Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami rejects Kabul’s peace offer
Says no deal possible with puppets of the US
The News International (Pakistan) - Bureau report November 25, 2005
PESHAWAR: Rejecting the offer of peace and reconciliation made by a pro-government commission in Kabul to its opponents, former Afghan mujahideen leader Gulbaddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami said there was no question of accepting the appeal of those who were puppets of the US and had paved the way for the American occupation of Afghanistan.
A two-page Pashto statement made available on behalf of Hezb-i-Islami to reporters and newspaper offices in Peshawar angrily rejected the offer and predicted victory for Afghans fighting the US and it’s allies in Afghanistan. It said those making the offer would taste defeat the moment the US forces withdrew from Afghanistan and Iraq. "We would then march into Kabul with green Islamic flags and all those traitors now siding with the US would be put on trial and punished," it warned.
Though the name of Professor Sebghatullah Mojadeddi and his peace and reconciliation commission wasn’t mentioned in the statement, it was obvious that he was the real target of the criticism by Hezb-i-Islami when it recalled that his elders were brought by the British colonialists to Afghanistan to implement their agenda. The statement reminded that members of this family promised amnesty to former Afghan ruler Habibullah Kalakani on the Holy Quran only to lure him to Kabul and have him executed along with his men. The statement said those making offers of peace were powerless and were acting on the orders of the US. "Who are you to offer us peace or talk about putting mujahideen on trial? You are puppets and have no respect and credibility among the Afghan people," it declared.
The Hezb-i-Islami statement also made fun of the peace commission’s allegation that some of Afghanistan’s neighbours were supporting opponents of the Kabul regime. It reminded that all neighbouring countries from day one had supported the US invasion of Afghanistan and captured and delivered anti-US fighters to America. He argued that the US-led crusader forces would never have captured Afghanistan without the support of neighbouring states. "Those who aided and abetted the killing of innocent Afghans were being made to pay the price for this injustice by Allah. Pakistan suffered earthquake on the same day on which four years ago it backed the US invasion of Afghanistan that led to the killing of 50,000 innocent Afghans. And the aftershocks of the quake would continue until the day the US bombed Afghanistan," the statement said. It reminded that the argument given by Pakistani rulers for supporting the US had also proved wrong because America is siding with India on Kashmir and had forced Pakistan to stop supporting Kashmiri freedom fighters. The statement said Pakistan would have benefited had it sought help from Allah rather than America.
Osama alive, would be caught some day: US
The News International (Pakistan) / November 25, 2005
WASHINGTON: General Peter Pace, Chairman, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Thursday said al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was alive, and would be caught some day. In an interview telecast by Fox News, Gen Pace said he did not have confirmation "today but, I do know this, we will continue to pursue him. We’ll continue to track all the leads on getting him some day. We’ll find him." "Yes" was his reply, when asked was Osama still alive. There is a $25 million bounty for the capture of Osama bin Laden.
First survey shows nearly one million drug users in Afghanistan
(AFP) - 24 November 2005
KABUL - The government and the UN drugs office on Thursday released the first nationwide survey of drug use in Afghanistan, the world’s top opium producer, showing nearly one million people took drugs -- mostly hashish.
The survey this year also found that 170,000 adults, or 1.4 percent of the adult population, took often-addictive opium and heroin, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said.
This was within the range of addiction rates of neighbouring countries, including Iran (2.8 percent) and Pakistan (0.8 percent), it said.
“We are concerned about some results from the survey but also pleased that this will now enable us to take more focused action to tackle this problem,” Deputy Minister for Counter Narcotics General Khodaidad said in a UN statement.
The survey suggested there were 920,000 drug users in Afghanistan, including about 150,000 who took opium, 50,000 heroin and 520,000 hashish.
About 180,000 people also consumed non-prescribed pharmaceuticals such as painkillers, it said.
Other drugs used in Afghanistan included preparations made from cannabis and opium, petrol, glues and alcohol.
Eighty percent of drug users were men, 13 percent women and seven percent children, the survey found.
“Also alarming is the rate for injecting drug use: approximately 15 percent of male heroin users are injecting,” the statement said.
The highest level of drug use was in Kabul followed by provinces bordering Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
“The findings of the survey will be important to target future activities in drug demand reduction, including prevention as well as treatment,” said UNODC representative Doris Buddenberg.
Afghanistan produces about 87 percent of the world’s supply of opium, most of which is used to make heroin used in Europe.
The land under opium poppy cultivation has been drastically cut over the past year, for the first time since the 2001 fall of the hardline Taleban government, the UNODC and US government said in reports released Wednesday.
Land surface for drug crops had been cut by 21 percent over the past year to 104,000 hectares (256,000 acres), the UNODC said.
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy put the figure at 107,400 hectares (265,275 acres) but said it was 48 percent down on 2004.
via Khaleej Times Online
Torture claims 'forced US to cut terror charges'
· Dirty bomb evidence came from al-Qaida leader
· CIA worried case would expose prison network
Jamie Wilson in Washington Friday November 25, 2005 The Guardian (UK)
The Bush administration decided not to charge Jose Padilla with planning to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in a US city because the evidence against him was extracted using torture on members of al-Qaida, it was claimed yesterday.
Mr Padilla, a US citizen who had been held for more than three years as an "enemy combatant" in a military prison in North Carolina, was indicted on Tuesday on the lesser charges of supporting terrorism abroad. After his arrest in 2002 the Brooklyn-born Muslim convert was also accused by the administration of planning to blow up apartment blocks in New York using natural gas.
The administration had used his case as evidence of the continued threat posed by al-Qaida inside America.
Yesterday's New York Times, quoting unnamed current and former government officials, said the main evidence of Mr Padilla's involvement in the plots against US cities had come from two captured al-Qaida leaders, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, believed to be the mastermind of the September 11 attacks, and Abu Zubaydah, a leading al-Qaida recruiter. But the officials told the newspaper Mr Padilla could not be charged with the bomb plots because neither of the al-Qaida leaders could be used as witnesses as they had been subjected to harsh questioning and could open up charges from defence lawyers that their earlier statements resulted from torture. Officials also feared that their testimony could expose classified information about the CIA prison system in which the men were thought to be held.
The CIA has never publicly acknowledged it is detaining Mr Mohammed and Mr Zubaydah. It is not known where they are being held. But it was reported last month the CIA was using secret detention centres in eastern Europe, possibly in Poland and Romania, for interrogations, thus beyond the reach of US law.
Internal reviews by the CIA have raised questions about the treatment and credibility of the two men. The New York Times said one review, completed in spring last year by the CIA inspector general, found that in the first months after his capture Mr Mohammed had suffered excessive use of "waterboarding", a technique involving near drowning which entails the detainee being strapped to a board and then submerged.
Announcing the charges against Mr Padilla on Tuesday, the attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, repeatedly refused to answer questions on why none of the allegations involving attacks on the US had been included. "I am not going to talk about previous accusations and allegations that are outside the indictment," he said. However, the New York Times said the officials had emphasised that the government was not backing off its initial assertions about the seriousness of Mr Padilla's actions.
Mr Padilla was arrested at O'Hare airport in Chicago in 2002 after returning from Pakistan. President George Bush declared him an enemy combatant, and the administration resisted calls to charge and try him in civilian courts. His case became a cause célèbre, with human rights groups claiming it was an extreme example of how civil liberties had been brushed aside in pursuit of the war on terror.
Mr Padilla was handed over last week to the justice department for civilian proceedings, avoiding a potentially embarrassing supreme court showdown over how long the US government could hold one of its citizens in military custody without charges.
Torture has become an emotive issue around the world since prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib in Iraq was uncovered. A new law sponsored by Senator John McCain, a former Republican presidential candidate and a war hero who was tortured in Vietnam, would ban inhumane treatment and oblige all US agencies to abide by international law on torture. The draft law was approved by 90 votes to nine in the Senate earlier this month, but the House of Representatives has yet to give its support and Dick Cheney has launched an aggressive effort to modify the legislation to allow the CIA to be exempted - causing the Washington Post to label him "Vice President for Torture" in an editorial.
Grisly killing by the Taliban
EDITORIAL The News International (Pakistan) November 25, 2005
By grim coincidence, Tuesday's murder by the Taliban of a young driver working for an Indian road construction company took place the same day as the US military death toll in Iraq went past 2,100. (It's exactly a month today since the 2,000th American soldier was killed.)
The Taliban killed a British national in September. Last December they had murdered a Turkish engineer. In June 2004, however, they had released a Turk they had been holding captive since March, although he worked for an American company. (The release is believed to have been the result of ransom payment.) What is noteworthy is that like the 35-year-old Indian, Maniappan Raman Kutty, the other kidnap victims had all been involved in large road-construction projects in Afghanistan.
Grisly kidnap-murders as a method are already being used with increasing frequency by rogue terror groups in Iraq, including members of the Interior Ministry, after the insurgents there started to employ it. The most alarming aspect of the killing of Mr Kutty, who had his throat slit by his captors, is the possibility of kidnap-murders having arrived in Afghanistan as a terrorist trend. This would be bad news for every country and region experiencing instability.
On Wednesday, the UN Security Council condemned recent attacks in Afghanistan, including those against the Nato-led forces there. It also called on the international community for "a high level of commitment to assisting Afghanistan" in its security needs.
The Council would be more useful if, rather than waste its time in referral of countries for their alleged nuclear ambitions, it would commit itself to concentrated efforts for the end of the growing violence in Iraq and Afghanistan. The only way it could do this is to exert its influence for an end to foreign involvement in these countries as soon as possible.
Indian hostage's body arrives in Delhi from Afghanistan
November 24, 2005
NEW DELHI (AFP) - The body of an Indian who was kidnapped and killed in Afghanistan by suspected Taliban rebels was met at New Delhi airport with military honors.
Junior foreign minister E. Ahmed and army officers Thursday laid dozens of wreaths on the coffin carrying the body of the 35-year-old driver, Maniyappan Raman Kutty.
Kutty had been working as a driver on a road project in southwest Afghanistan being built by the Indian government's Border Roads Organisation.
His corpse was found on Wednesday in the volatile southwestern province of Nimroz.
The body will be flown to the southern state of Kerala on Friday where his family will hold a funeral in their village in the late evening.
Chingoli village, 125 kilometers (75 miles) north of the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, marked a day of mourning by closing shops and putting up posters bearing photographs of Kutty.
Villagers expressed horror at the murder and also anger, saying the Indian government should have done more to secure his release.
"If the Taliban had abducted a senior official or minister's kin, the government would have acted more responsibly," said K. Ajayakumar, a neighbour of the Kutty family. "Because we are very poor ... they dealt with things in a casual manner."
The fundamentalist Taliban regime, ousted by US-led forces in late 2001 for sheltering Osama bin Laden, claimed responsibility for the killing.
A purported spokesman for the Taliban, Yousuf Ahmadi, had said there had been no response to an ultimatum for his employer to leave Afghanistan.
India has expressed deep shock at the killing and called for swift justice.
"I condemn this cowardly and brutal murder of a brave Indian, who was working in the cause of peace and development far from his home and country (which) reflects the cruel and inhuman character of the Taliban and the forces they represent," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Wednesday.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the murder but said such acts of "terrorism" would not halt Afghanistan's efforts to rebuild after years of war.
No "act of terrorism will put us away from our effort to rebuild our country," he said.
The Indian had been working as a driver on a project to build a road between Delaram on the Kandahar-Herat highway to Zaranj on the border with Iran.
The road will give landlocked Afghanistan easier access to an Iranian port.
The kidnapped man was snatched with two Afghan police guards and a driver, who were released unharmed.
Security in southwestern Afghanistan has worsened since the Taliban regime was toppled and its loyalists launched an insurgency against the new US-backed administration.
Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan
Thu Nov 24, 5:04 PM ET
OTTAWA (AFP) - A Canadian soldier was killed and four others were injured after their light armored vehicle rolled over during a "routine patrol" northeast of Kandahar, in Afghanistan, officials said.
Canadian military officials said they were patrolling a region northeast of Kandahar at about 6 pm local time when the accident occurred.
"They were doing a routine patrol on highway one, the main road between Kandahar and Kabul," said a somber Lt. General Marc Dumais.
"It was a road accident," he said. No other vehicle or attack was involved, he said.
"There is an investigation going on (into the cause of the accident)," he added.
Colonel Steve Noonan, in charge of Canadian forces in Afghanistan said by telephone, the group were "at the beginning of their patrol" after dusk.
The soldiers, three seriously injured and one described as a "walking wounded", were taken to Kandahar aboard a US military helicopter for emergency medical care.
None of the four survivors suffered life-threatening injuries, Dumais said.
Canadian lawmakers observed a moment of silence after Defence Minister Bill Graham expressed regrets to the family of the dead soldier in the House of Commons.
Canada has 1,274 soldiers in Afghanistan, part of so-called provincial reconstruction teams and an international security force that aims to stabilize the country.
Another 1,400 Canadian soldiers are due to be deployed to Kandahar in February, after their base is moved from Kabul.
Brian Woodfield of Victoria in Canada's westernmost province, who began his tour in August, is the eighth Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan in recent years, including four killed by friendly US aircraft fire in 2002.
Three more Canadian soldiers were lightly wounded in Kandahar in October when a suicide bomber blew himself up near a Canadian military convoy. An Afghan child was killed in that attack, officials said.
In Kabul in September, two Canadian soldiers suffered minor injuries when a blast hit their jeep during a patrol.
Coalition, Afghan forces conclude Operation Sorkh Khar
November 24, 2005 COMBINED FORCES COMMAND – AFGHANISTAN COALITION PRESS INFORMATION CENTER
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Task Force Devil completed a nine-day joint, combined offensive operation to defeat enemy forces and deny them freedom of movement and re-supply efforts in the Kunar Province on Nov. 22.
Operation Sorkh Khar was conducted by 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division; Charlie Company, 2-504th Parachute Infantry Regiment; and 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 201st Corps, Afghan National Army.
The Marines, Paratroopers and Afghan soldiers engaged the enemy in nine fire fights, employed artillery fire and close-air support to defeat the enemy. They also found five caches and detained six suspected enemy combatants.
No Afghan or Coalition forces were wounded from enemy action.
Accurate battle damage assessments on enemy losses could not be conducted due to the difficult, rugged terrain of the engagements.
“This operation was a success. Task Force KOA (the Marine task force) massed effects and joint combat power to dominate the enemy in what has been a staging area in Kunar,” said Col. Patrick Donahue, the commander of Regional Command East. “Through the force of will, the Marines, Paratroopers and ANA soldiers also overcame the difficult terrain in this area. I am very proud of the professionalism and toughness of this combined task force.”
AFGHANISTAN: UNHCR says major concern of refugees is livelihoods not security
25 Nov 2005 09:36:19 GMT
KABUL, 24 November (IRIN) - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on Wednesday said that the major concerns of refugees living in both Iran and Pakistan are jobs and employment, not security.
"Now, for the sustainability of return to be possible, our work with refugees still staying in Pakistan and Iran, has shown us very clearly that the major concern is not paradoxically security, but it is livelihoods," Antonio Guterres, told reporters at a press conference at the end of a two-day mission to Afghanistan, in the capital Kabul, adding the major concerns of refugees were related to the issue of employment, education, and health care.
A high proportion of the over 3.5 million Afghans, who have returned home from Pakistan and Iran since the collapse of the Taliban regime in late 2001, are suffering from lack of shelter and unemployment.
"Our main message is that …there should be the creation of conditions for the full integration of returnees in the development process of Afghanistan," Guterres explained.
Asked for his view of the future of returns, Guterres said "Afghans will continue to return to their homeland in large numbers. But there will be those who will take longer to make that decision. Those Afghans who do not return in the short-term should continue to have the right to a decent life in their countries of asylum."
Some 500,000 Afghans have returned home this year, bringing the total number of returns since UNHCR began its repatriation programme in 2002 to nearly three million, according to the refugee agency.
"I encourage all three governments, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, to play a constructive role in addressing this [refugee] issue, together with the UN refugee agency," Guterres said.
Dutch want guarantees for Afghan prisoners' rights
Wed Nov 23, 4:46 PM ET
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch government wants its NATO partners to guarantee prisoners' rights in Afghanistan as a condition for deciding to expand the Dutch peacekeeping force there, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.
Dutch state news agency ANP quoted Foreign Minister Bernard Bot as telling parliament he wanted the Netherlands to seal a "memorandum of understanding" with its allies in Afghanistan, which should include the treatment of prisoners.
"We want very good guarantees," Bot said. "That is an important condition for the cabinet for taking a decision concerning a new, dangerous mission with a thousand soldiers to the Southern Afghan province of Uruzgan."
Human rights groups and former detainees have criticized the U.S. military for abusing prisoners in Afghanistan and at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Earlier this month, U.S. military said two U.S. soldiers will face court martial for abusing detainees in the central province of Uruzgan, where Taliban insurgents are active.
News of the court martial came days after the U.S. military said it had completed a probe into the alleged burning of two bodies of Taliban fighters by U.S. soldiers in Kandahar province in October. The findings have still to be made public.
The United States is openly holding more than 500 detainees in Guantanamo Bay and thousands more in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The United States, which has about two-thirds of the foreign troops in Afghanistan and is looking to cut its commitment given pressures in Iraq, has been trying to get its European allies to take on more of the burden of battling a stubborn Taliban insurgency.
Bot did not say when the Dutch government would decide whether to send more troops to Afghanistan. The Dutch troops there are part of NATO-led 12,500-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) peacekeeping operation.
The Netherlands has about 330 troops serving with ISAF, including 148 members of a civilian-military Provincial Reconstruction Team operating north of Kabul.
The Hague also deployed a 750-strong marine battalion in northern Afghanistan during the elections this summer.
Germany using Uzbek airports for Afghanistan operations - Embassy
TASHKENT. Nov 24 (Interfax) - The German Air Force is still using Uzbek territory for providing support to operations in Afghanistan, the German Embassy in Tashkent told Interfax on Thursday.
"The German Air Force is using the airport of the Uzbek town of Termez on regular terms," an embassy source said.
The embassy denied reports that the Uzbek authorities had officially banned Germany from using Uzbek airspace. "This information can be qualified as rumors," the source said.
An Uzbek Foreign Ministry source also confirmed to Interfax that German servicemen are continuing to use the Termez airport, which is located close to the Afghan border, to support the antiterrorist coalition's activity in southern Uzbekistan.
"No warnings were issued to Germany on this account. Such notes were sent to the embassies of Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Sweden," the ministry source said.
A high-ranking source from the NATO headquarters was cited on November 23 as saying that Uzbekistan had banned the NATO member-states to use its airspace. Furthermore, the source was reported to say that such notifications were sent particularly to Germany, Spain and Belgium.
Afghan Press Monitor
(Nov. 23, 2005) - published by Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Taleban threaten to shoot down aircraft
(Cheragh) Taleban militants have warned that they will shoot down any civilian aircraft using Afghan airspace. Self-proclaimed spokesman for the Taleban Abdul Hai Mutmaen claimed that the Taleban had acquired modern anti-aircraft systems. He warned said any country that has not sent troops to Afghanistan to instruct its civilian aircraft to steer clear of the country, as the insurgents cannot differentiate them from “enemy” planes. He also denied reports that Pakistan is mediating between the United States and the Taleban, saying the group would not talk to the Americans until US troops leave Afghanistan.
(Cheragh is an independent daily run by the Development and Democracy Association.)
Kidnapped Afghan driver released
(Arman-e-Milli) An Afghan driver who was abducted along with an Indian road engineer and two Afghan guards in the southern province of Nimroz on November 19 was set free on November 21, officials said. Interior ministry spokesman Yousuf Stanikzai said the driver was being questioned by provincial intelligence officials. Security officials say they have no information regarding the fate of the other hostages. Mohammad Hashim Alokozai, chief of Khashroad district of the province, said search operations were continuing in the Dasht-e-Bakwa and Delaram areas.
(Arman-e-Milli is an independent daily run by a group of journalists.)
Rockets hit Kabul, no casualties
(Erada) Three rockets were fired from the southern area of Kabul on November 23, but caused no casualties, according to interior ministry officials. Interior ministry spokesman Yousuf Stanikzai said the rockets landed at around 3:00 am in the western part of the city. Blaming the” enemies of peace and stability and of the people of Afghanistan” for the attacks, the spokesman said an investigation was under way.
(Erada is an independent daily run by the Afghan Media and Resource Centre.)
President meets interior ministry staff after restructuring
(Hewad) Afghan leader Hamed Karzai met generals and officials from the interior ministry in the presidential palace on November 22. The officials had recently been appointed to new posts, in accordance with the administration reform programme. According to the president’s press office, he began by talking to the officials about their responsibilities, saying that “the main responsibility for peace and security for the people lies with you”. The president also thanked Germany and other countries which had assisted the ministry. Afterwards, Gul Nabi Ahmadzai, head of the ministry’s education department, speaking on behalf of all those there, assured the president that the ministry would serve the people and ensure security across the country.
(Hewad is a state run daily mostly in Pashto.)
Former king tours northern provinces
(Islah) The Father of the Nation and former king, Mohammad Zahir Shah, met elders and representatives of the northerwestern Faryab and northern Takhar provinces on November 22. Two of the local representatives, Haji Yaqub and Sharif Shahab, told the former king about the problems facing their provinces, and presented him with a traditional robe. Afterwards, Zahir Shah said he regards all Afghans as his children, and wishes them to live in a secure, brotherly and united atmosphere.
(Islah is a state-run daily mostly in Dari.)
Afghan minister to discuss tourism in Turkey
(Anis) The Afghan information, culture and tourism minister Sayed Makhdum Raheen left for Turkey on November 22 at the invitation of his Turkish counterpart. Apart from meeting government officials, Raheen is also expected to attend the inaugural ceremony for the first tourism exhibition of Islamic countries, to be held in Istanbul.
(Anis is state-run daily published mostly in Dari.)
Central Asian states meet in Afghanistan to revive trade
Monday Morning - Nov 24 11:41 PM
Ten Muslim, mostly Central Asian states met in Afghanistan to push their aim of cutting tariffs and freeing trade in the region once crossed by the Silk Road.
Afghanistan, after decades of war and occupation, told the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) it hoped to become a “land bridge”, revitalizing the ancient trade route that linked the Far East with the Mediterranean world and Europe.
The ECO groups Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, which together make up six percent of the world population, according to the organization.
Integration of the 10 ECO countries was essential to build up trade in the region, Afghan Commerce Minister Hedayet Amin Arsala told ministers, officials and other delegates at the two-day meeting in Kabul.
“It is only through regional cooperation and greater economic integration that we will be able to use the enormous resources that we have in the region for the betterment of the lives of our people,” he said.
The Afghan government wanted to establish “an open trade regime which would allow Afghanistan to capitalize on its position as a land bridge between the Central and South Asian region,” he said.
Afghanistan has the lowest tariffs among the 10 countries -- on average just over four percent -- compared to Pakistan’s tariffs of up to 120 percent.
Members had committed to cutting tariffs to no more than 10 percent within 10 to 15 years, although some items may be exempt, said the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency vice-president, Suleman Fatimie, an organizer of the meeting.
Central Asia’s proximity to rapidly growing markets such as China and India made clear the rationale for cooperation, said Asian Development Bank Afghanistan head Brian Fawcett.
The transit of goods through the region was still hampered, with truckers and traders facing daily road closures and border restrictions, he said.
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