Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The first meeting of Afghanistan, China and Central Asian countries on expanding economic, trade, transit, regional connectivity, joint fight against terrorism and cooperation in the fight against the spread and effects of the coronavirus was virtually held on Wednesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
According to a press release by the MoFA, the meeting was initiated by Afghanistan and hosted by the Chinese Republic with the participation of Deputy Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Speaking at the meeting, Luo Zhaohui the Deputy Foreign Minister of China welcomed Afghanistan’s initiative to establish this cooperation mechanism, called today’s meeting important and fundamental in strengthening and expanding cooperation between China, Afghanistan and Central Asian countries, and expressed hope that today’s discussions will pave the way for greater cooperation between the countries of the region.
In the meantime, Mr. Mirwais Nab, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, thanked the participants and noted the importance of the TAPI, CASA 1000 and TUTAP projects.
“Central Asia, South Asia, China, and the Middle East have made comprehensive efforts to strengthen and expand regional, economic, transit, and energy cooperation, and have made regional cooperation a priority in their foreign policy,” he said.
Mr. Nab considered the development of communication routes between the countries of the region important for trade, transit and connection of the region, referring to the Azure road, Chabahar port, railway projects that connect the countries of the region and their strategic positions can become an important trade and transit route and a regional hub for neighboring countries and the region.
MoFA statement added that the participants of the meeting also discussed on economic and political cooperation, trade and transit, regional connection and combating terrorist groups in the region, drug trafficking, organized crime, customs facilitation, energy transfer, construction of railways, cooperation in the field of education, health and other important issues.
International Anti-Corruption Day was marked during a press conference in Park Star Hotel in Kabul with the participation of high-ranking government officials of Afghanistan, the chairman and members of the Independent Anti-Corruption Commission, foreign ambassadors, representatives of international organizations and the media.
The second Vice-President of Afghanistan, Sarwar Danish called the freedom of expression and the right to access information as important elements of the fight against corruption, and said that over the years, the continued support for freedom of expression and the strengthening of a free media have greatly helped to fight corruption.
Danish called the investigative reports of some media outlets one of the most objective and practical examples of the role of freedom of expression and media freedom in the fight against corruption.
“The Afghan government may not have had much success in eradicating corruption over the past five years; but lots of serious measures have been taken,” the second vice-president said.
He also assessed Afghanistan’s commitments to fight corruption in the coming years as important and vital to this period of commitments.
In the meantime, UNDP’s Resident Representative Abdullah Dardari said, “Corruption thrives in times of crisis and the ongoing global pandemic has not been an exception either. During the COVID19 health crisis, fighting corruption can mean the difference between life and death; adequate food or hunger; having a roof over one’s head.”
Speaking at the conference, ambassador of Denmark to Afghanistan Mette Knudsen said, “Press plays a key role in corruption issues. It also something for the government to increase the communication to the citizens.”
Meanwhile, The US Chargé d’Affaires Ross Wilson on International Anti-Corruption Day said that the “US expects that the Afghan government will strengthen its commitment to transparency and accountability by prioritizing a meaningful, demonstrable fight against corruption.”
“To demonstrate commitment to combating corruption and to institutional reform, Afghanistan must address the impunity of powerful Afghans,” said Wilson.
“Progress on corruption means demonstrable results which will command widespread public support, strengthen Afghanistan, and ensure continued strong backing by the international donor community for this country,” Wilson added.
The EU delegation in Afghanistan in a message also announced that the International Community stands united against corruption in Afghanistan,
The German embassy in Afghanistan said in a tweet, “Corruption undermines democratic institutions, slows economic development and contributes to governmental instability. It thrives in times of crisis.”
The US embassy in Kabul said, “Afghanistan remains among the 10 countries most affected by corruption in the world. The international community stands united against corruption in Afghanistan.”
“Elimination of all corruption is vital for a prosperous Afghanistan. We support the Afghan people in achieving this goal,” the UK embassy in Kabul said.
Denmark, Italy, France and Canada embassies also support EU’s message and announced to stand united against corruption in Afghanistan.
Early this week, an Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) report said that Afghans annually pay over $2 billion in bribes, which is hurting the country’s economy.
Despite the Afghan government annually spending more than $500 million in the fight against corruption, this phenomenon is increasing every day, the IWA said.
The head of the Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC) also confirmed that the corruption cases this year were more than last year in the government organizations.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) says Afghanistan will receive its first shipment of coronavirus vaccines in mid-2021, which will be for 3 percent of the population.
The spokesman of MoPH, Akmal Samsor in a press conference on Wednesday said that Afghanistan will receive the coronavirus vaccine from two sources.
Samsor said the first source is the International Coalition of the corona vaccine, which provides for 20% of the country’s population in six stages within two years.
He noted that if the production of vaccines in the market increases, the amount of vaccines that will enter the country will increase.
The MoPH spokesman called vaccination a part of the efforts, saying that Afghanistan had “cold storage chains” and that works are underway to address its shortcomings.
Samsor said another part of the efforts to develop the corona vaccine is training special staff to adapt the corona vaccine that is being worked on.
According to him, those who have been vaccinated will be given an ID card.
Samsor stressed that the corona vaccine is being provided to Afghanistan free of charge by the International Vaccine Coalition.
He said $ 100 million had been provided by the World Bank and $ 50 million by the Asian Development Bank to provide the corona vaccine.
Afghan local officials in Balkh say at least five local Police were shot killed by the Taliban group in Charbolak district of the province.
The spokesman of Balkh governor, Munir Ahmad Farhad said the killed police forces were on duty in an outpost in Sabzikar area of Charbolak district.
According to Farhad, the killed Police forces left their outpost for the center of the city at around 12:00pm on Tuesday which faced the insurgents in Sulaiman Khail area.
The Taliban group has not commented on the incident so far.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Wednesday reported 177 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 2247 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 13 deaths and 297 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 48,540 the number of total reported deaths is 1,921 and the total number of recoveries is 38,150.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Takhar, Maidan Wardak, Khost, Balkh, Nangarhar.
At least five people were killed and five more were wounded in a Taliban’s car bomb blast on a military base on Wednesday, local officials in Ghazni confirmed.
The head of Ghazni provincial council, Nasir Ahmad Faqiri told Reporterly that the incident took place at around 00:10am (local time) on Wednesday.
In the meantime, Afghan military officials in Ghazni confirmed that the blast happened in “Mullah Noah Baba” area of Andar district on Kabul-Kandahar highway.
Officials noted that the laden-car full of explosives was detonated before reaching the target.
However, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said that at least two Afghan soldiers were killed and three more were wounded in the incident and the Taliban’s attack thwarted.
This comes as a suicide car bomb also targeted the Public Protection Forces and Commandos base in PD3 of Ghazni city during the current month, killing 30 security forces and wounding 24 others.
Transparency Afghanistan has officially become the national contact of Transparency International in Afghanistan.
Alejandro Salas, head of the global movement, spoke at the launch event in Kabul on Tuesday via a video link, and said: “Transparency International recognizes Transparency Afghanistan as a contact office in Afghanistan and Transparency Afghanistan will become Transparency International’s national chapter subject to the fulfillment of Transparency International guidelines and procedures.”
“Amidst a very challenging landscape we have found many champions of anti-corruption among both in government and civil society in Afghanistan,” he said.
Transparency International is a coalition of chapters in more than 100 countries across the globe with an international secretariat in Berlin.
Transparency International has been leading the fight against corruption for the last 27 years.
Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar has spoken to Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on bilateral development cooperation as well as the peace process.
Atmar said Afghanistan appreciates its growing relations with India.
“It was a pleasure to call my dear friend @DrSJaishankar and to thank the Indian government and people for their generous support to our people at 2020 Afghanistan Conference in Geneva. We highly appreciate our friendship and growing bilateral relations,” he said.
“Glad to converse with FM @MHaneefAtma of Afghanistan. Appreciated the update on the peace process. Discussed our bilateral development cooperation. Agreed to remain in close touch,” Mr Jaishankar also tweeted.
India last month announced a new package of over 100 high-impact community projects worth USD 80 million for the country at a global conference on Afghanistan.