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New Govt. Should Take Fight Against Corruption Serious: Marlaud

TOLO News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 13:32

In an exclusive interview with TOLOnews, French Ambassador to Kabul Mr. Jean-Michel Marlaud warned that if the new Afghan government does not take the fight against corruption seriously, foreign aid might be cut off. He emphasized on the French government's commitment to help Afghanistan in the fight.

"The fight against corruption, I think, is a necessity for donors, but more than anything for the Afghans themselves," Marlaud said. "First, because one of the danger with corruption is that one day the donors might say, well, we also have our own economic problems we also have poor people in our countries why we should continue to pay for Afghanistan if the money is used by corrupt people."

The French ambassador stressed that anti-corruption initiatives should be on the government's priority list, adding that the London Summit will be an opportunity for the new government to share its priorities with the international community.

"It is money which is supposed to be used for social projects, hospitals, schools, for economic development. So the victims are not so much the foreign donors, the victims are the Afghan themselves."

Additionally, Marlaud stressed on the importance of the fight against drugs, hinting at the high numbers of drug addicts in Afghanistan.

"Opium is also an important subject," he said. "The victims of opium and the victims of heroin are not so much the French people or the foreigners, they are basically the Afghans themselves."

The National Unity Government is expected to announce the list of its priorities and programs at the London Summit next month. Analysts believe that the country's appearance at the summit will be significant for its relationship with the international community.

Kabul Bank Case Remains Inconclusive

TOLO News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 13:11

President Ashraf Ghani took the first anti-corruption initiative by ordering the reopening of the infamous Kabul Bank corruption case, asking the attorney general's office to retransfer all of the embezzled money within 45 days of the presidential order. With only two weeks left until the deadline, the case remains inconclusive as some of the main people involved continue to be on the run.

Nearly $913 million was embezzled from the bank, of which only $226 million has been reclaimed.

"Regaining $226 million of the total embezzled money is a major achievement," spokesman to the attorney general Basir Azizi said. "The Kabul bank case has been completed and the attorney general awaits the decision of the appellate court," he added, stressing however, that the main people involved in the case have taken refuge abroad.

Meanwhile, a number of MPs have warned that if the total amount of the embezzled money is not reclaimed, the new government's credibility will be harmed.

"The president shouldn't have put the reassessment of the case among his top priorities. The case needs more time," MP Fatima Aziz said. "Now if the government fails to follow through with the promises regarding the case, it will lose its credibility before people and the international community."

MP Ramazan Juma Zada added that the full retransfer of the embezzled money is a major challenge and if the government wasn't successful "its credibility will be tarnished."

The attorney general's office has stated that those involved in the case could possibility return to the country in a week with the help of the Interpol.

As efforts to return the fugitives to the country continue, the international community and the people of Afghanistan impatiently await how the new government's first anti-corruption initiative would conclude.

Five Civilians Killed in Taliban Attack in Nangarhar

TOLO News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 12:29

At least five civilians were killed and two others--children-- were wounded in a Taliban attack on a civilian vehicle early Friday in eastern Nangarhar province, officials reported.

Confirming the incident, Ahmad Zia Abdulzai spokesman to the governor stated that the attack occurred early morning in Khogyani district.

The incident stirred the anger of local residents as well as provincials council members.

"Innocent people are being brutally killed in Khoghyani," Nangarhar provincial council member Zabiullah Zamarai said. "We ask president to stop these killings."

Local resident Mohammad Asif asked the government to "prioritize the security of citizens."

The news comes while clashes between the Taliban and local Afghan forces continue in Sangin and Nawzad districts of southern Helmand province.

Nawzad District on the Verge of Collapse

TOLO News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 10:18

A number of residents and local officials of Nawzad district of southern Helmand province on Friday raised apprehensions on the possibility of the district's collapse and takeover by the Taliban.

"It's no secret that the security situation is really bad," District Governor Sayed Murad Sadaat said. "We only have control over the official district building and some small areas."

They stress that if the government does not deploy additional troops to the district, the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) will lose the control. News of the deteriorating security in Nawzad comes as clashes between insurgents and the ANSF continue in Sangin district of Helmand as well.

Reports indicate that the infrastructure in the district has not developed much in the past 13 years; many residents are unemployed and live in poverty.

"We don't have security. We face danger every day when we leave our houses," Lal Gul one of the district residents said.

Another resident Mohammad raised concerns over unemployment, adding that "all schools are closed to children because the Taliban have captured all areas."

Residents have stated that if the government does not resolve the security issues shortly, they will have to flee their homes and take refuge in other provinces.

China Launches First Mission to Moon and Back

TOLO News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 08:44

China launched its first space mission to the moon and back early Friday, authorities said, the latest step forward for Beijing's ambitious programme to one day land a Chinese citizen on the Earth's only natural satellite.

The unnamed, unmanned probe will travel to the moon, fly around it and head back to Earth, re-entering the atmosphere and landing, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) said in a statement.

"The first stage of the first return journey test in China's moon probe programme has been successful," it said after the launch, from the Xichang space base in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

The module will be 413,000 kilometres from Earth at its furthest point on the eight-day mission, it added.

The official Xinhua news agency said it would re-enter the atmosphere at 11.2 kilometres per second (25,000 mph) before slowing down -- a process that generates extremely high temperatures -- and landing in northern China's Inner Mongolia region.

The mission is intended to test technology to be used in the Chang'e-5, China's fourth lunar probe, which aims to gather samples from the moon's surface and will be launched around 2017, SASTIND said previously.

Beijing sees its multi-billion-dollar space programme as a marker of its rising global stature and mounting technical expertise, as well as evidence of the ruling Communist Party's success in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-stricken nation.

The military-run project has plans for a permanent orbiting station by 2020 and eventually to send a human to the moon.

China currently has a rover, the Jade Rabbit, on the surface of the moon.

The craft, launched as part of the Chang'e-3 lunar mission late last year, has been declared a success by Chinese authorities, although it has been beset by mechanical troubles.

First 100 Days: Indian National Security Advisor Visit to Kabul and Meeting with President Ghani

TOLO News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 07:10

Indian National Security Advisor visited Kabul and met with President Ghani, Chief Executive Officer and Afghan National Security Advisor and discussed creation of joint working groups for implementation of 2011 strategic agreement between India and Afghanistan.

Host Omid Farooq discusses the issue with the following guests:

Jafar Mahdawi, University Professor

Ikram Andeshmand Political Analyst

Sayed Ikram Afzali Director of Afghanistan Integrity Watch

Qasem Rahmani Legal Advisor to Nai

To watch the program, click here:


TAWDE KHABARE: Absence of Accurate Trade Figures Between Afghanistan and Neighboring Countries

TOLO News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 05:09

Figures provided by the Ministry of Commerce and Industries for trade between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, has a difference of $1 billion and $730 million dollars figure provided by the Chamber of Commerce and Industries of Balkh province.

On the other hand, figures provided by the Central Statistics Office are different from what is provided by the Ministry of Commerce and Industries and Balkh Chamber of Commerce and Industries.

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Shapoor Bakthyar discusses the topic with the following guests:

Muzamel Shinwari Commercial Deputy at the Ministery of Trade

Mir Zaman Popal Director Industrial Development, Chamber of Commerce

Haseebullah Mohed Deputy Director of Central Statistics Office

Abdul Satar Sarhal Director of Balkh Customs

To watch the program, click here:


Jihadist Captive Faces Terror Charges in U.S.

New York Times Topic:Afghanistan - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 05:00
The former Russian soldier who joined mujahedeen fighters during Russia’s war in Afghanistan in 1980s also later fought against American troops until his capture in 2009.

Afghanistan Prepares for Heart of Asia Summit Next Week

TOLO News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 16:53

Ambassadors from various regional countries gathered in Kabul on Thursday to review Afghanistan's draft declaration for the 14th "Heart of Asia" summit expected to be held in Beijing over the course of two days next week.

The declaration, and the summit more broadly, will seek to bring regional countries together for better economic and trade relations and greater cooperation on security issues. President Ashraf Ghani plans to attend the summit, which will make it his first trip abroad since taking office.

The meeting in Kabul on Thursday was chaired by Hekmat Khali Karzai, a special representative of President Ghani."Today's meeting, after the ambassadorial meeting on the 14th of October, is a working session to discuss the content of the revised draft for the 14th ministerial conference," Hekmat Karzai said. "Today's meeting is an important step in completing the task related to the Beijing declaration."

Chinese and Afghan relations have remained relatively subdued over the past decade, with Beijing largely steering clear of Afghanistan and its security problems. However, Chinese companies have expressed considerable interest in Afghanistan's mining sector. Experts hope that the summit next week will provide the opportunity for Ghani to work on strengthening ties between the two countries.

"We are ready to have your valuable input and feedback about the latest version of the declaration drafted by Afghanistan, which was circulated by the Regional Cooperation Department of the Afghanistan Foreign Ministry," Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan Deng Xijun said.

The "Heart of Asia" includes Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates.

TOLOnews 6pm News 23 October 2014

TOLO News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 16:13

Top news in this bulletin

The Afghan judicial system was thrown under the spotlight this week. Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdul Salam Azimi had his resignation accepted by President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday and a new survey by Gallup indicates only 25 percent of Afghans trust the country's judiciary.

To watch the whole news bulletin, Click Here:


Vice President Sarwar Danish spoke at a meeting on Thursday in Kabul, praising the performance of former Vice President Karim Khalili.

Analysts Want Ghani to Seek Out China's Help on Pakistan, Taliban

TOLO News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 15:55

President Ashraf Ghani should seek out help from China and other countries at the Heart of Asia conference in Beijing next week to pressure Pakistan into being an honest partner for peace with the Taliban, analysts say.

On his first trip abroad since taking office, President Ghani will travel to China for the Heart of Asia conference where he is expected to push for stronger economic and security ties between Kabul and Beijing. One of the chief issues experts have encouraged the president and his delegation to focus on is leveraging China, a close ally of Pakistan, for support in the Taliban peace process.

Since the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) and Status of Troops Agreement (SOFA), it has been presumed that western nations would continue their commitments to Afghanistan when it comes to the fight against the Taliban. However, in the long term, experts know that any sustainable solution lies in the cooperation of regional countries, particularly fellow muslim ones, and most especially Pakistan.

"Afghanistan needs the cooperation of regional and world countries, but unfortunately a number of Islamic countries don't have a clear understanding of the situation in Afghanistan and even show hesitation toward the Afghan government and contracts between Afghanistan and other countries," university lecturer Tahir Hashimi told TOLOnews.

Pakistan has long been the subject of suspicion and derision inside Afghanistan in result of the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) and military's involvement in supporting the Taliban and its associates for fighting inside Afghanistan. But, now that it has become a major beneficiary of economic ties with China, many hope Kabul can get China to put pressure on Islamabad.

"There is no doubt, China is a key ally to Pakistan and could put pressure on Pakistan to honestly contribute in the peace talks," said Mohammad Ismail Qasimyar, the Afghan High Peace Council's advisor for international affairs.
Still, others believe that while China has plenty to offer Afghanistan economically, it is the U.S. that is needed in restoring peace. "We can't ignore this issue, it is a fact that China is a key ally to Pakistan, it could support us economically, but western countries, particularly the U.S., can do more for the peace restoration process in the country," political commentator Jawed Kohistani said.

New Political Will Pushes Attorney General Into Action

TOLO News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 15:45

In response to a recent surge in activity by the Attorney General's office, including the re-prosecution of the infamous Kabul Bank corruption case, commentators have said that there is a new political will fueling the country's top legal authority that was lacking for before.

The Attorney General's office has quickly emerged as a key tool for the new administration of President Ashraf Ghani, which has strived to take a firm and high-profile stance against corruption in his first month in office. On the basis of a presidential order, the Attorney General has arrested major suspects in the Kabul Bank case and launched cases against a number of government ministers who served under President Hamid Karzai and are suspected of different forms of malfeasance, including embezzlement.

"Until today, the main thing that had undermined progress in the work of the legal and judicial institutions and the attorney general was in fact the lack of political will and differentiation between the jobs of the three branches of the government and meddling of officials in work of these institutions," MP Shukria Barakzai told TOLOnews on Thursday. "But there is political will to combat corruption and there are no more interferences like existed in the past for the legal and judicial institutions."

On Thursday, Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdul Salam Azimi resigned from his post amid controversy surrounding corruption in the Afghan judiciary. But beyond Kabul, the season of change has crept in. Over the past week, the Attorney General in Khost province arrested the acting mayor of Khost, the deputy head of the Provincial Council and a member of the Khost Provincial Education Department on charges of corruption.

Political expediency was often thought to be the rational for keeping the Attorney General at bay, and not letting the office loose on the many government officials - on the provincial and national level - suspected to be involved in corruption and other illegal activities. But since taking office, the Ghani administration has made corruption and reforming the legal and judicial system a top priority.

"We are optimistic that the present administration will reassess the issue of negligence and deficiencies in the legal and judicial institutions, particularly in the Attorney General's office and the courts in Afghanistan," civil society activist Aziz Rafaee said.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General's office has sought to assure the public of its integrity and independence. "There hasn't been any sort of pressure in our organ, the attorney general has never endorsed any kind of political expediency and pressure and executes its duties on the basis of the prevailing laws of the country," Attorney General spokesman Basir Azizi said. "The Attorney General is a completely independent institution."

Survey Says 25 Percent of Afghans Don't Trust the Courts

TOLO News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 14:43

The Afghan judicial system was thrown under the spotlight this week. Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdul Salam Azimi had his resignation accepted by President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday and a new survey by Gallup indicates only 25 percent of Afghans trust the country's judiciary.

Although President Ghani made a clear stance in favor of judicial reform just weeks into his presidency, given the recent Gallup survey, it would seem he will face a major uphill battle in convincing Afghans to put trust in the courts again.

The Gallup survey found that 69 percent of respondents, out 1,000 people phone interviewed, said they do not trust the judiciary. And based on that figure, Afghanistan has the second lowest level of trust in the judiciary in the world, with Taiwan being just a little worse off.

But the Afghan Attorney General's office has rejected the survey and maintained that it is not reflective of the truth. "If these surveys are realistic, at least 50 percent of our people would have trusted us, because there are people who accept us and there are people who do not like us," spokesman Basir Azizi said.

According to legal experts, corruption and even just the presence of it has caused people to become disaffected when it comes to the Afghan judicial system. In many parts of the country, people no longer turn to the state judiciary for adjudication and resolution of disputes. Instead, some are said to look to the Taliban's makeshift courts for justice.

The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has said that the main problem is law is not implemented consistently or evenly. "Our people expect judicial institutions to work better, so that the people can stop referring to the Taliban courts," said Rafiullah Bedar, a Public Relations Official from AIHRC.

Although Chief Justice Azimi's resignation is sure to be seen as a sign that the Ghani administration is serious about reform, it will likely take much more than a high-profile figure stepping down in Kabul to win back the trust of Afghans around the country who face local corruption and malpractice day-to-day.

Kabul Bank Case, Major Challenge for Ghani Administration

TOLO News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 13:18

Economic analysts praise President Ashraf Ghani's firm commitment to re-open the investigation of the Kabul Bank case of fraud and embezzlement., stressing, however, that setting a strict deadline could undermine proper assessments. The case is expected to be finalized in three weeks.

"The president's order to re-open the Kabul Bank case is a a great achievement. I am sure he has the capability to resolve the case. But the deadline could undermine just assessments," university lecturer Ustad Masoud said.

Analysts stress that the government must prove Afghanistan's ability to handle the case, as the international community's remains wary of its competency.

"The new government faces a major challenge: the Kabul Bank case. It must be reinvestigated and resolved; otherwise, Afghanistan can not have any expectations from the international community," civil society advocate Mir Ahmad Yoyenda said. "The case should be one of the president's priorities in the fight against corruption."

Ten days ago, President Ghaniassigned Ministry of Finance (MoF), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and the attorney general's office to establish contacts through diplomatic channels with the representatives of the concerned countries to ensure the transfer of Kabul Bank money and to freeze the bank's assets abroad. However, no further developments have been made thus far.

"Even though the president issued a decree, I don't think hat the case will be reassessed according to the timeline or bear any positive outcomes. We are more concerned about the money than the arrest of the criminals," political commentator Ahmad Saeedi said.

The Kabul Bank bankruptcy case is among one of the top corruption cases in the country. President Ghani had ordered the attorney general's office to arrest those allegedly involved in the case and assigned the Supreme Court to issue the final order about the case in 45 days. Only two of the criminals have been detained so far; seven others will be arrested in the upcoming days while another seventeen are on the run.

Ghani Approves Resignation of Chief of Justice

TOLO News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 10:03

President Ashraf Ghani signed and approved the resignation letter of Supreme Chief Justice Abdul Salam Azimi on Thursday.

According to the Presidential Palace, Azimi submitted his resignation letter few days ago.

No one has been introduced for the position yet.

10 Insurgents Killed in Badakhshan Operation

TOLO News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 08:58

At least 10 Taliban insurgents were killed and three others were detained on Wednesday in an operation by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in Badakhshan province.

According to  Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, spokesman to the provincial police chief, the operation was conducted in Darayim district. Officials have no reported about any casualties on the Afghan side.

The Taliban have yet to comment about the operation.

Danish Praises Khalili's Performance

TOLO News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 08:44

Vice President Sarwar Danish spoke at a meeting on Thursday in Kabul, praising the performance of former Vice President Karim Khalili.

"Former VP Karim Khalili did his job in the most rational and moderate manner," he said. "Khalili was patient in dealing with societal problems. His performance symbolizes wise leadership and we would appreciate his assistance and advice in all areas of governance."

Danish praised Khalili for speaking up against injustice and corruption, stressing that, "the new government, too, is committed to fight against corruption, injustice and political and economical mafia,"

Khalili, who was also at the event, thanked the event organizers as well as VP Danish for his comments regarding his performance.

"I was at your service will be at your service," he said. "I will not hesitate to offer all my support," adding that the day of the political transition was "a day of celebration" for him.

"Transfer of political power from one president to another was a source of pride for our nation."

Moreover, Khalili welcomed the preliminary steps taken by the National Unity Government for elimination of corruption in the country. He stressed that there are serious issues in the government in need of prompt action.

"The initial steps taken by president Ashraf Ghani to end injustice and corruption have been very effective," Khalili added, emphasized that since there is no opposition in the National Unity Government, the leadership should be able to tackle tensions and uncertainties more effectively.

FARAKHABAR: 22 October 2014

TOLO News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 06:56

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has stated that despite an expenditure of more than seven billion dollars to fight drugs in Afghanistan, opium production has increased in the country.

SIGAR asserted that Afghanistan remains the world's largest source of drugs, adding that drug trade is one of the main causes of corruption in the state institutions as well as being one of the main sources of funding for the Taliban.

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Shapoor Bakthyar discusses the topic with the following guests:

Abrahim Azhar, Deputy Minister of Counter-narcotic

Hashim Wahdat Yar, Spokesman for the United Nations Program of Fight against Drugs and Crime

Nilofar Ibrahimi, MP

Mohammad Naeem Lalai Hamidzai, MP

To watch the program, click here:


TAWDE KHABARE: Increase of Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan

TOLO News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 06:43

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has stated that despite an expenditure of more than seven billion dollars to fight drugs in Afghanistan, opium production has increased in the country.

SIGAR asserted that Afghanistan remains the world's largest source of drugs, adding that drug trade is one of the main causes of corruption in the state institutions as well as being one of the main sources of funding for the Taliban.

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Shapoor Bakthyar discusses the topic with the following guests:

Abrahim Azhar, Deputy Minister of Counter-narcotic

Hashim Wahdat Yar, Spokesman for the United Nations Program of Fight against Drugs and Crime

Nilofar Ibrahimi, MP

Mohammad Naeem Lalai Hamidzai, MP

To watch the program, click here:


Taliban Are Rising Again in Afghanistan’s North

New York Times Topic:Afghanistan - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 05:00
Gains by militants in Kunduz Province put in doubt the ability of Afghan forces to hold territory just two months before the end of the 13-year international combat mission.
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