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August 7, 2008 

Hundreds of French troops deploy to Afghanistan
Thu Aug 7, 1:18 AM ET
KABUL, Afghanistan - NATO says that hundreds of French troops have been deployed to train and mentor Afghan security forces in southern Afghanistan.

Severe drought prompts flash floods
KABUL, 7 August 2008 (IRIN) - The Afghanistan National Disasters Management Authority (ANDMA) has said severe drought has led to the hardening of the land in the worst-affected provinces

Seven police, three dozen Taliban killed in Afghanistan
Thu Aug 7, 11:58 AM ET
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AFP) - The Afghan government said Thursday that seven policemen were killed when militants stormed their post in the troubled south, while nearly three dozen militants died in various clashes.

Kidnapped German-Afghan freed in Kabul: intelligence
Thu Aug 7, 3:50 AM ET
KABUL (AFP) - A German-Afghan businessman kidnapped nearly two weeks ago in Kabul was freed early Thursday from captors who had been demanding ransom, Afghanistan's intelligence agency said.

North Afghan police crack down on child sex abuse
Thu Aug 7, 10:19 AM ET
KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan police have begun a crackdown on child sex abuse in the north of the country after several offenders were arrested recently, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday.

7yo girl allegedly married off, Afghan cleric arrested
Australian Broadcasting Corporation - Aug 07 6:27 AM
Afghan police have detained an Islamic cleric for allegedly presiding over the marriage of a seven-year-old girl to a teenage boy in a remote northern town, police have said.

India rules out sending troops to Afghanistan
New Delhi, Aug 7, IRNA
India has reaffirmed it would not send troops to Afghanistan for the operations being conducted in the war- ravaged country by the US-led coalition forces as the UN had not mandated this action.

Canada moves to solve Afghan helicopter shortage
Thu Aug 7, 1:14 PM ET
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will overcome a critical shortage of military transport helicopters in Afghanistan by buying six used machines from the United States as well as leasing six Russian-made aircraft

Colombia studies NATO cooperation in Afghanistan
07 Aug 2008 17:10:20 GMT
BOGOTA, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Colombia, a key Washington ally in Latin America, is studying whether to send troops to Afghanistan to lend support to the U.S.-led campaign against the Taliban insurgency, the government said.

Pakistan must rein in "out of control" elements, says Afghan minister
The News International (Pakistan) Thursday, August 07, 2008
KABUL: Afghanistan is keen to work with Pakistan to fight Islamic extremism, but Islamabad must rein in elements in the government that are "out of control," the Afghan foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Opinion: Germany Should Talk Openly About Afghanistan Mission
Deutsche Welle
DW's Nina Werkhaeuser says Germany needs to do a better job explaining to its citizens that the mission in Afghanistan is going to get worse before it gets better.

Officials: 25 militants, 2 troops dead in Pakistan
By HABIBULLAH KHAN, Associated Press Writer Thu Aug 7, 2:30 AM ET
KHAR, Pakistan - An attack on a Pakistani military checkpost by some 200 pro-Taliban militants triggered intense fighting that killed 25 insurgents and two paramilitary soldiers near the Afghan border, security officials said Thursday.

Pakistan's Musharraf faces impeachment
By MUNIR AHMAD Associated Press August 7, 2008
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan's ruling coalition announced plans Thursday to seek the impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf, alleging the U.S.-backed former general had "eroded the trust of the nation" during his eight years in power.

Is the Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Becoming a Free-Fire Zone?
Richard Weitz | Bio | 07 Aug 2008 World Politics Review Exclusive
In recent months, Pakistan's new leaders have been insisting that U.S. forces were not conducting covert operations against al-Qaeda and Taliban militants inside Pakistan and that their government would never allow

Archeologists find vast ancient city in Afghanistan
MATTHEW PENNINGTON THE ASSOCIATED PRESS August 7, 2008
Centuries-old shards of pottery mingle with spent ammunition rounds on a wind-swept mountainside in northern Afghanistan where French archeologists believe they have found a vast ancient city.

Olympics: Afghanistan pins its medal hopes on Taekwondo
KABUL, Aug 7, 2008 (AFP) - On the fourth floor of a Kabul building still under construction, amid the roar of a power generator punctuated by cries and punches, the world taekwondo vice champion says

Afghan black belt eyes Olympic medal
By Alastair Leithead BBC News, Kabul Wednesday, 6 August 2008
A strange cacophony of muffled thumps and high-pitched screams drifts down the dark, newly-concreted stairs as you climb up through a building site to the almost-finished taekwondo gym on the edge of the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Afghan football is back on its feet
Thu, Aug 7 04:50 PM
Hyderabad, Aug 7 (IANS) Smiles on the faces of Afghan footballers say it all, that the dark, grisly days of the Taliban rule are mercifully behind them. Life for them is now beautiful and meaningful.

Executions Display Taliban's Rising Power
Insurgent Group Demonstrates Control Over Areas Of Afghanistan
CBS.com - US - War on terror Aug. 6, 2008
KABUL, Afghanistan-(AP) As the two women hunkered down in the dark, enveloped in blue burqas, they thought the gun-toting Taliban might free them despite accusations they had run a prostitution ring for a U.S. base.

Three Afghan nationals detained in Kerala
Thu, Aug 7 05:05 PM
Kollam (Kerala), Aug 7 (IANS) Three Afghan nationals were detained at the Kundara police station, near here Thursday.

'Dried fruits will soon be shipped to the West'
Written by www.quqnoos.com Thursday, 07 August 2008
Workshop to teach traders how to meet international standards
(PAN) Dried fruits packaged in Afghanistan’s northern provinces will soon be shipped to Europe and America for the first time, officials say.

Road opens Afghan market to Indian goods
www.quqnoos.com
Written by Editor Wednesday, 06 August 2008
Completion of road allows Afghans to bypass Pakistani trade monopoly
INDIA has finally completed a section of road that will open up Afghanistan to Indian trade, allowing Afghans to wean themselves off their forced dependence on Pakistani goods and routes.

'Wife stabs sister eight times for sleeping with husband'
Written by www.quqnoos.com Thursday, 07 August 2008
Police arrest women for murdering teenage sister with a knife
(PAN) Police have arrested a woman for stabbing her 17-year-old sister to death after the teenager allegedly slept with her husband

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Hundreds of French troops deploy to Afghanistan
Thu Aug 7, 1:18 AM ET
KABUL, Afghanistan - NATO says that hundreds of French troops have been deployed to train and mentor Afghan security forces in southern Afghanistan.

NATO says the troops traveled in 94 vehicles from Kandahar to Uruzgan province on Wednesday.

It says the deployment was one of the largest ground military convoys in southern Afghanistan in years.

The unit will provide training and support to Afghan army infantry battalions. NATO did not provide the exact number of troops deployed.

Taliban fighters have frequently clashed with foreign and Afghan troops in Uruzgan.

NATO commanders and leaders have repeatedly requested more trainers for the fledgling Afghan National Army and police, which are the centerpiece of their counterinsurgency strategy.

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Severe drought prompts flash floods
KABUL, 7 August 2008 (IRIN) - The Afghanistan National Disasters Management Authority (ANDMA) has said severe drought has led to the hardening of the land in the worst-affected provinces, thus increasing the chances of rain – even light rain - turning into flash floods.

"Drought has dried bushes and plants which naturally resist the flow of water to some extent. It has also hardened the land and made it less absorbent," Abdul Matin Edrak, the director of ANDMA, told IRIN in Kabul on 6 August.

The warning comes as light summer rain has reportedly caused flash floods in several drought-stricken parts of the country, adversely affecting people and their livelihoods.

"Even when there is light rain, it fast turns into instant flooding because of several factors resulting from drought," Edrak said.

According to ANDMA reports, at least five people and hundreds of livestock have perished in flash floods in Ghazni, Logar, Wardak, Kunar, Nangarhar and Saripol provinces since 30 July.

Flash floods have also washed away houses, agricultural land, bridges and roads, ANDMA said.

Many areas are vulnerable to floods because over 60 percent of woodland has been lost in almost three decades of conflict. Poor preservation policies, poverty, and lack of awareness have not helped, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock.

Worst drought since 2000

Parts of Afghanistan, mostly in the north and northeast, are suffering the most severe drought in at least the past eight years, according to satellite imagery by the US Geographic Survey.

"Summer temperatures have been high and are forecast to remain above normal in many lowland areas. These high temperatures increase water evaporation, affecting water availability for the autumn (September and October) planting season, particularly for winter wheat," the Famine Early Warning System (FEWSNET) of the US Agency for International Development reported [http://www.fews.net/pages/country.aspx?gb=af&l=en]

The Agriculture Ministry said up to 80 percent of rain-fed agriculture had been adversely affected by drought, and land irrigated by means other than rain had also been affected to varying degrees.

"This, coupled with high food prices and ongoing conflict, has contributed to deteriorating food security," FEWSNET reported in July.

To mitigate the most urgent humanitarian impacts of drought and high food prices the Afghan government and UN agencies have appealed for over US$400 million to assist 4.5 million of the most vulnerable people.

Meanwhile, the government has decided to import large quantities of wheat from Pakistan and other regional countries to meet domestic food needs.
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Seven police, three dozen Taliban killed in Afghanistan
Thu Aug 7, 11:58 AM ET
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AFP) - The Afghan government said Thursday that seven policemen were killed when militants stormed their post in the troubled south, while nearly three dozen militants died in various clashes.

The attacks were part of a tide of extremist-linked violence that has gripped Afghanistan for years as insurgents try to bring down the government that replaced the hardline Taliban regime ousted in 2001.

The policemen were killed in an attack late Wednesday on their post near Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province, provincial government spokesman Daud Ahmadi told AFP.

"We lost seven police officers. Two others were injured," he said.

Helmand, the main producer of Afghanistan's huge output of opium, is one of the provinces where the Taliban are most active and control a handful of districts.

Authorities say about 800 members of the Afghan security forces, the bulk of them police, have lost their lives in insurgency-linked unrest since the start of the year.

More than 150 international soldiers have also died, mostly in attacks.

Afghan government officials also reported that three dozen Taliban had been killed in various clashes with security forces overnight, including in Helmand, neighbouring Kandahar and the western province of Badghis.

It is impossible to independently verify the tolls since the fighting mostly occurs in remote and dangerous areas.
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Kidnapped German-Afghan freed in Kabul: intelligence
Thu Aug 7, 3:50 AM ET
KABUL (AFP) - A German-Afghan businessman kidnapped nearly two weeks ago in Kabul was freed early Thursday from captors who had been demanding ransom, Afghanistan's intelligence agency said.

Three men were arrested for abducting the man about 13 days ago outside a wedding hall that he owned, deputy intelligence chief Abdullah Laghmani told reporters.

"We received information yesterday that he is an area outside Kabul. We launched an operation at two o'clock and we freed him at four o'clock," he said.

The abducted man, named Azizullah, told the same media briefing that his captors had demanded three million dollars for his release and had threatened to cut off his hand and an ear if they did not pay.

Kidnappings by criminal gangs seeking ransom have soared in Afghanistan as security has deteriorated since the 2001 ouster of the Taliban government.


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North Afghan police crack down on child sex abuse
Thu Aug 7, 10:19 AM ET
KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan police have begun a crackdown on child sex abuse in the north of the country after several offenders were arrested recently, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday.

"The number of sexual assaults on children in northern Afghanistan has seen a significant increase," the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

"In order to safeguard children and babies, the Interior Ministry has begun a series of crackdowns that up to now have generated positive results," it said.

The statement comes after a man was arrested by police in the northern city of Mazar-I-Sharif on Thursday morning for sexually abusing a young boy in a video-game arcade.

Police received a tip-off the assault was taking place and as a result were able to arrest the man and close down the arcade hall, the ministry said.

The Afghanistan Human Rights Organization (AHRO) said it had received information last month that a group of men raped a 3-year-old girl in northern Jowzjan province.

"We are trying to find out more about the case," said Maghfirat Samimi of the AHRO, but she could not give any further details due to the sensitivity of the case.

But Samimi expressed concerns over the increased number of rapes in the north of the country.

"We are very concerned. We have had many cases of rapes in northern Afghanistan. Children are being sexually exploited and we need to protect their rights," said Samimi

Five armed men also raped a 12-year-old girl in northern Sar-I-Pol province in June and a 10-year-old girl was raped in Jowzjan province in January, AHRO said.

(Reporting by Jonathon Burch and Tahir Qadiry in Mazar-I-Sharif; Editing by Paul Tait)
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7yo girl allegedly married off, Afghan cleric arrested
Australian Broadcasting Corporation - Aug 07 6:27 AM
Afghan police have detained an Islamic cleric for allegedly presiding over the marriage of a seven-year-old girl to a teenage boy in a remote northern town, police have said.

The groom, his father and two brothers were also detained in the northern province of Jawzjan last week, provincial police chief Khalilullah Aminzada said.

They have been accused of violating a law that bans marriage for girls who are under 16 and men under 18, and are due to face trial, Mr Aminzada said.

"We learnt that a seven-year-old girl was being married to a man aged 17 or 18," he said. "We went there and detained them and the mullah who conducted the nikah (part of the marriage rites)," he said.

The Afghan Government is trying to stamp out the practice of marrying off young girls, sometimes to men decades older than they are.

About 57 per cent of Afghan girls are married before 16, according to the UN Development Fund for Women, UNIFEM.

Sometimes these marriages are to settle disputes or debts.

And between 70 to 80 per cent of women are forced to marry someone chosen for them, most often by their families, UNIFEM says.

- AFP

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India rules out sending troops to Afghanistan
New Delhi, Aug 7, IRNA
India has reaffirmed it would not send troops to Afghanistan for the operations being conducted in the war- ravaged country by the US-led coalition forces as the UN had not mandated this action.

"India has only been taking part in operations approved by the United Nations," Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor Wednesday told reporters on the sidelines of a defence function here, IANS reported.

"There is no likelihood of taking part in operations in Afghanistan as they are not mandated by the UN but are under the aegis of the US," Kapoor added.

"India has been providing a degree of development and medical aid to Afghanistan. And we will continue to provide aid in any form as the government deems fit," he maintained.

Following the deadly July 7 terror attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul there has been talk of sending additional Indian security forces to Afghanistan to beef up security at the mission.

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Canada moves to solve Afghan helicopter shortage
Thu Aug 7, 1:14 PM ET
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will overcome a critical shortage of military transport helicopters in Afghanistan by buying six used machines from the United States as well as leasing six Russian-made aircraft, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said on Thursday.

Canada has no transport helicopters in Afghanistan and, in MacKay's words, has been reduced to "hitching rides with allies." Canada has 2,500 troops in the southern city of Kandahar on a mission that is due to end in 2011.

Ottawa will buy six used Boeing Co Chinook helicopters from the U.S. government for a sum not exceeding C$292 million ($278 million). The aircraft are already in theater and will be available for operations by February 2009.

In addition, Canada will lease six Russian-made Mil Mi-8 helicopters for a year for up to C$36 million, depending on how much they are used.

"These helicopters will mean less use of convoys to move and resupply our troops and bring humanitarian relief over dangerous terrain, and (they) better protect our soldiers against (bomb) attacks," MacKay told a televised news conference in Saint-Hubert, Quebec.

Ottawa has already committed to buying 16 medium- to heavy-lift Chinooks, which are due to be delivered in 2012.

MacKay also said Canada would spend C$95 million over two years to lease unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles (UAVs) from MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.

Canada will send an extra 250 soldiers to Afghanistan to help operate the helicopters and UAVs.

($1=$1.05 Canadian)

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson)
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Colombia studies NATO cooperation in Afghanistan
07 Aug 2008 17:10:20 GMT
BOGOTA, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Colombia, a key Washington ally in Latin America, is studying whether to send troops to Afghanistan to lend support to the U.S.-led campaign against the Taliban insurgency, the government said.

Colombia has received billions of dollars in U.S. military aid to counter its own leftist guerrillas and drug traffickers. Violence has dropped sharply as the insurgency weakens, but the country remains the world's No. 1 cocaine producer.

A team of top Colombian military officials traveled to Afghanistan on Wednesday to evaluate cooperation, including helping in military engineering, mine removal, special operations and counter-narcotics missions, the defense ministry said.

"They will analyze, according to Colombia's experience, the best way to collaborate in Afghanistan and the areas where Colombia can offer its knowledge," the ministry said in a statement on its Web site.

But Colombia has yet to take a decision on NATO participation in Afghanistan as the government is still weighing options. It has contacted the British and Spanish governments about cooperation, the ministry said.

Foreign troop levels in Afghanistan have increased by more than 10,000 in the past year to around 71,000. But violence is increasing as more militants infiltrate from neighboring Pakistan, authorities say.

Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium, which can be used to manufacture heroin.

Taliban militants are increasingly targeting foreign and Afghan troops with aid agencies saying violence was greater in May and June than in any month since U.S.-led forces helped topple the Taliban government in 2001.

(Reporting by Patrick Markey in Bogota; editing by David Wiessler)
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Pakistan must rein in "out of control" elements, says Afghan minister
The News International (Pakistan) Thursday, August 07, 2008
KABUL: Afghanistan is keen to work with Pakistan to fight Islamic extremism, but Islamabad must rein in elements in the government that are "out of control," the Afghan foreign minister said on Wednesday.

A meeting on Sunday between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, in which the leaders agreed to "re-engage" to fight extremism, would pave the way for more collaboration, the minister said. But that did not mean Afghanistan was stepping back from "our strong position in the war on terror and that secret organisations in Pakistan are supporting terrorism," Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta told reporters.

This appeared to be a reference to circles in the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, which Karzai and US officials allege are fomenting unrest in Afghanistan. Pakistan denies charges and maintains it has also been hit by a wave of extremist violence.

"The elected government of Pakistan is in a very difficult position... in some countries there are governments within the government which are out of the control of the legitimate institutions," Spanta said.

While Kabul could trust Pakistan's civilian authority, groups that were "using terrorism as a tool" and "interfering in others' affairs must be fought and we don't trust such groups," he said.

"We hope the civilian government of Pakistan, which has been elected by the will of the people, is able to bring under control those who are acting outside the laws of Pakistan." Spanta said Pakistan should not be alarmed by Afghanistan's strong relationship with Islamabad's rival, India.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan's spy agency alleged on Wednesday that a member of Pakistan's consulate in the country's south helped a Taliban commander in his attempts to weaken the government.

Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security said in a statement that a diplomat at the consulate in the southern Kandahar province gave "orders and money" to Mullah Rahmatullah, a Taliban militant in the region. Rahmatullah was captured by Afghan intelligence agents on Tuesday in Kandahar city, and the information linking the official with the militants was gleaned during the questioning, the NDS said in a statement, which did not name the diplomat.
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Opinion: Germany Should Talk Openly About Afghanistan Mission
Deutsche Welle
DW's Nina Werkhaeuser says Germany needs to do a better job explaining to its citizens that the mission in Afghanistan is going to get worse before it gets better.

When members of the federal government speak about the German mission in Afghanistan, they like to tell moving stories of help and appreciation.

Recently German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke to the German parliament about village elders in the Pamir Mountains. The men undertook a trip lasting for days, Steinmeier recounted, in order to ask German soldiers to help build a school.

The choice of this story is very revealing. It leads to the question of why heavily armed foreign soldiers are still needed to fulfill basic needs in Afghanistan. Schools should be seen to by the Afghan government, the provincial governor, or aid organizations -- not NATO. The soliders of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) are there for security and stability though they can neither produce it, nor permanently guarantee it; certainly not in the south, and only occasionally in the north.

The government has been trying to pull the wool over the public’s eyes by only talking about the nice things that happen. But that only works until one Afghan asks a German soldier to help build a school, while another Afghan attacks him with explosives.

So who is a friend and who is a foe? It's difficult to differentiate between the two in a mission where the military is so utterly dependent on the trust of the local population. If that trust is lost then the success stories about reconstruction quickly become passé. Soon it may just be about preventing a backslide into chaos with brute force.

This fall the German government will increase the number of troops in Afghanistan by 1,000 because they aren’t able to get by with the 3,500 soldiers stationed in northern Afghanistan. German soldiers have for years camped in the relatively calm north of the country to avoid NATO's increasing demands.

These days the north isn’t exactly a safe model region. Even there the German army has to increasingly deal with rockets flying through the air, hidden explosives and suicide bombers around every corner.

Under these circumstances the German government's reconstruction rhetoric just doesn't work anymore. A lot suggests that the next American president -- whoever that may be -- will be blunt with European allies. He will demand more troops for Afghanistan in order to once and for all destroy the Taliban, who are also known to have carried out attacks on the German military.

Given the explosive nature of the Afghanistan debate, the German government has given itself a kind of grace period: This fall they will extend the mission by 14 months instead of 12, so that it won’t be a controversial issue during the 2009 parliamentary elections.

However, they shouldn’t delude themselves into thinking that until then they will be able to peddle stories of freshly dug wells and happy school children.

The entire ISAF force, including German troops, are in the middle of a combat mission which will get more difficult as the months go by. It would be better to finally talk openly about it.

Nina Werkhäuser covers foreign, defense and security policy affairs for DW-RADIO. (mrm)

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Officials: 25 militants, 2 troops dead in Pakistan
By HABIBULLAH KHAN, Associated Press Writer Thu Aug 7, 2:30 AM ET
KHAR, Pakistan - An attack on a Pakistani military checkpost by some 200 pro-Taliban militants triggered intense fighting that killed 25 insurgents and two paramilitary soldiers near the Afghan border, security officials said Thursday.

The fighting broke out Wednesday in Loi Sam village in the Bajur tribal region, said two army officers and an area intelligence official. All three spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media.

The officials said they received reports from local authorities about the casualties. The local intelligence official said the militants used rockets and assault rifles in the attack.

A local resident, Haji Sakhi, said he heard gunshots Wednesday, and on Thursday saw some of the casualties — apparently militants.

"The fighting stopped after midnight, and today I saw several bodies in an open area of Loi Sam," he said.

The militant attack comes two days after a Taliban spokesman held a news conference in Bajur threatening suicide bombings and other attacks unless the government ended a military crackdown in another region of Pakistan's volatile northwest, Swat Valley.

Maulvi Umar, an aide of top Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, threatened militants would target the government and senior officials.

Pakistan's tribal regions are considered havens for Taliban and al-Qaida-linked fighters, many of whom are involved in attacks across the border in neighboring Afghanistan.

Bajur is the same tribal region where Osama bin Laden's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, is believed to have survived a missile strike by a CIA Predator drone in 2006.

___

Associated Press Writer Riaz Khan contributed to this report.
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Pakistan's Musharraf faces impeachment
By MUNIR AHMAD Associated Press August 7, 2008
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan's ruling coalition announced plans Thursday to seek the impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf, alleging the U.S.-backed former general had "eroded the trust of the nation" during his eight years in power.

Despite his unpopularity in Pakistan, Musharraf has so far resisted calls to step down and insisted he will serve out his current five year term after he was elected in a contentious parliamentary vote in October.

He dominated Pakistan for eight years and became a close U.S. ally after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but ceded control of the powerful army last year and has been sidelined in government since the coalition parties trounced his allies in parliamentary elections in February.

Ruling party chief Asif Ali Zardari declared the decision Thursday was "good news for democracy" in Pakistan.

Policies pursued by Musharraf during his eight years in power "have brought Pakistan to a critical economical impasse," Zardari said.

"The incompetence and the failure of his policies has thrown the country into the worst power shortage in its history. His policies have weakened the federation and eroded the trust of the nation in national institutions," he added.

Zardari claimed Musharraf had given a "clear commitment" to resign if his party lost in the February elections and had failed to honor an indirect pledge to seek a vote of confidence from the new Parliament.

Zardari also claimed Musharraf had "conspired" with the opposition party against Pakistan's democratic transition. He made further wideranging accusations alleging misrule.

"The coalition further decided that it will immediately initiate impeachment proceedings. The coalition leadership will present a charge sheet against Gen. Musharraf," Zardari told a news conference, alongside leaders of the other coalition parties.

Impeaching a president requires a two-thirds majority support of lawmakers in both houses of Parliament. Musharraf loyalists maintain the coalition would struggle to muster it, but Zardari expressed confidence they would succeed.

"We hope that 90 percent of the lawmakers will support us," Zardari said.

Tariq Azeem, a spokesman for the main pro-Musharraf opposition party, said it would oppose any impeachment of the president.

"We have backed him and voted for him so we are duty bound to support him," Azeem said.

Azeem said he did not think the ruling coalition had the numbers in Parliament to impeach Musharraf, but conceded "things could go either way."

Announcing the joint coalition statement after two days of talks, Zardari also said the four provincial assemblies should demand a vote of confidence immediately.

The ruling coalition has a comfortable majority in the National Assembly, or lower house, but Musharraf's supporters retain about half the seats in the Senate, or upper house.
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Is the Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Becoming a Free-Fire Zone?
Richard Weitz | Bio | 07 Aug 2008 World Politics Review Exclusive
In recent months, Pakistan's new leaders have been insisting that U.S. forces were not conducting covert operations against al-Qaeda and Taliban militants inside Pakistan and that their government would never allow such missions. They have insisted that Pakistani regular troops and paramilitary forces could adequately deal with the insurgents and any high-value terrorist targets.

According to a variety of sources, however, U.S. military forces, though not permanently based in Pakistan, continue to conduct military attacks from Afghanistan against al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan's loosely governed northwestern territories.

On July 9, U.S. Gen. David D. McKiernan, the commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, said that American and Afghan forces deployed along the Afghan-Pakistani frontier had come under increasing mortar and rocket attacks from neighboring Pakistan. The general presumed this was because they thought their being on Pakistani territory gave them some kind of sanctuary. However, McKiernan argued they were mistaken because "we do return those fires."

McKiernan and other American commanders have justified their counterfire on the grounds of self-defense. By this, they appear to mean both tactical (disrupting the immediate attack) and operational (impeding the cross-border movement of the insurgents and their supplies).

Nevertheless, American commanders maintain that the Pakistani authorities are also responsible for the increased cross-border exchanges because the Islamabad government has negotiated a series of peace deals with local tribal leaders and with various extremist groups that have effectively granted the militants free license to operate across the Afghan-Pakistan border.

During a recent trip to Washington, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani maintained that his government was only negotiating with the Pakistani Taliban, not their Afghan counterparts or international terrorist groups using Pakistani territory as a safe haven. He insisted that Pakistani forces would forcefully repress any group that continued to engage in terrorism or foreign military operations. Even so, U.S. ground commanders note that, in May and June, after these ceasefire agreements had taken effect, the number of American combat deaths in Afghanistan exceeded those in Iraq, despite the fact that five times as many U.S. troops are in Iraq than Afghanistan.

Some Americans cite the concept of "hot pursuit" to justify attacking Taliban guerrillas who have fled across the border into Pakistan to escape coalition attacks. In August 2007, a memo became public revealing that U.S. Special Forces could operate up to 10 kilometers inside Pakistan to support soldiers under attack or conduct raids against al-Qaeda leaders. Certain American commanders have apparently expanded the concept to justify either preemptive or preventive strikes designed to disrupt an attack before it could occur, which would expand the notion of "hot pursuit" considerably.

American intelligence managers also support direct U.S. counteractions in northwest Pakistan because of growing evidence that al-Qaeda is re-establishing its main base of operations there. Earlier this year, several U.S. military commanders concurred with U.S. intelligence assessments that any future 9/11-style attack from al-Qaeda would probably originate from the group's new safe haven in Pakistan's tribal regions. The location has the advantage of being remote, largely under the control of sympathetic tribal leaders, and nominally under the sovereign jurisdiction of a government allied with Washington.

For the Taliban, the tribal areas provide a sanctuary where they can recruit train and supply their fighters. Coalition troops cannot cut the insurgents' supply lines to Afghanistan without direct attacks into Pakistani territory. Conversely, the Taliban can use its bases in northwest Pakistan to disrupt the coalition supply line that traverses Pakistani territory. Afghanistan is landlocked and 40 percent of NATO supplies travel from Karachi to Kandahar via the Khyber Pass.

NATO military leaders have sought to work directly with their Afghan and Pakistani counterparts to enhance border security. However, the trilateral meetings dedicated to this mission have not occurred for several months, leaving U.S. commanders to rely on unilateral direct attacks against threats on either side of the border.

The United States has trained and partly financed Pakistan's Frontier Corps in an attempt to provide the region with dedicated border troops. Yet, morale was reportedly low among its 75,000 troops even before an errant June 2008 U.S. air strike apparently killed eleven of its members. Ethnic divisions between the troops, mostly Pashtuns like the Taliban, and the officers, often Urdu members of the regular army, have led to doubt about the force's reliability. A recent report by the RAND Corporation concluded that members of the Frontier Corps provide intelligence and other support to Islamist militants to help them evade arrest.

American intelligence agencies maintain a direct liaison relationship with the Pakistani government. The United States deploys approximately 50 Special Forces in Pakistan. Those forces have a limited autonomy and their role is largely limited to supporting Pakistani operations.

American intelligence operatives are also stationed at the trilateral "coordination centers" in which Pakistani, Afghan and U.S. intelligence officers are co-located to facilitate the exchange of information about border and other threats. But the recent recriminations between Afghan and Pakistani intelligence about the latter's alleged complicity in assassination attempts against Afghan President Hamid Karzai have presumably undermined these exchanges.

The CIA has long been rumored to use remotely piloted drones to launch direct attacks on high-value al-Qaeda and Taliban leadership targets in northwest Pakistan. Last week, al-Qaeda poisons expert Midhat Mursi, also known as Abu Khabab, was killed by a presumed CIA Predator UAV armed with Hellfire missiles.

Such air strikes have drawbacks. They often lead to highly visible civilian casualties. In particular, by killing the target, they do not yield as much further intelligence as would live-capture operations, which U.S. leaders still refuse to authorize given Pakistani sensitivities.

Richard Weitz is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a World Politics Review contributing editor.
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Archeologists find vast ancient city in Afghanistan
MATTHEW PENNINGTON THE ASSOCIATED PRESS August 7, 2008
Centuries-old shards of pottery mingle with spent ammunition rounds on a wind-swept mountainside in northern Afghanistan where French archeologists believe they have found a vast ancient city.

For years, villagers have dug the baked earth on the heights of Cheshme-Shafa for pottery and coins to sell to antique smugglers. Tracts of the site that locals call the "City of Infidels" look like a battleground, scarred by craters.

But now tribesmen dig angular trenches and preserve fragile walls, working as labourers on an excavation atop a promontory. To the north and east lies an undulating landscape of barren red-tinted rock that was once the ancient kingdom of Bactria; to the south a still-verdant valley that leads to the famed Buddhist ruins at Bamiyan.

Roland Besenval, director of the French Archeological Delegation in Afghanistan and leading the excavation, is sanguine about his helpers' previous harvesting of the site. "Generally the old looters make the best diggers," he said with a shrug.

A trip around the northern province of Balkh is like an odyssey through the centuries, spanning the ancient Persian empire, the conquests of Alexander the Great and the arrival of Islam. The French mission has mapped some 135 sites of archeological interest in the region, best known for the ancient trove found by a Soviet archeologist in the 1970s.

The Bactrian Hoard consisted of exquisite gold jewelry and ornaments from graves of wealthy nomads, dated to the 1st century A. D. It was concealed by its keepers in the vaults of the presidential palace in Kabul from the Taliban regime and finally unlocked after the militia's ouster.

The treasure, currently on exhibition in the United States, demonstrates the rich culture that once thrived here, blending influences from the web of trails and trading routes known as the Silk Road, that spread from Rome and Greece to the Far East and India.

But deeper historical understanding of ancient Bactria has been stymied by the recent decades of war and isolation that severely restricted visits by archeologists.

"It's a huge task because we are still facing the problem of looting," said Besenval, who first excavated in Afghanistan 36 years ago and speaks the local language of Dari fluently. "We know that objects are going to Pakistan and on to the international market. It's very urgent work. If we don't do something now, it will be too late."

Looting was rife during the civil war of the early 1990s when Afghanistan lurched into lawlessness. Locals say it subsided under the Taliban's hardline rule, but the Islamists' fundamentalism took its own toll on Afghanistan's cultural history. They destroyed the towering Buddha statues of Bamiyan chiselled more than 1,500 years ago, and smashed hundreds of statues in the national museum simply because they portrayed the human form.

The opening up of Afghanistan did little to curb the treasure hunters. British author Rory Stewart, who made an extraordinary solo hike across the country in 2002, wrote how poor tribesmen were systematically pillaging the remains of a lost ancient city dating back to 12th century around the towering minaret of Jam in western Afghanistan.

State control is a little more pervasive in Balkh but still patchy. The provincial culture authority says it has just 50 guards to protect historical sites across an area nearly the size of New Jersey.

Saleh Mohammad Khaleeq, a local poet and historian serving as the chief of the province's cultural department, said the guards ward off looters, but concedes the only way to safeguard Afghanistan's rich heritage is through public education.

"People are so poor. They are just looking for ways to buy bread. We need to open their minds as they don't know the value of their history. We have to give them that knowledge and then they will protect it," he said.

One of the Afghan culture officials working at the Cheshm-e-Shafa excavation was clearly anxious that media coverage could bring unwanted attention to the site, where archeologists have uncovered a two-metre-tall anvil-like stone believed to have been an altar at a fire temple originating from the Persian Empire period around the 6th century B. C.

"Hezb-e-Islami and Taliban and other extremists might use explosives and blow up this stone," said archeology department official Mohammed Rahim Andarab.

Many archeologists remain wary of working in Balkh as Islamic militancy seeps into new regions of the country. Yet the sheer breadth of history to be unearthed is enough to lure Besenval and his colleagues.
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Olympics: Afghanistan pins its medal hopes on Taekwondo
KABUL, Aug 7, 2008 (AFP) - On the fourth floor of a Kabul building still under construction, amid the roar of a power generator punctuated by cries and punches, the world taekwondo vice champion says he is going to Beijing to fetch Afghanistan's first Olympic medal.

"I don't want just to participate. I am going to China to win a medal," says 23-year-old Nesar Ahmad Bahawi.

At 1.86 metres tall, Nesar is one of the favourites in the 68 kilo division in the Korean combat sport.

He has been working hard for his dream. "I started my specific training six months ago, including a preparation trip to South Korea. I train six hours a day, to develop speed, physical training and technique," he says.

Afghanistan has never won a medal at the Olympics. Its most notable link with the world event is that the 1979 Soviet invasion led to a US-led international boycott of the games in Moscow the following year.

"I discovered taekwondo 11 years ago and I liked it from the beginning," enthuses Nesar, whose speciality is the back-kick.

"When I was a child, I saw a lot of martial arts movies. I choose taekwondo because it focuses on kicking and I like kicking!" he says, with a disarming smile.

Behind him teenagers and young adults, some of them in the national team, exchange powerful kicks to the chest, shielded by a trunk protector, or to the head, their blows reinforced by loud cries.

Few among them have the money to buy a dobok, the sport's uniform, and most wear tracksuit pants and a t-shirt.

All dream of a future like that of Nesar, silver medallist in the 2007 world championships, who has already been to Beijing where he qualified for the games.

He will return to the city with Rohullah Nikpa who will take part the sport's 58kg event, having qualified at the Asian Games.

"It's the first time ever that Afghans qualify in any sport for the Olympics with their technique and results. Before they just had wildcards," says Ghulam Rabani Rabani, 33, president of the Afghan Taekwondo Federation.

"Now their minds and bodies are ready, they will try to do the best for a medal," he adds enthusiastically. "Afghanistan has never won a medal in the Olympics -- it will be the first one ever."

The war-wracked country's team to the Beijing games consists of just four athletes: the two men taking part in taekwondo events due on August 20 and 21 and two runners, Massoud Azizi and a woman named only Robina.

Robina is a last-minute replacement for Mahbooba Ahadyar, who has disappeared in Europe reportedly after threats from Islamic fundamentalists even though she chose to run with a headscarf and full tracksuit.

An Olympic sport since Sydney 2000, taekwondo is popular in Afghanistan where it is by far the most practised combat sport.

Rabani says there are 700 taekwondo clubs in the country with more than 25,000 members.

The sport was introduced to the country in 1972 by an American master, he adds.

Its development was not without obstacles especially during the 1996-2001 rule of the Taliban when "students of religion" would interrupt training to check if beards were long enough for their version of Islam and that trainees were praying five times a day.

Today it is financial constraints that are handicapping the sport.

Without funds or much government support, athletes taking part in competitions overseas sometimes have to sleep in airports or go without food for a whole day.

A South Korean foundation is however giving vital support to taekwondo in Afghanistan. It pays for a Korean master trainer and for equipment -- trunk protectors, arm and leg guards, masks.

"National team members only receive 16 dollars a month from the government," says Rabani. "It's a joke."

After he won his silver medal, Nesar received a bonus of 2,000 dollars from President Hamid Karzai.

But a few weeks later, the Afghan leader handed the same amount to a 14-year-old would-be suicide bomber from Pakistan who had asked for forgiveness.

It is a parallel that Nesar and his team cannot understand.

Sport could keep Afghan youth away from drugs, says Nesar, arguing for more government support. Afghanistan produces 90 percent of the world's opium and drug use is increasing.

"Narcotics are a big problem in this country. If people do sport, they don't use narcotics or cigarettes. I wish the government would support sport to keep young people away from drugs."

An Olympic medal could get more youngsters involved, he says.

"When I got the silver medal, hundreds of new people came to do taekwondo. All teachers in the clubs were calling me to thank me. I hope to do the same after Beijing."
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Afghan black belt eyes Olympic medal
By Alastair Leithead BBC News, Kabul Wednesday, 6 August 2008
A strange cacophony of muffled thumps and high-pitched screams drifts down the dark, newly-concreted stairs as you climb up through a building site to the almost-finished taekwondo gym on the edge of the Afghan capital, Kabul.

It's a big improvement from the old hut where its members used to train, but there are still no showers.

Towering above the 40 or so young Afghans shouting out with every punch and kick is Nisar Ahmad Bahawe - Afghanistan's champion taekwondoblack belt and, at 23, the country's best hope for an Olympic medal.

He stands out as being taller, quicker and more agile than the others as they fight their way in pairs down the length of the room, spinning kicks and blocking punches.

Nisar is already a proven world class black belt and he has qualified for Beijing on his own merit rather than through a wild-card system.

'Make history'

He won a silver medal at last year's world championships and is confident he could bring home a medal this month.

"It's very important for us because Afghanistan has never won an Olympic medal before," he said in a break during the six-hour training he has been doing every day for months.

"We want to make history and fly our flag in front of the world."

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art, brought to Kabul by an American master in 1972.

The Olympic committee sent Nisar to South Korea for training with another Olympic hopeful, also trying his chances in Beijing, and they brought a new coach back with them.

There are now 700 clubs in Afghanistan and with 25,000 competitors it is one of the most popular sports in the country.

It will be even more popular if the best in the country can become the best in the world.

The president of the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee is Mohammad Anwar Jekdelek, a barrel of a man who used to be a wrestler.

He was due to compete in the 1980 Olympics, but with the Soviet invasion he described how instead he took to the mountains for 14 years to fight as a mujaheddin.

'Good example'

He would be delighted to finally have an Olympic medal in the cabinet at the national stadium - especially after the female runner who was awarded a wild-card entry for the Beijing Games disappeared while training in Italy and is now applying for asylum.

"Bringing a medal home would help people come together as a country whatever tribe or ethnic group they are from," he said.

"It would be a good example to young people so they will take up sport rather than taking drugs."

Every day at five o'clock in the morning Nisar Ahmad Bahawe runs around Kabul Olympic Stadium - once a place where the Taleban carried out executions - now wanting to help it earn its title.

There is a lot of hope and expectation riding on the young sportsmen gathering in Beijing, but perhaps even more so here in Afghanistan where people so desperately need a bit of good news for a change.
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Afghan football is back on its feet
Thu, Aug 7 04:50 PM
Hyderabad, Aug 7 (IANS) Smiles on the faces of Afghan footballers say it all, that the dark, grisly days of the Taliban rule are mercifully behind them. Life for them is now beautiful and meaningful. The sport-loving nation is back on its feet to bend the ball.

The young Afghanistan side has certainly created a flutter in the AFC Challenge cup football here.

They might have failed to cross the group stage in the eight-nation tournament here, but they showed enough potential to emerge as a force to reckon with in the sub-continent. There were glimpses of their newfound enthusiasm and energy at the SAFF Championships two months ago.

Football, like many sports, was discouraged when the Taliban ruled from 1996 to 2001, though the Afghanistan were cut off from international soccer much earlier, between 1984 and 2003. They attempted to qualify for the Olympics just twice since 1948, and have only participated in World Cup qualifying since Germany 2006.

But the success of the national under-14 team has spurred interest in the game. The team won a bronze in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-14 Festival of Football in Tehran. Thanks to some help from the German Football Federation (DFB), there is a ray of hope. The DFB is running camps in three schools in Kabul.

And with limited resources and some foreign-based players, who fled the country during the Taliban regime, football has already made some headway since the national team's formation in 2003.

'Our start didn't go right. After forming the team we went to play some practice matches in Italy in 2003 and there nine of the players escaped. It was a shameful incident for us. But then the players who escaped had no other choice because there was nothing left in the country. The Taliban destroyed everything,' chief coach Mohammad Yusuf Kargar told IANS.

It took another year for Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) to form a national team.

'During the 1960s and the 70s we had a respectable team and also had a football tradition in the country. Problems started after the Soviet invasion and since then nothing went right for us. This is a fresh start for us and I hope everything goes right,' said Kargar, who led the national team for 13 years in the 80s.

This time the national team was selected after a tournament involving 16 provinces.

'Life is very difficult in Afghanistan and football is a luxury for people. But we play just for the sheer love of the game. There is just one ground in Kabul and that is the best ground in the country. The Taliban destroyed all the grounds,' Kargar added.

The players are upbeat about the new start and feel that things are improving but at a very slow pace.

'For professional footballers like us, it is very important to have a secured life. But only few among us in the national team have jobs,' said goalkeeper Shamshuddin Amiri, who plays for Kabul Bank and is also employed with the financial institution.

Amiri, like other Afghans, fled to Pakistan during the Taliban era and played for Pakistan Television (PTV) in Rawalpindi.

'My family came back in 2003 and I was selected for the under-19 national team. Life is tough but when the going gets tough the tough get going,' he added.

Amiri's teammate Zohib Islam, who also plays for Kabul Bank, said FIFA was not doing enough to promote the game in the country.

'We get the usual $250,000 annual funding from FIFA. It is not enough for us because we don't have any infrastructure. The league, which is in place for two years, is played only in one stadium. There is a lot of talent and to promote it we need money. The AFF doesn't have enough money to take care of the under-14 team, which is the future of Afghanistan football,' said Islam.

They may be languishing but the important thing is that Afghanistan is ready to participate and football is certainly not down. But it is going to be a long and a hard way for them.
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Executions Display Taliban's Rising Power
Insurgent Group Demonstrates Control Over Areas Of Afghanistan
CBS.com - US - War on terror Aug. 6, 2008
KABUL, Afghanistan-(AP) As the two women hunkered down in the dark, enveloped in blue burqas, they thought the gun-toting Taliban might free them despite accusations they had run a prostitution ring for a U.S. base.

"I hope they release us tonight so we can go home," one said.

"There must be some reason why they have brought us here," the other responded.

Soon after, the militants shot them dead.

The recent execution of the two women, witnessed in central Ghazni province by an Afghan journalist who contributes to The Associated Press, reflects the Taliban's resurgent presence in Afghanistan and their growing ability to dispense an extreme version of Islamic justice.

The Taliban are still not as powerful as when they ruled Afghanistan before the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 and regularly staged executions to stadium crowds. But as the insurgency in Afghanistan turns more violent, the Taliban have once again gained control of significant parts of the country where the weak U.S.-backed central government has little authority.

One sign of this comeback is the spread of a shadow justice system, with anecdotal reports of the militants' setting up "courts" and meting out harsh punishments.

Sometimes villagers go to the Taliban because their courts move faster and appear less corrupt, experts said. But at other times, in Taliban strongholds, people are afraid to turn anywhere else.

Over the past two years, there have been more reports of local Muslim clerics referring people to the Taliban in part because of their commitment to Shariah, or Islamic law, said John Dempsey, head of the U.S. Institute of Peace office in Afghanistan.

"The Taliban are trying to reassert control not only in terms of fighting and taking control of a town militarily, but also trying to put into place other structures of government that will build legitimacy," Dempsey said.

Many reports about Taliban justice come from the southern provinces, where the insurgency is strongest. There are signs, however, that the militants are spreading their tentacles further, and even outside Afghanistan. Taliban-style punishments have become commonplace in the border regions of neighboring Pakistan, where Islamic extremists now hold considerable sway.

In June, militants executed two people they accused of spying for the U.S. in front of thousands of cheering supporters in Bajur, a Pakistani tribal region. Islamist gunmen regularly shame alleged thieves in the tribal areas by blackening their faces, shaving their heads and parading them through the streets after a summary trial before a self-styled religious court.

The first thing the Taliban do when they come into an area is to set up courts, said Ahmed Rashid, a journalist and author who has written extensively on the militants.

"They insist on the local people going there rather than to the police or the official courts," Rashid said. "That's how they get a grip on the people."

In Ghazni province, where the two women were executed, the Taliban set up a pair of courts in Gelan district several months ago, according to Mohebullah Khan, a local farmer. Each court has two judges - clerics - and people go to them knowing the cases will be resolved in days and that they won't have to pay bribes, Khan said. He added that fear of the Taliban has stemmed crime.

"There have been no choppings of hands because there are no thieves," he said.

Mohammad Jawad, a shopkeeper in Logar, a province just south of the capital of Kabul, said the Taliban also have roving judges in some areas.

"One of my friends is a judge and the Taliban sent him letters telling him to stop working. The second letter said, we'll kill you if you work," Jawad said. "Also they issued a fatwa (religious edict) that anyone who works with the government will be killed."

Taliban fighters alleged that the two women executed on July 12 in Ghazni ran a prostitution ring catering to U.S. soldiers and foreign contractors at a U.S. base in Ghazni city. A U.S. military spokesman said he'd never previously heard of such allegations.

Before the executions, two callers contacted AP contributor Rahmatullah Naikzad on his cell phone to say the Taliban were inviting him and other journalists to see them dispense Shariah law. They refused to elaborate.

The Taliban frequently contact foreign and local journalists, and even at times local government officials. Naikzad leads a five-person news department for a local radio operation.

When he got the invitation, Naikzad thought the Taliban were going to punish some men they had recently detained and accused of burglary and minor crimes. He said he was worried for his own safety, but also felt the need to document how the Taliban were dispensing Islamic justice.

"I'm a journalist, and this is a new thing that is happening in Ghazni," he said. "The Taliban were doing this sort of thing when they were in power but never since they fell."

Naikzad was assured in a series of phone calls of his safety, so he traveled to the outskirts of Ghazni city and met with masked Taliban, who took him to a walled compound with fruit trees. The militants gave him their version of who the women were and why they were "on trial." Naikzad said he feared for his own life if he fled.

The Taliban took the women by car to a village about 30 minutes away, stopping near a graveyard. Naikzad traveled along on his motorbike.

When they got there, Naikzad asked one of the militants, "What if you just let these women go?" The militant replied, "Now is not the time for this kind of talk. It's over now."

As the women realized what was about to happen, they started begging for their lives. At one point, they said, "We did wrong. It was a mistake, we won't do it again."

"Please, brothers, don't do it!" one begged.

"Whatever is happening, it's happening because of you!" the other woman, distraught, suddenly accused her fellow condemned. "For the sake of God, my children!"

"Don't make trouble, don't move," one of the six militants said.

Then at least eight shots rang out, punctuated by cries of "Oh!" and "Allah" and a moan.

Afghan intelligence officials detained Naikzad for questioning but eventually released him. President Hamid Karzai, among others, condemned the brazen brutality. But in a recent interview, the Afghan deputy justice minister warned against over-estimating the spread of Taliban justice and called many of the reports propaganda.

"The courts run by the government are active around the country," Qasim Hashimzai said.

However, the official legal system is patchy, and it's clear that executions by the Taliban in the name of so-called justice happen more than they did. The condemned often are accused of being U.S. spies or working with government or foreign forces, said Ahmad Nader Nadery, a human rights advocate in Afghanistan.

He said it was a farce to think the Taliban were running real courts.

"Every time they prosecute," he said, "they execute."
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Three Afghan nationals detained in Kerala
Thu, Aug 7 05:05 PM
Kollam (Kerala), Aug 7 (IANS) Three Afghan nationals were detained at the Kundara police station, near here Thursday.

'When we came to know of their presence at a hotel we brought them here and have begun investigations as to why they are here. Initial inquiries have revealed that they are here to trade in cashew. Since language is a problem for interacting with them, we have asked for an interpreter,' said an official who did not wish to be named.

Kundara is about 60 Km from the state capital and the district headquarters Kollam is the cashew capital of the state.

Those detained have been identified as Mehboob Khan, N. Mohammed and Mukesh Kumar -- an Afghan citizen of Indian origin.
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'Dried fruits will soon be shipped to the West'
Written by www.quqnoos.com Thursday, 07 August 2008
Workshop to teach traders how to meet international standards
(PAN) Dried fruits packaged in Afghanistan’s northern provinces will soon be shipped to Europe and America for the first time, officials say.

The Afghan chamber of commerce in Kunduz is working with America’s department of commerce to teach Afghan businessmen how to package fruit to meet international trade standards.

More than 60 fruit traders from the north will attend a three day, American-sponsored conference where they will be taught about international trade laws and standards, the deputy head of the Kunduz chamber of commerce, Haji Abdul Rasool Amiri, said.

Currently, dry fruits are only exported to Pakistan, India, Iran and Tajikistan because they fail to meet Western trade standards, Mr Amiri said.

More than one hundred tonnes of walnuts, pistachio nuts and almonds were exported to Iran, Pakistan and India last year.

Agriculture experts say Afghanistan will make strong profits from dry fruit this year.

Dr Muhammad Alam Hamdard, head of the Ariana-Afghan consultancy office, said businessmen could make a profit of $3 on every kilo of raisins sold to the United States.

Niaz Muhammad, one of the dry fruits merchants in Kunduz, who will participate in the workshop, said: "I export dry fruits to India, and I was always interested to export them to the US and Europe. Now I have got a chance to."

Investment in Kunduz province has increased by 50% this year over last and the number of merchants has risen from 200 to 3,000.

There are about 70 more registered companies this year in Kunduz, according to the province’s chamber of commerce.
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Road opens Afghan market to Indian goods
www.quqnoos.com
Written by Editor Wednesday, 06 August 2008
Completion of road allows Afghans to bypass Pakistani trade monopoly
INDIA has finally completed a section of road that will open up Afghanistan to Indian trade, allowing Afghans to wean themselves off their forced dependence on Pakistani goods and routes.

The 218km Zaranj-Delaram Highway in the south-west of Afghanistan will soon by handed over to the Afghan government, opening up a trade route between the Iranian sea port of Chabahar and Kabul.

The new route will allow Afghanistan to bypass the often perilous, expensive and slow Pakistani trade route with Indian goods shipped to Iran.

Islamabad refuses to allow Indian goods bound for Afghanistan to travel across Pakistani soil and the new route through the southern Iranian city of Chabahar will allow India to ship goods to Afghanistan far more efficiently.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, hailed the construction of the road as ''a major test of our joint resolve.''

The construction of the road has cost India more than money. Indian engineers have regularly been killed and kidnapped while completing the transport link.

Prime Minister Singh described the road as a symbol of India-Afghanistan unity and a tribute to the Indian and Afghan lives lost in making this project a reality.

''The road has brought our two peoples closer together,'' Dr Singh said.

The Indian embassy bombing in Kabul last month, which killed more than 50 people and wounded scores more, threatened to upset Indian-Afghan relations, but India has continually vowed to maintain its aid to Afghanistan.

Kabul, New Dehli and the US have all blamed Pakistan’s secret service, the ISI, for the bombing.

Some analysts say the new Zaranj-Delaram highway in Nimroz threatens to undermine Pakistan’s stranglehold over Afghanistan’s trade, angering elements within the country’s intelligence service.

Even more worrying for Pakistan, analysts say, is the growing economic, political and cultural influence in Afghanistan of India, Pakistan's long-term regional rival.
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'Wife stabs sister eight times for sleeping with husband'
Written by www.quqnoos.com Thursday, 07 August 2008
Police arrest women for murdering teenage sister with a knife
(PAN) Police have arrested a woman for stabbing her 17-year-old sister to death after the teenager allegedly slept with her husband.

The 21-year-old Ghotai is accused of stabbing her teenage sister Adila eight times with a knife.

Police arrested Ghotai at her house in Baghlan province.

Police said Ghotai had accused her sister of committing adultery with her husband.

She allegedly told police that her husband had been sleeping with her sister for a long time and that she could no longer bear the pain.

Head of the local police department, Muhammad Anwar, said Ghotai fled the murder scene but was later captured.

Her husband, who denies sleeping with Ghotai’ sister, is also under police investigation.
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