Aggregated News about Afghanistan

TOLOnews 6pm News 04 May 2016

TOLO News - Wed, 05/04/2016 - 17:32

Top news in this Bulletin:

A number of military officials in Helmand province said on Wednesday that despite a surge in violence in Helmand province, President Ashraf Ghani has still to give the orders for a large scale offensive operation against the Taliban.‎

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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday clearly stated that the National Unity Government was in support of press freedom and denounced media censorship.

Ghani's War Orders Not Being Implimented: Helmand Officials

TOLO News - Wed, 05/04/2016 - 17:01

A number of military officials in Helmand province said on Wednesday that despite a surge in violence in Helmand province, President Ashraf Ghani has still to give the orders for a large scale offensive operation against the Taliban.‎

But provincial governor Hayatullah Hayat says plans are underway to launch a wide scale operation across the province.

"Our planning is underway, and soon, this week, our operations will be conducted and all the people support security forces in Helmand," said Hayat.

But TOLOnews correspondents Wali Arian and Abdullah Hamim spoke to security forces in Helmand province who said that the troops are unhappy about having to take a defensive position against the Taliban.

They said troops have called for the launch of an offensive operation as soon as possible.

"See at the moment war is going on and firing sounds can be heard," said Nagibullah, a border police force member.

"The front line of Taliban was in Nad Ali district of Helmand province where we defeated them and we will defeat them always," said Jabar, a public order solider.

According to TOLOnews' correspondents, Dasht Matkai area of Nad Ali district is the front line of the battle with Taliban. They said the insurgents are also holed up in civilian houses, which they are using to fire on security forces' strongholds.

"Some times militants attack and open fire but we are also equipped and prepared," said Marstyal another public order soldier.

"In Marja district small operations are underway but big operations will be prepared in wide and joint plans," said Khalilurahman Jawad a public order commander.

But some provincial council members have raised concerns over Ghani's failure to implement his own war orders against the Taliban.

"The president is different in action and speech and he is not putting his words into practice and it means he is kicking dust in people's eyes," said Karim Attal Helmand provincial council head.

Ghani Backs Press Freedom

TOLO News - Wed, 05/04/2016 - 16:56

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday clearly stated that the National Unity Government was in support of press freedom and denounced media censorship.

Speaking at an event to mark International Press Freedom Day, Ghani also assured the media that regulations on access to information and on journalists security will be finalized in the near future.

"Achievements are still fragile therefore I welcome your constructive views," said Ghani.

"So long as I have the responsibility of the country 100 percent I will support press freedom," Ghani added.

Ghani also awarded twelve journalists with medals of valor, among them was Abdul Wali Arian from TOLONEWS who was awarded the medal of Wazir Mohammad Akbar Khan.

President Deceives Public With False Figures: Critics

TOLO News - Wed, 05/04/2016 - 15:35

A number of military and political analysts said on Wednesday that President Ashraf Ghani last week deceived the public with false figures on military operations, which he disclosed during an address to both houses of parliament.

"In the past thirteen months the country's brave security forces have conducted up to 40,000 activities and more than 16,000 decisive operations in different parts of the country," said Ghani during his speech.

But military analysts slam these figures as false.

"Unfortunately the figurers they are providing are [from] operative and planning documents. And such real operations did not take place. If 10,000 operations were conducted and in each operation three Talibs were killed then 30,000 Talibs would be dead," said Jawed Kohistani, a military analyst.

"The president's remarks about the operations are very exaggerated and unreasonable. Either those who are providing the figures to the president are not honest or the president does not have the ability to distinguish [this himself]," said Ahmad Sayde, a political analyst.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said that 40,000 operations were conducted but that these included combative operations as well as military patrols, demining operations among others.

"The activities include patrols, clearances operations and demining exercises," said MoI spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.

According to the security institutions' figures, in 24 hours on average 110 combat operations are conducted. But the question raised was how then can the Taliban's activities not be stopped.

"Taliban movements are carried out in groups of five to 10 persons and their exact identification needs to take place," said Mirza Mohammad Yarmand, a former interior minister.

Experts believe that poor war management, the inability to gather good intelligence and the lack of coordination during operations are the main reasons government operations have a limited impact.

Lack of Rule of Law Dampens People’s Support For Govt: Experts

TOLO News - Wed, 05/04/2016 - 15:15

 

Critics said Wednesday that the lack of rule of law and disorder within government institutions has resulted in a decrease in support for the National Unity Government (NUG).

Experts believe that the NUG’s failure to provide security, rule of law and stability in Afghanistan has widened the gap between government and people – while insurgent groups have made the most of this opportunity.

Critics have also said that people are now turning back to public figures, who had previously lost their popularity.

“The opportunity can be seized by anti-government armed opposition groups and political opposition parties. And the other consequence can be a disabled and weakened government, because when people stop backing government the government will lose one of its essential resources to do its work,” said Baryalai Fitrat, a sociologist.

“In general, the lack of a security policy for citizens has made the people feel hopeless and this hopelessness has resulted in people turning to past leaders or turning towards values which are incompatible with democratic values,” said Aziz Rafiye, the head of the Afghan Civil Society Forum (ACSF).

Social media platforms clearly show a drop in public support for the government and show instead an upswing by the people in support of elders and former leaders.

According to sociologists, the inability of state institutions to fulfill their job functions is another reason for the growing divide between state and people.

“Government losing credibility undermines the legitimacy of the government so therefore the authority given to government is not implemented by the people – people are then forced to solve their own issues and refer to other sources or powerbrokers or government oppositions,” said Tahir Hashimi, a university lecturer.

But government has said it is trying to establish better relations with the public.

“The basis for relationships between the state and the nation is transparency in performance and providing better services and the government is trying to provide better contact with the people through law and institutions,” said Shahussain Murtazaw, the president’s deputy spokesman.

Experts believe that the decrease of people’s trust in government and the move by people to side with tribal elders and warlords can be a dangerous for the NUG’s future and governance and rule of law.

U.S Cuts Aid, Pakistan To Pay For Own F-16 Fighter Jets

TOLO News - Wed, 05/04/2016 - 13:26

The United States has informed Pakistan it will have to pay for eight American F-16 fighter jets itself after members of Congress raised objections to the proposed deal that would have seen the U.S sponsoring part of the purchase.

The deal, estimated to be worth about $699 million USD, was approved by the U.S in February whereby the U.S would assist Pakistan with $430 million USD in aid to help finance the purchase.

The deal involved up to eight F-16 fighter jets, along with radar and other equipment.

However, this week, members of Congress voiced their unhappiness over the deal and said that Islamabad needs to do more to fight terrorists.

Republican Senator Bob Corker said he would use his power as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to bar use of any U.S funds for the deal to send a message to Pakistan that it needed to do more in the war against militants, reported Reuters.

Corker's stance reflected deep unhappiness among both Democrats and Republicans in Congress about what they see as Islamabad's policy of supporting elements of the Taliban and the Haqqani network blamed for attacks in Afghanistan.

But members of Congress also voiced concerns that the fighter jets could possibly be used by Pakistan against India.

India has reportedly objected to the deal.

U.S State Department spokesman John Kirby said that they have already informed Pakistan over the decision and told them "they should put forward national funds for that purpose."

Meanwhile, Pakistan media has reported that the country cannot afford to pay the almost $700 million USD for the jets.

Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan's foreign policy chief, told reporters in Islamabad that while the U.S had barred the use of the funds for F-16s, the allocation of roughly $240 million could be used "for other purchases".

He said however, that if funding can be arranged "Pakistan will get the F-16s, otherwise we will opt for jets from some other place."

Aziz said that U.S had given its consent for the sale of F-16s, and the only hurdle was finances.

The U.S gives Pakistan $265 million as part of foreign military assistance, in previous years it was $300 million.

"The funding we received was part of normal military funding received from US, and not specifically meant for the purchase of F-16s. The US has informed us that we can use the funds for purchase of other military equipment and items, but not F-16s," Aziz was quoted as saying.

Pakistan had earlier reached an understanding with the U.S for buying eight F-16 planes. Under the deal, Pakistan was required to pay about $270m from its national funds. The U.S was supposed to provide the rest from its Foreign Military Financing (FMF) fund.

Dawn reported that last Friday, a State Department official told the media outlet that Congress had placed a hold on the deal, forbidding the administration from using U.S funds for enabling Pakistan to buy the planes.

Ghani Opens New Drug Rehab Center

TOLO News - Wed, 05/04/2016 - 12:39

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday said that drug addiction was one of the top five national problems in Afghanistan.

Speaking at the opening of Omid National Treatment and Vocational Training Center, a drug rehabilitation center in Kabul, Ghani said that it was not just government's responsibility to tackle the problem but that family and society in general needed to get involved in ending the scourge.

Ghani said that drug traffickers and producers are responsible for the addiction of three million people and called for a national mobilization campaign against drug addiction.

However, the increase in drug addicts in the country has raised serious concerns within government. Ghani called for all institutions to work together to eliminate the problem. Also present at Wednesday's event was Ghani's wife, Rula, and the public health and labor and social affairs ministers.

"We should believe that we will eliminate the problem of addiction in our society one day," Ghani said.

Afghanistan is recognized as one of the biggest drug producers in the world – especially in the poppy cultivation sector – and the number of drug addicts is on the rise in certain parts of the country, particularly in cities.

According to recent reports, the number of drug addicts in the country has now exceeded three million.

MEHWAR: Changing TUTAP Route

TOLO News - Wed, 05/04/2016 - 12:27

 

In this episode of Mehwar host Haris Jamalzada discusses changing the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TUTAP) electricity transmission project route from Bamiyan to Salang.

With him in the studio are Fakori Beheshti, a lawmaker from Bamiyan and Amanullah Ghalib, the Deputy Minister of Energy and Water for technical affairs.

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U.S Superstar Prince Quietly Aided Afghan Orphans

TOLO News - Wed, 05/04/2016 - 11:00

American pop superstar Prince, who died last month, quietly donated tens of thousands of dollars to an Afghan charity that works with orphans.

For years the musician supported that Physiotherapy and Rehabilitative Support for Afghanistan (PARSA) organization. At his request however, they were asked to keep his support under wraps.

"Prince was really invested in orphans," Marnie Gustavson, PARSA executive director, said in an interview.

"The reason I'm letting it be known is to honor him. And I am no longer sworn to secrecy."

Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter by telephone from Kabul, Gustavson said Prince's support to Afghan orphans came about through his friendship with Betty Tisdale, whose Helping and Loving Orphans (HALO) has offices around the world.

Gustavson said: "Any of us who met Betty fell in love with her. I know that's what happened with Prince. She could call him up and say, 'I need money for this, three thousand for this, five thousand for this' and he'd give it to her..."

Over the last six years, Prince secretly transferred thousands of dollars to help rekindle one of PARSA's signature initiatives: An 85-year-old Afghan Scout program, whose members and mentors are all orphans.

Prince had donated an initial $15,000 USD or so about six years ago and contributed another $6,000 USD every year until his death. PARSA staff and volunteers have helped refurbish dozens of orphanages across the country.

MEHWAR: Delay In Introduction Of MoD And NDS Nominees

TOLO News - Wed, 05/04/2016 - 09:49

In this episode of Mehwar, host Haris Jamalzada, discusses why government is stalling over introducing nominees for the position of minister of defense (MoD) and head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS). With him in the studio is Sayed Reza Mahmoudi, head of the national association of people of Afghanistan.

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MEHWAR: World Press Freedom Day Marked

TOLO News - Wed, 05/04/2016 - 09:30

In this episode of Mehwar host Haris Jamalzada discusses freedom of press in Afghanistan.

With him in the studio are the deputy spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, Shahussain Murtazawi, the CEO of Afghanistan's journalist union representative, Fahim Dashti, and head of Reporters Without Borders Afghanistan desk Reza Moini.

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Bountiful Afghan Opium Harvest Yields Profits for the Taliban

New York Times Topic:Afghanistan - Wed, 05/04/2016 - 09:00
The crowded poppy fields in Helmand Province, overflowing with both opium bulbs and laborers, amounted to an insurgent recruiter’s dream.

TAWDE KHABARE: Outcome Of Electoral Reform Process Discussed

TOLO News - Wed, 05/04/2016 - 07:50

The first decree was initially rejected by the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) about four and half months ago.

Meanwhile a number of lawmakers have said that the reason behind the rejection of the decree was that it gave too much authority to the electoral commissions selection committee and that the decree was in contravention of the Constitution.

Based on the new decree the structure of the selection committee will change and all commissioners of the election commissions will be replaced.

In this episode of Tawde Khabare host Shapoor Bakhtiyar discusses about the electoral reform issue with the following guests:

Dawood Asas: CEO's senior advisor

Kamal Nasir Osuli, MP

Gulalai Noor Safai, MP

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FARAKHABAR: Abdullah Marks Press Freedom Day, Pledges Support

TOLO News - Wed, 05/04/2016 - 06:40

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah admitted that the government has not done enough to protect journalists.

He marked World Press Freedom Day on Tuesday at an event in Kabul and stressed that cases involving the killing of journalists should be thoroughly investigated.

Abdullah applauded local media for their achievements over the years and said government would do everything possible to protect journalists from coming under attack.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Abdul Bari Jahani, meanwhile said that journalists' protection mechanism has been finalized.

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

• Parwiz Kawa, Journalist

• Danish Karokhail, Journalist

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UN Demands Protection Of Hospitals In War Zones

TOLO News - Wed, 05/04/2016 - 06:34

The UN Security Council on Tuesday demanded that hospitals and clinics be protected in war zones, in a resolution that draws attention to the rise in attacks on medical workers in conflicts worldwide.

Less than a week after air strikes on a hospital in the Syrian battleground city of Aleppo killed at least 30 people, the council unanimously adopted the measure that strongly condemned the targeting of health facilities and recalled that such attacks are war crimes.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre said it was a "major resolution" that sent a strong warning that there can be "no impunity" for the perpetrators of attacks on medical facilities.

The resolution does not break any new legal ground but British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft stressed that it was "shining a spotlight" on the increase in attacks and serves as a reminder that hospitals, ambulances and medical workers cannot be targets in war.

It was the first-ever resolution adopted by the council specifically on the need to protect medical facilities in war zones.

According to Doctors Without Borders (MSF), there were 94 attacks in Syria against hospitals and clinics supported by that NGO and three MSF-linked health facilities in Yemen have been bombed over the past six months.

Hospitals and clinics in South Sudan have been pillaged repeatedly over the past three years.

"Hospitals and patients have been dragged onto the battlefield," MSF president Joanne Liu told the council.

"Stop these attacks", she pleaded. "Make this resolution save lives."

The resolution does not name countries, but "demands that all parties to armed conflicts" ensure "the respect and protection" of medical personnel as well as their ambulances, hospitals and other health facilities.

"Such attacks must end," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the council.

"When so-called surgical strikes end up hitting surgical wards, something is deeply wrong."

The resolution was drafted by five non-permanent Security Council members: Egypt, Japan, Spain, New Zealand and Uruguay.

It was presented at a time when four of the five permanent council members -- Britain, France, Russia and the United States -- are backing parties in the Syria conflict.

Syria's state media reported that rebel fire on a hospital in the government-controlled area of Aleppo had killed three women and wounded another 17 on Tuesday.

The vote came days after the United States said its troops involved in the bombing of a MSF-run hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz would not face war crimes charges.

TOLOnews 6pm News 03 May 2016

TOLO News - Tue, 05/03/2016 - 18:13

Top news in this Bulletin:

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) this year awarded the Press Freedom Hero medal to Lotfullah Najafizada, head of TOLOnews, in Paris on Monday night.

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A number of political and military analysts on Tuesday lashed out at the National Unity Government (NUG) for not yet introducing its choice of Minister of Defense (MoD) and head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) to parliament.

Website Launched To Help Women Report Crimes

TOLO News - Tue, 05/03/2016 - 15:29

A group of female social activists launched a website on Tuesday aimed at helping women register and report complaints relating to violence against women.

The website, called "The Map of Fear", will allow women to log in, report their problems and get advice. This help will be extended to victims of abuse, sexual harassment and other forms of violence.

The women and children's rights organization, that launched the website, said their goal is to overcome sexual abuse and harassment against women in society.

"In addition to that the elimination of violence against women law has been approved by the council of ministers and was published in the official gazette of Afghanistan, but we haven't seen its effective results so far," said Shahla Farid, legal advisor for the website.

"In addition to quality-based research, we have also launched a quantity-based research program, which looks at sexual harassment in the work environment, university environment and public places. To find a solution, we have also talked to men," said Zarqa Yaftali, head of the organization.

Afghan psychologist, Sayed Rohullah Rezwani, said that in a society when a person's sexual demands are not addressed through safe and legitimate ways, the person naturally looks for illegal ways.

The organization said the advice given to women is free. The website can be accessed at www.harassmap.af

No Plans To Stop Helping Afghanistan: India

TOLO News - Tue, 05/03/2016 - 15:20

The Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) said that Afghanistan represents strategic importance for New Delhi and therefore India will continue its aid to Kabul across various sectors.

India has been one of the largest donors to Afghanistan over the past 14 years and has trained hundreds of officers at their modern military academy over the years.

Where many countries have cut back on aid to Afghanistan, India has stayed constant and promises to continue helping the country.

"We will continue what we are doing in Afghanistan. There is no plan for India to withdraw. We will continue our assistance with our Afghan friends in Afghanistan in construction to build public centers and in funding projects," said Jayant Prasad the director general for IDSA.

Currently 107 Afghan officers are receiving military training at the Indian Military Academy.

The officers are getting training in different areas including military exercises, use of weapons, horse riding and swimming.

"Each student at the academy is taught how to swim and at the end of the semester the student must swim 35m and if he fails he will be failed for six months and if he repeatedly fails he will be expelled from the academy," said Asadullah Massoud, an Afghan trainer at the Indian academy.

Nearly 3,000 Afghan officers have graduated from the Indian Military Academy and received graduation certificates over the years.

"When the Afghan students graduate from here they are directly introduced to the Afghanistan defense force's foreign relations department and after an assessment their documents rank them and on the basis of that they are appointed to duties and the officers start serving people in Afghanistan," Massoud added.

The Indian Military Academy was established by the British Empire in 1932 and at the moment nearly 5,000 cadets from India and 17 other countries are receiving military training at the facility.

NUG Blasted For Not Introducing MoD, NDS Nominees

TOLO News - Tue, 05/03/2016 - 15:12

A number of political and military analysts on Tuesday lashed out at the National Unity Government (NUG) for not yet introducing its choice of Minister of Defense (MoD) and head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) to parliament.

This comes after President Ashraf Ghani said last week at a joint session of parliament that he would introduce nominees for the MoD and NDS soon.

"They say that they are going to devise security and devise a five-year plan; how can they do this without having a minister of defense and chief of NDS?.... If they want peace to come and the security situation to improve..., they should introduce a minister of defense and NDS chief to parliament soon," said Dawood Asas, a former senator.

"Minister of defense and NDS chief have the authorities that caretakers don't have .... legally there is a big difference in administrative duties," said Najman Massoudi, a trainer at the Military Academy.

The political analysts believe that the NUG is a government of slogans and it has failed to deliver on its promises.

"If the NUG had worked strategically, it should have appointed compliant and qualified people as minister of defense and NDS chief, because they are the most important security institutions," said Sayed Farhad Hashimi, a political analyst.

The Presidential Palace meanwhile reiterated its promise that the two nominees will be introduced soon.

"The president in his address to parliament pledged [to introduce the nominees] and now the NUG has started discussions to introduce new people to lead the NDS and MoD," said Shahussain Murtazawi, the deputy spokesman for Ghani.

People also blasted the government for not keeping its promises.

"It is very important [for the NUG] to introduce minister of defense and NDS chief, because it is important for stability of the country," said Najib Sharifi, a resident of Kabul city.

Currently the two high level security organizations are being led by caretakers.

Unemployed Journalist 'Will Not Leave Country'

TOLO News - Tue, 05/03/2016 - 15:02

A former journalist who lost his job has spoken out about the dire circumstances he now faces – after losing his job in Mazar-e-Sharif – but says despite his hardships he will not leave his country.

Sayed Hedayatullah Hashimi, 42, said he has been unemployed for two months. He said he has knocked on every door possible in search of work but has been unsuccessful.

Hashimi, who has experience in both digital and print media, has studied Dari literature and speaks and writes English and Arabic.

According to him he had been working for Jamhoor news agency until recently.

Hashimi said that after failing to find work, he eventually opened a used-shoe shop, with the help of a former friend, who was also once the editor-in-chief of a local media outlet.

Married just four months, Hashimi now earns between 150 and 200 Afghanis a day – through the sale of shoes from his shop called Emperor Shoes.

Hashimi says poverty and unemployment are driving the youth from the country or forcing them into the ranks of insurgents.

He lashed out at leaders of the National Unity Government (NUG) for not honoring their promise to create jobs for people.

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