are both Pashtuns but, irrespective of who is the next President of Afghanistan, it does not change the situation on the ground.
The Taliban are adamant to not have any truck with the Afghan government and, in fact, aim to overthrow them and take control of Afghanistan.
Zalmay Khalilzad, America’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, is trying every trick possible to rope in the Taliban, but is unlikely to succeed with Pakistan continuing its duplicitous game sitting in the lap of Beijing.
Trump’s exhortations that the Taliban are under pressure and desperate to have a deal can hardly fool the American public any more. The converse is actually the case. With the Taliban sitting pretty and supported by China, Russia, Pakistan and Iran directly or indirectly, the ball is in America’s court.
Logically, the US should hit out at the support to the Taliban and Haqqani Network emanating from within Pakistan but, given Trump’s unpredictability, what his next move would be remains a question mark. Within the US, efforts of the Democrats to impeach and send Trump packing will not work because they just do not have the required votes in the Senate.
In fact, there is speculation that it will backfire and strengthen Trump’s chances for a second presidential term. Logically, the US must continue a credible presence in Afghanistan, given that a pullout would result in the possible fall of Kabul to the Taliban and capitulation of the Afghan National Army in some areas.
However, Trump will be under pressure at home, with disclosures like the Afghan Papers and his pre-election promise, to end the war in Afghanistan before his present term ends.
A complete withdrawal from Afghanistan will be catastrophic for the US but Trump may resort to pulling out few thousands before the US election and later weigh reinforcements when he secures his second term. After all, while outlining his policy on Afghanistan in a televised speech from Fort Myers in Virginia on August 21, 2017, Trump had said “it would be counterproductive to announce dates intended to begin or end military options, numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities.”

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