TOLO News

TOLOnews 6 pm News 22 November 2014

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 14:53

Top news in this bulletine:

U.S. President Barack Obama has secretly decided in recent weeks to extend the combat role of the American troops in Afghanistan, sanctioning the American troops to play a direct role in fighting in the war, revealed by a U.S.-based newspaper.Top news in this bulletin.

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Based on the classified reports as said by the New York Times, Obama's order allows American forces to "carry out missions against the Taliban and other militant groups threatening American troops or the Afghan government." The authorization of direct role in the war will allow for the use of American jets, bombers and drones to support the Afghan security forces in their combat missions; specifically, according to a senior American military officer, U.S. Air Force F-16 fighters, B-1B bombers and Predator and Reaper drones.

Key Ministers Likely Introduced Prior to London Conference

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 14:47

The National Unity Government (NUG) is likely to introduce ministers for security and economy sectors ahead of the London Conference on Afghanistan due on December 4, according to the spokesman for the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah.

Expressing these statements on Saturday, Abdullah's spokesman Mujiburrahman Rahimi stated that President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah are having regular meetings to introduce the cabinet members.

Parliamentarians, civil society activists and the citizens have accused the acting ministers of neglecting their duties. They have demanded the unity government to introduce the ministers as soon as possible.

After taking office, Ghani announced to form the new cabinet during his first 45 days in office; however, it has been almost two months with no sign of progress on the cabinet issue.

On the other hand, some unconfirmed reports suggest that Ghani and Abdullah are divided on major issues including the appointments to the cabinet.

"All the efforts are now to introduce the key ministers ahead of the London Conference," Rahimi said.

After the key ministers are introduced, he added that the technical works of the ministries would be entrusted to the qualified persons on the basis of open competition.

"As the unity government is emphasizing more on economic growth, it needs to appoint the economy ministers before the conference to attract world investors at the meeting," stressed Abdul Qadir Bahman, deputy head of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI).

Based on the Constitution, an acting minister cannot remain in his position for more than two months. But according to the president's legal advisor, by the end of second month either new ministers will be introduced or new caretakers will be appointed.

Wolesi Jirga to Vote on Treaties with US, NATO

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 13:43



The Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of the Parliament) has planned to hold a meeting on Sunday on whether or not to endorse the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) and the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) treaties that National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar signed when newly inducted into office.

The government in a letter to the Parliament has called on the prioritization of the agreements and urged the MPs to ratify the treaties as soon as possible, said Abdul Raouf Ibrahimi, Speaker of the Wolesi Jirga.

"There is a letter from the government asking to give priority to these agreements so we can vote on the outcome," Ibrahimi told the MPs.

But some lawmakers opposing the speaker's announcement said the House must not act hastily in approving the agreements.

"We should consider the good of Afghanistan, not of the United States" said Abdul Satar Khawasi, a lawmaker from northern Parwan province said.

However, some other MPs agreed with Ibrahimi's statements, urging their fellow members to approve the agreements as soon as possible.

"Afghanistan will be questioned at the London conference because neither of the security pacts have been approved by the parliament nor has the cabinet been formed yet," said MP Bashir Ahmad Tayanj. "You and I should consider the good of the country and approve these agreements immediately."

Despite the disagreements among some MPs, Ibrahimi asked the House commission on international affairs to prepare all the documents of both treaties for Sunday's polling.

More than 80 percent of the House members, based on telephonic conversation with the lawmakers, are content with the treaties and are expected to vote in favor of the agreements, which are believed to be vital for the country's future security and stability.

Obama Extends US Combat Role in Afghanistan

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 13:33



U.S. President Barack Obama has secretly decided in recent weeks to extend the combat role of the American troops in Afghanistan, sanctioning the American troops to play a direct role in fighting in the war, revealed by a U.S.-based newspaper.

Based on the classified reports as said by the New York Times, Obama's order allows American forces to "carry out missions against the Taliban and other militant groups threatening American troops or the Afghan government." The authorization of direct role in the war will allow for the use of American jets, bombers and drones to support the Afghan security forces in their combat missions; specifically, according to a senior American military officer, U.S. Air Force F-16 fighters, B-1B bombers and Predator and Reaper drones.

This decision comes as previously Obama had announced that the U.S.-led NATO combat operations would conclude at the end of 2014, but according to the New York Times the extension of a direct combat role in Afghanistan was decided upon after "a lengthy and heated debate" between the Pentagon and the White House.

In objection to Obama's decision, his top civilian aides argued that "American lives should not be put at risk next year in any operations against the Taliban—and that they should have only a narrow counterterrorism mission against Al Qaeda."

The U.S. has witnessed a change in reaction with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani who is more accepting of American military involvement than his predecessor, Hamid Karzai.

Afghan military expert and MP, however, believe that the latest U.S. decision, if true, is not only in favor of Afghanistan but is also important for regional security.

"Increased fundamentalist views and also lack of regional cooperation has led U.S. to make such a decision," military expert Jawid Kohistani told TOLOnews. "This is a good decision and is in favor of Afghanistan."

"Insincerity of Afghanistan's neighbors in the fight against terrorism has compelled the United States to decide on an extended combat role," Afghan MP Jafar Mahdawi said.

Based on the U.S. decision made in May of this year, the combat mission of American troops would finish by the end of 2014 with only 9,800 troops remaining in the war-hit country, playing a limited role for the Afghan forces, specifically training.

By the end of 2014 NATO allies are expected to keep around 4,000 troops in Afghanistan in 2015 and by the end of next year half of the American troops, out of 9,800, will leave the country.

This, according to the New York Times report, will allow the U.S. President to say he ended the Afghan war before leaving office.

But it is unclear so far that what number of American Soldiers, based on the new decision, would stay in Afghanistan to carryout combat mission for another year.

Two ANA, 19 Taliban Insurgents Killed in Nuristan

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 08:33

Two Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers and 19 Taliban insurgents were killed in a clash in eastern Nuristan province on Saturday, local officials said.

Three other ANA soldiers and 27 Taliban insurgents were injured in the clash.

The clash took place at about 9:30 a.m. after a number of Taliban insurgents attacked three military bases in Kamdish district of the province and started clashing with Afghan forces, a spokesman for Selab 201 Military Corps in eastern Afghanistan, Noman Atifi, said.

"Nearly 800 Taliban insurgents attacked three military bases in Kamdish district, clashing with Afghan military forces for the past two hours," Atifi said. "The Taliban have suffered massive casualties in the attack."

The other Taliban insurgents fled the area and more troops have deployed to the bases, according to Atifi.

However, the Taliban have not yet commented about the clash.

First 100 Days: SAARC Meeting Held in a Week

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 07:09

In this episode of the program, host Fawad Aman discusses the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) meeting that is to be held in a week with the following guests:

• Fahim Dashti, journalist
• Ahmad Saeedi, political analyst
• Abdul Subhan Misbah, deputy of head of the Lawyers Union of Afghanistan
• Naeem Ayoubzada, head of Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan TEFA

To watch the program, click here:

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Five Insurgents Killed in Baghlan Operation

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 06:51

At least five insurgents were killed and six others injured during an Afghan police operation in northern Baghlan in the past four days, local officials said on Saturday.

Operation "Brishna 15" was conducted in different parts of the province to clear the area of insurgents, Provincial Deputy Police Chief, Abdul Rashid Bashir said.

"The operation still continues in other parts of the province to clear of insurgents," Bashir said. "There were no civilian and police casualties during the operation."

He said that 14 villages have been cleared of insurgents during the operation.

However, the Taliban insurgents have not yet commented about the operation.

Civilian Killed in Blast in Nangarhar

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 04:51

A civilian was killed and two others were injured in a mine blast in eastern Nangarhar province early Saturday, local officials said.

The blast took place in the fourth district of Jalalabad City, the capital of the province, when a magnetic mine that was placed in a vehicle exploded, deputy police head in Nangarhar Ghulam Rabbani said.

"The car was travelling from Behsod district into Jalalabad City when a magnetic mine that was placed in the car exploded killing one and injuring two others," Rabbani said. "All the victims were members of a family."

He added that the injured were taken to a nearby hospital and according to hospital officials are in stable condition.

No group including the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the blast.

TAWDE KHABAER: Afghan Security Forces Still Lack Key Capabilities

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 16:11

David Sedney, a former deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Defense, has said that the "numbers that the Afghan government and the international community agreed on at the NATO summit in [Chicago] 2012 is around 350,000." But they lack a number of key capabilities, particularly in areas of intelligence, air support and mobility, artillery, as well as logistics and leadership development.

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In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Zabi Sadaat discuss the topic with the following guests:

• Gen. Nazifa Zaki, MP
• Gul Ahmad Azimi, Senator
• Omar Safi, political analyst
• Hamidullah Hotek, political analyst

Ghani Advisor Says No Evidence Election Commissions Committed Crimes

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 15:06

President Ashraf Ghani's top legal advisor has said that while the national election commissions are responsible for obvious violations of procedure and broader incompetencies during this year's election process, there is no evidence yet of any criminal wrongdoing.

The comments come just days after a spokesman for the Attorney General spoke to TOLOnews about a letter that had been sent to members of the relevant commissions ordering them to appear for questioning.

Calls for the prosecution of members of the election commissions have persisted among aggrieved provincial council candidates. The Office of Administrative Affairs and Council of Ministers Secretariat reportedly referred the complaints of the provincial council candidates to the Attorney General's office.

"Sending the letters of protesting provincial council candidates doesn't mean referring electoral bodies to the Attorney General, because we have to deal with the violations during elections legally," presidential advisor Abdul Ali Mohammadi said on Friday. He went on to say that accusations against the commissions made by members of the National Assembly have also failed to be substantiated.

Nevertheless, the Attorney General's office appears to be moving forward with a preliminary investigation, which it says it is obligated to do under law.

"On the basis of law, the Attorney General is obliged to investigate the complaints it receives and his excellency the Attorney General of Afghanistan has done this and has assigned a delegation to investigate the complaints," spokesman Basir Azizi said just over a day ago. "We have dispatched a letter to the electoral commissions and asked members of the election commission to respond to the questions of the Attorney General."

Ridding the current members of the commissions from their posts and transparent investigations of the complaints are among the main demands of the protesting provincial candidates. Already many of the candidates have claimed that they have enough evidence to show that members of the commissions committed fraud and took bribes during the elections.

TOLOnews 6 pm News 21 November 2014

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 14:28

Top news in this bulletin

At least five suicide bombers were arrested by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) who wanted to attack the first Vice President, Gen. Abdul Rasheed Dostum, local officials said on Friday.

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President Ashraf Ghani's second Vice President Sarwar Danish spoke of fighting against political and economical mafias and corruption at the death anniversary of Sadiqi Nili, a former jihadi leader, on Friday.

New Voices Expected on Season 10 of Afghan Star

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 14:14

The anticipated return of the tenth season of Afghan Star is expected to launch in a matter of weeks where Afghan youths from around the country come to compete in becoming Afghanistan's next singing sensation.

Afghan Star is a platform that allows the youth to interact and contribute in the development of the music industry inside and outside of Afghanistan.

"I have come a long way to introduce the music of the northern part of the country to my people," Afghan Star participant Ali said.

Prominent Afghan musicians have said that the show plays a significant role in revitalizing and further developing the music industry in the country, highlighting that the youth struggle to make their passion for music into a professional career as little music industries exist in the country.

"Music has developed very well in Afghanistan," Afghan musician Ustad Shad Kam said. "Many youth are interested in entering the field of music."

Every year since the start of Afghan Star in 2004, the interest in participating has flourished bringing youth from every part of Afghanistan and outside of the country to partake in the country's biggest musical show. To many, this is an opportunity to show their fellow Afghans their abilities in the field of music in hopes to become the next Afghan Star.

"If the youth are on the right track they can take advantage of the opportunity offered by taking part in Afghan Star," prominent Afghan singer Wahid Qasimi said. "A singer outside the stage of Afghan Star will not be able to attain reputation and fans in the society very easily."

The preliminary rounds of selection have begun for the tenth season of Afghan Star as the judges visit provinces in search for the next star.

Saudi Arabia Vows to Help Restore Peace, Build Mega Islamic Center in Kabul

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 13:58

The Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Afghanistan, Mesfer bin Abdul Rahman Al-Ghaseb, used the announcement of plans to construct the largest Islamic center in the country as an opportunity to assure Saudi's commitment to working with both Afghanistan and Pakistan to build peace in the region.

"Our position is strong on restoring peace in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia enjoys close and frank ties with Afghanistan and Pakistan and we are trying to improve security in Afghanistan," Saudi Ambassador Mesfer bin Abdul Rahman Al-Ghaseb said on Friday.

On behalf of his government, the Ambassador has also signed a contract with a construction company to build the biggest Islamic center in Afghanistan to promote Islamic education. He has said lessons geared toward countering the extremist message will be emphasized at the center.

The announcement comes soon after President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani's visit to Saudi Arabia, during which officials from Kabul and Riyadh committed themselves to enhancing bilateral cooperation between their countries. Kabul hopes to harness Saudi's political and cultural clout as the center of the Muslim world and one of the most power Muslim countries to pressure Islamabad into being more honest in its dealings with the Afghan government over peace talks with the Taliban.

But while the Saudi Ambassador spoke at lengths about the need to establish long term peace in Afghanistan, he did not go into any detail about how they will get the Taliban to the negotiating table.

The Islamic center being funded by the Saudi government is expected to be built on Maranjan Hill in Kabul. Officials haven't revealed the overall financial plan for the project, but it has been said that the center will be constructed over 18,000 square meters and should be open in two years.

Given Saudi Arabia's close ties to Pakistan, and its alleged involvement in stoking fires of Islamic extremism in certain places around the world, some have expressed concerns about the center being co-opted by radical preachers and turned into a Jihadist factory like the Madrasas run by the Taliban in certain parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"We hope that establishment of the center by Saudi Arabia will not amplify all those Madrasas in Afghanistan, Pakistan and some other countries that are known for spreading extremism, terrorism and fundamentalism," Afghan religious scholar Hedayat told TOLOnews. "If it becomes like this, then it will further add to the pains of the Afghan nation, rather than heal it."

Government officials, however, have assured that the center's education programs will be overseen by the Ministry of Hajj and Islamic Affairs. "Education curricula for the center will be monitored by the The Ministry of Hajj and Islamic Affairs and this will help all those who want to get an Islamic education inside the country," Acting Minister of Hajj and Islamic Affairs Yousaf Niazi said.

NDS Arrest Suicide Bombers Who Planned to Target Dostum

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 12:38

At least five suicide bombers were arrested by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) who wanted to attack the first Vice President, Gen. Abdul Rasheed Dostum, local officials said on Friday.

Spokesman for the NDS, Hasib Sediqi, said that the bombers were trained two months ago outside Afghanistan's border, adding that one of the bombers were waiting for Gen. Dostum in Mazar-e Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province, while the four others were in Kabul waiting to attack.

"Five terrorists who wanted to target the first Vice President were captured in two separate operations: Mazar-e Sharif and Kabul," Sediqi said.

The NDS have said that the suicide bombers are linked with the Taliban.

In the recent days Gen. Dostum emphasized on the elimination of the Taliban and insurgents who were fighting in Afghanistan and targeting the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and civilians.

In the recent months, the Taliban insurgents have increased their attacks in the country, which has raised concerns among the people.

"The enemies never want Afghanistan to improve, which is why they have focused launching attacks on large cities," Sediqi said.

Recently, leader of Jamiat-e Ulema Islam Pakistan, Maulana Fazlurrahman, made a strong statement stating that the war in Afghanistan would continue until the complete withdrawal of foreign troops.

"Maulana Fazlurrahman is an irresponsible person who does not represent Pakistan. He is a Satan in the form of a human," Sediqi said when asked what his thoughts were about Fazlurrahman's statement.

The Taliban have targeted ANSF, government officials and foreign troop's facilities in the recent months killing and injuring the lives of innocent people.

Danish Emphasizes Fight Against Corruption

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 11:56

President Ashraf Ghani's second Vice President Sarwar Danish spoke of fighting against political and economical mafias and corruption at the death anniversary of Sadiqi Nili, a former jihadi leader, on Friday.

Speaking at the event, Danish emphasized that the National Unity Government will fight corruption, adding that discrimination and injustice have no place in the unity government.

"I assure you that the National Unity Government will fight against any form of injustice, discrimination, monopoly, political and economical mafias and corruption," Danish said at the ceremony, adding that in the next five years the nation will see a positive change and equality in the country.

The Chief Executive and his second Vice President were also present at the ceremony and delivered a speech, but specifically on the achievements of the late jihadi leader Nili.

"Thousands of people, from all over the country, lost their lives in the jihad of Afghanistan," CEO Abdullah Abdullah said. "It was a movement to defend religion against assault, cruelty, and crime that wanted to rule and take over Afghanistan."

Danish said that corruption will be dealt with, but the question still lingers as to why the government will not unveil the identified corrupt officials to the people of the country and if corrupt individuals are holding senior government positions the question many ask is: will the fight against corruption get anywhere?

Tawde Khabare: Suicide Attacks Increase 68%: NDS

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 10:17

In a press conference, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) said that, looking back at the numbers from the third quarter of the current year, in the past 45 days, preventive operations of police, military and NDS has resulted in a 45 percent decrease in rocket attacks, mines and armed attacks, while, the number of suicide bombings have increased by 68 percent in major cities.

This is while, a number of capital residents have witnessed many suicide attacks, including an attempt on the life of MP Shukria Barakzai.

Host Shahpoor Bakhtyar discusses the issue with the following guests:

• Mawlana Farid, Political Analyst
• Naqibullah Fayeq, MP
• Muhammad Naeem Lalai, MP

To watch the footage, click here:

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First 100 Days: Presidential Decree for Summoning of Electoral Commissioners

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 08:40

President Ashraf Ghani met with the administrative committee of the House of Representatives and a number of residents of Uruzgan province.

President Ghani also issued a decree for the summoning of the Independent Election Commission Commissioners and Independent Electoral Complaints Commission in regards to the complaints from the provincial council candidates.

Host Omid Farooq, discusses the issue with the following guests:

Karim Amini, TOLOnews Reporter

Nader Mohseni, ECC Commissioner

Muhammad Asem, Political Analyst

To watch the program, click here:

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TOLOnews 6pm News 20 November 2014

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 15:58

Complaints of the provincial council election candidates have reached the desk of the Attorney General's Office.

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Upon the request of President Ashraf Ghani, the Attorney General's Office has issued separate letters to both electoral commissions summoning them to the office.

Attorney General Under Pressure to Recuperate Stolen Kabul Bank Millions

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 14:34

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani's top legal advisor, Abdul Ali Muhammadi, has said that the Attorney General's office is expected to fully implement the Kabul appeals court recent ruling on the Kabul Bank case, which included the order to freeze the assets belonging to every shareholder and official of the bank linked to the scandal.

"The properties will be not released until the stolen money of the Kabul bank has been returned to the government treasury," Mr. Muhammadi said of the assets on Thursday. "Based on the court order, the Attorney General's office is free to bring the Kabul Bank money that was transferred abroad back to Afghanistan," he added.

But reports suggest recovering the lost millions - roughly two thirds of the total 900 million USD stolen has yet to be recuperated - could be difficult.

Nevertheless, the Attorney General's office has maintained that the court's order will be implemented in full. "The Attorney General's office is obligated to implement the appeals court decision, in regard to the people and the freezing of their assets," Attorney General spokesman Baseer Azizi said.

General Abdul Rasheed Dostum, the First Vice-President of Afghanistan, has joined President Ghani in the national unity government's early publicity push against corruption. "We will prevent corruption, will bring reform, we will finalize the Kabul Bank issue no matter what," General Dostum said.

But some critics say the government's anti-corruption campaign is mostly rhetoric and symbolic action, rather than the comprehensive reform and accountability that must take place.

The national unity government's Chief Executive Officer, Abdullah Abdullah, who ran against Ghani and Dostum in the election, has demanded that the government first get rid of the corrupt individuals who remain in office before it makes promises of change.

Ministry in Talks With Company That Abandoned Qaisar-Laman Road Project

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 14:29

According to officials from the Ministry of Public Works (MoPW), talks with the Turkish-American company ECCI, the company that abandoned the the Qaisar-Laman highway project after being paid to complete it, are currently underway in Dubai.

Reportedly the talks are being mediated by an international organization and are expected to conclude by the end of the first week in December. ECCI was contracted for 107 million USD to construct the Qaisar-Laman ring road, and did not finish the job despite being paid.

Officials said they hope the talks would result in the company returning to Afghanistan to complete the project. "The mediator in the talks will hear the views of the two sides and will issue its decision regarding the issue on the basis of the arguments offered by the two sides," MoPW spokesman Suhail Kakar said on Thursday. "When a final decision is reached, the stance of the ministry will also be cleared up over whether the company returns for work or the ministry takes another approach."

Meanwhile, members of Parliament's Financial and Budget Commission have emphasized the importance of the Qaisar-Laman road and called on the government to finalize the construction as soon as possible.

"I have seen tens of projects like this in Afghanistan, which have faced the same issue as this company has done on the Qaisar-Laman highway," said Amir Khan Yar, the head of the Finance and Budget Commission. "The concerned company received the deposit and escaped and the issue became controversial and work on the project terminated."

When he took office in September, President Ashraf Ghani asked the Ministry of Public Works to make sure the road project is completed within nine months. But Ministry officials say security threats, ECCI's abrupt pullout and donor delays have thrown the project off schedule.