First Vice-President Abdul Rashid Dostum on Saturday urged the countrymen to stand united in warding off the Islamic State (Dayesh) threat to Afghanistan.
Addressing the traditional Nawroz flag-hoisting ceremony here, Dostum said the unity government was inclusive and would continue to retain its representative character.
Balkh Governor Atta Mohammad Noor, dozens of lawmakers, top security officials and foreign diplomats attended the Nawroz ceremony.
The vice-president underlined the need for unity to deal with the challenges facing Afghanistan, including the threat from the emerging militant group.
Members of the Islamic State are operating in Faryab, Sar-i-Pul, Jawzjan and Badakhshan provinces, according to the VP, who stopped short of giving further details.
The Afghans, tired of decades of conflict, desired to live in peace, he said, believing efforts for peace talks with militant leaders were in the interest of the country.
Afghanistan’s neighbours were supportive of the reconciliation endeavours, he added, indicating direct negotiations with the rebel groups would begin soon.
While congratulating the people on the new year’s advent, Governor Atta Noor gave details of reconstruction activities in the past year.
He said his administration had collected 8.13 billion afghanis in revenues in the last solar year, when 24 new schools were built, increasing the number of 432.
The number of health facilities rose to 107 with the reconstruction of Shulgara, Shor Tepa and Kashandi clinics. Additionally, 400 new gardens were set up and 20 kilometers streets and25 kilometers roads were asphalted in Mazar-i-Sharif.
Noor lashed out at the latest Human Rights Watch report that alleged blatant abuses in Balkh. He rejected the report as fake and misleading.
Balkh police spokesman Sher Jan Durrani told Pajhwok Afghan News the celebrations were ongoing in a peaceful environment -- thanks to stringent security arrangements put in place.