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Afghanistan, India establish second air trade corridor

Shadi Khan Saif

KABUL: Afghanistan and India on Wednesday launched second air corridor for trade, bypassing Pakistan.

The Kabul-Mumbai air corridor is expected to fetch millions of dollars for Afghan exporters of herbs, fresh and dried fruits on annual basis.

Mohammad Sarwar Danish, Afghanistan’s vice president, told a gathering in Kabul that India is one of Afghanistan’s important trading partners.

“The Afghan government is also seriously pursuing plans to establish rail and road networks to promote transit trade,” Danish said.

India and Afghanistan enjoy cordial ties that have been further complemented by the U.S. in its new South Asia Strategy announced by President Donald Trump in August

As a desperate move to end reliance on Pakistan for trade, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in June launched aerial trade corridor between Kabul and New Delhi.

“Those who create challenge for us should know that we turn challenge into opportunity,” Ghani said back then.

Ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan are marred by mistrust and allegations of cross-border terrorism, however, the two neighbors have expressed willingness to improve relations.

According to the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI), goods worth $ 20 million have been exported to India since June via the air corridor.

 

 

Bilateral trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan has dropped by a quarter from over $ 2 billion to little over $ 1 billion this year due to strained ties resulting in frequent border closures and exchange of fire at the disputed Durand Line border.

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At least 50 IS militants killed in latest Nangarhar operations

Monitoring Desk

NANGARHAR: The Afghanistan Ministry of Defense (MoD) of Afghanistan claimed that at least fifty fighters affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) or Daesh terrorist group have been killed in the latest operations conducted by Afghan security forces in Achin district of Nangarhar province.

The MoD told media persons on Wednesday that group forces were assisted by the air force and militants suffered causalities in airstrikes.

At least three depots of ammunition, explosives, and weapons of the terror group were also destroyed in the raids, MoD added.

Terrorists save haven were destroyed in the district as they were gathered there and were conducting activities for the area.

 

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25 IS men die in separate attacks

Monitoring Desk

JALALABAD/KABUL: More than two dozens of Islamic State (IS) or Daesh fighters were killed after airstrikes and clashes in Nangarhar and Logar provinces, officials said Tuesday.

The Coalition forces’ unmanned aircraft targeted Daesh gunmen in the Bandar Dara area of bordering Achin district, killing 15 gunmen, said Attaullah Khugyani, spokesman of Nangarhar governor.

Two more Daesh fighters were killed in the Oghaz area of Haska Mena ditrict, he told local media outlet.

Meanwhile, a press release issued by Nangarhar police said four Daesh members were killed after an airstrike in the Sheen Tangi area of Achin district.

In Sarkh district of Logar province, Afghan army troops ambushed anti-government gunmen who wanted to attack a security post, said Salim Saleh, spokesman of Logar governor.

He said four gunmen were killed and three more wounded in the ambush.

Similarly, A religious scholar, who also served as prayer leader, has been killed by unknown gunmen in the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, an official said on Tuesday.

Attaullah Khogyani, the governor’s spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News the incident occurred in the limits of the 7th municipal district of Jalalabad.

He said unidentified gunmen riding a motorbike opened fire at Syed Hazrat Haqqani, a prayer leader at the Khogyani Wazir Mosque, and killed him.

According to him, the attackers managed to escape. However, police are investigating the incident. He said Maulvi Haqqani was also a teacher at a local madrassa.

“Haqqani has recently moved to Jalalabad due to security issues in Khogyani district. His home was set ablaze by Daesh fighters recently,” the gubernatorial spokesman said.

Governor Mohammad Gulab Mangal, meanwhile, expressed deep sorrow over Maulvi Haqqani’s assassination and extended his condolences to the cleric’s family.

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NAS passes ISAGO audit for second time in two years

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The National Aviation Services (NAS), the fastest-growing aviation service-provider in emerging markets, has renewed its IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) certification in Kabul.

NAS Afghanistan said in a statement on Tuesday it had passed the ISAGO audit with a perfect score for the second time in two years, once again demonstrating the company’s commitment to safety and security in all its operations.

Earlier this year, NAS Abidjan received its first ISAGO certification. NAS was also among the first ground handling providers in the world to receive an ISAGO certification for its Kuwait operation in 2008. This certification has since been renewed five times.

An internationally-recognised system for assessing operational management and control systems for ground handling service providers, ISAGO is based on industry-proven quality audit principles and follows a stringent process that reviews training, policies, procedures, etc.

Hassan El Houry, NAS CEO, said: “Our latest ISAGO certification in NAS Afghanistan demonstrates our continued focus on high levels of service quality, safety and security.

“As we continue to grow our reach and expand our portfolio of products and services, we remain committed to strengthening our presence in and contribution to the countries that we operate in.”

In Afghanistan, NAS partners with Ariana Afghan Airlines to form the Ariana-NAS joint venture. Ariana-NAS, the exclusive ground handler at Kabul International Airport, also provides services at the Herat and Kandahar airports.

Through its operations at the three major airports in Afghanistan, National Aviation Services serves more than 3,000 flights and over 900,000 passengers a year.

Reinforced with an employee base of 360 and over 175 pieces of ground-support equipment, NAS significantly contributes to areas of employment, training and infrastructure development.

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Governor House guards beat, hurt police officer

Monitoring Desk

GARDEZ: Deputy Commander of Border Police Squad Hameed Gul has been allegedly beaten and injured by the bodyguards of Paktia governor.

He told Pajhwok Afghan News the bodyguards of Governor Shamim Khan Katawazai beaten him with buttstock and spear at the first check-point of governor house while he was entering the Jarga Haul to attend the graduation ceremony of relatives.

He said he himself was policeman, aware of all military rules and introduced himself to the security officials before entering the facility but the guards ignored him and paid no attention to his comments. Hameed Gul said he would refer to concerned authorities if his voice was not heard and ignored.

“I am a government officer and introduce myself to them but besides my introduction Commander Qais and some other security officials beaten me badly. Qais stabbed me with spear and hit me with buttstock on my back,” he said. Hameed added he informed his department about the incident as well.

Governor spokesman rejected involvement of Paktia governor in the incident and accused bodyguards and the border policeman for the incident.

“Both sides have crossed their limits and the incident happened,” he said blaming the bodyguards and policeman for the incident.

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Shipment of Indian wheat arrives

Monitoring Desk

KANDAHAR: Another shipment of 4,200 tonnes of wheat has arrived in southern Kandahar province through Chabahar Port as part of donation from India.

Governor Maj. Gen. Zalmai Weesa, accompanied by Indian Consul General Madan Singh Bhandari and the provincial council head, oversaw the storing process of the Indian-granted wheat.

A statement from Weesa’s office said on Tuesday the governor hailed India’s assistances to Afghanistan as beneficial. He expressed gratitude to India for consistent support and assistance.

Weesa also lauded India’s continued assistance in the education sector and asked Bhandari to provide more scholarships for Afghan students.

The Governor called the Chabahar Port very valuable for the development of Afghanistan’s economy. With the launch of the two other phases of the port, Afghanistan’s trade relations would be further expanded with different countries, he hoped.

Meanwhile, Consul General Bhandari assured of more assistance by his country to Afghanistan and said India would always stand by Afghanistan. He said India was in favour of a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.

The governor said the remaining wheat would soon reach Kandahar via Chabahar. Last month, foreign ministers of Afghanistan, India and Iran flagged off the maiden vessel carrying wheat from New Delhi to Kabul through the Chabahar port.

The first shipment of 15,000 metric tonnes of wheat from India arrived in Afghanistan via the Chabahar Port in Iran, formally operationalising the sea route in November.

The Indian government promised 1.1 million tonnes of wheat for the people of Afghanistan on a grant basis.

 

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Pine nuts direct export to China can earn $650m: Meshrano Jirga

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Afghanistan can earn up to $650 million from direct export of its pine nuts to China, but most of the dried fruit is currently smuggled to foreign and from there it is exported to China, the Meshrano Jirga was told on Tuesday.

Juma Din Giyanwal, a member of the Mesharano Jirga or Senate, told Tuesday’s session that pine nuts produced in southeastern Paktia, Paktika, Khost and eastern Nuristan, Laghman and Nangarhar provinces were smuggled to foreign and then exported to China after processing and packaging.

He said Afghanistan currently earned $70 million from pine nuts exports which if directly exported to China would increase the earning to hundreds of millions of dollars because the Afghan pin nut was sold at a very low price in foreign.

According to the agriculture and commerce ministries, foreign earns $1.2 million from the export of Afghan-grown pine nuts. Finance Minister Eklil Hakemi attended Tuesday session of the Mesharano Jirga, said Afghanistan could make $650 million from direct export of pine nuts if the dried fruit’s smuggling was prevented.

He added the government was committed to issuing loans to individuals who wanted to invest in pine nut business.

He added the Afghan diplomatic mission in Beijing had collected all necessary documents required for export of Afghanistan pine nuts to China and had dispatched those documents to the Agriculture Ministry.

The Agriculture Ministry also shared those documents with the government. Hakemi added the government strived to increase revenues in order to accumulate resources for the country’s budget.

“For this purpose, the government has started work on some revenue generating sources,” said the finance minister whose ministry allocated 267 billion afghanis as general and over 90 billion as development budget for the ongoing fiscal year.

According to the ministry, over 47 percent of the total budget was supported by local revenues and the remaining by foreign aid.

 

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Four districts of Nangarhar without prosecutors

Monitoring Desk

JALALABAD: Nangarhar’s Appellate Prosecutor Ahmad Khalid Orya says 1,131 cases have been registered with his office by various organizations over the past nine months.

At a joint news conference with local officials in Jalalabad, Orya shared with media representatives achievements of his office during the current solar year.

The conference was also attended by justice and women’s affairs directors, as well as provincial heads of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and the military prosecutor.

The Nangarhar Appellate Attorney said about 195 cases from the primary prosecution offices in districts were sent to his office during the past nine months. Of them, 39 cases have been finalised.

Another 99 cases are currently being processed by courts and 31 by his office. Some 26 cases have been referred to relevant organisations, according to the official.

There were no prosecutors in four districts of the province, he said, adding that no case had been recorded in several districts. Orya said they had also received 413 cases from detective organs.

The cases include land-grab, forgery, drugs, misuse of authority, weapons smuggling, graft, murder, moral corruption, traffic accidents and violence against women.

During the same period, he said, 195 cases from districts, 413 from intelligence organs, 81 of violence against women, 106 involving children and 336 of public security were registered.

Orya said he was working in cooperation and coordination with relevant organisations, including the governor’s house and judicial organs. He claimed putting in place a system of punishment and reward.

He said practical training opportunities were also created for 75 law and political science students, including 19 women.

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At least six border policemen killed in Helmand

Monitoring Desk

HELMAND: As many as six Afghan border police were killed in roadside mine explosion in Helmand province of Afghanistan.

The Helmand officials told Afghan media that the incident took place in Marja district of Helmand province when a forces convoy hit a roadside mine and in a result six border policemen were killed.

No more details were provided about the explosion.

 

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11 Daesh fighters killed in AAF airstrike

Monitoring Desk

NANGARHAR: Afghanistan Interior Ministry claimed that at least eleven Daesh militants were killed in airstrike conducted by Afghan Air Force in Nangarhar province on Tuesday.

the Interior Ministry issued a statement in this regard and informed that the airstrike was conducted in Achin district of Nangarhar province in which eleven militants affiliated with Daesh were killed and cache of weapons was also destroyed in it.