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Japan pledges over $122 million in aid to Afghanistan for 2021

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(Last Updated On: February 1, 2021)

Japan has announced its decision to provide over $122 million to support humanitarian and development programs in Afghanistan for the year 2021.

In a statement issued on Monday, by the Japanese Embassy in Kabul, this aid “is a vigorous step forward in realizing Japan’s pledge delivered at the Geneva Conference in November 2020, where Foreign Minister Mr. Motegi Toshimitsu affirmed Japan’s long-lasting friendship with and support for the people of Afghanistan, and pledged financial assistance up to 180 million USD per year between 2021 and 2024, a figure
comparable to the past four years.”

The embassy stated that this $122.2 million contribution forms a part of Japan’s assistance to Afghanistan to be disbursed in 2021.

“It will enable implementation of 17 humanitarian and development assistance projects orchestrated by various organizations throughout the country, aiming for the betterment of livelihoods through multiple approaches,” read the statement.

“Enhanced security sector plays an essential role in the Afghan-led nation building as we gaze at peace on the horizon. Our continuous contribution to the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA) exemplifies Japan’s commitment for a peaceful Afghanistan, as LOTFA is a significant multi donor program that plays a vital role in strengthening the country’s security sector,” said Japan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan OKADA Takashi.

“In light of the global pandemic, we also believe that assistance for vulnerable segment of the population who are most severely affected is essential. We truly hope that this new support will contribute to bringing about as many joyous smiles of Afghan people as possible,” he said.

Japan has been assisting Afghanistan’s nation-building efforts in various
fields including security, agriculture, rural development, human capacity
development, education, health, infrastructure, culture and humanitarian
assistance for many years.

With the upcoming disbursement of $122.2 million, the cumulative Japanese assistance to Afghanistan since 2001 will amount to $6.9 billion.

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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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