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Pakistan to relax visa policy for Afghans as new envoy takes over

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(Last Updated On: September 14, 2020)

Pakistan is expected to announce a relaxed visa policy for Afghan nationals, specifically, students, businessmen, investors and medical patients, Pakistan’s ambassador-designate to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan said. 

“The government of Pakistan is committed to ensure more facilities to Afghan nationals. The main focus is on easing the visa system and facilitating businessmen,” he said.

“I have assumed office after getting special directives from the leaders who all underscored the need for strong relations with Afghanistan,” Masood said.

He also said as ambassador it would be his priority to provide more facilities to Afghans particularly students, youth, and businessmen.

According to the Express Tribune, a Pakistani official, who was involved in drafting the new visa policy for Afghanistan, said proposals have been finalized and sent to the federal cabinet for approval.

He said long-term multiple entry visas will be issued to students, businessmen, investors and visitors. 

He also said medical visas for patients will be issued on arrival at Torkham, the major border crossing between the two countries.

Embassy officials have said that pre-COVID-19 times, they were issuing over 2,000 visas a day. 

Pakistan announced last week that Khan would be their new ambassador to Kabul. 

A veteran diplomat, Khan met with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi before leaving for Kabul. He arrived on Friday, a day before intra-Afghan talks started in Doha, Qatar. 

In a statement issued by the foreign minister’s office last week, Qureshi said he hoped the appointment of an experienced and professional diplomat like Khan would help improve bilateral ties.

Khan has served as Islamabad’s Permanent Representative to the UN and other international organizations.

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Govt rolls out curfew in 31 provinces to curb Taliban activities

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(Last Updated On: July 24, 2021)

The Afghan government announced Saturday it has imposed a curfew in 31 provinces around the country in a bid to curb Taliban activity.

According to the Ministry of Interior’s deputy spokesman Ahmad Zia Zia, the curfew will come into effect immediately and will be enforced from 10pm to 4am. 

Kabul, Nangarhar and Panjshir provinces are the only three that have been exempt. 

“Based on the security [situation] officials announced a curfew in 31 provinces; the decision was taken to prevent Taliban activities,” said Zia.

Meanwhile, residents of Kapisa province said that a number of families have been displaced due to clashes between Afghan forces and Taliban in Nijrab, Alasay and Tagab districts.

“Due to the war between ANDSF and Taliban in Nijrab, Alasay and Tagab districts, many of the residents of the districts have been displaced. We want to know what government intends to do about this,” said Shamila Mashal, a civil society activist.

In addition to these districts, heavy clashes have been ongoing between ANDSF and Taliban in Ghazni, Wardak, Takhar, Kunduz, Kunar, Laghman, Herat, Helmand and Nimruz provinces.

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Commander of US, NATO forces in Afghanistan is stepping down

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(Last Updated On: July 12, 2021)

The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan General Scott Miller is stepping down Monday in a move that marks the symbolic end of the U.S. military mission in the country.

Miller has commanded the military coalition in Afghanistan since August 2018, longer than any previous commanding general in that position and will turn over command of U.S. Forces Afghanistan to the commander of U.S. Central Command, Marine General Frank McKenzie.

NBC reported that as the head of CENTCOM, McKenzie already had authority over Afghanistan and many of the neighboring countries. He will continue to work from CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa, Florida, and his forward headquarters at Al Udeid Air Base in Doha, Qatar.

Miller is expected to retire, three defense officials said, NBC reported.

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Biden: US military mission in Afghanistan will end Aug 31

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(Last Updated On: July 9, 2021)

The United States’ military mission in Afghanistan will officially end on August 31, US President Joe Biden announced Thursday during an update on the troop withdrawal process.

Biden stated a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is “not inevitable” because the Afghan military not only outnumbers the Taliban but is much better equipped. 

He also said the US intelligence community’s recent warning that Afghanistan’s government is on the verge of collapse is “wrong”. 

Biden’s remarks during a press briefing at the White House came after he and Vice President Kamala Harris met with national security leaders for an update on the troop withdrawal process.

He also said: “We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build, and it is the right and the responsibility of Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country.” 

Biden announced that the US is implementing an evacuation plan to withdraw Afghans who assisted the American military.

Biden said Washington would begin flights this month to relocate Afghan interpreters and other personnel who aided the US military – as well as their families – to third-party countries while they await expedited visa processing to move to the United States.

“There is a home for you in the United States if you so choose, and we will stand with you just as you stood with us,” Biden said.

He noted that the US has already approved 2,500 special immigrant visas for Afghans who assisted the US military but said that “up until now, fewer than half have exercised their right to do that.”

There are an estimated 18,000 Afghans who qualify for the special immigrant visas.

 

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