Former Afghan PM slams Iran’s ‘negative’ role

In this file photo, former Afghan prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar speaks during a welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 4, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 11 December 2017
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Former Afghan PM slams Iran’s ‘negative’ role

ISLAMABAD: Former Afghan prime minister and chief of Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA), Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, said Iran’s role in his country “has always been negative.”
Tehran “has always preferred continuation of war in Afghanistan… Iran has invested for at least 30 years (on war),” he told Pakistan’s Geo TV.
“Iran is a party to the war in Afghanistan and supports different groups... Most of the weapons came from Iran after the withdrawal of the former Soviet Union (from Afghanistan),” he said, adding that Tehran is providing weapons to the Taliban.
“Many countries think their national interests are served by the continuation of the war,” he said, adding that other countries should not bring their rivalries to Afghanistan.
“Unfortunately some neighbors don’t want an end to the war… so there’s instability, differences among Afghan leaders and a weak government. They’ve been spending on this war for 30 to 40 years,” Hekmatyar said.
“Pakistan is the only country badly affected by the Afghan war. Pakistan… suffered the most. This war paved the way for the creation of groups that took up arms against Pakistan,” he added.
“Pakistan wanted to import energy, gas, electricity and oil from Central Asia, but the war has blocked this and Pakistan faces a lot of problems due to an energy crisis.”
Hekmatyar said the US has achieved nothing from the war: “The US has not only spent billions of dollars, but thousands of their personnel have been killed and injured. I don’t understand what the US wants to achieve from this war.”
He renewed his offer to mediate between the Afghan government and the Taliban, adding: “We have contacts with the Taliban at different levels. I’m hopeful of progress as we’ve received positive signals from the Taliban.”
Hekmatyar cited a “change in the Taliban approach to some extent, as the majority of Taliban leaders want peace.”
He said: “I believe the Taliban have been forced to fight… due to internal and external factors.”


“No-deal” Brexit would hit trucks, airlines and pet owners — govt papers

Updated 24 September 2018
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“No-deal” Brexit would hit trucks, airlines and pet owners — govt papers

LONDON: Leaving the European Union without a proper divorce deal could ground airlines, stop hauliers from lugging goods to the world’s biggest trading bloc and even make headaches for pet owners who want to take their dogs on holiday, according to government documents.
With just six months to go until the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29, Prime Minister Theresa May has warned that negotiations are at an impasse and that the EU must come up with new proposals on how to craft a divorce settlement.
Many business chiefs and investors fear politics could scupper an agreement, thrusting the world’s fifth largest economy into a “no-deal” Brexit that they say would spook financial markets and silt up the arteries of trade.
Britain, which has warned it could leave without a deal, published 25 technical notices on Monday covering everything from commercial road haulage and buying timber to airline regulations and taking pets abroad.
“If the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no agreement in place, UK and EU licensed airlines would lose the automatic right to operate air services between the UK and the EU without seeking advance permission,” the government said.
Overall, the government has published more than 65 such notices giving a glimpse of what a no-deal Brexit — the nightmare scenario for chief executives of most multinationals operating in Britain — would look like.
Amid warnings that trucks could stack up on both sides of the English Channel in the confusion of a no deal, Britain said it would seek to strike bilateral agreements with European countries to ensure hauliers would retain access.
The notices covered a vast swathe of the British economy, warning, for example, that labels on packaged food would have to be changed.
“Use of the term ‘EU’ in origin labelling would no longer be correct for food or ingredients from the UK,” the government said.
Honey producers would have to change their labels while EU countries might not accept British mineral water, the government said.
In the worse case scenario for pet owners, dogs, cats and even ferrets might need health certificates and rabies jabs. Travel plans would have to be discussed with a vet at least four months in advance before traveling to the EU.
That would mean someone wanting to take their pet to the EU on March 30, 2019, the day after Britain leaves the bloc, would have to discuss the trip with a vet before the end of November.
Without a deal, the UK would move from seamless trade with the rest of the EU to customs arrangements set by the World Trade Organization for external states with no preferential deals.
Brexiteers accept there is likely to be some short-term economic pain but say the government is trying to scare voters about the impact of a no-deal Brexit.
Britain, many Brexiteers say, will thrive in the longer term if cut loose from what they see as a doomed experiment in German-dominated unity and excessive debt-funded welfare spending.