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Mandatory burqa decision by IEA sparks widespread reaction

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(Last Updated On: May 8, 2022)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) order Saturday for women to wear a burqa in public has sparked widespread reaction from around the world.

Among thse who have expressed concern are the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the UN’s Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and the US special envoy for Afghan women Rina Amiri.

In response to the decree, UNAMA said in a press release that the decision, which is a formal directive rather than a recommendation, contradicts the IEA’s pledges to respect human rights especially the rights of girls and women in Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice on Saturday announced that women in Afghanistan must be covered from head to toe and should not leave homes unless necessary.

The decree was issued by the IEA’s Supreme Leader Mullah Haibutullah Akhundzada.

UNAMA said that over the past two decades the IEA has pledged to uphold Afghan women’s rights to education and work.

“These assurances were repeated following the Taliban (IEA) takeover in August 2021, that women would be afforded their rights, whether in work, education, or society at large,” UNAMA’s statement read.

UNAMA has meanwhile asked the IEA to provide further clarification on their decision.

Meanwhile, the US State Department has expressed concern about the IEA’s latest decree, saying the Islamic Emirate’s actions against women and human rights issues have a negative impact on their relationship with the international community.

A state department spokesman said the legitimacy that the IEA seeks from the international community is directly linked to their conduct, especially towards women and girls.

The US special envoy for Afghan women Rina Amiri meanwhile said in a Twitter post that the IEA has been suppressing Afghan women and girls rather than addressing the country’s economic and political crises.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also expressed concern over the decision adding that the IEA must abide by international law in assuring the rights of Afghan women and girls.

The Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice said Saturday that 99 percent of Afghan women and girls currently observe Islamic hijab and that the decree pertains to the remaining one percent.

Mohammad Naeem, Spokesman of the IEA’s Political Office, said in a series of tweets that according to international law, every society has the right to live in the light of its values and beliefs.

Hijab is a symbol of Afghan society and an important value, Naeem said.

According to Naeem, “no one can represent another community, the leaders of each community are the representatives of their community.”

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Pakistan to import coal from Afghanistan in rupees

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(Last Updated On: June 28, 2022)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has approved the import of coal from Afghanistan in rupees instead of US dollars, saying the move will help the country save precious foreign exchange.

Sharif on Monday chaired a meeting on improving the transportation system of coal imported from Afghanistan in the country, the Express Tribune reported.

He expressed deep concern over the rising price of coal on the international market, saying it was the main reason for generating expensive electricity from coal-fired power plants in the country.

“The coal imported from Afghanistan in rupee terms will not only generate cheap electricity but also help save the country’s precious foreign exchange,” Sharif said.

The prime minister was informed that import of coal from Afghanistan would save more than $2.2 billion annually.

Sharif also directed the Ministry of Railways to take all necessary steps to ensure prompt delivery of coal imported from Afghanistan to power plants.

The PM ordered the formation of a committee of all officials concerned headed by the defence minister to expedite the import process.

Esmatullah Burhan, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, told a press conference on Tuesday that Pakistan was a good market for coal exports, which should not be lost.

He said that revenue from coal exports under IEA rule were far higher than under the last government.

Ahmad Wali Haqmal, finance ministry spokesman, said tax on coal exports was increased to 30% from 20%.

The official said that until now coal was being sold at $90 per ton, but from now on it will be sold at $200 per ton.

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Four killed, 11 injured in traffic accidents in Badghis and Takhar

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(Last Updated On: June 28, 2022)

Four people were killed and 11 others were injured in two separate traffic incidents in northern provinces of Badghis and Takhar, officials said on Tuesday.

The incident in Badghis involved a Land Cruiser vehicle which crashed on the road between the provincial capital of Qala-e-Naw and Bala Murghab district on Tuesday morning, said Baz Mohammad Sarwari, the provincial director of information.

Four people were killed and eight others were injured in the incident, he said.

Those injured were transported to Kabul by helicopter, the official said.

The incident in Takhar involved a TownAce truck that ran off the road on Monday evening, injuring three people.

The vehicle was on its way from the provincial capital of Taluqan to Warsaj district when the incident happened, said Abdul Mobin Safi, a spokesman for Takhar police.

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Afghanistan leads world in negative experiences

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(Last Updated On: June 28, 2022)

Afghanistan in 2021 displaced Iraq from the top spot on the Negative Experience Index that the latter had occupied for the two previous years, Gallup said in a survey report released Tuesday.

According to the report, worry, stress and sadness soared to record levels in Afghanistan in 2021: 80% of Afghans were worried, 74% were stressed and 61% felt sadness much of the day.

No other population in Gallup’s 16 year trend has ever reported feeling this much worry, the reported noted.

Gallup said Afghans’ lives were already in a tailspin before the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) returned to power in 2021. Most Afghans were struggling to afford food and shelter, few felt safe, and they saw their lives getting worse with every passing year, it said.

Gallup surveys conducted in August and September — as the U.S. withdrew and IEA took control — reveal Afghans were losing the remaining joy that they had, the report said.

Afghanistan’s score of 59 on the Negative Experience Index was the highest score on record for the country and the highest score in the world in 2021. However, Afghanistan falls short of having the highest score on record for any country: The Central African Republic posted a score of 61 in 2017.

Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman of IEA, rejected the report as “propaganda.”

“The reality is that after IEA’s takeover most citizens are feeling safe and have a sense of ownership and they are happy,” Karimi said on Twitter.

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