Leader Development & Education for Sustained Peace Program: Cross-Cultural, Geopolitical & Regional Education

LDESP Afghanistan-Pakistan News Update – 24 September 2012


LDESP AFPAK NEWS UPDATE: 24 September 2012

This update is a summary of various news articles from open sources relating to US AFPAK policy and governance, economy, security and regional interests in Afghanistan and Western Pakistan. Please click on the links below to access the complete article from the internet. External links may expire at any time depending on the archiving policy of the particular news agency. News summaries given below highlight only the portion of each article that is relevant and may not necessarily be the focus of the entire article or the headline. Please note that the update includes articles, which use the British English spelling. Articles are taken from diverse regional, American and European media sources, reflecting a range of political views/biases, and are intended to provide readers with a better understanding of various interests and perspectives regarding the situation in the region. Opinions expressed in the articles/commentaries do not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense, the US Navy, or the LDESP staff.

Disclaimer: Articles are taken from established and diverse professional periodicals, news articles, and editorial commentaries from different countries, reflecting a range of political views/biases, that are intended to provide readers with a better understanding of various interests and perspectives regarding the situation in the region. External links may expire at any time depending on the archiving policy of the particular news agency. News summaries may highlight only a portion of an article that is relevant to the readers and may not necessarily be the focus of the entire article or the headline. Opinions expressed in the articles, commentaries and features do not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense, the US Navy, or the LDESP staff.

GOVERNANCE: DEMOCRACY & RULE OF LAW

Afghanistan: Governance & Civil Society

Karzai Heads to New York for UN Assembly

On 23 September, President Hamid Karzai left for the US to attend the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York, an official said. Besides delivering his speech to the assembly, Karzai is expected to meet some world leaders and participate in the trilateral meeting among Afghanistan, Pakistan and the UK, his spokesman, Aimal Faizi, said. The president is expected to discuss with his international counterparts issues including the peace process, Pak-Afghan relations, the cross-border rocket attacks from Pakistan into eastern Afghan provinces, Faizi said, adding some other issues would come under discussion during the trilateral meeting. Without giving details, the presidential spokesman said “two other important meetings” between President Karzai and world leaders were expected to take place during the trip. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

Election Delay Will Be Catastrophic: Political Parties

A newly established coalition of Afghanistan’s political parties released a document on 23 September warning that any delay in the presidential election in 2014 will cause an “unaffordable crisis”. The Cooperation Council of Political Parties and Coalitions, comprised of around 20 political parties, insisted upon election reforms to secure a maximum turnout of voters and build confidence in the election process. “The elections should take place on time,” Hamidullah Farooqi, a member of the leadership council of Right and Justice Party said in a news conference after the Sunday event. “If the Afghan government or anyone else wants to bring a change or delays the election time, they are ignoring the catastrophic consequences it may cause.” It was the first such gathering of the political parties in the country. The council was formed three months ago and has formulated the document Charter of Democracy. The council includes key parties such as Abdullah Abdullah’s National Coalition, the National Front and the Junbish-e Milli of Afghanistan party. The Charter focuses not only on elections, but stresses the “non-negotiable democratic values” such as women’s rights and human rights. The council also calls for a unified peace approach and fighting against corruption, among other things. They also called for a stronger role of the political parties in the government. (TOLOnews)

MoI Assigns Extra Bodyguards to MPs

The Afghan Ministry of Interior has assigned extra protection force to particular MPs which has provoked some other lawmakers to complain and call it unnecessary. A Wardak MP, Sediqa Mubarez, questioned the size of the police unit guarding the MPs, calling it needless. Another MP from Farah, Sarwar Usmani, disclosed a list of MPs who are being escorted with more than 20 bodyguards. “Haji Almas [Zahid] has 20 bodyguards, Younus Qanoni has 29 bodyguards, Mawlawi Enayat Ateb has 23 bodyguards,” MP Usmani said while reading a long list. But, the additional protection force was considered as necessary by some others, including MP Fawzia Kofi of Badakhshan. She said the increasing level of security threats requires additional security arrangements for the parliamentarians. “Due to security threats, apart from four bodyguards, two three more bodyguards have been assigned to the MPs, there is nothing wrong with it,” Kofi said. (TOLOnews)

Afghanistan bans all Pakistani newspapers

Afghanistan has issued a nationwide ban against Pakistani newspapers to stop what security officials consider anti-government propaganda aimed at Kabul. Ihsanuddin Taheri, a government spokesman, told the Reuters news agency on 22 September that Pakistani newspapers are often misleading in their reporting of the Afghan administration and wrongly accuse NATO-led forces of “occupying” the country, rather than offering security support. He added that some papers have also published speeches by Taliban leaders, hampering the government’s effort to bring the Taliban into peace talks aimed at ending the country’s 11-year conflict. “We totally reject these statements and the ban is to show them this,” Taheri said. Afghan border police have been ordered to sweep shops in the eastern provinces of Nuristan, Kunar and Nangarhar near the Pakistan border to seize copies of Pakistani papers, he said. The east of the country has been the focus for foreign and Afghan security operations against fighters over the summer months ahead of a NATO pullout of most combat troops by 2014. Ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been strained by months of cross-border shelling which officials in Kabul have blamed on Pakistan’s military. Islamabad accuses Afghanistan of failing to stop anti-government fighters operating from mountain havens on Kabul’s side of the border. On 20 September, the Afghan foreign minister told the UN Security Council in New York that diplomatic ties with Pakistan were under threat. The newspaper ban, which is likely to worsen already tense cross-border ties, could only be reversed by a ministerial decree. (Aljazeera)

Senate to draft Sayyaf’s remarks on suicide attacks

The Meshrano Jirga — upper house of parliament — on 9 September decided to refer a draft containing Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf’s remarks on suicide attacks to the government for implementation. On 8 September, the renowned jihadi commander challenged international scholars to offer a justification for suicide attacks. Also a Wolesi Jirga member, he threw the gauntlet to ulema at a ceremony marking the 11th death anniversary of Ahmad Shah Masood. The Dawat Party head believed peace could not be achieved with requests, saying practical steps were needed to stabilise the country. He said the killers of innocent civilians should be hanged and their limbs severed. The upper house lent its weight to Sayyaf’s comments. A lawmaker from Faryab province, Syed Farrukh Janab, said Sayyaf had exposed the real face of so-called muftis, suggesting the only way to peace was to implement his remarks. He said religious scholars should convey Sayyaf’s message to the people so no one could choose the wrong path. “Suicide bombers think that their attacks are justified by Islam. It is the duty of scholars to tell the people that such attacks have no justification,” He suggested the government should ensure the protection of respected religious scholars and assign them with giving public sermons on the subject. (Pajhwok)

Afghan Government Pans Country Carve Up Proposal

Those proposing to split up Afghanistan into separately governed regions as a political solution to its conflict are not of sound mind, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said on 9 September. A British lawmaker suggested carving Afghanistan into eight zones – Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kunduz, Nangarhar, Khost and Bamiyan – as a way to end the ongoing conflict, with some territory possibly conceded to the militant Taliban. Conservative British MP and foreign office aid Tobias Ellwood proposed his plan to British and US officials saying it may be the only solution. The Afghan government panned the proposal. “Those who have proposed this thing do not have healthy mind,” MOFA spokesman Janan Mosazai said in Kabul on Sunday. “The people of Afghanistan have earned and defended their independence by sacrificing their blood.” It was also widely criticised by Afghan parliamentarians, who called for the “conspiracies” against Afghanistan to stop. “None of the Afghans in any part of the country will listen to those who don’t love Afghanistan — you don’t have the right to talk about our country,” head of Senate Fazel Hadi Muslimyar said. The proposal which was termed ‘Plan C’ for Afghanistan was pitched as a way of overcoming weak governance, tribal conflicts, and corruption. It was reportedly given to the British Foreign Minister William Hague and US officials in the White House. According to some media reports, the proposal was also discussed with several Pakistani officials in London. (TOLOnews)

Afghanistan welcome adding Haqqani in terror blacklist

Afghan government on 7 September welcomed the decision by White House to include Haqqani Network in terror blacklist. In a report to Congress on 7 September, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton formally designated the militant Haqqani network — responsible for some of the deadliest attacks against American troops in Afghanistan — as a terrorist organization, two days before a Congressional deadline. The Haqqanis, a Pashtun tribe with strongholds in southeastern Afghanistan and across the border in Pakistan, have been blamed for an attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul and other high-profile assaults in Afghanistan. A spokesman for the Afghan Intelligence — National Directorate of Security (NDS) Shafiqullah Tahiri said the pressures by Washington will have direct affect on Haqqani Network’s operations in Afghanistan. He said, the network is part of a terrorist network who are never willing to sit in for peace talks and therefore we welcome Washington’s decision to add Haqqani Network in terror blacklist. (Khaama Press)

Karzai Warns against Delay in Prisoners’ Transfer

Any delay in the transfer Bagram jail inmates to local authorities would be a serious violation of a recent memorandum of understanding between Afghanistan and the United States, President Hamid Karzai said on 16 September. Speaking to a US delegation headed by Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman, the president renewed his call for complete transition of the Bagram Detention Centre to his government’s control. A statement from the Presidential Palace quoted Karzai as stressing the need for the US military to hand about 600 prisoners still in its custody to their Afghan counterparts. The delay in the transfer of prisoners after Sept. 9 was a serious breach of the MoU, he insisted. Referring to the Geneva Convention that allows the US to keep prisoners in its custody for a long time without charge, Karzai said: “Judicial officials will soon give their opinion on the conformity of the convention to Afghan laws. “But continued detention of Afghans by Americans in their jails is in contradiction with the friendship and strategic accord between two countries,” the president added. The two sides also discussed the Afghan-led peace process and the role of neighboring Pakistan in reconciliation with the Taliban who are ready to renounce violence and recognize the constitution. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

Peace Talks

A String of Peace Conferences This Month: ISAF

A series of national and international conferences on durable peace and reintegration of militants would be held across country this month, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) announced on 12 September. Participants of the conference, experienced in areas of violence elimination and reintegration, would discuss ways of ensuring lasting peace in Afghanistan, an official of the NATO-led force told reporters in Kabul. ISAF’s Force Reintegration Cell Director Maj. Gen. David Hook said 120 events would be conducted during Peace and Unity Week across Afghanistan, as a part of efforts at convincing insurgents to join the reintegration program. Experts from 30 countries were expected to attend the international peace conference scheduled to take place in Kabul on 22 September, when participants would discuss how to stabilize Afghanistan, he said. Some 3,500 people were expected at the major national conference to be held in the Loya Jirga tent on 19 September, according to Hook, who stressed the need over the role of women and civil society in the peace process. Hook said two more conferences would be arranged by the Afghan Women’s Network (AWN) and civil society organizations on 24-25 September. Launched on the demand of Afghan government in 2009, the ISAF-supported reintegration drive had been a success, Hook said, putting at 5,000 the number of rebels who have joined the Afghan-led process so far. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

EU Backs Incentive for Taliban to Shun Violence

The European Union on 22 September said it would continue to advocate an inclusive process offering the best incentive for the Taliban to renounce violence and engage in constructive dialogue. A statement attributed to Vygaudas Usackas, EU special envoy to Afghanistan, said: “We will continue to address fears expressed by women’s representatives and northern constituencies that the outcome of the peace process risks undermining civil and political gains made in recent years.” The statement said members of the union would continue to reiterate to regional states that peace in Afghanistan was in the interests of the region. It called on Afghanistan’s neighbors to play a constructive role. (…) About the National Peace and Unity week, the EU said first and foremost, it was an occasion to remember Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, who stood out for his relentless efforts in achieving peace and in reaching out to the Afghan nation. “Such attacks must strengthen the resolve of the EU and international community to continue to work with the Afghan people on the path of reconciliation,” the statement said. (…) The EU said peace in Afghanistan had a special significance for it. The EU started off as a regional cooperation organization which helped to transform Europe from a war-torn and divided continent into an economic and political force, it recalled. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

Karzai Wants Afghans to Strive for Peace

President Hamid Karzai, praising assassinated peace envoy Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani’s contribution to the cause, on 19 September urged the nation to work for lasting stability in the country. “We should all strive for peace to continue the mission of Rabbani,” the president told a ceremony marking the first death anniversary of the High Peace Council chief, who was killed in a suicide attack on his residence in Kabul on 20 September, 2011. Karzai paid tribute to the ex-president for his sincere reconciliation efforts, saying that all Afghans should work to promote his cause. He hailed the Jamiat-i-Islami Afghanistan leader as a tolerant and broad-minded man, who had a good grasp of the situation in the region. The presidential call came a day after a dozen people, including eight foreign employees of an air cargo company, were killed and 11 Afghans injured in a suicide attack near the Kabul International Airport. Second Vice-President Mohammad Karim Khalili called Rabbani a renowned jihadi leader who pursued his peace mission in a way that no one could exploit it. Peace would continue to elude Afghanistan in the absence of justice, a prerequisite for stability, he said. He asked the militants to shake off the yoke of outsiders’ slavery by joining the Afghan government-led reconciliation initiative. The VP supported a peace program that protected achievements of the past decade. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

Pakistan: Governance & Civil Society

Afghan Intelligence Should Work with Pakistan: Former ISI Chief

Afghan security officials should have close ties with the Pakistan intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and less interest in working with India, former ISI chief Gen. Hamid told TOLOnews on 12 September. He said that the two nations security and intelligence bodies should work closely in order to unite the people of both Afghanistan and Pakistan. “In the current situation, anyone who is appointed as head of the Afghan spy agency should have good ties with Pakistan and less interest in India,” Gul said via a telephone interview. Afghan lawmakers dismissed Gul’s statements saying that he was guilty of human rights violations and was only interested in interfering in Afghanistan. (…) Gul’s comments come after the nominated chief to head Afghanistan’s intelligence agency National Directorate of Security (NDS), Asadullah Khalid, is known to be strongly opposed to the ISI. However, some lawmakers believe that officials at the NDS have revealed nationally sensitive plans to ISI in the past, so they are keen to have figures in the top security and intelligence positions who are not interested in working with Pakistan. (TOLOnews)

Pakistan condemns bounty offer on film-maker

The government of Pakistan has condemned a cabinet minister for his offer of a reward for killing the US-based producer believed to be behind an anti-Islam video. Islamabad’s announcement comes after Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, the federal railways minister, offered a $100,000 bounty on 22 September for the death of the California-based maker of the video. Bilour also invited members of the Taliban and al-Qaeda to take part in what he called a “noble deed”. (…) A spokesperson for Raja Pervez Ashraf, Pakistan’s prime minister, rejected Bilour’s comments. “This is not government policy. We completely dissociate [ourselves] from this,” Shafqat Jalil told the AFP news agency on 23 September. Rubina Khalid, a senator with the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, questioned the minister’s motives. “We have never seen Mr Bilour taking any active part in any religious activities,” she told Al Jazeera. “We have got nothing to do with it [the comments], we all condemn it, and I think strict action should be taken against him,” she said. Meanwhile, a Pakistani cleric has said that he is willing to pay $105,000 to the person who kills the filmmaker, while another said that a businessman in the southern city of Karachi would be willing to offer as much as $1.27 million for the man’s death, the AFP news agency reported. (Aljazeera)

ECONOMY, RECONSTRUCTION & DEVELOPMENT

Afghanistan seeks to boost tourism

Afghanistan’s ancient history and rugged scenery used to attract tens of thousands of tourists a year. But decades of conflicts have bled the industry dry. Efforts are underway in the Bamiyan region to improve facilities for tourists. (Aljazeera)

NKB CEO Not Cooperating with Investigation: Tribunal

Kabul Bank’s Special Tribunal’s Director has introduced the CEO of the New Kabul Bank to the Attorney General Office for not cooperating with the investigation of Kabul Bank’s scandal. Director Shamur Rahman Shams said he had sent a delegation to the New Kabul Bank to find out what the actual capitals of the bank were at the time of scandal, but faced an “uncooperative management.” “We sent a delegation comprised several departments, but the officials failed to cooperate us in a proper way, so we had to introduce the CEO to the Attorney General,” said Mr Shams. However, the New Kabul Bank’s CEO, Masoud Khan Mosa Ghazi, dismissed the accusations, saying he and his team have cooperated with the investigators. “Nearly $4.5m currently exists and $1.3 billion were the loans, and I provided all details to them,” Ghazi told TOLOnews. Meanwhile, Mr Shams said that no one has shown interest to buy Kabul Bank and its assets. The tribunal’s director said that Mahmood Karzai owes $9m and Hassin Fahim owes $3m, which they have failed to pay back due to their personal problems with former CEO Khalil Ferozi and Chairman Shirkhan Farnod. He didn’t explain the personal problems between the loan takers and the former executives of the bank. Only $129m of nearly $912m have been recovered so far, according Mr Shams. (TOLOnews)

Women & Children

Children caught up in Afghan conflict

According to UN estimates, more than 578 children were killed or wounded as a direct result of the ongoing conflict in the first six months of 2012: that works out to 4.8 cases per day. At the Kabul emergency hospital, 82 of the 278 patients treated in August this year were minors. Of the 82, 33 were treated for bullet wounds, 34 for stab wounds or from shelling, and another 11 for mine-related injuries. With 374 civilian deaths and 581 injuries, August 2012 was the second deadliest month in Afghanistan since the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, began recording civilian casualties. (…) Candace Rondeaux, a senior analyst for the International Crisis Group in Afghanistan, says military installations, such as the ISAF headquarters frequented by foreigners and the wealthy, are an “enormous draw” for children desperate for money. They are also perhaps the most dangerous because of the unexpected nature of many of the attacks in Kabul. (…) The rush to get money from passing vehicles leaves the children susceptible to suicide bombers who target foreigners. (Aljazeera)

UN Stresses Protection of Afghan Women

Prominent Afghan women activists and rights defenders on 10 September joined the UN mission to commemorate the “Global Open Day on Women, Peace and Security” in Kabul. UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Ján Kubiš hosted the women peace activists associated with different organizations, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a statement. It added the activists raised major problems facing Afghan women, including their under-representation in political and peace processes, target killings and violation of their rights by local militia groups. They stressed the need for the protection of women from violence and atrocities. Kubiš voiced his serious concerns at the disturbing trend of continuous violation of women’s rights in Afghanistan. He reiterated the world’s body was committed to doing everything possible to promote and protect the rights of Afghan women. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

Culture & Society

Religious Ulama Must Not Perform Funeral Pray for Suicide Attacker: Sayaf

Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayaf Member of the Parliament and chief of Islamic Invitation party (Hezb-e-Dawat) said suicide is really prohibited in Islam and anyone who is doing this action it is prohibited in Islam and religious Ulama must not perform his or her funeral prayer. Sayaf added and said base on Islam religious and Holy Quran the religious Ulama are not allowed to perform special prayer (Funeral Prayer). In the recent times Ustad Sayaf is the one who emphasizes on unlawful of suicide attack as well in the ceremony of Martyr’s week on National hero Ahmad Shah Massoud in the Loya Jirga tent. The assertions of Ustad Sayaf had a lot of reactions on unlawful of suicide attack is really unprecedented. Ustad Sayaf who was talking to the audiences on dead anniversary of Professor Ustad Rabbani in the Loya Jirga tent stressed and said:” the suicide attacker does not have the time of beg so, the funeral prayer is not allowed to be performed on him or her.” He went on and said, some members of peace council perform the funeral prayer of the ones who do the suicide attackers and say on the funeral of the attackers congratulate your martyrdom. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

Students Protest Rabbani University Name Change

University students in Kabul protested Sunday against the change of their university’s name to Martyr of Peace Burhanuddin Rabbani University, saying the name is controversial. On the first anniversary of Burhanuddin Rabbani’s assassination last week, the Council of Ministers announced it was renaming Polytechnic University Road and the Education University after him for the peaceful efforts he had accomplished. However, students argued that Rabbani’s legacy has raised political questions. (…) They warned that if the original name is not restored to the road and the university, they will stage a much larger and less peaceful demonstration. “We grew up in a generation of war, fire. Instead of a pen in our hand, we grew up with a rocket,” a student warned. “We don’t want this action imposed on us and we will fight until out last breath against this,” another student told TOLOnews. Meanwhile, MP Ramazan Bashar Dost asked the students not to act in violence during the demonstrations, respecting the Afghanistan’s Constitution. Rabbani was assassinated on 19 September 2011 by a Taliban suicide bomber posing as a peace envoy. He was head of the Afghan High Peace Council at the time, and has served as the country’s President. (TOLOnews)

CENTRAL & SOUTH ASIA

Kazakhstan seeks greater role as NATO route

Kazakhstan is seeking to play a greater role as a supply route for NATO into Afghanistan. A significant portion of non-lethal goods in NATO’s northern distribution network, in which cargo is transited from the West to Afghanistan through Central Asia, already passes through Aktau, a key Kazakh seaport. Aktau could also soon become part of an integrated network linking Asia with Europe, a US-backed initiative called the New Silk Road that aims to improve relations between Central Asian countries and the West. (Aljazeera)

China and Afghanistan sign landmark deals

For the first time in nearly 50 years, a senior Chinese official has visited Afghanistan and signed a series of agreements in an example of increased foreign interest in the nation ahead of the planned withdrawal of US troops by 2014. Zhou Yongkang, China’s domestic security chief, met President Hamid Karzai at his garden palace in Kabul, state media said on 23 September. Zhou made the four-hour visit the day before – a secretive trip not announced beforehand – aimed at shoring up ties between the neighbours, the Xinhua news agency reported. The new security and commercial agreements were not specific, Reuters news agency reported, although Zhou pledged to help “train, fund and equip Afghan police”. The last senior Chinese official to visit Afghanistan was President Liu Shaoqi, in 1966, Xinhua said. Beijing has stepped up diplomacy with Afghanistan in recent months as the deadline for the withdrawal of US and NATO forces draws nearer. China, which shares a 76km border with Afghanistan’s far northeast, has already secured major oil and copper mining concessions in Afghanistan, which is believed to have more than $1 trillion worth of minerals. Xinhua provided few details about the visit. “It is in line with the fundamental interests of the two peoples for China and Afghanistan to strengthen a strategic and co-operative partnership … conducive to regional peace, stability and development,” Zhou said, according to the report. Zhou, a member of the elite Politburo Standing Committee of China’s ruling Communist Party, has overseen a crackdown on unrest in his nation’s Muslim-populated Xinjiang region, which borders Afghanistan. Zhou’s appearance in Kabul comes after Karzai pledged to work with China to fight “terrorism and extremism” in the region during a visit to Beijing in June, where he attended the Shanghai Co-operation Organization meeting. The grouping, which is led by China and Russia and was set up to counterbalance US and NATO influence, granted Afghanistan observer status at the meeting. (Aljazeera)

Senate Endorses SAARC Pact, ICCROM Statute

The Meshrano Jirga on 11 September ratified a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) agreement on trade in services and the statute of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM). The agreement on trade in services was signed during the 16th SAARC Summit in Thimphu, Bhutan, on 28-29 April, 2010. Senate International Affairs Commission member Humera Niamati told the house the agreement was aimed at opening up new vistas of cooperation and deepening the integration of regional economies. She said the 32-article agreement included aircraft repair and maintenance and computer reservation system (CRS) services provided by computerized systems that contained information about air carriers’ schedules, availability, fares and rules.She insisted the agreement was in the interest of Afghanistan because it would help enhance the country’s trade relations with South Asian countries. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

BUILDING SECURITY CAPACITY & SECURITY ASSESSMENT

Afghanistan Security Forces

Afghans Take Over Training Responsibility for Border Police

The Afghan government has taken overall responsibility for the training of the Afghan Border Police (ABP) from the US military, the Interior Ministry said on 24 September. The handover of Afghan border police training mission comes as concerns mount over Green on Blue attacks. Last month, the US forces suspended the training mission for the Afghan Local Police to reduce the risk of the insider threats. The core responsibility of the border police is to protect the troubled Afghan borders, particularly in the volatile Af-Pak region and prevent narco-trade. Speaking in a border police graduation ceremony, Coordinating Director for Rule of Law and Law Enforcement at the US Embassy in Kabul, Stephen G. McFarland, said that the border police force will have a major task to prevent insurgents, narcotics and explosives entering Afghanistan. “There are several challenges that the graduates of this course are going to face; the first is trying to reinforce security on the border so that the terrorist cannot cross and so that materials for making bombs are detected,” McFarland said. The Afghan Deputy Interior Minister, Mirza Mohammad Yarmand, said the threat of drug smuggling and cross-border attacks would remain a huge challenge for his forces. It comes as the newly-appointed Interior Minister Gen. Mujtaba Patang said that he would put more forces alongside the eastern borders to prevent the cross-border shelling. The issue or Pakistan’s cross border shelling was also conveyed to the United Nations Security Council as the Afghan senators and Lawmakers urged the Security Council to take necessary actions to prevent such attacks. (TOLOnews)

3 Badghis Police Join Taliban

Three Afghan police in western Badghis province have joined the Taliban insurgents, taking their weapons with them, local officials said. The men from the Dara Boum area of Badghis’ Qades district joined the Taliban recently, but no further details were available, according to the Badghis police spokesman. Investigations are ongoing, he said. It was not clear if the three men were members of the national police force or the local police. Meanwhile, six civilians were injured Sunday morning by the blast of an improvised explosive device (IED) in the same Badghis district as the police deserters, police chief Abdul Jabar Saleh told TOLOnews. The IED detonated at a funeral in the Qades district while mourners were gathered, he said on 23 September. (TOLOnews)

Nearly 50 Militants Killed in Helmand Operations

At least 48 insurgents and a suicide bomber were killed in separate operations by Afghan security forces in southern Helmand province, a local official said on 24 September. Nine other insurgents were detained and two local policemen have been injured in the raids over the past three-days, the provincial Police Chief Gen. Abdul Nabi Elham said. “Operation were launched in several parts of the province to push back the insurgents and 48 militants have been killed so far,” Gen. Elsam said. Nearly 30 Kalashnikovs, 100 roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices have been seized by Afghan forces in the in the clearance operations, according the police chief. The Afghan-led operation was launched as the US surge’s withdrawal comes to an end in Afghanistan. One third of the 3,000 US troops, who were sent part of the President Obama’s military surge, were based in Helmand province. Local officials said no civilians were killed or wounded in the Helmand operations. Meanwhile in the neighboring Uruzgan province, four civilians were injured when Afghan forces shot a suicide bomber whose explosives were detonated after he was gunned down. (TOLOnews)

U.S. & Coalition Forces

Afghan Forces Leading 80 Percent of Operations: ISAF

The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are leading 80 percent of military operations in the east and southern parts of Afghanistan, ISAF Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Brig. Gen. Roger Nobel said in a press conference in Kabul on 13 September. Afghan Special Forces are involved in 75 percent of the overall operations, he said. “In RC east and south, more than 80 percent of the operations are led by Afghans. The special forces units partnered with ISAF are now approaching a 75 percent share. Recently Afghan special forces were involved in 27 operations out of 35,” Nobel said, adding that 90 percent of the training is now being run by the Afghan instructors. Nobel added that insurgents are the cause of 81 percent of civilian casualties and ISAF and Afghan forces are responsible for 15 percent. “Insurgents killed 81 percent of civilians [casualties], which is a conservative figure,” he said. “The principal cause of injuries and death is improvised explosive devices. ISAF has caused 7 percent of the casualties, which is 53 percent down from the same period last year,” he told reporters. He said that the ANSF are responsible for 3 percent of casualties and 9 percent of deaths, and the remaining casualties are the result of unknown reasons. The aim of ISAF is to bring civilian casualties to zero, he added. (TOLOnews)

Steps Taken to Prevent Possible Attacks: ISAF

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on Thursday said it had taken tight security measures to prevent possible violence in the country over a blasphemous movie. (…) “The ISAF respect for Afghan people’s culture and religion is strong and fundamental to the way we want to do business here,” he remarked, saying foreign troops were here, long away from home, trying to help Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the US embassy in Kabul also sought assistance from Afghan leaders and people in maintaining calm. In a statement, it urged the Afghans to help them continue working to build a better and secure future for the country. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

NATO

Civilian Casualties on the Rise Despite Decrease in Insurgent Attacks

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on 24 September said that the Taliban are reluctant to engage in battlefield with NATO and Afghan forces, but continue to carry out attacks which have resulted in a dramatic increase in civilian casualties. August has been the second deadliest month for Afghan civilians since the beginning of the war in 2001 with 347 people killed. Speaking in a joint press conference with NATO spokesman Dominic Medley, ISAF spokesman General Gunter Katz emphasized that the Taliban’s momentum has been reversed and they are pushed out of the urban areas. “Insurgency is losing the fight, the main reason is that we were able to reverse the momentum of their campaign, pushing them out of the urban areas, fighting them in remote areas and I guess one of the main reasons is also that Afghan security forces are becoming more and more capable,” Katz said. The German General said that Afghan forces control more than 75 percent of the country. He touched the hot-debated cross-border attacks, saying a dialogue has been initiated between Afghanistan and Pakistan to seek an end to the year-long cross-border shelling. (…) Meanwhile, Medley stressed that the international community will support Afghanistan beyond 2014. (TOLOnews)

Joint Operations with Afghans Not Suspended: NATO

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on 18 September rejected as inaccurate media coverage regarding a change in its model of Security Force Assistance (SFA) to Afghan forces. “ISAF remains absolutely committed to partnering with, training, advising and assisting our ANSF counterparts,” a statement from the multinational force said. The ISAF SFA model is focused at the battalion level and above, with exceptions approved by senior commanders, according to the statement. Partnering continued to occur at all levels, from platoon to corps, it added. “In response to elevated threat levels resulting from the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ video, ISAF has taken some prudent, but temporary, measures to reduce our profile and vulnerability to civil disturbances or insider attacks,” the statement said. As a result, operational tempo had been reduced or force protection increased in some local instances, it explained, saying the actions balanced the tension of the recent video with force protection. “We’ve done this before in other high-tension periods and its worked well. Under this guidance and as conditions change, we will continue to adapt the force posture and force protection.” Meanwhile, the defense ministry spokesman also denied a halt to joint operations, spurning as groundless reports to the effect. Maj. Gen. Zahir Azimi told Pajhwok NATO and Afghan forces continued to operate together at levels of battalion, brigade and military corps. However, he acknowledged joint operations at the lower level were suspended in the wake of the release of the profane video, as a result of bilateral consultations. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

UN

UNAMA Deplores Defamation of Religion

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) deplores the disrespectful, insulting and inflammatory material posted on the internet that seeks to denigrate the religious beliefs of Muslims and to incite violence and hate. The United Nations rejects this despicable action and defamation of religion in all forms. Such intentional acts insulting the religious beliefs of others are unacceptable. The United Nations itself is the symbol of religious tolerance and inclusive diversity representing as it does all the peoples of the world. We hold Islam and Muslims in the whole world in high esteem. While the United Nations in Afghanistan joins the people and government of Afghanistan in strongly condemning this abhorrent action, nothing can justify violence or the further loss of life. Following the statement of the UN Secretary General of yesterday, UNAMA calls on all Afghans to exercise restraint in their indignation and to reject calls to violence or vicious behavior. The United Nations will continue to help the Afghan people lay the foundations for stability, security and lasting peace in Afghanistan. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

Taliban Made $400 Million in 2011 from Taxes, Extortion: UN

A United Nations report released on 11 September said that the Taliban raised $400 million in 2011 through taxes, donations, and extortion money from businesses and aid projects in Afghanistan. The report to the UN Security Council by the sanctions monitoring team said that about $275 million of that income reached the militant group’s leadership and the rest was collected, spent or misappropriated at the local level. “The team understands Taliban funding as follows: revenue raised from taxing the local economy serves primarily to support local operations and is only in a few cases channeled upwards,” it said. It warned against a general perception that the Taliban’s main source of income was Afghanistan’s opium poppy economy. The Taliban has also taken hundreds of millions of dollars from Afghanistan’s development projects, according to the report. It said donations are a “major” source of funding, which also go to militia leaders. Afghanistan has long been the world’s leading supplier of opium, accounting for about 90 percent of global output. The report said Afghan officials estimated that the Taliban earned about $100 million in 2011/2012 from opium; a small amount given the annual value of the drug crop is estimated at $3.6 billion to $4 billion. The report suggested that the Islamist group’s income is growing. “Since 2006 the Taliban have managed to finance an ever-increasing number of attacks, reflecting a year-on-year increase in income,” it said. ISAF estimated that the Taliban spent between $100 million and $155 million of its income launching attacks in 2011, while the rest maintained the insurgency, according to the UN report. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

UN to Help End Cross-Border Shelling: Kubiš

The issue of cross-border shelling from Pakistan into eastern Kunar province would be shared with United Nations Security Council members, the secretary-general’s special envoy promised on 11 September. Ján Kubiš told reporters during his visit to Asadabad, the provincial capital, that the UN would do all it could to ensure an end to the cross-border missile barrages that have resulted in scores of casualties in recent months. Without assigning any reason, he also announced the closure of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan’s office in Kunar. The closure did not mean they would forget the province, he said. The UNAMA office in neighboring Nangarhar will also cover Kunar. Governor Syed Fazlullah Wahidi said residents were concerned at the continued shelling by Pakistani forces and sought assistance from the UN in stopping the strikes. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

Militants

Taliban: Afghanistan Attack Linked To Anti-Islam Film

Afghanistan’s Taliban claimed responsibility on 22 September for an attack on a base which U.S. officials said killed two American Marines, saying it was in response to a film that insults the Prophet Mohammad. Camp Bastion, in southern Helmand province, came under mortar, rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire late on 21 September in an attack in which several servicemen were wounded. “The aim of this attack was revenge against Americans for the anti-Prophet movie,” said Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf. U.S. President Barack Obama has vowed to “stand fast” against violence which has spread since the amateurish film of obscure origin triggered an attack on the U.S. consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi that killed the ambassador and three other Americans on Sept. 11, the eleventh anniversary of the al Qaeda attacks on the United States. Britain’s Prince Harry was at Camp Bastion at the time of the 21 September attack, but was unharmed. Earlier this week, the Afghan Taliban said they were doing everything in their power to either kill or kidnap Queen Elizabeth’s grandson in what they dubbed their “Harry Operations.” “Prince Harry was never in any danger,” Martyn Crighton, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), said, adding that it would investigate whether his presence on the base had motivated the attack. (Huffington Post, Reuters)

Security Threats

Insider Attacks are ‘Very Serious Threat’ to NATO Mission: Dempsey

The US Forces Press Service Army Gen. Martin Dempsey in remarks to the Pentagon’s own news service has said that the Afghan government needs to step up and take the problem of insider attacks as seriously as do US commanders and officials. “We’re all seized with the problem. You can’t whitewash it. We can’t convince ourselves that we just have to work harder to get through it. Something has to change,” the Associated Press quoted Dempsey saying. “But we’ve got to make sure our Afghan counterparts are as seized about it as we are,” he added. “We have to get on top of this. It is a very serious threat to the campaign.” US and NATO officials have discussed extensively in recent weeks the need to improve the screening of Afghan security forces recruits and other precautionary measures that may be taken in the face of the “green-on-blue” attacks that so far this year have killed at least 51 NATO troops. Dempsey’s comments come after six NATO-led soldiers in Afghanistan were killed in less than 24 hours by members of the Afghan police force. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

U.S. POLICIES

Obama’s surge in Afghanistan ends

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on 21 September that 33,000 troops have been withdrawn, calling the Afghan surge “a very important milestone” in a war the Obama administration is winding down; there are sill 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The “surge did accomplish its objectives of reversing the Taliban momentum on the battlefield and dramatically increase the size and capability of the Afghan national security forces,” Panetta said. The U.S. and its allies plan to turn over all security responsibilities to the Afghans in 2014. Panetta made his announcement while on a trip to New Zealand. President Obama has not yet commented specifically on the end of the surge but told a fundraiser last night: “I said we would begin winding down our commitments in Afghanistan and make sure that Afghans are taking responsibility for their own security, and that process has begun.” (USA Today)

US, Pakistan Pledge Stable Afghanistan

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar on 21 September pledged to work for a stable, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan. The current situation in Afghanistan and the way ahead dominated proceedings of the meeting between delegations of the two countries led by Clinton and Khar held at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department. “We have both pledged to support a secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan, which is vital for the security of the region,” Clinton told reporters before the meeting. She also thanked Pakistan for reopening NATO supply lines into Afghanistan. The two diplomats discussed the first meeting of the Safe Passage Working Group in Islamabad bringing together Afghan, Pakistani and US representatives to advance the peace process in Afghanistan. “The Pakistani government’s public call for insurgents to come forward and talk with the Afghan government was particularly important. We are ready to work together to build on these steps, and we will continue our discussions through bilateral consultations and the US- Afghanistan-Pakistan core group,” Clinton said. Khar said the strongest convergence of interest the two countries have today was perhaps not in any of these bilateral tracks but in Afghanistan which presented a common challenge to both of them. “We are, of course, concerned over of the reports that we hear from Afghanistan. We are concerned of some of the infiltration which is coming from Afghanistan inside Pakistan. We are also concerned about the security situation,” she said, voicing her concerns on recent developments in Afghanistan. “And I think that the United States and Pakistan today have a unique opportunity to be able to work together to ensure that there’s no security vacuum left in Afghanistan as we go through transition, that the Afghan people are able to decide for their own future and live as a sovereign, independent country which is a source of stability and peace in the region for the next 30 years,” Khar said. Earlier in the day, addressing a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations, Khar said that Pakistan had no intention to seek strategic depth in Afghanistan and neither had any intention to impose any kind of government on its neighbor. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

Obama, Karzai Talk Security Pact Enforcement

President Hamid Karzai and his US counterpart Barack Obama agreed to launch the US-Afghan Bilateral Commission and start negotiations on a bilateral security agreement. The agreement between the two leaders was reached during a video conference call, with Obama reiterating his strong support for Afghan sovereignty, the White House said. Karzai and Obama agreed to take additional concrete steps to implement the Strategic Partnership Agreement, including launching the US-Afghan Bilateral Commission in coming weeks and beginning negotiations on a Bilateral Security Agreement. Under the Strategic Partnership Agreement between Afghanistan and the United States, which was signed in May, a separate bilateral security agreement is to be reached within one year to determine the legal status of US forces in Afghanistan beyond 2014. The White House said Obama expressed his condolences on the first assassination anniversary of former President and High Peace Council Chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani. (…) “The two leaders agreed to continue our work together in support of an Afghan-led reconciliation process,” a statement from the White House said. In addition, Obama and Karzai discussed efforts to stem insider attacks on US-led coalition forces; the importance of continuing to encourage restraint and non-violence in reaction to inflammatory materials; and continued implementation of the US-Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement, the White House said. Earlier on 19 September, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Obama didn’t expect any change in the timetable for US-led coalition forces to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. “The process of partnering with and training Afghan security forces continues, and the process of transitioning to Afghan security lead continues,” he said. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

U.S. Concerned About Afghan Insider Attacks: Panetta

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on 18 September that the U.S. is concerned about the impact insider attacks are having on its forces in Afghanistan. But he insisted Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander there, is taking necessary steps to protect the force while still ensuring the U.S. will be able to hand over security to the Afghans and be able to withdraw by the end of 2014. Panetta did not specifically address the dramatic action taken Monday by Allen, as NATO decided to temporarily scale back its operations with Afghan security forces to lower the risk of them turning their guns on American and allied forces. Instead, he argued that the attacks do not mean the Taliban is getting stronger. “I think what it indicates is that they are resorting to efforts that try to strike at our forces, try to create chaos but do not in any way result in their regaining territory that has been lost,” he told reporters during a press conference in Beijing with China’s minister of national defense, Gen. Liang Guanglie. Until now, U.S. and NATO troops routinely conducted operations with their Afghan counterparts. But under the new order, such operations for now will require the approval of a regional commander. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

US Congressmen Oppose Direct POL Payments to Kabul

Troubled over the recent audit report, US lawmakers on Thursday opposed the Pentagon’s move to give money directly to the Afghan government for the purchase of petroleum, oil and lubricants worth about $2.8 billion for use by Afghan army from 2014 to 2018. “In the name of capacity building, the Afghans will be allowed to purchase POL (petroleum, oil and lubricant) for themselves. With that, the Afghan government will be responsible for overseeing the expenditure of roughly $2.8 billion of our taxpayer dollars — this to a government that I believe is perhaps the most corrupt government on the face of the planet,” Congressman Jason Chaffetz said at a Congressional hearing. The National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a Congressional hearing on the recent audit report of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction on Afghanistan National Army’s logistics capability for petroleum, oil and lubricants. An astounding lack of internal controls and records of fuel purchases, deliveries and consumption existed, Congressman John Tierney said of SIGAR’s audit that found the Department of Defense’s training mission lacked a valid method for estimating fuel needs on which to base the funding. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

As always, we’re eager to hear feedback on the usefulness of this service as well as your suggestions on improving it.

LDESP Staff
ldesp_staff@nps.edu

 

 

 

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