Pakistani and Chinese officials on Monday discussed the possibility of Afghanistan joining the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) infrastructure project.
The idea to extend CPEC, the central part of the Belt and Road Initiative, was discussed during a meeting between China’s special envoy on Afghanistan Yue Xiayong and Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood in Islamabad.
An official statement said the two sides exchanged views on the political and security situation in Afghanistan, humanitarian assistance by Pakistan and China to Afghanistan, and other matters of mutual interest.
“In the context of regional connectivity, both sides exchanged views on extension of CPEC to Afghanistan to promote economic development and prosperity,” read the statement.
The foreign secretary underscored Pakistan’s commitment to a peaceful, stable, prosperous, and connected Afghanistan. He highlighted the provision of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, including Pakistan’s relief efforts in the wake of devastating earthquake in eastern Afghanistan on 22 June 2022.
He also stressed the importance of unfreezing of Afghanistan’s foreign reserves and facilitation of banking operations to ease the economic hardships of the Afghan people and help build a sustainable economy.
The foreign secretary further underlined the importance for the Afghan side to address the international community’s expectations regarding inclusivity; respect for the rights of all Afghans, including girls’ education; and effective counter-terrorism measures.
He underscored that the international community’s focus should not be diverted from the dire situation in Afghanistan owing to events taking place elsewhere.
Chinese envoy Yue Xiaoyong appreciated the important and constructive role played by Pakistan in the context of Afghanistan. Both sides agreed that only a peaceful, stable and connected Afghanistan could act as a fulcrum for enhanced regional trade and connectivity.
Earlier, the Chinese special envoy for Afghanistan held talks with his Pakistani counterpart Mohammad Sadiq. Both sides took stock of the evolving situation and discussed humanitarian assistance, infrastructure development, as well as trade and transit initiatives.
Musk says Twitter deal could move ahead with ‘bot’ info
Elon Musk said Saturday his planned $44 billion takeover of Twitter should move forward if the company can confirm some details about how it measures whether user accounts are ‘spam bots’ or real people, AP reported Saturday.
The billionaire and Tesla CEO has been trying to back out of his April agreement to buy the social media company, leading Twitter to sue him last month to complete the acquisition. Musk countersued, accusing Twitter of misleading his team about the true size of its user base and other problems he said amounted to fraud and breach of contract.
Both sides are headed toward an October trial in a Delaware court.
“If Twitter simply provides their method of sampling 100 accounts and how they’re confirmed to be real, the deal should proceed on original terms,” Musk tweeted early Saturday. “However, if it turns out that their SEC filings are materially false, then it should not.”
Twitter declined comment Saturday. The company has repeatedly disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission an estimate that fewer than 5% of user accounts are fake or spam, with a disclaimer that it could be higher. Musk waived his right to further due diligence when he signed the April merger agreement.
Twitter has argued in court that Musk is deliberately trying to tank the deal because market conditions have deteriorated and the acquisition no longer serves his interests. In a court filing Thursday, it describes his counterclaims as an imagined story “contradicted by the evidence and common sense.”
“Musk invents representations Twitter never made and then tries to wield, selectively, the extensive confidential data Twitter provided him to conjure a breach of those purported representations,” company attorneys wrote.
Fresh fruits exports from Afghanistan increase this year: ACCI
Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce & Investment (ACCI) said Friday that fresh fruits exports have increased from the country abroad.
According to ACCI, the export of fresh fruits have increased significantly compared to previous years, and most of these fruits are exported to Pakistan, India and some other neighboring countries of Afghanistan.
ACCI members have added that if the export process continues in the same way, gardeners and traders can export fresh seasonal fruits regularly.
According to the members of this chamber, Pakistan has recently provided more facilities for Afghanistan’s exports.
However, producers and exporters of fresh fruit in the country said that compared to last year, melon products have decreased by 50 percent, adding that there is little consideration for the expenses and efforts of farmers for the price at which their products are sold, and there is a need for better marketing for their products.
Meanwhile, traders said that due to recent droughts and natural disasters, the harvest of fresh fruit has decreased.
On the other hand, the decrease in the price of Pakistani currency has caused traders to face many problems in trading goods with this country.
Economic experts said that the government should find different markets for the country’s fresh fruit exports.
According to them, in order to prevent the spoilage of farmers’ and gardeners’ products, cold storages should be set up in the country.
HRW urges governments, IEA to reach agreement on banking issues
Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis cannot be effectively addressed unless the United States and other governments ease restrictions on the country’s banking sector to facilitate legitimate economic activity and humanitarian aid,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Thursday.
It said that the US air strike killing the al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri should not derail ongoing discussions between the US and Afghanistan to urgently reach an agreement allowing ordinary Afghans to engage in legitimate commercial activity.
“Afghanistan’s intensifying hunger and health crisis is urgent and at its root a banking crisis,” said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “Regardless of the Taliban’s (IEA) status or credibility with outside governments, international economic restrictions are still driving the country’s catastrophe and hurting the Afghan people.”
Despite actions by the US and others to license banking transactions with Afghan entities, Afghanistan’s central bank remains unable to access its foreign currency reserves or process or receive most international transactions. As a result, the country continues to suffer from a major liquidity crisis and lack of banknotes, HRW noted.
Businesses, humanitarian groups, and private banks continue to report extensive restrictions on their operational capacities. At the same time, because outside donors have severely cut funding to support Afghanistan health, education, and other essential sectors, millions of Afghans have lost their incomes, according to HRW.
Overall, more than 90 percent of Afghans have been suffering from some form of food insecurity since last August, skipping meals or whole days of eating and engaging in extreme coping mechanisms to pay for food, including sending children to work, HRW said.
“Importers are struggling to pay for goods, humanitarian groups are facing problems with basic operations, and the Afghan diaspora can’t send enough money to their relatives and friends,” Sifton said. “Millions of hungry Afghans are experiencing the abysmal reality of seeing food at the market but being unable to purchase it.”
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