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China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal agree to jointly fight COVID-19

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(Last Updated On: July 28, 2020)

China, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal have agreed to work together to strengthen cooperation and boost economic recovery during their fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agreement was reached during a video conference on Monday night between Afghanistan’s Acting Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar, China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Quresh and Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali.

During the conference, the ministers discussed ways to boost cooperation in their countries’ fight against coronavirus and ways to boost economic recovery in light of the pandemic, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported. 

Wang Yi said that as a neighbor and partner, China stands ready to continue to work with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nepal to overcome difficulties, safeguard people’s health, promote the resumption of work and production and enhance people’s livelihood until the pandemic is over. 

The ministers from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal said the three sides are willing to deepen cooperation with China to fight COVID-19, ensure the flow of trade and transport corridors, facilitate people-to-people and trade connection, build a “silk road of health” and community of a shared future for humanity.

According to the Associated Press of Pakistan, the foreign ministers also stressed the importance of promoting the resumption of key cooperation projects and expanding new areas of digital cooperation.

More efforts are needed to promote the joint efforts of the Belt and Road and explore ways to synergize the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network, the foreign ministers said.

Wang Yi said: “We should support the international system with the United Nations at its core and the international order based on international law, and safeguard the common interests of developing countries.”

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First consignment of Afghan goods exported under IEA rule

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(Last Updated On: October 18, 2021)

Officials of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) said Monday that the first consignment of commercial goods was exported via transit routes to countries in the region and around the world since their August takeover.

Among goods exported on Monday were onions, potatoes, saffron, figs, dried fruits, and handicrafts, officials said.

“We are trying our best to grow our exports. We are trying to get our products to international markets as was done in the past.

“We coordinate with the private sector and will be ready to help,” said Mawlawi Abdullah Halil, head of Kabul customs department.

Officials also said that the IEA will work hard to strengthen economic ties with neighboring countries.

Afghanistan’s private sector welcomed Monday’s development and said that several new opportunities have emerged for businessmen compared to the past.

“Ministry of Commerce, Chamber of Commerce and Investment wanted to export Afghan products, today we exported products to Australia, India and Holland worth more than one million dollars,” said Amradin Stanikzai, an official.

Economic analysts say that if IEA works with the private sector the current crisis will be resolved soon.

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Pakistan’s Chaman border, closed for days due to fear of Afghans influx

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(Last Updated On: October 17, 2021)

A day after protesters took to the streets of Chaman in Pakistan to demand the re-opening of the border crossing into Afghanistan, scores were seen waiting by the border road on Saturday.

Hundreds of people are stranded on both sides of the Chaman border crossing that has been closed for almost two weeks now, Reuters reported.

“This border has been closed for the last 13 days. We have been sitting here for the past 13 days for it to open. We come here at 8:00 in the morning, but by 10:00 we go back, because they (officials) are saying it could not open for months. Whatever money we had earned, we have spent all of it here,” said Sami Ullah, a laborer from Baghlan province who had gone to Karachi for work.

Pakistani officials have said the border has been temporarily closed apparently due to the fear of an influx of Afghans who want to leave their homeland after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) seized power in August.

Chaman border crossing , the second-largest commercial border point with Afghanistan after the Torkham commercial town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, links with Spin Boldak in the Afghan province of Kandahar, and is used by thousands of labourers, as well as traders, from both countries on a regular basis.

On Friday, thousands of traders took to the streets of Chaman, some on horseback, demanding that the border be opened, Reuters reported.

According to reports, thousands of Afghans have been gathering near the border in their efforts to sneak into Pakistan which has already announced that it was not in a position to accept more refugees.

Already around three million Afghan refugees are already living in Pakistan, some for more than three decades, since the invasion of their country by the Russians in 1979.

Pakistan officials say they fear around a million more would enter the country if border regulations are relaxed.

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Pakistan Airlines suspends Afghan operations citing IEA interference

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(Last Updated On: October 15, 2021)

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) suspended flights to the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Thursday after what it called heavy handed interference by Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) authorities.

The suspension took place after the IEA government ordered the airline, the only international company operating regularly out of Kabul, to cut ticket prices to levels seen before the fall of the Western-backed Afghan government in August.

“We are suspending our flight operations to Kabul from today because of the heavy handedness of the authorities,” a spokesman told Reuters.

Earlier, the IEA warned PIA and Afghan carrier Kam Air that their Afghan operations risked being blocked unless they agreed to cut ticket prices, which have spiralled to levels out of reach for most Afghans.

With most airlines no longer flying to Afghanistan, tickets for flights to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, have been selling for as much as $2,500 on PIA, according to travel agents in Kabul, compared with $120-$150 before.

The Afghan transport ministry said in a statement prices on the route should “be adjusted to correspond with the conditions of a ticket before the victory of the Islamic Emirate” or the flights would be stopped.

It urged passengers and others to report any violations.

PIA, which runs chartered flights to Kabul rather than regular commercial services, said it had maintained the flights on “humanitarian grounds” and faced insurance premiums of as much as $400,000 per flight, Reuters reported.

“The insurance premiums on these flights are so high that it is simply impossible to operate scheduled flights to Kabul, as it is still considered a war zone by aircraft insurance companies and lessors,” the company said in a statement.

No comment was immediately available from Kam Air.

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