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Pakistan completes 94% of border fence, despite ‘isolated’ incidents

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(Last Updated On: January 6, 2022)

The Pakistani military has said the fencing project along the Durand Line with Afghanistan will continue despite issues raised in recent weeks.

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar said on Wednesday that 94% of the border fence has been completed and that work on the remaining section continues.

“We are totally focused, and under the western border management regime, the work that is underway will be completed sometime soon.”

He also said the border management process would be improved.

“The blood of our martyrs was spilled in erecting this fence. It is a fence of peace. It will be completed and will remain [in place].”

Although the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) considers good relations with Pakistan to be a priority, footage published on social media that emerged this week allegedly shows IEA border forces destroying sections of the fence.

Iftikhar made it clear that Pakistan considers the Durand Line as the international border between the two countries. “It is an internationally recognised border,” he added.

When asked whether the government had raised the issue with the Afghan government, about the damage, Iftikhar said western border management had “local and strategic dynamics”.

He said the recent damage to the fence, allegedly by IEA forces, was “one or two localised problems”, which he said was being discussed by the governments of both countries.

“We have very good relations. We understand each other and keep talking about different issues that keep surfacing. There is no problem, fencing is underway and will continue.”

“The fencing should be stopped as a first step and the issue should be resolved through diplomacy. If the former government officials have signed any agreement with Pakistan on this issue, they should be held accountable to the Afghan people,” said Mohammad Saddiq Shinwari, an Afghan military analyst.

Since the beginning of the Islamic Emirate’s take over in the country, Pakistan has said the Afghan border forces have repeatedly clashed with the Pakistani military over the fencing.

However, the Islamic Emirate does not consider the matter a serious problem between them and officials have said that the improvement of relations with neighboring countries is a priority and that the fence problems are isolated incidents.

“The position of the Islamic Emirate is that it wants good relations with all countries, especially neighboring countries, and the small clashes that have occurred near the zero points are at the local level, and any concerns have been resolved and we do not have any concerns at the border or line level between the two countries,” said Bilal Karimi, IEA’s deputy spokesman.

Two days ago, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also reacted to the Afghan forces’ move to stop the fencing and said that Pakistan will continue fencing the border.

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Coal mining sector in Ghor gets green light

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(Last Updated On: January 26, 2022)

Ghor officials confirmed Wednesday that the process of extracting coal in the province has started.

Officials at the Ghor Mines and Petroleum Authority said a tender has been issued to a local company and that the company expects to mine up to 50 tonnes of coal a day.

Officials said the company is contracted to pay the government 2,400 AFN for every tonne of coal extracted.

In addition, dozens of jobs have been created.

“Coal mining in Alayar district of Ghor province has started successfully, which is a step towards self-sufficiency, progress and development,” said Wahid Shaheryar, head of Ghor Coal Mining Company.

“The request of all departments and the people of Ghor is that work on the mines of Ghor province should start and (coal) extracted so that jobs can be created for our people,” said Abdul Hakim Hekmat, head of Ghor Mines and Petroleum department.

Despite having rich mineral deposits, Ghor has been one of the poorest provinces in the country for the last two decades, as no regulated mining was in place.

“We have about 80 different types of mines in Ghor province, most of which are located in Tulak, Shahrak, Alayar and Dawlat Yar districts,” said Mawolavi Rahmatullah Amani, representative of Ghor governor’s office.

“We do our best to ensure the safety of roads, companies and mines in Ghor province,” said Ahmadullah Labeb, Ghor’s provincial police chief.

While hundreds of jobs are expected to be created in the province at mines, hundreds more will emerge as indirect employment opportunities, officials said.

Residents have also said that with the establishment of operational mines, other sectors will also grow and infrastructural development will follow.

“We are very happy that the work on this mine has started and we have started working, but our problems need to be taken into account,” said AbdulKhaliq, a resident.

According to local officials, in addition to the coal mine, the central province also has rich deposits of lead, gold, marble, and mercury.

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US positioning itself to take on threats and opportunities: Ned Price

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(Last Updated On: January 26, 2022)

US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Monday he has a “hard time” understanding how the US military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan has emboldened autocratic leaders around the world like Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During a press briefing on Monday about ongoing discussions with Russia, Price was asked whether the Biden administration was aware that “the whole world is watching just like what happened in Afghanistan.”

Price said that ending the war in Afghanistan allowed the U.S. to be more “strategically positioned” to address Russia.

He said: “I have a hard time understanding how it is that putting an end to a 20-year military commitment where the United States spent billions upon billions of dollars every year, where thousands of American troops, at one point tens of thousands of American troops were stationed, where there was a NATO commitment, where thousands of NATO troops were stationed for many years, taking casualties, enduring the loss of life with an open-ended military commitment – were that still to be the case, how [would] we be better strategically positioned to take on what we’re seeing now from the Russian Federation?”

Price also said the US “has not turned its back on Afghanistan.”

“Anyone who would take any lesson from that, other than the fact that the United States is positioning itself to take on the threats and opportunities that we face now while we continue to partner with and support the people of Afghanistan, that would be mistaken analysis.”

Price’s comments come amid increasing tensions between Russia and Ukraine, where the US has repeatedly vowed severe economic sanctions against Russia if it mobilizes against the country.

The United States has heightened the readiness of some 8,500 troops, but no decisions have been made yet to deploy them.

Meanwhile, KT McFarland, deputy national security adviser to former president Donald Trump, told Fox News Digital on Sunday that the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal “contributed” to what’s now taking place between Ukraine and Russia because it gave other countries the perception that the United States is “chaotic” and “won’t stand up to its adversaries.”

“Whatever happened in Afghanistan had a ripple effect with Ukraine,” McFarland said. “Whatever is going to happen with Ukraine is going to have a ripple effect with China, but it will have a ripple effect with Iran. It’s going to have a ripple effect with North Korea because all of these countries will think they’ll seize the moment. They’ll think this is my time. America’s weak, it’s disorganized.”

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Norwegian charities pledge humanitarian assistance during IEA’s visit to Oslo

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(Last Updated On: January 26, 2022)

Representatives of Norwegian charities and organizations met with acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, during his three-day visit to Oslo, and pledged assistance to Afghanistan in various fields, including health and education.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi wrote on his Twitter account that the meeting was attended by seven Norwegian charitable organizations and associations.

He said that during the meeting, officials from Norwegian charities pledged humanitarian assistance in various areas, including health, education, agriculture and livestock, and demining.

According to Balkhi, Muttaqi assured the organizations of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) full cooperation in the delivery of aid and equitable distribution.

Muttaqi led a 15-member delegation to Norway this week where they met with a broad range of officials and foreign representatives.

In addition to meeting Norwegian officials, the IEA also met with dignitaries from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, and with representatives of a number of European countries.

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