Karzai Wins Afghan Election, Official Says
Tue Oct 26, 8:38 AM ET By STEPHEN GRAHAM, Associated Press Writer
KABUL, Afghanistan - Counting in Afghanistan's presidential election concluded Tuesday, with U.S.-backed interim leader Hamid Karzai the clear winner, a senior official said.
Investigators were still examining about 100 ballot boxes to clear up lingering fraud allegations, but the election's chief technical officer said the count was effectively "over and done."
"It's just these last dribs and drabs to be approved," David Avery told The Associated Press. "It's really nothing that can affect the outcome."
Election officials have said they will not announce the official results of the Oct. 9 vote until investigations into irregularities alleged by Karzai's main rivals have been concluded. That could be this weekend.
The winner will be inaugurated in about a month.
Final results were not posted on the election Web site, either. But in an earlier tally based on 97.7 percent of total votes cast, the U.S.-backed Karzai had 55.4 percent, which was 39 percentage points ahead of his closest challenger, former Education Minister Yunus Qanooni.
Karzai had to receive more than 50 percent of the votes cast to avoid a run-off and secure a five-year term. He has pledged to raise impoverished Afghans' living standards after a quarter-century of fighting.
Karzai has been the interim leader since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001 after a U.S. invasion. An election victory would make him Afghanistan's first popularly chosen leader.
It also could provide a foreign policy boost to Afghanistan's main sponsor, President Bush, in his own bid for re-election next week.
Karzai expects Afghan poll verdict Sunday
Wednesday October 27, 2:26 AM AFP
President Hamid Karzai, the incumbent poised to become Afghanistan's first popularly-elected leader, said he expects the official announcement of October 9 polls on Sunday.
With a meagre 1.6 percent of ballots remaining from the war-torn land's first presidential election, the US-backed interim leader is on 55.5 percent but the formal result is on hold until the conclusion of fraud inquiries.
The election commission "has told us they will announce the results on Sunday," Karzai told visiting Italian deputy foreign minister Margherita Boniver Tuesday, according to his press adviser Khaleeq Ahmad.
"Once the results are in and I am the winner, then I will celebrate."
Karzai, Afghanistan's leader since the hardline Islamic Taliban collapsed three years ago, has a 39.3 percentage point lead over his closest rival and former education minister, Yunus Qanooni, who has 16.2 percent of votes.
"It's a source of happiness that we got more than 50 percent," Karzai's spokesman Jawed Ludin told a weekly press briefing earlier Tuesday.
He would wait for the results to be certified before reacting, Ludin added.
Afghanistan, a rugged and landlocked central Asian state, has been ruled by colonial powers, monarchs, communists, Soviets, warlords and the Taliban, but never before by a democratically-elected leader.
The man voters have chosen comes from a political Pashtun family of southern Afghanistan. He studied in India, lived in exile in Pakistan, helped plot to oust the Soviets and led a rebellion against the Taliban in their last days.
The drawn-out hand count in the presidential election had all but finished late Tuesday, with only several quarantined boxes containing "a very small number" of ballots waiting to be determined.
Counting was down "to the last dregs... all that remains are the quarantined boxes," election operations chief David Avery said, referring to boxes which had been isolated on suspicion of irregularities.
However the certification of the election and Karzai's landslide victory must await the conclusion of inquiries by a United Nations-appointed international panel.
"There won't be any declaration of final results until they are satisfied they have all the information that allows them to make a declaration of results in an informed way," election adviser Silvana Puizina told AFP.
The panel told candidates' representatives Monday they were only examining complaints of alleged fraud on election day.
"This election-day-only investigation does not satisfy us, we want an overall investigation of the whole process," Qanooni's vice-presidential running mate, Sayed Hussain Alimi Balikhi, told AFP.
French-speaking Tajik intellectual Abdul Latif Pedram shared the Qanooni camp's view, as did Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostam's running mate, Shafiqa Habibi.
"The investigation should take place in all three periods," Habibi told AFP.
Several newspapers and Qanooni have already acknowledged Karzai as the victor.
"Vote count shows Karzai is the certain winner," declared Tuesday's Arada (Goal) daily. Government newspaper Anees proclaimed: "Karzai is the winner, Yunus Qanooni accepts defeat".
The Watandar weekly said Karzai was chosen "because he was the beginning of peace and security in Afghanistan".
In the Kabul counting centre, one of eight regional vote-tallying centres, excitement reached fever pitch as the count neared its climax.
"This is a very important day! Afghans are waiting to know their future!" said Fatana Qurishi, 24, an observer from the private Human Rights Commission, barely able to contain her enthusiasm.
More than a fortnight has passed since millions of people voted with their feet against violence-threatening Taliban insurgents and streamed to 5,000 polling stations in a wave of jubilation.
The Taliban, who were driven from power by US-led forces in late 2001, had threatened more bloodshed on polling day but failed to disrupt the vote. Since then 21 people have died in attacks blamed on them.
Afghan vote reflects ethnic fault lines
by Shoib Najafizada
MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan, Oct 26 (AFP) - At first glance the election commission's map of Afghanistan appears to be a colour-coded layout of the country's patchwork ethnic groups. On closer inspection, it turns out to be a display of voting results.
A belt of beige colours the southeast for Pashtun Hamid Karzai, the north is green for Tajik Yunus Qanooni and blue for Uzbek general Abdul Rashid Dostam, and the centre is splashed with purple for Hazara warlord Mohammed Mohaqeq.
Voting in the rugged central Asian land's first presidential ballot has dramatically mirrored ethnic and regional fault lines, but analysts said intimidation could also have played a part.
While Karzai, the incumbent leader who has won 55.4 percent of near-complete preliminary results, dismisses such divisions, voters in this northern region need some convincing.
"In this election people voted for their own ethnic groups. Pashtuns voted for Karzai, Uzbeks for Dostam, Tajiks for Qanooni. So if Karzai is elected he will be the president of Pashtuns, not the president of Afghanistan," shopkeeper Atiqullah, 26, told AFP.
West of Mazar-i-Sharif, three Uzbek-dominated provinces are blue for Dostam, the swaggering warlord who turned up at campaign rallies on horseback. East are a belt of three Tajik-dominated provinces coloured green for Qanooni.
"As Karzai is now elected he will bring more Taliban. He is not acceptable for us, he is not our president," Hazara labourer Mir Ali said, reflecting his people's bitter memories of abuses by the ultra-orthodox Islamists.
Pashtuns, from whom the Taliban were drawn, make up about 40 percent of Afghanistan's 28 million people. Tajiks account for 25 percent, followed by Hazaras with 20 percent and Uzbeks around six percent.
One of Karzai's biggest challenges is to unite the fractious groupings. Aides say he is cut out for the job.
"He considers himself Afghan before Pashtun," press adviser Khaleeq Ahmad said.
"He can sit with people from the north part of Afghanistan and talk to them as if he's one of their own. But he can also sit with people from another part of Afghanistan and talk with them as if he's one of their own."
In a 2002 interview with AFP, Karzai dismissed what he regards as an obsession with ethnic rivalries.
"I'm an Afghan. I consider myself an Afghan, that's it," he said.
Analyst Vikram Parekh, from the International Crisis Group, said economic security was wrapped in with ethnic identity.
"If you look at the results province by province, there is a very close resemblance with the ethnography of Afghanistan," he told AFP.
"They vote for continuity in rural areas. Access to land depends on whether your ethnic group is in power or not. There is this idea that security is guaranteed."
One Kabul-based observer said the results were deceptive and denounced the "propensity to simplify" Afghanistan.
"It's a mixture of ethnicity and geography," he said, asking not to be named.
North of Kabul in the celebrated Panjshir valley, the fiefdom of revered former anti-Taliban hero Ahmad Shah Massood, voters chose Qanooni en masse. They gave him 95 percent of the vote and less than one percent to Karzai.
But among the Tajiks of Badakshan in the far northeast, Qanooni got less than half the vote and almost a third went to Karzai.
"It's a combination of factors: constituencies, lack of knowledge of other candidates, deals with different tribal elders, the voter's environment," said Tom Muller from the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit.
Intimidation by armed militiamen was partly a factor, he stressed. The delay in disarming most militiamen allowed them to pressure voters.
"Voters did not feel that they could vote for candidates who were not from the region," Muller said.
Karzai likes to combat the ethnic nationalism by relating the advice of an old man in his native city Kandahar, deep in the Pashtun heartland.
"He came up to me and said 'Karzai, the day you become one of us Kandaharis will be the day that you are an Afghan, and the whole of Afghanistan accepts you. But if the whole of Afghanistan does not accept you, then Kandaharis won't accept you either."
Karzai May Co-Opt Some Opponents
IWPR 10/25/2004 By Lailuma Sadid
With a comfortable lead in the vote count so far, the interim president starts thinking about forming his next government. By Lailuma Sadid in Kabul (ARR No. 142, 22-Oct-04)
If interim President Hamed Karzai takes the presidency, which he seems well on his way to doing, he may invite some of his defeated opponents to join his new government, his campaign spokesman said this week.
And if the incumbent were to lose the vote, he would still like to join the new government, said Hamid Elmi, Karzai's electoral office spokesman. "If any other candidate wins the election, we also want to take part in the next government," he said, adding he was confident Karzai woul win.
As of October 22, vote tallies pointed to a Karzai victory. With 6.2 million votes counted, an estimated 75 per cent of the total number cast, Karzai had 3.3 million or 54.4 per cent of the vote.
Mohammad Younis Qanuni has 17.5 per cent, with 1.1 million votes, putting him a distant second. Abdul Rashid Dostum was next with 11 per cent, and Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq had 10.2 per cent.
Panghar Noorani, editor of the Rozgaran weekly and a political analyst, said Karzai should select people based on their qualifications and not as representatives of groups.
"But some candidates like Qanuni, Mohaqiq and Dostum, do not want to join Karzai as individuals," said Noorani. Sayed Hossain Alami Balkhi, a vice-presidential candidate who ran with Qanuni, agreed that his camp probably would take part in the next government.
"If the election result becomes clear and transparent, we will be helping the government whether the president invites us or not," said Balkhi. But if cases of alleged fraud are not dealt with properly, then candidates may reconsider their position, he said.
Mubariz, a spokesman for Mohaqiq, said his candidate was of the same mind. "We will cooperate with the president if those things that placed the elections in jeopardy are addressed," he said.
Political analyst Mohammad Musa Marofi said candidates should be free to support or oppose the next president, but they should not hinder him in working for the good of the nation.
Lailuma Sadid is a reporter with IWPR's Pajhwok Afghan News.
Election No Cause for Complacency
institute for war & peace reporting; 22 October 2004
Despite peaceful vote, a rights group warns that the rule of the gun still persists and that dangers lie ahead. By Wahidullah Amani in Kabul
While the presidential election in Afghanistan was not marred by major violence, powerful local commanders and Taleban remnants still intimidate ordinary Afghans, according to a leading international human rights group.
In reports released prior to the October 9 election, New York-based Human Rights Watch had warned that the threat of violence might keep voters from the polls, particularly in remote provinces.
However, major attacks on polling stations did not materialise, and Afghans flocked to vote. Sam Zarifi, associate director of Human Rights Watch's Asia Division, said in an interview with IWPR that the voter turnout was a major triumph.
"Without any doubt, the people of Afghanistan should be extraordinarily proud of themselves," he said. The Taleban, for instance, had vowed to disrupt elections, but were unable to launch coordinated attacks on voting day. Zarifi credited the presence of international peacekeeping forces with preventing the Taleban from sabotaging the election.
"The Taleban did not have the power to carry out any organised attack in the presence of security forces," said Zarifi. "So election day must count as the Taleban's day of defeat, because it showed they have neither military power nor the people's support."
However, Zarifi added that many of the same threats that existed prior to elections remain in place. "Although election day was pretty much peaceful, and more people participated than expected, warlords still intimidated people prior to elections, especially women," he said.
According to Human Rights Watch, women in Afghanistan face two distinct
threats: one from the Taleban, who oppose women playing any role in society, and another from local commanders, who often run their territories like personal fiefdoms. Zarifi said the refusal of women to be intimidated on election day testified to their desire to take part in the political process.
Militia commanders had only a limited ability to influence the outcome of the presidential vote, Zarifi said. But he urged the international community to pay close attention to the selection of a cabinet by the new president.
The government of interim president Hamed Karzai has in the past included several powerful commanders, including Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, the minister of defence. Human Rights Watch is worried that a new government will include commanders or those with ties to the narcotics trade.
"When the [new] president declares his cabinet, we will see whether the warlords and criminals will be part of that cabinet or not," said Zarifi. "In a future government, there must be no room for warlords, and the election commission must preserve the legality of the election by excluding criminals."
Zarifi also faulted United States policymakers, saying that Washington has at times lent tacit support to militia commanders.
"Over the past two and a half years, the United States has collaborated with warlords, and used them, when they could have kept them away from the Emergency Loya Jirga [in 2002]," he said. "It was a mistake for the US and the United Nations to let these warlords resume their political activities."
Zarifi said he saw some signs of a shift in US policy, citing its support for the ouster of Ismail Khan, a powerful local leader in Heart. After the dismissal of Ismail Khan in Herat, Zarifi argued, the political atmosphere changed for the better, with independent publications and civil groups springing into existence.
The parliamentary ballot scheduled for next spring is another cause for worry. Zarifi said local commanders would have a better chance of influencing the outcome of the general election through both intimidation and fraud.
To date, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, ISAF, has limited its presence to Kabul and some northern provinces. Human Rights Watch has recommended that ISAF forces be stationed all over Afghanistan before the parliamentary election.
Zarifi added that international observers and the right equipment must be on the ground in advance of the elections in order to prevent irregularities. He urged the international community to maintain its focus on Afghanistan.
"Regrettably, the success of election day comes with the danger that the international community will declare that Afghanistan has made the transition to democratic government – that it is now perfect, and there is no need for further international assistance," he said. Wahidullah Amani is an IWPR staff reporter in Kabul.
Afghan government rules out talks with Taliban
KABUL, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- The transitional Afghan government Tuesday categorically ruled out the possibility of any talks with the remnants of the former fundamentalist regime.
"We do not recognize any group or movement in the name of Taliban and there are no talks with such group at all," presidential spokesman Jawed Ludin told journalists here.
However, he clarified that ordinary Taliban members can return home and resume their normal life. "Those Taliban whose hands are not stained with blood and did not commit crime can return home as Afghanistan is the common home to all Afghans," Ludin noted.
His comment came amid media reports that the US-backed Karzai- led government was trying to win the support of moderate Taliban leaders and include them to the incoming elected set up.
Karzai, who bagged over 55 percent of the presidential votes on October 9 and is going to lead the next government, has been facing enormous challenges from the ousted Taliban regime as its leader Mullah Omar rejected the poll as a "drama to legitimize the US occupation of Afghanistan" and vowed to fight till last.
A Popular Mandate For Rebuilding Afghanistan
By Haron Amin The Asian Wall Street Journal
No one ever claimed that democracy in Afghanistan was going to be easy. Even in well-developed, industrialized societies democracy has always been a process, rather than a finite institution. The very controversy over the indelible ink in our recent presidential elections is part of the learning curve which paradoxically validates rather than discredits this extraordinary democratic exercise.
The overwhelming voter turnout in the Afghan elections will undoubtedly help legitimize the new government both nationally and internationally, thus enabling President Hamid Karzai not only to extend his authority all over the country but to embark on a process of democratic and institutional perestroika. His new mandate means he no longer needs to appease and accommodate, unlike during much of the past 34 months. Major achievements thus far include the repatriation of more than three million refugees, the return of more than five million boys and girls to school and economic growth for three successive years. That is why Mr. Karzai's record in Afghanistan remains unchallenged. Local governments and provinces have sought integration into the national mainstream, while none have sought to break away. To date, no provincial power has been prepared to take on the national army and police force anywhere--including in chronic trouble spots. Yet, the accomplishments made thus far only compel us Afghans to work harder and require our international partners to stay the course.
Over the past year, Taliban and state enemies claimed the lives of 1,000 people. Confronting this requires a robust phase of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of private armies and armed militias, cantonment of all heavy weapons under the control of the Afghan National Army, training of additional army and police forces as well as expansion of border security and anti-narcotics units. Already, 30% of Afghanistan's 50,000 militias have been disarmed, and 50% of their heavy weapons have been collected.
The World Bank report that last month labeled our economy as 90% informal only serves to highlight the challenges that lie ahead. Despite regional centers of power hoarding large sums of funds, revenue collection by the Afghan government has risen to over $300 million from zero a few years ago. However, this is nowhere close to meeting the needs of an effective administration and is an issue which needs to be addressed through improved revenue-collection measures.
Sadly but significantly, more than a third of Afghanistan's gross domestic product is generated by 1.7 million farmers cultivating illicit narcotics. This crop, in turn, serves to strengthen the rule of the warlords and finances the survival of the Taliban. Reversing the country's status as the world's largest opium producer--before it puts further billions into the hands of an already powerful narco-mafia--could best be achieved through implementation of drug-control legislation, capable drug-law enforcement with centralized authority and the establishment of effective drug-control institutions. The provision of alternate livelihoods would encourage farmers to grow substitute crops.
The war on terror and insecurity, narcotics and the informal economy--in an environment where each reinforces the other--cannot be won through law enforcement alone. Fanaticism feeds on poverty. That is why we need initiatives to address those disenfranchised and disillusioned individuals who present a recruitment pool for terrorist networks. Donor-assisted dependency needs to be replaced by home-grown enterprises and sustainable self-supporting economic and reconstruction efforts. To achieve this, the donor community must pledge and systematically steer the Afghan-owned transformation in an all-encompassing development strategy by building on the pledges made at the Tokyo Conference of Jan. 2002, and the Berlin Conference of April 2004.
This should not be the moment when the international community removes Afghanistan from its list of priorities. Extra care is necessary to ensure the survival of an infant democracy and the future of a state that has been successfully pulled back from the brink of failure. It is imperative to build on success and reinforce efforts. Now is the time to stand firmly with President Karzai, who has earned the support of his nation, in addressing the daunting problems which remain.
Afghanistan is a critical litmus test of whether we can build our future together. 9/11 will forever be a catastrophic reminder of what can happen if we do not.
Mr. Amin is Afghanistan's ambassador to Japan.
Afghan democracy won't influence Pakistan politics: Musharraf
Wednesday October 27, 10:56 AM AFP
Pakistan supports Afghan President Hamid Karzai but democratic polls in its neighbor will not influence Pakistan's political processes, President Pervez Musharraf said in remarks published here.
In an interview with Singapore's Straits Times, Musharraf declared "we are with President Karzai" and dismissed suggestions that the Pakistan military maintained links with the former Taliban regime in Kabul for strategic reasons.
"And (Karzai) knows this very well. He himself rang me after the elections thanking me for all the assistance," Musharraf said, adding that "vested interests" were spreading rumors about Pakistan's intentions in Afghanistan.
Asked if Afghanistan's presidential elections could create pressure to speed up the restoration of democracy in Pakistan, Musharraf replied: "If we have to learn democracy from Afghanistan, God save Pakistan."
"We are well on course with our democracy," added the Pakistani president, who is also the army chief.
Karzai is the presumed winner of Afghanistan's first popular elections. The US-backed interim leader has secured a majority in a nearly complete count of the October 9 vote and expects an announcement of the results this weekend.
In the interview with the Singapore daily, Musharraf denied perpetuating his hold on power by creating a National Security Council, which he described as an "institutional check" on the power of the president as well as the army chief.
"Previously, there was no check on me. I could get up and decide among my people: 'The prime minister is stupid and sick. OK. Dismiss him.' That was within my power previously," he said.
"I personally believe that the National Security Council will introduce sustainable democracy with checks on everyone, including the army chief," Musharraf added.
Pakistan's national assembly has passed a law allowing Musharraf to keep both offices despite his pledge to quit as army chief by the end of the year. The law now awaits approval by the Senate, where the government also enjoys a majority.
In recent months Musharraf has said his nation's fight against terrorism and the peace dialogue with India requires him to keep his dual posts.
On Pakistan's role in Afghanistan, he said "external operatives" were behind a perception that his country's military might have a permanent interest in Afghanistan for strategic reasons linked to relations with India.
"These are hackneyed terms, 'strategic depth' and all that. This was a term used in the past. I never believed in this. And there's already a rapprochement going on with India," he said.
Suggestions that Pakistan had not fully withdrawn support for the Taliban "are frankly irritating" and spread by "external operatives" who "prefer creating this rift."
Exporting death and the campaign against terrorism
Tehran Times 10/25/2004
Now that Afghan President Hamid Karzai's victory in the recent election has become certain, he should make serious efforts to fulfill his pledge to purge the government of warlords who are profiting from the drug trade and opium cultivation.
Karzai has announced his biggest priority would be to prevent Afghanistan from turning into a "narco-state".
"The new government after the elections will be efficient, and clean. The new government will reflect the whole country and the whole Afghan nation and it will be good for all Afghans," he said during the election campaign.
Karzai has already begun discussions on creating an anti-narcotics ministry. Officials noted that as the elected president of Afghanistan, Karzai will be in a stronger political position to take on warlords who profit from the drug trade and protect poppy farmers.
Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium, producing about 75 percent of the world's opium, the raw material for heroin. A UN report has stated that Afghanistan's poppy crop has grown after U.S.-led coalition forces attacked the country in 2001 in search of Al-Qaeda terrorist network leader Osama bin Laden. A United Nations investigation has shown opium production in Afghanistan rose 35 percent last year. More than 100,000 hectares are now being used for opium cultivation in Afghanistan -- higher than the peak figure of 91,000 hectares in 1999.
Being a neighbor of Afghanistan, Iran has suffered greatly from the scourge of opium production and trafficking in Afghanistan. Many Iranian families have seen their loved ones fall victim to opium and heroin addiction. The Iranian government has spent millions of dollars to stem the flow of drugs into the country and many members of the Iranian military and police forces have been killed in the campaign against drug traffickers, but drugs are still taking a huge toll in the country.
Drug dealers have been exporting 'death' to Iran for more than twenty years with no end in sight. After the fall of Taleban, many thought that poppy cultivation in Afghanistan would come to an end, but what happened on the ground was exactly the opposite. Production rose and prices began to fall.
It is quite clear that there has been no strong will on the part of the international community and organizations to deal with the problem seriously. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently accused foreign forces in Afghanistan of allowing the drug trade to get out of control. Putin said that they are doing almost nothing, not even trying to reduce the drug problem.
Britain is the country charged by the UN with eradicating Afghanistan's poppy fields. London says that Afghan opium is the source of 95 percent of the heroin sold in the UK. And Prime Minister Tony Blair has cited the campaign against drugs as a key justification for the war against the Taleban.
Before the military invasion in 2001 he said, "We act because Al-Qaeda and the Taliban regime are funded in large part by the drugs trade." However, Blair, who always cites sensitive issues to justify his actions as in the case of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, has made no proper response to the booming opium production in Afghanistan.
Labour MP David Cairns even recently accused the government of not having a strategy to deal with the drug problem. The Bush administration is hailing Afghanistan as a major foreign policy success but reports from Afghanistan say U.S. troops are doing nothing to halt the drug trade and that U.S. soldiers routinely let trucks full of poppies pass on the road once it is clear they are not transporting Al-Qaeda members.
Defense sources say Pentagon officials are resisting proposals to get U.S. troops involved in the drug war in Afghanistan. The Bush administration has even become reticent about saying Al-Qaeda earns money from Afghanistan's poppy crop.
World leaders should have realized that the victims of illicit drugs throughout the world are many times more than those killed by terrorist activities and there should be no doubt that opium has been the main source of funding for Al-Qaeda's terrorist activities.
The families of drug addicts in Iran are eagerly awaiting to see if Karzai will take serious action. Now that Karzai has received a mandate from the Afghan people, they believe he should stop the 'export of death' to Iran.
Afghan fraud 'won't affect poll'
Tuesday, 26 October, 2004 BBC News
Election officials in Afghanistan say there is evidence of voter fraud, but that it does not appear to have affected presidential election results.
A senior official on the election commission told the Associated Press news agency that some ballot boxes were obviously stuffed illegally.
The commission is waiting for the findings of a fraud investigation before announcing the final results.
The incumbent president, Hamid Karzai, looks likely to win.
With just over 97% of the ballots counted, he has won 55.4% of the vote - enough to give him victory without a second round of voting.
"Some boxes were so obviously stuffed that we don't believe they were legitimately cast votes," Ray Kennedy, the deputy chairman of the joint UN-Afghan commission told AP.
However, even if all those ballot boxes were excluded from the count, Mr Karzai would still have a clear majority, he said.
A three-member panel, established by the United Nations and the UN-Afghan Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB), is investigating charges of irregularities.
Their report is not expected before the middle of the week.
Observers say the election was largely fair and that its result reflects what Afghans voted for.
"There were some flaws. But I very much doubt they would affect the actual outcome of the vote," EU special envoy to Afghanistan Francesc Vendrell told the BBC.
A spokesman for Mr Karzai's main rival, Yunus Qanuni, conceded defeat on Sunday.
Mr Karzai himself has yet to comment on what looks like certain victory.
However, his spokesman told a news conference last week that the president did not intend to form a coalition government, but hoped other leading figures would join him in what he called a "government of national participation".
On Kerry, Bush and bin Laden
By B Raman Asia Times October 26, 2004
In his campaign for election as president of the United States, Democratic Senator John Kerry has been blaming incumbent President George W Bush for the failure to capture or kill Osama bin Laden during the battle at Tora Bora in Afghanistan toward the end of 2001. According to Kerry, the US failure was due to the fact that instead of using US troops in the battle, Bush outsourced the job to the Afghan warlords, who let bin Laden escape.
Kerry's claims are partly true and partly incorrect. They are true to the extent that the US military did use Afghan warlords and Pakistani and Afghan narcotics barons, who know the topography of the Tora Bora area like the palms of their hands, to help it in its battle against al-Qaeda. The US narcotics-control authorities were asked by the Pentagon not to take any action against the narcotics barons until bin Laden was caught, and some Pakistani narcotics barons arrested before September 11, 2001, under US pressure and jailed in Pakistan were released at the Pentagon's behest for use in Tora Bora.
Kerry's claims are incorrect in the sense that contrary to what he has been stating, the command and control of the Tora Bora operations remained in the hands of the US military and a large number of US troops and aircraft participated in the battle and suffered casualties. However, the US troops did not raid the caves. They made the Afghans do it. They avoided a frontal confrontation with al-Qaeda.
Before the start of the US-led invasion of Iraq last year and coinciding with the end of the Muslim fasting period, bin Laden issued a detailed message to the Iraqi people advising them as to how they should confront the Americans. In his message, which was broadcast by al-Jazeera on February 11, 2003, he described how al-Qaeda under his leadership had fought the Americans at Tora Bora and advised the Iraqis to emulate their example. Presuming what bin Laden stated was correct, a perusal of his message would show that the US military played an active role in the Tora Bora battle and that Kerry's contention is wrong. However, bin Laden did refer to the role of the Afghan warlords, whom he described as the "forces of the hypocrites, whom they prodded to fight us for 15 days non-stop".
The Tora Bora operation failed for two reasons. First, the warlords and the narcotics barons played a double game. While ostensibly helping the US forces, they kept bin Laden and his fighters informed of the US military movements. Second, Pakistan, on which too the US depended for sealing off its border with Afghanistan to prevent the escape of bin Laden and other jihadi terrorists into Pakistani territory, quietly let them pass.
In fact, bin Laden, who was incapacitated by a shrapnel injury at Tora Bora, was shifted to the Binori madrassa in Karachi, where he was under treatment until August 2002. Since then he has disappeared. He was keeping in touch with his followers through video and audio messages until this April. Since then, he has been observing even electronic silence.
He used to circulate at least three messages every year to his followers - on the anniversary of September 11, 2001, to pay homage to the terrorists who participated in the terrorist strikes in US territory; before the beginning of the Ramadan fasting period; and at the end of the fasting period. This year, he did not issue any message coinciding with September 11. Instead, there was a message from Ayman al-Zawahiri, his No 2. Nor was there a message before the start of the fasting period this Ramadan.
The continuing silence of bin Laden could be due to one of the following reasons.
-He is dead. Reliable Shi'ite sources in Pakistan believe there is a greater possibility of his being dead than alive. Though their arguments are strong, I am disinclined, for the present, to believe them because if he were really dead the news would have spread like wildfire in the tribal areas of Pakistan. He is literally worshipped there and his burial site, if in tribal territory, would have become a place of pilgrimage. The Sunni tribals insist he must be alive, though none of them claims to have seen him.
-He is observing electronic silence for his own physical security.
-He has been sidelined by his followers and has no longer any de facto or de jure control over al-Qaeda or the International Islamic Front (IIF) formed by him in February 1998. The increasing audibility of al-Zawahiri indicates the possibility of his playing the leadership role at least in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region, though not in Iraq. I have been writing since April 2003 that bin Laden is no longer in day-to-day control of the IIF. This is now being exercised by Pakistan's Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), which has been in the forefront of recruiting volunteers and collecting funds for the jihad in Iraq.
If bin Laden is still alive, where will he be? In the past, US military officials were saying that he ought to be in the tribal areas on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Now they are increasingly saying he is most probably in Balochistan - possibly in the Pashtun majority areas of Balochistan. If he goes into the Baloch-majority areas, the Baloch people, though Sunnis, and the Shi'ite Hazaras would hunt him.
In my past articles, I have argued as to why it was unlikely that he would take shelter in the tribal areas near the Afghan border. The most important argument was that US troops were right across the border in Afghan territory and if they came to know of bin Laden's presence in the adjoining Pakistani territory, they would make a foray into Pakistan with or without the permission of President General Pervez Musharraf and kill or whisk him out.
Shi'ite sources in Pakistan say that if he is alive there is a greater likelihood of his being in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) than in the tribal areas near the Afghan border. The POK is Pakistan's Fallujah, a stronghold of diehard Sunni elements. And it is outside the easy reach of US troops.
B Raman is additional secretary (retired), Cabinet Secretariat, government of India, and currently director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai, and Distinguished Fellow and Convenor, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Chennai Chapter. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stratfor inc. Monday, Oct. 25, 2004
As the United States prepares for elections that are a little more than a week away, two other elections -- in Afghanistan and Iraq -- are showing differing levels of success. In Afghanistan, Mohammad Yunus Qanuni has conceded to Hamid Karzai, with some 6 percent of the vote from Oct. 9 election still uncounted. In Iraq, however, the Association of Muslim Scholars has called for a Sunni Arab boycott of planned January elections, due both to the continued U.S. presence in Iraq and the ongoing offensive against Al Fallujah.
Qanuni's concession comes just days after he told the Kabul daily Arman-e Melli that he would not accept Karzai's victory until all votes were counted and election irregularities were thoroughly investigated by a U.N.-appointed panel. On Oct. 24, however, Qanuni spokesman Sayed Hamid Noori told Reuters, "In order to respect the nation's will, based on the numbers announced up to now, we consider Karzai the winner in the elections and he got a simple majority." Noori added, "We accept in the interests of the nation, because we don't want to face another crisis."
Karzai and his core supporters were restrained at the news of Qanuni's capitulation, with Karzai spokesman Hamed Elmi telling the Associated Press, "We were up against 17 candidates, but the people were behind us. We will sleep soundly tonight." Karzai will not officially announce his victory until the final vote tally is over -- something expected in the next few days -- but with more than 50 percent of the votes to some 16 percent for his next closest rival, Qanuni, Karzai is likely resting well.
While equally muted on the announcement, officials in Washington are no doubt too excited to sleep well after hearing of Qanuni's concession. For the U.S. government, the election in Afghanistan went remarkably well. Violence was kept to a minimum and there were no major attacks by the Taliban or any of the numerous ethnic warlords. A pre-election boycott threat collapsed, lending some sense of legitimacy to the polling. And in the end, Karzai, a close ally of Washington, has emerged victorious, without even needing a runoff election.
Washington is now hoping to repeat this success in Iraq, something perhaps not as easy as it was in Afghanistan, if that one could be called easy. As in the days leading to the Afghani election, there are already warnings that the Iraqi elections might not be held in all places due to security issues. And as in Afghanistan, there are calls for boycotts in Iraq, most recently from the Association of Muslim Scholars.
But Iraq is not Afghanistan, and while there was a tenuous balance of regional, ethnic, religious and tribal forces in Afghanistan prior to the U.S. attack in 2002, the prewar situation in Iraq was very different. Afghanistan has returned to something similar to that prewar balance, albeit without the regular military skirmishes among factions. Iraq, however, was held together by a dominant military, led by an autocratic regime, with little if any tolerance for dissention or differences of opinion. With the exception of the Kurdish areas in the north - which were held separate from Baghdad's control for a decade since the first Iraq war by continued U.S. and allied air patrols and strikes -- Iraq was held together by an iron fist, not some sort of regional ethnic balance of power.
With this central control gone, and unlikely to arise again anytime soon, Iraq is on an uncharted course as it approaches the January elections. The formerly powerful Sunni Arabs, who make up just 15 to 20 percent of the population, are threatened by the majority Shiite Iraqis. The Kurds sit to the north and remain as removed from the day-to-day politics of Iraq as possible, despite holding some positions in the Interim Iraqi Government. But Iraq is also facing another transition -- from being a secular regime to becoming one with more religious overtones. Most of the influential leaders in areas outside of the Kurd zones have religious credentials, both in the Shiite and Sunni camps. And this leaves the nationalist secular Iraqis on the sidelines as well.
While the Association of Muslim Scholars' threats to boycott could simply be negotiating tactics, particularly as they are linked to U.S. plans to launch a major offensive on Al Fallujah in the coming weeks, they do reflect the changing shape of domestic Iraqi power and politics. And while Afghanistan had a status quo to return to, however tenuous and lacking in unity, for Iraq to return to the status quo it would require a new, powerful and centrally controlled military, and that is not going to come about by January, if at all.
Former ISAF commander points to drugs as growing threat to Afghan stability
Tue Oct 26, 7:38 PM ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The former commander of the international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan warned the surge in drug trafficking threatens to undermine stability there, calling it "the crocodile in the room."
But Lieutenant General Rick Hillier, the chief of staff of the Canadian army, acknowledged that curbing the drug trade will be difficult because the rewards for impoverished Afghans cultivating poppy far outweigh the risks.
"The drug issue, growing in an almost unconstrained manner, really threatens to be the crocodile in the room, and that could undermine the other efforts all throughout," he told reporters here.
Hillier, who commanded the NATO -led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from February to August, cited estimates that 3,500 tons of opium are coming out of Afghanistan a year.
He described traveling through 50 kilometers (30 miles) of poppy fields on a visit to Fayzabad, the capital of Badakshan in northeastern Afghanistan.
"The problem is there is no easy solution to it. You simply can't go in and just eradicate. Because if you do, this is in fact, for many people it's a matter of survival."
He called for a comprehensive approach combining economic development with more effective policing aimed first at curbing the growth in opium production, and then reducing it.
Members of the Afghan government understood the stakes involved, he said.
"They believe that in the next six to 12 months if that drug production continues to grow in an unrestrained manner it is going to affect the international investment coming into that country," he said.
The drug trade also is a factor in dealing with two other threats to stability in Afghanistan, warlords and the Taliban and Al-Qaeda extremists, who he said were "severely beaten but not broken."
"And unfortunately, worrying to us, we saw the links between all those pieces of threats I've talked about," Hillier said.
U.S.-Led Afghan Coalition Critcized
Tue Oct 26, 2:02 AM ET By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer
UNITED NATIONS - A U.N. human rights expert criticized the U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan for violating international law by allegedly beating Afghans to death and forcing some to remove their clothes or wear hoods.
Cherif Bassiouni, a law professor at DePaul University in Chicago who is the U.N. Human Rights Commission's independent expert on human rights in Afghanistan, said in a report Monday to the U.N. General Assembly that the coalition should be "a role model" for Afghan authorities — but it often is not.
"When they engage in practices that violate or ignore the norms of international human rights and international humanitarian law, they establish a double standard, enabling the continuation of abuses by various domestic actors," he said.
But Bassiouni blamed warlords, local commanders, and drug traffickers for most of the rights violations and stressed that "the absence of security has a direct and significant impact on all human rights."
"The coalition forces, which at one time could have marginalized these warlords, did not do so, and even worked with them to combat the Taliban regime and to pursue al-Qaida," he said. "This situation contributed to the entrenchment of the warlords."
Subsequently, the 18,000-strong U.S.-led coalition and 9,000 NATO troops based mainly in Kabul have supported the government's program to disarm and demobilize combatants, Bassiouni said.
While the coalition justifies its practices as necessary to fighting the "war on terrorism," Bassiouni said, "many coalition activities undermine the goals of enhancing national compliance with international law and weaken the government's efforts to enforce international law standards."
He cited several examples of alleged violations by coalition troops, including entering people's homes without warrants, detaining people without judicial authority, "beatings resulting in death, ...forced nudity and public embarrassment, sleep deprivation, prolonged squatting, and hooding and sensory deprivation."
Since no U.S. detention centers are open to inspection, Bassiouni said, "there is no way of ascertaining the veracity of these allegations."
But he said several incidents have been reported including possible criminal charges against up to 28 U.S. soldiers in connection with the deaths of two prisoners at an American-run prison in Afghanistan two years ago.
Bassiouni said he also received reports from international human rights organizations and the U.N. mission in Afghanistan regarding individuals who died in coalition custody. Some bodies were reportedly returned to their families "showing signs of torture, including bruises and internal bleeding from severe beatings and serious burn marks on victims' skin," he said.
The U.N. expert said an estimated 300-400 detainees are being held "without legal process" under domestic or international law at detention facilities operated by the coalition at Bagram, Kandahar and at field "fire bases."
He called for the Afghan government to sign agreements with the coalition and the separate NATO-led force in Afghanistan covering arrests, searches and seizures and detentions, in accordance with international law.
Despite serious human rights problems that must be tackled, President Hamid Karzai's government "has accomplished a great deal" and "there is no doubt that the people of Afghanistan are better off today than they were during the 23 years of conflict that preceded 2001," Bassiouni said.
Bassiouni expressed "special concern at pressing human rights issues about which the government is in a position to take immediate corrective action" — from improving the failing justice system to helping returning refugees who face extrajudicial executions, torture, rape, extortion and seizure of their land by local commanders.
Pakistan, Afghanistan Debate How US Election Could Affect Policy
By Ayaz Gul Islamabad 26 October 2004 VOA
As Americans prepare to go to the poll next week, many citizens of other countries are watching with an eye on how this election will affect them. Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad on what Pakistan and Afghanistan expect of the U.S. presidential election.
When Americans decide on November 2 between Republican incumbent George Bush and Democratic Senator John Kerry, people in Pakistan and Afghanistan will also be watching the presidential election with great interest.
This part of South Asia has been in the forefront of the Bush administration's war on terrorism, launched in Afghanistan after the 2001 attacks on the United States.
Pakistan's government, installed by military coup in 1999, quickly repaired strained ties when it became a vital U.S. ally in the fight against the al Qaida terror network. In the past three years it has received significant political and financial support from Washington.
But the Pakistani government expects the recently warm relations to continue between Islamabad and Washington regardless of who wins. Information Minister Shiekh Rashid Ahmed says Pakistan's commitment to cooperate in the anti-terrorism efforts is with the United States and not with any individual.
"We are confident no matter who is going to win," he said. "This is the American nation's decision, whatsoever decision will be, we will welcome that and our commitment is with the world, with the nation, not with a person."
But Hassan Askari, a retired scholar from Pakistan's prestigious Punjab University, is not so sure. He says President Bush has already proven himself as a friend to Pakistan, and officials are somewhat uncertain about future policies of his opponent.
"The feeling here [in Pakistan] is that if [George] Bush is elected the present pattern will continue," he explained. "They understand each other they have been interacting for the last three years. Whereas if new administration comes [and] John Kerry is elected then the parameters of relationship may have to be re-defined."
While Islamabad may be reticent of a possible leadership change, the same may not be true for the average Pakistani. Mr. Askari says there is a feeling among ordinary citizens in Pakistan, and in the Muslim nations in general, that current tensions between the United States and the Muslim community (over U.S. military action in Afghanistan and Iraq) may subside if Senator Kerry wins.
"During the last three years the relations between the U.S. and the Muslims and Muslim world have deteriorated whereas Kerry would start afresh that means that he will have room for maneuver and to show some flexibility in the (current) American policy," he said.
Across the border in Afghanistan, there is less concern about any possible change in U.S. leadership. Mujahid Jawad is a medical doctor in Kabul.
He said that regardless of who wins in the U.S presidential election, the important thing is that the United States must not lose interest until Afghanistan's problems are resolved.
Afghanistan Central Bank Governor Anwar ul-Haq Ahadi says few of his people are worried about that. He explained that both candidates in the American election have already pledged their support to the reconstruction and elimination of terrorism in Afghanistan.
"I think there is a consensus in the United States that Afghanistan used to be the center of terrorists' training, and terrorism is an international problem, its particular problem for the United States and that's why U.S. presence in Afghanistan," he noted. "I think the other camp, the Kerry camp agrees with it."
Mr. Bush has repeatedly vowed not to abandon the Afghans and his Republican Party administration has led the United States to become the country' top aid donor. Mr. Kerry has made similar pledges, and his supporters even held a campaign rally in the capital Kabul, complete with a donkey symbolizing his Democratic Party.
Three suspected Taliban killed, 11 arrested in southern Afghanistan
AP - Tuesday October 26, 2:06 PM
Afghan security forces have killed three suspected Taliban rebels and arrested 13 others in different regions of southern Afghanistan in recent days, officials said Tuesday.
Militia and national army soldiers surrounded a group of militants on a mountainside in Shahjoy district of southeastern Zabul province early Sunday morning, killing three in a shootout and arresting two others, said provincial Gov. Khial Mohammed.
Meanwhile, police and militia launched a hunt for Taliban suspects after a rebel attack on a security checkpoint on the border between southern Helmand and Nimroz provinces on Thursday that killed one Afghan soldier and wounded two others.
Nafaas Khan, deputy police chief of Nimroz, said that between Friday and Monday, 11 suspects were rounded up from villages in the border area from Kolistan to Dilaram and ammunition confiscated.
None of those arrested were believed to be senior figures in the hardline militia that was ousted from power in Afghanistan in late 2001.
UNHCR: Over 1.8 million Afghan refuges in Iran have returned home
Mashhad, Khorassan prov, Oct 25, IRNA -- Spokesman for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) in Iran Dina Faramarzi said in Mashhad on Monday that since the beginning of the UN sponsored program for volunteer return of the Afghan refugees 1,860,000 of them have returned home.
Faramarzi told IRNA that in 2004, more than 440,440 Afghan refugees have returned to their homeland.
Interior Ministrys figure point to 2.5 million Afghans settling in Iran during the two decade of devastating war in the country.
According to a tripartite agreement signed between Iran, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Afghan transitional government in 2002, over 19,000 Afghans have returned to their homeland from this province since the start of the current Iranian calendar year of 1383 (March 20, 2004).
In September, Managing Director of International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Iran has been plenty generous towards its Afghan and Iraqi refugees.
Speaking at the organizations Tehran office Brunson Mckinley told reporters that "Iran has bore significant burden in extending shelter and other assistance despite insufficient international relief."
He referred to "effective cooperation by the organization and Iran" in holding seminars on migrants and refugees affairs, combating human trafficking, cooperation on repatriation of refuges from Iran and assistance to Iranian expatriates in returning to their homeland.
Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Nasser Khaleqi has called for expediting of repatriation of Afghan and Iraqi refugees to their homelands.
In a meeting with Mckinley, Khaleqi appreciated the cooperation the organization has rendered to Iran on refugees issues.
Elsewhere in his talks, Khaleqi said that the establishment of the academic bureau of the IOM in Iran would promote the level of cooperation between Iran and that organization.
Afghan, Iraq wars reported to need $70 billion more
By JONATHAN WEISMAN and THOMAS E. RICKS Washington Post 10/26/2004
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration intends to seek about $70 billion in emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan early next year, pushing total war costs close to $225 billion since the invasion of Iraq early last year, Pentagon and congressional officials said Monday.
White House budget office spokesman Chad Kolton emphasized that final decisions on the supplemental spending request will not be made until shortly before the request is sent to Congress. That may not happen until early February, when President Bush submits his budget for fiscal 2006, assuming he wins re-election.
But Pentagon and House Appropriations Committee aides said the Defense Department and military services are scrambling to get their final requests to the White House Office of Management and Budget by mid-November, shortly after the election. The new numbers underscore that the war is going to be far more costly and intense, and last longer, than the administration first suggested.
The Army is expected to request at least an additional $30 billion for combat activity in Iraq, with $6 billion more needed to begin refurbishing equipment that has been worn down or destroyed by unexpectedly intense combat, another Appropriations Committee aide said. The deferral of needed repairs over the past year has added to maintenance costs, which can no longer be delayed, a senior Pentagon official said.
The Army is expected to ask for as much as $10 billion more for its conversion to a swifter expeditionary force. The Marines will come in with a separate request, as will the Defense Logistics Agency and other components of the Department of Defense. The State Department will need considerably more funds to finance construction and operations at the sprawling embassy complex in Baghdad. The Central Intelligence Agencys request would come on top of those.
"I dont have a number, and (administration officials) have not been forthcoming, but we expect it will be pretty large," said James Dyer, Republican chief of staff of the Appropriations Committee.
Bush has said for months that he would make an additional request for the war next year, but the new estimates are the first glimpse of its magnitude. A $70 billion request would be considerably larger than lawmakers had anticipated earlier this year. After the president unexpectedly submitted an $87 billion request for the Iraq and Afghanistan efforts last year, many Republicans angrily expressed sticker shock and implored the administration not to surprise them again.
This request would come on top of $25 billion in war spending allocated by Congress for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. The two bills combined suggest the cost of combat is escalating from the $65 billion spent by the military in 2004 and the $62.4 billion allocated in 2003, as U.S. troops face insurgencies that have proven far more lethal than expected at this point.
"Were still evaluating what our commitments will be, and we will submit a request that fully supports those commitments," Kolton said.
The senior Pentagon official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said final figures may be shaped by the outcome of the presidential election and events in Iraq. But assuming force levels will remain constant in Iraq at about 130,000 troops, the final bill will be "roughly" $70 billion for the military alone, he said.
In making cost estimates for the supplemental budget request, Pentagon officials have distanced themselves from the Bush administrations public optimism about trends in Iraq. Instead, they make the fairly pessimistic assumption that about as many troops will be needed there next year as are currently on the ground.
The latest request comes on top of three earlier emergency spending bills approved by Congress in support of the war. In August, Congress approved $25 billion for the war as a bridge to the larger request the president promised for early 2005. Last October, lawmakers passed an $87.5 billion emergency spending measure that included $65 billion for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another $18.6 billion of those funds went to Iraqi reconstruction.
Congress approved the first war spending measure in April 2003, a $78.5 billion measure that included $62.4 billion for combat and $7.5 billion for foreign assistance.
The Iraq war has proven so costly because of the unexpectedly intense opposition from insurgents. That has led the Pentagon to keep far more troops in Iraq than it planned.
At the end of the invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003, Pentagon officials expected to be able to radically trim the occupation force by the end of that year to perhaps 50,000 troops or less. Instead, they maintained a force of about 130,000 personnel there and have supplemented that force with about 20,000 civilian contractors.
On top of paying the wages of the all-volunteer force and the contractors, the military has paid for building dozens of bases and keeping a high-tech force equipped with computers, communications gear and expensive modern weaponry.
Yale University economist William D. Nordhaus estimated that in inflation-adjusted terms, World War I cost just under $200 billion for the United States. The Vietnam War cost roughly $500 billion from 1964 to 1972, Nordhaus said. The cost of the Iraq war could reach nearly half that number by next fall, 21/2 years after it began.
Taleban militants keep up attacks on US, Afghan troops
(AFP) 26 October 2004
KABUL - Suspected Taleban militants kept up attacks on US and Afghan troops Tuesday but caused no casualties, military officials said, more than a fortnight after failing to disrupt peaceful presidential elections.
In the latest violence blamed on fighters loyal to Afghanistan’s bitter ousted rulers, a US-led army convoy was attacked with rockets and machine-gun fire in Zabul province, US military spokesman Major Mark McCann told AFP.
No-one was injured, he said.
The attack followed a gunfight overnight between suspected Taleban fighters and Afghan troops, also in Zabul, a southeast province which has been a hotbed of Taleban activity over the past three years. McCann said there were no casualties.
Taleban suspects also detonated a remote-controlled bomb as a US military convoy passed by in Tirin Kot, the capital of neighbouring Uruzgan province.
On the same day in Paktia province, bordering Pakistan’s wild tribal lands, militants attacked a convoy of trucks carrying supplies to a US military base, Afghan police said.
“There were no casualties but one of the trucks was damaged,” Paktia police chief Hai Gul Slaiman Khil told AFP.
A remote-controlled bomb also exploded Sunday near a US military outpost in border district Shkin, one of the most heavily targetted districts lying south of Paktia. Again, no-one was injured, McCann said.
Taleban fighters have been waging a campaign of hit-and-run attacks mainly in Afghanistan’s rugged south and southeast since they were ousted from power by US-led forces three years ago.
Taleban-related attacks have claimed 21 lives since the election.
In the most brazen post-poll attack claimed by the Taleban, a suicide bomber blew himself up in front of two carpet shops in a Kabul shopping street popular with foreigners on Saturday.
He killed a 23-year-old American woman, who was looking at carpets, and an 11-year-old Afghan beggar girl who was selling second-hand books.
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