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US cancels talks with IEA over U-turn on girls’ education



(Last Updated On: March 26, 2022)

The United States abruptly cancelled meetings with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), in Doha that were set to address key economic issues, officials said on Friday, after Afghanistan’s IEA rulers reversed a decision to allow all girls to return to high school classes, Reuters reported.

The cancellation of talks was the first concrete sign that recent IEA moves on human rights and inclusivity could directly impact the international community’s willingness to help the group, some of whose leaders are under U.S. sanctions.

“Their decision was a deeply disappointing and inexplicable reversal of commitments to the Afghan people, first and foremost, and also to the international community,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson told Reuters.

“We have cancelled some of our engagements, including planned meetings in Doha, and made clear that we see this decision as a potential turning point in our engagement.”

Three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that the series of meeting between U.S. and IEA administration officials were set to take place on the sidelines of a conference in Qatar’s capital on Saturday and Sunday.

Some of the meetings were to have included United Nations and World Bank representatives, the sources added.

An Afghan foreign ministry spokesman confirmed that an IEA delegation, including the acting foreign minister, had been expecting to go to Doha, Reuters reported.

The talks were designed to cover issues including the independence of the Afghan central bank and the printing of Afghani currency bank notes.

Also up for discussion were a humanitarian exchange facility to free up cash and hundreds of millions of dollars of funding currently held in a World Bank Trust Fund that is earmarked for Afghanistan’s education sector, according to the three sources.

They declined to be named because they were not authorised to speak with the media.

“The Qatari jet that was meant to collect Muttaqi’s delegation in Kabul has not turned up,” said a diplomatic source, referring to Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.

The Qatari government’s communications office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The move shows the headwinds the Islamic Emirate (IE)

 administration faces in accessing foreign aid and freeing up the banking sector. Hard currency shortages have fuelled inflation and worsened the economic crisis.

The IEA have also been unable to access billions of dollars in foreign reserves held overseas as governments including the United States refuse to fully recognise them.

In addition to the crippled financial system, the sharp drop in development funding that once amounted to billions of dollars and helped the Afghan government to function has exacerbated food shortages and poverty.

Roughly 23 million people are experiencing acute hunger and 95% of the population are not eating enough food, according to the United Nations.

Washington and its allies have insisted that the IEA, who banned girls from school and most women from work the last time they ruled, improve their human rights record.

The Islamic Emirate (IE) says it will honour everyone’s rights within its interpretation of Islamic law and has vowed to investigate specific allegations of abuse.

The IEA on Wednesday backtracked on their previous commitment to open high schools to girls, saying that they would remain closed until a plan was drawn up for them to reopen.

The U-turn shocked many, leaving students in tears and sparking small protests by girls in Kabul. It also drew condemnation from humanitarian agencies and foreign governments.

“They are definitely shooting themselves in the foot,” said Graeme Smith, a senior consultant at International Crisis Group, of the decision on girls’ education.

A major donor summit for humanitarian aid is set to take place this month, co-hosted by Britain, in an effort to help raise $4.4 billion in funding the United Nations says it needs to meet urgent needs in the country.

Diplomats and aid groups fear that the war in Ukraine, combined with the IEA’s decision on girls’ schooling, will make it harder to raise the money.

“The decision is understandable,” John Sifton of Human Rights Watch said of the U.S. move. “The U.S. and other donors need to communicate to the Taliban that their actions are unacceptable.”

“At the same time, the cancellation of this important meeting is tragic … The Afghan economy has collapsed, and millions are facing acute malnutrition. People are dying of starvation every day.”

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Yes, US drones patrolling in Afghan airspace which is a clear violation: Stanekzai



(Last Updated On: September 22, 2023)

Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, deputy foreign minister for political affairs, says the ongoing patrolling of US drones in the airspace of Afghanistan is a clear violation being committed by this country.

Speaking in an inclusive interview with ArianaNews, Stanekzai said that Islamic Emirate officials have shared this issue in the negotiations with the American delegations and demanded to stop the violation of Afghanistan’s airspace.

“Yes, there are drones patrolling in Afghanistan’s airspace, and we repeatedly shared this issue with them (the Americans) in the meetings, and they have violated this article,” said Stanekzai.

“According to Doha agreement, after the withdrawal of US forces, this country would have friendly relations with the new Islamic government of Afghanistan and would play an active role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, and encourage other countries in this direction, and definitely not to interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan,” he added.

In addition, related to some Central Asian countries’ concern regarding Qosh Tepa canal construction, he said that this canal is an Afghan project and the government will complete its work.

“This canal is an Afghan project and the government will continue to complete it,” Stanekzai said.

Meanwhile, deputy foreign minister assures Afghan women and girls that the process of education will be opened for them and that the IEA is committed to providing their educational and educational rights.

“As an Afghan, I can say that education will not be banned till the end, it should not be banned, and this is the natural and religious right of girls,” he stressed.

Stanekzai stated that schools and universities will be opened to girls once the conditions are prepared.

He once again called on the opponents of the Islamic Emirate to return to the country.

Regarding Pakistan’s concern over TTP, he emphasized that Afghanistan has achieved complete security after a long war and that neighbors should not associate their problems with Afghanistan.

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Nearly 7,000 poultry farms operating in Afghanistan: ministry



(Last Updated On: September 22, 2023)

The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) officials say they are trying to provide the ground for the expansion of investment in the production of eggs and chicken meat in the country.

The ministry officials say there are currently about 7,000 poultry farms in the country and the number of these farms is increasing every day.

Meanwhile, egg and chicken meat importers union said that domestic producers only supply five percent of eggs and chicken meat in the country’s markets and cannot meet the market’s needs.

They ask the agriculture ministry to provide the necessary facilities in the field of importing eggs to the country.

“It was 10 percent of the product, which has increased by 16 percent. We don’t even have 5 percent of production, if there is production, they should supply our market, we will stop importing at all,” said Sayed Ahmad Kohdamani, head of egg and chicken meat importers union.

A number of egg sellers also say the domestic production is small and most of the eggs are imported from Iran, Uzbekistan and Pakistan and sold in the markets of the country, and their prices have also increased.

“It’s not a problem for us, because we import, we pay our taxes, but raising an egg from six rupees to nine rupees with the lie and conspiracy that we have domestic products, nothing is available at all, said an egg seller with concern.

“Previously, we used to bring the goods and pay ten percent, which we offered to the people for seven and six and a half afghanis, while we sell one egg for approximately eight to eight and a half rupees,” the seller added.

Finance ministry officials meanwhile speak of serious measures that they will control the price of food items in the domestic markets and emphasize that the seasonal tariffs of some items, including eggs, have increased and may be reduced if necessary.

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Sixty tons of expired food items and medicines destroyed in Balkh



(Last Updated On: September 22, 2023)

The Directorate of Public Health in Balkh province has burnt nearly 60 tons of poor quality and expired food items and medicines collected over the past four months.

The materials, which include 35 tons of medicines and 24 tons of food items, were collected from the provincial capital Mazar-e-Sharif city and districts.

Officials in Balkh Public Health Directorate said that the burned materials were valued 8 million afghanis.

Government institutions speak of serious fight against the buying and selling of poor quality and expired items.

“God willing, we intend to designate an area for the Public Health Department of Balkh province, and then, God willing, we will set fire in that specific place,” Mohammad Mohammadi, the head of Balkh Environment Protection Department, said.

Officials in the Pharmaceutical Services Union in North Zone said that they are taking serious measures to prevent imports of expired medicines.

“We pledge to the people that we will produce quality medicines according to the people’s demand and sell it to the people under the supervision of the food and drug authority and the Department of Public Health,” Shoaib Safi, the head of the Pharmaceutical Services Union in North Zone, said.

According to official data, nearly 120 tons of expired and poor quality medicines and food items have been collected and destroyed in Balkh in the past one year.

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