Afghan Forces Kill 31 Suspected Militants
By AMIR SHAH, Associated Press Writer Mon Oct 3, 4:28 AM ET
KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan government forces killed 31 suspected Taliban militants near the eastern border with Pakistan, the Defense Ministry said Monday, the heaviest reported fighting since landmark parliamentary election two weeks ago.
Insurgents attacked an Afghan army position near Angore Adda in Paktika province late Sunday, triggering a four-and-a-half hour clash. Both sides used heavy weapons, said ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammed Zaher Azimi.
He said the militants eventually fled, leaving behind 28 dead bodies of their fighters. Four Afghan army soldiers were injured, one seriously.
"The fighting was intense," Azimi said, adding that the army captured a lot of ammunition from the militants, including anti-aircraft and artillery shells and rocket launchers.
He said no U.S.-led coalition forces took part.
Gen. Shorgul, deputy corps commander for the Afghan army in three eastern provinces including Paktika, said the militants had come across the border from Pakistan and fled back afterward. He uses only one name.
Pakistan vehemently denies that it allows Taliban fighters sanctuary on its soil. In recent days, its army has been fighting with militants in North Waziristan on the Pakistan side of the border.
Taliban and al-Qaida rebels are active in the volatile south and east of Afghanistan and have stepped up attacks this year. More than 1,300 people, including hundreds of militants, have died in the past seven months.
In a separate clash Sunday, militants attacked a truck carrying supplies for U.S.-led coalition forces in Surobi district of eastern Paktia province, killing the truck driver, Azimi said.
In fighting that followed, three more militants were killed and two arrested. Two Afghan army officers were wounded, he said.
The violence underlines the security problems still facing Afghanistan as it moves toward democracy, four years after the ouster of the hardline Taliban regime.
Election authorities are expected to announce provisional results this week in the Sept. 18 vote for new national and provincial assemblies.
US, ISAF Afghan forces will have one command: Karzai
Sun Oct 2, 2:29 PM ET
PARIS (Reuters) - U.S. troops in Afghanistan and NATO-led ISAF forces will eventually work for one command under NATO, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in a newspaper interview released on Sunday.
The United States, which has about two-thirds of the foreign troops in Afghanistan, has been trying to get its European NATO allies to shoulder more of the burden of battling a stubborn Taliban-led insurgency.
On Saturday British Defense Secretary John Reid said NATO members were not opposed to greater "synergy" with U.S. led forces.
But he said there were some objections among NATO allies about combining the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) peacekeeping operation into a single mission with the U.S,-led Operation Enduring Freedom chasing militants.
"Sooner or later we will have a single command for the two operations and they will be under the NATO banner," Karzai told Monday's edition of Le Figaro newspaper.
Karzai arrives in Paris on Sunday for three days of talks and will meet with President Jacques Chirac on Monday morning. Karzai said he would discuss the NATO issue in his meetings.
NATO allies France, Germany and Spain last month rejected the U.S. call for the alliance to help it fight militants, insisting NATO should stick to peacekeeping.
France and Spain insisted the two missions should remain separate with different chains of command while Germany said it would not like to expose its soldiers by linking the two mandates.
"We will end up by finding a solution that satisfies everybody," Karzai said.
French jets support NATO action in Afghanistan
Ireland Online / October 2, 2005
French Mirage fighter jets opened fire yesterday as part of a support mission for US-led forces hunting remnants of the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the Defence Ministry said.
The operation came a day before Afghan President Hamid Karzai was expected to arrive in France to meet with officials including President Jacques Chirac and Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie.
Four Mirage fighters took part in yesterday’s mission in southern Afghanistan, in their first air support role since France deployed an air contingent in neighbouring Tajikistan in August, a Defence Ministry spokesman said, declining to elaborate on the operation.
The French contingent is on hand to support the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and the separate US-led mission known as Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
France has made clear that it would not allow a NATO forces to become embroiled in offensive combat – leaving the Enduring Freedom force of 19,000 to pursue the counterinsurgency against Taliban and al-Qaida holdouts.
Meanwhile, Britain plans to deploy troops to volatile southern Afghanistan and take over command of the NATO security force in the country next year.
British defence Secretary John Reid has said that Britain is committed to leading the NATO force from May 2006 and running the headquarters of its rapid reaction force. NATO currently has 11,000 peacekeepers in Afghanistan, in the relatively stable north and west.
Early next year, Britain is expected to deploy troops under the NATO umbrella to southern Helmand province, a heartland of Afghanistan’s booming drug trade. Taliban insurgents, who have stepped up attacks this year, are also active in the region.
Canada has already deployed forces in neighbouring Kandahar province as part of NATO’s expansion into the south, slated for completion by mid-2006, and the Netherlands is also planning to send troops to the region.
The deployments NATO makes could free up thousands of American troops currently operating there.
Germany and France, however, have said they don’t want the NATO force to become embroiled in offensive combat. Spain is also wary of combining the alliance’s peacekeeping mission with the operations of the 20,000-strong US-led coalition.
Missing Afghan coins found
Monday, 3 October, 2005, 10:44 AM Doha Time
PESHAWAR: Authorities in northwestern Pakistan yesterday recovered tonnes of newly minted Afghan coins that went missing while being transported to Afghanistan through Pakistan, police said.
Forty boxes of coins were recovered from a semi-autonomous tribal area near the city of Peshawar, bordering Afghanistan, a police official said.
“Tribal elders in the region mediated the recovery,” said the police official, who declined to be identified.
No arrests had been made, he said.
More than 20 tonnes of two and five afghani coins (four and 10 US cents), minted in Europe and shipped through the Pakistani port of Karachi, went missing from two trucks carrying them to Afghanistan last week.
“Authorities got a clue about the missing coins from the cargo handling agent and they later contacted tribal elders to persuade the pilferers to return them,” the police official said.
“Seals on all the boxes were broken so we don’t know how many coins are still missing, but we will call the Afghan embassy tomorrow to take their money home.”
Afghan President Hamid Karzai had sought the help of his Pakistani counterpart, Pervez Musharraf, in finding the missing money, a Pakistan newspaper reported on Saturday.
The Afghan embassy in Pakistan declined to comment.
Afghanistan introduced small denomination coins to replace bank notes this year. – Reuters
Observers discover rampant fraud in Afghanistan elections
Whole districts have come under suspicion for ballot stuffing and proxy voting, says a neutral official.
By Carlotta Gall The New York Times via Denver Post - Oct 03 12:58 AM
Kabul, Afghanistan - Election officials and observers said Sunday that with 80 percent of the ballots counted in Afghanistan's national and provincial elections, they had found significant incidents of fraud.
Whole districts have come under suspicion for ballot-box stuffing and proxy voting, said Peter Erben, the chief of the U.N.-assisted Joint Election Management Board.
He said ballot boxes from 4 percent of the country's 26,000 polling stations - about 1,000 stations - had been set aside for investigation on suspicion of fraud and other irregularities.
The European Union observer mission said the reports of fraud and possible intimidation of voters in places were "worrying."
In a statement, the mission said, "While these phenomena do not appear to be nationwide, they are a cause for concern."
Erben promised strong action and said that if there were a clear indication of fraud, the votes in question would be excluded from the general count.
The Election Complaints Commission could also warn, fine and disqualify candidates if there was evidence of tampering, he said.
One of the worst cases has been in Paghman, a district west of Kabul, which is the stronghold of Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf, a powerful wartime faction leader and close ally of
Ballot boxes from 95 polling stations in Paghman have been set aside for further inspection, and 30 to 40 of those had been cleared for counting by Sunday, election officials said.
The rest would be excluded from the count because of clear evidence of fraud, one foreign observer said.
Sayyaf is running for a seat in the Wolesi Jirga, or the lower house of parliament, and is in fourth place with 2,105 votes.
Only 20 percent of the results for Kabul have been tabulated so far, but he is nevertheless well placed to win one of the 33 seats in the province.
The American military reported Saturday that one U.S. soldier and one Afghan soldier were killed Friday in a clash with insurgents in Kandahar, a southern province.
Another U.S. soldier and two Afghans were wounded in the attack. Violence in Afghanistan has sharply increased in recent months.
Afghans block highway; protest candidate's killing
Mon 3 Oct 2005 6:09 AM ET
MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Hundreds of Afghans blocked a highway in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Monday in a second day of protests to demand the arrest of the killer of a candidate in last month's parliamentary polls.
National assembly candidate Mohammad Ashraf Ramazan was shot dead along with a bodyguard in Mazar-i-Sharif last Tuesday. He was the first candidate killed since the Sept. 18 elections, which Taliban guerrillas failed in their vow to disrupt.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killings but Ramazan's supporters blamed the local administration, not the guerrillas.
Supporters of Ramazan, who belongs to the minority Shi'ite Muslim Hezb-i-Wahdat faction, staged a peaceful protest on Sunday before deciding to block the highway that runs through Mazar-i-Sharif and links it to other northern cities.
About two thousand vehicles and passenger buses were unable to use the road, witnesses and officials said.
Protesters vowed to continue the blockade until authorities arrest Ramazan's killer. A central government team was sent to persuade them to open the highway and has promised to investigate the killing, a local official said.
Ramazan had been running in fifth place for one of 11 assembly seats in Balkh province, of which Mazar is the capital.
Analysts had expressed concern before the vote about a so called "assassination clause" in the election law which says that if a winning candidate dies, his seat passes to the next in line.
((Writing by Sayed Salahuddin; editing by David Brunnstrom))
Afghanistan to Draft Law Enforcing Copyright
Monday October 3, 12:16 PM
KABUL, Oct 3 Asia Pulse - Afghanistan is on course to formulate laws enforcing copyright for the first time to help writers, researchers and intellectuals prevent their original works from plagiarism.
A commission - advised by international experts - has been set up to formulate the laws as soon as possible after carrying out a comprehensive study, information and culture and justice ministry officials said.
Sayed Fazl Sancharaki, deputy minister for information and culture, believed Afghanistan badly needed such legislation, which should have been put in place much earlier.
"Authors of scholarly and scientific works have long been faced with problems in our country due to the absence of such laws."
Owing to the absence of copyright laws, authors, composers, playwrights, publishers and distributors cannot file damages suits if their exclusive publications, production, sales, or distribution of literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic works are used without permission or credit.
As a result Afghan authors, writers and journalists often complain of impressible reproduction of their works. ADVERTISEMENT
Waheed Masoud, a stringer for the Agence France Presse in Kabul, told Pajhwok Afghan News many news agencies were using exclusive information dug out by others.
"Those using news items or other artistic works of others without crediting them and mentioning the original source of information are not professional people," Masoud observed while stressing the need for legal cover for intellectuals and writers.
Esmatullah Elahi, member of the monitoring body of the state-owned radio and television, linked the widespread disregarded for the copyrights principle to the absence of legal penalties.
The first copyright law called Statute of Anne was enacted in Britain in 1709 which entered into force in April 1710. Most countries now have their own laws, which are generally similar in content.
Copyright law only protects the particular form or manner in which ideas or information have been manifested, and is not designed or intended to protect the actual concepts, facts, styles or techniques, which may be embodied in or represented by the ideas or information.
Foreign experts opine the enforcement of copyright was as important as the constitution in western countries. Typically, a work must meet minimal standards of originality in order to qualify for copyright protection, which expires after a set period of time, if not extended.
Elahi said the introduction of the relevant rules would enable complainants to move court for the punishment of violators. He added if anybody defied the law in electronic media, they could be dragged to the independent commission for monitoring the national radio and TV. Such violations committed in other fields could be reported to an investigation commission under the information and culture ministry.
Sayed Yousuf Haleem, in charge of the legislative wing at the justice ministry, observed the copyright law was new for Afghanistan and that they were working together with foreign experts to draft it in the near future.
Celebrated short-story writer Rahnaward Zaryab, supportive of copyright, opposed Afghanistan's adoption of the copyright convention. "I am against it because, for instance, if I want to translate a French book into my language, I will have to pay a fee to the author according to the convention. Nobody here is in a position to pay for that," Zaryab argued.
The copyright was first ratified at the Berne Convention in 1886 by sovereign nations. Under the Berne Convention, copyright is granted automatically to creative works; an author does not have to "register" or "apply for" copyright protection.
As soon as the work is "fixed", that is, written or recorded on some physical medium, its author is automatically granted all exclusive rights to the work and any derivative works unless and until the author explicitly disclaims them, or until the copyright expires.
Te Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) - considered the second principal international agreement after the Berne Convention - was adopted in Geneva Later in 1952.
(Pajhwok Afghan News)
Indian engineers build strategic Afghanistan-Iran road
Indo-Asian News Service Zaranj (Afghanistan), October 3, 2005|12:58 IST
A strategic new road from Afghanistan to Iran being built by Indian military engineers will improve access to sea ports, reduce Kabul's dependence on Islamabad and boost trade with India and the Gulf.
The 280-km road from Delaram on the Kandahar-Herat highway to Zaranj on the Afghanistan-Iran border will bring the landlocked country 1,000 km closer to the sea and more than double its capacity to transport reconstruction material.
Currently, Afghanistan's only access to the sea is through the lofty Khyber Pass to the Pakistani city of Peshawar and onwards to the port of Karachi. Construction of the Delaram-Zaranj road by India's Border Roads Organisation, an organisation responsible for building and maintaining roads along India's frontiers, began this year in the arid desert terrain of Afghanistan's Nimroz province.
It is an arduous task, says project director, Brig. P.K. Sehgal. "A stretch of about 40 km has been readied for black-topping despite great difficulties posed by the desert terrain. We are continuously dogged by severe dust storms that restrict working time to just four to five hours a day," Sehgal told IANS.
Sehgal said the heat too was "killing", with temperatures touching 55 degrees Celsius and water for construction and the workforce having to be transported over long distances. Afghanistan's complete dependence on Pakistan for both exports and essential supplies had spawned a string of unpleasant experiences.
Last year Pakistani authorities held up hundreds of containers with supplies for Afghanistan at Karachi on the pretext of customs and security checks, triggering massive shortages and an artificial price rise in the country.
Worse, goods in transit from Karachi to Afghanistan, including supplies for the US armed forces, are often pilfered with the alleged connivance of port authorities and openly sold in markets in Peshawar. Perhaps the most sensational crime was the recent theft of some 21 tonnes of German manufactured Afghani coins en route to Kabul from Karachi.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai took up the matter with his Pakistan counterpart Pervez Musharraf in a bid to prevent such incidents in future. Often, Pakistan has blocked the supply of essential commodities like wheat, medicines and medical equipment, compelling these to be airlifted or shipped via a circuitous route from Mumbai to the Iranian ports of Chabahar and Bandar Abbas and onwards by road to Afghanistan.
Sehgal said construction material for the Delaram-Zaranj road too was transported via the Iranian ports. Observers are, however, hopeful that with the construction of the new road, these travails may soon be history. India has provided $80 million for the construction of the road from its assistance of $550 million for Afghanistan's reconstruction.
Iran too has constructed a vital bridge on a river marking the frontier between itself and Afghanistan, and is busy upgrading the road from Zaranj to Chabahar. Chabahar port is slated to be a key destination in the region, especially for the Gulf states, kick-starting trade in Afghanistan as well.
The Delaram-Zaranj road forms part of Afghanistan's new thrust on upgrading its road network, beginning with the primary "Garland Highway" connecting Kabul to Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan from two sides - via the Salang Tunnel through the Hindukush mountains and the other via Kandahar and Herat.
During Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Kabul in August, President Hamid Karzai had expressed his desire to make Afghanistan a land bridge between Central Asia, South Asia and West Asia. This road may be the first step towards achieving that ambition.
Pakistan to counter Indian influence in Afghanistan
Indo-Asian News Service Islamabad, October 3, 2005|13:00 IST
Pakistan will launch healthcare, education and communication projects worth Rs.4 billion ($67 million) in Afghanistan to aid that country's reconstruction and to counter what it perceives as India's growing influence there, reports Online news agency.
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Akram Sheikh has said "some negative forces" were out to create misperceptions between Pakistan and Afghanistan and the private sector was being encouraged to invest in Afghanistan to stem growing Indian interests in that nation.
Three projects have been framed for healthcare, including construction of the Jinnah hospital for Rs.1.2 billion, a kidney centre in Jalalabad for Rs.420 million and Sir Syed hospital in Logar province.
In education, a postgraduate science faculty block will be built at Nangarhar University.
In communications, the Torkham-Jalalabad highway is the largest infrastructure project undertaken. Over Rs.2 billion is being spent on this 76-km highway.
A 3.5-km road is also being constructed in Jalalabad. Both highways will be completed in the first quarter of 2006.
A Rs.120-million project is being implemented to impart training to police and 91 Afghan police officers have completed their training under it.
Besides, 100 buses, 50,000 food packets and 9,600 tents have been gifted to Afghanistan. Childcare and maternity units as well as mobile dispensaries are being provided to meet Kabul's needs.
Soviet factor in today's Afghanistan
09:55 | 03/ 10/ 2005
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Pyotr Goncharov.) While visiting Afghanistan the question one is apt to ask oneself is: will the United States be able to stabilize the situation in the country and carry through democratic reforms?
In Kabul today this is one of the hottest topics. People in the political and military establishment, among local intellectuals and, of course, in the streets draw parallels between the Soviet and the American presence in Afghanistan.
Many believe the U.S. pursues both its military campaign and its policy in general more ingeniously than Russia. On the other hand, everyone is convinced the U.S. builds its policy in Afghanistan with an eye to the Soviet experience.
The reforms the U.S. and the West are pushing through in Afghanistan differ little from the ones the Soviets promoted. These are equal rights and education for men and women, democratic elections, and much more. Only reforms were once enforced under the red flag, and now under more than twenty flags. There is a difference - twenty nations cannot be suspected of occupation, as the U.S.S.R. once was.
Bitterly opposing the Soviet military presence in Afghanistan, the U.S. and the West contributed heavily to an Islamic jihad (holy war) against the shuravi. Now Russia, as a successor to the Soviet Union, is a member of the same anti-terrorist coalition with the U.S. and the West.
Lastly, the U.S.S.R. created all the pre-requisites for reforms. With help from the Soviets, Afghan society, for the first time, established and is cultivating technocrats most pro-active at present. Tens of thousands of Afghans have received education in Soviet colleges and universities and currently form the backbone of Afghanistan's intellectual elite. Nearly all ministerial deputies have a Soviet background and as before prefer Russian to all other foreign languages. These technocrats and the pro-Soviet intellectuals around them are at present the main U.S. and Western allies in conducting democratic reforms in Afghanistan.
Understandably, the success of reforms depends ultimately on whether the remaining and greater section of society accepts them. Afghans have a saying describing such a situation - "water under the straw." They resort to it when they want to point to complex and externally imperceptible processes. This saying fits the present situation in Afghanistan to a tee. The "straw" appears to conceal traditional Afghan problems - society's readiness to support reforms, the likelihood of radical Islamists making serious concessions to reformers, and, lastly, relations between north and south, Pashtuns and non-Pashtuns. Combined, these problems once scuppered Moscow's reforming efforts there.
The present situation in Afghanistan is far from stable and lasting. The main opponents of reforms - the Taliban, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Al-Qaeda militants - are rearing their heads in the traditionally restive territories of Kandahar, Paktia, Zabol and Helmand.
The "Islamic factor" siding with the state has a special role to play. It is made up of field commanders, or yesterday's Mujahideen trained by the U.S. and the West to fight the U.S.S.R. in Afghanistan and now a bad headache for them, too. They are the "fifth column" able to support or, rather, undermine any democratic reforms. They are also a force claiming the largest number of seats in the new parliament (the vote counting will be completed by the end of October). American politicians and experts are sure the most influential authority for headstrong field commanders is still Russia.
To sum up, even here the Soviet Afghan experience is relevant, and there is probably nothing paradoxical about it.
Four districts set up committee to promote reconciliation
GHAZNI CITY, October 3 (Pajhwok Afghan News): A joint-committee of four districts of southern Ghazni and southeastern Paktika provinces has been formed to look into their security measures and take up issue of national reconciliation campaign with Taliban fighters.
The committee comprising elders and religious scholars from four districts of the provinces. About 100 leaders from Ghero, Andar districts of Ghazni and Khair Kot and Katwaz of Paktika were present during the formation of this new body.
The newly-composed body is aimed to persuade Taliban commanders for joining hands with the Afghan government. It will also co-operate with national forces to ensure pool-proof security in the region.
Haji Abdul Rahim, an elder, told Pajhwok Afghan News on Monday the war era had ceased and now developing brotherly ties with each other was need of the hour.
He said, "We will increase number of such committees to help government in its national reconciliation campaign." Maulvi Abdul Raziq, a religious scholar, said fight could never resolve tension and urged militants to avoid further killing of officials. "Rulers and Taliban are both Afghans and all killings take place on foreign directives", he pointed.
Colonel Gul Khan, an elder of Khair Kot district of Paktika, who is now in the run for Wolesi Jirga, said he considered law and order situation supreme but some unpatriotic people disrupt peace by carrying out terrorist acts.
Italian-led PRT to set up 17 schools in Herat
HERAT CITY, October 3 (Pajhwok Afghan News): An Italian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) will construct a high school at the cost of 200,000 dollars in this capital city of the western Herat province.
While laying the foundation stone of the school in the Nazargah area, PRT officials said on Monday the construction would be completed in three months. The school will have a capacity for 1,300 students including boys and girls.
Provincial education department's deputy director Aziza Safi told Pajhwok Afghan News the school would be named as Nazargah. With 16 classrooms, it will be built over an area of 1,500 square meters.
The PRT plans to establish 10 middle and seven high schools in different districts of Herat over the next three months, she said, adding budgeting for each of the schools would be done soon.
Sohaila Rahmati, a 10th class student, said: "I am very happy that a new school is going to be built for us; the building of the existing one is very old."
According to education director Mohammad Din Fahim, Herat is Afghanistan's most developed province, where more than 480 thousand students were enrolled in different schools. A big number of students, however, were still sitting in tented classrooms, he concluded.
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