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Bactrian Hoard moved to Presidential Palace 

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(Last Updated On: February 10, 2021)

The Bactrian Hoard, one of the five greatest treasure collections in the world  – has gone on display at the Presidential Palace in Kabul. 

The Presidential Palace (ARG) said in a statement on Wednesday that the government of Afghanistan is committed to preserving and protecting this historical collection. 
 
The Bactrian gold was excavated by Russian archaeologist Viktor Sariandi in 1978 in Jowzjan province. Sariandi and his team unearthed over 21,000 pieces of gold from six burial chambers dated back to around the 1st century BC. 
 
The hoard had belonged to the Yuezhi royal dynasty and it lay undisturbed for 2,000 years. 
 
The hoard, which includes necklaces set with semi-precious stones, medallions, belts, and a crown, went missing during the civil war in the early 1990s until it was “rediscovered” in secret vaults under the central bank building in Kabul and brought to public attention again in 2003. 
 
Only five trusted individuals had keys to the vault.
 
The treasure is now being stored safely in the Presidential Palace after concerns were raised recently about its safety. 
 
Last month, Rahman Rahmani, the Speaker of the Wolesi Jirga, called for the treasure to be sent out of the country and stored abroad for safekeeping.
 
Rahmani said the Central Bank, where the gold was housed, was unreliable, and he insisted on transferring the hoard to a more trustworthy country on loan.
 
In addition to this, some lawyers also called on government to examine the state of the country’s foreign exchange reserves.
 
The issue was raised after SIGAR released a report last month stating that vast amounts of money is still being smuggled out of the country, especially out of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul – and specifically through the VIP area.
 
“If money is smuggled, the Bactrian treasure will not be safe, and this treasure is to support Afghanistan’s money and must be transferred to another country because the Central Bank lacks credit, and this is a very serious matter,” Rahmani said.
 
Another MP, Nilofar Ibrahimi said: “Action must be taken to prevent the transfer of Bakhtar treasures, because the Central Bank’s cameras have been turned off for two months and we are concerned about the distrust of the current government and this treasure is in danger of being smuggled and should be transferred to a trustworthy country.”
 
The total collection is estimated to be worth around $13 billion. Over the past 13 years, the treasure has been exhibited in foreign countries, earning Afghanistan about 314 million Afghanis.
 
In reaction to the parliament claims the Presidential Palace (ARG) called for calm, saying recently that Bactrian Hoard “is one of the greatests assets of the Afghan people, which has been preserved in the maze of history in which the country’s assets were looted.”
 
ARG also stated that government has protected this historical treasure in a responsible manner and has allowed it to be exhibited several times in countries around the world.
 
The exhibitions have been done in a way for the treasure to represent “the history and identity of Afghanistan, and significant revenues to the state treasury have been obtained through this,” said ARG.
 
 
 

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Allies have the capabilities to strike from afar against terrorist threats: NATO

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(Last Updated On: October 21, 2021)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday allies will discuss Afghanistan during Friday’s defence ministers meeting, which will be “the first opportunity for the ministers to engage in the lessons learnt process” launched by the organization.

NATO defense ministers are meeting Thursday and Friday in Brussels to chart the course for the alliance as it modernizes and adapts to a world dominated by strategic competition.

However, the discussions will also include Afghanistan, Stoltenberg said during a press conference Thursday. According to him “we are in the midst of the lessons learned process, I think it’s a bit early to draw final conclusions.”

He said the decision to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan had been “a very difficult dilemma” but after extensive rounds of consultations among all allies, “we agreed together to end our military presence in Afghanistan”.

Stoltenberg said the lesson learned process has to focus on both what did not work, but also what worked, and he said “we should recognize that we actually made significant achievements”.

“Our mission was not in vain. We prevented Afghanistan from being a safe haven for international terrorists, and prevented any attack against any NATO ally over 20 years.

“Now we will stay vigilant and preserve those gains. Not least by holding, using the leverage we have on the new Taliban (Islamic Emirate) regime to make sure that they live up to their commitments on terrorism, on human rights, and safe passage.”

“The international community has economic and diplomatic leverage over the Taliban (Islamic Emirate),” he said.

“Looking ahead, we must continue to stand together in the fight against international terrorism,” he said. “And in the margins of this ministerial, we will hold a meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh [or the Islamic State group],” he said.

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IEA calls on US to unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets

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(Last Updated On: October 21, 2021)

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) leaders called on the US to unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets during a news conference in Moscow on Wednesday night saying that the money is for the Afghan people.

“All countries, with almost one voice, called on the US to end its financial prohibitions on Afghanistan and to unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets because this money is for the Afghan people and they were receiving their salaries from it, and therefore the US has no right to freeze these funds,” acting IEA Minister of Information and Culture, Khairullah Khairkhwa, said.

Pakistan, China, Iran, India and former Soviet Central Asian states joined IEA officials at the Moscow meeting. The United States stayed away, citing technical reasons.

Acting Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi meanwhile said at the meeting that the IEA would create conditions for women to work within the framework of Sharia law.

He also emphasized that the IEA does not represent a threat to any other country.

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UN sets up trust fund for ‘people’s economy’ in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: October 21, 2021)

The United Nations said on Thursday it had set up a special trust fund to provide urgently-needed cash directly to Afghans through a system that would tap into donor funds frozen since the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) takeover in August.

Achim Steiner, the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) administrator, said that Germany, a first contributor, had pledged 50 million euros ($58 million) to the fund, and that it was in touch with other donors.

“Discussions over the last few weeks have focused on how we do find a way to be able to mobilise these resources in view of the economic implosion that is now unfolding and the international community’s repeated commitment not to abandon the people of Afghanistan,” he told a news briefing.

This comes after US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said on Tuesday he sees no situation where the IEA would be allowed access to Afghan central bank reserves, which are largely held in the United States.

The IEA has called for the United States to lift a block on more than $9 billion of Afghan central bank reserves held outside the country as the government struggles to contain a deepening economic crisis.

“We believe that it’s essential that we maintain our sanctions against the Taliban (IEA) but at the same time find ways for legitimate humanitarian assistance to get to the Afghan people. That’s exactly what we’re doing,” Adeyemo told the Senate Banking Committee.

Washington and other Western countries are grappling with difficult choices as a severe humanitarian crisis looms large in Afghanistan. They have been trying to work out how to engage with the IEA without granting them legitimacy, while ensuring humanitarian aid flows into the country.

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