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Peace won’t be found in silence or fear, says AIHRC chair 



(Last Updated On: February 28, 2021)

One year ago today – February 28 – Afghans were buoyed by the signing of the US-Taliban agreement in Doha, which they hoped would bring peace. Instead, today, a year later, targeted killings have spiked leaving thousands of civil society activists, government officials, journalists and even doctors fearing for their lives. 

Shaharzad Akbar, the chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), wrote in an op-ed piece, published in the Washington Post, that “every night, I lie awake wondering who will be next. I think of a colleague whose teenage son checks his car every morning for magnetic bombs. A husband saying goodbye to his wife as she leaves for work, wondering if today will be the day she is killed on her way to the office.”

She said that a year after the deal was signed, instead of ushering in peace “one of the most tangible changes has been an increase in targeted killings, mostly unclaimed, that have created an environment of terror and fear. 

“There were nearly three times the number of such attacks in 2020 compared with 2019; the casualties include the deaths of 11 human rights defenders and media workers in the past five months,” she wrote. 

Akbar pointed out that some of Afghanistan’s most important gains, its activists, community leaders and scholars, are being silenced at a time when, after the US-Taliban deal, Afghans had hoped for a reduction in violence and for inclusive intra-Afghan negotiations.

“While the Taliban denies involvement in most targeted attacks, it benefits from the environment of fear and hopelessness around the peace process and the lack of critical voices demanding an inclusive peace. 

“This reign of terror for Afghan civilians must end in order for a real peace process to begin,” Akbar wrote. 

She also pointed out that as the United States reviews its Afghanistan policy, it still has leverage — including the existing UN sanctions on the Taliban, the Taliban’s desire for international recognition and legitimacy, and the presence of international forces in Afghanistan — to help stop these attacks and encourage a ceasefire and an inclusive peace process.

She stated that her AIHRC colleagues know what it is to feel terror as the organization has lost three of its staff members in the past 18 months.

Akbar pointed out that these high levels of violence are forcing families to flee the country. 

“Every day I hear of another friend, journalist, academic, women’s rights activist or businessperson leaving the country. Their departures are creating an absence that will take another generation to fill. Those who can’t leave feel silenced by fear and have little chance of influencing the peace process,” she wrote.

Akbar also noted that it has been years since the last mass demonstration by Afghans – “for fear of attacks”. 

She also said that following the recent wave of assassinations, public debate has closed down, even in the virtual sphere. “This is even more true beyond Kabul, in rural areas where conflict has been the most savage.”

Akbar stated that while US President Joe Biden’s team has signaled that it will withdraw its last troops as per the agreement with the Taliban, if the group reduces violence. she said: “This is welcome but not enough. Even with overall violence levels down, targeted killings are silencing the voices needed to build pressure for peace.”

“The United States does not want Afghanistan to collapse into a catastrophic civil war as soon as it withdraws, after 20 years of assistance. But the narrow focus of the US-Taliban deal ignored the wider needs of the peace process, including the importance of civic space and the protection of civilians. This approach should be urgently reconsidered in Biden’s review,” she said.

Akbar stated that public participation is not a bonus that is “nice to have” but rather an inclusive process that builds momentum for peace and boosts the credibility of the process. 

Bringing traditional and nontraditional civil society voices to the table from across Afghanistan will bring a sense of urgency and bottom-up pressure on the parties.

She also stated that public participation can best be guaranteed through a ceasefire and that the US and its allies should utilize their leverage with both sides and the region to continue to push for an interim and immediate ceasefire that will create an opportunity for national engagement. 

“An immediate end to targeted killings, a ceasefire and the restoration of civic space will allow for broader inclusion in the talks, reviving hope and confidence in the process,” she said.

Akbar stated that the US can encourage the Taliban and the Afghan government to create this enabling environment for peace. Afghans could then force hope back onto the table.

“We will not find peace in silence and fear,” Akbar stated.

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India sends ‘technical team back to its embassy’ in Kabul



(Last Updated On: June 8, 2023)

The Minister of External Affairs of India, S Jaishankar, said on Thursday that India has sent a technical team back to its embassy in Afghanistan and that their job is essentially to monitor the situation to see how New Delhi can support the Afghan people, Indian media reported. 

“We pulled back the India-based diplomats and staff after the Taliban (IEA) took control of Kabul because we had legitimate security concerns — a lot of other countries also did it. 

“With the passage of time, we have sent back a technical team to the embassy. They have been there for some time, their job is essentially in a sense to monitor the situation and see how we can support the Afghan people in their hour of need,” he told a press conference marking nine years of the Modi government, as quoted by The Times of India.

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Alakbarov’s three-year term as UN’s humanitarian chief in Afghanistan ends



(Last Updated On: June 8, 2023)

Ramiz Alakbarov Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (Humanitarian) has ended his three year term in Afghanistan and thanked the aid community and humanitarian partners for their “unwavering support to the people of Afghanistan.”

Taking to Twitter, Alakbarov said the end of his term with UNAMA came with “mixed feelings” and that he leaves behind “three tumultuous years.”

“My farewell wish is to see a path carved out for Afghanistan where gender equality, social/economic opportunities and inclusivity lead to stability and prosperity for 40 million Afghans.”

He also said that with the “unwavering support” of humanitarian partners and aid organizations, “together, we were able to save lives and avert a humanitarian catastrophe.”

Ramiz Alakbarov was appointed in December 2020 as the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan with UNAMA, serving also as the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator. 

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11 killed, more than 30 wounded in Badakhshan mosque attack: MoI 



(Last Updated On: June 8, 2023)

The interior ministry of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) said at least 11 people were killed in Thursday morning’s explosion in the Nabawi mosque in Faizabad city in Badakhshan province. 

“Enemies of Islam and the country caused an explosion in the Faizabad’s Nabawi mosque of Badakhshan Province around 11 o’clock this morning when many citizens were participating in the prayer ceremony of Martyr Nisar Ahmed Ahmadi,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said that based on preliminary information, 11 people were killed and more than 30 others were wounded in this incident.

“The exact details of which the incident will be shared later,” read the statement.

“The Ministry of Interior condemns this brutality of the disgraced enemies and with full commitment once again insists on the practical continuation of suppressing and destroying the evil perpetrators of such incidents,” read the statement. 

Sources say that Mawlavi Safiullah, the former police commander of Baghlan province, died in Thursday’s blast.

On the other hand, Moazuddin Ahmadi, head of information and culture of Badakhshan, confirms the death of the former commander of Baghlan, but did not confirm the death of the Economy Minister and called the news of his death false.

It is said that both of them were from Yaftal district of Badakhshan Province.

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