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Parliament approves budget

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(Last Updated On: January 22, 2020)

The budget document for the fiscal year 1399, Persian calendar, was finally approved on Wednesday by 101 votes by and 45 votes against in the Afghan parliament.

The Afghan parliament’s financial and budget commission banned the Afghan government from channelling money to the emergency code-91.

The lower house included the budget document in their agenda on Wednesday to clarify its status.

Some of the MPs prevented the Financial and Budget Commission to report the budget because of the imbalance in the developmental projects, and criticized the performance of the commission,

Sayed Zahir Masroor, the Balkh MP said in the matter, “at the beginning of the legislative year, the financial and budget commission didn’t act nationally, and that’s why many complaints were raised towards the budget plan.”

However, the financial and budget commission underlined that no treason has been made by the commission as they have sent all the suggestions of the MPs to the ministry of finance in written.

“More than 700 suggestions have been sent to the Ministry of Finance, and they have the authority to bring amendments in the budget draft as they may,” said Mohammad Azim Mohseni, chair of the commission.

This comes as, besides many complaints, the budget draft was put to vote, and it was approved winning more than 69% of the votes.

The other concern of the lower house was channelling money from and to code-91 on which the parliament finally took away the government’s authority.

The financial and budget commission further added that only 11 new developmental projects were added to the budget document, and more than 500 projects were ordinary projects.

Mir Rahman Rahmani, the speaker of the lower house, underscored that the national budget document includes more than 428 billion AFN, out of which more than 289 billion AFN is dedicated to ordinary projects, and more than 139 billion AFN is dedicated to the developmental projects.

Approving the national budget, the MPs want the government administrations to spend the budget legally, or else, they will have to stand accountable to the house.

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Khalilzad says Taliban unlikely to call a ceasefire until a deal is made

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2020)

As the world continues to call for a reduction in violence in Afghanistan, US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said on Friday he did not think the Taliban would call for a ceasefire until an agreement between the two sides has been sealed. 

When asked about this in an interview with America’s PBS News Hour on Friday night, Khalilzad said: “I think you’re right that the Talibs will not accept a cease-fire, comprehensive and permanent, until there’s a political settlement,” adding however that this was not unprecedented in other conflicts in the past. 

In going forward and discussing a road map for peace, which might take into account an interim government, Khalilzad said there were various options the Afghan negotiating team and the Taliban have in front of them. 

“But it is for the Afghans to agree to a political road map. And the fact that they are sitting across the table from each other is unprecedented, that warring – Afghan warring parties have sat together.

“When the Soviets withdrew, before their withdrawal, there was no Afghan meetings. It was an agreement that Pakistan and the Afghan government signed with the US and USSR as guarantors. And ever since then, the warring Afghan parties have not sat together.”

“This is an extraordinary development in contemporary Afghan history,” he said.

Over the past few weeks, critics have raised their voices claiming the US was pushing Afghanistan and the Taliban together to sign a deal before the US elections in November. 

Questioned about whether he was under pressure by the White House or the US State Department to ensure progress was made by November 3, Khalilzad said he was not. 

“We would like the war to end as soon as possible. This is the expectation of the Afghan people. We have not set any artificial deadline for when these negotiations have to succeed. We are not directly involved in the negotiations. It’s Afghan-Afghan. They did not want a foreigner to be a mediator or a facilitator, to be in the room,” he said. 

Khalilzad said the Taliban had stated in Doha that the rights of minorities, such as the Shia community, would be respected and that there would be no discrimination. 

“But that’s still an unresolved issue in terms of an exact formulation and an agreement. We obviously support an agreement that respects the right of all Afghans, whether they belong to one sect or another, whether they’re men or women.”

On the issue of al-Qaeda, in terms of the February deal signed between the US and the Taliban, which had not yet cut ties with the terrorist organization, Khalilzad said Washington was holding the Taliban to that agreement. 

“And what we do is contingent, in terms of reduction of forces, on what they do. We have seen progress in terms of delivering on the commitment that they have made on terrorism, but that’s unfinished business. 

“And we will see in a couple of months, when we reached a number between 4,000 to 5,000 in terms of our troops. We will assess where they are.”

He said the US was very committed to ensuring Afghanistan could not be used as a platform to threaten the US and that Washington would “take measures necessary to protect the United States from potential terrorist threats in Afghanistan or from Afghanistan.”

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Australia Test against Afghanistan on hold due to COVID-19

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2020)

Australia’s planned historic maiden Test against Afghanistan has become the latest victim of the global coronavirus pandemic, with the one-off match scheduled for later this year postponed until next year.

According to Cricket Australia (CA), complexities around international travel and quarantine requirements have also forced Cricket Australia to push back their proposed men’s ODI series against New Zealand until 2021-22.

Under the speculative schedule released by CA in May, the Test against Afghanistan was to have been played at Perth Stadium in late November.

But Cricket Australia confirmed Friday that following discussions with the Afghanistan and New Zealand cricket boards the decision had been made to delay those matches until next summer due to “the complexity of scheduling international matches during the global coronavirus pandemic”.

CA indicated it was confident a suitable window could be found within the current ICC Future Tours Program (FTP), that maps out the complex playing schedule for international men’s teams, to stage the postponed bilateral matches before the FTP’s conclusion in 2023.

“Cricket Australia looks forward to working with our good friends at the Afghanistan Cricket Board and New Zealand Cricket to deliver the matches at a time when, hopefully, the restrictions brought on by the COVID19 pandemic have eased,” CA’s interim Chief Executive Officer Nick Hockley said today.

“We all worked incredibly hard to make the series happen this summer, but the challenges around international travel and quarantine restrictions ultimately convinced all parties that the series would need to be played at a later date.”

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Imran Khan accuses India of ‘sponsoring Islamophobia’

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2020)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has emphasized the need for durable peace in the South Asian region but hit out at India and said India is driving Islamaphobia. 

In a pre-recorded address Friday to the UN General Assembly Khan also said the return of Afghan refugees sheltering in Pakistan needs to be part of the political solution. 

Khan said Islamophobia prevails in India and threatens the nearly 200 million Muslims who live there.

He stressed that “wilful provocations” and “incitements to hate” must be universally outlawed, and appealed to the UN to declare an “International Day to Combat Islamophobia.” 

Khan accused India of State-sponsored Islamophobia, alleging that mosques have been destroyed and that Muslims have been killed and are at risk of losing their nationality due to discriminatory laws. 

“Muslims were falsely blamed, vilified and victimized for spreading the coronavirus. They were denied medical attention and on many occasions, their businesses boycotted,” he said, noting that other religions are also at risk of being marginalized in India. 

“The one country in the world today where, I am sad to say, the state sponsors Islamophobia, is India,” he said. 

Khan also raised the issue of COVID-19 in his country and said “smart lockdowns” had helped his country fight the pandemic. 

“We have not only managed to control the virus, stabilize our economy but most importantly, we have been able to protect the poorest segment of our society from the worst fallouts of the lockdown.

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