Taliban will not allow Daesh to establish foothold in Afghanistan, says FM Muttaqi

Afghanistan’s interim Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi arrives at the conference in Islamabad. (AP)
Afghanistan’s interim Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi arrives at the conference in Islamabad. (AP)
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Updated 20 December 2021

Taliban will not allow Daesh to establish foothold in Afghanistan, says FM Muttaqi

Taliban will not allow Daesh to establish foothold in Afghanistan, says FM Muttaqi
  • Saudi FM earlier warned during the OIC meeting that Afghanistan risked being turned into a shelter for terrorist and extremist groups

ISLAMABAD:  Afghanistan’s interim Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said on Sunday that the Afghan Taliban would not allow the Daesh militant group to gain a “foothold” in the country or allow any terror outfits to use Afghan soil against other nations.

Muttaqi spoke to Arab News in an interview on the sidelines of an Organization of Islamic Corporation summit held in Islamabad on Sunday to help Afghanistan, which is facing a looming economic meltdown and humanitarian catastrophe.

“We have controlled Daesh in the whole of Afghanistan and haven’t permitted anyone to use our land against any other country,” Muttaqi said. “It is our promise to the whole world that Afghan soil will not be used against anyone. We will not allow it.

“We will not let Daesh or any other group establish a foothold in Afghanistan as the Afghan people want peace,” he added.

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, earlier said during Sunday's gathering that  Afghanistan must not turn into a shelter for terrorist and extremist groups.

The humanitarian crisis since the Taliban seized power in August could compromise regional stability, Prince Faisal warned.

He said Saudi Arabia would begin transporting humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, and he hoped mechanisms could be created to deliver it to the Afghan people.

Afghanistan, which is also suffering from a banking liquidity crisis as the cash flow dries up due to sanctions, is facing the risk of economic collapse since the Taliban took over.

But Muttaqi said there was now peace in Afghanistan and the government was strong and stable: “The people are happy,” he insisted.

Afghanistan parked billions of dollars in assets overseas with the US Federal Reserve and other central banks in Europe, but that money has been frozen since the Taliban ousted the Western-backed government in August.

Muttaqi pressed for the release of the billions of dollars of central bank reserves as the drought-stricken nation faces a cash crunch, mass starvation and a new migration crisis.

“The financial assets of Afghanistan belong to the Afghan people, it is not our (Taliban’s) money,” the foreign minister said, urging the US and other Western nations to allow access to the funds.

“Why have they frozen those assets and created problems for the Afghan people? Not even one Afghan person who is working abroad can send their hard-earned money back to their country. Is this an example of respect for human rights?”

 

 


Pope Francis names 21 new cardinals

Pope Francis names 21 new cardinals
Updated 7 sec ago

Pope Francis names 21 new cardinals

Pope Francis names 21 new cardinals
  • Pope Francis read out his choices at the end of his traditional Sunday greetings to the public in St. Peter’s Square
VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis said Sunday he will elevate 21 churchmen to the rank of cardinal in a ceremony at the Vatican this summer.
Among the churchmen tapped by the pontiff to receive the prestigious red hat will be two prelates from India and one each from Mongolia, Ghana, Nigeria, Singapore, East Timor, Paraguay, and Brazil, in keeping with Francis’ determination to have church leaders reflect the global face of the Catholic church.
Francis read out his choices at the end of his traditional Sunday greetings to the public in St. Peter’s Square. At least 16 of the new cardinals will be younger than 80 and thus eligible to vote for the next pontiff in secret conclave.
The pope said he will conduct the consistory, as the ceremony to elevate churchmen to cardinal’s rank is known, on Aug. 27.
Other new cardinals hail from France and from San Diego, California, while three are prelates who currently hold top positions at the Vatican.

India withdraws warning on national biometric ID after online panic

India withdraws warning on national biometric ID after online panic
Updated 29 May 2022

India withdraws warning on national biometric ID after online panic

India withdraws warning on national biometric ID after online panic
  • Aadhaar card, which has a unique number tied to an individual’s fingerprints, face and eye scan, aims to block theft and leakage in India’s welfare schemes

NEW DELHI: India on Sunday withdrew a warning not to share photocopies of the national biometric identity card after the announcement caused widespread panic on social media.
The Aadhaar card, which has a unique number tied to an individual’s fingerprints, face and eye scan, aims to block theft and leakage in India’s welfare schemes. But critics fear it could spawn a surveillance state.
The press information bureau withdrew the warning two days after issuing it, saying the release was published in the context of an attempt to misuse an edited Aadhaar card, and was being withdrawn “in view of the possibility of the misinterpretation.”
The new statement said the Aadhaar ecosystem had adequate features to protect the identity and privacy of users, and that users are only advised to exercise “normal prudence.”
The Friday announcement had advised people not to share photocopies of their Aadhaar with any organization because it could be misused. “Unlicensed private entities like hotels or film halls are not permitted to collect or keep copies of Aadhaar card,” the initial release read.
The warning triggered alarm on social media as screengrabs of the press release and news articles went viral, with the issue among the top 10 trending topics in India on Twitter on Sunday.
“I might have stayed in almost a 100 hotels who kept a copy of my Aadhar! Now this,” said Twitter user @_NairFYI.
The Unique Identification Authority of India says among its frequently asked questions, “It is near impossible to impersonate you if you use Aadhar to prove your identity.”
“People have been freely giving other identity documents. But did they stop using these documents for the fear that somebody would use them to impersonate? No!” it says.
India’s Supreme Court in 2018 upheld the validity of the Aadhaar, but flagged privacy concerns and reined in a government push to make it mandatory for everything from banking to telecom services.


Afghan women demand education and work at Kabul protest

Afghan women demand education and work at Kabul protest
Updated 29 May 2022

Afghan women demand education and work at Kabul protest

Afghan women demand education and work at Kabul protest
  • Since seizing power in August, the Taliban have rolled back the marginal gains made by women during the two decades of US intervention in Afghanistan

KABUL: About two dozen Afghan women chanting “bread, work, freedom” protested in the capital on Sunday against the Taliban’s harsh restrictions on their rights.
Since seizing power in August, the Taliban have rolled back the marginal gains made by women during the two decades of US intervention in Afghanistan.
“Education is my right! Reopen schools!” chanted the protesters, many of them wearing face-covering veils, as they gathered in front of the ministry of education.
Demonstrators marched for a few hundred meters before ending the rally as authorities deployed Taliban fighters in plain clothes, an AFP correspondent reported.
“We wanted to read out a declaration but the Taliban didn’t allow it,” said protester Zholia Parsi.
“They took the mobile phones of some girls and also prevented us from taking photos or videos of our protest.”
After seizing power, the Taliban had promised a softer version of the harsh Islamist rule that characterized their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001.
But many restrictions have already been imposed.
Tens of thousands of girls have been shut out of secondary schools, while women have been barred from returning to many government jobs.
Women have also been banned from traveling alone and can only visit public gardens and parks in the capital on days separate from men.
This month, the country’s supreme leader and Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada said women should generally stay at home.
They were ordered to conceal themselves completely, including their faces, should they need to go out in public.
The decree, which triggered international outrage, carried echoes of the Taliban’s first reign, when they made the all-covering burqa mandatory for women.
The Taliban have also banned protests calling for women’s rights and dismissed calls by the United Nations to reverse their restrictions.
Some Afghan women initially pushed back against the curbs, holding small protests.
But the Taliban soon rounded up the ringleaders, holding them incommunicado while denying they had been detained.


Flight with 22 people on board missing in Nepal: airline

Flight with 22 people on board missing in Nepal: airline
Updated 29 May 2022

Flight with 22 people on board missing in Nepal: airline

Flight with 22 people on board missing in Nepal: airline

KATHMANDU: A small airplane with 22 people on board flying on a popular tourist route was missing in Nepal’s mountains on Sunday, an official said.
The plane, which was on a 15-minute scheduled flight to the mountain town of Jomsom, lost contact with the airport tower shortly after takeoff.
Police official Ramesh Thapa said there was no information on the Twin Otter aircraft and a search was underway.
It has been raining in the area for the past few days but flights have been operating normally. Planes on that route fly between mountains before landing in a valley.
It is a popular route with foreign hikers who trek on the mountain trails and also with Indian and Nepalese pilgrims who visit the revered Muktinath temple.


25 missing after cargo boat sinks in Indonesia

25 missing after cargo boat sinks in Indonesia
Updated 29 May 2022

25 missing after cargo boat sinks in Indonesia

25 missing after cargo boat sinks in Indonesia
  • A total of 42 people were on the boat when it sank in bad weather on Thursday morning
  • Ferry tragedies are common in Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands

MAKASSAR, Indonesia: Rescuers in Indonesia were searching for 25 people who were missing after a cargo boat sank in the Makassar Strait in South Sulawesi province, officials said Sunday.
A total of 42 people were on the boat when it sank in bad weather on Thursday morning while traveling from a seaport in Makassar to Kalmas Island in Pangkep Regency, said Djunaidi, the head of the provincial search and rescue agency. Like many Indonesians, Djunaidi goes by only one name.
Seventeen people were later rescued, including some by two tugboats that were at sea at the time of the incident.
Djunaidi said the search and rescue agency received new information about the location of the sunken boat on Saturday and dispatched crews to the area. Two motor boats and a search and rescue boat, along with local fishing boats and Indonesia air force helicopters, are involved in the search for the missing passengers.
The sunken vessel was initially said to be a passenger ferry, but Djunaidi later clarified that it was a cargo boat carrying construction materials. Thirty-six passengers had asked for a ride on the boat and there were six crew members.
Ferry tragedies are common in Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, where ferries are often used as transport and safety regulations can lapse.
In 2018, an overcrowded ferry with about 200 people on board sank in a deep volcanic crater lake in North Sumatra province, killing 167 people.
In one of the country’s worst recorded disasters, an overcrowded passenger ship sank in February 1999 with 332 people aboard. There were only 20 survivors.