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Indian farmers block highway outside Delhi to mark 100th day of protest

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(Last Updated On: March 6, 2021)

Indian farmers began gathering on Saturday to block a six-lane highway outside New Delhi to mark the 100th day of protests against deregulation of agriculture markets.

According to Reuters, farmers headed in cars, trucks and tractors to the highway for a five-hour roadblock to oppose three farm laws enacted in September 2020 that they say hurt them by opening up the agriculture sector to private players.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s has called the laws much-needed reforms for the country’s vast and antiquated agriculture sector, and painted the protests as politically motivated, Reuters reported.

“The Modi government has turned this protest movement into an ego issue. They are unable to see the pain of the farmers,” said Amarjeet Singh, a 68-year-old farmer from Punjab state.

“They have left us no option but to protest.”

Tens of thousands of farmers from several north Indian states have been camped out on the outskirts of the capital in bitter cold since December demanding that the laws be repealed.

According to Reuters, their movement has gained international attention and support, including from celebrities such as climate activist Greta Thunberg and U.S. singer Rihanna, but several rounds of negotiations between farmer leaders and the government have failed.

Modi’s government has lashed out at supporters of the protests and stands accused by rights activists of using heavy-handed tactics to curb the protests.

Reuters reported that while the protests have been mostly peaceful, a brief spate of violence on Jan. 26 led to the death of a protestor, and the police have filed criminal charges against eight journalists over alleged misreporting on the events of the day.

“The Indian authorities’ response to protests has focused on discrediting peaceful protesters, harassing critics of the government, and prosecuting those reporting on the events,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement last month.

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IEA approves committee to regulate, improve and advance Hajj affairs

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(Last Updated On: May 21, 2022)

Enamullah Samangani, Deputy Spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), said Saturday that cabinet has approved a plan to establish a National Hajj Committee to regulate, improve and advance Hajj-related issues.

Samangani wrote on his Twitter page: “The committee is chaired by Mawlawi Abdul Salam Hanafi, Deputy Prime Minister, and the Ministries of Guidance, Hajj and Endowments, Transport and Aviation, Justice, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Public Health and Interior ministry, the general directorate of intelligence (GDI), and the chamber of commerce are its members.”

According to Samangani, in order to regulate, improve and advance Hajj affairs in the provinces, a committee chaired by the deputy governor with the participation of delegates from the departments of Hajj and Endowments, airport, police headquarters, intelligence and public health should be established.

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UN envoy says Afghanistan’s new rulers have no clear plan for good governance

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(Last Updated On: May 21, 2022)

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons says the new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) government has an unclear strategy in terms of leading the political and economic situation.

In an interview with CNN, Lyons said the IEA does not have a clear plan for good governance and its economic plan is unclear.

She said she has met separately with the leaders of the new government, but no specific plans have been put forward so far.

“We have tried to find out what their views are on Afghanistan, how they want to develop this country, so far they do not have a clear definition in this regard, so far there is no plan to determine how they want to lead the country, if they have an economic plan, what is that?

“We are still working in separate meetings with the leaders to find out what the plans are for the future and overcoming the problems. We are currently acting as a bridge between Afghanistan and the international community,” said Lyons.

According to her, some leaders of the IEA agree that girls should go to school, but not everyone has yet reached a common decision.

“In my meeting with the leaders of the incumbent government, I found that some of them know that this issue is very important for the international community and they are in favor of reopening schools for girls, but others have the opposite view, a single position has not yet been formed.

“Afghanistan is the only country in the world where girls are not allowed to go to school,” said Lyons.

At the same time, former President Hamid Karzai has welcomed the IEA’s desire to have good diplomatic relations with the United States and other international countries, but said he hopes the new rulers decide as soon as possible on the reopening of girls’ schools.

“Sirajuddin Haqqani spoke of the government’s willingness to have good diplomatic relations with the United States and the international community which is in the interest of Afghanistan. He [Haqqani] also said that the girls would return to school soon, which I hope would happen as soon as possible,” said Karzai.

Speaking to CNN, Karzai said the issue of hijab was clear. “Afghanistan is an Islamic country and the issue of women’s hijab is very clear in Islam,” he said.

Afghan women already wore hijab, covering the face is not a hijab, covering the face by female media workers who appear on TV is also not a hijab; this is not Afghan culture, he said.

He called on the IEA to scrap the decision that women must cover their faces. On the issue of teenage girls not going to school, Karzai stated that girls need to return to school as soon as possible.

“I denounce it in the strongest words and want the Taliban (IEA) to allow girls to go back to school as soon as possible,” he said.

Karzai also confirmed a recent report by a US watchdog organization that the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan led to the military collapse of the republic.

According to Karzai, a number of other issues also contributed to this including, the Doha Agreement, and the more than 3,000 US airstrikes a year.

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World Bank pays over $150 million to boost Afghanistan’s health sector

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(Last Updated On: May 21, 2022)

The World Bank recently provided $150 million to the Afghan Ministry of Public Health to help pay for medicine, medical equipment and salaries, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) officials said this week.

According to the ministry the assistance was provided by the World Bank in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on February 7 in Switzerland, by Dr. Qalandar Ebad, acting Minister of Public Health, and his accompanying delegation.

The money is to be used for primary health care in 34 provinces, including the payment of salaries and training of health workers, the provision of medicine, medical equipment, the fight against diseases, and the strengthening of oversight of health services, said the health ministry.

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