Aggregated News about Afghanistan

Agriculture Ministry Forecasts Rainfall While Researchers Warn of Drought

TOLO News - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 17:20

Despite fears among many farmers and researchers, officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MoAIL) have voiced optimism about the small likelihood of any major droughts occurring this year.

"Considering the rainfall and snowfall of the past few weeks, we are optimistic that the level of crops will increase," said Rabani Haqeeqat Pal, the Director of Census at the MoAIL. Although he did not go into any details about how the ministry would try to mitigate the effects of a drought if one does happen, he assured that a strategy exists. "We have specific programs, but it is still too early to introduce them," he told TOLOnews.

However, researchers from the Afghan Sciences Academy have pointed out that Afghanistan, over the past 50 years, has faced two or three droughts every ten years. Based on the lack of rainfall and snow this year, they have posited, a drought is not out o fate question.

"Our research shows that every ten years, there is a chance that Afghanistan will face two or three droughts," Geography Department member at the Afghan Sciences Academy Rafiullah Nasrati said. "The government and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock have no programs on hand in case of a drought," he asserted.

Meanwhile, MoAIL officials have responded by highlighting increased measures in Nangarhar, Nuristan, Laghman, Kunar, Farah, Badghis, Panjshir, Ghazni and Kapisa provinces. According to them, last year, the amount of rainfall was sufficient, and as a result, farmers produced some 5.3 million tons of wheat and 6.7 million tons of crops.

Against ISIS, Try Patience

New York Times Topic:Afghanistan - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 16:30
We should remember that the threat posed to us by radical Islam, while real, is not an existential one.

Prominent Pakistani Religious Leaders Announce Support for Afghan Peace Talks

TOLO News - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 15:27

The Chairman of Pakistan's Ulema Council and the Provincial Chairman of the political party Jamaat-e Islami Pakistan have announced their support for the renewed peace process between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The move marks an unprecedented policy shift for the influential Pakistani leaders, who have traditionally been vocal supporters of the insurgency.

Hafiz Muhammad Taher Ashrafi, the Chairman of the Pakistani Ulema Council, had previously tried to justify suicide bombings and Jihad in Afghanistan before this week, when he announced his hope for the new peace talks being pursued by the national unity government in Kabul. Meanwhile, Ibrahim, the Provincial Chairman of Jamaat-e Islami Pakistan, has called on the Pakistani to do everything in its power to support Afghanistan in peace negotiations with the Taliban.

The endorsements mark another major advance for the prospects of reconciliation between the Taliban militancy and the Afghan government led by President Ashraf Ghani. The first sign of progress came last month when it was revealed that Islamabad, under pressure from China, had communicated with senior members of the Afghan Taliban based in Pakistan and convinced them to help plan for talks with U.S. and Afghan officials.

In a meeting yesterday in Lahore, Chairman Ashrafi and other members of the powerful Pakistani Ulema Council, asserted their support for the peace process. "Both sides, the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban, must resolve the issues between them," Ashrafi said. "The people of Pakistan can only pray for a positive result from the talks; Pakistan and Afghanistan have been both facing conflicts for decades, and it's time for the government of Afghanistan to resolve the issue through peace talks."

Although the last few years of the administration of former president Hamid Karzai devoted much attention to attempts at getting the Taliban to the negotiating table, it wasn't until this year, with the NATO coalition's combat mission over and a new government in Kabul, that the Pakistani government and senior Taliban leaders have shown concerted interest in a peaceful resolution.

In an exclusive interview with TOLOnews on Tuesday, Ibrahim, the Provincial Chairman of Jamaat-e Islami Pakistan, urged the government in Islamabad to ensure the talks are successful.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has welcomed the overtures from Pakistani leaders. "Cooperation between the two countries has entered a new season, the Islamic Government of Afghanistan welcomes the recent attempts of its friend and brother country Pakistan, and its cooperation in maintaining stability in Afghanistan," MoFA spokesman Shekib Ahmad Mostaghni said.

In the past, Chairman Ashrafi was in concert with the controversial Mawlana Fazel Rahman, a leading Pakistani religious scholar who has very recently spoken out in favor of the Taliban's war on the Afghan government. Together, they proclaimed violent Jihad permissible in Afghanistan, Palestine and Kashmir.

According to analysts, the apparent shift in stance among Pakistani political and religious leaders is more a result of Pakistan's need for stability in the region than it is their interest in a prosperous Afghanistan.

"Today, Pakistan does not have the ability to support extremist groups anymore in the region and in Afghanistan," analyst Aziz Rafiee told TOLOnews. "Pakistan knows that the continuation of insecurity in Afghanistan and the region is not in its interest, and that is why we can say that government and military of Pakistan will impact the peace talks."

Rescue Operation Launches in Zabul to Free 30 Hazaras

TOLO News - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 15:14

The Afghan military forces launched a rescue operation in southern Zabul province on Monday night to free the 30 Hazara passengers who were kidnapped by unknown masked men, an Afghan security official, on condition of anonymity, said.

The operation was launched in Khak-e-Afghan district of Zabul and is still underway. So far, 36 insurgents have been killed and 50 others injured. Leading the operation is Kandahar Police Chief Gen. Abdul Raziq, Military Commander of Atal 205th Corps Maj. Gen. Abdul Hamid Hamid, and Zabul security officials.

This comes after the 25-member mediation team of Zabul elders were in talks with the insurgents on Saturday on releasing the abducted passengers, but to no prevail.

Recently, the Zabul acting Governor Mohammad Ashraf Nasiri had warned that if negotiations between the tribal elders and the armed masked men did not triumph that military action will be taken.
However, the families of the abductees still wait on news about the fate of their beloved ones, keeping eyes at their doors for the past nine days.

"I want my dad back home," said a little daughter of Khudabakhsh, the abducted passenger who was returning from Herat to Kabul after taking her sister to a hospital.

His family called on the government to help their beloved ones return home safe and sound.

"He called me early Monday morning that he is departing from Herat to Kabul," Khudabakhsh's wife said. "I asked him when he will arrive, he replied 'God willing, possibly this evening'."

In an attempt to identify the armed masked men, Nasiri had recently blamed the abduction on local Taliban, the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militants and the Chechens.

There has been no clarification on who the armed masked men are and who their affiliation is, but speculations from security officials battling against the masked men indicate that they are Daesh.
The 30 passengers, specifically belonging to the Hazara ethnic minority, were abducted last week from Shah Joy district of Zabul as they were on their way to Kabul on the Kabul-Kandahar highway.

TOLOnews 6pm News 03 March 2015

TOLO News - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 15:07



The Afghan military forces launched a rescue operation in southern Zabul province on Monday night to free the 30 Hazara passengers who were kidnapped by unknown masked men, an Afghan security official, on condition of anonymity, said.

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The operation was launched in Khak-e-Afghan district of Zabul and is still underway. So far, 36 insurgents have been killed and 50 others injured. Leading the operation is Kandahar Police Chief Gen. Abdul Raziq, Military Commander of Atal 205th Corps Maj. Gen. Abdul Hamid Hamid, and Zabul security officials.




Teenage Girl Raped By Mullah in Takhar Pregnant

TOLO News - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 15:07

The victim of sexual abuse, who was raped by a local mullah in northern Takhar province eight months back, was threatened to not speak, is now eight months pregnant.

The 13-year-old victim who does not want to be named, was sent to her local mosque by her family to receive an education in religious studies by the 35 year old mullah who raped her, warning her not her to raise her voice and informing her family of the crime.

"The mullah, 35, committed the rape and threatened the victim and her family from raising their voice against him," Provincial Head of Women Affairs Razm Ara Hawash said. "He warned them that he would kill them all. So they did not disclose the crime to anyone until eight months later."

The victim is currently in the care of the child protection center in Takhar.

"We received the case two days ago and she is currently at the child protection center," Bismillah Waziri, official at Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said.

The mullah is in custody and a case has been filed against him. According to the head of the local attorney's office in Takhar, Abdul Marof Fayeq, said that the case was received two days ago and that the mullah has confessed to the crime.

The victim's family did not respond to a TOLOnews request for information.

Sar-e-Pul, Takhar Women Seek Justice

TOLO News - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 14:53

A woman who lost her husband, two daughters and a son in an attack by armed men in northern Sar-e-Pul province has claimed hidden efforts were underway to release the perpetrators from jail who have already sentenced to death.

Sakina, who was injured in the attack, arrived to Kabul to seek justice from the government, saying she lost her entire family about six months ago after turning down a marriage proposal of an armed group commander for her 14-year-old daughter.

She claimed that three of the attackers had been awarded the death sentences by the court, but some powerful people were trying to release the perpetrators from prison.

"They are threatening me from the jail that they will kill me after they are released from jail," Sakina said. "They were given the death penalty by two courts, and now I want the president to investigate the case and execute them."

In another case, another woman from northeastern Takhar arrived to Kabul seeking justice, explaining that a group of powerful figures are trying to release the murderers of her son and grandson from jail.

Shahnaz said six armed men killed her two family members about six months ago after they broke into her house for robbery.

She claimed that five of the perpetrators verdict was death, but armed powerful groups were trying to free them from prison and their sentencing.


"Their brothers and wives give me death threats," Shahnaz said. "I want the president to investigate my case himself and hang the perpetrators to death."

Meanwhile, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) officials acknowledged corruption in the judicial institutions, saying the culture of impunity has caused people's distrust in the courts.

"When a person commits a crime, either he asks for support from powerful people or takes shelter to another area where there is less government control," AIHRC spokesman Rafiullah said. "And this is why justice is not implemented."

Former Deputy Head of Afghan Central Bank Imprisoned in Kabul

TOLO News - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 13:47

Mohibullah Safi, former deputy head of the Afghan Central Bank, and one of the main defendants in the Kabul Bank corruption case, has been arrested and imprisoned in Kabul, the Attorney General's Office announced on Tuesday.

The head of the Attorney General's Anti-Corruption Department, Sayed Alam Ishaqzai, confirmed on Tuesday that Safi had been sentenced last fall to jail for a year for his involvement in the collapse of the Kabul Bank. But Safi, who has become a symbol of the country's systemic corruption, was able to flee abroad after his sentencing and avoid arrest.

According to Ishaqzai, Safi turned himself in back in early December. At the time, all of his assets were seized by the Afghan government. "Mohebullah Safi came to the Attorney General's office on the 1st of December and handed himself over," Ishaqzai said. "The Attorney General's Office has submitted the case to the primary court and he is now imprisoned in Kabul prison."

Safi is one of the nine main suspects in the Kabul Bank case who was able to flee the country after President Ashraf Ghani decided to re-open it upon taking office last September. Reportedly some 52 million USD worth of assets were seized from Safi on the order of President Ghani.

Four years have passed since the Kabul Bank collapsed after some 900 million USD was embezzled by its employees. Despite years of efforts, only a small amount of the stolen money has been recuperated.

"Overall, 228 million USD has been recuperated since the bank collapsed," one of the officials leading up the recuperation process named Abdul Aziz Khalid told TOLOnews.

Law enforcement officials have said escapes abroad, address changes, incomplete documentation, substandard loan protocols and the lack of guarantors were among the main challenges that have made recuperation difficult.

"I don't know if the total money will be recuperated, but efforts are underway," Ishaqzai told TOLOnews.

Khalid has said the biggest problem is the insufficient documentation that went into the loan process of the Kabul Bank. "Controversial loans are very complicated issue as sufficient documents don't exist about these loans and 70 percent of the loans were provided without taking a guarantor, and collection of these is impossible," he said.

When the Supreme Court ruled on the Kabul Bank case, arrests were ordered for 21 individuals. However, 16 of them escaped the country and only thirteen have been successfully detained.

Helmand Suicide Attack Leaves 7 Dead

TOLO News - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 11:41

At least five civilians and two security personnel were killed and seven others wounded as a result of suicide bombing in southern Helmand province.

The incident occurred Tuesday afternoon in Sangin district when a suicide bomber blew his explosives-packed car near a convoy of security forces, said Omar Zowak, spokesman for Helmand governor.
So far, no group including the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Netanyahu Takes Fight Against Obama's Iran Plan to Congress

TOLO News - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 10:00

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for another round in an increasingly heated battle with the White House over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

In a landmark speech to Congress, Netanyahu will seek to mobilise lawmakers to oppose an emerging deal with Tehran which is backed by President Barack Obama.

Obama on Monday lashed out at his nemesis, pointing to Netanyahu's attacks on a previous interim US-Iran deal that paved the way for this week's ongoing talks in Switzerland.

"Netanyahu made all sorts of claims," he told Reuters.

"This was going to be a terrible deal," he went on. "This was going to result in Iran getting $50 billion worth of relief. Iran would not abide by the agreement. None of that has come true."

Netanyahu aides say that in his address he will present information proving that the shape of the deal being discussed in Switzerland this week presents grave danger.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf warned Monday that if the details came from US briefings to Israel, revealing them could mean there would be no more.

"We've continuously provided detailed classified briefings to Israeli officials to keep them updated and to provide context," she said.

"Any release of any kind of information like that would, of course, betray that trust."

"We want to keep talking in these settings, of course, but that would be a problem."

Netanyahu believes that in the talks with Iran the so-called P5+1 group is verging on striking a deal that will ease international sanctions without the ironclad safeguards the Jewish state says are essential to deny Tehran a nuclear bomb.

The US administration says that is just not true.

"This president has made clear that he's not going to sign a bad deal," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Monday.

- Power: No nuclear arms for Iran -

Samantha Power, Washington's ambassador to the United Nations, weighed into the fight on Monday when she addressed 16,000 pro-Israel activists in the US capital.

"The United States of America will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, period," she said. Taking the podium shortly after Power, Netanyahu remained unswerving in his opposition to Obama's policy.

"The purpose of my address to Congress tomorrow is to speak up about a potential deal with Iran that could threaten the survival of Israel," he said.

"My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama," he told the lobby group AIPAC's annual conference.

"Israel and the United States agree that Iran shouldn't have nuclear weapons. But we disagree on the best way to prevent them from developing those weapons."

The row is not only about the core issues but also about the way Netanyahu and US Republicans are waging the battle.

He was invited by Speaker of the House John Boehner, a Republican, and he accepted with neither party informing the White House.

Netanyahu himself is running for a third consecutive term -- which would be a fourth overall -- in an Israeli election on March 17.

"Our commitments to our partnership with Israel are bedrock commitments rooted in shared fundamental values cemented through decades of bipartisan reinforcement," Power said.

"This partnership should never be politicised."

The Israeli leader's lobbying expedition to Washington came as US Secretary of State John Kerry was in Switzerland for talks with his Iranian counterpart on what would be an historic deal.

But Netanyahu denied that his action had harmed the traditionally close US-Israeli alliance.

"Reports of the demise of the Israeli-US relations are not only premature, they're just wrong."

Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met in a lakeside hotel for a series of sessions which are scheduled to stretch into Wednesday afternoon.

The pace of the negotiations meant to rein in Iran's suspected nuclear arms program in exchange for sanctions relief has gathered pace as a March 31 deadline nears.

Mark Heller, a political analyst at Israel's Institute for National Security Studies says that after years of warning about the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran, it is hard to imagine what new angle Netanyahu will pursue on Tuesday.

"He's been over this ground before many times and expectations have been built up to the point where if he doesn't come up with something truly explosive, it's going to be a big let down," he told AFP.

"I think he's going to have to pull some kind of rabbit out of the hat and reveal some information that's not out there in the public domain; otherwise he'll just be preaching to the converted."

Exclusive Interview with Second Vice President

TOLO News - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 06:53

Mohammad Sarwar Danish, the second Vice President, in an exclusive interview with TOLOnews has discussed the electoral reforms.

To watch the whole interview, click here:

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Rescue Operation Launches in Zabul to Free 30 Hazaras

TOLO News - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 06:34

The Afghan military forces launched a rescue operation in southern Zabul province on Monday night to free the 30 Hazara passengers who were kidnapped by unknown masked men, an Afghan security official, on condition of anonymity, said.

The operation was launched in Khak-e-Afghan district of Zabul and is still underway. So far, 36 insurgents have been killed and 50 others injured. Leading the operation is Kandahar Police Chief Gen. Abdul Raziq, Military Commander of Atal 205th Corps Maj. Gen. Abdul Hamid Hamid, and Zabul security officials.

This comes after the 25-member mediation team of Zabul elders were in talks with the insurgents on Saturday on releasing the abducted passengers, but to no prevail.

Zabul's acting Governor Mohammad Ashraf Nasiri had warned that if negotiations between the tribal elders and the armed masked men did not triumph that military action will be taken.

In an attempt to identify the armed masked men Nasiri had recently blamed the abduction on local Taliban, the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militants and the Chechens. There has been no clarification on who the armed masked men are and who their affiliation is, but speculations from security officials battling against the masked men indicate that they are Daesh.

The 30 passengers, specifically belonging to the Hazara ethnic minority, were abducted last week from Shah Joy district of Zabul as they were on their way to Kabul on the Kabul-Kandahar highway.

Nine People Missing in Takhar Avalanches

TOLO News - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 05:56

At least nine people are missing after 15 avalanches trapped dozens of homes in northern Takhar province on Monday, local officials said.

The incident took place in Eghnan village of Warsej district of Takhar. which borders Paryan district of northern Panjshir province, a spokesman for the acting governor, Sunatullah Temor said.

"The telecommunication services have been cut in the village and the avalanches have closed the way into the village," Temor said.

This while, on Monday the Chief Executive of the National Unity Government (NUG) Abdullah Abdullah said that more than 300 people were killed in recent avalanches throughout the country, emphasizing that the state of emergency committee should be better equipped and prepared in addressing areas and people affected.

Death toll has increased with each passing day, with several dozen still trapped in the avalanche or missing. Areas affected by natural disasters include Badakhshan, Nuristan, Bamiyan, Daikundi, Nangarhar, Herat, Badghis, and Ghor with majority of the affected, roughly 200, were killed in northern Panjshir province.

A Thin Line of Defense Against ‘Honor Killings’

New York Times Topic:Afghanistan - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 05:00
Women’s shelters are one of the most provocative legacies of the Western presence in Afghanistan.

TAWDE KHABARE: Majority Accused of Electoral Frauds are IEC Provincial Chiefs: ECC

TOLO News - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 03:31

According to sources, among 20 permanent staffs of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) have been accused of electoral frauds majority are IEC provincial chiefs. Sources have claimed that the number of staffs allegedly involved in riggings are on the rise.

To watch the whole program, click here:

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Meanwhile, the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) has warned that if the allegations are proved against the IEC staffs, they would be fired from their positions and their names would be included in a blacklist.

Eight months have been passed since the second round of elections and controversy still prevails. The ECC on Sunday said that the names of the 20 permanent staff members of the IEC have been included in the list of those involved in electoral frauds including the names of IEC provincial officials in Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Nuristan, Laghman, Kunduz, Baghlan, Samangan, Balkh, Faryab, Badghis, Farah, Nimroz, Ghor, Parwan, Kapisa, Zabul, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Ghazni and Herat provinces.

In this episode of TAWDE KHABARE, host Shahpoor Bakhtiyar discusses the topic with the following guests:

Walid Akbar Sarwari, ECC Deputy

Mohammad Yousof Rashid, FEFA Chief Executive

Toofan Waziri, Political analyst

FARA KHABAR: 02 March 2015

TOLO News - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 03:13

Provincial Council head of Farah, Farid Bakhtawar, said that people are being bought and sold as suicide attackers from inside the province's district of Bakwa, turning Farah into the insurgents' main western base.

To watch the whole program, click here:

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According to Bakhtawar, these people bought as suicide attackers are assigned a specific target throughout the country. He stressed that if an operation is not conducted soon to eliminate the activity in Farah, the threats will disperse throughout the western zone of the country from Bakwa district.

"The district of Bakwa is the center for weapons, dealing drugs, and the Taliban's main base in the west zone," he said.

Head of Farah's Peace Council Amir Mohammad Ayoubi added that currently more than "800 terrorist groups" were active in the province that were battling against the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

In this episode of FARA KHABAR, host Yama Siavash discusses the topic with the following guests:

Farid Bakhtawar, Provincial Council head of Farah

Amanullah Paiman, MP

MoFA Announces End of 11 Ambassadors Tenure

TOLO News - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 17:43

Sources in the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) revealed Monday that the ministry has declared end of tenure of 11 Afghan Ambassadors following their age and incumbency.

The ambassadors dismissed by the MoFA are Azizullah Karzai, Ambassador to Russia; Mohammad Qasim Fazili, Ambassador to UNESCO; Ziauddin Mujadidi, Ambassador to Czech Republic; Ghualm Sakhi Ghairat, Ambassador to Indonesia; Najibullah Mujadidi, Ambassador to the UAE; Syed Ahmad Omarkahil, Ambassador to Saudi Arabia; Mohammad Dawoud Yar, Ambassador to Britain; Sham Lal Pathi, Ambassador to Canada; Assadullah Omar, Ambassador to France; Ziauddin Nizam, Ambassador to Italy and Nangyalai Tarzi, Ambassador to Geneva.

Based on the diplomatic principles of the MOFA, a diplomat is obligated to work for three years inside and three years outside the country.

But among the dismissed ambassadors, there are some who have remained in their positions for years despite the ending of their time.

Afghan Government Dismisses 11 Ambassadors

TOLO News - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 17:43

Sources in the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on Monday announced that it has dismissed 11 ambassadors on the basis of their tenure and age.

The ambassadors dismissed by the MoFA are Azizullah Karzai, Ambassador to Russia;

Mohammad Qasim Fazili, Ambassador to UNESCO;

Ziauddin Mujadidi, Ambassador to Czech Republic;

Ghualm Sakhi Ghairat, Ambassador to Indonesia;

Najibullah Mujadidi, Ambassador to the UAE;

Syed Ahmad Omarkahil, Ambassador to Saudi Arabia;

Mohammad Dawoud Yar, Ambassador to Britain;

Sham Lal Pathi, Ambassador to Canada;

Assadullah Omar, Ambassador to France;

Ziauddin Nizam, Ambassador to Italy;

Nangyalai Tarzi, Ambassador to Geneva.

Based on the diplomatic principles of the MOFA, a diplomat is obligated to work for three years inside and three years outside the country. But among the dismissed ambassadors there are some who have remained in their positions for years despite the ending of their time.

MoI Dismisses 27 Kabul Police Officials

TOLO News - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 15:19

Kabul Police Chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi announced Monday that 27 police officials would be getting the axe, a move reportedly aimed at improving security conditions in the capital city.

Among the officials terminated from their positions are 16 Kabul district police chiefs and 11 police battalions commanders. According to Rahimi, the replacements will be appointed after careful consideration of their skills and qualifications.

The announcement comes just after President Ashraf Ghani spoke to the need for reforms in the police force recruitment, and structuring processes. "We will bring necessary reforms in the police force in Kabul in the near future," Ghani said. "Our objective is to have a nonpolitical police force in Kabul and we are determined to do so."

Addressing an inauguration ceremony for new police chiefs on Monday, Rahimi said that the newly appointed Kabul police officials would have major challenges ahead as they take charge of security for the capital, which came under increased attack by the Taliban at the end of last year.

"Reshuffling is part of governance; the appointment of new faces in the Kabul police department is to improve the security situation," Rahimi said. "We will go with the procedures in the police stations and the MoI will reward and punish them based on their work."

At the moment, Kabul is widely considered one of the most insecure capitals in the world. Militants have often targeted the city instead of focusing fighting in the countryside in order to attract greater media attention to attacks, and therefore making the critical tactical shift from insurgency to terrorism.

Former Ministry of Interior (MoI) Deputy Minister, Mirza Mohammad Yamand, hopes the personnel changes will portend a positive shift in the capital's security. "We believe that Kabul faces serious security threats at the moment, therefore, the Ministry of Interior should introduce a system that can ensure the safety of police chiefs so that they work independently," he said.

Majority of IEC Staff Accused of Fraud Are Provincial Chiefs

TOLO News - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 15:15

Among the 20 permanent Independent Election Commission (IEC) staff-members who stand accused of participating in electoral fraud during the 2014 elections, sources close to the investigations have told TOLOnews that a majority are IEC's Provincial Chiefs.

The Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) has warned that if the allegations against the IEC staff-members are proven valid, they would be forced out of their positions and their names added to a blacklist barring them from participation in future elections. In addition to the 20 permanent IEC staffers under investigation, the ECC has named 13,000 temporary IEC employees implicated in electoral fraud.
Eight months have been passed since the second round of the 2014 presidential race and still controversy prevails over the subject of fraud. That debate has been further ignited, and the accusers bolstered, by the ECC's list of full-time staffers accused of violations, which includes provincial officials in most of the country's 34 provinces.

"These individuals belong to more than 20 provinces, but at the moment, I can't disclose their names as the final verdict is yet to be announced," ECC Secretary Nadir Mohseni said on Monday. "When our final report is published, the names of these individuals would be on our website," he added. The ECC is currently investigating provincial IEC officials in Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Nuristan, Laghman, Kunduz, Baghlan, Samangan, Balkh, Faryab, Badghis, Farah, Nimroz, Ghor, Parwan, Kapisa, Zabul, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Ghazni and Herat provinces.

In response to the ECC's investigations, the IEC has launched counter-accusations, claiming ECC staff's involvement in corruption and fraud related to last year's provincial council elections. IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor implored the ECC to identify the perpetrators involved. "There are some complaints about the local staff of the Electoral Complaints Commission who are involved in electoral fraud and this fraud must be addressed," he said on Monday.

However, Mohseni and the complaints commission have refuted the claims made by the IEC. "This is a laughable topic, given our staff aren't even present during the voting at polling sites," he told TOLOnews. "How it is possible for them to do ballot stuffing and fraud?"

Election monitoring groups have remained neutral in the clash between the two commissions, but have encouraged a comprehensive investigation that includes top officials at both commissions.
"It is not important that the commission only rely on the sources that were involved in electoral fraud, investigations must be comprehensive and no one should be excluded from investigation," Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan head Mohammad Yousaf Rashid said. "They must be introduced to the legal and judicial institutions of the country."

The ECC announced the names of the 13,000 IEC temporary staff-members implicated in fraud on Sunday. The final report on the investigations is expected in one week.

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