IN THE NEWS: IMF FOLDS PACKAGE WITH MORE STRINGENT CONDITIONS (APRIL 25, 2019)

Written by admin on Thursday, April 25th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

IMF folds package with more stringent conditions
SOURCE: The News International
Thursday, April 25, 2019
By MEHTAB HAIDER

* Rabbani proposes parliamentary ratification of pacts with IMF
* India warns IMF against bailing out Pakistan
* IMF loan laden with strict terms will not last: Dr Ashfaque

ISLAMABAD: The IMF has folded its bailout package with more stringent conditions as Islamabad have been conveyed to ensure guarantee from China that it will get rollover of $5 to $7 billion debt on account of deposits and commercial loans in order to meet its financing requirements during the programme period.

The IMF has put the condition to bridge financing gap through “unidentified” avenues as Islamabad got deposits from China, Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the range of $7 billion so far in the ongoing financial year. The commercial lending from Chinese banks alone amounted to $5 to $5.5 billion.

With securing of IMF programme, it is assumed that the traditional lenders like World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and others as well as international capital market funding would start pouring in but if rollover on account of deposits and commercial loans could not be arranged, the financing gap could not be filled.

“The IMF is going to provide funding of $6 to $8 billion under the possible package for three-year period,” said the official. Although, the rollover of deposits is done in routine but it involves hectic procedure as the chief executive of the country requires sending official written request to get this facility of rollover for another year. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: IRAN DENOUNCES U.S. TALKS WITH TALIBAN (APRIL 25, 2019)

Written by admin on Thursday, April 25th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

IRAN DENOUNCES U.S. TALKS WITH TALIBAN
SOURCE: Newsweek Pakistan
Thursday, April 25, 2019

*TEHRAN’S FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS WASHINGTON’S PUSH FOR A DEAL WITH THE EXTREMISTS IS ‘SERIOUSLY WRONG’

Iran on Wednesday criticized U.S. talks with the Taliban on ending the Afghanistan war, saying Washington was elevating the role of the militants.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif acknowledged that Iran had also opened dialogue with the Taliban but said that the U.S. push for a deal with the extremists was “seriously wrong.”

“An attempt to exclude everybody and just talk to the Taliban has alienated the government, has alienated the region, has alienated everybody else and it achieved nothing, as you’ve seen from the statement that came from the Taliban,” Zarif said, apparently referring to the militants’ announcement of a new spring offensive. “I was the first to say that in any peace in Afghanistan, the Taliban cannot be set aside or isolated,” Zarif said at the Asia Society in New York, which he was visiting to take part in a U.N. session. “But you cannot negotiate the future of Afghanistan with the Taliban. The Taliban only represent a segment of Afghan society, not all of it,” he said. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WORDS AND REALITY: ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE AND ITS LIMITATIONS IN AFGHANISTAN (APRIL 24, 2019)

Written by admin on Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Difference between Words and Reality: Access to Health Care and Its limitations in Afghanistan
SOURCE: Daily Outlook Afghanistan
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
By MOHAMMAD ZAHIR AKBAR

Last Saturday April 20, 2019, Afghanistan and Pakistan jointly inaugurated a 200-bed, hospital in Kabul, one of three major health care facilities being built and funded by Islamabad as its contribution to reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. Named “Muhammad Ali Jinnah Hospital” under name of Pakistani founder and it took 12 years to finish at a cost of more than $24 million. As reflected in media reports, officials of both countries cited deteriorating Afghan security, continued mutual political acrimony and institutional as well as bureaucratic inefficiencies for the delay in the completion of the second-largest hospital in Afghanistan.

Second vice President Sarwar Danesh, Minister of Public Health Dr. Feroz, Pakistani minister of state for parliamentary affairs Ali Mohammad Khan, Pakistani ambassador to Kabul Zahid Nasrullah Khan, a number of lawmakers and elders participated in the ceremony. Danesh on behalf of the government and people of Afghanistan thanked the government and people of Pakistan. Pointing to Pakistan’s part in key infrastructural projects in Afghanistan, he said Afghanistan government hoped Pakistan government would also play constructive role in maintaining security and peace in Afghanistan and the region. Pakistani minister of state for parliamentary affairs Ali Mohammad Khan also spoke and considered completion of Jinnah Hospital as an effective step towards sympathy between the people of the two countries. He recalled of completion of other hospitals in Logar and Jalalabad by Pakistan, stressing that Pakistan was making efforts to help Afghanistan in security, stability and lasting peace. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: PAST YEARS ACHIEVEMENTS SHOULD BE DEFENDED: KHALILZAD (APRIL 24, 2019)

Written by admin on Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Past Years Achievements Should Be Defended: Khalilzad
SOURCE: TOLO News
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
By RAJAB TAIEB

* Khalilzad says the time has come for ending the war in Afghanistan and that his mission is to help Afghans in this respect
* Women Must Be At The Table In All Negotiations: Khalilzad
* Khalilzad In Kabul For Talks With Afghan Officials

The United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad says that the achievements made in the past one and half decade should be defended, and these gains should be used as a cornerstone and foundation for more progresses in peace process as well for further developments in a post-peace government.

In a video message to a number of Afghan youths who held a discussion in the US embassy in Kabul on Tuesday over the youths’ roles in the peace process and their priorities, Khalilzad said that now the time has come to end the Afghan war and build on the achievements.

“Now it is the time that this war should end. Now it is the time to defend and preserve the gains and use them as foundation for further progress in peace and after peace in Afghanistan,” Khalilzad said.

The US envoy added that he has been tasked by the United States to support Afghans in ending the ongoing war and making sure that the world will not be threatened from Afghanistan territory.

Khalilzad said he and his team has started negotiations with the Afghan government, Taliban and some other groups for reaching a peace deal to achieve these two major goals. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: KABUL, DELHI WARY ABOUT AFGHAN PEACE TALKS (APRIL 16, 2019)

Written by admin on Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Kabul, Delhi wary about Afghan peace talks
SOURCE: Asia Times
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
By M.K. BHADRAKUMAR

*The Ghani regime and security chiefs in India fear that a deal to share power in Afghanistan could open the door to the Taliban, Pakistan and China taking charge if US forces leave

Henry Kissinger wouldn’t have approved of the way that Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, handles the Afghan peace talks. Even if Twitter was set up in the late sixties, Kissinger would not have used it to signal to Hanoi or the Vietcong.

But, caught between the “Khalid Operation” — the Afghan government’s new security plan — and the Taliban’s Operation Al-Fatha (“victory” in Arabic), Khalilzad began tweeting furiously to vent his exasperation.

What emerged from Khalilzad’s tweets over the past few days is that his negotiations with the Taliban are in a state of drift. Khalilzad blames the Taliban for being “reckless” and “irresponsible” in announcing the spring offensive. He claimed: “Many Talibs including fighters and some leaders oppose this announcement.”

He maintains that the US and its allies back Kabul’s security plan, but qualified it by saying Washington also seeks “to bring parties to the table to negotiate peace.”

Khalilzad urged “all sides… [to] end unnecessary violence, and instead engage in intra-Afghan dialogue which leads to negotiations on a political settlement and a road map to end the war this year.” The urgent requirement, he said, was for a “comprehensive ceasefire and negotiations leading to a lasting peace.” (more…)

IN THE NEWS: IMF BAILOUT PACKAGE AGREED UPON IN WRITING: ASAD (APRIL 16, 2019)

Written by admin on Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

IMF bailout package agreed upon in writing: Asad
SOURCE: Dawn
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
By KHALEEQ KIANI

*Asad Umar said the IMF staff mission would visit Islamabad this month to conclude various technical tables that would then be shared with the NA committee

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have finalised, documented and signed a bailout package on exchange rate, public finance, fiscal deficit and energy prices and an IMF mission will be visiting Islamabad in the third week of the current month to work out technical tables, said Finance Minister Asad Umar.

“We have reached an agreement and all the major issues have been settled and documented,” Mr Umar told a meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue on Monday after a weeklong visit to the US.

He also reported that Pakistan had dispatched a compliance report to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that would be reviewed by the Paris-based agency before sending its delegation to Islamabad by the third week of May for on-ground inspection.

He said the IMF staff mission would visit Islamabad this month to conclude various technical tables that would then be shared with the NA committee.

During the meeting, leading representatives from various chambers of commerce and industry and the provincial governments opposed the short period being offered for tax amnesty scheme and proposed that these should be well structured and provide sufficient time to the people. The provinces, particularly Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said the real estate valuations had blocked their property business, resulting in huge revenue loss even though the Federal Board of Revenue might have improved its revenues. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: EX-AFGHAN WARLORD SAYS ‘NO DOUBT’ PAKISTAN SUPPORTS TALIBAN (APRIL 15, 2019)

Written by admin on Monday, April 15th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Ex-Afghan Warlord Says ‘No Doubt’ Pakistan Supports Taliban
SOURCE: Gandhara
Monday, April 15, 2019

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of Afghanistan’s most notorious former warlords, said there is “no doubt” neighboring Pakistan supports the Afghan Taliban.

In an interview with RFE/RL in the Afghan capital on April 14, Hekmatyar also expressed hope that talks scheduled this week between the Western-backed Kabul government and the Taliban could prove a significant step towards ending the war.

U.S. and Afghan officials have long accused Pakistan of providing safe havens for the militants, a claim rejected by Islamabad.

Hekmatyar forged close ties with Pakistan’s shadowy military establishment and its notorious spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), a relationship that was built during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, when the mujahideen commander was one of the main beneficiaries of Pakistani and CIA money and weapons.

“Pakistan has an interest in Afghanistan’s political affairs,” said Hekmatyar, whose Hezb-e Islami militant group signed a controversial peace accord with the Kabul government in 2016. “Pakistan is supporting the Taliban. There is no doubt about it.” (more…)

IN THE NEWS: ‘TALIBAN SPRING OFFENSIVE AN ATTEMPT TO SABOTAGE PEACE PROCESS’ (APRIL 15, 2019)

Written by admin on Monday, April 15th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

‘Taliban Spring Offensive an Attempt to Sabotage Peace Process’
SOURCE: Daily Outlook Afghanistan
Monday, April 15, 2019

KABUL – Senior Afghan politicians, including former president Hamid Karzai, have strongly lambasted the Taliban’s announcement of spring offensive, calling it an attempt to sabotage the ongoing peace process.

A day earlier, the Taliban announced the launch of their spring offensive codenamed Al Fatah, across the country, drawing strong criticism from the US envoy for reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan government and NATO resolute support mission.

A statement from Hamid Karzai’s media office said the former president was saddened by the Taliban’s announcement. It quoted Karzai as calling the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan as an imposed war that served the interest of outsiders.

He said on both sides only the Afghan were killed and maimed and the conflict only offered destruction and devastation and nothing else.

Karzai urged all the warring sides that instead of waging fresh violence, they should focus all their efforts and energy on ceasing the bloodshed and bringing peace and stability to the war-torn nation.

In his reaction to the Taliban’s announcement, Senate chairman Fazl Hadi Muslimyar said the Afghan government not only offered conditions-free talks but also accepted all conditions of the Taliban for peace in the country. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: PAKISTAN – ALL ABOUT ECONOMY (APRIL 14, 2019)

Written by admin on Sunday, April 14th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

All about economy
SOURCE: The News on Sunday
Sunday, April 14, 2019
By PERVEZ TAHIR

*While the government’s stop-go policies and U-turns have shattered the private sector confidence, an activist NAB has given birth to bureaucratic inertia

“The crisis is over,” a gung-ho Finance Minister announced while unveiling a Medium-Term Economic Framework (MTEF). He has said it before.

I don’t consider stock exchange as a true barometer of the economy. But the Finance Minister quotes its ups in jubilation and rejects downs as anti-government propaganda.

In the first week of December last year, when the stocks suffered their steepest move southwards and the rupee depreciated to the surprise of a bewildered Prime Minister, the Finance Minister pooh-pooed the notion of an economic crisis, claiming that there was no external financing gap in the fiscal year 2018-19 and all economic fundamentals were improving.

In a press briefing earlier in November, he declared, “Our balance of payment crisis is over as our gap on the external front of $12 billion has been filled. Saudi Arabia has already provided $6 billion and the remaining is under discussion with China.”

Remember in August 2018 as the finance minister-in-waiting, he had warned, “The crisis is so severe and requires measures so urgent that no option can be ruled out. In the ninth month of dithering, with two mini budgets failing to reduce the fiscal deficit and assistance from three friends and massive depreciation forcing intensive care, he says that “Now we are in the stabilisation process.” He expects growth to follow the conclusion of this process. The length of this process will coincide with the IMF programme that is likely to be for three years.

So the IMF option that could have been taken on the very first day in office with all the goodwill that a new baggage-free government carries, is being exercised now. The attempt to live without the IMF, which a few of us economists believed was the right thing to do, has come a cropper because of the inability to draw up a domestically oriented pro-poor austerity programme. (more…)

IN THE NEWS: TALIBAN TRASHES AFGHAN PEACE COUNCIL, URGES BOYCOTT (APRIL 13, 2019)

Written by admin on Saturday, April 13th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Taliban trashes Afghan peace council, urges boycott
SOURCE: The Long War Journal
Saturday, April 13, 2019 (Posted)
By BILL ROGGIO

The Taliban decried the upcoming Afghan Loya Jirga (grand council) for Peace as a tool of “the invaders and their stooges” that is used “for their own malicious objectives,” and has refused to participate in it. The Taliban has also called on Afghans to boycott the upcoming council.

The Taliban’s position on the loya jirga is representative of its consistent refusal to deal with the Afghan government and civil society in good faith.

The Taliban issued two English language statements on its official website, Voice of Jihad, denouncing the upcoming peace council, which is scheduled to take place on April 29 and will be attended by thousands of Afghan from all aspects of society. The first statement, released on April, 9 is titled “Consultative Jirga for Peace or Continuing War?” The second, released one day later, is titled “Remarks by spokesman of Islamic Emirate concerning Loya Jirga of Kabul administration” and is signed by Zabihullah Mujahid, one of two key official spokesmen of the Taliban.

Both statements hurl insults at the Afghan government, which the Taliban describes as “domestic stooges,” a “puppet regime,” “the hollow Kabul administration” (a reference that the government’s authority does not extend beyond the capital), and “the decaying Ghani administration.”

President Arshaf Ghani is referred to as “the head of Arg Palace,” or the presidential palace, yet another slight about his national influence.
In both statements, the Taliban claims that the upcoming peace jirga and past jirgas are illegitimate. (more…)