Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
President Ashraf Ghani said the negotiations with the Taliban were only one component of the peace process and added that a growing Afghan economy will lead the country toward a sustainable peace.
Speaking at the inauguration of the Afghanistan Chambers Federation (ACF) on Monday, Ghani said a sustainable peace will not be established in absence of a coherent economic agenda.
During a cabinet meeting earlier on Monday, the ministers, referring to the Taliban attacks on security and defense forces and civilians, noted that such actions were contrary to the agreement reached between the Taliban and the U.S. in Doha.
They emphasized on establishing a ceasefire to achieve lasting peace that the Afghan people want.
The cabinet members also thanked acting Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar for his efforts to build a regional and international consensus for start of the peace talks, and stressed the need to continue this process.
The cabinet members discussed the budget the next fiscal year with respect to the balanced development of the provinces, the capacity and effectiveness of expenditures with economic analysis of projects, revenue growth and revision of the classification of provinces based on growth.
They discussed implementation of the Security Pact and its achievements in reducing crime in coordination with government departments.
Afghanistan Chambers Federations (ACF)
The newly established federation will act as the umbrella organisation for other chambers.
Mohammad Ismail Ghazanfar, the chairman of ACF said the private sector overcame a phase of fragmentation and now will be able to function coherently.
The ACF chairman said the goal for formation of the federation is to promote and harmonize
The economy, create employment opportunities, reduce poverty, empower women entrepreneurs, attract investors, focus on self-reliance, provide technical and vocational trainings, resolve business conflicts, grow domestic production, and establish a proper mutual partnership between the private sector, government and the international partners.
Acting Health Minister Ahmad Jawad Osmani said on Tuesday, Afghanistan had successfully crossed the first wave of Coronavirus infections and fresh cases had drastically reduced across the country.
Speaking at the opening of the “National Symposium to Coordinate Resources and Consensus to Provide Patient Safety, Strengthening the Health System and Medical Education,” Osmani said the minister was well prepared for a second wave of the virus and promised better services to potential patients.
He also added that over 85% of Afghans have access to health services, even those living in rural areas.
This has improved in the past several years, the minister said, adding that citizens, on an average, are within a one-hour distance from medical centres.
Developing a new health policy is a serious necessity
Second Vice President Sarwar Danesh said the development of a new Afghan health policy was a necessity without which “problems and challenges cannot be identified, and solutions cannot be found.”
He stressed that Afghanistan’s health system is facing many problems and concerns in terms of international standards compared to other countries, making it necessary to review the medical education system and the health sector accurately.
He added that political instability and the continuation of more than 40 years of war have been the main obstacles to the development and progress of Afghanistan in various sectors, including health.
However, Danesh added that in the past 19 years, despite significant progress in graduate education and health services, they have yet to meet the global standards and indicators.
He called for more coordination between the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Higher Education and the Afghan Medical Council to find solutions to the challenges in the field.
Iran’s special envoy for Afghanistan Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian discussed bilateral relations and regional developments, in separate phone calls with his Uzbek and German counterparts on Monday.
The three officials reviewed the latest developments in Afghanistan, as well as the intra-Afghan peace talks, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said.
Taherian said Iran supported the Uzbek president’s idea that the United Nations (UN) must pay more attention to Afghan issues and establish an appropriate mechanism for it.
Fifteen new cases of Coronavirus were reported from 279 samples tested in the past 24 hours, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said.
They recorded two deaths and 104 recoveries as the Afghan tally reached 39,254 confirmed cases with 32,746 recovered and 1,458 deaths.
The new cases were reported in the provinces of Kabul (6), Balkh (4), Daykundi (4) and Badghis (1).
There are 5,050 active cases of COVID-19 in the country.
The World Bank approved a $100 million grant on Monday, to help Afghanistan stabilize its financial sector and support small enterprises as the country strives to spur its recovery from COVID-19.
“As Afghanistan recovers from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthening its financial sector is key to accelerating the recovery,” said Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan.
Funded by the International Development Association (IDA), the “Strengthening Afghanistan’s Financial Intermediation” (SAFI) project, will enhance capacity of Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) and also help the Ministry of Finance (MoF).
DAB will benefit from improving its financial system regulation and supervision, including by strengthening deposit insurance, financial infrastructure and modernizing its information technology.
“This new financial assistance will enable Da Afghanistan Bank to strengthen its capacity to maintain financial sector stability,” Kerali added.
The project will also help the MoF facilitate access to finance for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), including women owned and/or operated businesses, through risk-sharing, matching grants, and technical assistance.
More than half of Afghanistan’s MSMEs are financially constrained due to a weak economy, COVID-19 lockdowns, insecurity, and the political transition.
Kerali said the assistance will support the financial institutions in expanding lending to MSMEs, in a “sustainable way and facilitate temporary provision of matching grants to small and medium enterprises to retrofit and retool their businesses in response to impacts of COVID-19.”
President Ashraf had told the World Economic Forum (WEF) that the spread of COVID-19 reduced Afghanistan’s economic growth by nearly 30%.
In a meeting on Monday, the cabinet approved the request of the Ministries of Education and Public Health to reopen public schools from the first to the tenth grades.
The schools are set to reopen in Kabul and the other provinces from Oct. 3 which is the upcoming Saturday.
Schools had already reopened for grades first to twelfth in private schools.
However, public schools had only opened classes eleventh and twelfth grades.
Daykundi police said 14 civilians were killed in a roadside bomb blast in Kajran district of the province on Tuesday morning.
Gol Agha Sajjadi, spokesperson for Daykundi Police, said the incident took place at around 9 a.m. in Kariz village of the district when an SUV type vehicle with 17 passengers hit a roadside mine.
The fatalities included seven women, five children and two men, while three children were also injured in the blast.
No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Faryab security officials said two members of the People’s Uprising Forces and an army soldier were killed during separate attacks by the Taliban.
Abdul Karim Yurish, spokesperson for Faryab Police, said on Tuesday that the Taliban had launched attacks in Shirin Tagab district and the provincial capital, Maimana city.
The first attack was launched at People’s Uprising Forces checkpoint in the Damqul area of Maimana last night, where two were killed.
The attack was repulsed after about an hour of fighting, with the Taliban also suffering casualties but their number has not been confirmed.
Yurish added than another attack took place in Shirin Tagab district where a Taliban sniper shot and killed an Afghan army soldier.
Pakistan has decided to open all border terminals with Afghanistan located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for pedestrian traffic, said the Special Representative for Afghanistan Mohammad Sadiq Khan on Monday.
He tweeted that all border terminals located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including Torkham, will be opened for pedestrian traffic on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
“Will fully revert to pre-Corona[virus] schedule shortly. Officials at the border crossings are being informed,” Khan stated.
The decision comes during the official visit of Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation.
Abdullah in Pakistan
On Monday evening, Abdullah met Asad Qaiser, the Speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan.
They discussed a wide range of issues, including enhancing bilateral relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“We reiterated our commitment to support the Peace Process and strengthening bilateral relations,” Abdullah tweeted.
Qaiser said a “peaceful Afghanistan is in larger interest of Pakistan.”
He also tweeted his appreciations for the “leadership role” played by Abdullah in steering the peace negotiations.
“The Afghan delegation appreciated the endeavours of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Parliamentary Friendship Group Task Force,” Qaiser wrote on Twitter, especially mentioning the new visa policy proposal and the measures taken to facilitate the border trade.
The Pakistani cabinet is expected to pass a bill that will consolidate visa services and facilitate the issuance to traders, patients and students.
He added that with the revised and liberalised visa policy, trade between the two countries is expected to reach $10 billion.