At least seven Afghan pilots have been assassinated off base in recent months, two senior Afghan government officials told Reuters, part of what the Islamist Taliban says is a campaign to see U.S.-trained Afghan pilots “targeted and eliminated.”
As the United States prepares to formally end its 20-year military mission in Afghanistan on Aug. 31, Taliban insurgents are quickly seizing territory once controlled by the U.S.-backed government of President Ashraf Ghani, raising fears they could eventually try to take the capital Kabul.
The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), in its quarterly report to Congress covering the three-month period through June, broadly portrayed an Afghan Air Force (AAF) under growing strain from battling the Taliban amid the U.S. withdrawal – and becoming less ready to fight.
The AAF’s fleet of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, for example, had a 39 percent readiness rate in June, about half the level of April and May. All Afghan airframes were flying at least 25 percent over their recommended scheduled-maintenance intervals, SIGAR reported.
“All aircraft platforms are overtaxed due to increased requests for close air support, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance missions and aerial resupply now that the (Afghan military) largely lacks U.S. air support,” it wrote.
At the same time, air crews remain over-tasked due to the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and a pace of operations that “has only increased”, it said.
Taliban assassinations of Afghan pilots detailed by Reuters https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/afghan-pilots-assassinated-by-taliban-us-withdraws-2021-07-09 this month mark another “worrisome development” for the Afghan Air Force as it reels from a surge in fighting, a U.S. government watchdog said in a report released on Thursday.
SIGAR also cited the Reuters report.
“Another worrisome development concerning AAF aircrew was a (Reuters) report that the Taliban is deliberately targeting Afghan pilots,” it said, before presenting the Reuters’ findings without additional comment.
Along with Afghanistan’s Special Forces, the Afghan Air Force is a pillar of the nation’s strategy for preventing a Taliban takeover of cities. But special operations forces are also being misused, SIGAR reported.
It said most Afghan National Army corps refuse to execute missions without support from its elite commandos. Citing NATO data, SIGAR said that when Afghan commandos arrive, they are misused to perform tasks intended for conventional forces, including route clearance and checkpoint security.
Still, the report cautioned that it was difficult to evaluate what constituted military misuse of the elite forces when the Afghan government “is fighting for its existence”.
FILE PHOTO: An Afghan A-29 pilot prepared for flight in the cockpit of his aircraft, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan September 10, 2017. Picture taken Septembeer 10, 2017. U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Riedel/Handout via REUTERS
Almost 700 people including ex-govt officials return home: commission
The Commission for Contact with Afghan Personalities says nearly 700 officials of the previous government, politicians, members of the National Council and some experts have returned to Afghanistan since the establishment of the commission early last year.
“Six hundred and eighty people from different countries have returned to the country,” said the commission’s spokesman, Ahmadullah Wasiq.
He stated that among these people are former officials of the old government who worked in various ministries and departments.
He added that currently, a large number of personalities, including politicians and high-ranking officials of the former government, have received application forms to return to the country through this commission, and will come home soon.
“We have distributed hundreds of forms [to them] and our wish is that in the near future many of the people will return to the country, so for now this process is going very well,” Wasiq added.
A number of those who have returned to the country, however, are demanding some changes to the commission, adding that the caretaker government should make effective use of the cadres and experts who return and provide them with work opportunities.
“The method of this process should be changed, such as communicating with experts or elites or politicians. Second, when these people come to Afghanistan, they should be provided with work,” said Amanullah Ghalib, former head of Breshna Sherkat, who also returned to the country recently.
Officials have repeatedly requested Afghans living abroad, including politicians and officials of the previous government, to return to their homeland and continue their normal lives in Afghanistan in accordance with the general amnesty issued by the Islamic Emirate’s supreme leader.
Afghan embassy in India announces it will cease operations from Oct. 1
The embassy of Afghanistan in India’s capital New Delhi will cease operations from Oct. 1, due to a lack of support from India and a reduction in personnel and resources, the embassy said in a statement on social media platform X.
The embassy also said a failure to meet expectations in serving Afghanistan’s interests is another key factor in shutting of the embassy.
“Given these circumstances, it is with deep regret that we have taken the difficult decision to close all operations of the mission with the exception of emergency consular services to Afghan citizens till the transfer of the custodial authority of the mission to the host country,” the embassy said in the statement dated Sept. 30.
In its announcement, the Afghan Embassy also cited challenges like shortage of both personnel and resources available. “The lack of timely and sufficient support from visa renewal for diplomats to other critical areas of cooperation led to an understandable frustration among our team and impeded our ability to carry out routine duties effectively,” the statement read.
The embassy also refuted any “baseless claims” regarding internal strife or discord among its diplomatic staff or any diplomats using the crisis to seek asylum in a third country.
India does not recognise the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) as government, and closed its own embassy in Kabul after the IEA took control in 2021, but New Delhi had allowed the ambassador and mission staff appointed by the Western-backed government of ousted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to issue visas and handle trade matters.
Muttaqi meets Chinese, Pakistani envoys on sidelines of Moscow format
Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi met with the special representatives to Afghanistan from China and Pakistan, Yue Xiaoyong and Asif Durrani respectively, on the sidelines of the Moscow format meeting.
The Foreign Ministry’s deputy spokesperson Hafiz Zia Ahmad Takal said on X that during the meeting, national relations, common interests, and threats to Afghanistan, Pakistan and China were discussed in detail.
Muttaqi told Pakistan’s special representative for Afghanistan that if problems arise, instead of media statements, efforts should be made to solve them through diplomatic means.
Takal added that during the meeting the Chinese side pledged that it is ready to increase its assistance to Afghanistan in a number of areas.
Almost 700 people including ex-govt officials return home: commission
Health ministry says 2,000 people died from heart disease in past 18 months
Starc hat-trick brightens damp Day 2 of World Cup 2023 warm-up matches
Afghanistan exports 150 tons of dried tomatoes to Europe
Turkey says terrorists set off bomb at Ankara government building
Xi, Putin missing G20 summit not unusual, India’s foreign minister says
ICC World Cup 2023 Trophy set to tour Afghanistan
Iran, US on verge of prisoner swap under Qatar-mediated deal
India thrash Nepal to reach Asia Cup Super Fours
Rain in Spain leaves two dead, two missing, people stuck on roofs
Tahawol: Outcome of Moscow format meeting on Afghanistan discussed
Saar: Claim over TTP’s operation in Afghan territory discussed
Exclusive interview with Abdul Latif Mansoor, acting energy & water minister
Tahawol: US special envoy’s meeting with head of UNAMA
Saar: Afghanistan’s current security situation reviewed
Business4 days ago
Members of private security meet with Kazakhstan counterparts
Sport4 days ago
Historic team rankings favor India and Pakistan at World Cup
Sport3 days ago
ODI World Cup 2023: Warm-Up Match 2, Afghanistan vs South Africa
World4 days ago
More than 100 dead, 150 injured in Iraq wedding inferno
Latest News4 days ago
Pakistan to deport over one million illegal Afghan refugees
Business5 days ago
Female entrepreneurs at Kabul women’s market say businesses are doing well
Sport4 days ago
Asian Games 2023: Nepal make cricket history
Regional3 days ago
Powerful blast in Uzbek capital kills one, injures 162