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Pakistani army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif arrives in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: November 6, 2014)

4The Pakistani army chief of staff Gen. Raheel Sharif arrived in Kabul on Thursday to meet with the president Ashraf Ghani Ahmad Zai and the chief of executive Abdullah Abdullah.
Pakistani Army in a press release has said that Raheel Sharif in his one day trip to Afghanistan will visit the president Ghani, the chief of executive, the national security adviser and leaders of Afghan army military.
Pakistani media outlets have said that the Pakistani army chief of staff will discuss security issues, border issues, fighting against terrorism and the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan with Afghan officials in this trip.

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IMF, Afghanistan reach preliminary agreement over Extended Credit Facility

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(Last Updated On: August 15, 2020)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Afghanistan authorities have reached a preliminary agreement on an economic reform program to be supported by a new three-and-half year US$364 million Extended Credit Facility (ECF).

This announcement comes just three months before the United Nations’ donor pledging conference for Afghanistan gets underway. 

In a statement issued by the IMF on Friday, the fund said the ECF will help mitigate the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, maintain macroeconomic stability, and underpin reforms for economic resilience and good governance.

The fund also stated that continued financial assistance from international partners is critical to support objectives of Afghanistan’s National Peace and Development Framework for 2021-25, including inclusive growth, poverty reduction, and self-reliance.

Leading the IMF’s team was Azim Sadikov, and virtual discussions were held with Afghan officials through July and August on the country’s economic reform program. 

Sadikov said however that the agreement is subject to the approval of the IMF’s Executive Board, which would possibly consider the agreement in October after preliminary conditions have been met by Afghan authorities, including the improvement of accountability and transparency in procurement processes. 

“The new ECF arrangement will support authorities’ reform program to maintain macroeconomic stability and lay the ground for a sustained post-pandemic economic recovery while continuing to advance structural reforms,” Sadikov said. 

He said the reform program aims to gradually reverse the fiscal decline due to the pandemic and instead create space for development sending while increasing self-reliance. 

He stated improvements in customs collections and revenue administration need to be improved and the planned Value Added Tax (VAT) process needs to be implemented in 2022. 

“Monetary policy will continue to focus on maintaining price stability and a flexible exchange rate regime, while fostering confidence in the Afghani,” Sadikov said.

 He also said that reforms, in accordance with the new ECF arrangement, will focus on addressing issues that hamper economic growth and resilience. 

“To that end, the program will aim to improve fiscal governance, strengthen the anti-corruption regime, and bolster the financial sector,” he said. 

“Bolstering the financial sector, including by completing the reform of state-owned banks, will also be important to boost its capacity to contribute to growth.

 “Coming before the November pledging conference, the ECF arrangement is expected to catalyze donor financing, which is critical to support Afghanistan’s reform and development objectives under the multi-year National Peace and Development Framework,” he said. 

 The pledging conference is organized every four years and was last held in 2016 in Brussels. 

This year, Finland will host the conference, which will be organized by both the UN and Afghanistan. 

Previous international financial commitments largely end by December of this year.

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UN calls on Afghanistan to prevent further killings of human rights defenders

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(Last Updated On: August 14, 2020)

Afghanistan must take early decisive action to prevent killings of human rights defenders, UN human rights experts said today, calling attention to a recent spate of such deaths.

“The killing of one human rights defender is a tragedy for society; the death of nine defenders since the beginning of this year shows the emergence of a truly alarming trend,” said Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. “Already by August, Afghanistan has far exceeded last year’s figures.”

“Impunity allows the perpetuation of such crimes and implies a lack of recognition for human rights defenders’ role in society,” the experts said, noting that investigations in many cases have not yet yielded any results. “There needs to be full accountability for such egregious violations of human rights.”

Asmatullah Salaam, who worked on promoting the right to education in the province of Ghazni, was abducted and killed as he made his way to celebrate Eid with his family on 1 August. His death comes not long after Fatimah Natasha Khalil and Ahmad Jawed Folad were killed on their way to work at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission on 27 June. Human rights defender Ibrahim Ebrat was shot dead in Zabul in May.

“In January the Government of Afghanistan voiced support for the idea of creating a national protection mechanism for human rights defenders, but no progress has been reported and clearly defenders are still no better protected than they were before,” said the experts. “We urge the government to urgently put in place, as promised, an effective national protection mechanism.”

It is the responsibility of every government to protect human rights defenders against armed groups, they added.

“Afghanistan must do better at detecting and acting on early warning signs, such as threats and intimidation, protecting others who find themselves at risk, and thoroughly investigating violence, including killings, when they happen,” they said.  “We cannot allow these disturbing events to continue.”

The experts said they are talking with Afghanistan authorities, and pledged to closely monitor the situation.

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Afghanistan COVID-19 updates: 75 new cases, total 37,506

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(Last Updated On: August 14, 2020)

The Ministry of Public Health Friday reported that 75 new Coronavirus cases were positive out of 408 samples tested in the last 24 hours. 

The cases were registered in Kabul (4), Herat (36), Balkh (3), Paktya (1), Bamyan (4), Nangarhar (2), Badghis (5), Logar (2), Ghazni (12), Daikundi (5), and Kunar (1) provinces.

According to the Ministry, so far, 98,199 samples have been tested in COVID-19 testing centers, of which 37,506 cases were diagnosed positive.

The Ministry in its daily updates announced that currently there are 9,347 active COVID-19 cases in Afghanistan.

In the last 24 hours, the ministry also recorded 6 new deaths, five in Herat and one in Logar, from the virus, bringing the total fatalities to 1,369 in the country.

The ministry stated that 452 COVID-19 patients were discharged from the hospitals after treatment, adding that, 27,166 had recovered so far.

Two weeks ago, the Ministry of Public Health released details of an official survey conducted with the help of the World Health Organization that found the coronavirus has likely infected a third of the country’s population – roughly 10 million people.

The Afghan health ministry released the estimates Wednesday, saying they are based on antibody tests on about 9,500 people in 34 provinces. 

Acting Health Minister, Ahmad Jawad Osmani told a news conference in Kabul the survey showed 31.5 percent of Afghanistan’s population has been infected by COVID-19.

Osmani noted that 53 percent of Kabul’s nearly five million residents had contracted the coronavirus.

There are 20,960,424 cases tested positive worldwide, with 760,371 deaths and 13,028,829 recoveries.

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