Today's Afghan News

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sartaj calls Afghan counterpart as
controversial interview puts him in hot water

Sartaj Aziz

Khaama Press / November 20, 2014

The Pakistani national security and foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz called his Afghan counterpart Mohammad Hanif Atmar on Thursday after he put himself into a hot water with a controversial interview.

Sartaj made discriminatory remarks regarding the Taliban group during an interview with BBC Urdu, saying that Pakistan was not going to target militant groups that do not “pose a threat to the state”.

He said Afghan Taliban are Afghanistan’s problem and Haqqani Network is a part of it. “It’s the job of the Afghan government to negotiate with them…We can try to convince them, however things are not the same as they were in the nineties,” Aziz told BBC Urdu during an interview.

“Why should America’s enemies unnecessarily become our enemies,” Aziz said, adding that “When the United States attacked Afghanistan, all those that were trained and armed were pushed towards us.

However, Sartaj during the telephone conversation with Atmar said Thursday that he had been quoted out of context.

He claimed that he was talking in a ‘historical context’ and reiterated on the occasion that Pakistan’s commitment to fight terrorism was clear and unambiguous.

The statement by Sartaj also received harsh criticisms inside Pakistan with certain political firgures, with his political opponents and opposition in Pakistan’s parliament seeking an explanation through a calling attention notice on Wednesday.

Pakistan army chief tells U.S.
officials anti-terror offensive to continue

ISLAMABAD, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, who is currently visiting the United States, has told top American military and political leaders that the country' security forces will continue offensive against the militant groups in the tribal regions.

The military said Thursday General Raheel Sharif held meetings with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senate Armed Services Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence.

The general expressed Pakistan's resolve to continue the military operation till the elimination of the last terrorist, said a statement of the military's Inter-Services Public Relations, issued here Thursday.

"The Pakistan military is confident to hold their gains in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) to ensure that terrorists would not be able to return or establish their operational basis on the Pakistani soil," he said, quoted by the statement.

Also discussed at the meetings were the overall security situation in the region and matters relating to Afghanistan.

The U.S. Senators expressed the desire to forge a strong and lasting partnership between the United States and Pakistan, the statement said.

General Raheel also briefed the Senators about Pakistan's plans to rehabilitate the dislocated people from Waziristan at the earliest possible.

Taliban ups attacks in
Afghanistan amid peace efforts

Press TV / November 20, 2014

Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, and some other major cities have become the scene of increasing attacks by the Taliban amid the government’s efforts to reach a peace deal with the militants, Press TV reports.

A fortress-like “ring of steel” protects Kabul as police and soldiers man roadblocks and spot-check cars.

Streets around main buildings in the city, such as the parliament, the ministries and the presidential palace are also blocked off, while others are guarded by razor wire and concrete blast walls.

However, over the past several weeks, the militants have assaulted two foreign compounds in the Afghan capital, carried out a bomb attack near the office of the city’s police chief, sent assailants to attack international military bases and convoys, and targeted the car of a renowned female lawmaker.

“We are deeply worried about growing unrest in our country because it is mostly civilians who are killed and wounded in large numbers in Taliban bombings,” a Kabul resident told Press TV.

The attacks come as the administration of President Ashraf Ghani is striving to broker a peace deal with the Taliban.

“The national unity government of Afghanistan is planning to have peace negotiations with the Taliban, so the Taliban in recent days have stepped up their bombings here to get their demands done during the talks,” the Kabul resident added.

Afghanistan’s peace talks with the Taliban failed last year after the militants said they would not hold direct talks with the government in Kabul.

The 2001 invasion of Afghanistan by the United States and its allies removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity remains across the country. The invasion was part of the so-called war on terror.

1 killed, 6 wounded in
rocket attack in E. Afghan city

ASSADABAD, Afghanistan, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- A Taliban rocket attack slammed into Afghan eastern Assadabad city, the capital of Kunar province, 185 km east of Kabul on Thursday, leaving one person dead and six others injured, provincial police chief Abdul Habib Sayedkhili said.

"A rocket fired by Taliban militants slammed into Assadabad city at around 10:00 a.m. local time today, killing one person and wounding six others," Sayedkhili told reporters.

All the victims are innocent civilians, he added.

Civilians often bear the brunt of war in Afghanistan as nearly a dozen civilians have lost their lives and more than 40 others sustained injuries in violent suicide bombings in the capital city Kabul over the past one week.

Taliban militants fighting the government have yet to claim responsibility for the rocket attack.

Kabul International Compound Under Attack

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

November 19, 2014

A compound housing foreigners on the outskirts of the Afghan capital has been targeted by an attack by the Taliban.

A car-bomb explosion occurred near the gate of the Green Village in eastern Kabul late on November 19, followed by bursts of gunfire.

Security forces sealed off roads in the eastern part of the capital.

Kabul's chief of police, General Mohammand Zahir, said four militants were killed in the assault.

One attacker died when he detonated the vehicle packed with explosives; the other three were killed by police officers in the shoot-out.

A security official said that one guard working in the Green Village was slightly injured.

The attack was claimed by the Taliban via a recognized Twitter account that said: "A car bomb targeted Green Village, on[e] of the most secure areas of foreigners."

The high-security compound houses foreigners working for international service contractors and various facilities.

This was the second attack on a foreign compound in recent days.

The Green Village has been the scene of previous attacks targeting the foreigners living there.

In October 2013, a Taliban suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden car near the entrance of the Green Village, killing two passersby.

Seven guards and civilians were killed in another attack there in 2012.

The Taliban has been staging frequent attacks as foreign troops leave the country this year.

On November 18, a Taliban suicide attack targeted another compound housing foreigners in Kabul.

Two Afghan security guards and two attackers were killed in that attack.

On November 16 near the parliament building in Kabul, prominent female lawmaker Shukriya Barakzai survived a suicide attack on her vehicle but three civilian bystanders were killed in the blast.

Nearly 20 others were injured in the attack.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

Traffic accident leaves 4
dead, 2 injured in Faryab province

Khaama Press / November 20, 2014

At least four people were killed and two others were injured following a traffic incident in northern Faryab province of Afghanistan.

Local officials said Thursday that the incident took place late on Wednesday afternoon in Maimana city.

ACcording to the provincial traffic department officials, the incident took place due to reckless and high speed driving by the driver of the vehicle.

This comes as a woman was killed and five others were injured following a traffic incident between Qoromqol and Dawlatabad districts late last month.

Over 50 people were killed or injured in separate incidents in Takhar, Faryab and Parwan provinces last month.

High speed and reckless driving and bad condition of the roads are said to be the main reasons behind deadly traffic incidents in Afghanistan.

In the meantime, at least five Afghan national army soldiers were injured in a separate incident in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan today, local officials said.

Provincial governor spokesman Samim Khpolwal said the incident took place after an Afghan army vehicle collided with a passenger bus.

MEC: Afghan pharmaceutical market
consists $400m illegally imported products

Khaama Press / November 20, 2014

The United Nations-backed high-level anti-corruption body – Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC) has said that at least 50 per cent of Afghanistan’s $700 to $800 million pharmaceutical import market consists of illegally imported products.

Eva Joly, an international member of the MEC said the importation process of medicines is highly vulnerable to corruption, from registration of foreign pharmaceutical companies, to the registration documents themselves, to laboratory-based quality control.

Another member of the Committee, Prof. Mohammad Yasin Osmani expressed concerns over the abundance of substandard pharmaceuticals in the Afghan market and said “The health of people of Afghanistan is under threat.”

Osmani further added “There is no mechanism currently in place to control the market.”

While presenting the report, the MEC members recommended controlling more effectively the quality and volume of pharmaceutical products entering Afghanistan through a range of reforms to the registration and licensing processes.

Similarly they urged for promoting technical surveillance and monitoring capacities to ensure that production and import companies are adequately vetted and that pharmaceuticals entering the country are subjected to rigorous quality controls.

Tajikistan hosts international
meeting to combat drug trafficking

DUSHANBE, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- A meeting of the Mini-Dublin Group was held Wednesday to discuss issues related to the fight of drug trafficking.

According to the press service of Tajikistan's Drug Control Agency (DCA), the meeting was attended by ambassadors of Afghanistan, Germany, Britain, the United States and Uzbekistan, as well as the representatives from diplomatic missions accredited in Tajikistan, such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation on Europe (OSCE), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The meeting discussed measures taken in combating drug-trafficking by Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and cooperation of the two governments with members of the Mini-Dublin Group.

Established in 1990, the Dublin Group is a flexible, informal consultation and coordination body concerned with the global, regional and country-specific problems of illicit drugs production, trafficking and demand.

It is comprised of European Union member states, Australia, Canada, Japan, Norway, the United States as well as organizations such as the European Commission and UNODC.

The mini-Dublin Groups (one per host country) consist of representatives from the missions and embassies of Dublin Group members in each host country.

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