Imran Khan in Moscow to meet Putin

Untold India February 24, 2022

New Delhi: Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan was due to meet President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Moscow on Thursday during a long-planned visit that began hours before Russian forces attacked Ukraine.
Mr. Khan intended to push for a multibillion-dollar gas pipeline to be built by Pakistani and Russian companies, according to news media reports in Pakistan.
And while some commentators called the visit ill-timed and said it would be cut short, Pakistan’s information minister said on Twitter that it would proceed as planned, with Mr. Khan returning to Pakistan later Thursday.
Gas is a crucial export for Russia, and Germany on Monday halted certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline linking the country to Russia in response to the Kremlin’s recognition of two separatist regions in Ukraine. That could potentially increase the importance of other outlets for Russian gas.
Mr. Khan, in an interview broadcast on Tuesday, avoided criticizing Moscow’s policy in Ukraine and said he hoped the crisis could be resolved peacefully.
“What we want to do is not become part of any bloc,” he said in the interview, given with the Russian news media courtesy of the Moscow-controlled broadcaster RT. “We want to have trading relations with all countries.”
He said that sanctions on Iran had contributed to delays in building the pipeline.
The U.S. State Department said that it was aware of Mr. Khan’s visit and that it hoped Pakistan, like all countries, would voice objection to Mr. Putin’s action in Ukraine, especially given the longstanding partnership between Islamabad and Washington.
Ned Price, a State Department spokesman, said at a briefing on Wednesday that Washington hoped “every country around the world would make that point clearly in unambiguous language in their engagements with the Russian Federation.”
In Moscow, Mr. Khan laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a war memorial dedicated to Soviet troops who died in World War II, according to The Associated Press of Pakistan, which said it was the first visit by a Pakistani leader to Moscow in two decades.

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Over 24mn Afghans in dire need of humanitarian aid: ICRC

Untold India February 24, 2022

Kabul: International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said more than 24 million Afghans are in grave need of humanitarian assistance.
“As many as 24.4 million people in Afghanistan are in need of humanitarian assistance,” the ICRC said on Twitter.
“This is a 30 per cent increase from a year ago.”
The ICRC also in a separate statement expressed concerns over the closing of many medical centres in Afghanistan, TOLO news was quoted as saying.
“The effect of the banking and liquidity crisis is rippling across the country and huge consequences on the health system are being felt as multiple facilities are not able to pay salaries, or for fuel to run their generators,” the ICRC said.
Ambulances can’t operate; food supplies are running short for the patients, and they lack adequate medicine.”
Meanwhile, the bakeries which are distributing bread for poor people said the number of people begging for bread has recently increased.
Dozens of people gathered in front of a bakery in Kabul to receive a loaf of bread.
“Around 1,200 families come to this bakery. There are some people who help us to distribute it,” said Meer Dil, Head of a bakery in Kabul.
Akram, who is a father to five children, said he has been looking for a job to take care of his family, but he failed to find any job opportunity and therefore he is obliged to stand in the line for free bread and take it home for the family.
“It is all poverty. Some nights I receive some bread and sometimes not,” he said.
“I am poor. My husband is disabled and I have five children. I am obliged to stand here from dusk till dawn to receive some breads,” said Nadi, who came to the bakery to receive bread.
When the Islamic Emirate swept into power, the Afghanistan’s Central Bank assets in reserve were frozen, which severely affected the already feeble economy of Afghanistan.
US President Joe Biden earlier signed an executive order to direct $3.5 billion of Afghan assets based in US banks for Afghan humanitarian needs. A similar amount was reserved by Biden for potentially paying compensation to the victims of 9/11.

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