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Rights watchdog, UN and Afghan women band together over ceasefire calls

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(Last Updated On: June 17, 2021)

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and UN Women Afghanistan stated that gendered ceasefires are a prerequisite for peace talks and a negotiated settlement.

In a joint statement issued on Wednesday, the organizations said that women across the globe have long been at the frontlines of conflict and crisis, pioneering ways to end the conflict, participating in peace, and advocating for the rights of women and girls in agreement seeking to end violent conflict. 

“Yet often, women’s expertise and priorities are excluded from formal ceasefire agreements and implementation mechanisms. In Afghanistan, women continue to risk their lives every day in the name of peace,” the statement read.

The organizations added that 2020 marked the highest number of women killed since the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan began systematic documentation in 2009.

Shaharzad Akbar Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission stated: “Why are we talking about ceasefires and peace when the violence rates are so high? Because this is the common demand of all Afghans, across ethnicities, across genders, across geographies, across age groups: the end of war and ceasefire. From a human rights perspective, from all perspectives, this the biggest need, working for peace”

The publication – Gender-responsive ceasefires and ceasefire agreements – was launched for highlighting how a gender-responsive ceasefire is urgently needed in the context of Afghanistan to secure the conditions for meaningful peace talks, the statement noted.

The publication outlines a practical set of recommended entry points for securing gender-related provisions in the ceasefire text as well as outlining how ceasefire agreements can address the gender dynamics of conflict, the organizations said.

The publication was launched at an event in which Abdullah Abdullah, Chairperson of High Council for National Reconciliation; Hasina Safi, Acting Minister of Women’s Affairs; Habiba Sarabi, Member of Peace Negotiation Team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; and Mette Knudsen, Deputy Special Representative of the US Secretary-General were present.

The event featured a collective call for a ceasefire from Afghan women across provinces and the international community in Kabul to put an end to all forms of violence, the organizations noted.

“For the last 40 years, women have been the major victims of war. If we really want a ceasefire that lasts, we need women to be part of it and all their needs must be taken very well into consideration. Peace is what all Afghan people want. A just peace, a peace for all. A justified peace that takes the rights of all Afghans into consideration,” Abdullah Abdullah said.

“Today’s discussion, on gender provisions in ceasefire agreements, is very timely for Afghanistan. The need to reduce violence remains. Women are concerned that their rights will be at risk, they are concerned that the civil society space is shrinking. All Afghans, particularly women, are asking for an end to violence in all its forms,” said Mette Knudsen.

Aleta Miller, a UN Women Representative in Afghanistan, stated that Afghanistan can lead the world on peace processes. 

“Globally, peace processes say little or nothing about women’s rights, and statistically equality between women and men is a pre-requisite for long-lasting peace. Afghanistan can and should be different. But for any progress to happen, violence, in all its forms, must stop. It must stop now and forever, for any peace to happen, for any peace to last, for any progress.” Miller said.

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DAB says technical agreements in place to print new bank notes

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2022)

The country’s central bank – Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) said Thursday they have reached agreements with a number of foreign countries and money printing facilities to print new bank notes for the country.

“We have collected and burned the old money, we have reached an agreement with the money printing offices and countries and we expect to proceed according to the plan and present you with the results, we are proceeding based on national interests; discussions have been held with countries and banks and they will help Afghanistan,” said Lutful Haq Noor Pasarlay, DAB’s policy deputy head.

Abdulqahar known as Haji Muhammad Edris, the acting head of De Afghanistan Bank, also spoke at the event and mapped out achievements made by the central bank in the past 12 months.

“Maintaining the stability of the value of the Afghani currency, maintaining the sustainability of commercial banks, providing banking services, facilitating cross-border transfers and developing new systems were some of the issues in the attention of Da Afghanistan Bank during the last year,” said Abdulqahar.

According to officials, in order to improve the banking sector and prevent criminal activities, the law to prevent terrorism financing, the regulation of preventive measures against money laundering, the management plan for the liquidity problem of the banking sector, the plan to revive the financial and banking sector, and the crisis management policy, have been drawn up and will soon be adopted.

The officials also said that in order to release Afghanistan’s foreign exchange reserves, several internal and external meetings have been organized with the relevant parties and discussions have been held on technical matters.

The last meeting of technical representatives of Afghanistan and the United States, for releasing Afghanistan’s frozen assets, was held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

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Bayat Power ‘looking forward’ to increasing domestic electricity output

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2022)

Bayat Power, Afghanistan’s first and currently only, natural gas to electricity generation, energy company is looking forward to expand its domestic power output.

In a speech, delivered by a company representative, Lotfullah Stanikzai, Bayat Power informed delegates attending the key energy conference in Kabul that the “team is looking forward to deploying additional state-of-the-art turbines in Afghanistan to continue to develop the domestic gas to electricity sector, contributing to the energy security and building the nation for the long term.”

Stanikzai said the company was committed to working with government to achieve energy security and develop a pathway to energy self-sufficiency in Afghanistan.

The one-day conference, which was attended by senior Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) leaders, representatives of foreign countries and members of the private sector, was convened to attract investment in the energy and water sectors.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the acting Deputy Prime Minister, said in his opening speech the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is committed to developing the country but urged the people to be patient adding “because we have to build this country ourselves”.

Baradar also pointed out that Afghanistan is potentially a wealthy country that has great investment opportunities.

Abdul Latif Mansour, the acting Minister of Energy and Water, also addressed delegates and said the IEA is committed to managing the country’s water efficiently and to producing enough energy for the people.

Mansour said the conference was being held to map out opportunities available in the water and energy sectors for investors and that the IEA had paved the way for local and international business owners to invest in the sectors.

Shahabuddin Delavar, acting head of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum also addressed delegates and said it is “now time for us to maintain our country’s independence, and utilize our natural resources”.

He singled out Bayat Power, and said at the moment the company produces 40MW electricity but that it hoped to increase this substantially.

“We welcome the company’s decision,” he said.

Stanikzai told delegates that Bayat Power was the direct result of a solid private and public partnership between the company and various Afghanistan government entities, including the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, Afghanistan Gas Enterprise (AGE), and Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat.

However, he stated that Bayat Power calls on the IEA to support the continuation of operations with current investors and attraction of further investment.

He urged the authorities to ensure timely payment of outstanding invoices by DABS was made to various private entities including Bayat Power; to facilitate a favorable investment environment; promote investment through favorable taxation policies and lower operational costs; and promote transparency with government entities to expedite new and the renewal of existing agreements.

He also urged the IEA to ensure that AGE continues to receive full government support so that they can remain operational and provide clean gas.

Stanikzai said it was important for DABS and the ministry of energy and water “to continue the excellent work in keeping the grid stable to take the domestic electricity produced by private sector companies.”

In conclusion, he said: “Bayat Power team is looking forward to deploying additional state-of-the-art turbines in Afghanistan to continue to develop the domestic gas to electricity sector, contributing to the energy security and building the nation for the long term.”

About Bayat Power

Bayat Power supplies electricity to schools, homes, mosques, hospitals, factories, business enterprises and other essential services. Currently the company supplies electricity to over 200,000 end users.

Bayat Group established the Bayat Power Electricity Services Distributor Company in 2013. Using the nation’s abundant natural gas reserves, the goal was to provide the people with a reliable supply of affordable and sustainable electricity.
Site work on Bayat Power-1’s 40MW gas-fired turbine started in 2019 and achieved commercial operation in November of that year. This landmark milestone made Bayat Power the first company in Afghanistan to operate a new gas-fired generation facility in more than 40 years.

Bayat Power-1 uses the most advanced, powerful, and efficient technology to extract the gas without adverse environmental impact.

Using Siemens Mobile Gas Unit “SGT-A45”, with up to 44 MW of electrical output, offers significantly more power and higher efficiency than any other mobile gas turbine worldwide.

The SGT-A45 turbine generates more than 300 million kWh per year of electricity, increasing revenue for the Afghanistan Gas Company through the purchase of gas for the project, as well as significant tax revenue for the Afghan government in the form of BRT, salaries and customs taxes, Bayat Power has been – and continues to be – a considerable PPP (private, public partnership) achievement.

This project has created more than 1,000 direct and indirect job opportunities for Afghans, which has contributed to improving the nation’s economic condition and fostered new technical skill sets amongst the country’s talented citizens.

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‘I am still president of Afghanistan’, Ghani says in TV interview

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(Last Updated On: August 11, 2022)

Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, the former president of Afghanistan, said in the first television interview since he fled the country on August 15 last year that according to the country’s constitution, he is still technically the country’s president.

In an interview with the newly established ABN channel, Ghani said: “I am the president according to the constitution and until the people of Afghanistan legally elect someone else, I am the president.”

He also stated that he fled the country because he was afraid of being killed and did not want to face the same fate as Dr. Mohammad Najibullah, ex-president of Afghanistan who was assassinated in 1996.

However, many Afghans call him shameless, adding that Ghani’s escape caused serious misery among the people in the country.

In response to the question on why he fled Afghanistan, Ghani said that he was the last person to leave Afghanistan and most of the cabinet members, including the Minister of Defense, had already fled by the time he flew out.

“I was the last person to leave the country, and this was also so that the bitter experience of Dr. Najib regarding an Afghan president would not be repeated,” he said.

In addition, Ghani stated that all politicians had a part in the downfall of the previous regime and he accuses Abdullah Abdullah, the former head of the National Reconciliation Council, for destabilizing the republic system. He also criticized Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for Afghanistans who led peace talks with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and secured the Doha agreement in February 2020.

“Dr. Abdullah is responsible for not consolidating the republic, especially in the last seven years and secondly, he was in charge of the Afghanistan Peace Council, which step did he take on paper, which plan did he come up with, or in practice, when he went to Doha on a special plane and then came back on the day of Eid and said that the Taliban is not ready to make any kind of move,” Ghani added.

But Afghans at home lashed out at Ghani and said his words meant nothing and that he failed to even apologize for his actions.

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