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8.7.2019 Hekmatyar links peace with fair presidential elections

KABUL (SW) Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of the Hezb-e-Islami, on Sunday linked peace in the country with the fair and inclusive presidential elections in the country. Addressing a press conference, Hekmatyar said peace and sustainability can only prevail if the presidential polls are held fairly and inclusively. He added all political parties demand transparency and are against rigging and irregularities. Hekmatyar added the idea of an interim set-up is a failed experiment in Afghanistan, and the only way for peaceful and proper transfer of power is through fair polls. Prior to this, a number of political parties and presidential candidates have expressed concerns about potential rigging at the forthcoming presidential elections. Presidential elections will be held in Afghanistan on 28 September 2019.

8.7.2019 EXCLUSIVE: A museum looted before inauguration

CHARIKAR (SW) Over a decade ago, ground breaking ceremony was staged for the National Museum for Jihad and Resistance in Parwan, but no signs of it are visible now. Former President Hamid Karzai was flanked by his deputy back then, Mohammad Qaseem Fahem, speaker of the Wolesi Jirga (lower house), Mohammad Yonus Qanuni and minister for information and culture, Syed Makhdoom Raheen as well as a number of local leaders from Parwan in the Jabal Siraj district for this ceremony. It has been nearly 14 years since, but the museum never got built. Just two years ago, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani issued a decree particularly directing military institutions to present iron scrap for tender and sale. In line with this decree, the local authorities in Parwan has urged the district administration in Jabal Siraj to present the rusting and old items from this National Museum for Jihad and Resistance for sale to a private steel mill, Maihan Steel. This official communiqué has invited the wrath of former Jihadi figures in Kabul, Parwan, Kapisa and Panjshir provinces. Protesters have taken to the street to stop this auction from taking place. Noor Mohammad Sikandar, member of the local Jihad and Resistance Council, told Salam Watandar the Pushta Surkh region where this museum is located has historic significance for the country, and the items from the museum would not be allowed for auction. He charged the Kabul government and some elements within the province want to remove the prides of Jihad and resistance. Sikandar said items from the museum were set to be sold at a throw away price of AFN 7000. Documents obtained by SW indicated the presidency has inked a deal worth AFN 15 per 7kg of iron from this museum. The local Jihad and Resistance Council in Parwan has vowed to stand against this move. Though, officials in Parwan have vowed to develop this museum, but the documents obtained by SW indicate the provincial governor has sent clear instructions to the district governor to facilitate the transfer of old tanks and other military items to the Maihan Steel. Fazaluddin Ayar, provincial governor, has blamed a number of individuals for trying to seek personal gains in hindering the auction of these items. He told an official gathering that it is much better to melt these iron products and re-use them for construction rather than wait for it to rust under the Sun. The directorate of information and culture expressed unawareness over the matter. Abdul Wahed Hashimi, director information and culture, acknowledged the foundation stone for this museum was laid some 14 years ago, but construction of the museum is yet to be completed. The Pushta Surkh is a military area associated with the Ministry of Defense. It is not known yet, why this move of selling off these items has been initiated after the ground breaking ceremony was staged for the National Museum for Jihad and Resistance some 14 years ago. It sounds quite identical to the case of Alakozay Group of Companies hoping to acquire a prime land in Kabul close to the Hamid Karzai Airport at a throwaway price of $ 2.5 per square meter. Four years ago, the presidency inked a deal with the AGC for a total of 143.54 jeribs of land with a 90 per cent subsidy. There were reports the move was part of a deal between the two parties that mean financial support from the AGC for President Ghanis electoral campaign.

8.7.2019 Joint committee formed at intra-Afghan dialogue

DOHA (SW) A joint committee has been formed at the intra-Afghan dialogue for peace in Doha, Qatar. The committee has Abdul Salam Hanafi, Shahabuddin Dilawar and Amir Khan Mutaqi from the Taliban side while Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Nader Naderi, Lutfullah Najafizada, Habiba Sarabi and Umer Zakhilwal are representing the Afghan delegation. The committee is set to work on the final declaration aimed at the continuation of the intra-Afghan talks. The intra-Afghan dialogue commenced in Doha on Sunday as the U.S. and Taliban paused their seventh round of talks at the same venue. A Salam Watandar correspondent said the intra-Afghan dialogue remained positive and fruitful as the two sides shared a number of mutual concerns and thoughts.

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