Afghan President's Calls Secured
By RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan
April 18, 2014
The telephone conversations of the Afghan president and his
ministers have been secured from eavesdropping.
The Ministry of Information and Technology announced on April
18 that an advanced security system installed to secure telephone
conversations to and from the office of the president has been
Ministry spokesman Nasratullah Rahimi told RFE/RL that the new
high-tech network is reliable and that new SIM cards have been
given to President Hamid Karzai, the vice presidents, and other
government members to connect to the network.
Rahimi did not give any more details, saying that the
information is classified as "intelligence agencies, especially
the ones from our neighboring countries, want to break into our
Karzai is expected to leave office after the official results
of Afghanistan's presidential and provincial councils elections
held on April 5 are announced.
Interview: Ghani Says 'All
Walks Of Afghan Life Will Be Represented'
April 18, 2014
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani says that, if
elected, he will do all in his power to promote "genuine
reconciliation." Ghani is among the front-runners to win the April
5 presidential election. He spoke to RFE/RL's Frud Bezhan about
what he will do if he doesn't win the first round, and what his
plans are should he be elected president.
RFE/RL: What would Afghanistan look like with you as president?
Ghani: God willing, if this national honor is entrusted to me,
Afghanistan will become stable, peaceful, democratic, and it would
have the foundations for prosperity.
RFE/RL: What key reforms will you bring about if you are
Ghani: Rule of law is the first imperative. It's going to start
from me. Not a single edict, action I will take would be without a
prior review on the basis of the laws.
Second is the issue of governance. We hope on the issue of
corruption -- to advance, within three years, 100 points on
Transparency International's index. I’m confident that we will be
able to achieve this and then lay the foundation for one of the
cleanest governments in the region. Third is [the] issue of the
economy. Our rate of growth in 2012 was 12 percent; in 2013 it was
4 percent; by the time we take office it might be zero or in the
negative territory. Unemployment and poverty are two of the major
threats to the country, particularly poverty. Attending to the
vulnerable to make sure we have an inclusive economic system and a
growth that is sustainable so we get out of dependency on
international assistance would be a key drive and we have the
advantages to do that. Most significantly, we need to reach a
lasting peace. A lasting peace means that the government
institutions have to become strong enough to guarantee the
individual safety and security as well as the well-being of every
RFE/RL: Since the April 5 presidential election, have you met
with President Hamid Karzai and your rival candidates? If so, what
did you discuss?
Ghani: Yes, I have met with the president and I have met some
of my fellow -- I don't call them rivals but partners. We are
having conversations, but I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting
Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, but I've met with others. We talked about
the transparency of the election. I thanked the president for his
neutrality and that this day passed without any incidents, and
that we hope that the neutrality the president has shown will be
preserved throughout and that the legal institutions, mainly the
two [election] commissions will do their work.
RFE/RL: Will you contest a second-round run off if you do not
win an outright majority? There have been suggestions that
candidates could look to strike a behind-the-scenes deal to avoid
Ghani: Absolutely. The electoral law is very specific. The two
leading candidates are required to participate in a runoff. We
hope that we'll win, but should it come to that, we're fully
committed to obeying the law because the people of Afghanistan
should have a choice. In a field of many candidates, a mandate is
not as clear as it would be in a two-way contest. And we need the
mandate in order to reform. Having said that, I’m committed to a
government of national unity so that all walks of Afghan life will
be represented. I do not believe in a formula of 'winner takes
all' because the stability of this country requires political
consensus, and we must forge that.
RFE/RL: If you become president, will you prosecute former
warlords and corrupt government officials?
Ghani: The people want a form of transitional justice. Our
culture – our Islamic and our national culture – is one of mercy
and forgiveness. We will design a very culturally specific term
that will give us the psychological release and a genuine
reconciliation. But we are not going to get bogged down in our
past in a way that deprives us of a future. That means coming
together, accepting responsibility and moving on, and making sure
that if there are victims we attend to them. We heal. It's a
process of healing our wounds. We're a deeply wounded society.For
the first time, centrist politics in Afghanistan, where everyone
is accepting each other, is becoming the norm. April 5 was a
justification of our approach. All people from Afghanistan came
and embraced the democratic process. Let's give [a chance] to the
democratic process to work out so we can resolve the issue of the
past. Let the people arrive at the formula [for reconciliation]
that is acceptable [to them]. We are not brushing anything under
the rug. But violence is not an answer to violence.
RFE/RL: Are you saying that those who have committed war crimes
will go unpunished? We are talking about individuals involved in
crimes like mass murder and even ethnic cleansing.
Ghani: The process is going to be designed to make sure we
reach genuine reconciliation. A society in conflict like Ireland,
did it choose to hang people or reconcile? Look at Europe's
history. Germany has become a marvel of democracy and tolerance.
But wasn't it one of the most intolerant countries? Germany found
a way. Allow us to find our way. Do not prejudge things. We have
the moral authority because my hands are clean. But we need to
genuinely reconcile. The first imperative of a society is
stability. And we need to arrive there. It is a lot of work.
RFE/RL: If you are elected president, what kind of government
will you create?
Ghani: A government of competence; a government that delivers.
I had no money and I had no backing from a government party or
foreign backing. This is a genuine social movement, and it is
going to deliver.
RFE/RL: If you lose the election, will you go to the
Ghani: I'm going to win the election. So, let's talk about
options after the legal process has taken its course.
India to finance Russian
arms supply to Afghan security forces
By Ghanizada - Fri Apr 18 2014, 1:47 pm
According to reports, New Delhi has reached to an agreement
with Russia to finance the supply of Russian arms to Afghan
national security forces.
The deal was reportedly firmed up during a meeting between the
Indian and Russian officials in February and the first order of
the equipments is already being executed.
The Indian financing will largely focus on artillery guns, air
support in the form of choppers and even armoured vehicles,
including tanks, according to a report by Indian Express.
The list of equipments could also include non-lethal items and
some old Russian-made equipment lying in Afghanistan could also be
refitted under the arrangement.
India is also considering to provide more seats for the
training of Afghan army officers in India.
As part of its efforts to aid Afghanistan’s economy, India has
held preliminary conversations with China on jointly improving the
connectivity infrastructure in Afghanistan’s mining belt so that
the resources can be better exploited.
Three Taliban Escape From Afghan
April 18, 2014
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Three Taliban insurgents have escaped from a prison in northern
Afghanistan, using pistols and grenades smuggled into the
A spokesman for the Faryab provincial government, Ahmad Jawad
Dedar, said on April 18 that the jailbreak took place the previous
night in the regional capital, Maimana.
At least two guards and a fourth inmate who was also trying to
escape were killed in a shootout during the escape.
Dedar said the fugitives are low-level Taliban operatives who
were jailed for planting roadside bombs.
He said authorities have launched a search for the fugitives
and are investigating how the weapons got past prison security.
The Taliban confirmed the incident.
Based on reporting by dpa and AP
Taliban ambush wounds 4 Afghan
FAIZABAD, Afghanistan, April 18 (Xinhua) -- Four personnel of
Afghan Border Police were wounded in Taliban militants ambush in
Badakshan province on Friday, a local official said.
"Taliban insurgents ambushed a convoy of Border Police in
Saripul area in Jarm district at 10:00 a.m. local time today
injuring four police personnel," district governor Noor Aqa Nadiri
Meanwhile, Zabihullah Mujahid, a self-proclaimed Taliban
spokesman, said that several police were killed and injured in the
attack, a claim rebuffed by Nadiri as baseless.
Conflict and Taliban-linked militancy often get momentum in
spring and summer commonly known as fighting season in
Feature: Afghan women still
suffer from discrimination and poverty
By Jawid Omid
MAZAR-E-SHARIF, Afghanistan, April 18 (Xinhua) -- Although
women's rights have seen considerable improvement in Afghanistan
over the past 12 years, the living conditions of some women in
this war-ravaged country have remained deplorable.
In an old house in the suburbs of Mazar-e-Sharif, capital of
northern Balkh province, nearly a dozen women work as carpet
weavers, their only source of income to support their families.
"We are facing difficulties. There is advancement for women in
Afghanistan but still our life has not improved. We are working
hard. We have to find ways to stand on our feet," Bargin, 50, told
She said that weaving colorful carpets is a part of their
tradition. "Carpets are the major part of Afghanistan's exports.
Carpets have been with us for hundreds of years and have provided
us with the chance to earn and live with dignity," she said.
Bargin is supporting a six-member family. Her income of around
50 U.S. dollars for two months are not enough for all their
Bargin has 20-year experience of carpet weaving. She had worked
in a carpet factory in Pakistan for 14 years.
"We left our house in Sholgara district during the Taliban
regime. We escaped to Pakistan. After we returned, I failed to
find a house and the government failed to help the refugees here.
We are still living under a tent up to now," Bargin said.
Afghanistan, according to women rights activists, is a
challenging country for women to live. Discrimination against
women, particularly in the countryside, is still rampant. A girl
is forced to marry a boy chosen by her parents.
"My husband is jobless. I have to work. We face challenges. We
have no clean water, no house, no electricity and hundreds of
people are living in tents here," Bargin, a mother of four, said.
Most Afghan women are suffering from poverty and still subject
to violence and abuse, a situation that is ironic since some
Afghan women have now become legislators and officials.
Discrimination and violence against Afghan women are in the
form of child marriage, forced marriage, rape and polygamy.
However, some women in Mazar-e-Sharif are now working in
government offices, construction companies, and some are even
engaged in small business.
The government has provided funds to build a market in the city
where women could put up stalls. "There are 50 shops in Rabia
Balkhi Market, all run by women," said Allia Rajabi, who owns a
"I started as a shopkeeper here. I sold handicraft, clothes and
toiletry. It's okay because I have my own shop where I invested
around 4,000 U.S. dollars," Allia, a widow, said.
"We are enjoying the right in accordance with Afghan
constitution. We will work harder to enjoy self-sufficient living.
We do not want the Taliban to return to power. They will not allow
women to work and will lock up the women again at home," Allia
The brutal Taliban regime had confined women to their houses
and outlawed schooling for girls. In today's Afghanistan, women
are active in political, economic and social activities. There are
three women in Afghan Cabinet and several women in parliament.
Conflict, Violence Harsh
on Afghan, Pakistani Women
April 17, 2014
ISLAMABAD — Prolonged conflicts in Pakistan and Afghanistan
have had a particularly harsh effect on women in both countries.
Terrorism, sectarian conflict, criminality and a culture of
impunity are limiting women's ability to get to school and get
jobs outside the home, trapping them in an ever-smaller public
During the past decade, women have made significant strides
towards social, political and financial empowerment in both
Pakistan and Afghanistan. But analysts say the gains are being
In Afghanistan, the Taliban are regaining areas of the country
and once again imposing their beliefs that women should not be
educated or participate in society outside the home.
Nader Nadery, director of the Afghanistan Research and
Evaluation Unit, says in areas where there is an absence of rule
of law, there is an absolute impunity for those who are committing
violence, specifically against women.
In those areas, he says, protection becomes a primary issue but
is often used against the women themselves.
"In some cases, the protection issue becomes an excuse for the
male members who intentionally prevent women to be part of
society, be part of the economy, be part of the politics, and they
bring this issue of I am pushing you in the home because I want
you to be protected. This is what the Taliban were trying to do,
and still are doing," said Nadery.
Pakistani social researcher Nazish Brohi says in areas where
the Pakistani Taliban operate or have influence, girls are being
targeted, and women are retreating behind the veil and into their
"I think over 500 girls' schools have been bombed. Women
councilors who are women who were politically engaged who were
elected into office, they were specifically threatened by the
Taliban and asked to either stop or withdraw from the political
sphere or face persecution. Two of them were shot dead. As a
result, the rest of them either resigned or just simply stopped
attending office," said Brohi.
In Pakistan's south and southwest, ethnic violence also has
forced women to cover their faces and severely curtailed their
Brohi says with the overall deterioration of the rule of law in
Pakistan, women no longer feel the state can protect them.
Instead, they are turning to family or local neighborhood councils
for help and protection.
"The central concept really seems to be impunity, that the
state is unwilling to call these aggressors or perpetrators of
crimes into account because of [a] it's own incapacity, [b] it's
unwillingness and [c] it's general inefficiency," she said.
But the analysts say in spite of the threat of violence or even
death, women are still pushing forward in both nations.
In Pakistan, more women are attending university and entering
the work place, more women are voting, and more are refusing to be
forced into marriage. But
Brohi says that comes at a cost.
"What I'm saying is that there is an increasing number of women
making their own decisions, and an increasing number of women who
therefore face violence for making those decisions," she said.
In Afghanistan, where women vividly remember living under
Taliban rule when they were punished for leaving the house without
a male relative or showing even an inch of ankle, Nadery says
women are fighting against legislation that would erode their
"In each of those battles the Afghan women have fought back.
They were on the street. They were in the Parliament house. They
were at the office of the president, knocking at his door," he
And in each of those battles, the women won.
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