Afghan Authorities Arrest Two, Find Bomb
By PAUL HAVEN, Associated Press Writer Wed Apr 21,12:33 PM ET
KABUL, Afghanistan - Police and international peacekeepers arrested two people and found a homemade bomb in the center of the Afghan capital on Wednesday, authorities said.
In restive southeastern Afghanistan one person was killed when another bomb hidden in a motorcycle exploded near a building where a provincial governor was holding a meeting.
Deputy Police Chief Amin Khalil Zada said peacekeepers in Kabul took the two suspects into custody in the early afternoon on a street just a few hundred yards from the Finance Ministry.
Zada said explosives were found stuffed into a pressure cooker, which peacekeepers destroyed safely. Although the street was cordoned off, reporters were able to watch as a bomb-removal robot moved in to handle the device.
Lt. Richard Scarth, a spokesman for the 6,500-strong peacekeeping contingent, called the International Security Assistance Force, confirmed that an operation was underway, but declined to comment on specifics.
He said the peacekeepers planned to release more information later in the day.
Afghan security forces backed by peacekeepers have made several high-level arrests in recent weeks targeting supporters of renegade warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who has teamed with Taliban insurgents and al-Qaida militants.
The capital has been an island of relative peace in a country still struggling with frequent attacks by insurgents, most in the south and east of the country.
On Wednesday, a bomb hidden in a motorcycle went off in the southeastern city of Spin Boldak, said Khalid Pashtun, a spokesman for the governor of the Kandahar province, Yousuf Pashtun.
One person was killed in the bombing, which took place about 50 yards from a building where Yousuf Pashtun was holding a meeting. Two people were also injured, including the 6-year-old daughter of an official at the meeting, said Khalid Pashtun.
It was not clear who carried out the bombing, or whether the governor was the intended target.
Blast kills two in Afghan south, misses governor
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, April 21 (Reuters) - At least two people were killed and two more wounded on Wednesday when a bomb went off in Afghanistan's restive south, in what officials suspected was a failed attack on the provincial governor.
Kandahar Governor Mohammad Yousuf Pashtun was chairing a
Meeting at the headquarters of Spin Boldak district, near the Pakistani border, when a bomb attached to a motorbike went off in a parking area outside the compound, they said.
An Afghan soldier and a young girl were killed and another soldier and a second civilian were wounded, the officials added.
They blamed "terrorists" for the attack, and said the target May have been Pashtun himself.
Authorities usually use the term "terrorists" to describe members of the ousted Taliban and their al Qaeda allies blamed for a wave of violence across the country that has claimed more than 650 lives since August.
Kandahar used to be the main bastion of the Taliban and tribal rivalry and drug trafficking is rampant in the province.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and former Kandahar governor Gul Agha Sherzai narrowly survived an assassination bid in September, 2002, when their vehicle came under fire from an unidentified assailant.
NDS apprehend 17 individuals in Kabul
KABUL -- At approximately 1:45 p.m., Wednesday, April 21, the National Directorate for Security (NDS), with support from International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) troops, apprehended three individuals near the Olympic Stadium in Kabul. A fourth person was apprehended at 2:40 p.m. in the near vicinity. This fourth individual was carrying an improvised explosive device (IED) when detained. The four individuals are now in the custody of the NDS.
An ISAF explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team examined the IED at 6:30 p.m. The EOD team found three detonators and a power source in the vest of the last individual. After the IED was rendered safe, the EOD team found one fuse and a quantity of high explosive.
The aim of the operation was to apprehend individuals involved in the transfer of an IED from one person or group to a second group suspected of planning to use the IED against CFC-A, ISAF or Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan targets of opportunity.
A second phase to this operation comprised the cordon and search of a house. NDS, supported by ISAF, entered the house at approximately 11:15 p.m. where 13 men were apprehended by the NDS and are now being detained at a NDS holding facility for questioning. The house belonged to one of these men -- a suspected leader of a 10-man cell. The area was secured at approximately 1 a.m., Thursday, April 22.
The apprehension brought to a close an ongoing surveillance operation That successfully identified, tracked and apprehended the individuals before a suspected terrorist act could be perpetrated.
There were no injuries to either the security agencies involved or Those apprehended in the operation. This was a very effective operation that successfully removed a number of people, who were deemed to pose an immediate threat to security, from the streets of Kabul.
Pakistani prison escapees recaptured in Afghan capital
Associated Press Tuesday April 20
Twelve Pakistani prisoners who escaped from a northern jail with the help of a prison guard were recaptured in the capital on Tuesday and will be sent back to jail, Afghan state television reported.
The men, all imprisoned for fighting alongside the Taliban against the U.S.-led war in 2001, were found hiding in a house in northern Kabul, said Gen. Baba Jan, Kabul's police chief. The guard was also arrested, along with the owner of the house, Jan told the television station.
About 500 Pakistanis remain in Afghan prisons, mostly in the north. Pakistan and Afghanistan have been negotiating their release from the jails, most of which have abysmal conditions that have been criticized by human rights groups. The men recaptured on Tuesday had been held in a particularly notorious jail, called Sheberghan, controlled by northern Afghan warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum.
Four Afghan civilians wounded by US soldiers in southeastern Afghanistan
KHOST, Afghanistan, April 21 (AFP) - Four Afghan civilians were wounded when American soldiers patrolling the area opened fire on a vehicle in southeastern Afghanistan, witnesses said Wednesday.
The four, two men and two women, were wounded on Tuesday when their 'fast driving' taxi came under fire by American soldiers patrolling near southeastern Khost city, villagers in the Nadir Shah Kot district, some 15 kilometers (nine miles) from Khost city told AFP.
'The American soldiers fired on the taxi without warning as it drove fast towards them,' one villager said. The injured Afghans who were taken to the Khost hospital asked for compensation for their injuries and for the taxi, which was damaged by bullets.
'We are not Taliban, we are not Al-Qaeda, the Americans shot us without any reason,' one of the injured men told AFP in the hospital. 'We are asking for compensation,' he said.
Scores of civilians have been killed and wounded by the US-led forces hunting remnants of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan since the toppling of the hardliners in late 2001.
ADB To Consider $800M Concessional Loan for Afghanistan
The Associated Press 04/21/2004
The Asian Development Bank Wednesday said it will consider a new $800 million concessional assistance package for Afghanistan to support ongoing reconstruction in the war-battered country.
The Manila-based development bank said in a statement that the three-year assistance will be subject to the availability of funds and the outcome of ongoing negotiations under the Afghanistan Development Forum in Kabul.
The three-day forum, which started from Tuesday, will review the progress of reconstruction made in the past two years and focus on implementation of projects within the government's National Development Budget.
The forum also serves as an avenue for the international donor community to discuss with the Afghanistan government project implementation and how $8.2 billion in pledges - to be made out over the next three years as concluded at a recent conference in Berlin - can be translated into actual programs and projects.
"In addition to the $800 million, ADB has identified loan and equity investments of up to $100 million in partnership with local and foreign investors," the statement said. ADB already pledged $1 billion in assistance to Afghanistan for 2005-2008 at the Berlin conference.
ADB Senior Adviser on Afghanistan Frank Polman said Afghanistan has made impressive efforts in the area of financial management reforms, particularly in revenue collection, focusing on compliance and enforcement. "This will certainly increase effectiveness and efficiency of aid coordination in support of national development and poverty reduction objectives," Polman said.
Despite progress toward recovery, Afghanistan is still desperately poor and struggling to cope with an influx of millions of refugees, an ongoing insurgency by Taliban rebels and fractious factional fighting by warlords whose power outside the capital is largely unchallenged.
Taliban's top leaders have no place in Afghan society: US military
KABUL, April 21 (Xinhua) -- The US military in Afghanistan believed that former ranking officials of the ousted Taliban regime would have no place in post-Taliban country, US military spokesman Matt Beeveres said Wednesday.
"Top leaders of the Taliban leadership clearly have no place in Afghan society and they will either be killed or captured," he told reporters at a news briefing.
He made this comment amid reports that Washington and Kabul were jointly working on an amnesty scheme for Taliban members and followers of former Prime Minister Gulbudin Hekmatyar.
The plan, according to news reports, if ticked would enable the middle and lower level members of the deposed Taliban regime and Hekmatyar's supporters to join the central government in Kabul.
Taliban's elusive leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and chief of radical Islamic party Hizb-e-Islami Hekmatyar would not be benefited from the proposed scheme, the reports said.
However, the US military officer said that non-criminal Taliban members have a place in Afghan society, "so we give them the opportunity to reintegrate into the society, lay down their arms and become part of the Afghan society."
Remnants of the Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies who termed the Karzai-led central government as a US puppet have vowed to continue Jihad or holy war against US-dominated force in Afghanistan unless they vacate the country.
The US military spokesman also downplayed the Taliban as a threat saying the group's isolated terrorist activities speak their "desperation and marginalization" in the society.
Development forum sets priorities for billions pledged in Berlin
KABUL, 21 April (IRIN) - Delegates from more that 40 international organisations participated in a two-day conference organised by the Afghanistan Development Forum (ADF) in the capital Kabul on Tuesday. Chaired by the government, the meeting discussed the financial implications of the nation's development priorities and how donor money can be best utilised.
According to officials, the conference's priority is to hammer out a strategy for the US $8.2 billion that was pledged at a donor conference in Berlin in early April. "The challenge now for us to create the institutions and the capacity that would enable our people to come out of poverty and live in security," Afghan President Hamid Karzai told the conference.
Karzai said his government had worked out a budget for the billions pledged that would boost security, accelerate the demobilisation of hundreds of private militias and combat the flourishing opium trade his country has become infamous for propagating. "I have instructed the Development Budget Committee to focus on translation of the work programme into specific deliverables during this year's budget," the Afghan president underlined.
The Afghan government announced new development programmes at the meeting. "There are some new programmes including the National Agriculture Programme, National Accountability and Rule of Law Programme, the National Private Sector Support Programme and the National Skills Development Programme that will be addressed in these two days," Nazir Ahmad Shahidi, Afghan deputy minister of reconstruction, told IRIN at the ADF conference on Tuesday.
Earlier this month, Afghanistan presented a vision of a peaceful, economically viable nation at the Berlin conference. Officials said that within a decade, the country would no longer be an international burden if the war ravaged country had access to $27 billion in assistance funding over the next 10 years.
A major complaint from Kabul was that the government was not in control of donor funds that flowed in after the fall of the Taliban in late 2001. "We have to learn from the last two years' experience; this is a lot of money and it will help us achieve our national aspirations if it is planned, implemented and monitored by the government rather than NGOs," Afghan planning minister, Ramazan Bashardost, told IRIN. Some international donors were reluctant to give money direct to Afghanistan's fledgling administration, fearing a lack of experience, and funding the work of hundreds of international relief and reconstruction organisations instead.
The newly-assigned minister said he would propose a new regulatory NGOs framework to the ADF aiming to prevent what he said was "the bitter experiences of the past two years of the uncoordinated reconstruction process".
This is the second time the ADF is discussing the national budget and programmes with donors and international counterparts. In mid-March 2003, the Afghan government sketched out an annual budget at a similar conference in Kabul. The 2003 ADF planned a budget worth US $550 million, of which $200 million was expected to come from domestic revenue and $350 million from donors.
Many held in Afghan terror raids
By Andrew North BBC correspondent in Kabul
Thursday, 22 April, 2004, 09:47 GMT 10:47 UK BBC News
Seventeen people have been arrested in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on suspicion of planning attacks against government and foreign targets, officials say.
The arrests follow two security swoops in which explosives were found, say local police and Nato-led peacekeepers.
In two other recent operations in Kabul, 14 people were arrested on suspicion of ties to Islamic militants.
Attack fears are growing in Kabul as Afghanistan's elections - due in four months' time - draw closer.
In the first of two separate operations, troops from the International Security Assistance Force, or Isaf, arrested four people in an area near several government buildings.
One was found to be carrying a quantity of high explosives, detonators and a power source, according to an Isaf statement.
Late on Wednesday, troops and police surrounded a house in another part of Kabul and detained 13 men.
All are now in Afghan custody.
No details about their identities have been released but the peacekeeping force says they posed an imminent security threat.
A spokesman declined to say whether it was linked to two raids in the past 10 days in which 14 people have been arrested, including several accused of having ties to al-Qaeda.
While attacks continue almost daily elsewhere in Afghanistan, Kabul has been relatively quiet since two suicide bombings in January killed British and Canadian soldiers.
But as elections planned for September approach, there are real concerns about renewed violence in the capital.
Pakistan farmers burn U.N., army vehicles to protest destruction of poppy crops
Associated Press Wednesday April 21, 8:46 PM
Angered over the destruction of their poppy crops by the government, hundreds of armed farmers blocked a major highway in southwest Pakistan Wednesday and set fire to three vehicles, including a United Nations car, officials said.
The government has deployed troops to the area to restore order, said Col. Abdul Basit, spokesman for the Frontier Constabulary. Armed with assault rifles, the farmers took control of the main road near the Afghan border after paramilitary troops destroyed their poppy fields in an early morning raid, he said. The poppies were destroyed in line with a government policy to eradicate the plant that is used to make heroin, Basit said.
They stopped a car belonging to the U.N. Family Health Association and set fire to it but did not hurt its only occupant, the driver, he said. The U.N. vehicle was in the area for a polio immunization campaign that began this week. Two military vehicles also were torched by the farmers on the highway, 135 kilometers (85 miles) northwest of Quetta, the capital of southwest Baluchistan province, Basit said.
"We took action only when they refused to destroy their crop voluntarily," he said, adding that police had recorded 35 cases of farmers damaging government and U.N. vehicles, and cultivating poppies. Poppy growing has recently increased in remote tribal regions that border Afghanistan where the government has little authority.
Poppies yield opium that is processed to produce heroin, which fetches high prices on international markets. Impoverished farmers in Pakistan can earn much more from opium resin than from yields of other crops, including fruit and corn.
Afghan cultural expert calls for restoration of historical site
Wednesday April 21, 2004 (1619 PST) Pakistan News Tribune
SAN FRANCISCO, April 22 (Online): International Market Gallery (IMG) owners and former Afghan natives Tony and Sam Abrahim will host a benefit to aid the Association for the Protection of Afghan Archaeology Inc.'s (APAA) efforts to restore the archaeological treasures of Bamiyan Valley, which in 2001 was the center of media attention.
The world bore witness to the Taliban's tragic destruction of two ancient Buddha statues -- historical icons from the third and fifth centuries that once stood 120 and 170 feet high, says a report of PRNewswire.
The APAA's mission is to educate the world about the inherent value of archaeology as a foundation for cultural identity, with a specific focus on Afghanistan's 1,000-year-old cultural heritage.
The Valley area is home to numerous ancient relics and temples in addition to the famed Buddhas.
APAA President and honorary guest Dr. Zemaryalai Tarzi will present the APAA's plans to conduct the first ever open-air excavations in Bamiyan in order to unearth and preserve the royal monastery, surrounding monasteries, and the royal city of Bamiyan with the added hopes of rediscovering the legendary 1000-foot reclining Buddha statue of Bamiyan.
The event will feature a live auction of art, furniture, rugs and collectables and include other distinguished speakers and guests with traditional Afghan music, hors d'oeuvres and beverages. Admission is $30 with all proceeds going toward the APAA's efforts to save and restore the ancient Bamiyan Valley.
About The Association for the Protection of Afghan Archaeology, Inc.
The Association for the Protection of Afghan Archaeology, Inc. is dedicated to the archaeology and Cultural Heritage of Afghanistan.
APAA's goal is to bring understanding and raise awareness thus ensuring the promotion of the Afghan Archaeological and Cultural Heritage through its teaching in schools and public venues across the world including in Afghanistan, in the Afghan and multi-cultural Bay Area community, as well as promote and assist in the education of the international public about the inherent value of archaeological treasures to cultural identity, and to specifically focus on the plight of Afghan people regarding the loss of their cultural heritage.
Finally, APAA is concerned with the lack of professional training in the sciences of archaeology, restoration and conservation and aims at providing thorough assistance in these areas.
Kyrgyzstan thanks Japan for help rebuilding Afghanistan
Kyodo (Japan) Wednesday April 21, 2:53 PM
Kyrgyzstan President Askar Akayev on Wednesday expressed appreciation for Japan's support for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, saying stability in the country is key to peace in Central Asia, a Japanese official said.
Akayev was quoted as saying in a meeting with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi that Afghanistan had been a threat to other Central Asian countries.
Akayev told Koizumi that all countries in the region appreciate Japan's efforts, such as hosting an international donors' meeting for Afghanistan in Tokyo in January 2002. At the conference, Japan pledged $500 million for a 30-month period.
Akayev, who is currently on a four-day visit to Japan through Friday, also appreciated Japan's aid for Kyrgyzstan's development.
Koizumi told Akayev tht Japan will continue to offer development assistance.
Warlord Arrives in Kabul to Meet Karzai
Ethnic Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum arrived in Kabul on 19 April to meet with Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai following clashes in northern Afghanistan involving the strongman's militia forces, AFP reported 19 April. "General Dostam is in Kabul, he will meet President Karzai this evening," said Akber Bai, an aide to Dostum.
Dostum met with U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad as well, Bai said without offering details. Dostum's forces were at the center of factional fighting that began on 6 April in northern Afghanistan that left at least four dead. Dostum's militia moved into the northwestern Faryab Province, where the government-appointed governor was forced to flee with the help of British troops based nearby.
The fighting marked another setback in Karzai's efforts to rein in warlords across the country and extend the U.S.-backed government's powers. Tensions between Dostum's forces and rival militias loyal to Tajik commanders have persisted in the area around the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.
We, The People of
Said Tayeb Jawad
The Ambassadors Review (Spring 2004)
The people of
A passage from the preamble of our new Constitution sets the course for the direction my country has taken:
"We, The People of Afghanistan... for the creation of a civil society free of oppression, atrocity, discrimination and violence and based upon the rule of law, social justice, protection of human rights, and dignity and ensuring the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people... have adopted this Constitution in compliance with the historical, cultural and social requirements of the era...."
A Balanced Charter
The national charter that has been adopted is balanced and provides for equal rights and full participation of women. It seeks and finds an equilibrium between building a strong central executive branch (to further strengthen national unity and rebuild the national institutions that were destroyed by foreign interference or factional lighting), and respecting the rights of volition of the provinces to exercise more authority in managing their local affairs by institutionalizing district and provincial level councils.
The new Constitution provides for checks and balances between a strong
presidency and a two-chamber National Assembly with extensive powers of inquiry, which cannot be dissolved by the President. Furthermore, it represents a careful combination of respect for moderate and traditional values of the Afghan society and adherence to the international norms of human rights and democracy.
A Powerful Executive Branch
The new Constitution establishes the President as the head of state, elected by direct majority vote. He/she will serve for a period of five years with two vice presidents and is subject to a two-term limit. The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and he/she appoints ministers, the attorney general, and the head of the national security directorate, members of the Supreme Court, but only with the approval of the Parliament. While the President is granted strong executive powers, his/her authority is
checked and balanced through oversight by other branches. The Constitution provides for a clear impeachment process if the President commits crimes against humanity, treason or other crimes.
A Well-built Legislative Branch
The Parliament or National Assembly consists of two chambers, the Wolesi Jirga (or the lower house) and Meshrano Jirga (or the upper house or senate). The 250 members of the lower house serve for five years and are elected in proportion to the population of each province. To insure that 25 percent of the members are women, the Constitution requires that two female delegates be elected from each of the 32 provinces of the country. Such a high quota for women is rare in most countries, both Muslim and non-Muslim. The President appoints one-third of the senators, 50 percent of which appointment must be women.
An Independent Judiciary
The Constitution creates an independent and able judicial branch and institutionalizes
An Articulate Application of Islamic Law
The new Constitution institutionalizes the civil law system in
pioneering feature of the new Constitution is that it prohibits the formation of a political party based solely on ethnicity, language and/or an Islamic school of thought.
Gender Equality and Individual Rights
Article 22 of the Constitution states that the citizens of
The new Constitution appreciates our rich cultural, ethnic and lingual diversity and for the first time in
An Institutionalized Human Rights Commission
The Independent Human Rights Commission set forth by the Bonn Agreement is further empowered and institutionalized by Article 58. The Commission has the right to refer cases of human rights and fundamental rights violations to the judiciary and is empowered to assist in defending the rights of the victims.
An Emerging Model
Our new Constitution proves that the investment made by the United Slates government and the international community to help us build our national and democratic institutions, although limited, has already yielded very impressive results. The new Constitution further reveals that our Islamic and traditional values are fully compatible, and mutually reinforcing with an open democracy. In two short years, the people of
Led by the vision of President Karzai,
The next milestone for the Afghan people is setting the stage for the first free and fair national elections under the new Constitution. The timetable for the elections is to he set forth by September 2004. President Karzai insists on holding the Presidential elections on time as scheduled, but we will not compromise the legitimacy, credibility and integrity of the process. We ask our international partners to help the United Nations in accelerating voter registration to ensure the credibility of the election process. It is crucial for us that the process gives all adult Afghans the opportunity to exercise their constitutional rights to vote in the first national elections for which they have waited so long. To date, 1.4 million out of 10.5 million eligible voters are registered. We are about to drastically increase the number of registration posts from eight to 4,000 throughout the country.
We are realistic about our challenges. We face the general challenge of building a state and providing for good governance, after the complete destruction of all national institutions and a severe shortage of resources and human capital. To overc3me these challenges we must reform, strengthen and rebuild our government institutions to make them accountable, capable, and more representative, and we must improve local and district level governance. We must enhance government capacity to deliver services to all
corners of me country, especially in areas prone to terrorist infiltration. All Afghans have not yet benefited from the peace dividend. We must eliminate corruption, nepotism and abuse of power that undermine our recovery process.
We are also facing the specific challenges of preparing the logistical and legal grounds for the election and building the institutions and the capacity needed to prepare and enact the enabling laws required by the new Constitution.
We also continue to confront security challenges posed by the terrorists and other elements. To overcome security challenges we must expedite the process of building our national army and professional police force. We have asked our international partners to enhance security in the provinces by expediting the deployment and presence of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and/or the Provincial Reconstructing Teams (PRTs). We welcomed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the UN decision to expand ISAF outside of
Narcotics pose a serious challenge for all of us. Cultivation and trafficking of narcotics go hand in hand with terrorism and warlordism. It is in our best national interest to fight them all. President Karzai is committed to mobilizing all of our resources in the light against narcotics. We know
To overcome these challenges and to make the nation building process in Afghanistan irreversible, Afghans need and demand the accelerated support and the sustained engagement by the United States of America and the international community. Afghans cherish the growing partnership and warm friendship forged between our two nations.
The successful implementation of
|Back to News Archirves of 2004|
Disclaimer: This news site is mostly a compilation of publicly accessible articles on the Web in the form of a link or saved news item. The news articles and commentaries/editorials are protected under international copyright laws. All credit goes to the original respective source(s).