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December 27, 2012 

Yearender: Security tops concerns in Afghanistan in 2012
by Abdul Haleem, Yan Zhonghua
KABUL, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- The year 2012 has seen frantic efforts by the government of President Hamid Karzai in putting in place an effective security apparatus and a viable economic plan in preparation for the pullout of all foreign forces from the country in 2014.

Pakistan rejects Taliban truce offer
ISLAMABAD, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan on Thursday rejected as unacceptable a conditional truce offer by the Taliban and said the armed militant groups cannot dictate the state, local media reported.

The high cost of disengagement
The Washington Post By Walter Pincus Dec 26, 2012
The United States has spent nearly $600 billion over the past 10 years putting combat forces into Afghanistan. Now it’s going to cost an additional $5.7 billion over the next year or two just to transfer or return most of the troops and equipment we shipped into that country, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office.

John Kerry: Well-suited to be secretary of state
The Washington Post By Editorial Board Dec 27, 2012
IN NOMINATING Sen. John F. Kerry for secretary of state, President Obama observed that “in a sense, John’s entire life has prepared him for this role.” Mr. Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran, has been an activist in foreign affairs since his arrival in the Senate in 1985. A consistent advocate of U.S. leadership, he has forged personal ties

Security tops concerns in Afghanistan in 2012
Xinhua 27/12/2012
The year 2012 has seen frantic efforts by the government of President Hamid Karzai in putting in place an effective security apparatus and a viable economic plan in preparation for the pullout of all foreign forces from the country in 2014.

Mental illness, poverty haunted Afghan policewoman who killed American
Reuters By Michael Georgy and Mirwais Harooni 26/12/2012
KABUL - The Afghan policewoman suspected of killing a U.S. contractor at police headquarters in Kabul suffered from mental illness and was driven to suicidal despair by poverty, her children told Reuters on Wednesday.

Karzai meets with Mujahideen leaders ahead of US visit
Khamma Press By Sayed Jawad December 27 2012
Afghan president Hamid Karzai on Wednesday met with a number of the Mujahideen leaders in presidential palace, ahead of his official visit to United States of America.

Haqqani, Taliban Leaders Arrested in Afghan Operation
TOLOnews.com Wednesday, 26 December 2012
A Haqqani and Taliban leaders were captured in joint Afghan and Nato troops operations in on Wednesday, Isaf said.


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Yearender: Security tops concerns in Afghanistan in 2012
by Abdul Haleem, Yan Zhonghua
KABUL, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- The year 2012 has seen frantic efforts by the government of President Hamid Karzai in putting in place an effective security apparatus and a viable economic plan in preparation for the pullout of all foreign forces from the country in 2014.

The government has also bent over backwards in trying to engage the still potent Taliban in a national reconciliation process with the help of neighboring Pakistan where some of the more radical Taliban fighters are reported to be ensconced.

The country's main concern, which is going to spill over in the coming year, is still on security issues.

Concluding the 11th year of the war on terror, Afghanistan has experienced Taliban-led violent security incidents for most of 2012, leaving thousands dead that include innocent civilians.

The latest incident was a suicide bombing in this supposedly fortified capital city Kabul on Dec. 6 that badly injured Assadullah Khalid, the head of the National Directorate for Security (NDS). This incident, which happened right in the premises of the heavily-guarded NDS headquarters, had raised questions on the capability of the government to handle the country's security after the 2014 pullout of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Khalid was targeted inside a highly-protected guesthouse of the national intelligence agency and Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid had immediately claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt.

During the year, the Taliban have staged high-profile attacks. The attack on Dec. 10 claimed the lives of a police chief in southwestern Nimroz province and a women affairs director in eastern Laghman province.

In late October, a deadly suicide bombing inside a mosque in relatively peaceful Faryab province's capital Maimana, northwest of Kabul, killed 41 people including 23 police and injured 52 others.

The Afghan conflict has claimed the lives of 391 soldiers of the NATO-led ISAF with 302 of them Americans in 2012, according to icasualties, a website tracking U.S.-led coalition fatalities in the war.

There is no report on the total number of Taliban casualties but 830 Afghan army personnel had been killed in the past seven months from April to November known as the fighting season in Afghanistan, according to Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman General Zahir Azimi.

A report released in August by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said that 1,145 civilians were killed in the first six month of 2012.

According to a UN quarterly report released in mid-December, a total of 967 Afghan civilians, including 355 children, were killed and 1,590 injured in conflicts from August to October.

President Karzai has appealed to the Taliban militants to give up fighting, join the government-backed peace process and contribute to the national reconstruction process.

But the Taliban, which ruled the country with iron-fist based on a fundamentalist brand of Islam before they were driven out in 2001, has rejected the offer, saying there will be no peace talks as long as there are foreign troops in Afghanistan.

In a commentary posted on the Taliban website on Dec. 9, the group vowed to continue the jihad or holy war against Afghan and NATO-led troops.

In 2012, there have been a series of direct and indirect contacts among the Afghan government, the U.S. government, the Taliban and Pakistan to end the conflicts in Afghanistan but all seemed in vain.

As a sign of progress, representatives from the Afghan government, the armed militant groups, which include the Taliban, the Hekmatyar-led radical Islamic party Hizb-e-Islami, and Afghan political opposition groups met in Paris in late December.

It was the first-ever face-to-face gathering among stakeholders and warring factions in Afghanistan to discuss the country's future. But analysts are not very optimistic about the outcome of the Paris dialogue organized by an independent body - a French think tank named Foundation for Strategic Research.

During the year, the Karzai government continued to receive pledges of support from the international community.

In the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan held in July, international donor countries pledged 16 billion U.S. dollars to the war-ravaged country in a bid to safeguard the country's future and achievements made since it freed itself from the brutal Taliban rule in late 2001.

However, the donor nations, above all the United States, had called on the Afghan government to fight corruption and ensure good governance.

In her address at the Tokyo Conference, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for reforms in the Afghan government and said this "must include fighting corruption, improving governance, strengthening the rule of law, increasing access to economic opportunity for all Afghans, especially for women."

Afghanistan tops the most corrupt nations in a report released recently by the Transparency International, a global civil society organization.

Karzai has renewed his determination to fight administrative corruption at the end of the year but the notorious Kabul Bank fraud and many other systemic graft practices in the government have been left unsolved.

Afghanistan also tops the poppy-growing countries in the world and still supplies some 90 percent of the raw materials used in the manufacture of heroin worldwide.

In the political arena, the Afghan Independent Election Commission has set April 5, 2014 as the date for holding the next pivotal presidential elections, months ahead of the final withdrawal of NATO combat troops from the country.

The announcement came as many Afghans doubt whether Afghan security forces will be able to provide security for the elections in the absence of NATO-led coalition forces.

The Taliban-led insurgency, tribalism, along with a high rate of unemployment and poverty, are seen as destabilizing factors that would impede social and economic development in Afghanistan.

Certainly, stability, peace and order are primary requisites for development in any country in the world. And this is what Afghanistan direly needs in the coming years.
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Pakistan rejects Taliban truce offer
ISLAMABAD, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan on Thursday rejected as unacceptable a conditional truce offer by the Taliban and said the armed militant groups cannot dictate the state, local media reported.

Local media reported that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or the TTP has hinted at a cease-fire with the Pakistani government on condition that Pakistan should end participation in the Afghan war, reshape the foreign policy and the country's Constitution in accordance to the Islamic Sharia.

Geo TV reported that a TTP leader Ismatullah Muavia in a letter to its anchor offered the truce.

Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Thursday dismissed the offer and said the Taliban's offer of conditional respite is unacceptable.

"Taliban leader Ismatullah Muavia through his offer of conditional truce has tried to dictate the government, which is totally unacceptable," Malik said to media at Sukkhar airport in Sindh province.

He stated that Muavia was a member of the banned extremist group 'Lashkar-e- Jhangvi,' which is behind series of attacks on security forces and Shiite Muslims.

Malik said the TTP is facing rift and that is why the offer for a truce came from a TTP leader and not directly from its chief, Hakimullah Mehsud.

He again asked the Afghan government to hand over a Pakistani Taliban leader, Maulvi Fazalullah, who he said is hiding in the border regions of Afghanistan.

In reply to a question, he said no foreign hand is behind all the terrorist activities taking place within the country but Pakistani militants are to be blamed for the attacks.
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The high cost of disengagement
The Washington Post By Walter Pincus Dec 26, 2012
The United States has spent nearly $600 billion over the past 10 years putting combat forces into Afghanistan. Now it’s going to cost an additional $5.7 billion over the next year or two just to transfer or return most of the troops and equipment we shipped into that country, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office.

The size of the withdrawal is mind-boggling. But with the “fiscal cliff” approaching fast, it’s worth taking a moment to realize that the costly Afghan operation is going on a credit card, along with the $1 trillion or more spent in Iraq.

Iraq and Afghanistan are the first U.S. wars in which the American public was not asked to pay a cent in additional taxes.

What were we thinking?

As I list the new expenses, consider who is going to pay for all this and when. Congress and President Obama are negotiating over increasing revenue and cutting spending, but the billions in Afghan withdrawal costs cannot be reduced and must be paid. Their payment will be considered next month when Congress faces an increase to the debt limit.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department estimates that the military services have more than 750,000 major items worth more than $36 billion in Afghanistan, including about 50,000 vehicles and more than 90,000 shipping containers of materiel, according to the GAO report.

In fiscal 2011, the U.S. Transportation Command shipped 268,000 tons of supplies — more than 42,000 containers — into Afghanistan via its northern surface routes, which involve truck and rail routing through European and Central Asian countries. Those supply routes were developed after truck convoys from Pakistan were halted in November 2011 in response to the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

The Defense Department has three ways to dispose of its Afghan materiel: transfer equipment to another federal or state agency or a foreign government, destroy the materiel in Afghanistan, or return it to another Pentagon location. The United States has three Afghan sites and plans for a fourth where materiel is to be destroyed and 10 storage areas where equipment is to be inspected and prepared for transport home.

The Iraq drawdown showed the importance of early planning. Withdrawal plans began in 2008, three years before the December 2011 final departure of U.S. combat troops. In Afghanistan, the Marine Corps and Navy began withdrawal preparations in 2009, the Army in 2010.

The Marine Corps established an “equipment reset strategy” in which it created a “playbook” that contains what the GAO described as “a single, detailed accounting of each of its 78,168 major end items in Afghanistan” along with “the initially forecast disposition instructions (return, transfer or destroy) for each item.”

For example, the July 2012 playbook showed that the Marines then had 33 “backscatter vans” in Afghanistan, vehicles whose X-ray capabilities are used at checkpoints and entry-control points to identify concealed weapons, contraband, ordnance and bulk explosives. They cost $700,000 to $800,000 apiece when new.

The plan is to return all 33 to the United States using air and sea transport, at a cost that could run to more than $150,000 per van,the GAO says. However, the Marine playbook says only 28 of them are needed to meet requirements in the United States. The GAO suggests that since five will be in excess of Marine Corps needs, a cost-benefit analysis may argue for disposing of them in Afghanistan.

A problem in Iraq was accounting for government-owned equipment supplied to contractors. According to a September 2011 GAO report, “There were occasions when contractors left Iraq camps and associated facilities without proper close out, abandoned equipment, failed to repatriate personnel (especially third country nationals), failed to obtain proper Iraq exit visas, [and] did not return government furnished equipment.”

Inventories in Afghanistan have not included contractor-used government equipment, but the Afghan command told the GAO that it was setting up a “contractor drawdown cell” to handle the problem.

Another unique Afghan issue is supply routes, because of what the GAO described as the “complex geopolitical environment in the region.”

Exiting Afghanistan is much more difficult and more costly than leaving Iraq. In Iraq, the United States had road access to the port of Umm Qasr and a major U.S. logistics base in Kuwait, just over the border. From there it was easy to ship materiel by sea from Jordanian and Kuwaiti ports.

The once-major Afghan supply routes through Pakistan, which were reopened in July, are considered to be in a test phase for materiel exiting Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department “faces challenges converting the northern routes to support outbound flow due to customs and diplomatic clearance issues,” the GAO says.

Landlocked Afghanistan also has had high-priority military equipment, including ammunition, shipped in by sea and then by air. It can cost up to $75,000 to return one vehicle by military air and sea transport and up to $153,000 using commercial carriers, according to the GAO. Sending a vehicle by surface routes can cost up to $43,000.

Under early plans, the U.S. Transportation Command projected that “14.2 percent of all returning equipment will be transported via the [northern route], 19.9 percent via the [Pakistan route] and 65.8 percent via [the air, sea transport method].”

In advanced planning, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and the Defense Logistics Agency set goals for vehicles and containers. The monthly target was 1,200 vehicles and 1,000 containers.

Is all this complicated? Yes. But it’s worth paying attention to the monetary and human costs of getting into and out of military ventures so that perhaps the country will be better prepared next time.
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John Kerry: Well-suited to be secretary of state
The Washington Post By Editorial Board Dec 27, 2012
IN NOMINATING Sen. John F. Kerry for secretary of state, President Obama observed that “in a sense, John’s entire life has prepared him for this role.” Mr. Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran, has been an activist in foreign affairs since his arrival in the Senate in 1985. A consistent advocate of U.S. leadership, he has forged personal ties with top politicians in scores of countries. Even his failed 2004 presidential campaign left him with experience managing a large organization and its daily challenges.

Most significantly, Mr. Kerry has already worked as a discreet and able representative for Mr. Obama during his first term. While serving as chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, the 69-year-old Massachusetts Democrat traveled to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt and Sudan, among other places, to advance U.S. aims. He delivered back-channel messages and helped to broker agreements; at a time when Afghan President Hamid Karzai was at odds with several of the administration’s senior officials, Mr. Kerry coaxed him into accepting a runoff election for president.

A believer in Bill Clinton’s vision of the United States as “the indispensable nation,” Mr. Kerry pushed the more cautious Mr. Obama toward two of his most important foreign policy decisions, the intervention in Libya and the endorsement of Hosni Mubarak’s departure from the Egyptian presidency. He also played a critical role in one of the president’s most notable successes, the Senate’s ratification of a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia. Tackling one of the most difficult U.S. relationships, with Pakistan, Mr. Kerry has advocated a long-range strategy of promoting economic development to balance short-term military cooperation.

As secretary of state, Mr. Kerry would find himself most often carrying out policies forged at the White House rather than implementing his own vision. The senator is known for his conviction that the United States should do more to broker an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, but that worthy goal is looking more remote than ever as hard-liners on both sides gain ascendancy. A better focus for the next secretary would be trying to shape the direction of the turbulent Arab Middle East — starting with Syria, where U.S. leadership has been woefully lacking.

Mr. Kerry shares one of Mr. Obama’s greatest weaknesses: an excessive faith in the potential benefits of “engagement” with rogue regimes and dictators. In particular, Mr. Kerry’s repeated attempts to foster a dialogue with Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad offer a case study of how such diplomacy can go wrong. The cynical Mr. Assad convinced Mr. Kerry that he was a “reformer” who sought peace with Israel — conclusions that, as the past 18 months have shown, could not have been more wrong.

Mr. Kerry’s dedication to dialogue even with U.S. enemies makes some sense for a secretary of state. But Mr. Obama’s new Cabinet could also benefit from the balance provided in the first term by figures such as Hillary Rodham Clinton and Robert M. Gates, who took a more skeptical view of “engagement” and favored steps such as the surge of troops in Afghanistan.

Mr. Kerry’s confirmation as secretary of state would be a rare achievement for a losing presidential candidate. It’s one he has earned, and we expect he would serve the country well.
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Security tops concerns in Afghanistan in 2012
Xinhua 27/12/2012
The year 2012 has seen frantic efforts by the government of President Hamid Karzai in putting in place an effective security apparatus and a viable economic plan in preparation for the pullout of all foreign forces from the country in 2014.

The government has also bent over backwards in trying to engage the still potent Taliban in a national reconciliation process with the help of neighboring Pakistan where some of the more radical Taliban fighters are reported to be ensconced.

The country's main concern, which is going to spill over in the coming year, is still on security issues.

Concluding the 11th year of the war on terror, Afghanistan has experienced Taliban-led violent security incidents for most of 2012, leaving thousands dead that include innocent civilians.

The latest incident was a suicide bombing in this supposedly fortified capital city Kabul on Dec. 6 that badly injured Assadullah Khalid, the head of the National Directorate for Security (NDS). This incident, which happened right in the premises of the heavily-guarded NDS headquarters, had raised questions on the capability of the government to handle the country's security after the 2014 pullout of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Khalid was targeted inside a highly-protected guesthouse of the national intelligence agency and Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid had immediately claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt.

During the year, the Taliban have staged high-profile attacks. The attack on Dec. 10 claimed the lives of a police chief in southwestern Nimroz province and a women affairs director in eastern Laghman province.

In late October, a deadly suicide bombing inside a mosque in relatively peaceful Faryab province's capital Maimana, northwest of Kabul, killed 41 people including 23 police and injured 52 others.

The Afghan conflict has claimed the lives of 391 soldiers of the NATO-led ISAF with 302 of them Americans in 2012, according to icasualties, a website tracking US-led coalition fatalities in the war.

There is no report on the total number of Taliban casualties but 830 Afghan army personnel had been killed in the past seven months from April to November known as the fighting season in Afghanistan, according to Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman General Zahir Azimi.

A report released in August by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said that 1,145 civilians were killed in the first six month of 2012.

According to a UN quarterly report released in mid-December, a total of 967 Afghan civilians, including 355 children, were killed and 1,590 injured in conflicts from August to October.

President Karzai has appealed to the Taliban militants to give up fighting, join the government-backed peace process and contribute to the national reconstruction process.

But the Taliban, which ruled the country with iron-fist based on a fundamentalist brand of Islam before they were driven out in 2001, has rejected the offer, saying there will be no peace talks as long as there are foreign troops in Afghanistan.

In a commentary posted on the Taliban website on Dec. 9, the group vowed to continue the jihad or holy war against Afghan and NATO-led troops.

In 2012, there have been a series of direct and indirect contacts among the Afghan government, the US government, the Taliban and Pakistan to end the conflicts in Afghanistan but all seemed in vain.

As a sign of progress, representatives from the Afghan government, the armed militant groups, which include the Taliban, the Hekmatyar-led radical Islamic party Hizb-e-Islami, and Afghan political opposition groups met in Paris in late December.

It was the first-ever face-to-face gathering among stakeholders and warring factions in Afghanistan to discuss the country's future. But analysts are not very optimistic about the outcome of the Paris dialogue organized by an independent body - a French think tank named Foundation for Strategic Research.

During the year, the Karzai government continued to receive pledges of support from the international community.

In the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan held in July, international donor countries pledged 16 billion US dollars to the war-ravaged country in a bid to safeguard the country's future and achievements made since it freed itself from the brutal Taliban rule in late 2001.

However, the donor nations, above all the United States, had called on the Afghan government to fight corruption and ensure good governance.

In her address at the Tokyo Conference, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for reforms in the Afghan government and said this "must include fighting corruption, improving governance, strengthening the rule of law, increasing access to economic opportunity for all Afghans, especially for women."

Afghanistan tops the most corrupt nations in a report released recently by the Transparency International, a global civil society organization.

Karzai has renewed his determination to fight administrative corruption at the end of the year but the notorious Kabul Bank fraud and many other systemic graft practices in the government have been left unsolved.

Afghanistan also tops the poppy-growing countries in the world and still supplies some 90 percent of the raw materials used in the manufacture of heroin worldwide.

In the political arena, the Afghan Independent Election Commission has set April 5, 2014 as the date for holding the next pivotal presidential elections, months ahead of the final withdrawal of NATO combat troops from the country.

The announcement came as many Afghans doubt whether Afghan security forces will be able to provide security for the elections in the absence of NATO-led coalition forces.

The Taliban-led insurgency, tribalism, along with a high rate of unemployment and poverty, are seen as destabilizing factors that would impede social and economic development in Afghanistan.

Certainly, stability, peace and order are primary requisites for development in any country in the world. And this is what Afghanistan direly needs in the coming years.
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Mental illness, poverty haunted Afghan policewoman who killed American
Reuters By Michael Georgy and Mirwais Harooni 26/12/2012
KABUL - The Afghan policewoman suspected of killing a U.S. contractor at police headquarters in Kabul suffered from mental illness and was driven to suicidal despair by poverty, her children told Reuters on Wednesday.

The woman was identified by authorities as Narges Rezaeimomenabad, a 40-year-old grandmother and mother of three who moved here from Iran 10 years ago and married an Afghan man.

On Monday morning, she loaded a pistol in a bathroom at the police compound, hid it in her long scarf and shot an American police trainer, apparently becoming the first Afghan woman to carry out such an attack.

Narges also tried to shoot police officials after killing the American. Luckily for them, her pistol jammed. Her husband is also under investigation.

Her son Sayed, 16, and daughter Fatima, 13, described how they tried to call their parents 100 times after news broke of the shooting, then waited in vain for them to come home.

They recalled Narges's severe mood swings, and how at times she beat them and even pulled out a knife. But the children said she was consistent in bemoaning poverty.

"She was usually complaining about poverty. She was complaining to my father about our conditions. She was saying that my father was poor," Sayid said in an interview in their damp, cold two-room cement house.

On the floor beside him were his mother's prescriptions and a thick plastic bag filled with pills she tried to swallow to end the misery about a month ago. On another occasion, she cut her wrist with a razor, Sayed said.

"My father was usually calm and sometimes would say that she was guilty too because it wasn't a forced marriage. They fell in love and got married."

There was no sign in their neighbourhood of the billions of dollars of Western aid that have poured into Afghanistan since the ouster of the Taliban in 2001, or of government investment.

RAW SEWAGE, STAGNANT WATER, DIRT ROADS

The lane outside their home stank of raw sewage.

Dirty, stagnant water filled holes in dirt roads nearby, where children in tattered clothes played and butchers stood by cow's hooves in shops choked by dust.

Afghanistan is one of the world's poorest nations, with a third of its 30 million residents living under the poverty line.

The sole distractions from the daily grind appeared to be a deck of playing cards and a compact disc with songs from Iranian pop singers, scattered on the floor of a room where Narges would lock herself in and weep, or sit in silence.

At times, Narges would try to focus on building her children's confidence, telling them to be guided by the Muslim holy book, the Koran, to tackle life's problems.

Sayed and Fatima said she never spoke badly of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan or of President Hamid Karzai's government.

Neighbour Mohammad Ismail Kohistani was dumbfounded to hear on the radio that Afghan officials were combing Narges' phone records to try to determine whether al Qaeda or the Taliban could have brainwashed her into carrying out a mission.

But he was acutely aware of her mental problems and often heard her scream at her husband, whose low-level job in the crime investigation unit of the police brought home little cash.

Kohistani, who operates a small sewing shop with battered machines, never imagined his neighbour could be accused of a high-profile attack that raised new questions about the direction of an unpopular war.

"I became very depressed and sad," said Kohistani, sitting on the floor few feet from a tiny wood-burning stove in Narges's home, alongside family photographs and a police training manual.

Fatima would often seek refuge in Kohistani's house when her mother's behaviour became unbearable. "She did not hate us, but usually she was angry and would not talk to us," said Fatima, her eyes moist with tears.

Nevertheless, she missed her mother. The children were staying with a cousin.

"I ask the government to free my mother, otherwise our future will be destroyed," said Fatima.

Officials described it as another "insider shooting", in which Afghan forces turn on Westerners they are meant to be working with to stabilise the country. There have been over 52 such attacks so far this year.

The shooting at the police headquarters may have alarmed Afghanistan's Western allies. But some Afghans have grown numb to the violence.

Kohistani's 70-year-old father Omara Khan, who sports a white beard, sat twirling prayer beads beneath a photograph of Narges in a black veil beside one of her husband.

Asked what he thought of the attack, he laughed.

"This is common in Afghanistan," said Khan, who lived through decades of upheaval, including the 10-year Soviet occupation and a civil war that destroyed half of Kabul and killed some 50,000 civilians.

"People are killed every day."

(Editing by Ron Popeski)
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Karzai meets with Mujahideen leaders ahead of US visit
Khamma Press By Sayed Jawad December 27 2012
Afghan president Hamid Karzai on Wednesday met with a number of the Mujahideen leaders in presidential palace, ahead of his official visit to United States of America.

According to a statement released by presidential palace media office, the Mujahideen leaders urged president Hamid Karzai to discuss the issues with the US president Barack Obama considering the national benefits of Afghanistan.

President Hamid Karzai is due to visit Washington in the month of January to meet president Barack Obama.

He is expected to hold talks on Afghan peace talks with the militant groups and long strategic pact including security pact between the two nations.

Karzai earlier also said he will insist on Washington to support and equip Afghan national security forces.

Discussions will also include progress made in negotiating the Bilateral Security Agreement that would replace the current Status of Forces Agreement, and lay out ground rules for a potential U.S. military presence after 2014, along with an Afghan-led peace process and the future of Afghanistan’s security forces.

Negotiations between the United States and Afghan governments on security agreements formally began in Kabul on Nov. 15.

Currently there are about 100,000 NATO-led forces, with 68,000 of them Americans, stationed in the country to stop the Taliban from returning to power.
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Haqqani, Taliban Leaders Arrested in Afghan Operation
TOLOnews.com Wednesday, 26 December 2012
A Haqqani and Taliban leaders were captured in joint Afghan and Nato troops operations in on Wednesday, Isaf said.

“An Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Taliban leader and detained one suspected insurgent during an operation in Now Zad district, Helmand province today,” Isaf said in a statement.

The arrested leader coordinated and executed multiple direct fires and improvised explosive device attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in the province, it said.

Isaf also said that a local Haqqani leader was captured in a joint operation in Dzadran district of Paktia province Wednesday.

The leader was responsible for planning attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in the district. He oversaw a number of insurgents who constructed, transported and emplaced improvised explosive devices, according to Isaf.

One suspected insurgents was also captured during the operation.

Isaf said that an Afghan-led security force of more than 1,000 soldiers and policemen concluded a five-day coalition-supported operation in Baraki Barak district of Logar province yesterday.

The operation was conducted by the Provincial Response Company Laghman, along with elements of the Afghan Local Police, the Afghan Uniformed Police, and the Afghan National Army.

Several insurgents were killed or captured during the operation.

The forces also seized improvised explosive device materials, suicide vests, weapons, ammunition, and a quantity of illicit drugs.
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