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IEA to include Istishhad battalion in new army

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(Last Updated On: January 4, 2022)

Officials of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) said that they will create a special battalion of Istishhad (martyrdom soldiers) to be part of their future army.

During an interview with Radio RFE/RL the deputy minister of information and culture and spokesperson of the IEA Zabiullah Mujahid said that the battalion will be part of their special forces and will fall under the defense ministry.

“Our Mujahideen, who are in the martyrdom battalions, are also in the army; but they will include Special Forces; all of them will fall under the ministry of defense; these forces will be created in special numbers and will be used for special operations,” Mujahid told RFE/RL.

But Mujahid did not elaborate on the specific operations these soldiers will carry out.

On the subject of women and former officers in the IEA’s army, Mujahid acknowledged that women will be recruited based on need, and troops with expert skills who were in the former army will also be recruited.

Earlier, the defense ministry of the IEA said that they are working on building a 100,000-member army that will be fully equipped.

Meanwhile, Qari Fasihuddin, chief of staff of the IEA recently told Al Jazeera that they planned to build a 150,000-strong army.

According to the latest reports from the ministry of defense and the National Security Council of Afghanistan, Afghanistan had 350,000 troops under the previous government.

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Pakistan-administered Kashmir gives 100 million rupees for Afghan quake victims

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(Last Updated On: June 30, 2022)

Prime minister of Pakistan-administered Kashmir has approved 100 million rupees ($484,000) for last week’s earthquake victims in Afghanistan, it was reported Thursday.

Kashmir’s cabinet and top bureaucracy also donated one month’s salary for the relief of the people of Afghanistan, Pakistani newspaper The News reported.

Sardar Tanveer Ilyas, the prime minister of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, said that the people of Pakistan and Kashmir are saddened by the loss of life and property caused by the recent earthquake in Afghanistan.

He said, in this hour of sorrow, the people of Pakistan and Kashmir stand with their brothers.

He said that a delegation representing the government of Kashmir will go to Afghanistan to deliver aid.

More than 1,000 people were killed in the 6.1-magnitude earthquake in Afghanistan’s eastern provinces of Paktika and Khost on June 22. Thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed.

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Pakistan minister calls for easing sanctions on Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: June 30, 2022)

Pakistan’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs has called for an easing of Western sanctions against the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), saying the basic functioning of the Afghan economy must not be endangered.

The IEA takeover last year prompted foreign governments, led by the United States, to cut development and security aid, and the strict enforcement of sanctions has debilitated the country’s banking sector.

In an interview with Germany’s Welt newspaper published on Thursday, Pakistan’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar said isolating Afghanistan economically was pushing the country into economic collapse, Reuters reported.

“If the country remains locked out of international banking and its foreign assets remain frozen, then that is what will happen. We must not promote famine,” she added,

Khar said the Western troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, in which Germany was also involved, had serious repercussions because it was not preceded by a negotiated solution, calling on Germany to play an active political role in easing sanctions.

“In the current situation, it is not a good idea to continue to starve Afghanistan and risk an economic implosion in the country,” she said, adding that economic support was necessary to help the Afghan people.

“How is it that we spent $3 trillion on the war, but today don’t even have $10 billion on Afghan survival? I don’t understand this behavior,” she added.

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IEA, US meet in Doha to discuss freeing of Afghanistan’s frozen assets

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(Last Updated On: June 29, 2022)

A senior Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) delegation, led by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, headed to Qatar on Wednesday to hold talks with US officials to release some of the $9 billion of frozen reserves. 

According to a Washington Post report, US officials have tried to set up a system for assets to be managed, while simultaneously erecting safeguards to ensure the funds are not siphoned off for misuse by the IEA.

One option discussed by those close to the talks involves having a third party trust fund administer the money, according to the report.

Bloomberg also reported that the discussion will center around “creating a mechanism for releasing the frozen Afghan reserves.” 

Ahmad Wali Haqmal, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s finance ministry told Bloomberg: “We’re expecting this would be a serious round of talks.”

US officials have expressed optimism about the progress on talks but cautioned that several obstacles to the deal remain.

“It would be accurate to say negotiations are underway,” said Shah Mehrabi, an economics professor at Montgomery College in Maryland and a senior member of  Afghanistan’s central bank board since 2002. 

“We are in the process of trying to come up with a mechanism that will allow the transfer of reserves to the central bank of Afghanistan,” he said.

Mehrabi said food costs have skyrocketed by 18 percent in the past several months. Basic household goods rose in cost by 35 percent during the first few months of the year; in May, inflation for household goods hit 42 percent, Mehrabi said.

“These reserves belong to the Afghan people; they are needed to stabilize prices,” he said. “The faster it is delivered to the central bank of Afghanistan, the sooner we will see the impact of the reduction in prices that are critical to enable ordinary Afghans to afford food, cooking oil, and sugar and fuel. Now, they can’t do that.”

The delegation includes central bank Governor Mohammad Idris and Deputy Finance Minister Nazir Kabiri. They will meet with the US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Thomas West and officials from the treasury department, Haqmal said.

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