Sunday, 30 September 2018

Afghanistan and India can boost trade and transit ties easily through Chabahar port, but the new US sanctions on Iran have changed the situation and now fewer investors are interested to invest in the port

Uzbek President invites India to join Afghan Railway Project

India will be invited to help with a key railway project in Afghanistan during Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s visit to New Delhi. The railway, almost 650 km, which will connect Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat cities and will later be extended to Kabul, is a major project agreed to by President Ashraf Ghani and President Mirziyoyev last year. Many of the preliminary surveys for the project have already been completed.
“We support a greater presence of India in Central Asia, and hope for some benefits of that for Afghanistan. I hope that negotiations with PM Modi will open a new page in our bilateral relations,” Special Assistant for Foreign Affairs Ilhom Nematov said as quoted in a report by The Hindu. “If India would be involved in [the railway line] construction, we would welcome them because of India’s proven record and experience, and because of its contribution to bringing peace to Afghanistan,” he said. He said Uzbekistan has an interest in opening trade and connectivity routes all the way to the Indian Ocean. The project, for which Uzbekistan has already pledged USD 500M, could become another major regional connectivity project for India, after its construction of the Zaranj-Delaram Highway in Afghanistan and the Shahid Beheshti port in Chabahar, Iran. India is also committed to building another rail route, from Chabahar to Zahedan on the Iran-Afghan border, and President Mirziyoyev is keen to join the transit trade agreement signed by India, Afghanistan and Iran. The rail route to Herat, if extended to Kabul, would also link to India’s “air corridor”, allowing trade, especially dry fruits and agricultural produce to travel along the routes from India to Central Asia and back in much shorter time. Uzbekistan has held talks with Iran, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and China, which is already running a rail route into Uzbekistan under the Belt and Road Initiative, for the same project in the past few months. Making a pitch for talks between India and Pakistan, Nematov said Uzbekistan’s role in regional security is likely to grow as it will take over the Secretary Generalship of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in January 2019, the report said. “I think that SCO is a good platform for India and Pakistan to talk at and to maybe work with other countries on how to bring peace,” he said as quoted by The Hindu. President Mirziyoyev will also discuss peace efforts in Afghanistan and his offer of mediating talks between the Ghani government and the Taliban, during his visit to India, the report said.

Afghanistan and China will become a connecting point for Europe, Africa and Asia through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

Second Vice President of Afghanistan, Sarwar Danish, says Afghanistan and China will become a connecting point for Europe, Africa and Asia through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Danish was recently on a state visit to China, leading a high-level delegation. Danish visited the Communist Party secretary for Gansu province Lin Duo on Monday, the VP’s office said. On be behalf the Chinese Communist Party, Lin Duo hoped Danish’s trip would play a crucial role in terms of improved bilateral cooperation and relationship. Afghanistan and China, enjoying close relations, had been connected for the past 2000 years through the Silk Road, Duo added. Afghanistan could play an important role in terms of China’s security, he believed. “Afghanistan is a neighbor of China and it needs assistance, the Chinese government has developed a policy for continued aid to Afghanistan,” he said. Danish commended China’s ancient civilization, political stability and strong leadership. The second largest economic power in the world, China was distinguished country, he said. The two countries could connect three continents through the BRI, he said. Bamyan has a total of eight sites, including the Buddha statues, and seven others, already registered as world heritage by UNESCO. Similarly, Bamyan’s sister province Gansu has seven historical sites registered by UNESCO. However, the heritage in Afghanistan faces preservation challenges.
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Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Pakistan has recently delivered to Afghanistan first consignment of 40,000 tons of wheat

Pakistan has recently delivered to Afghanistan first consignment of 40,000 tons of wheat it promised as gift earlier this year.
The aid was promised in April during the visit of the then Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to Kabul. The first consignment reached Afghanistan as Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi visited Kabul on Saturday in first visit by a Pakistani minister to Kabul after Imran Khan took office as prime minister. During the visit, Qureshi met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and his Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani, discussing security, peace and counter-terrorism.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Indian Spicejet to start cargo flights to Afghanistan

India’s biggest airline Spicejet this week announced it had linked up with the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) to run cargo operations between Delhi and Kabul from October 15. SpiceJet plans to transport 1,500 tons of cargo every month on its freighter aircraft under the partnership, the airline said in a statement. “In collaboration with ACCI and with the support of government of Afghanistan, SpiceJet will transport fresh fruits and dry fruits, carpets and other commodities from Kabul to different states of India at competitive prices, which will be subsidized by the Afghan Government,” the statement said. SpiceJet recently announced the launch of an air cargo services under the brand name SpiceXpress. “SpiceXpress which starts operation from September 18, 2018, will function as a separate business unit under SpiceJet Limited. SpiceXpress has laid down a detailed plan covering both domestic and international routes. To begin with the air cargo operations will cover Delhi, Bengaluru, Guwahati, Hong Kong, Kabul and Amritsar,” the statement said.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE @ HeartOfAsia.af

Saturday, 15 September 2018

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It is time for the war in Afghanistan to end

Today [Tuesday, September 11, 2018] marks 17 years since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a day commemorated with pledges to “never forget.” Our grief is well remembered. But too many of us have forgotten, or soon will, what followed on the heels of 9/11: our apparently endless war in Afghanistan.
Nearly two decades on, the longest conflict in US history fades in and out of American consciousness — mostly out. The war has settled into grimly familiar patterns large and small. On a weekly and monthly level, the same headlines roll in again and again: A suicide bomber blows up a market, mosque, or other public venue, and dozens of innocents die. A coalition soldier is killed and a few more wounded. A high-ranking Islamic State, al Qaeda, Taliban, or other insurgency leader dies, and his role is soon refilled, hydra-like, by a new generation of radical.
Then there are patterns on a larger scale. Three presidential administrations from two political parties have overseen five troop surges, none of which has successfully broken the stalemate fight that has claimed tens of thousands of American and Afghan lives and has cost us trillions in taxpayer dollars.
We cycle through commanders, too. Last week, Gen. John Nicholson handed off leadership of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and US forces in Afghanistan to Gen. Austin Miller. Carefully unmentioned in the Defense Department press release on the changeover is the fact that Miller will be the 18th — 18th! — officer to fill this role, succeeding Nicholson and the 16 commanders of the previous NATO mission in Afghanistan.
Nicholson is the only one of the lot to have lasted more than two years, and he ended his tenure with a simple message: “It is time for this war in Afghanistan to end.”
“[Afghan] President [Ashraf] Ghani’s courageous decision to announce a ceasefire over [the Muslim holiday of] Eid al Fitr unleashed the strong call of the Afghan people for peace,” Nicholson said. “The entire world has witnessed this, and we support it. I believe some of the Taliban want peace also, but they are being encouraged to keep fighting. To the Taliban I say: ‘You don’t need to keep killing your fellow Afghans. You don’t need to keep killing your fellow Muslims. The time for peace is now.'”
Nicholson has made this commendable — and eminently practical — push for local diplomacy repeatedly in recent months. The “US is prepared to work with the parties to reach a peace agreement and political settlement to bring a permanent end to the war,” he said in August. “At the end of the day, any negotiations over the political future of Afghanistan will be between the Taliban and the Afghan government. This must be an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, with Afghans talking to Afghans. And the US is prepared to support, facilitate, and participate in these discussions.”
The risk with Miller’s takeover is that Nicholson’s hard-won wisdom on this point will be lost, for Miller seems to incarnate our unique amnesia about this war: We forget that it is happening, and when we must remember, we forget that it is already lost.
The outgoing general’s comparative realism was in scant supply in Miller’s talk of being “relentless” in a “generational” fight to exterminate terrorism in Afghanistan. This disheartening enthusiasm to double down on the mistakes of the past — to make these counterproductive patterns even more permanent — suggests a dangerous failure “to distinguish what the US military can do, what it cannot do, what it need not do, and what it should not do.”
And that distinction grows more necessary with every passing day. We may be just months away from a truly new headline: “First American soldier born after 9/11 dies in Afghanistan.”
That is a headline I pray we never see — but it is a headline we will see if Washington does not more aggressively pursue what Defense Secretary James Mattis has acknowledged to be the only viable route to stability in Afghanistan: “political reconciliation.” (Last week’s announcement that Zalmay Khalilzad, former US ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, has been appointed special adviser to Afghanistan is welcome news on this front. Khalilzad will be “full-time focused on developing the opportunities to get the Afghans and the Taliban to come to a reconciliation,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. This role is long overdue.)
As Mattis and Nicholson have realized, there is no military victory to be had in Afghanistan. And we cannot simply stay forever. Diplomacy and political solutions are the best — and only — options. The US military is by far the most powerful in the world, and it can do many things well. Nation-building Afghanistan is not one of them. Internal political problems will not be wiped away by an external military force.
What would happen if American troops withdrew from Afghanistan? My colleagues here at The Week expect “the government would surely fall. Afghanistan would once again become a Taliban-ruled medieval society, and al Qaeda and ISIS would have free rein there to plan and carry out attacks on the US”
That dire prediction may prove true, but it does not follow that American forces should stay in Afghanistan forever.
Nearly two decades of cyclical mistakes and setbacks have demonstrated this all too well. “US troops have made considerable sacrifices,” notes military historian Ret. Col. Andrew Bacevich. “The Pentagon has expended stupendous sums. Yet when it comes to promised results — disorder curbed, democracy promoted, human rights advanced, terrorism suppressed — the United States has precious little to show.”
We will not have more to show if we spend another 17 years in the same patterns of failure, nor will we come any closer to righting the wrongs the original invasion sought to redress. It is time for these patterns of failure to be broken. It is time for this war in Afghanistan to end.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE WRITTEN BY BONNIE KRISTIAN

EXPORTING CORRUPTION - PROGRESS REPORT 2018: ASSESSING ENFORCEMENT OF THE OECD ANTI-BRIBERY CONVENTION

Transparency International’s 2018 Progress Report is an independent assessment of the enforcement of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Anti-Bribery Convention, which requires parties to criminalize bribery of foreign public officials and introduce related measures. The Convention is a key instrument for curbing global corruption because the 44 signatory countries are responsible for approximately 65 per cent of world exports and more than 75 per cent of total foreign direct investment outflows.

This twelfth such report also assesses enforcement in China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, India and Singapore, which are not parties to the OECD Convention but are major exporters, accounting for 18 per cent of world exports. Hong Kong is covered separately in the report, as it is an autonomous territory, with a different legal system from China and export data compiled separately. The report has been prepared by Transparency International, with contributions from our national chapters and experts in 41 OECD Convention countries, as well as in China, Hong Kong SAR, India and Singapore.

Download the report

Friday, 14 September 2018

American foreign policy shows once again that it is against the economic development of Afghanistan

Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) said that Afghan traders are bringing in fewer goods from Europe and Turkey via Iran in the wake of Washington’s new sanctions against Tehran. According to traders, this has had a negative impact on Afghanistan-Iran trade ties. The ACCI said not only were Afghan traders suffering but foreign traders were also feeling the pinch as their trade volume through Iran’s Bandar-e-Abbas and Chabahar ports to Afghanistan has dropped considerably. ACCI officials said this is because foreign companies are afraid of the repercussions they could face if dealing through or with Iran. 
Afghan traders had plans to increase the volume of imports and exports to Iran, China and European countries through Bandar-e-Abbas and Chabahar ports, but following the new US sanctions on Tehran, the situation has changed. “Our traders are afraid that if they export goods to China and European countries through Chabahar Port, they might face with challenges in transferring money. Although it is has not been said officially which parts of the sanctions will affect our transit ties, our traders are concerned and this issue should be made clear,” the head of exports development department at ACCI said. According to Afghan officials, after the implementation of US sanctions on Iran it is possible that Iran’s banking relationships will be cut with the world and problems will be created in money transfer and that Afghan traders are now more wary about trading with and through Iran. Reports indicate that by next month the US’s new sanctions on Iran will be enforced completely – a move that has sparked serious concern among Afghan traders.
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Thursday, 13 September 2018

Afghanistan, India and Iran hold trilateral meeting on Chabahar

India and Iran on Tuesday [11 September 2018] reviewed the progress on completing the Chabahar Port project that will provide India a critical transport link to Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan. At the first trilateral meeting of India, Iran and Afghanistan held in Kabul, Afghanistan also conveyed to both New Delhi and Tehran its keenness on early completion of the project. The meeting was chaired by Afghan Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hekmat Khalil Karzai. The Indian and Iranian delegations were led by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi respectively. An official release issued in New Delhi said the meeting focused on consolidating economic cooperation, including Chabahar, as well as enhancing cooperation on counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, and continuing support to the peace and reconciliation process that is led and owned by Afghanistan. The three sides agreed to hold the next round of consultation next year. The meeting came days after Iran announced that it would hand over the maintenance and operation of the Chabahar Port to India soon. India has been under intense pressure from the United States to reduce its trade and commercial links with Iran in view of American sanctions against the Islamic nation. New Delhi has, however, asked the US to keep the Chabahar Port out of the sanctions regime since the project was primarily aimed at providing humanitarian assistance to the war-affected people of Afghanistan.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE @ HeartOfAsia.af

L'innovativo programma di formazione targato Italia per l'Esercito dell'Afghanistan

Il comando occidentale a guida italiana della missione NATO Resolute Support (RS) ha introdotto nella base di Camp Arena-Herat un innovativo percorso di formazione denominato “Omnia”. Focalizzato sulla leadership, sul personale e sugli istruttori all'interno delle forze di sicurezza afghane (ANDSF), il programma si avvale dei fondi italiani stanziati nell'ambito dell'Ana Trust Fund (ANTF) e ha finanziato, tra l'altro, la costruzione di una palestra di roccia attraverso cui simulare episodi reali in ambienti ostili come quelli di montagna. Focalizzato sull'ottimizzazione dei tempi e sull'impiego di spazi già disponibili, il sistema sviluppato dal contingente italiano permette di gestire efficacemente corsi di formazione per le forze di sicurezza afghane sia all'interno che all’esterno di Camp Arena, sede del TAAC-West. "Omnia" rende più veloce la formazione degli istruttori, insegnando l'importanza del lavoro di squadra e del coordinamento a livello di comando. Il programma permette inoltre di addestrare e mettere alla prova il personale delle ANDSF in scenari ed esercitazioni assolutamente realistiche. “Gli istruttori sono stati eccellenti nel fornire indicazioni molto precise, estremamente utili ai fini operativi”, ha detto il Col. Abdul Ghani Mahmodi, Capo delle operazioni del 207° Corpo d’Armata afghano, nell’ambito di un recente corso. "Omnia" non sostituirà i centri di addestramento militare regionali, ma velocizzera' il processo di formazione degli istruttori. Ciò è stato reso possibile grazie all’impegno congiunto dei vari reparti del TAAC-West, tra cui la Task Force Arena, gli "advisory team" dei Carabinieri, i consiglieri militari dell'Esercito italiano ed altre unità specializzate, in collaborazione con la Security Force Assistance Brigade statunitense. I corsi del programma "Omnia" includono le tecniche di combattimento in montagna, l’autodifesa, le procedure di polizia, gli interventi di primo soccorso, la gestione dei traumi da combattimento, le contro-misure per gli ordigni esplosivi improvvisati (IED) e le più moderne tecnologie informatiche. RS è una missione “non-combat” a guida NATO istituita nel 2015 per addestrare, consigliare ed assistere le forze di sicurezza afghane, che hanno assunto la responsabilità a livello nazionale per la sicurezza del Paese a seguito alla conclusione della precedente missione NATO “International Security Assistance Force” (ISAF). Scopo di RS è quello di aiutare le ANDSF e le istituzioni afghane a sviluppare le proprie capacità per difendere il Paese e proteggere i suoi cittadini.

Афганские парламентарии проголосовали за пересмотр афгано-американского соглашения о сотрудничестве в сфере безопасности

Парламентарии подчеркнули неэффективность соглашения и заявили, что американская сторона не выполнила условия договора и не смогла обеспечить необходимую поддержку афганским силам безопасности. Из 150 депутатов, присутствовавших на заседании, 146 проголосовали за пересмотр соглашения. Накануне отмены двустороннего соглашения с США потребовали депутаты Мешрано Джирги (верхней палаты парламента). Афганские сенаторы выразили обеспокоенность в связи с дестабилизацией обстановки в стране, подчеркнув, что в отсутствие надлежащей реакции США на существующие угрозы безопасности двустороннее соглашение не имеет смысла.

Afghanistan has huge natural resources which could be used to make it a net power exporter

Afghanistan State power distribution company DABS signed a Memorandum of Understanding during the second India-Afghanistan International Trade and Investment show, according to India’s Economic Times report. The 4-day event, which started yesterday 12 September 2018, is aimed at bolstering trade between the two countries and is showcasing business and investment opportunities in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The Economic Times reported that Tata power is “looking to tap huge opportunities in Afghanistan”, where only 35 percent of the people have access to electricity, said the CEO and MD of Tata Power, Mr. Praveer Sinha. "When we look at the power sector and how we can play a role in Afghanistan, we see a huge opportunity. The country unfortunately does not have universal access of power as just about 35% of the people have access to power and that also in the four main cities," said Mr. Sinha. He said it was because of this that Tata Power would like to work with DABS and with local entrepreneurs, he added. He also stated that Afghanistan has huge natural resources, which could be used to make it a net power exporter. The rivers in Afghanistan have the potential to produce 20,000-25,000 MW of electricity on a conservative estimate, according to Sinha. Also, Afghanistan has the potential to produce around 200 GW of power from solar energy besides another 66 GW of from wind energy, he added. "Therefore when we look at Afghanistan in the next few years, it will be net exporter of power," he said.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Afghanistan sends eight ambassadors to retirement

According to documents obtained from an Afghan news agency, few days ago was issued a presidential decree by which eight Afghan ambassadors from key embassies and many employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been sacked.

The ambassadors are:

- Abdul Rahim Sayed, Afghanistan ambassador to Turkey.

- Abdul Qayum Kochai, Afghanistan ambassador to Russia.

- Nasir Ahmad Noor, Afghanistan ambassador to Iran.

- Ali Ahmad Jalali, Afghanistan ambassador to Germany.

- Omar Sayd Sultan, Afghanistan ambassador to Greece.

- Mangal Hussain, Afghanistan ambassador to Kuwait.

- Massood Khalili, Afghanistan ambassador to Spain.

- Faizullah Kakar, Afghanistan ambassador to Qatar.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Work on second lane Kandahar - Spin Boldak road underway

Work on the 80 kilometers second lane Kandahar-Spinboldak Road has been underway which may be completed in two years. This would help improve the transportation facilities for domestic and foreign businessmen and facilities local people as well.
Public Works Department Director Abdul Ahmad Ehsan told Pajhwok Afghan News the Kandahar-Spinboldak road is 100 kilometers long and the 16 kilometers two-lane portion of the road had been already constructed on international standards and opened for traffic. Ehsan said two different companies have been working on the road. One company is working on the road at the cost of 1.25billion Afghanis and another is carrying out the project at the cost of 1.33 billion Afghanis. The public works director said the two-lane road construction project would be completed in two years adding that around 100 engineers had been working on the project. The residents of Kandahar province are happy over the construction of second lane Kandahar City-Boldak road and demanded the authorities to step up the work on the vital project.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE