KABUL: The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was investigating civilian casualties during military operations in three eastern provinces earlier this month that left two dozen civilians killed and injured, the mission said on Friday.
The preliminary findings from UNAMA indicated that 24 civilians were killed and injured in three separate operations against Taliban militants by Afghan security forces backed by NATO-led coalition troops on March 8 and 9 in Maidan Wardak, Nangarhar and Paktika provinces, according a UNAMA statement on its website.
“UNAMA will continue its independent fact-finding and share the findings with the concerned parties. Initial findings indicate that the majority of the victims were women and children,” the statement said, adding “UNAMA notes with particular concern the high number of deaths in these three incidents.”
In one incident 13 women and children were killed and injured following an airstrike in Hisarak district of Nangarhar, according to the statement.
On Wednesday, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani instructed top Afghan military officials to take initiative in the battle field and prevent civilian casualties during military operations.
“UNAMA takes note of the recent decision by the Afghan government to address reports of civilian casualties apparently caused by pro-government forces in three separate incidents on March 8 and 9 in Maidan Wardak, Nangarhar and Paktika provinces, including the instruction of the president for a review of mechanisms and procedures used in military operations with a view to preventing civilian casualties.”
The Afghan civilians continue to bear the brunt of armed conflicts as more than 3,800 civilians were killed and over 7,180 others injured in conflict-related incidents in 2018 in the war-torn country, according to figures released by UNAMA last month.
The mission has attributed 63 percent of the civilian casualties to the Taliban and other militant groups, 24 percent to security forces over the period while 10 percent were attributed to both sides during clashes and the rest 3 percent were caused by other reasons.
Sino-Pak FMs hold strategic dialogue
BEIJING: China and Pakistan Tuesday held strategic dialogue and undertook in-depth discussions on all aspects of bilateral relations, including CPEC trade, investment, and economic cooperation, people-to-people contacts and regional and international issues.
The dialogue was co-chaired by State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi for China and Minister of Foreign Affairs Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi for Pakistan.
The two foreign ministers reaffirmed their time-tested and all-weather strategic cooperative partnership and agreed to maintain regular two-way high-level political and official exchanges.
They expressed commitment to translate the vision of the leadership to build a closer China-Pakistan community of shared future in the new era.
The two sides reaffirmed support to each other on all core issues of their national interest. They underlined that state sovereignty and territorial integrity were cardinal principles of UN Charter and international law.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi called for de-escalation of tensions in South Asia and underlined the need for dialogue and peaceful means to resolve all outstanding disputes.
The two sides also agreed to further intensify cooperation with regular meetings of all bilateral mechanisms to take forward practical cooperation in respective fields.
They agreed to strengthen people-to-people contacts, cultural cooperation, and tourism. It was noted that China and Pakistan were celebrating 2019 as the year of sister-cities exchanges.
The two foreign ministers reaffirmed the commitment to CPEC and agreed to continue the smooth implementation of CPEC projects, especially it’s Special Economic Zones.
While rejecting the negative propaganda against CPEC, they expressed a strong resolve to safeguard CPEC from all kinds of threats. The two sides agreed to enhance cooperation against terrorism by strengthening communication and coordination in relevant fields.
The Chinese side highly appreciated Pakistan’s commitment and efforts to counter terrorism. The Foreign Minister of Pakistan expressed appreciation for Chinese support for Pakistan’s efforts.
The two foreign ministers discussed the situation in Afghanistan and expressed support for the ongoing efforts for peace and reconciliation. Both sides reiterated support for Afghan-owned Afghan-led inclusive peace process and called on all stakeholders in Afghanistan to become part of an intra-Afghan dialogue.
They also urged all sides to show flexibility to find a durable solution to the Afghan conflict. The two sides agreed to continue their mutual collaboration at the regional multilateral and international forums. They expressed their support for consensus-based reform of the United Nations so that it responds to the interests and concerns of all member states.
‘Look Africa Campaign’ to augment trade with Africa!
ISLAMABAD: The Trade Development Authority has initiated ‘Look Africa Campaign ‘for increasing trade and investment ties with the African region.
“Look Africa Campaign” would play a pivotal role for bridging the trade gap between Pakistan and African region and provide a platform for enhancing the contact between the business communities of both sides, a senior official of TDAP told the Media here today.
He said that Pakistan can promote trade with African countries in different sectors including textiles items, surgical and sports goods and agro- products for increasing exports.
Replying to a question, he said that we were working on the global value chain for promoting the demanded product in the international market to enhance the trade volume of the country.
He added that Pakistan ranks 107 out of 140 economies in the Global Competitiveness Index, which needs to be improved for economic stability and growth.
He said that for expansion of the trade infrastructure in the country, we were setting up expos centers at Islamabad, Quetta, Peshawar and other cities of the country.
He said that TDAP was planning to invite trade delegation and quarantine officers for rice from Mexico, meat regulation from China, Russia, and Mauritius and Indonesia and fisheries inspector from the USA for sharing the mutual expertise.
IMF mission chief to visit Pakistan on March 26
ISLAMABAD: The mission chief of the International Monetary Fund is expected to arrive in Pakistan on March 26.
Ernesto Ramirez Rigo will hold meetings with Finance Minister Asad Umar and State Bank employees.
The government is hoping for an Rs6 billion bailout package from the new chief.
The IMF is an international organisation of 189 countries working on monetary cooperation and international monetary stability. It helps member countries in three ways:
- Economic surveillance — monitoring the economic and financial policies of its 189 member countries.
- Lending — providing loans to member countries facing some degree of economic crises.
- Capacity building — modernizing member country economic policies and institutions, and training their people
Pakistan has gone to the IMF repeatedly since the late 1980s. The last time was in 2013, when Islamabad got a $6.6 billion loan to tackle an economic crisis.