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Afghanistan -Turkmenistan Tango

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(Last Updated On: July 11, 2017)

 Afghanistan is in the process of limiting Pakistan’s veto options on transportation of goods and looking at other routes being a landlocked country.

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani visited Turkmenistan on July 3 upon invitation by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. Oguzkhan Palace complex in Turkmenistan hosted the high-level talks.

Various issues from security and counter-terrorism, economy and trade, energy, education and transportation infrastructure were discussed. Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI), Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP)electricity project, and Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TUTAP) electricity transit project were discussed.

Transportation infrastructure cooperation is a way forward to make Afghanistan less dependent on Pakistan, who routinely closes checkpoints along the Durand line. President Ghani the next day told the visiting U.S. senate delegation that  Afghanistan has diversified trade and transit links and is no longer dependent on Pakistan.

These are the main routes of transit to  Afghanistan:

  1. Hairtan->Mazar e Sharif
  2. Mersin, Turkey-> Baku, Azerbaijan -> via ferry on Caspian Sea->Türkmenbaşy->Aqina->Sheberghan ->Mazar e Sharif
  3. Mersin, Turkey-> Baku, Azerbaijan -> via ferry on Caspian Sea->Türkmenbaşy-> Mary, Turkmenistan ->Torghundi->Herat-> Lashkargah ->Kandahar->Ghazni->Kabul
  4. Bandar Abbas ->Islam Qala->Herat-> Lashkargah ->Kandahar->Ghazni->Kabul
  5. Karachi->Quetta->Kandahar
  6. Karachi->Jalalabad->Kabul

Of these, the first route connects to China, the 2nd and 3rd to Europe, the 4th to Iran and the last two to Pakistan. As of now, the last two routes via Pakistan carry the most freight. When the Torkham gate was closed by Pakistan for an indefinite period following a skirmish between the respective armed forces, the other routes effectively neutralised any economic effect on Afghanistan.

Reconstruction and repairing of the Serhedabad (Azerbaijan)– Turghandi (Afghanistan) railroad and also expanding Aqina railroad were on the agenda of today’s meeting. The Asian transnational railway – Atamyrat-Ymamnzar-Akina was quoted as an example of the  developing cooperation in the transport sphere between the two nations. In view of the  transit and transportation potentials of the both countries, the presidents emphasized on Afghanistan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey trade and transit corridor and Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Turkmenistan railway. The trade and transit corridor is also known as the Lapis Lazuli corridor and the nations are due to sign an agreement for transporting goods to European markets. Turkmenistan itself serves as the fourth largest export market for Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has already diversified its trade and is no more heavily dependent on Pakistan.  Trade volume between Pakistan and Afghanistan has declined from $3 billion a couple years ago to just $500 million in early 2017. That  indicates a drop of more than an 80 percent in commerce between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

On the other hand, Afghan-Iran trade volume has increased 25 percent, from $1.5 billion to $2 billion, and now accounts for a quarter of Afghanistan’s total annual trade. The construction of railroad between Iran and Afghanistan and the Zaranj-Delaram Highway in Afghanistan are some factors behind the growth of Afghanistan – Iran trade. Trade with Europe and central Asia accounted for 24% of imports and exports stood at 11.6%.

Cooperation in oil & gas, chemical industry, textile, carpet weaving industry, farming and other sectors was discussed. An MoUs signed between the two nations is for cooperation In the carpet industry. It is worth noting that carpets are among the biggest exports from Afghanistan. Till now most carpets were produced to a pre-final stage and then exported to Pakistan or Iran. This was due to lack of resources like machinery for cutting and edging.

I spoke to the spokesperson of Afghan Chamber Of Commerce & Industries (ACCI)  Siamuden Pasarly, who told me, “Till 2013-14, roughly around 80% of the carpets were exported to Pakistan, Iran & final processing done there. Now have our own factories. Industrial parks are under construction in PPP model. At present, 30% of the carpet go to Pakistan and Iran for final processing. We plan to absorb it and sell them under Afghan branding to the west.”

Implemented properly, the agreements at Turkmenistan would lead both to economic prosperity and reduced economic dependency on Pakistan for Afghanistan. It’s still a long way for land-locked Afghanistan to be no longer dependent on Pakistan but it’s a welcome start.

By Aveek Sen – Aveek Sen is an independent journalist working on cyber security and the geopolitics of India’s neighbourhood, focusing on Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Bangladesh. He tweets at @aveeksen

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* Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author, and it do  not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Ariana News.

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ANDSF to launch offensives in north to retake fallen districts

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(Last Updated On: July 27, 2021)

The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) are expected to start offensives in Balkh province and across the country to retake fallen districts and areas, said Bismillah Mohammadi, acting minister of defense on Tuesday during a trip to Balkh.

According to Mohammadi, if the Taliban think they can win militarily, they are wrong.

“Hopefully we will witness our offensives across Afghanistan and we will recapture areas one after another,” said Mohammadi.

He also praised ANDSF for their achievements in Balkh, Samangan and Herat provinces.

“It is our obligation to defend the country until our last breath. We assure people that yesterday Kaldar was recaptured and earlier one district in Herat was recaptured,” said Mohammadi.

The acting minister of defense said that people, especially youths, stand by the ANDSF to defend the country.

“When I assessed the situation in Mazar, I saw that most people who stand by ANDSF were youths. Not only in the north but in all Afghanistan, uprising forces were established to defend people,” added Mohammadi.

During his visit to Balkh, Mohammadi also met Afghan army soldiers.

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Well known Afghan comedian gunned down in Kandahar

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(Last Updated On: July 27, 2021)

A well-known local comedian, Nazar Mohammad, who was known as Khasha Jawan, was gunned down on Tuesday, allegedly by the Taliban, in Kandahar, sparking widespread condemnation.

According to sources, Khasha Jawan was assaulted by the militants before being killed.

He was allegedly then dragged out of his house, with his hands tied behind his back and his body dumped in the Dand district of Kandahar.

A video doing its rounds on social media shows the militants assaulting Khasha Jawan before killing him.

Vice President Amrullah Saleh wrote on his Facebook page that Khasha Jawan was executed by the Taliban in a “kangaroo court.”

“Footage of the moments before the execution of Khasha Jawan Kandahari in a kangaroo court shows that the Taliban does not abide by Sharia; they have no court, no law, and no humanity,” Saleh said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Culture and Information stated that Khasha Jawan sent out strong messages through “art and allegory” to the people.

Waheed Omer, Director General at the Office of Public and Strategic Affairs of the Afghan government, stated: “Footage of Taliban killing a bound local comedian in Kandahar is a drop [in the ocean compared to] the massacre campaign that the Taliban has waged across Afghanistan.”

“Please don’t look the other way. Raise your voice on whatever stage that you have access to. These savages are after rooting our people out,” Omer tweeted.

The Taliban, however, stated that Nazar Mohammad was a member of the Afghan security forces.

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Taliban negotiating team member’s son killed in clashes in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: July 27, 2021)

Anas Haqqani, a member of the Taliban’s negotiating team, confirmed Tuesday that the son of Mohammad Nabi Omari, a member of the Taliban leadership and negotiating team, was killed in a battle with government forces.

In a tweet, Haqqani confirmed the killing of Omari. But he did not give any further details.

The Afghan government also confirmed that Abdul Haq Omari, who was the deputy chief of the Taliban military wing in Paktia province, was killed in a clash with Special Forces.

Meanwhile, Shaheen 209th Military Corps claims that a Pakistani army officer Javed was killed by NDS forces.

According to the Corps, he was a serving Pakistani army officer and was leading the Taliban in Logar, Paktia, and Paktika provinces and was killed on Tuesday morning in an operation by NDS 01 unit.

The Corps also said that a commander of tactical training and head of the Taliban Red Unit in Faryab province, along with seven of his fighters was killed.

“Qari Hayatullah, known as Osama, the head of the Taliban’s red unit and commander of the Taliban’s tactical and terrorist training for Faryab province, was killed Monday afternoon in a joint operation by defense and security forces in the village of Deh Azizan in the Sabz area of Pashtun Kot district,” read the statement.

During the operation nine other members of the group were wounded, the Corps added.

The Taliban has not commented yet.

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