13 November 2018

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Kabul 9BNA) World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Thursday signed agreement with Afghanistan to co-finance Dhala Dam rehabilitation project in southern Kandahar province.
The agreement was signed between Afghanistan’s Acting Minister of Finance Mohammad Humayoun Qayoumi and country directors of World Bank and ADB in a ceremony in Kabul that was also attended y President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.
Dahla Dam is the largest dam in Kandahar and second largest in Afghanistan.  The dam was built in 1952, but it was subject to siltation of the reservoir due to neglect over the years of war.
The rehabilitation project is expected to cost $400 million, which will be financed by World Bank and ADB, the president’s office said in a statement.
Tranche I of four expected tranches includes raising Dahla Dam’s height by 12 meters as a result of which its capacity will increase from 298 million cubic meters to 798 cubic meters.
Tranche 2 includes building system to irrigate 20,000 hectares of agriculture land Trench 3 involves water supply to Kandahar city and its neighboring villages.  Trench 4 includes installing 24-megawatt capacity of hydropower turbines.
Contract for engineering studies of the project was signed in September 2017 and the process is expected to be completed in August next year.
 

Saturday November 10, 2018

Kabul (BNA) It wasn’t until 2004 that women from Afghanistan competed in the Olympics for the first time. Fast forward 14 years and now Samira Asghari is the first person from the war-torn country to be named an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member. Not only that, but at 24 years old, she’s the youngest person to ever be named to the committee.
Asghari, an Afghanistan women’s national basketball team player, is one of nine new members elected to the IOC, which is responsible for ensuring the regular celebration of the Olympic Games, promoting peace using sports as a catalyst, acting against any form of discrimination affecting the Games and encouraging and supporting women in athletics.
So, how did Asghari earn her spot? According to AIPS Media, Asghari and her family had to flee to Iran shortly after she was born due to the Taliban taking control of Afghanistan.
“My parents came to the Iran, when I was barely a few months old. But while I did not had any memories of Afghanistan, my parents and grandparents have always shared their wonderfully vivid memories and it is because of this that I love my country and people,” she told AIPS Media.
As a young girl, Asghari was encouraged by her family to stay active and participate in sports. Because her father was heavily involved in martial arts and kung fu, she practiced as well, but then carved her own path and began playing basketball. Thanks to the support from her family, something so rare for Afghan girls who wish to participate in sports, she joined the Afghanistan national basketball team at the junior level. As her game developed, she was then called up to the senior team.
“When I started to be an athlete, there were so many cultural challenges, people from my province were talking and they wanted to prevent me from doing sport, but my family supported me and told me to do my job,” Asghari recalled.
Not only was she impressive on the court, but she stood out off of it as well. That’s why Gen. Zahir Aghbar, the former president of the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee asked her to join his committee. She worked as a female representative and then became an international relations board member for the National Olympic Committee. Then in 2014, she became a member of the IOC Athletes’ Entourage Commission while working with her country’s Olympic committee as a financial director and the Deputy Secretary General.
Now as a member of the IOC, one of her responsibilities will be to help abolish obstacles so many women around the world face when it comes to playing sports.
“I am very excited,” she said. “Women everywhere, and especially women in those countries who are suffering from war, insecurity, cultural and many other problems, need support and we should join hands with them.”
purpose2play
 

Saturday, 10 November 2018 11:06

Work on 4 Projects to Start in Daikundi

Saturday November 10, 2018

Kabul (BNA) During their visit to Daikundi province, President Ghani and Second Vice-President inaugurated several projects on construction work of Nili city road, solar power generation, transferring network and power distribution.
According to BNA report, 9 km road from Dasht area to Daikundi Bazaar-e-Kohna would be completed within eighteen months. The projects would cost 430 million Afghani and would be paid through the government’s development budget. 5.5 mgw solar power generation project would cost over $13 million and would be paid through the government’s development budget. Likewise, the transferring network and power distribution project for Nili city would cost 18 million Afghani. Sokhtok power dam water would be ensured through Lazir river and construction work on dam’s body was been completed as well as work on installation of two turbines in the dam would soon start. According another report, during his visit to Daikundi province, President Ghani met with security and military officials and heard their reports on the province’s security situation. At the outset, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Mohammad Sharif Yaftali and Mohammad Ali Shujaee, Daikundi coordination center commander briefed about the province’s security situation said security was ensured in Daikundi, adding there are some movements in border areas, but the Afghan security forces could successfully defend them. Thanking Daikundi security team, Second Vice-President said besides foreign threats, there were some local problems that would be solved with sound management. Afterwards, the President thanked Daikundi’s good management of civil and military in-charges in the parliamentary elections and instructed the defense ministry’s chief of army staff to review that province’s vulnerabilities and take immediate step in the respect.
 

Saturday November 10, 2018

Kabul (BNA) During his visit to Daikundi province, the President attended and spoke in a people gathering held in Nili city, BNA reported. At the outset, welcoming the President, Second Vice-President and their accompanying delegation, Daikundi governor, Eng. Mahmoud Baligh said the province’s people were lover of knowledge and peace-loving and have played precious role in all national process particularly the elections. Afterwards, Daikundi provincial council’s deputy Zekry Hashimi while supporting the government policies said there were still many problems in the province, as well as the development budget has been allocated to the province is insufficient, thus, it is asked that Daikundi to be promoted to a second grade province. Thanking the efforts made by Daikundi people to ensure welfare end develop education and higher education, Second Vice-President lauded the province’s youth sacrifices and devotions in Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) ranks. Security of Pato, Kejran and Nawamish are prioritized in the government plans and other priorities that will be addressed are including construction of roads, airport and ensuring power energy in the province, Second Vice-President added. He asked Daikundi people to play their role in safeguarding unity, solidarity, supporting ANDSF and democratic system such they did in the past. Furthermore, the President while praying for the soul of martyr Sayed Mustafa Kazemi and other martyrs said, Daikundi people have proven over the last seventeen years that they want a democratic system and they support it. Appreciating people role in education, growth, the President said investment in education is one of Daikundi people precious traditions. Likewise, the President pointed out that Daikundi would turn into a second grade province. A woman advisory would be established in Daikundi governor office, aims at further serving the women in that province.
 

Saturday November 10, 2018

Jalalabad City (BNA) At least 18 adherents of ISIS terrorist group killed during latest attacks carried out by Afghan Special Forces (ASF) in vicinity of eastern Nangarhar province last night.
The terrorists have been targeted and killed in various parts of Acheen, Khogynai and Naziyan districts of the province.
Senior commander of Afghan National Army in the east of the country told BNA correspondent, air and ground raids carried out by Afghan Special Forces in different parts of the mentioned districts, in which 18 ISIS adherents were killed and their several hideouts along with some military equipment have been destroyed too.
According to another report, Afghan security forces by discovering and confiscating nine round of different type of mines succeeded to prevent from a series of blast in Nangarhar province.
No one was arrested accused of the mine planting so far.
Meanwhile, three weapon storages have been discovered by Afghan security forces in Nangarhar, The weapon storages have kept in Haska Mina, Roudat districts and Jalalabad city the provincial capital of the province.
Some heavy and light weapons have been seized from the weapon storages.
Local officials called that ISIS terrorist group used the storages in their terrorist and destructive activities.
M.A.Ansari

Thursday November 8, 2018

Kabul (BNA) On a good day, it takes Mohammad less than three hours to drive from Ghazni to Kabul. But preparations for the hair-raising journey through Taliban-infested areas can take weeks.
Road trips are a dangerous, and often deadly, activity in Afghanistan.
Travellers run the gauntlet of Taliban checkpoints, fighting, robberies, kidnappings, and pressure-plate bombs targeting government officials and security forces.
The stretch of Highway 1 between the Afghan capital and the southeastern city of Ghazni -- which the Taliban stormed in August and still threaten -- is one of the most treacherous.
Spontaneous trips are out of the question, said Mohammad, who is in his 20s and a regular visitor to Kabul.
Mohammad, not his real name, asked AFP to use a pseudonym to avoid being identified by the Taliban.
He begins preparing for the journey at least two weeks before his planned departure, starting with growing out his beard, which he normally keeps short, to create a scruffier appearance.
He then starts working his contacts, calling trusted relatives and neighbours who ply the busy route for information about Taliban activity along the main artery connecting Kabul to the insurgent strongholds in the south.
"You have to be careful who you call because you could be sold out to the Taliban" by someone working for the militant group, he told AFP.
- 'Many reasons to worry' -
On the day of his departure, Mohammad swaps his clean, well-ironed clothes for a dirty pyjama-like shalwar kameez to make himself look more like a villager and clears the call history on his mobile in case a phone number raises suspicion.
"You can't just jump into a car and come (to Kabul), not if you want to be on the safe side," he said.
Mohammad's most recent trip to Kabul was delayed for three days after he received warnings of Taliban disguised as Afghan soldiers manning checkpoints along the road.
The first thing Taliban militants check is a person's tazkira, or national identification document.
"If the tazkira is from Ghazni then you may be fine. If not, they might think that you are a member of the security forces from another province coming to Ghazni to fight," Mohammad said.
After registering to vote in the October 20 parliamentary election -- which the Taliban had vowed to attack and which was finally cancelled in Ghazni due to protests -- Mohammad carries a second tazkira that does not have a sticker identifying him as a voter.
"There are many reasons to be worried and anxious," Mohammad explained.
"Even if they don't kill you, they may keep you as a hostage and ask for a ransom. If they kept me for one night, my mother would not survive."
A one-way trip between Kabul and Ghazni costs Mohammad 250 afghanis (around $3) in a Toyota Corolla taxi, a ubiquitous model in Afghanistan that is often used as public transport. He tries to travel with drivers he knows.
He avoids travelling on Mondays and Wednesdays. Those are the days the Afghan army delivers supplies to its troops in the provinces and attacks along the highway are more likely, Mohammad said.
Thursday, the last day of the Afghan working week, is also a bad day to venture out of the city. Militants lie in wait for government employees as they leave Ghazni for the weekend.
- Fear of death -
Whenever possible, Mohammad said he travels with women wearing burqas, but not because he prefers their company. In the deeply conservative society where physical contact between men and women in public is prohibited, female passengers can hide mobile phones and other sensitive items under their head-to-toe coverings without fear of the Taliban searching them.
Once on the open road, Mohammad remains vigilant.
He listens carefully to the phone conversations of the driver and other occupants for signs they are planning to give him, or someone else in the vehicle, up to the Taliban.
"Taliban spies use codes like 'I have brought the rooster that you asked for' or 'we found the yoghurt that you asked for'," he said.
An oncoming vehicle with lights blinking, a line of cars stopped on the highway, or no traffic at all are warning signs that something has happened up ahead.
"Fighting and ambushes are common. You have to accept that you might face it," Mohammad said.
Despite the risks, Kabul's alluring cafes and shopping malls make the nail-biting trip worthwhile, Mohammad said.
Even a few days in the heavily militarised and overcrowded city is "refreshing" and a relief from Ghazni, where he feels his "heart can burst from boredom".
But Mohammad does what he can to stay safe on his journey, even paying a few cents to a street beggar as he leaves the city in the hope the good deed will protect him.
"I still fear death," he said. "But I try to stay calm."
Dailymail
 

Thursday, 08 November 2018 10:14

NATO Chief Assures Support to Afghanistan

Thursday November 8, 2018

Kabul (BNA) Visiting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg assured the military alliance's firm support to Afghanistan's security forces here on Tuesday.
Talking to reporters at a joint press conference with Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani here at the Presidential Palace, the NATO chief said that the alliance is committed to continuing its support to Afghan security forces and the Afghan people.
"NATO is determined to see Afghanistan succeed, that's why around 16,000 troops from 39 countries serve in our resolute support mission, together we train, advise and assist the Afghan forces, as we work to make this country safer and more secure," Stoltenberg said.
He also called upon the Taliban outfit to give up fighting and join the government-initiated peace talks to boost national reconciliation and bring to an end of the lingering conflict in the insurgency-plagued Afghanistan, saying Taliban should understand they can't win the war.
"The potential for peace is great now than was in the past many years, so we need an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and it must be inclusive," Stoltenberg went on to say.
Expressing support to the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, the NATO chief said he wants regional countries to help the Afghans in achieving peace in their country.
He said that NATO had decided to boost its presence and send more advisors to Afghanistan as the United States did to reduce Afghan forces' losses.
The NATO chief also stated that the alliance is here to help the Afghans and to save the alliance member states from terrorist attacks.
Speaking at the press conference, President Ghani expressed his gratitude to NATO for its support and said that Afghan Security and Defense forces is no more dependent but rather a partner to the alliance in the war on terror.
"The people of Afghanistan wants peace and the lasting peace can be achieved through regional cooperation and the world," he said.
Xinhuanet
 

Thursday November 8, 2018

Kabul (BNA) A high-ranking delegation of the Political Office of Afghanistan will attend Moscow’s conference on Afghanistan on Nov. 9, an Afghan spokesman announced Tuesday.
“This conference is not about negotiating with any particular side, but it is a conference about holding comprehensive discussions on finding a peaceful solution to the Afghan question and ending the American occupation,” said Zabihullah Mujahid.
“Every side and individual will articulate their views and policy in this regard, and representatives of Afghanistan will also give detailed speeches” on such issues as “restoring peace and security to our beloved homeland and the region,” he added.
Invitations to the meeting have also been sent to the U.S., Pakistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is set to address the participants before the meeting this Friday, Moscow added.
Anadolue Agency
 

Thursday November 8, 2018

Kabul (BNA) On October 31, the World Bank published its Doing Business 2019 report, an annual report that measures business regulations across 190 countries. This year’s report declared Afghanistan one of the top 10 improvers in doing business alongside China, India, Azerbaijan, and Djibouti. Afghanistan climbed 16 positions in the rankings from last year, advancing from 183rd in 2018 to 167th in the 2019 report. It showed remarkable improvement in at least four of the 10 indicators measured: Starting a Business (47th), Protecting Minority Investors (26th), Resolving Insolvency (74th), and Getting Credit (99th).
The report was launched three months after the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction tweeted, “Afghanistan ranked 183rd out of 190 economies in #WorldBank‘s Doing Business 2018 report; same ranking as 2017.” The tweet reflected harsh criticisms from the media and the private sector of the Afghan government’s failure to facilitate the development of Afghanistan’s private sector business environment.
In a press conference held on October 31, Ajmal Ahmady, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s senior economic advisor, stated that Afghanistan’s impressive rise in the Doing Business rankings manifests the Afghan government’s firm commitments to improve the legal and regulatory business environment, as well as bolster institutions to increase private sector engagement in the country.
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The World Bank credits Afghanistan’s unprecedented advancement in the rankings to a record number of business reforms in the past year that made it easier to start a business, access credit, pay taxes, resolve insolvency, and protect minority investors.
Earlier this year, the High Economic Council, led by Ghani, decided to reduce the cost of a business license from 82.3 percent of the income per capita to only 6.4 percent, and a “One Stop Shop” was established to bring all business licensing sources under a single roof. These were crucial steps in making business licensing efficient and cost effective for the private sector, resulting in an impressive boost in Afghanistan’s ranking for the Starting a Business indicator — jumping from 107th  in 2018 to 47th in 2019.
The Afghan government, furthermore, enacted a new Limited Liability Companies (LLC) Law that substantially mitigates the risks of prejudicial conflicts of interest in companies and strengthens corporate governance structures. The LLC law has strengthened minority shareholder protections against misuse of corporate assets by directors for their personal gain and enhanced shareholder rights, governance safeguards and corporate transparency requirements to minimize the risk of abuse. Thus, Afghanistan, with a score of 71.9 in Protecting Minority Investors index, is only behind India in the South and Central Asia region.
Afghanistan jumped high in the rankings for Resolving Insolvency (from 161st in 2018 to 74th in 2019) and Getting Credit (from 105th in 2018 to 99th in 2019) indicators, thanks to the newly adopted insolvency framework that puts in place a robust regime allowing reorganizations and liquidation, improving the continuation of the debtor’s business during insolvency proceedings, increasing creditor’s participation in the proceedings, and easing access to credit by improving the legal and institutional foundations for getting credit, according to the World Bank.
Afghanistan’s Doing Business reforms are implemented amid an uncertain economic situation. GDP growth has drastically fallen from 14.5 percent in 2012 to 2.6 percent in 2017. Stagnating economic growth, increasing demographic pressures and a deteriorating security situation have exacerbated poverty, up to 55 percent in 2016-17 from 38 percent in 2011-12. The unemployment rate has reached 40 percent. A poor business climate, on the other hand, has encouraged higher regulatory barriers and costs to businesses, hampering private investments. Therefore, reforms in investment climate were imperative for Afghanistan to attract foreign investments, promote domestic entrepreneurship and formalize the economy, thereby increasing innovation, growing productivity, and catalyzing profitability for firms.
“Improving the business environment is essential for Afghanistan to stimulate domestic investment and create jobs. Given the exceptional challenges of conflict and violence in the country, the government’s resolve to improve the business climate for private enterprise is doubly commendable,” said Shubham Chaudhri, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan.
Despite reforms initiated by the government, Afghanistan still faces critical barriers to doing business. The country lags in several other Doing Business indicators, including Getting Electricity (168th), Dealing with Construction Permits (184th), Registering Property (186th), Paying Taxes (177th), Trading Across Border (177th), and Enforcing Contracts (181st).
Thediplomat
 

Thursday November 8, 2018

Kabul (BNA) Afghanistan is sending a delegation to attend international peace talks in Russia this month, officials have said.
Moscow is hosting the event on November 9 at a sensitive time, as the United States has been seeking to engage the Taliban in talks with Kabul to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan.
Officials of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, a government body responsible for reconciliation efforts with the militants, said on November 5 that the council will send four representatives to the Moscow meeting.
Meanwhile, the Taliban's political office told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal that the militant group will also participate in the Moscow talks, though it does not regard them as a "formal dialogue for peace."
The Afghan Foreign Ministry, however, did not say whether it will send a delegation to the Russian conference.
"We are still negotiating with the Russian officials," ministry spokesman Sebaghtullah Ahmadi said. "We welcome any peace effort that is Afghan-led."
The Russian Foreign Ministry claimed on November 3 that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and representatives of the Taliban in Qatar both planned to send delegations to the meeting.
Moscow has also invited representatives from the United States as well as India, Iran, China, Pakistan, and five former Soviet republics in Central Asia -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
Pakistan, which has long been accused of providing support to the Afghan Taliban, will "definitely" attend, Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Muhammad Faisal told AFP.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Moscow meeting was initially scheduled to take place in September, but was postponed after Kabul insisted that the process should be Afghan-led.
The meeting comes as newly appointed U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been trying to convince the Taliban to agree to negotiate an end to the war, and there are fears the Russian meeting could derail those efforts.
U.S. efforts to bring the Taliban to the peace table have for years foundered over the militants' insistence on negotiating directly with Washington rather than the Afghan government, which it calls a "puppet" of the United States.
A U.S. government watchdog last week said Kabul's control of Afghanistan has slipped in recent months as local security forces suffered record casualties while making minimal or no progress in the battle against the Taliban.
Gandhara
 

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