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Afghanistan-Uzbekistan-Pakistan railway line mapped out in new deal

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(Last Updated On: February 3, 2021)
Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan on Tuesday signed an agreement for a landmark railway link aimed at bolstering trade ties between Central and South Asia.
 
The signing ceremony for the multi-billion-dollar project took place in Tashkent, and was attended by senior officials from the three countries including Afghanistan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar.

Speaking at the event, Uzbekistan’s deputy prime minister Sardor Umurzakov said peace and stability in Afghanistan will lead to development, economic growth and increased regional cooperation.

Atmar in turn thanked the host country for playing its leading role in the pursuit of the landmark project.
 
The proposed 573 km railway track is set to connect Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent via Afghan capital Kabul with Pakistan’s northern city of Peshawar. 
 
The three countries signed a joint request last month seeking a $4.8 billion loan from international financial institutions for the Trans-Afghan railway project, Yeni Safak news agency reported.
 
Last month, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan inaugurated three major energy and connectivity projects aimed at strengthening bilateral and regional ties. 
 
The three projects included a power transmission project, a fiber optic line for high speed internet, and a railway line between the two neighbors.

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Safety Concept signed to ensure security of Afghan section of TAPI

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(Last Updated On: April 17, 2021)

Turkmenistan and Afghanistan have signed a safety concept agreement to ensure the security of the Afghan section of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, Turkmenistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported.

According to Turkmenistan’s Trend news agency, the signing took place on April 15 during a meeting between representatives of the two countries.

The Safety Concept is an important step in the timely implementation of the TAPI gas pipeline project, including the development of a Safety Plan and Protocol, which are annexes to the Host Government Agreement, the foreign ministry’s report said.

The parties exchanged views on the ongoing work on the TAPI gas pipeline construction project and they discussed the implementation of measures to be carried out by the end of August this year.

The Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI), also known as Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline, is a natural gas pipeline being developed with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank.

The pipeline will transport natural gas from the Galkynysh Gas Field in Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India. Construction on the project started in Turkmenistan in December 2015.

The length of the Turkmen section of the pipeline will be 205 kilometers in length and will pass through the Afghan cities of Herat and Kandahar (816 kilometers), through the cities of Quetta and Multan across Pakistani territory (819 kilometers), and reach the city of Fazilka in India.

The pipeline’s design capacity is planned to be 33 billion cubic meters of gas per year, and the project’s cost – about $8 billion, Trend reports.

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Illegal Iranian saffron in the country raises concerns

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(Last Updated On: April 13, 2021)

Saffron producers in Herat province have voiced concerns over the practise of importing saffron from Iran, which they say lowers the price of the spice on local markets.

Abdul Shakoor, head of a saffron producing company, said they have over the years exported hundreds of kilograms of saffron annually but that there is a growing trend among traders to import the spice illegally from Iran.

“It is a betrayal to the nation,” said Abdul Shakoor.

This comes after producers recorded a 30 percent increase in saffron exports last year.

Herat saffron exporters union said they have not been able to prove that saffron is being smuggled from Iran into Afghanistan but said controls in this regard were lacking.

“Some amount of saffron might be imported from Iran and will be exported from Afghanistan, but it is very rare. Afghanistan produces saffron by itself and there is no need for Iranian saffron,” said Mohamad Uthman Ansari, head of Herat saffron exporters union.

“We are not able to prove [reports] who imports the saffron… one thing that we notice is poor management,” said Bashir Ahmad Rashidi, head of Afghanistan saffron producers union.

The Afghan Ministry of Commerce and Industry said bringing saffron into Afghanistan is illegal.

Spokesman for the ministry, Ahmad Fawad Ahmadi said this week that action would be taken against anyone who brings saffron into the country illegally adding that Afghanistan’s saffron is the best in the world.

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Peshawar cardiology institute opens new unit for Afghan patients

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(Last Updated On: April 13, 2021)

Afghan Counsellor General to Pakistan, Najibullah Ahmadzai on Monday inaugurated a Separate Counter at Peshawar Institute of Cardiology which will help Afghan patients get better and quicker treatment.

Speaking at the event, Ahmadzai welcomed the initiative and thanked the Khyber Pakhtun Khwa government for its role in the initiative. He also said he hoped the institute would continue to provide maximum facilities to Afghan patients.

Ahmadzai also said that countless Afghans visit Peshawar hospitals and clinics annually for medical treatment at established hospitals.

Professor Shahkar Ahmad Shah, CEO & Medical Director of the cardiology institute also addressed guests and said the hospital was also ready to help improve the skills of Afghan nurses and doctors.

He also said Afghan patients are treated at the hospital as equals.

According to him, already about 114 Afghan patients have been treated at the hospital in the past four months – including 11 who underwent open heart surgery.

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