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Small Australian firm wrongly named as IEA cannabis partner

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(Last Updated On: November 25, 2021)

A small Australian medical consulting firm got caught up in an unexpected publicity storm on Thursday after being wrongly named as agreeing with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) to bankroll a $450 million hashish processing plant.

Reuters reported that representatives of Australia-based Cpharm had met with counter-narcotic officials at the Ministry of Interior to discuss producing medicines and creams at the factory, offering a legal use of cannabis.

The report, originally published by an Afghan media outlet, was picked up by a host of global outlets including the Times of London, which ran its own story naming the Australian company, Reuters reported.

Verified Twitter accounts linked to the BBC and Middle Eastern news outlet Al Arabybia repeated the claim about the Australians.

But Cpharm Australia, a family business with 17 staff from the regional centre of Maitland, has never spoken to the IEA and has no dealings overseas or involving cannabis, it told Reuters.

“We’re just trying to work out what we’re going to do to stop it,” Cpharm Australia’s chief financial officer, Tony Gabites, said by phone from the company’s headquarters, located 166 km from Sydney.

“We’ve had probably 40 or 50 calls today. It’s just out of control and it’s just all lies, media guys … not doing any due diligence on what they want to publish,” he said.

Gabites suspected the reports stemmed from a tweet from a IEA-linked account which named a company called Cpharm, referring to another organisation elsewhere in the world with a similar name.

Cpharm Australia provides medical advice about pharmaceutical products and is not a manufacturer so would not take on a manufacturing contract in any case. It also would not be able to raise $450 million, Gabites added.

The company may take legal recourse if it lost business due to wrongly reported IEA dealings – a potential violation of sanctions – but did not expect to be impacted long-term.

“Most of the companies we deal with would look at that article and laugh,” Gabites said.

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Islamic countries to meet on Afghanistan crisis on Dec. 19

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(Last Updated On: December 4, 2021)

Pakistan’s foreign minister called on Saturday for a fresh effort to stop neighboring Afghanistan sliding further into crisis as he announced an extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) later this month. 

The meeting of foreign ministers from Islamic countries will be held in Islamabad on Dec. 19, with delegations from the European Union and the so-called P5 group of the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China also invited.

“To abandon Afghanistan at this stage would be a historic mistake,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi told a news conference in Islamabad, warning that half the country was facing the risk of starvation that could trigger further chaos.

“Instability could give way to renewed conflict, it could trigger an exodus of refugees,” he said.

There have been growing warnings of the humanitarian crisis facing Afghanistan since international aid was abruptly cut following the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) takeover on Aug. 15 and fears of disaster if the situation is not brought under control.

However, getting help in has been hindered by sanctions on dealing with the IEA, the U.S. decision to freeze billions of dollars of central bank reserves held outside Afghanistan and the collapse of much of the country’s banking system.

Pakistan recently agreed to allow 50,000 tonnes of wheat to transit through its territory from India to help Afghanistan but aid agencies have warned that much more help is urgently needed.

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Pakistan to let Afghan trucks transport wheat from India to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: December 4, 2021)

Pakistan’s has allowed India to transport 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat and life-saving medicines through Wagah as humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, the Pakistani government said in a statement Saturday.

“With a view to further facilitate Pakistan’s decision to allow transportation of 50,000 MT of wheat and life-saving medicines from India to Afghanistan via Wagah border on an exceptional basis for humanitarian purposes, it has been decided to also allow the use of Afghan trucks for transportation from Wagah border to Torkham,” read the statement.

“This demonstrates the commitment and seriousness of the Government of Pakistan to facilitate the proposed humanitarian assistance.”

The statement noted that the decision was conveyed to the Charge d’ Affaires of India on Saturday at the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs adding that “the Indian government was also urged to proceed quickly to take necessary steps to expeditiously undertake the delivery of the humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.”

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France, Europeans working to open joint mission in Afghanistan: Macron

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(Last Updated On: December 4, 2021)

Several European countries are working on opening up a joint diplomatic mission in Afghanistan that would enable their ambassadors to return to the country, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday.

Western countries have been grappling with how to engage with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) after they took power in Afghanistan in mid-August.

The United States and other Western countries shut their embassies and withdrew their diplomats when the previous government collapsed, following which the IEA declared an interim government whose top members are under U.S. and U.N. sanctions.

“We are thinking of an organisation between several European countries… a common location for several Europeans, which would allow our ambassadors to be present,” Macron told reporters in Doha before heading to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Reuters reported.

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