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Taliban shows willing-signs to get along with India

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(Last Updated On: May 11, 2020)

Shir Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, a prominent member of the political office the Taliban in Qatar, told Ariana News that as soon as Delhi contributed positively to the Afghan peace process, the Taliban were ready to get along.

Since the start of the talks between the United States and the Taliban in 2019, many countries, including Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, and some Central Asian countries, have approached the Taliban representatives, except for India.

The United States has recently poked India to participate in the process. The Taliban have also welcomed it, saying it is conditional of a positive move by the India side.

Responding to the question ‘if the Taliban were willing to talk to India as part of the US efforts’, the group’s prominent member Stanikzai said, “We have no problem with anyone who wants to take a positive step towards peace in Afghanistan. Whenever they want to take a positive step in this regard, we are ready to talk with them for peace.”

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for reconciliation in Afghanistan, has said India was an important element in Afghanistan’s peace process and would welcome its involvement in it

In the meantime, ThePrint, an Indian digital news platform, has written that it was not expected that the Narendra Modi administration would change its position and be directly part of Afghanistan’s peace talks with the Taliban unless it derives from pressure by the United States.

It has quoted senior Indian officials as saying that New Delhi was willing to speak out if the Taliban recognized the democratic government – the Afghan government – and that the United States was now forcing India to take part in the Afghan peace talks.

An Afghan free journalist, Sami Yousufzai, who is mostly following the peace process and its events, believes that India is deeply concerned about the Taliban’s return to the Afghan political system.

“It is a fact that during the Taliban regime, thousands of Kashmiri jihadist fighters were active in Afghanistan.” He has said noting that when the United States sought a guarantee from the Taliban that there would be no more room for al-Qaeda or other groups that pose a threat to the United States and the West, India also wanted to receive a commitment from the Taliban as such.

On the other hand, according to Yousufzai, Zalmay Khalilzad has tried to share India’s concerns with the Taliban, which seems to be fruitful as a relationship seems to have taken birth between the Taliban and India.

The progress in the Afghan peace talks has shown that Pakistan has influence over the Taliban and is a key player in the process.

India, on the other hand, had no place in the process but has now made it clear that at the other end of the process – the Afghan government – it has a strong position in relation to the Ghani-led government.

Ahmad Saeedi, a former diplomat at the Afghan embassy in Pakistan, said that following the US-Taliban agreement, [India] was deeply concerned thinking that all the provisions of the agreement were in Pakistan’s interest; therefore, Zalmay Khalilzad has been trying to seek India’s satisfaction to step into negotiations with the Taliban.

So far, India has not yet announced its will for direct talks with the Taliban; however, a point to be noted is that after meeting with Indian officials, Zalmay Khalilzad traveled to Pakistan and met with Qamar Bajwa, Pakistani army’s chief of staff, to seek Islamabad’s support in speeding up starting the Intra-Afghan talks, reducing violence, and overall, to help take the Afghan peace process to next level.

Khalilzad travels to Qatar to meet with Taliban political representatives, following up on his agenda: the acceleration of government-Taliban prisoner releases, the immediate start of Intra-Afghan talks, the reduction of violence, the humanitarian ceasefire, and last but not the least, India’s participation in the peace process.

Business

Central bank to run campaign promote Afghani in western provinces

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(Last Updated On: May 26, 2020)

The government has set to launch a campaign over the use of Afghani currency instead of Iranian Rials in domestic transactions in western parts of the country.

Sharifullah Shagewal, a spokesman for the central bank of Afghanistan, Da Afghanistan Bank said that the organization has set to boost the use of Afghani currency in local markets.

Shagewal added that the replacing Iranian Rials with Afghani currency could gain Afghani value against foreign currencies.

According to reports, many provinces sharing borders with Iran use Rials for transactions.

It comes as the organization launched a campaign in the past one year just to tell people not to use foreign currencies in Nangarhar, Laghman, Kunar, Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Helmand, and Kandahar province, where public used to use Pakistani rupees in daily transactions.

Now, the De Afghanistan Back added that so far, it succeeded to prevent billions of Pakistani rupees from money circulation in the country.

Meanwhile, the central bank of Afghanistan urges the public to join the campaign by using Afghani currency instead of foreign currencies in their daily businesses.  

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Locusts attack along India-Pakistan border threatening food security

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(Last Updated On: May 25, 2020)

There has been an increased risk along both sides of the India-Pakistan border, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said Friday.

FAO, in its Friday release, warned, “Despite control operations, recent heavy rains have created ideal conditions for the pest’s reproduction in several countries. Young juveniles will become voracious adults in June just as farmers begin to harvest, compounding an already bleak food security situation.”

Reports indicate that India has reached out to Pakistan to counter a locust invasion which threatens to destroy crops and undermine food security in the south and southwest Asia already threatened by the COVID19 pandemic.

According to Indian news outlets, swarms of desert locusts swept Jaipur on Monday as the insect onslaught spread wider to parts of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh; while Gujarat and Punjab have warned their farmers of locust attacks.

This is the second round of locust attack in India, the first one having occurred during December-February.

Locust attacks in 12 countries, including Pakistan, Iran, and ten nations in Africa, have damaged crops over millions of hectares.

The World Bank has set up a $500 million program to help countries in Africa and the Middle East combat the impact of locusts.

It is noteworthy that the Locusts can destroy standing crops and devastate livelihoods of people – The desert locust is considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world and a single swarm covering 1 square kilometer can contain up to 80 million locusts.

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COVID-19

COVID19 updates Afghanistan; cases rise to 11,173

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(Last Updated On: May 25, 2020)

With 591 new registries in the last 24 hours, the number of Coronavirus confirmed cases rose to 11,173 – Kabul ranks first on the table, with 390 new cases.

The Ministry of Public Health confirmed 591 new cases of the Coronavirus in the past 24 hours, including 390 reported from Kabul, and the rest are designated as follows:

“Herat 62, Balkh 36, Badghis 21, Nangarhar 18, Kunar 14, Takhar 14, Jawzjan 11, Wardak 7, Paktia 5, Baghlan 5, Khost 3, Panjshir 2, Ghor 2, and Bamyan reported one new case.”

It is worth mentioning that authorities have tightened the movement restrictions on Eid days in Kabul city to prevent the further spread of the deadly virus.

On the other hand, although religious scholars emphasize to impose restrictions, they call on the police to be soft with the sick and others in serious need.

The Ministry of Public Health has reported a lack of capacity in the Afghan-Japan Communicable Disease Hospital amid the rapid increase in the number of infections.

It, therefore, has announced that three more hospitals will be made designated to the Coronavirus patients in Kabul.

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