Monday, 31 October 2016

Employees of the biggest obstacle for foreign investors in Afghanistan are on strike because of salary suspension

About one hundred employees of the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA) are on strike because of their salaries suspension.
The process of AISA merger into the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MoCI) has led to suspension of their salaries. AISA employees accused the ministry of leaving them out of the National Technical Assistance (NTA) system, which is a new salary scale process based on which employees are given standard salaries. They also complain that the ministry had cut lunch and transport facilities of AISA employees.

AISA has always been one of the most corrupt Afghan institutions as well as being the biggest obstacle for both foreign and local investors.
Fortunately, thanks to an Order of the President of Afghanistan Dr. Ashraf Ghani issued on April 2016, began the merger process of AISA into MoCI, giving so new hope to all foreign and local investors who began to flee from Afghanistan precisely because of the extravagant and stressful AISA bureaucracy in issuing business licenses.

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Shuja Rabbani became the first celebrity from Afghanistan to get a verified Instagram account

A prominent Afghan artist and influential social media activist has become the first celebrity from Afghanistan to get a verified Instagram account. The verification of Rabbani’s account on Instagram, one f the most powerful social media platforms, comes as another milestone for Rabbani’s personal branding as the music producer also received the blue tick from Facebook and announced the verification in a recent tweet. Rabbani is currently amongst the top Twitter users in Afghanistan and he is known for self-expression beyond the art of music production, according to an press release. Rabbani is also an active blogger and one of Afghanistan’s few English writers who engages in humanitarian and political discussions. “I am aware that several Hollywood celebrities have shut down their social media accounts due to hate messages and cyber bullying, and while I am nowhere near as popular as they are on social media, I am not exempted from online harassment either. I have had my share of aggressive cyber bullies from Afghanistan sending hateful tweets from anonymous accounts – however, I made up my mind long ago that I was not going to give up and I am very happy today to see that my resilience has paid off and I get to have the last laugh,” says Rabbani in reference to the challenges of living a public life under the scrutiny of a conservative Afghan society. Earlier this year, Rabbani released his second LP album titled ‘Alpha Male’ thorough his self-owned record label Rabbani Records. The combined views on videos for his two promotional singles from the album have reached over 1.5 million viewers on the Internet, a staggering figure in comparison to the international outreach and musical appeal by other artists from Afghanistan. On his Twitter account, Rabbani is frequently seen publishing poll tweets that have, at times, garnered over 50,000 participants in less than 24-hours. His Twitter and Instagram accounts are followed by a handful of Hollywood celebrities, internationally renowned journalists and media personalities, and Ambassadors from around the world. In his recent social media posts, Rabbani has hinted he is currently working on a new album with expected release in 2017. Shuja Rabbani is an Electronic Dance Music producer from Afghanistan who is currently based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He is a frequent blogger on political topics concerning Afghanistan and his opinion pieces have been published in international news websites. His music is available in over 200 digital outlets including iTunes, Tidal, Spotify, Amazon and Beatport, and he is amongst the few names in Middle East’s music industry to be established as an independent record label.
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Saturday, 29 October 2016

Afghanistan to launch pisciculture project at Salma Dam in Herat province

Afghan Government has launched the fish farming in the mega Salam Dam built with the financial support of India in western Herat province of Afghanistan. The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock of Afghanistan (MAIL) said at least 50,000 fish chicks were released in the dam to start the fish farming. MAIL further added that the step has been taken to start fish farming besides the dam produce electricity and irrigates hundreds of acres of land in Herat. According to the officials, the fish chicks will start producing more fishes after two years and will produce thousands of tons of fish. The officials also added that 1.5 million Afghanis have been invested for the establishment of the fish farm. The landmark Salma Dam project was inaugurated by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in western Herat province of Afghanistan earlier in the month of June this year. The reservoir of the dam is 20 kilometer long and 3 kilometer wide and has a storage capacity of 640 million cubic meters of water.
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Thursday, 27 October 2016

Resolving disputes related to water rights is the key to economic growth in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in a new report says that "more effective and transparent means resolving disputes over water rights key to economic growth and avoiding conflict"  in Afghanistan. The report said that the demand for water to support agricultural development in Afghanistan, which has been badly affected by conflict, deteriorating infrastructure and drought, often results in high-stakes water-right disputes. 'Water Rights: An Assessment of Afghanistan's Legal Framework Governing Water for Agriculture' outlines the importance of water to the country's economy. "Many rural communities depend on reliable access to water sources to grow the crops and nourish the livestock on which their lives and livelihoods depend. Almost 80 percent of Afghans derive their livelihood from the agricultural sector," according to the report. Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA also said in the report that "as this report clearly outlines, the stakes involved in water disputes are high. Resolving these disputes peacefully is of critical importance." "In Afghanistan, formal and informal means are used to resolve water-related disputes. These means include the 2009 Water Law, along with traditional customs and practices associated with the longstanding authority and community respect for water masters, or mirabs," the report said. The report documents the results of a field study designed to assess the effectiveness of dispute-resolution mechanisms. The report also provides practical recommendations to facilitate the resolution of disputes without escalation to violence. "One key finding of the report is that, notwithstanding the Water Law's comprehensive regulatory scheme, water users continue to rely predominately on local water masters to resolve disputes. This is largely due to gaps in the Water Law's scope and associated administrative structure," it said. In the meantime, Michael Hartmann, Director of UNAMA's Rule of Law Unit, stated that this finding "confirms that the challenge is not with the law as written but, rather, with the law as implemented," and that "UNAMA will continue to assist in achieving broader implementation of the Water Law."
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

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Overview of Afghanistan Railway National Plan (ANRP)

Afghanistan Railway Authority (AfRA) was established in 2012 following the decree issued by the Board of Ministers of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Since the establishment of AfRA, our planning team consisting of experts from within AfRA and our counterparts such as some US government agencies, the US Central Command (USCENTCOM) and academia, has worked vigorously to create a comprehensive Afghanistan Railway National Plan (ANRP), and to advance the best interest of the Afghans promoting their self-sufficiency and economic independency.

AfRA’s strategy is to address Afghanistan’s economic and cultural needs for the establishment of efficient national transportation system, a system which is instrumental for economic growth, cultural connectivity as well as political stability in the country. The essence of this strategy is to ultimately construct 5186 km of railway track, and enable Afghanistan to transport minerals, agricultural products, as well as commercial goods within and outside its borders, enhancing its position as a trading partner across Eurasia and beyond.

The ANRP is underpinned by:
  • Commercial Market Feasibility Analysis (Business Case)
  • Terrain and Freight Rail Corridor Feasibility Analysis (Technical and Financial feasibility and risk analysis) and
  • Legal and Regulatory Framework (proper governance and facilitation of economic viability)
The plan supports achievement of the following Afghanistan’s strategic priorities:
  • Act as a regional hub for transportation of commercial goods, and cargo
  • Railway Network as the Mining Sector Facilitator
  • Promoting Infrastructure Development
  • Promoting Agriculture products and Assisting Counter Narcotics Operations
  • Promoting Population Connectivity both inside Afghanistan and in the region
The ANRP supports these strategic priorities by providing analysis and recommendations for four sequential key decisions to effectively expand the Afghanistan national railway and identifying critical path tasks needed for timely and coordinated railway development, operation, and sustainment to achieve the best possible, financially viable, national railway over time. The four key decisions are described in more detail, and include associated recommendations.

- Key Decision 1: Finalize tentatively-approved primary and supporting railway purposes
- Key Decision 2: Determine preferred Afghanistan national railway design
- Key Decision 3: Determine the most suitable railway ownership model(s) and AfRA management structure
- Key Decision 4: Determine regional connectivity requirements
These four key decisions are foundational to ensuring successful railway development and implementation.

The initial step in expanding Afghanistan Railway system was taken during a trilateral summit between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan attended by President Hamid Karzai on March 20, 2013, during the above meeting a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed to establish a railway line linking the three countries. In materializing the trilateral memorandum, a 75Km railway line has already been completed linking Hairatan port with Mazar-Sharif.
To further develop railway lines in Afghanistan, AfRA is planning to establish its Rail Lines in two sectors. The Northern Line linking Iran to Herat-Torghundi-Sheberghan-Aqina-Mazari-Sharif and subsequently Hairata bordering Usbakistan. And the Southern line linking Zaranj-Delaram-Chaman-Kandahar-Kabul and Bamyan. Refer to the figure bellow.
Finally the implantation of ANRP will result in regional connectivity and positioning Afghanistan as a regional transportation hub, supporting trade facilitation, industrial development, and eventually providing Afghans with an alternative and efficient mean of transportation.
>>> FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT THE WEBSITE OF AfRA
You can download ANRP Brochure HERE

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Afghan females developed a Smartphone application to defend themselves from increasingly frequent sexual harassment in the country

The Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled of Afghanistan (MOLSAMD) celebrated the launch of a new mobile application designed to protect Afghan women and girls from the increasingly frequent sexual harassment. Three young Afghan women developed the Smartphone application, called Muhafiz, in response to a competition sponsored by Code Weekend, one of the largest Afghan software developers. The application allows women to report street harassment in real time, in a way that informs other women of potential problem areas, and puts the power in their hands to easily notify friends and family if they need assistance. “To encourage strong participation of Afghan women in all aspects of life, we need to eradicate sexual harassment,”  the Minister of MOLSAMD Dr. Oryakhil said.

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Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Invest in Afghanistan



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Monday, 24 October 2016

The largest housing scheme in Afghanistan’s history is underway

The Minister of Urban Development and Housing of Afghanistan, Mr Syed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, said the largest housing scheme in Afghanistan’s history is underway as he noted Afghanistan is amongst the fastest urbanizing country in the world. Speaking during UN’s Monumental Habitat III Summit in Ecuador, Minister Naderi said “. Our urban population is increasing at 4 percent per year, which means that by 2030 we will double our urban residents. Urbanization presents enormous opportunity alongside the responsibility to prepare our cities to meet the aspirations of our citizens.” Naderi further added that Afghanistan’s urbanization trajectory is unique. “We are embarking on a path to reverse the three decades of destruction and abandonment that has come to define our cities. The single most challenge that is pervasive across Afghan cities and our country – is the migration crisis. By the end of this year alone, one million Afghans will be on the move. Just by September this year, 350, 000 Afghan refugees and internally displaced persons have either returned or are dislocated from their homes.” Emphasizing on his vision “to achieve dynamic, safe, livable urban centers that are hubs of economic growth and arenas of culture and social inclusion”, Naderi said “We are pushing new frontiers each year. I am proud to say that the largest housing scheme in the history of our country is underway. Of a total 16,500 affordable housing development project, more than one-third have already been constructed.” He also added “We are promoting gender sensitivity in our urban programs. This year I inaugurated housing project and distributed occupancy certificates to women and men.” According to Naderi, Afghanistan is a young nation and nearly 80 percent of the population is below the age of 35 years, insisting that the Afghan youth add to the vibrancy of cities, and create an atmosphere of optimism and hope. “This also implies that we have to create almost 400,000 new jobs every year for the young entrants to the job market,” Naderi said, adding that “In my tenure, I have focused on finding opportunities amidst crisis. We have pledged to transform urban governance and institutions through actions. Under my leadership, we have increased the share of young, motivated, and high caliber professionals within the urban sector.” Pointing towards three-core principles of inclusive growth, participatory approaches and transparency and accountability forming the urban sector’s policy and programmatic priorities in his administration, Naderi said “Focus on coordination, accountability, and monitoring has brought several changes; a National Urban Council, under the President has been established.” Minister Naderi also emphasized on the importance of job creation and said this and can be facilitated through creating an investment-friendly environment for the private sector to engage in revenue generating projects. Practical steps, such as developing a national program for special economic zones and preparation of zoning in cities have already been taken, he said, adding that a private sector engagement mechanism is outlined in the U-NPP.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE





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Opium production in Afghanistan increases proportionally to the United States "aid" and "development" strategies in the country

43% rise in estimated opium harvest

Figures from Government and UNODC show 10% increase in poppy cultivation and 91% decrease in eradication.

Source: Al Jazeera News and News Agencies

Estimated opium production in Afghanistan has risen by 43 percent to 4,800 metric tonnes in 2016 compared with 2015 levels, according to the latest Afghanistan Opium Survey figures released by the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The survey, released on Sunday, showed that the total area under cultivation in Afghanistan at an estimated 201,000 hectares in 2016, a 10 percent increase from the 183,000 hectares in 2015.

The report also showed a 91 percent decrease in eradication this year.

No eradication has taken place in provinces with high levels of opium poppy cultivation due to the extremely poor security situation in those areas, as well as logistical and financial challenges, the report said.

Overall, potential opium production in Afghanistan has increased 43 percent, with 4,800 tonnes this year compared to 3,300 tonnes in 2015.

Yury Fedotov, UNODC executive director, said in a statement on Sunday that the new report shows a worrying reversal in efforts to combat the persistent problem of illicit drugs and their impact on development, health and security.

Fedotov urged the international community to lend their support to achieving the sustainable development goals in Afghanistan - including vital work on a peaceful and inclusive society, health, poverty, peace, and gender, among many others.

Poppy farmers are often taxed by the Taliban, who use the cash to help fund their fight against government forces.

Afghanistan grows about 80 percent of the world's opium, which is used to produce highly addictive heroin.

The poppies, which provide huge profits in one of the world's poorest countries, play a large part in the corruption that plagues Afghan life at every level.

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Turkmenistan has borrowed $700 million from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to finance the construction of TAPI gas pipeline

Turkmenistan has borrowed $700 million from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to finance the construction of a natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India, the country's official news agency said in recent days. The $10 billion TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) pipeline, originating at the giant Galkynysh gas field in Turkmenistan would carry 33 billion cubic metres of gas a year. Turkmenistan, which sits on the world's fourth-largest gas reserves, last December started building its section of the pipeline, designed to ease its dependence on Russia and China, but the three other countries have yet to begin work. Difficulties in obtaining financing for the project and concerns about security in Afghanistan, where Taliban insurgents control swathes of the territory earmarked as the pipeline route, have led to lengthy delays. Turkmenistan will use the 15-year IDB loan to finance construction work and equipment purchases, the country's state news agency said. Separately, a Pakistani official involved in the project told Reuters on Friday TAPI was in the final stages of financing, and investor roadshows were due to be held next month.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

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Sunday, 23 October 2016

Afghanistan could be sitting on mineral deposits worth USD 3 trillion

The total value of Afghanistan’s mineral deposits has been estimated to be between 1 trillion and 3 trillion US dollars, including USD 270 billion worth of copper, USD 420 billion worth of iron ore, concentrations of gold with an estimated value of USD 25 billion, USD 50 billion worth of cobalt, and USD 80 billion in niobium deposits. According to World Bank studies, if Afghanistan appropriately develops its mining industry, it will likely contribute 2-3% annually to GDP by 2021.

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Saturday, 22 October 2016

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology of Afghanistan (MCIT) signed an agreement with Turkish Airlines to deliver improved postal services to Afghan citizens, businessmen and businesswomen

Afghan Post Administration signed the Agreement of Cooperation with Turkish Airlines during a press conference held on Saturday October 15, 2016.
Mr. Sayed Ahmadshah Sadat, the MCIT deputy technical minister who made the opening remarks at the conference said: “The purpose of signing the agreement is to create more facilities and deliver improved postal services to the Afghan citizens.” According to him, signing the agreement will increase the speed in transfer of the postal goods and gradually decrease the prices.
He further explained:“Heretofore, the postal shipment was carried out through Dubai and India, after this, we will be able get them transferred through Turkey as well.” He added: “ Thus, from now on, the postal packages of citizens and businessmen will be provided with less time and cheaper prices.”
Talking about future plans of MCIT, Mr. Sadaat added: “We are working towards modernization of the post, Speedy and safe transfer of the postal services both inside and outside the country, and some programs have already been designed and implemented in this regard.”

Mr. Jamal Muradian, Director for international transfers of Turkish Airlines talked on behalf of the company, and said that “signing of the agreement between MCIT and the Company will provide facilities and faster shipments for Afghan Postal packages abroad with cheaper prices.” To transfer Afghan goods to other countries, we have signed agreement with other government organizations earlier”, he added.
Mr. Muradian emphasized: “by signing this agreement we will help Afghan Post Administration towards delivering standard services and, eventually, this will bring more competition in the postal market.”
Mr. Ahmad Wahid Wais, Director Afghan Post called document as a great step towards improvement in postal services. He said: “having signed this Agreement, the transmission speed of services overseas will increase and thus, will gradually reduce the prices for the customers. I am sure that the new route will also create more opportunities for national businessmen and traders to send their samples as postal packages to their intended destinations.”
>>> READ MORE ON MCIT PAGE ON FACEBOOK

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Afghanistan National Procurement Authority (NPA)

After the formation of the National Unity Government, one of the reform agenda envisioned is to foster institutional reform in public procurement in order to provide better services through an effective, efficient and transparent procurement system. The aim for the reform is to boost economic growth, effective control of financial expenditure and root out corruption as well. As an initial essential step towards this reform, H.E the President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan issued decree No.16, dated 20/7/1393 for establishment of the National Procurement Authority within the structure of Administrative Office of the President. The duties and responsibilities of former Procurement Policy Unit (PPU), Contract Management Office (CMO) and the Afghanistan Reconstruction and Development Services (ARDS) have been entitled to National Procurement Authority. Similarly, later issued legislatives decree No.60, dated 21/11/1393 and decree No. 72, dated 13/12/1393, based on which the former Special Procurement Commission has been restructured to National Procurement Commission chaired by H.E. the President, with H.E. the Chief Executive Officer, H.E. Second Vice President, H.E. the President's Senior Advisor for Infrastructure Affairs and Ministers of Finance, Justice and Economy as its members. The National Procurement Authority has four directorates under its structure and they are below (a) Procurement Policy Directorate (b) Procurement Facilitation Directorate (c) National Procurement Commission Secretariat Directorate (d) Contracts Implementation Monitoring Directorate.

National Procurement Authority (NPA) has the following vision, mission, principles and objectives in order to achieve its target easily.

Vision: 
To institutionalize transparency, efficiency, effectiveness, fairness and accountability within the procurement system ensuring compatibility with internationally acceptable standards and best practices.

Invest in Afghanistan

Mission:
To strengthen public procurement by incorporating a robust legal and regulatory framework, procedures, policy instruments and mechanisms for increased capacity, visibility, accountability and public confidence through adoption of technological advances for the effective and efficient management of public resources that will foster economic growth.
Principles:
The National Procurement Authority (NPA) sets six following principles for the Afghanistan procurement to be based on:

1 - Transparency & Accessibility
All procurement rules, regulations, conditions, procedures and processes must be accessible, clear and transparent to facilitate better understanding among suppliers and contractors as well as the public procurement personnel.
2 - Accountability
Procurement must act as the most critical mechanism for accountability in order to create and maintain public confidence in government.

3 - ZERO-Tolerance for Corruption
Any government procurement personnel or private sector entities associating with corruption will be barred from procurement and will be introduced to legal authorities for prosecution without any exceptions.

4 - Value for Money
Public resources spent by government through procurement must obtain best value for money in terms of quality, quantity, time, price and source.
5 - Open And Fair Competition
All eligible bidders participating in the procurement process must be given fair and equal opportunities through government procurement processes without any kind of discrimination.
6 - Fair Dealing
All bids are assessed and evaluated fairly in accordance with the Afghanistan Procurement Law, rule, regulations, policies and procedures.

Objectives:
1 - To establish an efficient center-led procurement system at national and local levels
2 - To introduce policies and procedures for public expenditure through development of a robust, reliable and effective procurement system
3 - To review, propose and set threshold-levels for procurement entities according to national policies for budget-authority of local and central government bodies
4 - To support procuring entities in increasing their budget execution rates
5 - To establish an internationally acceptable singular procurement system that can serve the government as well as donor agencies and non-governmental organizations
6 - To increase data collection and analysis through development of Procurement Management Informational System (PMIS)
7 - To introduce Electronic Procurement system with government initiatives.
8 - To reduce bias, corruption, personal favoritism, nepotism and fraud in the procurement departments of the public sector entities.
9 - To introduce and implement an effective monitoring and reporting system
10 - To implement a system of control and accountability
11 - To unify and streamline procurement procedures, policies, documentation and contract options
12 - To establish a dispute resolution and arbitration mechanisms
13 - To enhance procurement efficiency through consolidated contract performance management
14 - To have better control on vital and large turnkey and national contracts
15 - To eradicate duplication in application of the procurement system

>>> FURTHER INFO HERE
http://www.ppu.gov.af/Beta/English/PPU/PL.aspx

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The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Ministry of Health of The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan committed to improve maternal health

UNICEF (The United Nations Children's Fund) and the Ministry of Public Health of The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan held a one-day symposium to share best approaches for reducing maternal mortality in the Country. The symposium explored the prevention, detection, and management of Postpartum Hemorrhage (PPH) and Pre-eclampsia and Eclampsia (PEE) at medical facilities and at the community level. PPH and PEE are the main causes of maternal mortality in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The symposium included presentations and panel discussions on comprehensive PPH and PEE interventions. Participants included policymakers and professional associations involved in efforts to reduce maternal mortality and improve compliance with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations at all levels of care. Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz, Minister of Public Health of Afghanistan, noted that while Afghanistan has made remarkable progress in reducing maternal mortality, all Afghan women still do not have access to the health services they need. “We all have a role to play, and I am confident that together we can take full advantage of this opportunity to bridge the gap, accelerate the progress, and invest in a safe and bright future for the mothers and children of Afghanistan,”  Dr. Feroz said. The Afghanistan Health Office Manager of USAID, the United States Agency for International Development that for about 15 years announced an avalanche of new projects and their funding, but due to unknown reasons the majority of them have never been started and remained just announcements, said that “We know how to do to save the lives”.  About 80 participants from U.N. agencies, Ministry of Public Health, US Embassy and USAID, private sector, civil society organizations and NGOs and academic institutions attended the symposium on 16 October 2016.

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Kandahar Province of Afghanistan exported over 1,600 tons of pomegranate to India and Pakistan this year

Afghanistan exported 1,655 tons of pomegranate to India and Pakistan amid an unprecedented rise in pomegranates cultivation in the country this year, local officials in Kandahar said. The head of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) in Kandahar, Nasrullah Zahir, told RFE that the pomegranates were exported to Pakistan and India as the farmers have freshly started harvesting of the fruit in Kandahar. Zahir further added that 1,140 tons of pomegranates have been exported to Pakistan while 515 tons have been exported to India so far. According to the officials, the cultivation of pomegranates in Kandahar has increased by 43 percent this year and the authorities are looking to send the pomegranates sample to France as well. This comes as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced last year a new $13.3 million program to make it easier for private sector firms to do business in Afghanistan. The four-year Afghanistan Investment Climate Reform Program will be implemented by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. The program will work at the national and provincial levels to stimulate economic growth and enhance the country’s competitiveness. In addition to Kabul, the program focuses on major economic centers throughout the country, including Mazar, Herat, Kandahar, and Jalalabad. The program was launched at a ceremony in mid-June last year at the U.S. Embassy. “The Afghanistan Investment Climate Reform Program addresses critical challenges faced by the private sector,” said U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan P. Michael McKinley. “Together with the Government of Afghanistan, which has reaffirmed its commitment to economic reforms, we will help promote investment and make Afghanistan an attractive place to do business.” The program’s main goal is to reduce hurdles for new and existing businesses to operate effectively by simplifying regulations and reducing compliance costs by: 1) improving the legal and regulatory framework for businesses at the national and provincial levels; 2) streamlining procedures hampering private sector operations; and 3) encouraging growth and investment in key sectors. The new program builds upon existing USAID-funded activities with the IFC/World Bank supporting reforms in construction permits and regulations within the context of the World Bank’s “Doing Business” indicators.
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Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Экспериментальный фисташковый сад в афганской провинции Кандагар

Первый экспериментальный фисташковый сад в провинции Кандагар принёс 2 тонны урожая в прошлом году. Сад, расположенный в уезде Даман, занимает около 30 гектаров и насчитывает более 23,500 деревьев. Оно был создан экспертом в области сельского хозяйства Хамидом Гельманди, который занимается посадками оливковых и фисташковых рощ в провинции Кандагар. Хамид Гельманди провёл исследование климатических и экономических аспектов и пришёл к выводу, что фисташковые деревья легко переносят засушливый климат, начинают плодоносить уже на шестой год, а орехи портятся намного медленнее многих других плодовых культур. В результате доход от одного дерева может достигать около 90 в год по сравнению с 4-18 от одного гранатового дерева. При поддержке правительства эксперт создал в Кандагаре экспериментальный фисташковый сад с использованием лучших калифорнийских сортов. В прошлом году сад принёс 2 тонны урожая при цене в около восемь евро за килограмм.

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Monday, 17 October 2016

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has approved a further payment of USD 500,000 to Afghanistan

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has approved a further payment of $500,000 to Afghanistan cricket in a bid to help stage more One International (ODI) and Twenty20 International (T20I) matches. “The ICC Board also approved further payments of $500,000 to Ireland and Afghanistan, repeating the additional ICC investment of 2016 to stage more ODIs and T20Is. $250,000 will also be given to each of the other Associate Members with ODI and T20I status for the same purpose,” ICC said in a statement. The statement further added that the investment is to continue to increase the number of competitive teams on the world stage and comes on top of their existing member distribution. “Going forward, it was agreed that a policy be developed as part of the governance review under which future requests will be considered,” ICC added. According to ICC, the further payments were approved during the ICC Board meetings which concluded in Cape Town on Friday with ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar wrapping up the week of committee meetings with a full ICC Board meeting. He said “We have had a productive week working with our Members for the long-term benefit of cricket. We are continuing our work on the whole ICC governance structure, including the revenue share model, and I expect a proposal to go to our board next year. “A number of decisions have been taken, particularly around the governance of cricket in the USA, women’s cricket and funding of associate cricket to drive up playing standards,” he added.
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Saturday, 15 October 2016

Pisciculture growing in Afghanistan

Pisciculture has increased considerably in the eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, where one of the first fishery farms was established in 1967 with the help of the Government of China.

Currently there are about 150 fish farms in Dara-i-Noor, Goshta, Behsud, Kama and Khewa districts of Nangarhar province. Local farmers ask the Afghan Government to support them in establishing a seeds farm in the province, as currently their import of fish seeds from Pakistan is becoming problematic due to the political tensions between the two countries.





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В Афганистане подписан контракт с турецкой компанией TESİSLERİ TAAHHÜT на прокладку ЛЭП через тоннель Саланг

Афганский энергохолдинг "Брешна" подписал контракты на прокладку ЛЭП через тоннель Саланг с турецкой компанией TESİSLERİ TAAHHÜT.

Согласно подписанным документам, в тоннеле будет построена подстанция мощностью 220 кВ и распределительная сеть на 20 кВ. Это позволит решить проблему с электрификацией как самого тоннеля, так и близлежащих строений. Проект (стоимостью около USD 19,800,000) финансируется Агентством международного развития США.


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Thursday, 13 October 2016



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The people of Afghanistan need safety and political stability before economic growth and development

The overall security situation of Afghanistan is of serious concern. The capitals of five provinces are on the verge of collapse to the Taliban, while the fall of districts has become a routine matter. Nearly every week, one or two districts fall into the hands of militants, and are then retaken by government forces. Even in the current critical situation, some government officials make irresponsible remarks to try to manipulate public perceptions. Recently, first VicePresident of Afghanistan Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum has stressed that he would purge Kunduz of militants in a few days if authorized by the National Security Council. Gen. Dostum’s statements are in an absolute contradiction with the realities of the Afghan conflict and his past actions. A few months back, he launched military operations against the insurgents in northern Faryab province, which did more harm than good. His militiamen committed human rights violations that were also exposed later in a report released by the Human Rights Watch (HRW). Moreover, the operations led by him failed to crush rebels as they retook all areas soon after he headed back to Kabul. Accordingly, if Gen. Dostum travels to Kunduz to lead counter Taliban offensive, the result will be similar to that of Faryab. Taking into account the complexity of the Afghan war, it is certain that it cannot be won by hollow mottos. Facebook photos and mendacious assurances through the media also cannot save the people from the scourge of the ongoing foreign war. Instead of demagogic moves, it is necessary to seek a permanent solution to the war, and the best option to achieve lasting peace and stability is to talk to the Taliban, and their repeated refusal to come to the negotiating table should not be used as a justification to protract the war, because peace remains the highest priority for the people of Afghanistan. Progress and development are impossible without having peace in the county. Not billions, but even trillions of dollars in international aid cannot heal the wounds of Afghans if we continue to remain embroiled in war. The people of Afghanistan need safety and political stability before economic growth and development. Currently, the National Unity Government neither has the ability to contain the war nor it prioritizes peace parleys with the Taliban, leading to more bloodshed and further loss of welfare opportunities in the country.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author [Heart of Asia] and do not necessarily represent those of Ivo R.Toniut.

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Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Afghanistan Gov launched a major housing project to attract $200 mln in the carpet weaving sector of the country by committing 8 thousand acres of land

The Minister of Urban Development and Housing, Mr Syed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, said that government has responded positively to one of the main needs and demands of the carpet weaving sector of the country by commiting 8 thousand acres of land that will pave the way to attract $200 million in this sector. Speaking during a ceremony for the inauguration of the project, Minister Naderi promised to take all necessary actions for preparing plans for the ascertained areas and establishment of infrastructures. Minister Naderi further added each thread of the Afghan carpet represents the wealthy culture and rare arts of the Afghan nation which has presented the national identity of the country on global level besides remaining one of the main exports products of Afghanistan. He admitted that the carpet weaving sector of the country suffered the most as the other sectors during the decades of war and lack of necessary support during the past years that led to the destruction and embezzlement of the product. Naderi said the outsiders are gaining the most benefits out of the Afghan carpets besides they are given trademarks of the other countries as they are exported in global markets. According to Naderi, the government’s support towards the carpet weaving sector could not only improve the trade of Afghan carpets but will also help to develop other sectors including agriculture, livestock and trade. He emphasized that the growth of carpet weaving sector will also create job opportunities for thousands of Afghan people. In conclusion, Minister Naderi thanked President Ghani for his support in paving the way for the implementation of the one of the main ambitions of the Afghan people, specifically those working in the carpet weaving sector.
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В Афганистане растёт производство бахчевых

В провинции Джаузджан было собрано на 550 тонн бахчевых культур больше, чем в прошлом году. Прогресс был достигнут благодаря своевременной обработке плантаций от болезней и вредителей после того, как крестьяне начали посещать курсы сельхоздепартамента, где их также обеспечили необходимыми препаратами. Цены на бахчевые в текущем году снизились из-за торгово-транзитных сложностей с Пакистаном: стоимость большой дыни высокого качества составляет порядка 75 афгани (около 1 €) вместо ста в прошлом году.




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Monday, 10 October 2016

В афганских провинциях продолжается переход на оптоволоконные ИнтернетТехнологии

Проект перехода на оптоволоконные интернет-технологии начался в 2007 году, и в настоящее время Афганистан объединён высокоскоростными оптоволоконными кабелями с Таджикистаном, Узбекистаном, Пакистаном, Туркменистаном и Ираном.
До недавнего времени эта сфера оставалась в ведении правительства, однако в начале октября высший экономический совет утвердил новую инициативу, благодаря которой доступ к данному рынку получит и частный сектор. Благодаря новой инициативе на рынок оптоволоконного интернета смогут выйти частные инвесторы, желающие создавать и развивать соответствующую инфраструктуру в стране.

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Sunday, 9 October 2016

The President of Turkmenistan Berdimuhamedov held a meeting dedicated to the upcoming commissioning of the 1st phase of the transnational railway Asia International Railway Transportation Corridor

Turkmenistan to open railway to Afghanistan in November
Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov held a meeting dedicated to the upcoming commissioning of the first phase of the transnational railway trunk - Asia international railway transportation corridor, the Turkmen government said in a message on October 8. This is the construction of the Atamyrat-Imamnazar (Turkmenistan) – Akina (Afghanistan) section. The completion of the construction and installation work is scheduled for early November 2016. It is expected that the transportation corridor passing through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, will have an access to China's extensive rail network and through it - to the rapidly developing states of the Asia-Pacific region. Big socio-economic impact of the route’s commissioning is expected in Afghanistan, wrote the Turkmen Dovlet Habarlary state news service. In that place, where the transnational railway trunk is being built, road, power lines, energy pipelines are built simultaneously, said the service. As part of the first phase of the project, the 85-kilometer part of the Atamyrat-Imamnazar section has been built in Turkmenistan. Total length of the railway is 88 kilometers. The section between Imamnazar and Akina border posts is three kilometers. The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan railway will be the next “golden link” of the Asia railway corridor, which, in turn, will be the most important segment of the international network of transportation communications between the two parts of the vast continent – Europe and Asia, the Neutral Turkmenistan newspaper reports. Meanwhile, the commissioning of a terminal for receiving, storage and shipping of oil products is expected in November at the Imamnazar customs post. President Berdimuhamedov also noted during the meeting that the development of the international transportation corridors meets Turkmenistan’s economic interests.
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Brussels Conference on Afghanistan 5 October 2016 - Transcript of President Dr. Ashraf Ghani's speech

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Your Excellencies, let me begin this morning with a note of thanks on behalf of Dr. Abdullah and myself to the distinguished representatives of the 75 countries and 25 representatives from the international community who are gathered here today with the sole aim of helping Afghanistan. We have come together as a partnership of countries and international organizations united by a common perspective on the value of democracy and human rights, a shared vision of the grave threats to world stability that terrorism poses, the need for leaders to unite in the common cause of respect for international law and sovereignty of states, and the commitment to eradicate poverty and achieve the Social Development Goals.

It is a privilege to express the heartfelt thanks of the Afghan nation. Knowing sorrow that follows from war and the loneliness of displacement, exile and migration has been our condition for four decades. Despite the adversity, resilience is our national characteristic, derived from our long history as a meeting place of cultures and civilization, our abiding Muslim faith, our firm belief that we can overcome the past, and our culture of hospitality and friendship.

You, distinguished leaders of the international community, have been our friends and the font of hope for our people. The international community has offered our people a hand to help lift us out from the years of warfare, poverty, and cruelty. In a country that yearns for its children to be educated, you have built schools. Where lives were filled with trauma, disease, and early deaths you have built clinics and trained our nurses and doctors. Where our fields had been destroyed and filled with landmines that suddenly left innocent children playing their childish games without legs and arms, you helped us clear them of danger and replanted our vines and orchards. Our citizens- boys and girls, men and women, students and teachers, nomadic, rural and urban, young and old --grasped that hand of friendship and today we acknowledge the gratitude of our nation.

Afghan women have been making history in the last 15 years. Offended but not broken by the gender apartheid imposed on them, they have dedicated themselves to the realization of the rights, obligations, and equal opportunities that our constitution provides to all Afghan citizens. I celebrate the ability and capability of the Afghan women speaking for themselves. They speak articulately and clearly as women and not just through identities derived from their relationship to men of their families. Viewed case by case or category by category, the stories of our women’s remaking of themselves, as cultural, economic, political and social actors are inspirational. Viewed collectively and measured by their network effect, they are taking a giant step for a historic transformation in the lives and roles of Afghan women. Supporting the emerging platform for sustained change requires focused attention, resources, and political will. For every life changed, unfortunately, ten or more remain at risk. If you look into what women farmers have done with around $40 to become the breadwinners of their families and hear them speak with the dignity that economic empowerment brings with it, you cannot but believe that Afghan women will be guardians of the democratic values enshrined in our constitution. I hope that their First Lady’s partnership with their president can serve as a demonstration that strength lies in mutual respect and commitment. I am proud to acknowledge my continuous debt of gratitude to Rula for subjecting my ideas of reforms to the rigorous logic of whether it meets the test of putting people first, particularly the excluded and the poor. The First Lady and I express our deepest thanks to the women and men in your countries, particularly in the executive and legislative branches, for your advocacy and support for expanding and sustaining the gains of Afghan women, for empowered women – the theme of yesterday’s session-are indeed the key to a prosperous Afghanistan. Our inspiration comes from Bibi Khadija – the employer and then the wife of the Prophet (PBUH) – who was one of the most prominent merchants of Arabia.

The youth and the poor -- the two other numerical majorities of our people --are also feeling the impact of your support. As Minister of Finance in 2002, I literally searched for months for a capable leader or manager. As president, I am fortunate to be flooded with CVs of capable Afghan men and women who combine education, experience and commitment. In reading several hundred proposals from candidates for mayors of municipalities, I was struck by the evidence of a generational change in our capabilities and skills for leadership and management. Thanks to your investment, we now have the 5-10 thousand people who can staff and drive the reforms and the projects that our electorate has mandated their Government of National Unity to deliver. On behalf of the young generation of Afghan men and women who are going to bring us stability and prosperity, Dr. Abdullah and I thank you for opening up the opportunities offered to them.

Poverty is our enduring challenge, as 39% of our people live below $1.35 a day. That means 1-2 meals a day and low probability of their children ever attending school. Nonetheless, the 61% that live above the poverty line and can eat 3 meals a day and send their children to school owe their changed lives to your assistance – for in 2001—after five years of drought and the cruelties of the Taliban– we were facing social collapse in the face. I thank you for your generous new pledges on behalf of our poor, as we are going to be relentlessly focusing on reduction and elimination of poverty.

Some months ago, I presided over the graduation ceremony of cadets from our Security Academy – where 549 officers – 13 of them girls – graduated. These young people – the crème de la crème of our youth—exemplify our national will in defense of our country.

Your investment in our security and defense forces since 2002 has given a capability that can lead and manage the war against terrorism, criminality and instability. Your generous commitments in the Warsaw Conference have assured our people that their volunteer sons and daughters in the security and defense forces will have the training, enablers and assistance to defend the independence and sovereignty of our country. I thank President Obama for his historic decision to support our quest for freedom and democracy and all the leaders- Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Renzi, Prime Minister Cameron, President Erdogan, leaders of the four framework nations, and all other governments and people of all the countries that are supporting the Resolute Support Mission to advice, train and assist our forces.

Your commitment, however, has been much more significant than spending of treasure. Your sons and daughters have fought shoulder-to-shoulder with us, making the deepest of sacrifices in the cause of freedom. On behalf of the Afghan people and our security and defense forces, I would like to request a moment of silence in the honor of the fallen heroes from your countries and ours.

When our Security and Defense Forces assumed full responsibility for the defense of our country on January 1, 2015, a significant number of pundits predicted our imminent collapse. How could the Afghan Security Forces carry the job of 130,000 ISAF soldiers? Terrorism united – from Al Qaeda to the emerging Daesh- Taliban groups, criminal networks around the heroin trade and those providing sanctuary and succor to them, bet against us. Defining our critical task as the survival of our country, we, the government of National Unity, reorganized and mobilized our security and defense forces – which operated in as many as fifteen provinces a day.

We are still carrying out 15-18 missions a day. But there are significant differences between 2015 and October 2016. Confident of immense public support and full international backing, our security and defense forces are confident of facing and overcoming the forces of disorder. Kunduz yesterday is an illustration. Knowing the penchant of Taliban and their supporters – as expressed in the clipped English of their press release—we had predicted a series of attacks designed to overshadow the Brussels Conference. This gathering of leaders committed to securing the future of Afghan citizens, however, cannot and will not be overshadowed. Enemies of freedom can affect the news cycle but they will not dent our will, diminish our resolve, or divert our focus from building the strong state, market and societal institutions that a free people and a sovereign country require. A war president was the last thing that I wanted to become but as the proud commander-in-chief of our forces I salute their will and their sacrifice. All Afghans, especially our forces, know the stakes entailed in our sacrifice: the future of generations to come and the right of the Afghan people to independence, sovereignty, democracy, development, peace, and unity.

There are no easy decisions in Afghanistan but I hope that history will judge that when confronted with hard choices, we have made the right choices. As both our problems and solutions are chain-linked -- where the weakest link determines the strength of the chain—we have to think multi-dimensionally and act on multiple fronts simultaneously. But before addressing the road ahead, I would like to take a moment to summarize the positive achievements that your help has brought to some 30 million of my Afghan brothers and sisters.

Just a little less than two years ago we held our first Ministerial meeting in London, where our newly installed Government of National Unity presented an ambitious reform agenda. The goal of that agenda was to put Afghanistan on a path to self-reliance through a combination of sound macroeconomic management, private sector development, and a stable, inclusive, system of public administration and finance that would carry into action democratically debated public policies.

To understand and overcome our developmental constraints while fighting for our survival has required focus and teamwork. I, therefore, hope that our challenges should not obscure the accomplishments of our government and the commitment of the Afghan people to move forward.

Setting revenue targets and achieving revenue targets is one of the most significant tests of political will and capacity for leadership and management. Commitment becomes clear when a poor country invites the IMF to set these targets and monitor their implementation. I don’t think they get many invitations.

In 2015, despite the severe recession, we increased revenue by 22%. We then reached agreement with the IMF on a three-year staff monitored program. I am delighted to state that Minister Hakimi, our gifted Minister of Finance, has informed me that yesterday we fully met the revenue targets for 2016 – three full months ahead of the schedule.

Our budgets are credible and our medium-term fiscal management plans feasible. Contrary to prevalent practice, we are championing condition-based assistance. Not only are we asking the IMF to be strict with the conditionality that will help us build macroeconomic stability and a sound banking sector that can finance our recovery and growth, we are proposing the same model to our partners.

Our new development partnership with the United States is condition-based and we have met all the conditions. Thank you Secretary Kerry for championing this approach. The State-building compact with the EU, signed yesterday, is another significant step in this direction. Thank you President Tusk and Ms. Mogherini. On-budget assistance supporting credible reforms is the key to accountability, efficiency, effectiveness and transparency.

Joining the WTO required a focused effort and full coordination between the executive and legislative branches of the government. We prepared the necessary laws, submitted them to parliament and obtained passage by July 2016.

This effort required a sustained dialogue with our private sector, about the effectiveness of which you will hear directly from the private sector. If investment by the private sector is the criterion of credibility, then I have good news to share. In the last three months alone, we have secured commitments for investment of $1.1 billion from the private sector. What is particularly rewarding is fully $800 million is in the energy sector- requiring a 20-year timeframe. Equally significant it is three Afghan entrepreneurs who are making the bulk of the investment through a public-private partnership. The news that a major Turkish company is willing to invest $200 million in a dam in Helmand to produce 100 megawatts of power should particularly please you.

For decades we have talked about water resources, our potential to generate thousands of megawatts of energy, using our location to serve us as a regional hub for transit and trade, integration of our rural and urban sectors, our mineral resources, containing corruption and many other wonderful things. The Government of National Unity has brought discipline to these dreams, knowing that our masters, the Afghan public and our partners, the international community, judge us by the results and not just by mere effort.

For the first time in forty years, we have completed two dams, generating 60 mw of new power and storing 650 million cubic meters of water. In the next three years, we commence building more dams than the last 250 years combined to harness an estimated 26 billion cubic meters of our water for irrigation and power generation. Storage of the water will allow us to create a regional system of water trade and water conservation. I want to thank Dr. Qayoumi, my brilliant friend, who resigned from his position as president of San Jose State University to guide our infrastructure and human capital portfolio and the ministers and all other colleagues who have acted upon his advice and guidance.

On energy and infrastructure, we have turned 10 years of talk into action, through agreements, groundbreaking ceremonies. CASA 1000, TAPI and Chabahar are in the process of realization, to be followed by multiple efforts at connectivity in the future. Economically, Afghanistan is once again becoming integrated with Central Asia and through it to Europe. The arrival of the first cargo by train from China and the agreement to establish an air corridor with India for export and import of high value low volume commodities are harbingers of the dividends of regional cooperation to be expanded.

Our approach to regional cooperation is through development of clusters. TAPI, for instance, will become a cluster, as will be others.

Any and all things having to do with agriculture has received our serious attention, for sustained agricultural growth is the key to political and social stability. We are pleased that 240 villagers from all over the country joined myself, Dr. Abdullah and our Cabinet in Kabul as we launched the billion-dollar Citizen’s Charter program, which in January will provide basic health, education, electrification, and clean water to 12,000 rural and urban communities across Afghanistan. And what touched my heart was when those 240 villagers stood up and told us, the government, that the two targets for their half of the Citizen’s Charter contract were to ensure that every penny is accounted for —- and that within four years they will make sure that 50% of their village council members will be women. Think about that. Rural and urban representatives are telling us that they believe in change. This is real social transformation in action.

Last Saturday, with help from the EU and the US, we launched a land certification program that will turn hundreds of thousands of urban squatter families in our five largest cities into property owners with secure titles. And in January I invite all of you to join the launch of our National Program for the Economic Empowerment of Women, which, together with our programs to end violence against women, will put real substance into our Constitutional obligations to ensure equal rights for women.

During the London anti-corruption summit hosted by Prime Minister Cameron, we announced that we will establish a counter-corruption justice center. I am pleased that not only is the justice center fully functional but that it has made its first arrest. A senior official in the Ministry of Interior who was asking for a $150,000 bribe was caught red handed and will be publicly tried. The National Council on Rule of Law has been set and has put the rules on how to proceed further.

Central to our policy of fighting corruption is building the rule of law institutions and we are enormously pleased with the work of the Chief Justice and the Attorney General. Our problems remain and they are networked: criminality and corruption are interrelated and it requires regional focus. We have made significant progress in arriving at economic cooperation in the region. What is critical is to generate the political will for regional cooperation. Terrorism does not know borders; there cannot be a distinction between good and bad terrorists, providing sanctuary or tolerating; Terrorism is a threat not only to Afghanistan, but also to the entire global community.

We are enormously pleased and proud both of the strategic patience, strategic focus and strategic commitment of the global community as represented today. Thank you President Tusk, Ms. Mogherini, the Secretary General, Mr. Kerry and all other distinguished participants for showing that political will, but the root of the problem is in the region; we, at the national level, are committed to unity, to focused effort, to dialogue. We made the peace deal, the recent peace deal, from within our public consensus, not outside of it. It is based on our constitution; it was negotiated in Kabul, the capital of all Afghans and it took place through an inter-Afghan dialogue. Afghans can make peace. We will make peace. We are committed to constructive politics, not destructive politics. We are committed to a politics of imagination, a politics of inclusion, a politics where every Afghan, as the constitution specifies, is equal to another Afghan. The largest task is the poverty in the region; the political will and focus in the region generated to define poverty and terrorism as our two central challenges. I am confident that we will overcome them. Terrorism is not a short-term phenomenon; unfortunately, if the previous four waves of terrorism are an indicator, it is a medium term phenomenon. We need to join our forces, keep our focus and move together. Afghans have the ability given our culture of resilience to overcome; we need the friends’ hands of friendship to believe and conclude that 40 years of suffering of a dignified nation that has never posed a threat to any of its neighbors and has always welcomed the international community with open arms, is enough. Thank you for the statement of support.
Thank you for this magnificent gathering. And we shall succeed.
>>> SOURCE


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The first-ever Italian having registered an individual company in Afghanistan

The first-ever Italian having registered an individual company in Afghanistan
Special thanks to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Chamber of Commerce and Industries of Afghanistan (ACCI). IvoTONIUT