Munitions blast kills six Afghans, two Germans
KABUL (Reuters) - A truckload of munitions exploded in northern Afghanistan at the weekend, killing six Afghan civilians and two German soldiers from the NATO-led peacekeeping force, officials said.
Seven civilians and a peacekeeper were hurt in the blast near an airfield in Takhar province on Saturday afternoon as the munitions were being taken for disposal, Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Murad said on Sunday.
"On the way, there was an explosion in one of the trucks that completely destroyed it," he said. "As a result, two PRT personnel and six civilians were killed and seven civilians wounded."
Lieutenant-Colonel Karen Tissot Van Patot, a spokeswoman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, said two soldiers from its regional Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) observing the munitions' disposal had been killed, while another was wounded.
The ISAF casualties were identified as Germans by a German army spokesman late on Saturday.
The incident happened in the town of Rustaq, a district capital about 300 km (190 miles) north of Kabul.
Afghanistan is awash with weapons and munitions after more than a quarter of a century of warfare. Foreign peacekeeping troops have been assisting in disarming factional militias and destroying weapons stockpiles.
Sixteen German peacekeeping soldiers have now been reported killed in Afghanistan, including four in a June 2003 suicide attack on a bus filled with German troops headed to an airport on their way home.
Two died in 2002 along with three Danes in an accident at a munitions site in Kabul.
In May, 28 Afghans died and 70 were wounded in an explosion at a munitions dump in the northern province of Baghlan.
Airstrikes Kill 178 Afghan Rebel Suspects
By TOMAS MUNITA, Associated Press Writer Sun Jun 26,12:34 AM ET
MIANA SHIEN, Afghanistan - The bodies of 76 suspected rebels were found in the mountains of southern Afghanistan, the Defense Ministry said Saturday, bringing to 178 the number of insurgents killed in one of the deadliest bombardments by U.S. and Afghan forces since the Taliban fell in 2001.
U.S. military officers and Afghan officials, meanwhile, met near the mountainous battlefield with dozens of local tribal chiefs to urge them to help combat militants still holding out.
Though no major fighting has occurred in or around Miana Shien district since three days of airstrikes ended Thursday, about 80 rebels are believed to be still hiding in the mountains. They include two well-known Taliban commanders — Mullah Dadullah and Mullah Brader.
Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Marad said that 56 suspected insurgents were captured as security forces pushed further into the rugged terrain and that troops were still pursuing rebels fleeing on horseback and motorcycle.
"Our forces have collected the bodies of 76 more rebels from the battlefield," he said, adding that the corpses had been scattered across a wide mountainous area.
The U.S. military's toll of insurgents killed was much lower, at 56, but spokesman Lt. Col. Jerry O'Hara said this did not necessarily make the government's figure wrong, because Afghan forces had taken the lead in the operation and U.S.-led coalition troops were finding it hard to count the dead.
"It's very difficult determining how many died when A-10 planes and other attack aircraft, as well as heavy machine guns, have been used against the enemy," he said. "Some of the bodies may also have been buried before we could count them."
About 465 suspected insurgents have been reported killed since March, after snows melted on mountain tracks used by the rebels. In the same period, 29 U.S. troops, 38 Afghan police and soldiers and 125 civilians have been killed.
The increase in fighting has reinforced concerns that the Afghan war is widening, rather than winding down. U.S. and Afghan officials warn things could get worse ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for September.
O'Hara said the purpose of the meeting of about 35 tribal chiefs, the governors of Zabul and Kandahar provinces and U.S. officials was to determine how "we can prevent the Taliban from having any influence" in the region, which was a Taliban stronghold before Afghan and coalition forces attacked the area last Tuesday.
Ali Khail, a spokesman for the Zabul governor, said the tribal leaders expressed their support for the battle. He said Afghan officials promised to build roads and clinics in the impoverished area in exchange for their loyalty.
"The meeting went very well," he said. "They have promised to help us track down the Taliban."
Also Saturday, two German soldiers were injured in in Rustak, about 75 miles northeast of Kunduz and two others were missing after an explosion rocked the truck they were loading with munitions and weapons, the German army said.
The army was forced to break off the search for the two missing soldiers after night fell, the Bundeswehr said in a statement. It planned to resume at daybreak Sunday. No exact cause was given for the explosion.
Some 2,250 German soldiers serve in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
Separately, election officials started registering voters ahead of the legislative polls — the next key step toward democracy after a quarter-century of war.
The Afghan-U.N. Joint Electoral Management Body said it aims by July 21 to have registered any Afghans who have turned 18 or returned from abroad since presidential elections last October.
Associated Press correspondents Daniel Cooney in Kabul and Noor Khan in Kandahar contributed to this report.
2 ISAF soldiers missing, one injured in Afghan explosion
People's Daily - Jun 25 11:22 PM
Two ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) soldiers were reported missing and another one was injured as a result of an explosion in Afghan northeastern province of Takhar on Saturday afternoon, ISAF said in a report.
The explosion occurred near the airfield in Rustaq district of Takhar when a big amount of ammunition was being segregated and prepared for future destruction, it said.
The ISAF soldiers were observing the operation when the explosion occurred. Several Afghans were also injured in the explosion and have all been taken to local civilian hospitals in the area, it added.
Three CH-53 helicopters were immediately dispatched from Termez to provide medical evacuation of the wounded. The wounded soldier and an Afghan civilian are now in the military Role Two Hospital at the ISAF PRT (Provincial Reconstruction Team) in northern province of Kunduz.
Investigation has been carried out by ISAF, and the names and nationalities of the soldiers have not been released pending notification of next of kin.
With the comeback of violence launched by Taliban's remnants, around 400 people including civilians, Afghan and aid workers, as well as US troops have been killed in Taliban-led militancy since early this year.
In the bloody fighting flared up early this week, more than 100 Taliban militants were killed during the fight with Afghan National Army (ANA), Afghan National Police (ANP) and Coalition in Afghan southern province of Kandahar.
Afghanistan denies accusations of militants being trained for attacks against Russia, Central Asia
Associated Press / June 25, 2005
Afghanistan's government on Saturday denied claims by Moscow that militants are being trained in camps in Afghan territory for attacks against Russia and former Soviet Central Asia.
"There are no terror camps in Afghanistan," Foreign Ministry spokesman Naveed Moez said.
Afghan security forces "are in total control of the border with our northern neighbors," he added.
On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov alleged that militants, "with the participation of former Taliban and participants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan," were training in Afghanistan and Pakistan to carry out "terrorist attacks, including on the territory of the Russian Federation."
Moez said the Taliban, which mainly operates in Afghanistan's southern and eastern regions, does not have the strength to have a presence in the country's north or in other Central Asian nations.
He also rejected any suggestion that Afghanistan was in some way linked to violence last month in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan, saying it was an "internal affair."
Uzbek troops opened fire on a crowd of thousands of protesters after militants had freed inmates from a prison, stormed a police station and military barracks, and taken over the local administration building. Witnesses and human rights groups say hundreds of peaceful civilians were killed.
Lavrov on Friday reiterated previous statements that special services of interested foreign countries have information on who was behind the violence, but said he could not reveal more for fear of helping terrorists.
Afghanistan committed to fight against narcotics: official
Sun Jun 26, 4:03 AM ET
KABUL (AFP) - Afghanistan said it has mounted a serious campaign to tackle its booming narcotics trade and punish traffickers in the wake of a United Nations warning that narco-traffic was undermining the country's security.
As officials torched 30 tons of drugs to mark the UN international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking, counter-narcotics minister Habibullah Qaderi said the country was beginning to turn the tide against drugs and expected a significant reduction in the planting of poppies for opium.
"The poppy crop in 2004 was the largest ever because everybody thought they could grow poppy with impunity, but we have already turned the corner, as a Rapid Assessment Survey of this year's crop showed in February," Qaderi said in a statement on Sunday.
The survey, carried out jointly by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Ministry of Counter Narcotics, indicated that the area of poppy cultivation had decreased compared to 2004 in all but five of the country's 34 provinces.
President Hamid Karzai has said he expects a 30 to 40 percent drop in the area of opium planted by year-end.
However UNODC chief Antonio Maria Costa said that while opium production was set to drop in 2005, the nation's per-hectare productivity was up.
Estimating revenues at 2.8 billion dollars in 2004, Costa said "traffickers, warlords and insurgents in Afghanistan control quasi-military operations and run military-type operations.
"An effective response depends on the deployment of corresponding force," he said.
In addition a number of senior officials, provincial governors and police chiefs -- or their families -- are deeply involved in the country's opium trade, Afghan and western officials have said.
Opium provides the bedrock of Afghanistan's economy, accounting for 40 to 60 percent of growth, and produces almost 90 percent of the world's supply of the drug used to make heroin.
Qaderi said law enforcement was being strengthened and Afghanistan had made progress in the bid to arrest traffickers.
A Criminal Justice Task Force has been established with Afghan investigators, prosecutors and judges, and will number 80 people in the next few months.
"The first group are now operational and have referred at least 25 cases to the Kabul Criminal Primary Court. They are investigating lower-level drug traffickers," Qadri said, adding that preparation were under way to tackle "more difficult cases" in the near future.
Some 60 tons of opium, heroin and other drugs burned in Afghanistan
Sunday June 26, 6:07 PM AP
About 60 tons of opium, heroin, hashish and other drugs were burned in massive bonfires across Afghanistan on Sunday, the government said _ the biggest destruction of narcotics in one of the world's top suppliers.
"These destroyed drugs will never be injected into the arms of children on our streets or on the streets of Europe," Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali said in a statement. "These destroyed drugs will never be sold to profit drug traffickers. And these destroyed drugs will not undermine the security of our country."
The largest drug stockpile was in the capital, Kabul, with 13 tons of opium, 9 tons of hashish, 2 tons of heroin and 6 tons of other narcotics burned, the statement said.
Hundreds of plastic bags and sacks that officials said were filled with drugs were piled on top of each other on the outskirts of the city. Workers doused the stash with gasoline before lighting it up. Huge clouds of blueish smoke billowed into the sky and across the desert.
Seven stockpiles totaling about 32 tons of drugs were destroyed in other provinces, Gen. Mohammed Daoud, deputy interior minister for counternarcotics, told reporters.
The event was held Sunday to mark the United Nations' International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. ADVERTISEMENT
Afghanistan's government is under fire for not being tough enough on the burgeoning drugs trade, which now supplies nearly 90 percent of the world's opium. It has sparked warnings that the country is fast becoming a "narco-state" less than four years after U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban.
Last week, Counternarcotics Minister Habibullah Qaderi told The Associated Press that some provincial governors and police chiefs are suspected of involvement in the drugs trade, but none are being investigated because of a "lack of evidence." He declined to name the officials who are suspected.
The minister said many of the heads of the drug trafficking networks are also warlords, some of whom were commanders in the U.S.-backed Afghan force that drove the Taliban from power in 2001.
President Hamid Karzai last month predicted a 20 percent to 30 percent reduction this year in the amount of opium being grown, but Qaderi said strong rains after years of drought may lead to a bumper crop.
The United States, Britain and other countries are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into an anti-drug campaign. The cash is being used to train police units to destroy laboratories, arrest smugglers and destroy opium crops, as well as to fund projects to help farmers grow legal crops.
However, the drug traffickers have hit back at the threat to their business. Late last month in two attacks on subsequent days, gunmen killed 11 people associated with a U.S.-sponsored project encouraging farmers not to grow poppies.
Qaderi said that so far this year 130 drug laboratories have been smashed, three opium markets raided, 130 tons of opium seized and 30 tons of chemicals used to process opium into heroin destroyed. These figures compare with 135 tons last year, and 3 tons in 2002.
Smokescreens in Afghanistan
By M K Bhadrakumar / Asia Times Online / June 25, 2005
When a high-flier leaves a key diplomatic post, a spat becomes almost inevitable. This is for three reasons. First, it is seldom that yet another high-flier replaces a high-flier. A sort of "fatigue" develops after a spell of breathtaking diplomacy - like a deep trough on a roller coaster ride. Second, a high-flier is a high-flier in his outpost largely because of his networking back home; his success in the mission abroad ultimately depends on his alliance-building back home. But keeping coalitions at home while in an outpost abroad is a rare skill. Third, thanks to a support base back home, a high-flier rams his diplomatic brief through no matter what the odds are. His work usually unravels once he departs. And a spat ensues.
The spat enveloping Zilmay Khalilzad's departure from his assignment as the American ambassador in Kabul, therefore, could have been anticipated. (He now takes over as ambassador to Iraq.)
Khalilzad had many advantages. His formidable record in US diplomacy and in the security establishment, and his profile in academia and the corporate sector followed him in his assignment in Kabul. Thus, every word of his, every move he made was perceived as bearing the George W Bush administration's imprimatur. Afghans were simply overawed. With the added advantage of being a native Afghan, he proved to be a skilful "fixer". How he navigated Hamid Karzai's ascent to presidency; how he took apart the Northern Alliance and picked up the pieces he wanted and cast away what he disliked; the astuteness with which he elbowed out regional powers from the Afghan chessboard - these bear testimony to his mastery over a difficult brief.
But the spat has begun. Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf may have unwittingly initiated a discussion during a visit to Australia last week. Musharraf assessed that in "do-able" terms, from a soldier's point of view, "we should be able to bring a semblance of democracy that is sustainable, ensuring the integrity of Afghanistan" in a matter of 10 years. What has been achieved during the past three-and-a-half years since American troops landed in Afghanistan is that "we've broken [al-Qaeda's] cohesion" and its ability to function as a "homogeneous body able to execute operations in a command and control environment". But it will take 10 years for an "ultimate dismantling, ultimate elimination" of al-Qaeda from Afghanistan.
That was an unkind cut. If even a claim cannot be made that the democracy project has been a resounding success in Afghanistan, what remains to justify triumphalism?
Separately, senior Russian officials have spoken of "irrefutable proof" of extremist elements linked to the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan having instigated last month's events in the city of Andijan in Uzbekistan. An accusing finger was pointed that neither US forces nor the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) were doing anything to curb the "export of terrorism" from Afghanistan. There is renewed talk in the region about the US's "double standards".
Tashkent has also made some serious allegations. The Uzbek Foreign Ministry has hinted that Americans might have precipitated Andijan events as "tit for tat" for Tashkent's decision some months ago to place restrictions on US aircraft operating out of Karshi-Khanabad airfield in Uzbekistan. Uzbek government media also reported some sensational details of clandestine meetings in recent months between American intelligence officials in Afghanistan with Tohir Yoldashev, leader of the Islamic Movement of Afghanistan (IMU), an organization figuring in the US government's list of terrorist organizations.
Washington has not responded to these allegations. However, Khalilzad hit back, but pointedly at Islamabad. He sidestepped the Russian and Central Asian allegations. He insinuated that Pakistan was not doing enough to curb Taliban activities. Afghan Defense Minister Rahim Wardak also joined issue. He made a counter allegation that "regional powers" which were "rattled" by the prospect of a long-term US military presence in Afghanistan were supporting al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Wardak said "more than one country ... including some that did not border Afghanistan directly" was supporting the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Pakistan, predictably, dismissed Khalilzad's accusation, and ignored Wardak's, claiming that the ambassador was out of tune with Washington. The Pakistani spokesman pointed out that Washington had repeatedly stated its appreciation of Islamabad's contributions to the "war on terror".
Many issues have suddenly come into the open. What exactly is the balance sheet of the war on terror in Afghanistan? If 10 more years are needed to eliminate al-Qaeda from Afghanistan, what has been achieved so far? Did the US actually use its military presence in Afghanistan to instigate the IMU to create problems for the Uzbek government? Are the regional powers undercutting the US-led war on terror? Is the war on terror degenerating into geopolitical rivalries?
Some answers are available. On the security front, the war on terror has successfully dispersed various international militant networks thriving in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. In October 2001, as American troops moved in, Taliban militia and its allied cadres gingerly retreated into the tribal agencies in Pakistan. But where did the Taliban go? American military commanders and authorities in Kabul have lately begun to admit that their claim that the Taliban were a spent force was made hastily and that the Taliban have regrouped. A pattern is setting in. A lull prevails during winter months, but with the advent of spring the Taliban reappear and another "fighting season" commences. Every year the hope is that by the next "fighting season" an Afghan force will be equipped to take them on. But with each fighting season the Taliban are becoming more audacious, better coordinated and apply new "techniques".
Wasn't this was the pattern during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s too? The US forces, too, are hitting back. (So did the Soviet army.) Almost every day we come across body counts of how many Taliban fighters have been killed. But the Taliban seem to have no difficulty in getting their ranks replenished. Also, no one can tell whether all those killed are actually Taliban fighters. Indeed, it is getting difficult to tell who is a Taliban member. All sorts of elements seem to share the objective of keeping the Afghan pot boiling. Wanton killings by US forces are certainly fueling anti-American sentiment among Afghan people, and in turn generating sympathy for the Taliban cause.
Meanwhile, the US-sponsored strategy of wooing "moderate" Taliban into the political mainstream is floundering. The strategy was a flawed one to begin with. Its pursuit regardless only exposed that the Taliban were much more cohesive than the Americans had been led to believe. The Taliban thereby scored a big propaganda point. The failure of the US attempt to split the Taliban now leaves a gaping hole in the overall political strategy. How to bring alienated Pashtuns into the political mainstream? Without Pashtun support, Hamid Karzai's leadership cannot consolidate.
Again, militia commanders who fell in line with the American diktat (thanks to Khalilzad's "negotiating skills") remain restive. Without Khalilzad's commanding presence, they may revert to their old ways. They have many scores to settle. Their acceptance of centralized rule by Kabul was never to be taken for granted. Can Karzai inspire in them the awe that Khalilzad could by his sheer presence? Recent incidents in Badghis, Badakhshan and Herat do not bode well.
Unfortunately, the US has shifted the burden of responsibility to curb drug trafficking from Afghanistan toward Central Asia, which is a main source of funding for militants, to the Afghan government - though the government has no effective control of the country. Thus, Afghanistan's opium production remains at a high level; and the militants have easy access to funding sources. The drug trafficking also spawns corruption within Karzai's government.
The bulk of the cadres allied to the Taliban, such as the IMU (numbering 3,000 to 5,000 fighters), Uighur groups and Chechen militants, have shifted to Tajikistan and the Ferghana Valley. A nexus is forming between the militants, drug mafia and criminal elements on both sides of Afghan-Tajik border. Evidently, the war on terror in Afghanistan is spilling into Central Asia. The Bush administration's democracy project can be expected to create more tempests in the region.
The indefinite postponement of the London conference of Afghanistan's donors underscores that security issues occupy center stage, and reconstruction activities remain on hold. If the prospects look gloomy, is Pakistan to be blamed?
There is uneasiness in Kabul whether Khalilzad's as yet unnamed successor will match his clout. The Kabul setup has reason to feel worried - like passengers left behind on a forlorn jetty just as dusk is falling. That the captain is sailing away for an important destination like Baghdad offers little consolation. President George W Bush did well by telephoning Musharraf and Karzai to affirm that Afghanistan was not far from his thoughts.
But will such gestures do? The alignment of forces among Afghans will never be the same in the period ahead. In the post-Khalilzad phase, the buck stops with Karzai. Afghans are waiting and watching. But, will the US forces (or NATO tomorrow) allow Karzai to be the monarch of all he surveys in his domain? If Karzai can carry his baton successfully through the parliamentary elections of September 16, his leadership will gain traction. And authentic politics could be deemed to have commenced.
M K Bhadrakumar served as a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service for over 29 years, with postings including India's ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-1998) and Turkey (1998-2001).
Lodi imam admits calling for attacks on Americans
Bob Egelko and Christian Berthelsen San Francisco Chronicle Saturday, June 25, 2005
A Muslim cleric from Lodi, one of five members of the Pakistani community in the San Joaquin County city arrested by federal authorities this month, told an immigration judge Friday that he made anti-American speeches to crowds in Pakistan in the first months of the U.S.-led invasion of neighboring Afghanistan.
A bail hearing in San Francisco for Shabbir Ahmed, facing deportation for allegedly overstaying his visa, provided a forum for the government to counter his supporters' claims that Ahmed is a peaceful clergyman victimized by anti- Islamic hysteria.
As the imam of a mosque in the capital city of Islamabad in late 2001, "you encouraged people in Pakistan at least five times to go to Afghanistan and kill Americans,'' Paul Nishiie, assistant general counsel of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told Ahmed.
The witness, speaking through an interpreter, at first denied the accusation, then said he urged his audiences to "pressure Americans that they should stop the bombing,'' and finally confirmed that he told the FBI he had encouraged attacks on American troops.
Asked repeatedly whether he had also urged Pakistanis to defend Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, Ahmed eventually said, "Being emotional, I may have said it or I may not have said it.''
Ahmed also testified that he has never supported terrorism and that he now regrets his 2001 speeches, and has since made speeches defending the United States to Muslim audiences.
Immigration Judge Anthony Murry delayed further proceedings until Aug. 2 for Ahmed and two other Lodi men, leaving all three in jail.
In Sacramento, a federal judge declined to order prosecutors to produce intelligence that led authorities to place a Lodi man suspected of attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan on the "no fly" list, saying he did not want defense lawyers to "muck around in national security."
The man, Hamid Hayat, and his father, Umer Hayat, both U.S. citizens, are charged with making false statements to federal agents. They are accused of denying, then admitting, that Hamid Hayat attended an al Qaeda-sponsored training camp in Pakistan. They are not charged with plotting or taking part in terrorist activity.
Both have pleaded not guilty and are being held without bail. Their lawyers, Johnny Griffin III and Wazhma Mojaddidi, have denied that Hamid Hayat attended a terrorist training camp and suggested their comments in FBI interviews were the product of a misunderstanding.
The two were arrested June 3 after Hamid Hayat returned from Pakistan, where he had been living for the past two years. Also arrested were Ahmed, 42; another Lodi religious leader, Muhammad Adil Khan, and Khan's 19-year-old son, Muhammad Hassan Adil Khan. Those three are not charged with any crimes but are accused of immigration violations that could lead to deportation.
At the Hayats' hearing Friday, U.S. District Judge Peter Nowinski ordered the government to provide defense lawyers with videotapes of the two men's interrogations. He barred the lawyers from disclosing the material to anyone outside the case. The judge scheduled another hearing Monday to consider defense requests for more information after they had reviewed the initial government material.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Brown said that cases involving national security require special procedures to deal with classified information, but that the defense would get all the evidence it needs.
At the San Francisco immigration hearing, Ahmed testified that he entered the United States in January 2002 with a religious visa, served as imam for the Lodi Muslim Mosque, opened the mosque to local Christians and Jews as part of an interfaith organization, and applied for an extension of his visa a month before it was due to expire last November.
Nishiie, the government lawyer, pressed Ahmed about his 11 years at a Pakistani madrassa, or religious school, called Jamia Farooqia, where many of the students went to Afghanistan to fight against the Soviet occupation and later on behalf of the fundamentalist Taliban. During one of bin Laden's denunciations of America, Nishiie said, he "thanked the scholars at Jamia Farooqia'' for their help.
Ahmed said he was too occupied with his studies to have any interest in going to Afghanistan. But he acknowledged that his fellow Lodi cleric, Khan -- formerly the general secretary of Jamia Farooqia -- was, for a time, a close friend of a Taliban leader.
Chronicle staff writer Greg Lucas contributed to this report from Sacramento.
4 explosive devices discovered
June 25, 2005 Combined Forces Command - Afghanistan Coalition Press Information Center (Public Affairs)
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Four improvised explosive devices were discovered June 24 by Coalition forces.
The devices were discovered as Coalition forces maneuvered across the country. Two were destroyed by explosive ordnance disposal personnel and two others were confiscated.
“Afghan and Coalition forces routinely find these devices in Afghanistan . Our forces are getting better at spotting the signs of their presence. Due to their destructive nature, they are often turned in to us by Afghans who are tired of the senseless violence they cause,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jerry O’Hara, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-76. “We often find that the person who places the device or attempts to detonate it is motivated by nothing more than money or fear of reprisal against his loved ones if he refuses the terrorists’ demands.”
Afghan sergeant major leads Army to strong future
June 25, 2005 Combined Forces Command - Afghanistan Coalition Press Information Center (Public Affairs)
By U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mack Davis Office of Military Cooperation-Afghanistan Public Affairs
KABUL , Afghanistan – Since the formation of the first Afghan National Army unit in May 2002, the ANA has grown in size and capability and continues to gain respect as a reliable, professional and determined force.
A key part of the ANA’s success comes from the experience and leadership of Soldiers who have served from the beginning, Soldiers who remember where the army evolved from. One of those Soldiers is Command Sgt. Maj. Shamsadin, the command sergeant major of the 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps, located at Camp Pol-e-Charkhi near Kabul .
Shamsadin, who like many Afghans uses only one name, has been in the ANA from the early days and was recently given the title “Grandfather of the ANA” by the Ministry of Defense.
His interest in an Army career began one day in Pakistan when he heard of the Coalition’s defeat of the Taliban.
Like many Afghans, Shamsadin’s family had relocated to Pakistan during the Soviet occupation. They remained there for 12 years that included the Taliban era.
“I heard a group of people talking about Afghanistan creating an army. The Coalition forces wanted Afghan people to come and join the army,” said Shamsadin. “We also wanted an army for our country because I know that an army is the backbone of a country. So I wanted to be a part of the group that would bring security for the Afghan people.”
The first ANA kandak (battalion) was formed at the Kabul Military Training Center . Trained by U.S. Army Special Forces Soldiers, the team was called the Commandos.
“We were lucky to be trained by the Special Forces because they trained us hard and gave us this special name,” said Shamsadin.
It was there that Shamsadin received his first leadership position as a squad leader.
Once the kandak was trained, they were deployed to many areas. After each deployment, Shamsadin continued to move up the noncommissioned officer chain of command.
“After our first mission in Paktika, I was made platoon sergeant because of my service in the area,” said Shamsadin. “From there we also did a mission in Khost. I helped build, with my own hands, the Khost Province base camp with the Special Forces. While deployed, we also built the Special Forces compound in Gardez. On our missions we captured many of the al-Qaida during that time.”
When the Commando Kandak returned to Pol-e-Charkhi, the ANA’s new Central Corps had been formed. Within the Central Corps were assigned the 1st, 2nd and 3rd brigades. From that point on the Commandos would be known as the 1st Kandak of the 3rd Brigade.
Because of his exceptional service, Shamsadin was selected to serve as the 1st Kandak command sergeant major and was sent to the new noncommissioned officers course at the Kabul Military Training Center .
Soon after, when the Central Corps manning roster was completed, Shamsadin was promoted to the 3rd Brigade command sergeant major position.
Shamsadin said he has noticed big changes over the last few years in the way the Afghan people perceive the ANA.
“When we first deployed, the people used to have bad words to say about us. They thought we wanted to capture their province,” he said. “But now we show them we are Soldiers who represent the Pashtuns, Hazaras, Uzbeks and Tajiks. We began to work with the chiefs of police, meet with their governors, and introduce ourselves as their army. Now, we have provinces requesting Soldiers in their areas to provide peace.”
As the senior enlisted soldier for the 3rd Brigade, Shamsadin works daily with his kandak command sergeants major to instill in his NCOs the importance of continuing their own training at KMTC and to bring that information back to their soldiers.
“We have a good picture in our mind for the Afghan Army. It is for one peace, one army and one country. That is our wish,” said Shamsadin. “One thing special about our army is if we have a Soldier from Jalalabad, we have him do service in Paktika. We want the people to know we serve one country.”
As Soldiers conduct missions throughout Afghanistan , they ask the people of the villages to send their young men to serve Afghanistan in the ANA.
“As the Afghan people see Soldiers from a different province serving in their area, we ask them ‘Who will represent your province?’” said Shamsadin.
Shamsadin is said to be a strong leader for the ANA, and a lot of his knowledge was gained from his experiences working with U.S. mentors.
“Shamsadin has a real understanding of what it takes to lead his solders, and it has been a great experience for me to be able to serve with him and the Afghan Army,” said U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Duthie of the Montana Army National Guard, who serves as Shamsadin’s embedded mentor. “Shamsadin sees a vision for the ANA that most don’t, of not only providing security for the Afghan people, but putting Afghanistan back on the map as a viable part of the world.”
Shamsadin feels the embedded mentor program is important for the ANA.
“We are happy to have the Americans to help train us,” he said. “They have become friends to the Afghan Army and they bring such good experiences. We make the most of their time because one day the U.S. will leave and it will be up to us to continue to train our own Soldiers.”
As Shamsadin continues to develop the soldiers of his brigade, he also has a vision of better benefits for soldiers who continue to serve.
“I would like to see better pay for Soldiers who continue to serve in the ANA after their initial tour and a death benefit,” he explained.
Shamsadin is one of many Soldiers in the Afghan Army who give and expect great things for the ANA. With this type of dedication, the people of Afghanistan can grow more comfortable knowing that the peace and security of their nation is in good hands.
Afghans get Coalition medical treatment, transportation
June 25, 2005 Combined Forces Command - Afghanistan Coalition Press Information Center (Public Affairs)
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Coalition forces transported four Afghans for medical treatment June 23.
The injuries included gunshot wounds and a broken bone. Whatever the nature, the Combined Joint Task Force-76 medical and aviation personnel stand ready to help when the call comes.
“When we have space, we routinely provide medical assistance to Afghans, particularly when life, limb or eyesight is at stake,” said U.S. Army Col. Richard Trotta, CJTF-76 surgeon. “Afghan medical facilities are improving and we are working with them to help enable their facilities so we will soon be able to transport Afghan patients directly into local hospitals. Until the Afghan system is fully capable, however, we will continue to assist when needed.”
Coalition forces transported two Afghan citizens from Orgun-E and Gardez and an Afghan National Police officer from Kandahar . Each of them had sustained gunshot wounds.
The ANP officer was transferred to a local hospital to receive treatment from Afghan medical personnel. The other Afghan men are receiving treatment at Bagram Airfield.
A fourth man broke his femur. He was treated by Coalition medical personnel at Tarin Kowt and later taken to a nearby hospital.
Coalition forces transport and provide medical treatment to Afghans for a variety of conditions. Many patients are brought to Coalition installations, while others are brought to the attention of Coalition patrols.
School set ablaze in Baghlan
Pajhwok Afghan News 06/25/2005
PUL-I-KHUMRI - Unidentified bandits torched a girl's school in the Charshanba Tipa district of the northern Baghlan province on late Friday night.
A letter, believed to be written by the outlaws, has also been recovered from the wreckage, warning the teachers and headmaster of the school of dire consequences if they did not stop teaching 'immoral lessons' to the students.
Hundred of benches, chairs, desks, tents and stationery have been burned to ashes and the students as well as teachers have to sit on ground.
Mohammad Nabi, headmaster of the school, told Pajhwok Afghan News the 12 armed men had hurled threats at the teachers not to teach to the students. "You are misleading the children and imparting them immoral education," read the letter they had left.
The school had been used as religious seminary during the ousted Taliban era. Some 700 students are getting education in the school at present.
Distrcit administrative chief Alhaj Mohammad Khan told Pajhwok Afghan News no one had been arrested so far. He said search was on to bring the culprits to the book.
Pak new ambassador arrives in Kabul
KABUL, June 25 (Pajhwok Afghan News): Miangul Akbarzeb, Pakistan's new ambassador to Afghanistan has arrived here on Saturday.
Zafar Ali Khan, third secretary of Pak embassy in Kabul, told Pajhwok Afghan News the new ambassador had been arrived and would take charge of his office on Sunday.
Akbarzeb is going to replace Rustam Shah Momand, who was in Kabul since the fall of Taliban.
Earlier, Pakisatan's Minister for Information and Culture, in an interview with this news agency, had said the new ambassador would work for further cementing ties between the two neighbouring countries. Akbarzeb had called on Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz ahead of his departure to Afghanistan.
During the meeting, said the minister, Aziz had pledged his country's all-out support to the Afghan government in the reconstruction efforts.
He had assured Pakistan would continue to pursue the policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.
WB to release $265m for uplift projects
By Zainab Mohammadi
KABUL, June 26 (Pajhwok Afghan News): World Bank (WB) has agreed to release a grant of $265 million for uplift projects in Afghanistan during the current year.
Abdur Rauf Zia, the WB's press officer here, told Pajhwok Afghan News the amount had been approved for a period of one year from May 2005 to June 2006.
The target areas are under consideration and the government of Afghanistan will later communicate it to the World Bank.
Aziz Shams, press officer for the Finance Ministry, said highways construction, health and education sectors and capacity-building were the main areas where the governmental intended to utilise the amount.
Since 2002, the WB has given more than $865 million to Afghanistan for a number of projects. Half of the amount is in the form of grant, Zia added.
Afghanistan's total annual budget stands at 212.735 million afghanis ($4.38 billion). Total development budget and half of the annual budget of the country depends on foreign donations.
Afghan and U.S. military leaders urge tribal chiefs to help fight the Taliban
The Associated Press 06/25/2005
Government and U.S. military leaders met Saturday with dozens of tribal chiefs from a former Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan to try to end fighting that has claimed at least 114 lives in the past week.
About 35 local chiefs attended the meeting in a tent on a deserted field surrounded by mountains in Miana Shien district, Kandahar province.
Dozens of Afghan and American troops guarded the meeting, which included the governors of Zabul and Kandahar provinces, a U.S. military commander and other top officials.
Ali Khail, a spokesman for the Zabul governor, said the officials urged the tribal leaders to cooperate in "fighting off the Taliban."
"The government is also trying to find out why the Taliban is so active in the region," Khail told The Associated Press.
The fighting has waned since at least 102 rebels and 12 Afghan police and soldiers were killed earlier this week in one of the deadliest barrages since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. But Afghan troops have kept up their pursuit of rebels fleeing on horseback and motorcycle.
About 80 rebels were still believed to be in the mountains holding out against Afghan and coalition forces.
Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Marad said two Taliban commanders, Mullah Dadullah and Mullah Brader, are believed to be surrounded in the mountainous region. Both are well-known names in the Taliban rebellion, accused of orchestrating attacks across much of Afghanistan's violence-ridden south.
Purported Taliban spokesman Mullah Latif Hakimi on Friday denied that either man was surrounded, and said the government's death toll was exaggerated.
Hakimi often calls news organizations to claim responsibility for attacks on behalf of the Taliban. His information has sometimes proven untrue or exaggerated and his exact tie to the group's leadership is unclear.
About 390 suspected insurgents have been reported killed since March, after snows melted on mountain tracks used by the rebels. In the same time, 29 U.S. troops, 38 Afghan police and soldiers and 125 civilians have been killed.
Over 10% of Karachi's Afghan population repatriated this year
Islamabad, June 25, IRNA
The UN refugee agency said on Saturday it had assisted more than 10 percent of the remaining Afghan population in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi to voluntarily repatriate to Afghanistan so far this year.
The total number of Afghans returning from Karachi this year reached 15,000 as the District Coordination Officer Karachi, Fazal-ur-Rehman said goodbye to 600 Afghans returning to Afghanistan in a ceremony at the UNHCR registration center in Songal on Saturday morning.
A government of Pakistan census, assisted by UNHCR, earlier this year counted more than 3 million Afghans in Pakistan who had arrived since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
Of this number 135,734 were living in Karachi and other areas of Sindh province.
"UNHCR teams have been visiting Afghans throughout Karachi and other cities of Sindh to assist those, who have decided to repatriate from the province," Kazuhiro Kaneko, head of the UNHCR office in Karachi, said at departure ceremony.
"The numbers are lower than in previous years, reflecting the falling Afghan population here."
Kaneko said the office operated one registration center in Karachi and was also sending mobile teams to other areas of Sindh where Afghans wishing to return to Afghanistan could receive UNHCR repatriation assistance.
According to the recent census, the majority of Karachi's Afghan population are ethnic Pashtun while Tajiks are the second largest group.
A large proportion of the population originates from Kunduz and Baghlan provinces of Afghanistan.
Afghans in Karachi live mostly from daily wage work, providing cheap labour to Pakistan's business capital.
The voluntary repatriation of Afghans from Pakistan is governed by a tripartite agreement signed in 2003 between the governments of Pakistan, Afghanistan and UNHCR that expires in March 2006.
A decision on what will follow the present agreement is expected later this year.
Under the agreement, more than 2.4 million Afghans have so far been assisted to voluntarily repatriate to Afghanistan.
UNHCR expects around 400,000 will return during 2005.
Afghans returning home under the program are entitled to receive from $3 to $30 as a travel grant depending on the distance to the destination and an additional $12 each to help them reestablish in Afghanistan.
The assistance is paid inside Afghanistan at encashment centers near returnee destinations.
Returning Afghans, above the age of six, have to go through an iris test at UNHCR centers in Hayatabad Peshawar and Baleli Quetta to get the assistance. The iris test, introduced in late 2002, ensures returnees receive assistance only once.
Since the start of the UNHCR voluntary repatriation in 2002 around 253,000 Afghans have returned to Afghanistan from Karachi and other parts of Sindh, UNHCR said.
Asia leaders cautiously welcome new Iranian government led by hard-liner
Associated Press / June 25, 2005
Indonesian radical Islamists cheered news Saturday that a hard-liner won Iran's presidential election, while Afghanistan expressed hope that its "friendly and brotherly relationship" with Tehran will continue with the new government.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the conservative mayor of Tehran, beat his relatively moderate rival Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani and was declared Iran's next president early Saturday. His triumph extends the conservatives' control in Iran and could lead to a return to social restrictions that were commonplace after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
"I'm glad and happy to know Iran's election result," said Irfan Awwas, a leader of Majelis Mujahiddin Indonesia, a hardline Islamic group whose founder, Abu Bakar Bashir, is in jail for links to the deadly 2002 Bali bombings.
"Iran's people think the hard-liner candidate is more fit for them compared to Rafsanjani," Awwas said. "People there might think Rafsanjani is more fit to manage international relations, especially with Western countries, but not to lead the country."
An Indonesian Muslim scholar, Komaruddin Hidayat, attributed the victory to rising anti-American feelings in the Middle East, fueled by the ongoing Iraq war.
Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Naveed Moez refused to comment on the choice of Ahmadinejad, saying the vote was an internal decision. But he said he was hopeful that Afghanistan's "friendly and brotherly relationship" with Iran, with which it shares a long border, would continue to be strong.
"We hope relations between Afghanistan and Iran will not change with this election result," he said. "We trust cooperation between Afghanistan and the new Iranian government will continue, based on mutual respect and noninterference in the internal affairs of each other."
Indonesia's official response was also muted, with a foreign ministry spokesman preferring to focus on the election itself rather than the winner.
"The people of Iran are to be congratulated for the tremendous support and enthusiasm they have shown for the democratic electoral process," ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa said. "As the task of governance beckons, we are confident that we can continue to rely on Iran as a force for peace, stability and moderation in its own region and beyond."
Clerics, led by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have true power in Iran and are able to overrule elected officials. But reformers, who lost parliament in elections last year, had been hoping to retain some hand in government to preserve the greater social freedoms they've been able to win, such as looser dress codes, more mixing between the sexes and openings to the West.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Joanne Moore indicated the result would not change America's view of Iran and what it considered to be a fundamentally flawed election that refused to accept scores of candidates, particularly women.
Ahmadinejad, the 49-year-old mayor of the capital, campaigned as a champion of the poor, a message that resonated with voters in a country where some estimates put unemployment as high as 30 percent. He struck the image of a simple working man against Rafsanjani, a wealthy member of the country's ruling elite.
But Ahmadinejad also vowed to return Iran to the principles of the Islamic revolution more than a quarter-century ago. He also would likely be a tough negotiating partner in Iran's talks with Europe over its nuclear program, which the United States contends aims to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran says the program is aimed only at producing energy.
Election Winner Wants Iran to Be a Model
By BRIAN MURPHY, Associated Press / June 25, 2005
TEHRAN, Iran - The winner of Iran's presidential election, whose landslide victory dealt a setback to reformers, said Saturday he seeks to make his country a "modern, advanced, powerful, and Islamic" model for the world.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's taped statement, broadcast on state-run radio, appeared aimed at easing worries that his ultraconservative views would clash with Iran's attempts to expand its economy and international ties. Ahmadinejad, however, made no mention of any new policies regarding the social reforms opposed by some of his supporters.
"Let's convert competition to friendship. We are all a nation and a big family," he said in apparent reference to the rifts between liberals and hard-liners in Iran that deepened in the campaign for Friday's runoff election.
"My mission is creating a role model of a modern, advanced, powerful and Islamic society," he said in the short message broadcast shortly after the announcement of final results sealed his stunning defeat of moderate statesman Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani.
The results, announced on state television, gave Ahmadinejad, currently Tehran's mayor, 61.6 percent of the vote over Rafsanjani's 35.9 percent. The rest of the ballots were deemed invalid.
Nearly 28 million ballots were cast, or more than 59 percent of Iran's approximately 47 million eligible voters. In last week's election, the turnout was close to 63 percent.
The victory gives conservatives control of Iran's two highest elected offices — the presidency and parliament — enabling the non-elected theocracy to rule with a freer hand.
Real power in Iran lies with the country's clerics and their supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who can overrule elected officials. But reformers, who lost parliament in elections last year, had been hoping to retain some hand in government to preserve the greater social freedoms they've been able to win, such as looser dress codes, more mixing between the sexes and openings to the West.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Joanne Moore indicated the result would not change the U.S. view of Iran, and what it considered to be a fundamentally flawed election that refused to accept scores of candidates, particularly women.
"With the conclusion of the elections in Iran, we have seen nothing that sways us from our view that Iran is out of step with the rest of the region in the currents of freedom and liberty that have been so apparent in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon," Moore said.
Ahmadinejad supporters will go to mosques to "thank God for this great victory," said his campaign manager Ali Akbar Javanfekr. He said no public celebrations were planned.
Ahmadinejad is expected to start consultations soon on his Cabinet. He will be watched to see if he chooses clerics such as Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, a firebrand who has been considered for the Culture Ministry, which controls publications as well as the arts.
Ahmadinejad, 49, campaigned as a champion of the poor, a message that resonated with voters in a country where some estimates put unemployment as high as 30 percent. He struck the image of a simple working man, casting Rafsanjani as a wealthy member of the ruling elite.
"The real nuclear bomb that Iran has is its unemployed young people," said Ali Pourassad, after voting for Ahmadinejad at a polling station set up in the courtyard of a mosque in the middle-class south of Tehran. "If nothing is done to create jobs for our young people, we will have an explosion on the streets."
But Ahmadinejad also vowed to return Iran to the principles of the Islamic Revolution more than a quarter-century ago. Such comments and reports about his inner circle of supporters — members of the Revolutionary Guard, the vigilantes who enforce public dress codes and some of the most hard-line clerics in Iran's theocracy — frightened Iran's reformers.
Ahmadinejad (pronounced "Aah-MA-dee-ni-JAHD") had not been expected even to make the runoff. But he squeaked ahead of his rivals into the No. 2 spot in last week's first-round vote. There were accusations that Revolutionary Guards and vigilantes intimidated voters to sway the vote in his favor.
During Friday's voting, the reformist-led Interior Ministry reported "interference" at some Tehran polling stations. A ministry worker who was at a polling station reminding officials to watch for violations was arrested after he got in an argument with representatives of one of the two candidates, ministry spokesman Jahanbakhsh Khanjani said.
An Interior Ministry observers' group reported 300 complaints of violations in Tehran, said group leader Ibrahim Razini.
In the eyes of most, Rafsanjani — who was president from 1989-97 — represented the status quo. Backers felt confident he would continue the many social changes introduced by outgoing President Mohammad Khatami, including youth-supported freedoms such as dating, music, and colorful headscarves for women.
Rafsanjani may retain his seat on the Expediency Council, which mediates between parliament and the ruling clerics. But he appears to be finished as a politician, having already been humbled in 2000 when he failed to win a seat in parliament.
Ahmadinejad's surprising strength alarmed moderates and business groups at home and was watched with concern by international officials. He is expected to be a tough negotiating partner in Iran's talks with Europe over its nuclear program. Iran says the program is to produce energy but the United States contends nuclear weapons are the goal.
Ahmadinejad has criticized Iran's current negotiators as making too many concessions to Europe — particularly in freezing the uranium enrichment program — and he was expected to put Iran's nuclear program into the hands of some avowed anti-Western clerics.
The pragmatic Rafsanjani appeared more willing to negotiate on the nuclear program. But a Foreign Ministry spokesman Friday underlined that the suspension is temporary and that enrichment will eventually be restarted no matter who wins the election.
But for many Iranians, the biggest issue was an economy that has languished despite Iran's oil and gas riches. Iran's official unemployment rate is 16 percent, but unofficially it is closer to 30 percent — and the country has to create 800,000 jobs a year just to stand still. In the fall, another million young people are expected to enter the work force.
Ahmadinejad, the son of a blacksmith, presented himself as the humble alternative to Rafsanjani, whose family runs a large business empire. He has promised Iran's underclass higher wages, more development funds for rural areas, expanded health insurance and more social benefits for women.
Associated Press correspondent Ali Akbar Dareini contributed to this report from Tehran.
Afghan paper calls on US to withdraw support from Pakistan
Arman-e Melli 05/25/2005
An editorial in the independent daily Arman-e Melli says that Pakistan exports terrorism to Afghanistan today in order to influence, and ultimately, to rule that country and calls it the "bully" of the region. The paper calls on the US to withdraw its military and security support for Pakistan, because only then will that country change its policies, hand over Al-Qai'dah leaders, and the "government of mullahs will collapse in Peshawar and democracy will emerge". It points out that since the United States claim to be sponsoring democracy in the world and in the Middle East, it should not continue with its support for the Pakistani military regime. The following is the text of report titled "Musharraf's blatant behaviours", published by Afghan newspaper Arman-e Melli on 23 June:
As the country is about to hold the parliamentary elections to conclude the Bonn Agreements and as the economic order is being reinforced in our country, [the government] signs the strategic memorandum of understanding with the United States to help continue the present trends. It signed it to use the assistance of the United States, as a friendly country, until our military national forces are formed and we develop the capacity of defending our national security, independence and sovereignty.
But Pakistan, which has been benefiting from US economic and military support, harbours ill intentions and is upset with the present status quo of our country. Without good diplomatic manners and observing international norms, the Pakistani military leader said that the 11 September incident would not have happened if the United States had recognized the Taleban.
There would be no Kashmir dispute or no Pashtunestan issue if Britain had not brought into existence Pakistan to serve its expansionist purposes. Afghanistan and India would have lived peacefully side by side and the region would have been a region of peace and economic prosperity, because there would not have been any servants of colonialism in the region.
There would have been no Pakistan if the United States had not taken the British advice and had not signed a bilateral military treaty to defend the country.
There would be no Pakistan if His Excellency Mohammad Zaher Shad had not made the mistake of taking side with Pakistan and assured the country about no threats from Afghanistan when it was fighting on two fronts of Bangladesh and Kashmir. Such an assurance helped Pakistan to focus all his military might on the two fronts.
Pakistan would have exploded if the United States had not economically supported the governments of Nawaz Sharif and Bhutto. There would have been a different Pakistan today if the United States had not acted as a broker in the Kargil war  between Pakistan and India. Pakistan could not have acquired nuclear power if the United States had not turned a blind eye.
Pakistan would not have been so powerful if the Soviet Union had not made the mistake [of attacking Afghanistan] that led to its own collapse and the destruction of Afghanistan.
Afghanistan would not have needed the assistance of 35 countries and Pakistan could not have interfered in Afghan affairs if the Jihadi leaders had not been deceived by the Pakistani Islamic slogans and if they had let the power be peacefully transferred, according to the UN peace plan, from Dr Najibullah's regime and let the military forces of that regime come under a unified Jihad leadership.
General Musharraf should bear in mind that all those ifs made Pakistan powerful and Afghanistan a weak country. Pakistan exports terrorism to Afghanistan today and does not even obey its supporter, the United States in this regard. It even wants to assassinate the US ambassador and the Afghan interior minister. In spite of all these scandals, he [Musharraf] says in Australia that the 11 September incident had not have happened if the United States had recognized the Taleban. He means the terrorist, anti-enlightenment, anti-freedom and undemocratic regime of the Taleban who were Pakistani mercenaries and Al-Qa'idah, that had waged a Jihad against the United States before 11 September, should have been recognized to prevent such incidents. He asks the Australians not to send their forces to join the international coalition forces in Afghanistan. It shows that Pakistan has not changed its policies.
It behaves gently towards India to first succeed in Afghanistan. It wants to frighten the United States that is now grappling with the issue of Iraq about the spread of terrorism in Afghanistan. It wants to convince the United States to leave Afghanistan to avoid another front like Iraq. Then Afghanistan can be at the mercy of Pakistan. Based on this very policy, Pakistan promises Iran to let it transport its gas via Pakistan to other countries.
Pakistan thinks it can affect the situation in Afghanistan through its influence over some political and military figures in Afghanistan and agitating against the US presence and by calling democracy an imported good. This is not a new Pakistani policy. It is as old as Pakistan.
Particularly when Russia was leaving Afghanistan, Pakistan made it clear that: 1) All Afghan capacities should be destroyed 2) a pro-Pakistan weak government should take power in Afghanistan 3) that government should put an end to the issue of Durand and 4) obliterate the idea of Pashtunestan and Pashtunism.
Such a policy was adopted after the collapse of Dr Najibullah, but, since 1994, it changed as follows: 1) Establishment of a puppet government in Afghanistan that enters strategic ties with Pakistan 2) Alienation of Afghanistan from India 3) Pakistani access to the Central Asian markets via Afghanistan.
Having acquired new appetite, Pakistan has become blatant. We Afghans love peace and brotherhood in the region and consider them to be in the interest of the two countries and the rest of the region. But Pakistan does not want to speak in an Islamic, human and diplomatic language. It wants to bully. Therefore, to protect its interests, the Afghan government should warn the nation about a threat that is jeopardizing their territorial integrity and independence and take measures to rally its national forces. Since the youth have been trained in the course of a long war, such a force does not need military training. Retaliatory actions should be taken if Pakistan trains the terrorists inside its territory to send them into our country. We should use force against the one who uses force. Pakistan will not change its present policies and will always play the same strategic game if Afghanistan does not purge the country of the pro-Pakistan elements, both Taleban and non-Taleban, and if it does not strengthen its security and military forces.
There are many disaffected people inside Pakistan. The Baluchi people are not satisfied with the government. And supporters of democracy are dissatisfied. Except a short period under Zolfaqar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan has never experienced democracy. The Pakistanis are deeply affected by the growth of democracy in the war-ravaged Afghanistan. They are surprised when they see the patience of Afghans towards the export of terrorists from Pakistan. I am still sure that Pakistan will change its policies if the United States stops its military and security support for the country. Bin Ladin will be soon captured and Mollah Omar will be handed over to Afghanistan. The government of mullahs will collapse in Peshawar and democracy will emerge.
Otherwise, Pakistan will go on to be the safe haven for terrorists, Al-Qa'idah and other destructive forces. And the United States, that claims to be sponsoring democracy in the world and in the Middle East, and [at the same time] supports the Pakistani military regime will be held responsible. Such a double standard policy will undermine the credibility of this country before the Americans and the world.
Japan to finance three new projects
Pajhwok Afghan News 06/25/2005
KABUL - The government of Japan has agreed to provide $1,87,449 in grant for launching different welfare projects in three provinces.
The projects included reconstruction, health and vocational training, which will be started in Kabul, Kandahar and Faryab provinces.
The contract will be signed by Japanese ambassador and representatives of the three non-governmental organisations on Friday.
The projects included establishment of educational and cultural centres and imparting training in carpet weaving and health.
Japan had financed 449 projects in Afghanistan since 1999.
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