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April 9, 2008 

Afghanistan's presidential poll set for late 2009
By Sayed Salahuddin Wed Apr 9, 5:06 AM ET
KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan plans presidential elections in late 2009 and parliamentary polls around the middle of the following year, the country's election body said on Wednesday.

Afghanistan to hold separate presidential, parliamentary elections
By Rahim Faiez The Associated Press April 9, 2008
KABUL - Afghanistan's election commission says separate presidential and parliamentary elections will be held in the next two years despite the high costs of such ballots.

US president gets an earful from Afghan governors
April 9, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Eight Afghan governors met with US President George W. Bush to tell him a few unpleasant truths about the plight of their country as coalition forces fight terrorists and the Taliban.

Taliban attack kills 18 in Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan, April 9 (UPI) -- Taliban militants in Afghanistan reportedly killed at least 18 guards protecting a road construction crew in an ambush near the border with Pakistan.

Taliban focuses gun on construction firms as spring heralds in Afghanistan
Xinhua / April 9, 2008
Taliban militants fighting Afghan and international troops based in Afghanistan in series of violence since the onset of spring in the war-torn country targeted a construction firm Tuesday killing 17 employees, officials said.

Eight dead in fresh Afghan unrest: officials
April 9, 2008
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AFP) - A policeman and seven Taliban rebels were killed in fighting in southern Afghanistan, including a foreign airstrike that also wounded three civilians, officials said Wednesday.

Afghan U.N. envoy urges sense of urgency on help
By Robert Birsel / April 9, 2008
KABUL (Reuters) - The new U.N. envoy to Afghanistan said on Wednesday he wants to inject a sense of urgency in efforts to coordinate help for the country.

It's Payback Time
Times of India, India Haroun Mir 9 Apr 2008
In 1994 when Pakistani officials decided to create a dreadful monster called the Taliban, they didn't bother to estimate its impact on their own society.

India, Afghanistan discuss defence cooperation
New Delhi, Apr 9, IRNA
Visiting Afghan Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak Tuesday called on Indian Defence Minister Shri A K Antony in New Delhi.

Taliban focuses gun on construction firms as spring heralds in Afghanistan
People's Daily Online, China April 09, 2008
Taliban militants fighting Afghan and international troops based in Afghanistan in series of violence since the onset of spring in the war-torn country targeted a construction firm Tuesday killing 17 employees, officials said.

Help That Afghans Need Now
The Washington Post - Opinion Wednesday, April 9, 2008
The April 6 editorial "NATO's Fudges" correctly cautioned that while more troops from NATO are welcome in Afghanistan, our security challenges are simply too large to be effectively remedied by an additional battalion or two.

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Afghanistan's presidential poll set for late 2009
By Sayed Salahuddin Wed Apr 9, 5:06 AM ET
KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan plans presidential elections in late 2009 and parliamentary polls around the middle of the following year, the country's election body said on Wednesday.

The election commission, the U.N. and President Hamid Karzai had proposed holding the polls simultaneously to reduce the cost and due to the prevailing security situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have made a comeback since 2006.

However, Zekria Barakzai, spokesman for the commission, said due to political disagreement among the parties and politicians in parliament, it was decided to hold separate elections.

"Unfortunately, we couldn't find a political consensus on that issue. That is why it was decided that we will have two rounds of elections," Barakzai told a news conference.

"It will be 2009 fall for presidential elections and for provincial councils ... and in the summer 2010 it will be for the lower house of the parliament ... and district council elections," he said.

The 2009 election will be the second direct vote for the presidency in Afghanistan's history. The first was in 2004 when Karzai, picked after the Taliban's fall to lead the country in 2001, won a five-year term.

Foreign donors spent more than $359 million for the first round of presidential and the parliamentary polls in 2005.

Barakzai said donors will contribute funds for the next elections too, but he did not know how much and had no estimate for the total cost either.

The 50 year-old Karzai, whose government relies on Western funds and troops, indicated at the weekend he would run again.

Many Afghans criticize Karzai for rising insecurity and failure to end corruption and the war against the Taliban.

Many also complain that living conditions have not improved for years and the illegal opium trade has boomed.

Despite pressure from some of his Western backers to improve governance, analysts say Karzai still retains the backing of his main ally, the United States.

Karzai won fresh promises of long-term support from NATO at an alliance summit in Bucharest last week. NATO has a 47,000-strong force in Afghanistan battling a Taliban insurgency that has intensified over the past two years.

Karzai also faces pressure from conservatives to stem a wave of unprecedented freedom since the fall of the hardline Taliban.

Many of his rivals sitting in the parliament are factional leaders and members, accused of human rights abuses, who helped U.S.-led forces overthrow the Taliban.
(Editing by Jerry Norton)
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Afghanistan to hold separate presidential, parliamentary elections
By Rahim Faiez The Associated Press April 9, 2008
KABUL - Afghanistan's election commission says separate presidential and parliamentary elections will be held in the next two years despite the high costs of such ballots.

The Independent Election Commission originally recommended the elections be combined to save money.

But commission head Azizullah Ludin says President Hamid Karzai, Supreme Court members and members of parliament have decided to hold separate elections in 2009 and 2010 as scheduled,

The presidential election in 2004 and parliamentary polls in 2005 together cost some $360 million. Much of that money was provided by international donors.

Ludin said it is not yet clear where Afghanistan will get the money to hold a presidential election in 2009 and parliamentary balloting in 2010. He said Afghanistan still owes some $18 million from the last round of elections.

"How much the election itself will cost, we don't know, and we don't know who will give the money," he said. "Now we know that we have two elections. Now we're going to start our work."

Cost overruns in the last elections were high, he said. The country printed 40 million ballots even though only 11 million people registered.

Afghan officials had been debating a proposal for Karzai to extend his term by six months and parliament to cut theirs by six months, so that one election could be held in the middle.

But Afghan officials decided that would be unconstitutional. Plus, members of parliament didn't want to cut their terms short, observers said.

The date for the 2009 presidential election has not yet been set. Ludin said it would be held in the middle of the year because fall and winter snows would prevent some areas from voting.
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US president gets an earful from Afghan governors
April 9, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Eight Afghan governors met with US President George W. Bush to tell him a few unpleasant truths about the plight of their country as coalition forces fight terrorists and the Taliban.

While grateful for the overthrow of the Taliban regime and the changes taking place since 2001, the governors complained about the slow pace of progress and how it was serving militants' interests, and about the "excesses" of coalition forces.

The eight visitors poured out their feelings in a very civil, one-hour dialogue with Bush, who is a former governor of Texas, and before a group of reporters, including AFP, at the White House Tuesday.

Asadullah Hamdam, Governor of Oruzgan province, was first to raise the thorny issue of indiscriminate arrests by coalition troops.

Bush, attempting to soften the moment by appealing to their shared experience as governors, told the group that he understood.

"They come and complain to you," he said, remembering his years as Texas governor (1995-2000).

But seeing his Afghan guests' serious demeanor, Bush added haltingly: "When somebody gets arrested that shouldn't have been arrested you file a complaint obviously ..."

"First, we don't even know who is arrested," answered Asadullah Hamdan in his native language.

"If I just may," Khost Governor Arsala Jamal politely cut in. "I think the issue is greater than that: we have 640 detainees in Bagram and like the governor said, all the governors are facing this problem."

"Special operations is the biggest, biggest challenge and (it has a) negative impact on the people's mind in regard to coalition forces. There is no single bigger issue than that," Jamal added.

The governor complained about the restricted access Afghans had to Afghanistan's Bagram prison, where hundreds of suspected terrorists are held by US forces under controversial conditions.

Jamal told Bush about the nightmare people arrested without charge face, and became downcast when Bush apparently failed to understand his suggestion that some operations were best carried out by Afghan rather than coalition forces.

"I got you," Bush repeated several times.

The danger of alienation between US and NATO troops and the local population is another unsettling aspect of the Afghan conflict, as the struggle against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda continues unabated six years after coalition forces first landed.

The bombings that kill dozens of civilians at a time also take a heavy toll among coalition troops.

With less than 10 months before he leaves the White House, Bush is striving for a successful mission in Afghanistan, lest a failure reflect poorly on his legacy.

With the presidential campaign in full swing, Bush is accused by Democratic contenders Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama of ignoring Afghanistan for the sake of another highly controversial struggle, the "war on terror" in Iraq.

Bush last week returned from a North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Bucharest with a promise from US allies that they will boost their troop contingents in Afghanistan.

But the US president also stressed the need for economic and political progress in the country.

And so, Bush eagerly questioned his eight guests on how the police force in Afghanistan was doing and on the results of the mixed, civilian-military Provincial Reconstruction Teams he holds so dear and which the governors praised for rebuilding their nation.

The governors also talked at length about the reigning insecurity and unemployment in their country, and the problems neighboring Pakistan poses.

"It's hard work in Afghanistan, but I told these leaders that I think it's necessary work," Bush told reporters before escorting his guests to the Oval Office for a head-of-state reception.
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Taliban attack kills 18 in Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan, April 9 (UPI) -- Taliban militants in Afghanistan reportedly killed at least 18 guards protecting a road construction crew in an ambush near the border with Pakistan.

The insurgents attacked the group in Zabul province, The New York Times reported, quoting Afghan officials. Another seven guards were injured in the Tuesday attack, one of the worst in recent months, the report said.

The workers were ambushed as they were surveying a new road leading to the hilly regions used as a haven by the insurgents from Pakistan.

The Times report said the crew and their guards were moving in a convoy through a valley when the militants opened fire on them.

Muhammad Younus, project manager for the Fazlullah Construction Engineering Co., said none of the construction crew was hurt because of the protection provided by the guards, who fought the militants until a unit of the Afghan Army arrived.

Deputy Gov. Gulab Shah Ali Kheil said the army unit killed and wounded several of the militants in the ensuing battle.

There is growing concern there may be more such attacks with the start of the warmer weather, the report said.
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Taliban focuses gun on construction firms as spring heralds in Afghanistan
Xinhua / April 9, 2008
Taliban militants fighting Afghan and international troops based in Afghanistan in series of violence since the onset of spring in the war-torn country targeted a construction firm Tuesday killing 17 employees, officials said.

The bloody incident took place in the restive Zabul province in southeastern Afghanistan when the insurgents ambushed the workers in Shinkay district leaving 17 dead on the spot and wounding 16 others.

"It occurred at around 8 a.m. (GMT0330) as a group of Taliban militants ambushed the workers leaving 17 workers dead and 16 others injured in the Shinkay district," Interior ministry spokesman Zamarai Bashari told Xinhua.

All the victims, he added, were local Afghans.

In retaliation, Afghan police and the U.S.-led Coalition forcescame to the spot and engaged with the militants, killing seven insurgents and injuring 12 others, Bashari said.

Meanwhile, Qari Yusuf Ahmadi, the purported Taliban spokesman took responsibility for the attack saying the outfit ambushed the security guards of a foreign road construction company killing 25 guards and damaging eight vehicles.

Tuesday's gruesome incident followed by military operations in the eastern Nuristan province late weekend during which, according to Afghan and NATO sources, dozens of insurgents had been killed while only an Afghan soldier lost his life and eight others sustained injuries.

Conflicts and Taliban-related violence have left more than 350 people dead mostly civilians so far this year in war-torn Afghanistan.

Taliban key military leader Mullah Brother in an audio cassette released to media outlets from undisclosed locations recently vowed to launch their so-called spring offensive dubbed "Abrat" or lesson against Afghan, NATO and the U.S.-led Coalition forces when the weather gets warm.

However, observers are of the view that the so-called spring offensive mostly be in the shape of suicide attack and roadside bombings to destabilize security in the country.
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Eight dead in fresh Afghan unrest: officials
April 9, 2008
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AFP) - A policeman and seven Taliban rebels were killed in fighting in southern Afghanistan, including a foreign airstrike that also wounded three civilians, officials said Wednesday.

International forces' warplanes dropped bombs on a group of Taliban militants travelling by motorcycle overnight, killing three insurgents, said deputy governor of Zabul province, Gulab Shah Alikhail.

A civilian woman and two children from a nomadic tribe who had pitched their tents nearby were injured in the strike, Alikhail told AFP.

NATO-led forces fighting a Taliban-led insurgency here said they were not immediately aware of the bombing, while officials from the separate US-led coalition were unavailable for comment.

Hours earlier, an Afghan policeman and four Taliban militants died in a gunbattle after rebels attacked a patrol in the troubled neighbouring province of Helmand, a police commander said.

The hour-long fight erupted late Tuesday, provincial police commander Mohammad Hussein Andiwal told AFP.

"Four Taliban and a police officer were killed after fighting broke out following the Taliban attack on our patrol" in Marja district, Andiwal said, adding that two policemen were wounded.

The latest incidents brought the death toll from violence on Tuesday to more than 40 people, including 17 civilian construction workers and a NATO-led soldier, making it one of Afghanistan's deadliest days in months.

The Taliban were ousted from power in late 2001 in a US-led invasion and are waging an insurgency that has increased since early 2007. Most of the attacks are focused on southern and eastern Afghanistan.

Helmand is also the heart of the country's illicit opium industry. Afghanistan produces about 90 percent of the world's opium, which is used to manufacture heroin.

More than 8,000 people -- mostly Taliban-led rebels -- were killed in violence across Afghanistan in 2007, according to a United Nations report. About 1,500 of the dead were civilians.
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Afghan U.N. envoy urges sense of urgency on help
By Robert Birsel / April 9, 2008
KABUL (Reuters) - The new U.N. envoy to Afghanistan said on Wednesday he wants to inject a sense of urgency in efforts to coordinate help for the country.

Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide arrived in Afghanistan last month aiming to improve coordination of international civilian and military activities and cooperation with the Afghan government.

"What I want to do is to create a new sense of momentum and a new sense of urgency," Eide told his first news conference in Kabul since taking the post.

More than seven years after U.S.-led troops ousted the Taliban for refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden, a Taliban insurgency in the south and east shows no sign of fading despite the presence of a 47,000-strong NATO-led force.

The United States has a separate force of about 14,000 in Afghanistan.

Enduring hardship and widespread corruption faced by many Afghans has fueled some resentment of both the government and its foreign backers.

Eide said international efforts to help Afghanistan were too fragmented.

"We have to get away from the situation where an Afghan government administration, which is still in need of capacity-building, is faced with a too-fragmented international community," he said.

"That simply is not going to work."

The U.N. Security Council voted last month to extend for another year the mandate for the U.N. mission in Afghanistan and called for what U.N. officials described as a "sharpened" role for Eide.

Afghanistan won fresh promises of long-term support and some extra troops from NATO at an alliance summit last week.

POLITICAL SOLUTION
Eide called for a re-think on the coordination of efforts to help a country devastated by decades of conflict.

"We will only do it by asking ourselves, each and every one of us, what can we do differently from what we've done in the past," he said. "I expect openness by my interlocutors in providing answers."

On the question of military-civilian coordination, Eide said the military had to accommodate political and humanitarian efforts.

Governments and agencies had to look at how aid was spent and improve their response to humanitarian crises, he said. Tackling corruption and developing a civil service were among main issues for the government.

The Taliban insurgency has hobbled reconstruction efforts in much of the south and east and scared off all but the bravest foreign investors.

The failure to end the fighting has led to calls from some Afghans for talks with the militants.

Kai said the question of talks was up to the government but in the end, a political solution was essential.

"Progress and solutions to the problem of Afghanistan cannot and will not rest with military forces," he said.

Eide, a former U.N. envoy in the Balkans, is known as an effective diplomat with experience in nation-building and dealing with NATO.

He was chosen for the post after Afghan President Hamid Karzai vetoed British politician Paddy Ashdown's appointment following media speculation about the extent of his powers and possible influence over the government.

Eide declined to comment on the controversy over Ashdown.
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It's Payback Time
Times of India, India Haroun Mir 9 Apr 2008
In 1994 when Pakistani officials decided to create a dreadful monster called the Taliban, they didn't bother to estimate its impact on their own society.

In fact, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence's (ISI) militaristic policies, which consisted of bleeding the Indian army in Kashmir and turning Afghanistan into their virtual fifth province, have blinded them to the consequences.

Their ill-conceived strategy has failed once again. Consequently, the Indian military has emerged stronger from the long conflict in Kashmir and the coalition forces have assisted Afghans to liberate Kabul from the grasp of the Taliban.

Eventually, Pakistan has become the biggest loser because the same radical movements, which its military leaders have created, threaten its very existence.

In the spring of 1992, the communist regime fell and Ahmad Shah Massoud's forces entered Kabul. Pakistani officials instructed their trusted man and surrogate Gulbudin Hekmatyar (leader of Hezb-e-Islami), who had just been appointed the prime minister of the newly established coalition government in Kabul, to burn down the city.

From 1992 to 1994, the Afghan capital became a living hell. Despite intensive efforts, Hekmatyar's forces were stuck in the southern and eastern parts of Kabul and were unable to make significant progress. Pakistani authorities decided to shift their support from Hekmatyar to a then-unknown radical movement the Taliban.

Along with the ISI the late Benazir Bhutto and Nasrullah Babar then respectively the prime minister and interior minister of Pakistan are also to blame because the movement was created under their direct watch.

Few politicians in Pakistan and in the rest of the world ever questioned Pakistan's dangerous policy of purposely nurturing a radical Islamist group.

In September 1995, Colonel Imam (a senior ISI official), with impunity and consent of western officials who had an interest in the Turkmen pipeline project, personally led Taliban forces to capture Herat, which is the largest city in western Afghanistan.

In 1996 when Bin Laden's airplane landed in the Afghan city of Jalalabad, no alarm went off in the capitals of the West.

When the Taliban were beating women, destroying schools, and holding public executions, Pakistani officials were trying to convince the rest of the world by saying that Afghanistan was a backward, fragmented, and ethnically divided country which needed an iron hand to stabilise it.

Today, the same ills that destroyed Afghanistan plague Pakistan. Pakistani society today has become fundamentally divided. The home to Pakistan's intellectuals and moderate middle class is Punjab and Sindh, while radicalism, terrorism and poverty thrive in the Pashtun heartland and in Baluchistan province.

Up to the present moment, Pakistan's military authorities have favoured radical Islamist groups at the expense of moderate and democratic movements.

For example, President Musharraf didn't hesitate to jail lawyers who protested in favour of rule of law and democracy but appeased murderous radical Islamists and Taliban leaders under the phony Pashtun code of conduct enforced in the tribal area.

Until now, Pakistani authorities have been able to avoid a full confrontation with local Taliban groups for fear of alienating Pashtuns who constitute over 15 per cent of Pakistan's popu-lation, but are intentionally over-represented up to 25 per cent in Pakistan's army.

Despite continuous pressure from the US, Pakistan's military authorities have resisted bringing their Punjabi elite units to the tribal battlegrounds against the Pashtun radical movements.

Instead, they heavily relied on militia forces from the tribal zone to secure the area. Pakistani leaders rigorously want to avoid a rift and direct confrontation between Punjabis and Pashtuns.

Indeed, there is a real risk that the "war on terror" in Pakistan might transform into a full war for autonomy or independence of Pashtun tribes from Islamabad.

Pakistani authorities have broken the status quo in the tribal zone by promoting radical Islam and extremist religious leaders at the expense of traditional tribal leaders and institutions.

Pakistan's policy in the tribal zone has been a continuation of former British colonial policy, which consisted of keeping Pashtun tribes economically dependent, politically fragmented, and intellectually backward.

The government in Islamabad has continued to subsidise them and bribe their leaders, instead of creating a sustained economy and providing modern education.

The ageing Al-Qaida leaders and Afghan veterans of the Soviet war are ceding leadership to much younger and emerging local Taliban leaders.

Baitullah Mehsud is the best example of the new leaders, who want to set the agenda rather than follow anyone's orders.

Despite the efforts of ISI and Pakistani religious leaders to force him to fight against "infidel troops" in Afghanistan, Mehsud persisted with his goal to take the battle to Islamabad instead of Kabul.

Many fellow Afghans praise him for taking on Pakistani forces. Indeed, Pakistani authorities created Taliban to protect their interests in Afghanistan and in Kashmir, but are now faced with uncalculated consequences, which seriously threaten Pakistan's own existence.

The newly elected civilian leaders will have a hard time setting right the mistakes committed by the military over more than three decades.

(The writer served as a special assistant to late Ahmad Shah Massoud, Afghanistan's former defence minister.)   
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India, Afghanistan discuss defence cooperation
New Delhi, Apr 9, IRNA
Visiting Afghan Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak Tuesday called on Indian Defence Minister Shri A K Antony in New Delhi.

The two leaders discussed matters of mutual interest and defence cooperation. Earlier, on his arrival at Defence headquarters in New Delhi the Afghan Minister was given an inter-services Guard of Honour.

The visiting dignitary has come to India at the invitation of Indian Defence Minister. He is accompanied by his spouse and a 7-member delegation. He will also be visiting defence establishments at Bangalore and Srinagar.

In an effort to strengthen defence ties with New Delhi, Afghanistan said it is considering sending its armed forces officers for specialised training in Indian counter insurgency warfare institutions.

During the 45-minute long meeting with his Indian counterpart, A K Antony Abdul Rahim Wardak said his country would seek New Delhi's help in operationalising some Soviet era helicopter gunships and medium helicopters to provide logistical support to its armed forces.

While Defence Minister A K Antony ruled out any military involvement in the war-torn country, he assured his Afghan counterpart Abdul Rahim Wardak (who is on a historic visit) that India would remain 'actively engaged' in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the nation.

Wardak, heading a seven member high-level Afghan delegation, also met Chief of Indian Air Force Air Chief Marshal Fali H Major.

In a first ever visit to India by an Afghan Defence Minister in almost two decades, Wardak, instead of any military hardware, sought India's help in revitalising the choppers for use by the Afghan forces and some medical equipment for them.
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Taliban focuses gun on construction firms as spring heralds in Afghanistan
People's Daily Online, China April 09, 2008
Taliban militants fighting Afghan and international troops based in Afghanistan in series of violence since the onset of spring in the war-torn country targeted a construction firm Tuesday killing 17 employees, officials said.

The bloody incident took place in the restive Zabul province in southeastern Afghanistan when the insurgents ambushed the workers in Shinkay district leaving 17 dead on the spot and wounding 16 others.
"It occurred at around 8 a.m. (GMT0330) as a group of Taliban militants ambushed the workers leaving 17 workers dead and 16 others injured in the Shinkay district," Interior ministry spokesman Zamarai Bashari told Xinhua.

All the victims, he added, were local Afghans.

In retaliation, Afghan police and the U.S.-led Coalition forcescame to the spot and engaged with the militants, killing seven insurgents and injuring 12 others, Bashari said.

Meanwhile, Qari Yusuf Ahmadi, the purported Taliban spokesman took responsibility for the attack saying the outfit ambushed the security guards of a foreign road construction company killing 25 guards and damaging eight vehicles.

Tuesday's gruesome incident followed by military operations in the eastern Nuristan province late weekend during which, according to Afghan and NATO sources, dozens of insurgents had been killed while only an Afghan soldier lost his life and eight others sustained injuries.

Conflicts and Taliban-related violence have left more than 350 people dead mostly civilians so far this year in war-torn Afghanistan.

Taliban key military leader Mullah Brother in an audio cassette released to media outlets from undisclosed locations recently vowed to launch their so-called spring offensive dubbed "Abrat" or lesson against Afghan, NATO and the U.S.-led Coalition forces when the weather gets warm.

However, observers are of the view that the so-called spring offensive mostly be in the shape of suicide attack and roadside bombings to destabilize security in the country.
Source:Xinhua
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Help That Afghans Need Now
The Washington Post - Opinion Wednesday, April 9, 2008
The April 6 editorial "NATO's Fudges" correctly cautioned that while more troops from NATO are welcome in Afghanistan, our security challenges are simply too large to be effectively remedied by an additional battalion or two.

The Taliban's cross-border terrorism is approaching a tipping point. Afghanistan needs just about two additional brigades (7,500 troops) to boost efforts to defeat the Taliban and turn back its planned spring offensive in Afghanistan.

Ultimately, the key to defeating the Taliban will rest in reforming, equipping, paying and sustaining the Afghan national security forces. To hasten the process, NATO allies must firmly recommit to providing the required military and police trainers to help Afghanistan reach its goal of 80,000 soldiers for the Afghan National Army (ANA) and 82,000 police officers for the Afghan National Police by the end of 2009. Specifically, Afghanistan needs more than 70 operational mentoring and liaison teams -- each comprising 16 to 20 men -- to train ANA units.

We also need 2,300 police trainers to implement the district police development program currently underway. Without immediate action on the part of NATO allies to meet these basic needs, Afghanistan's democratic achievements of the past six years could be endangered.
M. ASHRAF HAIDARI
Political Counselor
Embassy of Afghanistan
Washington
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