If Taliban are sincere, declare ceasefire immediately, Analysts.

Bashir Hotak, Kabul, The Doha talks between United States and Taliban was reached to peace deal, its included the withdrawal of US troops and release of captured Talibans. The Taliban are bound on several clauses such of them were not to attack and capture cities and major highways, immediate twitch inter-Afghan dialogue with Afghan authorities …

If Taliban are sincere, declare ceasefire immediately, Analysts.

Bashir Hotak, Kabul,

The Doha talks between United States and Taliban was reached to peace deal, its included the withdrawal of US troops and release of captured Talibans.

The Taliban are bound on several clauses such of them were not to attack and capture cities and major highways, immediate twitch inter-Afghan dialogue with Afghan authorities and an immediate ceasefire or at least a reduction of war intensity, but all this did not happen accordingly as Doha peace deal talks and intensity increases.

Taliban occupy dozens of districts as US troops withdrew from Afghanistan, and spectrum of war now extended in civilian territory.

Taliban fighters have seized hundreds of districts and commercial ports in some parts of the country.

While Spin Boldak- Durand Line, Sher Khan-Tajik border, two ports in Herat province, Turgundai, and commercial ports of Islam Qila and Abu Nasr Farahi in Farah province.

Meanwhile Afghan security forces are conducting special operations to bring these commercial ports back under government control, a month has passed US forces withdrew; Talibans are still in control on these ports.

According to Afghan Finance Ministry website, annual import and export from these five ports animatedly generates 70billion revenue and that was directly deposited in government treasury.

An important question raised that how and where Taliban fighters will use this ports revenue, Afghan experts were expressing their concerns that Taliban-controlled trade routes are no longer crowded and some business communities are reluctant to take out their assets from these ports due to insecurity.Taliban are actively control these ports and receiving large sums of money.

According to national news agency, Zabihullah Mujahid Taliban spokesman in Afghanistan, told that we collect taxes in a very systematic manner and generate revenue. In past this revenue annually deposited in treasury but now Taliban collects this revenue.

The spokesman also said that Taliban have occupied more than two hundred districts in the country where millions of civilians need basic infrastructure, health facilities, education system and transport while Taliban keenly look forward for development of infrastructure and welfare of these citizens from this revenue.

On the other side Analysts overseeing the Afghan situation have a lot of reservations on Taliban controlled ports, they said that Taliban have no credibility, if they were sincere with Afghans and  wants development on public welfare. They would not damage infrastructure while bombed hospitals, clinics, schools and government buildings in these districts even more that Taliban allow mass to looting public buildings in their control territory.

If Taliban are sincere to the people, they should declare a ceasefire immediately, Analysts demanded.

Some analysts highlight weak government policies and corruption in institutions and fear that revenue could be used for war. Once again Afghanistan grips in a series of wars that has entered in civilian territory.

Analyst added that Taliban may spend money on arms purchases and bear foreign fighters’ expenses, including food and shelter. How much truth in this has not been confirmed by any source.

Analyst said that it is noteworthy that NATO coalition forces withdrew in 2014 from Afghanistan, Taliban began occupying some districts. Electricity and utility bills imposed in areas under their control. News circulating that Taliban fighters not only continued to collect electricity bills from the citizens of these areas, but also collect usher and zakat, every farmer is bound to pay one tenth of their crop, food from the common residents including monthly protection money from mobile towers has been taken by force.

For the past three years, Taliban collects toll tax and inter-provincial tax from freight vehicles on major highways. On average they collect 15,000 to 30,000 (Afghan currency) per vehicle.

However, all this happened under nose of the government. The Government forces targets these Taliban controlled toll tax check posts from land and conduct several air strikes. However, after few days, Taliban regains these check posts and re-imposes taxes and recovery process.

Interestingly, truck drivers, owners, traders and government officials, are forced to pay taxes, otherwise they are not allowed to move on these trade routes. Due to taxing to two different elements Taliban forces and Government authorities, the value of commodities increases, which directly affect ordinary Afghans.

According to a report, compared to 2017, food prices in Afghanistan have increased by 70% while the graph of poverty has also risen up.

Tax collection check posts set up by Taliban fighters on the highway north of the capital Kabul at Dand Ghauri in Baghlan Province and on the highway from Kabul to the northeastern provinces at Jir Khoshk in Baghlan Province, from Kabul. Roads leading to the southern areas have been set up in Muqur area of ​​Ghazni province.

There are lot of unanswered questions left behind about where, how and in what way the money spend by Taliban.

Source : Voice of South Asia More   

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Delta variant sets off alarm bells in Vietnam

Author: Barnaby Flower, Oxford University Until recently, Vietnam’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic had been a remarkable success story. In January 2020, once the scale of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan became clear, large outbreaks were expected to follow in neighbouring Asian states. When Vietnam became one of the first countries to report human-to-human transmission, […] The post Delta variant sets off alarm bells in Vietnam first appeared on East Asia Forum.

Delta variant sets off alarm bells in Vietnam

Author: Barnaby Flower, Oxford University

Until recently, Vietnam’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic had been a remarkable success story. In January 2020, once the scale of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan became clear, large outbreaks were expected to follow in neighbouring Asian states. When Vietnam became one of the first countries to report human-to-human transmission, it was assumed that a widespread outbreak was inevitable.

But through comprehensive testing, tracing, and quarantining in centralised facilities, and strict border control and proactive public health policies, Vietnam defied all expectations and eliminated community transmission.

While many countries were enduring protracted lockdowns and reporting thousands of deaths per day, Vietnam was open for business, internally at least. It was the only economy in Southeast Asia to experience positive economic growth in 2020. By April 2021 Vietnam had reported just 35 COVID-19-related deaths.

Vietnam’s success can be attributed to good public health, focusing on prevention rather than costly medical cures. But with low rates of infection, there was little urgency to procure expensive new vaccines from abroad.

The government baulked at the cost and the length of the queue and went on record to say it would be better to produce vaccines domestically. Seeing an opportunity to establish a valuable foothold in the biotech sector, Vietnam invested in four indigenous vaccines. Tran Van Phuc, a medical commentator for one government newspaper, wrote in December 2020 that ‘it might come out much more slowly than its international peers, but if we can do it, waiting for a homemade vaccine is not a bad option’.

In December 2020, while other countries in the region fought to secure vaccine imports, Vietnam commenced a phase I trial on its most promising product to date, the subunit vaccine Nanocovax.

Progress was slow, but few were worried. The country had already successfully supressed two outbreaks and in February and March 2021, it would suppress a third, all the while developing superior testing and healthcare infrastructure.

Throughout this period the Vietnam government formally committed to just one foreign vaccine, Oxford-AstraZeneca. It initially secured 30 million doses to be delivered in batches throughout 2021 — enough to vaccinate just 15.5 per cent of the population.

The first batch of 117,600 doses arrived late February and was distributed to priority groups reflective of Vietnam’s ‘zero COVID-19’ standing. Healthcare workers, customs officers, diplomats, military personnel, police, tourist workers and teachers were given higher priority than people over 65 or those with chronic health problems at the highest risk of dying from the virus.

The emergence of the Delta variant in Vietnam at the end of April 2021 changed everything. The World Health Organization estimates that Delta is 55 per cent more transmissible than Alpha, which was itself around 50 per cent more transmissible than the original virus. Interventions that previously curbed community spread became inadequate to control outbreaks.

Initially, Vietnam managed to suppress localised outbreaks of Delta in Hanoi and Bac Giang province. Yet, despite escalating restrictions, cases continued to increase across the country. Between late April and late July 2021, Vietnam recorded over 120,000 cases in 61 of its 63 localities and over 800 deaths, Ho Chi Minh City being the worst affected.

This outbreak, and a shortfall in AstraZeneca supply, forced a rapid change in vaccine policy. Within weeks, Sputnik V, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Sinopharm and Johnson & Johnson were approved for emergency use.

Through swiftly negotiated contracts, foreign aid and the global vaccine access mechanism COVAX, Vietnam has now successfully ordered 125 million doses as it strives to vaccinate 70 per cent of its population by May 2022.

Earlier reluctance to enter the global vaccine market has meant Vietnam is further back in the queue than its neighbours, and most promised doses won’t arrive until at least the last quarter of this year.

While cases mount, vaccine rollout proceeds at a glacial pace. Vietnam lags behind all other ASEAN member states. By late July 2021, just 0.5 per cent of the population are fully vaccinated and 4.7 per cent have received one dose, in contrast to Cambodia with a single-dose rate of 42 per cent, and both Thailand and Indonesia at over 16 per cent.

Until recently the issue was strictly supply, but a succession of donations in July — while the health service scrambled to deal with its first major outbreak — has seen doses pile up. Vietnam has used only 5.3 million of 14.8 million doses received so far.

Once distributed, uptake appears to be good. The government earned trust from its earlier successful handling of the pandemic, and there is little of the anti-AstraZeneca sentiment which has hampered vaccine rollout in Australia.

As the health crisis escalates, vaccine priority is changing. Doses originally earmarked for tourist workers on Vietnam’s islands are being directed to older, vulnerable populations in the worst-affected locations, prioritising saving lives over rebooting the tourist sector.

In coming months, Vietnam will commence manufacturing Sputnik V and, thanks to a progressive technology transfer from the United States, construction has started on a factory that aims to produce a further 200 million vaccine doses in the first half of 2022. Vietnam’s Nanocovax has also entered phase III trials, raising hope for domestic self-sufficiency in years to come.

But with the Delta variant now firmly established, the economy strangled by lockdowns, and the health system approaching capacity, Vietnam needs to prioritise import and distribution of existing vaccines above all else. Millions of lives and livelihoods depend on it.

Barnaby Flower is a Clinical Research Fellow at the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Ho Chi Minh City.

The post Delta variant sets off alarm bells in Vietnam first appeared on East Asia Forum.
Source : East Asia Forum More   

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