OIC summit, Saudi Arabia helped connect Afghanistan to world: Taliban envoy

OIC summit, Saudi Arabia helped connect Afghanistan to world: Taliban envoy
Afghanistan's envoy to Pakistan, Sardar Ahmed Khan Shakib, during the interview with Arab News in Islamabad on Tuesday. (AN photo)
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Updated 12 January 2022

OIC summit, Saudi Arabia helped connect Afghanistan to world: Taliban envoy

OIC summit, Saudi Arabia helped connect Afghanistan to world: Taliban envoy
  • Extraordinary session of OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers hosted by Pakistan in December focused on Afghan economic crisis
  • Saudi Arabia pledged $266m in aid to organization’s Humanitarian Trust Fund for Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan’s envoy to Pakistan has praised the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for working to connect the country to the outside world and lauded Saudi Arabia for its crucial humanitarian assistance.

Afghanistan has been facing a looming humanitarian disaster since the Taliban took control in mid-August, a situation that prompted the US and other donor states to cut off financial assistance and isolate the country from the global financial system.

The sudden suspension of aid and access to banking has left nearly 23 million Afghans facing extreme levels of hunger and 9 million at risk of famine, according to UN agencies.

On Dec. 19, the OIC held the 17th extraordinary session of its Council of Foreign Ministers in Islamabad. The meeting, called by Saudi Arabia, focused on the economic crisis in Afghanistan and was also attended by delegations from the EU, and the P5+1 group of the UN Security Council, comprising the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany.

At the summit’s conclusion, OIC member states agreed to establish a humanitarian trust fund to channel assistance, appoint a special envoy, and work together with the UN in the war-ravaged country.

“It (the OIC meeting) was a channel to connect Afghanistan with the world,” Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Sardar Ahmed Khan Shakib told Arab News earlier this week, in his first media interview since assuming office.

“Through the OIC conference, we were able to show to the world the true picture of the situation in Afghanistan.”

Shakib added that Saudi Arabia had been the most generous aid contributor among OIC member states.

During the OIC’s session in Islamabad, Saudi Arabia pledged SR1 billion ($266 million) in aid to the OIC fund for Afghanistan. It has also dispatched immediate help through King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center to assist Afghans amid the economic meltdown.

“Saudi Arabia is very cooperative and has helped Afghans more than any other OIC member state,” he said. “Six aircraft full of humanitarian assistance packages from Saudi Arabia, including clothes, and food have already reached the Afghans in need.”

A KSrelief convoy of goods was also sent to Afghanistan via a land route from Pakistan.

Islamabad has as well announced a 5 billion rupee ($28.4 million) medical, food, and humanitarian aid package for its landlocked neighbor.

“The Pakistani government and other organizations, including traders and community members, have also sent assistance and are still trying to fully support the Afghan people,” Shakib said.

He added that 2,000 tons of wheat from Pakistan had already arrived in Afghanistan and expressed hope that other countries that had pledged help would deliver on their promises.

“Some assistance has already reached and been distributed among Afghans,” he said. “But it is still not enough.”

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  • 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.
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  • 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.


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  • 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.
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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.
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The decree, which triggered international outrage, carried echoes of the Taliban’s first reign, when they made the all-covering burqa mandatory for women.
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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.