Many held in Afghan terror raids
Thursday, 22 April, 2004, 09:47 GMT 10:47 UK BBC News
By Andrew North
BBC correspondent in Kabul
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.
Bomb injures three in eastern Afghanistan
ASADABAD, Afghanistan, April 22 (Reuters) - Afghan rebels planted a bomb on a truck carrying fuel for a U.S. military base on Thursday, and the explosion wounded three locals in the east of the country, residents said.
The tanker was about 15 km (9 miles) from the base when the Bomb exploded.
A U.S. military helicopter evacuated the three from the scene Of the blast in Ghazi Abad district of Kunar province, near the border With Pakistan, the residents added.
A security official in Asadabad, provincial capital of Kunar, said the blast was an act of sabotage carried out by followers of former Prime Minister and radical Islamic warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
Like the Taliban regime overthrown by U.S.-led troops in late 2001, Hekmatyar has declared a "jihad", or holy war against foreign forces in Afghanistan.
NATO-led peacekeepers in Kabul say they have arrested two Senior members of Hekmatyar's party and al Qaeda followers in the capital over the past two weeks. A wave of violence linked to Islamic militants from the ousted Taliban, al Qaeda and Hekmatyar's following has claimed more than 650 lives since August, most of them in southern and eastern Afghanistan.
Afghan leader shocked over 'terror' attacks in Riyadh and Basra
KABUL, April 22 (AFP) - Afghan president Hamid Karzai Thursday Condemned the 'terrorist' bombings in Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh and the Iraqi city of Basra that claimed dozens of civilian lives.
Karzai expressed 'shock and sorrow at the death of civilians in 'vicious and murderous terrorist attacks' in Riyadh and Basra, a statement issued by the presidential palace said.
Afghanistan itself has long suffered 'at the hand of terrorism', he said, adding that 'terrorists serve no cause but hurt humanity'. Karzai on his own behalf and on behalf of the people of Afghanistan conveyed 'heartfelt sympathies' to the families of the victims of the two attacks, the statement said.
The suicide car bomb in the Saudi capital killed at least four people and wounded 145, some 20 of them children. the wounded included Saudis and mainly Arab expatriates, as well as Africans and Asians. Three of the dead have been identified as a police colonel, a civil servant and an 11-year-old Syrian girl. The suicide bombings in the Iraqi Basra killed 68 on Wednesday.
Afghanistan to Receive Full Funding for Major Reconstruction Projects
Michael Kitchen Islamabad 23 Apr 2004, 11:35 UTC VOA
Afghanistan says this week's meeting of donor representatives was a success. The Afghan finance minister says all major reconstruction projects for the country should receive full funding.
Speaking at the close of the three-day Afghan Development Forum, Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani said donors expressed full confidence in Afghanistan's ability to manage the aid dollars it receives.
Earlier this month, more than 60 nations and aid organizations met in Berlin to pledge over $8 billion for Afghanistan, as it tries to rebuild after more than two decades of war.
Mr. Ghani says donor representatives meeting in Kabul this week agreed the Afghan government will take the lead in deciding how that money is spent.
"The Afghan government is in charge of the developmental agenda, and all the donors have accepted that this process should, as it must, be led by the government," he said.
In recent months, the Afghan government has taken measures aimed at rooting out corruption within its ranks, including an investigation into a real estate scandal in the capital.
Afghan officials say the support from the Berlin donors' conference has eased fears of waning international interest in Afghanistan's reconstruction.
Mr. Ghani says some countries have already begun making payments on their aid pledges, and he feels confident the country will be able to meet its financial needs over the coming year.
"I'm very, very encouraged, and the trend is going [in] exactly the right direction," he said.
Afghanistan is one of the world's poorest nations, with an average yearly income of just seven hundred dollars per person.
The government is attempting to rebuild basic infrastructure and schools and to replace local militia units with a trained national police force.
Kabul 'in driving seat' over aid strategy
By Victoria Burnett in Kabul April 23 2004 5:00 Financial Times
Armed with billions of dollars in fresh international assistance, Afghanistan this week moved to assure donors their money would be wisely spent. The Kabul government said it would be firmly in the driving seat of the country's vast reconstruction process.
Three weeks after an international donor conference in Berlin raised $8.2bn (€6.8bn, £4.5bn) to help fund the country's development, Afghan officials sat down in Kabul with representatives of donor countries and multilateral organisations to present their strategy for spending the money.
Ashraf Ghani, the finance minister, said the lion's share of new aid would be channelled through the central government budget -a victory for President Hamid Karzai's administration, which has voiced deep frustration over the past two years at the meagre portion of aid that passed through its coffers.
"All the donors have accepted that this process should be led by the government," Mr Ghani told a press conference at the end of the three-day meeting in Kabul.
The government presented in Berlin an economic recovery plan that would require $28bn in foreign aid over seven years, to add to the $5.2bn pledged at a similar donor conference in Tokyo two years ago. It will ratify a $4.5bn budget in mid-May, following further negotiations with donors about spending priorities.
"The challenge now is... linking the pledges made in Berlin to government programmes," said Alastair McKechnie, the World Bank's country director for Afghanistan.
Mr Ghani said the treasury collected $202m in domestic revenue during the financial year ending March 21. A drive to get wayward provincial governors to turn over more funds netted $40m in taxes due from the previous year in, he said.
Donor representatives at this week's meeting praised the speed with which the government had built up the capacity to manage a growing budget and carve out a development strategy.
Mr Karzai promised on Tuesday to cut the size of his unwieldy cabinet and ensure that ministries were run by professionals, rather than by people picked to satisfy political or ethnic agendas. But reforming the bloated civil service presents a political challenge ahead of elections scheduled for September.
Bruno de Schaetzen, representative of the IMF in Afghanistan, said the fund was encouraged by the government's emphasis on the role private capital should play in economic recovery. Afghanistan has attracted about $200m in foreign investment over the past two years, including a $40m Hyatt hotel project, which broke ground last week, but many prospective investors are put off by corruption and red tape.
* A blast from a bomb planted by Afghan rebels on a truck carrying fuel for a US military base yesterday wounded three locals in the east of the country, residents said, Reuters reports from Asadabad.
A security official in Asadabad, provincial capital of Kunar, said the blast, in a district near the Pakistan border, was an act of sabotage by followers of radical Islamic warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
US general says Pakistan Army can handle operations in tribal areas
* Gen Barno says Pakistan’s military operation in South Waziristan forced terrorists to change typical spring offensive
By Wajahat Ali Daily Times
KABUL: The Pakistan Army does not require external assistance to conduct military operations in Pakistan’s tribal belt and has the capability to take out terrorists hiding in that area.
This was stated by Lt Gen David W Barno, commanding general of the Combined Forces Command in Afghanistan, while talking to a group of visiting Pakistani journalists.
Gen Barno said the two sides “share concerns about foreign fighters” and added that Islamabad should “continue [its] operations to capture or kill [them] inside Pakistan’s sovereign territory”. Taking a different line from the US ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, Gen Barno said, “We are all trying to do more against terrorism” and “have set high standards for ourselves”. Ambassador Khalilzad had asked Islamabad to do more on April 17 when he met the same group of Pakistani journalists, prompting the Pakistan Foreign Office to hit back the next day and describe Mr Khalilzad as suffering from ‘Attention Deficit Disorder’.
Gen Barno said the coalition forces had been successful in Afghanistan and there have also been “some positive results of Pakistan’s military operations [in the tribal areas]”.
“There has been a change in [the terrorists’] typical spring offensive a year ago,” he said and ascribed that to Pakistan’s military operation in South Waziristan. “That has been a big factor in this,” Gen Barno said. “There is a significant uptake in [Pakistan troops’] activity and the effectiveness of that activity ... and I don’t think anyone will disagree with that,” he said.
When asked how far had the coalition troops been successful in plugging the routes from Waziristan to Afghanistan, he said: “Should the enemy decide under pressure from your army to try and infiltrate into Afghanistan, we are in a good position to exploit that and attack it.”
He added: “During the recent operation in Wana, we did not see that happening. We did not see the outflow of people coming into Afghanistan as a result of the Pakistani military operation. In my judgment, terrorist elements have realised that significant forces were waiting for them inside Afghanistan.”
“So far, we have not seen the people fleeing from Pakistan to Afghanistan. If that happens in future, we are prepared to deal with the situation,” he claimed.
Talking about a recent tripartite meeting he attended in Islamabad, Gen Barno said the participants observed a drop in border incidents to “almost nothing in the last 90 days”. This, he claimed, was due to “the effectiveness of border meetings”.
To a question about the credibility of intelligence information provided to Pakistan before the Wana operation, he said the two sides share information on the movement along the Pak-Afghan border. “All that information gets combined and used. But they [the Pakistani authorities] have to do their own reconnaissance,” he clarified.
Gen Barno denied seeing tunnels on the Afghan side of the border. Previously, Islamabad had claimed some terrorists had escaped the Wana operation by slipping into Afghanistan using tunnels in the areas. The general said the post-Wana situation was not discussed during the tripartite meeting.
He disagreed with the observation that the writ of the Karzai government did not extend beyond Kabul, pointing out that the Afghan National Government moved swiftly to resolve the recent civil disputes in Herat and Faryab, deploying forces in these areas on a very short notice. “I think that is a very good indication that there is a lot of capability here,” Gen Brano said.
Regarding the need to reorganise given the situation in Iraq, Gen Barno said the situation in that country was not likely to affect the American presence in Afghanistan. “I see no indication of that,” said Gen Barno. “We have no plans of moving troops from this theatre to Iraq.”
UN expresses concern over security situation in Afghanistan
KaBUL, April 22 (Xinhua) -- While the Afghan transitional Government is pushing ahead with voter registration process to hold the landmark general elections next September, the United Nations is concerned over the security situation in southern and eastern parts of the country.
"Our security concerns are not a secret about the south, southeast and east. And they will continue to be a concern to us and yes we do take precautionary measures for our staff," David Singh of UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) told journalists here Thursday.
Afghanistan's first-ever presidential and parliamentary elections have been put off from June to September due to security concerns and low process of voter registration.
Over 1.8 million out of 10.5 million eligible voters have Registered since the inception of registration process last December.
A nationwide voter registration with the opening of 4,200 registration sites, is expected to begin on May 1 in order to expedite the process and enable all eligible voters to sign up for the poll.
"Once the infrastructure, the staff put in place and once we are satisfied that there is a secure environment we would go ahead with the program," added the official.
However, he said: "we do anticipate that exercise would proceed as per schedule within the framework in the May."
Taliban's remnants and their allies who have stepped up their anti-government insurgency have vowed to disrupt any political process run under US clouts.
U.S. forces kill two Taliban suspects; peacekeepers arrest 17 in Capital bomb scheme
By PAUL HAVEN
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) U.S. forces battled Taliban holdouts in a forbidding mountain range in southern Afghanistan, killing two fighters and arresting two others, an Afghan governor said Thursday.
Also Thursday, international peacekeepers announced that they and Afghan security forces had arrested 17 people in the capital in a sweep against suspects allegedly trying to plant a bomb.
Four people were arrested in the first phase of the operation early Wednesday afternoon three near Kabul stadium and a fourth about a kilometer (half-mile) away, in front of the Finance Ministry. Explosives experts found three detonators in the vest of the last suspect and later found a fuse and high explosives, the peacekeepers said in a statement.
Some 13 others were taken into custody in a raid on a home late Wednesday in the capital believed to belong to the leader of a 10-man terrorist cell.
``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,'' said the e-mailed statement by peacekeepers, called the International Security and Assistance Force, said in a statement.
It was not clear what the target was or whether the men were affiliated with the Taliban or its allies. No Afghan or peacekeeping authorities were injured in the raid. The 6,500-strong peacekeeping contingent has been involved in several other operations in recent days, arresting two senior members of renegade warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's forces.
The fighting involving U.S. forces occurred Wednesday in the Tangi mountains of Zabul province, said provincial Gov. Khial Mohammed. U.S. forces had received a tip that an unspecified number of Taliban fighters were hiding there, he said. There were no American casualties in the gunbattle, which lasted four hours.
Five AK-47 rifles and one rocket launcher were seized during the operation, Mohammed said. It was not clear whether any of those killed or captured were senior Taliban members. The U.S. military could not immediately be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, a bomb exploded near a bazaar in the southern city of Kandahar, damaging a nearby shop and killing the suspected attacker, the local military commander said Thursday. Kandahar borders Zabul to the south, though there was no indication the two incidents were related.
The bomb went off Wednesday night when the bazaar was closed, Gen. Khan Mohammed told The Associated Press. He said he believed it May have gone off by accident as the man was setting it up.
The general said the route near the bazaar is often used by Afghan and U.S. military vehicles, but it was not clear what the target was, or who was behind the botched attack.
``These are enemies of Afghanistan,'' Khan Mohammed said.
Holdouts from the ousted Taliban, al-Qaida militants and supporters of Hekmatyar have launched frequent attacks, most in southern and eastern Afghanistan.
Another bomb blew up Wednesday outside a meeting attended by the Kandahar governor in the nearby city of Spin Boldak, killing one person and injuring the six-year-old daughter of a local official who was attending the gathering. The governor was not injured.
Afghan province ends ban on female TV performers
KABUL, April 22 (Reuters) - An Afghan province has lifted a ban on women performers on television and radio just days after imposing it, residents said on Thursday, following pressure by reformists in President Hamid Karzai's government.
The deputy provincial governor of Nangarhar, an area heavily patrolled by U.S.-led troops hunting for Muslim militants and largely run by former anti-Soviet warriors, had announced the ban on Friday, declaring female performers un-Islamic.
But this week women were back on the air, residents said. The ban echoed the strict imposition of sharia Islamic law during the Taliban's repressive five-year rule of Afghanistan when television was banned, women were not allowed to work and girls were kept out of schools.
U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban late in 2001.
The issue of women performing on television and radio has divided moderates and conservative Islamist members of Karzai's government since the Taliban's fall.
Moderates have kept up pressure on conservative provinces to follow the new Afghan constitution that gives women equal rights.
A decision by Kabul Television in January to broadcast a female singer for the first time in more than a decade stirred protests from Islamists who briefly forced the station to stop airing such performances.
Moderates managed to lift that ban, saying women singers on television were in line with the new constitution.
Five Pakistan tribesmen harbouring Al-Qaeda to surrender: official
WANA, Pakistan (AFP) - Five rebel Pakistani tribesmen harbouring hundreds of Al-Qaeda fighters have agreed to surrender by Friday, a local administrator said. "The five wanted militants have agreed to surrender on Friday with all their weaponry," Rehmatullah Wazir, chief administrator of the South Waziristan tribal area along the Afghan border, told AFP Thursday.
The rebel tribesmen will surrender before tribal elders in the village of Shaki, 25 kilometres (15.5 miles) north of South Waziristan's main town Wana, he said. The government has twice postponed deadlines this month for the surrender of the five men, who have been leading a fierce resistance to its attempts to weed out foreign fighters in the region.
Nek Mohammad, who tops the wanted list, convinced the government to postpone by 10 days the last deadline, April 20, after sending messages through unknown intermediaries to local authorities. Authorities have threatened military action unless the five and foreign fighters are handed over, killed, leave Pakistan or agree to lay down arms and live peacefully.
The rebel tribesmen and an estimated 300 to 400 fighters fought off 7,500 Pakistani troops engaged in their largest ever anti-Al-Qaeda operation last month around Azam Warsak, just west of Wana towards the Afghan border.
They include two of Mohammad's uncles, Noor Islam and Mohammad Sharif. All three fought alongside the Taliban during their hardline 1996 to 2001 regime in Afghanistan Four of the group are from the defiant Yargulkhel clan of the Pashtun Waziri tribe.
The rebel tribesmen have been sheltering hundreds of mainly Central Asians who either fought alongside the Taliban and Al-Qaeda or joined the mujahedin war to drive out occupying Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
The foreign fighters fled over the porous border into Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal areas and found shelter among tribesmen who had fought with them and sympathised with them as Islamic warriors.
The ongoing Locust Campaign in northern Afghanistan seeks to save harvest
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization
Kabul, 22 April 2004 - The third emergency locust control campaign has started in northern Afghanistan, covering the provinces of Kunduz, Baghlan, Samanghan and Balkh.
The campaign is being executed by the Plant Protection and Quarantine Department (PPDQ) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry (MAAH). FAO is supporting the campaign by providing equipment, technical supervision and pesticides, while the NGO GOAL is assisting with logistics, transport and personnel.
The FAO programme is funded by the Rebuilding Agricultural Markets Programme (RAMP) of USAID, with additional funding for pesticides from the Governments of Norway and Switzerland. The Belgian Air Force has delivered a consignment of pesticide to Mazar-i-Sharif as start-up stock.
Control operations are carried out mainly by teams of local people using hand-held Ultra-Low Volume (ULV) sprayers under the supervision of trained organisers. Each of the provinces has a coordinator with one or two, depending on the size of the province, field supervisors. The work of the teams is supplemented by vehicle-mounted ULV sprayers used by MAAH and FAO staff.
The pesticides being used have been selected for their safety and efficacy. The Insect Growth Regulator, diflubenzuron, interferes with the process of moulting (change of external skeleton between each hopper instar). It is sprayed on the vegetation and the locusts die two moults after eating treated plants. It is safe for humans, birds and livestock. The pyrethroid, deltamethrin, is a low toxicity, fast-acting insecticide which is used when locusts are close to or inside crops where the slow acting diflubenzuron is inappropriate. It must also be used to control adults (winged locusts), since these no longer moult.
This year, the organisers have completed their training with mine awareness, provided by HALO Trust. Indeed, more emphasis will be put on the desert area in the triangle between Mazar-e Sharif, Pul-i-Khumri and Kunduz, as it is believed to be the main locust breeding area and a successful campaign there would greatly reduce the overall level of the outbreak. This has become possible through improved security and the removal of mines at critical points by UNMACA.
Vice President Arsala launches 'A Guide to Government in Afghanistan' at the Afghanistan Development Forum
Source: Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit
Kabul, April 21, 2004 -- A Guide to Government in Afghanistan is a new book recently published by the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) and the World Bank. This guide has three objectives: i) it seeks to provide newcomers to the administrative and political scene in Afghanistan with a basic guide to the structures and processes of government; ii) it intends to provide reformers with some understanding of how to work "with the grain" of the existing institutional arrangements; and iii) it seeks to pay tribute to the remarkable people who have kept the system running and who are now reforming it.
In pursuing these objectives, this guide attempts to set out the underlying strengths of the public sector, describing the evolution of the Afghan state, the current political context, and the administrative and organizational components of the government. It sets out the legal basis and organizational responsibilities for key fiscal tasks including revenue collection, budget preparation and execution, and accounting and audit. It also describes the organizational structures in the provinces, the way in which the staffing establishment is determined, and the structure of pay and grading. In particular, it looks at the arrangements for service delivery in the education and health sectors.
In launching the guide, Vice President Hedayat Amin Arsala noted, "Understanding how government works is essential to rebuilding Afghanistan. The government and the international community need to be cognisant of the strengths and weaknesses of administrative systems, so as to enable programmes to be implemented that create strong and transparent institutions with the capacity to deliver vital social services."
"This guide is a significant resource to ensure that policy and programme decisions are made from an informed position. The guide highlights the importance of subnational administration and reminds us of the need not just to focus on Kabul but also to concentrate on the provinces, municipalities and districts. Too often the structures of subnational government have been ignored," concluded Vice President Arsala.
Subnational Administration in Afghanistan: Assessment and Recommendations for Action is the companion report to the guide, which is also available, and outlines specific recommendations for the government and for the international assistance community.
The guides draws the bulk of its material from six provincial case studies as part of the AREU and World Bank public administration project: Faryab and Herat, undertaken in November 2002; Badakhshan and Wardak, in April 2003; Kandahar in June 2003; and finally Bamiyan in July 2003.
The study has been coordinated by AREU and the World Bank, and funded primarily by the European Commission with support from the Swiss and Swedish governments, UNAMA and the World Bank.
The work has been undertaken under the overall guidance of: H.E. Hedayat Amin Asala, Vice President, the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan; H.E. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, Minister of Finance; H.E. Ali Ahmad Jalali, Minister of Interior.
Top Afghan Balkh Province officials vow to defend Mazar from "invaders"
Balkh TV (in Dari) Via Afghaniyat 04/22/2004
Mazar-e Sharif - Political representatives in northern Afghanistan's Balkh Province, led by Atta Mohammad, commander of Military Corps No 7 and head of the mainly Tajik Jamiat faction, have vowed to defend Mazar-e Sharif from "invaders".
After a meeting in the city on 19 April, they issued a four-point declaration which also blasted Aina TV in nearby Fariab Province for alleged biased. The following is text of report by Afghan Balkh Province television on 19 April; subheadings inserted editorially:
A big joint meeting of people and social associations was held in Balkh government hall today in which Ustad Atta Mohammad, the commander of Military Corps No 7, took part.
The commander of Military Corps No 7 talked about the social, military and political situation of Balkh Province and once again expressed his backing for the government of Afghanistan under the leadership of Hamed Karzai.
Mawlawi Mohammad Aslam, the head of the scholars' council; Lt-Gen Mohammad Alam Azadi, the commander of Military Division No 01; Ustad Ghulam Dastger, the head of the experts' council; Wakil Abdol Wahab, the head of elders' council; Sharifa Homa, the representative of the sisters' council; Mohammad Zaher Wahdat, the acting governor of Balkh Province; Shaikh Baqer Sultani; Dr Mohammad Nadir Alemi; Sayd Maheyodin Gawhary; and some other participants individually expressed their opinions and made suggestions at the meeting. Finally, the meeting adopted a declaration and ended with a prayer.
Declaration of government officials, political parties and people's associations of Balkh Province:
Balkh Province has seen invasions before, and since the regime of the Taleban there have been occasional attempts to cause chaos and undermine security in Balkh Province.
Officials of Balkh Province, led by the commander of Military Corps No 7, have had the authority to agree to the administrative reforms which reflect our support for the transitional government. But the enemies of this land are not sitting still. They are searching for opportunities to disrupt the situation in our society - unaware that our clever people can clearly identify the faces of the disrupters, and our people hate them.
In connection with the events in Fariab Province clashes some people intentionally or unintentionally want to bring irresponsible people into the city Mazar-e Sharif and cause chaos.
In view of the fact that Mazar city is known as the city of peace and Military Corps No 7 is called the military corps of peace, on Monday 19 April all the elders', scholars, youth, cultural men and representatives of the people came together in the hall of Balkh government under the chairmanship of Ustad Atta Mohammad, a man of peace and commander of the military corps of peace. The participants, after setting out their opinions, adopted the following points:
"We will defend ourselves"
1. We declare that if any group or party wants to disrupt the security situation of the city, he will be deemed an invader, and we will defend ourselves as our religious right, and the people of Balkh Province under the leadership of Ustad Atta Mohammad should defend peace and stability and not let any invaders invade the province. Also, Ustad Atta Mohammad does not have any right to attack other areas.
New commission to be set up
2. We, the participants, are committed to adopting an interim commission comprising 22 delegates from this meeting. We will agree on the composition and chairmanship of this commission pending its imminent formation, and the commission will study the situation in the city. In the event of an emergency the commission should hold talks with others. The commission has the duty to travel to the capital Kabul, visit high officials and win the attention of the central government to aid and abet the reconstruction process in Balkh Province.
Equal access to holy shrine for women
3. As women form half of society, specifying Wednesdays as a special day for women to visit the holy shrine of Hazrat-e Ali is seen as biased; we want women to be allowed to make a pilgrimage to the holy shrine any day, like other pilgrims.
Aina TV criticized
4. As we all know, Aina TV broadcasts from Sheberghan, capital of Jowzjan Province, where rival commander Dostum has many supporters has begun broadcasting as an independent TV but unfortunately, the holy name of independent has been misused. And Now Aina TV, by ignoring the laws and rules of an independent TV and insulting personalities, in particular governmental officials. So we respectively ask them to change their broadcasts, or else Balkh people will not stand by quietly.
Afghanistan: Baghdis health centre completed
Source: World Vision April 22, 2004
World Vision completed the long journey of bringing health care to a remote district of Afghanistan this month, with the handover of a comprehensive health clinic in the town of Pada in northwestern Afghanistan. Badghis Province.
"The elders stated that every home in Pada is happy with the work of World Vision," said Sebhat Hailyesus, the Zone Manager present at the handover ceremony.
Pada is located in Badghis Province, which has seen very difficult times in recent years, suffering from unrest and drought. Badghis remains one of the poorest provinces in Afghanistan.
"It has one of the highest mortality rates in terms of reproductive health. It was one of the highest affected during the drought," said Dr. Will Pascua, who supervised the clinic project. "We chose the location because of the remoteness. When they did a survey, we saw it took more than eight hours to travel by donkey from Pada to the hospital."
Before World Vision constructed the clinic, the district's 39,000 residents had no health facilities at all. With the completion of the clinic late last year, this centralized location has been providing much needed health services not only for Pada, but also the surrounding villages.
"People were so thankful that they had a proper clinic that they could go to for consultation," continued Dr. Pascua.
With the completion of World Vision's commitments to the clinic project, supervision of the clinic has been handed over to Malteser, a German NGO. The transfer between organistations is taking place due to new policies by the Afghan Ministry of Health to restructure international assistance into specific geographical areas.
"They will continue to develop the health program to be sustainable, and increase the capacity of the clinic through the Ministry of Health," said Dr. Pada.
As this comprehensive health center has now been completed, World Vision is continuing with other development programmes in Badghis. Additional health projects are planned for the western regions, including the construction of six more clinics for the province of Ghor. Support for clinics in Herat Province, midwife training, community health and pharmaceutical donations are also part of World Vision Afghanistan's health portfolio.
Muslim nations condemn US policy
Thursday, 22 April, 2004, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK BBC News
Officials from Muslim nations have denounced US policies on Israel and Iraq at a meeting in Malaysia.
Members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference urged Washington to drop its support for Israel's plan to keep some settlements in the West Bank.
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi compared Israel's treatment of the Palestinians with atrocities suffered by the Jews in the past.
On Iraq, he said the hopes sparked by Saddam Hussein's fall had not been met.
The meeting of the OIC was due to be held next month, but Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat called for it to be brought forward after US President George W Bush backed Israel's plan for the Middle East.
Under the plan, Israel would dismantle Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip but retain some of the West Bank land captured in the 1967 war.
Mr Abdullah told the meeting in Putrajaya that the blueprint contradicted "the essence of the way to peace".
In their draft statement on the Middle East, delegates said the plan was "detrimental to the peace process".
The plan has also been fiercely criticised by Palestinian leaders, who say any settlement must be negotiated on the basis of UN resolutions.
Mr Abdullah condemned suicide bombings by Palestinian militants, but said Israel's "state terrorism" and "cruel assassination" of Hamas leaders had even more severe consequences.
"Indeed the terror inflicted on Palestinians by Israel are beginning to assume the characteristics of atrocities once encountered by the Jews themselves," he said.
Turning to Iraq, the Malaysian prime minister said: "The hopes and expectations of the international community which followed the ending of the war against Iraq on 1 May 2003 have not been met."
"Gone are the joy and jubilation of some Iraqis (at) the collapse of the regime of Saddam Hussein," he added.
He said the current violence was "nothing less than the fierce resistance of people against what is increasingly seen as an occupation force".
About 20 of the OIC's 57 members attended the meeting - although only Pakistan, Indonesia and the Palestinians sent foreign ministers.
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