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June 24, 2008 

Attacks in east Afghanistan up 40 percent, U.S. says
By Andrew Gray
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Insurgent attacks in eastern Afghanistan rose by 40 percent in the first five months of this year over the same period a year ago, the U.S. commander of NATO forces in the region said on Tuesday.

Germany plans to boost Afghan troop limit by 1,000
Tue Jun 24, 2:19 AM ET
BERLIN (Reuters) - Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said on Tuesday that Germany planned to increase the number of troops it can send to Afghanistan by 1,000 later this year.

2 NATO troops killed, convoy torched near Kabul
By RAHIM FAIEZ, Associated Press Writer
KABUL, Afghanistan - Militants torched a convoy carrying military supplies just south of the Afghan capital on Tuesday and killed two NATO troops in the turbulent south and east.

26 militants, NATO soldier killed in Afghan violence
by Emranullah Arif
KHOST, Afghanistan (AFP) - NATO warplanes and Afghan forces killed 26 militants, while one NATO soldier died and three others were wounded in a separate attack, officials said Tuesday.

Pakistan must stop cross-border attacks: Afghanistan
By Hamid Shalizi Tue Jun 24, 6:24 AM ET
KABUL (Reuters) - Pakistan must stop militants crossing the border to attack targets in Afghanistan, otherwise the Kabul government will take action, Afghanistan's presidential spokesman said on Tuesday.

Afghans point finger over Karzai attack
AFP on Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Afghanistan's government on Tuesday said a "foreign intelligence agency" was behind an April assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai during a military parade in Kabul.

First female police officer killed in Afghanistan: officials
Tue Jun 24, 3:37 AM ET
HERAT, Afghanistan (AFP) - Gunmen on motorcycles shot dead a female police officer in western Afghanistan in what is believed to be the first such attack in the war-torn country, police said Tuesday.

Taleban's '$100m opium takings'
By Kate Clark BBC News, Afghanistan Tuesday, 24 June 2008
The Taleban made an estimated $100m (£50m) in 2007 from Afghan farmers growing poppy for the opium trade, the United Nations says.

Ammunition Shipment Came From China
Panel Says U.S. Ambassador Knew Origin of Materiel Bound for Afghanistan
Washington Post - World By Walter Pincus Washington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, June 24, 2008
A House investigative committee has learned that the American ambassador to Albania knew evidence of Chinese origins was being removed last year from an ammunition shipment before a U.S. contractor sent the material to Afghanistan

Kabul claims arresting two Pakistanis
Dawn (Pakistan) June 23, 2008
KANDAHAR-Afghan authorities paraded two alleged Pakistani militants before the media in chains and handcuffs on Monday in a fresh attempt to highlight cross-border infiltration by militants.

Afghanistan: Death penalty call for man who spread Koran translation
Karachi, 23 June (AKI) - (by Syed Saleem Shahzad) - An Afghan journalist accused of distributing an unacceptable translation of the Koran should be put to death, says former Prime Minister Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai.

Afghan teachers face poverty
Chris Sands The National (UAE) June 23, 2008
KABUL // Low salaries are forcing many of Afghanistan’s teachers to take on second jobs so they can feed their families.

UK soldier killed in Afghanistan
Tuesday, 24 June 2008 18:10 UK BBC News
A British soldier has been killed in fighting with the Taleban in southern Afghanistan, the MoD has said.

NATO steps up Taliban attacks along Pakistan-Afghanistan border
Increased strikes are causing friction between the US and Pakistani government, which prefers to negotiate with the militants
By David Montero Christian Science Monitor June 24, 2008 at 10:32 am EDT
In the latest incident to spell trouble on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, suspected Taliban militants attacked check posts, kidnapped Pakistani policemen, and blew up oil tankers destined for US and NATO troops in Afghanistan on Tuesday.

AFGHANISTAN: Clashes' zone near Kandahar to get emergency relief aid
24 Jun 2008 18:21:40 GMT
KANDAHAR, 24 June 2008 (IRIN) - The government of Afghanistan and UN agencies have agreed to distribute emergency humanitarian relief immediately to thousands of Battle-Affected Persons (BAPs) in Arghandab District, Kandahar Province.

Vaccines for refugees under UNHCR-UNICEF agreement
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, June 23 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) have signed an agreement that will result in significant savings in the purchase of vaccines for Afghans and locals

Assassination trial will be open to the public
www.quqnoos.com Written by Mukhtar Soar Monday, 23 June 2008
No date set for trial of officials accused of failing to stop plot to kill Karzai
THE TRIAL of 20 security officials accused of failing to stifle the plot to kill the president will be open to the public, the attorney-general said on Sunday.

Islamabad awaits Kabul’s response over border fencing: PM
Daily Times (Pakistan) 24 June 2008
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will fence its border with Afghanistan if Kabul agrees to the proposal, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Monday, adding that Islamabad was awaiting Kabul’s response. Talking to outgoing Canadian High

12 Pakistanis deported from Afghanistan
Daily Times (Pakistan) 24 June 2008
LANDIKOTAL: Afghan government on Monday deported 12 Pakistanis and handed them over to Pakistani authorities at Torkham border.

Leadership Void Seen in Pakistan
By CARLOTTA GALL – New York Times 6.24.08
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan is in a leaderless drift four months after elections, according to Western diplomats and military officials, Pakistani politicians and Afghan officials who are increasingly worried that no one is really in charge.

A nation as yet unbuilt
Afghanistan has never been a successful state. Our involvement there is based on a delusion
Peter Preston  The Guardian UK Monday June 23, 2008
Francis Fukuyama posed the basic Afghan dilemma as the supposed triumph of western invasion began to fall apart. Afghanistan has never been "modern", he observed, chillingly. "Under the monarchy that existed until the beginning of its political

District free from Taliban, safe for locals to return, Afghan commander says
GRAEME SMITH - June 24, 2008 Globe and Mail
KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN -- The roads of Arghandab district have been cleared of explosives and it's now safe for villagers to return home, a senior Afghan commander says.

Afghan corruption 'a cancer,’ MacKay says
By The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — The Afghan government must eliminate the corruption that threatens to undermine the good work being done by Canadian soldiers and their allies, says Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

TAPI  GAS PIPELINE PROJECT : FACTS
Nadjib TABIBI Geneva-Switzerland June 23rd,08
Before, we all get into “Operation Enduring Pipeline” so eloquently put by Don Bacon in his article dated June 20th  or   “Pipeline opens new front in Afghanistan” by Shawn MCCarthy who’s a Global Energy reporter who’s reffering

analysis: Understanding Afghan rage — Rasul Bakhsh Rais
Daily Times (Pakistani commentary)
There are many sceptics that doubt the efficacy of negotiating peace with the tribal militants. In my view elected governments have a right to explore alternative solutions to the difficult and stubborn legacies of conflict that Afghanistan and Pakistan face together

Mullah's 'rape victim' bears stillborn child
www.quqnoos.com Written by PAN Monday, 23 June 2008
Teenage girl claims cleric raped her nine months before the birth
A 17-year-old girl, who claimed a religious cleric raped her several times over a year-long period, has given birth to a stillborn child.

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Attacks in east Afghanistan up 40 percent, U.S. says
By Andrew Gray
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Insurgent attacks in eastern Afghanistan rose by 40 percent in the first five months of this year over the same period a year ago, the U.S. commander of NATO forces in the region said on Tuesday.

While insisting NATO was making progress in establishing stability, Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser said he was "nowhere near" being able to state those efforts had achieved irreversible momentum.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon by videolink from Afghanistan, Schloesser also said attacks by Taliban and other insurgents were becoming increasingly complex and targeted sites such as schools to disrupt economic development.

Schloesser's comments came against a backdrop of increasing concern in Washington and other Western capitals about the war in Afghanistan and instability in border areas of Pakistan, where U.S. officials say Taliban fighters enjoy safe haven.

Schloesser said success in Afghanistan would ultimately come not through military operations but when Afghans "sitting on the fence" concluded their government offered a better quality of life and decided to oppose insurgent groups.

"I can't predict how long it's going to take. I can say that I believe we're making progress," he said.

Schloesser said the rise in violence was not unexpected as attacks had increased every year since 2002, the year after U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban from power following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Eastern and southern Afghanistan have been the scenes of the heaviest insurgent violence. But U.S. officials had touted the east as a success story last year, saying the area had become much more stable.

Schloesser said one reason for the rise in attacks this year was that international and Afghan forces had gone into areas where they had not operated before to hunt insurgents.

"We are actually hunting down the enemy of the Afghan people and trying to rout them," he said. "We're giving them four options -- they can flee, get out of their country, they can reconcile or they can be captured or killed."

He did not provide the raw numbers behind the percentage increase he cited.

Schloesser commands the U.S-led eastern sector of Afghanistan for NATO's 53,000-strong International Security Assistance Force. He is also in charge of a separate U.S. counter-terrorism mission.

He said success in Afghanistan would require much work from the international community and patience from Americans.

"We're clearly not done and I am nowhere near yet able to say that we have reached irreversible momentum," he said.
(Editing by David Wiessler)
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Germany plans to boost Afghan troop limit by 1,000
Tue Jun 24, 2:19 AM ET
BERLIN (Reuters) - Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said on Tuesday that Germany planned to increase the number of troops it can send to Afghanistan by 1,000 later this year.

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Jung said the government wanted to raise the ceiling on German soldiers in the country to 4,500. A parliamentary mandate which expires in October foresees a maximum of 3,500 German troops in Afghanistan.

Germany has been under pressure from NATO partners, particularly the United States, to bolster its troop contingent in Afghanistan and shift soldiers from the north to the more dangerous south to help battle Taliban insurgents.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Writing by Noah Barkin)
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2 NATO troops killed, convoy torched near Kabul
By RAHIM FAIEZ, Associated Press Writer
KABUL, Afghanistan - Militants torched a convoy carrying military supplies just south of the Afghan capital on Tuesday and killed two NATO troops in the turbulent south and east.

The attacks demonstrated the limited gains from the costly six-year effort to stabilize and bring security to Afghanistan, which is drawing in ever-larger numbers of NATO troops.

German defense officials said Tuesday they plan to increase the number of their troops in Afghanistan by 1,000 this fall, pushing their continent to 4,500. There are now around 60,000 foreign troops in the country.

The top U.S. general in Afghanistan said Tuesday that insurgent attacks have increased 40 percent this year over 2007 in the east of the country. In Washington, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Schloesser said there have been 40 deaths among uniformed and civilian coalition members in the east since the start of April.

Schloesser told reporters troops are tracking "a syndicate" of militants including Taliban, al-Qaida, Pakistanis and Afghans who move back and forth over the Afghan-Pakistani border.

He said fighters are attacking civic centers and schools — killing teachers, students, road crews and others working to improve life in Afghanistan. Still, he said coalition forces are making good progress in training the Aghan army.

Afghan officials said an unknown number of men riding motorcycles and armed with guns and rockets attacked the convoy near Saydabad, a town in Wardak province about 40 miles from Kabul.

The local mayor, Fazel Karim Muslim, said more than 40 trucks carrying food, water and fuel were damaged, most of them burned. The attackers fled when Afghan and foreign security forces, including aircraft, reached the scene, Muslim said.

He said one person in the convoy was killed, and three others wounded.

Associated Press Television News video showed blazing trucks standing three abreast on the Kabul-Kandahar highway, black smoke billowing into nearby mud-walled villages.

Bulldozers pushed the smoldering wrecks off the melting asphalt, toppling several of them sideways into the desert as a helicopter gunship circled overhead.

NATO confirmed the incident and said there were reports of casualties, but provided no details.

Convoys of trucks, driven by Afghans and usually escorted by private security guards, have been attacked regularly this year as violence has spiraled across the south and east.

Nearly 2,000 people have died in insurgency-related violence this year. They include more than 30 foreign troops, many of them killed by mines and bombs detonated next to convoys.

NATO said one of the two soldiers who died Tuesday fell when a mine blast hit a patrol in Khogyani, a district of the eastern province of Nangarhar. Three soldiers were wounded, it said.

The other died in the south during an engagement with insurgents in Sangin district of Helmand province.

Although NATO did not release nationalities of the victims, the British Defense Ministry said a Parachute Regiment soldier was killed in the Upper Sangin Valley of Helmand province during a firefight Tuesday with the Taliban. The death brought Britain's death toll in Afghanistan to 107 since 2001.

Elsewhere, warplanes attacked militants withdrawing from a clash with police in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. Ismatullah Alizai, police chief of Paktia province, said 15 militants died.

NATO said an unmanned drone identified the retreating militants shortly after midnight and that "close air support was used to engage and kill" them.

In the remote northeastern province of Nuristan, police said foreign and Afghan troops had been battling rebels in the mountains for three days. NATO said its troops exchanged fire with insurgents there on Sunday and called in air support reportedly killing several militants.

Meanwhile, a female police officer was fatally shot in western Afghanistan.

Two gunmen on a motorcycle fired three bullets into the officer's torso as she walked home from work Monday in Guzara district of Herat province, police spokesman Raouf Ahmadi said.
___
Associated Press writers Stephen Graham and Amir Shah contributed to this report.
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26 militants, NATO soldier killed in Afghan violence
by Emranullah Arif
KHOST, Afghanistan (AFP) - NATO warplanes and Afghan forces killed 26 militants, while one NATO soldier died and three others were wounded in a separate attack, officials said Tuesday.

The violence made June one of the bloodiest months so far in an insurgency launched by Taliban rebels after its ouster from government by US-led forces in 2001.

Several foreign militants were among the dead after the airstrike early Tuesday by the NAT0-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the eastern province of Paktia, near the border with Pakistan, officials said.

Insurgents opened fire on the headquarters of the province's Sayed Karam district but were driven away after a gunbattle which caused slight damage to the building, provincial government spokesman Rohullah Samoon said.

"NATO helicopters then bombed the militants and killed 14 militants on the spot. Our policemen arrested another four wounded, and one of the wounded also died in hospital," Samoon told AFP.

Many of those killed were Pakistanis, Samoon said, adding that the injured rebels were from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

The rebel attack came a day after the separate US-led coalition said airstrikes and clashes had killed 55 militants who ambushed a patrol in eastern Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, 11 Taliban militants and three policemen were killed after an attack by rebels on a police post in southern Kandahar province overnight, police said.

"We launched a counterattack today. Eleven Taliban have been killed so far and their bodies are on the ground," Juma Gul Hemat, the police chief of neighbouring Uruzgan province, told AFP.

He added that the fighting was ongoing.

Separately, a NATO soldier was killed and three others were wounded after a landmine struck their patrol in eastern Afghanistan Tuesday, the alliance force said.

It brings to 100 the number of foreign soldiers killed in the country this year, according to an AFP tally.

The incident took place in Nangarhar province's khogyani district where over 200 villagers had protested the alleged killing of two civilians a day earlier, ISAF said.

Eastern Afghanistan borders Pakistan's lawless tribal regions, where Afghan and Western officials say the militants have "safe havens" which they use to launch cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai's spokesman, Homayun Hamidzada, said Tuesday a "foreign intelligence agency" was behind a brazen April assassination attempt on Karzai during a military parade in Kabul.

Karzai survived but three Afghans died.

The spokesman, quoting an intelligence report, did not name the country but Afghan officials including Karzai have in the past accused Pakistan's Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) of supporting the Taliban.
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Pakistan must stop cross-border attacks: Afghanistan
By Hamid Shalizi Tue Jun 24, 6:24 AM ET
KABUL (Reuters) - Pakistan must stop militants crossing the border to attack targets in Afghanistan, otherwise the Kabul government will take action, Afghanistan's presidential spokesman said on Tuesday.

The comments echo those of Afghan President Hamid Karzai who threatened this month to send troops into Pakistan to kill Taliban militants there if cross-border attacks did not stop. Pakistan said only its forces would tackle militants on its soil.

"Karzai's comments clarify the fact that terrorism in Afghanistan has external roots and terrorist groups exploiting Pakistan territory attack Afghan military and non-military installations," Afghan presidential spokesman Humayun Hamidzada told a news conference.

"We request Pakistan not to allow terrorist groups to use its soil against Afghanistan, otherwise Afghanistan is obliged to take action in order to defend its nation and people," he said.

The Afghan government and some of its Western allies are growing increasingly frustrated by Pakistan's failure to clamp down on militant activity in its tribally ruled border regions.

The new Pakistan government has largely halted a military drive into the border areas and instead is trying to seal peace deals with militant groups to try to stem violence that has killed hundreds in Pakistan in the last 18 months.

But Afghan officials and U.S. generals say the de-facto ceasefires on the Pakistan side of the border have allowed the militants to step up attacks into Afghanistan resulting in a sharp rise in violence in the east of the country.

FOREIGN AGENTS
Many Afghan officials and some analysts believe elements within Pakistan's intelligence agency which armed and funded the Taliban's rise to power in the 1990s are still backing the austere Islamist group to ensure Afghanistan remains weak.

"All the evidence indicates Afghanistan is being interfered with and the challenges are very great because foreign countries and their intelligence departments support the terrorist groups," Hamidzada said.

A foreign intelligence agency was also involved in an attempt to assassinate Karzai in April this year, Hamidzada said.

Taliban militants fired on a parade in the Afghan capital Kabul killing three people, including a member of parliament, but missing the president.

"I don't want to go into details but the primary investigation and evidence in hand indicate at least one foreign intelligence department was clearly involved in the terrorist operation on April 27," Hamidzada said.

The Afghan government says Taliban leaders and their al Qaeda backers fled to Pakistan when U.S. and Afghan forces toppled the movement in late 2001 after it refused to hand over Osama bin Laden and others behind the September 11 attacks.

The increasingly proficient Afghan army backed by some 74,000 NATO and U.S.-led troops have killed thousands of Taliban fighters since the militants relaunched their insurgency two years ago, but there has been no let-up in the violence.

Afghan officials say many of the militants who cross the porous border to fight the government and international troops in Afghanistan are Pakistani and Arab nationals.

Up to 400 Taliban seized seven villages in Arghandab district near the main southern city of Kandahar last week before being driven out by the Afghan army which killed nearly 100 insurgents.

Most of the militants were foreigners, Hamidzada said.

"The Kandahar authorities and the governor have shown the dead bodies there who were not Afghans; the majority were foreign fighters," he said. "The communication between the enemies during the operation in Arghandab was ... in a foreign language." (Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)
(Kabul newsroom +93 707 924 923)
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Afghans point finger over Karzai attack
AFP on Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Afghanistan's government on Tuesday said a "foreign intelligence agency" was behind an April assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai during a military parade in Kabul.

The US-backed Karzai survived the brazen April 27 attacks at the nation's biggest annual military parade but three other Afghans were killed, one of them a parliamentarian.

"Evidence shows the hallmark of a particular foreign intelligence agency which we believe was behind this attack," Karzai's spokesman Homayun Hamidzada said, citing an investigation into the incident.

"We cannot provide further details at this time as the investigation continues," the spokesman told reporters, refusing to name the foreign country or the spy organisation.

Afghan officials including Karzai have in the past accused neighbouring Pakistan's Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) of supporting Taliban militants who are waging a bloody insurgency against the Kabul administration.

The Taliban claimed responsibility at the time of the parade attack, which involved three militant gunmen who opened fire on Karzai and a host of foreign and Afghan dignitaries.

Several people including a defence ministry weapons expert and a police nurse were arrested for allegedly facilitating the attack. The rebels who took part in the attack were killed in return fire by Karzai's guards.

Days later Afghan security forces raided a house in a Kabul suburb and killed three militants including a woman whom the Taliban said were involved in the attack. A child was also killed.

Eight senior government officials including the Kabul police chief have already been suspended from their jobs over their alleged negligence in failing to prevent the attack.

Pakistan nurtured the Taliban and supported the Islamist movement during its 1996-2001 spell in power in Afghanistan, but President Pervez Musharraf dropped the militia under US pressure after the 9/11 attacks.

Islamabad strenuously denies that its intelligence agencies have any links to the insurgents.
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First female police officer killed in Afghanistan: officials
Tue Jun 24, 3:37 AM ET
HERAT, Afghanistan (AFP) - Gunmen on motorcycles shot dead a female police officer in western Afghanistan in what is believed to be the first such attack in the war-torn country, police said Tuesday.

Bibi Hoor, 26, was on her way home in the Guzara district of Herat province late Monday when two armed men on motorbikes opened fire, killing her instantly, police spokesman Abdul Raof Ahmadi told AFP.

"Bibi Hoor is the first policewoman to be assassinated by the enemies of Afghanistan," Ahmadi told AFP, using a phrase that Afghan officials often employ to refer to Islamist Taliban militants.

"She was shot and killed as she was walking home after work."

A police patrol was in the area by chance and arrested the two attackers as they fled from the scene, Ahmadi added. The men were under interrogation but had not said which group they belonged to, he said.

Hoor mostly worked on house searches and also at the main checkpoint of the district police headquarters searching female visitors, he said.

There are around 100 women in the police force in western Afghanistan, mostly working in administration and criminal departments. Sixty policewomen work in Herat province police headquarters, said Ahmadi.

The hardline Taliban, who were ousted from power in late 2001 by a US-led invasion of Afghanistan, were strongly opposed to women working or receiving education.

Women were not allowed to leave home without a male relative under their six-year rule and were made to wear all-covering burqas.

The Taliban have since launched a bloody insurgency against Afghan and foreign security forces which has claimed several thousands of lives.
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Taleban's '$100m opium takings'
By Kate Clark BBC News, Afghanistan Tuesday, 24 June 2008
The Taleban made an estimated $100m (£50m) in 2007 from Afghan farmers growing poppy for the opium trade, the United Nations says.

Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said the money was raised by a 10% tax on farmers in Taleban-controlled areas.

The UN estimates last year's poppy harvest was worth $1bn (£500m).

Mr Costa said the Taleban made even more money from other activities related to the opium trade.

"One is protection to laboratories and the other is that the insurgents offer protection to cargo, moving opium across the border," Mr Costa told the BBC's File on 4 programme.

The final figures for this year's harvest have yet to be released but yield and proceeds are likely to be down due to drought, infestation and a poppy ban enforced in the north and east of Afghanistan.

This would lower revenue, "but not enormously", Mr Costa said.

Stockpiles

The past few years have seen abundant yields from poppy farming, with Afghan farmers cultivating more than the global demand.

"Last year Afghanistan produced about 8,000 tonnes of opium," Mr Costa said.

"The world in the past few years has consumed about 4,000 tonnes in opium, this leaves a surplus.

"It is stored somewhere and not with the farmers," he added.

The stockpiles represent hundreds of millions of dollars and it is not known whether they are possessed by traffickers, corrupt Afghan officials and politicians or the Taleban.

British officials say that drugs money funds the Taleban's military operations.

"The closer we look at it, the closer we see the insurgents [are] to the drugs trade," said David Belgrove, head of counter narcotics at the British embassy in Kabul.

"We can say that a lot of their arms and ammunition are being funded directly by the drugs trade."
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Ammunition Shipment Came From China
Panel Says U.S. Ambassador Knew Origin of Materiel Bound for Afghanistan
Washington Post - World By Walter Pincus Washington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, June 24, 2008
A House investigative committee has learned that the American ambassador to Albania knew evidence of Chinese origins was being removed last year from an ammunition shipment before a U.S. contractor sent the material to Afghanistan, said Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the panel.

This month, Maj. Larry Harrison, a Pentagon official at the U.S. Embassy in Albania, told staff members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that Ambassador John L. Withers II held a late-night meeting with Albania's defense minister. After the Nov. 19 meeting, the order was given to Albanian officers "to remove all evidence of Chinese packaging" from the ammunition, Waxman said in a letter sent yesterday to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

In a June 9 appearance, Harrison told the committee that "the ambassador agreed that this would alleviate the suspicion of wrongdoing," Waxman wrote. Harrison also said "that he did not agree with the decision to remove the Chinese markings," Waxman said.

A federal grand jury on Friday indicted Efraim E. Diveroli, president of AEY Inc., the U.S. company involved, on 71 counts, including conspiracy to defraud the government on a $298 million U.S. Army contract to provide various types of ammunition to the government of Afghanistan.

The contract "prohibited delivery of ammunition acquired, directly or indirectly from a Communist Chinese military contract," according to the press release announcing the indictment by R. Alexander Acosta, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida. The indictment alleges the defendants falsely said the ammunition was manufactured in Albania after they instructed people to remove the Chinese markings.
After his hour-long interview, Harrison "expressed an interest in seeking advice of counsel" and a Pentagon attorney terminated the session, Waxman wrote. Three days later, Harrison's lawyer told the committee he needed at least two weeks to prepare for continuing the interview.

Waxman charged in his letter that "it appears" embassy officials kept from the committee information related to the ambassador's meeting in Albania. Harrison told the panel that he had "urged embassy officials to inform the committee," Waxman wrote, but embassy officials did not mention it in response to a prior request for information.

"We have no information that would support the idea that U.S. officials were involved in some kind of illicit activity," State Department spokesman Tom Casey said yesterday. He added that "any allegations made, certainly any questions raised by the chairman of a major committee . . . is something that we will be happy to look into."

The New York Times this year reported that AEY supplied decades-old stockpiles of ammunition to the U.S. government, after which the Defense Department suspended the company "from future contracting with any agency in the Executive branch," according to a Pentagon announcement.

In his letter to Rice, Waxman asked Withers and five other State Department officers from the Albanian Embassy to be made available for interviews before July 11.

Withers has been ambassador in Tirana since July 2007, and previously directed the State Department's operations center. He has a PhD from Yale in Chinese history, did graduate-level research at Nanjing University and was China desk officer in the 1980s.
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Kabul claims arresting two Pakistanis
Dawn (Pakistan) June 23, 2008
KANDAHAR-Afghan authorities paraded two alleged Pakistani militants before the media in chains and handcuffs on Monday in a fresh attempt to highlight cross-border infiltration by militants.

The governor of Kandahar province said the two men were would-be Taliban suicide bombers, but one of the Pakistanis told journalists he had only entered Afghanistan to fight US-led invading Nato forces.
The public display comes just over a week after Afghan President Hamid Karzai sparked a major diplomatic row by threatening to launch attacks on militants based on Pakistani soil.

“I came to Afghanistan for jihad (the Holy War) but am not a suicide bomber,” the alleged militant, identifying himself as Ali Ahmad in his 20s from the Pakistani city of Quetta, told journalists at the press conference in Kandahar.

He said he was a student at a religious school in Pakistan and was encouraged to fight in Afghanistan by a fellow student who managed to escape arrest.

The second Pakistani national, his hands and feet tied with chains and introduced as Abdul Zahir, did not speak at the news conference, which was hosted by Kandahar governor Assadullah Khalid. The two were arrested on Saturday in the Afghan border town of Spin Boldak along with their Afghan guide as they were on their way to the troubled Zehri district of Kandahar, Governor Khalid said.

“The two Pakistani suicide bombers along with their Afghan guide were arrested two days ago. One of them, Ali Ahmad, has confessed,” Khalid said, despite Ahmad’s denial.

Separately, four men, including three Pakistanis, were arrested in a station wagon filled with explosives in the neighbouring province of Helmand, provincial intelligence chief Mohammad Naeem said.

Karzai’s government has been fighting back against a wave of recent activity by the Taliban, including an embarrassing mass jailbreak by militants in Kandahar earlier this month.

In the wake of the prison escape, Karzai said that the Kabul government would be justified in striking militant hideouts in Pakistan. Islamabad summoned the Afghan ambassador to protest against the comments.—AFP
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Afghanistan: Death penalty call for man who spread Koran translation
Karachi, 23 June (AKI) - (by Syed Saleem Shahzad) - An Afghan journalist accused of distributing an unacceptable translation of the Koran should be put to death, says former Prime Minister Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai.

Former journalist Ghows Zalmay, who was also the spokesman for Afghanistan's Attorney-General, was arrested in November last year for distributing a translation of the Koran into Dari, one of Afghanistan's two official languages.

Ahmadzai, who ran in the 2004 presidential election against current President Hamid Karzai, told Adnkronos International (AKI) he supported the death penalty for Zalmay.

"Today Afghanistan is full of vices. Several Afghan restaurants serve liquor, despite it being illegal and on top of it, such material is distributed," Ahmadzai told AKI.

"I am in favour of his death."

Muslim scholars in Afghanistan reportedly said that the new version of the Koran misinterpreted verses about alcohol, begging, homosexuality and adultery. They also complained that this version was not accompanied by the original version of the Koran in Arabic.

Ghows, 50, is reportedy in jail after being accused of blasphemy and his lawyers say he risks the death penalty. He is expected to face charges in an Afghan court within the next week.

"This is all an American conspiracy to deviate Afghans from their faith," said Al-Hajj Farooq Hussaini, the leader of a Muslim prayer association in the western city of Herat in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).

"They want us to be converted Christians or simply atheists. This American occupation of Afghanistan is worse than the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviets," he said.

Hussaini also referred to the case of Abdul Rahman, an Afghan Christian convert who was granted asylum in Italy in 2006. Rahman escaped a possible death sentence in Afghanistan for becoming a Christian.

"Earlier they protected Abdul Rahman who left Islam and converted to Christianity and now they are encouraging the distribution of the fake translations of Koran," said Hussaini who is also the leader of a group led by Ismail Khan, Afghanistan's Energy Minister.

"Ghows Zalmay should be given an exemplary punishment for his crime," he said.

Many Muslim bloggers have labelled some new translations of the Koran, as the "American Koran", which they say is unauthentic and aimed at distracting Muslims from their faith.
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Afghan teachers face poverty
Chris Sands The National (UAE) June 23, 2008
KABUL // Low salaries are forcing many of Afghanistan’s teachers to take on second jobs so they can feed their families.

Despite promises that their wages would be increased, schoolteachers in Kabul said there have been few improvements since the US-led invasion in 2001.

“When the Taliban regime was destroyed, we were optimistic that the new government would help us, but they have done nothing,” said Aziza Khalil, a chemistry teacher.

Against the backdrop of growing insecurity, education is commonly regarded as being one of Afghanistan’s most tangible success stories.

Girls were barred from going to school under the Taliban, a fact often used as a marker for progress the country has since made.

During a visit to Afghanistan this month, Laura Bush, the wife of the US president, was quick to highlight the issue.

“There’s a huge increase in the number of kids in school,” she told reporters. “There are almost six million kids in school now compared to 2001 when there were maybe a million, but no girls.”

However, the reality is that progress has been slower than many expected and some Afghans fear the education system is in danger of regressing.

Ms Khalil started teaching during the communist era, a period she remembers as perhaps the best time for her and her colleagues.

When the Taliban seized power, she continued to receive her salary for two years, even though she was not allowed to work at Zarghona High School. Although she has been welcomed back, she has had to take on another job, tutoring students after school, to make ends meet.

“We have five people in our family and that’s small for Afghanistan. But on the salary I get I cannot even afford to buy them tea and bread,” Ms Khalil said.

Most teachers at state schools earn between US$50 to $100 (Dh183 to Dh367) a month. Those interviewed said their income had barely changed since the Taliban regime was overthrown and, with basic living expenses increasing, they were struggling to survive.

“The problem is with the people in high positions. They steal the money given to the ministry of education and build themselves a house, a beautiful castle,” Ms Khalil said.

Last month, teachers around the country went on strike to demand a pay rise. The protest lasted just two days at Zarghona, but elsewhere the demonstrations were longer and the police responded by arresting some school principals.

Nazifa Ghiasi, a colleague of Ms Khalil’s, also has a second job, earning more as a tailor than she does from helping girls learn Pashto. In total, she works an average of 14 to 15 hours a day. “I have five children and the money from teaching is not enough for me,” she said.

The government has pledged to increase salaries as part of an overall scheme to raise wages in the public sector, but the plan is not due to be implemented for at least another three years.

Mohammed Suleman Kakar, a senior adviser at the ministry of education, acknowledged Afghanistan’s schools were in a “crisis situation”, but warned it could take another five years to move beyond that.

“When you have such a large number of students enrolled in schools, you have to provide the supplies, including qualified teachers, textbooks, buildings, good administration and management,” he said. “Resources have always been limited and strategic planning for the organisation of all this was lacking.”

Mr Kakar said the ministry of education receives just 30 per cent of the money it needs annually.

Teachers across the city said classroom supplies rely on donations from wealthy parents, and that in one school regular electricity was only possible because a former pupil is the nephew of an influential warlord.

Zarghona also has to share its facilities with another school, a situation found throughout Kabul.

At Rukhshana High School, some lessons are held in the corridors as all the classrooms are full.

“This is all because of [Hamid] Karzai,” one female teacher at the school said, blaming the Afghan president.

Her colleague, however, disagreed. “This is all because of the Americans. They do not want to improve education in Afghanistan.”

Mr Kakar said poor governance following the US-led invasion caused many of the problems that exist today.

He said only 35 per cent of schools have buildings and 80 per cent of teachers have not completed high school education.

Security is also a big problem in seven provinces, including Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul and Badghis.

“Schools are attacked, schools are blown up, schools are burnt, teachers are killed, students are killed, students and teachers are threatened,” he said.

He said in the short-term, teachers who register with the government, pass a competency test and open a bank account will receive relatively substantial pay rises.

But the ministry hopes that a scheme due to be implemented in stages over the next three to four years will eventually leave all of its teachers with a minimum wage of about $120 a month. The maximum will be about $500 or $600.
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UK soldier killed in Afghanistan
Tuesday, 24 June 2008 18:10 UK BBC News
A British soldier has been killed in fighting with the Taleban in southern Afghanistan, the MoD has said.

The soldier, from 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, died during a firefight in Helmand province.

An MoD spokesman said: "The soldier was on a deliberate operation against the Taleban in the Upper Sangin Valley when he was fatally wounded."

Next of kin have been informed. Since 2001, 107 British soldiers have now died during operations in Afghanistan.

Mine blast

International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) spokesman Brig Gen Carlos Branco said: "Our deepest sympathies are with the soldier's family and friends as they deal with their loss.

"The focus right now is to look after the soldier's family and colleagues and to provide them the best possible support during this difficult time."

Ten British service personnel have been killed in Afghanistan since 8 June, six of them from the Parachute Regiment.

Privates Nathan Cuthbertson, David Murray and Daniel Gamble died in a suicide bombing while on foot patrol.

Fellow Paras L/Cpl James Bateman and Pte Jeff Doherty died under fire from the Taleban on 12 June.

The first British woman soldier to be killed in Afghanistan, Cpl Sarah Bryant, of 15 (United Kingdom) Psychological Operations Group, died on 17 June.

SAS reservists Cpl Sean Robert Reeve, L/Cpl Richard Larkin and Paul Stout were killed in the same incident after their vehicle hit a mine.
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NATO steps up Taliban attacks along Pakistan-Afghanistan border
Increased strikes are causing friction between the US and Pakistani government, which prefers to negotiate with the militants
By David Montero Christian Science Monitor June 24, 2008 at 10:32 am EDT
In the latest incident to spell trouble on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, suspected Taliban militants attacked check posts, kidnapped Pakistani policemen, and blew up oil tankers destined for US and NATO troops in Afghanistan on Tuesday.

In retaliation, NATO forces are stepping up attacks inside Pakistan, causing friction with Pakistan's new government, which hopes to negotiate peace with the militants.

For more than a year, Taliban militants have regrouped along Pakistan's border region, where the Pakistani state's presence is weak, and used it as a staging ground to launch attacks against both US and allied troops in Afghanistan, as well as Pakistan's government. Tuesday's violence was the latest in a series to target that border, reports Agence France-Presse.

Suspected Taliban rebels kidnapped 17 tribal policemen near Pakistan's Khyber pass, police said Monday, the latest incident on the main supply route for international forces in Afghanistan.

Armed men attacked four checkposts on Sunday in the troubled region, where militants blew up 36 tankers bringing fuel for US and NATO troops across the border in March, wounding 100 people.

The security of the route has been under scrutiny since the US-led coalition reported that four helicopter engines worth 13 million dollars had gone missing in April while being transported by a Pakistani haulage firm.

Pakistan's leading English-language newspaper, Dawn, adds:

The 35km-long Peshawar-Torkham highway, the main supply route for international forces in Afghanistan, has become insecure after the kidnapping of Pakistan's Ambassador to Afghanistan Tariq Azizuddin, his driver and guard on Feb 11.

Several militant groups have intensified their patrolling of the route and last week they threatened to disrupt oil and aid supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Forty-two tankers carrying fuel for US and NATO forces were blown up near Torkham on March 23, two World Food Programme officials were kidnapped on April 21 and an army vehicle was targeted with a remote-controlled bomb on May 20.

The escalating violence has prompted US-led coalition forces to step up attacks along Pakistan's border, and even inside Pakistani territory, The New York Times reports.

NATO forces in Afghanistan shelled guerrillas in Pakistan in two separate episodes on Sunday, as escalating insurgent violence appeared to be eroding the alliance's restraint along the border....

The firing by NATO forces into Pakistani territory followed an American airstrike on a Pakistani border post earlier this month that killed 11 Pakistani soldiers. The Pakistani government denounced the strike, and the American government expressed regret, but it is still not entirely clear what happened.

The latest NATO strike to occur on Afghan soil on Tuesday also implicates Pakistan. The strike, which occurred in the eastern province of Paktia, near the border with Pakistan, killed 15 militants, allegedly including Pakistani nationals, reports Agence France-Presse.

Insurgents opened fire on the headquarters of the province's Sayed Karam district but were driven away after a gunbattle which caused slight damage to the building, provincial government spokesman Rohullah Samoon said.

"NATO helicopters then bombed the militants and killed 14 militants on the spot. Our policemen arrested another four wounded, and one of the wounded also died in hospital," Samoon told AFP....

"The three arrested terrorists have told police that most of the 15 Taliban killed in the air strike were Pakistani nationals and some of them from Arab countries," he said.

The New York Times adds that NATO is increasingly concerned about the Taliban's ability to use Pakistan as a staging ground for attacks.

American and Afghan officials say the surging violence in Afghanistan is in large part caused by the sanctuaries that militants enjoy in Pakistan. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, have assembled in Pakistan, most of them in the area along the remote and mountainous frontier where the government exercises no authority.


NATO's controversial attacks come as Pakistan's new government, since taking office in February, has struggled to negotiate a series of peace deals with the Taliban rather than fight them.

An opinion piece in the Pakistani daily The News suggests that local observers now worry that the US administration and Pakistan's new government no longer agree on the best approach for tackling Taliban presence in the region.

The cracks in the relationship are beginning to show, now more than ever. It is becoming increasingly apparent that America and Pakistan are failing to see eye to eye on many critical strategic matters on how to conduct this war.

While Pakistan is increasingly proffering reasons to choose dialogue over military operation in dealing with the militants, America, with its fetish for warfare, seems to have stepped up its military operations, to the point where it matters little if in the process it is overriding the sovereignty of its most important ally, or even killing its people.

Observers from afar are also counseling Washington to allow Pakistan's new government to steer its own course in tackling militancy. An editorial this week in Lebanon's leading English language daily, The Daily Star, admonishes:

It is critical for the US to recognize that the priority of the Pakistani government should be to first bring peace and stability within its own borders. If the new leadership is seen to place the interests of the United States before its own, it will experience the same legitimacy problems President Pervez Musharraf faced. This will undermine Pakistan's democratic transition, creating instability in the country and the region.

If negotiations fail because of militant uprisings, Pakistanis will support the use of force knowing all other channels were exhausted. This will lead to greater public ownership of the fight against extremism, something the United States has called for.
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AFGHANISTAN: Clashes' zone near Kandahar to get emergency relief aid
24 Jun 2008 18:21:40 GMT
KANDAHAR, 24 June 2008 (IRIN) - The government of Afghanistan and UN agencies have agreed to distribute emergency humanitarian relief immediately to thousands of Battle-Affected Persons (BAPs) in Arghandab District, Kandahar Province.

"Seven thousand families have been verified as in need of assistance," said Salvatore Lombardo, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) representative in Afghanistan, adding that the number may increase as verification continues in the coming days.

Two thousand families are expected to receive food and non-food aid in the initial phase which will start on 25 June, aid agencies said. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Kabul said on 24 June that 234 tonnes of mixed food items have been delivered to Arghandab District and would be distributed on 25 June.

Thousands of civilians abandoned their homes in the district after scores of Taliban fighters reportedly raided several villages and prepared to fight Afghan and international forces on 16-17 June, planting landmines and destroying bridges. The insurgents were driven back by Afghan army and NATO-led forces on 19 June.

According to the Defence Ministry, only one civilian was killed during the military operation in which over 90 insurgents and two Afghan soldiers died.

Livelihoods affected

But the impact on local people has been significant. "Some people have been severely affected by the conflict and require long-term assistance to revive their damaged and lost livelihoods," Mohammad Qasim, the district administrator of Arghandab, told IRIN on 24 June.

Arghandab District, which starts some 10km to the northwest of Kandahar city, is the province's main fruit producing area, and over 85 percent of its estimated 120,000 population are involved in agriculture.

"In some cases fruit gardens have been damaged, water-sources have been destroyed or fruit that farmers had prepared for delivery to market before the conflict rotted in the sun," Qasim said, adding: "Obviously farmers are poor and cannot afford such losses."

Compensation payments

Taliban insurgents have been condemned for their destruction of public and private property in the district, but some locals said they also suffered losses in aerial strikes by international forces.

"What can I do with a sack of wheat? My house has been destroyed and so has my [fruit] garden… I need help to rebuild them," said a local, Obaidullah.

The US army and over 30 other coalition forces do not offer compensation to civilians who get killed or lose property in military operations, according to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. However, some NATO member countries, have paid ad hoc "sympathy" and "condolence" payments to families.
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Vaccines for refugees under UNHCR-UNICEF agreement
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, June 23 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) have signed an agreement that will result in significant savings in the purchase of vaccines for Afghans and locals living in and around Pakistan's refugee villages.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by UNHCR's representative in Pakistan, Guenet Guebre-Christos, and her UNICEF counterpart, Martin Mogwanja, in Islamabad last Saturday.

Under the MoU, UNICEF will procure vaccines on UNHCR's behalf based on the current UNICEF supply catalogue and price list or other estimates provided by UNICEF, which are lower than what UNHCR currently pays.

"This MoU is a good example of the UN delivering as one," said Guebre-Christos. "The economies of scale will allow us to be more cost-efficient when procuring vaccines. This in turn will help us to maximize services to the refugees."

Every year, UNHCR spends some US$200,000 on vaccines for hundreds of thousands of refugee children and pregnant women living in refugee villages, as well as their host communities. The vaccines are to prevent diseases such as polio, measles, tuberculosis, diphtheria, Hepatitis B and tetanus.
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Assassination trial will be open to the public
www.quqnoos.com Written by Mukhtar Soar Monday, 23 June 2008 
No date set for trial of officials accused of failing to stop plot to kill Karzai
THE TRIAL of 20 security officials accused of failing to stifle the plot to kill the president will be open to the public, the attorney-general said on Sunday.

Evidence against the 20 men, who have been under investigation for more than one and a half months, has already been submitted to the Supreme Court, but no date has been set for the start of the trial, Abdul Jabar Sabit said.

The attorney-general suspended eight top-ranking security officials from their jobs in the police, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defence one month after gunmen opened fire on President Karzai at a military parade.

The assassination attempt on April 27 killed one Member of Parliament, a council leader and a young boy and wounded 10 others.

Both the Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami claimed responsibility for the attack, which the government believes may have been the work of the Haqqani "terror" network based in Pakistan.

Days after the attack on the president’s life, the ministers of defence and interior and the head of the country’s secret service survived a vote of no confidence in Parliament.

The next day, the head of the intelligence service, Amrullah Saleh, said his NDS officers had arrested a spy posted inside one of the ministries to help plot the assassination attempt.

The NDS launched three separate dawn raids on suspected militant hideouts in Kabul after the ‘spy’ told intelligence officers where the plotters were hiding.

All the gunmen who fired shots at the parade were killed and most of those involved in organising and supplying weapons to the attackers were arrested, Saleh said at the time.
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Islamabad awaits Kabul’s response over border fencing: PM
Daily Times (Pakistan) 24 June 2008
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will fence its border with Afghanistan if Kabul agrees to the proposal, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Monday, adding that Islamabad was awaiting Kabul’s response. Talking to outgoing Canadian High Commissioner David B Collin, who paid a farewell visit to the premier, Gilani praised Canada’s role in Afghanistan’s reconstruction.

He said Pakistan had taken a number of steps to stop illegal cross border movements, including the setting up of 900 checkposts and the installation of biometric system along the border.

Stable Afghanistan: The prime minister said Pakistan wanted a stable and peaceful Afghanistan because it would help promote economic development in the region. He added Pakistan wanted a dignified and early repatriation of Afghan refugees to their home. The high commissioner said Canada intended to work on the resettlement of Afghan refugees in Afghanistan.

Gilani said people had elected moderate and democratic political parties in the February 18 elections, adding that broad-based governments had been formed at the centre and in the provinces.

He appreciated Collin’s contributions to strengthen relations between Islamabad and Ottawa. Collin also visited President Pervez Musharraf at Aiwan-e-Sadr.

President Musharraf stressed the importance of Pakistan-Canada relationships, and lauded Collin’s contribution in this regard. Musharraf also lauded Canadian company Barrick Gold’s investment in the copper mining joint venture project in Balochistan.
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12 Pakistanis deported from Afghanistan
Daily Times (Pakistan) 24 June 2008
LANDIKOTAL: Afghan government on Monday deported 12 Pakistanis and handed them over to Pakistani authorities at Torkham border.

The deportees belong to settled areas of NWFP. They were arrested on allegations of carrying illegal travel documents like visas and passports.

The deportees told border officials that they had gone to Afghanistan in search of work.

They have been identified as Shah Hussain, Hayatuddin, Muhammad Omer, Sardar Hussain, Malik Zeb, Badsha Zeb, Nehar Ali, Wajid Ali, Sartaj, Hazrat Ali, Amjad and Shad Ali.

The Afghan government has been deporting a number of Pakistanis for travelling without legal travel documents daily.

On the other hand, Abdul Manan Afghan Shinwari, believed to be the main source for illegal trafficking of Pakistanis to Afghanistan, has also been arrested. sudhir ahmad afridi
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Leadership Void Seen in Pakistan
By CARLOTTA GALL – New York Times 6.24.08
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan is in a leaderless drift four months after elections, according to Western diplomats and military officials, Pakistani politicians and Afghan officials who are increasingly worried that no one is really in charge.

The sense of drift is the subject of almost every columnist in the English-language press in Pakistan, and anxiety over the lack of leadership and the weakness of the civilian government now infuses conversations with analysts, diplomats and Pakistani government officials.

The problem is most acute, they say, when it comes to dealing with militants in the tribal areas that have become home to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Although the political parties and the military all seek a breather from the suicide bombings and nascent insurgency that have roiled Pakistan in recent years, there are fundamental disagreements over the problem of militancy that they have not begun to address, Pakistani politicians and Western diplomats say.

The confusion is allowing the militants to consolidate their sanctuaries while spreading their tentacles all along the border area, military officials and diplomats warn. It has also complicated policy for the Bush administration, which leaned heavily on one man, President Pervez Musharraf, to streamline its antiterrorism efforts in Pakistan.

If anyone is in charge of security policy in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, Pakistani politicians and Western diplomats say, that remains the military and the country’s premier intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, which operate with little real oversight.

While the newly elected civilian government has been criticized for dealing with the militants, it is the military that is brokering cease-fires and prisoner exchanges with minimum consultation with the government, politicians from the government coalition, diplomats and analysts said.

Politicians in both the provincial and central governments complain they are excluded from the negotiations and did not even know of a secret deal struck in February, before the elections.

“You see a lack of a coordinated strategy between the federal level and provincial level, and that includes the ISI and the military, who are clear players,” said one Western diplomat with knowledge of the tribal regions, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. “You see it even on principles of negotiation and combined strategy.”

One newspaper, the weekly Friday Times, satirized the situation with a front-page cartoon showing the country’s main political players riding in a plane, all issuing different instructions.

Since coming to power in February, the fragile coalition government, run by Benazir Bhutto’s widower, Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, has been engrossed in internal wrangling over removing President Musharraf.

The coalition is barely functioning after half its ministers left the cabinet in May in a dispute over whether to reinstate 60 high court judges dismissed by Mr. Musharraf last year.

For now it is just accepting the military’s decisions regarding the militants, said Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani general who is now a political analyst. He characterized the country as suffering from “institutional paralysis and a dysfunctional government, signs of which are showing already.”

The American commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Dan K. McNeill, also described the government as “dysfunctional” just before leaving his post earlier this month.

“I have a feeling that no one is in charge and that is why the militants are taking advantage,” Mr. Masood said. “It is a very dangerous situation because what is happening is the Afghan government is getting desperate.”

The frustration is such that President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan threatened this month to send troops into Pakistan to pursue Pakistani militant leaders.

That Pakistan’s government appears broken is not surprising, analysts say. Pakistan’s civilian institutions were atrophied by eight years of military rule, and the country’s major political parties were left rudderless by the absence of their leaders, who lived in exile much of that time. The assassination of Ms. Bhutto in December left her party in even deeper disarray.

The military remains the country’s strongest institution, having ruled Pakistan for about half of the country’s 61 years of independence. But it is proving to be an increasingly fickle and prickly partner for Washington. United States and NATO officials are still struggling to decipher the intentions of the army’s new chief of staff, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Last fall, at the time of his appointment, American officials spoke approvingly of General Kayani, who seemed well aware of the threat the militants posed to Pakistan, and of the dangers of peace deals that have allowed the militants to tighten their grip in the tribal areas.

But despite at least $12 billion in aid to Pakistan from Washington for the fight against the militants since 2001, General Kayani has recently shown a reluctance to use the military for counterinsurgency operations, suggesting that the task be left to the much weaker tribal force, the Frontier Corps. He has encouraged the civilian government to take the lead.

Part of the confusion stems from the shift in power from military rule, after President Musharraf stepped down as head of the army in December, to the new civilian government, one Western military official said. “Kayani is being careful not to get too far out in front and is trying to determine who is in charge,” he said. “We all are.”

The uneasy balance between civilian and military authority was demonstrated this month when the finance minister, Naveed Qamar, revealed details of the defense budget to Parliament for the first time in 40 years. While Mr. Qamar called it a “historic moment,” the document was a mere two pages.

Parliament, tied up with budget negotiations until next month, has not discussed security or militancy. “We do understand this is the biggest issue, and after the budget session it will have to be addressed,” said Farah Ispahani, a Pakistan Peoples Party legislator.

Meanwhile, the military under General Kayani has quietly pursued its own policies, politicians from the government coalition, diplomats and analysts say. The military and ISI negotiated a little-known truce with the tribes and militants of North Waziristan just days before the Feb. 18 elections, a senior government official in Peshawar confirmed.

The deal was so secretive that few in the government know its contents even today. “The civilian government is in the back seat, or not even in the back seat,” said the Western diplomat, who did not want to be identified because of the critical nature of the remarks. The military also began negotiations with the most powerful of the Taliban commanders, Baitullah Mehsud, in January, just weeks after the government accused him of masterminding Ms. Bhutto’s assassination.

An official agreement with the Mehsud tribe has not been completed, but the military has already pulled back from some positions, put in place a cease-fire and exchanged prisoners with the militants.

Western officials are suspicious of the deal. Mr. Mehsud is accused of dispatching scores of suicide bombers in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but the agreement initially included no prohibition on cross-border attacks.

Only after strong pressure from the United States and other allies did the military insert such a clause this month, according to a senior official close to the negotiations. In the meantime, cross-border attacks increased by 50 percent in May, NATO officials in Afghanistan say.

The provincial government in the North-West Frontier Province has also expressed its reservations about the deal. Officials from the Awami National Party, a Pashtun nationalist party that leads the government in the province and which is also part of the national coalition, complained that they have not been included in the military’s decisions.

“Our main demand is that we should be included in negotiations,” said Wajid Ali Khan, a party official. “We don’t know with whom they are talking.”

Moreover, the central government’s point man for counterterrorism, the acting interior minister, Rehman Malik, has appeared to have an uneven grasp of developments.

This month he announced in Parliament that the peace deal with militants in the Swat Valley, just outside the tribal areas, had been scrapped. But he retracted the statement the next day, after the provincial government insisted the deal was still on.

Officials of the Awami National Party have complained that his comments undermined their negotiating position. Afrasiab Khattak, a senior official of the party, and other party officials are confident they can make the peace deals in their province work. But few believe that the deals brokered by the military in the tribal regions will last more than a few months, including military officials themselves, senior government officials in Peshawar say.

More fighting and violence is almost certainly on the horizon. What the plan will be then, no one seems to know.
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A nation as yet unbuilt
Afghanistan has never been a successful state. Our involvement there is based on a delusion
Peter Preston  The Guardian UK Monday June 23, 2008
Francis Fukuyama posed the basic Afghan dilemma as the supposed triumph of western invasion began to fall apart. Afghanistan has never been "modern", he observed, chillingly. "Under the monarchy that existed until the beginning of its political troubles in the 1970s, it largely remained a tribal confederation with minimal state penetration outside Kabul". And the subsequent years "of communist misrule and civil war eliminated everything that was left" of that feeble entity. History wasn't dead, in short; Afghans were dead.

And now, many killing fields later, we can put that even more starkly. Afghanistan isn't a "failed" state, because Afghanistan has never been a successful one. Afghanistan is a crossroads, a traffic island, a war zone, a drug den, an exotic doormat, and an eternal victim.

But it is not, in any coherent sense, a nation. We cannot see peace, harmony and freedom "restored" there, because such concepts have no roots in its essentially medieval past, or present. Afghanistan has always been a disaster waiting to happen, again and again.

Did John Reid, pausing briefly at the Ministry of Defence on his routemarch through Whitehall, know this when he vowed that we would "be perfectly happy to leave in three years without firing one shot, because our job is reconstruction"? One hundred body bags back at Brize Norton, that question answers itself. Of course, he didn't know. Nobody who ordered the troops in to flush out al-Qaida knew. Nobody dreamed that Kabul and Kandahar would be tougher nuts to crack than Baghdad and Basra. But they ought to realise it now.

Reid thought that the American mission was "chasing the terrorists who did so much to destroy the twin towers", while our happy boys could get by with a little roadbuilding. Which delusion seems greater today?

Osama bin Laden is still somewhere out there, chased but uncaught. Even Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban government, hasn't been brought to book. And Helmand province, these past few days, has seen only roadside bombs blowing up our boys (and one natural front-page girl). You couldn't have a greater failure of intelligence, or expectation.

What's gone wrong? See the official excuses pour in. Of course the porous border with ungovernable Waziristan and Baluchistan doesn't help. Of course, Iran can be blamed for almost anything too. And, of course, corruption, both central and local, weighs everything down. (Guess which one world commodity crop isn't shrinking ...) But the crippling difficulty, nullifying all efforts, seldom breaks cover.

You'd suppose, from press and ministerial briefings, that the Taliban and al-Qaida were somehow synonymous - alien forces implanted among loyal, struggling Afghans. It's a convenient delusion, one that chimes with a similar yarn in Iraq (where bombings and kidnappings are blamed on stray Saudis or Egyptians, not indigenous Iraqis). But that's clearly rubbish as the suicide attacks proliferate. Taliban patrols do, indeed, pass back and forth across Pakistan's non-frontier. But they are also an Afghan presence with Afghan support. They are part of the Afghan scenery (just as they were when Mullah Omar ruled).
This isn't a war against invaders. This is a war pitting Afghan against Afghan, as usual, as ever: an uncivil conflict. Which is why it is a war we cannot win. If there is no structure, no authority beyond ad hoc tribalism, then there is no victory that can last. The past few decades here, like the centuries that went before as the Mongols and Genghis Khan stormed by, have been years of splitting and slaughtering: one tribe against another, one warlord against his neighbour, one communist against another, the peripheries against Kabul.

The irony is that, left alone to stew, the Taliban would have gone the way of the Parcham and the Khalq before. There was no need to try to destroy them: Afghan anarchy would have done that in time.
But because we persisted in thinking of al-Qaida as some disciplined "terrorist army" pitted against our armies, because we talked in conventional terms that seemed to turn this wreck of a non-state into a nation like any other, we thought that conventional tactics could work. They won't. They have no foundations.

Afghanistan is a nation yet unbuilt, a black hole of hope defying calculation. It kills outsiders; it kills the insiders who seek to rule it. Its great game, over generations, knows only failure; and the only way not to become a loser is to resolve - at last - not to play.

p.preston@guardian.co.uk 
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District free from Taliban, safe for locals to return, Afghan commander says
GRAEME SMITH - June 24, 2008 Globe and Mail
KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN -- The roads of Arghandab district have been cleared of explosives and it's now safe for villagers to return home, a senior Afghan commander says.

Thousands of people ran from their villages north of Kandahar city last week as the Taliban infiltrated the district and prepared for a bloody confrontation with Canadian and Afghan forces. Even after the fighting had stopped, Afghan officials continued to warn people to stay away because the retreating insurgents had planted improvised bombs in the roads.

"The insurgents are cruel, vile, villainous, and they have placed mines across the area," said Brigadier-General Gul Aga Naebi, commander of the Afghan Army's 205th Corps, and responsible for most of the Afghan troops in Kandahar. "Fortunately, the Afghan National Army, with the equipment they have, detonated the mines, and all Kandahar citizens can witness the fact that we cleared the area and at the present moment there is no problem for the return of local nationals."

Most of the Taliban's mines were designed to hit vehicles, the commander said. At one intersection, Afghan troops showed journalists large green plastic containers buried in the road, apparently containing a significant volume of explosives. Soldiers marked the mines with red spray paint and engineering teams later detonated them.

In a press conference with local and foreign journalists, the Afghan commander also supported Kandahar Governor Asadullah Khalid's assertion that the battle was much larger than described by Canadian and NATO officials. More than 100 insurgents were likely killed, he said. However, the Afghan commander said that rumours of a major presence of foreign fighters among the insurgents is not supported by physical evidence; his forces did not find any obvious foreigners among the slain fighters.

According to local villagers, he said, the dead included several members of the Taliban's shadow government: the provincial governor, the provincial chief of police, the chief of intelligence, head of the national bank and a district leader. "In the history of Kandahar, the insurgents have never faced such attrition," Gen. Naebi said.

The Afghan commander also contradicted the reports of local villagers who said Taliban sympathizers within Arghandab district had assisted the insurgents' arrival last week, and that the Taliban fighters' ranks had been swollen by local recruits. "I can assure you, the local people did not support them," he said.

So far, the Taliban have denied that any of their commanders were killed in Arghandab.
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Afghan corruption 'a cancer,’ MacKay says
By The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — The Afghan government must eliminate the corruption that threatens to undermine the good work being done by Canadian soldiers and their allies, says Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

MacKay made the comments Monday night during a break at a fundraising dinner for the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party. He said corruption, particularly in the southern region of Kandahar, is like a cancer that must be eradicated.

"The Afghan government must address those issues that can be like a cancer," MacKay said.

Canada is playing an "enabling" role in Afghanistan, assisting the government, its military and its administration in the pivotal task of rebuilding the country and defeating the Taliban, the defence minister said.
Canada and its 40 allies in Afghanistan will continue to press the government of Hamid Karzai to deal with issues that undermine the allied effort, MacKay said, but added cleaning up the country is a task that only the Karzai government can carry out.

MacKay said he expects incoming Chief of Defence Staff Lt.-Gen. Walter Natynczyk will continue to build on the successes of his predecessor, Gen. Rick Hillier, in Afghanistan and with the Armed Forces.
Natynczyk, a Winnipeg native and the current vice-chief of defence staff, possesses all the attributes that made his appointment an easy decision, MacKay added.

MacKay said that Natynczyk works closely with Hillier and was deeply involved in most of the recent procurement decisions for the armed forces.

Natynczyk, who assumes the top post July 2, grew up in Winnipeg and has spent 30 years in the Canadian military.

More than 500 PC Manitoba members and supporters attended the dinner at the Victoria Inn, one of two major fundraising events the party stages every year. During the dinner, MacKay planned to talk to party faithful about Canada’s role in Afghanistan.
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TAPI  GAS PIPELINE PROJECT : FACTS
Nadjib TABIBI Geneva-Switzerland June 23rd,08
Before, we all get into “Operation Enduring Pipeline” so eloquently put by Don Bacon in his article dated June 20th  or   “Pipeline opens new front in Afghanistan” by Shawn MCCarthy who’s a Global Energy reporter who’s reffering to the Canadian role in  Qandahar, a key province,  that falls along the pipeline route, it’s seriousely time to  reverse for a better understading of the project’s complexity and to focus  on some important facts  that are make or break decisions for realization of the TAPI project.

We are all unanimous that the security along the pipeline route that will run from the Daulatabad gas field in Turkmenistan to Fazilka  near the Pakistan-India border is of  the highest priority coupled with the fact that the Government of Afghanistan  has given its assurance to  all stakeholders that the process to clean up the landmines has started and will be completed within two (2) years.  It would be also time for the Afghan government to set-up its National Oil Company that will be part of the consortium. This important entity has already pre-existed prior to TAPI project  in other three nations, Turkmenistan, Pakistan and India. It’s the Ministry of Mines of Afghanistan that at present time handling the negotiations on behalf of the Afghan Government (although the TAPI project has to do more with transit, transport and tariff issues than mining!).

By the same token I would like to draw our  reader’s humble  attention that first and above all an agreement has to be reached with regards the pricing formula as well as the  transit and tariff issues between the four partners involved  in this venture. Once an agreement is reached  than we all go and start pitching for the capital/financing of the project or the security issues along the pipeline route!   It’s a sine-qua-non condition that a consensus is to be reached on the pricing formula as well as transit/tariff issues.  Suprisingly India has offered a price tag of 200$-230 $ per 1000 CM (India’s offer corresponds to the present purchasing price of Russia’s Gazprom of Turkmen LNG). The surprise is not the price but the timing! with already a counter offer by   Turkmenistan  where it expects to receive 400$ - 450 $ per 1000 CM according to some financial reviews !

The heart of the question is: how can it be possible to start negotiating the price where no agreement has been reached on the formula regarding the pricing strcuture?

Our understanding is that this venture falls within a long-term contract period and are not simple spot sales or short term agreements! Eventually, 7.6 billion dollars is going to be pumped and poured  in the TAPI project and we have to make sure that the technicalities and the sales-purchase contract conditions are clear for all parties involved  and that everybody is happy. At least for the sake of National Energy Security reasons. The best recommendation would be  to get into contracts enjoying flexibility and avoid rigid terms in view of  protecting  the success  and the economic viability of  the project on the long run! 

With regards the price fomula, it seems that the idea is to follow th IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India) model which is to link the price of Turkmen natural gas to the Japanese Crude Cocktail price (JCC). The Japanese Crude Cocktail price is the monthly average of crude imported. Generally, the LNG prices in Asia are tied to Japan Crude Cocktail benchmark or the average  price for customs-cleared crude imports into Japan. Just to put things into perpective and for our readers to better understand,  the pricing  formula is generally defined as:

P$/mmbtu (million British thermal units) CIF Japan = a1X +a2+S

a1,a2 are constant coefficients and X is the Crude Oil (Japanese Crude Cocktail:JCC) CIF price, S coefficient or curve is added to the price formula to dumpen the price curve and maintain more stability of the price in case of spikes in the price of crude!  As a matter of fact the initial price formula that Islamic Republics of  Iran had proposed to India within the context of the IPI project was   10 percent of the ruling Brent crude price +constant and subsequently amended to 6.3 percent of JCC plus a constant.

Its noteworthy that various type of formulas are used today in negotiations of sale and purchase contracts of  LNG i.e. S curve, the FOB parity, the Minimum price and Netback pricing approach.

But one should ask the question whether it makes sense  simply to link the gas price   to JCC basket  as the market today is following a total different dynamic with new trends.  Earlier this  Sunday,  King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia stated “There are several factor behind the unjustified, swift rise in oil prices and they are:Speculators who play the market out of selfish interests, increased consumption by several developing economies and additional taxes on oil in several consuming countries,” moreover  King Abdullah urged to “ Uncover the truth” and the “real and full reasons” behind the skyrocketing price of oil and this despite the requests of Samuel Bodman U.S. Energy Scretary to increase production!

Well, here is  some food for thought! Should one still adopt the price indexation to Japanese Crude Cocktail or time has come to spell a much more  innovative formula for the Turkmen gas pricing by taking into consideration length of the contract, issues related to transport, transit and traiffs, investment capital, security, local market dynamics in consumer countries! or to continue  with the S curve idea! 

Formula relative pricing is important in order to protect, the seller, buyer and investor,however,  the crack of the matter is that a tremendous responsibility lies with  Turkmenistan who’s an important partner and  player in the region and is  ranking on top 12 countries in terms of natural gas reserves.  We understand that Gapzorm of Russia and China is always seduced by Turkmen LNG. We also understand that  the Europeans  supports the Afghan route but at the same time is actively lobbying for Turkmenistan to join the Nabucco pipline project that shall open an alternative purchsing  source to Russia for the Europeans.  United States is also supportive of the Afghan route. Everybody’s supportive!but where’s the beef?

But all lies with Turkmenistan! and its geo-economic ambitions. An exercise in which Kazakhstan has become  master by keeping the balance between all three super powers: Russia, China and the Unites States.

The make or break of the “TAPI” project shall entirely depend on one hand on  Turkmenistan and the extent it’s willing to compromise and on the other hand,  how quick the government of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India as well as the International institutions  shall mobilize the required capital for the project. Just to remind that ther’s a long queue of very serious customers ready to pay cash  for Turkmen LNG!

Furthermore, the idea of His Excellency, President Kuranbankuly Berdymukhamedov, Turkmenistan’s President,  to have the United Nation to adopt a new convention guaranteeing the  pipeline security is a  proposal  to be sharpened and  supported by TAPI members.  

Nadjib TABIBI is an   Economist and a graduate from University of Geneva, Switzerland. He is currently involved in the Oil & Gas sector projects in Central Asia and the Caspian region. Has also  served as Economic Advisor to the Afghan Ministry of Commerce.
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analysis: Understanding Afghan rage — Rasul Bakhsh Rais
Daily Times (Pakistani commentary)
There are many sceptics that doubt the efficacy of negotiating peace with the tribal militants. In my view elected governments have a right to explore alternative solutions to the difficult and stubborn legacies of conflict that Afghanistan and Pakistan face together

Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been difficult for obvious reasons. Afghanistan has been in a state of war for more than thirty years; it is still not out of the conflict that started with the American-led invasion. And Kabul has reasons to believe that the violence it has been enduring for decades has much to do with the role of foreign actors, including Islamabad.

It is in this context that we need to examine the outrage that President Hamid Karzai expressed in threatening to attack the houses of suspected Pakistani militants and eliminating them. Karzai’s angry and aggressive tone toward Pakistan is not new; he has quite frequently, on occasions when he could draw international attention, blamed Pakistan for not doing enough to stop the infiltration of militants into Afghanistan.

Some of us may conveniently ignore Afghan threats and warnings and term them empty, frustrated, politically motivated or inspired by the United States and other countries that are engaged in the stabilisation and reconstruction of Afghanistan. Nevertheless, we need to objectively analyse why Afghan leaders are becoming increasingly impatient, angry and threatening.

Our media and government often deflect the accusations of the Afghan leaders by telling them that they and their foreign allies have failed to contain the insurgency of the Taliban mainly in the Pashtun region, and that they cannot blame Pakistan for this. Both within Afghanistan and the international coalition partners, much thought has been given to what has gone wrong.

There is the realisation among all stakeholders that priorities in Afghanistan have not been set right. Security and financial resources are inadequate, and the task of nation building in war-torn Afghanistan cannot be carried out smoothly in the face of ethnic divisions and power politics. The international community and observers of the Afghan political and security scene have also rightly blamed the personal and leadership failures of Afghan leaders, including Mr Karzai.

Afghanistan has been in turmoil for the better half of thirty long and painful years, mostly due to the follies and inadequacies of Afghan leaders. Many of them have problems accepting responsibility and are ever ready to blame anyone but themselves.

But the internal problems of Afghanistan — a weak and ineffective state, lack of legitimacy, a poor resource base and infighting among Afghan groups — are not unique or peculiar to Afghanistan. Many other countries also suffer from these. My view is that Afghanistan has been and continues to be a victim of geopolitical aggressiveness of its neighbours, transnational militancy and imperialistic impulses of great and hegemonic powers.

The Afghans have mostly been helpless in the face of interventions—by the Soviet Union, regional neighbours and now the American-led international coalition. A significant group of Afghans has always sided with the dominant international power or powers, while those left out for ideological or other reasons took up arms thus fuelling conflict and violence.

Pakistan has been a key player in Afghanistan during the past three decades, mostly as a friend and supporter of oppositions to the Afghan regime, and now as one of the front-line members of war on terror the objective of which is to eliminate militancy and rehabilitate Afghanistan.

It is precisely Pakistan’s role that has become the subject of discussion and debate in Kabul and in many other capitals. Is the residue of distrust and lack of confidence in our country or failure on our part to fulfil our declared and not-so-declared commitments the reason Afghan leaders and most of their international coalition partners have assumed a threatening posture?

We have an international obligation to restrain militants from crossing over into Afghanistan and fighting on the side of the Taliban forces. Having said this, it is not so easy to contain cross-border militancy that is entangled in a web of Pashtun ethnicity, Islamic nationalism and Jehadic spirit provoked by the presence of American and NATO forces and their war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. History, terrain, undefined borders and the alignment of political and religious groups beyond the nation-state are also complicating factors.

I assume the Afghan leaders and our common international partners understand and appreciate the real complexities of the Afghan-Pakistan borderlands and how the internal security of the two countries has become so interdependent and vulnerable to the same set of forces. If the logic of interdependent security and the state formation process in the borderlands is understood, then by strategic necessity we have to cooperate, be sensitive to each other’s needs and appreciate the vulnerabilities we individually and collectively face.

One plausible reason for Karzai’s outburst against Pakistan last week is the discernible change in Pakistan’s policy towards militant groups in the tribal region from military pressure to negotiating peace deals. Negotiating with the insurgent groups that openly argue that supporting the Afghan Taliban is their religious and national obligation justifiably provokes resistance from regional and international powers that consider this approach as capitulation.

The irony is that the Pakistani population at large is not supportive of Pakistan’s participation in the war on terror or of military operations against its own population in the tribal territory, which they regard primarily as in the American, and not in the Pakistani, interest.

The coalition governments at the centre and the NWFP are not willing to sell the American war and pay a political price. Also there is a realisation that military operations in FATA have damaged national solidarity. The elected leaders with a very strong social base among the Pashtun groups appear to be optimistic that the peace-deals they are negotiating will be concluded only on the condition that the militants drop their weapons and don’t cross over into Afghanistan.

There are many sceptics that doubt the efficacy of negotiating peace with the tribal militants. In my view elected governments have a right to explore alternative solutions to the difficult and stubborn legacies of conflict that Afghanistan and Pakistan face together. The international acceptance of this approach however would depend not on what is on paper but what is really on ground and how it has helped establish peace in our borderlands.

Dr Rasul Baksh Rais is author of Recovering the Frontier State: War, Ethnicity and State in Afghanistan (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books 2008) and a professor of Political Science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. He can be reached at rasul@lums.edu.pk
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Mullah's 'rape victim' bears stillborn child
www.quqnoos.com Written by PAN Monday, 23 June 2008
Teenage girl claims cleric raped her nine months before the birth
A 17-year-old girl, who claimed a religious cleric raped her several times over a year-long period, has given birth to a stillborn child.

The young girl, Razia, said 40-year-old Mullah Altaf-ul Rahman raped her several times – the latest sex attack happened just three days ago, she claimed.

She refused to give any more information about the rape.

The head of the Human Rights Commission in Badakhshan, Wahiduldin Arghon, said Mullah Rahman was currently under police investigation.

The police chief of Raghistan said his men arrested the Mullah after Razia complained he had raped her.

The chief prosecutor in the province’s attorney office said his investigation suggested that Rahman raped Razia nine months ago. Her child was born dead because someone had beaten her days before the birth, according to the lawyer.

The Mullah is still awaiting trial.
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