Taliban commanders among four militants arrested in Afghanistan
KHOST, Afghanistan, Dec 19 (AFP) - Two Taliban commanders were arrested along with two militants late Saturday in southeast Afghanistan by security forces who also seized a weapons cache, a local official told AFP Sunday.
'Two Taliban commanders were arrested at around 10:00 pm (1730 GMT) along with two other Taliban who were just ordinary soldiers,' said Asadullah Wafa, governor of Paktia province.
Mullah Noor Mohammed and Mullah Mullai Goloom had been in charge of planning attacks in the Paktia as well as the other southeastern provinces of Paktika, Khost and Logar, Wafa said.
Security forces also seized seven missiles, remote-controlled bombs, explosive equipment, a satellite phone and some documents and maps during the raid in Khalilan village in Sayid Karam district of Paktia province, he added. It was impossible to confirm from independent sources exactly what role the arrested men had within the Taliban.
Loyalists from the ousted Islamic regime have been waging a three-year-long insurgency in south and southeast Afghanistan attacking government officials, US and Afghan troops as well as civilians and aid workers.
Afghan security forces last week claimed to have arrested two men in the southern city of Kandahar who were in charge of planning arrests in the south. Mullah Naqeebullah Khan was a commander in charge of planning unrest in and around the main southern city of Kandahar, and had been fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar's personal security chief, Afghan officials said.
Karzai Expects to Name New Afghan Cabinet
Associated Press Mon, Dec. 20, 2004
KABUL, Afghanistan - President Hamid Karzai vowed Sunday that his new Cabinet, which he expects to name this week, would be "honest, accountable, austere" and able to deliver security and reconstruction.
Karzai was sworn in two weeks ago as Afghanistan's first democractically elected leader and is expected to make a number of changes in the ministerial lineup. His choices are being closely watched as people wait to see how Karzai plans to deal with the country's myriad problems.
Among other things, U.N. surveys estimate Afghanistan accounted for three-quarters of the world's opium last year. The country also is still fighting Taliban and al-Qaida insurgents three years after the collapse of the Taliban's hardline regime.
In a series of radio interviews Sunday, Karzai said he plans to announce his Cabinet choices within days. Khaleeq Ahmad, a spokesman for the president's office, said Karzai was moving carefully to ensure he makes no mistakes.
"He wants to make sure it's all done right, and that he does everything according to the constitution," Ahmad said.
Karzai's aides have insisted there would be no warlords in his new Cabinet. But many faction leaders who still hold sway over remote provinces were prominent at the president's inauguration.
There also are questions over whether any people with ties to the Taliban might be chosen as government ministers.
Bodies of three Pakistanis killed in shootout at Afghan prison repatriated
Associated Press / December 19, 2004
The bodies of three Pakistanis, once suspected of links with al-Qaida, were returned home on Sunday, two days after they were killed in a shootout at a prison in Afghanistan, an official said.
The three men were allegedly involved in a daylong standoff with security forces at Kabul's notorious Pul-e-Charkhi prison on Friday, in which an Iraqi inmate and four prison guards also died.
Three vans carrying bodies of the al-Qaida suspects arrived Saturday afternoon at Torkham, the main border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Peshawar, said Dost Mohammed, a Pakistani border security official.
The prisoners were identified as Altaf Hussain, Mohammed Naeem and Irfan _ who like some Pakistanis used only one name. Mohammed said the three were from different villages in eastern Punjab province.
The Pakistanis had been held earlier in another jail in northern Afghanistan for suspected links with al-Qaida and the Taliban, but were freed earlier this year. Several months ago, they were re-arrested in Kabul on unspecified charges.
The Pul-e-Charkhi prison is located near Kabul where summary executions had once been carried out by various Afghan regimes, including the Taliban, which a U.S.-led coalition of forces ousted from power in late 2001 for harboring terrorists.
Last Days of the Taliban?
Newsweek 12/19/2004 By Sami Yousafzai And Ron Moreau
The one-eyed Mullah Mohammed Omar cruises the Afghan countryside on a motorbike trying to rally his troops. But his guerrillas may be tiring of the fight.
Mullah Mohammad Rafiq, a 28-year-old Taliban fighter with kohl-lined eyes and shoulder-length hair spilling from his black turban, couldn't believe his good luck. Last summer his 20-man guerrilla unit was summoned to the district of Argandab in Kandahar province to rendezvous with Mullah Shahzada Akhund. A senior Taliban commander, Shahzada had just been released from nearly three years' imprisonment by the United States at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. At sunset one day, Rafiq's unit was ordered to accompany Shahzada, who was alternately talking on a satellite phone and a walkie-talkie, on a hike into some rocky hills; there they camped for the night. Around 11 p.m. two motorcycles arrived.
Shahzada greeted the heavily armed drivers, who then flashed their headlights in code toward a far-off hill. Some 40 minutes later six more motorbikes roared into the makeshift guerrilla camp. Riding on the back of one was a relatively tall man wearing a black turban, a scarf partially covering his face, a blanket over his shoulders and traditional, baggy, black shalwar khameez. Shahzada rushed over, then kissed the man's forehead and both of his hands.
Two subcommanders fell on their knees. Rafiq says the visitor was the Taliban's elusive, one-eyed leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar. Surrounded by bodyguards, he and Shahzada walked to a nearby orchard where blankets were placed on the ground. Rafiq, standing guard only a few feet away, says he could see the dignitary's face clearly in the light of the full moon. Rafiq had never seen Mullah Omar before—few Afghans ever have—but he recognized the Leader of the Faithful, as Omar is popularly known, by his fake right eye and by his relatively loud voice and fast-speaking style, which he'd heard many times on audiocassettes that circulate among the Taliban and are even sold in markets in Pakistan. He says Mullah Omar appeared in good health.
The Taliban leader told Shahzada, who was killed 10 days later in a friendly-fire incident, that he didn't want to hear about the rigors of his imprisonment. He said that the Taliban's so far unsuccessful fight to dislodge the Americans from Afghanistan was simply Allah's way of testing them. "Our jihad will be successful," he said. "We only have to fight harder and be patient." Then Mullah Omar turned his attention to rallying the troops. He urged the men not to be afraid of America's overwhelming military power. "You shouldn't be terrified of the U.S.'s aircraft, machines, technology and propaganda," he added. "If the Americans are so powerful then why can't they find this simple Taliban who walks openly on the earth?"
If Osama bin Laden is the most-wanted terrorist in the world, then his former host in Afghanistan, Mullah Omar, is arguably the No. 2 man on the list. According to NEWSWEEK interviews with Taliban fighters, commanders and officials, the mysterious emir is not only alive but fully in charge of his hard-pressed guerrilla movement. Yet despite his efforts, the Taliban's three-year-old guerrilla campaign against some 18,000 American troops and Kabul's ragtag military may be in danger of collapsing. According to the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. David Barno, the Taliban's roughly 2,000 insurgents have all but stopped fighting in recent months. Afghan security forces claim to have captured more than two dozen suspected Taliban operatives in the first two weeks of December, including two of the movement's most wanted, who were found in a house in Kandahar: Toor Mullah Naqibullah Khan was said to be a senior security aide to Mullah Omar during the Taliban's years in power, and Mullah Qayoom Angar was a senior guerrilla commander. Mullah Omar's top military commander, Mullah Dadullah Akhund, downplayed those two arrests, saying the men were merely "ordinary Taliban."
Whether the two men were leaders or followers, the Taliban is in bad shape. October's successful presidential election was a stinging rebuke to their cause. Their oft-repeated, chilling threats to "attack" anyone who organized, registered for or voted in the contest proved hollow. Nearly 75 percent of registered voters, or 8.5 million Afghans, ignored the threats and cast ballots in the country's first-ever democratic poll, which was won easily by interim President Hamid Karzai. Even some Taliban fighters were seen voting. "There is no question that the Taliban view the election as a defeat and a tremendous loss of face," says Barno. Adds Karzai: "The elections proved that the Taliban don't have a place among the people."
According to Barno, the battlefield calm reflects a sharp internal debate going on within the Taliban's senior leadership. One of the major questions, at least among the Taliban's more moderate elements, is whether the armed struggle should be abandoned. According to senior Afghan and U.S. military officials, there's solid evidence that "a number" of senior Taliban commanders are contemplating laying down their arms under an Afghan government amnesty program that has yet to be codified. The plan would allow Taliban fighters and even commanders who've not been involved in egregious human-rights violations to return to a normal life without punishment if they lay down their weapons and agree to abide by the country's new Constitution. If it works, the amnesty offer could mark the beginning of the end of the bloody Taliban insurgency. "The name of the game right now is this amnesty offer," says Pakistani author and noted Taliban expert Ahmed Rashid. He adds: "The most significant thing that's emerged over the past three years is that there's little or no public support for the Taliban's armed struggle."
Karzai and the United States would like to persuade moderate, former Taliban officials who have already been captured or have turned themselves in to join the political process. The presence of a credible former Taliban official in a position of power could act as a strong incentive for other Taliban to defect. Mullah Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, Mullah Omar's last foreign minister, is a favorite of both Karzai and Washington. He surrendered in February 2002, just months after the Taliban's defeat, and spent months in prison before being released and put under house arrest in Kabul.
When Mullah Omar was in power, Muttawakil was the acceptable, public face of the Taliban, who privately opposed the leader's policy of giving sanctuary to bin Laden and allowing Al Qaeda to grow into a state within a state. According to Muttawakil's close friends, Karzai has made him two offers: he could join the next government, or he could launch a legal Pashtun political faction that would contest next spring's parliamentary elections. But Muttawakil is hesitant, his friends say, fearing assassination by Taliban radicals. He is said to prefer going into exile in an Arab country rather than risk being a part of the new order in Afghanistan.
One sign of Taliban weakness, says Barno, is that the group relies increasingly on paid operatives rather than on motivated volunteers, to carry out attacks. "We see more people involved who've been paid to attack," says Barno. "We see rewards being offered and given for successful IED [improvised explosive device] and rocket attacks." But running a jihad for hire may not be effective, because even Mullah Omar's operatives admit they're short on money and on essential military equipment. One Taliban unit in Ghazni province says it has plenty of AK-47 ammunition and RPGs, but has been waiting weeks for a promised shipment of land mines necessary to fashion IEDs. Fighters in the eastern provinces of Kunar and Laghman are in far worse shape. They complain that they lack money to buy weapons, to support fighters, to look after themselves and their families, and to take care of wounded guerrillas.
Adding to its problems, the Taliban seems to be getting less funding from Al Qaeda, largely because bin Laden is believed to feel that Mullah Omar's guerrillas are not putting up an aggressive and effective fight. "We are not getting as much money as we used to from Al Qaeda," says Mullah Hai, a former close aide to Mullah Omar who lives near Quetta. (The honorific "mullah" is granted to graduates of the Islamic schools, or madrassas, from which the Taliban sprang.) "The Arabs complain that we lack organization and solid battlefield results." Some Taliban feel they are in a Catch-22: they can't get more funding unless they carry out more attacks, but they can't ramp up the level of hostilities without more funding.
Sensing that his movement could be ebbing, Mullah Omar seems to have become more active than ever in recent months. Traveling largely by motorbike, he's been visiting small, largely ethnic-Pashtun guerrilla units in the poor, isolated areas of southern and southeastern Afghanistan—the provinces of Zabul, Uruzgan and Kandahar, where the highly mobile rebels are ensconced. Afghan and U.S. forces control most of this desolate region by day, but Taliban units and their sympathizers take charge at night.
Senior Taliban sources say that Mullah Omar occasionally exchanges written messages with bin Laden, though there is no regular contact or formal channel of communication between the two. Barno describes the communication network between Al Qaeda and the Taliban as being "very informal, very decentralized." Mullah Omar also reaches out to his fighters and supporters by recording audiocassettes featuring inspirational verses from the Qur'an and his own boilerplate speeches. The tapes are then duplicated and sent to Taliban units or sold in the bazaars. "Mullah Omar has never been more active," the Taliban's spokesman Mufti Lutfullah Hakimi told NEWSWEEK in a secret meeting along the Pakistani-Afghan border. "Anyone who thinks he's isolated, hiding in a cave and fearing for his life couldn't be more wrong."
The Taliban are obviously reluctant to tackle heavily armed U.S. troops. Rather, they tend to stage small hit-and-run attacks against Afghan militia and police posts and soft civilian targets—especially aid and reconstruction workers. According to Mullah Abdullah, a 25-year-old Taliban fighter who sports a long, curly beard and fingers worry beads, Mullah Omar told a small gathering of village elders this past summer that "there is honor in poor people traveling in the dust and not along new roads built by invaders and their servants that have cost us our freedom. Jihad is the only way to defend Muslim culture." Already this year more than 40 Afghan and foreign relief and reconstruction workers have been killed. In response, aid agencies have largely stopped operating in more insecure regions in the south and southeast.
Mullah Omar and his fighters still have a constituency, largely among the tens of thousands of taliban, or religious students, studying at the many madrassas sprinkled across the border in Pakistan. The Taliban have placed veteran fighters at several madrassas in the area, where they've become firebrand teachers and work to keep the jihadi spirit alive. Almost every mosque in Quetta, Baluchistan's capital, and in the border town of Chaman, openly preaches jihad and frequently broadcasts tributes to Mullah Omar over loudspeakers. Afghan officials from Kandahar say that the Taliban presence in Quetta and Chaman is so overt that they fear for their lives if they venture out in public when visiting the two towns. Taliban fighters cross the ill-defended border with impunity to avoid capture and to rest.
The baluchistan connection is crucial to the movement's survival. Pakistan could probably finish off the Taliban if it cracked down on militants in that province and shut down the madrassas. "The Taliban would be considerably weakened if it lost its ability to move back and forth across the Pakistani border and to recruit in Pakistani refugee camps and madrassas," says Vikram Parekh, a senior analyst for the International Crisis Group in Kabul. But analysts suggest that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf may want to maintain relations with—and influence over—Pakistan's former allies as a means of guaranteeing Islamabad's interests in Afghanistan. In March several thousand Pakistani soldiers opened a major offensive against some 500 low-level, Qaeda-linked, largely Chechen, Tajik and Uzbek militants in the South Waziristan tribal agency just north of Baluchistan. But curiously, the Pakistani operation stopped at the Baluchistan border.
For all their difficulties, Mullah Omar and his core commanders remain spiritually and ideologically committed to their jihad. The emir recently called an urgent meeting with a 12-man fighting unit in Zabul province. According to Mullah Abdullah, the guerrillas gathered at a mud-brick compound in the mountains and waited for their revered visitor. Soon four motorcycles roared up a rocky path. Driving one of the bikes was Mullah Omar, who had a pistol in a leather holster strapped to his waist.
The Taliban leader sat against the wall in the far corner of the house and began chanting Qur'anic verses. He then kissed the young son of a commander who'd been killed recently and gave the boy a fistful of money. He announced that he wanted the word to go out that the district was too quiet. He urged the local insurgents to initiate more military activity. "This area is not resisting," he said sharply. "Wouldn't it be better and more glorious to die as a martyr in the jihad," he asked, "than to die of old age in your bed?" Unfortunately for the peripatetic rebel, more and more of his followers would tend to disagree.
Elders in eastern Afghanistan demand "inappropriate" US operations to stop
Pajhwok Afghan News 12/19/2004 By Ezatullah Zawab
JALALABAD - Tribal leaders and elders representing the people of eastern Nangarhar province have warned that unless the US-led coalition forces stop their intrusive 'inappropriate' operations and unauthorized house searches they will not support the Afghan government.
As many as a 100 tribal elders and white-bearded men, including representatives from the local Loya Jirga, from Khogyani district met with the Governor of Nangarhar, Haji Din Mohammed on Saturday 18th in the capital Jalalabad to discuss the problems they say they were facing with the coalition forces.
They asked the coalition forces to stick to the parameters of their assigned tasks and responsibilities and to stop meddling and carrying out unauthorized operations.
Malim Gul Mohammad, a tribal elder, demanded that they should be informed of any American operations in advance and a local Afghan official should always accompany them when they conduct house-to-house searches. “Acting on false information, the American troops detain and bother innocent people," Malim said.
Dr Faizanulhaq, a spokesman for the Governor of Nangarhar told Pajhwok Afghan News: "The governor has contacted the US officials frequently and they have promised not to repeat the same mistakes." Dr Asif Qazizada, the acting governor of Nangarhar, admitted that the US forces capture innocent people some times.
But Qari Amir Khan Liwal, the deputy police chief of Nangarhar said he had on several occasions complained about the US forces and how they do not inform them of operations in the region.
New consul-general to Kandahar appointed
TEHRAN (IRNA) -- Hossein Sheikh Zeinoddin is Iran's new consul-general to Kandahar, Afghanistan, it was announced on Sunday.
According to a press release of the Foreign Ministry's Information and Press Department, Zeinoddin's appointment was proposed by Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi and approved by President Mohammad Khatami.
He had previously served as Iranian ambassador to Colombia and head of the secretariat of the Center for Iraqi Reconstruction.
You don't have to die, Taliban told
Financial Times 12/18/2004 By Victoria Burnett
Since they were oustedfrom power three years ago bya US-led invasion, the Taliban have been waging war from the shadows. Holed up in caves and villages in the borderlands straddling Afghanistan and Pakistan, they have fought a violent campaign against the government of President Hamid Karzai and his American allies.
Now, the US is trying to bring its hardline enemy in from the cold. Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador to Kabul, said this month that "non-criminal" elements of the Taliban should lay down their arms without fear of arrest by US forces - a pledge echoed by senior US military officials.
America's involvement gives impetus to Kabul's efforts to tempt moderate Taliban to rejoin society. More than a year of government overtures and secretive talks with some of the former regime's leaders have yet to yield clear results.
"The message is: we're fighting you, but you don't have to be killed. If you haven't done anything [criminal], then you don't have to run to the hills," says Jawed Ludin for Mr Karzai. US military officials say the message is already circulating in the provinces.
Colonel David Lamm, chief of staff for US operations in Afghanistan, says he expects most low-level militants - whom he estimates number a few thousand - to take up the offer by next summer. General David Barno, head of the US-led coalition, told The Associated Press recently the US might be able to withdraw some of its 16,000 troops by then.
The new push aims to hit the Taliban at a low point, following the militant group's failure to disrupt October's presidential election. But some Afghan officials and western observers in Kabul are sceptical that rebel fighters will overcome their fear of the US military. They also question Kabul's ability to protect those who surrender from persecution by local militias in their isolated villages.
"What we don't have enough of for the Taliban is carrots," says an Afghan official close to the presidential palace. "We don't know what kind of protection we can offer."
Officials say militants should approach local or religious leaders, or military units, but admit they have yet to work out a detailed mechanism for vetting and registering them.
"[The US military] can get . . . your date of birth, who you are, a picture, issue you some identity code - they're working this out at the tactical level," says Col Lamm.
The government hopes moderate Taliban chiefs will act as a bridge to the rank and file. Leaders - including Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil, the former Taliban foreign minister - have been in Kabul for talks led by members of the National Security Council, a policy unit at the presidential compound that receives UK government funding.
A senior Afghan official who is not involved in the talks says he believes funds are being distributed to boost support for the initiative among provincial Taliban representatives. For these leaders, one incentive is the parliamentary elections scheduled for spring. Provided they give up their links to armed groups and do not have a criminal record, former Taliban loyalists will be allowed to run, government officials say.
Such talk of reconciliation has upset northern minority groups and sparked a divisive debate over where the line should be drawn - if at all - between so-called moderates and extremists. Mr Karzai believes only about 150 rebels are beyond reconciliation, while thousands more could return. But one cabinet official said in a recent interview: "A moderate Taliban is still an extremist."
The process has also unnerved neighbours such as Iran and Russia - traditional allies of the northern minorities who view the Pashtun-dominated Taliban as Pakistan's proxies and see talks as part of a broader resurgence of Pashtun influence in Kabul.
Pakistan backed the Taliban until the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US, and Afghan and US officials believe elements of the intelligence service continue to shelter and support the hardliners.
In what could be a sign of an increased readiness on Pakistan's part to go after Taliban extremists - provided the rest are offered clemency - Pakistani authorities last week arrested Akbar Agha, leader of a Taliban splinter group that claimed responsibility for the October kidnapping of three UN workers. The workers were later freed unharmed.
Col Lamm says the process in Afghanistan should be viewed as national, not as a settlement with a single faction. Just as northern militia are being offered the opportunity to enter civilian life, so are Taliban soldiers, he says. "The corollary to the Taliban in the south is the warlords in the north," he says. "It isn't a Taliban reconciliation programme - it's a national reconciliation programme."
New Turkmen-Afghan Customs Check Point Inaugurated
A new covered terminal for inspection of vehicles and cargos was inaugurated at a customs checkpoint in Serhetabat (formerly Kushka), the Ashgabat correspondent of Turkmenistan.ru reports. The terminal was built at a cost of US$500 mln granted by the UK government to Turkmenistan.
Apart from that, under a resolution of the Turkmen president Saparmurat Niyazov, the State customs committee financed the construction of the incoming communication network, installation of heating and cooling systems, scales, construction of inspection pits and improvement of the adjoining territory.
Ambassador of the UK to Turkmenistan, Paul Brummell, representative of the UN drug control office Lars Johansson, U.S. embassy's EXBS advisor Michael Kirk, chairman of the State customs service of Turkmenistan Alexander Grishin, the representative of the Pakistani construction company SKB, leadership of Mary region and State border service of Turkmenistan attended the inauguration ceremony.
Within the framework of the ongoing cooperation between Turkmenistan and the U.S. in the field of customs service and to prevent trafficking in narcotics and psychotropic substances, the U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan donated modern X-Ray equipment to the Serhetabat customs checkpoint to screen baggage and hand baggage, and the UN drug control office donated 10 portable kits to detect narcotics and precursors.
As speakers at the ceremony noted, the opening of the covered terminal and fitting it with modern customs control equipment will contribute to the further strengthening of the economic sovereignty and security of Turkmenistan as well as ensuring the rights of citizens, businesses and state structures and the fulfillment of their duties in the field of customs service.
"Don't kill me, I am helpless"
Pajhwok Afghan News 12/18/2004 By Saeed Zabuli
Kandahar -'Don't kill me, I am helpless', are the faint words uttered by a woman who was chained by her husband and locked-up in a darkened underground room for eight months. The woman who was rescued later by Malalai Kakar, the renowned female detective working in the southern city of Kandahar only knew of the beatings she endured during her time of torment.
But this is not the first woman that 35 year-old Malalai has rescued. Internationally acclaimed for her efforts and work with women, she has helped hundreds of women overcome their difficulties.
Malalai said: "When I found out about this woman, I put on my Burqa and went to her house, I knocked on the door and at first the children didn't open the door, after I told them that I was their aunt, they opened the door."
She said she checked the whole house and as she removed a curtain from a wall she heard a human voice. As she looked closer she saw a woman with her son. They were tied in chains. Malali said: "I asked her to come out but she just said 'please don't kill me.'"
Malalai said the women she rescues are in a very bad psychological state and weep incessantly about their experiences and the conditions that are unbearable for any human being.
The husband involved in this particular case is now jailed and the woman is believed to be living with her relatives in the Pakistani city of Quetta. But women in particular face many problems in Afghan society and their problem vary so much.
Ms Kakar, one of the most high-profile women in the country says that in the last three years she has recorded five-hundred cases of abuse. Some times she has to deal with a problem that a young girl faces in the early years of her marriage. Others go to her about difficulties they are facing with their in-laws. And she also deals with child kidnapping cases.
Malalai, who is named after Afghanistan's national heroine, works within her community fighting for the rights of people who face violence in their lives.
But the day in the life of this female detective is no ordinary one and she struggled to get to this position. Miss Kakar joined the Kandahar police force in 1982 when her father and brothers were also officers.
But during the time of the Taleban she was prevented from working so she was forced to leave her job and stay at home raising her children. "During that time I didn't dare to get out of house."
But three years ago, after the Taleban regime was ousted, the Kandahar detective was able to resume her duties with the police. Although Malalai works under difficult conditions she says her family approve of the work that she does.
But the mother of six children, is keen to respect Afghan customs. Her day begins, early when she leaves her house, covered from head-to-toe in traditional Burqa. And she insists that the wearing of the Burqa is out of her choice and it is not forced on her.
Despite the great service she has given to the people of her country, there are still many obstacles that she faces as a woman. Malalai says: "In our society it is considered immoral for women to work with men and the reason for this could be illiteracy. This is why you find so many women are threatened in the rural areas." But Malalai says: "I am proud to serve women and to serve my country."
In spite of the problems faced by women in Afghanistan, the number of women joining the police force is on the rise and this could be due to Malalai's high-profile efforts to persuade them to join.
There are many positive and negative aspects of working in an all male environment. But Malalai says: "My male colleagues in the police force respect me a lot and I think other women should also join this department."
Whilst she recalls good times with her work colleagues she says some memories are very painful: "Especially when a woman comes to me covered in blood after she is beaten by her husband – I feel very
Time names Bush Person of the Year
By The Associated Press Monday, December 20, 2004
NEW YORK (AP) -- After winning re-election and "reshaping the rules of politics to fit his 10-gallon-hat leadership style," President George Bush for the second time was chosen as Time magazine's Person of the Year.
The magazine's editors tapped Bush "for sharpening the debate until the choices bled, for reframing reality to match his design, for gambling his fortunes -- and ours -- on his faith in the power of leadership."
Time's 2004 Person of the Year package, on newsstands today, includes an Oval Office interview with Bush, an interview with his father, former President George H. W. Bush, and a profile of Bush's chief political adviser, Karl Rove.
In an interview with the magazine, Bush attributed his victory over Democratic candidate John Kerry to his foreign policy and the wars he began in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"The election was about the use of American influence," Bush said.
After a grueling campaign, Bush remains a polarizing figure in America and around the world, and that's part of the reason he earned the magazine's honor, said Managing Editor Jim Kelly.
"Many, many Americans deeply wish he had not won," Kelly said. "And yet he did."
In the Time article, Bush said he relishes that some people dislike him.
"I think the natural instinct for most people in the political world is that they want people to like them," Bush said. "On the other hand, I think sometimes I take kind of a delight in who the critics are."
Bush joins six other presidents who have twice won the magazine's top honor: Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower (first as a general), Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. Franklin Roosevelt holds the record with three nods from the editors.
Kelly said Bush has changed dramatically since he was named Person of the Year in 2000 after the Supreme Court awarded him the presidency.
"He is not the same man," Kelly said. "He's a much more resolute man. He is personally as charming as ever but I think the kind of face he's shown to the American public is one of much, much greater determination."
The magazine gives the honor to the person who had the greatest impact, good or bad, over the year.
Asked on ABC's "This Week" how Bush reacted when he learned of Time's decision, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said the president was "not worried about what pundits might be saying."
Card praised Bush as a "great liberator" for the people of Afghanistan and Iraq and lauded Bush's tax cuts, education and Medicare reform packages and plans to remake Social Security.
"So I think he's got the right ingredients to be recognized as the Person of the Year," Card said.
Kelly said other candidates included Michael Moore and Mel Gibson, "because in different ways their movies tapped in to deep cultural streams," and political strategist Rove, who is widely credited with engineering Bush's win. Kelly said choosing Rove alone would have taken away from the credit he said Bush deserves.
This is the first time an individual has won the award since 2001, when then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was celebrated for his response to the Sept. 11 attacks.
The American soldier earned the honor last year; in 2002, the magazine tapped Coleen Rowley, the FBI agent who wrote a critical memo on FBI intelligence failures, and Cynthia Cooper and Sherron Watkins, who blew the whistle on scandals at Enron and Worldcom.
‘Osama planned storing of radioactive material’
Daily Times Monitor
LAHORE: Bin Laden sought to acquire radioactive material for a “dirty bomb”, claims a book written by a senior aide to the Al Qaeda chief, The Sunday Times has reported.
The British newspaper said that Egyptian-born Abu Walid al-Misri was believed to be the author of the forthcoming book, which details the internal tensions, debates and disillusionment within the group. Excerpts were published in a London-based Arabic newspaper last week.
Misri says that although Bin Laden was cautious about increasing the organisation’s weaponry, he bowed to pressure from the leadership’s hawks and sought to buy radioactive material from his supporters in Chechnya.
Mohammed Atef, Qaeda’s military commander and chief advocate of obtaining weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), had suggested radioactive material be stored on US soil for use in a rapid direct response to American aggression against Afghanistan.
Atef was given the go-ahead to contact Abu Khattab, a Chechen-based Saudi jihadist, and asked him to obtain materials from Russian nuclear facilities in the Caucasus. The deal never came through.
Similarly, the Taliban, who Misri says had “a considerable quantity of radioactive materials seized from smugglers”, failed to answer Al Qaeda’s request, preferring instead to sell most of it to Pakistan
As Afghanistan fell to coalition troops, Misri says, disquiet began to grow about Bin Laden’s strategy.
Bin Laden came under fire for having underestimated US determination to destroy the Qaeda network, believing that the 9/11 attacks, coming after the East African embassy bombing and the attempted sinking of the USS Cole, would deter the US from invading Afghanistan.
It was also at this time that Bin Laden fell out with Taliban leader Mullah Omar, who had allowed him to stay in Afghanistan providing he did not give interviews to the western media.
Misri, who was with Bin Laden in Tora Bora, is thought to be one of Al-Qaeda’s leading theorists. When the leadership fled Afghanistan, his book records, the organisation had been devastated by the death of Atef in a US bombing raid near Kandahar.
The book also criticises the growth in Al Qaeda training camps, saying many of them were comprised of spies and that they lacked discipline.
Karzai asked not to induct criminals into new cabinet
By our correspondent The News International, Pakistan
PESHAWAR: Malalai Joya, who shot up to instant fame for her remarks against the warlords in the Loya Jirga in Kabul, has asked Afghan President Hamid Karzai to respect the wishes of the people of Afghanistan and not to induct criminals in his new cabinet.
Briefing newsmen at Peshawar on Sunday, Joya said that the warlords were still hounding and her life was not safe, but she would not give in to pressure and intimidation because the people of Afghanistan, particularly the women, need to be represented at every level.
The young and dynamic lady from the remote Farah province of Afghanistan was elected as member of the Loya Jirga to represent women and voice for their rights, which earned her wrath and enmity of the religious-minded warlords and she has suffered at their hands considerably. She informed that her house was attacked and her bodyguards and supporters were tortured, humiliated and kept in private jails by powerful commanders just because they were supportive of her views.
Head of an NGO named Organisation of Promoting Afghan Women Capabilities (OPAWC), Malalai Joya is working for Afghan women and children in mainly three western provinces of Farah, Herat and Nimroz in the field of education and health.
She was invited to the United States and Italy after her remarks made headlines after the powerful warlords branded her as communist and anti-religion because she opposed the election and induction of warlords in the Loya Jirga and the government. She said that situation has not changed as was expected during the last three years with the fall of the Taliban and the same warlords were again on the stage to play havoc. Joya said that the US and other countries promoting democracy need to come forward and work for disarming these warlords, as these elements got to the power corridors due to the support of America and its allies.
She said that rights of women were being usurped "I was asked time and again to tender an apology for my remarks, but I would not do that because it will damage the struggle for the rights of women," Joya said.
She said that the rest of the world was of the belief as if women have been liberated and all their rights secured with the fall of Taliban, which unfortunately was not true adding that more atrocities and sufferings have been brought on the women. "Burqa is not the problem of Afghan women, their security and rights were the real issues," she said. Joya said that the writ of International Security Assistance Force should be extended beyond Kabul and there was a need to increase the number of US forces to ensure security throughout Afghanistan because protecting only Kabul would not solve the problem of the people of that country.
She said that the people of Afghanistan had attached high hopes to the United States in the post-Taliban era, but no basic change has been witnessed and that the people were slowly and gradually expressing disappointment and hopelessness. Drugs business and gun-culture was on the rise, rights of all the people have been trampled, particularly the rights of women and security concerns of the masses was on the increase. "Hamid Karzai should not surrender to these warlords and must act in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Afghanistan," she said.
Financial Times 12/18/2004 By Chris Horwood
We were filming poppies earlier this year: ochre-coloured stalks standing chest-high all over the mountains of north-west Afghanistan. The purple and white petals had been removed, leaving spherical capsules potent with heroin sap. Pure gold for the subsistence farmers in north-west Afghanistan: pure trouble for the newly elected Afghan president Hamid Karzai and the western governments that support him.
These weren't large plantations owned by drug lords but a myriad of small fields tended by dirt-poor farmers. It is a world of donkeys and mud huts where years of war and drought have made opium the villagers' best hope of survival through the winter. They told me they knew it was against Islam, but they had no other choice. I agreed; our film would argue that sudden poppy eradication is cruel and that the west had to offer alternatives. The problem with this is that the hopes of warlords and those who want anything but a stable government in Kabul also lie with opium. They are amassing huge personal wealth from the crops to fund private militias and terrorism.
Western powers have been leaning heavily on president Karzai to wipe out illicit poppy farming. Cultivation has sky-rocketed since the Taliban was kicked out - more than 90 per cent of the heroin sold in London, for example, derives from Afghanistan.
Our visit fell during the high point of the harvest cycle. Poppies need 10 times more labour hours than wheat, but they bring in 30 to 40 times the net profit. I watched very young children work alongside women and ancient bearded men out in the swaying fields. In the summer breeze, drops of opium oozed out of the harvesters' incisions. As the creamy drops coagulated in the sun they turned blood-red. Their clothes were flecked with it. Mine too; it tasted lip-twistingly bitter. The villagers welcomed us with big grins. Mountains, sun, drugs: conditions were perfect and the cameraman was delighted.
What we didn't realise is that we had stepped into a hornet's nest of local politics. The British government was funding a programme in the area to pay local governors to eradicate a percentage of the poppy grown in their provinces. But the governors and their cohorts are deeply involved in the opium trade themselves: they wanted to pocket the "eradication" money while making some semblance of eradication to keep Kabul happy.
Which is how we came, just the two of us in our hired taxi, upon a large melee of villagers shouting and gesticulating. Militia men were thrashing down the poppy stalks with staves while harvesters hurled themselves at the eradicators, imploring them to stop. Women were wailing. The eradicators let us film and move among the crowd while the villagers cursed the militia and their leader, a tiny, expressionless, bespectacled man.
Our interpreter warned me things were turning ugly. The villagers were desperate, he said, as they saw their livelihood cut down before their eyes. It turned out the small man was a warlord who had ruled the area with an iron fist and took taxes from all opium producers. Now he was randomly destroying crops and the villagers were demanding an explanation.
Stupidly I looked forward to a violent scene that would jazz up our film. I stood before this warlord in all my foreignness and he pointed a finger at me. He'd found his scapegoat. We were the agents of the western powers responsible for the eradication programme, he told the crowd. We were their spies and representatives, cruelly filming it for our masters.
The panicked translator did not get to finish telling me what the warlord was saying before the crowd began picking up stones and moving towards us. We ran to the taxi at full speed and somehow got inside unhurt as stones flew at us. The wheels skidded in the dust, and we yelled at the driver to move - for a few seconds the sun was blotted out as bodies rushed and surrounded the car.
We sped off, shaken and shocked at the irony that our deaths would have almost certainly meant a halt to eradication efforts in the area. It would have brought down a security curtain over the region that would have delayed government agents and British monitors' access and allowed the peasants to continue growing their poppies for a little longer. I thought I saw the small man smile as we fled. [Chris Horwood has been an aid worker for 15 years. He spent 2003 in Afghanistan with the United Nations mission and returned there to make a film about the opium trade.sad."]
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