14 December 2019

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Thursday, 14 November 2019 05:36

Taliban Terrorists Killed in Ghazni

Thursday, November 14, 2019
Kabul (BNA)  Six Taliban terrorists were killed in Ghazni province last night.
Emal Momand acting spokesman for Thunder army corps press office told BNA, the Taliban were killed in explosion of mine, and clash in Ander and Khwaja Omri districts, Ghazni province.
Ten other terrorists were also injured, he added.
According to another report, a group of Thunder army corps de-miners discovered and confiscated three mines from Ghazni and Khost provinces.
T. Yarzada

Friday November 8, 2019
Kabul (BNA) For decades, Pakistan has played an active however negative role in Afghanistan, a Congressional report has mentioned, asserting that Islamabad desires a weak authorities in Kabul.
In its newest report on Afghanistan, the impartial and bipartisan Congressional Analysis Service (CRS) recognized Pakistan as crucial neighbor of Afghanistan.
Pakistan, it mentioned, has played an active, and by many accounts, a negative role in Afghan affairs for many years.
“Pakistan’s security services maintain ties to Afghan insurgent groups, most notably the Haqqani Network, a US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) that has become an official, semi-autonomous component of the Taliban,” CRS, which periodically prepares reviews on points of significance for Congressmen for them to make knowledgeable choices, mentioned.
Afghan leaders, together with US army commanders, attribute a lot of the insurgency’s energy and longevity both immediately or not directly to Pakistani help, the report mentioned, including that President Donald Trump has accused Pakistan of “housing the very terrorists that we are fighting”.
US officers have lengthy recognized militant secure havens in Pakistan as a risk to Afghanistan’s safety, although some Pakistani officers dispute the cost, it mentioned
“Pakistan may view a weak and destabilized Afghanistan as preferable to a strong, unified Afghan state (particularly one led by an ethnic Pashtun-dominated government in Kabul; Pakistan has a large and restive Pashtun minority),” the CRS mentioned.
Nevertheless, instability in Afghanistan might rebound to Pakistan’s detriment; Pakistan has struggled with indigenous Islamist militants of its personal, the report added.
Afghanistan-Pakistan relations are additional sophisticated by the presence of over 1,000,000 Afghan refugees in Pakistan, as properly an extended-operating and ethnically tinged dispute over their shared 1,600-mile border.
“Pakistan’s security establishment, fearful of a strategic encirclement by India, apparently continues to view the Afghan Taliban as a relatively friendly and reliable anti-India element in Afghanistan,” the CRS mentioned.
“India’s diplomatic and commercial presence in Afghanistan and US rhetorical support for it exacerbates Pakistani fears of encirclement. Indian interest in Afghanistan stems largely from India’s broader regional rivalry with Pakistan, which impedes Indian efforts to establish stronger and more direct commercial and political relations with central Asia,” the CRS mentioned in its newest report on Afghanistan.
The CRS mentioned rebel and terrorist teams have demonstrated appreciable capabilities in 2019, throwing into sharp aid the daunting safety challenges that the Afghan authorities and its US and worldwide companions face. On the similar time, prospects for a negotiated settlement, pushed by direct US-Taliban talks, are unsure in gentle of the September 2019 cancelation of these negotiations and the Taliban’s continued refusal to speak to the Afghan authorities, it mentioned.
The CRS warned {that a} potential collapse of the Afghan army and/or the federal government that instructions it might have vital implications for the US, significantly given the character of negotiated safety preparations.
Regardless of how doubtless the Taliban can be to realize full management overall and even most of the nation, the breakdown of social order and the fracturing of the nation into fiefdoms managed by paramilitary commanders and their respective militias could also be believable, even possible, the report added.


Friday, 08 November 2019 16:54

Afghan Pols’ Secret Dubai Mansions

Friday November 8, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Leaked documents have unmasked senior Afghan officials and their families as recent owners of luxury offshore property in Dubai, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal.
Included in the documents seen by the Bureau are relatives of two former presidents, a presidential candidate whose brother was reported to have flown into the UAE with more than $50 million in cash, and a senior intelligence official whose father was implicated in involvement with the transfer of large sums of money from Afghanistan.
Holding property overseas is not illegal and does not in itself imply any wrongdoing. But concerns have been mounting generally about alleged corruption among some senior Afghan officials. Few, if any, of the properties appear to have been declared on official registers, as is required by Afghanistan’s often ignored and broadly ineffective anti-corruption rules.
The evidence of luxury property ownership in Dubai raises concerns that merit further investigation, according to a leading anti-corruption charity.
“It’s too easy for officials to buy property in Dubai with anonymity,” said Maira Matini, from Transparency International. “There's no information available that would help detect wrongdoing. There needs to be more transparency.
“This doesn’t mean that those officials are corrupt,” she added. “However, it does raise red flags and needs to be investigated by the authorities.”
Over the past twenty years, Afghanistan has been rocked by numerous corruption scandals, some of which have gone to the very top. From wartime contracts to unchecked foreign aid and CIA suitcases full of cash funneled to favored politicians and warlords, corruption has proved a stubborn problem to solve. The U.S. special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction has said: “While Afghanistan undoubtedly had a corruption problem prior to 2001, U.S. and coalition spending acted as gasoline thrown on an already burning fire.”
Despite numerous initiatives, critics have lambasted government programs to tackle corruption, with one calling them “cosmetic.”
The reputation of the Afghan government has ramifications for the country as a whole. Last month the U.S. announced it would cut $160 million in aid, accusing Afghanistan of failing to fight corruption—only a week before the country’s presidential elections began. It is rare for Washington to withhold direct funding from Kabul, which relies heavily on its support.
The Bureau’s findings are based on a leak of property data in Dubai, first obtained by the U.S. non-profit C4ADS and shared with the Bureau by Finance Uncovered and OCCRP. The Bureau then cross-referenced this data against official and public records to corroborate the findings.
The results shed light on assets held in the usually secretive emirate. The Bureau found numerous Afghan officials and relatives have recently owned property in Dubai, including members of prominent political families that have been linked to some of Afghanistan’s biggest corruption scandals.
One leading Afghan found to have owned property in Dubai is Ahmad Wali Massoud, who is currently running for president. A leaked diplomatic cable alleged that in October 2009, his brother Ahmad Zia Massoud, then the vice-president of Afghanistan, flew into the UAE with $52 million in cash.
Also in the records was Adib Ahmad Fahim, a senior intelligence official. His late father, General Mohammed Qasim Fahim, another former vice-president, was identified as the part owner of Pamir Airways in a U.S. diplomatic cable. The airline was believed to have ferried money to Dubai hidden in airplane food trays. Fahim’s uncle Haseen was also a major shareholder in Kabul bank, which was at the centre of a massive scandal over millions of dollars allegedly given out in suspect insider loans before it collapsed in 2010.
Ghulam Farooq Wardak, the state minister for parliamentary affairs, appears in the records with his wife. They recently owned two properties in exclusive areas of Dubai, including one on Jumeirah beach.
Wardak was previously Afghanistan’s education minister, and his successor in the post raised concerns over possible corruption at the ministry. An investigation ordered by President Ashraf Ghani is said to have found evidence of embezzlement within the ministry and inaccurate data records on the number of schools that diverted money from donors.
Two members of Afghanistan’s parliament appear in the list. Saleh Mohammad Lala Gul and Feda Mohammad Ulfat, who are father and son, owned a villa in the springs and another in the Jumeirah Park area. Both are flashy residences with features such as man-made lakes and swimming pools.
Close relatives of two former presidents also appear in the list. One is Fatima Rabbani, whose late father, Burhanuddin Rabbani, led Afghanistan in the late 1990s. Her brother was, until this week, a foreign affairs minister. She runs various businesses in Dubai, including an upmarket restaurant and a business selling luxury products with the niece of another person in the records, former Afghan ambassador to Jordan, Sayed Mohammad Gailani.
The other is Mahmood Karzai, the brother of the former president Hamid Karzai. He was also a shareholder of Kabul bank and, alongside Fahim’s uncle, there have been concerns that he sought to use his closeness to the very top of Afghanistan’s leadership to assist in protecting the bank from greater scrutiny.
In an email, Mahmood Karzai confirmed ownership of a property in Dubai and said he had lived in the country since 2007. He denied any wrongdoing or corruption, and said he had attempted to sue the private investigation firm Kroll for a report it wrote alleging misconduct on his part in Afghanistan.
None of the other people named in the records responded to multiple requests for comment in English, Dari or Pashto.
Afghan law appears to require people in positions of authority – known as “politically exposed persons”—to publicly declare their assets and source of funds, as well as those of their close relatives. Few, if any, of the individuals named in the leaked Dubai documents appear to have declared such assets, but experts say the laws are not fit for purpose, and contain many loopholes that could allow someone to not disclose an asset without breaching the rules.
Sayed Ikram Afzali, the director of anti-corruption organization Integrity Watch Afghanistan, said the disclosure system had proved useless.
“The asset forms are largely incomplete, the data published is inconsistent and not verified, and even at times contradictory. You could say it’s a useless system,” he said. “It’s an ineffective system and it's not meant to be effective. It's a system the government is following to keep international donors happy.
“I doubt that the Afghan government means to achieve anything through this process, aside from ticking a box to keep the international community happy,” Afzali added.
Anti-corruption efforts in Afghanistan have a checkered history. President Karzai attempted to clamp down on corruption, partly in efforts to please international partners, setting up an anti-corruption office in 2008 whose duties included registering the assets of public officials. The office was quickly mired in controversy—after damning criticism of its first attempts, Karzai appointed a new head, choosing an official who had been previously accused of election fraud.
That office was eventually shut down, and there have been successive attempts to get Afghan officials to register their assets. Stronger legislation was introduced in 2017, but years on, asset registration for officials is seen as a failure.
The body in charge of the current register has been placed under the office of the president, raising concerns from anti-corruption activists. Questions have been raised over its independence: its latest director, Naheed Esar, has recently been appointed the new deputy foreign minister.
Sarah Chayes, an anti-corruption expert who has advised the U.S. military in Afghanistan, said the Afghanistan needed to work on tackling corruption and rebuilding trust in its ruling class in a root and branch way.
“Corruption in Afghanistan is systemic. It is perpetrated by networks,” she said.
“For years I heard comments from my neighbors like: ‘The Taliban shakes us down at night, and the government shakes us down in the daytime.’” Chayes added: “The difference is, the government is supposed to be upholding the law, but is violating it.”


Friday November 8, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Educational Center for Training Afghan citizens of the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Special Education hosted the first meeting of the Working Commission on development of cross-border trade between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.
Chairperson of the Commission from the Uzbek side – Khokim of Surkhandarya region Tura Bobolov, Chairman of the Commission on the Afghan side – Governor of Balkh province Ishaq Rahguzar emphasized that cooperation between the two neighboring countries is growing in recent years. It was noted that the activity of the Consulate of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Termez contributes to further development of relations between the border regions of the two countries.
Members of the Commission discussed the possibilities of solving problems on border and trade issues, forwarded relevant proposals and recommendations. The parties agreed to hold a regular meeting of the Commission in Mazari Sharif of Afghanistan in the second half of the next month.

Friday November 8, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Afghanistan spinner Qais Ahmad has signed for Gloucestershire to play in next season’s Vitality Blast and six Specsavers County Championship games.
The 19-year-old leg-spinner made his Test debut in September but remains a relatively inexperienced performer, with just 12 first-class appearances under his belt as well as nine List A matches and 35 Twenty20s.
He has played for Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash as well as St Lucia Stars and Guyana Amazon Warriors in the CPL. The considerable excitement around the teenager was reflected in the recent draft for The Hundred, where Welsh Fire picked him up in the fourth round.
He has signed up for the entirety of the Vitality T20 Blast with Gloucs and will also be available for the final six games of the County Championship as his new side look to establish themselves in Division One following last season’s promotion.
“It is a great honor for me to join Gloucestershire after they had such a successful 2019,” said Qais.
“Having played T20 cricket around the world I have always wanted to play first class cricket in England to develop my red ball skills.”
Head coach Richard Dawson added: “I’m delighted that Qais has agreed to join us for next season as the club enters its first season in Division One since 2004.
“We had a very strong season in 2019 and Qais will help take us to the next level in both the long and short formats with his game-changing skills. He’s one of the most exciting young spinners in the world.”


Friday November 8, 2019 Kabul (BNA) As millions of women and girls in Afghanistan wait for the presidential election results, expected to be announced in November, they are worried. Their concern is that the country could backslide on the immense gains Afghan women have made since the fall of the Taliban. And if the United States uses a potentially chaotic election as an opportunity for a rash withdrawal, this outcome is likely. In September, over 2 million Afghans headed to the polls, out of the 9.6 million people registered to vote. These preliminary numbers are from the Independent Election Commission, and unfortunately they show that participation among women was lower than anticipated. Taliban violence and intimidation played a role in the low turnout. Additionally, the Commission required all voters be photographed for use with facial recognition software as an anti-fraud measure. Prior to the election, Afghan women’s-rights activists demanded this requirement be lifted as some women would be reluctant to have their photos taken, whether due to their own views or the views of a relatively conservative Afghan society. Afghan women obtained the right to vote in 2004, and have been politically active since. However, the risk to their safety in exercising that right is disheartening. Encouragingly, despite low turnout, the Afghan people stood united in late September and had a unified message: We want peace, we want democracy, we want a bright future. The United States should stand beside the Afghan people as a partner and friend during this critical time in the country’s history. To ensure Afghans did not vote in vain, the IEC and candidates will need to adhere to the democratic process. The president-elect will need to have legitimacy in the eyes of the Afghan population and a strong mandate for peace negotiations with the Taliban. It is only through national unity that Afghanistan will address the acute challenges of violence and insecurity that extremist groups pose, and secure the vast gains women have made in the last 18 years. The United States and international community can support this effort by dedicating funding to implement Afghanistan’s National Plan for Women, Peace and Security. This will ensure that women are active, integrated participants in any future peace talks and have a role in the implementation of any peace agreement and verification mechanism. Moreover, stability requires equal access to justice, respect for human rights, effective rule of law and good governance, transparent and effective institutions, and access to quality education. Afghan women have made substantial advances in these areas, and we should continue to support them by ensuring gender equality remains a top priority. Washington and its allies can accomplish this by funding sustainable-development programs, and doing so in a way that maximizes grants to local women’s groups who know their context best. For example, the cost of treatment, distance to a health facility, and social and cultural norms limit women’s access to health care, mobility, and agency. Nearly 9 in 10 ever-married women aged 15 to 49 in the 2015 Afghanistan Demographic and Health Survey reported at least one problem in accessing health care. The United States can continue supporting the Ministry of Health in improving the public healthcare system by focusing on women’s health and ensuring adequate female providers are available at clinics across the country. Further, while entrepreneurship has been an important focus of the United States and the international community’s efforts, more programs could build capacity for women to enter service and trade-based workforces, in addition to advancing entrepreneurship. Expanding women’s economic empowerment programs benefits not only women and their families, but also Afghanistan’s economic growth. Women need more training to develop the skills to occupy IT, legal, and administrative jobs. To support women’s access to positions of influence, the United States and international community should develop training in coordination with Afghan women politicians. It is only by ensuring that women are directly consulted and able to meaningfully participate in every aspect of social, political, and economic life that peace in Afghanistan will be achievable and sustainable over the long-term. Afghan women refuse to go back to an era when their voices were silenced. Every Afghan who recently voted did so with the picture of a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan. They want to build a future for themselves and generations to come, and this is a triumph in and of itself. The United States should encourage its progress. The process may be chaotic, but democracy usually is. Realclearworld Ansari
Thursday, 31 October 2019 10:34

India’s Afghanistan Conundrum

Friday November 01, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Less than two months after U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly called off talks with the Taliban, Washington is laying the ground to resume them. That this is happening before Afghanistan has a new government — the results of its September 28 election are yet to be announced — underscores the administration’s haste.
U.S. officials are escalating battlefield pressure on the Taliban. This is part of a likely effort to soften up the insurgents and get them to return to the negotiating table and make concessions (read: ceasefire) that they refused to make the last time around.
Meanwhile, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, has resumed his shuttle diplomacy. In recent days, he’s held meetings on reconciliation with EU and NATO leaders. He also made a trip to Islamabad, which reportedly included a meeting with a Taliban delegation.
At the same time, Mr. Trump continues to telegraph his desire to pull troops from Afghanistan. Witness his recent decision to remove U.S. forces from Syria and his grumbling about “endless wars”. With the 2020 U.S. presidential election fast approaching, a politically embattled Trump wants to be able to tell his base that he’s bringing troops home.
The U.S.’s policy in Afghanistan is to resume talks with the Taliban and reach a troop withdrawal deal before Mr. Trump decides to initiate a unilateral withdrawal — that is, a removal of troops with no deal or ceasefire.
This won’t be easy. The Taliban, unlike the U.S., has the luxury of being in no rush to reach a deal. It has little incentive to accede to Washington’s likely demand of agreeing to a ceasefire before a troop withdrawal accord is signed, especially because doing so would deprive the Taliban of violence which serves as a powerful tool of leverage.
In a tough spot
For India, the implications of the U.S.’s current policy in Afghanistan are stark: It puts India in a tough spot and Pakistan in a good place. If U.S. talks with the Taliban resume, this puts Afghanistan back on a reconciliation path that, if successively seen through, would produce a political settlement that features a power-sharing arrangement with the Taliban. That’s not a preferred endgame for India. If talks fail, an intensifying war means that Afghanistan would suffer rapid destabilisation, thereby constraining India’s ability to operate in Afghanistan, a key strategic partner. Meanwhile, for Pakistan, a resumption of talks that produces a settlement, resulting in its Taliban ally occupying a political role, would work just fine. If Afghanistan falls into chaos, this would serve Islamabad’s interests as well because the Taliban would grow even stronger — and possibly seize power by force.
Even before Mr. Trump called off talks, Islamabad had an upper hand over New Delhi in Afghanistan. Pakistan was an instrumental facilitator of a U.S.-Taliban negotiation meant to lead to an eventual outcome — a Taliban power-sharing deal — that would have served Islamabad’s interests. India, meanwhile, was left on the outside looking in, while Kabul, its key partner, was excluded from the talks. In fact, New Delhi’s dilution of Article 370 may have been, at least in part, an effort to push back against Islamabad’s upper hand in Afghanistan.
Difficult decisions
In the coming months, New Delhi could have some difficult decisions to make. If the situation continues to deteriorate, with no end to the war in sight, India will need to figure out how to secure its interests in a country where it has a significant footprint. If talks resume, it will need to decide how or if it should try to play a role in them. Finally, if there is a reconciliation process and the trend lines point towards a settlement resulting in a Taliban power-sharing role, New Delhi will need to weigh whether it’s worth trying to engage with its bitter rival’s powerful asset. These are tough questions. But then again, when it comes to policy in Afghanistan, nothing is easy.


Friday November 01, 2019
Kabul (BNA) The government of Afghanistan has issued a Request for Prequalification (RfQ) for the construction of a 40-MW solar photovoltaic (PV) park in the country’s northern province of Herat.
The deadline for submitting proposals is November 30, 2019, the Ministry of Energy and Water announced. A meeting for interested companies and consortia will be held on November 5, 2019.
The project will be implemented on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis, with the selected developer winning the right to develop, finance, build, own, operate, maintain and transfer the power plant. It will be developed under the World Bank’s Scaling Solar program with assistance from the multilateral lender’s private finance arm the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which will act as lead transaction advisor.
Meanwhile, the Afghani government is awaiting proposals by October 30 in another tender for a 40-MW solar project, expecting to prequalify bidders and launch a request for proposals (RfP) in December.

Friday November 01, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Almost 40 strikes hit Afghanistan every day in September, new Pentagon figures show, working out as more than 1,100 over the month, a significant rise.
The number of US strikes has been increasing in recent months, but this latest jump is dramatic. There were 1,113 strikes in September compared with 810 strikes in August, and 537 in July.
It follows the collapse of US and Taliban peace negotiations in early September. The talks were suspended by President Donald Trump after the killing of a US soldier in Kabul.
Since then, President Trump has repeatedly stated he is hitting the Taliban harder. Mark Esper, the US defence secretary, told reporters earlier this month that they had “picked up the pace [of operations in Afghanistan] considerably” since the breakdown of the negotiations.
“We did step up our attacks on the Taliban since the talks broke down,” Esper told reporters. “The president did want us to pick up in response to the heinous attacks that the Taliban and others conducted throughout Afghanistan.”
For civilians on the ground, the deepening conflict comes at great cost. Recent UN figures show there were over 650 civilian casualties from US strikes in the first nine months of 2019, nearly double the number injured or killed in the same period last year.
The UN has said civilian casualties in general – not just from air strikes – have reached “unprecedented” levels in the past three months as violence across the country has increased.
“The harm caused to civilians by the fighting in Afghanistan signals the importance of peace talks leading to a ceasefire and a permanent political settlement to the conflict; there is no other way forward,” Yadamichi Yamamoto, the head of the UN’s mission in Afghanistan, said.


Friday November 01, 2019
Kabul (BNA) China Tuesday said it supported the dialogue between all parties in Afghanistan, including the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban.
“China firmly supports the broad and inclusive peace and reconciliation
process that is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned,” Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Geng Shuang said during a regular briefing here.
“We support dialogue between all parties in Afghanistan, including the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban,” he added.
He said: “Chinese are ready on the basis of respecting the will of all parties in Afghanistan; provide facilitation and assistance to the peace and reconciliation process, including intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiation.”
When asked to confirm that if intra-Afghan talks are taking place in Beijing this week, he said, “We will keep you updated if there is any information on this.”
There were reports that the delegations of representing the Afghan government and Afghan Taliban, will take part in a dialogue, hosted by the Chinese government in Beijing.
However, a Chinese official informed that the dialogue has been postponed for a few days as both delegations could not reach by Monday.

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