Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Afghanistan figures prominently in key energy projects aimed at regional cooperation and integration: Asian Development Bank (ADB)

Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan (TUTAP) and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline are among such schemes. According to ADB, TUTAP used existing and planned assets in Afghanistan to connect Central Asia to Pakistan. Similarly, ADB added, the 1,600-km TAPI pipeline would export up to 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India over a commercial operations period of 30 years. Although currently expected to exceed $10 billion, the total project cost will be determined upon completion of the detailed design and arrangements for the procurement of long-lead items, construction and other services. Pradeep Srivastava, principal economist with ADB's Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division, said that progress continued on the implementation of road and railway projects in Afghanistan along CAREC Corridors 3, 5, and 6 in the area of multimodal transport, the official said. Srivastava also referred to key ongoing road projects, including the construction of Qaisa-Laman road (233 km), Leman-Armalick Road (52 Km), Pul-i-Khumri-Doshi road (52 km), Kabul-Jalalabad road (150 km), and Mazar-i-Sharif-Kunduz road. A concept paper for the construction of an alternative tunnel to the existing Salang tunnel has been approved by ADB, with the World Bank supporting the construction of the Baghlan-Bamiyan road as well as the rehabilitation of the existing Salang road and tunnel. “For the rail sector, a feasibility study for the Rozanak/Ghorian-Herat track has been completed,” he explained. Feasibility studies are ongoing for the Sher Khan Bandar-Kunduz-Kholam-Naibabad-Andkhoi railway line, the AqinaAnkhoy track and Aqina railway station, and the Torghondi-Herat railroad. CAREC recently held its mid-year senior officials' meeting in Islamabad, where respective sector coordinating committees briefed participants on progress in the 4 sectors. During the Energy Sector Coordinating Committee meeting in Islamabad in April this year, Additional Secretary at the Ministry of Water and Power Omer Rasul, briefed the officials on CASA-1000.
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Afghanistan has reached an agreement with India for the air transport of fresh fruits after Pakistan has closed land routes

Afghanistan has reached to an agreement with India to airlift trade commodities as tensions remain persistent between Afghanistan and Pakistan along the Durand Line. Officials in Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) have said the agreement was reached with India after closure of land route by Pakistan incurred millions in loss to the Afghan traders. Deputy ACCI Chief Khan Jan Alokozay said some commodities including fresh fruits left for India on Tuesday and the Indian government has agreed to exempt Afghanistan from taxes, specifically on fresh fruits. This comes as the main land transit route remains blocked for the past two weeks along Durand Line located near Chaman. The gate was closed after the Pakistani officials claimed that some of the Afghan demnstrators attacked the check post in Friendship Gate and set the Pakistani flag on fire. Numerous attempts have been made to resolve the issue and reopen the crossing but no breakthrough has been made so far. The NATO supplies and cross border trade activities were also suspended. Earlier tensions intensified between the two neighboring countries on several occasions during the past recent months, mainly due to the establishment of gates and other installations. The Afghan and Pakistani forces exchanged fire in Torkham earlier in June which resulted in to the closure of the gate for several days. Both the Afghan and Pakistani forces suffered casualties during the clashes that erupted due to the construction of a gate by Pakistan which the Afghan officials called a unilateral move and against a bilateral agreement between the two nations.
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India provides annual aid USD 1million to Afghan Red Crescent Society for the treatment of Afghan children suffering from Congenital Heart Disease

India has committed to provide annual financial assistance of USD 1 million for five years beginning 2015-16 to the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS). This is for the treatment of Afghan children suffering from Congenital Heart Disease. The first installment of USD 1,000,000 was disbursed to ARCS in August 2015. With this assistance, from September 2015 to August 2016, a total of 471 Afghan children, covering age group from as young as 4 months to 18/19 years, have been treated at Artemis, Fortis and Max Hospitals in New Delhi, India. India also provides financial, technical and training support to the Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health in Kabul. This assistance would continue for a further period of four years. India pledges to contribute towards the good health and wellbeing of Afghan children and brotherly people of Afghanistan.
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Carpet industry in dire straits as Afghan weavers forced to leave Pakistan

ORIGINAL ARTICLE PUBLISHED
by News Lens
at www.newslens.pk
Peshawar: With the Afghan carpet weavers leaving as Pakistan pushes for repatriation of Afghans, local and Afghan carpet traders and manufacturers are concerned that the carpet industry here would collapse without skilled workers.
Peshawar’s fabled carpet markets are already beginning to wear a deserted look because the local carpet-industry is almost entirely manned by Afghan artisans. Among them is Dawood Ahmadi, an Afghan carpet manufacturer and exporter.
“90 percent of the carpet weavers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are Afghans,” Ahmadi told News Lens. “With the fast-approaching deadline to leave Pakistan and constant harassment from police they are all leaving.”
The Pakistan government has adopted a tough stance on Afghan refugees in the wake of December 2014 terrorist attack on the Army Public School (APS) that left more than 140 children dead. The attack was masterminded and claimed by terrorists based in Afghanistan.
Among the 20 points of National Action Plan devised after the APS attack to fight terrorism, one deals with a comprehensive policy for registration of Afghan refugees.
Afghan refugees first came to Pakistan in early eighties after Russian intervention in Afghanistan. Even after the Russian pullout from Afghanistan, it has remained unstable and refugees’ influx into and repatriation from Pakistan has continued through the different stages of peace and conflict. Through the three decades of instability in Afghanistan, Pakistan has hosted more than 3 million Afghan refugees.
The carpet-weaving industry in Pakistan, especially in the border provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan, dates back to that time when the migration of Afghan citizens to Pakistan brought many skilled workers, among them carpet weavers.
Ahmadi who is from Mazaar Sharif in Afghanistan, came to Peshawar in the eighties when he was only eight. He had learnt carpet weaving back home when the war happened and he and his family had to seek refuge in Pakistan.
He said among the Afghan ethnic groups who run the local carpet industry, 70 per cent of the carpet-weavers are Turkman and the rest are Uzbek, Hazara and Pashtun. “12 out of the 17 carpet markets in Peshawar’s Khyber Bazar entirely shifted to Afghanistan during the rule of Hamid Karzai,” said Ahmadi, “when his government offered many incentives to them.”
Under a tripartite agreement between Pakistan, Afghanistan and United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Afghan refugees are now allowed to stay in Pakistan till December 31, 2016. According to UNHCR currently 1.5 million afghan refugees residing in Pakistan, while from 2001 onwards more than 3.9 million repatriated to Afghanistan.
Ahmadi said in last few months, 10 to 15 per cent of the skilled labour had left for Afghanistan while others were planning to leave the country soon after Eid Ul Azha – the Muslim feast of sacrifice. “However, it is not easy for us to leave Pakistan and wind up our businesses in the stipulated time. We ask the government to extend the stay of skilled labor associated with the carpet industry in Pakistan.”
Mumtaz Khan, Director Carpet and Rugs Development Company, said due to the tense relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan in recent months, they had been reluctant to advocate for the stay of Afghan skilled labour and businessman.
“We waited for the dust to settle down and now it is time to raise our voice for them,” said Khan. “In the last one decade, carpet exports from KP have declined from $55 million to $6 million. In the coming days, it may further shrink to an alarming extent.”
Khan says repatriation of Afghan refugees would only affect Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The carpet industry in Punjab will remain stable because it engages local skilled labour.
Khan called on the government to provide work permits or multiple visit visas to Afghan skilled weavers and manufacturers. To him such as move would not be unprecedented because skilled labour and investors are encouraged by governments all over the world. “The government needs to look into the situation from a broader perspective.”
Apart from KP, the carpet and rug industry of the country as a whole is on a downward spiral, says Pakistan Economic Survey report for 2015-16. “During July-March Financial Year 2016, carpets and rugs worth $74.027 million were exported from Pakistan compared to $92.924 million previous year, showing a decrease of 20.34 per cent. While in quantity term the export of carpet and rugs decreased by 26.53 per cent.”
According to Mazhar ul Haq, Chairman Export Standing Committee KP Chamber of Commerce, the fall of carpet and rug industry in KP is mainly due to Afghan repatriation.
“Now they are transferring this art to their country of birth as the carpet industry in Afghanistan takes roots again. Unfortunately, Pakistanis never showed interest in learning or transferring this art locally and the industry is entirely dependent on Afghans.”
Haq said there were 10 thousand people associated with the carpet industry in KP. Among main importers and buyers of carpet and rugs from Pakistan, he said, were Germany, Africa, Europe and United States.
Sherzai, an Afghan carpet weaver, said the price of a carpet varies from PKR 2000 per square metre to PKR 30,000 per square metre, depending on the number of knots and the quality of wool used. According to him, a carpet of eight square metres takes one and half to three months to complete and another 15 days to add finishing touches.
According to the provincial head of Small and Medium Term Enterprise Development Authority (SMEDA) Javid Iqbal Khattak, the local carpet and rug industry were always prone to two main challenges: Limited stay of the refugees in Pakistan and environmental concerns of authorities related to the industry.
He said the government failed to transfer carpet weaving skills to local people by providing proper training. In 2008, after a SMEDA feasibility report, the provincial government allocated PKR 100 million to the Carpet Nagar project, said Khattak, but it never saw light of the day. “Carpet Nagar was an industrial cum residential project designed in view the nature of industry which is mostly home based.”
According to Khattak, the environment of Peshawar is best suited for carpet industry. “Its water is good for carpet washing and dyeing, which is why even carpets from Afghanistan are brought here for finishing. The government needs to provide proper attention to the industry as soon as possible. It should provide work permits to skilled labour – a proposal once under consideration when Owais Ahmad Ghani was the governor of KP but never realized.”
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE on News Lens at http://www.newslens.pk/carpet-industry-in-dire-straits-as-afghan-weavers-leave-pakistan/

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The Minister of Urban Development and Housing of Afghanistan encourages the private sector to invest in housing projects

The Minister of Urban Development Affairs and Housing Mr Syed Sadat Mansoor Naderi hailed the Afghan entrepreneur Ibrahim Mohib for investing over USD 200 million to build a major trade complex in Kabul.  The Minister called on the other Afghan entrepreneurs to follow Mr Mohib and to invest in Afghanistan for contributing to the reconstruction and development of the country. The Ministry of Urban Development and Housing said that Minister Naderi made the remarks during a visit at the construction site and welcomed the Afghan entrepreneur for the interest to invest in the urban development sector. The complex will include about 600 residential apartments, a 5 Star Hotel, a Trade center, and the head office of the Afghanistan International Bank (AIB). The major investment in the trade complex comes as efforts are underway to boost the fledging urban development and housing sector of Afghanistan which sustained major destruction similar as other sectors during the decades of war. The Minister of Urban Development Affairs and Housing  encouraged the private sector to take part in the construction of housing projects and hoped that the implementation of new projects with the contribute of the private sector will help to build an economic momentum in the country.
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THE FIRST-EVER ITALIAN COMPANY IN AFGHANISTAN

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I turisti stranieri in Afghanistan cercano l'intrigo e il senso del pericolo

Turismo, gli affari sui vacanzieri in zone di guerra
Iraq, Siria e Afghanistan. Per sciare o prendere il sole col pericolo Isis accanto. Sfidando i veti dei governi. Così cresce la moda dei viaggi ad alto rischio.
di Barbara Ciolli http://www.lettera43.it/stili-vita/turismo-gli-affari-sui-vacanzieri-in-zone-di-guerra_43675256582.htm#.V8Wms2N1414.gmail

In questa calda estate 2016 un convoglio di turisti è stato attaccato in una delle zone più pericolose dell'Afghanistan, e non è la prima volta.
A bordo di due minibus, i giramondo (tre statunitensi, sei inglesi, due scozzesi e un tedesco) avevano visitato le famose statue di Buddha abbattute dai talebani e la regione incantata - ma insidiosa - dei laghi blu zaffiro di Band e Amir, il primo Parco nazionale dell'Afghanistan.
Per dirigersi poi verso Herat, dove le basi italiane vengono attaccate dall'insurgence.
VIAGGI ORGANIZZATI. Non erano spie, né attivisti o operatori umanitari, semplicemente visitatori arditi che avevano pagato una delle agenzie «all'avanguardia nel turismo d'avventura», come per esempio si descrive il tour operator inglese Hinterland travel, indicato da Kabul come il traghettatore degli stranieri feriti nell'imboscata.
Effettivamente, per il 26 luglio, la piccola agenzia dello Yorkshire del veterano di viaggi in Medio Oriente, Geoff Hann, aveva in programma un tour di 21 giorni tra le montagne dei talebani e dei signori della guerra.
IN IRAQ, CON L'ISIS? Non l'unico in questione e neanche l'ultimo: a ottobre 2016 è in agenda un altro giro dell'Afghanistan, «sulla rotta del ritiro britannico da Kabul del 1842» e, fino al 2017, la compagnia propone svariati viaggi in Iraq, da Baghdad fino a Basora, attraverso le province di Babilonia, Kerbala, Najaf.
Lungo il Tigri e l'Eufrate, dove sono in corso raid aerei e controffensive di terra contro l'Isis.
La guida inglese Hann è un nome grosso del settore.
Il National geographic lo cita in un blog d'avventura come il primo ad aver riportato turisti in Iraq dalla caduta di Saddam Hussein e il Guardian riferiva dei suoi tour già prima dell'incidente.
Dagli Anni 70 l'avventuriero organizza spedizioni da Londra a Kathmandu, in Nepal, in India e in Pakistan, «ma in Kashmir» specifica nelle interviste, fino all'Iraq e all'Afghanistan in fiamme, dove, afferma, la gente va con lui «per non andarci da sola».
Barba canuta e appeal da professore in pensione, Hann racconta che chi parte per queste zone lo fa consapevolmente: «La vita è un rischio calcolato e alla fine della giornata c'è chi rischia più di altri».
MEGLIO IN GRUPPO. Andare in Afghanistan da soli sarebbe ancora più pericoloso.
In Iraq difficilmente si concedono visti a viaggiatori individuali, e così decine di esploratori l'anno partono con Hinterland travel alla volta della culla della civiltà degradata a terra di violenza e di morte.
A giudicare dalle date dei tour, gli iscritti non mancano.
Il veterano della zona si dice l'unico a «muoversi con comitive in Iraq e in Afghanistan» e comunque a «stare a sentire sempre i media non si andrebbe da nessuna parte, lì ci può capitare qualcosa come da qualsiasi altra parte», sostiene.
RECIDIVI DEL RISCHIO. La Farnesina e tutte le altre cancellerie diplomatiche - ufficialmente governi afghano e iracheno inclusi - sconsigliano da anni tassativamente viaggi, anche di lavoro, in questi e altri Paesi ad altissimo rischio.
Ma, come è accaduto anche per gli italiani uccisi e rapiti in Libia, le unità di crisi sanno altrettanto bene che, per le più disparate ragioni, esistono ed esisteranno sempre civili che attraversano queste frontiere.
C'è chi lavora per aziende in subappalto o come freelance, intascando super bonus per le trasferte a rischio di morte.
Chi entra sotto copertura come turista o per conto di qualche organizzazione governativa o non governativa.
Chi fa davvero il turista, ma per occupazione è abituato ad andare in zone pericolose. E chi ha coraggio (e soldi) da vendere per una scarica d'adrenalina, visitando siti archeologici e paesaggi off limits per il resto del mondo.
Negli anni, Hann ha accompagnato giornalisti, attivisti, operatori e anche turisti di guerra, e che sia in giro in luoghi sensibili è un segreto di Pulcinella: nell'ultimo incidente in Afghanistan il gruppo era scortato da militari locali e la guida ha raccontato di essere protetto da guardie mandate dal governo anche in Iraq.
TREKKING IN TAGIKISTAN. Checché ne dica, Hann non è il solo a muoversi con turisti in queste regioni del Medio Oriente.
Un'altra agenzia inglese di viaggi «nelle zone più interessanti e inaccessibili», la Untamed borders, propone pacchetti dai 2 mila euro in su per trekking con «guide intrepide» in Tagikistan (la regione definita meno rischiosa da Kabul) e in altre regioni dalle «geografie estreme» dell'Afghanistan.
Gran tour in Cecenia e nel Daghestan russo del Caucaso, teatro di attentati e periodiche crisi. 'Vacanze' di mare sulle spiagge somale di Mogadiscio, lambite dai pirati che sequestrano turisti stranieri anche in Kenya.
SETTIMANA BIANCA IN KURDISTAN. Per gennaio 2017 è in programma una settimana bianca nel Kurdistan iracheno: sci in spalla, per 2.200 euro si atterra a Erbil, poi su verso le montagne. Il mese dopo si parte per scalare le vette innevate dell'Afghanistan, un must ormai da sette stagioni.
La Untamed borders ha anche organizzato la prima maratona afghana, un altro appuntamento fisso, e per questa e altre iniziative è stata recensita dalla Cnn, dal Guardian, dal National geographic e diverse altre testate internazionali.
Foto ricordo orgogliosi nei luoghi delle battaglie e degli attentati o con i militari e gli addetti di sicurezza: i più temerari si fanno riprendere anche mitra in spalla davanti ai pick up delle milizie.
È l'attrazione della vacanza col morto, la fascinazione macabra, da che mondo è mondo, per i disastri e le sventure.
Agenzie come Hinterland travel e Untamed borders hanno iniziato ad accompagnare giornalisti e addetti ai lavori.
Altre si sono buttate subito, per fiuto, nel giro dei turisti: Chernobyl, Auschwitz e altri luoghi della morte sono tra i più visitati e fotografati, come dimostrano anche in Italia le code al Giglio per immortalarsi vicino al relitto della Costa Concordia.
MERCATO DA 200 MILIARDI. Negli Usa i pellegrinaggi nei siti delle grandi calamità naturali e delle catastrofi aeree sono da tempo monetizzati, e con l'aumento delle aree di conflitti la Adventure travel trade association ha registrato un esplosione del settore: un mercato, indicativamente, di oltre 200 miliardi di euro.
VOGLIA DI PERICOLO. Nell'80% dei casi, viaggi con annessi sport avventurosi e safari in zone esotiche, ma ancora turistiche.
Una fetta di questi turisti estremi, precisano all'associazione, «si muove invece per scelta in ambienti ostili. Cercano l'intrigo e il senso del pericolo, vogliono gli ostacoli».
La tedesca Frankfurter allgemeine zeitung ha intervistato un austriaco in giro da una vita con tutte le comoagnie sopra citate: tre volte in Iraq, altre in Afghanistan, Somalia, in Iran e Libano negli anni peggiori. Quasi una droga.
Turisti e avventurieri di ogni nazionalità non mancano neanche nell'Africa centrale dilaniata dalle guerre tribali: Burundi, Mali, Uganda, Ciad... Ogni safari è buono per catapultarsi in ferie estreme.
TURISTI IN SIRIA. Aperta nel 2007, Lupine travel è un'altra agenzia inglese con «destinazioni uniche a budget contenuti» e tra le sue mete ci sono Liberia, Sierra Leone, il Corno d'Africa oltre al Kosovo presidiato dalla Nato e Chernobyl.
Molti pacchetti ad alto rischio non includono, guarda un po' il caso, le coperture assicurative.
Poco male: la compagnia canadese Ingle international stipula contratti anche per viaggiatori ad alto rischio. Disposti a tutto, confermano gli assicuratori: le richieste sono in aumento anche per l'Iraq e per la Siria.
Non mancheranno, presto, per lo Yemen, la Libia e la Turchia svuotata dal turismo di massa.

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Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Most of medicines are smuggled into Afghanistan due to its porous border with Pakistan

Public health officials say most of medicines are smuggled into Afghanistan due to its porous borders. However, they are determined to curb the illegal business. Deputy Minister of Public Health Dr. Najia Tariq, during a visit to Kandahar province, told Pajhwok Afghan News her trip was aimed to evaluate health services and enhance cooperation with private health institutes. “Improvement of health services in Kandahar is the main goal of my trip,” she said, adding she had invited health officials from Helmand, Uruzgan, Zabul and Nimroz provinces to discussions on their problems. “We are trying to boost cooperation among private and government healthcare centers,” Tariq said, confirming private institutes had problems offering health services, but the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) would resolve them. She criticised the poor quality of drugs and the way they were imported, saying most of medicine was smuggled to Afghanistan due to its unmanned borders with the several countries. She said drugs were imported through trucks that were not equipped with refrigerators and pharmacists did not keep them in a standard temperature. This affected the quality of medicine, she explained. However, she warned her ministry planned to check the quality of medicine and set up a laboratory in Kandahar to analyse drugs and food items. Governor Dr. Hamayun Azizi said there were still many problems in the health sector and only 40 percent of two million residents had access to healthcare services. He added only Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar was operational at the zonal level, where thousands of patients of patients, including casualties from security and traffic incidents were brought for treatment. Despite the large number of patients coming to the hospital, the number of specialists and beds was limited, the governor acknowledged. He asked health officials to increase hospital staff and the number of beds from 350 to 600. Kandahar also faced problems in addressing problems of pregnant women, because the maternity section at Mirwais Civil Hospital could not treat all patients from the province, Azizi said.
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Новых проектов по развитию сельских районов в Афганистане

Министерство Восстановления и Развития Села Афганистан (Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development - MRRD) подписало контракты на реализацию проектов развития в ряде провинций Афганистана. Общая стоимость 37 проектов составит 328,000,000 афгани, или около 4,8 млн. долларов США. На эти деньги будут построены мосты, дороги, ирригационные каналы и колодцы, что позволит около 90 тыс. жителей сельских районов получить доступ к питьевой воде. Как сообщил министр Г-н Насир Ахмад Дуррани, не справившиеся с работами ранее подрядчики были уволены. Это позволяет надеяться, что новые проекты под угрозой расторжения контрактов будут реализованы в срок на надлежащем уровне. Многие проекты развития, реализованные ранее в Афганистане, поступали жалобы в связи с их ненадлежащим качеством.

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There is great scope for cooperation between Iran and Afghanistan, particularly in the areas of transport infrastructures and energy

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijanihas stressed the need for greater cooperation between Tehran and Kabul, particularly in the economic sector, a media report said on Monday 29 August 2016. "There is great scope for cooperation between Iran and Afghanistan, particularly in the areas of transport, energy and infrastructure," Larijani said during a meeting with Afghan Foreign Minister Mr Salahuddin Rabbani in Tehran. He pointed to the cordial relations between the neighbours, saying: "The Iranian parliament supports enhancement of parliamentary cooperation with the Afghan parliament." Larijani also cited the spread of terrorism in the region, stressing measures to keep Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorists once again. "Effective fight against terrorism in Afghanistan needs political stability," the Iranian speaker remarked. Rabbani arrived in Tehran on Sunday to hold talks with senior officials on ways to improve cooperation between the two nations. Iran has built several roads, power transmission lines, border stations and many other infrastructure projects in Afghanistan. It has contributed more than $50mln annually to anti-narcotics efforts during the last five years.
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Monday, 29 August 2016

Ban on use of Pak rupee a cheap way for stability of Afghan currency

The embargo on the use of Pakistani currency in business transactions in southern Kandahar province has been warmly welcome, while similar announcement in eastern Nangarhar province was more symbolic, and used as a mere propaganda on Facebook. 
Economic experts believe that banning the use of Pakistani rupee in daily business transactions is a less expensive approach to help maintain Afghan currency stable against foreign currencies, but unfortunately the government is not serious in this regard. The use of foreign currencies, especially Pakistani rupee, in everyday transactions has devalued Afghani, keeping a lion’s share of Afghan banknotes out of circulation, Khalid Hatam, a university lecturer, said. “The government should not leave the decision on the ban of Pakistani currency to local officials; it, through a regulation, should rather issue a blanket ban on the use of foreign currencies to legally preclude the people from using them.” Concurrently with the ban on the use of Pakistani rupee in Kandahar, the Iranian Rial should also be outlawed in Nimruz, Herat and Farah provinces, and government officials be ordered to make all transactions and public contracts in Afghani, Hatam advised the government. According to him, unless Afghan currency was not used in all both small and major business transactions, and that Da Afghanistan Bank -the Central Bank of Afghanistan- did not enact a national regulation banning the use of foreign currencies, Afghani would continue to lose its value. Putting an embargo on the employment of Pakistani currency in day-to-day transactions was a cheap way for stabilizing Afghani as long as it was not symbolic, Hatam opined. Meanwhile, civil activists in Nangarhar, stress that the use of Pakistani rupee in business transactions continues unabated in the province, and that the provincial officials’ statements vowing to prohibit the use of Pak currency were their propaganda on Facebook. “All business transactions in Jalalabad and the districts are still carried out in Pakistan rupee, and the people mostly carry rupee other than Afghani in their pockets. The statements made by provincial officials a few days back about embargoing Pak rupee were all symbolic, and are yet to be implemented,” Khyber Shinwari, a civil activist, told The Heart of Asia. Razmal Zaman, an independent journalist from Kandahar, said that the use of Pakistani currency has completed stopped in the province, increasing the value of Afghani among the people. “No one can use Pakistani rupee in Kandahar, and whoever violating the ban is caught by the police, he is jailed for two to three days. This should be done at the national level, not only in one city and province,” Shinwari expressed to The Heart of Asia. A legal expert, Zahid Safi, uttered that it was the legal responsibility of the government to compel the people to use their own currency. “Though Da Afghanistan Bank has a regulation on foreign exchange, there no legal document to govern the use of foreign currencies. As like in other countries, a country which has an official currency shall use it in all its business transactions.” If the government followed the issue more seriously, its results would be very effective for the stability of Afghan currency, Safi told the Heart of Asia, adding that it was less likely that the government would do anything thereof given its weak stance on the issue. It merits to mention that all business transactions in provinces lying along the Durand line are carried out in Pakistani rupee, while the Iranian Rial is used in other provinces bordering with Iran.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Attack on the American University of Afghanistan on 24 August 2016: Precious lives could have been saved if the AUAF leadership had taken security more seriously

>>> SOURCE
Dr. Mark A. English is an experienced educational leader with his most recent position as President of The American University of Afghanistan. His previous positions include Superintendent of the American International School of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. President and Chief Academic Officer of Ross Global Academy Charter School in New York City and Head of School and Dean of the United States Military Academy Preparatory School, West Point, New York. Prior to his positions in school leadership he served in various U.S embassies in the Middle East as a Middle East Foreign Area Officer for the U.S. Army. Dr. English was also an Assistant and Associate Professor of Arabic, Linguistics, and Middle East studies at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. He was a United States Fulbright Scholar to Jordan where he conducted research on the education of women in Arab societies and served as a visiting Professor of English and Linguistics at the University of Jordan. He has also served as the West Point Visiting Professor at the National War College, Washington, D.C. where he conducted a seminar on National Security Policy. Selected as a Klingenstein Head of School Fellow, at Columbia University, he has traveled extensively in the Middle East working in positions of school leadership in international education. Dr. English is a graduate of The United States Military Academy at West Point where he received his B.S. degree. He also received his M.S degree in Government from Campbell University and he earned his Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Austin. >>> source: https://af.linkedin.com/in/mark-english-phd-6979043


  • Read also the post published one year ago on LinkedIn by the Vice President of Development at the American University of Afghanistan, Mr. John T. Pinna:
Years after the war, the U.S. leaves more than a cultural imprint
11 August 2015 https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/years-after-war-us-leaves-more-than-cultural-imprint-john-t-pinna
While it is true that some Afghans have adopted some of the culture of the west, I think it necessary to explain that Afghans have assimilated into their culture much more than blue jeans, music, and skateboarding. Americans, NATO, ISAF, the international community, business people, contractors, NGO’s, and educators have been working for over a decade with the Afghan people to provide the skills, guidance, and leadership to enable Afghans to meld these tools into their own culture with an Afghan “brand”. The goal is that Afghanistan will effectively achieve self-reliance. A much more substantive effort is being made on a daily basis in Afghanistan by both Afghans and foreign counterparts which goes beyond the simplistic and superficial exposure to and adoption of the trivial symbols of western cultures.
A buzz exists in such cities as Kabul, Herat, and Mazar e Sharif, where one can see the cities on the move, heavy machinery and cranes are in abundance in an effort to construct commercial as well as residential buildings. Entire cities are moving vertically with Manhattan-like skyscrapers dotting the horizon.
Commerce is booming too. Regulated banking is flourishing, restaurants are full of hungry clients, and products from all over the world can be found in the smallest stores. Afghan products too are being produced and sold regionally with some export to Russia, Pakistan, India, and others. Afghan housing, construction, and realty are moving above pace.
When the Parliament building was recently bombed by the Taliban in early June and the attacks that have occurred this past week, it was not foreign soldiers who defended each sector, but Afghans who defended each site and cleared each area in just a couple of hours. Afghans are fighting for their country and do not expect others to do it for them.
The international community cannot take all the credit for the advancement and modernization of Afghanistan. The Afghan government has led, and wealthy Afghans making wise investments have also played a major role in changing the nation. Yet, the lion share of credit goes to the everyday Afghan innovatively working to create cottage economies, build businesses, and establish their own economic ecosystem. Education is core to the survival of this ecosystem.
Credit is also due to a shining star built on a tract of land that was once a mine-riddled, deserted front line, The American University of Afghanistan (AUAF). AUAF is the only university that has a balanced representation from all 34 provinces of Afghanistan in its student body. It is also the first private university that adheres to the American standard of higher education in the same spirit as the American University of Cairo and Beirut. An Afghan institution, AUAF embodies western critical thinking and education standards while balancing its Afghan identity.
Funded in part by tuition, U.S. Department of State, USAID, international private donors, and foundations, and with support from the Afghan government, AUAF educates and trains future Afghan female and male students to assume leadership positions in their own country as well as on a global scale. With goals such as “promoting academic freedom, the unfettered pursuit of knowledge, respect for the principles of equality and fairness without regard to gender, ethnicity, religion, or kinship,” the American University of Afghanistan offers its students a world class education to meet the needs of Afghanistan and the surrounding region.
AUAF is an Afghan institution that teaches students personal responsibility and ethical behavior, how to think critically and to also have the ability to meet the challenges to become competitive global leaders in such areas as business, education, technology, social services, public service, government, law, international relations and other disciplines. Recent graduates of the innovative law school program came away with a Stanford supported legal degree and were among the first homegrown attorneys specifically trained in Afghan law.
Women too are becoming more respected and empowered. Recently, the U.S. Department of Defense gave a $5 million grant for the establishment of the International Center for Afghan Women’s Economic Development, a center which specifically trains and nurtures Afghan women entrepreneurs, teaching them business and economic skills, connecting them with investors for their small businesses, and offering partnering experiences in order to increase their business footprint and expand both domestically and globally.
So the American legacy is not just about eating hamburgers or wearing Hilfiger, but the legacy is about encouraging and supporting Afghans to have the practical hands-on skills and the continued determination and commitment to change their own country for the better as they see fit. For Afghans, it's about taking western tools and methods and adapting those to their own needs and comfort level. The real legacy of the U.S. is about supporting Afghans with both the knowledge and the vision to build and control their own country and destiny.
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/years-after-war-us-leaves-more-than-cultural-imprint-john-t-pinna

https://twitter.com/JTPINNA

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Alchin Bridge blown up by Taliban group of smugglers and assassins in northern Afghanistan to be reconstructed soon

The Ministry of Defense of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan said that reconstruction works of Alchin bridge (the main bridge connecting the northern provinces with the Sher Khan port in northern Afghanistan) to kick off soon. The bridge has been partially destroyed by the Taliban group of smugglers and assassins during their recent barbaric criminal activities in the province of Kunduz.

The Taliban took control of the key Khanabad district last week, but Afghan forces recaptured the district after hours of fierce clashes. The 300 meter long Alchin Bridge connects the northern provinces with the city of Sher Khan. Located near the Afghan-Tajik border, Sher Khan is one of the main transport, commercial and logistic hubs between Afghanistan’s the northern provinces of Afghanistan and Central Asia countries.

Political analysts believe that the Government of Afghanistan has no will to counter corruption, and that the recently established special Anti-Corruption Justice Center (ACJC) is aimed at deceiving the nation, and it is just part of preparation for the upcoming Brussels Conference on Afghanistan

Although the National Unity Government (NUG) established and inaugurated the special Anti-Corruption Justice Center (ACJC), political analysts believe that the government has no will to counter corruption, and that the center is aimed at deceiving the nation, and is part of preparation for the upcoming Brussels Conference. A number of lawmakers state that if leaders of the government have really had the determination to battle against corruption, they would have began arresting the corruption officials at the Presidential Palace and Office of the Chief Executive Officer. The government has not yet taken any practical step in the fight against corruption, and the ACJC was only meant to throw dust in the people’s eyes, Wagma Safi, a female lawmaker, said. "Many commissions were formed similar to the ACJC to spearhead anti-corruption efforts, but none of them had any positive impact. The government has set up the new center to try to cheat the people, and I have no faith in it; however, if it manages to counter and prevent corruption by 50 percent, it would be a success," Safi told The Heart of Asia. Safi stated the government was good at starting things, but later on, the corrupt officials and strongmen from within the government swung into action to make the corruption cases impossible to investigate, of which the fuel contracts of the Ministry of Defense and the Kabul Bank scandal were good examples. If the government was really serious about the fight against corruption, the president and the CEO would begin the battle from their offices, and put tens of their personnel behind bars, she maintained, claiming that there was a “corrupt circle” in the current government like in the former one, which was controlling all cases of corruption. Recently, documents attributed to some ministries are being circulated on social media, indicating that corruption has become more evident and widespread than in the past in the ministries of Interior, Education, Urban Development Affairs, and some others. Ahmad Ahadi, a social media activist, has posted a document purportedly proving that appointments had been made on the basis of relations and favoritism at the Ministry of Interior, and that all procurement contracts have been awarded to the relatives of the minister without going through the due bidding process. Some sources told The Heart of Asia that one of the key bones of contention between the president and the CEO was the corruption cases in which individuals affiliated with the CEO have been involved. According to the sources, there were cases of corruption, outstanding payments, and embezzlement estimated at two billion dollars pending investigation at the Presidential Palace. Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA), a local anti-corruption watchdog, asserted the National Unity Government was not serious in the struggle against corruption, and all its actions were mostly symbolic. Stressing that the government has not yet taken any real, effective step to curb corruption, Sayed Akram Afzali, IWA Director, told The Heart of Asia, "The anti-corruption drive has been dimmed by the frictions between government leaders, who are not serious about the fight against corruption."
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE
The Heart of Asia

Проект CASA-1000 обсуждался в Париже

В субботу 27-08-2016 министры энергетики Кыргызстана, Таджикистана, Афганистанаи и Пакистана встретились в Париже, чтобы обсудить региональный проект CASA-1000. На встрече во французской столице афганскую делегацию возглавил министр энергетики и водоснабжения ИРА Али Ахмад Усмани. В ходе встречи стороны обсудили вопросы безопасности в связи с реализацией проекта, технические и логистические аспекты, а также привлечение частных инвестиций. Кроме того, представители Таджикистана и Афганистана провели переговоры с Агентством международного развития (АМР) США и обменялись мнениями по различным вопросам, касающимся перспектив развития энергетики. Стоимость реализации CASA-1000 составляет более 1,1 млрд. долларов США. В рамках проекта Кыргызстан и Республика Таджикистан будут экспортировать электроэнергию в Пакистан.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

15 years after the fall of the Taliban, the group of smugglers and assassins is still very active, also backed by the CIA agents involved in drug trafficking

Since the Taliban was ousted from power following the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the armed group's control over parts of Afghanistan has fluctuated widely. According to a recent report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the Western-backed Afghan government has lost control of nearly five percent of its territory to the Taliban since the beginning of this year. The report says the area under Afghan government "control or influence" decreased to 65.6 percent by the end of May from 70.5 percent last year, based on data provided by US forces in Afghanistan. That amounts to a loss of 19 of the country's approximately 400 governing districts. However, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, Army General John Nicholson, said the Taliban presence is mostly in rural areas.
>>> LEARN MORE

Afghan officials, on the other hand, say an exact figure on areas controlled cannot be measured as the fight against the Taliban and other armed groups is still ongoing.

Based on reports gathered by Al Jazeera from local police, security forces and the Taliban, in the image at the top left is a conservative estimate of the areas in Afghanistan that are contested, under the Taliban, and under government forces.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Two and a half million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan could be sent back, despite not being born in Afghanistan and never having lived there

Pakistan says Afghan refugees must leave the country by December 31, 2016. Two and a half million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan could be sent back, despite not being born in Afghanistan and never having lived there. Citing security concerns, Pakistan says the refugees must leave the country by the end of the year. It is a decision described by rights groups as "one of the largest forcible returns of refugees in modern history". Afghan refugees have been living in Pakistan since the early 1980s, when they fled from Soviet invasion. Pakistan has hosted more than three million Afghan refugees over the past several decades. The government has repeatedly set and extended deadlines for the refugees to leave. But it says this year is final, calling it a matter of national security.
But why is the government doing this now? And are politics at play?

>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

As long as Afghan people don't realize that giving bribes is much more serious than taking bribes, they will be ever more embittered by insecurity, terrorism and crimes

Kabul residents embittered by insecurity, crimes
Sunday, 28 August 2016 03:21 Written by  Heart of Asia 
http://heartofasia.af/index.php/national2/item/2075-kabul-residents-embittered-by-insecurity-crimes

Kabul has become a shelter for people who had been plagued by chronic insecurity in their provinces over the recent years.
Many families from across the country who could afford to live in Kabul moved to the capital; however, its security situation has worsened over the past two years to the extent that it is no longer considered safe.
Criminal incidents ranging from murders and kidnappings to robberies have become an everyday occurrence in Kabul. Insecurity and crimes are virtually at top of the agenda of every gathering in Kabul these days. Residents of the capital complain that they don’t feel safe in any corner of the city, casting a blight on their lives. Kabul Police Headquarters, however, claims the police arrest scores of individuals every day in connection with burglaries, kidnappings and other felonies, but the overpopulation of the city has, in some instances, rendered the police helpless to stamp out crimes. Meanwhile, Waqifullah Rohani, a member of Kabul Provincial Council, stressed the crime rate has recently hit all-time high in Kabul city, sparking concerns among the public. "Every day, I receive four to five phone calls from my constituents about killing, robbery, harassment of people by illegal gunmen, and other similar incidents," Rohani told The Heart of Asia. Rohani believed the division of security institutions between leaders of the National Unity Government (NUG) has led to increased insecurity and crimes over and above the political paralysis.
Requesting anonymity, a girl told The Heart of Asia: "It was about 5 o’clock in the afternoon when I received my Tazkira (NID) from the General Directorate of Population Registration in Kart-e-Parwan, and headed towards my home. As I got off the car in Pul-e-Charkhi bazaar, several plain-clothes men in a car with tinted-windows approached me, and introduced themselves as operatives of the National Directorate of Security (NDS). They stuffed me into the car, but I kept screaming, and finally managed to alight from the car…." The vehicle which also did not have a license plate was there for about half an hour, and the men continued to lure her to go with them, she uttered, adding she then contacted the NDS hotline on 1919, but she had no information on subsequent actions since then.
There are reports about many incidents of this kind as well as of various other natures every day around the city. Stressing that the illegal acts were being committed by armed men supported from within the government, Latif Nazari, a military expert, told The Heart of Asia: "A poor person cannot commit a robbery, or abduct people; all the robbers have backers in the government, from whom they get weapons, and with whose assistance they get released if captured.” Yet, a spokesperson of the Kabul Police HQ, claimed the crime rate has dropped compared to the past.

Afghanistan: new agriculture products' processing and packaging centers

The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan will establish 12 agriculture products’ processing and packaging centers in various provinces of Afghanistan at a total cost of USD 1.6mn. An agreement to that effect was signed between the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) and the private company Agroindust Company. Ministry of Agriculture said the centers would be built in Balkh, Kunduz, Paktika and Nangarhar provinces. “Each center would have the capacity to process about 7,5 metric tons of fruits a day and would have facilities of washing, drying and packaging of fruits,” said at the Ministry of agriculture. Under the contract, the company shall be responsible for collecting, drying, grading, washing, packaging the products. This comes as Afghan farmers have repeatedly requested the Government of Afghanistan to build processing facilities across the country. Around 39% of domestic fruits decayed each year due to lack of processing facilities. At the present, about 90 agriculture products’ processing centers are operational all over the country. The Ministry opened 19 such centers last month in Paktia, Nangarhar, Kandahar, Herat, Balkh and Kabul provinces.

Iran to grant development of two of its major oil fields to Chinese companies

Gholam-Reza Manouchehri, the deputy director for engineering and development affairs of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) said that China’s CNPC will be awarded the development of the second phase of North Azadegan project. 
Manouchehri added that the second company, Sinopec, will be awarded the development of the second phase of Yadavaran project. Both are located in Iran’s southwestern province of Khouzestan. The official added that negotiations between the related officials from Iran and China on both projects have entered final stages during last week visit to Beijing by Iran’s Minister of Economy and Financial Affairs Mr Ali Tayyebnia. He added that a delegation from China will arrive in Tehran in the next few weeks to finalize negotiations over the remaining aspects of the projects. Manouchehri said CNPC and Sinopec possess “vast financial resources” to carry out the development of North Azadegan and Yadavaran projects. He added that Iran’s decision to award the projects to the Chinese companies was in line with Tehran’s strategy to promote economic relations with Beijing. Tayyebnia arrived in Beijing on Monday at the head of a high-ranking delegation to participate in the 16th meeting of the Iran-China joint economic commission, which was held on Tuesday and Wednesday. During his stay in the Chinese capital, Iran signed two memorandums of understanding with the Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM) and China Development Bank (CDB) to provide loans for its key development projects. Tayyebnia also said that Tehran is determined to expand its relations with Beijing in all areas.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Of guns, Afghans and roses

At a time when issues like sedition, freedom of expression and intolerance are being widely discussed across mainstream media and the society at large in our country, have you ever stopped to wonder about how women survive (and thrive) in strife-torn Afghanistan, despite being deprived of basic human rights?
The story of 26-year-old Homa Usmany is inspirational on many levels. Homa, who hails from Kandahar province in Afghanistan, had to battle against all odds to start up her own tailoring business. “The Kandahar province is an extremely conservative part of Afghanistan. It is largely male-dominated and women don’t have basic rights. We aren’t allowed to speak to men. The security situation isn’t great either so there are plenty of restrictions for women. However, a lot of us women have established home-based businesses and amidst each other we have set up our own network,” shares Homa.
In 2013, Homa started her own home-based tailoring business, through which she provides uniforms for school children. She realised that not many schools had proper uniforms and felt that she needed to step in. “There was no proper organisation in uniforms. Children were just asked to wear black and the clothes they wore were always out of shape. That’s when I decided to start this business. I have already got contracts with various schools, to whom I provide the uniforms,” she says.
It wasn’t an easy ride for Homa to set up her business in a conservative place, which also has the threat of terror looming large.
“It was extremely difficult. There are plenty of security concerns and Kandahar is particularly a male-dominated place. The men basically do whatever they want and deprive women of their rights. They use Islam as a cover for their restrictions. This sort of behaviour is not in any religion or philosophy. These are just man-made rules but are enforced in the name of Islam,”  Homa laments.
Homa is currently in Hyderabad, along with eleven other Afghan women to attend a two-week educational programme on entrepreneurship by the Thunderbird School of Global Management.
Through their philanthropic cause titled Thunderbird For Good, the Arizona-based school has been training young women from emerging and re-emerging economies, to be better entreprenuers. Established 11 years ago, Thunderbird for Good has trained 116,000 women from 60 countries, to help start and grow their businesses in their home countries.
Focussing specifically on Afghanistan, Thunderbird for Good started Project Artemis. Seventy-four women from Afghanistan have participated in the five sessions of Project Artemis. These women have returned to Afghanistan to accomplish inspirational results, creating over 3,000 jobs through their business endeavors, and training over 15,000 fellow Afghans in business and management skills that they learned during their time at Project Artemis.
“These women are really strong. Starting a business, anywhere in the world, is really difficult. But to be able to do it in a war-zone, and with the limitations of being a woman, is unbelievable. These women have so much self-confidence, are dedicated and focused. They are the real superheroes,”  says Kellie Kreiser, executive director, Thunderbird for Good.
For the first since establishing project Artemis, the programme is being held outside the United States, and India has been chosen as the destination. The Afghan women will be in Hyderabad till August 24 before flying to Delhi for the second part of the two-week programme.
“The United States is limiting the number of people coming in from Afghanistan. So we decided to do the programme outside this year. We wanted a place where Afghans can travel comfortably and feel welcome. We thought India is the best location. We also have plenty of alumni from here, who helped us with accommodation and setting up the programme here,”  Kreiser explained.
The entire team of Project Artemis will also be visiting the Indian Business School (ISB) in Gachibowli, during their stay in Hyderabad. “We have a sister programme with ISB, so we thought we’ll have a panel discussion there, where Afghan women can interact with some of the Indian entrepreneurs and graduates. In a way, Afghans are very similar to India, who is the leader in textiles and agriculture. So they can connect to the Indians a lot,”  Kreiser observed.
The entire programme is free of cost for the Afghan women, with all expenses being covered by Thunderbird. There is a stringent application in place to screen the participants.
“We look at what they have accomplished in terms of entrepreneurships. We also like to have representation from both rural and urban Afghanistan. With us, we have a good mix of women from all age-groups. Some of the older ones are street-smart, while the younger ones are good with technology. They all work together and help each other out,”  informs Steven Straiser, professor of entrepreneurship at Thunderbird.
Through Project Artemis, Homa hopes to expand her home-business and open up a market in her hometown, exclusively for women.
“That way, the men won’t have a problem since we will only be talking to women. The market will have 10-15 shops, including a beauty parlour, playground for kids and a coffee shop,”  she adds, with a smile.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Blutiges Ende der Attacke auf Universität in Afghanistan

Zehn Stunden saßen die Studenten der American University in Kabul nach einem Angriff von Extremisten fest. Dann stürmten Polizisten das Gebäude. Es gab mindestens 14 Tote, unter ihnen sieben Studenten.

Zwei Angreifer seien bei der Erstürmung des Gebäudes getötet worden, teilte die Polizei in der afghanischen Hauptstadt mit. Im Verlauf der rund zehnstündigen Belagerung durch die Extremisten mindestens sieben Studenten, drei Polizisten und zwei Sicherheitsleute getötet . Mindestens 39 Menschen erlitten Verletzungen, unter ihnen neun Polizisten.

Am Mittwoch abend hatten Bewaffnete die American University angegriffen, offenbar zunächst mit einer Autobombe. Explosionen und Schüsse waren an der Hochschule zu hören. Hunderte Studenten und ausländische Lehrkräfte saßen stundenlang auf dem Campus fest.

Hilfeschreie über Twitter

Eine Studentin teilte der Nachrichtenagentur AFP telefonisch mit, sie halte sich mit Kommilitonen in einem Unterrichtsraum auf. "Ich habe Explosionen gehört, und hier in der Nähe wird geschossen", sagte sie. "Unser Klassenraum ist voller Rauch und Staub." Andere Studenten schickten Twitter-Nachrichten, in denen sie um Hilfe baten. Der bekannte afghanische Fotograf Massud Hussaini berichtete ebenfalls per Twitter aus einem Klassenraum, er habe Schusswechsel gehört. Der Kabuler Journalist Ahmed Muchtar twitterte: "Ich bin mit Freunden geflohen und andere Freunde und Professoren sitzen drinnen fest."

>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE


Remembering Prof. Naqib Khpulwak killed during terrorist attack
on the American University of Afghanistan on August 24, 2016. 

https://www.gofundme.com/rememberingnaqib

Banking Group ANZ refuses Australian customers’ transactions with Iran, fearing U.S. Treasury’s reaction

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) refuses Australian customers’ transactions with Iran, fearing U.S. Treasury’s reaction, a report says. “While there has been a lifting of some sanctions to Iran by Australian authorities, as an international bank we continue to comply with the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control which bans transactions to and from Iran,” the ANZ bank said in a statement. It came after a Sydney based exporter and importer Christopher Cox took his business to the ANZ because of its far-reaching international branch network, compared with other local banks. But ANZ said it would not provide the channel needed to send and receive between Australia and Iran, leaving Cox extremely frustrated, as all the other necessary financial and business infrastructures to do business abroad are in place. In response, Cox said, “Can you force a bank to do business? I really don’t know, but it is costing the Australian Government money.” Experts believe that Australia could be losing billions of dollars a year in trade with Iran thanks to ties that at least one domestic bank has to the United States. This is while Australia lifted some of its anti-Tehran sanctions following a lasting nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) on Wednesday. Under the new changes, Australian businesses will not have to seek prior approval for transactions above AU$20,000 when they deal with Iranian enterprises.

Afghanistan government getting prepared for Brussels Summit

Chaired by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, the High Council of Economy is established to find solutions to the economic problems of the nation as part of Afghanistan’s development commitments to the international community. The Council’s responsibility is to make policies aimed at creating jobs, attracting investments and facilitating the work of the private sector with close collaboration from the government. However, the private sector has questioned the performance of the Council and has claimed that the institution has failed to fulfill the decisions it has taken during its meetings. The Council has taken 27 decisions during its 25 meetings, of which none has been implemented so far. The private sector blames the lack of capacity within the government institutions that has affected the performance of the council. One of the focus of the Brussels Summit, slated for October 5, is expected to be on Afghanistan’s reform efforts, including economic reforms, rule of law, improved public finance management and anti-corruption so as to ensure the provision of the most important services and public goods. The High Council of Economy is expected to address the problems facing the Afghan private sector and execute the necessary measures. Economic pundits have repeatedly called on the government to step up efforts to implement comprehensive economic plans to improve the nation’s domestic production and economic growth. The vibrant private sector of Afghanistan is the beacon of hope to free the impoverished nation from reliance on foreign aid.
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Казахстан и Афганистан создали совместную бизнес Ассоциацию

Предприниматели из Казахстана и Афганистана создали совместную бизнес-Ассоциацию. Спецпредставитель президента Афганистан по делам реформ и надлежащего управления Ахмад Зия Масуд заявил, что благодаря этой и аналогичным инициативам Правительство национального единства будет развивать экономику Афганистана, несмотря на препятствия со стороны соседей, в частности, Пакистана. По его мнению, за дестабилизацией ситуации на севере страны стоят, в том числе, экономические цели Пакистана, заинтересованного в снижении товарооборота между Афганистаном и странами Центральной Азии. Афганские бизнесмены приветствовали создание новой ассоциации, поскольку в последнее время товарооборот между Афганистаном и Казахстаном ощутимо возрос и казахстанские компании укрепили свое положение в экономике Афганистана. В настоящее время импорт Афганистаном товаров из Казахстана оценивается в 1 млрд. долларов США ежегодно; в основном: стройматериалах, нефтепродуктах и пищевых продуктах.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Iran has produced over 10 million tons of steel in the first 7 months of 2016

According to a report by the World Steel Association, Iran has produced over 10 million tons of steel in the first seven months of the year 2016. Iran’s steel production from January to July 2016 stood at 10.100 million tons indicating a growth of 4.7% compared with the same period last year, the latest report by the World Steel Association said. According to the report, Iran produced 9.645 million tons of steel in the first 7 months of 2015. The volume of steel produced in Iran in July amounted to 1.351 mln tons, which showed a 6.2 percent increase compared to the same month in 2015. Back in February 2015, a master plan devised by the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO) was released, showing that the country is planning to raise its annual capacity to produce steel by 11.6 million tons with the collaboration of a number of domestic and foreign companies. Iran is the biggest steel producer in the Middle East and North Africa. The country’s main steel production facilities are located in Khuzestan and Isfahan provinces.

China launches first cargo train to Afghanistan

The first train carrying freight containers from China to Afghanistan left the eastern Chinese city of Nantong on Thursday, August 25. The train, carrying 84 containers, will leave China through the Alataw Pass in Xinjiang. 
It will then pass through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan before arriving Hairatan after, a border town and a port in the north of Afghanistan. The cargo train will arrive to Hairatan of northern Balk province in 15 days after passing through Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Two trains are scheduled each month. The new railway route is part of efforts to improve logistics linking nations under the “Belt and Road”  initiative. China is not only the largest investment source in Afghanistan but it also the third biggest economic partner as well. Earlier, both countries had emphasized to enhance cooperation and work together in fight against terrorism and increase bilateral economic relation particularity in construction of transport infrastructures.

Antikorruptsiya: proverku v otnoshenii 21 ex ministra Afghanistana

Po men'shey mere 21 chelovek, zanimavshiy posty glav ministerstv v gody prezidentstva Khamida Karzaya, podozrevayetsya v korruptsionnykh pravonarusheniyakh, soobshchil predstavitel' general'noy prokuratury Afghanistana Basir Azizi. Ozhidayetsya, chto rassmotreniye del o predpolagayemoy prichastnosti vysokopostavlennykh gosudarstvennykh deyateley k zloupotrebleniyam vlast'yu budet porucheno nedavno sozdannomu tsentru bor'by s korruptsiyey. Anonimnyye istochniki, znakomyye s situatsiyey, otmechayut, chto v korruptsionnoy deyatel'nosti podozrevayetsya ryad deystvuyushchikh i otstavnykh gossluzhashchikh. Naryadu s ministrami v ikh chislo vkhodyat i predstaviteli mestnogo upravleniya razlichnogo urovnya - gubernatory, glavy uyezdov, mery naselonnykh punktov. Mnogiye aktivisty poprivetstvovali usiliya Pravitel'stva natsional'nogo yedinstva po bor'be s korruptsiyey, v tom chisle otkrytiye profil'nogo tsentra, no v tselom perspektiva rassmotreniya serii del v otnoshenii gossluzhashchikh vyzvala neodnoznachnuyu reaktsiyu obshchestvennosti. V chastnosti, byli vyskazany opaseniya v svyazi s tem, chto usiliya tsentra mogut byt' obuslovleny politicheskimi motivami pravitel'stva, a takzhe ugrozoy vmeshatel'stva chinovnika v rabotu antikorruptsionnogo organa.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Ma cosa fanno gli americani in Afghanistan?

A Conspiracy Theory that became a “Conspiracy Fact”:
The CIA, Afghanistan's Poppy Fields
and America's Growing Heroin Epidemic
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E’ davvero incomprensibile come l’Occidente possa continuare a mandare i propri soldati in Afghanistan. La Seconda Guerra mondiale durò sei anni, quella per sconfiggere la terribile armata dei talebani è in corso dal 2001, ovvero da 15 e all’ultimo vertice della Nato è stata prorogata fino al 2020. Diciannove anni per sconfiggere i terribili talebani? E pagando un trilione di dollari? Un po’ troppi, ne converrete. Non è un caso che spagnoli, inglesi e francesi abbiano deciso di ritirarsi unilateralmente. Non vedono più l’utilità di una missione che in termini militari ha fallito ma che l’America di Obama intende prolungare. Secondo un osservatore attento come il generale italiano Mario Arpino, la verità è che l’occupazione militare è diventata permanente sebbene nessuno lo ammetta. Secondo altri osservatori ci sarebbero altre ragioni, tra cui le pressioni dell’establishment e dell’industria militare per continuare a beneficiare degli ingenti finanziamenti. Di certo la guerra in Afghanistan è stata un fallimento. Non è servita a sradicare un regime indicato come uno dei principali sostenitori del terrorismo neosalafita. Non ha portato democrazia, nè benessere alle popolazioni locali, che sono sempre più povere. In compenso ha generato immensi benefici ai trafficanti di droga. E’ la verità taciuta su questo conflitto, sebbene ci riguardi da vicino perché l’eroina finisce anche in Europa. A svelarne il lato nascosto e imbarazzante è un giornalista indipendente, Enrico Piovesana, in un saggio breve e convincente “Afghanistan 2001-2016 – La nuova guerra dell’oppio”, Arianna Editrice. Piovesana frequenta da anni Kabul e la sua denuncia nasce proprio dall’esperienza personale. La tesi è tanto forte quanto scomoda: le truppe della Nato hanno di fatto favorito i narcotrafficanti. Fantasie? Non proprio: nel 2000, prima dell’intervento militare, la produzione di oppio in Afghanistan era azzerata, oggi rappresenta il 92% di quella mondiale. In teoria, la Nato condanna la produzione di oppio e infatti i villaggi sono disseminati di cartelli che la scoraggiano, cartelli che però tutti ignorano; nella realtà la produzione e il traffico sono ampiamente tollerati. Per una ragione molto semplice: oggi l’oppio è diventato la principale fonte di sostentamento per la popolazione afghana. E di un business da decine di miliardi di euro a cui i potentati locali, che poi garantiscono la stabilità di alcune zone del Paese, non sono insensibili. Risultato: per controllare l’Afghanistan bisogna venire a patti con questi Signori, autentici criminali, che godono di fatto di impunità e che talvolta ricoprono anche alte cariche istituzionali. Il tutto ovviamente nella più straordinaria opacità mediatica. Di questo tema non parla nessuno. Certo, la Dea, l’agenzia americana che lotta contro il narcotraffico è presente ed è agguerrita ma dispone solo di 13 collaboratori, mentre la Nato dichiara che la lotta al narcotraffico non rientra fra gli obiettivi della propria missione. Nel 2005 gli inglesi e la Dea pretesero l’allontanamento di Akhundzada, il governatore della regione di Helmand, che nascondeva 9 tonnellate di oppio addirittura nei suoi uffici , il quale si vendicò cedendo i proprio miliziani ai talebani che trasformarono quella zona nel fronte più caldo della resistenza. L’Helmand divenne un Vietnam per le truppe di Sua Maestà. Da allora la Nato lascia correre, mentre la Cia, secondo le qualificate testimonianze raccolte da Piovesana, stringe accordi con i più pericolosi narcotrafficanti. Il quadro che emerge è sordido. I militari a fine missione lucrano sull’oppio che portano in grande quantità in Europa e in America sapendo di non dover passare alcun controllo doganale. I direttori delle agenzie internazionali presenti a Kabul sanno tutto, ma sono costretti a tacere. Obama, in un sussulto, apparente, di dignità, nel 2009 decise di abbandonare la linea del disinteresse, e approvò un intervento “selettivo” ovvero volto a colpire solo i signori della droga legati ai talebani, che però rappresentano appena circa il 10% del totale. Per gli altri, ovvero per il 90% dei trafficanti, tutto come prima. Il paradosso è che queste ciniche liberalità, che riflettono il lato oscuro della real politik, non bastano per vincere una guerra che dura da 15 anni, di cui non si capisce più la necessità ma che di certo finisce per danneggiare noi europei: l’eroina che dopo i flagelli degli anni Ottanta si pensava scomparsa, continua a diffondersi nella nostra società, soprattutto tra i giovani, con le conseguenze che ben conosciamo: la dipendenza, l’aumento della criminalità, l’annientamento fisico. Quell’eroina che viene coltivata ed esportata sotto gli occhi distratti della Nato.
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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Iran is ready to build an oil refinery in Afghanistan

Iran is capable of providing Afghanistan with its much-needed oil products for 30 years, said the Managing director of National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company.  “Regarding the two states' low crude oil transaction level, building a pipeline to transfer oil products to Afghanistan is not economically viable,” Abbas Kazemi was also quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency. Kazemi expressed Iran's readiness to build an oil refinery in Afghanistan. Noting that a new oil storage reservoir will go on stream in South Khorasan in the near future, the official said, “The new reservoir can store 100,000 barrels of different oil products.” According to Kazemi, Iran's oil byproduct exports are holding steady at 400,000 barrels per day. According to Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, Afghanistan is set to purchase up to 1 million tons of diesel from Iran per annum. Stressing that Iran's diesel export to Afghanistan stands at 200,000 tons per year, the minister said, "Afghans have expressed readiness to increase import by 1 million tons, if negotiations yield positive results." He added that the idea of exporting compressed natural gas to Afghanistan seems to have an acceptable profit margin, but requires time to develop it.
Commenting on Afghans' interest in importing 200,000 tons of liquefied petroleum gas from Iran, Zanganeh said reasonably priced LPG would translate into a win-win deal.
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Iran-business news
Export of petrochemical products showed remarkable increase in value in the first four months of this Iranian calendar year of 1395 (started on March 20) and exceeded six billion dollars. Iran’s Customs Administration says non-oil commodity exports in the four months rose by 21.11 percent to $16.308 billion. Iran’s balance of trade was thus positive and showed $3.443 billion in Iran’s favor. The reason for increase in export of non-oil commodities was remarkable growth in export of petrochemical products that accounted for 41.51 percent of the total earnings while other commodities accounted for $16.308 billion. The figure stood at $13.465 billion, including gas condensates, in the first four months of last year. Despite considerable fall in export of such products as gas condensates, polyethylene, methanol, urea and the like, 34 percent growth in weight and 25 percent in value was still observed in the exports in the period. In the period under study, Iran’s petrochemical exports showed record rise of the products in the total exported goods. In the period, 13,684,000 tons of petrochemical products, worth $6.769 billion, were exported and the share of petrochemical goods in total exports of Iran in the first four months of last year was 35.52 percent. [Source: Shana]

Major housing project inaugurated in Kabul

The Khushal Khan housing project was inaugurated in Kabul city on August 23 in the presence of the Minister of Urban Development and Housing Syed Sadat Mansoor Naderi. The inauguration ceremony was also attended by Deputy Ministers of Urban Development and Housing, advisers, and a number of the lawmakers from the Lower House of the Parliament. Mr. Naderi hailed the project officials and workers as well as the contractors involved in the project, saying the inauguration of the project is a major step towards his commitments for the completion of the incomplete projects. He said the other projects including the Al-Qasaba project which is being constructed with the financial support of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Mr. Naderi also informed regarding the practical launch of construction of 10,000 residential units being constructed with the support of China and an additional 1,000 units with the support of Qatar. He also encouraged the private sector to take part in the construction of the housing projects and hoped that the implementation of the projects with the private sector will help build an economic momentum in the country. Khushal Khan housing project which consists of 312 apartments in 8 blocks with 10 stories, was due to be completed earlier in April but the project was delayed due to administrative issues.
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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The Afghan Center of Justice and anti-Corruption started officially working

Afghanistan Attorney General office has announced that the center for justice and anti-corruption officially started working amid the recruiting process of staffs completed, saying huge corrupted cases will be reviewed strictly, and compromise will be made with no one. Meanwhile Attorney General insisted that the results of the corruption cases will be shared with the people. Attorney General Farid Hameed said,” if one can be accused he/she will be behaved respectfully, but the following center has strict authority against any case to act, people can’t wait to see the results to be shared by members of the center, Afghans will witness how the accused people were being trialed.” He went on and said,” The center of justice and anti-corruption started officially working, and will review strictly and precisely the corruption cases, we demand the Afghans to provide supports, we have strong commits, and also the members of the centers are going to pursue the cases considering the justice.” At the end of the inauguration members of the center of justice and anti-corruption took the oath and promised to pursue any cases by considering the justice and laws. Afghanistan is counted as one of the corrupted countries in the world and has gained top position within the corrupted countries list, a question remains that can the following center review the high profile figures corruption cases to ensure justice and judicial?

Reported by Rafi Sediqee
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Trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan is down by more than 50% in the past two months

Officials at the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) said this week that trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan is down by more than 50 percent in the past two months. They said that the lack of interest among Afghan businessmen to do business with Pakistan has caused this dip – which will also result in the projected trade income target between the two countries – of $1 billion USD – not being reached. On the basis of ACCI figures two months ago, around 9,000 tons of flour, cooking oil, rice, beans, sugar and cement was imported from Pakistan to Afghanistan on a daily basis. Now only about 4,000 tons of these items are imported to Afghanistan daily. Officials at the ACCI said that an upswing in problems in dealing with Pakistan for Afghan businessmen were one of the reasons for the drop in trade. A reduction in buying power on Pakistan markets and low quality products were also cited as reasons. "There are problems and one of the reasons that our trade has decreased is that there is no interest from the private sector to do business with Pakistan and therefore we think that this year the level of our business with Pakistan will not reach (the projected) $1 billion USD," said ACCI deputy Khan Jan Alokozai. Meanwhile Mosafer Qoqandi, spokesperson for the ministry for commerce and industry, acknowledged there had been a decrease in trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan and added that by utilizing the Lajaward (Lapis) routes, which connects Afghanistan with Europe, Afghanistan's dependence on Pakistan will end. "Without a doubt our imports from Pakistan have decreased because we are looking for alternate import and export routes," said Qoqandi. On the other hand a number of owners of Afghan industries said that if government provides the necessary support, a large quantity of imported goods can be produced in the country. "There are lots of problems and if our problems are solved we are able to increase our products and if we got enough support we would be able to meet the country's requirements," said head of Industries Association Sakhi Paiman. These comments come after Pakistan once again closed the border at Chaman in Spin Boldak in Kandahar Province of Afghanistan. According to ACCI officials hundreds of trucks have been stuck at the border crossing for the past four days.
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