Afghan weekly review

11th September, 2017 – 17th September, 2017

Political Developments / Events

US should work with countries having influence on Taliban: Asif

Pakistan’s foreign minister Khwaja Asif said that the United State should work with the countries having influence on Taliban in a bid to open door for peace talks and end the conflict in Afghanistan. He also said that the Afghan issue does not have a military solution and can only be resolved through diplomacy and talks

Ghani to meet Trump on the sidelines of UN General Assembly

Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, is expected to meet his American counterpart in New York during the UN General Assembly session. This meeting has been confirmed by the spokesman for the Afghan Presidential office. The new US strategy with regards to Afghanistan is expected to be discussed in the meeting between the two leaders.

Torkham border point reopens after Friday incident

The Torkham border between Afghanistan and Pakistan has been reopened after it was closed down due to an incident on Friday. Pakistani law enforcement agencies stated that they were attacked by hand grenades and that the incident led to the shutting down of the border.

NATO commander reaffirms strong support to Afghanistan after Kandahar attack

General John Nicholson, commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, has reassured strong support after the Kandahar attack. The attack claimed the life of one Romanian soldier and the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. He also added “This loss only continues to strengthen our resolve and support to the Afghan government and its citizens as we work toward a secure and stable Afghanistan.”

Massoud slams Ghani for lack of will to eliminate terrorism, bring reforms

Ahmad Zia Massoud, the former presidential advisor for good governance, has criticized current Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, for not doing enough against terrorism. He also said that Ghani had failed to implement essential reforms in the country and should resign from his post.

Noor demands Dostum’s return and end to monopoly of power

The provincial governor of northern Balkh province and chief executive of Jamiat-e-Islami, Ata Mohammad Noor, has demanded that the return of Abdul Rashid Dostum to Afghanistan should be made possible. Noor further added that the newly-formed coalition, “coalition for the salvation of Afghanistan”, is prepared to enter to any deal for the national interests of Afghanistan.

Gen. Dostum admitted last week that he will remain in Turkey temporarily due to some political issues he is facing and considering the national interests of the country.

The coalition for the salvation of Afghanistan was formed nearly three months ago amid deteriorating security situation in the country and following a series of deadly attacks in capital Kabul and other parts of the country.

US to handover 6 helicopters to Afghan forces in coming two weeks: Ghani

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has said the United States will hand over six helicopters to the Afghan national defense and security forces in the coming two weeks. The helicopters in question are the UH-60 Blackhawks which are extensively used by the US Army.

Afghan Taliban to support Pakistan against foreign invasion: Sami-ul-Haq

Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, a prominent Pakistani politician and religious figure, has claimed that Afghan Taliban will support Pakistan in the event, the country is invaded by the foreigners. The statement further adds that the Afghan Taliban and Emarat Islami Afghanistan members under the Itehad-e-Ulemai Afghanistan sent a letter to Maulana Sami after the meeting to confirm their support to Pakistan in the event, the country is attacked by US or India.

China, Turkey, Iran support Islamabad’s stance on Afghanistan: Asif

The foreign minister of Pakistan, Khawaja Asif, has said that China, Iran, and Turkey supports Islamabad’s stance on Afghanistan. The statement comes after Khawaja Asif has returned from a series of visits to Iran, Turkey and China. Asif also expressed concerns regarding the presence of India in Afghanistan and claimed that India only invests in the Afghan territories located close to the border line.

Ghani chairs high level defense meeting to discuss latest security upheavals

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday chaired a high level defense meeting to discuss the latest security upheavals in the capital and other provinces of the country. A statement by ARG Palace said comprehensive discussions were made regarding the security situation of the country and necessary instructions were issued to the relevant security institutions for the improvement of the security.

Pakistani PM says open to join patrol with Afghanistan

The Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said Pakistan is open to joint border patrols with the Afghan forces. He insisted that the fencing work will continue and Islamabad would welcome a similar move by Kabul.

Power-mongers on the verge of losing influence, claims Hekmatyar

The leader of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar once again harshly criticized certain political influential figures, those figures he believes have gained the power with the support of the outsiders. He did not specify any of the individuals but the latest remarks by Hekmatyar came as tensions are on the rise among his party and other influential political parties and figures, specifically the Jamiat-e-Islami led by Ata Mohamad Noor.

US forces have failed in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s FM claims

The foreign minister of Pakistan Khwajah Asif has claimed that the US forces have failed in Afghanistan. This statement was issued during Khwajah Asif’s visit to Tehran. He further stated “They agreed that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and a politically negotiated settlement was imperative for lasting peace in Afghanistan. They underscored that the regional countries have vital stakes in stability in Afghanistan and should play a more proactive role in the peace efforts.”

Modi reiterates support to Afghanistan in the fight against terror

India has reassured its strong support to Afghanistan in helping it fight against terrorist organizations. “The Prime Minister affirmed that India attaches the highest priority to its ties with Afghanistan,” the Office of the Prime Minister of India said in a statement. The statement further added, ““He also reiterated India’s full support to the Government and people of Afghanistan, including humanitarian and development assistance, in their efforts to build a peaceful, united, democratic and prosperous nation”.

Instrumental use of terror not in anyone’s favor, Karzai tells Pak ambassador

The Office of the former President in a statement said the former President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai met with the Ambassador of Pakistan Mr. Zahid Nasrullah Khan in his office on Monday. Karzai said the instrumental use of terrorism is not in the favor of any nation as he insisted that a peaceful, stable and sovereign Afghanistan will be for the interest of Pakistan as well as the region.

Afghan issues cannot be resolved without Pakistan, Pak President claims

The President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain has said the issues of Afghanistan cannot be resolved in the absence of Pakistan as Kabul insists on comprehensive talks with Islamabad as the first step to end the ongoing violence in the country. This comes as President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani during a meeting with his Turkish counterpart said Afghanistan is ready for comprehensive talks with Islamabad.

India and Afghanistan agree to expand defense and security cooperation

The Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj stated New Delhi’s new commitments during a press conference with her Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani. Swaraj further added that 116 new “high impact” development projects would be implemented jointly in 31 provinces of Afghanistan.

She did not elaborate further regarding the defense cooperation New Delhi aims to provide to Afghanistan but added that 500 new scholarships will be offered to next of kin of the martyrs of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces from academic year 2018.

Security/Terrorist Activities and Developments

Explosion in Khost city mobile phone market leaves several dead, wounded

At least 18 people were killed or wounded as an explosion took place in the Southeastern province of Afghanistan, Khost. So far, no one has come forth to accept reasonability for the attack. The attack took place around noon in a mobile market in Khost.

Taliban suffer heavy casualties in air and ground operations in Faryab

The 209th Corps of the Afghan National Army has conducted air and ground operations in the Pashton Kot district of the Faryab Province in Afghanistan. The government accounts, there have been heavy casualties inflicted on the Taliban that have been operating in the region. The militants were targeted in the vicinity of Barghan, Toimast, Bidaki villages.

Top Taliban leader killed by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar militants in Kunar

A top Afghan Taliban leader, identified as Ubaid, has been killed in the Sarkano district of Kunar province. According to sources, Ubaid was killed by Jamaat-ul-Ahraar, which is a faction of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. Last week the Pakistani armed group allegedly killed an Afghan Taliban local leader Zabita Jalal that caused tension between the two sides in the area, media reported. It has also been reported that the relationship between the TTP and Afghan Taliban in the region has been tense.

Taliban and ISIS infighting leaves several dead in Nangarhar province

Several militants belonging to the ISIS-K and Taliban have been killed in a recent series of infighting between the two groups. The incident took place in the Chaparhar district of the Nangarhar province in the East of Afghanistan.

Romanian soldiers suffer casualties in Kandahar suicide car bombing

A suicide bomber detonated a Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) near the convoy of the Romanian forces in the Southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan. The Ministry of Defense of Romania, earlier this evening, confirmed that one of the three soldiers wounded in the attack succumbed to his injuries. The Taliban insurgents group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Explosion near cricket board in Kabul

An explosion took place near a cricket stadium in Kabul during a domestic league match. According to eyewitnesses, the attack took place after a suicide bomber detonated explosives near a checkpost in the vicinity of the stadium. Security sources confirmed that three soldiers had lost their lives in the attack.

 

Pakistan’s Reaction: Pakistan has strongly condemned the terror attack that took place near the Kabul stadium. The statement issued by the foreign ministry of Pakistan also said “We are deeply saddened by the wanton terrorist attack that resulted in the loss of innocent lives and injuries to others. We express our solidarity with the people and government of Afghanistan.”

 

Taliban Reaction: Taliban rejects group’s involvement in explosion near Kabul stadium

Taliban Spokesperson, Zabiullah Mujahid, in a statement said the group has no role in the explosions in Kabul.

 

ISIS-K Reaction: ISIS claims intelligence personnel targeted near Kabul stadium and claimed responsibility for the attack near Kabul stadium. The group further claimed that the attack was carried out by the suicide bomber of the terror group identified as Abbas Al-Khurasani. The terror group in a statement released online claimed that several intelligence personnel were killed or wounded in the attack.

District police chief killed in IED explosion in Ghazni

According to the local officials, the incident took place in the vicinity of Jaghatoo district of the Ghazni province, claiming the life of the district police chief. District Police Chief, Mohammad Ishaq Jalili, was busy visiting the security posts and patrolling in the area when the incident took place. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the incident.

ISIS loyalists killed in US drone strike

The provincial government media office in a statement said that at least three ISIS militants were killed in the raid. The airstrike took place in the Nazian district of the Nangarhar province. The statement also claimed that the terrorists were from the Orakzai Agency of the Tribal Area of Pakistan

Taliban militants accused of more sexual crimes in South of Afghanistan

The latest accusation against the group has emerged from southern Helmand province of Afghanistan suggesting a group of Taliban insurgents were arrested after intruding into a house in Marjah district of the Helmand Province. The Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, reacted at the reports and said the enemies of the group are attempting to defame them as they are in panic.

Explosion among Taliban leaders leave several dead in Kunduz province

An explosion has taken place among the gathering of the Taliban leaders in northern Kunduz province of Afghanistan, leaving several people dead. The officials further added that ten Taliban insurgents including their key leaders identified as Mullah Osman, Mullah Abdul Hussain, Qari Khalid, Mullah Zahir, Din Mohammad and Mullah Abdullah were among those killed.

Fighter jets pound ISIS targets in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan

Jet fighters of the foreign forces carried out airstrikes on ISIS targets, leaving at least three militants dead. A series of airstrikes were carried out on hideouts of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS Khorasan, in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

Taliban loses foreign fighters in Nangarhar drone strike

The Taliban insurgents have lost foreign fighters fighting in their ranks during an airstrike in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. According to the local officials, the militants were killed during an airstrike conducted by the foreign forces. The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the incident.

Taliban militants accused of sexual abuse of a child in Uruzgan province

The Taliban insurgents have once again been accused of sexually abusing a minor child in southern Uruzgan province of Afghanistan as the group claims the rumors are being spread in the area with an aim to defame their armed insurgency. The latest incident involving the sexual abuse is second in the week, though Taliban have refuted the claim as propaganda to defame them.

Taliban local leader among 4 killed in Logar airstrike

The Ministry of Interior of Afghanistan informed regarding the deaths of the Taliban leader and his fighters. A statement by the ministry of interior said the Taliban leader killed in the airstrike has been identified as Qari Ismail who was also famous as Mir Mohammadi. The airstrike was carried out in the vicinity of Ab Josh area of Charkh district, the ministry of interior said, adding that several weapons along with a vehicle of the Taliban were also destroyed.

Organizer of deadly attack on VIP protection unit in Kabul has been killed

One of the main organizers of the deadly attack on the VIP protection unit in Kabul has been killed during an operation of the Afghan security forces. The Ministry of Interior of Afghanistan, in a statement confirmed the killing of the main terrorist leader involved in the attack. The statement further added that the attack was plotted by Haqqani network leader identified as Darya Khan who was killed in central Logar province. At least three other Haqqani network leaders identified as Abdul Rahman also famous as Omari who had arranged the logistics for the attack along with Qari Arashad and Mullah Haibatullah were also among those killed.

Deadly explosion rips through Taliban gathering in Kapisa

The incident has reportedly taken place in the vicinity of Tagab district of Kapisa, leaving at least three militants dead and several others wounded including a local commander of the group. The Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan confirmed the incident and said three militants were killed and their commander Khanullah, also famous as Bilal, was wounded after an improvised explosive device went off among them.         

Views

Political situation

 

President Ashraf Ghani statement in UNGA and the repeated US rhetoric of “do more” for Pakistan is leading towards further mistrust amongst all three countries. Counter statements by Pakistan officials is also contributing towards strained relations. The US and Afghans have to realize that exerting pressure on Pakistan is not the answer to the ongoing Afghan crisis. Pakistan has contributed more than its capacity to overcome the issue of terrorism and continues to remain committed to eliminate the menace. 

Pakistan offer of joint mechanism for border control is the only option under prevailing environs, therefore the US and Afghans must agree to some mechanism in context to effective border control and management. Security situation in border province with Pakistan is not alarming and Afghans must realize that no country alone can manage such a border.    

Pakistan’s role in resolving the Afghan crisis needs no further emphasis, any attempt at peace without the inclusion of Pakistan is not likely to yield positive results. Pakistan has suffered and continues to get agonized, therefore any resolve mechanism must keep Pakistan concerns in view.  

NATO reaffirmation of supporting the Afghans is positive yet they have to modify their strategy to make Afghanistan peaceful and self-sustainable, rather only supporting the ongoing military operations.

The political divide is getting further widened between the political personalities and groups. Dostum’s absence (in Turkey) from the scene is contributing towards political divisions within the government.

 

Security Developments

 

 

The weekly state of security incidents is indicative of the fact that no area in the entire country can be regarded as free from insecurity. Taliban are striking all over and everywhere, the government forces are causing serious damages to the anti-government groups yet the number of security incidents in the country is alarming.

 

Government claims of killing ISIS fighter in aerial bombing and ground operations are leading to the belief that the group has gained good grounds in Afghan territories. The US and Afghans must intensify their effort of eliminating the group strong holds, delays and halfhearted efforts will be counterproductive.

 

Taliban are striking at will and causing serious damages all over Afghanistan, the locations at Kandahar, Helmond, Uruzgan, Ghazni in south, Kabul and surrounding provinces in center and almost entire East is within their striking range, northern Afghanistan is also targeted often. This state of affairs dictates that Taliban have gained strength over the years and Afghan security apparatus is not effective or strong enough to challenge the Taliban fighters.

 

The state security institutions have to be made well trained and well equipped to fight the anti-forces. The US and Allies have to alter their strategy of training and modify their methodologies so they produce effective force to fight and control the insurgency.

 

 

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