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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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Afghan judiciary yet to assess dozens of large-scale corruption cases: Watchdog

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(Last Updated On: July 12, 2020)

Integrity Watch of Afghanistan says many alleged corruption cases of former ministers, ambassadors, members of the Parliament, and some other government officials yet to be prosecuted.

The Anti-Corruption Judiciary Center was established four years ago; its mission is to deal with large cases of corruption. Now, however, the performance of this institution is criticized.

Integrity Watch of Afghanistan says the Anti-Corruption Judiciary Center did not open and prosecute large-scale corruption cases involving ministers, mayors, ambassadors, and members of the National Assembly. According to the agency, dozens of cases have remained intact and pressures have led to them not being investigated.

“There are low-level and high-level cases of ambassadors, ministers, deputies, mayors, and generals, whose cases have been reported to the judiciary, including the Anti-Corruption Judiciary Center and no legal action has been taken against them,” said Nasir Timori, an analyst at Integrity Watch of Afghanistan.

On the other hand, it is criticized that from time to time events related to public corruption occur, especially in revenue-generating institutions and the process of revenue collection; But the perpetrators of corruption in these structures are not punished, and even the payment of money has caused the defendants in large cases not to go through the judicial process or to be imprisoned.

Mohammad Ali Akhlaqi, a member of the House of Representatives, said: “This center should have fought against major corruption, but like other institutions, it has not made much progress.”

Ghulam Farooq Majrouh, a member of the House of Representatives, said: “This institution did not do what people expected, there are still influential people and have limited the authorities of the center.”

It has been a long time since the court of the Anti-Corruption Judiciary Center has been held. The Supreme Court has not commented on this, But the Attorney General says all corruption cases have been handled by the prosecutor’s office.

Jamshid Rasouli, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said: “The cases that have been brought to this institution on charges of corruption have been carefully handled and hundreds of people have been punished.”

Earlier, allegations of widespread corruption were reported in Afghan customs, particularly at Islam Qala Customs in Herat, but so far the government has not commented on the outcome of the investigation into allegations of corruption and the prosecution of its perpetrators.

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Afghanistan Coronavirus updates: 85 new cases, total 34,451

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(Last Updated On: July 12, 2020)

Afghanistan has recorded 85 new Coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the lowest number in daily cases in the last two months.

In a daily COVID-19 update released on Sunday, the Ministry of Public Health said the cases were reported in Kabul (14), Herat (18), Kandahar (5), Bamyan (20), Nangarhar (4), Takhar (10), Kunduz (3), Badakhshan (8), Wardak (1), Laghman (1), and Kunar (1).

It brings the total infections to 34,451 in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, 16 Coronavirus patients have died in the past 24 hours, bringing the total fatalities to 1010 in the country.

According to the updates, the death cases were registered in Kabul (12), Herat (2), and Kandahar (2).

The Health Ministry further said that 81 patients have recovered and fully discharged from hospitals in the past 24 hours.

So far, 21,216 people have recovered from the virus in Afghanistan since the first COVID-19 case was detected in Herat about four months ago.

There are 12,684,409 cases tested positive worldwide, with 564,506 deaths and 6,981,170 recoveries.

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Roadside mine blast kills six civilians – Ghazni

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(Last Updated On: July 12, 2020)

At least six civilians were killed and eight more wounded in mine blast in central Ghazni province, a local official confirmed.

Wahidullah Jumazada a spokesman for the provincial governor told Ariana News that the incident happened after a vehicle carrying civilians hit a roadside mine in the Jaghato district of the province.

The incident has taken palace in Dare Qyaq area – people call it valley of death where Taliban militants have a huge presence – of Jaghato district on Saturday afternoon.

Jumazada said that the Taliban had planted the mine in which “six civilians including women and children were martyred and eight others wounded.”

He added that all wounded individuals were taken to the hospitals.

The Taliban militant group has not made a comment about the incident yet.

The Taliban fighters reportedly frequently target civilians and government employees Dare Qyaq of Ghazni to show their presence in the Jaghato district.

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