Afghan writer shot in Pakistan - BBC
An Afghan intellectual living in Pakistan has been shot and wounded by unidentified gunmen.
They opened fire on the writer, Enamullah Wak, in the city of Peshawar.
He is reported to have been hit in the shoulder by several bullets but his precise condition is unclear.
The attack on Mr Wak is thought to be politically motivated.
He is a member of the nationalist Afghan Milat party and is understood to be trying to gauge the extent of support in Afghanistan for the return of the former king Mohammad Zahirshah, who currently lives in Italy.
Afghanistan Polio Vaccinations Due
GENEVA (AP) - The United Nations will carry out a campaign to immunize 4.5 million children in Afghanistan against polio this weekend, taking advantage of a promised cease-fire between the country's warring factions.
It will be the second of four rounds of vaccinations to protect children against the crippling disease. The first round, held May 1-3, was considered a success, and the truce agreed on by the ruling Taliban militia and its opponents was respected.
The U.N. Children's Fund said Friday that further national campaigns were planned for October and November.
More than 150 new cases of polio were reported last year in Afghanistan, one of about 30 countries where the disease still exists.
The United Nations wants to eradicate polio worldwide by 2005. But it has dropped its goal of stopping all new transmissions by the end of this year because of conflict in several African countries and the virus' continuing existence in pockets of India.
Polio is highly infectious. It usually strikes children under 5, affecting the spinal cord and brain and causing paralysis and sometimes death.
UNHCR drought concern for Afghan refugees
The United Nations refugee agency says it is increasingly concerned about the severe drought affecting Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.
A UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said the agency was having to scale back its programme to repatriate Afghan refugees from Iran and Pakistan to drought-stricken provinces in southern Afghanistan where local people are relying on emergency food aid.
He said the UNHCR was also worried about the effects of the drought on the estimated 2.6 million Afghan refugees still living in Pakistan and Iran. Wheat crops have failed in Afghanistan and more than half of the livestock in the south have died.
From the newsroom of the BBC World Service
Afghanistan, water, drugs threaten C.Asia - OSCE
ALMATY, June 1 (Reuters) - Afghanistan, the drug trade and competition for scarce water resources are most likely to threaten Central Asia's future security, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said on Thursday.
OSCE head Benita Ferrero-Waldner told reporters after meeting Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev that security, regional cooperation and democratisation of society had been discussed during her visit to the five Central Asian states.
Speaking through an interpreter, she said: ``The issues of drug trade and terrorism are interconnected and we share this region's concerns on security. The main concern of course is the security threat from Afghanistan.''
But commenting on Russia's recent statements that it could launch ``preventive'' air strikes against Afghanistan's ruling Taleban militia, she said the OSCE could only support a political solution to the Afghan problem.
The OSCE plans to host a conference in Tashkent in October to draw attention to the region's security problems.
Ferrero-Waldner added that the water resources problem was becoming increasingly crucial in the arid landmass and said competition for water between the countries could only be resolved through the mechanism of regional cooperation.
She has already visited Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and will meet with Uzbek leader Islam Karimov on Friday in Tashkent on the last leg of her trip.
US provides fresh evidence against Osama
ISLAMABAD (NNI): Afghanistan ruling Taliban Thursday said the United States has produced fresh evidence about Osama bin Ladens alleged involvement of what the Americans call terrorist activities which have been referred to Afghanistan Shariat Court.
"We have told the Americans that Shariat Court has to look into the so-called evidence," Afghan ambassador to Pakistan Maulvi Syed Mohammad Haqqani told Islamabad-based Arab journalists at a press briefing.
Haqqani, however added that the Americans had failed to produce any proofs about Osamas involvement in terrorist activities when Taliban supreme leader Mulla Omar invited evidence against the Saudi exile last year.
A US delegation, led by Under Secretary for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering, in a recent meeting with a Taliban team in Islamabad produced new documents of Osamas involvement in terrorist activities.
"Osama is not a problem for Taliban. He is a friend of Afghanistan and is living as guest in Afghanistan," Haqqani said. He said there had been no attempt in the past to capture Osama. He said Taliban want good relations with all countries including the United States.
Russian threats: Afghans will respond to any Russian attack as they had done in the past. He said Russians have started hurling threats to Afghanistan after their failure to crush Chechan Muslims despite ruthless use of force. He said Russians have suffered losses in fighting in Chechnya and they want to cover it. He rejected Russias claim of existence of training camps for Chechan fighters. "There is no training camps for Chechans on Afghan soil and we are only extending moral support to Chechans. He challenged those who claim of presence of training camps for Chechans to show them on Afghan soil.
He said the Russian threats are aimed at straightening the anti-Taliban alliance as Russians have realized that the opposition alliance could not harm Taliban. He said opposition commander Madood visited Russia last month and sought Russian military assistance. He said every Afghan minus Masood have condemned the Russian threats of bombing Afghanistan. He said Russians are conspiring to recapture all the independent Central Asian states but Afghanistan is stumbling block in its efforts.
Haqqani denied press reports about the arrest of any American national in connection with the arrest of two Arab spies. He said Syrian and Iraqi embassies in Islamabad had approached Taliban for information of their nationals which were provided to them.
A Syrian national, who was arrested along with an Iraqi Kurd for espionage last month, had disclosed that an American national, working as computer expert with a NGO in Kabul has been arrested.
UN sanctions: He said Taliban government does care about the UN sanctions but they have affected the common Afghans.
Air space violation: Haqqani warned against any further air space violation of Afghanistan by Uzbekistan and said that Taliban forces will retaliate if Uzbek planes violate Afghan territory in future. He said no extra troops are being deployed at Uzbek border but normal forces are there to safeguard frontiers.
He said foreign intervention and massive military support to the opposition alliance is blocking Taliban victory of the rest of 10 per cent territory, under the control of the opposition northern alliance.
Replying to a question about a recent meeting between Taliban and Libyan Foreign Minister in Islamabad, Haqqani said they did not discuss expulsion of Libyan nationals from Afghanistan. He said the two sides discussed ways for bilateral relations.
The Taliban ambassador renewed appeal for international aid for the drought-hit people. He said some 70 per cent cattle heads have died in drought-affected areas.
US increases pressure on bin Laden
By ANWAR IQBAL
ISLAMABAD, June 1 (UPI) - The United States has recently increased
pressure on both the Taliban and Pakistan to expel terrorism-suspect Osama
bin Laden from Afghanistan, diplomatic sources said Thursday. Last week US
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Thomas Pickering, met senior
offcicials of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia during his two-day visit
to Islamabad and urged them to expel bin Laden without delay.
Long suspected of international terrorism, bin Laden, a Saudi national,
has been hiding in Afghanistan since 1994 when he was expelled from Sudan.
The United States wants to arrest him for allegedly masterminding the
bombing of two U.S. embassies in East Africa in August 1998 that killed more
than 200 people. "Although the Americans have been urging Taliban to
extradite bin Laden ever since the Taliban came into power four years ago,
this time their tone is serious," a senior Western diplomat told UPI.
According to Western diplomatic sources, the Americans have also increased
pressure on Pakistan to use its influence for bin Laden's extradition.
Officials at Pakistan's ministry for foreign affairs acknowledge Pickering
was "very hard and open on this issue."
The Americans have apparently asked Pakistan to take two immediate steps
which they hope will force bin Laden's extradition: stop fuel supplies to
Afghanistan and deny transit to Afghan exports and imports. A land-locked
country, Afghanistan has always depended on Pakistan for its external trade.
Kabul uses Pakistan's Karachi port for all its freight traffic.
The Afghan dependence on Pakistani fuel is almost total. Before the
collapse of the Soviet Union, when Afghanistan was a member of the Soviet
block, Kabul imported all its fuel from Russia. But relations with Russia
deteriorated rapidly after the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from
Afghanistan. The Russians claim the Talibans train and arm rebels in
Chechnya, and fear that they may also stir trouble in other Muslim-dominated
areas in the former Soviet Central Asia. "The Americans know that if
Pakistan stops fuel supply and withdraws the transit facility, it can force
the Taliban to accept any demand," a senior Western diplomat observed.
The Pakistanis are not sure how effective such sanctions could be. "The
Afghans already live way below the poverty line," warns Pakistan's military
ruler General Pervez Musharraf who had planned to visit Afghanistan in April
to negotiate with the Taliban on the bin Laden issue. "They are used to
living in the mountains and they can endure any restrictions." He postponed
his visit after indications that the Taliban may not accept his request for
the Saudi dissident's expulsion.
Diplomatic observers in Islamabad say that the Americans are also facing a
lot of pressure from Moscow. The Russians blame Pakistan and the United
States for creating "the Taliban menace and want them to undo it," according
to a Western diplomat. The Russians have apparently asked the United States
to use its influence to dismantle the Taliban movement rather than confining
its efforts to bin Laden's expulsion. They believe that the removal of the
Taliban government will automatically resolve this issue. A new government
in Kabul, the Russians argue, will not be as hospitable to bin Laden and
other terrorists as the Taliban are.
The Russians blame Pakistan for supplying arms and ammunition to the
Taliban, besides food, fuel and transit facilities. If Pakistan withdrew
these facilities, the Taliban government could collapse within days, the
"This is a wrong concept," says General Musharraf. "The Taliban will go to
the mountains and fight." Pakistanis are also reluctant to help remove the
Taliban because they fear that the next government in Kabul may not be as
friendly to Islamabad as this one.
"The Russians can say anything but the Americans know our position," said
a senior Pakistani official. "We are not going to help remove Taliban and
bring in an anti-Pakistan government." Musharraf says, "The need is for the
Americans and the Taliban to talk to each other and sort out their
differences," and says he is ready to help arrange the talks. But although
the Americans have been talking indirectly to Taliban since 1994, they do
not want to engage them in direct talks. They fear that such talks would
give the Taliban a degree of recognition in the world without forcing them
to change their policies.
Only two countries in the world - Pakistan and the United Arab
Emirates-recognize the Taliban government. The United States and other
Western notations urge the religious militia to change its extremist
policies, particularly against women, before seeking international
recognition. "The only way the Taliban can make themselves more acceptable
to the West is by expelling people like bin Laden who allegedly run several
training camps for terrorists inside Afghanistan," said a Western diplomat.
"And they are not doing it."
Pakistani officials also acknowledge that the Americans may soon endorse
the Russian policy against Taliban if the bin Laden issue is not resolved.
Moscow has threatened direct military action against Taliban if they do not
stop supporting the Chechens and other Russian rebels.
"If the Americans endorse this policy and allow the strike, it may spell
disaster for the entire region," says Maulana Fazlur Rahman, a Pakistani
religious scholar who has links with the top Taliban leadership. "The
Taliban are not weak either. They have many supporters and this war will go
on forever," he said.
But the Americans have told Pakistanis, if they want to avoid this
scenario they have to get bin Laden for them. "Washington is clear on this
issue. Get bin Laden or accept the demand to help dismantle the Taliban
movement," said a Western diplomat.
Russia, U.S. clash in former Soviet empire
By Mike Collett-White
MOSCOW, June 2 (Reuters) - ``Look West'' the United States has urged former Soviet republics, dangling the carrots of political support, defence cooperation and trade growth to win allies among newly independent states.
``Don't bother'' has been Russia's response, a message which has grown in conviction since the arrival of President Vladimir Putin at the helm.
His more aggressive approach to the so-called ``near abroad'' has won him some early victories in the battle between old Cold War foes for influence over strategic and resource-rich states.
But it is early days, and a string of high-level U.S. visits, involving Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the heads of the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation, show that Washington is still interested.
After his visit to Moscow this week, U.S. President Bill Clinton travels to Russian neighbour Ukraine, which political analysts say sees itself as much a part of an expanding Europe as of the former Communist bloc.
``There is a clear rivalry between the U.S. and Russia for influence over countries of the former Soviet Union,'' said Yevgeny Volk of the Heritage Foundation in Moscow.
CENTRAL ASIA IN SHARP FOCUS
Nowhere is this rivalry more apparent than in Central Asia, a vast swathe of steppe, desert and mountain bridging Russia, China, Iran and Afghanistan and blessed with huge untapped reserves of oil, gas, gold and industrial metals.
Washington made much of the early going after independence in 1991, promoting its firms' interests and urging governments to develop export routes for hydrocarbon riches which would avoid both Russia to the north and ``rogue state'' Iran to the south.
Its success was partly explained by the vacuum in relations with Moscow under Boris Yeltsin, a weakness Putin has been quick to address.
His first trip abroad after the May 7 inauguration was to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan where he spoke of the security threat to the region and Russia posed by extremist Islamic movements said to be supported by the Afghanistan's ruling Taleban.
That concern is shared by Islam Karimov, president of Uzbekistan which borders Afghanistan and has seen a strong Islamic revival amid its population of 24 million people.
``Karimov was one of the most anti-Moscow leaders in the former Soviet Union, but that has changed very quickly,'' said Andrei Piontkovsky of the Centre for Strategic Studies.
``It is not because he suddenly fell in love with the Russians or with Putin, but because he has a problem with Islamic fundamentalism.''
In Turkmenistan Putin turned to the other key pillar of his policy in Central Asia, signing a deal to transport rising volumes of Turkmen gas via Russia's existing pipeline system.
The deal had the dual advantage of making Turkmenistan more reliant on Moscow at the same time as undermining a U.S.-backed project to build a $2.0 billion pipeline across the Caspian seabed, through Azerbaijan and Georgia and on to Turkey.
SIMILAR THEMES DIVIDE SIDES IN CAUCASUS
Security and energy are also major concerns both for Washington and Moscow in the volatile Caucasus, where the leaders of Azerbaijan and Georgia have put considerable distance between their small nations and their mighty northern neighbour.
The United States backs a major new oil pipeline running from the Azeri capital of Baku to Turkey's Mediterranean coast, a plan which Moscow says is uneconomic and inferior to its own proposal to run the new link through its territory.
And the scars from old conflicts in Georgia and Azerbaijan, in which both countries saw clandestine Russian support for their enemies, has encouraged them to look West for political, and eventually military support.
Georgia and Azerbaijan are both seeking closer cooperation with NATO, including eventual membership, a proposal which is anathema to Russia.
Some political analysts play down the significance of such statements, saying that they are as much a way of sending signals to Moscow as serious policy decisions.
And a straight-talking Putin could usher in warmer relations with the two states if he can win over their leaders, who are seen as political pragmatists before they are ideologues.
UKRAINE ALSO COURTS NATO
The prospect of NATO spreading to Russia's borders is also a key one in Ukraine, which Washington has singled out for close attention because of a relatively big population of 50 million.
``I think Russia is interested in Ukraine's slower movement in the direction of NATO as long as there is no clarity about the future of Russia's own relations with the alliance,'' said Mykhailo Pohrebinsky of the Kiev Centre of Political Studies.
``On the other hand the U.S. would hail much faster movement (by Ukraine) to NATO and other European structures. In this case we have a conflict.''
But while Ukraine has consistently cast its eye westward, its economy is still linked inextricably to Russia which supplies it with oil and gas. Energy arrears are a constant irritant in relations between the Slavic neighbours.
In stark contrast to Ukraine's good standing in Washington is Belarus, where President Alexander Lukashenko has come under frequent Western criticism for stifling reforms and democracy.
He has been the driving force behind a plan to merge his nation of 10 million with Russia in a union based on joint institutions and eventually a common currency.
As received by AAR from Ministry of foreign Affairs of Islamic State of Afghanistan:
Pakistan's Military Junta in Search of 'Lebensraum'
PRESS RELEASE - May 31, 2000
The Pakistani military junta, unleashing a fresh propaganda campaign under the pretext of "national security interest" at the cost of sovereignty and independence of Afghanistan by flagrant violation of recognized international norms and principles and in clear contempt to the UN Charter, has reserved the right to impose a certain political system through an ethnic (tribal) group in its neighboring country. This new method bears resemblance to the ideology pursued by German Fascists during WWII, who under the scheme of "lebensraum" justified their expansionism and hegemonism at the price of millions killed and the invasion of adjacent and faraway territories.
Pakistan's NNI news agency reported on Thursday, May 25, 2000 that General Pervez Musharraf claimed Pakistan's pro-Taliban policy "in accordance with Pakistan national interest." Advocating that Pukhtoons (Pashtuns) should be on the side of Pakistan, the General was quoted as saying, "We have a national security interest, both demographic and geographic." He further stated that in the realization of this security interest, "Pukhtoons should be on our side and they (Pukhtoons) are represented by Taliban."
The Islamic State of Afghanistan, in light of the infamous statements by General Pervez Musharraf, would like to put the following in perspective:
1. General Musharraf's statements are based on an erroneous perception of Afghanistan. Historically, Afghanistan has been a country of an ethnic mosaic, having fraternally and peacefully coexisted for centuries.
2. The Government of Pakistan under the name of the 'Taliban' has dispatched its military personnel and its borderland tribal militia, assisted by religious extremist groups of non-Afghan origins, in an attempt to take control of Afghanistan.
3. The people of Afghanistan are aware that promotion of ethnic cleansing of Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras and other non-Pashtun groups is the result of provocations by the government of Pakistan, committed under the guise of realizing Pushtun domination throughout Afghanistan.
4. Statements by General Musharraf have become subject to strong condemnation and hatred by the people of Afghanistan, including Pashtuns and prominent Pashtun leaders.
5. General Musharraf's comments, once again reveal in bright light the ill-intended objectives of Pakistan in Afghanistan, where its nationals are actively involved in the war. However, from a political perspective the justification for its hegemony in Afghanistan has not spared the General to bluntly encourage ethnic hatred and animosity. Showing as if Pakistan is dismayed by the Taliban puppet regime, according to him, the idea to keep Afghanistan divided, backward and weak is in line with Pakistan's "national security interest."
6. The segment of the Taliban who are Afghan nationals have been brainwashed by the Pakistani military intelligence services (ISI) in such a manner so as to lack historical knowledge of Afghanistan, and hence to act counter to the religious, historic and ethnic traditions of their countrymen. Hence, their behavior-like an alien group-categorizes them not as genuinely Afghan.
7. Pakistan's administrations have continuously denied local Pashtuns their fundamental rights in Pakistan. But now, the current administration unjustifiably claims itself to protect the Pashtuns. Contrarily, even the Pashtuns in Pakistan have not had the right to name their own land.
General Pervez Musharraf must realize that his recent statements of May 25 constitute a mistake and a confession, which complements the Pakistani historic blunder, revealing its expansionist goals in Afghanistan. The General's comments are neither beneficial to the peace and security of Pakistan or Afghanistan, nor the region. It is time Pakistan's "Chief Executive," the military junta and its officials steered their country away from hegemonistic adventures they have embarked upon in Afghanistan.
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