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Pentagon reports military leaders planning post-withdrawal financial support

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(Last Updated On: June 3, 2021)

Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said on Wednesday that the US is currently focusing on the post-withdrawal support process, which he says will be largely financial.

In a press briefing Wednesday, Kirby said: “I want to stress … that, right now, the focus of the post-withdrawal support to the Afghan … National Defense and Security Forces is going to be largely through financial means, with some over-the-horizon logistical support.”

“For example, aircraft maintenance, that’s really where the focus of the efforts are,” he said.

Marine Corps General Kenneth F. McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, and his staff are working now to develop that plan in Afghanistan before the US leaves, Kirby said.

The Defense Department is also working with the State Department regarding the diplomatic efforts required for over-the-horizon basing opportunities in the region, he added.

Financial support for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces — meant to provide resources for such things as salaries for soldiers and police — is expected to continue much as it has for most of the last 15 years, Kirby said.

Over-the-horizon capacity includes the ability to continue to protect the United States from the terrorist threats that exist in any nation in the region, even if the US is not specifically in that country. The US already has such capabilities in the Middle East, and more will come.

“We already have at our disposal over-the-horizon counterterrorism capabilities to support our desires that no additional threats to our homeland can emanate from Afghanistan,” Kirby said.

“That said … we want to have additional capabilities, and we’re working through that,” he added.

Kirby also explained why it’s important, once the US leaves Afghanistan, that the airport in Kabul remains secure and open to operations.

“The airport would provide, obviously, aside from the transportation support for people and for equipment … it would also provide a needed logistical hub, not just for our embassy, but for the embassies of other nations that want to maintain diplomatic presence there in Afghanistan,” he said.

“Obviously, in a country like Afghanistan, security of that logistical hub is important, and you want to make sure that, that it can … be properly ensured and protected.”

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Magnitude 5.6 quake hits western Afghanistan, killing more than 20

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(Last Updated On: January 18, 2022)

An earthquake rocked western Afghanistan on Monday, killing more than 20 people and destroying hundreds of homes, local authorities said.

The 5.6 magnitude tremor shook the western province of Badghis, bordering Turkmenistan, in the afternoon, reducing brick homes to rubble, according to photos shared by local authorities, Reuters reported.

“Unfortunately, our initial reports show that 26 people, including five women and four children, have been killed and four others injured,” said Baz Mohammad Sarwari, the director of Information and Culture of the Badghis provincial administration.

“The Mujahideen have reached to some of the affected areas, but Badghis is a mountainous province, the number of casualties might go up,” he added, referring to Taliban fighters, and adding that heavy rain was also lashing the area.

Mullah Janan Saeqe, head of the Emergency Operations Centre of the Ministry of State for Emergency Affairs, confirmed the death toll and said more than 700 houses had been damaged, Reuters reported.

Sanullah Sabit, the head of the nursing unit at the main hospital in Badghis’ capital said they had received five patients injured in the quake, mostly with broken bones and fractures.

The quake was at a depth of 30 km (18.64 miles), according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre.

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Pakistan fired 21 rockets towards Afghanistan: officials

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(Last Updated On: January 18, 2022)

Military officials in the eastern zone told Ariana News on Monday that clashes broke out between Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) and Pakistani forces on Sunday night in the Sarkano district of Kunar province, close to the Durand Line.

Officials said that Pakistani forces fired 21 rockets towards Afghanistan, but that no casualties were reported.

Hamdullah Hamdard, the spokesman for the 1st Border Battalion of the Eastern Zone, said that IEA forces also fired several rockets back at Pakistani forces.

“Clashes erupted between Taliban (IEA) and Pakistani forces in Sarkano district of Kunar province. The clashes continued until 9:00 pm. The cause of the clashes was because of the attack by Pakistani forces. In response, Taliban (IEA) forces also fired rockets towards them, and maybe they suffered casualties. Our forces and people did not suffer casualties,” added Hamdard.

IEA officials said recently they are establishing 32 new check posts along the Durand Line to counter Pakistani attacks.

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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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