TOLO News

TOLOnews 6pm News 17 April 2015

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 18:01

Top news in this Bulletin:

‎Increased abductions have sharply decreased the numbers of passengers travelling along the country's highways, causing about 75 percent reduction in the revenue of transport companies. Transport company owners told TOLOnews that they had been making losses over the past two months as the travelers to Herat, Ghor, Farah, Kandahar and Ghazni provinces had decreased largely decreased.

To watch the whole news bulletin, click here:

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The European Union (EU) Ambassador to Afghanistan hopes the peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban will take place.After a meeting with Pakistani government officials in Islamabad, Franz-Michael Mellbin told TOLOnews that despite no change in Taliban's approach, the peace talks would begin.

Traveling Along Highways Decreased As Abductions Increased ‎

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 17:13

‎Increased abductions have sharply decreased the numbers of passengers travelling along the country's highways, causing about 75 percent reduction in the revenue of transport companies.

Transport company owners told TOLOnews that they had been making losses over the past two months as the travelers to Herat, Ghor, Farah, Kandahar and Ghazni provinces had decreased largely decreased.

At least 31 passengers travelling along the Kabul-Kandahar highway were kidnapped about two months when unknown gunmen stopped their vehicles in southern Zabul province and drove them away, allegedly to Khak Afghan district.

The incident was followed by several more abductions in western Herat, southern Ghazni and northern Balkh provinces—causing deep panic among the travelers.

According to the transport companies, the people are suffering additional costs as they are now compelled to travel by air due to lack of safety on the highways.

"The number of travelers has sharply decreased, and those who travel to these provinces need to pay huge amount to travel by plane," owner of a transport company Sayedullah said.

Before the kidnappings, each day four to five buses travelled to the provinces but now only one bus and that with a few passengers makes a trip in the whole week, a driver said.

However, the fate of hostages is still unknown. Despite launching rescue operations in Zabul, the government has still been unable to find and rescue the abductees.

The families of hostages have set up protest camps in Zarnigar Park of Kabul, accusing the government of neglecting their plight to secure the release of their loved ones.

The families who got a chance to meet with President Ashraf Ghani only for 10 minutes told TOLOnews that they were further disappointed in the meeting.

"We met with president only for 10 minutes, and when we asked about our loved one, the president replied that he can't assure the release of hostages," said Abdul Hussain, who is awaiting return of his loved ones since February 24.

However, the Afghans in different parts of the world are staging rallies, demanding the Afghan government to secure the release of their countrymen.
Dozens of Afghans gathered before the Afghan Embassy in London on Thursday and warned if the government didn't step in to rescue the hostages, the country's situation would further deteriorate.

300 Teachers Complete New Masters Degree at AUAF

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 17:09

Officials of the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE), Ministry of Education (MoE) and the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) have announced the completion of a masters program for over 300 teachers. The main objective of the program is to enhance the quality of instruction at government-sponsored teacher training institutions around the country.

The World Bank provided financial assistance for the one year teachers masters program at AUAF, which will graduate its first class this year. According to the mutual agreement between the bank and the Afghanistan government, financial assistance is committed for at least 1,000 Afghan teachers to study at AUAF over three years.

"Alongside the training programs, you also learnt the prospects of democracy, justice and human rights, and with the knowledge you gained, you will be able to suggest changes in the education sector and finally to whole country," AUAF academic department chair Sharif Fayez told the graduating teachers on Friday.

Officials hope the program in the coming years will help raise the overall quality of education being provided around the country by improving the quality of instructors. "The program has been very helpful to our teachers. We expect that by pursuing the training program, training-related issues will be addressed in the capital, and in the provinces, to some extent the lack of professional teachers will be reduced," acting minister of Information and Culture Osman Baburi said.

Yalda Yousufi, a teacher trainer at Syed Jamaluddin Teacher Training Center in Kabul, told TOLOnews that the new masters program has offered the opportunity to learn many new, important professional skills. "We have learnt new skills that could help us provide professional teachers to society and seek settlement to the challenges facing teachers," Yousufi said Friday.

Although based in the capital, the program is expected to have a far-reaching impact once its graduates fan out to different training centers around the country. "I have pursued a positive education in this university, and after returning to Zabul, this will support me in doing a good job and now I can play a role in providing training to teachers," a teacher named Hakimullah said.

EU Ambassador Hopeful of Peace Talks

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 16:54

The European Union (EU) Ambassador to Afghanistan hopes the peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban will take place.

After a meeting with Pakistani government officials in Islamabad, Franz-Michael Mellbin told TOLOnews that despite no change in Taliban's approach, the peace talks would begin.
He, however, expressed optimism over what he called a change in Pakistan's approaching the Afghan Taliban.

"Pakistan wants to see a change... [But] we have not seen quite the moves that we would like to see from Afghan Taliban, but I remain hopeful," Mellbin said.

He emphasized that the change in Pakistan's policy had brought the Taliban to get interested in peace talks.

The EU Ambassador expressed that Pakistan was following a new strategy to fight insurgency. He hoped that besides implementing those strategies, Pakistan would also take new steps for the stability of region.

"I think from the top leadership, there is a word to say there is no good or bad terrorists anymore and they understand that this is a threat from terrorist groups against state actors and that state actors need to work together to combat that."

He, however, expressed concerns about presence of Daesh militants in parts of Afghanistan and urged on joint combat against the group by Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Interior Minister Pledges to Revenge ANA Officers in Badakhshan

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 16:50

While visiting the northern Badakhshan province on Friday, Minister of Interior Noor-ul-haq Ulomi vowed that militants in the area would subdued and prevented from ever conducting another attack like the one that left nearly 30 Afghan National Army (ANA) troops dead last week again.

Ulomi expressed appreciation for the sacrifices of the local security forces, saying he would ensure more weapons and resources are sent to the province to help suppress insurgents effectively.

Ulomi's visit to Badakhshan comes a week after militants ambushed killed nearly 30 ANA soldiers at a remote outpost in Jurm district while their commander was on unapproved leave in Kabul. The slain soldiers are said to have lacked adequate fuel to escape the area in which the insurgents were active, ultimately causing them to be stranded and outgunned, and prompting backlash among many commentators who have cited it as a prime example of corruption and negligence within Afghan security institutions.

Ulomi, while speaking to residents of Wardoj district, called on the security forces to prepare for a counter-offensive clearingoperation in Wardoj and Jurm districts.

"Now it is the time to act, and you are in the trenches and against the avowed foe of the people of Afghanistan," Ulomi told a crowd of soldiers, police and residents. "They [the militant] must realize that they are very weak and our people are much stronger, awakened and will safeguard their interests, beliefs and flag [...] they will sacrifice their lives, but not retreat," he said.

Nevertheless, Ulomi acknowledged the challenge of fighting a battle against an enemy that has support and can seek refuge in neighboring foreign territory. "I know who is the enemy and what he wants [...] We know that the war is waged from outside," he said on Friday.

Following the ambush last week, the Ministry of Defense has assigned an investigation team to probe the incident. Preliminary findings suggest major negligence on the part of certain ANA officers, who sources close to the issue say are likely to face legal repercussions.

Lower House Will Vote on 16 Cabinet Nominees Saturday

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 16:20

The issue of dual-citizenship barring the nomination of Abdul Bari Jahani as the next Minister of Information and Culture has been put to rest and he will face a vote of confidence along with the other 15 cabinet nominees on Saturday, Lower House Deputy Speaker Mohammad Nazir Ahmadzai said Friday.

"Based on the protocol of the House of Representatives, voting will be conducted for the ministerial nominees on Saturday and this will certify the fate of the nominees," Ahmadzai told TOLOnews.

There were some reports previously that Mr. Jahani would not be included on the list of nominees up for approval because of his dual citizenship with the Unites States. Earlier this week, the other 15 cabinet nominees to be voted on Saturday presented their policy platforms to lawmakers. Now, according to the deputy speaker, Jahani's renunciation of his U.S. citizenship has been confirmed by Parliament.

"According to our information, tomorrow, the documents pertaining to the renunciation of Mr. Abdul Bari Jahani's dual citizenship will be completed," Ahmadzai explained. "First, he will explain his policy agenda, and then later he will be included in the voting process."

The political strain of an incomplete cabinet over half a year into the national unity government's rule has given way to a sense of despair among many. Across the country, people have complained about the lack of services, disorder and corruption that has emerged in the vacuum of new leadership, as acting governors and officials maintain their authority without accountability. Many political commentators have said the inability to form a complete cabinet, let alone appoint new provincial leadership, has been the single greatest failing of the national unity government to date.

Nevertheless, in Parliament, there is much hope that the slate of nominees will be approved quickly now that all their credentials have been verified and programs assessed. "The environment is quite positive in the House and there is the possibility that the majority of the nominees will get a vote of confidence in the wake of the ongoing uncertainties prevailing around the country," Legal and Judicial Commission chair Mohammad Abdoh said.

Even once the 16 cabinet positions up for a vote on Saturday are filled, the government will still need to name nominees for leadership of the Ministry of Defense, Supreme Court, Attorney General's Office and the Central Bank of Afghanistan.

Rula Ghani Among "100 Most Influential People"

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 15:08

The Time Magazine has released its list of 100 most influential people, in which, Afghanistan's First Lady Rula Ghani is also named as one of the most influential figures in the world.

She, according to the magazine, was selected for her commitments to improve living standards for women in the country—where the women have been the victims of domestic violence, forced or underage marriages, rape and many other heinous abuses.

U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and an American journalist Jorge Ramos were also found in the list.
Meanwhile, the First Lady's office issued a statement on Friday, expressing her gladness on the occasion.

"She hopes that her work in the coming four years will fulfill the confidence placed in her," the statement noted.

The magazine deputy managing editor Radhika Jones has, meanwhile, expressed that they would vary the list each year to introduce more influential people to the world.

"One thing that we really try to do with the list to make it varied and interesting from year-to-year is to think about not the people who are blanket influential but also the people whose influence is really rising," she said.

Female Afghan politician Malalai Joya and an entrepreneur Roya Mahboob have already been named in the Time's list in 2010 and 2013 respectively.

ANSF Operations Kill 5 Insurgents

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 07:42

At least five insurgents were killed and one injured during a series of coordinated operations over the past 24 hours by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said in a statement on Thursday.

The operations were conducted in Nangarhar, Sar-e-Pul, Kandahar, Zabul, Uruzgan and Kapisa provinces, the statement said.

"During the same period, the police discovered and defused roadside bombs placed in Samangan, Zabul and Farah provinces," the statement noted.

The MoI, however, did not comment whether the security forces were harmed during the anti-insurgent operations.

Police Abusing Afghan Asylum Seekers in Serbia: Human Rights Watch

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 06:42

Afghan asylum seekers and migrants in Serbia are being harassed and abused at the hands of Serbian police, Human Rights Watch said on Friday after interviewing scores of victims.

Victims painted a bleak picture of being subject to violent assaults, threats, insults, and extortion, denial of the required special protection for unaccompanied children, and summary returns to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Some families and unaccompanied children said they had been turned away when they tried to register as asylum seekers and were sleeping outside in the bitter cold.

"Serbian authorities should be protecting asylum seekers and immigrants, including children fleeing war and persecution, not allowing the police to victimize them," said Emina Ćerimović, a Koenig fellow at Human Rights Watch. "The authorities should put an immediate stop to police intimidation and abuse and hold those responsible to account."

Between November 2014 and January 2015, Human Rights Watch interviewed 81 asylum seekers and migrants, including 18 children, in various locations in Serbia and Macedonia – among them were numerous Afghans.

Aalem, a 16-year-old Afghan boy, said that twice in November police forced him and three of his friends – ages 12, 13, and 15 – back to Macedonia. They succeeded in applying for asylum in Serbia after their third attempt. Four adults said the border police in southern and eastern Serbia told them to hand over money to avoid being pushed back to Macedonia and released them after they did.

Human Rights Watch also interviewed 13 people, including two unaccompanied children, ages 14 and 17, who said police had refused to register their intent to seek asylum – in the Železnička police station in Belgrade, in the Bogovađa Asylum Center, south of Belgrade, and in the police station in Sjenica, in southern Serbia. The refusal not only denied them access to the asylum system, but also to shelter, food, and medical care.

A police officer at the center who was responsible for registering asylum seekers said he only has time to register 15 people a day and that sometimes as many as 50 show up. He added that families with children, pregnant women, and unaccompanied children have priority for registration.

However, the people living outside the center included two families with small children and six unaccompanied children, all except one of whom said they had been denied the opportunity to register. One 16-year-old Afghan boy said the police officer had registered him but instructed him to go to another center, approximately 112 kilometers away.

In November and December, Human Rights Watch made three visits to the informal camps in and around the Ciglana brick factory in Subotica, a border town close to Serbia's frontier with Hungary. More than 50 people, including women and very young children, were sleeping in improvised tents, on bricks and piles of paper with little or no shelter from the freezing cold – with temperatures as low as minus five degrees Celsius during the night.

Fourteen people there said police had threatened them with detention and deportation if they would not hand over their money and mobile phones. Seven said the police hit or slapped them or sprayed them with pepper spray, then took their money.

"Nahla," a 38-year-old mother from Afghanistan, was traveling with her four children ages 6, 9, 11, and 13. Nahla and her 13-year-old son said police had come to the factory two or three nights earlier as they slept, awakened them and sprayed them in the eyes with pepper spray, then took money from them.
Serbian authorities should immediately investigate cases of police abuse against asylum seekers and migrants and hold to account anyone found responsible, Human Rights Watch said.

Serbia is a candidate for European Union membership, and actively participates in the Stabilization and Association Process, a step on the way to membership. Under the Stabilization and Association process, it is required to follow certain requirements for its asylum system and treatment of migrants.

"If Serbia truly aspires to join the EU it should put a stop to any police abuse and promptly investigate allegations of ill-treatment by the police," Ćerimović said. "Anyone who expresses a wish to apply for asylum should have a meaningful opportunity to register their asylum claim and present their case."

KANKASH: Russia Willing to Cooperate with Afghanistan in Combating Drug Smuggling and Insurgency

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 06:29

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavarov in a meeting with President Ashraf Ghani's national security advisor Hanif Atmar pledged that his country was willing to cooperate with Afghanistan in combating drug smuggling and countering terrorism. According to Atmar, President Ghani lools forward to expanding the bilateral ties with Russian federation to its its highest point.

To watch the whole program, click here:

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

• Najib Manalai, political analyst
• Qasim Irfani, professor at the University
• Mohammad Sediq Shahbaz, political commentator

Al-Qaeda Seizes Airport in Southeast Yemen

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 05:51

Al-Qaeda militants Thursday seized a provincial airport in southeast Yemen while tribal forces took over an oil terminal, as the war-wracked country slides further into turmoil.

"The military unit in charge of security at the facility withdrew without resisting" Al-Qaeda fighters, said an official at the airport in Mukalla, capital of Hadramawt province.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the jihadist network's powerful Yemeni branch, earlier this month took advantage of the growing chaos to overrun Mukalla.

Military sources said AQAP now controls the whole of the city of more than 200,000 inhabitants, except for a camp of soldiers loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who has fled to Saudi Arabia.

Elsewhere in Hadramawt province, tribal forces on Thursday took control of a major oil terminal after soldiers protecting the site withdrew, a military source said.

The terminal, in the city of Al-Shihr, "fell under the complete control of tribal fighters after the military unit guarding it withdrew in the afternoon without resistance," the source told AFP.

Various armed groups have taken over parts of the deeply tribal country, where Iran-backed rebels are battling pro-Hadi forces.

In southwest Yemen, rebel soldiers loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh traded tank and artillery fire Thursday with a pro-Hadi brigade in the city of Taez, military sources and witnesses said.

TAWDE KHABARE: President Ghani's Trip to India

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 04:51

India is hoping that following the visit of President Ashraf Ghani to India a new chapter will open in Kabul and New Delhi's relations.

To watch the whole program, click here:

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President Ghani is expected to visit India in the near future and will meet with officials.

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

• Moean Marastyal member of the Truth and Justice Party
• Ahmad Saeedi, former Afghan diplomat in Pakistan
• Tawfiq Dawari, head of the financial department of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI)
• Faiz Mohammad Zaland, professor at the University

 

TOLOnews 6pm News 16 April 2015

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 18:04

Top news in this Bulletin:

Ministry of Defense (MoD) deputy spokesman Dawlat Waziri on Thursday suggested that local provincial officials were in collusion with militants in Badakhshan, ultimately contributing to the massacre of Afghan National Army (ANA) troops that took place at an outpost in the northern province last week.

To watch the whole news bulletin, click here:

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 Sixty-three individuals, including President Ashraf Ghani's economic advisor, Hazarat Omar Zakhelwal, have been accused of involvement in the Ministry of Defense (MoD) corruption scandal, which included the embezzlement of 100 million USD in fuel contract money from the Afghan government.

Local Badakhshan Officials Accused of Collusion in Attack on ANA

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 17:48

Ministry of Defense (MoD) deputy spokesman Dawlat Waziri on Thursday suggested that local provincial officials were in collusion with militants in Badakhshan, ultimately contributing to the massacre of Afghan National Army (ANA) troops that took place at an outpost in the northern province last week.

While the Defense Ministry confirmed that the battalion commander responsible for the outpost that was ambushed has been referred to the Attorney General's office for negligence and will be facing an investigation, a number of officials have alleged a more nefarious level of involvement in the incident among some local authorities.

The Badakhshan Police Chief, General Baba Jan, has claimed a number of provincial officials, including MPs and Provincial Council members, have provided covert support for the Taliban in the area and were even involved directly in the incident last week. "One of the Taliban's commanders known as Shamsullah was wounded in Jurm district and was transported by a person who serves in the government," Gen. Baba Jan told TOLOnews. "He was given medical treatment and then returned, and the head of the Provincial Council was also there and his phone calls are registered."

Nevertheless, pending details and an evidence-based investigation, those accusations remain largely vague and unsubstantiated claims. And Abdullah Naji Nazari, the head of the Badakhshan Provincial Council, has categorically rejected the allegations. "General Baba Jan has accused me of coordinating with the Taliban in an irresponsible manner, and I reject this," he said on Thursday.

Still, MPs from Badakhshan have bolstered the claims of local officials undermining security in the province. "The commander of the check post sold it, so here the MPs don't have a role," MP Neelofar Ibrahimi said. "But if we deeply asses the roots of the issues in Badakhshan, it is clear that there is political intervention, the interference of local government and neighboring provinces and the stateholders who are dreaming to of building mines in Badakhshan [...] these are all fundamental factors of insecurity in Badakhshan."

Independent analysts have leant credence to those claims, yet added that another major factor is the sympathetic ideological inclinations of some officials in the local Badakhshan government. "The individuals who have Taliban-type ideology, or in someway support them, perhaps they have cooperated with them," military expert Sediq Shahbaz told TOLOnews.

Yet there seems to be unanimous agreement that, ultimately, it was the security officials that failed in their duties. "One thing that is clear is that it was a coordinated act and the negligence of officials allowed it to turn out like this," Shahbaz said. The Defense Ministry has confirmed the negligence of the battalion commander responsible for the outpost, named Azizullah, who was reportedly on leave in Kabul without permission when the incident took place.

Atta Mohammad Noor, the governor of neighboring Balkh province, has taken criticisms a bit further, accusing more or less the entire central government of negligence in handling the aftermath of the Badakhshan attack. "A few days have been passed since the tragedy of our brothers in Badakhshan, and so far no official has visited the area, because every official is engaged in political negotiations, big programs or are out of the country," Noor said on Thursday. "We feel unfortunate when we see the fate of the nation like this, God knows what will happen tomorrow."

Zakhelwal Named As Suspect in MoD Fuel Contract Investigation

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 16:32

Sixty-three individuals, including President Ashraf Ghani's economic advisor, Hazarat Omar Zakhelwal, have been accused of involvement in the Ministry of Defense (MoD) corruption scandal, which included the embezzlement of 100 million USD in fuel contract money from the Afghan government.

MP Abdul Rahim Ayoubi told TOLOnews of the notably large list of individuals that have been linked to the corruption case, which is the largest such controversy that has been exposed since the national unity government took power in September of 2014. "As for as I know, the exact number of people serving in government institutions and accused in the corruption case are around 63 people," Ayoubi said on Thursday

Ayoubi previously served close to President Ghani during his presidential campaign. He believes Zakhelwal is unlikely to face an investigation - let alone repercussions - for his involvement in the fuel contract scheme because he was a major donor to Ghani's campaign.

According to Ayoubi, the fuel contract case is not likely to be handled as thoroughly and transparently as the Kabul Bank corruption case was, since that scandal surrounded individuals close to former president Hamid Karzai, instead of those close to the new administration.

"Zakhelwal serves as a top government employee and he also served as a member of the Change and Continuity team during the presidential elections," Ayoubi said.

"I was also member of the same team, and I am aware that Zakhelwal provided financial support to the president during the elections, and now if he is brought to trial and justice, he also keeps documents against the president," he added. If those compromising documents were to fall into the hands of Ghani's opposition, Ayoubi maintained, it could cause a political crisis that no legal authority could reign in.

On the other hand, a source close to President Ghani, responding to the allegations on Thursday, maintained that Zakhelwal's name is not on the list of 63 individuals being investigated for the fuel contract scheme.

Omar Zakhelwal as Minister of Finance, Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal as Minister of Economy and Habibullah Ghalib as Minister of Justice all signed the MoD fuel contract that has garnered so much controversy while still serving under the Karzai administration. At the time, they served on the Special Procurement Commission formed within the Defense Ministry.

Former minister of economy Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal has confirmed that Mr. Zakhelwal served as Chairman of the Special Procurement Commission, and voiced the opinion that the economic advisor should be expected to answer for his role in the corruption case.

The special investigation team appointed to investigate the case has also accused the MoD Special Procurement Commission of primary involvement in the embezzlement scheme. "The special members who were serving in the commission had calculated the price of each liter fuel more than its real price purchased for the MoD and have signed the contract; therefore, we are suspicious about them," said Hamidullah Farooqi, the head of the MoD fuel contract investigation team.

Pointing to further corruption within the Defense Ministry, the Administrative Board of Parliament on Thursday also claimed that the ambush and beheading of Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers in Badakhshan province last week was the result of more senior defense officials illegally selling the military's fuel for profit.

"The most clear model of corruption in the Ministry of Defense is the beheading of the 28 ANA soldiers that happened in Badakhshan, because their vehicles' fuel was sold out by the corrupt and plunderers, and because of the fuel shortage they couldn't escape the Taliban area," House Deputy Secretary Irfanullah Irfan said on Thursday. "I call on the president to try anyone who is involved in this corruption case."

According to Parliament's Defense Committee, corruption exists at all levels of the MoD's contracting process. "Based on the statements of MoD generals, corruption exists in all contracts of the concerned ministry," said MP Ali Akbar Qasimi, the deputy of the committee.

Power Outages in Kandahar Close Factories

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 16:30

Scores of factories in Kandahar have been forced to close their doors as they have not had electricity for the past two months. In addition at least 4,500 people have lost their jobs due to the crisis.

Factory owners from Kandahar Industrial Park have sharply criticized government and claim this crisis will have a negative impact on the country's economy – and especially on the export market.

These business owners say the problem has been ongoing as electricity supply has not been stable for many years.

"Industrialists want electricity, through any means," said one factory owner, Fazel Haq Meshkani.

Officials in Kandahar have confirmed that there is a power problem in the area but claim the situation will be resolved soon.

"Work has started on installing generators and we are in contact with Kabul in order to use solar energy and other sources of energy," says Amanullah Ayoub Farooqi, Deputy Business Head of Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat – the local power supplier.

Meanwhile, factory owners in Kabul have raised their concerns over the National Unity Government's inability to keep its promises made to business owners and over the Kandahar situation.

"Without a doubt, it will have a negative impact on the region. But it's good news for neighboring countries when our industrial parks fail, as they will have good markets then," says Abdul Karim Raufi, Chairman of Kabul Industries Convention.

British Museum to Exhibit Karzai's Chapan

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 16:27

The British Musuem has decided to keep former president Hamid Karzai's "chapan" among its assets, said Nancy Hatch Dupree, the director of the Afghanistan Center at Kabul University.

Dupree handed over a letter from the British Museum to Karzai at a meeting on Thursday regarding the decision.

In the meeting, the two sides also exchanged views on a number of issues and Karzai pledged his support and assistance with regards to the Afghanistan Center.
A chapan – or variant of a caftan – is a traditional coat worn by Afghan men in winter. These coats are adorned with intricate threading and come in a variety of colors and patterns.

Farkhunda's Family Upset Over Delay in Arrests of Remaining Murderers

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 16:27

Farkhunda's brother, Mujeebullah, on Thursday said police had still not arrested the remaining three suspects in his sister's murder despite having assured the family this would happen.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General's office has said that the investigations into Farkhunda's killing is almost complete and the file will soon be sent to the High Court.

It has been a month since Farkhunda was killed near the Shah-e-Do Shamshera mosque but still three of the main suspects are on the run.

Mujeebullah said: "This was not a simple incident, the killing of Farkhunda was organized and we left everything to police and government. Our family has decided to take its decision, once the incident has been investigated."

He said Farkhunda's family is awaiting finalization of the investigation and will ask the judicial institutions to publicly punish those found guilty.

"Our family demands that the perpetrators be publicly punished where Farkhunda was killed. Investigations must be public and the decision must also be made in public," adds Mujeebullah.
Police have said that they are searching for the three remaining offenders in Farkhunda's case but the suspects have gone into hiding.

The acting attorney general recently announced that his office will soon submit the case files to the high court.

"We will not allow anyone to interfere in the investigation, and we would like to assure people that we will transparently investigate the case and will soon share the results with the people of Afghanistan. We will also hand over the case to the high court," said Noor Mujeeb Jalal, acting attorney general.

Police have so far arrested 49 suspects including 20 police officers in connection with Farkhunda's death. Earlier, the attorney general's office had said that some of the arrested individuals have already confessed to their crime.

Economists Throw Support Behind India's Inclusion in APTTA

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 16:15

Afghan economists have expressed apprehension over continued trade and transit disputes between Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as Islamabad's obstinance toward bringing India in on the Afghanistan-Pakistan Trade and Transit Agreement (APTTA), which they suggest is an attempt by Afghanistan's neighbor to keep the upper-hand in commercial relations.

Pakistan, a long time rival of India, has at various times - both openly and covertly - sought to undermine the development of economic, political and military ties between Afghanistan and India. With the pending introduction of Tajikistan to APPTA, Afghan officials and economic experts have pushed to have India admitted as well in order to ensure Afghanistan's interests, and not just Pakistan's, are served in the new iteration of the agreement.

"Right now, the Afghan government must put pressure on Pakistan to endorse India joining the agreement," economic analyst Mohammad Qurban Haqjo said on Thursday. "Otherwise, the signing of the trilateral agreement between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan will only favor the interests of Pakistan and we will have more problems ahead," he continued.

In addition to ongoing disputes over access to Pakistan's ports and custom duty rates, Afghan analysts say Tajikistan's inclusion in the APPTA will have no advantage for Afghanistan, and, instead, will simply allow Pakistan to have greater access to Central Asian markets.

Meanwhile, Pakistani Minister of Commerce and Industries Khurram Dastgir Khan has maintained that the opposition to India's joining APTTA is simply a matter of timing, arguing that it is premature to discuss including India before Tajikistan has been completely admitted.

"Any other country that wishes to enter into the arrangements has to formally send its request to both countries, and we are willing to consider such application and we are hoping that if we receive it we will consider it and make a decision," he said on Thursday. "But as I said earlier in my visit to the Afghan Chamber of Commerce, this positive new relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan shouldn't be made condtional on a third country; we have this great opportunity to move away from the suspecions of the past decade and half and we have this opportunity to move forward quickly, so we should complete our task that is in front of us, which I repeat, is shared prosperity through economic integration."

However, Afghan lawmakers in Parliament have echoed the concerns of economic analysts, raising suspicion about Pakistan's intentions in the APPTA reshuffle. They agree that Pakistan looks to exploit Afghanistan as a causeway for trade and transit with Central Asia, without taking into account the needs and interests of Afghanistan.

"It is now proper time that Afghanistan asks Pakistan explicitly to come forward and settle the issues permanently," MP Fariba Ahmadi said. "Otherwise, Pakistan will continue creating obstacles for our businessmen on its soil trying to reach the Central Asian countries."

On the other hand, Khurram Dastgir Khan has said the Pakistani government has already moved forward with 12 new economic facilitation provisions to make business easier for Afghan traders in Pakistan. He said these include allowing greater access to Pakistan's railway system, the lowering of taxes on Pakistani goods exported to Afghanistan and opening of the Wagah border port.

Economists Throw Support Behind India's Inclusion in APTTA

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 16:15

Afghan economists have expressed apprehension over continued trade and transit disputes between Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as Islamabad's obstinance toward bringing India in on the Afghanistan-Pakistan Trade and Transit Agreement (APTTA), which they suggest is an attempt by Afghanistan's neighbor to keep the upper-hand in commercial relations.

Pakistan, a long time rival of India, has at various times - both openly and covertly - sought to undermine the development of economic, political and military ties between Afghanistan and India. With the pending introduction of Tajikistan to APPTA, Afghan officials and economic experts have pushed to have India admitted as well in order to ensure Afghanistan's interests, and not just Pakistan's, are served in the new iteration of the agreement.

"Right now, the Afghan government must put pressure on Pakistan to endorse India joining the agreement," economic analyst Mohammad Qurban Haqjo said on Thursday. "Otherwise, the signing of the trilateral agreement between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan will only favor the interests of Pakistan and we will have more problems ahead," he continued.

In addition to ongoing disputes over access to Pakistan's ports and custom duty rates, Afghan analysts say Tajikistan's inclusion in the APPTA will have no advantage for Afghanistan, and, instead, will simply allow Pakistan to have greater access to Central Asian markets.

Meanwhile, Pakistani Minister of Commerce and Industries Khurram Dastgir Khan has maintained that the opposition to India's joining APTTA is simply a matter of timing, arguing that it is premature to discuss including India before Tajikistan has been completely admitted.

"Any other country that wishes to enter into the arrangements has to formally send its request to both countries, and we are willing to consider such application and we are hoping that if we receive it we will consider it and make a decision," he said on Thursday. "But as I said earlier in my visit to the Afghan Chamber of Commerce, this positive new relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan shouldn't be made condtional on a third country; we have this great opportunity to move away from the suspecions of the past decade and half and we have this opportunity to move forward quickly, so we should complete our task that is in front of us, which I repeat, is shared prosperity through economic integration."

However, Afghan lawmakers in Parliament have echoed the concerns of economic analysts, raising suspicion about Pakistan's intentions in the APPTA reshuffle. They agree that Pakistan looks to exploit Afghanistan as a causeway for trade and transit with Central Asia, without taking into account the needs and interests of Afghanistan.

"It is now proper time that Afghanistan asks Pakistan explicitly to come forward and settle the issues permanently," MP Fariba Ahmadi said. "Otherwise, Pakistan will continue creating obstacles for our businessmen on its soil trying to reach the Central Asian countries."

On the other hand, Khurram Dastgir Khan has said the Pakistani government has already moved forward with 12 new economic facilitation provisions to make business easier for Afghan traders in Pakistan. He said these include allowing greater access to Pakistan's railway system, the lowering of taxes on Pakistani goods exported to Afghanistan and opening of the Wagah border port.