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Supplanting the Symbols of Warfare

With the relentless spread of conflicts of faith and identity, the emblems of conventional warfare have changed.

FARAKHABAR: 29 October 2014

TOLO News - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 03:09

A number of legislators have called on banning the officials of election management bodies from leaving the country as the final results of provincial councils elections face further criticism.

The MPs have called some of the commission members "opportunists," claiming that many of the provincial council candidates became victorious on the basis of political ties.

How can the government resolve the tensions pertaining the electoral bodies?

In this episode of Farakhabar, host Yama Siawish discusses the topic with the following guests:

• Raifullah Gul Afghan: One of the protesting candidates
• Assadullah Saadati: MP

To watch the program, click here:

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First 100 Days: The New Government's 31st Working Day

TOLO News - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 03:08

First Part:

In this episode of the program, host Omid Farooq discusses the recent works of the chief and chief executive of the National Unity Government, as well as President Ashraf Ghani's recent speech at Xinhua University in Beijing on Wednesday about the importance of regional cooperation and his plans to build a thriving Afghan economy.

Syed Ismail Jahangir: Journalist

Second Part:

Agreements between Afghan and Chinese Officials

The economic and technical cooperation agreement was signed between the Afghan acting Minister of Finance Omar Zakhelwal and his Chinese counterpart.

Syed Massoud: University Lecturer

Muzammil Shinwari: Deputy Minister of Finance for Trade and industry

Third Part:

Government's Commitment to Fight Against Corruption

The one month timeframe President Ashraf Ghani gave during his inauguration to the Supreme Court to enact reforms and curtail corruption has already passed. According to the newly appointed Chief Justice Abdul Rashed Rashid, the process of change is well underway.

Fawzia Kofi: MP

To watch the program, Click here:

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TAWDE KHABARE: Role of Regional Countries in the Peace Process

TOLO News - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 02:54

What is the determining factor in the peace process between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban? What are the roles of regional countries such as Arabic states and China in the peace talks? Does Pakistan use Taliban as a tool to reach its objectives in Afghanistan?

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Shahpor Bakhtiyar discusses the topic with the following guests:

• Moeen Marasyal: Political Analyst

• Ghrzai Khawkhogi: Military Analyst

• Jawed Kohistani: Military Analyst

To watch the program, click here:

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Iran Wants Sanctions Lifted Before Nuclear Deal

TOLO News - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 02:43

Iran wants all Western sanctions to be lifted before striking a deal on its contested nuclear programme by a November deadline, a top official said Wednesday.

The announcement came amid intensifying efforts to conclude a definitive pact. The six powers in the talks with Iran -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany, known as the P5+1 -- have set November 24 as the deadline.

The chairman of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi said the US proposal of a gradual lifting of sanctions was "unacceptable."

"If we want a definitive accord on November 24, there must be an immediate lifting of sanctions," he told a news conference in Paris.

A Western diplomat close to the negotiations with Iran on Monday said a firm deal by the deadline was highly unlikely, saying Tehran would have to make "significant gestures."

The aim is to close avenues towards Tehran ever developing an atomic bomb, by cutting back its enrichment programme, shutting down suspect facilities and imposing tough international inspections.

In return, the global community would suspend and then gradually lift crippling economic sanctions imposed on the Islamic republic.

But the two sides, despite long-running talks, remain far apart on how to reconcile their objectives.

Supreme Court Announces Special Kabul Bank Trial

TOLO News - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 15:18

The Afghan Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that it will hold a special trial for the Kabul Bank case in the coming weeks, overriding a previous decision by an appeals court in Kabul to reject the case.

The Attorney General's office, which has spearheaded the reopening of the infamous corruption case by order of President Ashraf Ghani, turned to the highest court in the country after the appellate court said there were problems with the case.

The decision by the Supreme Court to hold a special trial was welcomed by Basir Azizi, the Attorney General's spokesman. "The special trial will speed up the case and the court has the legal authority to take action to evaluate the case," Aziz said.

Meanwhile, the head of the Supreme Court said that the Kabul Bank case, which involves a number of prominent Afghan bankers and officials along with the embezzlement of over 900 million USD, is a top priority for the Court.

"The decision we made was the result of the meetings and we have the details and I will present the details of the meetings to the president when appropriate," Chief Justice Abdul Rashid Rashid said.

President Ashraf Ghani, setting the tone for his new administration early on, gave the Attorney General's office a month and a half to get the case prosecuted. But already over three weeks have passed and a number of the men accused of involvement in the corruption scandal have not yet been arrested and no court hearing has been held.

"We hope that something will be done in the coming fifteen days, the court meetings will be held, the escapers will be arrested and the men that the ministries vouched for will be presented to the court," Basir Azizi said.

The head of the Milli Bank and the New Kabul Bank were both able to flee the country under the pretense of official leave immediately following President Ghani's decree reopening the case against them. The two men were allowed to leave the country based on guarantees provided by the Ministry of Finance and Central Bank.

The Attorney General's office has called on the Ministry of Finance and Central Bank to get the accused back to Afghanistan, but to no avail. The men have been warned that if they do not show in court, then a ruling will be issued in their absence.

TOLOnews 6pm News 29 October 2014

TOLO News - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 15:10

Top news in this bulletin:

The Afghan Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that it will hold a special trial for the Kabul Bank case in the coming weeks, overriding a previous decision by an appeals court in Kabul to reject the case.

To watch the whole news bulletin, Click Here:

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A number of MPs have expressed apprehensions about the recent security situation, saying that the number of suicide attacks, explosions and rockets has increased--even in the capital--during the first month of the National Unity Government (NUG).

Afghanistan Ready to Construct Wakhan-China Road: MoPW

TOLO News - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 15:06

In response to President Ashraf Ghani's call for a direct land link from Afghanistan to the Republic of China, the Ministry of Public Works (MoPW) has said Afghanistan is ready to coordinate with China on the construction of the road, which will follow the ancient Silk Road trading route. 

The highway will link the Xinjiang state of China with Badkhshan's Wakhan district, passing through the mountains of Guzar Wakhan through to the Anjuman Pass of Panjshir province and then on to centeral Afghanistan.

According to the MoPW, the construction will be expensive, but will be possible with China's contribution. "We are ready to construct the highway in joint effort with China," MoPW spokesman Sohail Kakar said.

Officials of Chamber of Commerce and Industries, too, stress that the road's construction will take less time considering China's technological developments.

Economists believe that the construction of Wakhan-China route will increase trade between the two countries and decrease the expenses of import and export transportation, as well as improving Afghanistan's trade relations with Europe and the rest of Asia.

The area's mountainous nature and harsh winters as well as the need to dig many tunnels are said to be some of the challenges on the way of the road's construction.

Ghani Delivers Speech in Beijing on Silk Road, Regional Cooperation

TOLO News - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 14:52

Delivering a speech at Xinhua University in Beijing on Wednesday, President Ashraf Ghani emphasized the importance of regional cooperation and his plans to build a thriving Afghan economy.

The speaking event was organized as part of the president's trip to China, his first official trip abroad since taking office. The visit included meetings with top Chinese officials to discuss trade and economic cooperation as well as security issues with the Taliban and Pakistan.

"We have to move out of thinking along national boundaries to continental and international cooperation; in the second decade of the 21st century, state-to-state conflict is a lose-lose proposition, the only way forward is cooperative advantage," President Ghani said. "Cooperation can have very, very significant advantages while conflict can have many, many disadvantages."

In his speech, Ghani spoke about rebuilding the Silk Road trade route that was the main highway for Asian trade for thousands of years, passing from China through Central and South Asia into the Middle East and Mediterranean region.

"China is a strategic partner for us on multiple levels, this trip is based on that previous foundation, but it's about deepening and broadening of this relationship, making the new silk road happen," Ghani said.

With the U.S. and its NATO coalition set to withdraw by the end of the year, Ghani's choice for his first official trip as president to be to China could signal the intention of broadening Afghanistan's alliances and sources of aid in its own region. In his speech at Xinhua University, Ghani stressed that Afghanistan was ready to cooperate with everyone.

"Our image of Afghanistan is that we are for cooperation with everybody, because our future - lifting from poverty to prosperity - requires cooperation," Ghani said. "But the mentality must change to see Afghanistan as the center of new economic activity."

Supreme Court Claims Headway Made As Ghani's Deadline for Reform Passes

TOLO News - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 14:15

The one month timeframe President Ashraf Ghani gave during his inauguration to the Supreme Court to enact reforms and curtail corruption has come and gone. And according to newly appointed Chief Justice Abdul Rashid Rashid, the process of change is well underway.

In exclusive interview with TOLOnews, Chief Justice Rashid discussed the efforts that have been made since the inauguration of the national unity government to bring reform to the Afghan judiciary.

"I can say with full confidence that I will emerge as a barrier to any mistakes and violations that might happen at the Supreme Court," he said. Citing the initiation of a special trial for the Kabul Bank case, a top priority of the Ghani administration early on, and efforts to rid the court system of corruption, the Chief Justice assured that concerted steps were being taken.

So far, nearly 200 judges and another 600 employees in the judiciary have been fired on account of allegations that they abused the powers of their office and/or took bribes. But considering the judicial system is considered the most corrupt public institution in Afghanistan, according to a survey conducted by Transparency International in 2013, it will likely take more than just that to satisfy Ghani's call for reform.

Rashid, for his part, assured the integrity of his work. "I will accomplish my job in a just manner, I will be the judge of the people and loyal to the law and will be frank and will decide on any case according to the spirit of the law and will maintain justice," he told TOLOnews.

With the NATO coalition set to withdraw by the end of the year, fears that Afghanistan has become debilitated by international aid-fueled corruption have compounded those of a Taliban resurgence. But the national unity government's early campaign against corruption has been welcomed by many politicians and experts.

"We have evidences of that a number of bribers are fearful only because of one announcement and they no longer ask for bribes," political analyst Najla Ayoubi told TOLOnews.

"If the presidential order is not implemented and reforms aren't brought it will hurt public trust, but I am confident that the president will follow up on the issue according to his order," analyst Tahir Hashimi said.

Security Deteriorating in the Past Month

TOLO News - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 13:37

A number of MPs have expressed apprehensions about the recent security situation, saying that the number of suicide attacks, explosions and rockets has increased--even in the capital--during the first month of the National Unity Government (NUG).

"The security situation is terrible and intolerable," Sadiqi Ahmadi Usmani, first deputy speaker, said.

Ghor MP Sayad Nadir Sha Bahar added that, "people's security concerns have increased" and that "security gets worse every day."

President Ashraf Ghani, on his first day at office, asked security departments to accelerate efforts in maintaining security around the country, especially in the capital.

"We need a clear and coordinated strategy to maintain security in Kabul and neighboring provinces," the president had stressed, adding that Kabul's security is important for overall security.

In the past month, Kabul witnessed six suicide attacks, two roadside bombs explosions and two rockets fired in areas near the Presidential Palace. Based on the figures reported from the incidents, 27 people have been killed in Kabul in the past 29 days.

Kabul residents are furious over the reports and ask the NUG to address their concerns.

"We expected the security to improve after NUG, but unfortunately it has become worse," Kabul resident Maryam said.

TOLO news was not able to get the response of Kabul police in regard to the issue.

Heavy-load Trucks Illegally Commute on Kabul-Jalalabad Highway: MoPW

TOLO News - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 13:15

The Afghan Ministry of Public Works (MoPW) on Wednesday reported that local officials in the eastern province of Nangarhar deliberately avoid to issue fines for heavy-load trucks commuting on Kabul-Jalalabad Highway.

"According to our statistics, most trucks that commute on the highway carry unauthorized weights," MoPW spokesman Mohammad Suhail Kakar said. "The provincial authorities have not implemented the new policy of issuing fines."

In response to the allegation, spokesman to Nangarhar governor, Ahmadzia Abdulzai, stated that the provincial government has adopted another initiative to curb corruption.

"We are not certain that the new procedure introduced by the MoPW will be successful; therefore, we have taken the initiative to ban weighing the vehicles in order to curb corruption," he said.

Recent reports indicate that many parts of the highway have been badly damaged due to the heavy traffic of high tonnage lorries and trucks commuting through the route.

The heavy-load vehicles are said to have left extremely negative impacts on the highway, including increasing the number of traffic accidents.

"The road is in a catastrophic condition," a driver on the highway said. "Tens of accidents happen here on a daily basis."

The issue is especially alarming because more than 50 percent of the country's imports come through the same route.

The kabul-Jalaabad highway was built with $115 million in 2007. It is one of the busiest highways in the country and holds much significance for the country's economy, in addition to being the only way to connect the capital to eastern provinces as well the Torkham border.

Candidate Closes Ghorband-Bamyan Road

TOLO News - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 06:49

The Ghorband-Bamyan road in Franjal area of Parwan province is closed to traffic by Wakil Samad, one of the protesting candidates from the provincial council elections, and his supporters. The candidate has reportedly blocked the road as a reaction to the announcement of the final results of the provincial council elections.

People travelling through the route have contacted TOLOnews to raise concerns over the issue. Spokesman to Parwan governor Wahid Siddiqi has stated that police are trying to reopen the road soon.

Meanwhile, a number of Herat candidates gathered on the same day to demand that the members of the electoral commissions be brought to justice.

Expressing anger over the alleged fraud in the elections, the protesters came together in a tent in front of the provincial governor's office. The protests have led to many roads being closed to traffic.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced the final results of the provincial council elections after over four and a half months delay last week, with 458 individuals—97 women--winning seats in provincial councils around the country. A week later, a number of provincial council candidates took part in a protest in Kabul on Tuesday morning, asking for the trial of members of election commissions over alleged massive frauds in the election process.

33 Insurgents Killed in Warduj

TOLO News - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 05:51

According to Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, spokesman to the Badakhshan police chief, more than 33 Taliban, including foreigners, have been killed in ongoing clashes between Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and the Taliban in Warduj district of Badakhshan province. Ahmadzai asserted that the ANSF have destroyed all insurgent safe-havens in the district.

More than 300 Taliban insurgents attacked police outposts in Warduj earlier this week, killing four policemen and taking few others captive. Additional troops were deployed to the area for support and backup.

Meanwhile, Badakhshan's neighboring province, Kunduz, also witnessed major clashes between the Taliban and the ANSF on Monday of the same week. According to reports, the Taliban have taken control of 30 villages in Kunduz, including Gor Tapa and Imam Saheb.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attacks on Warduj, saying that a number of ANSF soldiers have been killed in the attack.

The insurgents have increased their attacks recently, targeting Afghan military outposts in Nangahar, Kunar, Ghor, Logar, Kunduz, Badakhshan and Helmand provinces.

FARAKHABAR: 28 October 2014

TOLO News - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 03:21

In a recent report, the U.S. senate committee has recommended that post-2014 foreign aids to Afghanistan should be conditional on transparency as well as implementation of necessary reforms and maintaining human rights.

Will the National Unity Government succeed in meeting these criteria?

In this episode of Farakhabar, host Yama Siawish discusses the topic with the following guests:

Dawoud Kalakani, MP

Moeen Marastyal, Deputy Head of the Rights and Justice Party

To watch the program, click here:

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First 100 Days: U.S Senators Push for Conditional Aids to Afghanistan Post-2014

TOLO News - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 03:18

In this episode of the program, host Omid Farooq discusses the U.S. senate's demand on conditional post-2014 aids to Afghanistan as well as President Ashraf Ghani's meeting with officials of private and public construction companies, with the following guests:

Akbar Rustami, Reporter

Wafiullah Eftekhar, Head of Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA)

Naeem Yasin, Head of Construction Companies Union

Qurban Haqjo, Economic Affairs Analyst

Mustafa Mastor, Deputy Minister of Finance

To watch the program, click here:

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TAWDE KHABARE: Security Situation in the Northeast

TOLO News - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 03:07

The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have surrounded the Taliban insurgents in Warduj district of north-eastern Badakhshan province. Fifteen Taliban insurgents, including foreigners, have been killed in the on-going attacks, local officials said.

More than 300 Taliban insurgents attacked police outposts in Warduj earlier this week, killing four policemen and taking few others captive, according Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, spokesman to the Badakhshan police chief. Ahmadzai reported that additional troops have been deployed to the area to free the ANSF soldiers taken captive by the Taliban insurgents.

Meanwhile, Badakhshan's neighboring province, Kunduz, also witnessed major clashes between the Taliban and the ANSF on Monday. According to reports, the Taliban have taken control of 30 villages in Kunduz, including Gor Tapa and Imam Saheb.

The Taliban insurgents have increased their attacks recently, targeting Afghan military outposts in Nangahar, Kunar, Ghor, Logar, Kunduz, Badakhshan and Helmand provinces.

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Zabiullah Sadaat discuses the issue with the following guests:

• Omer Sapai, Military Analyst

• Hamidullah Hotak, Kunduz Tribal Elder

• Gen. Baba Jan, Badakhshan Police Chief

To watch the program, click here:

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Orbital Rocket Explodes After Launch

TOLO News - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 02:41

An unmanned rocket owned by Orbital Sciences Corporation exploded Tuesday in a giant fireball and plummeted back to Earth just seconds after launch on what was to be a resupply mission to the International Space Station.

"The Antares rocket suffered an accident shortly after lift-off," NASA mission control in Houston said, describing the event as a "catastrophic anomaly."

After the countdown, the base of the tall, white rocket ignited on cue, then rose a short distance into the air before it suddenly exploded in a fiery blast six seconds later.

Enveloped in flames, the rocket collapsed to the ground, as a cloud of dark gray smoke rose from the wreckage.

Investigators swiftly secured the perimeter of the area and forbade any outside interviews of witnesses or staff, citing classified equipment that had been aboard the spacecraft.

As night fell, fires were seen burning at the coastal launch pad at Wallops Island, Virginia where waves lapped at the shore.

It was unclear what caused the explosion, which occurred at 6:22 pm (2222 GMT).

"At this point it appears that the damage is limited to the facility," a commentator on NASA television said.

All personnel in the area were accounted for, and there were no injuries, the US space agency said.

There was, however significant property damage.

The accident occurred just after Orbital's unmanned Cygnus cargo ship blasted off toward ISS carrying 5,000 pounds (2,200 kilograms) of supplies for the six astronauts living at the research outpost.

It was the first nighttime launch of an Antares rocket, Orbital said.

Engineers said the countdown had gone smoothly, and there were no issues apparent with the machinery.

The mission, known as CRS-3, was to be Orbital's fourth trip to the ISS, including an initial demonstration.

On NASA television, a man identified as Orbital executive vice president Frank Culbertson told his team to be as professional in this process as they are in a countdown, and urged them not to talk to the press.

"When we understand what happened, hopefully soon, then we will get things back on track," Culbertson could be heard saying to staff on the radio.

"We have all seen this happen in our business before, and we have all seen our teams recover from this," he said.

"Like I said, be very judicious about talking about it even amongst yourselves, in terms of speculation. Definitely do not talk outside our family."

Orbital has a $1.9 billion contract with NASA for a total of eight supply missions.

The Cygnus craft, which is shaped like a massive beer keg, was to have remained berthed at the ISS for about five weeks.

After the US space shuttle program ended in 2011, leaving no government program to send humans to the space station, private companies raced to restore US access.

SpaceX's Dragon was the first commercial spacecraft to make a supply journey there in 2010.

Oct. 28, 2014 — Pictures of the Day

New York Times Topic:Afghanistan - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 21:33
Photos from Burkina Faso, Afghanistan, Canada and India.

TOLOnews 6pm News 28 October 2014

TOLO News - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 15:41

Top news in this Bulletin:

Afghan and Chinese government officials signed four agreements this week, addressing trade and commerce relations, bilateral economic ties, humanitarian aid and travel permits for public servants.

To watch the whole news bulletin, Click Here:

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A group of upper and lower house representatives in Parliament have demanded that members of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) be barred from leaving the country before they are held to account for the problems faced during this year's election. Some representatives have said outright that members of the commission should be prosecuted.

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