U.N. to strengthen Afghan sanctions regime
UNITED NATIONS, July 25 (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council is expected to pass a resolution this week to strengthen enforcement of its sanctions against the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, council diplomats said on Wednesday.
The officials said the 15-nation Security Council would create a monitoring mechanism to enforce an arms embargo and other sanctions imposed in December and aimed at pressuring the Taliban to close "terrorist training camps" and surrender Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden.
Bin Laden is accused of masterminding the August 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in which some 225 people died and more than 4,000 were wounded.
A draft of the proposed resolution offers assistance to states bordering Afghanistan and would establish an expert group in New York to monitor violations of the arms embargo, arms trafficking, money laundering and drug running.
One council diplomat said all members backed the draft except Bangladesh, and staff would now try to iron out the final differences in time for the council to take up and approve the resolution on Thursday or on Friday.
Last month, a panel of experts appointed by the United Nations called on Pakistan and other states bordering Afghanistan to do a better job enforcing sanctions.
In particular, the independent committee noted the absence of monitoring of illegal flights in and out of Afghanistan that are believed to be carrying tanks, mortars and artillery ammunition from Pakistan and Iran.
Pakistan is one of the few countries to recognize the Taliban while Iran, along with other neighbors of Afghanistan, back its military opponents in the North, who are not under an arms embargo.
The Taliban, a Muslim fundamentalist group that controls much of Afghanistan, has used drug trade profits to buy arms and other materiel in the country's civil war.
The group has been criticized for its treatment of women and religious minorities and for destroying historic Hindu shrines and statues of Buddha.
The experts last month said the six states neighboring Afghanistan -- Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and China -- had 100,000 troops or guards patrolling the borders.
But their operations varied greatly in effectiveness as do national laws that could strengthen prosecution of individuals and companies violating the embargo, the panel said.
Offer retrial of Osama - Taliban ready to settle differences with US
ISLAMABAD: The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has once again expressed its willingness to settle the differences with United States in an amicable manner proposing the new US administration to carry out a retrial of Saudi dissident Osama Bin Ladin in Kabul, diplomatic sources told The Frontier Post on Wednesday.
The Afghan diplomatic sources said, " we are ready to sort out this problem with the United States under fourth formula upholding our national independence and honour and without compromising on Afghan traditions".
The sources said that Osama Bin Ladin was put under trial back in 1998 following the cruise missile attack on Afghanistan and US had not furnished any evidence against him.
" Now we are ready for a compromise and to his retrial under the Islamic Shariat law in Afghanistan, we have asked the US administration that they can furnish the evidence against Osama and our court would give due consideration to it.
The offer has already been conveyed to US".
The Taliban have proposed three other options as well to find a solution to the Osama Bin Ladin issue including that of trial under the court of Ulema consisting from Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and a third Muslim country.
United States has been demanding from Taliban to extradite Osama Bin Ladin to a third country for his trial.
Meanwhile the Afghan Ambassador in Islamabad met the new Saudi Charge`D` Affaires Al-Otaibi for Afghanistan and discussed the bilateral relations between the two countries.
The sources said, " Both sides stressed the need to further strengthen brotherly relations between the two countries".
The Saudi side is said to have lauded the political stability established by Taliban in the country.
" The factional fighting between the Afghans had created a threat of disintegration of Afghanistan but Taliban have saved it, nothing can harm our bilateral realtions" sources informed quoting Al-Otaibi.
Bush Admin - Target Taliban To Get To bin Laden
SINCE LAST YEAR the United States government has been building an international alliance to strangle the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan, eliminate the threat of resident terrorist Osama bin Laden and put pressure on Pakistan to halt support for the Taliban. It is an alliance that, according to an official of the U.S. National Security Council, "starts from Afghanistan's neighbours and extends to the Group of Eight, Nato, the European Union, East Asia and the Middle East."
To followers of affairs in the region, this may sound like more hot air from Washington. But as the administration of President George W. Bush concludes a much-anticipated review of policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan, the contours of a significantly different Afghan policy appear to be taking shape.
Contrary to the former Clinton administration, which made catching bin Laden and crippling his organization the centrepiece of its Afghan policy, the Bush administration is targeting the Taliban and the small extremist clique that surrounds leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. Senior U.S. officials now view the Taliban's removal from power as a pre-requisite to catching bin Laden and to ending the civil war in Afghanistan.
Some U.S. officials complain that Clinton, by publicizing the campaign against bin Laden, made him even stronger, an international hero fighting a heroic battle against America.
This is not to say that the U.S. has surrendered in its fight against the Saudi terrorist. On July 19, Washington issued its third warning in three months that terrorist groups sponsored by bin Laden may attack American targets in the Persian Gulf. On the same day, foreign ministers at the G-8 meeting in Genoa urged the Taliban to close down terrorist-training camps and, in a clear message to Pakistani leaders in Islamabad, urged those countries "having influence on the Taliban to act responsibly."
Moreover, by disabling the Taliban, the U.S. would get at bin Laden directly: Afghan tribal leaders are convinced that bin Laden plays a key role in shaping Taliban foreign policy. Some U.S. officials agree. "Non-Afghans including Arab and Pakistani Islamicists are now part of the Taliban's decision-making process," says a U.S. counter-terrorism official. "We cannot accept that."
The contours of the new U.S. policy are likely to include restoring the military balance in Afghanistan by encouraging Russia, Iran and India to step up military supplies to Ahmad Shah Masud's anti-Taliban alliance (though Washington is unlikely to get involved in arms supplies itself); supporting anti-Taliban elements among the Pashtuns, the majority ethnic group in Afghanistan; and encouraging greater cooperation between Masud and former Afghan King Zahir Shah, who heads a peace process from exile in Rome, while galvanizing Zahir Shah's so-far-dormant efforts. The U.S., already the largest donor of humanitarian aid, will step up support to address the desperate refugee crisis in the country.
The Taliban, who presently control some 80% of the country, are mainly Pashtuns. Several Pashtun commanders from the Afghan resistance against the Soviet Union in the 1980s are now actively trying to promote a Pashtun revolt against the Taliban. Prominent amongst them is Abdul Haq. He has recently met with U.S. officials and congressmen, Masud, Zahir Shah and others. Although Haq is supported by private U.S. citizens, covert support from Washington is unlikely until he can show his support amongst Pashtun tribal chiefs and former commanders.
However, Pakistan's continuing support of the Taliban remains the most sensitive and critical issue for the international community. In a new report on arms supplies to all the Afghan factions, Human Rights Watch concluded that Pakistan was continuing to provide arms and ammunition to the Taliban despite UN Security Council sanctions. Pakistan denies the charges. "We are fully complying with UN sanctions," says Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar.
U.S. officials told Sattar during his visit to Washington in late June that there is "a growing body of evidence that Pakistan is breaking the sanctions." But, said a U.S. official, "we don't want to confront Pakistan but we can't improve relations with it until it changes its Afghan policy."
In calling for a comprehensive embargo on arms and other military assistance to all warring factions in Afghanistan, the Human Rights Watch report also criticized support by Russia, Iran and other countries for Masud's anti-Taliban coalition.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires 25-07-01
Taliban ready for camps for Afghan refugees return
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Afghanistan's ruling Taliban is prepared to set up camps with international assistance for returning Afghan refugees, the Taliban's ambassador to neighboring Pakistan said Wednesday.
Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef told a news conference in the Pakistani capital the Taliban was aware of the harassment and mistreatment of the Afghan refugees by the police of the countries they had taken refuge in.
"There are also statements by the authorities that they could not cope with the refugee problems," Zaeef said in an apparent reference to Pakistan and Iran, the two countries that host millions of Afghan refugees and have recently stopped accepting more.
"We appreciate the government of Iran and Pakistan for providing shelter to the Afghan refugees ... but at the same time we also condemn the recent harassment and maltreatment of the refugees in these countries," he added.
Islamabad says it is unable to accept any more refugees, citing a lack of resources and security concerns.
"The Afghan government will provide places for the camps to be set up, and security for the refugees but the international community should provide basic necessities for the refugees. The Islamic Emirates is not able to afford all these alone," Zaeef said.
Pakistan has often asked the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to set up camps for the Afghan refugees within Afghanistan but the UNHCR has always declined, saying it was not in its mandate.
In the last year about a million people in Afghanistan have been displaced by the worst drought in 30 years and a continuing conflict between the Taliban and the opposition Northern Alliance led by commander Ahmed Shah Masood.
The two sides have not stopped fighting despite international appeals for peace so the impoverished people of the country could be helped.
More than 200,000 of the 1 million people internally displaced have trickled into Pakistan through the long porous border and only a fraction of the total number of Afghan refugees has been repatriated to Afghanistan with the help of UNHCR.
Similarly, scores of people have gone into Iran, where hospitality for the eastern neighbors is running thin.
Most of the internally displaced Afghans are being housed in camps set up with the assistance of the United Nations and other relief agencies inside Afghanistan.
Zaeef said Afghans in the proposed camps would be spared the harassment they face in host countries and could return to their own villages once the infrastructure there is restored.
More than 20 years of conflict and factional fighting has destroyed Afghanistan's infrastructure and economy.
Zaeef also criticized the U.N. sanctions on the Islamic movement, saying they worsened people's misery.
The sanctions were slapped on over the Taliban's refusal to hand over terrorism suspect Osama bin Laden, a Saudi dissident, accused by the United States of being behind the bombings of its two embassies in East Africa in August 1998.
The sanctions curb the international movement of the Taliban leaders and also impose a one-sided arms embargo on the radical Islamic movement.
UNHCR concerned over anti-Afghan violence
Tehran, July 25 - IRNA -- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is increasingly concerned about outbursts of violence directed against Afghans living in Iran, a spokesman for the agency said on Tuesday.
"Last week, clashes took place on the skirts of Tehran when anti-Afghan protesters rampaged in the Pishva neighborhood south of the capital, leaving a number of people injured," spokesman Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva. He noted that UNHCR has raised its concerns about this and other recent attacks with the Iranian Interior Ministry.
Mr. Redmond painted a stark picture of overt incitement by demonstrators. "During the protests in Pishva, local residents shouted 'death to Afghans", he said, adding that "similar slogans were scrawled on the walls of buildings in the area".
According to the spokesman, Afghans living in Pishva are said to be frightened of going outdoors, with many of the community's men now too afraid to gather at the local informal job market to seek work. UNHCR blames the clashes largely on economic tensions.
"The recent outbreaks of violence seem to have been caused by rising anger among some sections of the Iranian population who believe that Afghans are taking their jobs," said Mr. Redmond. The agency noted that for two decades, Iran and neighboring Pakistan have sheltered millions of Afghan refugees, who comprise the world's biggest refugee population at some four million people.
"Iran has been among the world's most generous hosts to refugees," Mr. Redmond said. He expressed hope that the violent incidents would subside and that UNHCR's regular screening and voluntary repatriation operations in Iran would resume shortly.
Afghan organisations form new group
ISLAMABAD (NNI): Afghan social and political organizations are considering to unite into a single movement to work for solution of the Afghan problem and to convey their voice to the Pakistani brothers as well the United Nations Prominent Afghan personality, Syed Ishaq Gillani told Radio Tehran about his new efforts for solution of the Afghan problem.
"When the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy on Afghanistan, Fransesc Vendrell visited Peshawar recently, he met a number of Afghan personalities at my house.
We decided that the Pakistan-based organistions should unit. So, a meeting for representatives of many groups and organizations, held a meeting here which decided to contact other Afghan groups and personalities.
It also decided to hold another session at which the convenor of the group would be elected. We will all work for the unity of all organizations. We are also contacting other organisation interested in the restoration of peace in Afghanistan either to include us or to initiate a new process.
We are trying to unite these Afghan forces at the earliest. Besides, we are also trying to secure the confidence of the neighbouring countries and assure them that we are not against any one. We only want to have such a system in our country, under which Afghanistan could live in peace with the neighbouring countries".
He said thirty five organizations, belonging to different nationalities participated in our meeting. We have formed a 10 member commission, comprising political figures and independent personalities.
This commission will have the way for holding a grant meeting and take other required step. Members of the Shoora-e-Tafahum are also among those who attended our meeting. We will try not to elect a chairman of this new group unless unity and understanding is evolved among all these groups.
Referring to hardships faced by Afghan refugees in Pakistan, he said refugees have many difficulties. the new movement has been launched for solving problems of the Pakistan-based refugees. in the second phase, we will try to join forces with Rome Process. Cyprus Process and other peace drives.He said new group is not being backed by anyone.
" We decided that all the member groups should contribute for meeting and expenditures so that we are not forced to seek help from others. Foreign-based would also be asked to support us when our organizations grows into a full-fledged group.
When this group develops and the world knows that it is really representing the Afghan people then there will be no dearth of funds and all the countries, which want peace in Afghanistan, will support us.
PESHAWAR, July 23 -Dawn -- Hand-knotted Afghan carpets and rugs are the main components of NWFP's exports, generating a hefty amount of foreign exchange to the tune of $95 million annually.
A review of the five-year performance report of NWFP's exports reveals that out of $191 million annual export of the province in the fiscal year 2000-2001, $95 million were contributed by carpets and rugs sold abroad. These exports are usually made to countries like Germany, the USA, the UK, South Africa etc.
Similarly, the annual carpet export is also increasing each year. In 1995-96 the export of carpet and rugs was registered at $19 million and now in the fiscal 2000-2001, it reached the $95 million mark. Apart from generating the much-needed foreign exchange for the country, manufacturing and sale of the Afghan carpet is also providing honourable earning sources to almost 500,000 people in NWFP, mostly from Afghanistan.
These 500,000 artisans have set up looms in different cities of the NWFP and are involved in carpet- and rug-weaving. There are around 90 industrial units in Peshawar, 25 big, 50 small and 15 operating in colouring and furnishing of raw material.
All these units are producing around 60,000 metres of carpet only in the provincial metropolis on monthly basis. And average export of carpet per month is around $9.6 million.
Acknowledging the contribution of carpet industry, the NWFP government has also decided to exempt Afghan artisans from deportation and repatriation to their country. Similarly, the government had already taken a decision of establishing carpet village on the outskirts of Peshawar for facilitating the carpet industry.
ISLAMABAD (Agencies): For television news producer Lara Hartzenbusch, spending two weeks in Afghanistan covering the Taliban movement meant having to Wrestle with sound equipment and headphones while wearing a head scarf and an awkward-fitting Afghan shirtwaist or "kameez."Fly in a 12-seat chartered aircraft crowded with Taliban gunmen who spent the flight wagering which of them would be the first to touch her.
Duck into a compact car that was covered with a sheet and, accordingly, called the "Motor Burqa." A burqa is a full-length garment worn by women in Afghanistan to avoid the gaze of men and comply with Taliban strictures.
Hartzenbusch traveled in Afghanistan with a reporter and photographer affiliated with Hong Kong-based Star TV Asia and the U.S.-based Fox News Network.
More than any member of her team, Hartzenbusch felt the brunt of the restrictions imposed by the fundamentalist Taliban, who believe their religion commands women to spend their lives behind walls, away from the gaze of men.
"What Martin Cohen, the Toronto Star correspondent in Hong Kong, warned me about appeared to be true: I was not a woman. I was the 'third sex' — a foreign woman.
The rules simply did not apply to me as strictly as they did to Afghan women," Hartzenbusch said at a recent programme at The Freedom Forum Asian Center & Library in Hong Kong.
She also said there was "no way … to get a woman to be interviewed on camera." Recalling that she spent a day in a Kabul hospital run by women for female patients, Hartzenbusch said: "All I saw was the (backs) of their heads." Interviewing women on camera, she added, "would be putting them in danger.
Women would be beaten, or worse, and retribution would be directed at their family, including the men." Hartzenbusch's team included American reporter Joe Kainz and British photographer Malcolm James.
"We had to assess each shoot," she said, adding that one consideration for the team was "whether my coming along would be more of a hindrance than a help.
Gunmen kill Pakistan oil chief - BBC
Shaukat Mirza, the managing director of Pakistan State Oil, has been shot dead in the port city of Karachi.
Police said that Mr Mirza was killed by two gunmen on a motorbike in an upmarket area of the city while on his way to his office. His chauffeur was seriously injured in the shooting and died later in hospital.
The BBC's Susannah Price in Islamabad says it is one of the most high-profile killings in Karachi for some time.
Mr Mirza had been managing director of the state oil company for more than a year after working in the private sector. Pakistan State Oil is the largest oil company in the country. Police say they do not know the identity of the killers or their motive.
However, Mr Mirza was a Shia and Karachi has witnessed on-going violence between Shia and Sunni groups in the city. There have been several killings by extremists on both sides.
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