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Watchdog urges unconditional support to protect Afghan women

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(Last Updated On: May 19, 2021)

While donor countries to Afghanistan say they want to keep protecting the human rights of women and girls, a bill introduced in the United States Senate last week raises issues about how requiring the Afghan government to respect rights could potentially lead to cuts in funding for essential services for women and girls.

In an article by Heather Barr, Human Rights Watch Interim Co-Director, Women’s Rights Division, she stated the Protect Women’s and Girls’ Rights in Afghanistan Act would require the US Secretary of State to report twice yearly to Congress on the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan.

It would continue US support to “preserve the rights” of Afghan women but warns that the US will “refuse to provide economic aid to an Afghan government” that violates these rights, Barr stated.

According to her, the bill follows a November 2020 joint statement by Afghanistan’s main donors, including the US, that laid out the “key elements” that would be taken into account when considering whether to continue their current development and budgetary support to the country.

Among those elements was respect for women’s rights.

Efforts to hold this and any future Afghan government to account are vital, she stated. The Afghan government has a poor track record on women’s rights, including failing to investigate and provide accountability for violence against women, she said.

The Taliban, which controls large parts of the country and could gain a role in the government through a peace deal or military success, retains many of their deeply abusive pre-2001 policies toward women and girls, Barr stated.

But donors should consider how they can respond to government abuses without harming women and girls by cutting essential services.

Over 75 percent of the Afghan government’s budget comes from international donors. Cuts in donor funding to Afghanistan have already damaged women’s access to health care and could imperil girls’ access to education, she said.

Barr stated that with the withdrawal of international troops, donor countries may be eager to cut their support to Afghanistan; punishing the government for rights violations could be a convenient excuse.

But defunding the government should not mean defunding services, she stated.

Nongovernmental organizations in Afghanistan have proved they can deliver vital services despite the country’s escalating insecurity, so long as they have sufficient resources.

Countries pulling troops from Afghanistan should make it clear that they will continue to support – and fund – Afghan women and girls, whether or not they can work with the Afghan government, Barr said.

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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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IEA commits to implementing Sharia law

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(Last Updated On: August 11, 2022)

Mohammad Khalid Hanafi, acting Minister of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, said Thursday that he will not give into any international pressure on the hijab issue and will implement this Islamic rule.

Hanafi said that along with the members of the vice and virtue ministry, all religious scholars, imams at mosques and elders in communities should implement Islamic rules in society.

Hanafi said in the last 20 years, the mindset of young Afghans had changed considerably.

Currently, there are 8,000 people employed by the ministry who are mostly employed to ensure individual and social reforms are carried out.

A number of religious scholars, however, said that facilities should be provided for those who are busy at this ministry.

In relation to women’s rights, he stated that once again women’s rights will be ensured according to Sharia law.

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IEA hosts one day conference to attract investors in energy sector

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(Last Updated On: August 11, 2022)

A one-day conference attended by government officials, representatives of the international community and members of the private sector is being held in Kabul 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.

He called on traders to invest in Afghanistan and said that the Afghan government would provide full security for new businesses.

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 is being held to map out opportunities available in the water and energy sectors for investors and that the IEA has 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 its “now time for us to maintain our country’s independence, and utilize our natural resources”.

He also singled out a key private energy supplier in the country, Bayat Power, and said at the moment the company produces 40MW electricity but that it is hoped this will increase to 250MW.

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

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