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As Afghanistan stands at the crossroads, China is lending a helping hand

Qian Feng

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The Third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan has been successfully held recently. Focusing on the situation in Afghanistan and its future, the meeting issued a joint statement covering five areas: political and diplomatic fields, economic and humanitarian fields, counter-terrorism and security, refugees, and institution building. This not only clearly demonstrates the determination of the neighboring countries to strengthen communication and work together to help Afghanistan achieve stable development, but also conveys the concerns and expectations of the international community for Afghanistan. In the current complex and volatile international situation, the meeting provides new ideas for addressing security problems, which is not only significant to Afghanistan, but also important for the international community as a reference.

The first Foreign Ministers’ Meeting among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan last September officially launched the coordination and cooperation mechanism for Afghanistan’s neighbors. At the time, the irresponsible withdrawal of the United States and its allies, coupled with the major changes on the Afghan political landscape, had left more than 30 million people in the country struggling to cope with multiple challenges, including, among others,  humanitarian crisis, economic difficulties, livelihood problems and the COVID pandemic. In response, the country’s neighbors came to the political consensus of working together to help Afghanistan, believing that they as neighbors have a unique role to play in providing a favorable external environment for the stability and reconstruction of Afghanistan. This new mechanism is essential at this critical juncture when Afghanistan turns from chaos to peace.

In less than a year, Afghanistan’s neighbors have held three foreign ministers’ meetings, reflecting the great importance they attach to the Afghan issue. Under the mechanism, a lot of fruitful work has been carried out and many important consensuses reached. At the same time, it has maintained active communication with the interim Government of Afghanistan and cooperated with various international mechanisms on the Afghan issue to bring about positive development of the overall situation in Afghanistan. The efforts have been widely recognized by the international community.

Even as Afghanistan still faces severe challenges in many dimensions such as humanitarian crisis, economic recovery, counter-terrorism and national governance, what the United States does has aggravated the problems. In this February, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order to “share” the $7 billion of assets deposited in America by the Afghan central bank, refusing to return them to the Afghan interim government. This move has been strongly criticized by Afghanistan and the international community.

More worryingly, Afghanistan seems to be forgotten by the Western world in the wake of the Ukraine crisis. Today, more than 24 million people across Afghanistan need humanitarian support for them to survive, but the UN goal of providing $4.44 billion in humanitarian fund to Afghanistan has seen little progress. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), while watching out for Ukraine, had to appeal to the international community for support to the Afghans to prevent another humanitarian crisis.

Therefore, this international meeting in China focusing on Afghanistan is ever more important and timely. This is a reminder to the international community that the Afghan issue is still high on the current international peace and security agenda. The world should not forget Afghanistan, and that the United States, the maker of Afghanistan’s problems, should not deliberately ignore and stay away from the Afghan issue.

It is better for the doer to undo what he has done. The US and the Western world should take up their primary responsibility for the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan, and return the property of the Afghan people as soon as possible. To truly help Afghanistan get through the difficulties, the more efforts to alleviate the country’s humanitarian crisis, the better, and the fewer unnecessary moves to create troubles, the merrier.

The Third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan is another important contribution China makes to achieve enduring peace and stable development in Afghanistan. In order to make the Meeting even more productive, and promote the implementation of the outcomes of previous Meetings, China has been working for agreement to launch the mechanism for regular meetings among special envoys for Afghanistan of the neighboring countries, and establish three working groups on political and diplomatic, economic and humanitarian, and security and stability affairs. Foreign ministers from the Afghan interim government, Qatar and Indonesia were invited to the Meeting for the first time. And China presided over the meeting on the “China-US-Russia plus” consultation mechanism on Afghanistan. The world could see the diplomatic efforts China has made in this regard.

It fully shows that no matter how the international situation may evolve and change, China, as a responsible country and one of the neighbors of Afghanistan, will not change its foreign policy towards its neighbors, nor its diplomatic principle for upholding justice.

On the one hand, China acknowledges the efforts of the Afghan interim government from the perspective of history and development, and works with the international community to exert positive influence on the development of the situation in Afghanistan, and better integrate the country into the mainstream of the international community.

On the other hand, China opposes the abuse of sanctions, commits to resolving differences through dialogue and consultation, and takes the meeting as an opportunity for all parties to build consensus on the basis of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. China encourages Afghanistan to establish a more inclusive and open political architecture, take more moderate and steady internal and external policies, and combat terrorism effectively.

Afghanistan has been through a long, dark winter and is now embracing a hopeful spring. There is reason to believe that the successful convening of the third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan will bring new and greater hope for Afghanistan to get out of the current predicament and back on the track of sound development, and explore a development path that is in line with not only their own national conditions but also the trend of the times at an early date.

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President announces a mega project to establish Island Council Secretariats in fifty islands within the year

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President Dr Mohamed Muizzu has announced a mega project to establish buildings to house the Island Council Secretariats on fifty islands within the year. He made the announcement while meeting the residents of HDh. Makunudhoo Island.

The President detailed that the buildings to house the Island Council Secretariats on fifty islands would be built under the Investor Finance Model. He stated that the fifty islands for the project would be selected based on the severity of the deterioration of the existing facilities that house the councils.

President Dr Muizzu reiterated his commitment to fully realising the autonomous functioning of the decentralised administration of the Administrative Divisions. Additionally, he expressed his intention to collaborate closely with the public.

The President further announced plans to extend Makunudhoo Airport’s runway to 1800 meters. He emphasised that the land reclamation project for the island would be strategically designed to foster development across the island. Furthermore, he added that the road construction project will be executed per his commitment.

Source(s): President’s Office

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Maldives stresses lack of funds for sustainable food

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The Maldives has emphasised that the primary obstacle for small nations like itself in advancing towards a sustainable food production system is the lack of financial resources. The remarks were delivered by Minister of Agriculture and Animal Welfare Dr. Aishath Rameela, during her address at the 37th Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Ministerial Meeting.

In her participation as a panelist during the session, Minister Rameela delved into the challenges and potential strategies for attaining food security amidst environmental adversities encountered by small developing nations such as the Maldives, exacerbated by insufficient resources. In addition, she presented a ‘Country Statement’ on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Authority of the Maldives, outlining the agricultural and fisheries sectors’ status and the country’s requirements for support in these domains.

Within the statement, President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu underscored the obstacles to agricultural, fisheries, and mariculture development, along with the ongoing efforts to implement policies aimed at alleviating these hindrances and enhancing food security and nutritional conditions within the country. He also highlighted the necessity for regional cooperation and assistance in bolstering the agricultural, fisheries, and mariculture sectors.

During discussions revolving around transitioning to sustainable food production and consumption systems, Minister Rameela reiterated that the foremost challenge for small nations like the Maldives in achieving such a shift lies in the insufficient allocation of financial resources. She further urged financially affluent countries to extend support to small island nations like the Maldives.

The biennially held largest conference on food and agriculture in the Asia Pacific region is slated to take place in Pakistan in 2026.

Source(s): PsmNews

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President rejects legislature to postpone Majlis election

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President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu has rejected legislature passed by the Parliament seeking to postpone the upcoming parliamentary elections to after Ramadan.

A top government spokesperson told that the president rejected the bill because changing the election date would result in “loss of public trust.”

He said the decision was based on five factors. Which is:

  • Because the bill requires the publication of national ID card numbers when the voter’s list is published on the Government Gazette, which the administration considers private information.
  • The lack of details on the appointment or qualification of “focal points” who must be arranged by the Elections Commission and charged with significant responsibilities under the bill.
  • With reference to Article 79 (b) of the constitution, which states that all election-related matters must be completed 30 days before the term of the incumbent parliamentary assembly expires. The administration believes the bill opens room to finish all election-related matters ahead of the time stipulated in the constitution, making the provision unconstitutional.
  • Article 75 of the constitution stipulates that parliamentarians must act in the best interest of the nation. But the administration believes there is grounds to believe that some of the parliamentarians, who are running for re-election, are acting in their own interest in changing the election date.

Because altering the Elections Act and changing the election date would result in loss of public confidence in the election

MDP: There’s still room for post-Ramadan Majlis elections

The decision came after Ahmed Easa, the manager for the main opposition MDP’s parliamentary elections campaign, said there was still an opportunity to postpone the upcoming elections, to after Ramadan.

The decision comes after Ahmed Easa, the manager for the main opposition MDP’s parliamentary elections campaign, said there was still an opportunity to postpone the upcoming elections, to after Ramadan.

In a press briefing on Monday morning, Easa, who serves as the parliamentary representative for Kendhikulhudhoo, reiterated MDP’s assertion, that the vast majority of the public want the elections to be held after Ramadan.

He said that Ramadan is a hard month to hold political activities, and that a low voter turnout is of great concern to political parties.

The parliamentary elections is scheduled for March 17th – which falls within the first week of Ramadan.

The Elections Commission (EC) had pushed for legal reforms to hold the elections ahead of Ramadan, as the Elections Act requires the commission to initiate the process of holding the elections, at least 120 days before the end of the term of the incumbent parliamentary assembly – which is May 28th.

Holding the elections before or ahead of Ramadan, required legal amendments.

The Parliament – which MDP holds a majority in – rejected EC’s request to hold the elections ahead of Ramadan, opting instead to have the elections held after the holy month.

An MDP-sponsored bill banning national elections during Ramadan passed with a majority vote of 46 to 3, on February 11th.

According to the new bill, if an election date falls within Ramadan, it must be held 10 days after Ramadan ends.

The president had until Wednesday, to either ratify or reject the bill.

But on Monday afternoon, within hours after MDP’s press briefing, the President’s Office announced that President Muizzu had rejected the legislature, and sent it back to the Parliament.

The MDP had anticipated the move.

The party warned last week that it will pass the same bill again, with a greater majority, if the president refused to ratify the bill, which will result in the automatic ratification of the bill.

Source(s): sun.mv

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