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May 10, 2008 

Afghan students join teachers' wages protest
Sat May 10, 7:45 AM ET
KABUL (AFP) - Police used gunfire to disperse about 400 students demonstrating Saturday in the Afghan capital in support of their teachers who are on strike demanding a pay rise, witnesses said.

Protesters clash with police in Afghan east, 2 dead
By Mohammad Rafiq Sat May 10, 4:29 AM ET
SHINWAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - A least two people were killed and seven wounded in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday in clashes between police and demonstrators protesting against civilian deaths at the hands of foreign troops, witnesses said.

Rising prices heap pressure on Afghanistan's destitute
by Sardar Ahmad
KABUL, May 10, 2008 (AFP) - Shamsuddin, his wife and their three children sit cross-legged on the floor around the cloth that Afghans traditionally eat off and use bread to pick from a single dish of cooked wax beans and onion.

Gunmen strangle ex-Jihadi leader's father
www.quqnoos.com Written by Miles Amoore Saturday, 10 May 2008
Hazrat Ali's father killed in his home before seven of his family are kidnapped
UNIDENTIFIED gunmen broke into the house of former Jihadi commander and Nangarhar MP, Hazrat Ali, killing his father and kidnapping seven members of his family, police said yesterday (Friday).

Witness to a Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan
New York Times, United States By The New York Times  May 9, 2008
Two days after the April 27 assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, the photojournalist Stephen Dupont and the writer Paul Rafael, both Australian, were traveling with an opium eradication team in eastern Afghanistan’s

Afghanistan's Untouchables
In a land where corruption is king and justice a mug's game, Attorney General Abdul Jabar Sabet has found that trying to enforce the law produces only frustration after frustration
The Toronto Star - Canada Rosie DiManno Columnist May 10, 2008
KABUL-In the past 20 months, Attorney General Abdul Jabar Sabet has arrested some 300 top-echelon Afghan officials and charged them with corruption.

Top Pashtun leader in Washington for talks
Gulf Times - Home Saturday, 10 May, 2008
WASHINGTON-Awami National Party president Asfandyar Wali is in the United States to brief top officials of the Bush administration on the new Pakistani coalition government’s non-violent anti-terrorism policy of which political engagement is a vital element.

The only solution for FATA
Saturday, May 10, 2008 The News International (Pakistan) Khalid Aziz
The euphoria that surrounded the formation of new governments in Pakistan after the Feb 18th elections has evaporated. Most of the ordinary things that we had taken for granted during the last many years are disappearing fast – food

Briefs-Afghanistan move closer to 2011 Asian Cup berth
Sat May 10, 2008 7:20am BST
May 10 (Reuters) - Sports news in brief from around the world:
Soccer - Afghanistan moved a step closer to reaching their first Asian Cup on Friday after securing a place at this year's Challenge Cup finals, a qualifying event for the tournament.

Rules urged for spies in Afghanistan
War zone work commendable despite lack of guidance, inspector-general says
COLIN FREEZE From Friday's Globe and Mail May 9, 2008 at 4:25 AM EDT
Canada's spies working in Afghanistan are doing so without a rulebook, the watchdog that reviews CSIS's operations says.

Mass. man killed while working in Afghanistan
May 9, 2008 Boston Globe, United States
MEDWAY, Mass.—A social scientist from Massachusetts has been killed in Afghanistan, where he was a civilian consultant to the Army on cultural issues.

Rules urged for spies in Afghanistan
War zone work commendable despite lack of guidance, inspector-general says
Globe and Mail, Canada COLIN FREEZE May 9, 2008
Canada's spies working in Afghanistan are doing so without a rulebook, the watchdog that reviews CSIS's operations says.

Afghan woman to judge Cannes films
Written by www.quqnoos.com Saturday, 10 May 2008
Student will sit on panel at this year's Cannes Fillm Festival
AN Afghan law student living in France had been selected to act as a judge at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

No peace if Durand Line remains porous: Mashal
Pajhwok Correspondent - May 7, 2008 - 16:23
BERLIN (PAN): Afghan security forces can do little as long as the Afghan-Pak border remains porous to weapons smugglers and rebel fighters, Lutfullah Mashal, governor of eastern Laghman province has said.

US gave $5.56 billion to Pak military in six years
Lalit K Jha - May 7, 2008 - 13:26
NEW YORK (PAN): In six years, from October 2001 to June 2007, the US gave $5.56 billion to the Pak military to fight out the terrorists in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of the country, an official report released Tuesday said.

Atmar launches 2nd phase of promoting education quality
Zainab Muhammadi - May 7, 2008 - 15:03
KABUL, (PAN): The education minister announced on Wednesday the second phase of its Promoting Quality of Education program to enhance access to school and boost quality of education.

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Afghan students join teachers' wages protest
Sat May 10, 7:45 AM ET
KABUL (AFP) - Police used gunfire to disperse about 400 students demonstrating Saturday in the Afghan capital in support of their teachers who are on strike demanding a pay rise, witnesses said.

Officers fired shots into the air -- although one said that it was in error -- and cleared the students from a Kabul street where they had started to march towards the parliament, teacher Khan Agha told AFP.

"We had gathered in the school yard. About 400 of our students went on the street and demonstrated for our rights," he said.

Hundreds of teachers from at least three of the main schools in the city stopped working early this month to demand an improvement in their wages.

"My salary is 3,000 afghani (60 dollars) while my house rent is 4,000 afghani. This is not justice," said Agha, one of 300 teachers from Habibia High School on strike.

"We will not teach unless our salaries are not raised," he added.

Teachers earn among the lowest civil service salaries in Afghanistan, where food prices have shot up in the past weeks as part of a global hike in prices.

The government is planning to hike teachers' salaries by between two and four times, depending on their rank, education ministry spokesman Hamid Elmi told AFP.

However the plan, currently being debated in parliament, would take up to two years to finalise, he said.
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Protesters clash with police in Afghan east, 2 dead
By Mohammad Rafiq Sat May 10, 4:29 AM ET
SHINWAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - A least two people were killed and seven wounded in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday in clashes between police and demonstrators protesting against civilian deaths at the hands of foreign troops, witnesses said.

Several thousand protesters had blocked a highway through Nangarhar province linking the capital Kabul with Pakistan. They said they were demonstrating against the killing of three civilians in the area by foreign forces in an overnight raid.

"Two of the protestors have been killed, six more wounded and one policeman has also been hurt by a stone," said a witness named Mandozai, a retired army officer who was among the protesters.

The protesters said five civilians had also been detained in the raid, in the Shinwar district of Nangarhar. Both NATO-led and troops under U.S. command are stationed in the province.

An official for NATO in Kabul said he was not aware of the raid. The U.S. military said all those killed were militants and the target of its raid was "a foreign fighter network."

"During the operation, several militants were killed when they attacked coalition forces. Nine militants suspected of foreign fighter facilitation were detained," it said in a statement.

"Additionally, coalition forces discovered several AK-47s, a bolt action rifle, ammunition and grenades on the compounds. These items were destroyed to prevent use."

Protestors hurled stones at police, who responded by firing in the air and into the ground, a Reuters reporter at the scene said.

"We will start jihad if they (foreign troops) continue to carry on like this," Khairullah, a 35 year-old protestor chanted as others shouted "Allahu akbar," or God is greatest.

Civilian casualties are a sensitive issue for President Hamid Karzai's government and the foreign troops who back him.

More than 700 civilians have been killed during operations by foreign troops while hunting Taliban-led insurgents in Afghanistan in recent years, according to estimates of Afghan officials and foreign aid groups.

Ousted from power in 2001, the al Qaeda-backed Taliban militants are mostly active in southern and eastern areas near the border with Pakistan.

The past two years have been the bloodiest period since the Taliban's removal. More than 12,000 people, including more than 380 foreign soldiers, have been killed by violence since 2006.

The demonstrators ended the protest after the intervention of some top provincial officials and the highway reopened after being closed for several hours, residents said.
(Writing by Sayed Salahuddin; Editing by Alex Richardson)
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Rising prices heap pressure on Afghanistan's destitute
by Sardar Ahmad
KABUL, May 10, 2008 (AFP) - Shamsuddin, his wife and their three children sit cross-legged on the floor around the cloth that Afghans traditionally eat off and use bread to pick from a single dish of cooked wax beans and onion.

With a sliced cucumber for salad, this lunch cost nearly a full days' earnings, says the weary-looking man who makes about 100 afghani (two dollars) a day delivering vegetables in a wheelbarrow.

'For our next meal, I have no money. What can I do but to sleep hungry?' asks the swarthy 38-year-old, who has lived in a tent in a refugee camp on the outskirts of Kabul since returning from Pakistan five years ago.

Shamsuddin, who goes by one name, is among millions struggling to survive in war-ravaged Afghanistan, one of the world's poorest countries where unemployment is 40 percent and half the population is under the poverty line.

It is the poorest who are worst hurt by a global rise food prices which have nearly doubled in three years, according to the World Bank.

Inflation in Afghanistan reached 22 percent in February, including 30 percent for food. It was about five percent in February 2007.

Shamsuddin says that six months ago his family's simple lunch would have cost half today's prices. 'Everything is expensive -- vegetables, cooking oil, bread,' he says.

The price of wheat, which makes the flat naan bread that is part of every Afghan meal, has risen 50-100 percent in recent months depending on the area of the country, the World Food Programme says.

'For millions of Afghans, the poorer segments of society who spend up to 70 percent of their meagre income on food, these food price rises put the basic necessities simply out of their reach,' WFP Asia director Anthony Banbury said last week.

Fatema, who lives with her five children in the same refugee camp, says her family often has to go hungry.

'The prices have gone up and we can't always afford our three meals a day,' she says. The family moved into the camp six months ago when a flood washed away their village in northern Badakhshan province.
-'We used to eat fruit everyday'--

Wealthier households have also had to make cutbacks.

'We used to eat fruit every day; now we can afford it only twice or three times a week,' says Mohammad Akram, who earns between 500 and 800 dollars a month selling mobile phones. He has also halved the family clothing budget.

Mohammad Khalid, who works two jobs for about 200 dollars a month, says he has had to change the family staple to rice, rather than bread.

'I couldn't afford flour, so I had to switch to rice,' he says, explaining that a 50-kilogrammes (110 pounds) sack of low-grade rice feeds his family for a month whereas the same amount of flour would last 15 days and is only a fewdollars cheaper.

Afghanistan's own drought-plagued agriculture sector -- neglected in an internationally aided development drive in place since the extremist Taliban regime was removed in 2001 -- is unable to meet the country's wheat needs.Even in a good year, the nation's cereal deficit can be more than 500,000 tonnes, according to the WFP. In 2006, drought took this to 1.2 million tonnes.

Ahmad Shafaee, an official in the ministry of agriculture, says low snowfalls and rains were likely to see a 30-percent drop in domestic grain production this year from last.

Neighbouring Pakistan is Afghanistan's main source of food but it banned commercial exports of wheat flour to this country in January.

WFP, which has said the ban means it cannot get the food it needs for Afghanistan where it will support six million people this year, is in talks with Islamabad about 'humanitarian exemptions,' Banbury said during a recent trip here.

The Afghan government has meanwhile set aside 50 million dollars to buy wheat with Commerce Minister Mohammad Amin Farhang travelling to Kazakhstan this week to finalise a deal, said ministry spokesman Jawad Omar.

The food would be distributed at subsidised cost to civil servants and the poor, he said.

A humanitarian tragedy can be avoided, Banbury said, but 'we all need to do our part.

'It will not be easy, it will cost money and it will take a lot of work,' he said.
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Gunmen strangle ex-Jihadi leader's father
www.quqnoos.com Written by Miles Amoore Saturday, 10 May 2008
Hazrat Ali's father killed in his home before seven of his family are kidnapped
UNIDENTIFIED gunmen broke into the house of former Jihadi commander and Nangarhar MP, Hazrat Ali, killing his father and kidnapping seven members of his family, police said yesterday (Friday).

Spokesman for Nangarhar governor, Mohammad Hasham Ghamshareek, said the attacker strangled Hazrat Ali’s father, Haji Mohammad Amir, before kidnapping seven family members, most of them children.

The house of Hazrat Ali is located near the Nangarhar police headquarters and there is also a checkpoint outside the house, but police said the attacker entered from the back of the house in the middle of the night and were able to slip in undetected.

No one has claimed responsibility for the incident.
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Witness to a Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan
New York Times, United States By The New York Times  May 9, 2008
Two days after the April 27 assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, the photojournalist Stephen Dupont and the writer Paul Rafael, both Australian, were traveling with an opium eradication team in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province when a suicide bomber attacked their convoy. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed at least 15 and wounded 14. Both journalists were among the injured; Mr. Dupont suffered minor injuries to his head, and Mr. Rafael serious ones.

Afghanistan is again expected to have a bumper poppy crop this year, and Afghan eradication teams like the one they were traveling with have come under increasing attack from the Taliban or other armed groups, who use the profits from the opium trade to fuel the insurgency against American and NATO forces. The following is an account of the attack by Mr. Dupont, who was working for Contact Press Images and on assignment for Smithsonian magazine, at the time. You can view a slide show of images taken by Mr. Dupont before and after the attack.

That morning we set off from Jalalabad in a convoy of about eight vehicles, green Ford pickups and one small truck with 50 to 60 laborers. About 40 minutes later we came to a small town, Khogyani. The truck in front of us pulled up to the gate of a police barracks. We were at the edge of the town, the police buildings facing fields in a desert valley below.

We stopped. The driver and the commanding officer got out, and everyone started jumping off the back of the flatbed, all the police meeting each other. Paul and I waited in the truck. We had the windows down and were smoking, talking, when I heard a huge bang. Then I saw black. I still don’t know if it was smoke or if I actually blacked out.

When I could see again, I got out of the car and I ran. My instinct led me away. I heard gunfire. Some Afghans were running and I ran with them. We took cover behind a mound of dirt 30 or 40 yards away. Blood poured down my face. I didn’t know how badly I was wounded, and I started asking people could they tell me if I was O.K.

Crouched with me was an Afghan cameraman and some police officers. Then I looked toward the vehicles, 20 yards from where the bomb had gone off, and I saw six or seven bodies. That’s the first time I knew that people had been wounded or killed. I started to move toward the bodies, and then after 10 or 20 seconds, I thought, “Where’s Paul?”

I headed back to our vehicle. Paul was still in his seat, his right side completely covered in blood, but he seemed coherent. I spoke to him, saying, “You’re O.K.,” and things like that. He didn’t say anything. All around people were shredded like minced meat, mangled bodies missing heads, legs and arms. I didn’t see many wounded. I remember one guy alive sitting among all these bodies. I think it made an impression just because he was alive in this mess. I started taking pictures. I felt I was taking pictures of evidence.

Eventually, the Americans, who were from the 173rd Airborne Brigade and incredibly hospitable, gave us a medevac flight to Bagram Air Base, outside Kabul. Paul is here, too. He’s got five holes in the back of his head, two the size of golf balls. There’s a bone fragment stuck inside one. They don’t know if it’s his or somebody else’s. They think it may be pushing up against his brain, affecting his vision. I’ve talked to him and he seems O.K., except for the vision and not hearing from his right ear. They think he may have punctured his eardrum.
— STEPHEN DUPONT
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Afghanistan's Untouchables
In a land where corruption is king and justice a mug's game, Attorney General Abdul Jabar Sabet has found that trying to enforce the law produces only frustration after frustration
The Toronto Star - Canada Rosie DiManno Columnist May 10, 2008 
KABUL-In the past 20 months, Attorney General Abdul Jabar Sabet has arrested some 300 top-echelon Afghan officials and charged them with corruption.

"Ask me how many of them are in jail."

How many of them are in jail?

"Not one."

There is the chronic malady of Afghanistan in a nutshell. Justice is a mug's game, the rule of law more useless than the paper it's written on.

Not a single authority in the nation, right up into the president's office, has the clout to oppose a powerful alignment of forces that are a law unto themselves: Warlords, ministers, parliamentarians, the military, police, tribal elders and wealthy entrepreneurs who are making a killing in the free-for-all of multi-billion-dollar international aid, a tsunami of cash that has made tycoons out of two-bit larcenists and filchers.

"It is very frustrating," sighs Sabet, running long fingers through a cascading white beard, shaking his leonine head.

He looks like Moses, but his word is not quite law in these parts.

"In theory, I have the power to arrest anyone in this country if he's involved in corruption. But in practice, there are some people who are above the law, unfortunately, and I cannot bring them to justice.
"I call them The Untouchables."

They are in the central government, the provincial governments, the district centres, police stations, army garrisons, the banks, the aid agencies – not a sector of Afghan society is without contamination of corruption.

Even, Sabet admits with a wince, inside his own department.

"I have not even been able to clean my own house," he told the Star in an astonishingly frank interview this week.

"We have a lot of dirty, dishonest prosecutors."

He has lived in Montreal – a wife and three grown children still reside there – spending years in the comparative law department of McGill University before being tapped by the United Nations for a post in post-Taliban Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai appointed him attorney general just under two years ago.

There are some – in the diplomatic community and the media – who have pointed an accusatory finger at Sabet himself.

Last month, during his formal "accountability to the people program" session – a kind of public performance report card – Sabet burst into tears when a journalist inquired about the posh mansion he's building in Kabul's most deluxe neighbourhood, an enclave he'll share with some of Afghanistan's richest drug kingpins.

Sabet – believed by some to covet the presidency – never really did provide an answer, launching into an oration about his office's inability to arrest the super-powerful violators of Afghan law.

The most notorious case involves Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, who flagrantly ignored a warrant issued for his arrest after the Uzbek warlord allegedly attacked a rival – head of the Afghan Turk Association – in his Kabul home recently, beating him so badly that the man was hospitalized.

"At least I was able to suspend him from his job," Sabet told the Star, meekly. "So I have been successful ... a little bit."

Dostum had been chief of staff to the Afghan army commander, a symbolic position.

At the accountability session, 63-year-old Sabet spoke of corruption in a number of ministries, claiming those ministers had secured release of the accused.

He vilified the governors of several provinces for corruption and embezzlement, heaping abuse particularly on the governor of Nangarhar province, an Ultra-Untouchable who Sabet says has misappropriated about $6 million intended for reconstruction projects.

Among those Sabet charged in the last year were deputy governors, chief provincial financial officials, judges, and "a good number of police generals."

All of them waltzed, either buying their way out of jail or using influential friends and tribal affiliations to secure unfettered release.

"It makes me crazy," Sabet mumbles.

Venal parliamentarians are even greasier to the touch, utterly beyond his reach. "Parliamentarians are protected by the constitution."

The system demands that before a parliamentarian can even be charged, the prosecutor must send a letter detailing the allegation to the minister of parliamentarian affairs.

That minister then informs the appropriate house – lower or upper – which in turn votes on whether to proceed with an investigation. "But so far that has never happened."

So Sabet takes his triumphs from the "smaller fish" that have been nabbed and convicted in trials held behind closed doors. Few are allowed to witness the incompetence of jurisprudence as practised in Afghanistan.

This, says Sabet, is his primary focus – elevating the quality of prosecutors and judges.

He has about 2,800 prosecutors around the country but few of them have any real legal training, especially in the provinces. In Khost, for instance, out of 74 prosecutors, only four are genuine lawyers, the rest just laymen.

"We had war in this country for 30 years. Educated prosecutors were either forced to leave or they retired. Now, we do not have many educated people to work as prosecutors."

At the Rome conference on the rule of law in Afghanistan a year ago, Afghanistan was promised funding specifically for this purpose.

It hasn't materialized. Italy, which was given the task of working with the justice sector, has taken precisely one candidate – Sabet's own secretary – for legal training in Rome.

Ideally, Sabet would like to implement a three-pronged justice-training program. Long-term: Sending as many prospects to Western universities for solid legal training. Mid-term: A one-year intensive course in Kabul for newly graduated lawyers. Short-term: A two-month crash course for non-lawyer prosecutors from the provinces, "so they can at least learn the basics of law, investigation, collecting evidence."

So far, there isn't the money for any of that.

"The international community makes a lot of promises. But nobody has come up with anything real."

The Americans, however, have indicated they will airlift "some" bright lawyer candidates to the U.S. for training, soon.

They also pay the $27,000 monthly rent on the attorney general's building where Sabet takes petitions from the public three days a week.

In the meantime, Sabet will continue trying to weed out the worst offenders from his own legion of corrupt prosecutors.

"We have corruption in all our law enforcement agencies – police, judges, prosecutors. Now, I would not use this as an excuse for their behaviour, but my prosecutors make only $60 a month.

"That's less than you would pay for a week's parking in Toronto."
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Top Pashtun leader in Washington for talks
Gulf Times - Home Saturday, 10 May, 2008
WASHINGTON-Awami National Party president Asfandyar Wali is in the United States to brief top officials of the Bush administration on the new Pakistani coalition government’s non-violent anti-terrorism policy of which political engagement is a vital element.

He is the first head of a ruling coalition member-party from Pakistan to visit the US after the formation of the new government.

The ANP president iWASHINGTON: Awami National Party president Asfandyar Wali is in the United States to brief top officials of the Bush administration on the new Pakistani coalition government’s non-violent anti-terrorism policy of which political engagement is a vital element. s heading efforts of the Pakistan Peoples Party-led ruling coalition to convince Americans that a home-grown policy that factors in the concerns of all parties in Pakistan, including the militants, is absolutely essential to effectively combat terrorism, diplomatic sources here say.

There was an agreement within the elected government in Pakistan that Wali will be Pakistan’s point man for the implementation of the post-election strategy to curb terrorism.

While briefing the prime minister, his cabinet members and heads of the ruling coalition parties on the war against terror early last month, Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Kayani had also turned towards the ANP to take the lead role in this context.

He suggested that with a relative peace in Swat and the ANP having won seven seats from the area it should take over the process of establishing security there.

PPP co-chairperson Asif Zardari told a private TV channel last month that Wali was the man on the ground who would implement the new anti-terrorism policy and Pakistan Muslim League-N chief Nawaz Sharif also gave the go-ahead for it.

Based on the public statements made by the ANP leadership over the last couple of months it has been demonstrated that the ANP has been the lead political party that has established contact with militant groups, including the Taliban in the tribal areas, or Fata.

Fully backed by leaders of the ruling coalition parties, Wali is trying to demonstrate to the Americans the wisdom of trying a new approach against the backdrop of total failure of the past policy, sources said.

This is his second trip to the US in the last couple of years to discuss the anti-terrorism policy with the key US policy-makers. During his last trip in 2006, he also visited the Centcom headquarters in Tempa, Florida.

Although not confirmed he may have visited Centcom again this time around. Sources privy to the visit say that apart from Washington, Wali has plans of visiting other cities as well, including Chicago.

On the agenda were meetings with senior officials at the White House and the US State Department, including National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte. – Internews
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The only solution for FATA
Saturday, May 10, 2008 The News International (Pakistan) Khalid Aziz
The euphoria that surrounded the formation of new governments in Pakistan after the Feb 18th elections has evaporated. Most of the ordinary things that we had taken for granted during the last many years are disappearing fast – food, oil and electricity. Many parts of FATA and the NWFP are practically facing a famine due to shortage of wheat. Even where wheat is available the price is often too high for the low-income earner. And their number in these unstable and embattled regions is very high. In the NWFP, more than 33% of the population and in FATA more than 50% of the population lives on or below the national poverty line. Inflation is deepening the crisis.

However, out of the many problems facing us, the most dangerous is militancy. Life in the NWFP and FATA is paralysed because of fear of renewed hostilities and suicide bombings. In Swat the torching of girls' schools has resumed, despite the peace agreement signed by the NWFP government and the TNSM on April 20. Furthermore, the militants have reoccupied most of the area from which they were evicted by the military only four months ago.

It had been predicted that the peace agreement with the TSNM, led by Sufi Mohammad, would not deter the Swat militants from their activities. It has been argued by supporters of the peace agreement that at least the followers of Sufi Mohammad have disassociated themselves from the militants, whose numbers are therefore smaller.

It is obvious that the Swat militants have no interest in peace, nor the intention to pursue it. If they did they would have used the agreement for fulfilling their political agenda, which was laws complying with Shariat. On the contrary, Mulla Fazlullah, Sufi Mohammad's son-in-law who is the leader of the Swat militants, has rejected the peace accord.

In the south of the region, the government is desperately trying to reach an agreement with the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TeT), led by Baitullah Mahsud. One apparent feature of the TeT is that it is organisationally it is structured well. The TeT does not have a confused chain of command. It has the authority, operating in the wilderness of the Mahsud country, to make a decision which will be applicable to FATA, Malakand (which is a provincially administered tribal territory), the other parts of the NWFP and the rest of Pakistan. However, the federal government has players who can operate only in certain parts of the field, and not others. For example FATA is under the federal government and proposals for peace will be negotiated by that government.

On the other hand, peacemaking in the NWFP is the responsibility of the provincial government. Yet, in matters relating to Swat, the NWFP has to get approval from the federal government as Swat is defined as a federal responsibility under Article 247 of the Constitution.

This shows that the TeT has mainstreamed itself as a unified monolith, while the government is splintered into parts like FATA and the NWFP, which are under separate jurisdictions. What does this mean?

Clearly, peace in the NWFP can only come if FATA is peaceful. However, the NWFP cannot negotiate with elements in FATA, nor can it hold TeT accountable for peace violations committed in the NWFP, since the agreement with them is likely to be signed in Fata by the federal government. This example clearly illustrates that the advantage lies with the TeT and it will be impossible to monitor a peace agreement in different jurisdictions due to administrative anomalies. It also indicates the need for an early merger of FATA with the NWFP. The immediate short-term solution is that the federal and provincial governments should jointly negotiate with the TeT.

Another clear example of the TeT's increasing capacity is the deployment of tribes belonging to one agency to another. Such uniting of tribes of adjacent agencies took place occasionally during fights with the British. During the 1933-37 operations by the British against the Fakir of Ipi in North Waziristan, the Mahsuds from South Waziristan, Ahmed Wazirs from Bannu, Bhittanis and Bakka Khels from Bannu FR, operated under Ipi's flag.

What was previously unheard of until a few days ago was the hostile activities of Mahsuds in Khyber Agency, which is located on the border of Peshawar, more than 300 miles away from the Mahsud heartland. That is some achievement.

Baitullah Mahsud sent a party under Hakimullah to Bara, in Khyber Agency. A few days later, this gang of Mahsuds, along with some locals, kidnapped three workers of the World Food Programme near Landikotal. The victims were quickly recovered by the militia after a fire-fight in which Baitullah's 15-year-old son was injured and seven kidnappers were killed. Two soldiers died.

It is evident from the grouping of these tribes around Peshawar that the TeT is planning to hold the provincial metropolis hostage to ensure a satisfactory outcome of the "peace" agreement; the threat projected by the TeT is that if the peace parleys fail, other terrorist acts may follow, which will surely threaten the stability of the new NWFP government. It is a strategic move indeed. The security forces guarding Peshawar are short of men and weapons to meaningfully defend against this likely threat.

Another worrying factor is the simultaneous resurgence of Pakistan's proxy warriors – the Kashmiri Mujahideen, who are in a loose alliance with the TeT. Their cadres have been fighting in South Waziristan, Swat, Kohat and other areas of the NWFP and Fata in the recent past. The Harkat-ul-Majahideen, Al-Badr, Harkat-e-Islam, Jaish and Hizbul Mujahideen are relocating in Karachi and Rawalpindi, as well as other parts of the NWFP. Some of them are registering under new identities to avoid legal limitations since they are banned entities. This regrouping and assumption of new identities may be a precursor to the start of another wave of sectarian violence.

Only a few days ago, a 45-member tribal jirga called on the minister of state for frontier regions and the federal advisor for interior, demanding creation of a separate province for FATA and replacement of the FCR by Shariat. This demand is obviously power-play, whose outcome favours the militants and will create an institutionalised safe haven in an isolated province. Since the JUI (F) supports the TeT and is a coalition partner in the federal government, the demand ought to be rejected.

I believe that the main cause of the unrest in FATA is its isolation and separation from the Pakistani mainstream. These attributes have led to the creation of a safe haven for Al-Qaeda and its radical Uzbek and other supporters. The only solution is the early integration of Fata with the NWFP. Let the process begin with the extension of the Political Parties Act to FATA. Other measures can follow for which a road map needs to be defined.

Unfortunately, the dangerous situation facing the NWFP and FATA is not receiving the attention that it deserves. We seem to have lost our direction and other issues of far less importance occupy the attention of the federal government. The major issues threatening the survival of the country are the security threat in the North-West, shortage of food and oil and inflation. These matters have a low priority. The time has come to redirect our national attention to issues on which the survival of Pakistan depends.

The writer, a former political agent of the tribal areas and chief secretary of NWFP, heads the Regional Institute of Policy Research in NWFP. Email: azizkhalid@gmail.com)
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Briefs-Afghanistan move closer to 2011 Asian Cup berth
Sat May 10, 2008 7:20am BST
May 10 (Reuters) - Sports news in brief from around the world:

Soccer - Afghanistan moved a step closer to reaching their first Asian Cup on Friday after securing a place at this year's Challenge Cup finals, a qualifying event for the tournament.

The Afghans took four points from their two matches to win their qualifying group in Kyrgyzstan and book a place in the eight-team Challenge Cup in July and August.

They join Group A winners Sri Lanka and automatic qualifiers North Korea, Turkmenistan, Myanmar and hosts India.

The winner of the 2008 and 2010 editions of the Challenge Cup, contested by Asia's lowest-ranked countries, earn a berth at the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar.

Soccer - Lebanon has indefinitely postponed the remainder of its league season with two weeks left after the country was hit by fighting between pro-government gunmen and Hezbollah guerrillas.

At least 18 people have been killed and 38 wounded in three days of fighting, the worst internal conflict in the country since the 1975-1990 civil war.

Taekwondo - Athens Olympics bronze medallist Yaowapa Boorapolchai has retired after a foot injury ruled her out of trials for the Beijing Games, Thai media reported.

Yaowapa, the Asian champion, is the only Thai to win an Olympic medal in a sport other than boxing or weightlifting.

Soccer - Syria have put their league season on hold to allow players to prepare for their packed 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign, the Asian Football Confederation said.

Syria, the surprise package of Asian qualifying, will play four games in three weeks next month. The part-timers are undefeated in all six of their matches so far, including a draw away to regional heavyweights Iran. (Compiled by Martin Petty; Editing by John O'Brien)
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Rules urged for spies in Afghanistan
War zone work commendable despite lack of guidance, inspector-general says
COLIN FREEZE From Friday's Globe and Mail May 9, 2008 at 4:25 AM EDT
Canada's spies working in Afghanistan are doing so without a rulebook, the watchdog that reviews CSIS's operations says.

Eva Plunkett, Inspector-General of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, says the agents are doing "commendable work" but that laws governing the spy service need to be updated now that agents are being dispatched to war zones.

A "suitable policy framework" is needed to tell the spies what they should and should not do, she says in her "Top Secret" annual report to Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, which was posted, partly censored, on a federal website this week.

The findings allude to - but don't actually explain - the nature of CSIS's clandestine support for Canadian soldiers battling the Taliban.

"As you are aware, the Service has been in Afghanistan [CENSORED]," the public report says. "As such, the Service's role in Afghanistan is relatively new, but I am impressed with [CENSORED] on which I am informed."

But then, the Inspector-General notes their lack of guidelines: "The Service should now be well-positioned to develop a suitable policy framework to guide future [CENSORED] activities in this theatre. I do believe that those who serve in this environment deserve to be equipped with the policy framework to guide their work."

Within Canada, the spy agency's powers to identify targets, recruit agents, plant bugs and break into buildings are subject to strict guidelines and many levels of scrutiny. Whether these same activities - or even more invasive ones - can be legally done overseas remains a murky matter of interpretation.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that CSIS asked a Federal Court judge to sign off on spying warrants that would have allowed counterterrorism agents to follow Canadian citizen suspects to unidentified countries, and then intercept their communications. The judge said he had no authority to endorse any such warrants.

When CSIS was formed in 1984, it was envisioned as an agency that would operate within Canada under strict checks and balances.

In the past quarter century, spy agency officials have always upheld that CSIS's strength lies in the fact that its work is reviewed by multiple agencies. Today, however, the watchdog agencies are wondering how to keep in check its increasing foreign activities, which were never explicitly contemplated in the law.

In the new report from Ms. Plunkett, she points out that CSIS's legal relationship with both the Foreign Affairs and National Defence Departments are completely out of date, suggesting it's not clear where the role of being a soldier or diplomat stops and being a spy begins. This, she says, represents "a lacuna in the operational policy framework."

Parliament generally needs to clarify what Canada's spies can do in 2008, the Inspector-General says.

"Employees are keenly waiting for the related legislative provisions they view will be an invaluable tool to aid their intelligence-gathering capabilities," she says.

Reviewing CSIS's Canadian operations, Ms. Plunkett suggests she is disturbed by increasing sloppiness finding its way into the paperwork.

Clerical errors may not in themselves seem like a big deal, she says, but given that CSIS shares its files, including terrorism files, with nearly 150 countries, the consequences of any mistake can be huge.

"A transcription error could have potentially profound impacts," she says in the report. "The potential consequences, if action is taken by the Service, their interlocutors or the government based on these inaccuracies, could be grave."
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Mass. man killed while working in Afghanistan
May 9, 2008 Boston Globe, United States
MEDWAY, Mass.—A social scientist from Massachusetts has been killed in Afghanistan, where he was a civilian consultant to the Army on cultural issues.

more stories like thisThe Army's Training and Doctrine Command said on Friday that Michael Vinay Bhatia, 31, was killed Wednesday by an improvised explosive in Afghanistan's Khowst province. Two soldiers also died.

Bhatia was working with the 4th Brigade Combat Team of 101st Airborne Division.

He graduated in 1995 from Medway High School, and from Brown University in 1999. He had worked as a humanitarian and researcher in areas such as East Timor and refugee camps in western Algeria.

Bhatia also was an author and photographer, who published photos from his essay, "Shooting Afghanistan -- Beyond the Conflict."

The head of the TRADOC Command, Gen. William Wallace, called Bhatia a hero who "was committed to make things better."
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Rules urged for spies in Afghanistan
War zone work commendable despite lack of guidance, inspector-general says
Globe and Mail, Canada COLIN FREEZE May 9, 2008
Canada's spies working in Afghanistan are doing so without a rulebook, the watchdog that reviews CSIS's operations says.

Eva Plunkett, Inspector-General of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, says the agents are doing "commendable work" but that laws governing the spy service need to be updated now that agents are being dispatched to war zones.

A "suitable policy framework" is needed to tell the spies what they should and should not do, she says in her "Top Secret" annual report to Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, which was posted, partly censored, on a federal website this week.

The findings allude to - but don't actually explain - the nature of CSIS's clandestine support for Canadian soldiers battling the Taliban.

"As you are aware, the Service has been in Afghanistan [CENSORED]," the public report says. "As such, the Service's role in Afghanistan is relatively new, but I am impressed with [CENSORED] on which I am informed."

But then, the Inspector-General notes their lack of guidelines: "The Service should now be well-positioned to develop a suitable policy framework to guide future [CENSORED] activities in this theatre. I do believe that those who serve in this environment deserve to be equipped with the policy framework to guide their work."

Within Canada, the spy agency's powers to identify targets, recruit agents, plant bugs and break into buildings are subject to strict guidelines and many levels of scrutiny. Whether these same activities - or even more invasive ones - can be legally done overseas remains a murky matter of interpretation.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that CSIS asked a Federal Court judge to sign off on spying warrants that would have allowed counterterrorism agents to follow Canadian citizen suspects to unidentified countries, and then intercept their communications. The judge said he had no authority to endorse any such warrants.

When CSIS was formed in 1984, it was envisioned as an agency that would operate within Canada under strict checks and balances.

In the past quarter century, spy agency officials have always upheld that CSIS's strength lies in the fact that its work is reviewed by multiple agencies. Today, however, the watchdog agencies are wondering how to keep in check its increasing foreign activities, which were never explicitly contemplated in the law.

In the new report from Ms. Plunkett, she points out that CSIS's legal relationship with both the Foreign Affairs and National Defence Departments are completely out of date, suggesting it's not clear where the role of being a soldier or diplomat stops and being a spy begins. This, she says, represents "a lacuna in the operational policy framework."

Parliament generally needs to clarify what Canada's spies can do in 2008, the Inspector-General says.

"Employees are keenly waiting for the related legislative provisions they view will be an invaluable tool to aid their intelligence-gathering capabilities," she says.

Reviewing CSIS's Canadian operations, Ms. Plunkett suggests she is disturbed by increasing sloppiness finding its way into the paperwork.

Clerical errors may not in themselves seem like a big deal, she says, but given that CSIS shares its files, including terrorism files, with nearly 150 countries, the consequences of any mistake can be huge.

"A transcription error could have potentially profound impacts," she says in the report. "The potential consequences, if action is taken by the Service, their interlocutors or the government based on these inaccuracies, could be grave."
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Afghan woman to judge Cannes films
Written by www.quqnoos.com Saturday, 10 May 2008
Student will sit on panel at this year's Cannes Fillm Festival
AN Afghan law student living in France had been selected to act as a judge at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

The 23-year-old Shabnam Zaryab, who is living in Paris, will travel to Cannes to judge a selection of some of the top films from around the world.

Afghan film director Sidiq Barmaq said juries at the film festival were usually chosen for their extreme intellect.
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No peace if Durand Line remains porous: Mashal
Pajhwok Correspondent - May 7, 2008 - 16:23
BERLIN (PAN): Afghan security forces can do little as long as the Afghan-Pak border remains porous to weapons smugglers and rebel fighters, Lutfullah Mashal, governor of eastern Laghman province has said.

During a visit to Berlin on a European tour, the regional leader hinted that there are certain circles in the intelligence department of Pakistan, in the radical religious circles and some political parties that do support the Taliban. He claimed that such circles provided the Taliban with logistical supplies, shelter and training.

Mashal also said that dividing up Afghanistan among the various national contingents of the NATO-led stabilization force was undermining the fight against the Al Qaeda-backed insurgency.

He said some members of the alliance had gained a reputation as softer targets and that the force was only as strong as its weakest link. The enemies are thinking: Some countries are friendly toward us and some countries are very aggressive toward us, he told reporters. He said countries such as Germany, which have refused to deploy combat troops in the south needed to work against this perception.
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US gave $5.56 billion to Pak military in six years
Lalit K Jha - May 7, 2008 - 13:26
NEW YORK (PAN): In six years, from October 2001 to June 2007, the US gave $5.56 billion to the Pak military to fight out the terrorists in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of the country, an official report released Tuesday said.

However, Pakistan has been unsuccessful in defeating Al Qaeda and the Taliban in FATA area, said the report "Preliminary Observations on the Use and Oversight of US Coalition Support Funds Provided to Pakistan" by Government Accountability Office.

The 26-page report, a copy of which was obtained by Pajhwok Afghan News, said since 2002 Al Qaeda and the Taliban have used FATA and the border region to attack Pakistan, Afghanistan, US and coalition troops.

They have also used to tough mountainous terrain, which several US officials have termed recently as a safe heaven, to plan and train for attacks not only against US interests, but also destabilize Pakistan, and spread radical Islamic ideologies that threaten US interests.

According to the report, the US in an effort to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda and eliminate them from this safe heaven provided massive fund to the Pakistani Army which was used to buy modern arms and ammunitions.

Between October 2001 and June 2007 the US reimbursed $5.56 billion to Pakistan for military operations in FATA and other support to war on terror, the report said.

However, according to DOD, Pakistan Army has been unsuccessful at defeating terrorists in FATA, the report said.

Pakistani security forces lack counterinsurgency capability, the Army is neither structured nor trained for counterinsurgency and serious equipment and training deficiencies exist in Frontier Corps, it said. In all Pakistan has received $10 billion in aid post 9-11, a major component of which has been US Coalition Support Funds.

The purpose of CSF is to reimburse coalition countries for logistical and military support provided to United States military operations in the global war on terror.

CSF reimbursement funds are paid directly into the Pakistani government treasury and become sovereign funds. Once they become sovereign funds, the U.S. government has no oversight authority over these funds, it said.
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Atmar launches 2nd phase of promoting education quality
Zainab Muhammadi - May 7, 2008 - 15:03
KABUL, (PAN): The education minister announced on Wednesday the second phase of its Promoting Quality of Education program to enhance access to school and boost quality of education.

The minister Hanif Atmar said the first phase of the program that took four years to be implemented was completed successfully and that they were now looking for more successes in the new phase.

Atmar launched the second phase of Promoting Quality of Education with a promise to extend accessibility of education to all children of the school age across Afghanistan, as envisaged in the constitution.

Establishment of parents councils in every school and constructing new schools is an important part of the second phase of the program to be implemented in four years, said the minister. Providing training for teachers and supplying schools with books, labs, computers and libraries were other priorities in the venture.

The education minister said implementation of the new phase will need a fund of $187 millions, a multiply higher sum than the $40 millions budget spent in the first phase.  Atmar said $102 millions have already been provided by international donors and hoped that they will also obtain rest of the needed fund due to confidence of donors about success of the program.

The education ministry officials said special attention would be granted to promoting girls education in the four years.

Muhammad Saleem, an advisor to the education ministry, said out of about six million school students, 35 per cent of them were girls.
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