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

LDESP Afghanistan-Pakistan News Update – 8 October 2012







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.


Afghanistan: Governance & Civil Society

Next Round of Transition More Dangerous Than Before: MOD

The final two stages of transition from foreign to Afghan forces will be different to previous stages because the areas being handed over are more volatile, Afghan Defense Minister Bismillah Mohammadi said on 2 October. In a Kabul press briefing, Mohammadi said that while he welcomed the withdrawal of the NATO forces in the near future, he was concerned about the last fourth and fifth rounds of the Nato security handover to Afghan forces because these final areas were the most insecure. “This round will be different from the others because insecure areas are part of this round of transition,” Mohammadi said, adding that the fourth and fifth rounds will have more challenges and will be more dangerous than previous handovers. He said despite there being no sign of a lessening foreign “intervention” in Afghanistan and the security situation was still difficult, he supported the withdrawal of NATO troops. “There are no signs of a cut in the intervention of particular countries in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan situation is very sensitive right now, but I welcome the withdrawal of NATO troops,” Mohammadi said. Officials have previously said they fear that a lack of military equipment and air power in the Afghan ranks will create a huge gap for Afghan security forces to deal with when the foreign troops withdraw. There are more than 117,000 NATO troops forces in Afghanistan working alongside nearly 350,000 Afghan forces to fight insurgency in the country. The final round of transition is scheduled to happen in 2014. Mohammadi’s comments come a day after UK newspaper The Guardian reported NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen saying that NATO is considering removing troops from some areas faster than the planned 2014 deadline as troop morale declines in the face of rising “insider attacks” by Afghan forces against their NATO counterparts. Rasmussen said that options were being studied and should be clear within three months. (TOLOnews)

Incomplete Election Better Than Illegal Government: Karzai

President Hamid Karzai said Thursday that any kind of election is better than an illegal government, confirming that the 2014 presidential election will go ahead as scheduled regardless of the country’s situation. Speaking in a press conference in Kabul, Karzai emphasised that his government will not be legal after his term is over and said that none of the threats, including insecurity and “foreign propaganda”, will prevent the election from being held on time. “Any election, even if it’s incomplete, is better than an illegal government, because in 2014 when my term expires, I will not be a legal president of Afghanistan for even a day,” he said. He slammed the role of foreign figures in the 2009 presidential election saying that they will not be permitted to interfere in the next one. On the signing of an Afghanistan-Pakistan strategic pact which has raised the ire of Afghan senators and lawmakers, Karzai said it will only happen when Pakistan accepts all Afghanistan’s conditions including the end of the cross-border shelling in eastern Afghan provinces. “If these conditions are met – terrorism is stopped, extremism is dismantled, anti-Afghan activities are stopped, the destruction of Afghanistan is stopped – then a friendship will start between the two countries which hasn’t happened so far. Then the strategic pact will be signed between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said. He also urged the US and Nato to combat terrorism in the region, saying the focus should be to eliminate it at its roots – which are not in Afghanistan. (TOLOnews)

Afghan government could collapse after Nato pullout, report warns

The Afghan government could fall apart after NATO troops pull out in 2014, particularly if presidential elections that year are fraudulent, a report by the International Crisis Group said on 8 October. “There is a real risk that the regime in Kabul could collapse upon NATO’s withdrawal,” said Candace Rondeaux, the ICG’s senior Afghanistan analyst. “The window for remedial action is closing fast.” The report – “Afghanistan: The Long, Hard Road to the 2014 Transition” – said the country was on course for another set of fraudulent elections after the chaotic presidential and parliamentary polls in 2009 and 2010. A repeat could undermine what little hope remains for stability after the Afghan government takes full responsibility for security from US-led NATO forces, the report by the respected Brussels-based group said. (…) The report said the possibility cannot be excluded that Karzai will declare a state of emergency as a means of extending his power, which would accelerate state collapse and likely precipitate a civil war. “If that occurs, there would be few opportunities to reverse course in the near term. Securing the peace in Afghanistan would then remain at best a very distant hope,” Rondeaux said. (Telegraph.uk)

Karzai Accuses U.S. of Duplicity in Fighting Afghan Enemies

The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, on 4 October accused the United States of playing a “double game” by fighting a war against Afghan insurgents rather than their backers in Pakistan, and by refusing to supply his country with the weapons it needs to fight enemies across the border. He threatened to turn to China, India and Russia for those arms. He also accused the Western news media of trying to undermine the confidence of the Afghan people by publishing articles suggesting that a civil war and economic collapse might follow the departure of NATO troops at the end of 2014. However, he also promised, using his strongest words to date, that he would step down from the presidency and that there would be an election. “No circumstance, no foreign propaganda or intervention and no insecurity can prevent the election from happening,” Mr. Karzai said at a news conference. It was the second time in recent days that Mr. Karzai had sounded angry and resentful over the policies of his American partners, and his comments Thursday were among his most pointedly critical in recent years, Afghan analysts said, suggesting that the always rocky relationship between the countries is hitting a new low. (…) His remarks on 4 October suggest that he is not sure whether he can count on the Americans, analysts said, and he is trying to leverage some commitment from the United States regarding Afghanistan’s future. (NY Times)

Senators Seek Action on Death Row Afghans in Iran

Afghanistan’s senators on 7 October criticised the government for not doing enough to monitor the situation of 2,000 Afghan prisoners sentenced to death in Iran. The senators were shown documents that Iranian courts have sentenced nearly 2,000 Afghan citizens to death, accused of various crimes particularly drug trafficking. (…) According to several other senators including Senator Dawood Asas, Iran had issued a warning prior to the approval of the Afghanistan-US strategic pact that it would execute all the Afghan prisoners on death row if the deal was approved by the Afghan parliament. (…) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman Faramarz Tamana said he was aware of the report shown to the Senate but had not seen it himself. He said that the Iranian government should coordinate with Afghan government in all its actions against any Afghan citizens. (…) This comes after a different report was recently released by an Iranian justice non-government organisation accusing government officials of abusing Afghan refugees. “Afghans are limited to living in only a few provinces: if they go to other parts of Iran, their living permit will be illegal,” CEO of Justice for Iran Shadi Sadr said. There are around 2.4 m Afghan refugees living in some parts of Iran under restricted movement, according to the Justice for Iran group. (TOLOnews)

Calls for Clarity on ‘National Interests’ Media Investigation

Media organisations expressed fears on 3 October that the Council of Minister’s call for media outlets to be investigated for not expressing views in keeping with “national interests” will cut freedom of speech. Head of Afghanistan’s National Journalists Union Abdul Hamid Mubarez that the media have always served the country’s interests. “There is no difference between us and the government on national interests. The government said that the experts and media violated the sovereignty of the country. But the media outlets have always defended the interests of the Afghanistan,” Mubarez told TOLOnews. Media analysts said the government needed to be clearer in such statements and name the offending programmes or outlets. “Freedom of speech requires the government to reveal which is the violating media – accusing all the media outlets is against the legal norms,” Kabul University media professor Taher Hashimi told TOLOnews. Government officials supported the Council’s move to protect the country’s interests but also called for clarity. “The decision made by Council of Ministers is a good move to protect national interests but it should never be a challenge for the media outlets. There has to be a clear definition of what is the national interest,” Deputy Minister of Information and Culture Mubarez Rashidi said. “Protecting the national interests are vital for each country,” Member of the Parliamentary Culture and Higher Education Commission Mohammad Ali Akhlaqi said. “This decision should not threaten the freedom of the media in Afghanistan. Any decision against the media should be clear.” The Council of Ministers decision to order an investigation into media which broadcasts viewpoints against national interests was revealed by the Office of Administrative Affairs. “Freedom of speech is one of the biggest achievements by the people and the government of Afghanistan. But some of the media and analysts react in a way which is against national interests and release confusing viewpoints. The Council of Ministers has ordered the Ministry of Information and Culture to order those media which do so too change and to be concerned about the issue,” Rafi Ferdaws, spokesman of Office of Administrative Affairs said on 2 October. The Council claimed that such programmes were influenced by the intelligence agencies of foreign countries. The country’s media watchdog Nai said on 2 October that most of the country’s media would struggle with the vagueness of the statement. (TOLOnews)

Peace Talks

Afghanistan Will Build on Sacrifices of Past: Rassoul

Afghanistan will muster all its efforts to bring Taliban to the negotiating table, building peace on the sacrifices of the past decade, the Foreign Minister said on 3 October in the US. Zalmai Rassoul said that Afghanistan is committed to making peace after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed that there were tough times ahead. The pair were speaking at the launch of a new body set up to improve bilateral ties between the two countries. “We will continue to pursue the peace process vigorously,” Rassoul said in Washington D.C. “This is the just and deserving right of the Afghan people and the surest path to ending the cycle of violence in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is fully committed to building on our shared sacrifice of the last decade, delivering results and taking on the challenges ahead.” Clinton renewed the US commitment to Afghanistan saying that her country will stand by it in the years to come. “We know that difficult days lie ahead,” she said. “But despite the challenges, the United States is committed to the people of Afghanistan, and we have made progress together that too often is overlooked.” Rassoul also emphasised that there had been improvements and noted that the Afghan-US relationship put Afghanistan on the right track. “Today we are a proud member of the community of the nations and moving steadily toward a peaceful and self-reliant future,” he said. (TOLOnews)

Pakistan: Governance & Civil Society

Pakistan Taliban Offer Imran Khan Protection for Rally

Pakistan’s Taliban has offered Imran Khan protection for his political party’s peace rally in the volatile Waziristan region on 7 October. According to British newspaper The Telegraph, Khan’s party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) plans to speak against the American practice of lethal drone strikes at the rally. Commanders from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) told the Telegraph that previous instructions to assassinate Khan were set aside in light of the former national cricket captain’s strong opposition to the US drone strikes. “We are ready to provide them security if they need. We endorses Imran Khan’s plea that drone strikes are against our sovereignty,” a TTP spokesperson said. “The anti-drone rallies should have been taken out by the religious leaders long ago but Imran had taken the lead and we wouldn’t harm him or his followers.” Khan confirmed at a press conference that he had been promised the support of local tribes but was concerned the government may foreign peace campaigners and journalists to cover the march. “We feel no threat from any side but feel threatened by the forces which have been playing politics on this issue,” he said. “The government should take steps to provide security to the media persons, who would be covering the every bit of the proposed peace march.” Earlier this week the region’s South Waziristan administration denied the PTI could hold the march citing insecurity. The region is frequently targeted by the US drones and Pakistan military are regularly conducting operations against militant bases there. The Telegraph cited the Bureau of Investigative Journalism as recording at least 2570 deaths since 2004 in 346 drone strikes. (TOLOnews)

Pakistani business community condemns ongoing violence

Violence is not the only way to show anger, businessmen, scholars and analysts say, contending that peaceful means of protest exist. “Burning down public and government properties will only exacerbate the tense situation,” Abdur Rauf, vice president of the Peshawar Cantonment Traders Association, said, referring to the protests against the film “Innocence of Muslims” that swept across Pakistan on 21 September. “We should adopt a non-violent way to protest any issue.” Estimates of the financial losses vary. The shutdown of business is costing the country US $1 billion (Rs. 94.7 billion) daily, estimated Mumtaz Khan, joint secretary of the Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “These strikes rendered about 10m industrial workers … jobless, besides slashing production,” he told Central Asia Online. (…)The World Bank calculated Pakistan’s entire GDP in 2011 at US $211 billion (Rs. 20 trillion). Regardless of whether the loss estimates are high, everyday Pakistanis are feeling the effect. (Central Asia Online)

Pakistan facilitates IDP returns

Homecoming is a great joy for those who endured three harsh years away from their villages, driven out by Taliban abuses. As a steady flow of internationally displaced persons (IDPs) is returning home, hope and comfort can be seen on their faces as their lives return to normal. (…)Returning home was like coming to paradise, said some former IDPs who sought shelter in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province because of anti-Taliban military actions in all seven agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). (…) Across FATA, more than 3,000 families have returned home this year, Amjad Khan, a FATA secretariat official, said. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is providing returning families with buckets and kitchen and tea sets to help them re-establish their households, he said. The World Food Programme is helping, too. Austria provided US $50m (Rs. 4.8 billion) this summer to ensure that every returning IDP obtains wheat flour, oils, sugar and other food. Not all refugees can return yet, Khan said. Khyber Agency has 49,951 families still in exile. South Waziristan has 36,697; Kurram, 33,075; Orakzai, 24,312; Bajaur, 2,136; Mohmand, 424; and FR Tank, 532. In Mohmand, where 733 families (5,864 individuals) have returned since January, some residents expressed confidence that peace will prevail and life will be better. “The people … will try their level best to maintain peace because of the difficulties of being displaced from the towns where they were born and raised,” Aurangzeb Mohmand told Central Asia Online. (Central Asia Online)


Afghan economic growth reduced by 5.7% in 2011: ADB

The Asian Development Bank recently issued its report regarding the economic situation of Asia which reflects a 5.7% reduction in Afghanistan economic growth due to reduction in agricultural products as a result of continued drought in the country. The report further adds that private sector expenses along with the international funds, high level security expenses along with construction expenses can be the main economic stimulant in Afghanistan. According to ADB there has been a reduction in gross national domestic income from 26.5 to 25.3 in 2011 as compared to 2010 however ADB forecasts an increase of 6.9% in 2012 if the income was satisfactory but the growth has been predicted at 6.5% in 2013 due to withdrawal of NATO troops from the country. The report also predicts a reduction in inflation rate from 11.8 to 9.1 in 2011 and a further reduction to 6.7% in 2013 subject to a balance in international goods value and implementation of strict economic policy by the Afghan government. (Khaama Press)

Only 4% Afghans have proper access to banking system

Afghan bankers on Tuesday said only 4% of the Afghan citizens have access to banking system in Afghanistan due various issues which prevents them from better access to state and private banks. Afghanistan is currently served by 14 private and 3 state banks which are having 800 branches across the country. Officials of the Afghan banks on Tuesday following a two days exhibition assessed the options on how to improve banking system and reduce the current challenges. The total values of the Afghan banks are around $5 billion which is comprised of the private and state bank customers deposits. Chief of the Afghan Banks Association Khalil Sediq said they are having various issues and barriers regarding the proper usage of the banks liquidity to investors. He said, “Only 4% of the Afghans might have access to banks and it seems that the investors are also not having proper access to banking systems due to various issues.” In the meantime Afghan finance minister Omer Zakhilwal said huge investments have been put in place in Afghan banks however lack of confidence is the main barrier towards the investors in the country. (Khaama Press)

India Promises Aid to Afghanistan in UN Address

India’s Minister of External Affairs said that no aid to Afghanistan will be withheld by India in the same speech where he described terrorism as one of the most potent threats to global peace and security. S. M. Krishna on 1 October said at the United Nations 67th General Assembly’s in New York that the international community should not tolerate terrorism by any means and should work harder to wipe out terrorist havens. “The international community must adapt a zero-tolerance approach towards terrorism and focus on efforts to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism including its insidious network of epicenters, training facilities, and financing,” said Krishna. The Indian minister added that his country would not withhold any aid to people of Afghanistan needed for its development. “India supports the government and the people of Afghanistan in their endeavours to build a peaceful, stable, and democratically prosperous country. We are ready to partner with the Afghan people as they rebuild their country with accordance with their own priorities and national circumstances,” he said. (TOLOnews)

MTN Afghanistan Launches 3G

This month, MTN Afghanistan (MTNA) has deployed a full launch to provide 3rd Generation (3G) services to the Afghanistan market. 3G is a mobile technology that allows faster data transfers and will open the Afghan market to many new and exciting mobile technologies that were previously inaccessible due to low internet speeds. Mr. Hassan Jaber, CEO of MTNA said, “Through the launch of 3G services in Afghanistan our customers can now enjoy high speed data transfers with advanced internet connectivity.” He further stated “Popular internet activities such as video calling and streaming videos which were previously limited to laptop and desktop use can now be enjoyed from any supporting handset while on the go.” Not only limited to handsets, the 3G experience allows the customer to choose from many types of connectivity including a plug & play USB dongle, suitable for taking internet with you everywhere you go, Wi-Fi router which can operate in any outdoor or indoor location with connectivity for multiple users and directly to the handset, where users get an enhanced internet experience directly on their mobile. Mr. Jaber added, “One of the key differentiating factors of MTN 3G over our competitors is that the 3G service is activated on all MTN existing and new SIMS in the market so customers can start browsing immediately without having to visit the branch or contacting the call center.” (Daily Outlook Afghanistan, PR)

German Firms Ready to Invest in Afghanistan

A 15-member German delegation, including traders and government officials, was briefed on 7 October on investment opportunities in Afghanistan, particularly in mining and agriculture sectors. The delegation, which arrived in Kabul on 6 October, attended a conference on Afghan-German trade links on 7 October. Members of the team include representatives of manufacturers of military equipment, water research, information technology, engineering goods, construction materials, aviation and environment-friendly energy. Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) head, Mohammad Qurban Haqjo said the delegation would spend seven days in Afghanistan and visit northern Balkh province to evaluate investment opportunities there. He believed that Afghanistan, given its strategic location in the region, was a good market for foreign investors. Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA) head Wafiullah Iftakhari said the country offered foreign entrepreneurs good investment opportunities, particularly in agriculture, road construction, water supply, construction, telecommunications, power, mining and health sectors. There had been little investment in the agriculture sector, where foreigners could put their money in processing a variety of products and establishing cold storage facilities, he added. Dr Rudolf Gridl, representing Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, promised continued cooperation with the Afghans. He said the German firms were willing to invest in Afghanistan. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

Pakistan Earns Millions from Afghan Precious Stones

The smuggling of precious and semi-precious stones from Afghanistan earns Pakistan about $350 million annually, Minister of Mines Wahidullah Shahrani informed lawmakers on 30 September. The Afghan government, on the other hand, received annual revenue of $300,000 from precious stones, the minister told the Meshrano Jirga, or upper house of parliament. The industry offered jobs to 5,000 Afghans and 6,000 Pakistanis, he added. He alleged the neighboring country processed the smuggled minerals and exported them as made-in-Pakistan products. Shahrani said the extraction of oil and gas from the Amu River’s basin in northern Sar-i-Pul province would begin on November 19. The extraction process at a commercial scale will be for the first time Afghanistan. The China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) last year won a bid to develop the oil blocks. The first-ever oil and gas deal between the two nations will earn the landlocked country $7 billion over the next two decades and a half. Shahrani said the deposits were estimated to contain 250 million barrels of oil. “With one barrel priced at $100, Afghanistan will earn approximately $7 billion in the next 25 years.” He said the Chinese company would extract 5,000 barrels of oil from the reserves on a daily basis in the beginning, but the level would later increase to 45,000 barrels. Afghanistan and the foreign forces based in the country import $3.5 billion oil every year, he said. Reliance on imports will decrease once extraction from the Amur river field gets under way.” The senators questioned Rural Rehabilitation and Development Minister Hassan Abdulhai about canalization system in New Kabul Town, located in the Deh Sabz locality, and ill-planned cities in provinces. Abdulhai asked the legislators to put the question to Afghanistan Water Supply and Canalization Company officials. He said individuals constructed townships in provinces after permission from municipalities. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan, Pajhwok)

Coal Price Soars After Illegal Mines Closed

Afghanistan’s coal price has doubled in a year, reaching up to 12,000 Afs ($240) per ton, following the government’s moves to shut down illegal mines. The Ministry of Mines told TOLOnews that it was right to shut down the unlicensed mines, despite the country’s exorbitant coal price – now more than four times the price of the international market around US$54 per ton. “These tunnels were illegal and it was Afghan government’s responsibility to shut them down,” said MoM spokesman Jawad Omar. Around 200 so-called illegal coal tunnels were shut down in northern Bamyan province, driving the price of coal higher and leaving hundreds of local residents who worked in the mines unemployed. Omar admitted the government was aware of the consequences. “The production has decreased as necessary, and when the production decreases and there is still demand, the product’s cost goes higher,” he said. Some say that the Ministry’s failure to review coal mining contracts since the price bump has also to contributed to problems as excavation companies continue to buy coal at fixed low prices despite the doubling of the real price. Omar said the Ministry is looking into solutions and has put forward proposals to the Council of Ministers, including a review of the mining contracts. (TOLOnews)

Women & Children

Afghan woman runs for president

Preparations for the 2014 presidential elections are under way in Afghanistan, and this campaign appears likely to be markedly different from preceding contests. Once again, Afghanistan is going to experience what analysts are calling “the greatest manifestation of democracy.” But the upcoming election will be a change from past votes, as outgoing President Hamid Karzai is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term, and one of the candidates hoping to replace him is a woman. Fawzia Koofi, 35, announced her candidacy in May and is campaigning across the country in hopes of becoming its first female president. Koofi, representing Badakhshan Province, is serving her second term in the Afghan House of Representatives and heads the Women’s Affairs Commission in parliament. “The country needs leaders who are close to the people and are familiar with today’s political challenges,” Koofi told Central Asia Online in an exclusive interview. Unfortunately, Afghanistan is seen by the world as “encouragement for terrorism,” she said, explaining that, through her candidacy, she hopes to show to the world that, “Although fundamentalism has increased, the willingness to change has also increased at the same rate in Afghanistan.” She hopes to win the popular vote in the upcoming presidential election by appealing to young voters, who make up 50-60% of the country’s population, she said. “They welcome and embrace change and transformation,” she said. (Central Asia Online)

UN welcomes statement by Afghanistan confirming ‘running away’ is not a crime

On 3 October, the United Nations welcomed a public statement by Afghan officials clarifying that it is not a criminal offence for women and girls to ‘run away,’ stressing that official declarations like this can go a long way in protecting those who are forced to flee their homes to escape violence. Last month, three Afghan officials – the Minister of Justice, Habibullah Ghalib; the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Hussein Banoo Ghazanfar; and the Deputy Interior Minister, Mirza Mohammad Yarmand — strongly condemned the wrongful imprisonment of women and girls on charges of ‘running away,’ which is often used by prosecutors as evidence of a woman’s intent to commit adultery, or zina, which is a crime under Sharia law. “The Government needs to ensure that law enforcement authorities do not arrest, detain and prosecute any further cases of ‘running away’,” said the Country Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), Ingibjorg Gisladottir. She added, “Guidance that clearly states that ‘running away’ is not a crime under Afghan law will serve to aid criminal law enforcement and end practices that discriminate against women.” Intent alone is not sufficient to prosecute a women for zina, UN Women said in a news release, adding that “these arbitrary or selective applications of the law also violate fundamental rights and guarantees protected under international law, including the right to life, security of the person, freedom of movement, the right to health, and arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, family, or home.” More than two thirds of the 700 girls who are currently in prisons across the Central Asian country have been detained for ‘running away’ from home or for their intentions to commit adultery. UN Women called on the Government to unconditionally release all prisoners convicted under these charges and prosecute those responsible for perpetrating violence against them. (UN News Centre)

1000 Cases of Violence Against Women in 3 Months

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MOWA) received more than 1,000 cases of violence against women in the first three months of the Persian year, according to MOWA Head of Rights Department Fauzia Amin. “In the first three months of this year [21 March – 21 June], the Ministry of Women’s Affairs recorded more than 1,000 cases of violence, murder, and suicide of women,” Amin said. “The Interior Ministry has promised to detain those committing violence against women,” she added. Meanwhile the Afghan Women’s Network (AWN) condemned the news of a 13-year-old girl’s kidnapping and rape in Baghlan province during the last week of September and a 16-year-old’s recent lashing by mullahs in Jaghori district of Ghazni province. AWN head Hafifa Azim on Sunday said that violence against women is on the rise and urged the government to properly prosecute the perpetrators, adding that no women will feel safe if the drum head court martials continue with impunity. “Unfortunately violence against women is on the rise and the doers of these abuses are not prosecuted yet. If this continues, no woman will feel safe in the country anymore. The government should identify them and prosecute them,” she said, adding that this level of violence cannot be tolerated. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan, TOLOnews)

Culture & Society

Female Afghan Rights Activist wins ‘Alternative Nobels’ prize

A British anti-arms trade campaign and promoters of peace, human rights and the environment from the United States, Afghanistan and Turkey have been named as winners of this year’s Right Livelihood Awards, also known as the “alternative Nobels.” American political theorist Gene Sharp will share the 150,000 euro ($195,000) prize with Afghan rights activist Sima Samar and Britain’s Campaign Against Arms Trade. Sharp, 83, is the author of a manual for nonviolent struggle “From Dictatorship to Democracy.” The writings of Sharp, a former Harvard researcher, have been widely translated and used to promote nonviolent resistance in countries as varied as Serbia and Egypt. Samar, 55, was honoured “for her longstanding and courageous dedication to human rights, especially the rights of women, in one of the most complex and dangerous regions in the world,” the jury said in a statement. In 1989, Samar established the Shuhada Organization in Quetta, Pakistan, to provide health care to refugee Afghan women and girls and train medical staff. After the fall of the Taliban, she returned to Afghanistan and served as a deputy president in the Afghan Transitional Administration and then as Minister for Women’s Affairs. Turkish environmentalist Hayrettin Karaca, who co-founded the TEMA foundation that has grown into an international movement that combats soil erosion and protects natural habitats, will receive an honorary prize for “a lifetime of tireless advocacy and support for the protection and stewardship of our natural world,” the jury said. The awards were founded in 1980 by Swedish-German philanthropist Jakob von Uexkull to recognize work he felt was being ignored by the Nobel Prizes. (Khaama Press)

Karzai Meets Protestors on University Renaming

President Hamid Karzai on 3 October met with university students who protested against the name change of Education University and assured them he would find a solution to their complaint. Karzai met with the students at the Presidential Palace to hear their point of view and their suggestions for resolving the situation, said a statement from the Presidential Office. Students began protesting on Sunday last week against the changing the name of Kabul’s Education University to Martyr of Peace Burhanuddin Rabbani. It escalated into the students blocking the entrance to parliament and finally smashing the university’s new sign a few days ago. Karzai first announced the name change at a ceremony on September 20 to mark the one-year anniversary of Rabbani’s assassination when he was head of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council. (TOLOnews)

Afghan Cycles London to Kabul to Show Nation’s Prowess

A 29-year-old Afghan man living in Britain for the past 12 years cycled from London to Kabul, arriving in the Afghan capital Thursday morning after the three-month trek. Mohammad Walid Nawrozi left London in June and crossed Europe with the goal of raising awareness for Afghanistan, particularly in its sporting capability. “I left London three months ago and after crossing 17 countries I am now in Kabul,” Walid told TOLOnews 27 September, after he arrived. “The aim of this trip was to show the world that Afghans are not only terrorists or drug traffickers but they are also sportsmen who can do great things,” he added. The journey took Walid through France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Walid’s father, who is still living in Kabul, said he is proud of his son and that he only wanted Afghanistan to have a better image in the world. “My only wish is that Afghanistan has a good image in the world and I am proud that my son has achieved this honor. It’s a huge moment for Afghanistan,” Mahmood Nawrozi told TOLOnews. Walid, who has British citizenship, left Afghanistan around 12 years ago to escape the Taliban after suffering beatings twice at the hands of the regime. A young student at medical school at the time, Walid said he fled to Pakistan without his family, and then went to the UK where he has been living ever since. Walid added that if he is supported by the Afghan government and the business sponsors, he will continue to travel throughout the globe with a bicycle to raise awareness of Afghanistan. (TOLOnews)


At debate, Tajik Foreign Minister voices need for UN reform, engagement in Afghanistan

The need for reform of the United Nations, illicit drug trafficking and the situation in Afghanistan were among the topics covered in the speech by Tajikistan’s Foreign Minister, Hamrokhon Zarifi, to the UN General Assembly today. “The recent developments in the world proved once again that it is impossible to address global and regional issues without strengthening the central role of the United Nations in the international affairs and without collective initiatives in world politics, with due respect of the norms of international law,” the Foreign Minister told the 67th Assembly’s General Debate, at UN Headquarters in New York. “In this regard, it is becoming obvious that it is necessary to carry out a rational reform of the Organization, as a result of which the renewed United Nations will emerge capable to respond to the developments in the world in a quick and adequate manner, and to effectively meet numerous global challenges and threats of a new generation,” he added. Turning to his country’s southern neighbour, Afghanistan – which will acquire “an exclusive importance not only for the region but for the world” with the departure of the International Security Assistance Force in 2014 – Mr. Zarifi said that its social and economic development will be “the key” for ensuring its stable peace. “For this reason, the international assistance rendered to Afghanistan should be aimed, first and foremost, at its utmost economic rehabilitation, further strengthening of its social sphere, job creation, etc,” he said. “In this regard, realization of projects on construction of railroads, motorways, power transmission lines, gas pipelines and etc. that connect Afghanistan with Tajikistan and other countries of the region is of utmost importance.” The prevention of illicit drug trafficking, the Foreign Minister stated, demands cooperation from the international community. Due to it shared borders with Afghanistan – a major drug-producing country – an estimated 15 per cent of all of Afghanistan’s opiates and 20 per cent of its heroin is trafficked through Tajikistan, according to estimates of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). “It is essential that the international community unite the measures aimed at reducing both the demand and supply of drugs, and integrate the efforts undertaken at the national level into the international strategy for drug control,” he said, adding that Tajikistan has started developing a new anti-narcotics strategy for the 2013-2020 period. In relation to human rights, Mr.Zarifi noted its place, alongside peace, security and development, as one of the pillars of the work of the United Nations, and how Tajikistan seeks a bigger role in this area with a seat on the Geneva-based Human Rights Council for the 2015-2017 period. (UN News Centre)

Peace May be Established through Negotiation and Economic Renewal: Gurbanguly

Peace may be established in Afghanistan only through negotiation and consistent implementation of large infrastructure projects aimed at reviving the country’s economy, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said on 4 October. “Highlighting the peaceful settlement of the situation in neighboring Afghanistan as a key factor for regional safety, President Berdimuhamedov expressed his passionate view that it is possible to establish peace in the neighboring country only through negotiations, full use of political and diplomatic methods and consistent implementation of large infrastructure projects aimed at reviving the economic and social life of the Afghan people,” the national TV channel Altyn Asyr said on 4 October. The Turkmen president has recently discussed the situation in the region with Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov, who paid an official visit to Turkmenistan. According to a joint statement by the two presidents, published by the local media, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan expressed interest in a rapid settlement of the situation in Afghanistan and appreciated the contribution of the two countries in restoring Afghanistan’s economy. According to the state news service Turkmen Dovlet Khabarlary, President Karimov said that Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are interested to join efforts and take measures to maintain peace in the region. Both countries have a long border with Afghanistan. At this stage, Turkmenistan is preparing for the construction of the first link of the Atamyrat-Imamnazar-Akin-Andkhoy (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan) railway, which may become an important link in the transport area of the Eurasian continent. Turkmenistan launched the implementation of a large project in the energy infrastructure that will enable increasing Turkmen exports of electric power to Afghanistan five-fold. The construction of the transnational gas pipeline Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) was among Turkmenistan’s other significant initiatives on Afghanistan. Its practical implementation began in December 2010 by signing an agreement at a high level in Ashgabat. At present, an international consortium is being formed. The Turkmen side conducted several international road shows for TAPI in September with the participation of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). It was reported that Chevron, Exxon Mobil, BP, BG Group, RWE, Petronas and other companies became familiarized with the main terms of the project implementation and expressed an intention to participate in it. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

Kyrgyzstan assesses anti-terror capabilities

Over the past six months, the Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security (SCNS) Anti-Terrorist Centre (ATC) has held more than 40 training sessions to identify security weaknesses at strategic energy, transportation and communications facilities. Security forces’ ability to identify hazardous objects (bombs, for example) and to detain terrorists was evaluated during the training, Taalaibek Japarov, deputy director of the SCNS ATC, said. “The purpose of staff exercises is to ensure that state authorities co-operate efficiently in combating terrorism and other manifestations of extremism,” Japarov said. “Such measures are particularly relevant in light of increased activity by international terrorist organisations, both internationally and in Central Asia and in Kyrgyzstan.” Other aims of the anti-terrorism exercises were to increase the level of co-ordination between security agencies and to improve the skills of the government personnel involved in fighting terrorism, he added. “These skills will be crucial in the event of a simultaneous terrorist threat across different regions of the country,” Japarov said. “The goal of the anti-terrorist exercises is to identify and address flaws in the physical defence system at strategic facilities and to enhance co-operation between the agencies involved. This should boost the country’s ability to deal with the terrorist threat.” During the training, the ATC benefitted from experience gained by the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO), OSCE and other Central Asian countries, he said. The OSCE and ATC have enhanced co-operation to prevent and combat violent extremism and radicalism, to increase Kyrgyzstan’s ability to fight internet misuse for terrorist purposes, and to strengthen the ATC’s ability to ensure that strategically important facilities are secure from terrorist attacks. In addition to conducting anti-terrorist exercises, the ATC will be participating in the review of existing laws for fighting terrorism and religious extremism, Japarov said. (Central Asia Online)


Afghanistan Security Forces

Top Afghan Officials Admit Fears for Prison Control

Afghanistan’s top prison officials on 3 October said that the country is struggling to control and maintain adequate conditions in its prisons and that security concerns were high including at the recently gained Bagram Detention Centre. Head of the Central Prison Directorate Amir Mohammad Jamshidi and the Director of Afghanistan’s largest prison Pul-e-Charkhi Khan Mohammad Khan told Afghan senators in Wednesday’s sitting session that insufficient space and staff plague the system. Jamshidi said that he was concerned about the handover of Bagram military prison from US to Afghan control last month, voicing doubts that the Ministry of Interior and Defense are able to properly control and secure it. The comments contradict the stance of Afghan President Hamid Karzai who has repeatedly depicted control of Bagram prison as a sign of Afghanistan’s sovereignty. The senators heard from Jamshidi that insufficient space at the prisons saw up to 200 prisoners detained in areas intended to accommodate 15 people. “It’s previously been said that the Ministry of Justice will take the control of the prisoners, but now they are handing it over to Ministry of Interior which the lack sufficient ability and space to control them,” Jamishidi said, adding that Taliban prisoners are trying to plan suicide attacks from within the detention centers. He said that the country’s intelligence departments should be doing more to prevent such conspiracies and infiltration within the prisons. (TOLOnews)

5 Taliban Leaders Among 30 Dead in Wardak Raid: ISAF

Five high-ranking Taliban commanders were killed in a six-day operation in central Wardak province which also killed an Afghan soldier and up to 30 other suspected insurgents, ISAF said on 4 October. According to Isaf’s operations update, the five leaders killed were Ahmad Shah, a leader in the Chak-e district; Mullah Malang, an improvised explosive device (IED) expert; Zubair, who provided logistical support to the insurgents; Rasul Jan, a ‘cell’ leader who led 30-40 insurgents and specialised in bomb attacks; and Wahdat, a Taliban leader who was known to have coordinated attacks in the province. Meanwhile, a joint team of Afghan and ISAF security forces arrested a Haqqani facilitator in Paktiya province on 4 October, ISAF said. According to ISAF, the facilitator, who was captured in Tsamkani, allegedly financed and obtained weapons for the Haqqani network, managed and recruited suicide attackers, and participated in attack planning against Afghan and coalition forces. Also on 4 October, a Taliban facilitator was arrested in eastern Ghazni province’s Gelan district, ISAF said. The facilitator made improvised explosive devices, is suspected of procuring and distributing explosives, mortars, and IED-building materials throughout the region and conducted IED attacks against Afghan and coalition assets, ISAF said. (TOLOnews)


NATO weeds out suspect recruits, resumes Afghan police training

Special operations forces in Afghanistan have resumed training Afghan Local Police recruits after a suspension last month in response to two insider attacks by recruits on their international coalition trainers in August, U.S. officials say. So far, more than half of the 16,000-member police force has been re-vetted and less than 1 percent have been removed, a special operations spokesman said. Between now and mid-November, 14 villages will be added to the 70-plus that are guarded by the elite police forces that provide security for their own villages. (…) Within the past month, coalition forces have arrested at least three Taliban insurgents and killed at least one seeking to infiltrate or plan more attacks — a promising sign that the U.S.-led coalition is learning how to reduce these attacks. “It is too early to say that we are seeing a turning point,” said Army Maj. Adam Wojack, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). “Clearly, ISAF is focused on preventing insider attacks and have made it a higher priority in light of recent events. This may explain some of our recent success in stopping or preventing some potential attacks.” Coalition troops have stepped up efforts to prevent and track down infiltrators, including the use of an eight-step vetting process, additional cultural awareness training, close-quarter and active-shooter training, the creation of safe zones on Afghan security force compounds, and having “guardian angel” troops keep watch for attempted attacks. NATO is updating a tactical directive issued in March, Maj. Wojack said. U.S. officials have gone from describing insider attacks as isolated incidents that resulted from personal grievances to acknowledging that as many as a quarter of the attacks were carried out by Taliban insurgents or sympathizers. (Washington Times)

ANSF to Give Taliban Tough Time: Rasmussen

Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) will give a tough time to the insurgents after the 2104 withdrawal of foreign troops, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said, reiterating insider attacks will not force a change in the security transition timeline. In an interview on the Charlie Rose show on PBS channel, Rasmussen said the Taliban would not be in a stronger position in 2014. “They will not be in a stronger position. That’s a very important point in our strategy that when we stop our combat mission, a very capable Afghan security force will take over. “We are building up the number of Afghan security forces. By the end of 2014, we will have 352,000 Afghan security forces. And even more importantly, quality-wise, they will be very capable,” Rasmussen added. During a recent visit to Afghanistan, he said he had an opportunity to see Afghan special operation forces in action. He was impressed by what he saw, he said, asking the Taliban not to miscalculate the situation, because they would be faced with a strong and capable Afghan security force. Rasmussen said there was no change in the 2014 timeline for security transition. The alliance had outlined a clear roadmap for a gradual handover of responsibility to Afghan forces, who would take full responsibility by the end of 2014. Insider attacks would not derail the NATO strategy in Afghanistan, believed Rasmussen, who did express concern over the incidents. “(This is) because people ask — legitimately so — why is it that we send trainers to help the Afghans and they turn their weapons against the very same trainers?” NATO commanders on the ground had introduced some temporary measures to prevent insider attacks, he said, explaining that they would not conduct joint operations with Afghan forces in specific cases. “But these are prudent and temporary and I would expect these joint operations to be resumed as soon as the situation allows. And the timetable is still realistic, despite these temporary measures,” he said, adding that he expects joint operations to resume as soon as the situation permitted. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

No Change on Afghan Withdrawal Plans: NATO

NATO insisted on 2 October that its plans for a 2014 withdrawal of foreign combat troops from Afghanistan had not changed, after Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported the military alliance’s chief had suggested so in an exclusive interview, DPA reported. “Guardian quoted NATO Secretary General (Anders Fogh Rasmussen) out of context. No change in strategy or timeline,” spokeswoman Oana Lungescu wrote on the micro-blogging website Twitter. The Guardian story, which ran under the headline “NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan could be speeded up, says Rasmussen,” was quickly picked up by other media. In it, the NATO chief is quoted as saying that “from now until the end of 2014 you may see adaptation of our presence.” “Our troops can redeploy, take on other tasks, or even withdraw, or we can reduce the number of foreign troops,” he said. “If the security situation allows, I would not exclude the possibility that in certain areas you could accelerate the process.” Lungescu argued that Rasmussen was referring to the “gradual drawdown” that has long been planned, since NATO troops can not be pulled out all at once at the end of 2014. “Pace, scope in certain provinces depends on situation on ground,” she said. Lungescu also rejected the Guardian’s suggestion of a link between withdrawals and a rise in attacks on foreign troops by Afghans in uniforms, which had already led NATO recently to temporarily restrict joint operations. NATO has had to repeatedly assert this year that the timeline for the Afghanistan withdrawal has not changed, with statements by top US and Australian officials also being interpreted as suggesting an earlier end to combat operations. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan, Agencies)


Alleged Herat Kidnappers Executed by Taliban

According to reports, two men allegedly kidnapped the child of a family in the Pashtun Zarghun district. They were captured by the Taliban while the father of the child was paying them for the child’s release. “Although, the exact location of the [execution] is not clear yet, there are insecure areas in the Obe district in which the incident probably took place,” Herat police chief Gen. Sayed Abdulghafar Sayedzada told TOLOnews. Residents of Obe district confirmed that the Taliban executed two people by firing squad in the district after holding the drumhead court-martial while scores of residents were watching. TOLOnews obtained amatuer footage of an execution showing two men being blindfolded and executed. Herat Governor Dr. Daud Shah Saba also confirmed the reports, saying that the Taliban killed the two civilians ten days ago after charging them with kidnapping. “These people escaped the law and have gone to these criminals [Taliban]. And the Taliban killed them in a volley of bullets at a drumhead court-martial,” he said. He condemned the actions of the Taliban, saying that the kidnappers had been associates of the Taliban and were collaborating in most of the kidnappings throughout Herat. Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) in Herat denounced the execution and drumhead court-martials. AIHRC chief, Herat office, Abdulqader Rahimi said: “A drumhead court-martial is not accepted by the Human Rights Commission by any means. We ask that those who have acted this crime to be referred to the judiciary organisations.” He said the commission officials are concerned about the increase of other groups exacting justice in the western provinces. Officials added that the alleged kidnappers had been under investigation by the police but the Herat police had not succeeded in identifying and arresting them which opened the way for the Taliban to act as they did. (TOLOnews)

Karachi police force Taliban to change strategy

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has given up its strategy of using suicide bombers in Karachi in favour of remote-controlled improvised explosive devices, police told Central Asia Online. “Since 2011 the Taliban have carried out nearly a dozen bomb blasts by using remote-controlled bombs,” Fayyaz Khan, senior superintendent of the Crime Investigation Department (CID), said. Not a single suicide attack was reported during that period, he told Central Asia Online. The trend shows that the TTP, under police pressure, have had to revise their strategy in Karachi to continue its terrorism agenda, he said. “CID police action against the Taliban forced militants in Karachi to give up the use of youngsters as suicide bombers and to rely on remote-controlled systems,” he said, adding the Taliban in Karachi have used the remote-controlled “block bombs” against two Pakistani Navy buses, three Rangers vehicles and two vehicles carrying senior police officials. So far, in 2012, police have rounded up about 73 militants and an array of explosives, suicide jackets and weapons. Although militants are concealing bombs in blocks of concrete in an effort to fool law enforcement, he said, the tactic presents some advantages for police. “Remote-controlled device can be operated only within a 100m radius, and law enforcement agencies have enhanced patrolling … to discourage the militants,” Khan said. (Central Asia Online)

Taliban appeal for foreign fighters

An appeal for Kurdish and Turkish militants to join the Taliban in their fight against “infidels” belies claims by top Taliban leaders that they are fighting without al-Qaeda’s support, analysts say. While the Taliban claim to distance themselves from al-Qaeda, political analyst Aimal Khattak noted the contradiction of appealing to international fighters for support. Leaders of the Haqqani Network (HN), a Taliban offshoot, urged Turkish and Kurdish militants to come to Afghanistan and join the Taliban in a recent video released by the Fursan Muhammad Information group on a Turkish jihadist site. “The video has created a sort of confusion about the Taliban concept of friends and foes,” Khattak said. (…) The Taliban have said several times they have no ambitions outside Afghanistan. However, the appeal to foreign fighters points to the fact that the Afghan militants might be confused about what they want to accomplish and could indicate some problems with recruiting inside Afghanistan. By appealing to international jihadists, the Taliban are conveying a message that they want to continue their fight with al-Qaeda’s support, Khattak said. Having to call on al-Qaeda for help hints at an underlying weakness within the Taliban, he said. The HN is trying to lure Turkish and Kurdish jihadists to create more problems for the West, said Brig. Mehmood Shah, a defence analyst. The quality rather than the quantity of fighters matters more to the HN at this stage, Shah said. The HN can still recruit plenty of Afghan men but prefer the combat experience of Turkish and Kurdish militants, he said. “The Kurds already have fought … in Iraq and now are engaged in Syria and have proved to be good fighters,” he said. However, Col. Khalid Muneer, another defence analyst, disagreed with Shah about the reason for the appeal to Turks and Kurds. “It’s quite possible the HN is looking for other options besides the exhausted (Afghan recruiting) pool and Turks and Kurds are easily lured,” he told Central Asia Online. (Central Asia Online)


US, Afghanistan Launch Bilateral Commission

The United States and Afghanistan are launching a bilateral commission as part of a strategic agreement signed earlier this year. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to hold talks with Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul at the State Department on 3 October. The strategic deal signed in May outlines the future relationship between the two countries, as U.S. combat troops complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. The agreement covers cooperation in the areas of security, economic development and governance. It does not commit the U.S. to any specific troop presence, but pledges American aid for Afghanistan for at least a decade after international combat troops leave the country. An unspecified number of U.S. military personnel are expected to remain in Afghanistan to continue training and advising Afghan security forces. Both countries are also expected to begin negotiations on a Bilateral Security Agreement that will supersede the current Status of Forces Agreement. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

Green-on-Blue Assaults A Major Problem: Pentagon

Concerned at insiders attacks, the Pentagon on 1 October called cross-border shelling a “serious problem” between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pentagon spokesman George Little said the US was keeping a close watch on developments in the region, but had not received any call for mediation or intervention from either of the two countries. “We have said for a very long time, these cross-border incidents are serious. This is a matter for Afghanistan and Pakistan to discuss,” Little told reporters during an off-camera news conference. The US was ready to support discussions between the two the neighbors on the issue, he said. “We have done so in the past, but I do not know any specific request in connection with this incident.” Little conceded green-on-blue attacks were a major problem confronting US operations inside Afghanistan. The secretary of defense the other day mentioned IEDs (impoverished explosive devises) as well, he said. “Even in the face of insider attacks and IED strikes, there is progress being made in Afghanistan and we are steadfast on our commitment to the transition strategy that we have worked upon,” he said. (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

Panetta Rejects Karzai’s Criticism over Afghan Effort

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta on 5 October said that the progress in Afghanistan has cost thousands of military lives and it would be helpful if Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed gratitude for that sacrifice. “We have made progress in Afghanistan because there are men and women in uniform who have been willing to fight and die for Afghanistan’s sovereignty and their right to govern and secure themselves,” he told reporters. He noted that 2,000 US troops were among those who had been killed in the war. “Those lives were lost fighting the right enemy, not the wrong enemy,” Panetta said. “And I think it would be helpful if the president every once and awhile expressed his thanks for the sacrifices that have been made by those who have fought and died for Afghanistan, rather than criticising them.” On Thursday, President Hamid Karzai in a news conference urged the US and Nato to combat terrorism in the region, saying the focus should be to eliminate it at its roots – which are not in Afghanistan. “The US and Nato should go to the places where the roots of the terrorism exist. They are saying one thing but acting contrary to that,” he said. Karzai noted that the Afghanistan-US security pact will allow for some presence of US troops in Afghanistan which should help peace and stability in Afghanistan. However, he made it clear he was not solely depending on the US, using the Afghan Air Force as an example. “I asked the US government to equip our air force with weapons, intelligence and transport planes – we still haven’t received a response from them. Our discussions will continue next week as well and if they show no interest in this, we will decide to whether purchase from Russia, China, India or any other country,” he added. (…) Panetta assured NATO partners that US General John Allen, the head of international forces in Afghanistan, was working with Afghans to address the problem of insider attacks. (TOLOnews)

Clinton Says Afghanistan Security Transition ‘On Track’

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on 3 October that the effort to hand over responsibility for security to Afghan forces is on track as she described the progress made in bringing stability to Afghanistan. “The transition is on track,” Clinton said at the start of the U.S.-Afghanistan Bilateral Commission today. The strategic partnership “will help guide the relationship as it moves to the next phase,” Clinton said. She outlined progress in health, education, media freedom and women’s rights in the country. (…) Clinton, speaking at the State Department with Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul, acknowledged past difficulties and the likelihood of more ahead. “These past few months in particular have presented obstacles and some potential setbacks,” Clinton said, “and we know that difficult days lie ahead.” Whatever challenges lie ahead, the U.S. will stay the course with Afghanistan, Clinton said, noting that commitment was “forged in sacrifice.” (Bloomberg)

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