TOLO News

Kabul Bank Case, Major Challenge for Ghani Administration

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 13:18

Economic analysts praise President Ashraf Ghani's firm commitment to re-open the investigation of the Kabul Bank case of fraud and embezzlement., stressing, however, that setting a strict deadline could undermine proper assessments. The case is expected to be finalized in three weeks.

"The president's order to re-open the Kabul Bank case is a a great achievement. I am sure he has the capability to resolve the case. But the deadline could undermine just assessments," university lecturer Ustad Masoud said.

Analysts stress that the government must prove Afghanistan's ability to handle the case, as the international community's remains wary of its competency.

"The new government faces a major challenge: the Kabul Bank case. It must be reinvestigated and resolved; otherwise, Afghanistan can not have any expectations from the international community," civil society advocate Mir Ahmad Yoyenda said. "The case should be one of the president's priorities in the fight against corruption."

Ten days ago, President Ghaniassigned Ministry of Finance (MoF), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and the attorney general's office to establish contacts through diplomatic channels with the representatives of the concerned countries to ensure the transfer of Kabul Bank money and to freeze the bank's assets abroad. However, no further developments have been made thus far.

"Even though the president issued a decree, I don't think hat the case will be reassessed according to the timeline or bear any positive outcomes. We are more concerned about the money than the arrest of the criminals," political commentator Ahmad Saeedi said.

The Kabul Bank bankruptcy case is among one of the top corruption cases in the country. President Ghani had ordered the attorney general's office to arrest those allegedly involved in the case and assigned the Supreme Court to issue the final order about the case in 45 days. Only two of the criminals have been detained so far; seven others will be arrested in the upcoming days while another seventeen are on the run.

Ghani Approves Resignation of Chief of Justice

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 10:03

President Ashraf Ghani signed and approved the resignation letter of Supreme Chief Justice Abdul Salam Azimi on Thursday.

According to the Presidential Palace, Azimi submitted his resignation letter few days ago.

No one has been introduced for the position yet.

10 Insurgents Killed in Badakhshan Operation

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 08:58

At least 10 Taliban insurgents were killed and three others were detained on Wednesday in an operation by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in Badakhshan province.

According to  Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, spokesman to the provincial police chief, the operation was conducted in Darayim district. Officials have no reported about any casualties on the Afghan side.

The Taliban have yet to comment about the operation.

Danish Praises Khalili's Performance

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 08:44

Vice President Sarwar Danish spoke at a meeting on Thursday in Kabul, praising the performance of former Vice President Karim Khalili.

"Former VP Karim Khalili did his job in the most rational and moderate manner," he said. "Khalili was patient in dealing with societal problems. His performance symbolizes wise leadership and we would appreciate his assistance and advice in all areas of governance."

Danish praised Khalili for speaking up against injustice and corruption, stressing that, "the new government, too, is committed to fight against corruption, injustice and political and economical mafia,"

Khalili, who was also at the event, thanked the event organizers as well as VP Danish for his comments regarding his performance.

"I was at your service will be at your service," he said. "I will not hesitate to offer all my support," adding that the day of the political transition was "a day of celebration" for him.

"Transfer of political power from one president to another was a source of pride for our nation."

Moreover, Khalili welcomed the preliminary steps taken by the National Unity Government for elimination of corruption in the country. He stressed that there are serious issues in the government in need of prompt action.

"The initial steps taken by president Ashraf Ghani to end injustice and corruption have been very effective," Khalili added, emphasized that since there is no opposition in the National Unity Government, the leadership should be able to tackle tensions and uncertainties more effectively.

FARAKHABAR: 22 October 2014

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 06:56

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has stated that despite an expenditure of more than seven billion dollars to fight drugs in Afghanistan, opium production has increased in the country.

SIGAR asserted that Afghanistan remains the world's largest source of drugs, adding that drug trade is one of the main causes of corruption in the state institutions as well as being one of the main sources of funding for the Taliban.

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

Abrahim Azhar, Deputy Minister of Counter-narcotic

Hashim Wahdat Yar, Spokesman for the United Nations Program of Fight against Drugs and Crime

Nilofar Ibrahimi, MP

Mohammad Naeem Lalai Hamidzai, MP

To watch the program, click here:

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TAWDE KHABARE: Increase of Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 06:43

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has stated that despite an expenditure of more than seven billion dollars to fight drugs in Afghanistan, opium production has increased in the country.

SIGAR asserted that Afghanistan remains the world's largest source of drugs, adding that drug trade is one of the main causes of corruption in the state institutions as well as being one of the main sources of funding for the Taliban.

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

Abrahim Azhar, Deputy Minister of Counter-narcotic

Hashim Wahdat Yar, Spokesman for the United Nations Program of Fight against Drugs and Crime

Nilofar Ibrahimi, MP

Mohammad Naeem Lalai Hamidzai, MP

To watch the program, click here:

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Obama Invites Ghani and Abdullah to Visit U.S

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 04:23

On a videoconference on Wednesday night, United States President Barack Obama invited Afghan President Dr. Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah to visit the U.S early next year.

According to a White House statement, Obama, Ghani and Abdullah have talked about strengthening Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), the U.S. continued support for the Afghan-led peace process, financial terms of budget, and long-term vision for Afghanistan.

The U.S, president reiterated Washington's long-term support to Afghanistan, asking the Afghan government to work toward achieving reform and maintaining good governance . Washington stressed that the international community's support for Afghanistan depends on The country's commitment to serious reforms and anti-corruption initiatives.

Canada Soldier, Gunman Dead in Ottawa Parliament Attack

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 04:04

Gunfire echoed through the Gothic halls of the Canadian parliament Wednesday as police shot dead a gunman who had killed a soldier guarding a nearby war memorial before storming the building.Police said an investigation was continuing, but did not confirm earlier reports that more gunmen were involved. Heavily armed officers backed by armored vehicles sealed off the building.

There was no immediate word on the gunman's motivation, but the attack came a day after an alleged Islamist drove over and killed another soldier in what authorities branded a terrorist attack.

Authorities had raised the security threat level from low to medium after the car attack, which came as Canadian jets were to join the US-led air armada bombarding Islamist militants in Iraq.

"One shooting victim succumbed to injuries. He was a member of the Canadian forces. Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones," the Ottawa Police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.

"One male suspect has also been confirmed as deceased," they said, in a joint statement, calling on witnesses to come forward and for residents to stay clear of Ottawa's downtown area.

Lawmakers, staff and reporters evacuated from the building spoke of intense gunfire in the historic building on Parliament Hill.

Video footage posted online by the Globe and Mail newspaper showed police ducking for cover as they advanced along a stone hallway, loud gunfire echoing among parliament's stone columns.

- 'Pop, pop, pop' -

A member of parliament, Maurice Vellacott, told AFP that House of Commons security had told one of his aides that the suspect had been killed inside parliament.

"I literally had just taken off my jacket to go into caucus. I hear this 'pop, pop, pop,' possibly 10 shots, don't really know," Liberal Party member John McKay told reporters outside.

"Suddenly the security guards come rushing down the hallways and usher us all out to the back of the parliament buildings," he said, as lawmakers, staff and reporters scurried from the area.

Witnesses at the scene said they saw a man armed with a rifle running into parliament after shooting a guard at the war memorial.

Passers-by told reporters that a bearded man had gunned down the soldier and hijacked a passing vehicle to take him the short distance to Parliament Hill, on a bluff over the Ottawa River.

One witness, parliamentary aide Marc-Andre Viau, said he saw a man run into a caucus meeting at the parliament, chased by police armed with rifles who yelled "take cover."

That was followed by "10, 15, maybe 20 shots," possibly from an automatic weapon, he said.

"I'm shaken," said Viau.

Police raced to seal off the parliament building and the office of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, pushing reporters and bystanders further back and blocking roads with squad cars.

Harper -- who was attending a meeting with lawmakers at the time -- left the area of the shooting and was "safe," his spokesman Jason MacDonald said.
- Jihadist sympathies -

In Canada's southern neighbor the United States, the White House said President Barack Obama had been briefed on the situation and an official said US and Canadian air defenses were on alert.

The US embassy in Ottawa was placed on lockdown.

The incident came a day after 25-year-old Martin Couture-Rouleau ran over a soldier, killing him before being shot dead by police as he emerged from his wrecked car wielding a knife.

The government branded this a terrorist attack by a suspected Islamist, amid reports that Couture-Rouleau was a supporter of the so-called Islamic State, a jihadist group operating in Iraq and Syria.

If the driver's alleged jihadist sympathies are confirmed, it would be Canada's first-ever Islamist attack, although authorities have warned they are tracking 90 suspected extremists in the country.

The heightened threat level "means that intelligence has indicated that an individual or group within Canada or abroad has the intent and capability to commit an act of terrorism," the Public Safety Ministry said.

Outside parliament, police were seen taking cover behind vehicles, as others expanded a cordoned off area to a city block around parliament.

TOLOnews 6pm News 22 October 2014

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 17:10

Top news in this bulletin

Acting Minister of Defense Bismillah Mohammadi has asserted that certain circles supporting regional countries and terror organizations strive to sabotage unity among the Afghan National Army (ANA). He added that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are completely ready to defy such threats and takeover full security responsibility.

To watch the bulletin, click here:

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 A number of parliamentarians and electoral analysts on Wednesday asked President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah to bring structural reforms in the electoral commissions, stressing the need to bring reforms before the parliamentary elections.

Ghani to Travel to China With Afghan Business Leaders

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 15:44

President Ashraf Ghani will travel to China next week for a three-day trip with a group of top Afghan business leaders. The visit is intended to start a new chapter in Kabul-Beijing relations, one that the new Afghan government hopes will lead to greater economic and political ties.

The Presidential Palace has expressed optimism about the trip, which will be Ghani's first trip abroad as president, and will take him to Beijing for a sit-down with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. In addition, an investment summit will be held in order for Afghan and Chinese businessmen to connect and discuss investment opportunities in Afghanistan.

"President Ghani will talk with the investors and businessmen of China on his official trip and he will encourage them to invest in Afghanistan, a new gateway for improving economic and political relations will be established and efforts will be made to build a better relationship in this regard," deputy presidential spokesman Fayeq Wahidi said.

At the moment, China is not a major aid provider in Afghanistan. But according to experts, President Ghani will not only focus on securing a larger amount of aid from Beijing, he will also emphasize opportunities for mutually beneficial business ventures, such as in the natural resource sector in Afghanistan.

"It is a very good opportunity and President Ghani will try to provide opportunities for investment instead of attracting aid, and the profits from natural resources will increase as China is a country that will invest more in Afghanistan to improve them," economical expert Muhammad Qurban Haqjo said

The fact that Ghani will be accompanied by a contingent of leaders from the Afghan private sector is a further sign that business investment, rather than just aid, will be a major theme of the trip. "The private sector officials will also go with the president, steps are being taken for the joint meeting of investors to emphasize establishing companies and good opportunities for improving trade between the two countries," said Atiqullah Nasrat, the head of the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI).

China is one of the leading foreign investing countries in the world. In Afghanistan, Chinese companies have already brokered million dollar deals in northern Afghanistan for the Ainak Copper Mine project and a number of oil filled projects.

But experts, like Haqjo, say that security problems have persistently delayed and derailed the projects, causing Chinese companies to put them on hold or abandon them all together. "The Afghan government should try to resolve the issue of security for these big projects implemented by the Chinese companies and the projects will be completed and more opportunities will be provided for investment in the country," Haqjo said.

Groups Strive to Create Division in ANA

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 15:15

Acting Minister of Defense Bismillah Mohammadi has asserted that certain circles supporting regional countries and terror organizations strive to sabotage unity among the Afghan National Army (ANA). He added that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are completely ready to defy such threats and takeover full security responsibility.

Mohammadi stressed that the ANA has steered clear of all ethnic divisions and is committed to fully defend the country.

"These people are our enemies; they are against national unity and peace in our country," he said. "Certain groups who support the Taliban are trying to disperse the army and increase ethnic issues. But over the past 13 years, our security forces have shown their full commitment to shield the country against such threats."

The defense minister added that the ANA has gained much expertise and ground capabilities; however, they still lack heavy weaponry and proper air support.
"Last year, nearly 150,000 foreign soldiers were supporting the Afghan forces. This year, however, the forces defended the country without any support, gaining national and international trust. We are grateful to NATO and ISAF who have supported us over the past 13 years."

Recent reports indicate that the ANSF casualties have been on the rise since 2009, which is why many people have not showed interest in joining the forces. Security ministries, however, maintain that the ANSF are fully prepared to take on all security responsibilities. As a part of the foreign forces evacuation process, the forces left Kunar yesterday, handing over three military bases to provincial security forces.

Controversy About Access to Information Law

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 14:56

After a three-year delay, the Lower House of Parliament approved the Access to Information Law in July, leaving few of the articles open to further adjustments. The law is expected to be sent to the Presidential Palace to be signed by the president.

Afghanistan Integrity Watch and civil society institutions have asked that certain adjustments such as creating an independent information commission with independent and experienced members and an independent budget that will ensure accurate and precise definitions for the rights of others, public security and national interest.

"Afghanistan Integrity Watch and other civil society organizations have made many efforts for the past three years for the approval of the access to information law," Executive Director of Integrity Watch Afghanistan, Sayed Ikram Afzali, said. "We believe that there are still problems that need to be addressed."

The organizations have asked President Ashraf Ghani to send the law to the national assembly for adjustments before signing it.

"Afghanistan Integrity Watch believes it is better if the joint committee of the national assembly looks over the law for adjustments. The law needs some necessary changes," Afzali added.

The statement comes while Nai—a NGO supporting open media in Afghanistan—announced that the Access to Information Law does not need any changes and the delay in signing the law will increase violence against journalists.

The six-chapter, 32-article law has been subject to controversy over the past few months.

MPs Ask for Reforms in Electoral Commissions

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 14:40

A number of parliamentarians and electoral analysts on Wednesday asked President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah to bring structural reforms in the electoral commissions, stressing the need to bring reforms before the parliamentary elections.

"Members of the election commission are corrupted and I ask the new president to dismiss them as soon as possible," MP Abbas Abrahimi said.

Analysts have also asked the national unity government to stand by its commitments and not prolong the implementation of the promised reforms.

"Reforms in the election commissions and election system are the responsibilities of the national unity government," Fazl Ahmad Manawi, former IEC chief, said. "The parliamentary elections would be impossible without the necessary reforms."

Abdullah recently talked about bringing reforms into the structure of the electoral management bodies.

"The national unity government is committed to bringing reforms in the election commissions and we will implement these reforms in the upcoming days," Abdullah said.

The Afghan presidential election lasted more than six months, leaving huge financial burdens on the country, which were finally resolved with a political agreement.

Meanwhile, the provincial council election results remain uncertain despite being dragged for about seven months. Dragging out the process has discredited the electoral management bodies, raising concerns about the urgency of reforms.

Solution to Insurgency is Not Military Alone: Daudzai

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 14:13

Acting Minister of Interior Muhammed Umer Daudzai highlighted Afghanistan's two major transitions this year during his speech at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) Core Group Meeting in New Delhi on October 21.

"We successfully completed two transitions this year," he said. "The first one was the political transition... For the first time in our history, one elected president transferred authority to another elected president peacefully, and with a lot of dignity...Second, was the transition of security leadership from ISAF to ANSF. We have now assumed almost complete responsibility for security of the country."

Daudzai emphasized that the contributions and efforts of the international community in Afghanistan have not gone to waste as thousands of people have joined the ANSF ranks to fight against terrorism. He added that the transition has strengthened the morale of the ANSF, as their mantra of "it is our land, and we will defend and secure it" has become even stronger than before.

"The people of Afghanistan made history this year by their unprecedentedly large turnout in the election," Daudzai added. "They proved that democracy is embraced, and extremism is rejected."

The interior minister went on to admit that despite the achievements, there are still serious challenges that have yet to be fully addressed, stressing that "Afghanistan is victim of the negative sides of regionalization and globalization."

"We have not been able to break the Taliban movement and seasonal cycles," he said. "In winter, Taliban cross the Durand Line to their shelters in Pakistan, where they get training and equipment, and come back along with new recruits the following spring. They are accompanied by Pakistani-based extremist militant organizations."

After explaining the problems, he stressed that "the problem of insurgency does not have a military solution alone," adding that the National Unity Government is an opportunity to work for a "negotiated settlement."

"We are counting on emerging powers in our neighborhood to come forward and form coalitions for peace in the region...I want to come back to the issue of Afghanistan, and state that our vision is to transform our country from the crossroad of terrorism to the crossroad of gas, electricity and trade of other goods," he said, ending his speech with emphasis on re-definitions of "national interests."

The MSC Core Group meeting took place in New Delhi on October 21 and 22, in cooperation with the Observer Research Foundation. In addition to Afghan Interior Minister Daudzai, other participants included Indian National Security Advisor Doval, Mexican Foreign Minister Meade, Israel's NSA Cohen and a number of German officials and MPs.

Pakistan's Malala Receives US Liberty Medal

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 07:50

Malala Yousafzai, the child rights activist and youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, received the Liberty Medal and pledged her $100,000 award to education in her homeland Pakistan.

Yousafzai won the annual prize from the National Constitution Center for her "courage and resilience in the face of adversity and for serving as a powerful voice for those who have been denied their basic human rights and liberties," the NCC said.

The 17-year-old gave a speech outlining her desire to see 57 million children out of school given the right to an education, speaking less than two weeks after winning the Nobel prize with India's Kailash Satyarthi.

"I'm honored to receive this medal," she said in an address peppered with jokes.

"It encourages me to continue my campaign for education and to fight for the rights of every child," she added, announcing the money would go toward education in Pakistan.

She called on countries around the world to stop spending money on weapons and instead invest in their children's futures.

"Education is the best weapon through which we can fight poverty, ignorance and terrorism. So I ask all countries all around the world, let us say no to wars."

The schoolgirl, who currently lives in Britain, rose to prominence in Pakistan by campaigning for girls' right to education.

In October 2012, she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman and is regarded with suspicion and hatred among many in Pakistan.

Evacuated to Britain, she made a remarkable recovery and today attends school and flies around the world to champion for universal access to education through her Malala Fund charity.

"Malala's courageous fight for equality and liberty from tyranny is evidence that a passionate, committed leader, regardless of age, has the power to ignite a movement for reform," said NCC chairman Jeb Bush.

"Let us all, young and old, strive to be like Malala -- to challenge the status quo and to serve as catalysts for meaningful change."

The Liberty Medal is awarded to people who strive to secure freedom for people around the world.

Past recipients include former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Shimon Peres, Kofi Annan and Bono.

Pakistan's Malala Receives US Liberty Medal

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 07:50

Malala Yousafzai, the child rights activist and youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, received the Liberty Medal and pledged her $100,000 award to education in her homeland Pakistan.

Yousafzai won the annual prize from the National Constitution Center for her "courage and resilience in the face of adversity and for serving as a powerful voice for those who have been denied their basic human rights and liberties," the NCC said.

The 17-year-old gave a speech outlining her desire to see 57 million children out of school given the right to an education, speaking less than two weeks after winning the Nobel prize with India's Kailash Satyarthi.

"I'm honored to receive this medal," she said in an address peppered with jokes.

"It encourages me to continue my campaign for education and to fight for the rights of every child," she added, announcing the money would go toward education in Pakistan.

She called on countries around the world to stop spending money on weapons and instead invest in their children's futures.

"Education is the best weapon through which we can fight poverty, ignorance and terrorism. So I ask all countries all around the world, let us say no to wars."

The schoolgirl, who currently lives in Britain, rose to prominence in Pakistan by campaigning for girls' right to education.

In October 2012, she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman and is regarded with suspicion and hatred among many in Pakistan.

Evacuated to Britain, she made a remarkable recovery and today attends school and flies around the world to champion for universal access to education through her Malala Fund charity.

"Malala's courageous fight for equality and liberty from tyranny is evidence that a passionate, committed leader, regardless of age, has the power to ignite a movement for reform," said NCC chairman Jeb Bush.

"Let us all, young and old, strive to be like Malala -- to challenge the status quo and to serve as catalysts for meaningful change."

The Liberty Medal is awarded to people who strive to secure freedom for people around the world.

Past recipients include former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Shimon Peres, Kofi Annan and Bono.

Tawde Khabare: Pakistan's National Security Advisor Meeting with Afghan Officials

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 03:21

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Shapoor Bakthyar discusses about the meeting of Sartaj Aziz, the Pakistan's National Security Advisor with the Afghan officials and its outcomes with the following guests:

• Ikramuddin Andishmand, political analyst

• Mohammad Naeem Lalai Hamidzai, MP

• Qazi Nawaz Tanai,Head of Khost tribes council

To watch the program, click here:

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First 100 Days: President Ghani Meets with Foreign Ambassadors

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 03:18

In this episode of the program, host Omid Farooq discusses President Ghani's meetings with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan's ambassadors. Discussions on the formation of the cabinet‎ and how the changing tactics of the Taliban have inflicted rising casualties on the ANA, with the following guests:

Karim Amini, reporter

Asadullah Sadati, Ghani's transfer committee member

Mohammad Natiqi, Abdullah's transfer Committee member

Arif Rahmani, university professor

Idres Rahmani, political analyst

To watch the program, click here:

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FARAKHABAR: 21 October 2014

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 03:07

A member of the committee charged with overseeing new ministerial appointments on Monday said that discussions were ongoing regarding who from President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah's respective electoral teams would be tapped for an appointment in the new cabinet.

In this episode of Farakhabar, host Yama Siawish discusses the topic with the following guests:

Azeta Rafat, Right and justice party member

Farhad Azimi, MP

To watch the program, click here:

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TOLOnews 6pm News 21 October 2014

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 16:27

Top news in this bulletin:

While proceedings have moved forward quickly since President Ashraf Ghani ordered the Kabul Bank corruption case be reopened, the Attorney General's office, charged with prosecuting the case, faces an uphill battle in recuperating the assets embezzled from the bank and retrieving the suspects who have fled abroad for trial.

To watch the whole news bulletin, Click Here:

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 The Acting Minister of Counter Narcotics Din Mohammad Mubarez Rashidi on Tuesday reported that drug smugglers, in joint collaboration with the Taliban, have launched major clashes in various regions to ensure the flow of drug money, adding that the political will to curb the menace has not been strong enough.