Germany donates criminological equipment to Afghanistan
Wednesday, January 01, 2003 9:24 AM EST
KABUL, Jan 1, 2003 (Xinhua via COMTEX) A German governmental aid agency on Wednesday donated 150,000 US dollars worth of criminal investigation equipment to the Interior Ministry of Afghanistan.
The equipment from GTZ, or German Technical Cooperation Organization, including photography instruments, microscopes, chemical materials, spectrum-meters, analytic equipment for truce elements and ultraviolet machines, were given to various criminal investigation laboratories of the ministry in Kabul.
Afghan Interior Minister Taj Mohammad Wardak said on the occasion that the Afghan police would be qualified with these modern and advanced equipment.
Schuldt Gerald, a German police advisor for Afghan Criminal Investigation Department who is in charge of the donation project, said that these new equipment form the foundation of Afghan police laboratories and Germany would help better use of these equipment in the future.
Under an agreement between the two countries, Germany promised to help modernize Afghan police for the next four years, he said.
Germany donated two mobile laboratories, 48 cars, 40 pickup trucks, 150 motorcycles and 250 bicycles, as well as 50,000 US dollars in cash to Afghan police in the past year.
France Says Committed to Stronger Kabul Govt. Army
KABUL The French Defense Minister met Afghan leaders on Tuesday on a visit to celebrate New Year with French peacekeepers and said France was committed to helping strengthen the Kabul government and the National Army.
Michele Alliot-Marie said that in her meetings with interim President Hamid Karzai and her Afghan counterpart Mohammad Qasim Fahim, she had discussed the need to develop the National Army and government institutions and fight opium production.
She also met Afghanistan's 88-year-old former monarch Mohammad Zahir Shah, and held talks with the Turkish commander of the 4,300-strong international security assistance force for Kabul, Major-General Hilmi Akin Zorlu, Reuters reported.
France has 550 troops serving with ISAF and Alliot-Marie was due to celebrate the New Year with them.
Karzai's Chief of Staff Tayeb Jawad said Karzai had thanked the minister for France's help in training the fledgling Afghan National Army and expressed the hope that this support could be expanded.
Alliot-Marie told a news conference the security situation appeared to have improved in Kabul since her last visit six months ago and she saw fewer women wearing the coverall burqa garment they were required to wear by the former Taleban regime.
In answer to a question, she said France did not intend to extend its military presence outside Kabul, in spite of pleas for a broader deployment of foreign troops from both the Afghan government and international aid agencies.
"We consider that our mission is to help the Afghan government to put in place institutions to redevelop the country and also to help the formation of the Afghan National Army," she said.
She said France aimed to boost military, social and cultural ties with Afghanistan. She said it was training soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers and would also train military trainers.
Despite the support of the United States and ISAF members, training of a new Afghan army, intended to help the interim government expand its influence outside Kabul, has moved more slowly than hoped.
Meanwhile, production of opium used to make heroin exported to Europe has soared to near record levels since massive U.S. bombing helped oust the Taleban last year.
The 22-nation ISAF is charged with assisting security in the Afghan capital and the French contingent includes engineers, infantry and reconnaisation to take over ISAF's leadership in February.
5 Killed, 6 Wounded at Afghan Wedding
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) Five people were killed and six wounded when guests at an Afghan wedding party fired a rocket propelled grenade into the air, only to have it land nearby and explode, an official said Wednesday.
``One of the grenades landed back on the ground near the wedding party, but it hadn't gone off,'' said Abdul Matin Hasankhiel, a senior military commander in the area. ``A commander attending the wedding went to see why it didn't explode. When he touched it, it went off.''
The blast occurred Friday in Gardez province, about 77 miles south of Kabul, but the casualties were not reported for several days.
Hasankhiel said revelers fired assault rifles and seven rocket-propelled grenades to celebrate the wedding. Guns are often fired into the air to celebrate marriages in Afghanistan, but that tradition does not often include firing heavier munitions, such as grenades or rockets.
Rocket-propelled grenades are normally designed to explode on impact. The grenade in the Friday accident may have been defective.
Pakistani Politicians Blast U.S. Bombing
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) Pakistani politicians voiced outrage Wednesday after a weekend border clash that prompted a U.S. warplane to bomb a site near or inside the Pakistani border.
The retaliation airstrike came after a U.S. soldier was shot in the head by a man dressed as a Pakistani border guard.
Pakistani military spokesman Maj. Gen. Rashid Quereshi discounted reports that the plane struck inside Pakistan.
``An impression has been created that Pakistani territory was bombed, but this is not true,'' he told The Associated Press Wednesday. ``So far, we know the bomb landed in Afghan territory.''
The injured American, who has not been identified, was grazed in the head Sunday and flown to a U.S. military medical center in Landstuhl, Germany, where he was in stable condition.
The incident occurred Sunday near the Afghan town of Shkhin along the border with Pakistan, but military spokesmen only revealed details about the shooting days later.
A U.S. F-16 fighter jet was called in to attack a building that the assailant had run into, but U.S. military spokesman Maj. Stephen Clutter said he didn't know whether the man had been killed.
Residents in the remote South Waziristan tribal area of Pakistan said Monday that U.S. bombs fell on the compound of an abandoned religious school in Burmol village, about 220 miles southwest of Peshawar. There were no reports of injuries.
A resolution condemning the United States was adopted Wednesday by the North West Frontier legislature in northwest Pakistan, a stronghold of anti-American Islamic groups. The measure demanded that Pakistan protest to Washington.
``American jets have violated the air and geographic frontiers of Pakistan,'' a sponsor of the resolution, Ikramullah Shahid, said. ``This house demands that the federal government take our protest to the U.S. authorities.''
Legislator Qazi Hussein Ahmadami said top Pakistani leaders did not react strongly enough when the incident came to light.
``Our country is like an orphan,'' he said. ``There was no protest. This is tragic.''
Clutter, speaking from Bagram Air Base north of Kabul, the Afghan capital, said American and Pakistani troops were working together at the time to blow up a cache of munitions, when the shooter was told to leave the area. Instead he got into a crouching position and began firing. Clutter said the attacker may have been impersonating a Pakistani border guard.
``I can't speculate what was in his mind, but it was certainly a bad move on his part,'' he said.
Clutter downplayed the effects of the skirmish on U.S.-Pakistani cooperation. That partnership began after the Sept. 11 attacks in the Washington and New York as Washington geared up to overthrow the Islamic Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
``Pakistan has been a loyal ally and I'm sure they're just as concerned about (this incident) as we are, if in fact he (the attacker) was a member of their force,'' Clutter said.
Talat Masood, a former Pakistani army general, also dismissed the shooting and bombing as an isolated incident.
``I do not think it will have wider consequences,'' he said. ``But both sides should be more careful so that these type of incidents do not occur again.''
The resolution in the Northwest Frontier legislature was introduced by the anti-American Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal, or United Action Forum, that rules in the provincial government.
The religious alliance, with its pro-Taliban rhetoric and opposition to the U.S. war against terror, made sweeping gains in the region in October general elections in Pakistan.
Taliban and al-Qaida fighters are believed sheltering in the border region.
But Clutter said Tuesday that remnants of Taliban fighters and their al-Qaida allies operating in Afghanistan and along the Pakistani border were increasingly desperate.
``They feel the noose tightening,'' he said. ``They don't like us there, they don't' like what we're doing to their operations. And essentially, the most that they're able to do is these harassment type of activities.''
Back to Kabul: An American soldier returns to her homeland
By TANYA S. BIANK, , The Associated Press
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.(AP) - When Maj. Maria Eoff received orders to serve in Afghanistan she asked her parents about her baby sister, who is buried in a Christian cemetery in Kabul.
"Mom, if you want me to, I'll do everything I can to bring her back," Eoff offered. The family discussed the idea, but her mother ultimately decided against it.
"Just leave her there," her mother told her. "It is her final resting place."
As Maria Eoff and other Fort Bragg soldiers prepared to leave for a six-month deployment to Afghanistan, the 35-year-old Army officer and mother of two, has a bond to the country unlike most Americans.
The last time Eoff was there she was 13. She and other American school children had been herded into the gymnasium of the American International School of Kabul as Russian tanks surrounded the school and advanced into the city during the 1979 Russian invasion of Afghanistan.
Her mother was the American Embassy's physician, and her father was the general officer in charge of maintenance and security for the embassy. He helped build the Khandahar airport where 82nd Airborne Division troops are now stationed.
Her parents immigrated to the United States from the Philippines and both had spent more than two decades in Afghanistan working for the State Department.
Eoff was born in Kabul in 1967 and grew up there. She remembers how things were before the Russians and the Taliban came: the beauty shops, the jewelry stores, the happy people.
"They are very, very warm people, despite what people may think," she said.
Eoff grew up in a chalet with Afghan servants but said she was raised to be thankful for what she had. Each Christmas in Afghanistan her family bought a live cow and took it to the butcher to be slaughtered. They would then take the fresh meat, wrapped in newspaper, and drive around Kabul in their Volkswagen giving the meat to the poor.
"That has taught me to appreciate what I have now and to teach my children to be generous and not take anything for granted," she said.
Unlike the destitute images most Americans have of Afghanistan, she has only fond memories of skiing in the Afghan mountains, ice skating on Kabul's Pagman Lake in the winter and shopping at the bazaars that sold fresh eggs, huge tomatoes and Swiss chocolates. She named her 9-year-old daughter, Ariana, after the old Persian name for Afghanistan.
She also has an 8-year-old son, Bryan.
"All I want is to pass on a little bit of my heritage on to my children," she said. "I don't want to let it die."
Eoff's worn black and white photo albums and yearbooks are filled with memories of her happy childhood. But by 1979 everything had changed. That January the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Adolph Dubbs, was kidnapped and killed. Eoff's mother was the attending physician.
"She tried, but he was already gone," Eoff said.
Soon, some of her classmates' parents were missing. Her family began keeping extra radios in the house and her parents were issued weapons and eventually learned how to rappel down walls.
Once, an Afghan guard with an AK-47 stopped her family's car. Eoff was in the back seat.
"I slid down and when I looked up, I saw this barrel in my father's face," she said.
The guard let the family go. But Eoff's life in Afghanistan came to an abrupt halt during Christmas of '79 when Russian tanks surrounded her school.
"The teachers told us the school was surrounded and that our parents were OK," she said. "I remember someone saying, 'We have five days worth of water.'"
The students were unharmed and on the third day were evacuated by military aircraft to New Delhi. They left Afghanistan with only the clothes on their backs and brief goodbyes to their parents.
Eoff wouldn't see her parents again for two years. They were among a handful of diplomats and Marines designated to stay behind to close the embassy.
"They had no choice but to stay," she said.
So Eoff went to the Philippines to live with her grandparents. Her parents said they would call as often as they were able.
"I got a call once every six months," she said.
As the war raged on in Afghanistan, Eoff worried about her parents. "But somehow I always knew they were safe," she said.
In 1981 she was reunited with her parents. The family returned to the United States and started a new life in San Francisco, a city her parents chose because it reminded them of Kabul. Eoff attended high school there. At 15, it was the first time she had lived in the United States.
"Part of the reason I joined the Army, I didn't really have a country to call my own until I came here," she said. "This is my country and I want to serve it."
She has been in the Army for 13 years and is married to Lt. Col. Robert Eoff. After Sept. 11, Eoff wanted to return as an interpreter.
"I really wanted to go back," she said.
Eoff is the headquarters commandant for the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. In Afghanistan she will serve as the secretary to the general staff for the 82nd's Coalition Task Force.
Her parents, who still live in San Francisco, are concerned about their daughter going back to Afghanistan and Eoff leaves with mixed emotions.
"I'm worried about my children and husband," she said. "But I'm excited about going back."
She is practicing Dari, one of the languages spoken in Afghanistan that she learned as a child, and is preparing herself to see a country now reduced to rubble.
And she wonders: Will her family's friendly Afghan gardener, who used to buy her flat bread each day after school, still be alive? Eoff called him, "Ba-Ba," Dari for daddy. She wonders if the field where she watched the big Fourth of July fireworks display each year near the American Embassy compound still exists. Or if the Italian Embassy's Catholic church where she attended Mass is still standing. She can still smell the succulent kabobs in "Kabob Alley" where her family and friends ate after seeing a show at the city's cinema. Is the cinema still there? She doesn't know. And does Kabul's airport still sell the amazing pound cake her family made special trips to the airport just to buy?
But most of all, she wonders about the sister she never knew, but whose grave she always visited. Her mother lost the baby in 1965 when she was eight months pregnant. She hopes that her sister's grave has been spared.
"I'm hoping it's remained the same," she said.
In a country where there has been little respect for human life in recent years, Eoff asks, "Is there any respect for the dead?
"I think there is," she said. "Whether they are Muslim or Christian, I think there is."
Information from: Fayetteville Observer-Times
Iran Tops List of Countries Extending Relief to ARCS
KABUL Afghanistan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) has resumed its activity in 32 provinces across the nation after 23 years of war and bloodshed and has established relations with over 90 countries including Iran which tops the states assisting ARCS.
The Director of Afghanistan Red Crescent Society Qarabiq Izadyar told IRNA here on Wednesday on the eve of his visit to Tehran that suitable relief has been extended to needy Afghans by various states in the past year, but most of the aid has come from Iran.
He added that Iran's relief supplies, which include over 2,500 tons of foodstuff and medicine for Afghan orphans, needy and quake victims, dispatched by 10 aircraft, outweigh those of other states.
"Our capacity to respond to the demands of millions of needy Afghans is indebted to the donations provided by Iran and other states, which have been supporting us under the worst conditions," he added. Izadyar said, "Given that Iran has been hosting over 2.5 million of our compatriots for many years, we are assured of their close brotherly assistance in future."
According to him, the Taleban who acquired foodstuff and medicine from their supporting countries and humanitarian institutions in the name of Red Crescent Society, only considered that their own forces were entitled to access them.
Turning to the current requirements in Afghanistan, he said that despite numerous shortages caused by 23 years of war and destruction, medicine and health equipment are the most needed items, in view of many diseases infecting the Afghan community.
Report: Unmanned U.S. Spy Plane Crashes in Pakistan
KARACHI, Pakistan (Reuters) - An unmanned U.S. surveillance plane crashed in southern Pakistan Wednesday just after it took off from a military air base, a police official said.
``The plane took off from Jacobabad air base at around midday Wednesday, but crashed soon afterwards,'' Rana Fathe Shar Joya, a senior police official, told Reuters from Jacobabad in the southern Sindh province.
He cited technical problems as the cause of the incident and dismissed speculation it may have been shot down.
``It fell some seven km (4.5 miles) from the city near the airport. There were no casualties,'' he said.
Police reported a similar accident near Jacobabad in October, but it was later denied by the Pentagon.
Pakistan allows the U.S. military to use Jacobabad air base for search and rescue operations in neighboring Afghanistan.
A conservative Islamic coalition, which is in power in the North West Frontier Province neighboring Afghanistan, has demanded the withdrawal of the U.S. military from Pakistani soil.
Iranian renowned director to make six films in Afghanistan
Kabul, Dec 30, IRNA Iranian renowned film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf is to make six short films in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan's famous actor Homayoun Paeez told IRNA that the films "Victim", "Kabul's cinema" are among the films covered by Makhmalbaf's project.
Makhmalbaf is now examining the scenario proposed to him, he noted.
The films would mainly focus on the situation in which the Afghan children live, he explained.
He went on to say that Makhmalbaf's aim is to contribute to the premonition of the Afghanistan cinema by considering the move to make films in and on Afghanistan.
The veteran filmmaker Makhmalbaf whose film "Journey to Kandahar" has won great success in the world following the September 11 attacks is encouraging donors to to consider measures to meet at least the basic human needs of the poor nations including Afghanistan.
Makhmalbaf's film `Journey to Kandahar' which narrates the story of a woman called Nafaas, was made before the September 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. and the ensuing military operations against Taliban.
"Journey to Kandahar" which was made on the Iran-Afghan border displays the story of an Afghan woman refugee intending to return to Afghanistan from the West but fails to do so.
The film is said to reflect the conflict between tradition and modernism. It portrays the fate of an Afghan woman who is one of the millions of Afghan refugees in the West.
Nafaas visits Canada to make the voice of her sisters in Afghanistan heard by the world. She then attempts to return to Kabul, clad in the Taliban-posed veil known as Burqa, but doesn't succeed.
On the occasion of the Year of Dialogue among Civilizations aimed at promotion of cultural activities, Iranian film 'Journey to Kandahar' was screened recently at the auditorium of the United Nations General Assembly in Geneva.
The film was viewed by hundreds of cultural and artistic authorities, film and art critics, journalists, media men, diplomats and U.N. officials.
Canada's Afghan mission voted 2002's top story
Deployment included first combat casualties since Korean War
SCOTT WHITE CANADIAN PRESS
The sight of Canadian soldiers coming home in flag-draped coffins, and the period of national mourning that followed, was a new experience for a whole generation of Canadians whose only previous connection to war came from history books, movies and stories handed down from parents and grandparents.
In a busy year when headlines screamed of Olympic hockey gold, unthinkable killings in British Columbia and the drawn-out resignation of the prime minister, the deployment of Canadian troops to Afghanistan — and the death of four of those soldiers last April — has been chosen as the top Canadian news story of 2002 in the annual survey of newspaper editors and broadcasters by The Canadian Press and Broadcast News.
Survey participants indicated the first Canadian combat casualties since the Korean War touched a nerve with people across Canada and brought a whole range of military issues to the forefront in a way that hasn't happened in decades.
"Canada's participation in the war in Afghanistan has set off a major debate in Canada about what role Canadians want their military to play," said Gary MacDougall, managing editor of the Charlottetown Guardian.
"Some feel we should keep to our traditional role as peacekeepers, while others feel we must stand up in the fight against international terrorism. In addition . . . our involvement in Afghanistan has reopened the debate about the state of our military and the lack of funding it receives."
Peter Haggert, managing editor of the Telegraph-Journal in Saint John, N.B., called the death of the Canadians "truly a shot heard across the country.
"While many who have been exposed to war knew right or wrong there's often a price we pay, this was really the first time one or two generations felt the collective grief of losing Canadian combatants on a world stage."
Lt.-Col. Pat Stogran, who commanded Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, said the involvement by Canadians in Afghanistan "demonstrated to the world that this is not simply an American problem. Collective security is collective security.
"I am of the opinion that the threat of transnational crime and international terrorism is here to stay and Afghanistan represents only the first battle," Stogran said in an interview.
Even though Canadian troops have been posted around the world in peacekeeping missions for several decades and were involved in the Gulf War in 1991, the Afghanistan mission clearly struck a different chord with Canadians. The troops were welcomed home as heroes last summer, with parades, speeches and big crowds waiting at every stop. And in November, Remembrance Day ceremonies took on a new meaning.
"I've done a lot of soul-searching as to what the difference was with this mission and I think what it is is that Sept. 11 changed the security environment in Canada," said Stogran.
"The attack on the United States was indeed an attack on . . . call it Fortress North America. Without turning it into a fortress, we have led a pretty sheltered life when you look at the effects of terrorism and transnational crime in Europe and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union in general.
"And Sept. 11 represented a change to that sense of security that we had. And when we went overseas, Canadians for the first time since World War II or Korea saw that we were fighting for our way of life here."
Canadians in combat was voted as the top news story by 37 of 149 editors and broadcasters who took part in the CP-BN survey. Second with 28 votes was the grisly discovery at a suburban Vancouver pig farm that led to 15 murder charges against Robert Pickton.
Both of these stories will continue to make headlines in 2003.
Pickton's preliminary hearing begins in January, although evidence will be under a publication ban. Police continue to search Pickton's farm as part of their ongoing investigation into the disappearance of more than 60 women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
The Canadian soldiers — Sgt. Marc Leger, Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer, Pte. Richard Green and Pte. Nathan Smith — were killed when a U.S. fighter jet dropped a 250-kilogram bomb on a Canadian live-fire night exercise near Kandahar. The manslaughter trial of two American pilots involved in the friendly-fire incident starts later this month in Louisiana.
There will also be more debate about whether Canada should be involved in any military campaign against Iraq. Even if Ottawa wants to support a U.S.-led coalition, military supporters have said the Canadian Forces are so severely under funded that it would be impossible for Canada to make a meaningful contribution.
Other stories that received consideration in the CP-BN survey included Canada's gold medal victories in men's and women's hockey (24 votes), Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's announcement that he would step down in 2004 (21 votes), the Olympic judging controversy involving Canadian figure skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier (13 votes), the controversy over the Kyoto protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (12 votes) and Paul Martin's departure from the federal cabinet (eight votes).
Rounding out the voting for top Canadian story were the trials of Hells Angels members in Quebec and the scare over the spread of the West Nile disease (two votes each), as well as the rise in popularity of the Action democratique du Quebec and the report on Canadian health care by Roy Romanow (one vote each).
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