Afghan chief executive visits India to enhance trade, strategic ties

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, right, welcomes Afghanistan's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in New Delhi, on Thursday. (AP)
Updated 30 September 2017

Afghan chief executive visits India to enhance trade, strategic ties

NEW DELHI: Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah paid a two-day visit to India as part of US and Afghan efforts to have New Delhi play a greater role in Afghanistan.
Abdullah attended “Passage to Prosperity,” a US-sponsored trade and investment initiative focusing on better regional integration by strengthening Afghan-Indian economic ties.
“The relationship between India and Afghanistan is very healthy and forward-looking,” Abdullah told the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) in New Delhi on Friday. On Thursday, New Delhi signed an agreement with Kabul to train Afghan police.
An Indian government statement said Prime Minister Narendra Modi “reiterated India’s commitment to extend full support to Afghanistan’s efforts for building a peaceful, united, prosperous, inclusive and democratic Afghanistan.”
Abdullah was accompanied by around 200 Afghan businessmen and traders, who set up stalls at “Passage to Prosperity” to explore opportunities in India while tapping new markets for Afghan products such as carpets, spices and farm produce.
Entrepreneurs from other fields such as health care, infrastructure and energy also attended the event, seeking support from Indian investors.
The biggest space in the investment fair was occupied by people exploring the “traditional Afghan dried-fruit market in India,” dried-fruit seller Nasser Ahmad told Arab News.
He expressed hope that the air corridor established between India and Afghanistan “will facilitate the transportation of dried and fresh fruit from Kabul at a reasonable price.”
Abdullah said the Afghan national unity government is open to talks with the Taliban, telling Arab News: “We want a dignified peace, and the group that wants to talk to us should give up links with terror networks, work for their own country and contribute to the wellbeing of our people. This is our hope, and based on that we’ve kept the door open for talks and negotiations.”
Ahmad, accompanying Abdullah, said: “Instability isn’t going away from Afghanistan anytime soon, and we have to find ways to live a life and carry on with our business.”


India blocks SMS services in Kashmir after trucker killed

Updated 59 min 25 sec ago

India blocks SMS services in Kashmir after trucker killed

  • Security sources said the decision to cut text messaging services was taken to reduce the ability of militants to communicate
  • Indian authorities had only restored call and text services for mobile phones

SRINAGAR: Text messaging services were blocked in Indian Kashmir just hours after being restored when a truck driver was killed by suspected militants and his vehicle set ablaze, authorities said Tuesday.
Separately Indian officials said that a 24-year-old woman died in the latest exchange of artillery fire with Pakistan over their de-facto border dividing the blood-soaked Himalayan region.
Security sources said the decision to cut text messaging services was taken to reduce the ability of militants to communicate.
Indian authorities had only restored call and text services for mobile phones on Monday, following a 72-day blackout in the restive northern territory imposed after New Delhi scrapped the region's semi-autonomous status.
The seven million-plus people of the Kashmir Valley — the main hotbed of resistance to Indian rule — are still cut off from the Internet, however.
Authorities said SMS services were cut again on Monday night following the attack on the driver of a truck carrying apples in Shopian.
Residents said two masked gunmen told the driver to use his truck to block the road, but it skidded and got stuck.
“The gunmen then fired at the truck and set it on fire,” a witness told AFP.
Apples are a sensitive issue in Kashmir, which exports vast quantities of the fruit to markets across India.
Many orchard owners say they are refusing to harvest this year to protest against the government’s move to scrap Kashmir’s autonomy.
Indian authorities say that militants — backed by arch-rival Pakistan — have been intimidating farmers and businessmen.
The latest death from Pakistani artillery fire over the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir brings the number of fatalities on the Indian side to three in the past four days, the Press Trust of India reported.
Two Indian soldiers were killed in two separate incidents on Friday and Sunday, PTI said. It was unclear if there were any fatalities from Indian fire on the Pakistani side.
Also on Tuesday, police arrested 13 women activists in Srinagar after they staged a protest calling for civil liberties and the release of detainees.
The women, wearing black armbands, were arrested for “breaching the peace” and for a contravening a ban in place since early August on public gatherings of more than four people, police said.
They included the sister and daughter of former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, one of several hundred local politicians, lawyers and others in custody since early August, mostly without charge.
Abdullah, 81, was formally arrested in mid-September under the highly contentious Public Safety Act (PSA) that allows someone to be held for up to two years without charge, and which has been used widely in Kashmir in recent years.
Rebels have been fighting for three decades some 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in the territory, demanding independence or to join Pakistan which also controls part of the region and, like India, claims it in full.