Yesterday's Afghan News

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pakistan is a weak country and won’t
stop terror in Afghanistan anytime soon: Saleh

Amrullah Saleh

Khaama Press / August 27, 2015

The former Afghan Intelligence – National Directorate of Security (NDS) Chief Amrullah Saleh has said Pakistan will not stop terror in Afghanistan anytime soon, being a strategically narrow-minded state and considering a depth in the region in a bid to put pressure on India in some way.

In an interview with the online American magazine – International Policy Digest, Saleh said “Pakistan is a weak country. It has inherent and default weaknesses. Pakistan is not going to stop terror in my country anytime soon.”

He was responding a question on what can be done to make ISI stop its criminal and terrorist activities in Afghanistan?

Saleh said “Therefore, it is up to the Afghan government to strategize ways of getting Pakistan to refrain from interfering in Afghanistan diplomatically. Creating trouble in a neighboring country is not rocket science.”

“Pakistan is a politically insecure, psychologically nervous, and strategically narrow-minded state. It wants parity with India. In the belief of the Pakistani strategists, subordination of Afghanistan to the wishes and demands of Pakistan will give them a depth in the region and will in some way put pressure on India,” Saleh added.

“They also hate seeing Afghanistan have a democratic system,” Saleh said, adding that “Pakistan sees democracy as an existential threat.”

According to Saleh “A real, robust democracy will transform Pakistan into a cultural and economic satellite state of India. Something that the Pakistani leaders want to avoid at any cost.”

He also added that Pakistan is an army-run country although the country seems to have a democracy on the surface. “Democracy in its truest sense does not exist in Pakistan. On critical foreign policy issues — issues that have the potential to change the national fate of Pakistan — it’s not the country’s parliament that has decision making powers, but its army’s,” Saleh said.

Saleh believes that Pakistan has increased its support for the Taliban with Pakistani intelligence and army personnel now staging their attacks with unprecedented boldness given the timetable for foreign troop’s withdrawal.

He said the caveats under which they operate, Pakistanis believe that the finish line is near; therefore, they feel like they shouldn’t restrain from increasing their destabilization efforts in Afghanistan.

Turkmenistan ready to help Afghans achieve peace

KABUL, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- Visiting Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said here Thursday that his country was ready to help Afghans achieve lasting peace and stability.

Berdymukhamedov, who heads a high-level delegation, arrived in the Afghan capital earlier Thursday and met with his Afghan counterpart President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani at the country's Presidential Palace.

"As an impartial country, Turkmenistan is committed to helping Afghanistan secure peace and stability," Berdymukhamedov told reporters via a translation toolkit during a joint press briefing with Ghani.

It is important for Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to step up exchanges and cooperation, promote collaboration in trade and economy, energy and security, and increase people-to-people exchanges so as to contribute more to bilateral relations, the Turkmen leader noted.

"Turkmenistan would increase electricity export to Afghanistan by five-fold," he said.

Berdymukhamedov also underscored that his country was ready to help implement the gas pipeline project as well as the railway link to Afghanistan.

Ghani said among the issues discussed was the transfer of electricity from Afghanistan to Pakistan.

The two side also discussed regional security and joint fight against drug smuggling, terrorism and extremism.

Some five agreements in the fields of energy, trade, sports, science and technology were also signed by ministerial level officials witnessed by the two presidents.

The Afghan president also accepted invitation of Berdymukhamedov to attend the Neutrality Day celebration of Turkmenistan to be held later this year.

The total bilateral trade between the two neighboring countries surpassed 1 billion U.S. dollars per year.

Afghanistan renames Salma Dam
to Afghan-India Friendship Dam

Khaama Press / August 27, 2015

The government of Afghanistan has renamed the name of Salama dam to Afghan-India friendship dam following a robust investment by India in reconstruction of the dam.

The decision was reportedly taken by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani during a meeting of the cabinet of ministers.

Salama dam is located in western Herat province of Afghanistan and it is expected that the dam will incur a cost of around $300 million by the time of its completion.

The reservoir filling in Salma dam project started late in the month of July with the closure of the dam’s diversion tunnel gate.

According to the Indian Consulate in western Herat province, the dam reservoir will be 20 kilometer long and 3 kilometer wide.

The storage capacity of the reservoir will be 640 million cubic meters of water, the Indian consulate said.

The Salma dam project has been built on Harirod river with the financial support of India where at least $300 million have been invested.

Salma dam is expected to produce 42 megawatt of electricity and will irrigate around 80 hectares of agricultural land.

India has played a crucial role by participating in the rebuilding of Afghanistan following the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.

Since 2002, the Government of India has committed USD 2 billion dollars to the socio-economic rebuilding of the Afghan state and society in accordance with the development priorities of the Government and the people of Afghanistan.

Journalist critically wounded
after brutally stabbed in Mazar city

Khaama Press / August 27, 2015

A journalist was critically wounded after he was brutally attacked with knife by unknown gunmen in Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital city of northern Balkh province.

The Afghanistan Journalists Center condemned the brutal attack, urging the local government officials to take immediate actions to recognize the detain those involved behind the incident.

Bezhan Barnawej, the Editor in Chief of Bidar Daily – a state-run daily newspaper in Balkh province, said the incident took place late on Wednesday afternoon in Kart-e-Mamooreen area of the city.

He said the journalist Qasim Muzafari was on duty when he came under attack by unknown men and was critically injured.

Barnawej further added that the health condition of Muzafari is stable and has been admitted to hospital for treatment.

This comes as a female journalist was murdered by unidentified men in northern Balkh province of Afghanistan late in the month of November last year.

The female journalist – Palwasha Tokhi Miranzai was reportedly working for Bayan-e-Shamal new network and stabbed by unidentified men inside her house in Mazar-e-Sharif city.

The Reporters Without Borders (RWB)/Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) said last month that the Taliban militants group and affiliates of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group are extending news “BLACK HOLES” in Afghanistan.

A statement by RSF said Taliban have been intensifying armed attacks on civilians and openly threatening freedom of information despite countries such as the United States, Iran, Norway and Qatar are “normalizing” their relations with the Taliban and certain Afghan politicians are sitting with them at the negotiating table.

“The Taliban, and now members of Islamic State, are sowing terror in several northeastern provinces including Badakhshan, Nangarhar, Baghlan and Nuristan. Freedom of information in these provinces has gone from being limited to non-existent, giving rise to new information black holes,” the statement added.

The statement also added that journalists have been forced to stop working due to intense clashes in some regions, especially in Badakhshan and Nangarhar where entire villages have fallen under rebel control.

According to RSF Taliban and other armed groups are unfortunately not the only ones who target the media but the warlords, local politicians and government forces also help to create a climate of fear designed to keep journalists at a distance, especially during military operations.

Leadership Feud Could Fracture Afghan Taliban

Ayaz Gul / VOA News / August 26, 2015

ISLAMABAD - The brother of the deceased Taliban leader Mullah Omar is speaking out about an internal power struggle that risks fragmenting the Afghan insurgency.

Within a few days of confirmation of the death of its long-time chief, Mullah Omar, the Taliban earlier this month declared that its leadership council elected Omar’s deputy, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, as its new "commander of the faithful." Mansoor until then had been the head of the Taliban’s political and military affairs.

Shortly after that announcement, however, a group of senior Taliban leaders led by Omar’s family approached Afghan and international media to say they did not accept Mansoor’s leadership, and alleged he was not the choice of the council’s majority.

That group has since been campaigning to have Omar's brother, Mullah Abdul Manan, named his successor. Its spokesmen say a panel of prominent pro-Taliban clerics has been mediating between the rivals to resolve differences and is expected to issue an edict soon to settle the dispute.

Mansoor’s aides say there is no conflict over his leadership role, although they acknowledge a panel of religious leaders is trying to address the concerns of a few estranged Taliban leaders.

‘Sacred responsibility’

Speaking to VOA by telephone from an undisclosed Afghan location Wednesday, Manan warned Mansoor’s supporters against coercive tactics like issuing their own religious edicts against dissidents to gain their allegiance. He said the leadership crisis is the biggest issue facing the Taliban and until religious scholars announce their decision, both sides need to avoid confrontation.

Manan warned that “an attempt to use a religious edict to coerce the opposition into announcing allegiance to [Mansoor] will - God forbid - spark bloody infighting and Taliban fighters should not give credence to any such edict.”

He acknowledged Mansoor’s services as the head of the Taliban’s military and political affairs when Omar was alive. But Manan insisted that "leading the entire Taliban movement is an Afghan national sacred responsibility, and must be given to someone capable of carrying forward the mission and is elected by prominent scholars, mujahedin commanders and tribal elders."

Abdul Hai Mutmaeen, a Mansoor spokesman, says “95 percent” of members of the leadership council of the Taliban chose Mansoor to succeed Omar. Mutmaeen, who also served as a spokesman for Omar when the Taliban was in power in Afghanistan, told VOA that the late leader never wanted his family to play a role in the movement.

“Amir-ul Momineen (leader of the faithful) Mullah Mohammad Omar did not want to give any position to his family member as he never considered the Islamic Emirate (the Taliban) as a family entity. Those people who use the Amir-ul Momineen’s family name are insincere or not loyal to Mullah Omar’s family or his thoughts,” Mutmaeen said.

Defections to IS possible

Daniel Markey, an expert on Afghanistan at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, says the leadership crisis is significant. While Mullah Omar was alive, decision-making was limited to a few people.

Now, he says, "The number of Taliban who will think that they have a say in who should be his successor rose significantly, and probably exposes the kinds of frictions that reportedly had existed - for instance, between field commanders and those leaders who have been based inside of Pakistan or elsewhere. And those kinds of splits have been somewhat apparent over the years, but now they may be bursting out into the open."

Markey says the Taliban needs unified leadership to successfully wage war and claim to control territory. But even without a single leader, there can be continued fighting, making it hard for the Kabul government to consolidate control and stabilize the nation, especially since its NATO allies have reduced their troop deployments so sharply.

There also are worries that a fracturing of the Taliban could create smaller factions and regional commanders, with some possibly defecting to the self-declared Islamic State group, which is attempting to establish itself in Afghanistan. That would multiply security challenges for the war-ravaged nation and for its allies in NATO, including the United States.

Even as Taliban leaders wrangle for power, the group's fighters have seized a district headquarters in southern Helmand province. Fighters assaulted Musa Qala district earlier this week; provincial authorities said they asked for reinforcements, but none arrived, so Afghan security forces were forced to retreat.

In a separate incident in Helmand early Wednesday, NATO said two of its soldiers were killed when two individuals wearing the uniforms of local security forces opened fire on their vehicle at a military base. NATO says the shooters were killed in return fire and the attack is under investigation.

Humanitarian situation focus of UN envoy’s visit to Faryab province


MAIMANA, 27 August, 2015 – A top UN official has met with provincial officials in Faryab to assess the humanitarian situation of the conflict-affected population.

The UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, Mark Bowden, met the Governor and other officials in Maimana, the capital of northwestern Faryab province.

“The purpose of my visit here is to follow up on the visit of the Special Representative for the Secretary-General and specifically to look into the humanitarian needs of the population affected by conflict,” said Mr. Bowden.

According to OCHA's latest Humanitarian Bulletin, Northern Afghanistan has seen a marked increase in conflict-induced displacement this summer.

Assessment teams verified more than 5,300 families displaced by conflict in the nine northern provinces. Fighting in Almar, Qaysar, Pashtunkot and Shirintagab districts of Faryab province displaced a confirmed 1,159 families in accessible areas in June and July.

“The United Nations has increased its humanitarian commitment to Faryab to meet this need,” said Mr. Bowden.

“The United Nations also has a very long-term interest in staying in Faryab and supporting government here and the people of the province.”

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