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National cyclists pedal for peace to Kunar

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: A group of cyclists from the national team will pedal from Kabul to Kunar in a bid to promote peace and encourage youths to take part in sport.  The cyclists, from the national team, Aimal Mubariz, Massoud Amiri and Jawed, will spend three days on the road to raise awareness.

“Our goal from this tour is to visit youths in the eastern provinces and encourage them to participate in sport,” said Mubariz. “The cycling federation faced many problems in the past but now things are going well here and there was a transparent selection of athletes for the national team,” said Jawed Zarawar, a cyclist.

The head of the Cycling Federation, Husain Hamidi, said the tour is aimed at carrying a message of peace, unity and equality to residents in the eastern provinces.

“We will hold a tournament for the media in the near future and we will hold a cycling race to select members of the national team,” he said.

In a similar move last week, two cyclists pedaled from Kabul to Balkh and Badakhshan provinces – in the north and north eastern parts of the country – to carry a message of peace and solidarity.

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Drone strike leaves 6 ISIS militants dead in Nangarhar province

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: At least six loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed in the latest drone strike in eastern Nangarhar province. The latest drone was carried out in the past 24 hours in the vicinity of Haska Mina district which is home to Taliban as well as ISIS insurgents.

At least two militants affiliated with the terror group were also wounded during the airstrike, the local official confirmed. The provincial government media office in a statement said the hideouts of the terror group were targeted in Gorgori area on Friday, leaving six dead and two others wounded.

The anti-government armed militant groups including ISIS militants have not commented regarding the report so far. The Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan said last week that the Command and Control Center of the ISIS terrorist group has came under airstrike this province. The Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan (MoD) said the airstrike was carried out in the restive Achin district and as a result the communication set up of the group has been eliminated. MoD did not elaborate further in this regard but the Afghan national defense and security forces as well as the US forces conduct regular operations and airstrikes on ISIS hideouts in this province. Earlier, the provincial police commandment said at least six militants affiliated with the terror group were group in a similar airstrike in Nazian district.


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Central Bank working to eliminate black money

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Central Bank of Afghanistan (CBA) said the bank will implement systems in the banking sector to prevent the flow of black money in the country’s monetary system. Officials at the bank told TOLOnews that after Afghanistan was removed from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) gray list last year, Afghan banks have been able to work to expanding their businesses and to work with foreign banks.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Banking Association says the Central Bank must also streamline the trading process by standardizing its systems and by digitalizing their monetary transaction process.  Seven months ago, Afghanistan was removed from the FATF’s gray list.

However, Afghanistan needs to ensure that no black money, or money earned through illegal activities can be processed through their banks. Banks can also not deal with funds to finance insurgent groups in the country.  “It’s not easy to get off of the gray list, therefore, we need to work to improve the situation and we have programs in this section,” said Wahidullah Nawsher, first deputy of the CBA chairman.

But concerns have been raised inside the country that the open borders of Afghanistan with neighboring countries, especially with Pakistan, a country accused of supporting terrorist activities, the usage of Pakistani rupees in the country, and the absence of official financial services could pose as problems.

“To work out the monetary system, work needs to done to ensure digitalized identification of people because, for example, many bank customers have many ID cards, each with a different name,” said Najibullah Amiri, the Banking Association’s CEO.  Union officials said that by improving and regulating the financial services sector, banks will be able to grow and global confidence in Afghanistan’s banking system will develop.

Countries on the FATF’s gray list struggle under strict limitations in terms of financial dealings.  In March last year the Central Bank of Afghanistan said it had met all the requirements of FATF and after a rigorous assessment, Afghanistan was removed from the list.


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Government approves $383m project

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Afghan government has approved a new contract related to the Fiber Optic project having a total value of around 383 million US Dollars. The Office of the President, ARG Palace, said the contract was approved during the latest meeting of the National Procurement Commission chaired by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.

According to a statement by ARG Palace, the project relates to the issuance of investment licenses by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of Afghanistan (ATRA) for the investment on Fiber Optics project and around 383 million US Dollars will be invested on the project. The statement further adds that four private companies have been approved to obtain the licenses for the Fiber Optics project which include Afghan Wireless, Etisalat, Roshan, and Asian Consultancy Group.

Another firm which had also submitted an offer for the project Amania & Connectivity International was not approved for the project as certain contradictions were noted in their joint offer submitted for the approval. The MTN Company was also not approved for the project for their failure to comply with the terms and conditions of the contract, ARG Palace said, adding that the Roshan Telecom has been approved for the project on principles and subject to the clearance of the outstanding taxes.

The National Procurement Commission also approved four other contracts during the meeting having a total value of around 475 million US Dollars. The contracts approved during the meeting include reconstruction of the first phase of Gardez to Zurmat highway belonging to the Ministry of Public Works, and construction of five compounds belonging to the ministry of higher education for quality assurance and professional development of the universities.

Other contracts approved during the meeting include completion of a 7-storey building belonging to the ministry of interior with the work to be implemented by the housing enterprise, procurement of fuel for the ministry of urban development and housing, and procurement of lubricants for the administrative office of the president, the ARG Palace added.

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Ghani invites Abbasi to initiate state to state comprehensive dialogue

KABUL (Monitoring Desk): Afghan President Ashraf Ghani invited Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to “initiate state to state comprehensive dialogue” during National Security Adviser Nasser Khan Janjua’s one-day trip to Kabul on Saturday.

Janjua left for Kabul earlier today where he met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in the capital’s Dilkusha Palace.

The security adviser further said Pakistan is ready to make all possible efforts for lasting peace in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s national security adviser is also expected to meet his Afghan counterpart Haneef Atmar and discuss bilateral relations and regional security issues.

A spokesperson of the national security adviser observed that a peaceful Afghanistan is a guarantee to lasting peace at home.

He will also meet Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and the NDS Chief during the one-day visit, for which he was invited by Atmar.

The representatives of the neighbouring countries are expected to formulate a policy to work together and chalk out a way forward to improve bilateral relations and enhance cooperation.

On February 3, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, while addressing the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Solidarity (APAPS) in Kabul, remarked that Pakistan and Afghanistan instead of blame game should engage in concrete cooperation.

A top-level delegation of Pakistan’s civil and military leadership, led by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, had travelled to Afghanistan to attend the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Working Group meeting.

Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal confirmed the meeting and said Pakistan had proposed five joint working groups, focusing on ensuring a comprehensive engagement for countering terrorism, intelligence sharing, military, economy, trade and transit interaction, refugee repatriation and connectivity.

The FO spokesperson also reaffirmed that Pakistan will continue to support efforts for peace in Afghanistan, but the Afghan government needs to reach a settlement with different Afghan groups.

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Two dead, three injured in suicide attack in Kabul

KABUL (ToLo News): At least two civilians were killed after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in Kabul’s PD9 vicinity on Saturday morning, the Afghan Ministry of Interior confirmed.

Three persons were injured in the attack that took place shortly after 9am in Dispichari area close to a compound housing foreign contractors, reported Tolo News.

Afghan media quoted sources that claimed the attack was targetted at a private security firm’s vehicle.

No group has as yet claimed responsibility for the incident.

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Ismail Khan invites militants groups to negotiate with Mujahideen

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Former Governor of Heart and former Jihadi leader, Mohammad Ismail Khan has invited different militants groups to hold talks with Mujahideens.

While addressing to the gathering in Heart on Thursday, Ismail Khan said that if militant’s groups do not wants talk with the Afghan government then they must start face to face talks with the Mujahideen to find a solution and ensure the peace in the country. He added that war is not the solution for ending the crisis.
Ismail Khan Statement comes after the Taliban wrote a letter to Washington last month to begin talks.

President Ashraf Ghani later offered recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate political group as part of a proposed process he said could lead to talks, but so far the Taliban had not responded to government’s offer.






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ICC WC Qualifiers: Afghanistan defeat West Indies by three wickets

Monitoring Desk

HARARE: Afghanistan National Cricket Team defeated the West Indies by three wickets in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier at Harare on Thursday.

The Afghan spinners restricted the West Indies side to 197/8 after young Mujeeb Zadran continuing his rapid rise to the stardom and pick 3/33.

The West Indies fielding was very poor and they dropped so many catches, missed run-outs opportunities and finally they paid the price.

Afghanistan early lost their openers while chasing the 198 target and for the fourth wicket Rahmat Shah and Mohammad Nabi patiently compiling 49 to take them to 132/3.

Skipper dismissed the both Muhammad Nabi and Rahmat Shah and opened the door for the team but the poor fielding of West Indies they were not able to defend the score and Afghanistan won the match by three wickets.

Earlier in the day the Afghanistan spin attack, led by Mujeeb, had tied the Windies up in knots after Holder had won the toss and elected to bat.


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Conference on Afghanistan announced

Monitoring Desk

MOSCOW: An international conference on Afghanistan is set to be held on March 26-27 in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday.

Speaking at a news conference in Moscow, Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zaharova said Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov will participate in the conference.

Security and regional cooperation are on the agenda, Zaharova said.

“Main purpose of meeting is to form a wide international consensus on fundamental principles of Afghan settlement and involvement of Afghanistan into trade, transit, energetic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation in Central Asia and beyond,” she said.

The conference in Tashkent is part of international community’s efforts to end the conflict in Afghanistan. AA

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Gen. Sharif Yaftali visits Farah

Monitoring Desk

HERAT: Senior security officials visited Farah following the recent surge in Taliban attacks in this western province.

Chief of General Staff of Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces General Mohammad Sharif Yaftali, National Directorate of Security (NDS) provincial deputy Lt. General Ibadullah Ibad and interior ministry senior advisor Lt. Gen. Muhammad Saalem Ihsas visited Farah province to review and investigate the recent security satiation of the province.

The high-ranking security officials held meeting with provincial governor Lg. Abdul Baseer Salang. The meeting was also attended by members of provincial council and officials of Afghan National Army (ANA) in the province.

The governor while briefing the visiting delegation on security situation in the province demanded more equipment for the security forces and launching massive operation to improve security situation.

He claimed that the anti-government gunmen were defeated in the province and heavy casualties were inflicting them.

The security officials of the province also briefed the visiting delegation on security situation and demanded surge in the security forces and more equipment to them.

The delegation assured to deploy more troops to the province which, they said, would help improve security and launch massive operation. The Taliban have recently intensified attacks in this western province, capturing the centre of Anardara district and killing and wounding a large number of troops.

The recent surge in Taliban attacks are seen as a move to sabotage the multibillion dollars TAPI gas pipeline project which passes through Farah.