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October 2, 2016: The international community is looking for signs of progress on key issues ahead of an international conference on Afghanistan in Brussels next week, said Ambassador Richard Olson, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The European Union and the National Unity government of Afghanistan will co-host the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan starting Tuesday. Representatives from more than 70 countries and dozens of international organizations and agencies are expected to attend.
After nearly 15 years of war and billions of dollars in international aid, the Afghan government still needs international support. But Olson said that support should not be taken for granted.
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“U.S. and international support for Afghanistan is not a blank check. Our support is conditioned and conditional on Afghan progress,” said Olson at an event organized by the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University on Thursday. “Our collective ability to continue providing significant levels of support to Afghanistan is dependent on the Afghan government’s performance and ability to work with us as an effective partner.”
Olson told VOA there are four areas of concern in the international community.
“First of all, further commitments on anti-corruption, electoral reforms, reforms on fiscal sustainability and on human rights, including rights of women,” he said.
Program of reforms
The Brussels Conference is aimed at endorsing a realistic program of reforms by the Afghan government to ensure continued international political and financial support for the country’s political and economic stability, state building and development over the next four years.
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The meeting will be the second international conference on Afghanistan this year. It follows NATO’s Warsaw Summit in July, where U.S. and other NATO member countries pledged to continue to deliver training, advice and assistance to Afghan security institutions.They also agreed to fund the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) until 2020 by providing up to $5 billion a year to the Afghan government, a big chunk of which would be paid by the United States.
At the Brussels Conference, which is an extension of the 2012 Tokyo International Conference on Afghanistan, it remains to be seen whether the Afghan leaders will be able to convince the international community that they are on the right path to reforms and have delivered on promises they made in earlier conferences.
If its government convinces the international community, Afghanistan will receive a pledge of more than $3 billion a year in development support until 2020, Olson added.
President Ashraf Ghani assumed the presidency with a pledge to fight corruption in 2014. But the country continues to struggle with the issue. Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index ranks Afghanistan 166 out of 168 countries.
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In 2012, at the Tokyo International Conference on Afghanistan, the Afghan government was required by the donor countries to illustrate its commitment to reforms, including fighting endemic corruption.
Dawa Khan Menapal, a spokesman for Ghani, told VOA that Afghans are going to Brussels with confidence about their record on fighting corruption and other reforms.
“We have considerable achievements in this regard, and also the government has made substantial progress towards reforms, including in the defense sector as well as other sectors of the government,” Menapal said.
He added the government has taken measures to bring reforms in the judiciary branch of the government, which has long been a source of complaints among Afghans.
And there are signs that some outside the government are seeing a sincere effort to address the problem.
Sher Jan Ahmadzai, director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, believes that for anti-corruption efforts to succeed, there needs to be solid leadership that prioritizes reforms.
“During the past two years, indicators have emerged that the leadership of the Afghan government has the political will to go after corruption. These indicators in the past have been either very weak for various reasons or not present at all,” Ahmadzai said. “The international community has realized that Afghanistan is serious about fighting corruption.”
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Afghanistan was on the brink of a civil war when both candidates claimed victory in the country’s 2014 presidential elections, which were undermined by serious allegations of fraud and irregularities.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham told VOA that the international community will do its part, but ultimately the Afghan people will have to push their leaders for needed reforms.
“I kept telling people that as I was going around when I was leaving Afghanistan that we can help — that the international community can help deal with a whole range of problems,” Cunningham said.
But to make the system work and to make the government work, it is the Afghans who need to do the hard work and have the statesmanship, he added.
“Politics is about conflict and confrontation, but it is also about getting things done. Afghans have to put their national interest ahead of their political and personal interests at a certain point. Success of this government is one of those things,” Cunningham said.
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Ahmad Khalid Majidyar, a former analyst at the American Enterprise Institute who currently teaches U.S military officers on politics and security in Afghanistan, believes that the National Unity Government has had some successes in the past two years.
“For example,” he said, “the government has increased its national revenues, it has established an independent body to fight corruption, but still some of the key reform measures as stipulated in the political agreement of the unity government have not been implemented — most importantly, the electoral reforms.”Ghani spokesman Menapal said key steps have been taken toward electoral reforms as well. (VOA)
The pandemic brought about a global boom of entrepreneurship in 2020. Thousands of small businesses launched in the UK last year, and many were very successful. Some businesses started as passion projects, while others aimed to fill a hole in the pandemic market. Services and products, like at-home workouts, popped up all over social media from new and exciting businesses. The pandemic left many Brits financially unstable and scared for the future of their career. Launching their own business gave them something to focus on again and a small amount of income.
The Financial Times reported that the number of registered companies in the UK increased by 30% in 2020. As the world returns to normal, it will be interesting to see how these new businesses approach the post-pandemic world.
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If you have just set up a new business, here are some essential marketing tips to get the ball rolling:
Exploit social media
Social media is one of the most effective marketing platforms available. You can connect with a global audience for free and market your product or service to them. Post consistently and use high-quality imaging to catch your audience's attention. Engage with potential customers by replying to direct messages, comments, shares and likes. Use a few platforms to maximise your exposure and create a strong brand identity.
You can connect with a global audience for free and market your product or service to them. | Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash
Network as much as you can
Networking is a vital part of business, and you can do it on and offline. Use sites like LinkedIn to connect with fellow entrepreneurs and those in different industries. Reach out to them directly and ask about their company or role. You might be surprised by how much you can learn from one conversation. Once in-person events return, you should look to make the most out of meeting people in your industry. You might find brands to collaborate with or a mentor to learn from. Make sure to hand out your business cards at the event so people can get in touch with you in the future.
Networking is a vital part of business, and you can do it on and offline. | Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash
Create a blog
You need to be an expert in your industry. Create a blog and share your journey of learning to be a business owner. You can share your expertise and why you started the company, which other entrepreneurs can read and learn from. Your knowledge and experience might be extremely helpful for those just starting out. Use a range of marketing techniques to launch your business into the next phase.
Use a range of marketing techniques to launch your business into the next phase. | Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash
(Disclaimer: This article is sponsored and include some commercial links)
One of Indias fast growing Direct To Consumer (DTC) beauty and personal care brands, MyGlamm, launches its national TVC around the message 'All Natural #NoNasties today with actress Shraddha Kapoor, who is also an investor in the brand.
Kapoor who has a great millennial and Gen Z connect introduces 'My SUPERFOODS Kajal' which has No Parabens, No Mineral Oils, No Nasties while still being long-lasting and smudge-free and made with the goodness of nature. This is followed by many girls trying applying the kajal with confidence and while highlighting the ingredients Avocado Oil, Goji Berries, Vitamin E and Sunflower Seed Oil.
Commenting on the campaign, Apratim Majumder, CMO, MyGlamm says "Women have been telling us about what they want from their beauty products for a while now. Wikimedia Commons
The brand focuses on creating quality products that are high efficacy made with all-natural and no chemicals in the formulae. his campaign follows the #TellMyGlammWhatYouWant campaign where women logged in to tell the company what they wanted from their beauty products. It aims to establish a beauty democracy by giving consumers the power to tell the brand what they want thus changing the entire experience of how women buy beauty products in India.
Commenting on the campaign, Apratim Majumder, CMO, MyGlamm says "Women have been telling us about what they want from their beauty products for a while now. We have been innovating to serve those needs with products. When they told us that they want a kajal that is not only long-lasting and smudge-proof but also takes care of their eyes, we knew we had to do this. The campaign is about telling everyone out there who told us they need a kajal that cares, MyGlamm Superfoods Kajal is here for you! The campaign debued on MyGlamm's social channels- YouTube & Instagram on September 16. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: India, Direct beauty brands, My Glamm national, girls, kajal, confidence ingredients, Avocado Oil, Shraddha Kapoor
Phishing attacks targeting organisations rose up considerably during the pandemic, as millions of employees working from home became a prime target for cybercriminals. A large majority (83 per cent) of IT teams in India said the number of phishing emails targeting their employees increased during 2020, according to a report by UK-based cybersecurity firm Sophos on Monday.
"It can be tempting for organisations to see phishing attacks as a relatively low-level threat, but that underestimates their power. Phishing is often the first step in a complex, multi-stage attack. According to Sophos Rapid Response, attackers frequently use phishing emails to trick users into installing malware or sharing credentials that provide access to the corporate network," Sophos' Principal Research Scientist, Chester Wisniewski said in a statement. The findings also reveal that there is a lack of common understanding about the definition of phishing. For instance, 67 per cent of IT teams in India associate phishing with emails that falsely claim to be from a legitimate organisation, and which are usually combined with a threat or request for information.
The findings also reveal that there is a lack of common understanding about the definition of phishing. | Pixabay
As many as 61 per cent consider Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks to be phishing, and half of the respondents (50 per cent) think threadjacking - when attackers insert themselves into a legitimate email thread as part of an attack - is phishing. Most of the organisations in India (98 per cent) have implemented cybersecurity awareness programmes to combat phishing. Respondents said they use computer-based training programmes (67 per cent), human-led training programmes (60 per cent), and phishing simulations (51 per cent).
Four-fifths of Indian organisations assess the impact of their awareness programme through the number of phishing-related tickets raised with IT, followed by the level of reporting of phishing emails by users (77 per cent) and click rates on phishing emails (60 per cent). All the organisations surveyed (100 per cent) in Delhi, Hyderabad, and Kolkata say they have a cybersecurity awareness programme in place. This was followed by Chennai where 97 per cent have such programmes, and then, Bengaluru and Mumbai at 96 per cent each. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: programmes, organisation, emails, phishing