Karzai Goes West, Meets Powerful Afghan Governor
Mon May 10, 9:58 AM ET By Mike Collett-White
HERAT, Afghanistan (Reuters) - President Hamid Karzai met Afghanistan's most powerful governor in his western stronghold Monday and delivered a tough message on disarming local militias and deploying government troops to unruly regions. Ismail Khan, the self-styled "emir of Herat," has criticized government plans to disarm tens of thousands of factional fighters in the coming weeks, saying this would leave a power vacuum while the national army remained weak.
Karzai played down his differences with Khan, who is viewed by Western diplomats as a major obstacle to disarmament and to government attempts to extend its authority beyond Kabul, but said there would be no rolling back of policies.
"There is only a procedural matter, that some consider to give (disarmament) some time, some consider (it) to be done quickly," he told reporters shortly before leaving Herat.
"We have not discussed these issues today because there is no need to discuss them. There is an agreement already, a decision on it already."
Karzai was uncompromising when asked about the mixed reception to Afghan National Army (ANA) forces being stationed in what is probably Afghanistan's most stable city.
"Kabul is part of Afghanistan, Herat is part of Afghanistan, Khost is part of Afghanistan, Paktika is part of Afghanistan, and the ANA can go wherever it wants."
The government wants to disarm 40,000 factional fighters out of 100,000 nationwide by the end of June, a target that U.N. envoy to Afghanistan Jean Arnault said was in jeopardy due to resistance by leading commanders.
In an interview with Reuters on the eve of Karzai's visit, Khan questioned why 1,500 national army troops had been sent to Herat after a clash in March in which his son, Civil Aviation Minister Mirwais Sadiq, was slain.
Fears are growing that regional power brokers could flex their military muscle and influence landmark presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for September.
VISIT TO GRAVE
Karzai arrived in the ancient city, which is close to the Iranian border, in a U.S. military plane and was greeted by Khan.
Wearing his trademark gray lambskin hat and flowing green robe, the president was greeted by schoolgirls carrying portraits of himself and of Khan and met local clerics and soldiers at the airport.
Security was tight, with U.S. and Afghan bodyguards surrounding Karzai, snipers positioned on the airport terminal roof, hundreds of troops from the national army and local militias lining the road and a fighter jet swooping overhead.
The visit, which lasted about five hours, was as symbolic as it was short.
Karzai's first stop was at Sadiq's grave, high on a hill overlooking the crumbling minarets of ancient Herat.
The president sprinkled rose petals over the grave before embracing Khan, who blames his son's death on individuals in Kabul bent on diluting his powers in the west.
Karzai also opened a school and an electricity station that will supply power from neighboring Turkmenistan.
Khan underlined differences between regional leaders and the central government, telling Reuters he believed rapid disarmament envisaged by Kabul and the West would fuel insecurity.
"The disarming of the mujahideen (holy warriors), who are helping to secure Afghanistan, will bring instability," he said. "And yet they are disarming the mujahideen. The mujahideen are not bringing insecurity. There is not an alternative army yet to replace them."
Commanders loyal to Khan agree with his view that ANA forces are not needed in Herat.
"They have nothing to do," said General Mohammad Omar, the commander of the 17th Division. "They smoke in their rooms, they eat, they sleep."
The U.S. military has expressed concern that so many forces are being sucked into a local dispute while 20,000 troops it commands in Afghanistan struggle to hunt down and contain an Islamic insurgency in the south and east.
Powerful Afghan Governor Slams Disarmament Plan
Mon May 10,12:35 AM ET By Mike Collett-White
HERAT, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Afghanistan's most powerful regional strongman warned on Sunday that plans to disarm tens of thousands of factional fighters over the coming months could hurt national stability, not enhance it.
On the eve of a visit to his province by President Hamid Karzai, who has made rapid disarmament a central policy, Ismail Khan said in a rare interview that the fledgling Afghan army was too weak to fill the power vacuum that would be created.
Khan, the self-styled "emir of Herat," rules the strategic western province as a personal fiefdom, and, his critics say, trades freedom of expression and women's rights for the kind of stability most Afghan provinces could only dream of.
"The disarming of the mujahideen (holy warriors), who are helping to secure Afghanistan, will bring instability," the silver-bearded 65-year-old told Reuters at an official residence overlooking the ancient city of Herat, near the Iranian border.
Khan is revered as a leading warrior in the "jihad," or holy war against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, and associates himself closely with "mujahideen" fighters who still hold sway in some regions outside Kabul.
"And yet they are disarming the mujahideen. The mujahideen is not bringing insecurity. There is not an alternative army yet to replace them," Khan said.
His comments underline differences between Karzai, who wants to consolidate the center's grip over provinces, and powerful regional commanders, often referred to as warlords, who pay scant regard to Kabul's directives.
Khan has clashed with Kabul in the past, both for being slow to hand over millions of dollars in customs revenue from goods entering from Iran and his apparent reluctance to disarm local forces who swear loyalty to him.
Estimates vary but experts put the number of soldiers closely affiliated to Khan at 5,000 to 10,000. Together with a large revenue base, that makes him the most powerful governor in the country.
The government wants to disarm 40,000 of an estimated 100,000 militiamen by the end of June before landmark elections in September intended to cement political stability after the U.S.-led war in 2001 that toppled the Taliban.
Recent violence in Herat and in the northern province of Faryab has raised new fears that regional power brokers threaten stability as do Islamic militants in the south and east.
Karzai's visit on Monday comes just over a month after a clash in Herat in which Khan's eldest son was killed by a local military commander known for his sympathies to Karzai.
Khan blamed General Zahir Nayebzada for the March 21 death of Mirwais Sadiq, who was civil aviation minister, and said the commander had been called to Kabul where he should be punished.
"I don't want to judge a criminal before he is handed punishment," he said of Nayebzada. "If I see that he is not punished, then I will make a judgment."
The gunbattle was another setback in attempts to bring Khan into the Kabul fold, and the government sent 1,500 soldiers from the Afghan National Army to Herat to impose order.
Khan is clearly angered at the deployment, which he says is unnecessary and a ploy by his rivals in the cabinet.
He did not identify individuals, but analysts and diplomats in Kabul believe relations with Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali are especially sour.
"Because of the security here, we have no need for them (Afghan troops). This is a political issue," Khan said.
Surrounded by murals portraying battle scenes from the anti-Soviet campaign, and sitting beneath a portrait of Karzai, Khan said he had declined several offers by Kabul to join the cabinet, and would remain in Herat for the foreseeable future.
He said the mujahideen faction called Jamiat-e-Islami, to which he belongs, was still considering whether to unite behind a single candidate to run against Karzai in elections in September. "It is too early to decide whether there will be a strong alternative or not," he said. "There is plenty of time; politics change very quickly. We are still in discussions."
Karzai Says Warlord Disarmament Inevitable
Mon May 10, 2:02 PM ET By WAHID HUSSEIN-KASHEF, Associated Press Writer
HERAT, Afghanistan - President Hamid Karzai challenged one of the country's most powerful regional leaders on Monday, saying on a visit to his home territory that a big cut in his private army was inevitable in advance of Afghan elections later this year.
Karzai's uncompromising message was delivered a day after his host, Herat Gov. Ismail Khan, said the plan to reduce his forces would create a "security vacuum" in a nation still in turmoil because of a Taliban-led insurgency.
Karzai acknowledged differences over the speed of disarmament but said he did not bother to discuss the plan with Khan during their meetings because the matter had already been decided.
"We have not discussed these issues today because there is no need to discuss them. there is an agreement already, a decision already," Karzai said, standing alongside an impassive Khan at the end of his one-day trip to Afghanistan's main western city.
The United Nations warned last week that stalling by Khan and other militia leaders, many of them in government posts, was putting a Defense Ministry agreement to disarm 40,000 fighters by the end of June in serious jeopardy.
About 20,000 other fighters are to be disbanded before historic elections in September in a belated drive that the United Nations and Karzai have said is vital if the vote is to be free and fair.
The militias, battling constantly over territory and the country's drug business, are supposed to make way for a new U.S.-trained Afghan National Army. But only 10,000 of its planned 70,000 men are expected to be in place by the vote.
Karzai, accompanied by American and Afghan bodyguards with automatic weapons, inaugurated a power project and a teacher training college and praised Herat's recovery under Khan, a hero of the mujahedeen war against Soviet occupation in the 1980s who helped the United States drive out the Taliban in 2001.
But on Sunday, Khan told reporters that Afghanistan's fledgling national army was too small to provide security if the country's militias were slashed.
Herat's position on the borders of Iran and Turkmenistan meant it needed strong forces, he said, also disputing U.N. claims that every demobilized soldier would find a new job.
"If you disarm the mujahedeen, there is no force to replace them," he said. "This cannot be implemented."
He also criticized the government's decision to deploy national army troops to Herat in March after Khan's son, aviation minister Mirwais Sadiq, was killed in a bloody battle with a rival militia commander.
Khan said Karzai, who paid his respects to Sadiq, "meant Herat well."
But he blamed unidentified officials in the central government for encouraging the clash, which left a total of 16 people killed, and for sending 1,500 government soldiers to his city.
The deployment "is not useful and is creating mistrust. There is still fighting in the south and east of Afghanistan, and they should be going there," he said.
Khan also acknowledged that he had turned down an offer of a Cabinet post in Kabul — thwarting the efforts of Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali to remove him from his stronghold.
He said he and other members of the powerful Jamiat faction, which dominates much of the north, "are still discussing" whether to put up a candidate to compete with the U.S.-backed incumbent for the presidency.
Seven killed in Afghan factional fighting
KHOST, Afghanistan, May 10 (AFP) - Seven Afghan militiamen died in a gunbattle between two rival commanders over the control of a customs checkpoint in southeastern Afghanistan, an official said Monday.
The fighting erupted on Sunday when a militia commander decided to take over the customs office at Surbi in Paktika from the current head, whose men resisted, local military commander Zakim Khan told AFP.
'Seven people from both sides were killed during the fighting, which lasted two hours,' he said. The fighting ended when government troops from the 822nd border regiment intervened, Khan added.
Fighting involving warlords and regional military commanders is frequent in the war-ravaged country. Attempts by local warlords to increase their power are undermining efforts by president Hamid Karzai's government to establish control beyond the capital Kabul.
Fighting flares between rival northern factions in Afghanistan, commanders say
Associated Press Monday May 10, 3:01 PM
Fresh fighting has broken out between rival militias in northern Afghanistan, commanders said Monday, throwing up new obstacles to the country's stalled disarmament drive.
The fighting centered on Gurziwan, a district of Faryab province some 370 kilometers (230 miles) northwest of the capital, Kabul, commanders from the two sides told The Associated Press.
Hashim Khan, a commander loyal to the Jamiat-e-Islami faction that controls much of northern Afghanistan, said his men captured about 20 fighters from its rival, Jumbesh-e-Milli, in a raid on Sunday, including five commanders.
Khan, speaking by satellite telephone, said the operation followed a Jumbesh artillery barrage on the village of Yukhan over the weekend.
He said three civilians were killed and nine injured, including women and children, and that many villagers fled with him to nearby mountains.
Khan's claims could not be independently verified.
But Gen. Fatehullah, the local Jumbesh commander, acknowledged that some 20 of his men were taken hostage in the village of Jarkala.
"They attacked a house with rocket-propelled grenades at midnight," Fatehullah said.
He said his men, nine of whom were wounded, returned fire with rockets and heavy machine guns, but denied there was any other fighting in the area.
Long-standing tension between Jamiat and Jumbesh boiled over in Faryab last month, when Khan, the provincial military commander, and the Kabul-appointed governor fled the provincial capital Maimana.
Karzai sent hundreds of government troops and national police to Maimana to restore order and vowed to restore Gov. Enayatullah Enayat to his post, but he has yet to return.
The ousted officials blamed Jumbesh, the faction of northern strongman Abdul Rashid Dostum, for driving them out, and Karzai's interior minister accused Dostum of sending troops from neighboring provinces.
But Dostum supporters say local people turned against unpopular leaders, whom they alleged were trying to extend their influence in order to deliver votes for U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai in national elections set for September.
Tension between Dostum and the central government is further exacerbated by the prominence of Jamiat leaders in the Cabinet, especially Defense Minister Mohammed Fahim.
The United Nations last week accused three Jamiat commanders of stalling plans to disarm some 60,000 militia fighters ahead of the elections, a move supposed to prevent armed factions from distorting the vote.
The commanders, which include Dostum's main rival, Atta Mohammed, are insisting that Dostum give up more of his heavy weaponry first.
Afghanistan transfers 900 prisoners from notorious jail
KABUL, May 10 (AFP) - Around 900 prisoners have been moved from an infamous jail in northern Afghanistan holding alleged Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters after inmates went on hunger strike, officials said Monday.
'Based on a presidential decree some 900 Pakistani and Afghan prisoners were transferred to Kabul from Sheberghan jail,' head of prison affairs Abdul Salam Bakhshi told AFP.
The inmates shifted from Sheberghan, 130 kilometres (80 miles) west of the main northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, to Kabul's Pule-e-Charkhi jail recently also included some Arabs, he said.
Most of the detainees were captured after the Taliban regime was toppled in December 2001. Many were young men taken from villages and forced to fight for the fundamentalist militia.
Bakshi said the transfer followed a hunger strike by detainees protesting against the behavior of jail wardens. However the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission said on May 2 that the prisoners were complaining about their continued detention despite promises they would be released.
Bakhshi said their cases will be reviewed by a Kabul court and the country's attorney general. 'I'm very happy being shifted to Kabul. We were living in a very bad condition,' a 38-year old Pakistani prisoner, Mohammad Qazi, told AFP before his departure from Sheberghan.
Many inmates suffered from infections such as tuberculosis. Sheberghan jail is controlled by ethnic Uzbek warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostam, who controls the area with his private army.
Two years ago there were some 3,500 prisoners there but many have been released during national holidays at the behest of President Hamid Karzai.
Senior Taliban Commander Arrested in Afghan South
Sun May 9, 8:50 AM ET
KABUL (Reuters) - A senior Taliban commander has been arrested in a joint raid by U.S. and Afghan forces in a troubled province in southern Afghanistan , an official said Sunday.
Mullah Roozi Khan, Taliban's high-ranking commander for Zabul province, was arrested in a military operation that involved several hundred U.S. and Afghan troops backed by U.S. helicopter gunships, said Zabul's governor Kheyal Mohammad Husseini.
He said more than 30 armed Taliban have also been arrested in the operation that started Friday in several districts of the province near the border with Pakistan.
"Roozi Khan is among the other 30 Taliban fighters who we captured," Husseini told Reuters by satellite phone. "He is now under the custody of American forces."
The U.S. military was not immediately available for comment in Kabul and no Taliban official could be reached.
Zabul was one of the main bastions of the Taliban, ousted from power in late 2001 by U.S.-led forces.
It has been the scene of repeated bloody attacks by suspected Taliban guerrillas on government and coalition forces in recent weeks, and Khan is considered by Afghan officials to be the mastermind of the violence there.
The bloodshed is seen by NATO -run peacekeepers and U.S.-led troops as the launch of a spring offensive by the Taliban, who have been blamed for raids in which more than 700 people have been killed since last August.
Afghans Say Foreigners' Killings May Be Criminal
Mon May 10, 4:26 AM ET By Sayed Salahuddin
KABUL (Reuters) - The killing of two foreigners in the Afghan capital at the weekend may have been a criminal act, possibly linked to the drugs trade, the city's police chief said on Monday.
The bodies of the two men, one of whom carried a Swiss passport, were discovered on Sunday in Baghe Chilstone, a war-battered park in the southern part of Kabul.
The men, who were dressed in traditional Afghan baggy clothes and woolen hats, had been stabbed and hit with stones and bricks.
Kabul police chief General Baba Jan said the nationality of the second man was not known, but both were thought to have traveled to Afghanistan from Pakistan without visas.
"The investigation is going on and at this stage we think their killings could have criminal roots," he said.
"It could be any type of criminal act, maybe drugs, maybe other things," he said when asked to elaborate and comment on information from another official, who did not want to be identified, that a woman's underwear was found with the bodies.
The bodies were in the morgue and no one had yet come to claim them, Baba Jan said, adding that no arrests had been made.
An official at the Swiss embassy said diplomats were in contact with Afghan authorities to get more details.
The Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief, an umbrella organization for foreign aid agencies, said no aid workers were missing, while the international peacekeeping force in the capital said the case was a matter for the Afghan police.
A trickle of back-pack travelers visit the country.
Afghanistan is the world's leading producer of opium, a drug refined into heroin and smuggled mainly to Western Europe.
While Islamic militants have attacked international peacekeepers periodically in Kabul, other attacks on foreigners in the capital have been rare.
Stoning to death was a punishment for adulterers publicly administered by the Taliban regime that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until its overthrown by a U.S.-led military campaign.
Taliban guerrillas are active in southern and eastern Afghanistan, where there targets have included foreign aid workers and troops.
Last week two British security experts and their Afghan translator were killed in the eastern province of Nuristan while helping the United Nations prepare the country for landmark elections planned for September.
Security worries have already delayed the elections, which were supposed to be held in June.
Afghan prison petition to US
05/10/2004 BBC News
One of Afghanistan's main human rights organisations has called on the United States military to allow access to all Afghans who are in custody at American prisons and military bases throughout the country.
In a letter to the head of the US forces in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General David Barno, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission said there were widespread fears that United States forces could be abusing Afghan detainees in the same way as they have treated Iraqis.
The United States military is holding some 300 Afghans at its base at Bagram, near Kabul, and an unknown number at other sites.
US troops enter Pakistan to probe attacks in Afghanistan: officials
MIRAN SHAH, Pakistan, May 8 (AFP) - Dozens of US soldiers crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan while probing a shooting incident on their side, officials said Saturday.
The US soldiers in armoured vehicles entered the market town of Lwara, three kilometers (1.86 miles) from the Afghan border, around 7:45 pm (1445 GMT) on Friday, a local administration official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Pakistan on Wednesday lodged a protest with the United States after a previous incursion by US forces operating in the eastern Afghanistan's Khost province.
However military spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan said the US soldiers committed no border violation. 'If it was a violation we would have lodged a protest,' he told AFP.
'The US troops came only up to our border check post in three vehicles. They enquired from the FC (paramilitary Frontier Corps) soldiers about a firing incident in the area and went back,' he said.
'They did not enter into our territory,' the spokesman said, adding that helicopters apparently circling the area also 'did not come to our side.'
US authorities said the crossing occurred amid an ongoing operation by their forces on the Afghan side of the border as they hunt for Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants.
Afghan and US officials complain militants often cross into sanctuaries in the Pakistani tribal area after attacks.
US forces capture 13 militants in southeastern Afghanistan
KABUL, May 10 (AFP) - US soldiers captured 13 suspected militants over the weekend in southeastern Afghanistan's restive border province of Zabul, a military spokeswoman said Monday.
Local officials said the US troops had captured as many as 25 people including Arab and Pakistani nationals Saturday in Zabul's remote Naw Bahar district, some 340 kilometres (200 miles) south of the capital Kabul.
But US military spokeswoman Cindy Beam could only confirm the arrest of 13 people, without identifying their nationality or background.
Zabul neighbours Pakistan as well as Uruzgan and Kandahar provinces in southeastern Afghanistan, both Taliban strongholds which have been hit by a wave of attacks, kidnapping and ambushes blamed on remnants of the Taliban regime toppled in December 2001.
Last week Afghan authorities arrested some 36 suspects during raids in Panjwai district west of Kandahar, also a former Taliban stronghold.
Officials said all those captured in southern Kandahar were Afghan nationals except for one Pakistani, who was said to be part of a larger group aiming to carry out suicide bombings in Afghanistan.
Some 15,500 US-led coalition troops are in war-ravaged Afghanistan to hunt and kill Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants and dismantle their networks.
Asian states discuss economic restoration of Afghanistan
BISHKEK, May 10 (Itar-Tass) - Representatives of eight Asian countries neighbouring Afghanistan gathered in Bishkek on Monday to discuss prospects for the economic restoration in Afghanistan.
An international conference that involved government members of Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, opened in Bishkek on Monday under the auspices of the United Nations and will last till May 12.
The participants in the meeting decided that the major goal of the forum is to reach agreements on transport, transit freightage, energy and communications. The forum is also focusing on regional cooperation.
On Tuesday, the conference will continue its work. On Wednesday, Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev will take part in the forum, the sources in the Kyrgyz government told Itar-Tass.
Earlier in the day, Kyrgyz Minister of Trade, Industry and Economic Development Amangeldy Muraliyev said Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan intend to step up trade and economic cooperation.
Muraliyev said both sides have to sign an agreement on trade and transit freightage, and reach agreement with Uzbekistan on transit freightage rates.
Last year trade turnover between Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan amounted to six million U.S. dollars. After all these problems are solved, trade turnover may be increased threefold, the Kyrgyz minister stressed.
Kyrgyzstan exports building materials to Afghanistan.
Kyrgyz and Afghan officials held talks on trade and economic cooperation as part of an international conference on reconstruction in Afghanistan that has opened in Bishkek. Representatives of the eight Asian states are involved in the conference.
U.N. seeks bolstered trade ties between Afghanistan and Central Asia at international conference
By KADYR TOKTOGULOV
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AP) Seeking to spur development in Afghanistan and restore trade ties shattered by decades of war, the United Nations opened an international conference Monday to press Central Asian leaders to invest in the Afghan economy.
``Our intention is not to replace ties which were proven efficient and have their own tradition, but rather to explore new opportunities for bilateral and multilateral cooperation,'' Jerzy Skuratowicz, the U.N. Development Program's representative in Kyrgyzstan, told delegates in opening remarks. ``It is not only Afghanistan that would benefit.''
The conference in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek brings together senior government officials and businessmen from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and the five former Soviet Central Asian republics Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev and U.N. Development Program head Mark Malloch Brown are expected to participate Wednesday on the meeting's last day.
More than 2 1/2 years after the fall of the hardline Taliban government in Afghanistan, conference participants said security remained one of the key obstacles to regional trade. Those concerns were underscored over the weekend after a blast hit a U.N. vehicle carrying election workers in eastern Afghanistan and two foreign men were slain in the Afghan capital Kabul.
Three Central Asian states share borders with Afghanistan, including rugged frontiers that are difficult to control. Afghanistan has in the past served as a haven for al-Qaida-allied terror groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which have launched incursions in Central Asia.
Central Asia is also a main trafficking route for illegal narcotics produced in Afghanistan, the world's leading source of opium, and the problem is increasingly taking its toll on the region with rising addiction and the spread of HIV through shared needles.
Still, officials expressed hopes that development in Afghanistan could help bolster security across the region.
``There is a consensus in the international community that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is an extremely important factor for the stability and security in our region,'' said Kyrgyz Prime Minister Nikolai Tanayev. ``It is also clear that it is impossible to solve any regional security and economic cooperation issues without direct participation of Kabul.''
Central Asian countries have been criticized by the international community for not cooperating with each other. But Kyrgyz Deputy Prime Minister Joomart Otorbayev said that problem wouldn't be an obstacle in developing bilateral trade relations with Afghanistan.
Pro-Taliban Pakistan tribal leader denies sheltering foreign militants
Associated Press - Monday May 10, 7:42 PM
A pro-Taliban, Pakistani militant leader accused of harboring al-Qaida men near the border with Afghanistan told tribal elders Monday that no foreign militants were hiding in areas under his control.
The assurance by Nek Mohammed, who fought a fierce battle against the Pakistan army in this lawless tribal region in March, came on the day of a government deadline for foreign fugitives to accept an amnesty offer or possibly face military action.
Pakistan's government _ and its American allies _ will be skeptical over the claim. Hundreds of Central Asian, Arab and Afghan fighters have been living in South Waziristan, and many are still suspected to be hiding in the vicinity.
In the latest in a series of shifting deadlines, the government has given foreign militants until Monday to turn themselves in, saying they will be allowed to stay in Pakistan if they live peacefully, but none have yet come forward.
On Monday, a council of tribal elders discussed the situation. Mohammed appeared before it and said his tribe was not sheltering al-Qaida. He said the only foreigners in areas under his control were Afghan refugees.
Mohammed followers battled the army during the March 16-28 operation that left more than 120 people dead. Tribal elders negotiated a truce, and Mohammed and other local militants were pardoned.
Authorities say that under the peace deal, Mohammed was bound to convince foreign militants in the area to lay down arms. Mohammed denies it. "I did not sign any agreement about it," he told elders on Monday. "There was not even any verbal agreement on this issue ... We only agreed to respect Pakistani laws, and keep our soil clean from terrorists."
However, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan told a press conference in the capital Islamabad on Monday that there would be no compromise on the issue of registration. "When foreigners come to your country ... they have to register. The same principle applies in Waziristan."
The council of tribal elders was due to meet again later Monday to discuss forming a 2,000-strong tribal militia to go to remote areas where Pakistani authorities suspect that fugitives might be hiding.
An intelligence official in Islamabad last week told AP that the foreigners are ready to furnish a verbal guarantee that they will respect Pakistani laws, but they do not want to give any details about themselves to the authorities.
"The foreigners do not want to be photographed. They do not want to give any details to Pakistan because they fear that such things might land in the hands of Americans," the official said on condition of anonymity.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Islamabad has become a key U.S. ally in the region. Pakistan's tribal regions have been a sanctuary for Taliban and al-Qaida rebels who launch attacks in eastern Afghanistan, and a possible hide-out for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri.
Last week, the U.S. military chief in Afghanistan urged Pakistan to continue military operations against foreign fighters in the region, saying that a "significant" number of Arabs, Chechens and Uzbeks had to be "killed or captured."
Pakistan opposition party claims over 1,000 detained in crackdown
LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) A major Pakistani opposition party said Sunday that hundreds of its supporters have been detained ahead of the planned return from exile of its leader, but the government disputed the claim.
Mushahidullah Khan, vice president of the Pakistan Muslim League-N, said that more than 1,000 supporters have been detained in the past week, mostly in Punjab province.
He claimed the arrests showed the government was ``scared'' about the return of party leader Shahbaz Sharif, the younger brother of Nawaz Sharif who was toppled as prime minister by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in a bloodless coup in 1999.
Shahbaz Sharif is scheduled to return from London and arrive on Tuesday in the eastern city of Lahore, his hometown and political power base.
He says he is returning, despite a government ban, to face charges that he ordered the killings of five people in 1998 when he was the chief minister of Punjab, of which Lahore is the capital. It is widely seen, however, as a bid to boost the opposition party's flagging fortunes.
Amjad Bhatti, a provincial government spokesman, said Sunday
that ``only a few'' supporters of Sharif have been detained and
dismissed the opposition claims as an ``exaggeration.''
Police said they had detained 18 supporters of Sharif in raids in Lahore and the central city of Multan on Saturday and Sunday some as they put up signs inscribed with slogans welcoming Sharif. On Tuesday, police said that 13 were detained in Lahore. Media have reported detentions in other cities.
Police said none of the detained people have been formally charged. Under Pakistani laws police can take people into custody on suspicion of disturbing the peace.
Musharraf has vowed that Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif, both sent into exile for 10 years after the 1999 coup, have no role to play in Pakistani politics.
It is unclear whether Shahbaz Sharif would be allowed to enter Pakistan, although the Supreme Court has ruled he has the right to.
Eruption of violence stirs fears in Kabul
The Associated Press 05/10/2004 By Stephen Graham
KABUL - A blast hit a U.N. vehicle carrying election workers in eastern Afghanistan, and two foreign men were beaten to death in the capital, officials said Sunday, adding to security fears ahead of the landmark vote in September.
Meanwhile, hundreds of U.S. forces were sweeping through an insurgency-hit southeastern province and had arrested 35 Taliban militants, a senior Afghan official reported.
Four election staff members escaped unhurt from Saturday's jeep explosion near Grabawa, a village in Nangarhar province about 60 miles south of Kabul. Their driver was treated for minor injuries. All were Afghans.
"They all managed to get out of the car before it was engulfed in flames," said U.N. spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva.
Gen. Mohammed Yunus Noorzai, the Nangarhar police chief, blamed the Taliban or al-Qaida, but gave no evidence. Investigators were trying to establish if the explosion was caused by a mine or a remote-controlled bomb.
The attack on the U.N. vehicle came just days after two British contractors working with the United Nations in preparation for the presidential and parliamentary polls were shot and killed in another eastern province. A spokesman purporting to speak for the Taliban claimed responsibility.
Saturday's explosion was the fourth incident involving U.N. election workers this year.
The American military has warned that militants will try to disrupt the elections, in which U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai is expected to triumph.
Only 2 million out of some 10 million eligible voters have signed up so far, and registration has yet to begin in three troubled southern provinces where militants have killed dozens of Afghan troops in recent weeks.
A U.S. Marine died in a firefight Saturday, but the military insists it had insurgents on the defensive and that it is safe enough for the vote to go ahead.
In their latest operation, American troops backed by helicopters began combing three districts of Zabul province, some 240 miles southeast of Kabul, on Friday, and arrested 35 Taliban militants, Gov. Khial Mohammed told Associated Press.
"There was no resistance," Mohammed said. "All the suspected Taliban are in U.S. custody."
Lt. Col. Michele DeWerth, a U.S. military spokeswoman in Kabul, said 13 people were detained and a weapons cache was found in a search in Zabul on Saturday, but she gave no details.
Mohammed initially claimed the operation had netted Mullah Rozi Khan, who is believed to command Taliban militants in Zabul, where the government has little control. He later said that claim was based on incorrect information and that Khan wasn't among the militants arrested.
Meanwhile, Afghan police said two foreigners, one carrying a Swiss passport, were found dead in Kabul on Sunday, killed by blows to the head with stones or bricks.
The motive for the killings was not clear, but they sent a jolt through the international community in the relatively stable capital, which is patrolled by a 6,000-strong, NATO-led security force.
Police said early morning joggers found the bodies of the two men, about age 30 and in Afghan dress, in a public garden in west Kabul.
Rudi Hager, the head of the a Swiss development agency that doubles as a diplomatic mission, told AP that it "was probably just a criminal case" and suspected that the Swiss victim was a tourist.
Afghan commanders launch election campaign in Pakistan
Daily Balochistan 05/10/2004
PABI - Afghan commanders have started election campaign for winning support of Afghan refugees living in Pakistani refugee camps in view of forthcoming general elections in the country.
Hizb Islami head, engineer Gul Badin Hikmat Yar is likely to visit Pakistan in this regard, political circles said. Different Afghan commanders have launched election campaign in refugee camps. Reports from Afghanistan say that Afghan commanders are working on national and ethnic basis and not on party basis.
They are trying to win the support of those Afghans living across the border. It is further learnt that informal talks between Kabul government and Hizb Islami leaders are also continue as Afghan President Hamid Karzai is apparently supportive of Engineer Gul Badin Hikmat Yar.
Radio station adapts to gender problems in Afghanistan
Source: International Journalists' Network May 10, 2004
Radio Milli Paigham, a community radio station in Logar, Afghanistan, has created a new production unit for its female reporters.
According to the Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society (IMPACS), women in Logar are prohibited from traveling to the area of town where the station is located, and male journalists are often not allowed to interview women for their reports. As a result, women's voices were largely absent from the station's airwaves.
The station established the new unit, in collaboration with IMPACS, in an attempt to break down the barriers facing female broadcasters in the conservative city. Using a successful model that IMPACS used previously in Kabul, the groups equipped a small studio in a private home, away from the main studio, with computers and tape recorders. Women can use the equipment to produce their own reports and programs for broadcast on the station.
The two groups also held a training session in early 2004 for local women interested in working at the station. Four women selected from this initial session formed the Logar Women's Radio Production Unit. In just two months, the team has produced 17 programs for the station.
IMPACS also organized a second training session for women reporters on interviewing and writing, advanced radio techniques, and computer editing. Participants produced four radio pieces to be broadcast on Radio Milli Paigham.
Response to the new project from Logar residents has been positive, IMPACS said. Radio Milli Paigham has received letters from listeners asking for more programs produced by women on health, education and voter registration.
IMPACS said this pilot project could be adapted for use in other communities worldwide where women's lives tend to be more restricted. "With this model, women are able to raise their voices in their own communities and women listeners have another reason to turn on their radios and learn about what's going on around them," the group said in their April newsletter.
Pakistan: Afghan refugee returns top 100,000 in 2004
ISLAMABAD, 10 May (IRIN) - The number of Afghan refugees returning home to their war-ravaged country from neighbouring Pakistan in 2004 touched the 100,000 mark on Monday, with officials of the office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) terming the surge in volume as significant.
"The rate of return is much faster than we had initially anticipated because last year we didn't reach the 100,000 mark for the 2003 campaign until the end of May," Jack Redden, a spokesman for the agency, told IRIN at a ceremony arranged specially to commemorate the occasion in the capital, Islamabad.
The increase in the number of refugees returning to Afghanistan could be attributed to two factors, Redden said. "One is that the voluntary repatriation programme itself will end in March 2006, so I think people have this target in mind, that they are going to make up their minds to return inside these two years," he explained.
Also, most refugees had said that, according to their information, there were job opportunities in Afghanistan and that they considered the security situation to have improved, Redden said.
"As you know, security is patchy in Afghanistan, but clearly the people who are going back - which is more than we expected - have concluded it is safe to return to Afghanistan," he added.
Guenet Guebre-Christos, the UNHCR resident representative for Pakistan, told IRIN she was "pleasantly surprised" at the impressive rate of returns, calling it "significant".
"[We are] ... more than satisfied. It's a pleasant surprise, because we just started on 3 March and to reach within a period of two months the 100,000 figure mark is quite significant," she asserted, as UNHCR staff scurried about the makeshift marquee in preparation for the impending arrival of Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, the Pakistani minister for refugees, who was going to personally wish the departing refugees farewell.
Just a short distance from the tent, where a convoy of buses and trucks stood parked in anticipation of the minister's arrival, a group of women and children sat in the shade provided by the massive bulk of a nearby truck, while a man with a small child in his arms paced to and from a bus.
"I have been here in Pakistan for 11 years," Mohammed Hafeez, the Afghan refugee with the child, told IRIN. An electrician in his native Kabul, he said he fled his country after seeing the first signs of the Taliban's aggressive intent.
"I feared for my family's lives, my children. I didn't want them to suffer as I saw other people suffering. Pakistan provided us [with] a home and comfort for so long, but now it's time to go back and pick up the pieces," Hafeez said, in hesitant Urdu.
Once the minister arrived, the refugees - all men, since the women and children were already ensconced in the buses - crowded around the little tent to hear him speak in Pushto, before Sherpao personally handed repatriation certificates to some of them.
"Today, we have reached the mark of 2 million people repatriated from Pakistan since the commencement of the voluntary repatriation process in 2002," Indrika Rattawate, a UNHCR senior repatriation coordinator, told the assemblage.
"It is also a significant day today because it marks the 100,000th return for the year 2004, as well," he added.
Packed into buses, with personal belongings stacked at the back, women and small children waited patiently for their journey to begin, as the ceremony went on in the background. One small child had decided she had had enough of sitting and tried to escape from her mother's firm grasp, earning an immediate rebuke - and a bottle of water, which appeared to placate her.
Sherpao spoke in Pushto for the benefit of the assembled refugees, all of whom listened intently to his speech. Afterwards, he translated a short synopsis of what he had said for the benefit of the foreigners present.
"I have said that we are very grateful to UNHCR and all the donor agencies for helping these poor Afghans who have been through a lot of hardship. And it's been two decades," he said.
"Whatever has happened, we have all been through the difficulties with them. And, we will remain steadfast in our resolve to have the Afghan refugees on our soil till such time conditions improve in Afghanistan - and they are improving," he stressed.
The fact that the 100,000 refugee return milestone had been achieved so quickly this year was an indication that things were improving in Afghanistan, Sherpao said.
"We would want the reconstruction in Afghanistan to go on [at] a fast pace so that our brothers can go back to their country. But we are all very grateful to UNHCR and all the donor agencies for looking after them, for sympathetically solving their problems," he said.
The UNHCR repatriation process, which started in March 2002, was suspended late last year, following the brutal murder of an employee of the refugee agency in Afghanistan. It resumed in March, following assurances from both the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan - signatories, along with UNHCR, to a tripartite agreement that governs the repatriation process - about the provision of increased security.
The tripartite agreement, which is due to run until early 2006, enshrines the principles of voluntary and gradual repatriation.
"The fact that we started this repatriation process in 2002, and we have repatriated 2 million people is quite satisfactory. It makes this operation one of the largest ongoing repatriation processes globally," Guebre-Christos said.
UNHCR raises repatriation forecast as Afghan returns surge
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, May 10 (UNHCR) - A surge in the return of Afghans to their homeland so far this year has caused officials from Pakistan and UNHCR to raise their estimates for the total number of Afghan refugees who may go back this year to half a million.
The pace of Afghan returns from Pakistan this year, so far more than 100,000 since the UN agency reopened its registration centres on March 3, is far out-stripping the pace in 2003, when refugee returns did not reach the same level until almost a month later.
UNHCR had earlier forecast that only some 400,000 Afghan refugees might leave Pakistan this year, but due to the surge in numbers, the refugee agency is now girding itself to aid some 500,000 to go back to Afghanistan.
Pakistan saw 350,000 Afghans depart in 2003 under the UN refugee agency/Afghan government-facilitated repatriation initiative.
"Since the repatriation started, two million Afghans have returned, and this year alone 100,000 have gone back," said Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, Pakistan's Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs, Northern Areas and States and Frontier Regions. "This means the situation in Afghanistan is improving day by day."
"Your elders want you to go back in a peaceful and dignified manner," he said at a ceremony held with refugees at the UNHCR repatriation centre in Islamabad. "We also want that the repatriation of Afghans should be peaceful, in a dignified manner and above all, of their own free will."
UNHCR Representative in Pakistan Guenet Guebre-Christos told the Minister, as well as departing refugees and onlookers gathered at the ceremony marking the 100,000 return of 2004, that there were two occasions that pleased UNHCR most - when refugees receive asylum and when they feel safe to return to their country.
"This is a moment for us at UNHCR, on behalf of the High Commissioner and the team in Pakistan, to express thanks and gratitude to the people and government of Pakistan for being so generous, so kind and so magnanimous with hospitality," she said.
Millions of Afghans have found refuge in Pakistan, arriving in waves triggered by instability, the Soviet invasion of 1979 and the later civil wars. UNHCR's voluntary repatriation programme began in March 2002, with more than 1.5 million Afghans flooding back from Pakistan in the first year.
The largest return movements are traditionally seen in the May-August period, when refugees pack up their families and return home after schools close in Pakistan or in time to help with the planting season in Afghanistan.
The increase in returns so far this year in comparison to the same period in 2003 is believed to be due to the increasing confidence refugees have in Afghanistan's economy, political stability and security, as well as the desire of many to participate in presidential and parliamentary elections slated for September.
"With the aid of different countries, the process of reconstruction in Afghanistan has begun, said Minister Sherpao. "Schools, roads, hospitals and drinking and irrigation water facilities are being constructed."
"I know there are generations of you who were born here, educated here, worked here - but still want to return to your country because that's where you belong and that is the place you love the most, although you haven't even seen that place," he said.
The repatriation programme is carried out under an agreement between the governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan and UNHCR that runs until March 2006. A further 500,000 Afghans are expected to return from Pakistan next year.
Afghan refugees returning under the UN initiative receive a travel grant ranging from $3 to $30 per persons, plus a cash grant of $8 each to provide for basic necessities on arrival. The money is paid at UNHCR offices inside Afghanistan. In addition, all refugees over the age of six years who want to repatriate must go through a computerised iris recognition check before departure to ensure that they do not receive assistance more than once.
UNHCR is also assisting the return of Afghans from Iran, which has seen more than 700,000 Afghans go back to their country since April 2002.
The refugee agency's budget to assist Afghans in their asylum countries and help people going back to their communities amounts to $122 million for 2004. It has so far received only 41 percent, and still requires more than $72 million. UNHCR depends almost entirely on the voluntary contributions of governments and organisations to fund its worldwide operations.
Iran’s Export to Afghanistan Topped $52m in 2003: Official
TEHRAN May 10 (MNA) -- Iran’s export to Afghanistan topped 52 million dollars in 2001, some 115 million dollars in 2002 and 212 million dollars in 2003, said here on Monday an official in Iran-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce.
According to the chairman of the chamber, Alikhani said, “The figures indicate that we have not had suitable and required tools to develop relations with Afghanistan. In this regard, both the government and the private sector should try harder.”
Alikhani further referred to the multi-visas, not allocating suitable real estate particularly in Kabul to the traders, transit and transportation taxes for their trucks, lack of a guarantee for the return of their capital as some of the obstacles and problems facing the Iranian merchants and traders interested in taking part in trade activities in Afghanistan.
Elsewhere in his remarks, chairman of the Iran-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce asserted that Afghanistan is in need of foodstuffs, detergents, items used for sanitary purposes, cosmetics, audio–visual and electrical home appliances, construction materials, vehicles for transportation, non-alcoholic beverages, communication equipment, computers and petroleum derivatives from Iran. We could have joint investments in different sectors, he added.
Afghanistan Top Buyer At Tea Auction
(allafrica.com) - Afghanistan stood out as a strong buyer of tea at the Mombasa auction this week, the latest tea market report indicates.
It was closely followed by Egypt, the Sudan, Russia and Eastern Europe, which also featured strongly.
The report says Pakistani blenders, Yemen and other Middle East countries remained moderately active while the UK was classified as selectively active.
It was reported that the 130,289 packages on offer this week met good demand following their quality.
Brighter BPIs varied between US2 cents above last rates at the auction while mediums ranged between US2 cents to US4 cents dearer to easier by up to 10 US cents.
Lower mediums saw less competition and declined by US8 cents to US19 cents below last level with some withdrawals.
Waiting for the Bottom to Drop
Center for American Progress 05/10/2004 By Mirna Galic
Afghanistan is slipping - it's low on the Bush Administration's radar screen, absent from the public debate, and spiraling once again into lawlessness and poverty. Though it may not yet be the quagmire that Iraq has become, Afghanistan too is beset by an insurgency, and serious obstacles threaten the transition to stability. Yet, the country's steady decline is somehow failing to set off the necessary alarm bells in Washington and other international capitals.
President Bush and his national security team, for their part, continue to tout Afghanistan as a victory, with statements such as "its a big success story," and "by removing the Taliban out of Afghanistan and introducing democracy into this country, al Qaeda lost safe haven." But the issue is no longer whether we ousted the Taliban government. Instead, it's what we have done - or can do - to eliminate the obstacles to security and stability in Afghanistan.
It seems that the Administration, grown accustomed to dealing with its foreign policy engagements only in crisis terms, is waiting for the bottom to drop out from under Afghanistan before taking appropriate action. But in a country where the narco-economy is becoming increasingly entrenched, and where militants melt into the landscape with ease, it's not a sinkhole we're standing on the edge of, but a bog. If we fail to take corrective measures now, we risk finding ourselves waist deep in a crisis and unprepared.
The real prospect of Afghanistan relapsing into a state of conflict is apparent everywhere: in the rise of militant forces, the limited international security presence, the wanton warlords and the booming drug trade. Some forty Afghan soldiers and policemen, along with two American soldiers have been killed by militants in the past few weeks alone. This year has also seen a spike in the killings of aid workers. And last week's murder of two contractors working for the UN election effort risks further stalling a voter registration process that is less than one fifth complete. Elections have already been postponed once because of acute logistical and security constraints.
While Afghanistan may no longer be under official Taliban control, Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives are back in the country and fattening off the mothers milk of a vast drug industry. The Taliban appear to be reconstituted to such an extent that they have spokesmen who give interviews to reporters. And these are only the developments we know of. The Tajikistan Drug Control Agency estimates that there are some 400 clandestine heroin labs in Afghanistan proper. If that's true, what's to say there are not Taliban bases or chemical weapons labs and other terrorist related facilities in the mix?
The fact of the matter is that there is virtually no international security presence in large parts of Afghanistan. In a country greater than Iraq in both size and population, we have barely 20,000 US forces (and that figure is temporarily inflated by several thousand due to troop rotation overlaps) versus the approximately 135,000 in Iraq. Outside of nine small and scattered U.S.-led provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs), U.S. soldiers operate largely in the South and East regions, fighting Taliban and al-Qaeda militants until they slip into the safe-zone on the Pakistani side of the line.
Much of the security in the North and West, meanwhile, is in the hands of warlords nominally loyal to the government, who meanwhile traffic drugs and fight amongst one another, throwing whole portions of the country into turmoil. Warlord militias provoke instability and factional fighting, which has reportedly killed thousands in the past two years, forcing the nascent Afghan security forces into intervention efforts. The NATO troop expansion planned some six months ago has failed to materialize, and neither we nor our allies seem to be losing much sleep over it.
Perhaps most worrisome is the idea that we may be working at cross purposes with ourselves in Afghanistan. It is becoming increasingly apparent that drug money from the country's massive opiate trade is filling the coffers of extremists across Central Asia. The United States' permissive relationship with some of the warlords who traffic these drugs undermines our efforts against Taliban and al-Qaeda militants as well as the larger war on terrorism. Moreover, there is an increasingly serious prospect that we are beginning to lose the war for hearts and minds, countering the positive developments made by the PRTs.
Take for example the Pentagon's recent leaflet incident - relatively minor, but nevertheless symbolic - in which U.S. forces reportedly distributed leaflets to Afghans that said essentially "give us information on the Taliban and al-Qaeda or you lose your humanitarian aid." And even more disturbing news is emerging now, that, as in Iraq, prisoners in U.S. custody have been abused in Afghanistan. Beyond this, we should not underestimate the growing fatigue of ordinary citizens suffering under the warlords; warlord crimes and excesses were one of the main reasons the Taliban rose to power so easily in the first place.
It is not too late to save our policy in Afghanistan, but doing so will require coming to terms with the reality of the present, rather than basking in the glory of a victory that is, by now, long past. There are a number of positive steps that the United States can take, although some of them may be tough. These include increasing the number of U.S. boots in the country, and using them to cover more area; working more closely with ally Turkey to secure a substantial number of its troops for the NATO operation; rethinking our military relations with warlords; and jumpstarting the demobilization process, so that militias can be disarmed and, where appropriate, incorporated into the growing Afghan National Army.
We cannot forget that we are fighting in two main theatres right now. Although Iraq has received much more attention than Afghanistan, the latter is every bit as crucial to our national security, and we must begin to treat it as such.
Mirna Galic is a national security analyst at the Center for American Progress
The poorest people of the world pay for war on terror
By Mark Tran The Guardian 05/10/2004
Some of the world's poorest people are paying for the "war on terror" as governments cut aid budgets or switch their priorities to address security issues, a leading charity said today.
The Christian Aid report, entitled The Politics of Poverty, said that aid was being politicised as it had been during the cold war. It accused the US of leading the trend.
"We seem to be drifting back to the darkest days of the cold war, to a time when aid was just as liable to prop up dictators and their regimes as it was to build hospitals or drill wells," the report said.
Christian Aid cited the case of Pakistan, which, it said, had become a beneficiary of the fight against terrorism. A pariah state before the September 11 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, it soon began receiving large amounts of US and UK aid.
Official development assistance from the UK to Pakistan had fallen to $23.7m (£13.3m) by 2000. However, once the Pakistani president, General Pervez Musharraf, became a western ally in the "war on terror", official British aid jumped to almost $70m in 2002, according to official aid figures cited by the study.
Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary - who resigned from the cabinet over Iraq - said the Christian Aid study should serve as a "wake-up call" to the government. "I find it particularly depressing that any of our aid effort should be diverted to fund the occupation of Iraq," he said.
"Regardless of what any of us may think about the invasion of Iraq, we surely can all agree that the poor around the world should not pay for the consequences."
However, the international development minister, Hilary Benn, rejected the accusation that aid was being linked to the fight against terror.
"It isn't true," he told BBC Radio 5 Live's Breakfast show. "This is not an approach which the UK takes. Our aid is given on the basis of need.
"By 2006, 90% of our aid will be spent on the poorest countries of the world, and there it's going to help governments get more children into schools, improve the supply of water, help reduce the number of mums who die in childbirth and the number of kids who die of diseases we know we can prevent."
The report also cited Uganda and Afghanistan to illustrate "the distorting effects" of the fight against terrorism.
Uganda is the third largest recipient of aid from the UK's Department for International Development (DfID), getting £68.5m in 2002-03.
But according to Christian Aid, the Ugandan government's manipulation of the war on terror led to an intensification of conflict between government forces and rebels from the Lord's Resistance Army in the north of the country. A government offensive against the LRA, Operation Iron Fist, has been a disaster for the people of northern Uganda, the charity said.
"In 2002, Uganda had diverted 23% of its social services budget to fund Operation Iron Fist. Given the scale of the UK support, it can be argued that some of this money must have been British aid," the report said.
Christian Aid accused the US-led coalition in Afghanistan of using humanitarian action as a political and military weapon. The charity was particularly critical of the use of provincial reconstruction teams - small groups of soldiers varying in size from between 100 and 300 personnel.
The 19 teams are not only responsible for security, but also for overseeing reconstruction projects, rebuilding infrastructure and supporting the government. The strategy was making the security situation worse for those trying to rebuild the country, Christian Aid argued.
"Coalition troops are blurring the once distinct line between aid worker and combatant by undertaking humanitarian work themselves," the report said.
Daleep Mukarji, Christian Aid's director, called on the prime minister, Tony Blair, to use his forthcoming chairmanship of the G8 group of leading industrialised nations, to stop the "backslide into the mindset of the cold war".
"If the rich world fails in this endeavour, then our future global security will also be undermined," he added.
A Chronicler of Afghan Culture, Now Its Loyal Guard
Fort Wayne Journal 05/10/2004 By Amy Waldman
KABUL - Beneath the glass rosettes and stucco decoration of the Bagh-i-Bala, the late 19th-century pleasure palace of Emir Abdul Rahman, Nancy Hatch Dupree briefly forgot her architectural enthusiasms for more personal ones.
She drifted back to winter, 1966. Outside, she recalled, the snow fell thickly. On her slim frame was a blue velvet dress, designed to show off the enameled gold belt - once property of the emir of Bokhara - that had been a gift from her groom-to-be.
She showed where she had stood dumbstruck by the crowd that had braved the weather for her wedding to the archaeologist and historian Louis Dupree. Eyes wet, she remembered how the man conducting the Muslim marriage ceremony had argued with Mr. Dupree over the bride's price, which was finally set at 10,000 sheep.
But here Mrs. Dupree, who is 76, interrupted herself to hurry a reporter and photographer out the door. No time for the frivolity of reverie; she had a meeting to attend.
Mrs. Dupree's two passions have been Mr. Dupree and Afghanistan, for whose people and cultural treasures she has fought for 40 years. She has devoted so much of her life to this country that many Afghans see her as one of them. Her mission has been to protect Afghanistan's past, sounding the alarm about damage to its architecture and the looting of its archaeological sites, but also to show the past's relevance to the present.
She is an adventurer who once traveled Afghanistan to chronicle it in an iconic set of guidebooks, and even today commutes between her home in Peshawar, Pakistan and Kabul. She is an intellectual who exhibits a European sophistication in her curiosity about art, architecture and history. She is an American, driven by a combination of idealism and implacable optimism.
A tenacious networker, she consults with foreign and Afghan aid groups, United Nations agencies and the Afghan government on everything from women's issues to refugee resettlement to cultural policies and business investments. Her mission is keeping Afghans in touch with their cultural heritage and history.
"General busybody, that's me," she said.
She has seen waves of tragedy here. Now, as Kabul bustles with diplomats, soldiers, international aid workers and returned expatriates, Mrs. Dupree watches it all with a wary eye, wondering where the average Afghan fits in.
Her hair is a froth of gray curls in front with a bun in the back, and she has bright blue eyes, a mirthful smile, an irreverent sense of humor, a slightly frail frame and a deceptively girlish voice.
Conceived in India, where her father had gone to work on rural reconstruction, she was born in America at the insistence of her mother, who argued with the drama of a Broadway actress (which she was) that perhaps her son would want to be president of the United States.
"I turned out to be a girl," Mrs. Dupree wryly observed. "And I could think of nothing worse than to be president of the United States."
She went to high school in Mexico, college at Barnard, and in 1962, moved to Afghanistan as a diplomat's wife. She does not seem to have been a typical one. She rode her stallion across what were then grassy meadows, and when she was thrown, was rescued by nomads. She wrote guidebooks that are literate and practical, full of folk tales and archaeological detail and an intrepid traveler's sense. (One was the inspiration for Tony Kushner's play, "Homebody/Kabul.")
And she lost her heart, to Mr. Dupree's charm. He was brainy, funny, driven, handsome and devoted to the Afghans.
They met when she sought his help with a guidebook she was writing. Collecting her manuscript, she saw his words across the top: "Adequate, but nothing original." She tartly explained that "adequate" was perfectly adequate for her, since the book was for tourists, not anthropologists. He asked her to stay and talk, and so it began.
In the capital, they were an "it" couple. Their open bar - the "five o'clock follies," where the Afghan intelligentsia and international community mixed - is still remembered by many who lived in Kabul at the time. But they also spent months living at the site of Mr. Dupree's digs. She had no children of her own, but has been taken in by Louis's three children.
They were thrown out of the country in 1978, after Mr. Dupree was accused of being a C.I.A. spy. The Soviets invaded Afghanistan the next year, and the Duprees' exile from their adopted country began. They found a new home at Duke University, where Mr. Dupree taught, and helped with humanitarian efforts from Peshawar. There, they added to their collection of documents about Afghanistan, creating a paper archaeology that provides a history of aid to Afghanistan the Afghan resistance to the Soviets, and much more.
Mr. Dupree died in 1989 just after the Soviets left. He had predicted the trouble that would come, and Mrs. Dupree is glad he did not live to see it. He wanted to be buried in Kabul, and she still has not found the right place for his ashes.
Mrs. Dupree returned to Afghanistan in 1992 after 14 years away. Fearing she would be overwhelmed by memories of her husband, she instead found a Kabul she scarcely recognized.
After more than a decade of war, the city and its people had become like an "old woman" - she hunched in imitation - with gray hair, gray skin, gray clothes. Residents shuffled lifelessly through the streets. Stacks of sandbags sat on street corners. Familiar and beloved buildings lay in ruins.
She felt numb for days. Then one afternoon a friend led her inside an Afghan compound where the family had somehow kept up the Afghan tradition of maintaining a private flower garden. Mrs. Dupree sat down on a bench and wept. The garden brought back to her the city, and the husband, she had lost.
These days, one of her main concerns is to refocus attention on preserving Afghanistan's cultural heritage, as she sees aid to do so floundering. But her great goal is to build a center to house the 25,000 documents she and Mr. Dupree collected. To do so, she estimates she will need to raise $3 million.
She wants the center for the Afghans, so they can have access to all the research that has been done about their country, and learn how to do their own. She imagines it as a place where foreign and Afghan students could interact and learn from one another.
The center would also have a garden like those of Emir Abdul Rahman, who reoriented Afghanistan's traditional inward-looking architecture so he could look out on his beloved gardens. Although he died in 1901, she speaks of his thinking on design as if they had shared tea on his terrace.
She believes each building carries the integrity of its builder, and she has fought to preserve that in Kabul. She helped save Emir Abdul Rahman's Bagh-i-Bala from being destroyed to make way for a hotel. That it was saved again during the civil war she attributes to more than good fortune.
"I like to think Louis was up there saying, 'No, no, not that building,' " Mrs. Dupree said.
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