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Afghanistan looking to get oil, gas from Russia; hoping to send dry fruits to Moscow

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(Last Updated On: May 16, 2022)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has shown interest in buying oil and gas from Russia and continuing work on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project.

Pakistan’s Business Standard reported that this comes after Russian energy giants like Gazprom have been hit by sanctions from the Western countries.

However, Jamal Nasir Garwal, the IEA’s charge d’affaires in Moscow, has reaffirmed Afghanistan’s ambition of developing the energy partnership with Russia.

“Yes, we are negotiating in the sphere of business and finance. We are determined and very much want to develop economic cooperation with Russia so that there is progress in relations.

“As for specific areas, we are interested in purchasing fuel and gas, these are the most important areas at the moment, what our country needs in the first place,” said Garwal in an interview with Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti.

The Afghan charge d’affaires said the IEA government is relying on Russia to restore the infrastructure, build buildings, roads and other necessary facilities because it had helped Afghanistan in the past.

The negotiations, he said, are currently underway through the Ministries of Trade of Russia and Afghanistan as Kabul remains “determined” to sign specific agreements soon, Business Standard reported.

“We also want our dried fruits and other agricultural products to be delivered to Russia, we are interested in developing this direction. While we have not determined the specific details, but we are negotiating for the future. At the same time, we are not talking about some kind of barter,” Garwal said.

He also said the top leadership in Kabul remains keen to continue the work on the TAPI project, which has already seen more lows than highs since the first TAPI summit held in Ashgabat in December 2010.

With a total length of nearly 1814 km — 214 km of which falls in Turkmenistan, 774 km through Afghanistan, and 826 km in the territory of Pakistan before reaching Fazilka in India’s Punjab — the mega gas pipeline project would connect Turkmenistan, one of the largest energy suppliers in the world, with the South Asian countries.

“Negotiations are underway so that our cooperation within the framework of the project continues… Most importantly, we are very pleased with the security situation: the threats that were before are gone,” said Garwal.

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Pakistan to issue six-month multiple entry visas to Afghan truck drivers

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(Last Updated On: June 29, 2022)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has directed authorities to issue six-month multiple entry visas to truck drivers from Afghanistan, it was reported Wednesday.

Initially, multiple entry visas will be issued for a period of six months, and later it could be extended to period of one year, Pakistan’s The News reported.

Documents required with the visa application will include the applicant’s photograph, passport, registration as a transport company, and employment letter.

The move is aimed at promoting trade with Afghanistan.

Moreover, for the promotion of ease of doing business, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Board of Investment will link the online visa system with online payments.

“We need to remove all hurdles for Afghans in order to help them and to provide them a conducive environment to invest in Pakistan…,” Sharif said, noting that a policy in this regard would be formulated within two weeks.

This comes a day after Pakistan’s PM ordered import of coal from Afghanistan to be paid in rupees.

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IEA calls for release of frozen funds following deadly earthquake

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

Afghanistan’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) has called on international governments to roll back sanctions and lift a freeze on central bank assets following the earthquake that killed more than 1,000 people and left thousands homeless.

The 6.1-magnitude quake that struck the east of the country early on Wednesday destroyed or damaged 10,000 homes and injured about 2,000 people.

“The Islamic Emirate is asking the world to give the Afghans their most basic right, which is their right to life and that is through lifting the sanctions and unfreezing our assets and also giving assistance,” Abdul Qahar Balkhi, foreign affairs ministry spokesman, told Reuters in an interview.

While humanitarian aid continues to flow to Afghanistan, funds needed for longer-term development were halted when the IEA seized control of the country in August 2021 as foreign forces withdrew.

Billions of U.S. dollars in Afghan central bank reserves remain frozen overseas and sanctions hamper the banking sector as the West pushes for concessions on human rights.

Western governments are particularly concerned about the rights of women and girls to work under IEArule.

Asked about the issue, Balkhi said Afghans’ right to life-saving funds should be the priority, adding that the international community handled concerns over human rights differently depending on the country involved.

“Is this rule universal? Because the United States just passed an anti-abortion law,” Balkhi said, referring to the Supreme Court’s overturning on Friday of the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that recognised a woman’s right to an abortion.

“Sixteen countries in the world have taken away the rights of religious minorities, especially Muslims … are they also facing sanctions because they are violating rights?,” he asked.

White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said on Saturday the U.S. government was working on “complicated questions about the use of these (frozen central bank) funds to ensure they benefit the people of Afghanistan and not the Taliban (IEA).”

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IEA’s supreme leader meets traders and manufacturers in Kandahar

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(Last Updated On: June 21, 2022)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, met with dozens of traders and manufacturers in southern Kandahar province on Monday.

During the meeting, Akhundzada called on the private sector to take effective steps for development and independence of Afghanistan’s economy, state-run news agency Bakhtar reported.

He said that the IEA is committed to resolving problems that traders and manufacturers are facing.

“We welcome the Amir-ul-Mominin’s move. The private sector representatives are now fully assured that IEA supports them and they can invest freely in Afghanistan,” said Abdul Nasir Reshtya, a member of the Chamber of Industries and Mines.

Economic experts believe the smaller the gap between the private sector and the government, the more chance the private sector will have to develop and there will be greater interest in investing in Afghanistan.

“We welcome such meetings. It could encourage the private sector to invest in the country with full security assurance,” said Shabir Ahmad Bashiri, an economic expert.

IEA has held several meetings with members of the private sector in the past 10 months.

Recently, the IEA, under the guidance of acting deputy Prime Minister Mullah Baradar, who also heads the economic commission, established the new state-run investment company called Afghan Invest.

Officials said Afghan Invest, a limited liability company, with a capital of $250 million, was recently inaugurated as a result of Baradar’s efforts.

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