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October 17, 2003

Afghan FM Welcomes More NATO Peacekeepers
PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia - Afghanistan 's foreign minister welcomed a U.N. vote for expanded peacekeeping operations in his war-shattered country, saying Thursday that the NATO troops should fan out into new areas as soon as possible. In an interview with The Associated Press on the sidelines of a summit of Islamic leaders in Malaysia, Foreign Minister Abdullah the increasing in peacekeeping operations was an important step toward finally restoring order nationwide.

"This has been a demand of the people of Afghanistan since the start of the stabilization effort of the international community," Abdullah said. "It will have a major impact on security and stability in the country. It will pave the way for reconstruction throughout Afghanistan."

The U.S.-backed government of President Hamid Karzai has sought a wider role for foreign peacekeepers since they first came to Kabul after U.S.-led coalition forces toppled the hardline Islamic Taliban regime in late 2001.

While Kabul has been relatively peaceful under international guard, Karzai's administration has been mostly powerless to stop fighting among regional warlords, widespread smuggling, opium poppy production and an widening insurgency by pro-Taliban fighters.

The 15-member U.N. Security Council voted unanimously on Monday to allow the 5,500-strong force in Kabul to fan out to key cities in some of Afghanistan's most lawless provinces. The exiting peacekeeping force is under NATO command, consisting mostly of Germans and Canadians.

Abdullah said it would be inappropriate to talk about how many more troops the government would like to have in Afghanistan, and that he said he expected it would take "some time" before the U.N. vote is translated into troops on the ground.

"Perhaps some of the forces which are already in Kabul could be deployed," he said, saying it was an option that would be considered by military experts. "The sooner it is possible, the better the impact, there is no doubt."

Abdullah said wider deployment of peacekeepers would free up U.S. troops to concentrate on wiping out remnants of the al-Qaida terrorist organization and the Taliban in the border region with Pakistan. The peacekeepers would need to stay at least until after elections scheduled for June 2004. Abdullah said the government remained committed to the timetable for elections.

Taliban Campaigns for Muslim Support
Oct 16, 2003By PAUL HAVEN, AP
KABUL, Afghanistan - The Taliban have launched an unprecedented campaign to win money and support from Muslim militants outside Afghanistan amid a resurgence by the group marked by roadside killings, ambushes and public statements boasting of their successes. After remaining relatively quiet for months, a bevy of Taliban spokesmen have been turning up on Arab TV and the Pakistani media, and a handful have started making direct phone calls to the international press, including The Associated Press.

The calls have increased in step with a bolder, bloodier insurgency that has shaken faith in the Washington-backed Afghan government's ability to assert its control, and the U.S. military's resolve at crushing the rebels.

Omar Samad, the Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the Taliban are using the media blitz to try to get their message out to hard-liners in neighboring Pakistan who share their strict brand of Islam.

"I think it is all part of a more organized effort," he told The Associated Press. "They have lost much of their ability to be a real threat to the whole process of change here, but they unfortunately still have substantial support among influential groups in Pakistan with money and access to arms and manpower."

Most of today's Taliban fighters are not the same young men as those who fought with the militia during the U.S.-led bombing campaign in 2001, Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali said recently. They are new recruits, many drawn from the poor religious madrassahs of neighboring Pakistan.

Jalali told AP during a recent interview that several recently captured Taliban said they came to Afghanistan on the instructions of hardline Pakistani clerics, who convinced them it was every Muslim's duty to fight jihad, or holy war, against the Americans and their Afghan surrogates. One of the men said he was paid $55 in Pakistan to come and fight.

With Taliban leader Mullah Omar and other top figures in hiding, captured or killed, a crop of frontmen — some new, some old names from the regime's heyday in power — has gone into high gear.

Sometimes their claims sound outlandish: that the Taliban killed 10 U.S. soldiers in fighting in September in southern Zabul province. The Americans say one special operations soldier died in a fall during a combat operation there.

The militia also calls to take credit for recent attacks or to warn of bloody repercussions for those who collaborate with the international community. A fax sent to AP in September claimed the Taliban were behind a wave of recent killings of employees of international aid groups — often referred to as non-governmental organizations, or NGOs.

Aid workers have been pulled from their cars and executed in southern Ghazni, Helmand and Zabul provinces in recent months.

"Our government has always respected the people who are working in NGOs that really want to build Afghanistan," read the Taliban statement. "But there is another kind of NGO which only uses the name NGO but is actually working and spying for the United States. We advise Taliban all over the country to attack them and extradite them from Afghanistan."

A purported Taliban spokesman who calls himself Mullah Hedayatollah Akhund appeared on the Arabic television channel Al-Jazeera two weeks ago threatening resistance to the U.S.-backed government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Another, Mohammed Hanif, claimed responsibility for the recent assassination of an Afghan official in southern Kandahar province in a phone call to "The News," Pakistan's largest English-language daily.

The Taliban have also used the media to manage its image. One of the main Taliban spokesmen, Sayed Hamid Agha, faxed a signed letter to AP in late September to deny a widely-circulated report that Taliban fighters had threatened to disfigure Afghans who listen to music or men who shave their beards.

"We would never cut the nose or ears off of people who do not have beards," the statement read. Taliban supreme leader "Mullah Omar declares anybody who uses the name of the Taliban to issue such threats an enemy of Islam and the people of Afghanistan. They are not Taliban."

It is impossible to independently confirm the credentials of the men claiming to be Taliban spokesmen. Some professed Taliban spokesmen are quite openly operating from Pakistan.

Attiqullah Azizi, the former Taliban information minister in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, has met with journalists in Pakistan. Calls and faxes from at least two purported Taliban spokesman appear to come from the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan.

Samad said the Taliban are using neighboring Pakistan as a center of its new PR campaign, and the presence of at least some spokesmen there is of growing concern. "Almost all of them are across the border," said Samad. "We know very well that if the authorities across the border wanted to put an end to this Taliban fiasco, they could. There is nothing to stop them from shutting them down."

TV camera rigged to kill Afghan rebel Masood stolen in France: police
oct. 16 2003 - PARIS (AFP) - The television camera rigged to kill Afghan resistance leader Ahmad Shah Masood in September 2001 was stolen from a cameraman in France the year before, French police said. French intelligence officers determined that the serial number on the camera matched that of one stolen in the eastern city of Grenoble in December 2000, they said, adding that the French cameraman involved had been questioned. They did not identify him.

Masood, nicknamed the "Lion of the Panjshir" for his armed struggle against the Taliban that ruled Afghanistan at the time, died September 9, 2001 when two Tunisians posing as journalists with fake Belgian passports detonated a bomb hidden in the camera as they pretended to interview him.

His death, just two days before the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington, has been linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network by US officials. French cameraman Jean-Pierre Vincendet said his camera had been stolen on December 24, 2000, while he was filming store window decorations in Grenoble.

Vincendet, who was working at the time for the private French station TF1, on Thursday told the public France 3 station, for which he is currently freelancing, that he had been "faced with five threatening individuals" who grabbed his camera -- a Beta Sony BVW 200 AP -- and ran off.

"I followed them. I located the car they were in. I went to file a complaint with the police straight away. Then one day, someone called me, claiming to be from the FBI and said: 'We found your camera, but it's in pieces'."

The person told him the camera had been identified by matching numbers printed on the electronic cards inside the device, Vincendet said, adding that he had noted the registration number of the getaway car which he later learned was not stolen but belonged to a resident of the southern town of Roussillon who had "disappeared."
The report lodged with police was investigated but finally closed without result in May 2001, he said. Thousands of Afghans marked the second anniversary of Masood's death in a ceremony in Kabul last month.

US will not abandon Iraq, Afghanistan: US Commerce Secretary Evans
KABUL (AFP) - Washington will not abandon Iraq and Afghanistan, US Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans stressed as he arrived in Kabul from Baghdad amid mounting US opposition to the cost of the Iraqi conflict. "We won't leave until the job is done," Evans told reporters on his arrival for a brief visit to meet with Afghan officials.

"We want to make sure we will fight this war against terrorism until we win, as we are winning," he said. The commerce secretary's remarks echoed his comments Wednesday in Baghdad, where he told the Iraqis: "The president cares about you and he means it when he says: we won't leave until the job is done."

Evans' three-day visit to Baghdad was mainly to launch the new Iraqi dinar currency and promote investment in Iraq, before heading to Afghanistan. His Iraqi visit came as the US public was having increasing doubts over the management of the Iraq conflict. An opinion poll at the start of October revealed a majority of Americans thought the war was not worth the cost.

Detractors have particularly criticised the financial cost of the war, following President George W. Bush's call for an extra 87 billion dollars, including 20 billion for the reconstruction of Iraq.

In the face of this criticism, Evans repeated Washington's determination and put the Iraq war in the larger context of the fight against "terrorism." "The president made it very clear that we will not rest until we win the war on terrorism, as Iraq is one of the central fronts on the war on terrorism," he told AFP.

"We will make the sacrifices it takes to win the war." For the United States, the human and financial sacrifices amount to 332 soldiers killed since the start of the war in Iraq and a record budget deficit of around 500 billion dollars this year and next.

But Evans said he was sure the United States would make the sacrifices required. "Americans stand for freedom," he said. "They will make the ultimate sacrifices to defend and expand freedom all around the world."

Evans stressed the progress already taking place in Iraq and said he was "delighted" with what he had seen, adding he had not found the state of total disarray he had expected. While deadly attacks continue in Iraq, with another eight people were killed the day he left for Baghdad, Evans preferred to stress that "the path is improving."

"You have to look beyond the incidents," he said. "When you look at the big picture, the progress of reconstruction of infrastructure, the opening of the hospitals and the schools, and the hope that it's putting in people's lives, that far outweighs, far overpowers and dwarfs isolated terrorist attacks."

Evans said, however, the country needed capital and encouraged foreign businesses to invest, praising the Iraqis as "not afraid of work" and for their entrepreneurial spirit. Before his arrival in Afghanistan, Evans also gave assurances that Washington "won't leave the job unfinished," in the central Asian country.

Bush's budget request includes an extra 800 million dollars for Afghanistan. Evans met with Commerce Minister Sayed Mustafa Kazemi to discuss ways to improve the economy of the war-ravaged country.

"We will continue to explore ways to extend trade," Evans said after his meeting to discuss private investment. "It's the government's responsibility to create an environment for economic prosperity." He earlier warned it was difficult for a country to be secure if it did not have a strong economy.

Evans is the latest in a string of top US officials to visit Kabul in the past four weeks, following Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Treasury Secretary John Snow as Washington seeks to stress its commitment to Afghanistan.

Afghan Economy Has 'Made Tremendous Progress', says US Commerce Secretary
(VOA) - U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans, on a visit to Afghanistan, says the country's economy has made tremendous progress in the past two years. But despite reforms and improved infrastructure, much work remains to be done.

Speaking to reporters in the capital Kabul, Mr. Evans says Afghan government policy has already made great strides in repairing the war-shattered economy. "Not only have they passed new banking laws, [but also] there's new investment laws, there's new commercial laws, and so there's great reforms, great steps, already underway," he said.

Offering further evidence of improvement, the U.S. commerce secretary pointed to the road between Kabul and the main southern city of Kandahar, one of the country's key transport routes for trade.

Mr. Evans says the U.S.-assisted road-building project will cut the drive time between the two cities from its current 24 hours to five hours by next September. He says that by the fall of 2005, the same road is expected to extend to Herat, Afghanistan's trade gateway to Iran.

But despite the promising signs mentioned by Mr. Evans, the Afghan economy is still mired in the aftermath of two decades of war and a three-year drought that ravaged its agricultural sector.

With a per capita gross domestic product of just $700, it remains one of the poorest nations in the world. Mr. Evans says he hopes small businesses will help push the country to a more livable economy. He adds that such economic opportunities will also help women, who were all but excluded from economic activity under the former ultra-conservative Taleban rulers.

"There are great opportunities for women entrepreneurs to build small businesses here in this country, which we greatly encourage, because we know in America, small businesses are the real creators of jobs in a country," Mr. Evans said.

Many Afghans, however, say that true economic recovery will depend on an improvement in national security. The Kabul-to-Kandahar road, for example, runs through a region plagued by insurgencies by remaining Taleban fighters and other militant forces. Only if the central government and the international community can come together to end the insurgencies and other security problems, they say, will Afghanistan's economy really take off.

Bush Aides Defend Handling of Afghanistan
KTAR 10/16/2003
"Failure is not an option in Afghanistan, but it is still possible"
Bush administration officials assured lawmakers they were on the right track toward rebuilding Afghanistan despite continued violence, rising drug trafficking and President Hamid Karzai's failure to consolidate power.

An increase in attacks linked to Taliban fighters and the refusal of warlords to disarm and relinquish territory won't stop plans to complete a constitution soon and hold elections next year, Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Rodman told the House International Relations Committee.

"We think we can handle both of these challenges," he said Thursday. But the State Department's Afghanistan coordinator, William B. Taylor Jr., acknowledged that the gains in Afghanistan since the Taliban were toppled two years ago were tenuous. "Failure is not an option in Afghanistan, but it is still possible," he said.

Before the House panel and later at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Rodman and Taylor heard criticism that the administration, focused on Iraq, has not given enough attention to Afghanistan, once the main battleground in the fight against terrorism.

Rep. Tom Lantos, the House panel's top Democrat, said the "effort to transform Afghanistan is in serious jeopardy." Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., said, "The administration's attention to that war-ravaged nation has wandered."

Republicans also expressed concern. "If the efforts toward a secure environment which will permit the installation of a basic infrastructure are not successful, then one must ask how it is possible to ensure free and fair elections in less than one year's time," said Chairman Henry Hyde, R-Ill.

Rep. Doug Bereuter, R-Neb., said, "We're not doing well with respect to opium production," noting that production is much higher than during the Taliban's rule. Taylor and Rodman stressed the difficulty of rebuilding a country battered by Soviet rule, civil war and the Taliban government. They cited progress toward building a political system, averting famine and restoring rights for women.

They also said the administration is trying to step up assistance to Afghanistan. It is seeking $800 million as part of the $87 billion spending request for Congress that is mostly for Iraq. In addition, it is shifting $390 million in State Department and Pentagon funds to help Afghanistan. This is in addition to the $900 million spent annually in 2002 and 2003, Taylor said.

The money will be used for strengthening security, helping develop the political system and speeding up reconstruction, he said.

 Incoming Afghan Ambassador say New US Funding Request Insufficient
VOA 10/16/2003
n requesting new aid for Iraq, the Bush administration also included assistance for Afghanistan. However, Afghan officials say the amount is not enough to fund massive reconstruction of the country.

Incoming Afghan Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad says Afghanistan welcomes the prospect of new aid. But, in a telephone interview, Mr. Jawad says the amount of new assistance is small, especially when compared to what is being spent in Iraq.

"The amount of the assistance provided to Afghanistan is substantial," he said. "Most of the assistance will continue to be used in building of the infrastructure in Afghanistan, and also creating the capacity in the [Afghan] administration to deliver services throughout the country. This is a significant step and we are hoping to get a larger portion of such assistance because the amount allocated to Afghanistan compared to Iraq is much smaller. And the needs in Afghanistan are as large as in other countries."

Mr. Jawad points out that of the nearly $21 billion in reconstruction aid the Bush administration is asking Congress to appropriate for Iraq and Afghanistan, Afghanistan is slated to get $1 billion.

Afghanistan is moving towards getting a freely elected government and institutions in place. But outside of the capital, Kabul, Afghanistan remains in the grip of regional warlords. On Saturday, President Hamid Karzai promulgated a law on political parties that bars any group with an armed militia from becoming a political party. How such a law will be enforced remains unclear. But Mr. Jawad says the armed groups can either disarm and enter the political process, or keep their arms and stay out of politics.

"We are trying to build a civil society," he said. "This is the most basic requirement. It is part of the demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration. A portion of the armed forces or armed groups will be disarmed and reintegrated into civil society. But, in the long run the faction, the armed group, has the option to become a national political party, or remain a faction with arms."

Afghanistan is also writing a new constitution. More than one half million questionnaires were sent out to seek Afghans' views on a new charter. A Loya Jirga, or grand council, was to have met this month to adopt a draft, but that has now been moved to December. Mr. Jawad blames the delay on logistical rather than political reasons.

There is a draft document, although it is still undergoing revision. However, the ambassador says it is clear Afghans want a strong central government with direct presidential elections - that can provide them security.

The thorniest issue, however, remains the legal system. Conservatives in overwhelmingly Muslim Afghanistan insist that Islamic law, or Sharia, be made the country's legal code. But Mr. Jawad says there is no widespread support to enshrine Sharia in the new constitution as the country's sole legal code.

"The constitution will most probably see something like, 'no laws in Afghanistan can contradict the principles of Islam.' The constitution of Afghanistan will be a model constitution that does respect the principles of Islam," said Said Tayeb Jawad. "But there is no demand by the Afghan people to make the Sharia the only source of law in Afghanistan."

Under the Bonn Agreement that set up Afghanistan's post-Taleban interim structure, elections are to be held in June. Mr. Jawad says there may be some delay in that target because many measures, such as institution of a new national identity card, are not yet in place. However, he says if there is a delay, it will only be a matter of months.

Kabul warns northern warlords
KABUL, 16 Oct 2003 (IRIN) - Following a ceasefire signed on 9 October after serious fighting between two feuding warlords in Afghanistan's troubled north, the interior ministry told IRIN that Kabul had told Gen Abdul Rashid Dostum and Gen Ata Mohammad - the two warlords responsible for the violence - that they would be removed from their government posts if they violated the fragile peace agreement.

"We have warned the two generals that if they fail to stick to the agreement and create any disturbance the government will seriously decide on their fate and they will be sacked from their current positions and will not have any role in the government now and in future," Helaluddin Helal, the Afghan deputy interior minister, said.

Ata Mohammad heads the mainly Tajik Jamiat-e Eslami (JE) faction and is military commander of Mazar-e Sharif city, while Dostum, a former communist general and currently President Hamid Karzai's security adviser for northern Afghanistan, heads the mainly Uzbek Jonbesh-e Melli-ye Eslami (JME) group. Dostum and Ata Mohammad have been vying for control of northern Afghanistan, along with a third ethnic militia, the Hazaras' Hezb-e Wahdat-e Eslami (HWE).

According to the ministry, both commanders have been summoned to be in Kabul next Saturday to reaffirm the ceasefire. But there appears to be official scepticism over whether the deal will stick. "All those armed groups are ignorant and illiterate people, they do not care to abide what is agreed," Helal pointed out.

The United Nations in Kabul reported that conditions around Mazar-e Sharif had improved significantly and there was normal civilian traffic in the former troubled areas. "The situation in Mazar-e-Sharif, mainly in the west where the fighting took place, is reported to be calm with the agreements of 9 and 11 October," Manoel de Almeida e Silva, a spokesman for the UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA), said on Thursday.

He said gunmen loyal to the two faction leaders had withdrawn, while armoured vehicles from the JE and JME had returned to their respective bases at Marmol and Sheberghan

As a result of the ceasefire, the UN announced that it had lifted its ban on road travel to the area. "On Tuesday, all suspensions on UN road missions from Mazar-e Sharif on roads going west to Sheberghan were lifted," the spokesman said, noting that verification of the situation in villages of Asya-ye Sharaf, Sara-ye-Asya and Shakazin in Chemtal District were still ongoing. "UN road missions to these particular locations are yet to be reviewed."

Mazar-e Sharif-based British Provincial Reconstruction Teams and UNAMA are continuing to verify the regional security picture. "UN road missions and activities in Meymaneh and Faryab have also resumed, following suspensions which were put in place after the fighting on 7 October," de Almeida e Silva underlined.

The recent fighting between the two factions was the worst in six months, and reportedly claimed over 80 lives. The interior ministry put the death toll at much lower figure.

The Afghan government also announced on 9 October that 300 Kabul-based police would be deployed to Mazar-e Sharif to boost regional security. According to Afghan officials, the police in Mazar-e Sharif are currently divided between the Tajik-dominated JE, the Uzbek-dominated JME and the and the Hazara-dominated HWE, a state of affairs which has led to calls for a neutral national police to take charge of the city. Kabul said the 300 new police were mandated to patrol the city and control key security posts together with the local police.

Disarmament of former militants to begin soon in Afghanistan: minister
Xinhua 10/16/2003
KABUL - Addressing a press conference at the presidential palace, Fahim said that the so-called Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) program would be commenced in Kundoz province within days.

"The preliminary measures to begin the disarmament program in Kundoz have already started," he said. Without giving a specific date, the defense minister said that after the Kundoz pilot operation, the program would be carried out in Gardiz in the east.

An earlier report said that President Hamid Karzai, who is currently in Malaysia for the Islamic summit, had approved to launch the DDR program on Oct. 24. Afghanistan's ambitious program to disarm existing militia soldiers across the country was earlier scheduled to kick off in July, but postponed time and again due to delayed reforms at the Defense Ministry.

Donor nations had criticized the ministry for its dominance by minority Tajik generals from the former Northern Alliance led by Fahim himself. Fahim, who is also the first vice president, said his ministry is now ethnically balanced after the appointments of 22 new high- ranking officers from other ethnic groups.

Death list reveals horrors of Afghanistan's past
By Mike Collett-White October 16, 11:19 AM
KABUL (Reuters) - One name on a list of nearly 5,000 told Saleha the truth she did not want to know. Her father, a painter from the southern province of Kandahar, was executed by the Afghan Communist government in 1979, aged 31. He had been accused by a court of being an insurgent fighting against Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in the months leading up to the ill-fated invasion.

Saleha, a girl when her father disappeared without trace, is now in her late 20s. Her plight is common in Afghanistan, where thousands of soldiers, guerrillas and civilians simply vanished during two decades of war, occupation and lawlessness.

Arranged in neat columns, numbered, hand-written in the local Dari language and stamped by the "Democratic Revolutionary Court of Afghanistan", the folder of 4,782 names smacks of the ruthless efficiency the Soviet Union and its satellites so cherished.

The document was drawn up by intelligence services in Kabul in the late 1970s and photocopies were recently obtained by the Afghan Commission for Human Rights (ACHR). It lists the individual's name, father's name, province of residence, profession and date and reason for execution.

"It was the hardest moment of my life when I knew about my father," Saleha told Reuters. "I was not upset only for my father but for all the other people who were murdered at that time, because they might also have had families and children."

ACHR head Lal Gul said the commission would publish the names in local newspapers and prepare a booklet so that as many relatives and friends as possible could determine the fate of those missing. Some of the families of those who disappeared under Afghan Communist rule in the buildup to the Soviet occupation from 1979 still hold out faint hopes of a happy ending, Gul said.

"A large number of people were killed during the Communist regime and their relatives still think they might be alive or have been transferred to jails in the (former) Soviet Union," he said, after presenting the list to a small group of journalists.

"Unfortunately the list of these 5,000 people shows most of them were killed." On a parched, stony hillside around 15 km east of the capital, Gul points to the long, narrow ditches he says are mass graves containing the remains of at least some of the victims listed by the Communist courts.

Close to the notorious Pul-i-Charki prison, the isolated site served as a dumping ground for people who died at the jail or who were executed on the spot, he said. "Thousands of innocent people are buried here. The only reason was that they were against the policies of that regime and did not accept their opinions. "They picked this place because it is so close to the jail and there aren't any villages around, so it is a very isolated area for execution."

Long sticks adorned with torn material marked the burial site, and a small pile of human bones could be seen under a piece of corrugated iron. "Graves of the mujahideen ('holy warriors') and scholars. May they rest in peace" read a fading, rusty sign at the bottom of the hill.

Gul said it was one of many mass graves yet to be properly unearthed and investigated in Afghanistan, testament to the brutal reality of life in the war-torn state.
Most recently a scandal erupted last year over a burial site filled with bodies of Taliban fighters allegedly killed or allowed to suffocate while in the custody of pro-U.S. forces after the hardline Islamic militia capitulated late in 2001.

Many wondered where a full investigation into the allegations might lead, given the level of violence and atrocities carried out among different ethnic groups and rival factions throughout the country's bloody past.

Brief entries in the list offer glimpses into the lives and deaths of the "enemies of the state". One typical example reads: "Name: Mohammad Nasim; Father's name: Mohammad Sharif; Age: 53; Profession: retired teacher; Province: Ghazni; Killed in 1978; Accused of carrying out anti-government activities.

A small number of women were also executed: "Name: Habiba; Father's name: Mohammad Wakil; Profession: Student; Province: Kabul; Accused of carrying out anti-government tasks; Killed in 1979."

The records say nothing of the upheaval faced by surviving relatives. In 1980, aged just six, Saleha was sent to the Soviet Union where she spent the next 10 years studying, returning in the dying days of the occupation. She is now married with two children and works as an assistant physiotherapist in Kabul.

"It is tragic that the list that we have contains university students, scholars, businessmen...and even one person on the list who was killed who was mad," said Gul.

Three Taliban jail escapees said recaptured
Reuters 10/16/2003
SPIN BOLDAK - Afghan authorities have recaptured three of 41 Taliban prisoners who tunnelled out of a jail in southern Afghanistan in a dramatic escape last week, an Afghan official said on Thursday.

A senior official of the Afghan foreign ministry said the three men were arrested a few days ago but did not name them. "There is a possibility that more prisoners would be arrested on the basis of information of these people," said the official, who did not want to be identified.

The prisoners escaped through a 3-metre tunnel in the main jail of volatile city of Kandahar last Friday, causing embarrassment for the government of President Hamid Karzai and presenting yet another security headache in the troubled region.

Afghan officials say the escapees included five or six "important" Taliban figures including a brother of Taliban defence minister Mawlavi Obaidullah. The foreign ministry official said Obaidullah's brother was not among the three recaptured men.

Obaidullah has evaded capture since the fall of the radical Islamic regime late in 2001 and was named as part of a 10-man leadership council by shadowy Taliban leader Mullah Omar in June. Kandahar province, which borders Pakistan, was the birthplace of the Taliban and has been the scene of many recent guerrilla attacks that have curtailed aid and reconstruction.

"Out of 400 candidates we have selected 22 most-educated and professional ones who represent all segments of the Afghan society, " he said, adding that these new appointees would take office formally next week.

Under the DDR program supported by the United Nations and donor nations, some 100,000 mujahidin, or holy fighters, would be demobilized and go back to villages after fighting against the Soviet occupation, rival ethnic troops and later the Taliban militia for over two decades.

On the increasing insurgency by the ousted Taliban movement in southern provinces, Fahim said that the government would reinforce its troops to eradicate the hard-line guerrillas.

Three Afghans die in wedding party clash
(News International - Pakistan) - KABUL: Fighting between armed guests attending a wedding in western Afghanistan left three dead and four injured, the official Bakhtar news agency reported on Wednesday. "Three were killed and four injured late on Monday due to an armed clash between two government security officers at a wedding ceremony in Shab Koh, Farah province," it said.

Long-standing personal and tribal animosity between the two surfaced during the wedding in the remote region, leading to the bloodshed. "Private enmity between two government commanders in Farah province resulted in a tragic end to a wedding," it added. Shab Koh security commander Wais was among the dead but the report did not identify the other victims. "Those behind this incident have fled to an unknown place but police will find them and they will be tried for it," the agency said.

Meanwhile, pro-government forces and suspected Taliban were engaged in fighting in central Afghanistan on Wednesday, where US-led coalition aircraft had also launched an air assault against militants, officials said. Kandahar military commander Khan Mohammad told AFP skirmishes were continuing in neighbouring Uruzgan province following Monday’s killing of four government soldiers in Charchino, 30 kilometres southwest of the provincial capital Tirin Kot.

Fighting erupted after two local commanders — Mohammad Nabi and Mohammad Zaher — last week switched allegiances and decided to fight alongside the Taliban against pro-government forces, he said. The commander said Taliban militants had "strong popular support" in the area, which was formerly home to high-ranking Taliban such as military commander Mulla Dadullah. Muhammad could not confirm a report of Taliban being killed or arrested during the fighting. The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news agency quoted local Uruzgan official Jalaluddin as saying four Taliban were killed and three arrested in a day-long clash with government forces. He said two Afghan troops were killed and four injured after fighting broke out on Monday when Taliban fighters attacked pro-government forces.

US-led coalition aircraft launched an assault on militants in Deh Rawood, 30 kilometres west of Tirin Kot after pro-government forces came under attack, US military spokesman Colonel Rodney Davis said. US Special Operations Forces and aircraft were called in after militants attacked Afghan militiamen near the coalition military base in Deh Rawood, Davis told reporters in Kabul.

Davis said the aircraft "expended ordnance on the enemy," but did not give any further details of the clash in Deh Rawood, 400 kilometres southwest of Kabul. He said there were no coalition casualties but did not say whether there were any Afghan or militant casualties.

Mahathir: Muslims Unite - Afghan President Supports Speech
AP 10/16/2003
For Mahathir, a senior statesman, the summit marks one of the last opportunities to take the podium on the world stage before retiring on Oct. 31 after 22 years in power. U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia Marie Huhtala declined to comment on Mahathir's speech. Washington was angered over a speech he made in February, as host of the Non-Aligned Movement of 117 countries, in which he described the looming war against Iraq as racist.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he supported Mahathir's analysis. "It is great to hear Prime Minister Mahathir speak so eloquently on the problems of the ummah (Muslim world) and ways to remedy them," Karzai said. "His speech was an eye-opener to a lot of us and that is what the Islamic world should do."
The summit, held every three years, is the first since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks reshaped global politics and comes at a time when many Muslims - even U.S. allies - feel the war on terrorism has become a war against them.

"It is well known that the Islamic community is being targeted today more than at any other time before in its creed, culture and social and political orientation," said Qatar's ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who hosted the U.S. headquarters in the Iraq war.

The status of Iraq has been a divisive issue at the summit. Malaysia resisted inviting the U.S.-picked Iraqi Governing Council, describing it as a puppet of U.S. occupation, but Arab countries who had already recognized the body prevailed and its representatives are here.

However, members of the council declared Wednesday that they may seek to scuttle a draft resolution welcoming them but insisting that the United Nations should have a "central role" in Iraq and set a schedule for the full return of Iraqi sovereignty.

Council members insisted that they have the central role. They also are awaiting the outcome of U.N. Security Council deliberations on a U.S.-introduced resolution that would give the Governing Council until Dec. 15 to set a timetable for a constitution and elections.

Iyad Allawi, current holder of the Governing Council's rotating presidency, said Wednesday that elections would "definitely" be held in 2004. Leaders attending the summit include Jordan's King Abullah, Syrian President Bashar Assad, Morocco's King Mohammed VI, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo are attending as special observers because of their large Muslim minorities.

PSDP proposes dual nationality for Pakistani, Afghan citizens
Daily Times  Zakir Hassnain
PESHAWAR: Pashtuns Social Democratic Party (PSDP) President Dr Kabir Stori on Thursday proposed dual nationality for Pakistan and Afghanistan citizens to ease travel restrictions between the two countries.

Addressing a seminar organised by the Pakhtunkhwa Qaumi Party (PQP) on the Durand Line, Dr Stori urged the need to form a Jirga to bring the two countries’ relations closer and work for the promotion of Pakhtun culture and development.

He said the importance of borders had lessened and various countries were forming organisations to promote regional economy. Dr Stori said Pakistan, Afghanistan and newly independent states in Central Asia had common interests and these states needed an "economic union" like the European Union to boost their economies.
Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam (PML-QA) Central General Secretary Salim Saifullah Khan said the Pakhtuns could not make progress and achieve their rights unless political parties united.

He said a Jirga consisting of all representatives political parties should be formed to resolve Pakhtuns’ problems. He proposed Afzal Khan Lala to head the Jirga. He urged other parties to accept the veteran nationalist, Afzal Lala, as leader. He said the Afghan Pakhtuns should be given representation in the Afghanistan assembly.
Awami National Party (ANP) Central Senior Vice President Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour said the ANP never accepted the Durand Line, adding that Bacha Khan, the great Pakhtun nationalist and ANP founder did not accept the Durand Line either.

Mr Bilour said Pakistani clerics had never accepted Pakhtun status. "If clerics belonging to different schools of thought could unite, why can’t Pakhtuns?" Mr Bilour asked.

PQP chief Muhammad Afzal Khan Lala said the Durand Line was not an international boundary but an " administrative line". He said the British who made the Durand Line agreement with the then Afghan ruler wanted to weaken the Pakhtuns.

Kofi Annan warns against rising hostility between Islam and the West 
October 16
PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia, (AFP) - United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan warned of rising hostility between Islam and the West, describing it as "ugly, dangerous and wrong". In a statement to the opening of a summit of the 57-member Organisation of the Islamic Conference, Annan said Western governments must address the grievances of Muslims, while Islamic states needed to make greater efforts to overcome their problems. He said he hoped to see Christians and Muslims reconciling in Sudan and perhaps Cyprus.

"Yet there is, in too many places, a feeling of rising hostility between Islam and the West. This is ugly, dangerous and wrong," said the statement delivered by the UN special representative to Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi.

"We must unite our efforts to address the extremism that is, alas, on the rise, not only in Islam but among many faiths," said Annan, who withdrew from the summit after the Iraq issue was taken back to the UN Security Council.

He said Western governments must match their rhetoric of respect for human freedom with action to promote development, including a fair world trading system. But he told the Muslim leaders -- who represent 1.3 billion people -- they also had to play their part. Muslims are dismayed by the apparent inability of Islamic states to do much about problems such as weak government systems, a lack of democracy and poor human rights, especially for women, he said.

Extremist dogmas are gaining ground, impeding the progress of the Muslim community and threatening the security of people all over the world, he said. Only when Muslims enjoy fundamental rights will the Islamic world be able to assert its influence.

"The Muslim peoples are capable of much greater things and they know it," Annan said. The UN leader said the Palestinian people were suffering under "a harsh and prolonged occupation" and no one should be surprised at their feelings of humiliation, anger and despair.

"However, suicide bombings, in which hundreds of Israeli civilians have been indiscriminately killed, are not acceptable." "These acts of terrorism, abhorred and rejected by all of you, defile and damage even the most legitimate cause."

The roadmap peace plan for the Middle East, drawn up by Russia, the United States, European Union and the UN, is the only hope for freedom for Palestinians and security for Israel, he said. The roadmap envisages a Palestinian state being created by 2005 with security guarantees for Israel.

"If it fails, I fear the region will recede even further into violence and misery," Annan said, appealing for support for the peace plan from Muslim states. The Palestinian cause has been the main uniting force for the OIC, which was formed in 1969 after the burning of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

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