KABUL: A suicide bomber killed at least 14 people and wounded 60 at the entrance to Kabul international airport on Sunday, officials said, as scores gathered to welcome home Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum from exile.
Senior government officials, political leaders, and supporters were leaving the airport after greeting the powerful ethnic Uzbek leader and former warlord when the explosion happened.
“This is the first time I have seen a suicide attack,” one witness told the Media. “People were collecting human flesh with their hands,” he said, shaking as he spoke. “What is going on in Afghanistan?”
Dostum, clad in a Western suit and sunglasses and traveling in an armored vehicle, was unharmed, said his spokesman Bashir Ahmad Tayanj.
Kabul Police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai said 14 people had been killed and 60 wounded, adding that nine members of the security forces and traffic police were among the dead.
The suicide bomber was on foot, interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said, adding that civilians, including a child, and security force members were among the casualties.
Dostum, who is linked to a catalog of human rights abuses in Afghanistan, was mobbed like a celebrity as he left the chartered plane from Turkey, where he has lived since May 2017.
His return, which has been the subject of much speculation, comes amid violent protests in several provinces across northern Afghanistan, his traditional power base.
Thousands of Dostum’s supporters have taken to the streets in recent weeks, shuttering election and government offices and blocking sections of highways to demand the release of a pro-government militia leader and call for Dostum’s return.
Expectations of the return did little to quell the unrest, with protesters vowing Sunday to continue demonstrating until the burly leader of the Uzbek ethnic minority tells them otherwise.
“We don’t trust the government. We will continue our protests unless General Dostum tells us to stop,” Ehsanullah Qowanch, a protest leader in Faryab province, told the Media.
Qowanch also repeated calls for the release of Nezamuddin Qaisari – a district police chief and Dostum’s provincial representative in Faryab – whose arrest earlier this month ignited the protests.
Another protester, Massoud Khan, said: “We have been on the streets for 20 days now. We are not going to stop our protests unless our demands are met.”
Sindh offers vast opportunities for Iranian investors
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s southern Sindh province offers vast opportunities for investment and Iranian entrepreneurs can benefit from them by investing in different projects.
This was stated by Irani Consul General Ahmed Mohammadi while talking to the Media. He further said that Iran was willing to provide Pakistan with technical and engineering services in all sectors.
He added that Iran and Pakistan have a strong geographical position and this area has a very old civilization. The diplomat added trade between Iran and Pakistan should be further enhanced which will also help to boost bilateral ties.
Mohammadi stressed the need for exchange of delegations between the business communities of Iran and Pakistan.
He was of the view that private sectors of Iran and Pakistan must benefit from the vast business opportunities available to them in the two countries.
He noted that after a gap of fifteen years, many Iranian companies participated in Pakistan’s industrial expo held recently in Karachi.
He said that many Iranian companies and entrepreneurs displayed their products at the expo. Iran consul general went on to say that participation of Iranian businessmen in the expo provided a conducive environment to enhance trade ties between Iran and Pakistan.
He said that because of such activities, Iran-Pakistan bilateral trade has witnessed the growth of 16 percent. Mohammadi added that various steps such as reduction of prices have been taken to export Iranian candies and chocolates to Pakistan. The envoy said that Iranian businessmen can invest their money in different sectors of Sindh Province like, ceramics, dairies, and tiles.
He said that Iranian businessmen can easily open their offices in Karachi to export their products. He said that Iran and Pakistan right now are considering launching ferry service between Karachi and Bandar Abbas ports. He strongly believed that such a service would also help to enhance trade activities between the two friendly neighboring states.
He said that Iranian investors can also help Sindh province in improving its health facilities, enhancing waste management system, providing drinking water and infrastructure projects. Earlier Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah while addressing the Iran-Pakistan Business Forum had said that Sindh Province boasts vast investment opportunities, particularly in energy, infrastructure development, education, health, agriculture and in various other sectors.
Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during his visit to Pakistan also traveled to Karachi leading a high-level delegation of Iranian businessmen to explore investment opportunities in Sindh and boost trade between the two countries.
The Sindh government has already introduced the Public Private Partnership concept that is producing good results.
Governor of Sindh Imran Ismail during a meeting with Consul General of Iran in Karachi Ahmed Mohammadi had said that Iranian companies must benefit from tremendous investment opportunities emerging fast in Sindh Province.
A 2016 study commissioned by Pakistan Ministry of Planning found that urban Sindh and northern Punjab province are the most prosperous regions in Pakistan. Its GDP per capita was $1,400 in 2010 which is 50 percent more than the rest of the nation or 35 percent more than the national average.
Historically, Sindh’s contribution to Pakistan’s GDP has been between 30% to 32.7%. Its share in the service sector has ranged from 21% to 27.8% and in the agriculture sector from 21.4% to 27.7%. Performance wise, its best sector is the manufacturing sector, where its share has ranged from 36.7% to 46.5%.
In April this year, a high-level Iranian delegation led by Minister for Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhundi had visited the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) to explore avenues of cooperation with Pakistan.
The delegation took a keen interest in the deepwater container port project of the KPT along with other future projects like multipurpose bulk terminal, Cargo Village, LNG Terminal and Port Elevated Expressway.
The delegation was briefed about the KPT infrastructure, the overall setup and the ensuing discussion specifically focused on the avenues of investments available to the private sector in Pakistan marine sector.
The delegation complimented the development works and offered to join hands for an interconnection linkage of the KPT and Bandar Abbas.
Sindh is the third largest province of Pakistan by area and second largest province by population after Punjab. The provincial capital of Sindh in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and financial hub.
Sindh has Pakistan’s second-largest economy. Karachi hosts the headquarters of several multinational banks. Sindh is home to a large portion of Pakistan’s industrial sector and contains two of Pakistan’s commercial seaports, Port Bin Qasim and the Karachi Port.
Sindh also has an agriculture-based economy and produces fruit, food consumer items, and vegetables for the consumption of other parts of the country. Sindh is also the center of Pakistan’s pharmaceutical industry.
Karachi is an attractive destination for national and international investors, due to its geographical location, provides ample investment opportunities to Iran too.
Huge potential exists for increasing cooperation between Government of Sindh and Iranian investors through joint venture Projects specifically in power and energy, shrimp farming and infrastructure development projects. Iran and Pakistan have already agreed to enhance the bilateral trade volume to $5 billion in the next five years.
14 killed in bomb attack on Afghan election rally!
KUNDUZ: A motorcycle carrying explosives blew up among supporters of an Afghan election candidate on Saturday, killing at least 14 people, officials said, in the latest attack on a political rally.
Violence related to the parliamentary vote has killed or wounded hundreds of people in recent months and more militant attacks are expected ahead of Afghanistan’s October 20 poll. More than 30 people were wounded in the explosion in the northeastern province of Takhar where candidate Nazifa Yousefibek had been campaigning, provincial governor spokesman Mohammad Jawad Hejri told the Media. Interior ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said most of the 14 killed were civilians.
“The explosives were placed in a motorcycle and detonated behind a tent where Nazifa Yousefibek was campaigning,” Rahimi said. Yousefibek was not hurt in the blast. No group has claimed responsibility. Ambulances have been sent to the remote district of Rustaq where the attack happened, but officials also are seeking to airlift the wounded to hospitals, Hejri said.
Khan Jan, who told AFP he saw the explosion, said there had been a powerful blast and “a lot of people” had been killed. More than 2,500 candidates are contesting the long-delayed legislative elections. At least nine candidates have died so far, most of them in targeted killings, according to the Independent Election Commission. A candidate was among eight people killed in a suicide attack in the southern province of Helmand – a Taliban stronghold – on October 9. No group has claimed responsibility. That incident came a day after the Taliban warned candidates to pull out of the “bogus” election, describing it as a “malicious American conspiracy”.
The group vowed to attack the ballot and those involved in it. An attack on a rally in the eastern province of Nangarhar on October 2 killed 13 people and wounded more than 40. The Islamic State group claimed the attack, which the candidate survived. Violence had been expected to escalate ahead of the poll. Preparations for the ballot, which is a test run for next year’s presidential vote, have been in turmoil for months and there has been a debate about whether the vote should go ahead.
Bureaucratic inefficiency, allegations of industrial-scale fraud and an eleventh-hour pledge for biometric verification of voters threaten to derail the process, which is three years late. Some 54,000 members of Afghanistan’s beleaguered security forces will be responsible for protecting more than 5,000 polling centers on election day. But there are concerns over how they will manage as the Taliban and the Islamic State group step up attacks across the country.
Sino-Pak universities to promote agri. tourism
MULTAN:: Universities of Pakistan and China have decided to promote agriculture tourism with an objective to explore economic opportunities and improve people-to-people contacts between the two countries.
Muhammad Nawaz Sharif of University of Agriculture Multan (MNS-UAM) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the International Institute of Business and Economics (Qinhuangdao Hebei-China) to help promote agriculture tourism in both the countries.
This was stated by Dean of Agriculture and Environment Professor Dr. Shafqat Saeed while talking to the Media here today. He visited China in the recent past and inked the agreement for cooperation to promote agriculture tourism. He said that it would be an excellent opportunity for the peoples of the two countries to experience and learn about a lifestyle that was quite different than their own.
The Dean said that agricultural tourism was a worldwide trend, which offered city dwellers a chance to escape urban concrete and re-discover their rural roots. Agricultural tourism is a relatively new market for tourists and entrepreneurs. He said that the reaction of individuals with farm life also carries an educational aspect, along with business opportunities. People tend to enjoy learning about items and processes that they will not participate directly. Agri-tourism is becoming an important activity to develop opportunities as more population has moved to cities and have lost their connection to where agriculture is done, added Dr Shafqat.
He said the agri-tourism also includes a set of economic and social activities that occur and link travel with the products, services, and experiences of agriculture fields.
To another question about the new trend at the international level, he said that agricultural tourism has seen a boost in popularity in the recent years at international level. It allowed people to stay at fully functioning farms in order to observe the work routines and activities that are carried out in the agriculture business on a day-to-day basis.
When asked how the Nawaz Sharif University of Agriculture can help Chinese agri-tourists during their Pakistan visit, Dr. Shafqat Saeed said that Pakistan, especially south Punjab, had many agricultural recreational sites and harvest festivals. He said that Chinese entrepreneurs, farmers, or other tourists would visit mango and citrus orchards etc., and also enjoy local harvesting season festivals. They could observe the working of our farmers in orchards and other agriculture fields. They could observe our culture, our traditions, hospitality and also explore business opportunities. He said that the University of Agriculture would facilitate visitors in many ways. It would help in making complete visit plans, business plans and provide guides so that the tourists could have a maximum awareness of our agricultural activities and business opportunities.
Dr. Shafqat said that agriculture tourism would bring the peoples of two countries closer to each other and they would learn innovations from their mutual experiences.
Similarly, China also holds summer camps. Pakistani farmers, entrepreneurs, and others could visit China. Both universities would facilitate the citizens of the friendly countries, he concluded.