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Friday, April 18, 2014

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Post-NATO Surrealism: Experts Advise India to Appease Pakistan
Special Reports & Articles
'Cinematic poem' captures Afghanistan's isolated Wakhan Corridor
Baloch separatists follow Taliban footsteps
Afghanistan still opposed to Dasu Dam construction
Why the U.S. must cut Afghanistan loose
FBI's Alleged Attempt To Flip Guantanamo Defense Team Member Stalls 9/11 Trial
US Military Gear Smuggled en Masse Out of Afghanistan
Army officer quits to publish harrowing account of the tragic cost of the Afghan war
Monsanto Terminator Seeds and RoundUp Herbicide in Afghanistan
Video: Ashraf Ghani Election Fraud
DCM Haidari Discusses Afghanistan’s Experience with South-South Cooperation

Afghan President's Calls Secured From Eavesdropping

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 activated.

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 systems."

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 elected president?

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 Afghan.

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 a runoff.

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 opposition?

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

Khaama Press

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 Prison

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 facility.

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 police

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 told Xinhua.

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 Afghanistan.


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 Xinhua.

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 expenses.

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 stall.

"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 said.

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

Sharon Behn

VOA News
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 space.

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 threatened.

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 houses.

"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 social mobility.

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 rights.

"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 said.

And in each of those battles, the women won.

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