Afghan gov't takes action against spread of cholera in capital
KABUL, Jun 15, 2005 (Xinhua) -- Afghan government has taken a range of measures including hanging posters, giving advice through TV and installing separate tents in hospitals to prevent the cholera epidemic from spreading in capital Kabul, a health official said Wednesday.
Abdullah Fahim, an official with the Afghan Public Health Ministry, however, denied media reports that the epidemic has infected over 2,000 people in Kabul in the past two weeks and that the disease could spread quickly throughout the city's 4 million population.
"More than 2,400 people have had the symptoms of diarrhea, vomitting and others since May 22. Thirty persons have been confirmed to be infected with cholera, and four of them have died of the disease," Fahim said.
Nobody can say that cholera has spreaded in large scale since the infection cases have come from different parts of Kabul, he said, adding the government has taken measures to curb the disease.
In Kabul, many posters have been hung up in streets printed with such words as "Clean your hands before eating," "Drink boiled water" and so on to remind people of self-sanitation.
TV programs about hygiene will be be broadcast to help people turn away from getting infected with the disease, and the medical department has advised people to drink boiled water, and thoroughly clean vegetable before eating for prevention, Fahim said.
As a kind of seasonal epidemic, cholera breaks out each year in Afghanistan. Fahim said that compared with last year, cases of cholera this year are only half in number.
Murad Mamozai, deputy head of the infectious hospital Antoni, said they have received about 650 patients with the symptoms of diarrhea since May 22, and have set up new and separate tents for them. "Until now none of them has been confirmed of being infected with cholera," he said.
There are seven tents outside the main building of the hospital arranged for the suspected cholera patients, and about five or six persons in each tent.
"Most of them were sent into the hospital with the symptoms of diarrhea and vomit. We have arranged doctors and nurses to give them overall examination and good care," said one doctor.
Cholera is a major epidemic especially in some developing countries like Afghanistan, where sanitary equipment is not good enough. Every summer, cholera will occur in the country, leaving hundreds infected and dozens dead.
The bacteria attack the intestine and cause severe diarrhea and dehydration. An infected person can even die within several hours if not provided with timely and effective treatment.
Update on Cholera Situation
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
A U.S. health official says an outbreak of cholera in the Afghan capital Kabul has killed at least eight people and is feared to have infected more than 2,000 and might turn into an epidemic.
The remarks were made in Kabul today by Fred Hartman, an epidemiologist and technical director for a U.S. Agency for International Development-backed program, the Rural Expansion of Afghanistan's Community-based Health Care.
But health officials in Kabul where rubbish and sewage fill roadside ditches and water wells are polluted disputed the figures and claimed the threat had been contained.
Hartman told the AP news agency that eight or nine people had died in the past two weeks, and warned the disease could quickly spread throughout Kabul and to other provinces.
Hartman said the disease has been detected in wells, the source of drinking water for most Kabul residents, and irrigation ditches, while more than 2,000 sick people "have been reported so far.
Priceless Carpets Stolen in Afghanistan
By AMIR SHAH, Associated Press / June 15, 2005
KABUL, Afghanistan - Three large carpets were stolen from an ancient Afghan mosque by thieves who came in the middle of the night and replaced them with cheap imitations, a local police chief said Wednesday.
The carpets, each made in the early 1900s specifically for the centuries-old Khawaja Abu Nasr Parsa mosque in northern Balkh province, were spirited away late Monday, said police chief Mir Hamza. Each of the carpets was about 30-feet long and richly woven in a deep red.
"It is the first time anything has ever been stolen from the mosque," said Hamza. "The first time we have seen looting in God's house. This is a very sad time for the people of Balkh."
The mosque is believed to be one of the oldest in Afghanistan, though its exact age is not entirely clear. It is a popular attraction for Afghan travelers and even some foreigners.
Hamza said authorities believe more than one person was involved in the heist, since the carpets were too big and heavy to be carried by a single man.
There was no sign of a forced entry, so the criminals must have had a key or picked the lock, the police chief said.
Hamza said the only people with keys to the mosque are the chief cleric, his assistant and a security guard, but none of them were at the building when the theft allegedly occurred.
When the cleric's assistant arrived early Tuesday morning to prepare the mosque for prayers, he noticed a switch had been made. The carpets, which Hamza said were priceless, had been replaced by newer Iranian carpets worth only about $300 each.
Hamza said he had informed all the carpet and antique shops in the province that they should inform authorities should anybody try to sell the stolen goods.
"I told everybody that this is God's property and it must be returned," Hamza said.
Looting of Afghan antiquities is considered a growing problem, and many items are believed to have been spirited abroad.
Toughing it in the Afghan army
BBC News / Wednesday, 15 June, 2005 By Tom Coghlan In Kandahar
Dwarfed by the air conditioned sprawl of the nearby US airbase, the barracks of the Afghan National Army's 205th "Atal" (Hero) corps outside Kandahar are, to put it politely, extremely basic.
There is none of the shopping mall consumption that characterises the neighbouring US base. No DVDs, "air con" or golf buggies to transport soldiers to the groaning trolleys of the mess hall.
The ANA soldiers take their water from the non-potable tap that feeds the toilet block; they have not received mineral water or canned drinks for months.
They wash their dishes in the showers, outside which a green pool of sewage festers. Their food comes topped with buzzing clouds of flies.
The Afghan National Army are very much the junior partner in the ugly, forgotten war being fought here in southern Afghanistan; their 3,000 man contribution set against the 18,000-man US force.
But it will not be so forever.
By 2007 it is planned that the army will top 70,000 men, allowing the foreign forces to begin to leave.
But this assumes that all goes to plan.
And at present all is not well with the Afghan National Army's southern command, which was first deployed last September.
What is clear is that morale is low.
"Everyone wants to run away," said one sergeant. "We cannot tolerate this."
The soldiers' complaints focused largely on the perception that they had not been given a fair deal.
The ANA receive their wages from the US government, and at a starting salary of $75 a month they are comparable or slightly better to those of most civil servants.
But this is before taking into account the risks that the troops in the southern command face.
Many men talked bitterly of a $2 a day bonus they say they were promised for "dangerous operations".
It has never been paid. The Defence Ministry say it will be.
The soldiers also said food and conditions were very poor and deteriorating.
The biggest problem though was how to get their cash wages home to their families when they have to serve up to half a year at a time without leave.
Afghanistan has no banking system.
The soldiers say that their loved ones face starvation.
It is a logistical nightmare with which the Afghan government says it is wrestling.
Then there is the threat from the Taleban.
Since March, government forces have lost dozens of men to a reinvigorated Taleban insurgency.
The fighting has been hard and without body armour and heavy weaponry.
The ANA inevitably suffer much higher casualties than US troops.
And to this has been added horror.
An ANA patrol was almost wiped out last month and its wounded tortured and executed by the Taleban.
"The Taleban had used knives on them," said Mohammed, one of the patrol's survivors.
"They had no eyes, no noses. Their mouths were destroyed. These were our best friends."
A much repeated, though erroneous, rumour said the men were also castrated.
The incident has compounded already fragile morale, particularly after the discovery that the families of dead soldiers' only receive a single $400 payment for their loss.
"I am afraid of what the Taleban would do to me," said one soldier.
"A boy was crying and asking his commander to go home because he is the only son of his family."
One soldier wondered whether it was right for the ANA to be "helping foreigners to kill Muslims," though others said that achieving "national unity" necessitated the defeat of the Taleban.
And yet, there is much to be admired about the ANA.
It is respected by US officers as a generally disciplined and uncorrupted force, unlike the National Police.
Many of the ANA's officers are capable and boast vast combat experience.
"They are some of the bravest soldiers I've seen and I'm proud to be associated with them," said Colonel Tom Wilkinson, a liaison and training officer.
Above all the ANA appears to have succeeded in integrating Afghanistan's multitude of different ethnic groups, all of which were responsible for reciprocal human rights abuses during Afghanistan's long civil war.
"We are just like brothers of the same family," said Sergeant Mohammed Wali from the Tajik north of the country.
The recruitment of the ANA has meticulously followed a policy of maintaining an ethnic balance in units which broadly reflects that found country wide.
As such it remains a popular army with many Afghans, the green bereted soldiers affectionately nicknamed the "Chai Sap" (Green Tea); a gently teasing pun on Isaf, the name of the international stabilisation force.
'Osama Bin Laden alive and well'
BBC News / Wednesday, 15 June, 2005
A top Taleban commander has said in a television interview that Osama Bin Laden and Afghanistan's former Taleban leader Mullah Omar are alive and well.
"I am in contact with Mullah Omar and take directions from him," Mullah Akhtar Usmani told Pakistan's privately-run Geo television.
There is no way of independently verifying Mullah Usmani's claims.
The BBC's Rahimullah Yusufzai says that Mullah Usmani was a senior commander in the Taleban before its fall in 2001.
Our correspondent says he is since considered to be the operational head of the Taleban resistance.
The United States has offered bounties of $25m and $10m for the capture of Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar in connection with the 11 September attacks.
The comments come a day after Pakistan's President, Pervez Musharraf, said in Australia that he believed Osama Bin Laden was alive based on the information Pakistan had received from al-Qaeda members arrested by its security forces.
"Taleban are all over Afghanistan," Mullah Usmani said in his interview.
"They may be more in some provinces and less in the other, but their support is growing," he said, partly covering his face with a black scarf.
But he was not willing to say anything about their location.
"All I can tell you is that Osama Bin Laden is alive and well," he said.
He also said Mullah Omar was still in command of the Taleban forces.
"He is still our commander and issuing directions."
Osama Bin Laden is believed to be hiding in Pakistan's unruly tribal region bordering Afghanistan.
Pakistani observers are surprised at Geo TV's ability to interview a top Taleban commander at a time when members of the militia are targets of a massive manhunt by the US-led coalition as well as Pakistani forces.
The Taleban has been on the run ever since they were ousted three and a half years ago.
But there has been an increase in attacks in Afghanistan in recent months, attributed to militants owing allegiance to the Taleban and al-Qaeda, raising fears they may be regrouping.
Afghanistan's US envoy disappointed bin Laden still at large
Tue Jun 14,11:54 AM ET
KABUL (AFP) - The outgoing US ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said he was "disappointed" that Osama bin Laden remained at large but pledged the Al-Qaeda leader would be captured.
The Afghan-born US diplomat who is preparing to leave Afghanistan as President George W. Bush's special envoy and ambassador for a similar job in Iraq said the hunt for bin Laden continued.
"Well, I'm disappointed that he has not been captured," he told reporters in Kabul at a ceremony where he handed over books to the Afghan foreign ministry as part of a drive to promote American culture.
"But our military and intelligence are working very hard on this issue. Sooner or later he will be caught or he will be found dead," he said, without giving any dateline.
"You know looking for one person in a vast area is not easy but eventually he will be found," he added.
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, a key US ally in the war on terror, said Tuesday during a visit to Australia that bin Laden was alive and probably hiding somewhere in the rugged border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Three-and-half years after a US-led military offensive toppled the fundamentalist Taliban regime for sheltering bin Laden, the alleged architect of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington remains free as does the Taliban's fugitive leader Mullah Mohammed Omar.
US military officials suspect that both men could be hiding along the rugged Afghan-Pakistan border, using territory on both sides of the border to elude arrest.
Over 18,000 US-led soldiers are hunting militants from both groups in the restive south and east of Afghanistan.
Despite an arms-for-amnesty program offered by the Afghan government to the remnants of the Taliban an insurgency by the ousted militia still ongoing and hampered the reconstruction efforts in many parts of the war-torn country.
Khalilzad renewed his calls for rank and file Taliban guerrillas to lay down their arms and join the peace process.
"The time has come for young Taliban to lay down their arms. Afghanistan needs reconciliation. Afghans should not let themselves be cannon fodder in the hands of the enemies," Khalilzad said.
Four US soldiers and their Afghan interpreter were wounded Tuesday by a roadside bomb in southeastern Ghazni province.
The attack came a day after four other American soldiers were injured by a suicide car bomb in southern Kandahar less than two weeks after a suicide bomb attack at a mosque killed 21 people.
Fighting in Afghanistan Leaves 14 Dead
By NOOR KHAN, Associated Press / Wed Jun 15, 6:30 AM ET
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Fighting between about 90 suspected Taliban rebels and hundreds of Afghan soldiers and U.S.-led coalition troops left seven insurgents dead and 10 wounded, while a rebel attack on a medical clinic killed a doctor and six others, officials said Wednesday.
The clash broke out on the border between Kandahar and Uruzgan, two southern provinces, on Tuesday after the rebels attacked a joint Afghan-coalition patrol, army commander Gen. Muslim Amid said.
Four Afghan soldiers were wounded in the fighting, which ended with the insurgents fleeing into nearby mountains, carrying their injured, he said. Two rebels were captured.
Troops pursued the rebels into the mountains and were still hunting them on Wednesday, Amid added.
U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Jerry O'Hara confirmed that coalition troops were involved in the fighting, but declined to comment on it, saying an assessment was still going on. He said there were no coalition casualties.
The attack on the independently run clinic occurred in Khost province, which is next to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, said Almar Gul Mungle, commander of a frontier security force. Suspected Taliban rebels broke into the building and shot the seven late Tuesday night, he said.
Mungle said the motive for the killing was not clear, though he suggested the insurgents may have murdered them because they thought they were working for the government.
Even though U.S. military commanders are upbeat about progress in making Afghanistan secure, there has been a sharp rise in violence since spring. President Hamid Karzai's administration has warned that Taliban-led rebels and al-Qaida militants are trying to subvert crucial legislative elections in September.
Meanwhile, Pakistan's Geo television broadcast an interview with a man it identified as Taliban military commander Mullah Akhtar Usmani, who said the group's fugitive chief Mullah Mohammed Omar and Osama bin Laden are alive and well.
With an AK-47 rifle next to him and a black turban on his head, which covered most of his face, the man said Omar was leading the rebellion in Afghanistan from a hideout. He said discipline among the rebels was strong and that they had regular meetings.
Asked to comment on whether bin Laden was hiding in Afghanistan, the man said "He is absolutely fine ... (but) I will not say where he is."
Geo said the interview was recorded last week, but declined to say where.
Men carrying posters of Osama detained in Afghanistan
KABUL, June 15 (Xinhua) -- Afghan police have arrested four people including two women on charge of carrying arms, pamphlets and posters of al-Qaida chief Osama Bin Laden and former Prime Minister Gulbudin Hekmatyar in Afghanistan's southern province of Kandahar, a local newspaper reported Wednesday.
Police of Kandahar on Tuesday took into custody these four people, and discovered three Kalashnikoves, some letters and pictures of Bin Laden and Hekmatyar from their possession, daily Cheragh reported.
The arrest took place just one day after a powerful explosion in Kandahar city, the former stronghold of Taliban, in which, according to US military, four American soldiers got wounded.
Osama, the alleged mastermind of Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and Hekmatyar, the leader of his own radical group Hizb-e-Islami or Islamic party, both wanted by the United States, according to officials have been moving in border areas between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.
Both wanted men, and their ally, Taliban's chief Mullah Mohammad Omar, who has escaped the US man hunt, have been leading an insurgency against the US-dominated foreign troops in Afghanistan, the report said.
Bin Laden and his host Omar, according to a Taliban commander, are alive and conducting their activities in the region, according to Pakistan-based private television channel Geo report on Tuesday. Enditem
Afghan leader predicts violence, NATO pledges troops
By Sayed Salahuddin
KABUL, June 15 (Reuters) - Afghanistan will face more violence ahead of September elections, President Hamid Karzai said on Wednesday as the NATO-led peacekeeping force announced plans for 2,000 extra troops to protect the polls.
"Until the elections, this country will have difficulties, attacks will increase on us, terrorism will rise ... conspiracy will increase against our country," he told a function in Kabul.
"But without any doubt, our nation will succeed, as it did during the presidential elections."
Karzai did not identify the threat, but when referring to terrorism, Afghan officials mean the Taliban guerrillas and their al Qaeda allies who have stepped up attacks in recent months.
Detailing plans for the additional troops, a spokeswoman for NATO's 8,300-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said a Dutch battalion would be stationed in Mazar-i-Sharif in the north, one from Romania in Kabul and another from Spain in the western city of Herat.
"Over two thousand additional ISAF troops will be brought in as Election Support Forces," Major Karen Tissot Van Patot told a news briefing.
More aircraft would also be sent to ensure that troops were able to respond quickly to any breaking situation.
She said the aim was to have the additional troops on the ground six to eight weeks before the Sept. 18 polls.
TALIBAN PLAN MORE ATTACKS
The separate 20,000-strong U.S.-led force pursuing Taliban and al Qaeda militants will have a battalion of 500-700 troops standing by outside Afghanistan and ready to be deployed if needed, spokeswoman Lieutenant Cindy Moore told the briefing.
The Taliban failed in their vow to derail the presidential polls, which were easily won by Karzai, but more than a dozen election workers were killed before the voting and the risks to the more complex parliamentary polls are substantially higher.
In an interview with Pakistan's Geo Television broadcast on Wednesday, Mullah Akhtar Usmani, a member of the Taliban's 10-man leadership council, said U.S.-led forces could expect more attacks this year.
Last week, the Taliban killed an election worker, and dozens of government troops, some aid workers and 13 U.S. soldiers have died in violence since March. More than 150 insurgents have been killed, according to government and U.S. military figures.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, U.S. and Afghan forces killed another nine Taliban fighters and detained 21 during operations in southern Afghanistan aimed at containing rising guerrilla violence, a senior Afghan army officer said.
Key to the success of the election will be Pakistan, which sealed off its border at the time of the presidential poll to prevent militants crossing into Afghanistan to launch attacks.
Pakistan has promised to take similar steps this year.
Regional military strongmen are also seen as a threat for the elections, which has been delayed several times and were supposed to have been held at the same time as the presidential polls.
Afghanistan-Iran: Campaign brings together Afghan officials and refugees
TEHRAN, 15 June (IRIN) - A delegation of government officials from the western Afghan province of Herat has recently visited the city of Mashad in eastern Iran as part of an information campaign to raise the awareness of Afghans living in Iran about the situation in their homeland.
High ranking Afghan officials, including the ministers of refugees and repatriation, education, labour and social affairs and the deputy health minister, travelled to the eastern Iranian province of Khorasan. The trip was part of a 'Come and Talk' programme sponsored by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Iran's Bureau of Aliens and Foreign Immigrants Affairs (BAFIA).
"The aim was to inform Afghans here about living conditions in Herat city and Herat province, in order to enable them, to inform them if they want to decide to return to Afghanistan voluntarily," said Ghassem Mehraeen, senior mass information clerk at the UNHCR office in Mashad.
About 600 Afghans participated in the 'Come and Talk' programme, including women and children. There were also four meetings with different focus groups. These were with Mashad-based journalists, Afghan health officials, Afghans involved in education and one meeting with investors, mostly Iranians eager to start business ventures in Afghanistan.
Khorasan is home to the second largest population of Afghans in Iran with some 160,000 registered Afghans, around 16 percent of the total number of registered Afghans living in the country.
Mehraeen said the main concern for Afghans returning were health facilities, particularly medical facilities for mothers and children. Afghans also complained of the lack of education facilities in their home country, with teachers saying that Afghan bureaucracy was preventing them from returning.
"The Minister of Education said that about 6,000 teachers are needed in the Herat province alone," said Mehraeen. "A major complaint from Afghan teachers here is the red tape in Afghanistan. Each teacher must go to [the capital] Kabul in person to have the Ministry of Education (MoE) verify their documents. It's very difficult, especially for lone females to go to Kabul, where they have no accommodation," Mehraeen said, adding that the delegation said they would follow up these complaints. According to Mehraeen, many Afghans want to go home but say they are worried about a lack of employment and shelter in Afghanistan.
"Last year the lowest number of returnees were from this province. Most Afghans here are well rooted and have been here [in Iran] for a long time, sometimes two generations. Children have been raised and born here. Many Afghans have businesses here and there are even mixed marriages with Iranians, so it is difficult for them to leave," he said.
According to UNHCR, 60 percent of registered Afghans living in Iran have been there for more than 15 years. The repatriation process in Iran takes place within the framework of a tripartite agreement, known as the Joint Programme.
The main aims of the Joint Programme are to ensure that repatriation is voluntary, takes place with dignity and is bolstered by assistance towards reintegration once in Afghanistan. The most recent tripartite agreement between Iran, Afghanistan and UNHCR expired in March. A new agreement has been agreed in principle but has yet to be signed by Tehran.
Afghanistan-Pakistan: UNHCR starts processing Afghans wishing to repatriate from Bannu
ISLAMABAD, 15 June (IRIN) - The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has announced it would start issuing voluntary repatriation documents to Afghans living in refugee camps in the North Waziristan agency of Pakistan's western tribal belt, on Wednesday. Islamabad recently announced it intended to close all the camps in that area by the end of June.
"Some 83 percent camp of residents [Afghan refugees] in North Waziristan out of a total of over 38,000 opted to repatriate, availing [themselves of] UNHCR assistance and got themselves registered with the agency last week," Jack Redden, UNHCR spokesman in Islamabad, said.
Over 5,300 Afghan families out of a total of 6,471 living in North Waziristan refugee camps turned up last week when the UN refugee agency launched a four-day drive to register Afghans wishing to avail themselves of the UNHCR's offer of assistance to return home.
The heads of household had to travel to the Bannu district of North West Frontier Province (NWFP), some 40 km away, to collect the Voluntary Repatriation Forms (VRFs), required to secure the UNHCR voluntary repatriation assistance package to return to Afghanistan, the UNHCR spokesman said. The UN refugee agency will continue issuing VRFs until 29 June.
"The heads [of household] must bring a picture showing all the members of the family who are repatriating. Moreover, the UNHCR teams will process only the cases of those Afghans that were registered last week," Redden added. After receiving VRFs the heads would return to North Waziristan and proceed with their families to the Afghan city of Khost through the border crossing point of Ghulam Khan into Afghanistan.
"All the family members over the age of six would have to undergo an iris scanning test at the UNHCR encashment centre to ensure they have not previously received repatriation assistance," the UNHCR official explained.
The Pakistani authorities cited security concerns when it announced in May that it would close more than a dozen camps housing over 38,000 Afghans in the tribal North Waziristan agency. Islamabad intends to close down gradually all the refugee camps inside the western tribal belt, an area composed of seven agencies bordering Afghanistan. The camps were established more than two decades ago to house Afghans fleeing unrest in their homeland following the Soviet invasion.
In a similar move last year, Afghan refugee camps in South Waziristan agency were closed in June 2004 as the Pakistani security forces conducted operations against alleged Islamic militants in the area.
"Last year, the Afghans were the most who suffered from the security forces' operation in South Waziristan agency. The decision to close all the refugee camps in North Waziristan has been taken in the best interest of Afghans, keeping in view the previous situation," Dr Imran Zeb, director at the office of the Chief Commissionerate for Afghan Refugees (CCAR), explained.
CCAR is the Pakistani state body dealing with Afghan refugee issues. The UN refugee agency has not opposed the closure of the camps.
"The unrest due to ongoing security problems in the area bordering Afghanistan has made it very difficult to provide services in those camps," the UNHCR spokesman noted. In addition, for those who do not wish to repatriate, the option of relocation to any other area still remains, Redden said.
According to a census conducted over February and March this year, some 58,000 Afghans are living in North Waziristan, including over 38,000 living in UNHCR-administered camps.
"All the Afghans would have to move out of North Waziristan in due course of time. After the camp residents, others living in urban and rural settlements would also have to leave," the head of political administration in North Waziristan, Tariq Hayat told IRIN from Miranshah, capital of the tribal agency.
"That's a policy decision. However, no date has been decided to this as yet," said Hayat while declining to comment on any specific security concern.
The UN refugee agency has assisted some 2.4 million refugees to return from Pakistan to Afghanistan. So far this year, more than 122,000 Afghans have gone home with assistance from the UN refugee agency's assistance package. The assistance provides a travel grant ranging from $3 to $30 depending on the distance to destination with another $12 per person to help them re-establish themselves and resettle.
Graft impeding Afghanistan's reconstruction: US survey
Tue Jun 14, 7:33 PM ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Corruption has emerged as a major impediment to Afghanistan's reconstruction efforts, according to a recent US-commissioned survey across the war-ravaged nation.
Although Afghans support the central government of President Hamid Karzai, they "do not trust or rely on local and provincial government due to widespread corruption," said the US Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which commissioned the poll in April.
The center's "Voices of a New Afghanistan" report, based on 1,609 interviews conducted by a dozen Afghan researchers, said "local warlords, particularly in the west, south, and east of Afghanistan, continue to flout the rule of law and undermine governance."
The CSIS, an independent public policy organization, said "the presence of corruption and predatory local government officials is viewed as a major impediment to progress in the reconstruction efforts."
Afghans viewed security as "a major concern" and "people throughout the country fear that without the international military presence, Afghanistan will erupt into violence," the center said in a statement.
Three years have passed since the Taliban regime was ousted by Afghan militias and US troops, but loyalists of the Islamic hardline regime continue to wage a violent guerrilla campaign against US and Afghan government targets.
An 18,000-strong coalition force led by the United States is hunting the militants.
The CSIS survey also said there was "no functioning, formal justice system" in Afghanistan, adding that "individual rights are poorly understood and poorly protected, especially for women."
Reconstruction efforts had not succeeded in creating enough jobs for Afghans, it said.
"Poppy growing provides a viable livelihood for some, but a majority of Afghans believe poppy growing is bad for the development of their country," the report said.
Afghanistan is the world largest opium producer, accounting for almost 90 percent of the world's opium in 2004.
Three dead after man and girl jump into a well to rescue a boy in Afghanistan
Associated Press / June 15, 2005
Two members of a family died and a police officer was injured while trying to rescue a boy who had fallen into a well that was filled with poisonous gas in northern Afghanistan, officials said Wednesday
The 15-year-old boy fell into the 25-meter (75-feet) well Tuesday in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. His sister jumped in to rescue him, but was not heard from again. A male relative then jumped in to find the pair, but was also not heard from, said Ghawsuddin Anwari, the deputy director of Mazar-e-Sharif Hospital.
The siblings' mother then called for help from a police post and an officer was lowered into the well on a rope. Once he had reached the bottom, he called out to be pulled up, but by the time he was out of the well, he was unconscious, Anwari said.
The officer was taken to a hospital in the city and was in a critical condition, he said.
Anwari said the well was filled with an unspecified gas and it was thought that the three family members died after breathing it in.
Transport capacity enhanced when Afghanistan and Iran join TRASECA
TASHKENT. June 15. KAZINFORM /Rasul Bakhamov/ - One of the principal factors of economic development of states having no transport way to sea ports is laying transport lines to them and creation of transit conditions for neighboring countries. The issue is important not only for Kazakhstan, being in the heart of Eurasia, but also for its neighbors.
So, experts say about one of the perspective global projects to revive the Silk Road - Transcontinental transport project, TRASECA, funded by EU.
In view of Olimzhon Buranov, chairman of the intergovernmental commission of TRASECA in Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and soon Iran’s joining the project will facilitate prospect of the Corridor.
He thinks it is the shortest route connecting Uzbekistan and countries of Caucasus and Eastern Europe. It is twice shorter than the Far Eastern and 1,8 time than the Baltic access to the sea, which link Europe and Asia.
Note: TRASECA, funded by the EU, was adopted in May, 1993 in Brussels aimed at founding transport corridor from Europe via the Black Sea, Caucasus and the Caspian Sea to the Central Asia. 13 countries joined it – Azerbaijan, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Romania, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Turkmenistan. At the fourth annual conference in Baku the program has been joined by Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
For Kazakhstan the Iranian direction is interesting as for enhancement of export potential for supply of hydrocarbons to the global market. At the same time situation in Afghanistan keeps to be non-stable and political risks for foreign investors are rather high.
US shifts planes from Uzbek air base due to restrictions
June 15, 2005
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States has shifted its air-and-rescue planes and heavy cargo flights away from an air base in Uzbekistan to Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan because of restrictions imposed by the Uzbeks, The Washington Post said.
The restrictions, some of which were foreseen by US military commanders, were recently ordered by Uzbek President Islam Karimov after US criticism of the alleged massacre of protesters by Uzbek troops at Andijan on May 13, US officials told the daily.
A ban on nighttime operations out of the Karshi-Khanabad air base in southeastern Uzbekistan surprised US authorities and was particularly vexing because search-and-rescue flights and tanker operations must be availble to fly at all hours, the officials said.
A restriction on cargo planes at the Uzbek base had been anticipated because for some time the Uzbek government had been pressing US military to repair the damage done to the runway by the heavy airplanes, the sources said.
The United States considered access to the Uzbek air base as crucial in the fight against international terrorism.
The search-and-rescue flights and tanker operations have been relocated to Afghanistan's Baghram air base, near Kabul, while cargo flights, usually HC-130 aircraft, are being diverted to Manas in Kyrgyzstan, adding hours of driving time for the goods to be trucked to Afghanistan, the US officials said.
Smaller cargo planes such as C-130s are still allowed to land at the Uzbek base, they added, but US commanders are also considering shifting them to other locations.
The decision to transfer US military flights away from Uzbekistan came as the White House on Tuesday pressed for an international probe into the alleged massacre at Andijan.
"The administration has made its view known that it wants the government of Uzbekistan to allow a credible, independent international investigation into the events at Andijan," said Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman.
The concerted call for an international probe represented something of a shift for the United States, which up to a week ago was urging a "credible, transparent and independent" inquiry with international help.
Human rights groups say hundreds of people, many of them unarmed protesters, were killed as troops opened fire in Andijan after rebels seized government buildings. Uzbek authorities say 173 people died, including security officers.
|Back to News Archirves of 2005|
Disclaimer: This news site is mostly a compilation of publicly accessible articles on the Web in the form of a link or saved news item. The news articles and commentaries/editorials are protected under international copyright laws. All credit goes to the original respective source(s).