Sunday, 30 April 2017

For the first time in over 40 years of conflict, peace talks between the Afghan government and a militant group achieve success

Peace talks between Afghan government and Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) have finally come to fruition after a very long delay, with HIA leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, delivering his first public speech to his supporters in eastern Laghman province. Hekmatyar stressed he has come back home with a message of peace, calling on the Taliban to join the peace process for the interests of people because no one can rule the country by force. Criticizing the neighboring countries for interfering in Afghan affairs, the HIA leader said Afghans themselves have paved the way for such interference. This is the first time in about half of a century of Afghan conflict that peace talks between the government and a militant group end up in success; therefore, it should be welcome regardless of the level of its impact on the situation in the country. As a dawn of peace, the reconciliation of Hekmatyar with the government has been described by most Afghans as a good omen, with the hope that other militants will also follow suit and realize that war is not a solution. Although peace with HIA cannot help reduce the level of violence in the country because of the limited presence of its fighters in the battlefields, it sends several messages. The success of the peace deal proves that the result of any armed conflict is political dialogue. However an armed conflict may last, both sides will come to the conclusion one day to return to the negotiating table. Thus, the earlier the warring sides come to the negotiating table, the more it is in the interests of people and the armed groups that view themselves as political movements. Another message of successful HIA-government peace agreement is that an armed struggle is the worst and most difficult way to accomplish political goals, which also cannot yield the intended results. Instead, all militant and political groups can pursue their goals through legal and logical ways, which are both fruitful and less harmful to people. For peace, the Afghan nation can welcome the return of all militants; therefore, those, including Hekmatyar, joining the peace process should have the morale courage to feel remorse for their past activities, and apologize to the nation.

Asian Development Bank (ADB) pledges USD 300 million for Afghanistan’s infrastructure development

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has pledged to provide USD 300 million to support infrastructure projects in Afghanistan.
According to ADB officials, reconstruction of highways and building a solar power generation facility in eastern Nangarhar province are part of the projects.ADB Country Director Mr. Panella said the solar park in Nangarhar will generate between 20 - 30 megawatts of electricity. The Afghan Deputy Minister of Energy and Water of Afghanistan, H.E. Amanullah Ghalib, said the project would help immensely with power shortage problem in the province. “The project costs USD 50mn and the Asian Development Bank will also help us in technical assessments of the project,” said Ghalib. ADB also promised a grant of USD 878 million in aid and assistance to Afghanistan’s development projects for the next four years at the Brussels conference last year. The amount is expected to be used in transport, energy and mining sectors.

Iran provides USD 66 billion loans to mining, industry and trade sectors

Iran has reportedly allocated loans amounting to over $66 billion to the mining, industry and trade sectors in the year just finished.
Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, Minister of Industry, Mines, and Trade of Iran, was quoted as saying that USD 46 billion in banking facilities were earmarked for mining and industry sectors while over USD 20 billion were extended to the trade sector last year. He added the figures were up 32 per cent and 26 per cent respectively against the figures for the previous year.
>>> SOURCE: Trade Arabia

Saturday, 29 April 2017

There are indications that Trump is also on the path to repeat in Afghanistan the mistake of his predecessor

Foreign troop surge cannot resolve Afghan conflict. While the Trump administration’s new policy on Afghanistan remains unclear, there are indications that Trump is also on the path to repeat the mistake of his predecessor. The attitude of both the Afghan government and the United States suggests that the US troop level may increase in Afghanistan. Made by President Obama, this was the very mistake that did not help improve correct the situation in the country.
After the visit of Trump’s National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis is the second US official who paid a visit to Afghanistan in less than two weeks. The apparent goal of the visit of McMaster and Mattis is to assess the situation of Afghanistan – in other words, to determine how many additional American troops are needed. Although neither of them announced the decision about troop surge, the posture of US and Afghan governments indicates both are willing to uphold the troop surge.
The troop surge has been recommended by Gen. John Nicolson, the commander of NATO Resolute Support Mission (RSM) and US troops. Testifying before the Armed Services Committee of US Senate on security operations and counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan a while ago, he had described the security situation in Afghanistan as a “stalemate” and said a few thousand more troops were needed to make the US Afghan mission a success.
One of the usual problems of American strategy in Afghanistan is that it is formulated based on the recommendations of field commanders. The US governments have always laid emphasis on the military solution of Afghan conflict at the behest of their commanders. In most cases, it has led the US governments to ignore the political settlement of the conflict, thereby protracting the war.
Even with its experience of the Afghan war for over a decade and half, the US emphasis on its military solution only prolongs the war. Containing the war by adding a few thousand more foreign troops to the battlefield is unrealistic and unfeasible because they could not do so even when more than 150,000 international boots were here. The time has come for Afghan and US governments to explore cheap and fruitful alternatives to the troop surge, which are the equipping of Afghan National Defense and Security Force (ANDSF), and pursuing a political solution to the Afghan conflict.
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"Afghanistan needs a strong central government… We should put an end to imposed leadership; we should have elected leaders”: Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

In his first public speech today after coming out of long hiding, Hizb-i-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar voiced support for peaceful transition of power in Afghanistan. “No bullet should be fired, no drop of blood should be shed for transition of power in Afghanistan,” Hekmatyar told a gathering of local civilian and military officials and ordinary people in eastern Laghman province.

“Afghanistan needs a strong central government… We should put an end to imposed leadership; we should have elected leaders,” Hekmatyar said.
Hekmatyar returned to public life after he signed a peace deal with the government in September last year that included removal of his name from U.N. blacklist and release of its prisoners. He is accused by rights groups of war crimes during 1990s civil war. Around 70 of its prisoners are due to be released from Pul-i-Charkhi prison in Kabul today Saturday. In his address to the Taliban ‘brothers’ whom he backed after their toppling in 2001, Hekmatyar invited them to join peace process.

“Your fighting is senseless and illegitimate… Only Afghans are victim of this war,” he said. He also said that the international community should allow Afghans to live peacefully through intra-Afghan dialogue. He asked neighbouring countries not to interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs. “Don’t ignite fire in our home, don’t kill us and don’t interfere in our domestic affairs.’ Commenting on the media, he criticized broadcast of music and dance by some outlets, which Taliban, he said, might use as an excuse.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Access to quality health care improving in Northern Afghanistan

Balkh Province, Norther Afghanistan.  Winter announces itself with a soft snowfall. The sidewalks are empty but some people walk across the yard of a hospital. Inside the hospital, one can hear whispers of congratulations - it is a special day for Bibi Sediqa, she has just become a grandmother. 
“Luckily for the first time my daughter’s child survived. She had always lost her child immediately after birth. I just thank God for having a good hospital and doctors,”  the beaming grandmother says. Bibi Sediqa, 60yo, is one of many happy faces in the Khulm District Hospital (DH). She came with her daughter from Bay Mohammad village in Khulm district in Balkh Province. A bukhari (wood-fueled heater) warms the neonatal and obstetrics section, which houses new mothers and women in labor. Bibi Sediqa sits close to her daughter’s bed as the doctor checks her daughter’s documents and provides counsel on neonatal childcare. Khulm DH is a 50-bed hospital, located in Khulm district, 60 kilometers from Mazar-e-Sharif city in Balkh. Founded nearly half a century ago as a small health center, Khulm DH is one of 90 health facilities in the province. The hospital provides free health services through the System Enhancement for Health Action in Transition (SEHAT) program for more than 75,000 people in the district. The hospital has been receiving support under the SEHAT program since January 2014. It has expanded capacity since 2002 and employs 41 healthcare professionals, including doctors, vaccinators, midwives, a dentist, a physiotherapist, laboratory technicians, and support staff. SEHAT, under the umbrella of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), aims to expand the scope, quality, and coverage of health services provided to the population, particularly for the poor. It is supported by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, and the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), in partnership with multiple donors. SEHAT supports the provision of Basic Package of Health Service (BPHS) and Essential Package of Hospital Services (EPHS) to the entire country. The services are implemented through performance-based partnership agreements between MoPH and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), which deliver health services as defined in these packages. The health services at Khulm DH and the other 89 health facilities in Balkh Province are implemented by an NGO named Bakhtar Development Network (BDN) contracted by MoPH.

China and Afghanistan connecting through fiber optic network

The acting Minister of Communications and Information Technology (MoCIT) of Afghanistan, Mr. Ahmad Shah Sadaat, said a fiber optic cable network project will connect Afghanistan to China through Wakhan port. He said once the project has been launched, Afghanistan stands to earn up to $60 million USD annually by being a conduit for China’s data to countries around the world. According to Sadaat, nearly 480 km of fiber optic cable will connect Afghanistan to China’s fiber optic network and the project will be completed by 2018. “Afghanistan’s direct connection to China’s fiber optic network is very important for us and we will be able to buy internet services at a cheaper price,” said Sadaat. The fiber optic cable project manager, Ikramuddin, meanwhile said the project will cost $50 million USD and will be paid for through aid provided by the World Bank. “It is very difficult to cross the cable through this way (Wakhan port), but the project is funded by the World Bank and up to $50 million USD is allocated for this project,” said Ikramuddin. According to Ikramuddin, good internet services at cheaper prices and promoting internet services in 34 provinces of Afghanistan are other benefits of expanding the fiber optic network. Reports say that currently Afghanistan has been connected to five neighboring countries through fiber optic networks, but technical problems in Afghanistan are blamed for slow internet services and high consumer prices.

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council says certain regional countries seek to transfer terrorists from Iraq and Syria to Afghanistan

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani made the remarks in a phone conversation with Hanif Atmar, national security adviser to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
The countries are after “destabilizing Afghanistan and weakening its security and law enforcement structure to prepare the ground to transfer the terrorists, who have been routed in Iraq and Syria, to the [Central Asian] country,” Shamkhani said. About 10 Taliban militants, dressed in Afghan army uniforms and driving military vehicles, infiltrated a military base in the northern Afghanistan Balkh Province on the last Friday, opening fire on mostly unarmed soldiers and killing scores of them. The Iranian official condemned the attack and condoled with the Afghan government and people, saying the Islamic Republic was prepared to deliver all sorts of assistance to those affected by the terror strike. Expediting bilateral intelligence and security cooperation, something which has been earnestly endeavored towards by the countries’ respective national security organizations, will reinforce both sides’ security and stability, he stated. The terror group of Daesh (ISIS) has been maintaining a significant presence in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, seizing on the country's security vacuums. The group is mainly active in Syria and Iraq, where it has lost territories under its control since the onset in 2014.
Atmar, for his part, expressed Kabul’s gratitude to Tehran as he laid emphasis on continued consultation and cooperation between the two nations towards eradicating terrorism in the region and all adverse circumstances leading to insecurity and instability.

The Balkh International Business Exhibition kicked off in the city of Mazar-e Sharif in northern Afghanistan

Organized by the Balkh Chamber of Commerce and Industries, the Balkh International Expo kicked off in Mazar-e Sharif. 
More than 100 female and male exhibitors from different sectors and provinces participate in the four-day event, where they can promote their products and create business networks. 35 of them received financial support from the Afghan-German Cooperation’s program for sustainable economic development and employment promotion (SEDEP). This year’s exhibition focuses on women-owned enterprises. Many female owners of small and medium-sized companies display their products in trade booths to attract customers and investors. “The business environment in Afghanistan is not always women-friendly which makes it difficult for us to get access to the market. The exhibition provides me and other businesswomen with the opportunity to introduce and to sell our products and to form business networks. This makes it a lot easier for us to access the market. Of course, the event also increases our products’ reputation and popularity,” said Farzana, one of the female entrepreneurs participating in the event. The exhibition also aims at strengthening business linkages and cooperation between provincial and regional entrepreneurs in Afghanistan’s Northern provinces. To that end, the German program for sustainable economic development and employment promotion (SEDEP) supported the 35 input suppliers, farmers, processors, and traders from Balkh, Takhar, Samangan, Baghlan, and Badakhshan. The Balkh trade fair is open to all visitors and lasts four days. The project Sustainable Economic Development and Employment Promotion (SEDEP) is financed by the German government and supports various activities to strengthen businesses and create jobs in Afghanistan in the following five value chains: nuts, dairy, poultry, wheat and vegetables. Apart from training and infrastructure development initiatives, the project also helps to establish dialogues between public and private sector actors. Farmers and government can address concerns and draft policy recommendations to improve economic opportunities.

Afghanistan's economy is expected to grow by 2.5% this year

According to a recent report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Afghanistan’s economy is expected to grow by 2.5% this year.
The report says that the economy of Afghanistan will see a boost this year due to favorable weather, improved domestic revenue collection and a modest recovery of the industrial sector.

The Afghan Ministry of Economy (MoE) is more optimistic than ADB's report, and it has predicted a 3.5% increase in the country’s economic growth for this year. According to MoE, the agriculture sector will contribute 23% to the economy, while the industrial sector and service sector will be over 21% and 51% respectively.

Казахстан согласился поставлять в ИРА 50% импортируемой муки

Представители Торгово Промышленной Палаты Афганистана (ТППА) заявили о расширении торгово-экономических отношений между Казахстаном и Афганистаном.
Они подчеркнули, что Казахстан может заменить Пакистан на афганском рынке. Из-за недавнего перекрытия границы пакистанскими властями торговые отношения между Пакистаном и Афганистаном были прерваны и, хотя торговые порты уже открыты, бизнесмены понесли многомиллионные убытки. Согласно заявлению ТППА, Казахстан готов увеличить экспорт пищевой продукции в Афганистан до 50%. "Казахстан согласился поставлять в Афганистан 50% импортируемой муки. Мы обращались с подобной просьбой к Пакистану, однако нам было отказано", отметил вице-глава ТППА Хан Джан Алокозай.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

WB to fund works on Kabul-Peshawar highway: Pakistan’s Finance Minister

The World Bank has agreed in principle to fund the construction works on the highway between Peshawar and Kabul, Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar says. At a meeting with World Bank Vice President for South Asia Annette Dixon in Washington on Sunday, Ishaq Dar urged the World Bank to finance the project aimed at boosting regional connectivity. The World Bank official agreed in principle to finance the project, according to a statement from the Ministry of Finance in Islamabad. He said energy sector projects were undertaken on a priority basis. At a separate meeting with his Afghan counterpart Eklil Ahmed Hakimi, Ishaq Dar said peace in Afghanistan was directly linked to stability in neighboring countries, especially Pakistan. They agreed that well-coordinated economic and trade policies would enable the two countries to reap the fruits of progress and development. Ishaq Dar condemned Friday’s terrorist attack on a military in northern Balkh province, where more than 100 soldiers lost their lives. He voiced Pakistan’s willingness to work closely with Afghanistan to for peace in the region. The ministers agreed on holing a meeting of the Joint Economic Commission of Pakistan and Afghanistan in near future. Strong economic ties between the neighbors were necessary to achieve the goal of peace, they concurred.

How a foreign bankrupt firm can win a contract in Afghanistan (?!)


Bankrupt firm wins share in multimillion Afghan contract.
A bankrupt Turkish firm is among winners of $79 million contract from the Afghan government over a major dam project in the southwest of the country. Pimatek is suffering from financial problems and it has shared the issue with the court of the relevant country, according to official documents obtained by 1TV. In an official letter to the National Procurement Authority, the Ministry of Economy has made it clear that Pimatek has officially claimed bankruptcy to a Turkish court. The contract with the company along with two others, including one from Turkey and from Afghanistan, was signed three days later when the president visited Nimroz province to inaugurate construction of the third phase of Kamal Khan Dam. The issue of the company’s bankruptcy has been raised in a letter by the Afghan Foreign Ministry as well. “How can a bankrupt firm win such a major national contract,” said Wafiullah Sharifi, head of a bidder company. “One of the criteria for a firm to win the contract was that it should make a profit of at least $60 million annually.” Based on the documents, the issue of the company’s insolvency is being investigated by the commercial court of Turkey. Afghan Ministry of Energy and Water Ali Ahmad Osmani admitted that the firm is undergoing court procedures over bankruptcy; however, he said the final approval of the firm lied at National Procurement Authority. The authority said that the issue of the company’s insolvency is still being assessed by the Turkish commercial court, and that according to the court, the company could take part in the bidding processes until the court order. 1TV attempts to reach Pimatek for comment over the issue but didn’t succeed. President Ashraf Ghani launched construction of the third phase of strategic Kamal Khan Dam on Helmand River in Nimroz province this week. With the completion of the project expectedly in three and half years, the dam would reserve 52 million cubic meters of water to irrigate more than 80 hectares of land. The dam is also expected to generate 9 megawatts of electricity.  Other companies which have won the contract are Sarol and Afghan Asia Bena.


Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved an US$80 million loan for the electrification of railway in Uzbekistan

Electrified track is part of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation
Corridor 2, a critical transport link in the region.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved an US$80 million loan for the electrification of 145 kilometers (km) of railway in Uzbekistan, linking the cities of Pap, Namangan, and Andijan. The electrified track is part of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Corridor 2, a critical transport link in the region. “Ensuring the safety, reliability, and sustainability of railway networks is an important component of growth and development for a landlocked country like Uzbekistan,” said Takeo Konishi, ADB’s Country Director for Uzbekistan. “Improving transport in Uzbekistan will strengthen the country’s strategic location as a trade and transport hub in Central Asia.” The project will facilitate direct and efficient operation of both freight and passenger train services linking major cities in the Fergana Valley — home to nearly a third of Uzbekistan’s population — with Tashkent, the country’s capital. The project will help improve transport connectivity and encourage growth and job creation in the Fergana Valley. It will also increase regional trade along CAREC’s Corridor 2 as well as improve environmental and safety performance of the railway. An expected 10,000 tons of CO2 will be saved every year as a result of the project. The total project cost is estimated at $177.45 million, with O’zbekiston Temir Yo’llari (UTY) — the public railway company — and the government contributing $97.45 million. ADB’s investment will finance supervision consultants, procurement of plant, procurement of maintenance equipment and machinery, and procurement of materials for external power supply. The project is in contribution to the ongoing efforts of UTY and the government in upgrading Uzbekistan’s Soviet-era railway network. It builds on the successes of other projects, including one which recently completed the electrification of a 140 km railway track between the historical cities of Samarkand and Karshi in the south of the country. ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region.

The mining law is a major hurdle to investment growth in Afghanistan

The Natural Resources Monitoring Network (NRMN) have highlighted problems present in Afghanistan’s mining law and called on the government to amend the law in order to boost investment. According to NRMN, the mining law is a major hurdle to investment growth in the country due to its flaws. One of the problems highlighted is the ambiguity of the articles of the law regarding contracts and awarding of mining contracts through nepotism. NRMN claims that a major portion of mining revenue goes to a few powerful men and armed anti-government groups. About a year ago, the European Union's (EU) special envoy to Afghanistan (H.E. Franz-Michael Mellbin) said that the recommendations for the prevention of illegal extraction he submitted to the Afghan government weren't taken into consideration by the Afghan officials. "They are not implemented yet, there is weak legislation which needs to be changed, there is a monitoring system that also is not able to do the job and it will need also to crackdown on those who get away with impunity currently with illegal mining activities." The Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) has confirmed the problems in the mining law and called for immediate amendments to the law. “The mining law should be amended in order to assure transparency in this sector,” said a senior research at IWA. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum said the law has been amended before and will be amended again, if necessary for national interest.
>>> READ ALSO: Warnings against plots by DAESH (ISIS) to exploit Afghanistan’s natural resources

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Thirty new factories established in Afghan province of Nangarhar this year

Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province has witnessed 70% increase in industrial activity with the establishment of 30 new factories at Sheikh Misri Industrial Zone of the province in the past six months. The province’s business community along with Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) called on Governor Haji Tor Malang to further support investment in the province. Governor Malang said industrial activity has been increasing day by day in Nangarhar. According to Malang, a total of 2,433 factories are functional in Nangarhar, employing 10,000 individuals. The Governor received recognition award from ACCI for his efforts at improving the local industry.

Trump administration says very little about Afghanistan and the longest war in American history

Is It Time for America, Afghanistan to Part away?
Written by Daniel R. DePetris, Heart Of Asia
The war in Afghanistan has been going on for such a long period of time that it’s almost become a ritual for a new administration to take a bottom-up, comprehensive look at America’s war strategy during its first two months on the job. The movie has been repetitively played over the last decade and a half: the generals running the war are ordered by the new president and his national security adviser to assess whether the plan is working; the generals conduct the review, which usually concludes with the commanders requesting more U.S. troops on the ground; and the administration (with varying degrees of resistance) eventually provides the commanders the authority and resources that they have forwarded to the White House. President Obama was a bit of anomaly in this regard. He did, after all, set a timeline for troop withdrawals that the Pentagon wasn’t especially pleased about. But even Obama authorized nearly fifty thousand additional American troops into the conflict during his first year in office.
President Donald Trump is continuing this movie. He recently sent National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster on a two-day trek to Afghanistan to determine whether the strategy, or the means of accomplishing that strategy, is in need of fine-tuning. McMaster met with Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and senior Afghan security officials during his trip. He had nothing but kind words for the Afghan leadership during television interviews. “In recent years, at a period of our maximum effort, we didn't have as reliable a partner in the Afghan government as we would've liked,” McMaster told ABC’s This Week. “Now we have a much more reliable Afghan partner and we have reduced considerably the degree and scope of our effort.”
The Trump administration has said very little about the longest war in American history. News about Afghanistan is hardly reported from the mainstream media; people have either lost interest in the conflict altogether or have simply come to the conclusion that the intricacies of tribal politics in the country are so difficult to understand that you need to have a PhD in sociology to grasp the constantly shifting alliances and ethnic power struggles. McMaster is one of most knowledgable and celebrated Army officers of his generation, but even he doesn't have the bandwidth.
Everybody has ideas and concepts for what the United States can do to salvage a war that is going in the wrong direction for Washington’s Afghan allies. Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ronald Neumann, former commanding Gen. David Petraeus and former diplomat Earl Anthony Wayne recently wrote that whatever the Trump administration does, it must take a holistic perspective. The trio suggested that the administration stay far away from the annual policy reviews that have dominated past U.S. administrations. Instead, the Trump administration should create an “integrated multiyear strategy that presents a sustainable way forward,” they said. What that strategy might be is in the eye of the beholder.
In many ways, Neumann, Petraeus and Wayne are absolutely right: the United States would be served well with a honest assessment about how to turn the situation in Afghanistan around. But yet another review from yet another administration would be akin to going through the motions if U.S. officials continue to put hubris and hope above realism and history. If the past sixteen years of war have told us anything, it's that even the mighty United States of America cannot mold a nation in its own image or instill a set of democratic principles within a society like Afghanistan, which has run on tribalism, parochialism and corruption for centuries. McMaster may be adamant that the Afghan Taliban must be defeated for there to be long-term peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan—one has to admire the general’s “can-do” attitude. But it would be an enormous mistake for U.S. officials working on the Afghan file to use McMaster’s words as an excuse to cease asking the tough question that has been buried underneath all of the debates about American troop levels: when is enough, enough?
There is about as much chance of President Trump withdrawing all American military personnel from Afghanistan as Steve Bannon waking up one morning and embracing “globalism.” Republican hawks like John McCain, Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton would view a full withdrawal—indeed, any withdrawal—as an act of appeasement that will produce impacts even worse than Obama’s premature withdrawal of surge troops in 2011. And there are very good arguments against leaving Afghanistan completely. But if Trump is genuinely committed to shaking up Washington’s foreign-policy establishment and thinking outside-the-box, then he must at least ask the same question that a world-class businessman never ceases to ask when a business transaction starts to get wobbly: is it time to decrease an investment that is showing very little returns? If the answer is “yes,” then is it time to recalibrate our investment strategy and shoot for a safer bet with lower returns?
These questions are undeniably uncomfortable for many in the U.S. military, State Department and intelligence community who have dedicated years to Afghanistan in order to provide it with a future that is more stable, an economy that is more resilient and a political system that actually works for the Afghan people. But however uncomfortable the questions might be, it’s time to get real.

The statements, views and opinions expressed above are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Ivo Toniut.

Afghanistan has the great potential to turn into a business hub for all

Invest in Afghanistan
Afghanistan, a fast growing emerging market of strategic importance, is located at the crossroads of the famous east-west trading corridor of the Silk Road and the modern north-south corridor of great economic opportunities. These corridors link some of the largest and fastest-growing economies of the world, including China, India, Pakistan and Turkey, Russia, Iran and UAE. They involve massive energy resources of Central Asia, Afghan mineral riches worth trillions of dollars, busy South-Asian markets and major sea ports of international trading in Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. The Afghan capital Kabul, symbolizing the spirits of all Afghans and international cooperation, sets at the heart of this highly resourceful region, with great potential to turn into a business hub for all.

Invest in Afghanistan

Monday, 24 April 2017

Pilot saffron cultivation program gives positive results in the Afghan Province of Bamyan

Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) received positive results from its pilot saffron cultivation program in central Bamyan province over the last two years. For the first year of the experiment saffron was cultivated on nine plots of land. After receiving the desired results saffron was grown again for a second year on five plots of land in Kohmard district and Bamyan province. Saffron grows well in warm areas. Bamyan is one of the cold provinces of Afghanistan; yet, the saffron cultivation on an experimental basis produced encouraging results. Saffron bulbs for the experiment were brought from Herat city through the Bayat Development Foundation to increase saffron cultivation in Bamyan. Meanwhile, growers urged the government to provide more saffron bulbs to boost saffron production in the province. Lack of saffron bulbs and its transfer from Herat are problems facing Bamyan farmers. Saffron was primarily produced in Herat province where farmers proved that saffron cultivation could replace poppy production as a lucrative means of income. Herat province currently produces more than 90% of Afghanistan’s saffron.

Darakht-e Danesh - an online library of learning materials for Afghanistan

What is the Darakht-e Danesh Library?
'Darakht-e danesh' means "knowledge tree" in Dari, one of the official languages of Afghanistan. The Darakht-e Danesh Online Library for Educators is a repository of open educational resources for teachers, teacher trainers, school administrators, literacy workers and others involved in furthering education in Afghanistan. These open source resources include lesson plans, pedagogical tools, exercises, experiments, reading texts, work books, curricula and other resources for use in Afghan classrooms. These resources can be freely accessed by registered users, and we encourage users to add to the repository by uploading their own resources and expand this collection for the benefit of Afghanistan's teachers. The OER movement is fundamentally about sharing: please use the resources in the Library, but also considering contributing some of your own resources. It's easy to add documents to the Library. Just contact us if you would like to add content. We aim to bring together useful resources for educators into a single location, for easy access and broader use.
How is the Darakht-e Danesh Library Used?
Anyone with internet access can download and use the resources in the collection. Teacher educators can use the site to download resources and then distribute these in print in teacher training colleges, or to use in adapting their own local language resources. Teachers can browse the collection to download or print out resources for their classrooms or their own professional development. These resources can be freely copied and distributed.
Why is an online library needed?
The education system in Afghanistan is experiencing a rebirth. With millions of girls and boys back in school, new teacher colleges opening, and a reformed curriculum in use, there have been many changes since 2001. A National Education Strategy for Afghanistan guides these changes with more to come. Yet the challenges which remain are significant. Thirty years of war and an ongoing insurgency which has singled out teachers and girls' education for attack, makes this a difficult environment in which to teach. Afghan teachers contend with a daunting lack of resources. Most schools do not have libraries or science labs, many students go without textbooks, and teachers have little material provided to them to help cover the curriculum. The majority of in-service Afghan teachers have no formal teacher training, and many have no post-secondary education. Some teachers have not graduated from high school. In particular, it can be difficult to find quality resources for educators in Dari and Pashto. Even when such resources are available, books are expensive and teachers are not well paid. The Darakht-e Danesh Library aims to increase access to quality resources for Afghan educators, encourage teachers to consult a wide variety of resources in their practice, to use these tools to adapt their own, and to share their own resources with other teachers through this open-source collection. We believe that digitalization can make more out of less and nurtures teachers' independent learning.
Who's Behind the Darakht-e Danesh Library?
The Darakht-e Danesh Library was conceived by Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan), as part of the education work this organization is carrying out in Afghanistan.

Entrepreneur of the Month: Shamama Arbab

Shamama Arbab is the director of Euro Industries, a food processing business in Peshawar, Pakistan. She works in a city where it is difficult for women just to step out of the house alone, let alone to launch and grow a business. After achieving business success, Arbab played a pivotal role in setting up the Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (WCCI) in Peshawar and is currently the organization’s vice president. Only a few short years ago, women in Pakistan didn’t have the right to create their own chambers of commerce or business associations at all. “The largest untapped reservoir of capability and talent is women,”  she said at the Delhi conference. In her vision, women’s empowerment goes hand in hand with economic growth for all. She believes that women’s success is everyone’s success, and that countries around the world benefit from having a business climate that is conducive to tapping into those reservoirs of talent. She seeks to link women’s empowerment, and the promotion of trade and industry for all of Pakistan. Arbab sees connections between the struggles of women in Pakistan, across South Asia, and globally. She believes that women must be included in the economic and political mainstream. Her efforts have made her a leader to watch.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Work with the Afghanistan Infrastructure Trust Fund

What is the Afghanistan Infrastructure Trust Fund?
Afghanistan's infrastructure requirements are estimated at $4 billion over the next 3 years - far more than the government or any single funding agency can provide. The Afghanistan Infrastructure Trust Fund provides an opportunity for bilateral, multilateral and individual contributors to partner with Asian Development Bank (ADB) in financing infrastructure investments and improve the livelihood of the Afghan people. It was established in December 2010.
What are the priorities?
The key areas of need are:
- Stronger transport links
- Energy facilities and security
- Irrigation systems
- Development of mineral resources
- Private sector development
What kind of activities are eligible for the fund?
The fund will provide grant cofinancing alongside ADB-funded infrastructure projects, with resources supplementing those provided by ADB through its own operational budget. ADB will provide operational and project management expertise to enable the Afghanistan government to implement the country's key infrastructure development plans.
Who is eligible to receive the fund?
The Afghan Ministry of Finance and ADB will work together to ensure that the fund is efficiently utilized to support the highest priority infrastructure projects and leverage additional financing from the private sector and other partners.
Who supports the fund?
Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States support the fund.

AFN 50,000,000 worth of garden projects implemented in Takhar province of Afghanistan

As many as 57 garden projects worth AFN 50,000,000 have been implemented on rain-fed lands in northern Takhar province in the past two years through the National Horticulture and Livestock Project (NHLP). Each project included planting fruit trees and cultivating wheat and other crops on 5-25 acres of land. According to NHLP head for the northeastern region of Afghanistan, Mohammad Ghulam Mulakhel said 25 more such projects would be rolled out in the next two years at a total cost of AFN 25,000,000. He added that these projects have benefited the residents economically and improved farmer skills in horticulture. Funded by the World Bank since 2009, the NHLP works to promote adoption of improved production practices by target farmers, with gradual rollout of farmer-centric agricultural services systems and investment support. The project supports three components to promote increased adoption of improved technologies:
1 - horticultural production;
2 - animal production and health;
3 - implementation management and technical assistance support.

Afghanistan - Bidding Opportunities

National Procurement Authority
Here you can find the information about the Bidding Opportunities 
in Procuring Entities of Afghanistan government:

Afghan women may get the chance and the right to divorce bad husbands

When Nadia's heroin addict husband began assaulting her with a metal rod, she did something unthinkable for many women in Afghanistan: SHE LEFT HIM!
Domestic abuse is endemic in the deeply patriarchal country, but for the first time a growing number of Afghan women are embracing divorce as a new kind of empowerment. Divorce is Islamically deemed as halal (a permissible act), but the worst sort, still a greater taboo than the abuse itself in a culture that remains unforgiving to women who part with their husbands. "He is a drug addict and an alcoholic. I cannot live with him anymore," Nadia said of her husband of two years as she sobbed quietly behind the billowing folds of her burqa. Her father, sat next to her, also welled up with tears. Tribal elders from Nadia's community attempted to intervene, cajoling her to go back to her abuser. Instead, she became the first woman in her family to ask for divorce. "God has given rights to women, divorce is one of them," said Nadia, who is seeking legal separation with the help of Legal Aid Grant Facility (LAGF), part of a UNDP project established in 2014. Her husband has since left home, his whereabouts are unclear.
National statistics are hard to come by, but in a sign of the upward trend LAGF says it has handled a 12 percent increase in divorce cases across Afghanistan over a period of three years. "Divorced Afghan women who have the chance to start a new life are becoming models for other women, showing that an unhappy or abusive marriage does not have to be a life sentence," Heather Barr, a Human Rights Watch researcher, told AFP.

Great shame
Afghanistan has been a battleground for women's rights since the misogynistic Taliban were ousted from power in 2001, but divorce cases illustrate how gender parity remains a distant dream. It is relatively easy for men to initiate divorce, often just by verbally relaying the decision to their wives. But women must go to court, and can only seek separation based on specific complaints such as abuse or abandonment. Retaining a lawyer is no easy task even for those who can afford one: death threats against those representing women in divorce cases are not uncommon. "Divorce is one of the clearest examples of discrimination still written into law in Afghanistan," Barr told AFP. "Given the difficulty in finding a lawyer, corruption and misogyny in the courts, and the low rate of literacy among women, the result is that for many women divorce is all but impossible." Some like 22-year-old Nafisa are stuck in limbo as her husband refuses to divorce her. After being engaged for 11 years, he married her in absentia. Based in London, he authorised an Islamic guardian to solemnise their marriage ceremony in Jalalabad. But he has since refused to return to Afghanistan or take her with him, prompting Nafisa to leave her father-in-law's house and demand divorce. Nafisa's male relatives refused to let her talk to AFP, with her uncle only saying that the acrimonious divorce proceedings in court had brought great shame to the family and made her remarriage prospects difficult.

It is partly for this reason that divorce is strongly discouraged. Divorced women living independently are rare in Afghan society, and are often viewed with suspicion and become targets of abuse. Mediation is often the last hope to prevent the split, and women are almost always encouraged to compromise. AFP sat through one mediation session in Kabul at the organisation Women for Afghan Women, where 24-year-old Zahra met with her estranged husband and mother-in-law. The mother-of-four is seeking divorce on the grounds that he is a drug addict and took a second wife after falling in love with their neighbor's daughter. "He takes drugs in front of our baby. Then he starts abusing me," Zahra said as her children hung around her. "Don't ruin your life. Think about the kids," her mother-in-law demurred before adding: "His other wife says it is your fault that he married another woman." The husband sat impassively nearby as recriminations flew. "People say you live in a shelter and do bad things," the mother-in-law insisted. Since moving out, Zahra has been living in a women's shelter for battered women, which conservatives liken to a "whore house". "One day he beat me so much that I went to my brother-in-law and begged him to give him money for drugs," Zahra said, tears streaking her face. The mother-in-law changed tack, attempting to coax Zahra home. "Come back," she said, later insisting: "He won't beat you again."


WATCH VIDEO: Afghan women embrace a new empowerment: Divorce

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Правительство Афганистана начало работу над внедрением афгано-иранского соглашение о пользовании водными ресурсами западных провинций страны

В рамках соглашения в ближайшие дни стартует строительство гидроэлектростанции Камал Хан. Многие аналитики уже высказались о том, что этот проект крайне важен для развития сельского хозяйства на западе страны. Кроме того, планируется построить еще одну подстанцию и провести дальнейшие переговоры с иранскими властями касательно затронутых её работой районов. Согласно второй статье водного соглашения "Гельманд", Афганистан должен позволить Ирану получать не менее 25 кубометров воды в секунду со своей территории.

Friday, 21 April 2017

The President of Afghanistan appointed a Minister of State to develop tourism in the country

Beautiful Afghanistan
The Afghan government has appointed a Minister of State in an effort to boost tourism in Afghanistan. 
The President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, appointed Ghulam Nabi Farahi as Minister of State for Tourism through a Presidential Decree.  The Decree states that the new Minister has been appointed for developing and expanding tourism, attracting investments, and introducing the historic culture of the country. Afghanistan is a landlocked country with beautiful natural scenery and historical sites which have long been attracting tourists from around the globe. However, the increasing violence and corruption in the country has resulted in a drastic decline in the number of tourists coming to Afghanistan. Kidnapping, hostage taking, landmines, militant attacks, suicide bombings, attacks by Vehicle borne IEDs (VBIEDs) or other IED devices, pose a major threat to the Tourism Industry of Afghanistan. According to UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) data, the amount of expenditure by foreign tourists in Afghanistan was estimated at USD 168,000,000 in 2012, but the amount has drastically reduced to 91,000,000 two years later in 2014.

A number of Afghan youths claim that the government repeatedly announces vacancies only to portray itself as active in providing work opportunities

A number of Afghan youths complain the National Unity Government (NUG) is repeatedly announcing some vacant positions to portray itself as active in providing work opportunities for people, claiming that government institutions do not fill the vacancies at first announcement, therefore they announce them for a second time.
The Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (IARCSC), however, rejects these allegations as baseless, saying that it has not observed any such instance.
Tooryalai Zareen, a young civil activist who holds a master's degree, said he had applied for a specialist position re-announced by the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) three months before, but he has not heard anything back.
Talking to The Heart of Asia, Zareen alleged that some government institutions either announced vacancies already filled by individuals based on nepotism and personal relations or re-announced some job openings several time. "Some positions are intentionally kept vacant at a ministry, and they are announced repeatedly in order to keep job seekers busy applying for them."
The Heart of Asia has acquired information about the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MoCIT), and Ministry of Borders and Tribal Affairs (MoBTA), showing that they have re-announced the very vacancies, which were posted eight months ago, while the number of qualified young Afghans has increased more than ever.
Gul Wali Elham, a resident of Kabul City’s 5th Police District, said a vacancy for which he had applied eight months before has now been re-announced by MoBTA. "Despite meeting all the requirements, nobody, including me, has been hired for that position", he sighed.
The communication and public relations director position of MoBTA has also been announced for a second time after it was first announced in August 2016.
A reliable source from the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology revealed to The Heart of Asia that over 50 vacant positions of the Afghanistan Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ATRA) have been announced for a second time, but no one has been hired so far.
The e-Tazkira Department has recently announced 2,400 vacancies, for which 25,000 people have applied.
Sher Haidar, a civil activist, accused the government of repeatedly announcing some vacancies to show to the people that employment opportunities were made available to them.
A new unit has been established at the Presidential Palace, which collected documents from hundreds of people every day, he said, adding that it has not been able to hire even three people over the past two years.
We repeatedly tried to get through to the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission for a comment on the issue, but to no avail.
Meanwhile, IDLG spokesperson Munira Yousufzada strongly rejected the claims.

on The Heart of Asia @

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Transport Sector Master Plan Update will help Afghanistan develop its transport infrastructure covering roads, railways, civil aviation, urban transport, trade logistics, and other related operations: ADB

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Afghanistan unveiled a comprehensive Transport Sector Master Plan Update that will help Afghanistan develop its transport infrastructure covering roads, railways, civil aviation, urban transport, trade logistics, and other related operations. The estimated investment required to achieve the goals is about USD 26 billion from 2017-2036.
“The updated plan recommends several urgently needed actions to help Afghanistan deliver on its wider development goals,” said Sean O’Sullivan, Director General of ADB’s Central and West Asia Department. “ADB remains committed to supporting the development of Afghanistan’s transport sector and is honored to support the government in this important undertaking.”
The strategy focuses on Afghanistan’s transport system, regional connectivity, as well as the proper operation and maintenance of transportation infrastructure and sustainability. It examines current transport infrastructures and investments as well as future investment needs for transport system development. The plan also considers the internal connection between the mining industries, agricultural areas, and population centers.
“The expansion of a strong and efficient transport infrastructure is the backbone of connectivity. The master plan lays out the future path of transport infrastructure development and maintenance in the country,” said Eng. Mahmood Baligh, the Minister of Public Works for Afghanistan. “The unique geographical location of Afghanistan as the connecting point between Middle East-China and Central Asia-South Asia gives the country the opportunity to become a regional connecting hub for trade, transit, and economic development.”
The Transport Sector Master Plan Update is a follow-up to the Road Sector Master Plan from 2006 to 2016, which ADB helped prepare. The plan set out a strategy for the development of a road network, envisaging a 5-year program period. The plan identified about 12,000 kilometers of priority projects, covering regional, national, and provincial roads. As of mid-2016, approximately 80% of the 2006 Road Sector Master Plan was completed.

Afghanistan is a founding member of ADB, and, to date, it has received over $4.7 billion in grants and loans, including more than $2.2 billion for road, railway, and airport projects.
>>> ADB
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members - 48 from the region.

Afghanistan Cricket

After sitting on reserve seat in the first four matches, Afghan lad Mohammad Nabi joined players on the ground on Monday to mark his debut at the Indian Premier League. Nabi went to the play with his countrymate Rashid Khan as their team Sunrisers Hyderabad, the defending champions, had two wins and two losses since the start of the season on April 5. Sunrisers claimed another win as they beat King XI Punjabs by five runs at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad. After losing the toss, Sunrisers put up a total of 159-6, with skipper David Warner top scoring with 70. Defending 160-run target, Sunrisers bowled out Kings XI Punjab in the last over as they needed five runs in two bowls, as Manan Vohra’s 95 went in vain. Bhuvneshwar Kumar emerged as top wicket-taker, claiming five, followed by Rashid Khan who clean bowled David Miller and Wriddhiman Saha in three balls. An over prior to Rashid’s heroics, Mohammad Nabi claimed crucial wicket of Eoin Morgan to celebrate his first wicket in the tournament. He conceded 28 runs in four overs he bowled. "Wholeheartedly appreciate for all your generous support. Feeling grateful with Orange Army in 1st match of IPL," Nabi tweeted.

Afghan author Zahra Yaganah writes explicitly about topics such as marital rape and how women fall victims of cultural norms

The 'Light of Ashes', a fiction book written by a former child bride and a successful Afghan writer Zahra Yaganah, is now also available in international market.
Zahra Yaganah at her home in Kabul
The book is based on the real story of Yaganah’s life. She was 13 years old when she was married to a man twice her age. Yaganah has suffered from abuse by her drug-addicted husband. The violence brought her on the verge of death many times.
The story of Yaganah is not an exception as many Afghan women have faced domestic violence.
However, very few has dared to speak about it publicly; Yaganah is one of those few women. She writes explicitly about topics such as marital rape, menstruation and the lifelong damage caused to women by child marriages.
In an interview with 'The Guardian' Yaganah said that “It is impossible for Afghan women to read this book and not find an issue that reflects their life story,”  she says.
"Women can find their path, despite all the problems they have.”  She discusses her perceptions about marriage, culture and her attitude towards her husband: “I thought I had to serve my husband like a king.”  Barely a teenager, she had no concept of what penetrative sex meant. The morning after the marriage was consummated, she woke up in hospital. Yaganah hopes her book can help liberate Afghan women and educate readers about women’s lives, menstrual cycles and how women fall victims of cultural norms.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Chinese businessmen are keen to increase their investments in countries along the One Belt One Road project

Officials of Tajikistan have said that Chinese businessmen are keen to increase their investments in countries along the One Belt One Road project. The officials said initial work on the project has started in Tajikistan. “Investments of Chinese companies is the big part of the One Belt One Road’s implementation. The change which you see in people’s lives today is the result of our government’s policies. We support the One Belt One Road project and we believe in it,” said Murad Ali Mardan, head of Tajikistan Agricultural Development Bank. “State-of-the-art equipment is being used in the project. This reveals that we will be able to produce high quality cotton and other products,” said Sherov Dost Murad, manager of a factory in Tajikistan. This comes after the Afghan Finance Minister said last month that the One Belt One Road project – which is a new draft by China – is very important for Afghanistan and the Region. The Minister said that they had already aligned most of their domestic plans according to the One Belt One Road initiative.

Avviso di gara per Studio di Fattibilità

Adeguamento dell’Aeroporto di Herat-Afghanistan a standard ICAO.

Nell’ambito del programma a credito d’aiuto “Misure urgenti per l’ammodernamento dell’Aeroporto di Herat a standard internazionali ICAO”, il Governo afghano ha la disponibilità di un fondo specifico da utilizzare per la ricerca di una Società di Consulenza Tecnica per i Servizi d’Ingegneria necessari per lo studio di fattibilità relativo al Progetto.
  • Possono partecipare alla gara solo Società di Consulenza italiane.

In Afghanistan it's still not very clear the difference between political stability and political instability

Ahmad Zia Massoud, he is a younger brother of the late
Ahmad Shah Massoud, the legendary resistance leader against
the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and against the Taliban.
Ahmad Zia Massoud is considering establishment of a transitional government in Afghanistan, after he was sacked by the Afghan President as his senior aide.

On April 17, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fired Massoud as his special representative on reform and good governance. Massoud, however, strongly rejected the dismissal saying his appointment had come as part of deal and that President Ghani had no right or power to sack him.

People close to Massoud said that he has launched consultations with different political blocs on setting up a transitional government. “President Ghani should quit and the transitional administration will be tasked to pave way for holding presidential and parliamentary elections,”  Massoud’s media adviser told journalists.

“Ghani should resign immediately and the transitional government should be declared. The continuation of current administration cannot help betterment of existing situation,”  he said adding the plan to set up transitional government would be declared in a week.

A political expert, said that “Transitional administration is the word of those who were in former administration. They don’t hold position and seek a position.”

Biography of Ahmad Zia Massoud
Ahmad Zia Massoud was born on May 1, 1956, in Muqur, which is in the Ghazni province of Afghanistan. He attended the Lycée Esteqlal in Kabul. In 1976, he was admitted to the Polytechnical University of Kabul where he studied for three years. Caught up in the tumultuous events in the country after the communist Saur Revolution he left the university and joined the mujahideen led by his brother Ahmad Shah Massoud in the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul. From 1978 to 1981, Ahmad Zia directed the resistance forces of Paryan in Haut-Panjsher. Between 1981 and April 1992, his commander and brother Ahmed Shah Massoud named him special representative of the Jamiat-e-Islami party to Peshawar, Pakistan, where the seven principal parties of the Afghan resistance met.During this period he maintained and increased contacts with political leaders of all the Afghan resistance movement, including diplomatic circles and international organizations. He also traveled abroad to make the case for the mujaheddin. After the fall of the Soviet-backed communist regime, Burhanuddin Rabbani, his father-in-law, chose him to be an advisor and special representative of the Islamic State of Afghanistan. The Taliban eventually took power in Kabul and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Ahmad Zia Massoud joined the anti-Taliban United Islamic Front led by his brother Ahmad Shah Massoud. In the late 1990s, Ahmad Zia Massoud continued his political and diplomatic activities, working to raise the profile of Afghanistan on the international stage, and to call attention to the horrors of the Taliban. In December 2001, after the fall of the Taliban regime, President Hamid Karzai named him ambassador to the Russian Federation under Vladimir Putin. In February 2004 Ahmad Zia's functions were extended to include the Republic of Armenia, and then in July of that year, Belarus, and Moldova as well. He is the First Deputy of Zalmai Rassoul in Afghanistan Presidential elections of 2014. On July 26, 2004, Karzai announced that he had chosen Ahmad Zia Massoud as his running mate over Defense Minister Mohammad Qasim Fahim in the October 9, 2004 presidential elections. While campaigning in the 2004 elections a bomb was detonated at a political rally of Massoud in the northern Afghan city of Fayzabad. Two people were killed but Massoud emerged unscathed. After several political disputes between Ahmad Zia Massoud and Hamid Karzai, the two men parted ways. In the 2009 presidential elections Karzai ran on an election ticket with Mohammad Qasim Fahim instead. In December 2009 another bomb blast is believed to have targeted Ahmad Zia Massoud. He emerged unharmed while 8 people were killed and 40 wounded.

The World Bank Group’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency insures three major companies in Afghanistan

The World Bank Group’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) has so far insured three major companies in Afghanistan in an bid to promote foreign direct investment in the country. Collectively worth USD 154 million, these companies are insured against losses incurred in a change in political systems and trade problems. “World Bank has insured 3 companies through MIGA, but there is little awareness about this service. More awareness needs to be made in order to provide better investment climate in Afghanistan,” said a representative of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce of Industries (ACCI).

Бизнесмены из Чехии выразили интерес к проектам строительства троллейбусных линий в Афганистане

Бизнесмены из Чехии выразили намерение инвестировать в более чем восемьдесят проектов развития в Афганистане и представили инвестиционные планы афганскому правительству. Группа из семнадцати представителей частного сектора Чехии обратилась к афганскому правительству с предложением возобновить предыдущие совместные проекты, а также инвестировать в новые. Среди предлагаемых проектов - такие, как сбор и переработка мусора, строительство солнечных ветровых и других электростанций, работающих на альтернативных источниках энергии, производство цемента и других строительных материалов. Кроме того, представители Чехии выразили интерес к проектам строительства троллейбусных линий.

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Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Afghan Businesswomen ask the government to help them expand their businesses and economic activities

Afghan Businesswomen believe that government’s cooperation would help them to expand their activities and hire more female employees.  Rahima is an Afghan businesswoman who has invested in a company that polishes gemstones and produces carpets. She says that the investment was aimed to hire female workers, train them and produce quality products for local markets. “The lack of access to marketing is one of the biggest problems for us, because we cannot sell our products on the local markets,” she said. Rahima has hired over 70 female workers at her company where they work in different fields such polishing of the gemstones, carpet weaving and cosmetics. These women have said they have learnt many skills over a short period of time while at Rahima’s company. “Our expectation is that with government help we can build more companies so that women can work and earn money for their children,” said one of the employees, Farishta. “I also work at home, I take orders and weave carpets and then sell them to the market,” said another worker, Belqis. The lack of access for women to loans, the lack of proper market places for women to sell their products and the lack of infrastructure are among key issues businesswomen in Afghanistan are facing.

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The future of cricket in Afghanistan is shining

The Afghanistan national cricket team is expected to face the World Best 11 team at Lord’s in coming July. 👌The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) said the Afghanistan national cricket team will face the World Best 11 team at Lord’s on 11th July. The World Best XI team will play against the team under the captaincy of Brendon McCullum. A statement by ACB said the match has been scheduled for July 11th based on an agreement reached between the Afghanistan Cricket Board Chairman Atif Mashal and the Chairman of Marylebone Cricket Club. He said we have prepared a comprehensive plan for the development of cricket. Mashal further added that the future of cricket in Afghanistan is bright as we will witness more developments in the future. He also added that the upcoming match in Lord’s is a new chapter to be opened in the development history of the Afghanistan cricket. This comes as the former Afghan coaches have been insisting to organize matches with the big teams of the world in a bid to help the Afghan team gain more experience on international level.

Forced marriage of children has disastrous consequence in Afghanistan: Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani said that children should be protected against child marriage. She was speaking during the launch of National Action Plan to Eliminate Early and Child Marriage in Kabul today April 18.  "Forced marriage of children is sorrowful. According to science and medics, child marriage is harmful highly risky and has disastrous consequence in the country,”  the First Lady said. According to Rula Ghani, child marriage could be a factor of increase in maternal death rate in the country. Child marriage is a major problem in Afghanistan. It is said to carry the risk of sexual violence and health risks relating to early birth. “In our country, children’s consent is not considered during marriage. We will work to prevent early marriages in Afghanistan. With the implementation of National Action Plan to Eliminate Early and Child Marriage, we will prevent this sorrowful tragedy and reduce violence in Afghanistan,”  said Habiba Wahaj, an adviser on women’s affairs. According to Afghan Ministry of Public Health last year, 53% of women aged between 25 and 49 were marked before the age of 18. “A girl who is below 18 is capable of rapidly gaining wisdom and knowledge from the people around her,”  Bannet Ndyananbangi, the UNFPA country representative, said during the event. “She can be one day, an inspiring leader, a productive worker, an innovator a caring parent to take any-other role that empowers a society. She can shape the future of her society. But all this depend on how we support her today.”  This is the first time that a national action plan is developed in Afghanistan to eliminate the practice of early and child marriage.
Rula Ghani is the current First Lady of Afghanistan and wife of the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani. Rula Ghani was born Rula Saade and raised in Lebanon to a Lebanese Christian family. She received a diploma from Sciences Po, France, in 1969. She completed a master's degree in Political Studies from the American University of Beirut in 1974, where she had met her future husband, Ashraf Ghani.
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Afghan traders have blocked trade at the Sher Khan Port in northern Kunduz province in protest against problems caused by neighboring Tajikistan

The demonstrators were upset over absence of a Tajik consulate in the province and claim that Tajikistan denies visas to Afghan traders and drivers. The border gate will remain shut until the traders’ problem are resolved. According to one of the protestors, the issue has been reported to Tajik officials several times but no outcome is achieved. Meanwhile, Kunduz governors’ spokesperson Sayed Mahmood Danish said Tajikistan was denying to open a consulate in Kunduz due to security reasons. He added that Tajikistan had been assured by local officials that the Afghan forces would take charge of the consulate security.

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Useful info to Afghan businessmen interested in making a business travel to Italy: How to book an appointment at the Italian Embassy in Kabul

The Visa Section within the Italian Embassy in Kabul is open daily from Sunday to Thursday.
More info at
The Section receives applicants exclusively on appointment, following a request sent to the email address indicated on the website of the Italian Embassy in Kabul, specifying name, family name, nationality, passport’s number, purpose of the visit, length and dates of travel. The appointment should be requested at least one month prior to the scheduled date of travel. 
According to visa requirements in the Schengen area, the Italian Embassy in Kabul can only accept visa requests if the main travel destination is Italy; otherwise, it will be necessary to apply for the visa at the Embassy of the Schengen country where the visit will occur or the most significant part of it. The Visa Section accepts only electronic passports.
The Visa Section do not accept any documents (e.g. Invitation Letter) in advance. All required documents have to be presented by the applicants when they apply in person at the Visa Section. Documents sent to the Visa Section in advance via mail or post will not be kept and will not be processed in the application.
All information, application forms and documents required for each type of visa are available at the following website:

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Afghanistan Transport Sector Master Plan Update (2017-2036)

This sets out an ambitious strategy to improve Afghanistan's roads, railways, civil aviation, urban transport, trade logistics, and institutions concerned with transport infrastructure and operations.
The Plan is an update of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) - supported Road Sector Master Plan, which helped guide the completion of up to 80 percent of Afghanistan’s priority road projects from 2006 to 2016. The updated Plan recommends several urgently needed actions to help Afghanistan deliver on its wider development goals. It is intended to guide the government and donors in allocating and programming future funds to increase the efficiency of Afghanistan’s transport system.

 ▂ ▃ ▅ ▆ THE CONTENT OF THIS BLOG IS NOT INTENDED TO CAUSE HARM, but if You have any concerns about the contents of this Blog, contact me by filling out the email form below. Disagreeing with the content of this Blog does not constitute sufficient ground for You to ask me to remove or modify any parts of this Blog. Thank You for visiting my Blog, Ivo R.Toniut  ▂ ▃ ▅