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World leaders band together for Afghan women to have a voice

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(Last Updated On: September 12, 2020)

Over 100 formidable leaders from around the world have joined together as signatories to an open letter calling for meaningful participation of Afghan women in the peace process that started in Doha Saturday. 

They stated that substantive involvement of women in peace talks makes agreements more likely to be attained and upheld.

Among those who signed the letter, issued by Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, are Madeleine Albright, Former United States Secretary of State; Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates; Laura Bush, Former First Lady of the United States; Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; Hillary Rodham Clinton, Former United States Secretary of State; Ban Ki-moon, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations; and John Kerry, Former United States Secretary of State among others. 

In total, 104 leaders signed the letter that called on “all relevant national, regional and international actors to pursue a peaceful, stable Afghanistan by ensuring women’s full participation in the peace process.”

They stated that after 40 years of conflict, there may finally be an opportunity for peace but that the international community has an obligation to assist with ensuring that the peace forged is durable and this opportunity is not squandered.

“As global leaders and foreign policy experts, we have seen clear proof that women’s involvement is key to establishing a lasting and sustainable peace,” the letter read. 

“The substantive involvement of women in peace talks makes agreements more likely to be attained and upheld. We have seen evidence of women’s powerful influence in peace processes in recent times, from Colombia to the Philippines. 

“The direct impact women’s participation has on ensuring stability makes their inclusion an international security issue, which the UN Security Council recognized when it adopted the landmark resolution on Women, Peace and Security (UNSCR 1325) twenty years ago this fall.”

The letter went on to state that the international community should prioritize women’s meaningful inclusion in order to help obtain the long-term security goals the world has been working towards for decades. 

The progress made in Afghanistan since women have begun to be integrated into society was also noted and the Taliban’s ban on girls being educated was raised. 

“Women went from being virtually erased under Taliban rule to becoming policewomen, teachers, public officials, mayors and entrepreneurs,” they stated. 

In 2019, women accounted for 28 percent of the Afghan parliament – a proportion higher than 67 percent of countries tracked by the World Bank. 

“Guaranteeing the preservation of equality, democracy, and inclusivity will promote stability and help to protect future generations from the threat of extremism. Afghanistan, the region, and the world would all be safer as a result,” their letter stated.

Outlining what needs to be done, the group of leaders stated the following:

Given the key role of women in ensuring durable peace, the following measures are necessary:

  • Women need to be party to the negotiations, not just an issue to be discussed.
  • Women must be involved throughout every step of the process.
  • The perspective of women and youth must be reflected in any agreement.

 To ensure these goals are met, we call on the international community to do the following:

  • Persuade negotiators to preserve equal rights for all its citizens as guaranteed by the Afghan constitution.
  • Condition international aid on the preservation of the rights and liberties currently enjoyed by Afghan citizens, especially women’s rights.
  • Implement legitimate and established monitoring mechanisms for ensuring the maintenance of rights. Ensure these mechanisms are outlined in the peace agreement and that women are part of the development, implementation and monitoring of such mechanisms.

 The full list of signatories is as below: 

 Karen AbuZayd, Commissioner of the UN Inquiry on Syria and Former Commissioner-General of UNRWA

  • María Elena Agüero, Secretary-General of the Club de Madrid
  • Shamshad Akhtar, Former UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP
  • Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates
  • Madeleine Albright, Former United States Secretary of State
  • Amat Al Alim Alsoswa, Yemen’s Former Minister for Human Rights, Former UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Assistant Administrator
  • Valerie Amos, Former UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
  • Mayu Ávila, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador
  • Lloyd Axworthy, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada
  • Ali Babacan, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey
  • Jan Peter Balkenende, Former Prime Minister of The Netherlands
  • Carol Bellamy, Former Executive Director of UNICEF
  • Mohamed Benaissa, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Morocco
  • Catherine Bertini , Former Executive Director of the UN World Food Program
  • Carl Bildt, Former Prime Minister of Sweden
  • Julie Bishop, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia
  • Irina Bokova, Former Director-General of UNESCO
  • Lakhdar Brahimi, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Algeria and UN Special Envoy for Afghanistan
  • Gro Harlem Brundtland, Former Prime Minister of Norway
  • Laura Bush, Former First Lady of the United States
  • Margaret Chan, Former Director-General of the World Health Organization
  • Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Administrator of UNDP
  • Joe Clark, Former Prime Minister of Canada
  • Sean Cleary, Chief Director of the Office of the Administrator General of Namibia
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton, Former United States Secretary of State
  • Kathleen Cravero, Former UNDP Assistant Secretary-General for Conflict Prevention and Recovery
  • Staffan de Mistura, Former Under Secretary-General and UN Special Envoy to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria
  • Isabel de Saint Malo, Former Vice President of Panama
  • Erik Derycke, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium
  • Rut Diamint, Chief of Cabinet and Advisor to the Argentine Ministry of Defense
  • Lamberto Dini, Former Prime Minister of Italy
  • Paula J. Dobriansky, Former United States Under-Secretary of State for Global Affairs
  • Alexander Downer, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia
  • Mikuláš Dzurinda, Former Prime Minister of Slovakia
  • Jan Eliasson, Former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden
  • María Fernanda Espinosa, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of National Defence of Ecuador
  • Christiana Figueres, Former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
  • Joschka Fischer, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Vice-Chancellor of Germany
  • Louise Fréchette, Former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations
  • Robert Gates, Former United States Secretary of Defense
  • Rose Gottemoeller, Former Deputy Secretary-General of NATO
  • Dalia Grybauskaitė, Former President of Lithuania
  • Rebeca Grynspan, Ibero-American Secretary-General and Former Vice President of Costa Rica
  • Geeta Rao Gupta, Former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF
  • Stephen Hadley, Former United States National Security Advisor
  • Chuck Hagel, Former United States Secretary of Defense
  • Lord William Hague, Former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom
  • Tarja Halonen, Former President of Finland
  • Ameerah Haq, Former UN Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support
  • Stephen J. Harper, Former Prime Minister of Canada
  • Noeleen Heyzer, Former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations
  • John Howard, Former Prime Minister of Australia
  • Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Former President of Estonia
  • Igor Ivanov, Former Foreign Minister of Russia
  • Atifete Jahjaga , Former President of Kosovo
  • Angelina Jolie , Special Envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Medhi Jomaa, Former Prime Minister of Tunisia
  • Ivo Josipović , Former President of Croatia
  • Marina Kaljurand, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia
  • John Kerry, Former United States Secretary of State
  • Rima Khalaf, Former UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCWA
  • Ban Ki-moon, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations
  • Aleksander Kwaśniewski, Former President of Poland
  • Rachel Kyte, Former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All
  • Zlatko Lagumdžija , Former Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Tzipi Livni, Former Foreign Minister, Vice Prime Minister, and Minister of Justice of Israel
  • Jessie Rose Mabutas, Former Assistant President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development
  • Peter MacKay, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of National Defence of Canada
  • Susana Malcorra, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Argentina
  • Purnima Mane, Former UN Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of UNFPA
  • Mara Marinaki, EEAS Principal Advisor on Gender and on the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security
  • Cindy McCain, Chair of the McCain Institute Board of Trustees
  • Sir Donald McKinnon, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand
  • Monica McWilliams, Former Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and Signatory to the Northern Ireland Good Friday Peace Agreement
  • David Miliband, Former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom
  • Laura Chinchilla Miranda, Former President of Costa Rica
  • Amr Moussa, Former Secretary-General of the Arab League and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt
  • Marwan al-Muasher, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister of Jordan
  • Roza Otunbayeva, Former President of Kyrgyzstan
  • Ana Palacio, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain
  • Leon Panetta, Former United States Secretary of Defense
  • George Papandreou, Former Prime Minister of Greece
  • Colin L. Powell, Former United States Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
  • Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Former Prime Minister of Denmark and Secretary-General of NATO
  • Òscar Ribas Reig, Former Prime Minister of Andorra
  • Condoleezza Rice, Former United States Secretary of State
  • Malcolm Rifkind, Former Secretary of State for Scotland, Defence Secretary, and Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom
  • Lord George Robertson, Former NATO Secretary-General and UK Defense Secretary
  • Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland
  • Fatiha Serour, UN Deputy Special Representative for Somalia
  • Karin Sham Poo, Former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF
  • Natan Sharansky, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Israel and Political Prisoner of the Soviet Union
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of Liberia
  • Gillian Sorensen, Former UN Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations
  • Cassam Uteem, Former President of Mauritius
  • Jozias van Aartsen, Former Mayor of Amsterdam and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
  • Hubert Védrine, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of France
  • Ann Veneman, Former Executive Director of UNICEF
  • Melanne Verveer, Former United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues
  • Knut Vollebæk , Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway
  • Alexandr “Sasha” Vondra, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic
  • Margot Wallström, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden
  • José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Former Prime Minister of Spain
  • Miomir Žužul, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Croatia

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Coal mining sector in Ghor gets green light

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(Last Updated On: January 26, 2022)

Ghor officials confirmed Wednesday that the process of extracting coal in the province has started.

Officials at the Ghor Mines and Petroleum Authority said a tender has been issued to a local company and that the company expects to mine up to 50 tonnes of coal a day.

Officials said the company is contracted to pay the government 2,400 AFN for every tonne of coal extracted.

In addition, dozens of jobs have been created.

“Coal mining in Alayar district of Ghor province has started successfully, which is a step towards self-sufficiency, progress and development,” said Wahid Shaheryar, head of Ghor Coal Mining Company.

“The request of all departments and the people of Ghor is that work on the mines of Ghor province should start and (coal) extracted so that jobs can be created for our people,” said Abdul Hakim Hekmat, head of Ghor Mines and Petroleum department.

Despite having rich mineral deposits, Ghor has been one of the poorest provinces in the country for the last two decades, as no regulated mining was in place.

“We have about 80 different types of mines in Ghor province, most of which are located in Tulak, Shahrak, Alayar and Dawlat Yar districts,” said Mawolavi Rahmatullah Amani, representative of Ghor governor’s office.

“We do our best to ensure the safety of roads, companies and mines in Ghor province,” said Ahmadullah Labeb, Ghor’s provincial police chief.

While hundreds of jobs are expected to be created in the province at mines, hundreds more will emerge as indirect employment opportunities, officials said.

Residents have also said that with the establishment of operational mines, other sectors will also grow and infrastructural development will follow.

“We are very happy that the work on this mine has started and we have started working, but our problems need to be taken into account,” said AbdulKhaliq, a resident.

According to local officials, in addition to the coal mine, the central province also has rich deposits of lead, gold, marble, and mercury.

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US positioning itself to take on threats and opportunities: Ned Price

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(Last Updated On: January 26, 2022)

US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Monday he has a “hard time” understanding how the US military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan has emboldened autocratic leaders around the world like Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During a press briefing on Monday about ongoing discussions with Russia, Price was asked whether the Biden administration was aware that “the whole world is watching just like what happened in Afghanistan.”

Price said that ending the war in Afghanistan allowed the U.S. to be more “strategically positioned” to address Russia.

He said: “I have a hard time understanding how it is that putting an end to a 20-year military commitment where the United States spent billions upon billions of dollars every year, where thousands of American troops, at one point tens of thousands of American troops were stationed, where there was a NATO commitment, where thousands of NATO troops were stationed for many years, taking casualties, enduring the loss of life with an open-ended military commitment – were that still to be the case, how [would] we be better strategically positioned to take on what we’re seeing now from the Russian Federation?”

Price also said the US “has not turned its back on Afghanistan.”

“Anyone who would take any lesson from that, other than the fact that the United States is positioning itself to take on the threats and opportunities that we face now while we continue to partner with and support the people of Afghanistan, that would be mistaken analysis.”

Price’s comments come amid increasing tensions between Russia and Ukraine, where the US has repeatedly vowed severe economic sanctions against Russia if it mobilizes against the country.

The United States has heightened the readiness of some 8,500 troops, but no decisions have been made yet to deploy them.

Meanwhile, KT McFarland, deputy national security adviser to former president Donald Trump, told Fox News Digital on Sunday that the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal “contributed” to what’s now taking place between Ukraine and Russia because it gave other countries the perception that the United States is “chaotic” and “won’t stand up to its adversaries.”

“Whatever happened in Afghanistan had a ripple effect with Ukraine,” McFarland said. “Whatever is going to happen with Ukraine is going to have a ripple effect with China, but it will have a ripple effect with Iran. It’s going to have a ripple effect with North Korea because all of these countries will think they’ll seize the moment. They’ll think this is my time. America’s weak, it’s disorganized.”

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Norwegian charities pledge humanitarian assistance during IEA’s visit to Oslo

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(Last Updated On: January 26, 2022)

Representatives of Norwegian charities and organizations met with acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, during his three-day visit to Oslo, and pledged assistance to Afghanistan in various fields, including health and education.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi wrote on his Twitter account that the meeting was attended by seven Norwegian charitable organizations and associations.

He said that during the meeting, officials from Norwegian charities pledged humanitarian assistance in various areas, including health, education, agriculture and livestock, and demining.

According to Balkhi, Muttaqi assured the organizations of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) full cooperation in the delivery of aid and equitable distribution.

Muttaqi led a 15-member delegation to Norway this week where they met with a broad range of officials and foreign representatives.

In addition to meeting Norwegian officials, the IEA also met with dignitaries from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, and with representatives of a number of European countries.

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