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Withdrawal of troops also means withdrawal of foreign contractors: SIGAR

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(Last Updated On: March 12, 2021)

Washington’s Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s (SIGAR) John F Sopko this week warned that the May 1 troop withdrawal deadline does not only apply to foreign military forces, numbering around 10,000 in total, but also to as many as 18,000 foreign contractors and trainers currently in Afghanistan.

Sopko said in his latest report, SIGAR’s 2021 High Risk List, that there are “reasons to believe that without sustained support, Afghan security forces will fall apart because of a lack of personnel.”

He said as recently as the first quarter of fiscal 2021, 40 percent of the Afghan military’s logistics, maintenance and training depended upon 18,000 contractors and trainers who supplement the almost 10,000 U.S. and NATO forces in the country.

Under the terms of the US-Taliban deal signed in Doha in February last year, those key personnel are required to either stop work or withdraw along with U.S. forces.

“The Afghan government relies heavily on these foreign contractors and trainers to function,” Sopko said.

“This may be more devastating to the effectiveness of the Afghan security forces than a withdrawal of our remaining troops,” he added, noting that “no Afghan airframe can be sustained as combat effective for more than a few months in the absence of contractor support.”

Sopko also said that underlying all of this, is the fact that the Afghan government still cannot sustain itself despite $143 billion in U.S. assistance to help rebuild the country and considerable aid from other donors.

“This has been a horrible waste of [U.S.] taxpayer money, in many regards,” Sopko said.

“It may not be an overstatement that if foreign assistance is withdrawn and peace negotiations fail, Taliban forces could be at the gates of Kabul in short order.”

The U.S. believes the government in Kabul is still years away from being able to oversee the $50 million payroll system that has been in development since 2016.

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Thousands of Afghans protest against desecration of Quran in Sweden, Netherlands

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(Last Updated On: January 27, 2023)

Thousands of people took to the streets in different cities of Afghanistan on Friday to protest against the recent desecration of the Quran in Sweden and the Netherlands.

Chanting slogans against both the European countries, protesters called for the perpetrators of the acts to be punished.

“The Holy Quran is the book of brotherhood. This book never insults the sacred things of others. We want that such offensive acts should be prevented in the future,” said Ahmad Khan, a protester in Kabul.

Ismail, another protester in Kabul, said: “We ask Islamic countries to cut off their diplomatic relations with Sweden and the Netherlands until the perpetrators of insulting the Holy Quran are publicly punished.”

Some of the protesters said that they are ready to give their lives to defend their sacred things.

“We are ready to sacrifice our heads, property and children to the Quran,” Qutbuddin said.

In the northern province of Balkh, people protested by chanting slogans against acts of insult to the Quran. The protesters asked the international community and the Muslim world to prevent such acts.

“This crime is a repeated crime. Since countries are obliged to obey to the international laws, such crimes must be stopped,” said Mohammad Naeem, a protester in Balkh.

“Muslims have taught the enemies of Quran and Islam a lesson throughout history, and they will not allow anyone to insult their religion and Quran,” said Maulvi Qahir, a protester in Balkh.

In the province of Herat, protester changed “Death to Sweden and long live Islam.”

“These countries present themselves as friends, but these acts show that they are our enemies and are real terrorists. In international laws, insulting the sacred things is considered a crime. No one has the right to insult the sacred things of a country or a religion,” said Qasim, a protester in Herat.

“We ask the international community, the United Nations and human rights organizations to bring the perpetrators of insults to the Quran to justice as soon as possible. We respect the whole world and we expect that our religion will always be respected,” said Emal, a protester in Herat.

In the east of the country, the people of Nangarhar also took to the streets after Friday prayers to condemn the desecration of Quran.

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Turkmenistan and Afghanistan renew power supply contract

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(Last Updated On: January 27, 2023)

Afghanistan’s Minister of Energy and Water Affairs, Mullah Abdul Latif Mansoor, and the Executive Chairman of Afghanistan’s power utility company (DABS), Alhaji Maulawi Muhammad Hanif Hamza, visited Turkmenistan this week where they signed agreements for the supply of electricity and other joint initiatives.

According to the Afghan Ministry of Energy and Water Affairs, the extension of the electricity contract with Turkmenistan, the completion of the 500KV line project, the construction of Noor ul Jihad substation, and the establishment of necessary coordination for the implementation of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan project were the focus of their trip.

Mansoor said that the electricity export agreement with Turkmenistan was extended for the year 2023 and also assurances were given by Turkmenistan regarding the implementation of the projects.

The ministry underlined that with the completion of the 500 KV line and the construction of Noor ul Jihad substation, the amount of electricity imported from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan will increase by 110 megawatts.

“With the implementation of the TAP project and the 500 kV line that passes through Afghanistan to Pakistan, the residents of many provinces of Afghanistan will benefit from electricity”, the ministry said.

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FM Muttaqi meets Norwegian Charge d’Affaires for Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: January 27, 2023)

Norwegian Chargé d’Affaires for Afghanistan Paul Koloman Bkar called on Amir Khan Muttaqi, the foreign minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), in Kabul and discussed humanitarian aid, security, development cooperation and political issues, said Hafiz Zia Ahmad Takal, the deputy spokesman of the foreign ministry.

Mr. Bkar first expressed his regret over the explosion in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and expressed that his country is determined to work together with international partners through political interaction with Afghanistan considering the current authorities and governance of Afghanistan is a reality and the world should deal with it realistically.

FM Muttaqi said efforts should be made to bring the world and Afghanistan closer to each other, Norway has good experience in this work and can play a role. He added that positive measures of the new Afghan government should be appreciated and given a positive response.

“After decades, we have ensured global security, we have effectively fought against Daesh and drugs and we are committed so that all-round stability prevails in the country and no threat is perceived from Afghanistan,” said Muttaqi.

Minister Muttaqi said, as history has shown, using pressure options in Afghanistan is not useful and now we should move forward on the path of cooperation with each other.

Meanwhile, both sides discussed incomplete projects, education and training and a number of other issues that are suspended due to some obstacles.

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