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Traditional grand council of elders set to decide fate of prisoners Friday

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(Last Updated On: August 6, 2020)

A traditional consultative council, or Loya Jirga, will convene in Kabul on Friday to decide the fate of the last 400 Taliban prisoners who have not yet been released in accordance with the US-Taliban Doha agreement. 

The agreement called for the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners and 1,000 government personnel that were being held captive by the Taliban. 

To date, the Taliban has released its captives and the Afghan government has freed over 4,500 Taliban prisoners. 

The last 400 are seen as extremely dangerous by Afghan officials and some Western allies.  

The release of the final 400 has however so far been a major stumbling block in starting peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban and on Sunday President Ashraf Ghani called for a Loya Jirga to resolve the issue. 

This Loya Jirga is made up of a cross-sector of the population and at least 2,000 people – mostly elders, community leaders and senior politicians will attend. 

The Jirga is expected to run over two days and security measures in Kabul have been vastly stepped up. Many busy roads in the city will be closed to normal traffic and thousands of security force members have been deployed to maintain safety.

On Wednesday, the Taliban issued a statement rejecting the Loya Jirga as having no legal status. 

In the statement issued on the group’s website, the Taliban said: “That the Kabul administration has decided to summon a supposed Loya Jirga under the pretext of deciding the fate of 400 prisoners and could possibly use it as a tool against peace and wishes of the nation, hence, convening such a Jirga before reaching comprehensive peace and political settlement can in no way be representative of the people or hold any legal status because the Kabul administration itself is illegitimate.”

But the Loya Jirga will go ahead and the 2,000 participants who will attend are the same elders and political leaders invited to a similar council meeting held last year. 

Ghani’s spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, said this week that the Jirga will also decide “what kind of peace it wants.”

The Jirga comes even though the government’s health minister, Jawad Osmani, said at a press conference this week that a survey conducted, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, has found at least a third of the country’s population has been infected with COVID-19. This amounts to about 10 million people. 

In addition, the survey found that at least half of Kabul’s population had been infected – despite official figures countrywide being at just under 37,000. 

Meanwhile, AP reported that Ghani’s critics have accused the president of stalling peace negotiations with the Taliban to retain power as president because it is widely speculated that negotiations could seek a neutral interim government. 

Ghani, who has insisted he will finish his five-year term, was elected in controversial presidential polls held last year. He and rival Abdullah Abdullah battled over the results, which Abdullah alleged were deeply flawed.

Washington intervened warning the squabbling leaders to find a political compromise. 

That led to Abdullah being named to head peace efforts as head of a High Council for National Reconciliation.

The Taliban meanwhile have said they are ready to hold negotiations within a week of the final prisoners being released. 

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Health officials and experts meet in Kabul over spread of lumpy skin disease

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(Last Updated On: August 10, 2022)

A seminar was held in Kabul on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing spread of lumpy skin disease (LSD) in livestock in Afghanistan.

Experts from Kabul University, along with representatives of the Ministries of Public Health, Agriculture and Livestock and municipalities met Tuesday to discuss the dangers of this virus.

Delegates attending the seminar pointed out the need to prevent the spread of the disease in the country.

According to health officials, this virus is transmitted by some species of mosquitoes, ticks and other blood-feeding insects but is not transmitted to humans.

“This virus has spread from eastern and southeastern provinces such as Laghman, Nangarhar and Kunar, but currently, this virus does not have a vaccine, and fortunately, this disease does not transmit to humans,” said Shirshah Sadat, dean of Kabul University’s Faculty of Veterinary Sciences.

Nasir Ahmad, the representative of the Ministry of Public Health also said: “This virus is problematic for food health, especially for people suffering from malnutrition.”

“This virus is transmitted from one animal to another by mosquitoes and flies and the source of its transmission should be eliminated, and quarantine and vaccines are said to be good ways to fight this disease,” said Asadullah Samadi, a university professor.

The representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock said that a campaign to curb the spread of this virus will be launched in cooperation with international organizations in all provinces in the near future.

The virus has in recent years been detected in Kunar, Nangarhar, Laghman and southeastern provinces of Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Logar and Ghazni.

The disease was endemic in many African countries for years, but spread to other parts of the world over the years. The disease first appeared in South Asia in July 2019, with Bangladesh reporting an outbreak. A month later, it was identified in India – which has the world’s largest bovine population – and then in China.

The infection is caused by the Capripox virus – which is genetically similar to the viruses that cause goat pox and sheep pox – and has been termed “an emerging threat to livestock worldwide” by health experts.

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Two IEA forces and 4 Daesh fighters killed in Kabul clash 

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(Last Updated On: August 4, 2022)

Four Daesh militants were killed and a fifth was arrested in an operation in Kabul on Wednesday. 

According to Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), forces had conducted a raid on an “important nest of the enemy” in Karte-e-Sakhi area in PD3. 

The operation was launched at about 11.30am but a shootout between IEA and Daesh militants broke out, which lasted several hours. The situation was eventually brought under control and a cache of weapons and ammunition was recovered. 

Mujahid said in a series of tweets that the Daesh cell had been planning to attack Shiites in the Kart-e-Sakhi area during the upcoming Muharram. 

Meanwhile, the ministry of interior said in a statement that two security personnel, including a policewoman, were killed in the standoff and four IEA soldiers were wounded. 

 

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Iranian energy ministry delegation to visit Kabul over water rights

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(Last Updated On: July 29, 2022)

Iran is reportedly sending a delegation from the ministry of energy affairs to Afghanistan to discuss their water share rights regarding the Helmand River.

According to Iran’s IRNA news agency, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in a phone conversation that he is dispatching the delegation in the near future in order to resolve issues around water.

IRNA reported that Amirabdollahian raised the issue of recent heavy rainfall in Afghanistan and expressed hope that the “artificially created obstacles” in the way of the flow of water towards Iran will be eliminated and Iran will receive its water share from the Helmand River.

Amirabdollahian also reportedly told Muttaqi that receiving their share of water will be an important index for Kabul in terms of showing how committed the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is about meeting “their international commitments”, IRNA reported.

Amirabdollahian said the people of Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan and their representatives in Parliament are seriously demanding their share of water and that unless the issue is resolved quickly, “it will affect the other issues in bilateral cooperation negatively”, IRNA reported.

According to IRNA, Muttaqi in turn welcomed the delegation’s upcoming visit and said Afghanistan is committed to giving Iran their share of water from the Helmand River, which flows into the country.

Amirabdollahian said that a joint team of technicians will survey the river’s path and ensure both countries benefit from the water.

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