Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) has announced that according to the ministry’s latest estimate, the country’s “Red Gold” saffron production has reached about 21 tons this year.
According to MAIL, Herat, Balkh, Faryab, Kunduz, Farah and Daikundi provinces produce the most saffron in the country.
Akbar Rostami, the spokesman of MAIL, said: “In solar year of 1399, about 7,900 hectares of saffron land were cultivated, of which 7,317 hectares in Herat province and less than 500 hectares in other provinces have been allocated to saffron.”
A number of saffron growers say that last year their income was less due to the decrease in saffron prices, but this year markets in Saudi Arabia and China will provide good opportunities to export Afghan saffron.
Afghan saffron has sold for up to $1,000 dollars per kilogram in world markets due to its high quality.
However, according to a number of growers, the price of saffron in the world markets has decreased over the past year.
Afghanistan Ministry of Foriegn Affairs (MoFA) has condemned the rocket firing by the Pakistani army on its soil resulting damages to civilian houses.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the MoFA said the rockets were fired on eastern Kunar province’s Sheltan district along the Durand Line.
“The Pakistani army fired rockets at residential areas, disrupting the security and tranquility of the people and causing huge financial losses,” the statement said.
According to the statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on the Government of Pakistan to stop these attacks as soon as possible and to prevent their recurrence in the future.
“Rocket attacks along the Durand Line are a clear violation of Afghanistan’s national sovereignty and have serious negative effects on ongoing efforts to strengthen relations between the two countries. The continuation of these offensive attacks will lead to an appropriate response from Afghanistan, in which case Pakistan will be responsible for the consequences,” the statement reads.
The Government of Afghanistan has consistently emphasized the need to resolve problems through existing mechanisms of bilateral cooperation and seeks to prevent the emergence and spread of tensions, MoFA added.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Wednesday reported 57 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 729 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported one death and 184 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 55,231 the number of total reported deaths is 2,407 and the total number of recoveries is 47,982.
The new cases were reported several provinces in Kabul, Kandahar, Balkh, Nangarhar, Baghlan and a number of other provinces.
The United States has not yet decided on its military postures in Afghanistan, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday.
With regards to Afghanistan, Kirby said “no posture decisions have been made” and the US remains committed to a political settlement.
Trump initiated a reduction of troop numbers in Afghanistan to 2,500 troops each in his final two months in office.
The campaign to bring an end to American “endless wars” in foreign countries was one of the key promises Trump made, and at the end of his term, the US former president expressed pride in being the first president in decades to not start a war.
Pakistan’s exports of goods and services to Afghanistan witnessed a decrease of 17.10 percent during the first half of current financial year (2020-21) compared to the corresponding period of last year, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reported.
As per the Nation report, the overall exports to Afghanistan were recorded at $450.243 million during July-December (2020-21) against exports of $543.159 million during July-December (2019-20), showing negative growth of 17.10 percent, SBP data revealed.
On year-to-year basis, the exports to Afghanistan during December 2020 also decreased by 25.74 percent, from $110.598 million last year to $82.129 million. On month-on-month basis, the exports to Afghanistan also witnessed declined of 14.70 percent during December 2020 when compared to the exports of $71.651 million in November 2020.
Overall, Pakistan’s exports to other countries witnessed decline of 4.75 percent in first half, from $12.392 billion to $11.803 billion, the SBP data revealed. On the other hand, the imports from Afghanistan into the country during the period under review were recorded at $79.731 million against $77.791 million last year, showing increase of 2.49 percent in (July-December) 2020-21.
On year-to-year basis, the imports from Afghanistan during December 2020 also rose by 79.53 percent, from $16.627 million last year to $29.852 million. On month-on-month basis, the import from Afghanistan increased by 63.21 percent during December 2020 when compared to the import of $18.290 million in November 2020, the SBP data revealed.
SIGAR Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) in its latest report said that the U.S. government has faced serious challenges in helping Afghanistan build its capacity to prepare for, observe, administer, and adjudicate elections.
SIGAR in its report stated that to prevent Afghanistan from ever again becoming a terrorist safe haven, the U.S. government has tried for years to help the country hold credible elections that result in legitimate government officials; However, the return on the U.S. government’s $620 million investment in supporting Afghan elections has been poor.
“Afghan electoral stakeholders do not appear closer to credibly preparing for, administering, and resolving disputes for elections than they were in 2004, despite the hard work of many in the international community,” the report said.
A key finding of the report is that building the electoral institutions, civil society organizations, political parties, and democratic traditions necessary for credible elections will require continuous engagement.
“Moving donors away from intermittent support focused on short-term goals and toward a steady effort focused on long-term goals will require a significant shift in how electoral support is provided. If election assistance in Afghanistan continues to be important to U.S. policymakers, the coming 2020–2025 electoral cycle—particularly the next three years—will be a critical time to stay engaged, politically and technically,” the report added.
Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan have inked a roadmap for a landmark rail link aimed at bolstering trade ties between Central and South Asia.
The signing ceremony for the project took place in Tashkent, and attended by senior officials from the three countries.
Speaking on the occasion, Uzbekistan’s deputy prime minister Sardor Umurzakov said peace and stability in Afghanistan will lead to development, economic growth and increased regional cooperation.
Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar thanked the host country for playing its leading role in the pursuit of the landmark project.
Last month, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said his country’s seaports provided a great opportunity to Central Asian states for access to the Indian Ocean.
The proposed 573 km railway track is set to connect Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent via Afghan capital Kabul with Pakistan’s northern city of Peshawar.
The three countries signed a joint request last month seeking a $4.8 billion loan from international financial institutions for the Trans-Afghan railway project.