13 December 2018

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Thursday December 13, 2018

Kabul (BNA) A decade ago, the world watched in disbelief as terrorists from the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba group ripped through the Indian financial capital of Mumbai. By the time the 10 attackers were stopped four days after the assault began, they had killed 164 people—Americans and other foreign nationals among them—and left over 300 injured. India’s 9/11, as the Indian media dubbed it, had unfolded.
India, having long seen the Lashkar-e-Taiba as a direct proxy of the Pakistani intelligence outfit, the Inter-Services Intelligence, blamed the Pakistani state for having directed the attack. A near-war crisis between the two nuclear neighbors ensued in its wake, offering a stark reminder why U.S. President Bill Clinton termed this part of the world “the most dangerous place” on Earth at the turn of the century.
Ten years after the Mumbai attacks on November 26, 2008, the Indian-Pakistani rivalry remains as entrenched as ever. While the two countries have avoided major wars, they continue to flirt with crises and have been engaged in low-intensity conflict in the disputed territory of Kashmir. This has unfolded in an environment devoid of any robust crisis management mechanisms aimed at reducing the risk of inadvertent escalation and providing dependable ways of directly negotiating a way out of a crisis. With nuclear weapons in the mix, the consequences of escalation could be catastrophic—and the possibility of such an outcome is greater today than it was on the eve of the Mumbai attacks. India and Pakistan came “fleetingly close” to war during the Mumbai crisis, but fortunate circumstances prevented a military clash. The attacks came on the back of the single most promising peace process the two have ever had. The overall aura of positivity and the trusted channels of communication created through their five-year peace bid helped relieve tensions. A dovish Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh—who was genuinely interested in peace with Pakistan and hesitant to use military force to settle disputes, especially in South Asia’s nuclearized environment—also led India to forego the military option, even as the Indian public and media were calling for blood. Most importantly, third-party states, led by the United States, played crucial mediatory roles and were instrumental in nudging India and Pakistan to end the crisis.
This third-party role is often glossed over—partly because neither India nor Pakistan wants to acknowledge how heavily they tend to rely on outside actors in crisis moments despite being nuclear powers. And yet, the centrality of U.S. crisis management in nuclear South Asia has been not only consistent but also a vital substitute for the missing bilateral escalation control mechanisms between India and Pakistan. Washington was also critical to crisis termination in the previous major crises under the nuclear umbrella: a 1999 limited war in Kashmirand a 10-month military standoff in late 2001 and 2002. U.S. success in all these cases was dependent on its ability to use real-time intelligence to clarify misunderstandings between the two antagonists and to step in with a mixture of threats and concessions to force them to pull back at moments when war seemed inevitable.
None of the pacifying dynamics at play in the past necessarily hold today. The Mumbai attacks abruptly ended the peace process itself. Since then, bilateral tensions have remained high. Diplomatic dialogue between the two remains suspended. India’s nationalist government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made total cessation of cross-border militancy emanating from Pakistan a prerequisite for formal dialogue. India and Pakistan have also failed to conclude any confidence-building measures on terrorism over the past decade. Prior arrangements, like the joint anti-terrorism mechanism that was concluded in 2006, lie dormant. Attempts to collaborate on investigations of terrorist incidents, including of the Mumbai attacks, have failed, with both sides blaming the other. This puts India and Pakistan in a decidedly worse position to work together to thwart potential crisis triggers or to manage risks during crises than they were in on the eve of the Mumbai attacks.
At the same time, terrorism remains an ever-present danger. Even though no attacks on the scale of Mumbai have occurred since, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other anti-India terrorist outfits in the region remain active. Pakistan claims it lacks the capacity to neutralize these groups, arguing that it has had to channel all its counterterrorism focus and resources to fighting the existential threat posed to it by the Pakistani Taliban and other domestically focused groups. However, India alleges continued active Pakistani support for militants and frames their periodic strikes on Indian soil as directed by the Pakistani state. Indian leaders therefore feel justified in directly punishing the Pakistani state for the anti-India terrorism perpetrated by these groups. Other transnational terrorist outfits, such as the Islamic State and al Qaeda, have also expanded their footprint in the region, further complicating the threat spectrum for both countries. These groups are sworn enemies of both states, and their goal of destabilizing the region would be well served by thrusting the two nuclear neighbors into war. Hindu extremist forces in India could also spark a crisis. These forces, increasingly emboldened within India under Modi, have previously targeted Pakistani citizens in a bid to derail India-Pakistan relations. Pakistan has been increasingly vocal and aggressive in alleging Indian support of terrorist incidents in Pakistan.
Terrorism isn’t the only worry. The “Line of Control” that divides Indian and Pakistani control of Kashmir is also a likely flashpoint.  Violence levels along the Line of Control were the highest in 15 years in 2017, with violations of a cease-fire agreed to in 2003 consisting of prolonged and often significant military hostilities. While Indian and Pakistani officials acknowledged rising tensions, both militaries believe that low-level military exchanges at this local level would not escalate to a major India-Pakistan crisis. Yet, unlike the pre-2003 period, the mushrooming of news media in both countries has meant that today’s incidents in Kashmir create media frenzies, forcing bellicose rhetoric and raising tensions. In 2016, Modi famously broke from his predecessor’s policy of restraint to order so-called surgical strikes across the Line of Control in retaliation for a terrorist attack on an Indian Army base in Kashmir that his government blamed on Pakistan. Last year, Indian claims of Pakistani rocket and mortar firing across the line, and the subsequent killing of Indian soldiers, created a standoff as national leaders on both sides threatened punishment and direct military action. Late last month, the Pakistani army chief directly warned India over its increased cease-fire violations on the Line of Control. These are precisely the kind of dynamics that can stoke war frenzy and raise a government’s political costs of inaction, eventually making an escalatory response more likely.
Foreign Policy
Moeed Yusuf
 

Thursday, 13 December 2018 09:22

Heat Set To Unleash Afghan Teen Prodigy

Thursday December 13, 2018

Kabul (BNA) Brisbane Heat coach Daniel Vettori believes the experience of off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman belies his tender age, and can't wait to unleash the Afghan sensation on rival clubs when the KFC Big Bash gets underway from December 19. At 17, Mujeeb is the youngest signing in the competition's eight-year history, but Vettori, who debuted in Test cricket just 10 days after his 18th birthday back in 1997, is unfazed by the age of his star import.
"The thing for him is, since he's arrived on the international scene he's performed wherever he's gone – and he's gone everywhere," said the Black Caps legend. "He's played in most comps around the world and he's been highly successful."
Mujeeb was part of Afghanistan's inaugural Test side that was thumped by India in June, and the teen already has 23 ODIs and seven T20Is to his name. He has also played in domestic T20 competitions in Bangladesh, Pakistan and most notably India, where he collected 14 wickets in 11 matches for Kings XI Punjab and was one of only three bowlers to concede fewer than seven runs per over among the Indian Premier League's top 20 wicket-takers. "He's got so much experience in such a short period of time that I think he really understands his game," Vettori continued.
"I think that's true of all the Afghan players – they all feel like their self-coached, so therefore they really know what they're doing in any situation.
"From what I've seen, he doesn't get flustered, the pressure's not an issue for him, and he just gets on with things, and particularly bowling at the Gabba, that's the mentality that you need." Mujeeb is an off-spinner by trade but has been known to produce an assortment of deliveries, including having traditional leg breaks and wrong’s in his armory, while Vettori believes his extra height should make him a difficult prospect on Australia's bouncy wickets. "The thing that separates him I think is his action," he said. "He's very tall, he bowls quick, and he bowls from a height that makes it difficult.
"His variations, while you won't see them as much on a wicket like the Gabba, his control of those variations set him apart."
In conjunction with leg-spinner Mitch Swepson, Mujeeb is expected to play a key part in what has been a consistently spin-heavy theme for the Heat under Vettori in recent campaigns. "We've tried to play a game predominantly around spin at the Gabba with Mitchell Swepson, Shadab Khan, Yasir Shah and (Samuel) Badree over the years," the coach added.
"I think Mujeeb will continue that on." The Heat squad has assembled this week, with an intra-squad practice game scheduled for this evening at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast, where they will play two matches this summer.
Cricket
 

Thursday December 13, 2018

Kabul (BNA) The 13th Senior Officials Meeting of Triangular Initiative on controlling drug trafficking kicked off in the Pakistani capital city of Islamabad on Tuesday with representatives from Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Senior counter-narcotics officials from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan convened in Pakistani capital city of Islamabad today to participate in 13th Senior Officials Meeting of Triangular Initiative on controlling drug trafficking. Iran's Anti-Narcotics Police Chief Brigadier General Mohammad Masoud Zahedian is heading the Iranian delegation in the two-day meeting.
A delegation from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is also taking part in the conference. The meeting will help three sides to find solution to common challenges by adhering to a comprehensive and balanced approach. The three governments have already agreed to share real-time information; plan and conduct drug-interdiction operations through the Joint Planning Cell; and establish Border Liaison Offices to effectively counter the trafficking of Afghan opiates. The UNODC provides technical support to Triangular Initiative partners in facing their respective situations and challenges in field of counter-narcotics.
In an interview with IRNA Brigadier General Mohammad Masoud Zahedian said that a joint planning cell has already been formed by Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan with an aim to share sensitive information and provide assistance in anti-drug operations. He added that during the meeting performance of the joint cell would be reviewed. Brigadier General Mohammad Masoud Zahedian added that Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan have suffered a lot due to drugs thus all the countries have to enhance their cooperation and share their experience to fight the menace of narcotics.
Police Chief of Southeastern Iranian Province of Sistan and Baluchistan Brigadier General Mohammad Qanbari announced on Monday that a total of 5.461 tons of different types of narcotics has been seized by police forces in Iran’s Southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchistan in the past ten days. The commander added that 8 drug traffickers have been arrested in the anti-narcotics operations of the past ten days, and their 7 firearms and 12 vehicles have been confiscated by the police. Hailing the selflessness and bravery of the police forces, he went on saying, “Fortunately, none of the forces have been hurt in these operations.”
He once again asserted that the police is strictly tightening the hold against criminals, drug traffickers and armed gangs, reassuring that the fight against the “anti-family phenomenon” of drug abuse is atop the agenda of police in fighting social problems.
Iran is in the forefront of the fight against drug trafficking and thousands of Iranian forces have been so far martyred to protect the world from the danger of drugs. Last Wednesday, Iran's Coast Guard forces confiscated a 1.2 ton haul of narcotics in the Southern Province of Bushehr in the Persian Gulf, arresting a suspect in the operation. Earlier in November, the coast guards seized an opium haul of 960 kg in Genaveh Port, located near Kharg Island in the Persian Gulf. The Iranian anti-narcotic police have always staged periodic, but short-term, operations against drug traffickers and dealers, but the latest reports - which among others indicate an improved and systematic dissemination of information - reveal that the world's most forefront and dedicated anti-narcotic force (as UN drug-campaign assessments put it) has embarked on a long-term countrywide plan to crack down on the drug trade since 8 years ago.
The Iranian police officials maintain that drug production in Afghanistan has undergone a 40-fold increase since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001. Afghan and western officials blame Washington and NATO for the change, saying that allies have "overlooked" the drug problem since invading the country more than 16 years ago.
Farsnews
 

Thursday, 13 December 2018 09:20

Red Gold: Afghanistan Saffron Production Grows

Thursday December 13, 2018

Kabul (BNA) Starting before dawn has even broken, Afghanistan's army of saffron pickers shift their way across sun-baked fields to pluck brightly the coloured crocuses that are providing the country's farmers with a new means of income.
The delicate pistil of the flower has for centuries been used in cooking around the world and because of its relatively high price has been dubbed "red gold" by those who rely on its cultivation.
Joma Khan is one of the 156,000 seasonal workers who help harvest the spice, earning about $1 an hour.
"We start our field work before sunrise and each of us can collect about four to five kilograms of saffron flower," the 16-year-old said. The harvest is then sent to factories where gloved workers remove the red pistil, made up of the three stigma that when dried constitute the spice.
Authorities struggling to wean farmers off the highly profitable opium poppy trade are hoping to use the spice as an attractive alternative.
And the results are looking positive, thanks to billions of dollars of international aid.
The saffron harvest hit 13 tonnes this year, compared with a tone in 2013, according to agriculture ministry spokesman Akbar Rostami.
Cultivation requires little water, meaning it has not been heavily impacted by the historic drought currently threatening nearly three million Afghans with famine.
It has even intensified in some drought-hit areas, especially in the northwestern province of Herat on the border with Iran and Turkmenistan. Official figures show saffron cultivation has increased to 6,200 hectares of land in 2018, up 21 percent on last year.
However, there is still a way to go, with 263,000 hectares currently given over to poppy production. And while the saffron sector generated $35 billion in 2017, opium made an incredible $1.4 billion.
Iran remains the world's largest saffron producer, capturing nearly 90 percent of the global market with 400 tones annually. Meanwhile, nearly 90 percent of the opium harvested on the planet still comes from Afghanistan.
Prices for the spice have also fallen, from more than $900 at the start of the year to $660 now, due in part to mafias who illegally import Iranian saffron and flood the market, Rostami said.
Nevertheless, the increased cultivation of the spice is being seen as a positive sign.
The spice is being exported to 17 countries through new air corridors, mainly to China, India, and the Gulf countries, and to a lesser extent to the European Union and North America, says the agriculture ministry
"Afghanistan's saffron, based on its organic nature, it is better than other saffron in the world," claimed Abdul Shukoor Ahrari, director of Tila-e-Surkh Afghan ("Afghan Red Gold"), one of the country's main processing sites.
france24
 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Pul-e-Khomri (BNA) Three candidates of Wolesi Jirga were injured by unknown gunmen in Logar province yesterday evening.
Shahpoor Ahmadzai spokesman for Logar governor told BNA, convey of three Wolesi Jirga candidates were moving from Logar to Kabul, targeted by unknown gunmen.
According to Ahmadzai, three bodyguards of the candidates were injured and no harm incurred to the candidates.
Ahmadzai added, two vehicles of them have been completely demolished.
T. Yarzada
 

Wednesday, 12 December 2018 10:53

250 Taliban Insurgents Killed in Helmand

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Lashkargah (BNA) Governor of Helmand province reported from defeating, killing and wounding of hundreds of Taliban in a month in that province.
Mohammad Yasin Khan governor of Helmand during a news conference said Taliban were defeated in Helmand and are currently unable to confront and combat with Afghan militaries.
He added that in the less than a month, 250 Taliban including their shadow governor for Helmand with 11 local commanders were killed and dozen other Taliban have been injured.
According to Helmand governor, in the same time, 75 hideouts of them in different regions of the province were demolished, 260 mines were discovered and neutralized, and tens vehicles and motorbikes of Taliban have been destroyed.
T. Yarzada
 

Wednesday, 12 December 2018 07:18

Peace Advisory Board to Be Established

Wednesday December 12, 2018

Kabul (BNA) Based upon the presidential decree and to establish a national understanding for ensuring peace through discussion with elites and jihadi, political and social figures, peace consultative board would be chaired by the President, BNA reported.
The board is responsible to share constructive and necessary consultations with the government’s leadership. The board would also supervise peace negotiations process. Meetings of the board would be attended by the national unity government’s leadership, national assembly members, chief justice, national security advisor, general director of presidential office, attorney general, national security director, the state minister on parliamentary affairs, local organs general director, heads of Afghanistan Ulama council and high peace council secretariat. National Security Council is responsible for the board’s secretariat. To get the people views and inform them on peace talks’ progress, the following committee would be formed:
- Political parties’ representatives committee
- Religious scholars and Ulama representatives committee
- Afghan elite women committee
- Tribes chieftains and representatives committee
- Civil and cultural activists committee
- Private sector representatives committee
- A committee of Afghans living abroad and refugees’ representatives
- Youth representative committee
- War victim families representatives committee
The committees are tasked to collect the people suggestions, analyze them and present information about peace process progresses to them.
 

Wednesday December 12, 2018

Kabul (BNA) President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani met with a number of Sikh minority at the Presidential Palace the other day, BNA reported. Representing the participants, Sandpal Singh and Charan Singh shared their problems and suggestions in terms of transferring their legal cases from other provinces to Kabul, prevention of lands’ usurpation around their temple in Kabul, solving their problem in receiving Afghanistan’s visa to those Sikh people who have also the second country’s citizenship, designation of a senator and advisor and other related issues. Calling Sikh people part of the country’s prideful history, the President said they have been living in Afghanistan since long and have played effective role in the field of economy. He called inattention to address the Sikh people cases intolerable and instructed that all their legal cases should be transferred to Kabul or in consultation with attorney general and chief justice, a special section to be established to address their mentioned cases. Furthermore, the President instructed the national security advisor to chase the former President’s decree on distribution of 160 plots of residential lands to Sikh minority in eastern Nangarhar province and also prevent usurpation of their lands. Pointing at the problem of their corpses’ set ablaze, the President said try to find a way for this, the government is ready to financially support it, adding we would also decide about formation of an advisory office to Sikh people.
 

Wednesday, 12 December 2018 07:11

Commentary

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Kabul (BNA) In a country where for dozens of years’ war continuing talking about human rights would be difficult.
BNA military affairs analyst commenting on the issue writes Afghanistan is for tens of years in flame of imposed war and its people are suffering from the pains and hardships have caused this imposed war.
However, it should not be forgotten that the Afghan community in close cooperation of international community is moving toward a democratic and new society. Considering this important point, has established independent commissions under the name of Human Rights Independent Commission in order to provide the ground for punishment of those violate human rights.
Unfortunately, so far such an opportunity has not provided, but the number of terrorists has increased, new terrorist groups created, using religion as means fight against religion, using the sacred terms of man and freedom fight against man and freedom.
The majority of Afghan people believe those who produce terrorist groups and use them for achieving their political and military objectives in the region and in the world, in reality are main violators of human rights in the world.
There is a general belief that no terrorist group can follow its anti – human rights objectives even for a month without the assistance of foreign countries intelligence services.
In any case, Afghanistan is passing through a difficult political and military phase; the people are talking seriously about war and peace all over the country.
Discussions on human rights issues and protecting the humane values were the pivotal of peace talks with armed oppositions during the last 17 years. The consequences of the talks should not ensure the immunity of war criminals and should not harm democracy and the rule of people. These are concerns that the people present. The people’s will and demands should be observed and look at human rights issues through the eyes of people  who have given sacrifices for years and tortured for years under various names.
 

Wednesday, 12 December 2018 07:06

Displaced Families Received Aids

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Maimana (BNA) 150 displaced families have received cash aids in Faryab province.
According to BNA local correspondent, these families have been displaced due to insecurity from districts of that province to Maimana city.
The European Union with the assistance of ACTID office assisted 70 families 12,000 Afghanis and 45 other families, each family received 6,000 Afghani cash.
Abdul Moqim Rasekh deputy governor of Faryab at the distributing ceremony of the assistance, talked about relief program said that they will receive more assistance in the near future.
T. Yarzada
 

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