The Taliban shadow governor for the Dehdadi District of Balkh province and 15 of his fighters have joined the peace process after mediation by tribal elders and the provincial peace council.
Gul khan, the shadow governor, is believed to have trained in Pakistan and worked with insurgent groups in Balkh province for the last four years.
"We are tired of war, so we are joining the peace process. I ask all my disaffected brothers to join the peace process to bring lasting security in our country," Gul Khan said.
The provincial peace council asked the government to help those who join the peace process reintegrate into society.
"The relevant [government] organs should try to create job opportunities for people joining the peace process to prevent them from reverting to the insurgency," Akhtar Muhammad Ibrahimkhil said.
According to the provincial peace council, around 300 insurgents have laid down their weapons in Balkh over the last 18 months.
The Ministry of Finance said that broadening the tax net could be an important step toward financial self-sufficiency for Afghanistan, indicating that a large number of taxpayers evade taxes or don't pay taxes on time.
"We are endeavoring to make grounds for more tax payments and encourage taxpayers to pay their taxes on time," said Ahmad Shah Zamanzai, head of the ministry's General Revenues Department.
But a number of individuals and foreign companies, especially some US military contractors, are exempt from taxes. The government is trying to abolish those exemptions to increase tax revenues.
"We are endeavoring to remove these exemptions, as these incomes could increase our revenues. We have [already] made some progress in this regard," Zamanzai said.
The ministry classifies business into three categories of large, medium and small enterprises for tax purposes. There are currently 400 large, 12,000 medium, and 20,000 small companies in Kabul alone.
The tax law has set income tax rates between two to 20 percent, and sales tax rates of two, five, and 10 percent. Income taxes are two percent for salaries between $200 to $250, ten percent for salaries between $250 to $2,000, and 20 percent for salaries over $ 2,000 per month.
According to the Ministry of Finance, the biggest challenges to tax collection are insecurity, a lack of sufficient capacity for tax collection and tax evasion.
Independent analysts also point to other problems such as corruption inside tax offices and bribes by taxpayers to reduce tax payments.
India, the United States and Afghanistan met in New Delhi Tuesday to discuss political, security and economic cooperation in the wake of US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The three sides agreed to continue this trilateral process to foster regional peace and security and facilitate the development of Afghanistan.
The US lauded India's role in regional cooperation to help Afghanistan.
"The US side expressed particular appreciation for India's leading role in helping to advance opportunities for regional trade and investment and noted our shared interest in advancing the New Silk Road vision of connectivity between South and Central Asia with Afghanistan at its core," a State Department spokesperson told India media on the conclusion of the tri-lateral dialogue in New Delhi.
Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin led the Afghan delegation; the US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Mr. Robert O. Blake, Jr. represented the US, while Additional Secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran) Shri Y. K. Sinha represented the host nation.
The summit is a follow-up to the first trilateral dialogue hosted by Afghanistan in New York on September 25, 2012.
The trilateral summit comes after US President Barack Obama announced that 34,000 American troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan in the next one year.
A Taliban leader, Mohammad Akhund was killed in a joint Afghan and Nato troops operation in southern Helmand province on Tuesday, Isaf said.
"An Afghan and coalition security force killed a Taliban leader, Mohammad Akhund, and one other insurgent with a precision strike during an operation in Nahr-e-Saraj district, Helmand province yesterday," Isaf said in a statement on Wednesday.
Mohammad Akhund was responsible for directing attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He was also crucial in coordinating the production and emplacement of improvised explosive devices in Helmand province, the statement said.
It comes as a Haqqani facilitator and four other insurgents were arrested in joint Afghan and Nato operation in the southern Kandahar province on Wednesday, according to Isaf.
Isaf believes the Haqqani facilitator was responsible for managing supply routes from Kandahar city to various other provinces. He was also believed to have been instrumental in the acquisition and distribution of lethal aid to Haqqani fighters for use in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.
Three other insurgents were killed in a joint operation and another insurgent was captured in Charkh district of Logar province.
"As the security force approached the Taliban leader's suspected location, insurgents maneuvered toward the Afghan and coalition troops. After positively identifying the lethal threat, the security force engaged the insurgents, killing three," Isaf announced.
The Taliban leader is believed to be responsible for distributing weapons to insurgent forces in Logar province, and for planning and executing attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.
The security force also seized a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, multiple RPG rounds, multiple AK-47s and one machine gun as a result of this operation.
Seven other insurgents were also killed in separate operations in eastern Khost and Ghazni provinces on Tuesday.
In an official letter addressed to Afghanistan's Ulema Council, Pakistani clerics said on Tuesday that they will not be attending the upcoming Kabul clergy conference.
The letter, signed by Mufti Abu Huraira Mohuiddin, head of the Pakistani clerics, says they are not willing to criticize any of the Afghan Taliban's pasts activities, nor would they issue a Fatwa against them.
Afghanistan's Ulema Council has expressed regret the over the Pakistani cleric's decision not to attend the conference.
The Afghan Ulema Council said last week that the two parties agreed on holding the Kabul conference with a total of 500 participants, 250 from each country.
"We met the Pakistani committee over a period of two days. There was a group of seven people - all senior Ulema. We first agreed that the Afghanistan and Pakistan Ulema would hold a conference in Kabul in March. Then we decided that 250 Ulema from each country would attend," said Aminuddin Mozaffari, an Afghan Ulema member, at a press conference in Kabul last Tuesday.
U.S. news syndicate McClatchy published a recent report stating some of Pakistan's scholars would reject the conference unless the Taliban were also to take part - a rejection that would inevitably bring new challenges at the many attempts to woo the Taliban to the negotiating table.
Mozaffari dismissed the comment however, saying that McClatchy's report held an opinion and there are always people who try to challenge the process. Mawlawi Mohammad Shafee Noorestani, another Afghan Ulema member, said the council is working towards a solution.
"In order to find a solution for these challenges, the Ulema's work is beneficial to help solve the problem," he told TOLO news last week.
The conference was originally to be held with Islamic scholars from across the Muslim world; however, the Afghan Ulema said the joint Afghan-Pakistan conference would indicate if it was necessary to hold another conference with a global representation.
The conference, which was to be held this Thursday in Kabul, was to focus on Taliban activities, in particular, suicide attacks - declaring them haraam, or a sin.