Over the past week, the Afghan Peace Watch (APW) recorded 29 incidents of violence entailing an overall 80 casualties – including ten assassinations, four armed clashes, as many IED explosions, and two forced displacements. In addition, five peaceful protests and two arrests were also recorded by APW as part of non-violent incidents coverage. Assassinations took place across the country. Unknown armed men ambushed Qari Rahim on Monday at the Badakshan police headquarters, killing the head of the Taliban’s teachers’ training department. On Tuesday night, an unidentified armed group killed a gardener in the Qaisar district. Two masked men shot and killed a Taliban fighter named Wakeel in Matun, Khost province. Taliban killed Abdul Wakeel, 18, in Chah Ab district of Takhar province. Unknown shooters killed two men and wounded two others in Kabul’s Mirwais Maidan area on October 6. On Saturday, 19-year-old Habibullah was found dead in Sharana city of Paktika province.
Meanwhile, the anti-Taliban forces attacked the Taliban in different provinces, inflicting heavy casualties. At least five Taliban fighters were killed and another eight were injured after an unidentified armed group launched a two-pronged attack on a Taliban battalion on Tuesday night in the Rostaq district of Takhar province. At least three Taliban fighters were injured after the National Resistance Forces (NRF) attacked a Taliban outpost in the Charkh Falak valley of Khost district on Saturday, local sources reported, adding that a Taliban pickup was also destroyed. Asadullah, known as Abu Omar, a member of the Taliban’s laser unit, and three of his bodyguards were killed in an attack by NRF in the Imam Sahib district of Kunduz province. On the other hand, a Taliban operation in the Shigal district of Kunar province killed three IS-K members, including a critical member named Mawia. Also, the Afghanistan Freedom Front (AFF) killed a Taliban military officer in Kandahar’s PD1 Kabul Shah area.
APW recorded four explosions in various provinces. On Monday night, two newly arrived nomads from Waziristan were killed in a blast in Mohajer Qeshlaq village of Khuwaja Bahawudin district. Nobody claimed responsibility for the bombing. On Saturday, a bomb ripped through a coaster-type vehicle in the Dewanbegi area of PD5 in Kabul city, wounding at least three civilians. On Wednesday, a bomb exploded inside the mosque of the Taliban’s Ministry of Interior, killing four people and injuring another 25.
Adding to the continuous trend of usurpation in the north, five families in Takhar province were forcibly evicted from their homes by recently arrived Waziristan nomads on Monday night. Since Wednesday, the Taliban have forced nearly 20 families to leave their homes in Takhar province’s Khwaja Bahauddin district. The Kuchis from Waziristan and southern provinces of Afghanistan are encroaching on houses and lands with the help of the Taliban – at times, the eviction attempts lead to violence.
In the political arena, the week’s highlight was the resumption of the US-Taliban dialogue. Several senior US officials held the first in-person meeting on Saturday with members of the Taliban since the US drone strike in July killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri in the capital Kabul. According to reports, CIA deputy director David Cohen and US special envoy Tom West met with the Taliban’s head of intelligence Abdul Haq Wasiq in Doha.
Meanwhile, Takashi Okada, the ambassador of Japan to Afghanistan, and Hamid Karzai, the former president, met in Kabul to discuss Afghan issues. According to Karzai’s tweet, the Japanese ambassador expressed his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the attack on the Kaaj Educational Center. The discussion, according to Karzai, was centered around the urgent necessity of reopening the girls’ schools. The former president stressed that it was important that the national discourse begin as quickly as possible to ensure the country’s stability and peace in the future. Moreover, according to EU special envoy Tomas Niklasson, the Taliban should ensure schools remain open across the country for boys, girls, young women, and men to prepare and train the next generation.
On the other hand, several journalists in the country voiced concern that the Taliban have recently introduced new restrictions against media, whereby media outlets other than the Taliban-run Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA) have no right to cover news programs. In addition to Baghlan, journalists from Balkh and Takhar are provinces where journalists face a similar stern fate.
Journalists in these provinces told APW that they are merely allowed to cover positive issues and those in favor of the Taliban. “We are warned to avoid covering topics that criticize the Taliban’s government and the inefficiencies of government agencies.
This is while the Human Rights Council has extended Richard Bennett’s assignment for another year as Special Rapporteur for Afghanistan’s human rights affairs.
Across the country and abroad, the public campaign demanding Afghan girls’ education continues unabated. According to UNICEF, girls in Afghanistan have the right to education and leadership. “She has the right to lead. She has a right to learn. She has the right to make her own choices. Afghan women and girls are vital to the future,” UNICEF tweeted, adding “Every girl has the right to an education.” This is while the Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid once again pledged that the de facto administration would reopen girls’ schools above the sixth grade very soon. In his statement to the press, Mujahid said that the Taliban is addressing this issue, and with God’s assistance, all problems will be resolved.
Moreover, Hamid Karzai, the former president, tweeted that he met with young people from several provinces and discussed the need to reopen girls’ schools above the sixth grade as soon as possible. In Ghor Province, many female students urged that high and middle schools be opened to them. Several female students in Badakhshan province requested that girls’ schools be opened above the sixth grade. A student told APW in a conversation that she had turned to private courses to relieve mental and emotional stress.
A grim development last week was the Taliban’s introduction of new restrictions against college girls. The Taliban government’s Ministry of Higher Education imposed that Afghan girls were prohibited from choosing specific fields in this year’s national entrance exam. The girls were effectively forced to study fields specified for them by the Taliban. In addition to the significant decrease in the number of Kankor candidates, this year compared to the last, thousands of female students weren’t able to sit the test because they couldn’t graduate from high schools.
In Herat, fifteen female artists presented their paintings at an exhibition but complained that the Taliban forbade them to do so. However, the Taliban Department of Culture and Information in Herat has stated that it supports these art activities.
Similarly, women protested in Panjshir, Baghlan, and Kapisa provinces following the explosion in Kabul’s Kaj educational center, condemning the attack and calling it genocide of Hazaras.
Against the backdrop of the humanitarian crisis and continuous aid distribution drives by various stakeholders, food and other non-edible items distribution kicked off in Wardak province in order to help alleviate the suffering of 5000 flood-affected families.
Meanwhile, thousands of needy families were provided with food and non-food items by the Afghan Red Crescent and other humanitarian organizations in Farah, Nangarhar, and Laghman provinces. The Afghan Red Crescent distributed food aid to 400 families in the Shibkoh District of Farah Province as part of its food distribution program.
In addition, the World Food Program plans to provide food assistance to over 15 million people each month until March 2023. The announcement came a day after the European Union, the United States of America and partners concluded that humanitarian aid alone was insufficient to resolve the country’s economic crisis.