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Pakistan delegation turns back after explosives found on Kabul runway

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(Last Updated On: April 8, 2021)

Pakistan’s Speaker of the House of Representatives, Asad Qaisar, returned to Islamabad on Thursday after the plane he was traveling in turned back from Afghanistan due to security threats.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan said the aircraft was already in Afghanistan airspace when it turned back.

Khan said the plane was turned back after NATO warned they had found explosives on the runway at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul city.

Qaisar had been scheduled to arrive in Kabul on Thursday on a three-day visit.

“When the speaker of the Pakistani parliament landed [back] at Islamabad airport, the two sides talked and Asad Qaisar said he understood the situation in Afghanistan and would travel to Afghanistan soon,” said Khan.

NATO forces reportedly warned officials of explosives on the runway. However, members of the Wolesi Jirga (Afghanistan’s Lower House of Parliament) said it would investigate the incident.

“Members of the House of Representatives and the Administrative Board were present, the decision is that this issue will be reviewed by a committee later, but for now, NATO forces have canceled the trip due to security threats,” said Abdul Qadir Zazai Watandost, Wolesi Jirga Secretary.

However, security officials at Hamid Karzai International Airport say all flights into and out of Kabul were postponed for several hours after they received a warning from NATO forces.

According to the officials, explosives had been planted on one of the runways years ago.

“Forty minutes ago, the coordination department announced that NATO forces had discovered explosives at the airport on one of the runways during construction work, which is why all flights have been canceled,” said Reyaz Arian, the commander of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.

“The safety of all people is our priority, as long as there is a threat, no plane will be allowed to land,” said Toryalai Takal, airport operations officer.

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China’s birthrate falls to lowest level in 61 years

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(Last Updated On: January 17, 2022)

China’s birthrate has fallen to its lowest level in six decades, barely outnumbering deaths in 2021 despite major government efforts to increase population growth and stave off a demographic crisis.

Across China, 10.62 million babies were born in 2021, a rate of 7.52 per thousand people, the national bureau of statistics said on Monday.

In the same period 10.14 million deaths were recorded, a mortality rate of 7.18 per thousand, producing a population growth rate of just 0.34 per thousand head of population, the Guardian reported.

The rate of growth is the lowest since 1960, and adds to the findings of last May’s once-a-decade census, which found an average annual rise of 0.53%, down from 0.57% reported from 2000 to 2010.

China, like much of east Asia, is in the grip of a population crisis, with lowering birthrates, and predictions of imminent negative population growth and an ageing population. Monday’s figures showed the proportion of over-60s in China rose from 18.7% in 2020 to 18.9%.

Beijing has announced major reforms to address the decline, including raising the retirement age. A three-child policy has replaced the two-child policy that was introduced in 2016 and had sparked a slight increase in births before falling again.

The high cost of living, delayed marriages and lack of social mobility are frequently cited as contributing factors to young Chinese people’s reluctance to have children.

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CSTO to take anti-drug trafficking measures at Afghanistan border

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(Last Updated On: January 17, 2022)

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) will hold a three-phase anti-drug trafficking operation at the border with Afghanistan, the organization’s Secretary General Stanislav Zas told Russia-24 news outlet.

He said the CSTO has a range of activities planned for 2022, including military security and the fight against terrorism, Russia-24 reported.

“These are measures of fighting against the illegal circulation of narcotics. This subject is especially important on the backdrop of the recent events in Afghanistan. Here we plan three stages of anti-drug trafficking measures,” Zas said.

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Pakistan’s NSA to visit Kabul this week

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(Last Updated On: January 17, 2022)

Pakistan’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Moeed Yusuf will lead a high-level inter-ministerial delegation to Kabul on Tuesday for a two-day trip for talks on bilateral matters and a focus on Islamabad’s efforts to avert a humanitarian crisis in the country.

“Yusuf is steering the Afghanistan Inter-Ministerial Coordination Cell (AICC) to channel Pakistan’s humanitarian and economic assistance to Afghanistan in a manner that helps the Afghan interim authorities in combatting their key challenges while adhering to the requirements of the UN and international sanctions,” Pakistan’s Dawn news reported.

Officials said the purpose of the visit is to ascertain Afghanistan’s “humanitarian, economic and development needs”.

Dawn news reported the “main sectors of Pakistan’s cooperation with Afghanistan include health, higher education, provision of humanitarian assistance, and enhancement of trade/business contacts”.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) government is yet to confirm the visit.

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