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Poverty is a multi-dimensional and historic issue in Afghanistan: Ghani

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(Last Updated On: September 25, 2020)

President Ghani says that the Covid-19 pandemic has plunged the world into turmoil, uncertainty, and unprecedented risk. 

Addressing a side event – Poverty at the Cross Road: Using leadership and the multidimensional poverty index to build back better – on the sideline of the 75th session of United Nation General Assembly on Thursday, Ghani said that the pandemic has exposed existing vulnerabilities and shortcomings in our systems and normal modes of conduct. 

“It wreaked havoc on lives and livelihoods, particularly for the poor and disadvantaged. It posed an unparalleled challenge to our scientific and technological capabilities, and an existential threat to our medical professionals who have been on the front lines of a war for which we were not prepared,” Ghani added. 

“The virus arrived in Afghanistan at the end of February in Herat province, on the border with Iran. The virus peaked in June with an infection rate of 76%. As of September 23, we had recorded 1,446 deaths from the virus. Today, with the virus on the decline, the infection rate is fluctuating daily between 6% and 25%.”

Ghani stated that poverty is one of the most pervasive and complex problems the Afghan people face today and the COVID-19 pandemic” made that even worse for many people.”

He added that the most pressing issue facing people living in poverty is food insecurity.

“In February, it looked challenging because country after country was closing its borders and its economies. We were fortunate, however, to secure the full cooperation of our central Asian neighbors to keep the supply chains functioning.”

Ghani highlighted that poverty is a multi-dimensional and historic issue in Afghanistan. He said it certainly did not start with COVID-19, “so our policy response must also be multi-faceted and must also look far beyond the pandemic.” 

President suggests the following priorities for responding to poverty in the country: 

First, we need to reach the poor as directly as possible. The Citizen’s Charter is the vehicle of our national community development programs, including the implementation of the National Meal Program. The Citizen’s Charter program is a network of elected community councils in all 34 provinces, where 50% of council members are women. 

We are determined to complete the issuance of electronic IDs to every citizen of the country so we can increase their access to mobile money. The goal is that within a year to 18 months, we will be able to reach the poor directly.

Second, we have to enhance our citizen’s assets. The key to this is increasing the productivity of land, labor, and water. 

Third, we must align the goals of the market building, state-building, and nation-building. The unifying element here is investing in education, particularly girls’ education and the generation that was denied an education because of 40 years of conflict. Hence the need for a human capital strategy that is tailored to specific contexts. 

Fourth, we must utilize our immense natural wealth, ranging from water, sun, and wind, for the generation of renewable energy, and we must tap into the equitable and efficient utilization of our estimated 1 trillion dollars worth of mineral wealth. 

Fifth and most importantly, we have to make peace and continue to build peace. We are a country in conflict, losing hundreds of our people every week. Reaching an inclusive peace is the fundamental step in addressing the far-reaching roots of poverty in Afghanistan. The pain inflicted on Afghan society has left scars on each of us as individuals, and on our nation’s collective consciousness.

MPI’s utility lies both in providing a solid basis for policy formation and monitoring of policy implementation. We have, therefore, decided that our National Statistics and Information Authority should use and update it regularly.  

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Passenger flights between Iran and Afghanistan resume

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(Last Updated On: September 16, 2021)

Iran has resumed regular commercial flights to neighboring Afghanistan following a month-long hiatus, Iran’s state run al-Alam TV channel reported.

An Iranian Mahan Air aircraft landed in Kabul on Wednesday with 19 passengers onboard after departing from the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad.

“At present, this airliner is returning to Mashhad with passengers,” the semi official Fars news agency later reported.

Regular passenger services between the two countries stopped after the Islamic Emirate gained power in Afghanistan a month ago.

Previously, Mahan Air – the second-largest Iranian airline – had operated two flights per week between Mashhad and Kabul.

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Army chief warns against ‘defending American democracy’

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(Last Updated On: September 16, 2021)

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s Chief of Army Staff Qari Fasihudin Fitrat said Wednesday a strong and orderly army would soon be established to independently defend Afghan territory.

Fitrat also stated that the Islamic Emirate would suppress anyone who tried to defend gains made in the past 20 years and American democracy.

He warned that “such people are violating public order and leading the country towards a civil war.”

“We will not allow anyone to disrupt the security of the people in the name of ethnicity, fear and defending the achievements of the last 20 years and American democracy,” Fitrat stated.

Afghanistan had around 300,000 active military personnel in its security forces that disintegrated on August 15 as the former government collapsed.

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Ghani’s escape derailed latest Taliban deal: Khalilzad

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(Last Updated On: September 15, 2021)

Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s decision to flee the country last month shattered a last-minute deal with the Islamic Emirate that was designed to negotiate a political transition.

In an interview with the Financial Times, his first since the US pulled out of Afghanistan, US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said according to the plan, Ghani would have remained in his post until an agreement was reached on a future government – even as the Islamic Emirate’s forces were at the gates of Kabul.

However, Khalilzad said the power vacuum left by Ghani’s unexpected escape on August 15 led to the fall of his government and the takeover by the Islamic Emirate.

He said this, in turn, sparked a chaotic evacuation of civilians and troops and effectively ended the talks in Doha.

“Even in the end, we had an agreement with the Taliban (Islamic Emirate) to [them] not go into Kabul,” Khalilzad told the Financial Times adding that at no time did this include Ghani fleeing the country.

Khalilzad’s comments echo those made by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who told US lawmakers this week that he had received assurances from Ghani on the eve of his escape that he agreed with Washington’s plan.

Kabul’s security forces disbanded at the news of Ghani’s disappearance, Khalilzad said.

“There were public order issues in Kabul after Ghani’s flight. . . The Taliban (Islamic Emirate) [then]. . . say, ‘Are you going to take responsibility for the security of Kabul now? . . . And then you know what happened, we were not going to take responsibility,” he said, adding that he attended a pre-arranged meeting that day with the US regional military commander, General Frank McKenzie, and senior Islamic Emirate leaders in Doha.

Khalilzad rejected claims of a tacit or explicit agreement that allowed the Islamic Emirate to enter the presidential palace in Kabul on August 15.

“We didn’t give them any kind of green light or anything like that. What we said is what the mission of the US forces was,” he told the Financial Times, referring to the evacuation of the airport.

Khalilzad first discussed the agreement with the Kabul government on August 12 and reached an agreement with the Islamic Emirate two days later to safeguard the integrity of the city, Financial Times reported, citing US officials.

However, Ghani was unlikely to have been part of any future government because his resignation was a precondition set by the Islamic Emirate, FT reported.

On August 13, Islamic Emirate forces were surrounding Kabul after taking control of most of the country.

According to Ghani, he fled the country as his life was in danger and to “avoid bloodshed” in Kabul.

Responding to criticism of Washington’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, Khalilzad said: “The fact that they didn’t [negotiate peace] or one side disintegrated, that is not the responsibility of the United States. It is not my responsibility.”

Khalilzad said, however, that he regretted the failure to reach a political agreement with the Islamic Emirate years earlier.

“There will be a lot of introspection,” he said.

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