Afghan President Visits Saudi Arabia
VOA News / October 25, 2014
Afghanistan's new president, Ashraf Ghani, is making his first foreign trip since taking office, fulfilling a promise to undertake a religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
Ghani's office said in a statement Saturday that he will perform Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca that can be undertaken at any time of the year.
The president will also meet with Saudi King Abdullah and other officials during his visit to Saudi Arabia.
Ghani promised during his inauguration that his first presidential foreign trip would be to Saudi Arabia for Umrah.
Umrah is sometimes known as the "lesser pilgrimage," in comparison to the annual Hajj pilgrimage of Islam.
It is a visit one makes to the Grand Mosque in Mecca, outside of the designated Hajj pilgrimage dates.
The word "Umrah" means to visit an important place.
IEC announces final vote results for provincial councils election
Khaama Press / October 25, 2014
The Afghanistan Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced the final results for the provincial council elections on Saturday.
IEC chief Ahmad Yousuf Nuistani announced the final vote results for the provincial council during a press conference.
The provincial council elections was organized together with the first round of presidential election earlier in April this year.
Around 2,713 candidates including 308 women contested in the provincial council election where 458 candidates including 96 women were elected for the provincial council seats, according to the preliminary vote results.
In the meantime, Nuristani said 457 candidates have been elected for the provincial council and the results will be released in IEC website within the next two hours.
News analysis: Pakistani, Afghan experts
eye China's greater role in Afghanistan
by Muhammad Tahir
ISLAMABAD, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- Pakistani and Afghan foreign affairs experts agree in their view that China can play a proactive role in Afghanistan because of its policy of non- interference and quest for enhanced economic engagement.
They say China role will also be very important in the elusive peace after the withdrawal of most of the foreign troops this year as it enjoys good relations with key stakeholders like Pakistan and Iran.
The political watchers have also attached high hopes to the upcoming visit of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai to China this month.
Ghani is scheduled to hold talks with Chinese leaders and will also attend the ministerial conference of the Istanbul Process, Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference on October 31.
The Heart of Asia process that was launched in November 2011 in Turkey aims to rouse regional co-operation for security and development in Afghanistan and its near and extended neighbors.
Chairman of Pakistan's Senate Defense Committee, Mushahid Hussain, says of all countries, China probably has the most credibility and capability to promote peace, security and stability in Afghanistan.
"Unlike Russia or the United States, China carries no historical 'extra-baggage' and unlike Pakistan, Iran, Turkey or the Central Asian Republics, China has stayed away from all previous conflicts or civil wars in Afghanistan, therefore it is not tainted in any way as far as the Afghan people are concerned, and, unlike the increasingly bankrupt West, China has the financial resources to sponsor much-needed investment in key sectors of Afghanistan's development," Hussain told Xinhua.
Dr. Davood Muradian, Director General of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies, believes that China's role will be important in the sense that China is Afghanistan's largest most prosperous and most important neighbor of Afghanistan.
"Therefore we expect a corresponding contribution from China to Afghanistan's stability and prosperity. We really expect China to act as it is powerful neighbor of Afghanistan," Muradian told Xinhua in Islamabad where he attended the Afghanistan-China- Pakistan trilateral dialogue.
"China is one country which does not have hegemonisti, territorial and strategic ambitions. It has only economic and commercial ambitions in Afghanistan which is not objectionable," former Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan, Rustam Shah Mohmand says.
Mohmand says that China can also play a key role in Afghanistan 's peace and reconciliation process because of its friendly relations with Pakistan and Iran, the major key players in Afghanistan.
"China is coming with a very clear slate. China's role now in the world and in the region is recognized by everybody. So I think it is time that China also gets involved in the peace negotiations which are based on the assumption that there would be no foreign militants in Afghanistan," the former ambassador told Xinhua in Islamabad.
A senior Pakistani analyst and writer Hasan Askari says that Pakistan, Afghanistan and China can work together to contain terrorism as "China has concerns about terrorism in Xinjiang region and those elements are to be found in Pakistan tribal region and also in Afghanistan."
"China can also help to defuse misunderstanding and tensions that develop between Pakistan and Afghanistan because it has good relations with both and both trust China," Askari said.
He said China can contribute to Afghanistan's reconstruction as unless there is reconstruction and economic development, the people will not have much hope for the future and Chinese can contribute to economic development and reconstruction of Afghanistan.
Afghan intelligence foil terrorist attack plot in Kabul
Khaama Press / October 25, 2014
A senior Taliban leader was arrested following an operation by Afghan intelligence operatives in Kabul city.
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) said the Taliban shadow governor for Nad-e-Ali district was arrested along with three others in Kabul city.
NDS following a statement said the individuals had recently came to capital Kabul to plan and coordinate attacks in city after they were trained on the other side of Durand Line.
The statement further added six other terrorists were arrested during a separate operation in norhtern Faryab province. NDS operatives also seized two suicide bombing vests along with 7 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) during the operation.
NDS operatives also arrested four suspected militants who were involved in major terrorist attacks in Nangarhar and Nimroz provinces, NDS said, adding that a vehicle packed with explosives was also confiscated with various other types of explosives from the detained militants.
The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the reports so far.
Saudi ban on women driving unrelated
to Islam: Press TV online debate
Press TV / October 25, 2014
Followers of Press TV's Facebook page have censured Saudi Arabia's ban on female driving as unfair, arguing that Islam has not introduced any such restrictions.
Comments posted on the channel's Facebook page in response to a question about Saudi Arabia’s decades-old ban on women getting behind the wheel showed that the ban has no standing in Islam with respondents noting that Saudi Arabia should lift the ban on women's driving.
“Yes, it's a joke. Nowhere in the Quran is this referenced. They can't use that one,” a comment read, while another respondent said, “I don't get this. Why they wouldn't allow women to drive. Islam is not forbidding anyone to drive. Saudi Arabia does.”
Another comment read, “Where in the Quran does it say that a woman cannot drive a car? … I respect every Muslim who lives according to the Quran and let others live. I despise each has a misogynistic view.”
“Why should women not be allowed to drive a car in Saudi Arabia? This is a country that allows female singers to perform at weddings! Which one is more evil: driving a car or singing at parties? Saudi Arabia is drifting away from pristine Islam! Dangerous!” another respondent noted.
Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry warned in a statement released on October 23 against any move flouting the kingdom’s controversial ban on female driving.
The warning came against the backdrop of a renewed right-to-drive campaign against the ban.
Several women took the wheel last year on October 26 in defiance of the driving ban in the kingdom.
More than 2,700 people have already signed an online petition to support women's driving rights in the Arab country.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are prohibited from driving. The medieval ban is a religious fatwa imposed by the country’s Wahhabi clerics. If women get behind the wheel in the kingdom, they may be arrested, sent to court and even flogged.
Saudi authorities have defied calls by international rights groups to end what has been described as its violation of women’s rights.
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