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New Delhi is world’s most polluted capital for third straight year – IQAir study

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(Last Updated On: March 16, 2021)

New Delhi was the world’s most polluted capital for the third straight year in 2020, according to IQAir, a Swiss group that measures air quality levels based on the concentration of lung-damaging airborne particles known as PM2.5.

India was home to 35 of the world’s 50 most polluted cities, according to IQAir’s 2020 World Air Quality Report, which gathered data for 106 countries.

The findings were based on the country’s annual average of particulate matter PM2.5, airborne particles with less than 2.5 microns in diameter. Prolonged exposure to PM2.5 can lead to deadly diseases, including cancer and cardiac problems.

In 2020, New Delhi’s average annual concentration of PM2.5 in a cubic meter of air was 84.1, the study said, more than double the level of Beijing, which averaged 37.5 during the year, making it the 14th most polluted city in the world.

Air pollution caused an estimated 54,000 premature deaths in New Delhi in 2020, according to a recent study by Greenpeace Southeast Asia Analysis and IQAir.

Despite an 11% reduction in the annual average of PM2.5 levels due to nationwide coronavirus lockdown curbs imposed last year, India emerged as the world’s third most polluted country after Bangladesh and Pakistan.

“Air pollution in India is still dangerously high,” the report said.

In 2020, South Asia endured some of the world’s worst air quality on record, it said.

Last year, Delhi’s 20 million residents, who breathed some of the cleanest air on record in summer months due to the lockdown curbs, battled toxic air in winter, following a sharp increase in farm fire incidents in the neighbouring state of Punjab.

As the burning of crop stubble peaked, Delhi’s PM2.5 levels averaged 144 micrograms per cubic metre in November and 157 micrograms per cubic metre in December, exceeding the World Health Organisation’s annual exposure guideline by more than 14 times, it said.

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Wang Yi meets Pakistan’s FM, calls for inclusive political system in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: May 23, 2022)

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with his Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Sunday in Beijing to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

According to a statement issued by China’s Foreign Ministry, the two sides stressed the need to establish a comprehensive political structure and protect the rights of women and children in Afghanistan.

Pakistan media reported they agreed that peace and stability in Afghanistan is vital for regional development and prosperity.

They called upon the Afghan interim government to develop a broad-based and inclusive political structure, adopt moderate and sound internal and external policies, and protect the rights of women and children.

The statement meanwhile noted they also called on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) to prevent Afghanistan from posing a threat to its neighboring countries.

Meanwhile, the IEA stated that it has all the conditions of global legitimacy and governs the entire country. It called on neighboring countries, the region and the world to expand their interactions and cooperation with the new Afghan government instead of worrying about the situation in Afghanistan.

“In our country, a system has been established that supports all the people of the country and provides security, and has completed all the international standards that are necessary for legitimacy, and now it is time for all countries in the region and the world to come forward and start formal interactions and make progress on political, economic and humanitarian issues,” an IEA official said.

Both sides meanwhile called on the international community to help avert a humanitarian crisis and to honor the pledges it made on Afghanistan’s economic reconstruction and future development.

“We must build our government in such a way that the same pressure and punishments on the Afghan people and the attack on the Afghan people and the Afghan land are eliminated and the Afghan people live their lives with dignity with other countries of the world,” said Sayed Ishaq Gailani, leader of the Afghanistan Solidarity Movement.

The Chinese and Pakistani foreign ministers also agreed to expand the China-Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan in consultation with the IEA.

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India shouldn’t retain ties with Afghanistan’s previous rulers, says IEA

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(Last Updated On: May 23, 2022)

India should sever all ties with the former Ashraf Ghani government and establish ties with Afghanistan based on national and mutual interests, said Suhail Shaheen, head of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) political office in Doha.

In an exclusive interview with India’s ThePrint news organization, Shaheen said India should seek to have deeper ties with the people of Afghanistan and should reopen its embassy in Kabul.

He said that the IEA was committed to providing full security to Indian diplomats.

“We have announced time and again that it is our commitment to provide security to all diplomats working in Kabul. It is our responsibility and we have proved that. There are many embassies working in Kabul and we have provided full security to them. That also includes India if they want to open their embassy”, Shaheen told ThePrint.

He also said India is welcome to complete projects in Afghanistan or initiate new ones.

However, he said India should “not have relations and base all their relations on the individual lens of those officials of the former Kabul administration who are now in western countries living along with their families.”

India shut down its embassy in Kabul in August 2021 when the IEA took over Kabul. Prior to that, India had also closed down its consulates in Mazar-i-Sharif, Kandahar, Herat, and Jalalabad.

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A number of exiled politicians show interest in IEA’s contact commission

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(Last Updated On: May 23, 2022)

A day after the official launch and announcement of planned talks with exiled politicians and military personnel, a number of well-known figures from the previous government say they are ready to sit at the negotiating table, but before that the IEA must make sure that all tribes of Afghanistan are included in the country’s future system.

The presence of men and women from all ethnic groups in Afghanistan in the future political system is one of the basic conditions of these exiled politicians.

“We are ready for negotiations. I cannot say everything on TV, but whatever the result is of negotiations and the understanding, we will be committed to it, but one thing is to accept the general principle. We have to take into account the vote of the people, whether men or women, and all the tribes and all ethnicities and religions present in Afghanistan should consider themselves the owners of this country,” said Muhammad Mohaqiq, leader of the People’s Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan.

Experts also say however that a number of politicians will not accept the plan that was prepared for the return of these personalities.

According to them, the work of the commission will be difficult without the presence of people outside the IEA.

“People in this commission, other than the Taliban (IEA ) should be included in this commission in order to gain the trust of the people. It’s one-sided, people no longer believe in the commission, and it cuts political participation to the farthest, which is not a good result,” said Moien Gul Samkanai, chairman of Rights and Justice Party.

The plan, which was unveiled on Saturday by the IEA’s contact commission, does not say whether it will provide the opportunity for political figures to return to politics or participate in government, but only that their lives and property will be safe, and their legitimate demands will to be accepted.

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