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afghanistan: Act with determination on Afghanistan, says UN chief

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NEW YORK: As the humanitarian situation continues to get worsen in Afghanistan, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday said countries must unite and act urgently to secure a better future for Afghan people.
UN chief delivered a message on Wednesday during a regional conference of the country’s neighbours, organized by Iran, UN New reported.
According to media reports, Foreign Ministers from Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan participated in the meeting held in Tehran, with their Russian and Chinese counterparts joining by video.
“Afghanistan is confronting an epic humanitarian crisis and is on the verge of a development catastrophe,” the UN chief said in a video message. Guterres urged countries to speak with one voice.
“We can only achieve more stability with a united approach. Together, let us act with determination – and without delay – to help the people of Afghanistan and to secure a better future for all.”
The UN chief outlined four areas for action, which he said are of regional and international concern, starting with humanitarian relief. He reported that the UN is undertaking a “massive” humanitarian operation in the country, despite enormous obstacles.
“We have been acting with the cooperation of the Taliban, who have progressively granted access to the areas requested and provided security when needed,” he said.
Moreover, Guterres thanked neighbouring nations for their assistance with moving aid workers and supplies. He also highlighted the need for continued collaboration on the issue of refugees, saying “international support to hosting countries must match the scale of needs.”
The UN chief stressed the need to work together to revive the Afghan economy which is on the brink of collapse. “Injecting liquidity into the Afghan economy can be done without violating international laws or compromising principles,” he said.
Afghanistan’s people also need an inclusive and representative government, he added, one which respects international humanitarian law and upholds human rights and fundamental freedoms.




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Afghanistan’s neighbours ask Taliban to fulfil commitments

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FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi talking to a representative at the ministerial meeting of Afghanistans neighbours. Photo: Courtesy Radio Pakistan
FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi talking to a representative at the ministerial meeting of Afghanistan’s neighbours. Photo: Courtesy Radio Pakistan
  • FMs of Afghanistan’s neighbours meet in Tehran.
  • In a joint declaration, Taliban government has been asked to ensure that Afghan territory will not pose any threats to neighbouring countries.
  • All FMs agreed that countries primarily responsible for difficulties in Afghanistan should earnestly deliver on their commitment.

ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan’s neighbours have sent a clear message to the Taliban government that it should fulfill its commitments made with the international community.

This came in a joint statement issued after a meeting of foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighbours, including Russia, held in Tehran on Wednesday.

The foreign ministers of Iran, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Russia attended the meeting while Afghanistan was not invited to the moot, where the UN secretary-general sent a video message. The third round of the meeting will be held in China in 2022.

The statement asked the new Afghan rulers to ensure that Afghan territory will not pose any threats to the neighbouring countries and that it will not be used by criminal, terrorist and separatist groups.

It also urged Kabul to cut ties with all terrorist groups and decisively eliminate them.

The declaration in the joint statement pointed out that the neighbouring countries supported a durable and realistic settlement of differences through dialogue and negotiations among the relevant parties for achieving national reconciliation, lasting political solution and the formation of an inclusive government.

The foreign ministers also called on the relevant Afghan parties to take a friendly approach toward neighbouring countries and respect universally-accepted principles of international law and fundamental human rights and protect the safety and legitimate rights of foreign nationals and institutions in Afghanistan.

All the FMs agreed that the countries primarily responsible for the difficulties in Afghanistan should earnestly deliver on their commitment, and provide Afghanistan with urgently-needed economic, livelihood and humanitarian assistance to help realise a stable transition of the situation in Afghanistan.

It also called on the relevant Afghan parties to implement modest and prudent internal and external policies, return to the normal order of the society as soon as possible, realise the effective operation of government agencies, provide basic public services to people, take actions to improve people’s livelihood and protect the fundamental rights of ethnic groups, women and children in Afghanistan.

Some of the other issues that were of importance for the various Afghan parties related to confronting various threats and challenges, including terrorism, drug smuggling and human trafficking, crackdown on organised crime and other criminal acts originating from Afghanistan and taking into consideration the terrorism threats and counterterrorism effectiveness, discuss through bilateral or multilateral channels the possibility of restarting counter-terrorism cooperation with Afghanistan in due course.

The international community, as well as the relevant Afghan parties, were asked to address the root causes of forced displacement in Afghanistan to avoid any destabilising activity that would deteriorate the situation and cooperate for a permanent solution for the protracted situation of Afghan refugees.

The international community and donor countries were asked to provide continued, adequate and proportionate financial support to the host countries of Afghan refugees, especially Iran and Pakistan and other neighbouring countries of Afghanistan.


Originally published in

The News


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EU court fines Poland

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Luxembourg: The EU’s top court on Wednesday ordered Poland to pay one million euros a day for not suspending a controversial “disciplinary chamber” at the heart of a bitter feud between Warsaw and Brussels.


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‘Daesh may attack US from Afghanistan next year’

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‘Daesh may attack US from Afghanistan next year’

WASHINGTON: The US intelligence community has assessed that Daesh in Afghanistan could have the capability to attack the US in as little as six months, and has the intention to do so, a senior Pentagon official told Congress on Wednesday.

The remarks by Colin Kahl, undersecretary of defense for policy, are the latest reminder that Afghanistan could still pose serious national security concerns for the United States even after it ended its two-decade-old war in defeat in August.

The Taliban, which won the war, are enemies of Daesh and have seen its attempts to impose law and order after the US pullout thwarted by suicide bombings and other attacks claimed by Daesh.

They include bombings targeting the minority Shiite sect and even a Daesh beheading of a member of a Taliban militia force in the eastern city of Jalalabad. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Kahl said it was still unclear whether the Taliban has the ability to fight Daesh effectively following the US withdrawal in August. The United States fought the Taliban as well as striking groups like Daesh and al-Qaeda.

“It is our assessment that the Taliban and Daesh-K are mortal enemies. So the Taliban is highly motivated to go after Daesh-K. Their ability to do so, I think, is to be determined,” Kahl said, using an acronym for Daesh in Afghanistan.

Kahl estimated Daesh had a “cadre of a few thousand” fighters. Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi of the new Taliban government has said the threat from Daesh militants will be addressed. He also said Afghanistan would not become a base for attacks on other countries.

Kahl suggested al-Qaeda in Afghanistan posed a more complex problem, given its ties to the Taliban. It was those ties that triggered the US military intervention in Afghanistan in 2001 following Al-Qaeda’s Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington. The Taliban had harbored al-Qaeda leaders.

Kahl said it could take al-Qaeda “a year or two” to regenerate the capability to carry out attacks outside of Afghanistan against the United States. Democratic President Joe Biden, whose supervision of the chaotic end to the war last summer has damaged his approval ratings, has said the United States will continue to be vigilant against threats emanating from Afghanistan by carrying out intelligence-gathering operations in the country that would identify threats from groups like al-Qaeda and Daesh.

Kahl said the goal was to disrupt those groups so that Daesh and al-Qaeda don’t become capable of striking the United States. “We need to be vigilant in disrupting that,” he said. Still, US officials privately warn that identifying and disrupting groups like al-Qaeda and Daesh is extremely difficult without any troops in the country. Drones capable of striking Daesh and al-Qaeda targets are being flown in from the Gulf. Kahl said the United States did not yet have any agreement with countries neighboring Afghanistan to host troops for counterterrorism efforts.


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Erdogan says ‘likely’ to meet Biden in Glasgow

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ISTANBUL – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he expects to meet his US counterpart Joe Biden on the margins of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Turkish media reported Wednesday.

Erdogan’s comments to reporters on board his return flight from a trip to Azerbaijan came after the White House released Biden’s schedule at this weekend’s G20 summit in Rome that included no meeting with the Turkish leader.

“The agenda for Rome and Glasgow appears to have changed,” Erdogan was quoted as saying.

“We are likely to meet in Glasgow instead of Rome.”

The COP26 UN climate conference opens in the Scottish city on Sunday and runs to November 12.

The meeting, which would be the two leaders’ second since Biden was elected president, comes with Turkey seeking compensation after Washington kicked Turkey out of its F-35 fighter jet programme for buying a Russian missile defence system.

The meeting would also come on the heels of a new diplomatic spat that saw Erdogan threaten to expel the US and nine other Western ambassadors over their support for a jailed Turkish civil society leader.

Erdogan, who accused the envoys of meddling in Turkey’s affairs, walked backed the threat after the embassies issued statements pledging to stay out of Turkey’s domestic affairs. Erdogan has had a rocky relationship with Biden, who he last met on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels in June.

Turkey’s 2019 purchase of a Russian S-400 defence air system has been an irritant on ties, which saw Washington block Ankara’s plans to purchase about 100 next-generation US F-35 planes.




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Two soldiers martyred at Pak-Afghan border

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Two soldiers martyred at Pak-Afghan border

RAWALPINDI: Two soldiers of Pakistan Army were martyred in an exchange of fire with terrorists, who were trying to cross the Pak-Afghan border from inside Afghanistan, Wednesday. According to ISPR, on night between October 26 and 27, terrorists from inside Afghanistan attempted to cross the fence along Pak – Afghan Border in district Kurram. Troops initiated a prompt response and thwarted the attempted illegal crossing by engaging the terrorists . However, during intense fire exchange, Lance Naik Asad, resident of Kurram, age 24 years and Sepoy Asif, resident of Lakki Marwat, age 21 years embraced shahadat.

Pakistan strongly condemns the use of Afghan soil by terrorists for activities against Pakistan and expects that interim Afghan Government will not allow such activities against Pakistan, in future, the DG ISPR Major General Babar Iftikhar in a statement said.

He said that Pakistan Army is determined to guard Pakistan’s frontiers against the menace of terrorism. ” Such sacrifices of our brave soldiers further strengthen our resolve,” he maintained.


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Roy helps England maintain perfect start

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ABU DHABI – Jason Roy’s brutal 61 helped England stroll to a second successive victory as they thoroughly outplayed Bangladesh, winning by eight wickets to stay top of Group 1.

Spinner Moeen Ali (2-18) struck in the powerplay and Tymal Mills (3-27) dominated the death-overs to restrict Bangladesh to a below-par 124-9. Opener Jason Roy smashed 61 off 38 balls as England, bidding to become the first team to hold the 50-overs and 20-overs World Cups at the same time, triumphed with 5.5 overs to spare.

Earlier, Bangladesh won the toss and elected to bat on what their skipper Mahmudullah described as a “belter” at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium. Mahmudullah was soon left to rue that decision as England reduced Bangladesh to 27-3 after the six powerplay overs. Moeen has enjoyed operating with the new ball in recent times and the off-spinner once again was in the thick of things removing both the openers in the third over. Liton Das offered a top-edge at backward square leg and Mohammad Naim sent the next ball straight to the mid-on fielder and Bangladesh’s powerplay woes were not over yet.

Adil Rashid took a tumbling catch running backwards at short fine leg to dismiss Bangladesh’s talismanic all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan for four. Mushfiqur Rahim made a run-a-ball 29 before trying to reverse-sweep Liam Livingstone and getting trapped lbw in the process. Bangladesh had to wait until the penultimate over for their first six in their innings when Nasum Ahmed smashed a couple of them against Rashid though they still fell short of the 125-mark. England began their chase briskly to snuff out any prospects of an upset in the first ever 20-overs contest between the sides. Jos Buttler fell for 18 but Roy killed off the contest with his whirlwind knock that included three sixes. England fielded the same XI which had outplayed defending champions West Indies on Saturday. England face Ashes rivals Australia in their next match on Saturday, while Bangladesh meet West Indies on Friday.

SCORES IN BRIEF

ENGLAND 126/2 in 14.1 overs (Jason Roy 61, Dawid Malan 28*; Shoriful Islam 1/26, Nasum Ahmed 1/26) beat

BANGLADESH 124/9 in 20 overs (Mushfiqur Rahim 29, Mahmudullah 19; Tymal Mills 3/27, Liam Livingstone 2/15) by 8 wickets.

NAMIBIA 115-6 in 19.1 overs (JJ Smit 32, Craig Williams 23; Michael Leask 2-12) beat

SCOTLAND 109/8 in 20 overs (Michael Leask 44, Chris Greaves 25; Ruben Trumpelmann 3-17, Jan Frylinck 2-10) by 4 wickets.




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Pakistan, Vietnam to discuss PTA in Nov

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ISLAMABAD:

Pakistan and Vietnam will likely hold talks on progress on the proposed Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) by mid-November 2021, Vietnam Ambassador to Pakistan Nguyen Tien Phong revealed on Wednesday.

In the upcoming “5th Vietnam-Pakistan Sub-committee on Trade” meeting, both sides would discuss two top subjects – PTA and an agreement on investment protection, the envoy said, adding that other issues of bilateral trade cooperation would also be discussed in the meeting.

He voiced hope that after signing the PTA the trade volume between the two countries would increase.

The current bilateral trade between the two sides stood at around $700 million, far below the potential, he said and emphasised the need to enhance the trade volume to around $1 billion over the next couple of years.

The envoy was of the view that the main reason for the low bilateral trade was the lack of mutual awareness between the two sides, which needed to be improved in future.

Read Pakistan must fix the house for economic growth

He said that Vietnam, being an active member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), would play its role in promoting trade between Pakistan and the bloc.

“Asean is a very effective trading bloc of the world and has signed free trade agreements (FTAs) with China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand from which all regional countries are benefiting,” he added.

Quoting data of the United Nations on international trade, the envoy said that Pakistan’s exports to Vietnam stood at $136.67 million in 2020, whereas its imports from Vietnam were valued at $437.95 million in the same year.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2021.

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android: Here’s how Google aims to take on the Apple iPad

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It’s no secret that when it comes to tablets, the iPad remains a few steps ahead of its Android counterparts. And a lot of it is down to the software experience as Android on a tablet still lacks the level of optimisation that Apple has achieved over the years. Google plans to change that with a new optimised OS called Android 12L. In a post for developers, Google said, “In 12L we’ve refined the UI to make Android more beautiful and easier to use on screens larger than 600sp — across notifications, quick settings, lock screen, overview, home screen, and more.”
According to Google, there are over a quarter billion large screen devices running Android across tablets, foldables, and ChromeOS devices. Google says that in the last 12 months over 100 million new Android tablets have been activated whereas Foldables too are on the rise. Keeping this growth in mind, Android 12L will give developers a better shot at making apps for tablets and bigger screens.


What will Android 12L bring?

Better multitasking, for starters, as that is one of the key parts of the whole tablet experience. Google says that multitasking is more powerful and intuitive and Android12L includes a new taskbar on large screens that lets users instantly switch to favourite apps on the fly. The taskbar also makes split-screen mode more discoverable than ever – just drag-and-drop from the taskbar to run an app in split-screen mode. “To make split-screen mode a better experience in Android 12 and later, we’re helping users by automatically enabling all apps to enter split-screen mode, regardless whether the apps are resizable,” explained Google in a blog. Keep in mind that these features are there on iPadOS, which do make using an iPad a more refined experience.


When will Android 12L be ready users?

Google said that it plans to release the 12L feature drop early next year, in time for the next wave of Android 12 tablets and foldables. “We’re already working with our OEM partners to bring these features to their large screen devices,” said Google with Lenovo P12 Pro the first tablet to get the 12L experience.




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NASA’s rover to collect first rock sample from Mars

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NASAs rover to collect first rock sample from Mars

WASHINGTON: The Perseverance Mars rover is preparing to collect its first rock sample from the site of an ancient lake bed, as its mission to search for signs of past life begins in earnest, NASA said Wednesday.

The milestone is expected to take place within two weeks in a scientifically interesting region of the Jezero Crater called the “Cratered Floor Fractured Rough.”

“When Neil Armstrong took the first sample from the Sea of Tranquility 52 years ago, he began a process that would rewrite what humanity knew about the Moon,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters.

“I have every expectation that Perseverance´s first sample from Jezero Crater, and those that come after, will do the same for Mars.”

Perseverance landed on the Red Planet on February 18, and over the summer moved about a kilometer to the south of its landing site, project scientist Ken Farley told reporters.

“Now we´re looking at environments that are much further in the past — billions of years in the past,” he said in a briefing.

The team believes the crater was once home to an ancient lake that filled and drew down multiple times, potentially creating the conditions necessary for life.

Analyzing samples will reveal clues about the rocks´ chemical and mineral composition — revealing things like whether they were formed by volcanoes or are sedimentary in origin.

In addition to filling gaps in scientists´ geologic understanding of the region, the rover will also scour for possible signs of ancient microbes.

First, Perseverance will deploy its 7-foot (two-meter) long robotic arm to determine precisely where to take its sample.

The rover will then use an abrasion tool to scrape off the rock´s top layer, exposing unweathered surfaces.

These will be analyzed by Perseverance´s turret-mounted scientific instruments to determine chemical and mineral composition, and look for organic matter.

One of the instruments, called SuperCam, will fire a laser at the rock and then take readings of the resulting plume.

Farley said that a small cliff that harbored fine-layered rocks might have been formed from lake muds, and “those are very good places to look for biosignatures,” though it will be a few more months before Perseverance reaches that outcrop.

Each rock Perseverance analyzes will have an untouched geologic “twin” which the rover will scoop up, seal and store under its belly.

Eventually, NASA is planning a return mission with the European Space Agency to collect the stored samples and return them for lab analysis on Earth, sometime in the 2030s.

Only then will scientists be able to say with greater confidence whether they truly found signs of ancient life forms.


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