Afghan commission starts work towards Loya Jirga
By Sayed Salahuddin
KABUL, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Afghanistan moved a step closer towards a broad-based government on Thursday, as a commission tasked with convening a Loya Jirga, or assembly of ethnic leaders, to choose the country's future leader, began work. The commission's members were nominated by the United Nations under the Bonn agreement in December which put in place an interim government to rule the country until the Loya Jirga is held in June. "The commission is bound to endorse regulations, laws and procedures for the candidates (for the Loya Jirga) inside and outside Afghanistan," said Ismael Qasimyar, the chairman of the commission at an inauguration ceremony in Kabul.
He promised the 21-member commission that includes three women would work independently and with impartiality.
"With the help of God, the U.N. and people, I assure you that the commission will work for the active participation of people in the process of the emergency Loya Jirga to choose their own leader through their own free will," Qasimyar said.
"It is the final authority...to determine the criteria of the allocations of seats for Afghans settled inside the country and refugees and civil societies, prominent individuals and religious scholars."
A centuries-old practice for reaching important decisions in Afghanistan's tribal society, Loya Jirgas are colourful affairs, with the hall packed with hundreds of men sporting turbans, Persian lamb hats or embroidered quilt coats.
They can debate for days, or even weeks, in their Pashto and Dari tongues.
NO LINKS WITH ANY FACTION
But Qasimyar said the commission did not have the authority to nominate members of the Loya Jirga. Local councils and administrative units would elect their representatives for it, he said.
Women would have the right to elect and be elected to the Loya Jirga.
He said the commission had no links with any faction or the interim government led by Hamid Karzai who was elected by a group of Afghan parties which did not fully represent Afghanistan's ethnic and political makeup.
"Make such a function, Loya Jirga where by people are really represented...do not accept the might of gun," Karzai told the commission at the ceremony.
"The job of the commission is to go to the people of Afghanistan and choose their representatives... I request the commission that they should act with courage," he said.
Qasimyar, an Afghan law expert, said the commission had a major task ahead of it in a country which has been at war for more than 23 years.
After finalising the procedures of its work in two and half months, the commission will send its envoys to all regions, talk to ordinary men and women asking them who they would choose for the Loya Jirga which will run the country for 18 months.
Many suggest that if the mandate of the foreign peace-keeping force in Kabul is extended to other areas of the country where armed groups control swathes of territory, then Afghans would have a better chance of voting freely.
U.N acting head of political mission, Karl Fischer, said the Security Council had the final authority to adopt measures to increase and enlarge the number of foreign forces.
"We as the United Nations are here to help (Afghanistan) whenever problems come up and we know many problems are ahead, that is what all our Afghan friends know, but they have a sense of dedication and sacrifice," he said.
"After all the sufferings of the past, this is the time to take the destiny of their country in their own hands...so in general one could say the situation is improving, but there are many potholes on the road ahead,."
Up to 20 feared killed in Afghan avalanche
By David Fox
SALANG PASS, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Up to 20 people were feared killed by either asphyxiation or from hypothermia after an avalanche blocked Afghanistan's Salang Tunnel during a howling blizzard, witnesses said on Thursday.
The Soviet-built tunnel, the world's highest at 3,363 metres (11,034 ft), was only re-opened last month after it was cleared of tonnes of debris left over from war in the 1990s.
Shocked survivors stumbled to safety through waist-high snow drifts on Thursday to tell of a harrowing night spent in blizzard conditions in temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 Fahrenheit).
The few rescue vehicles sent in to try help and clear the road quickly became stuck themselves as icy wind and driving snow battered the mountains on Thursday. The weather was not expected to lift until late on Friday, according to Internet meteorology sites.
"It's the worst I've seen in 15 years of driving the road," said lorry driver Nazimullah, who spent nearly 24 hours stuck just outside the tunnel.
"I have never seen anything like this, I don't know what I can do," he told Reuters about 5 km (three miles) from the tunnel entrance.
Sebastien Trives, Afghanistan coordinator for the French aid agency Acted, said there were about 60 to 70 cars in the tunnel when avalanches blocked the southern entrance on Thursday.
At least three people suffocated through carbon monoxide poisoning after trapped motorists kept their cars running to try to keep warm, he said.
"The fact that our team was there meant that we were able to take out three casualties, people who had died from asphyxiation," Trives said after speaking to his team by radio.
But more people died of hypothermia and exposure outside the tunnel.
"I saw one boy of around 10 years old who had frozen to death," said one truck driver. "There were other deaths as well."
"We left about 20 there," said another haggard traveller. "They are gone."
Survivors interviewed by Reuters said many travellers had tried to sit the blizzard out, but by nightfall on Wednesday many thought their best hope was to seek shelter in nearby villages.
"We spent the night in a house but in the morning when we went for the car it was not there it was covered by snow," said one driver. "The weather was so bad that we had to walk here."
Throughout the morning, a handful of haggard travellers staggered through the blizzard, beards frozen into icicles, stumbling towards safety.
A Reuters team found one man -- alone and unconscious and covered in snow -- near the tunnel entrance, having collapsed through hypothermia as he tried to walk out. It took around an hour to revive him.
"He is very lucky," said a doctor from Medecins sans Frontieres who was trying to make his way to the tunnel. "I think only a few more minutes..."
In Kabul, a spokesman for the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF), the multi-national security force in Kabul, said a small team was on its way to the site.
"A small element of engineers, medical staff and some troops have gone there on a reconnaissance mission," said British Major Alex Dick.
"But we understand that vehicles that have gone ahead of us have been frozen in."
A bulldozer sent by the demining charity Halo Trust had been frozen in temperatures of minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4F), aid officials said, adding that some parts of the road were buried under two metres (6.5 feet) of snow.
U.S. military aircraft were flying over the site to assess the situation, Dick said.
Dozens of people were killed in 1993 when an avalanche hit the same area.
A U.N. spokesman said late on Wednesday heavy snowfall over the last few days over Afghanistan's mountains had cut off thousands of people from emergency food supplies.
"There are many parts of the central highlands which are not going to be accessible for days because of the snowfall," Yusuf Hassan told reporters.
But a spokesman for the U.N.'s World Food Programme (WFP) said the closure of the Salang Pass would not affect its massive relief operation in Afghanistan.
Food for southern and eastern Afghanistan was trucked in from Pakistan, while food for the north came through the former Soviet republics of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, said WFP spokesman Khaled Mansour.
"As long as the pass is closed we will have difficulty moving our teams around the country. But as far as major convoys are concerned, this shouldn't affect our operations," Mansour said.
But Mansour said heavy snow fall in Afghanistan's Central Highlands was causing problems for the relief operation, with a few remote villages accessible only by helicopter. ------------more
3 Afghans killed in U.S. rocket attack: AIP ISLAMABAD, Feb. 7 (Kyodo) - Three Afghans were killed when a U.S. aircraft attacked a group of youths in Zawar Kili, eastern Afghanistan, suspecting them to be Taliban or al-Qaida fighters, Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported Thursday.
AIP quoted members of the Gardez tribe in Khost as saying the three Afghans killed in Tuesday's rocket attack, aged between 20 and 30, had nothing to do the al-Qaida terrorist network led by Osama bin Laden, alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
Zawar Kili is 35 kilometers southwest of Khost and not far from Zawar, which has been the target of U.S. bombing over the past few days on suspicion it is an al-Qaida hideout. ------------more
RTP-Afghan leader Karzai to visit Pakistan on Friday ISLAMABAD, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Afghanistan's interim leader Hamid Karzai will travel to neighbouring Pakistan on Friday, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
Pakistan backed Afghanistan's former ruling Taliban, but rallied to the U.S. war on terrorism which toppled them after the September 11 attacks on the United States.
"The chairman of the Afghan interim authority, Mr Hamid Karzai, would be leading a delegation visiting Pakistan tomorrow," Foreign Ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan told a news briefing on Thursday.
He added that Karazi would return to the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday. Pakistan says it wants to see a peaceful, stable Afghanistan. ------------more
Afghan defence chief to visit Moscow MOSCOW, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Factional violence in Afghanistan will figure large in talks between Russian officials and Afghan Defence Minister Mohammad Fahim when he visits Moscow next week, analysts said on Thursday.
Fahim, whose Northern Alliance group in the interim Afghan government is close to Moscow, was also expected to discuss continued arms supplies.
Military and diplomatic sources, quoted by Interfax news agency, said Fahim would arrive on Sunday and talk with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov on Monday. He will stay a week.
The visit will be the first to Moscow by a member of the new Afghan interim administration.
Russia gave political and intelligence support to Washington in its campaign in Afghanistan against Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda network, blamed for the September 11 attacks.
Russia has moved quickly to restore normal relations with a country which Soviet forces left in 1989 after a decade of bitterly-fought occupation.
Eager to remain a player in the region, it has promised to help rebuild Afghanistan, whose future stability it sees as important. Russia says terrorism and drug trafficking easily take root in an unstable Afghanistan.
Russian officials have been concerned over outbreaks of violence this month in Afghanistan which placed a question mark over the transitional government's ability to stamp out tribal and ethnic rivalries and impose order.
"Russia will be interested to hear what General Fahim will have to say about reducing tensions internally," said Boris Makarenko, deputy director of Moscow's Centre for Political Technologies.
Afghanistan-watchers expected Fahim, whose Northern Alliance was armed and supported by Moscow even before the U.S.-led campaign, to press for continued supplies of weapons for the Afghan army.
Interfax quoted Defence Minister Ivanov as saying separately that he would discuss anti-terrorist operations and cooperation "including questions of building the Afghan armed forces."
The agency said Fahim's week-long visit would include talks with the chief of the Russian general staff, Anatoly Kvashnin, as well as senior government officials.
Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai has accepted an offer to visit Moscow in early March. ------------more
Warlord's men refuse to leave Afghan city By Stuart Grudgings Thursday February 7, 10:30 PM MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan (Reuters) - About 600 Afghan fighters loyal to warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum have refused to leave the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, defying a U.N.-backed security plan, police said on Thursday.
"There are about 600 men there and they have refused to obey orders to leave the city," the region's deputy police chief, General Abdullah Aziz, told Reuters.
"At the moment we have left them as they are. We plan to talk to General Dostum about it and see what he decides."
Aziz said the men were in the Nare Shahee district in the west of Afghanistan's third largest city.
The news came as a campaign backed by the United Nations and all the main ethnic groups in the area to drive armed men away from the centre of the city and surrounding areas got underway.
Tension between commanders and troops loyal to different factions has boiled over into fighting in several areas around the city in recent weeks, threatening to undermine the stability of the interim government in Kabul.
The six-month interim government is also trying to snuff out bloody tribal clashes in the east of the country as rival factions battle for power in the post-Taliban era.
On Wednesday, soldiers with special powers began combing the streets of Mazar and ordering armed men to leave.
Aziz said about 120 men had been driven out so far and that the task would take about 10 days, after which a special force of 600 police would begin work.
CITY CALM, FEARS LINGER
That force, which is meant to sever all links with local factions, was agreed upon at a meeting between the United Nations, the interim authority in Kabul and northern faction leaders.
"So far, about 30 percent of the task (of driving out armed men) has been completed," said General Abdul Razaaq, another senior police official.
While the city of Mazar was calm, about 40 fighters were said to have been killed last week in clashes between commanders loyal to Dostum's mainly ethnic Uzbek movement, the Junbish-i-Millie, and the mainly ethnic Tajik Jamiat-i-Islami movement led by Mohammed Atta.
Dostum is deputy defence minister while the ethnic Tajik force is seen as loyal to Defence Minister Mohammad Fahim, leading to fears the northern feud could pit the interim government's two top defence officials against each other.
Despite being part of the Northern Alliance that helped retake the city from the Taliban in November, the two groups have a long history of animosity and aid workers are worried about the possibility of further clashes.
U.S. paid off warlords
Andrew Bushell THE WASHINGTON TIMES 2/7/2002
PESHAWAR, Pakistan Dozens of Afghan warlords were given $200,000 payments and satellite phones to secure their cooperation in the war against the Taliban and its al Qaeda allies, according to bankers, money changers and others close to the transactions.
More than 35 local commanders made banking transactions involving identical $200,000 sums late last year, in at least some cases after meetings with U.S. officials.
The transactions totaled more than $7 million and helped prompt a spending spree on four-wheel-drive vehicles in Pakistan.
The gifts of satellite telephones to the tribal commanders, whose efforts proved crucial to driving Taliban forces from southern and eastern Afghanistan, has been well-publicized in the region, but the cash payments have not.
Asked about the payments, a senior Western diplomat based in Pakistan said, "It sounds like someone in the State Department finally learned how Afghanistan works. The commanders have become fairly adept at selling themselves, and they always need money for guns."
U.S. recognition of this fact is evident from the decision to offer a reward of $25 million for information leading to the arrest of Osama bin Laden.
However a State Department official in Washington denied knowledge of such a program, calling it "bizarre" and "not something the State Department would normally do." A CIA spokesman declined to comment.
Among those receiving the payments was Mirza Mohammed Nassery, who defected from the Taliban and served as a commander with the Pir Gillani group in the hotly contested city of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan.
According to his driver, Mr. Nassery last fall made the long trip from Kunduz to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, where he spent an hour and emerged carrying a large black briefcase.
He then drove to Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan and immediately called his banker, who belongs to a "hawala" based in the city's Chowk Yadgar district. A "hawala" is an underground banking system, common in South Asia, that allows transfers of funds without paperwork.
The banker arrived shortly afterward at Mr. Nassery's house.
According to the banker, who discussed the case on the condition he not be identified, Mr. Nassery opened his briefcase and placed $200,000 and a large satellite telephone on the table.
Initially hesitant to explain where he got the money, the tribal commander told the banker that American officials had given him the cash in exchange for his cooperation in the drive to topple the Taliban and destroy al Qaeda.
According to his banker, Mr. Nassery laughed as he described the end of the meeting, when an American official asked him to sign a statement agreeing to terms for the receipt of the funds.
However, Mr. Nassery was not laughing when he emphasized the need for the money to be sent through the hawala to Kabul, the Afghan capital.
Mr. Nassery died several weeks later in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan along with two other high-ranking Afghan commanders who worked with the Pir Gillani, and the money is still waiting to be claimed in Kabul, the banker said.
Interviews with dozens of moneychangers and hawala operators in Chowk Yadgar, the largest market for currency transfers into Afghanistan, showed that no fewer than 35 tribal commanders, most of them Taliban defectors, either deposited or arranged the transfer of $200,000 sums.
A highly placed source in the Interior Ministry of Hamid Karzai's interim administration in Kabul also confirmed that many such payments took place in the weeks after the September 11 terror attacks on the United States.
A midranking U.S. Army officer involved in the siege of Tora Bora, who declined to be named, said, "While we never talked about it directly, everyone knew that the cooperation of the commanders, most of them former Taliban, had been bought."
The influx of cash explains in part a run on high-priced sport utility vehicles in Peshawar. One Toyota dealer said: "Now that the mujahideen have plenty of money they prefer Toyota pickups and SUVs because, in the words of one commander, 'Toyota is good for jihad.'"
Over the past 20 years of strife in Afghanistan, warlords have developed a keen sense of survival and a history of switching sides.
According to military analysts, cash payments are attractive because they allow a warlord to avoid defeat from an obviously more powerful force and at the same time build up reserves of weapons.
"If we had only given them satellite phones and no money they would have had no reason to speak with us and probably would have sold the sat-phones," the U.S. Army officer said. ------------more
Afghan leader warmly welcomed in Herat Thursday, 7 February, 2002, 15:24 GMT The powerful governor of western Afghanistan, Ismail Khan, has again pledged his loyalty to the new government in Kabul, saying it was time for Afghans to give up their arms.
He was speaking during a visit to his provincial capital, Herat, by the Afghan interim leader, Hamid Karzai.
Residents of the city cheered and threw flowers as Mr Karzai arrived on what was his first domestic trip since taking office.
The visit comes after allegations from Washington that Ismail Khan has been receiving military help from neighbouring Iran, in an effort to undermine the new Afghan government.
Ismail Khan has denied the charge - as well as accusations that he has trying to set up his own fiefdom.
But correspondents say it is a mark of the challenge the government in Kabul faces in asserting its control after almost two decades of conflict.
From the newsroom of the BBC World Service
Afghan women return to study
Wednesday, 6 February, 2002, 16:44 GMT BBC News It is as if we have been reborn, women said of the test
Women in Afghanistan have taken university entrance exams for the first time since the fall of the Taleban.
About 500 young female hopefuls joined seven times that number of male students for the tests at Kabul University campus on Wednesday.
We are happy... Females make up 50% of the population and they should also be allowed to study
Hasib Habib, male law student During five years of hardline Islamic rule, which ended late last year, women were banned from study or work and could only receive an education clandestinely.
Wednesday's exams followed another milestone for Afghanistan's women - the publication of a new magazine giving a female perspective on news and social affairs.
"For years I couldn't attend school. I had to educate myself illegally. And now I'm very happy to be here," Jalelah Salimy told the Associated Press.
Those who taught her faced lengthy prison sentences if they had been caught by the Taleban.
"It's as if we have been reborn," another women said.
Demand to sit the exams was so high that armed police were called in to calm scuffles that broke out among those queuing. Many would-be students did not make it through the front door.
It's a great signal for the whole of Afghanistan
Sima Samar, women's minister Higher Education Minister Rassool Amin said it was a great day for Afghanistan.
"We need female graduates and so we will do all we can to help them," he said.
To this end, universities would lay on extra classes to help women make up for the gap in their education.
Women sitting the entrance exams will automatically be credited with 15% of their marks, he added.
Sima Samar, women's affairs minister in the interim cabinet, said: "It's a great signal for the whole of Afghanistan. Unfortunately the numbers are small, but it's a start."
Women gain a voice
The Women's Mirror, a four-page publication, brings the number of independent titles in Kabul to at least six.
The BBC's Kate Clark in Kabul says it shows how some Afghan women are re-entering public life, but also how Afghans generally are pushing for greater civil liberties.
Even without the Taleban great fear remains
Just publishing is a victory after an era in which women were denied any public voice, she says.
But state censorship in Afghanistan has a much longer history than the years of Taleban rule - broadcasting and most of the print media is still state-owned and very much state-controlled, she adds.
Even so, many people say the fact that the world and the United Nations are watching Afghanistan closely, gives them the opportunity to push for greater freedoms.
Clandestine political parties are starting to operate openly - the first seminar on civil liberties was held this week.
And Afghan journalists and writers are publicly asking questions about corruption and accountability in the post-Taleban era.
Test-Drive Democracy and Hit Bumps
For woman minister, rebuilding Afghanistan is a personal quest
By Ilene R. Prusher, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - When delegations of tribal leaders file in to greet Dr. Sima Samar, they offer the deference due a government minister - one who just may be the most powerful woman in Afghanistan.
But it's a lonely position: Not one woman could be found among the processions that came on a recent morning to recite glowing odes to Ms. Samar, Afghanistan's first minister of women's affairs. The men celebrated her arrival - but left their wives and daughters home.
Among the daunting challenges that Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai will face in the next few months - from spending international donors' funds wisely to strengthening law and order in a still-fractious country - is getting women back into public life after years of being barred from it.
And, Karzai may have to work hard to make sure Samar, internationally renowned for her work in education, health, and human rights, stays in the picture.
"I'll see how positive I can be in this government. If I can't do much, I won't stay," Samar says in her first appointment of the day, which will soon be filled with tribal leaders from various parts of Afghanistan.
Scores of men wrapped in striped silk turbans and tan wool blankets file into her home's receiving room, and as they arrive, she covers her short, brown hair with the gossamer white headscarf she had let slip down to her shoulders.
A natural choice
When Afghanistan's interim government was inaugurated in December, there was no question that Samar deserved to be one of the two women in the cabinet - and the only female deputy prime minister. Samar, a physician, opened four hospitals, 10 clinics and 48 schools in Pakistan and Aghanistan - often in defiance of the Taliban's ban on the very presence of women on the job or girls in the classroom.
In a recent interview, however, she said she still had not been assigned an appropriate building to house her ministry. And, concerned that women's issues could be given token treatment by the government, she says she will not stay in the cabinet if she cannot make an impact.
Four other government ministers - all of them Afghan professionals returned from abroad - express similar doubts as to whether they will continue in their posts past the mandate of the interim government, which ends in June.
The first halfyear is not just a test for international donors - who last week pledged $4.5 billion in aid to Afghanistan this year - but also for a class of educated Afghans hoping for a government that is serious about peace and reconstruction.
Wanted: office space
For Samar, that means setting up shop in a proper office. She has been offered a section of the Ministry of Social Affairs, she says, but she insisted that she would not be stuck in the corner of someone else's office.
"They offered me some other place, and I said, no, I don't want to be under your roof and your orders, I want my own place, so that women can easily reach me," says Samar, covered in a bulky sweater to fight the winter chill.
Though the idea of a government ministry just for women may sound a little odd to Western ears, it is in part a recognition of the fact that some of the country's most urgent needs boil down to women's needs. Only about 10 percent of women are literate - compared with 25 percent of men - and women here have one of the lowest life expectancies on earth.
Although there are an estimated 1 million widows in Afghanistan, population 20 million, few women are able to work to provide for their families.
Before the Taliban seized control of the country five years ago, about 30 percent of the nation's civil servants and 70 percent of its teachers were women. Now, it is hard to find a woman working in virtually any government office, save Samar and Health Minister Suhaila Siddiqa, a physician who shares similar credentials: Both women were tolerated by Taliban officials, who often sent their wives to them for treatment.
Samar's concern is that it might be difficult to find many others. Untold numbers of educated women fled the country, not just during the op- pressive Taliban regime, but in the years before. "I'm still looking to see who is around so that I can build a staff," she says, her green eyes grinning. "You can't do everything on your own."
At times it seems like she has. After finishing school here in 1982, she fled the violence between the mujahideen and the Soviet Union, moving to Pakistan. In Quetta, in 1989, she founded her first hospital for women, many of them Afghan refugees ignored by Pakistani authorities. It later expanded into the Shuhada Organization that emerged into a network of clinics and schools on both sides of the border. Though her work and outspokenness sometimes earned her death threats, she carried on with the same aplomb as she does as the only woman in an all-male room full of tribal leaders.
Her priorities include organizing literacy classes, returning skilled women to the workforce, and getting homeless women into shelters. She also wants to have a political voice. Local and international women's groups - as well as the UN - say that when the loya jirga, or national council, is formed at the end of the six-month interim period, 30 percent of the 700 seats should go to women. After all, in 1977, when she was a student here, women made up 15 percent of the loya jirga.
But this city is much changed since then. In the Kabul of 20 years ago, as she remembers it, young men rarely wore beards, and perhaps 5 percent of women, she says, wore the burqa. Though the dictates of the Taliban no longer require either, most men continue to go bearded - and it is virtually impossible to find an Afghan woman who is not covered with the loose blue sheet with a mesh screen around the eyes and nose.
Though other women have argued that the burqa must come off if women are to start coming out - activist Omena Afzali argues that Islam requires nothing resembling the shroudlike covering - Samar says this is a rather superficial layer of the problem.
"This is not an important issue," she says, readjusting her own light headscarf for a new flock of well-wishers. "It's not the law that requires this, but the mentality is not ready yet. We have to provide jobs for women." Seeing more than a tiny minority of women at work again, she hopes, is what will change minds. That plus stability, security, and prosperity - all desperately wanted here, and all in as short supply as functioning office space.
Scott Baldauf in Quetta, Pakistan, contributed to this report.
<>Singapore to begin relief mission for refugees in Afghanistan
Thursday February 7, 8:04 PM>
SINGAPORE, Feb 7 (AFP) - Singapore's international relief foundation said Thursday it would launch a programme to help the refugees in Afghanistan.
The programme, which begins on February 23 would last between two to six months, a statement released by the foundation said.
It was aimed at helping about 90,000 refugees in Spin Boldak, a refugee camp in Afghanistan, near its border with Pakistan.
Among the most pressing problems facing people living in the camps were malnutrition, lack of water and sanitation and health complications, the statement said.
War-torn Afghanistan is in the process of rebuilding itself after two decades of conflict, which was followed by a US-led military campaign last year, aimed at ousting the Islamic hardline Taliban rulers.
Iran threatens to
expel hardline Afghan dissident
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