Increased factional violence not a threat to Afghan elections
2004/4/11 KABUL, Afghanistan, AP China Post
Security is sufficient in Afghanistan for the country's first post-Taliban elections to be held in September, the U.S. military maintained Saturday, despite spreading warlord violence and a stubborn Taliban-led insurgency.
Factional rivalries have flared in two remote provinces in less than a month, sparking fighting that killed a Cabinet minister and on Thursday forced the governor of northwestern Faryab province to flee.
Faryab was calm Saturday, after the government sent 750 soldiers to the region, U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Matt Beevers said.
"A great example of Afghans taking care of Afghanistan," Beevers said. "I think that Afghanistan is positioned to execute an election today, tomorrow or September."
President Hamid Karzai is widely expected to win the national elections, originally scheduled for June. He has cited logistical problems, not security concerns, for the delay.
Nevertheless, Karzai was forced to send troops from the fledgling Afghan army to Maymana, the capital of Faryab, some 420 kilometers (260 miles) northwest of Kabul to restore calm after the local governor, Enayatullah Enayat, was forced to flee by angry crowds.
Also, a provincial military commander fled after forces loyal to northern Uzbek strongman Abdul Rashid Dostum reportedly closed in on the town.
Several civilians were reported injured during a demonstration against Enayat in Maymana on Thursday, but there were no confirmed reports of major fighting or casualties.
Karzai has ordered all forces from outside Maymana to withdraw from the city, although it remained unclear if any had ever entered.
A government delegation met on Friday with Dostum, who has maintained a large private army and has strong control in the northwest since helping drive out the Taliban in late 2001.
Aides to Dostum, who also is a presidential adviser, deny he has interfered in Faryab. Dostum has sworn allegiance to the central government, officials said, but provided no details Saturday of the talks.
The U.S. military called for "everyone that has influence in that region to ensure that calm that is going on now stays in place," Beevers said.
But he declined to say if U.S. officials were lobbying Dostum, a key ally against the Taliban, who has tried in vain for a top government security position.
The national army deployment to Faryab comes less than three weeks after Karzai dispatched 1,500 troops to the western city of Herat, where factional fighting killed some 16 people including Aviation Minister Mirwais Sadiq, the son of Herat Gov. Ismail Khan.
That has put a strain on the 8,000-man force that is also involved in counterinsurgency operations in four lawless provinces further south.
Beevers insisted the force was not over-stretched.
Projected to reach 10,000 men this summer, the national army is "nearly the same size as the coalition," Beevers said, referring to the U.S.-led force of 13,500.
Some 2,000 more Marines are currently deploying to Afghanistan to bolster that mission.
Beevers said U.S. warplanes were flying surveillance missions over Faryab and other parts of the north and west. A small British military observer team also was in the region.
OSCE Backs up Afghanistan's Reconstruction
Novinite.com 10 April 2004, Saturday.
The recovery of post-war Afghanistan was stamped Saturday with the seal of OSCE signing the first reconstruction contracts.
Capital Kabul has met Saturday OSCE's Chairman-in-office Solomon Passy who had talks with his counterpart Abdullah Abdullah and with Afghanistan's President Khamid Karzai.
On the eve of Easter, Bulgaria's first diplomat will visit also the Bulgarian troops, part of the international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan.
This is the last stop of Bulgarian Foreign Minister's Central Asian round trip in his capacity as OSCE Chairman-in-office. He arrived in Kabul from Ashkhabad, Turkmenistan, where he negotiated with President Saparmurat Yazov the opportunity of Turkmenistan gas deliveries to Bulgaria.
Plea for money to help Afghanistan
Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai has appealed for more international money to help rebuild the country.
Mr Karzai said he was frustrated at the amount of money being given to Afghanistan in comparison with the billions being invested in Iraq.
He said it was in the interests of the whole world that Afghanistan had sufficient funding for rebuilding.
"We'd be happier if we had more money."
Asked if he was frustrated that Iraq was getting so much more he said: "In those terms yes. But we cannot be ungrateful. We are grateful to the international community for help."
Mr Karzai said he was happy with the funds the international community was giving Iraq, but "if they give us more we will be happier".
"It's building a country that's in the interests of all. It's building a security institution that is in the interest of all. So eventually we all suffer together or we all are happy together. For that reason the more the world gives to Afghanistan, the better will be the rest of the world."
Mr Karzai also said he would like more time before elections in Afghanistan. But people were expecting them on the date set.
He said the Taliban was now defeated but small groups of terrorists still posed a threat.
He also admitted mistakes had been made over the production of poppies for heroin. There had been a massive increase since farmers had been paid not to grow poppies. That encouraged other farmers to grow them so they could also get money to stop.
Afghan troops restore calm in north
President orders warlord out of region Ousted governor hiding near border
ASSOCIATED PRESS Apr. 10, 2004. 01:00 AM
KABUL—Afghan army troops restored calm to the northern city of Maymana yesterday, a day after it was overrun by a powerful regional warlord.
But the ousted governor, Enayatullah Enayat, remained in hiding and said he feared for his life.
Government soldiers moved into the city without incident, officials said, although there were unconfirmed reports of fresh fighting elsewhere in Faryab province.
Maymana, the provincial capital some 420 kilometres northwest of Kabul, fell to forces of Uzbek strongman Abdul Rashid Dostum on Thursday, according to the government.
Accounts of the takeover varied, but the clash presents yet another security problem for President Hamid Karzai and the U.S.-led military coalition already entangled in hunting Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgents ahead of September elections.
Some 750 U.S.-trained national army troops arrived yesterday in a deployment meant to reassert Karzai's authority.
However, it was unclear if Enayat, who was forced to flee angry crowds who reportedly burned and looted his home, would return to the city.
Contacted by satellite telephone, Enayat said he was in hiding near the Turkmen border, predicting Dostum wouldn't give up his ambitions in the province without a fight.
"He wanted to take me out. I'm in a bad situation," said Enayat.
Government officials said Dostum, a presidential adviser who has maintained a large private army and tight control in the northwest since helping U.S. forces oust the Taliban in 2001, sent forces into Faryab earlier this week from neighbouring provinces.
But his aides insist that militias and local inhabitants had rebelled against the Kabul-appointed Enayat because he was unpopular.
The uprising was also directed against a local military commander, Hashim Khan, who was accused of trying to increase his power in the region.
Defence ministry spokesperson Gen. Zaher Azimi said a government delegation had met Dostum in his residence in the northern city of Sheberghan yesterday. But it was unclear if any of his forces had withdrawn from Maymana, and Azimi had no details of the discussions.
Karzai has ordered all forces from outside Maymana to pull back from the town and vowed to reinstate Enayat.
The clash is the latest between rival militias in northern and western Afghanistan, many of which are believed to be involved in Afghanistan's booming drug trade.
Under pressure from the United Nations, the government has announced a belated plan to disarm some 40,000 irregular fighters and collect heavy weapons from around the country before national elections.
But warlords and factional leaders, several of whom are powerful players in Karzai's coalition government, are expected to wield considerable influence on the vote.
Khan said he, too, was hiding, holed up with fearful civilians in mountains to the southeast, adding Dostum's men drove him out of the town of Bilchiragh yesterday morning after fighting that killed two of his men.
Bush Was Told of Al Qaeda Hijack Preparation
April 10, 2004
CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - was told a month before Sept. 11, 2001, that al Qaeda members were in the United States and the FBI had detected suspicious activity ``consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks,'' according to a secret memo the White House released under pressure on Saturday.
White House officials were quick to say after the document's evening release that the Aug. 6, 2001, memo did not warn of the Sept. 11 attacks and that although it referred to the possibility of hijackings, it did not discuss the possible use of planes as weapons.
``There's nothing in here that we can show was tied to the 9/11 plot,'' a senior White House official told reporters.
But the President's page-and-a-half Daily Brief, entitled ``Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the U.S.,'' was likely to intensify the election-year debate in Washington over whether the Sept. 11 attacks could have been prevented in spite of Bush's insistence the U.S. government did everything it could to head them off with the information on hand.
It was released at a time when Bus is already under political pressure over mounting U.S. casualties in Iraq.
The report said it had not been able to corroborate some of the ``more sensational threat reporting,'' such as one in 1998 that Osama bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release of those responsible for the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center.
But the document said the FBI since then had detected ``patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.''
A White House fact sheet released along with the secret document attempted to play down this potentially explosive disclosure. It said the information relating to the possible surveillance of federal buildings in New York was later determined by the FBI to be ``consistent with tourist-related activity.''
And it said the document otherwise contained no information from FBI investigations that indicated activities related to the preparation or planning for hijackings or other attacks within the United States.
The declassified report said al Qaeda members, including some U.S. citizens, ``have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks.''
``A clandestine source said in 1998 that a Bin Ladincell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks,'' it said.
The White House official said the memo on Bin Laden was prepared in response to a question by the president about the extent of the al Qaeda threat domestically. Bush had inquired earlier after seeing intelligence reports about possible al Qaeda threats to U.S. targets overseas.
It told the president of desires by bin Laden to ``bring the fighting to America'' dating to 1997 and that he wanted to retaliate ``in Washington'' over the 1998 cruise missile strikes against his base in Afghanistan.
It was highly unusual for the U.S. government to make public a sensitive presidential intelligence memo. Three redactions were made from it to protect the names of foreign governments that provided information to the CIA.
The release of the memo had been demanded by members of the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks, and Democrats on the commission who had already seen it had questioned whether Bush could have done more to stop the attacks.
National security adviser Condoleezza Rice insisted in her public testimony to the 9/11 commission last week that the memo contained mostly historical information and did not warn of any coming attacks inside the United States.
ATTACK WITH EXPLOSIVES
Her account could be contradicted by the fact that the memo included information from three months beforehand that al Qaeda members were trying to enter the United States for an attack with explosives.
``The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the U.S. that it considers Bin Laden-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) in May saying that a group or Bin Laden supporters was in the U.S. planning attacks with explosives,'' the document said.
That part of the document could set up a Washington blame game over whether the FBI was adequately doing its job.
The document gave neither a time nor a suspected target for such an attack with explosives.
'Micro credit' empowers Afghan women
By Benjamin Hu THE WASHINGTON TIMES April 10, 2004
Fatime Mohammed Mussah, mother of eight, has seen much hardship in her 45 years. In 1979, she fled the Soviet occupation, living for many years in neighboring Iran. Returning to Afghanistan, she found the Soviets replaced by the Taliban, who imprisoned her husband for many years. For Mrs. Mussah, there was no option except to become the family's sole breadwinner through those hard times. Now, she lives in relative security the remote village of Jebrayil in Herat province, Afghanistan.
Despite the challenges of being a woman in the male-dominant Afghan society, Mrs. Mussah continues to run her tailoring business. This provides basic sustenance, but business is volatile and she has scant savings to protect against future misfortunes or a return to poverty. After hearing that an American organization was lending money to small businesses, Mrs. Mussah joined five other women in her village to create a self-governed banking group. Their first loan was for $600 in total — a move that enabled Mrs. Mussah to buy better cloth and improve the quality of her goods, as well as save some funds for her children's welfare. She has met all her weekly repayments and will become eligible for larger loans in May, with the money coming from American individuals and institutions.
This new lending initiative aims to rebuild Afghanistan's economy from the village level up, starting with poor families and the women who work to support them, such as Mrs. Mussah. "Microcredit" operations are beginning to lend money directly to impoverished Afghans, with the blessing of prominent women in the Bush administration. The Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA) is one of several organizations that provide credit programs to subsistence-level entrepreneurs and working mothers.
Working with the Calvert Foundation and the National Peace Corps Association, FINCA's efforts to empower women and bring sustainable local economic growth have drawn the support of former presidential counselor Karen Hughes, Joyce Rumsfeld, wife of the secretary of defense, and Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky. "The administration is very supportive of micro enterprise projects in Afghanistan and around the world. We see it as a very important tool for the economic empowerment of women," Ms. Dobriansky said. In 2002, FINCA programs in Central America, Africa and Eastern Europe lent about $135 million directly to poor entrepreneurs, all with a 97 percent repayment rate.
Although this is considerably less than the $8.2 billion pledged in donor aid at an April 2 conference in Berlin, micro finance has its place in social reconstruction, according to Diane Jones, spokeswoman for FINCA International. "The good intentions of governments — especially those attempting to develop new systems where none existed before — often bog down in bureaucracy," she said. "Organizations like FINCA can put money directly into the hands of the people who need it most — the very poor." Micro credit has the advantage of reaching the needy, but it also encourages good trade habits and financial independence for the borrowers.
Additionally, unlike donations, micro credit loans are not unilateral aid. Lenders get their money back, and reliable borrowers become eligible for larger loans. "We provide a safe and convenient way for U.S. investors to reach the most vulnerable populations — women in villages," said Shari Berenbach, executive director of the Calvert Foundation, a FINCA investor. Rather than compete with each other, the six women of the Jebrayil village bank, which elected its own treasurer and president, provide each other moral and financial support. FINCA's credit officer meets with them every week, and their group so far has met all its weekly repayments. They will become eligible for larger loans as time goes by and their ventures prove stable, which gives them an incentive to help each other and preserve the group's credit history.
Despite Afghanistan's history of war and instability, micro credit programs find a healthy grass-roots affinity there for private enterprise. "We believe in the client's ability to manage money and numbers," said Lawrence Yanovitch, FINCA director. "In most cases, the women are already financially savvy." FINCA began assessing the situation in Afghanistan in the spring of 2002 to determine the level of aid needed after the war. It had installed successful programs in several Central Asian countries, including Kyrgyzstan and Georgia, and in certain Russian cities, but Afghanistan presented unique problems. Islam has special laws regarding money lending, especially about collecting interest. This requires concessions by banks accustomed to Western practices.
Civic infrastructure and social institutions were seriously inadequate after Soviet administration and Taliban rule. In this environment, FINCA carefully screens clients before making a loan. Borrowers must have a business, and a history of at least six months of running it. Some common businesses include food stalls, craftsman services and tailoring. Most borrowers are women. The biggest problem facing micro credit in Afghanistan is that women are still treated as second-class citizens. They have to wear body-covering burkas when outdoors, and rarely meet with men without a male relative or husband present as chaperone. "There are women in the marketplace, but they are all behind closed doors," said Mr. Yanovitch. "We've had women come to our office looking for us — they approached us, not the other way around."
Jonathan Griswold, director of FINCA in Afghanistan, has been there since August 2003, working from the northwestern province of Herat. The governor, Ismail Khan, has provided amenities in the urban centers mostly unavailable elsewhere, such as street lights, electricity and trash collection. However, most of FINCA's clients live in rural, mountainous areas, where amenities are unheard of and the roads are often bad. Given the social restrictions on women's travel, FINCA employs credit officers to meet the women in their villages. Finding suitable help is a challenge, according Mr. Griswold.
The credit officers themselves must be Afghan women, to reduce tension when meeting clients, and must be taught math and literacy skills. Although the pay of credit officers is high by local standards — between $100 to $400 per month — the work involves traveling long distances to meet clients, while wearing burkas in the summer heat. Furthermore, the families of credit officers are sometimes unsupportive or hostile to their female relatives' work. "Two women who had signed contracts with us had to resign before starting work under family pressure not to work outside the office," Mr. Griswold said. "Unfortunately, it is considered far more prestigious to sit at a computer in an office than to manage six credit officers from the field and serve a thousand clients." In countries where the commercial banking sector does not target the poor, or neglects them outright, micro financing programs bring expertise and training to provide such people with financial help.
According to Ms. Berenbach, microcredit lending has created widespread changes in the perceptions of the poor in banking and social freedom. The target population is normally shunned by commercial banks as being unable to use bank services — a presumption that FINCA challenges. "We're making poor people bankable, and we're doing it on a significant scale, in the tens of thousands," she said. "In some cases, micro finance banks are outstripping commercial banks to become the predominant credit provider for poverty level entrepreneurs." Moreover, one of the great social changes of micro credit is the empowerment of women in village economics.
The first village bank program in Bangladesh saw a marked increase in women's social and political participation. Although some husbands are initially fearful of allowing their wives out of the house and into the workplace, over time they usually grow to appreciate their wives' economic contributions. For the women themselves, the benefits are considerable. "Our experience has shown that when women are given the opportunity, they prove to be responsible borrowers and competent managers," said Ms. Jones. "They tend to put aside more savings for their children's and community's welfare, rather than invest all available funds into their business."
Some microcredit skeptics have questioned the practice of lending to a select few entrepreneurs, pointing out that poverty afflicts many more people than those who can make a profit. However, the story of Masume Moyar, a Herat tailor and mother of two, shows how an individual's profit can contribute to her community. Mrs. Moyar has run a tailoring business ever since her husband, Abdullah, was injured in fighting, but also employs and trains other young women. She not only teaches them to sew but also how to work with suppliers and distributors. She has used FINCA's loans to buy new sewing machines, to increase her line of products and to improve working conditions for her employees. Her single loan provides benefits, income and instruction to eight younger women.
"In Islam, learning and teaching are a form of prayer," Mrs. Moyar said. "I could not keep my skills to myself." In Herat, women have limited freedom to work in private, girls are allowed to play in the streets, and schools are reopening to give them the education their mothers could not receive. But despite the improvements from hard-line Taliban rule, Mr. Griswold says that, at this point, equality of the sexes is still a distant hope. "We will have a huge improvement if we can just say that all our female clients have been granted the right to work and a measure of respect, rather than remaining as the jealously guarded property of husbands," he said.
U.S. Military Eases Optimism on Bin Laden
Associated Press Saturday April 10, 7:09 PM
The U.S. military in Afghanistan is committed to capturing Osama bin Laden and other top al-Qaida fugitives, a spokesman said Saturday.
But Lt. Col. Matthew Beevers did not repeat earlier forecasts that bin Laden would be caught this year.
"We remain committed to catching these guys," Beevers said. "It's pretty much forefronting just about everything that we do here in Afghanistan."
The top American commander in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. David Barno, said in January he was confident that bin Laden and Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar would be apprehended this year.
A spokesman even said that the military was "sure" they would be tracked down.
The military has also said it will catch Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former Afghan prime minister who has joined the Taliban in vowing to drive out foreign troops and oust President Hamid Karzai.
Beevers wouldn't say whether that confidence had ebbed.
"At the end of the day, it's not about just one or two people," he said. "It's about the entire country of Afghanistan and ensuring that there is stability and security throughout Afghanistan."
Soldiers Seize Weapons Cache in Pakistan
Associated Press Saturday April 10, 7:14 PM
Pakistani soldiers seized weapons allegedly belonging to a militant group planning a terrorist attack, including a rocket launcher and mortar shells, officials said Saturday.
The raid, which occurred late Friday, followed reports that an unidentified outlawed group had hidden weapons in a building under construction in this southern port city, said Col. Zafar Cheema, spokesman for the paramilitary rangers.
Nobody was in the building when the soldiers entered, Cheema said. They seized one rocket launcher, an 82 mm rocket gun, seven rockets, 18 mortar shells and other explosives.
Cheema said the group had hidden the weapons "for some act of terrorism," but gave no further details. He said the military was still investigating the case.
Karachi, Pakistan's largest city of 14 million, has seen numerous attacks against Christians and Westerners since President Gen. Pervez Musharraf made the Islamic nation a key ally of the United States in the war on terror after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Dozens of Pakistanis have been arrested in the war on terror.
Last Sunday, police detained nine suspected Islamic militants, including a man believed to have been behind two suicide bomb attacks in 2002 outside the U.S. Consulate and a hotel in Karachi that left 26 people dead.
Many radical Islamic groups have been angered by Musharraf's support for the U.S.-led war against terrorism in neighboring Afghanistan.
Musharraf, who outlawed nearly a dozen militant groups after seizing power in a 1999 coup, has survived at least three assassination attempts.
Osama spared as attack could have killed UAE princes
By Khalid Hasan Daily Times Pakistan
WASHINGTON: Osama bin Laden could have been killed in a US air and missile attack but was spared because several senior members of the UAE ruling family were nearby, according to a leading American journalist.
Steve Coll of the Washington Post who has just published a book on Afghanistan told a meeting at the Johns Hopkins University Friday that the US had reliable information in February 1999 that Osama bin Laden had arrived in a desert area south of Qandhar for a bustard shoot organised by some princes of the United Arab Emirates’ ruling house. The decision to bomb and destroy the elaborate camp the royal hunting party had set up in the desert was revoked because of the politically expensive “collateral damage” the US action could create. He said the quality of intelligence that Osama bin Laden was present at the camp was “120 percent sure.” However, another reason that the bombing was not undertaken was the absence of a second independent source confirming bin Laden’s presence at the camp. He said the attack plans had gone so far ahead that US submarines in the Persian Gulf had been put on alert. The attack, had it gone through, would have come both from the air and the sea.
Mr Coll said during this period, both the Saudi and the Pakistani governments were urging the United States to “engage” with the Taliban instead of taking them on, assuring Washington that were such a policy to be adopted, in time the Taliban would become moderate. He said during the war against the Soviets, each American dollar was matched by the Saudis and the money as well as the weapons were funnelled through Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). He said there was a certain “politics of war” in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan as far as Afghanistan was concerned. After the Soviet pullout, Washington decided that there would be no attempt to win the “hearts and minds” of the Afghans and it should just get out.
He said the Pakistan government at the time insisted upon direct dealing with the Afghan mujahideen leadership. The US had no interest after the war to pick up the winners in Afghanistan. During the Afghan war, the primacy of the ISI was well established and that shaped the politics of the region. He said in January 1992, Washington decided that it would engage itself no further in Afghanistan. In the years following, US policy towards the region was characterised by “indifference.” If the Soviet Union was out of Afghanistan, it was argued in Washington, the issue was of “no further interest” to America. It was in that vacuum that the Taliban rose with the help of Pakistan which wanted to gain control and influence in Afghanistan as part of its regional strategy.
Mr Coll said that in an interview Benazir Bhutto accorded to Washington Post editors – he mentioned no year – she said that she had had nothing to do with the rise of the Taliban movement. “She simply lied,” he asserted. She told the newspaper that in her first term as prime minister, she had tried to assert control over the Pakistan army and get involved in its affairs, but it was resisted and that was the reason her government was bundled out. In her second term, she decided, she told the Post, that she would leave the army well alone and not “alienate” it. She said that the Pakistan army had told her that the Taliban were the “answer” to the Afghanistan problem. As for Washington, it almost gave a “blank cheque” to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, accepting their assurances about the Taliban being good for Afghanistan. Another factor that influenced the American stance was the interest some American companies had shown in an oil/gas pipeline from Central Asia to the Gulf and the subcontinent. He said the US was reluctant to engage with the Taliban directly, opting instead for dealing with them through the good offices of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Both countries urged Washington to be “patient” with the Taliban. This was acceptable to US bureaucracy that did not want to do anything with Afghanistan anyway.
Mr Coll disclosed that Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal had held negotiations with the Taliban in June 1998 for the handover of Osama bin Laden to the Kingdom. The US was not told of these contacts. In the first meeting, Mullah Omar said yes to the Saudi request as long as he would received “Islamic justice” when and where he was tried before a properly constituted commission. When the Saudi intelligence chief met Mullah Omar in July – an ISI representative was present at the meeting – Mullah Omar’s attitude had changed. He was hostile and denounced the Saudi official. The meeting broke up with Prince Turki telling Mullah Omar, “You will pay a terrible price for it.” Asked in the question-answer session if Mullah Omar was even capable of delivering Osama bin Laden to the Saudis, Mr Coll replied that by 1999 he was perhaps not capable of doing so. To another question, he said that opinion in the State Department as to how to deal with the Taliban was divided, with some arguing with Pakistan that the Taliban should be engaged, while the pressure on them to improve human rights and women’s treatment should continue.
Govt inks deal with 3 tribes to nab mercenaries
By Mushtaq Yusufzai The News: Jang (Pakistan) April 10, 2004
PESHAWAR: The government has inked an agreement with three major tribes of Shawal in North Waziristan agency under which Bakakhel, Janikhel and Kabulkhel tribesmen would fight shoulder to shoulder with the Pakistan armed forces against "foreign terrorists" and their local sympathizers.
"The tribal elders through a written agreement promised to organise a Lashkar (force) to carry out operation against "foreign terrorists" and locals sheltering them in the agency. They also assured to deliver the culprits involved in attacking Pakistan Army camp, killing a major and a constable," an official of the political administration, pleading anonymity, told The News by phone from Miranshah Friday.
It is to be added here that unknown assailants had attacked the Pakistan Army camp in Shawal on March 18 killing Major Abdul Wahid and constable Musa Khan on the spot while injuring three others. The political administration as usual had put responsibility for the attack on the local tribes under territorial responsibility.
The government after talks with the 150-member tribal jirga comprising chieftains from three major tribes had asked them to deliver the culprits before April 8. They were also asked to provide accurate information about the whereabouts of the killers, and were warned of punitive action in case of failure. The government ultimatum expired on Thursday.
In another round of talks held between the administration and tribal jirga in Miranshah, the jirga members were asked to constitute a tribal Lashkar for hunting down miscreants, who the authorities believed had been hiding in their area. According to the agreement, the jirga would organise an armed force against the assailants and other terrorists.
14 American troops killed in southern Afghanistan, Taliban claims
Islamabad Apr 10 (dpa) Afghanistan's ousted Taliban claimed to have killed 14 American soldiers in two separate attacks in southern Afghanistan during the last 48 hours, the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press reported today.
In a statement faxed to newspapers in northern Peshawar city Friday evening, Taliban spokesman Hamid Agha said 12 U.S. troops were killed when their convoy was ambushed by Taliban militia in Kus, in the Sangeen part of Helmand province on Thursday.
Three vehicles were destroyed in the attack, AIP said quoting a statement written in the Pushtoon language.
Agha also claimed that two American troops were killed and five others wounded in similar attacks on U.S. convoys in the Shah Joee area of Zabul province on Friday.
The reports of the killings came a day after allied warplanes pounded suspected terrorist sites in eastern Khost province following a rocket attack on a coalition forces patrol.
A clean-up operation was launched last month in Khost in response to recent rebel attacks on U.S. and government targets in the province.
About 13,500 coalition troops, including some 11,500 U.S. troops are currently deployed in different parts of Afghanistan, hunting remnants of Taliban and their allied al-Qaeda netwrok.
Since the beginning of this year, nearly 90 people, including U.S.
troops, Afghan soldiers, foreign aid workers and common citizens have been killed in Afghanistan.
Afghan spy chief kidnapped
KABUL, April 10: Suspected Taliban militants have kidnapped a high-ranking local government officer in south-central Afghanistan's Uruzgan province, an official said on Saturday.
"Our intelligence chief, Haji Ahmadullah and two of his bodyguards have been kidnapped by Taliban while driving to the provincial capital Tarin Kowt from a mission in neighbouring districts," a security official who asked not to be named told AFP.
The official said that the three men were kidnapped on Thursday and are believed to have been taken to remote Shah Wali Kot district, a southern mountainous area believed to be the main hideout for Taliban remnants in Uruzgan.
Speaking by satellite phone from Tarin Kowt, the official said the kidnappers had not made any contact with government.-AFP
A Place Of Hope In Afghanistan
TAPAZAR, Afghanistan, April 9, 2004
Afghan Daughters Defy Custom
(CBS) Nestled in the foothills of the Hindu Kush Mountains is a sleepy green valley that belongs to another age, reports CBS News Correspondent Lara Logan.
But scratch the surface of the deeply conservative rural place, where women are second-class citizens, and you'll find something quite extraordinary -- a place where young girls can find hope.
It's a school, run by an American charity, Catholic Relief Services.
It may not look like much -- there isn't even a classroom, but it's a start.
"If you talk to the girls they want to become teachers, they want to become lawyers, one said she wanted to become President -- so it means a lot to them," said Anne McLaughlin, Catholic Relief Services.
Local custom is so strict many parents won't allow their daughters to walk on public roads to state schools. So the girls are taught near their homes. There are separate classes for boys.
Thirteen-year-old Satara had never been to school before this. She wants to become a doctor.
And she had a message for the American people:
"I want them to help us rebuild our roads and make more schools."
The girls' teacher, Morsal, is only seventeen. But she's been teaching for years -- even when girls education was banned under the Taliban and she had to hold her lessons in secret. Now she has other problems.
"We don't have enough books and chairs," she said. "But I have the courage to teach and they have the courage to learn."
All the state schools in Afghanistan are closed at this time of year and most children are on vacation, but these students are so eager to catch up on the education they've missed that they come to class here six days a week, twelve months a year.
Only 21 percent of Afghan women can read or write - and in some villages, the end of the Taliban has made little difference.
Burquas hanging over a tree belong to the older girls, who were so afraid they hid from the camera.
The funding may come from abroad, but it's the Afghan villagers who keep the project alive -- eager to take advantage of the first peace they've known in 25 years and give their children the chance of a better life.
Pakistan Deports Son of Canadian Linked to Al Qaeda
Saturday, April 10, 2004; 8:27 AM
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan deported to Canada the youngest son of an Egyptian-born Canadian killed by Pakistani forces during a raid on an al Qaeda hideout in October, officials said on Saturday.
Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Rauf Chaudhry said Abdul Karim Khadr, the youngest son of Ahmed Said Khadr, was deported to Canada on Friday.
"It was done on the request of the Canadian government," Chaudhry told Reuters.
Pakistani intelligence says Ahmed Said Khadr, also known as Abu Abdur Rehman and nicknamed al-Canadi or "the Canadian," ran a charity that sent money to al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.
Canadian television has reported that the Khadr family had close connections to Osama bin Laden, the man accused of masterminding the September 11, 2001 hijack attacks in the United States which killed nearly 3,000 people.
Khadr's now-deported youngest son was wounded in a gunbattle during the raid in the North Waziristan tribal region near Afghan border in which his father and seven others were killed. The young Khadr was treated for a spinal injury after the fight.
Said Khadr was arrested in Pakistan in 1996 on suspicion of financing a bombing of the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad the previous year. Canadian media reported he was later released after then Prime Minister Jean Chretien intervened.
Another Khadr son, Omar, is in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and is accused of being involved in a fatal attack on a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan. A third son, Abdurrahman, was released from Guantanamo Bay in October.
Pakistan's South Waziristan region is believed to be a hotbed for Islamic militants and Pakistani troops last month launched a major operation there in which 120 people were killed and 167 people, including 73 foreigners, were arrested. But no top al Qaeda figures were found.
The Paradox of Pakistan-US Relations
Nasim Zehra Arab News (Saudi Arabia)
ISLAMABAD, 10 April 2004 — Right now neither the US nor Pakistan is at peace on the home front. Nations going through transition never are. Hence statements alone tend to take the relationship to a “boiling point.” Pakistan’s strategic course correction, some on objectives and others on means, has involved internal political and security commotion. The rollback now taking place is dangerously chaotic. It is necessary for internal peace and security as was the tackling of the tragic A.Q Khan case. However legitimate these actions, public resentment against continued US pressure on Pakistan for not doing enough exists. Whether it is Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz’s statement or US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad’s threat of US military conducting anti-militant operations in the tribal areas if Pakistan fails, Pakistanis are livid. Even with their own government. Yesterday’s mujahedeen are today’s terrorists and yesterday’s financiers of the jihad are today’s men with the proverbial “big stick.” These are complex perceptions, not easily tackled. Also they are rooted in some truth.
Given the international context, the issues of proliferation, anti-terrorism, growing Muslim resentment in major geographical zones toward the US, Pakistan’s nuclear power, military force and strategic location, a relationship with Pakistan’s is indispensable for the US. The recent decision to give Pakistan the non-NATO ally status illustrates the point. Pakistani establishment, like most political parties, recognize the compulsions of this relationship. The public watches the US-created killing fields of Iraq, the dehumanization of innocent men in Guantanamo Bay and the unfair demands on Pakistan to bring peace to Afghanistan. Innocent deaths and the controversial Wana operation too were credited to the US account. Often the internal logic and necessity for much of this is lost. But these are realities unlikely to change within the immediate context.
Naturally in this election year the Bush administration is deeply troubled. Its policies that earlier enjoyed bipartisan support may now cause a Democratic victory. There is the disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq, the incontrovertible evidence of fabrication on Iraq’s WMDs to justify invasion, the continuing problems of warlords, drugs and security in Afghanistan, the allegation that instead of tackling terrorism the neocons opted to invade Iraq and above all the growing unemployment in the US.
The Bush administration is under heavy criticism for withholding thousands of pages of Clinton administration papers from the bipartisan commission investigating the 9/11 events. No less is regular criticism by sections of US’s policy community of Bush’s policies towards Pakistan. They want penalties imposed on the Pakistan government that sections of Bush’s own administration claims is responsible for continuing trouble in Afghanistan, global proliferation, support for “fundamentalists” within Pakistan and failure to restore democracy. This is then the unending “wish list” of accusations that the US must continuously address.
The United States generally and the Bush administration specifically is dealing with crises largely of its own making. During his March interview with PTV the US Secretary of State Colin Powell had maintained that for the US the lesson from their extremist and militarized Afghan policies of the eighties was that dialogue was key to settling disputes. In Iraq, despite global pressure to the contrary, the US abandoned that lesson. The result is the continuing mess. From Iraq body bags will flow to grief-stricken Iraqi and US homes. Anti-US guerrilla warfare will continue.
Afghanistan is no “success” either. Even Powell maintains that the warlords are the main problem. Big powers however blame others for their shortcomings. The complaining Khalilzad and Wolfowitz, who subsequently retracted their statements, know this truth. Pakistan hence is caught in the cross-fire of US’s election campaigns and the competing disasters of Iraq. Bush and his top advisers including Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld , CIA chief George Tenet and Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton are all voting in favor of Pakistan as a responsible state. That is what gives Pakistan common ground on which to build a relationship on terms that are mutually acceptable. Benefits for Pakistan range from security to development.
— Nasim Zehra is an Islamabad-based security analyst and fellow of the Harvard University Asia Center.
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