Thursday, 28 June 2018

Breaking: Pakistan blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF)

A global anti-money laundering watchdog took the decision to add Pakistan to the grey list of countries involved in providing monetary assistance to terrorism and related causes. The Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), met in Paris on Wednesday 27 June 2018 and confirmed the decision.

FATF is an intergovernmental organization that maintains grey and black lists for identifying countries that have failed to stop money-laundering and who finance terrorism.

Presenting Pakistan's case at the FATF talks in Paris, Shamshad Akhtar, the interim minister for finance and planning, detailed steps taken by Pakistan to stem money laundering and terror financing. However, these steps appeared not to have been enough as the 37-nation FATF plenary agreed to add Pakistan to the list.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Four Afghan ministers have resigned during last two weeks

Afghan Finance Minister Hakimi has resigned and his resignation has been approved. Without disclosing further information, the Minister said he has stepped down from his post due to family issues. This comes as the Minister of Trade and Commerce and the Minister of Information and Technology stepped down from their positions earlier. Two weeks ago, the Minister of Urban Development and Housing, Sayed Mansoor Sadat Naderi, resigned due to health issues.

The Emirates to hold Afghanistan Premier League of Cricket in the United Arab Emirates

The Emirates Cricket Board in a letter sent to the International Cricket Council has approved to hold Afghanistan Premier League of Cricket in United Arab Emirates. The Emirates Cricket Board has said that the event will start in October in UAE after approval of the ICC, the Afghanistan Cricket Board said in a statement on Wednesday. Five teams, 80 Afghan and 20 foreign cricketers will compete in the T20 Premier League in the UAE. Afghanistan has come a long way since making their World T20 debut in 2010, having qualified for the last 50-over World Cup in Australia and recently beating Ireland across the three formats ODIs, T20 Internationals, and First-Class in a series played at their adopted home ground in Greater Noida in India.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Afghanistan and Uzbekistan officials discussed the establishment of a free trade zone in the border areas between the two countries

Over 40 representatives of public and private sectors of Afghanistan and Uzbekistan participated in a meeting which was organized by the European Union and the International Trade Center. On the sideline of the meeting, Afghan and Uzbek representatives of private sector signed an agreement on establishing a joint trade center in Uzbekistan’s Termez City. Trade volume between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan will increase significantly after creation of the trade zone.
“The President Ashraf Ghani in his last meeting with President of Uzbekistan invited Uzbek investors to invest in Herat mines. It was interesting for Uzbek investors and we want Uzbekistan to invest in other mines too,” an Afghan official said.
"It is a good platform to introduce to Afghan businessmen our products. Except that we are now thinking about and already discussed the possibility of the border trade,” said Jamshid Khodjaev, Minister of Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan.
The European Union and the International Trade Center officials said organizing such meetings will play a crucial role in improving trade ties between the two countries.

“Since the improvement of our relations with Uzbekistan in terms of trade, we have been witnessing good progress in this regard,”  the deputy head of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said.

A biz travel guide to Afghanistan

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Incontro del Ministro Moavero Milanesi con Abdullah Abdullah, Capo del Governo di Unità Nazionale afghano

Il Ministro degli Affari Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale, Enzo Moavero Milanesi, ha ricevuto alla Farnesina il Chief Executive del Governo di Unità Nazionale afghano, Abdullah Abdullah, a Roma per partecipare al board del World Food Programme e per incontri bilaterali. Il Ministro Moavero Milanesi ed il Chief Executive Abdullah hanno discusso dei più recenti sviluppi del processo di pace in Afghanistan. Il Ministro degli Esteri italiano ha ribadito il pieno sostegno dell’Italia a favore della pace e della stabilità nel Paese.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

European Union officials have said the Afghan government has not been able to use the incentives provided by the EU to substantially increase exports to European countries

European Union (EU) officials have said that Afghanistan’s export climate over recent years has not been encouraging and that the trade deficit is one of the worst in the world. They said the Afghan government has not been able to use the incentives provided by the EU to substantially increase exports to European countries. Speaking at an event in Kabul on Sunday, where a new export strategy was released, Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director of the International Trade Center (ITC), said prosperity and peace would come from trade. “The national export strategy is called peace through prosperity, prosperity through trade, and this is precisely what we all in this room want to do, to use trade to generate growth and to generate jobs; this is what the young population is demanding from all of us in the room. Doing that contributes to peace and stability that is the logic behind this document,” Gonzalez said in reference to the strategy. Also speaking at the event was ambassador Pierre Mayaudon, the European Union Head of Delegation to Afghanistan, who said the trade deficit in Afghanistan was one of the worst in the world. “It is alarming even so minister (of trade and industry) you have reflected some progress in the volume of exports, but nevertheless this ratio of ten to one we have seen the corresponding trade deficit to be one of the worst in the world in-fact and it’s about time to replace the trading model which is driven by imports.” But Afghan officials said the national export strategy will have a significant impact on reducing the trade balance deficit over the next five years. Based on the strategy, Afghanistan’s exports will increase significantly in this time, with the cooperation of the European Union and International Trade Centre (ITC). Meanwhile CEO Abdullah Abdullah said in turn that the implementation of the strategy was a key element to reducing the trade balance deficit. “We are absolutely confident about the results which will be obtained from the implementation of this strategy, we hope that the problems in this field are resolved,” said Abdullah. He also stressed the need for more facilities to be provided to the export sector. “Compared to recent years, our export volume has increased from USD 600 million per annum to USD 700 million and this indicates a better situation,” said Humayoun Rasa, the minister of commerce and industries. Meanwhile officials from the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) said that in some cases, the decisions made by the leaders of the National Unity Government (NUG) are not adhered to by ministries and other government institutions. The national export strategy aims to take solid steps towards Afghanistan’s sustainable economic development and to boost government revenues and increase exports. The strategy will be implemented over the next five years.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Afghan women have the right to feel safe in public spaces and transportation

Today, I got in a taxi and the driver asked me to move on the other side of the backseat because his car’s tire pressure was low on my side. I usually sit behind the driver’s seat to minimize him watching me through the mirror and other harassment. From this seat, I can keep an eye on where his hands are and what he is doing. It gives me a small sense of control. Despite my anxiety about harassment, I abided.
The driver had set his mirror to show the chest of the passenger in the back seat. This can be extremely uncomfortable while moving through Kabul’s bumpy streets. I asked him if he can fix his mirror. He closed the window, perhaps he was pretending to not know what I was asking for he genuinely thought I was cold. I noticed he wasn’t driving normally and wasn’t looking for a mechanic to fix the tire he claimed was out of air. I reminded him that the first thing he should do is fix the air pressure in the tire or the it will puncture itself. He made an excuse that he will do it eventually. It was so uncomfortable to sit there. I thought about asking him to change the mirror again or get out of the car. Usually, I would also explain myself and make it clear why I am asking him to change the mirror. I’d say explicitly that the way he has positioned his mirrors are very uncomfortable. However, I felt too tired for an argument. I placed my bag in front of my chest and took a picture of the situation.
For women in Kabul, leaving the house comes with never-ending anxiety. If we choose to walk, men standing around or passing by in their cars catcall every few minutes. If we take a taxi, we have to examine the drivers and pass on several taxis until we find a driver that we feel won’t harass us. I took three taxi rides today and had to ask two of them to change their mirrors because they stared at me. Many drivers set their mirrors to watch women’s lips- how creepy is that, by the way- or make unnecessary conversation. They often ask personal questions. Where are you coming from? What do you do? Are you married? Why not?
In addition to accusatory and invasive questions, some taxi drivers play religious sermon cassettes. So far each and every one I have heard have been about women’s clothes and appearance and our activities. The angry and belittling messages of this sermon are not played coincidentally. They are meant to “educate” female passengers like myself; a punishment for daring to be outside alone.
During one taxi ride the sermon was about how women should not leave the vicinity of their homes, they shouldn’t walk on streets, and ride bicycles. The preacher went to say that “true Muslim women” are like diamonds and by coming outside the house and walking or riding bicycles they lower their value to that of street pebbles. He argued that nobody values and puts a street pebble on a ring as a jewel. I just held on through this taxi ride and when I reached my destination, I got off the taxi and as I was handing the cab-ride fee to the driver I gathered all the energy I could muster and politely told him that women are not diamonds or pebbles – we are living breathing humans and we do not wish to be used as ring jewels or anything else.
I don’t feel safe in taxis. I can’t get used to the catcalls. Buses are overcrowded and prime location for groping. If you are not wealthy and don’t own a car, there is no safe transportation for you in Kabul. The harassment occurs regardless what you wear or who you are with.
I still choose to leave home every day to go to work and to occupy space on the streets. When I leave home, I am not just worried about a bomb going off, I am also hit by psychological mines at every step. When they don’t touch, stalk, or catcall, they stare. I feel like stopping and telling them that I do not exist for their eyes. I did not leave home for them to count every step of mine. I want to tell them to do something better with their time. More than anything, I want them to walk in my shoes. I want them to feel how they make me feel.
This can’t go on. We need to make Kabul’s streets safe for women. We need to make taxi rides and walking on streets less stressful. One way to do that is to begin sharing stories and raise awareness about the stress and anxiety caused by simply existing in public. Many say that not all men harass. That may be true, but not harassing women is not enough. I want good men to stop being bystanders and actively challenge their peers. I want them to make their friends aware of toxicity they are spreading on the streets and the nightmare they have created for women.
Written by Rohina Sediqui @


Monday, 11 June 2018

China hopes to include Afghanistan in the Belt and Road Initiative

Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan Liu Jinsong says his country hopes to include Afghanistan in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This came after high-level delegates, including President Ashraf Ghani, took part in this weekend’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in China. “Afghanistan expects to have more benefit from the Belt and Road project. This country has great expectations from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization,” the ambassador said. He said there were positive signs coming from different social sectors in Afghanistan. The Ministry of Economy, meanwhile, said Afghanistan is part of the Belt and Road project due to its strategic location in the region. Ministry officials also said the project can help boost economic stability in the country. “We should focus on issues inside the country. Our railway system should be established,” said Suhrab Bahman, a spokesman for the Ministry of Economy. Analysts said the project is crucial for the region therefore Afghanistan should try to connect with the route. “The project is based on trade connectivity. Such projects are win-win projects for Afghanistan and China,” said Mohammad Yusuf Rahnaward, advisor of the council on joint trade between Afghanistan and China. The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road or The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a development strategy proposed by the Chinese government that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries, primarily the People's Republic of China (PRC), the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and the ocean-going Maritime Silk Road (MSR). The initiative was known in English as the One Belt and One Road Initiative (OBOR) until 2016.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Afghanistan - Dall’Italia 2 milioni di euro per sostenere i piccoli produttori agricoli di Herat e Bamyan

Due milioni di euro per sostenere il settore agricolo afghano. Li ha stanziati il governo italiano, per il tramite della Cooperazione allo sviluppo, a supporto delle comunità rurali di Herat e Bamyan. I beneficiari del progetto sono circa 5mila piccoli produttori di zafferano, miele, uva passa, ortaggi e latticini, tutti prodotti provenienti da filiere di alto valore. L’accordo tecnico per l’iniziativa è stato firmato dall’Ambasciatore italiano in Afghanistan, Roberto Cantone, e dal Ministro delle Finanze afghano, Eklil Ahmad Hakimi.“La sfida dello sviluppo agricolo risiede nella crescita economica delle comunità rurali e nella diminuzione dell’insicurezza alimentare e della povertà. Ciò che intendiamo sostenere con questo programma è lo sviluppo di alcune filiere agricole di alto valore attraverso cui contrastare lo stato di impoverimento delle aree rurali e incoraggiare le coltivazioni alternative all’oppio”, ha dichiarato l’Ambasciatore Cantone.

Pakistan announced waiving off the regulatory duty on Afghanistan exports in a gesture to help Afghan economy

Pakistan on Saturday announced waiving off the regulatory duty on Afghan exports – in a gesture to help boost the war-torn country’s economy. During his visit to Kabul, Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had decided to waive off the regulatory duty, which was imposed in October last year on Afghan exports. The exports include grapes (fresh and dried), apples, pomegranates, apricots, watermelons, melons, cucumbers, gherkins, prunes dried and figs. In a statement, the Pakistan embassy said the waiver went into effect from June 8, 2018. In the meantime, Pakistan’s export to Afghanistan has reached to a two-year high during the first 10 months of the current fiscal year despite relations remain strained on political level between the two neighboring countries, it has been reported. The latest report from the State Bank of Pakistan shows the country’s exports to Afghanistan reached $1.282 billion during July-April 2917-18. This was higher than the figure of $956 million in the same period last year, according to Dawn News. The source further added that during the last five years, the outgoing government never made any serious attempt to improve trade ties with the war-torn neighbor. With the penetration of Chinese products in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s share has been further reduced. “In 2014-15, exports to Afghanistan were $1.699bn which fell to $1.230bn in FY16 before further declining to $1.165bn in FY17, reflecting the downward trajectory,” according to the report.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Afghanistan - € 2,000,000 from Italy to support small producers of saffron, honey, raisin, vegetables and dairy products

Two million euros to support the Afghan agricultural sector. The amount was allocated by the Italian government, through the Agency for Development Cooperation, in order to support the rural communities of Herat and Bamyan. The beneficiaries of the project are about 5 thousand small producers of saffron, honey, raisin, vegetables and dairy products, all produced from high value chains. The Implementing Agreement for the initiative was signed by the Italian Ambassador to Afghanistan, Roberto Cantone, and the Afghan Minister of Finance, Eklil Ahmad Hakimi. "The challenge of agricultural development lies in the economic growth of rural communities and in the reduction of food insecurity and poverty. What we intend to support with this program is the development of some agricultural high-value chains through which to counter the state of impoverishment of rural areas and encourage alternative crops to opium”, said Italian Ambassador Roberto Cantone.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

بازار: هزینه‌شدن ۲۰درصد از بودجه‌های توسعه‌یی سال مالی ۱۳۹۷

AFGHANISTAN - Six months into the 1397 fiscal year (Dec 2017-Dec 2018), only 20 percent of the development budget has been spent by government departments. According to the Ministry of Finance of Afghanistan, six government departments have spent most of their budgets while 14 departments have spent less than 10 percent of their budgets, and six other departments have not spent anything. However the finance ministry is optimistic about the overall increase of development budget spending.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Afghanistan revives raisin industry

Afghanistan’s raisin farmers used to supply snacks for people around the world.
For many decades through the 1970s, the country claimed about 20 percent of the global market for raisins.

Monday, 4 June 2018

A Kabul la Festa della Repubblica tra impegno e memoria

L’impegno italiano per la ricostruzione e la stabilizzazione dell’Afghanistan è stato al centro delle celebrazioni del 2 giugno a Kabul, nel quadro di rafforzate misure di sicurezza. Due le cerimonie a Kabul nel 72esimo anniversario del referendum che sancì la nascita della Repubblica italiana: una prima manifestazione alla missione NATO “Resolute Support” alla quale ha partecipato il Comandante Gen. John Nicholson e nel corso della quale è stata deposta una corona d'alloro in memoria dei soldati italiani caduti in Afghanistan, una seconda all’Ambasciata d’Italia alla presenza del Vice Ministro degli Affari Esteri Hekmat Karzai. Un’altra cerimonia si è svolta ad Herat dove è dispiegata la brigata "Sassari", comandata dal Gen. Gianluca Carai. Nei suoi interventi, l’Ambasciatore Roberto Cantone ha sottolineato l’importante contributo italiano, sia sul fronte civile che su quello militare, alla crescita e alla pacificazione del Paese caratterizzato da complesse problematiche politiche e di sicurezza, ricordando come l’Italia sia al fianco dell’Afghanistan nell’obiettivo di raggiungere la pace e la riconciliazione interna. Ha altresì evidenziato il costante impegno a sostegno delle fasce più vulnerabili della popolazione afghana, in particolare donne, bambini e rifugiati. Il Gen. Nicholson ha fatto presente come la partecipazione italiana all’opera internazionale di ricostruzione del Paese, prima nell’ambito della missione ISAF e poi dal 2015 con RS, sia stata fondamentale. Ha inoltre rilevato come la regione occidentale dell’Afghanistan, quella in cui opera il contingente italiano e in cui sono concentrati i più importanti progetti di cooperazione, sia oggi una delle meno problematiche, sia dal punto di vista della sicurezza che delle prospettive di sviluppo. In Ambasciata il Vice Ministro Karzai ha menzionato la lunga storia di amicizia e collaborazione che lega i due Paesi, sin dal riconoscimento dell’indipendenza afghana. Ha poi ricordato come tale collaborazione si sia particolarmente rafforzata dal 2001 con la fine del periodo talebano e come da allora l’Italia non abbia lesinato sforzi nella lotta al terrorismo e nell’opera di ricostruzione. Nel corso delle celebrazioni del 2 giugno il Gen. Nicholson ha decorato con la “legione al merito" il Gen. Antonio Bettelli, l'ufficiale italiano più alto in grado nell’ambito della missione RS, che ha passato il testimone, nella stessa giornata, al Gen. Massimo Panizzi. L’Ambasciatore Cantone ha invece consegnato l’onorificenza “grande ufficiale dell’ordine della stella d’Italia” al diplomatico Nasser Zia, ex Ambasciatore afghano a Roma.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

The Italian commitment in Afghanistan at the core of the celebrations of the National Day in Kabul

The Italian commitment to the reconstruction and stabilization of Afghanistan was at the center of the June 2nd celebrations in Kabul, amidst reinforced security measures. Two ceremonies were held in Kabul on the 72nd anniversary of the referendum that brought the birth of the Italian Republic: a first ceremony at the NATO "Resolute Support" mission during which a laurel wreath was laid in memory of the Italian soldiers who fell in Afghanistan, a second at the Italian Embassy in the presence of the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hekmat Karzai. In his speech, Ambassador Roberto Cantone underlined the important Italian contribution, both on the civilian and military fronts, to the growth and pacification of a country that is characterized by complex political and security problems. He recalled the role Italy is playing at the side of Afghanistan in the goal of achieving peace and internal reconciliation. He also highlighted the ongoing commitment to support the most vulnerable sections of the Afghan population, especially women, children and refugees. General Nicholson pointed out how the Italian participation in the international reconstruction of the country, first in the ISAF mission and then in 2015 with RS, was fundamental. He also noted that the western region of Afghanistan, where the Italian contingent operates and where the most important cooperation projects are concentrated, is today one of the least problematic, both from the security point of view and the development prospects. At the Italian Embassy, Deputy Minister Karzai mentioned the long history of friendship and collaboration between the two countries, since the recognition of the Afghan independence. He then recalled how this collaboration has been particularly strengthened after the end of the Taliban period in 2001 and since then, Italy has spared no effort in the fight against terrorism and the reconstruction of the country. Ambassador Cantone handed the honorific award of the "Grand Official of the Star of Italy Order" to the diplomat Nasser Zia, former Ambassador of Afghanistan to Italy.

If you are a US citizen, please tell your Government that the Afghans are tired of war and want peace

Why Americans do not talk to the Taliban? While violence in the country has reached a shocking level and as a result, scores of Afghans lose their lives on daily basis, peace has again become a hot topic. Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, even claimed that senior Taliban leaders were engaged in secretive ceasefire talks with Afghan officials. However, Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, rejected the claim as baseless in a statement, accusing the United States of trying to hide its failures in Afghanistan by making such unfounded allegations.
For years, all efforts aimed at bringing a negotiated end to the Afghan conflict have failed. Among other culprits is Taliban’s insistence on direct talks with the United States and the refusal of Washington to do so. Since the peaceful settlement of the Afghan war has come into play, the Taliban have persisted that they are willing to talk but first with Americans and then the Afghan government. The US refuses to engage in direct talks with Taliban under the ploy that Afghan peace process should be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. They portray that their direct talks with the Taliban questions the national sovereignty of the Afghan government, whereas Americans have constantly violated Afghan sovereignty since their involvement in Afghanistan. Thus, it is not fair to use that as a pretext to deprive Afghan people of the precious gift -- PEACE.
After the repeated failures of peace talks, it is now time for Americans to negotiate Afghan peace with the Taliban, because they will have to do so at some point one day or another for being one of the main parties to the conflict. Whether Americans want it or not, the Taliban are citizens of Afghanistan, and it is neither practical nor logical to completely eliminate them. If Americans had been able to do so, the phenomenon of Taliban would have not existed now after two decades of war, killings and bombings. So when everything is very clear, America’s refusal to hold direct talks with Taliban realizes the doubts that they have no faith in political solution, and intentionally create conditions that prolong the war, and pave the way for their military presence. At least to rule out the suspicions of US intentions, Americans should engage in direct talk with the Taliban, even if it is once.
>>> Read the original article in Heart of Asia @

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Herat: heart of Afghan business

Herat city is the business hub of Afghanistan with its well-established links to Iran, Turkmenistan and through them to the rest of the world. But Herat's economic success as well as improvements in security has attracted criminal gangs to target businessmen for kidnap.

Indian movie director Deb Medhekar said that he would like to screen Bioscopewala in Afghanistan

Indian movie director Deb Medhekar said in a letter to the Afghanistan Embassy to India, that he would like to screen Bioscopewala in Afghanistan. While he is uncertain about getting permission for a theatrical release, he hopes his film will be screened in schools, colleges or on other public platforms. The director said, "While making the film, I hoped that, someday, it would screen in Afghanistan.” The story follows a Pashtun merchant from Kabul, who travels to Calcutta to sell dry fruit every year. While in India he becomes friends with a five-year-old girl Mini as she reminds him of his own daughter who lives in Kabul. Even though Bollywood ventures are a big draw in Afghanistan - with many residents having picked up the language by bingeing on Hindi films aired on their TV sets - tense political climates have led to the closure of several theaters in the country. Inevitably, Hindi movies are only infrequently aired in Afghanistan theaters. Medhekar said: “The film traces the roots of the Bioscopewala back to his home country. I thought it would be befitting to screen it there. I'm keenly awaiting a positive response. It would give me satisfaction, [a belief] that, in the end, the Bioscopewala does find his way back home."
Deb Medhekar says that Afghanistan has been portrayed in a positive light in his film.