Qayoum Karzai on Thursday officially ended his bid for the presidency and threw his support behind former Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul.
Qayoum Karzai - brother of current Afghan president Hamid Karzai - said that he took the decision after consultations with the representatives of twenty-eight provinces.
He asked the people for preservation of the achievements of the past 12 years and to vote consciously in upcoming election, due to be held in April.
"Today me and my team consider ourselves an essential part of the alliance and declare our support for Dr Zalmai Rassoul. I request all respected religious scholars, tribal elders, youths, sisters and brothers to support strongly Dr Zalmai Rassoul for preservation of past 12 years, lasting peace and stability, economic development and prevent a repeat of the bitter experience," Qayoum Karzai said.
Rassoul said consistent efforts only can be effective in leading election.
"In the current situation irregular efforts do not have results and a strong alliance must come to exist and today that alliance is created, from today we are trying for success and today we declare that our alliance will be the winner," Rassoul said.
Rassoul and Qayoum Karzai hold similar views on national and foreign policy and economic issues. Qayoum Karzai had previously rejected alliances with other candidates.
This is the first coalition formed since the Presidential election campaign officially kicked off.
In an interview with the Washington Post published this week, President Hamid Karzai declared al Qaeda “more a myth than a reality."
In this episode of Takani host Shapoor Bakhtiyar discusses the issue with following guests:
Fazl Rahman Oria, Abdullah Abdullah’s electoral campaign member
Dr Toofan Waziri, Zalmai Rassoul’s electoral campaign member
Asadullah Sadati, Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai’s electoral campaign member
Mohammad Younos Fakoor, Sherzai’s electoral campaign member
To watch the programme, click here:
Poppy cultivation increased 36 percent in Afghanistan between 2013 and 2012, reaching 209,000 hectares (516,000 acres).
In this episode of Farakhabar, host Yama Siawash discusses the topic with the following guests:
Afghanistan's Deputy Minister for Counter-Narcotics Mohammad Ibrahim Azhar
Parliament member Abdul Rahim Ayoubi
To watch the programme, click here:
Host Sadaf Amiri discusses Presidential candidates' programmes with the following guests:
Fazlmenallah Mumtaz, QutbuddinHelal’s electoral campaign member
Ahmad Fahim Kohdamani, Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayyaf’s electoral campaign member
Mohammad Ali Mohammadi, Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai’s electoral campaign member
Raihana Attaie, Daoud Sultanzoy’s electoral campaign member
To watch the programme, click here:
Afghanistan’s economy grew at a slower rate this year than previously, due to a decrease in the activity of foreign companies in the country, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) said on Wednesday.
Afghanistan’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 7 percent in the current year (1392), which ends on March 20, the CSO said. The growth in the previous year was 11 percent.
Afghanistan’s GDP is about $21 billion, and consists of all legal and illegal income from service, agriculture, and industry. According to officials, GDP also includes poppy cultivation, which is used to produce the opium drug.
“Because a part of our GDP is from poppy cultivation, it is an important part and although it’s illegal, it has an important role” said Haseebullah Mowhed, Deputy Head of Central Statistics Office
With international aid decreasing this year as foreign troops begin their withdrawal, the Afghan government must find a way to cover its expenses. CSO officials consider the activities of the past 10 year weak for improvement of GDP conditions.
“Without doubts, 68 percent of the budget was covered through international aid, there is no way the current domestic income can make up for the international aid,” Mowhed said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that "intense discussions" with Russia and Ukraine would continue in the coming days in the hope of securing a de-escalation of current tensions between them.
"We initiated a process today that we hope will eventually lead to de-escalation," Kerry told reporters after a day of diplomatic negotiations in Paris ended with Russia refusing to bow to Western demands for direct talks with the new Ukraine government.
Kerry said he would continue talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Rome on Thursday, where both will be for a meeting on Libya.
Kerry added: "I will be in touch with the foreign minister and prime minister of Ukraine later tonight."
"We had very thorough discussions today.
"This is hard, tough stuff. This is very serious."
Kerry played down Lavrov's refusal to meet his Ukrainian counterpart in Paris, saying he had never expected that to happen.
He also insisted that sanctions against Russia were still an option but stressed: "We would prefer to find an appropriate diplomatic solution to this."
Top news in this Bulletin:
Afghan presidential candidate Qayoum Karzai has ended his bid and thrown his support behind former Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul, sources close to Karzai said on Wednesday.
The official announcement is expected within 24 hours, the sources added.
On the eve of International Women's Day, the Ministry of Women's Affairs held an event in Kabul that focused on encouraging women to vote in the upcoming elections and highlighting the challenges they still face in society.
The leaders of the gathering asked women all over the country to participate in the Presidential and Provincial Council elections so that they can have a say in the future direction of the country.
"The trendiest topic on March 8 will be the topic of elections," said Saida Muzghan Mustafawi, a representative of the Ministry of Women's Affairs. "As citizens of this country, all women have the right to vote."
"Women make up half of society; their participation will play a prominent role in the elections," head of the Zindage Zebast Foundation Laila Haidari said.
The Ministries of Public Health and Counter Narcotics also celebrated International Women's Day. Officials at the Ministry of Public Health discussed some of the challenges Afghan women still face in the arena of health and wellness.
"There are a number problems facing Afghan women; among them are out-dated traditions, low levels of education, lack of access to information about mothers and infants and lack of professional workers in remote areas," Services Deputy Minister of Public Health Najia Tariq said.
Despite years of efforts and millions of dollars spent, violence against women is high and general quality of life for women low in Afghanistan. However, with a new government on the horizon, many are optimistic about the future of Afghan women.
The next government must foster a larger female presence in politics and recognize the importance of women's role in the peace negotiation process, the Chair of Parliament's Commission on Women's Affairs, Fawzia Kofi, said on Wednesday in a meeting between presidential candidates and civil society groups.
The event was billed as a forum in which presidential hopefuls and civil society activists could discuss the role of women in the future government.
The presidential candidates who participated in the event spoke of women's important role in shaping peace and security in the country and said women's rights must be institutionalized in Afghanistan.
Six of the 11 candidates were invited to the forum but only three of them, including Daoud Sultanzoi, Qutbuddin Hilal and Hedayat Amin Arsala, showed up. The Second Vice President to Zalmai Rassoul Habiba Sarabi was also in attendance.
Civil society leaders shared their takes on the challenges confronted by women and asked the presidential candidates to prioritize women's rights in their agendas.
"Women's presence in governmental institutions is quite insignificant as compared to that of men," Kofi said. "It needs to be expanded."
The activists called on the candidates to clarify their positions when it comes to women's participation in peace talks with the Taliban.
"Women have a crucial role in bringing peace and stability in the country," presidential candidate Hilal said. "They constitute half of the human community; they can persuade the men to lay down arms."
"We need women's suggestions to expedite the peace process and bring stability," presidential candidate Amin Arsala added.
Sultanzoi emphasized the need for capacity-building efforts amongst Afghan women.
"Capacity-building for women is crucial, and women's role in peace restoration is quite essential," he said. "In order to protect women's basic rights, we need to expand their roles."
Rassoul's running mate, Sarabi, was formerly Afghanistan's only female Governor. She was, more than any of the other candidates, ready to be frank about the sad reality facing many women in Afghanistan.
"In today's society, women's opinions are not valued and their suggestions are not considered in decision-making," she said bluntly.
The civil society activists gathered at the event asked the candidates to honor the commitments made to women during their campaigns and to facilitate women's participation in economic, social, cultural and political spheres if they are elected.
Addressing supporters in the eastern province of Takhar on Wednesday, presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai discussed good governance and promised to construct a hydropower dam on the nearby Kakcha River.
"We will seriously work on good governance," Ghani told the crowd gathered to hear him speak.
Ghani's First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostom also spoke to those gathered, and expressed his gratitude to his supporters, encouraging them to cast votes in April.
Some participants pledged to vote for Ghani because of Dostom, the leader of Afghanistan's Uzbek tribe with major influence in Uzbek-dominated areas of the country.
"We will vote for Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai because of General Abdul Rashid Dostom," one participant said.
Wednesday's rally marked one of the larger events the Ghani campaign has held outside of Kabul. Many of the presidential hopefuls have received crticism for not broadening thei campaign travels, while their defenders have cited security threats as a major concern.
Even before the campaign season began, there were concerns about the safety of the presidential candidates, who could become high-profile targets for anti-government militants that have a stronger presence in more remote areas of Afghanistan.
The Taliban have disregarded the April elections as a "waste of time." But there have been a number of attacks on election personnel since preparations began last summer.
Security officials have assured the candidates and the public that they would be able to provide sufficient protection for the campaigns. Additionally, the Independent Elections Commission (IEC) is adamant about getting the candidates who hope to win - what is being called a pivotal election for Afghanistan - to cast a wider net.
In a gathering held on Wednesday, residents of Kabul's Deh Sabz District announced their support for the candidacy of Abdullah Abdullah in the upcoming presidential elections.
Addressing the gathering, Abdullah argued that if the Mujahideen were part of the current political system, the security situation in Afghanistan would have been much better and there would be no need for the presence of international forces.
"If the current government had focused on the Mujahideen and valued the Mujahideen who supported this government, the situation today would have been totally different; there would not have been a need for foreign troops," Abdullah said.
Abdullah's First and Second Vice Presidents also mounted criticisms on the government and echoed their ticket-leader's claims.
The participants of the gathering demanded Abdullah focus on the needs of the people and the country if elected in April.
"I came to know what Abdullah says and what he pledges before I cast my vote for him," a Deh Sabz resident named Mashal said.
Abdullah also promised to progress efforts for the construction of New Kabul City, a large city-planning project that has seen delays and setbacks in the last couple years.
"You and your families must vote in the elections," Kabul MP Allah Gul Mujahid said told the crowd. "Casting your vote in the election is a form of Jihad. I will cast my vote as well."
Nine hundred provincial council candidates submitted incomplete educational documents to election officials and 400 do have credentials whatsoever, the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) said Wednesday.
ECC officials reported the figures midway through the public documentation review they began this week to verify provincial council candidates were eligible for the elections.
"This list states that academic records for some of the candidates were not found due to mistakes in names and the father's names of candidates," ECC head Nader Mohseni said. "This list clearly indicates that close to 400 individuals were not listed as graduates with the Ministry of Education."
The Ministry of Education (MoE) is cooperating with the ECC to further investigate the education credentials of the 400 candidates in question, who have not yet been eliminated from the race.
"If these candidates can defend their education documents, they will not be eliminated," Mohseni said.
The ECC added that provincial council candidates who are found to have education documents but cannot read or write will be disqualified from the elections.
A number of candidates who have been forced to take time out of their campaigning to sort out documentation issues with the ECC have complained that the review is being held too late in the election process.
The ECC has claimed the reason for the review's delay was that education records were received late from the Ministry of Education.
The Hezb-e-Islami Shura Alliance announced its support for presidential candidate Zalmai Rassoul on Wednesday. Alliance leaders emphasized the importance of ending corruption, poverty and addressing the continued threat of violent extremism.
"From now on, we are with Zalmai Rassoul and will work for his success," a prominent member of the Alliance named Waheedullah Sabawoon said.
Hezb-e-Islami Shura is mostly consisted of the members of Hezb-e-Islami who have separated from the leadership of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan, which are considered anti-government groups.
"Today we say goodbye to lies, corruption, drugs and terrorism and will go towards peace and truthfulness," head of the Alliance Qazi Muhammad Ameen Weqad said.
Meanwhile, Zalmai Rassoul has said that greater competition and great participation would make the elections more transparent.
"Competition among parties will give people the chance to select their favorite candidate and will ensure transparency in the elections," Rassoul said.
With elections getting closer day-by-day, and the campaign season entering its final stretch, the presidential hopefuls are looking to secure the critical support and endorsements that could give the edge they will need in April.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is taking hostage a deal that would ensure U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan post-2014 in favor of his personal legacy and putting pressure on the United States, Afghan analysts and political commentators said on Wednesday.
In recent remarks Karzai reiterated his preconditions for signing the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), but a number of analysts believe that Karzai persists on delaying the pact to pursue his personal agenda.
"President Karzai seems worried about his legacy. He does not want to be seen as someone who easily signed an important document with America," the Chairman of Afghanistan Center of Strategic Studies, Dawoud Muradyan, said.
Karzai's delay is having a tangible impact on Afghanistan's economy, some analysts said.
"About a month ago, we saw the first sign. The U.S. administration sought 2.9 billion dollars from the U.S. Congress, only 1.2 billion dollars was approved, the other 1.7 billion dollars was rejected. Now that has really created a huge gap in the national budget of Afghanistan," political commentator Mahmoud Saiqal said.
In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Karzai urged he will not sign the security agreement, unless the US kicks off the peace negotiation process.
According to Karzai, US president Barack Obama told him that he will wait for Karzai's successor to sign the BSA.
Afghan presidential candidate Qayoum Karzai has quit the race and thrown his support behind former foreign minister Zalmai Rassoul, sources close to Qayoum Karzai said on Wednesday.
The official announcement is expected within 24 hours, sources added.
The news comes after efforts to form a coalition between Qayoum Karzai and Rassoul failed last week after initial signs that one of the candidates might fold his campaign in favor of the other.
Qayoum Karzai - the brother of current Afghan President Hamid Karzai - and a number of participants of the Jirga that was held to discuss the possible coalition last week announced on Friday that the campaign would continue uninterrupted.
Kandahar officials have started to talk about the Kandahar escape incident after one week. The Kandahar Appeal Court Judge has claimed that the prison officials are behind the escape of 12 prisoners. According to the judge, investigations show that the logistics manager and a few others were involved.
According to the judge, these prisoners were among the 16 whose sentence time was completed.
"Our investigation thus far shows that the prison's logistic manager was involved," Kanahar Appeal Court Judge Muslim Haleem said.
National Directorate of Security (NDS) Chief of Kandahar police has reported of arresting two of the escaped detainees.
"We have arrested two of the detainees and investigations have started to find out how they have escaped from the prison," NDS Chief of Kandahar Police Rahmatullah Atrafi said.
There have been multiple occasions of prisoners escaping from the Kandahar prison. Three years ago, 500 detainees had escaped from the same prison.
The Kandahar Prison is located in eastern part of Kandahar city, with an estimated 2000 detainees sentenced for various crimes.
Germany will stay with Afghanistan beyond 2014 and will continue to support the country in the long-term, German Ambassador to Afghanistan Martin Jäger said on Monday.
Even though the education sector received tangible growth in Afghanistan following the collapse of the Taliban regime, Afghan officials believe the sector has room for much more growth.
Addressing a two-day training workshop in Kabul, Mr. Jager reaffirmed his country's long term assistance to Afghanistan post-2014.
"Germany will not go away, Germany will stay with Afghanistan, and every year 400,000 young people in Afghanistan seek a job, they need a job," Ambassador Martin Jager said.
Officials of the Ministry of Education (MoE) have said that the education sector still confronts visible challenges.
"Development has yet to come. We need to invest on human resources and professional training," Deputy Minister of Education Asif Nang said.
According to the officials, there is need for more investments in the country's education sector.