Aggregated News about Afghanistan

Visa Program for Afghans Under Threat for Helping U.S. Is Renewed

New York Times Topic:Afghanistan - 1 hour 46 min ago
Congress passed a $619 billion military policy bill that includes a measure adding 1,500 visas for Afghans who have risked their lives as interpreters and translators.

FARAKHABAR: Survey Finds Levels Of Fear At Their Highest

TOLO News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 16:46

The 2016 findings of the Asia Foundation's latest survey on Afghan people has found that optimism in the country is at its lowest level since the survey started in 2004 and that levels of fear are at their highest in a decade.

Findings of Asia Foundation's Survey of the Afghan People were released Wednesday in Kabul and found the downward trajectory in the national mood, which began in 2013, has continued: in 2016, just 29.3 percent of Afghans say the country is moving in the right direction, the lowest level of optimism recorded in the Survey since it began in 2004, and down from 36.7 percent in 2015.

In this episode of Farakhabar, host Fawad Aman discusses the topic with the following guests

Jawad Shahabi, Asia Foundation

Haseebullah Muahid, university lecturer

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NAI Slams Pakistani Media Over Comments About Ghani

TOLO News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 16:20

NAI, an organization supporting open media in Afghanistan, strongly condemned the recent statements made by Pakistani media against Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

According to a press release issued by NAI on Wednesday, the organization said: "At the Heart of Asia Conference, held on Sunday in the Indian city of Amritsar, President Ashraf Ghani pointed to $500 million Pakistani financial aid to Afghanistan and advocated the neighboring nation spend the amount on fighting terrorism on its soil."

"But, Ghani's statement drew some irresponsible reactions from the Pakistani media. In retaliation, the Pakistani media used a number of insulting terms against President Ghani which NAI believes were against human ethics, against Ghani and the principals of journalism," the statement said.

"NAI strongly condemns these remarks and deems them an insulting act which is also contrary to journalistic principles and in fact NAI believes it is an insult to the entire Afghan people, therefore NAI asks the Pakistani media to offer an apology to the people of Afghanistan," the statement reads.

According to NAI, media outlets and journalists have the responsibility of bridging gaps between the nations, therefore any move which signals division and hatred between nations in the world must be probed and legal action must be taken.

"NAI also asks the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to act against the media outlets that spread hatred, division and disintegration and avoid these media outlets that strive to create disintegration between the two nations of Afghanistan and Pakistan," the statement concluded.

TOLOnews 6pm News 07 December 2016

TOLO News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 15:39

Top news in this Bulletin:

Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), said at the NATO foreign ministers meeting on Wednesday that the National Unity Government (NUG) received financial and political support from the international community and in exchange must fulfill its commitments.

To watch the whole news bulletin, click here:

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As the country battles a resurgent Taliban, without the assistance of foreign combat troops, one country appears to hold the key to whether Afghanistan can cling to democracy or succumb to the Taliban, that country being Saudi Arabia.

TAWDE KHABARE: Afghan Peace Talks Likely In Near Future

TOLO News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 15:06

Sources within the Pakistani government have said that peace negotiation talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government are likely to be resumed in the near future.

The development comes days after the U.S special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan visited Islamabad where he held discussions with Pakistani officials.

Sources in the Pakistani ministry of foreign affairs have said that the visit was part of the initiatives to facilitate the resumption of the stalled process.

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Shahpoor Bakhtyar discusses the topic with the following guests

Abdul Jabbar Qahraman, MP

Muhibullah Samim, former governor of Paktika

Mohammad Natiqi, former peace negotiator

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Report Points To Saudi As Backing 'Both Sides'

TOLO News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 14:58

As the country battles a resurgent Taliban, without the assistance of foreign combat troops, one country appears to hold the key to whether Afghanistan can cling to democracy or succumb to the Taliban, that country being Saudi Arabia.

According to a New York Times report, Saudi Arabia is backing both sides. It has reportedly backed Islamabad's promotion of the Taliban and wealthy Saudis are also said to have privately funded the insurgents.

Officially however, Saudi Arabia has supported the U.S mission and the Afghan government, the article stated.

The contradictions are hardly accidental. Rather, they balance conflicting needs within the kingdom, pursued through both official policy and private initiative, the New York Times reported.

The dual tracks allow Saudi officials plausibly to deny official support for the Taliban, even as they have turned a blind eye to private funding of the Taliban and other hard-line Sunni groups, the article stated.

The result is that the Saudis — through private or covert channels — have tacitly supported the Taliban in ways that make the kingdom an indispensable power broker, the story read.

A former Taliban finance minister Agha Jan Motasim told The New York Times that he had traveled to Saudi Arabia for years raising cash, while ostensibly being on pilgrimage.

In addition, the report stated that the Taliban has raised millions by pressurizing hundreds of thousands of Afghan workers in the kingdom to pay "taxes", a former State Department adviser, Vali Nasr, told the newspaper.

The New York Times stated that playing multiple sides is one way the Saudis have been able to further their own strategic interests.

But Prince Turki al-Faisal, who was head of the Saudi intelligence agency for over 24 years and later ambassador to the United States, rejected any suggestion that Saudi Arabia had ever supported the Taliban.

"When I was in government, not a single penny went to the Taliban," he told the New York Times.

Meanwhile director of the Afghan National Security Council, Hani Atmar said: "We know there has been this financing that has gone on for years."

"This sustains the terrorist war machine in Afghanistan and in the region, and it will have to be stopped."

But Saudi Arabia reportedly remains one of the main sources of what Secretary of State John Kerry recently called "surrogate money" to support Islamist fighters and causes.

The New York Times reported that much of that largess is spread about in pursuit of what Nasr describes as a Saudi strategy of building a wall of Sunni radicalism across South and Central Asia to contain Iran, its Shia rival.

The report went on to say that competition is being rekindled. With the Americans leaving, there is the sense that Afghanistan's fate is up for grabs.

According to the report, in recent months, the Taliban has mounted a coordinated offensive with about 40,000 fighters across eight provinces — a push financed by foreign sources at a cost of $1 billion USD, Afghan officials say.

At the same time, Saudi Arabia is offering the Afghan government substantial defense and development agreements, while Afghans say sheikhs from Saudi Arabia and other Arab Persian Gulf states are quietly funneling billions in private money to Sunni organizations, madrasas and universities to shape the next generation of Afghans.

"The Saudis are re-engaging," said Nasr.

"Afghanistan is important to them, which is why they invested so much in the 1980s, and they are looking to make themselves much more relevant," he added.

High-Ranking NUG Officials Involved In Corruption: Massoud

TOLO News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 14:33

Ahmad Zia Massoud, the president's special representative on reforms and good governance on Wednesday said in Kabul that high-ranking officials of the National Unity Government (NUG) are somehow involved in corruption.

Attending a meeting for Anti-Corruption Day, Massoud said some officials try to give multimillion dollar contracts to their relatives and they then take a share.

"There are high level officials in government who give the multimillion (dollar) contracts to people close to them and then they benefit from the contract," he said.

Massoud also spoke out about political corruption and said elections should be held free of intervention.

"The institutions involved in political issues have a responsibility to carry out their work transparently and to not betray Afghan people," Massoud said.

The Afghan Anti-Corruption Network meanwhile warned that continued corruption will have a negative impact on the progress made in the country to date and claimed that even casualties among security forces are somehow linked to the phenomenon.

"Afghan security forces also are being killed because of corruption in government departments," said Khan Zaman Amarkhel, head of the Afghan Anti-Corruption Network.

Amarkhel did not clarify this statement but there have been reports in the past of claims that security forces allegedly sold ammunition and weapons to insurgents, which in turn puts them at risk.

Transparency International meanwhile said recently that government institutions need to cooperate in the fight against corruption and that a commission should be established to supervise them.

A Foreign War Underway, But Not A Civil Conflict: Ghani

TOLO News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 14:17

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday warned his country's enemies against harming Afghanistan, saying the country was the land of the brave and enemies will be eliminated here.

He said that a foreign war is ongoing in Afghanistan, but not a civil war.

Last year the enemies were plotting to overthrow the government, Ghani said, while addressing a gathering of Afghan youths in Kabul.

Talking on the contribution of Afghan youths to security, Ghani said they play a constructive role in the rank and file of the security forces for the safety and defense of the country.

"The enemies of the government of Afghanistan thought (1394) solar year would be the end of the government, but they took this dream with them to their graves. The youths of the country, while serving in the ranks of the army, police and NDS, safeguarded their country. 1395 solar year was the year of survival for the nation and we collectively remained in a defensive position; the enemies showcased whatever they had and tried to commit aggression. But they didn't know there were lions here that would eat them," said Ghani.

In addition, Ghani spoke about the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan and said Afghanistan in terms of its strategic location in the region has always been in crisis.

He said that currently Afghanistan is the focus of the international community, and said that the future for the youth of the country will be very bright.

Ghani called on the youth to utilize their full potential.

Meanwhile, the administrative office of the president has pledged to hire at least 10,000 youths in government institutions next year and said the recruitment process will be carried out on the basis of merit.

NATO Asks NUG To Fulfill Its Commitments

TOLO News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 14:15

Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), said at the NATO foreign ministers meeting on Wednesday that the National Unity Government (NUG) received financial and political support from the international community and in exchange must fulfill its commitments.

He also spoke about insurgency and said the security situation in Afghanistan is complicated.

"These are clear signals of the continued commitment of the international community. The security situation in Afghanistan remains difficult but the Afghan Security Forces are responding with great bravery and professionalism.

"NATO Allies and partners continue to support them politically, practically and financially. In return, Afghanistan made commitments to step up reforms and improve governance. We will review all these mutual commitments today," he said.

Although NATO announced its continued support to Afghanistan, President Barack Obama has said the U.S cannot defeat Taliban in Afghanistan and that violence will continue to exist in the country.

""I don't want to paint too rosy a picture. The situation in Afghanistan is still tough. War has been a part of life in Afghanistan for over 30 years. The U.S cannot eliminate the Taliban or end violence in that country," Obama said before U.S soldiers at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

"But what we can do is deny al-Qaeda a safe haven and what we can do is support the Afghans who want a better future, which is why we have not only worked with our military but we backed a unity government in Kabul," he added.," Obama said.

The question raised however is whether Afghanistan losing its importance to NATO and U.S?

"There are lots of problems in the way of NATO and U.S and the U.S is worried about the situation," said Nadir Baloch, a member of the defense commission of the Meshrano Jirga (the Upper House of Parliament).

There are about 13,000 foreign troops currently stationed in Afghanistan of whom more than 9,000 are Americans.

Survey Finds MP's Popularity Among Afghans Declining

TOLO News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 14:06

Asia Foundation's survey for 2016 on Afghan people has found that the trust and confidence of the Afghan public in MPs has declined with many saying the lawmakers work for their personal interest rather for national interest.

The respondents said that only 9.8 percent of the lawmakers are prioritizing issues of national interest in parliament.

The survey states that 24.3 percent of the Afghan public said MPs had done something positive for their provinces.

34.7 percent of the respondents have said that lawmakers are working for their own interests, 22.2 percent have said that the MPs work on the basis of their ethnicity.

"They made a lot of promises, but the majority of them are now enjoying foreign trips to pursue their own businesses," said law student Suhrab.

"Members of the National Assembly are involved in the exploitation of ethnic issues and they never thought about the betterment of the people," said a resident of Kabul, Kawoon.

"We did not see anything positive from the lawmakers," said a laborer, Mohammad Nabi.

"We should work for our national interests, but there are some lawmakers who work for their own benefits, but not for the people," said MP Humaira Ayoubi.

According to the survey Afghans have the lowest levels of confidence in national government institutions, including parliament as a whole (37.0 percent) and government ministries (35.6 percent).

By comparison, Afghans express the highest levels of confidence in religious leaders (66.1 percent), the media (64.5 percent), and community shuras/jirgas (62.1 percent).

"Corruption which exists in the country and the lack of rule of law have also left negative impacts on the senate, one third of the senate members who were coming from provinces are absent now," said senator Nadir Baloch.

"The national assembly is exploited for personal ambitions by certain elements and individuals, which according to the laws of Afghanistan is a crime," said legal expert Wahid Farzayee.

Eshchi 'Beaten' For Not Kissing Dostum's Hand

TOLO News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 13:54

Arman Bik, one of Ahmad Eshchi's sons, on Wednesday said his father, the former governor of Jawzjan, was beaten up by First Vice President General Abdul Rashid Dostum's guards for not having kissed the hand of the high-ranking official.

Arman claims he was also beaten by Dostum's men.

"I was with my father when Dostum's man came and said Dostum wants him to go to him. My father spoke with him (Dostum) for five minutes and then they argued with each other. Then Dostum's men beat my father, me and my cousin. Then they took my father away with them," he said.

The Eshchi-family called on the National Unity Government (NUG) leaders to probe the matter and said he should be prosecuted in accordance with the law if found to have committed a crime.

Residents of Sheberghan, the provincial capital, said they want the issue to be cleared up.

"A man is threatened, insulted, beaten and kidnapped. But government is silent," said Abdul Rahman, a resident of Sheberghan city.

"We are worried about the situation - that a person is jailed in a civilian house," said Abdul Mansour, another resident of Sheberghan.

People in Kabul also reacted to the Dostum-Eshchi story.

"When the first vice president violates the law, then possibly the country will slip into a crisis," said Najib Kabuli, head of the National Participation Front (NPF) party.

Dostum's guards allegedly beat up Eshchi almost two weeks ago. Unconfirmed reports indicated the guards then took Eshchi into custody. However, confusion still surrounds the issue as Eshchi's whereabouts are still unknown.

PIA Flight Crashes En-Route To Islamabad

TOLO News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 13:06

A Pakistan International Airlines flight, PK-661 carrying over 40 passengers, crashed on the way to Islamabad from Chitral on Wednesday, Radio Pakistan reported.

Chitral airport sources confirm singer-cum-evangelist Junaid Jamshed, his family, and Deputy Commissioner Chitral Osama Warraich were on board the flight and are feared to be among the casualties.

There were 31 men, nine women and two infants on board the flight, including at least three foreigners, Dawn News reported.

Key Taliban Commander Joins Peace Process In Badakhshan

TOLO News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 10:38

One of the Taliban's military commanders in Badakhshan, Qari Mahrab, along with his 25 fighters, has joined the peace process.

Maharb said he was the intelligence commander for both local and foreign terrorists in Badakhshan.

According to him, 11 years ago he received military and religious training at terrorist centers in Pakistan. He then started carrying out anti-government and insurgency activities along with fellow fighters in Wardoj district of Badakhshan.

"Eleven years ago I got lessons in Pakistan and for seven years I have been with Taliban and I was on all Taliban's battle frontlines," Maharab said.

He said he played a key role in the collapse of many parts of Badakhshan, especially in the collapse of Yamgan and Wardoj districts.

Mahrab also admits that he had a role in shooting and beheading a number of government forces.

"I was Taliban's Hajj pilgrimage head and I participated in Taliban battles and I noticed that my followers' minds were being diverted and they were acting against Islam. Then we joined the government," said Mawlawi Anamullah, the group's Hajj pilgrimage head.

Mahrab expressed his regrets for the deeds he committed and said that after this he will fight against the Taliban.

Meanwhile, Provincial Governor Ahmad Fisal Bigzad, said clearance operations will be conducted in the province.

"In the past three months hundreds of armed Taliban have joined the peace process in Badakhshan and we are trying to conduct clearance operations," Bigzad said.

At the moment Yamgan and Wardoj districts are under Taliban control but military experts believe that if government does not conduct clearance operations in the districts through winter, more districts could collapse during next year's fighting season.

JAHAN NAMA: Uzbekistan Elections Discussed

TOLO News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 07:46

 

Host Maryam Sama discusses Uzbekistan elections, that saw Shavkat Mirziyoyev elected president. In the studio with her is Abdul Shokor Slangi, Russia and Central Asia affairs analyst.

To watch the program, click here:

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NIMA ROOZ: Afghanistan - First Foreign Policy Crisis for Trump Administration

TOLO News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 07:39

In this episode of NIMA ROOZ, host Maryam Sama discusses the topic with political analyst Sayed Farhad Hashimi.

To watch the program, click here:

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Merkel Launches Election Bid With Tough Migration Stance

TOLO News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 07:15

Chancellor Angela Merkel Tuesday lashed populists seeking to exploit Germany's refugee influx, but set down a tough line on integration -- including a ban on the full-face veil -- as she launched into election campaign mode.

Outlining a strategy to counter populism that has consumed key allies abroad, Merkel vowed there would be no repeat of last year's record refugee arrivals.

She also stressed it was legitimate for Germany to expect newcomers to integrate, and this included a rejection of the niqab full-face veil.

"The full veil must be banned wherever it is legally possible," she told the annual gathering of her center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), urging them to back her bid for a fourth term.

Merkel was rewarded with a standing ovation that lasted more than 11 minutes as the majority of the 1,001 delegates present rallied behind her.

"She took on a new tone, she signalled that in the future, refugee and immigration policies will be more restrictive," Wolfgang Reinhart from the south-western region of Baden-Wuerttemberg told AFP.

But dissenters made their voices heard when delegates were asked to re-elect Merkel as chief for the next two years, as the congress gave her just 89.5 percent -- her second worst score, and the worst since she became chancellor in 2005.

Her lowest was in 2004, when she was approved by 88.4 percent.

National media had suggested that a score below 90 percent would be a slap in the face.

Merkel, who has led Germany for 11 years, last month confirmed she would run for a fourth term but acknowledged that the election would be "more difficult" than any other she has contested.

Beyond domestic issues, Merkel also devoted a large part of her address to crises abroad as she noted that in 2016, "the world has not become stronger and more stable, but weaker and more unstable".

She deplored the failure of the international community to alleviate the suffering in Syria's besieged city of Aleppo, calling it a "disgrace".

MEHWAR: Drug Addiction Among Youths Discussed

TOLO News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 07:05

Afghanistan's ministry of counter-narcotics said that over a million Afghan male and female youths are drug addicts in the country.

Host Massoud Malik discusses the issue with Mubarez Rashidi, former minister of counter narcotics.

To watch the program, click here:

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Obama Admits US Cannot Defeat Taliban, End Violence

TOLO News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 06:11

U.S media reports state President Barack Obama admitted in an address on Tuesday that the United States could not wipe out the Taliban militant group in Afghanistan, but could help it end years of instability by supporting the government in Kabul.

Despite U.S efforts, the situation in the war-plagued country remains unstable, the president said.

"I don't want to paint too rosy a picture. The situation in Afghanistan is still tough. War has been a part of life in Afghanistan for over 30 years. The U.S cannot eliminate the Taliban or end violence in that country," Obama said before U.S soldiers at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

"But what we can do is deny al-Qaeda a safe haven and what we can do is support the Afghans who want a better future, which is why we have not only worked with our military but we backed a unity government in Kabul," he added.

Afghanistan is in a state of political and social turmoil, with Taliban insurgents and other extremist factions, such as Daesh, operating in the country.

Survey Finds Levels Of Fear At Their Highest

TOLO News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 05:37

The 2016 findings of the Asia Foundation's latest survey on Afghan people has found that optimism in the country is at its lowest level since the survey started in 2004 and that levels of fear are at their highest in a decade.

Findings of Asia Foundation's 12th annual Survey of the Afghan People were released Wednesday in Kabul and found the downward trajectory in national mood, which began in 2013, has continued: in 2016, just 29.3 percent of Afghans say the country is moving in the right direction, the lowest level of optimism recorded in the Survey since it began in 2004, and down from 36.7 percent in 2015.

While the drop in 2015 can be partly explained by post-election disappointments after the exuberance and campaign promises preceding the 2014 presidential elections, the lower optimism in 2016 appears to reflect a sustained change in sentiment related to perceptions of security, the economy, and government achievements, their report stated.

Afghans appear to have less confidence in every level of government, yet they also have less desire to emigrate.

This year's survey polled 12,658 Afghan respondents, 52.7 percent of them male and 47.4 percent female, representing 16 ethnic groups from all 34 provinces in the country.

The report stated that the marked rise in civilian casualties and worsening violence has contributed to the highest recorded level of fear in over a decade.

It states that Afghans in 2016 are more fearful for their security, more dissatisfied with the economy, and less confident in their government.

"The national mood continued to decline, and this year marks the lowest level of optimism since the survey began in 2004," it stated.

More than one-third of Afghans say their household financial situation has grown worse in the past year and most Afghans say they have no confidence in the Independent Elections Commission. "Confidence in every level of government appears to have fallen since 2015," the report stated.

But this year's survey also provides some reasons for optimism. It stated that "despite the worsening economic and security environment, the desire to emigrate fell to a record low this year, a striking change from 2015, as large numbers of previous emigrants have returned from European countries where disincentives to immigration have been on the rise."

In addition, more Afghans, particularly rural Afghan men, support women's right to vote and women's right to work outside the home than ever before.

Although corruption rates remain very high, the rate at which Afghans report actual encounters with corruption, in the customs office or their provincial governor's office, has decreased.

The survey also found that when asked what is going well in their local area, many Afghans mention development in education. Internet access continues to increase rapidly, and rising television viewership appears to predict changes in the way that viewers see women's role in society.

"With its broad scope and long duration, A Survey of the Afghan People is a map of social change over time, highlighting the Afghan experience in a rapidly transforming nation," said David Arnold, President of Asia Foundation.

"Through this annual project we hope to provide a deeper understanding of Afghanistan, while also contributing to the knowledge environment for policymaking and programming as the Afghan government sets its own course towards peace. For international partners, this year's findings point to a need for patience and strategic thinking, as well as sustained support, as Afghanistan weathers ongoing political challenges and economic hardship," he said.

The report stated that insecurity is the reason most commonly given for why the country is moving in the wrong direction (48.8 percent), followed by unemployment (27.5 percent), corruption (14.6 percent), bad economy (10.4 percent), and bad government (8.7 percent).

The proportions of Afghans citing insecurity, unemployment, and corruption have increased from last year by 4.2, 2.1, and 1.6 percentage points, respectively.

The proportion citing bad government has decreased by 2.7 points.

The Survey asked respondents what is going well in their local area, and their responses echo an overall pessimism, while the biggest problems facing women, when asked, were cited as education/illiteracy as the biggest problem (36.1 percent) and unemployment, at 22.9 percent. Domestic violence way cited by 22.1 percent as the biggest problem. This is an all-time high. As in previous years, women cited domestic violence more frequently than men.

The biggest problems facing youth was unemployment (71.2 percent).

The survey found that overall, 69.8 percent of Afghans report sometimes, often, or always feeling fear for their personal safety, the highest level in over a decade.

Fear for personal safety is most salient in the South West region (82.0 percent). Within this region, Helmand stands out, with 55.4 percent of respondents saying they are always afraid for their personal safety.

Regarding the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), 53.7 percent said the ANA is getting better at providing security, while 20.0 percent said it's getting worse. On the Afghan Local Police (ALP), 39.6 percent said it is getting better, 26.4 percent said it is getting worse.

The report stated confidence that the peace process can help stabilize the country remained comparable to 2015 (62.9 percent) and that the percentage of Afghans who say they feel sympathy for armed opposition groups (AOGs) decreased 10.8 percentage points this year, from 27.5 percent in 2015 to 16.7 percent in 2016.

TOLOnews 10 pm News 06 December 2016

TOLO News - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 03:50

Top news in this Bulletin:

Sources within the National Directorate of Security (NDS) have said that Ahmad Eshchi, the former governor of Jawzjan province, is in their custody and will soon be released but Eshchi's family are concerned about his safety.

To watch the whole news bulletin, click here:

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Nangarhar governor Gulab Mangal on Tuesday said the Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar will move to the province in the near future and they are ready to welcome him.

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