Source: United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) 1
Wardag Province turned into "region of violence" 8
Departing Envoy Says Afghans on Right Path; 9
Afghan government issues decree to launch second phase of disarmament 15
WILL SUSPECTED WAR CRIMINALS STAND FOR PARLIAMENT? 17
Protests in Afghanistan 19
Source: United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
Date: 16 Jun 2005
Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR)
To date, 60,408 officers and soldiers have disarmed under the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programme. Of this figure, 49,991 have entered the reintegration process.
In terms of weapons collection, a total of 34,357 medium and light weapons have been collected from military units that have gone through the DDR programme.
Meanwhile, on Monday a ceremony was held at the Ministry of Defence to reward commanders who have supported the DDR programme, and attendees included 33 commanders and the Deputy Minister of Defence.
Finally, teams from the Afghan New Beginnings Programme’ (ANBP) continue to identify suitable locations for weapons collection throughout the country. This follows the government’s decision to give electoral candidates that have links to illegal armed groups the opportunity to voluntarily surrender their weapons, so they can meet the eligibility criteria.
Nominee for U.S. Envoy to Afghanistan Testifies Before Senate
Ronald Neumann says his experience in Iraq will be valuable in Kabul
Ambassador Ronald Neumann, who has been nominated by President Bush to serve as the next U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, says his recent diplomatic service in Iraq has providing him with valuable experience that he will be able to apply to Afghanistan if his nomination is confirmed by the Senate.
"If confirmed, I would take to Kabul the benefit of 16 months' experience in Iraq, where I had the privilege of serving this year as Political-Military Counselor to Ambassador Negroponte," Neumann said in his written statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee June 15.
"[I]n both countries we have seen courageous and bold steps toward democracy that we could not have imagined five years ago, and that would not have happened without the courage and dedication of American military and civilian personnel," he said.
After reviewing the accomplishments in Afghanistan on the political, security and reconstruction fronts, Neumann said the immediate challenges facing Afghanistan are disarming illegal armed groups, reducing opium poppy cultivation and helping the country prepare for national assembly and provincial elections in September.
"It is in our vital national interest to ensure that the Afghan people succeed. Afghanistan must never again serve as a terrorist safe-haven," Neumann concluded.
Following is the text of Neumann's written statement:
Statement by Ambassador Ronald Neumann Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
June 15, 2005
Mr. Chairman, Senator Biden, distinguished Members of the Committee, as the President's nominee to be Ambassador to Afghanistan, I look forward to reviewing the Administration's priorities for Afghanistan and to hearing your views on how we should move forward to advance our common national objectives in that important country.
Mr. Chairman, allow me to begin by thanking the President and Secretary Rice for the privilege I now have of sitting before you as the nominee for this position. It is a great honor because I know that much rests on our success in Afghanistan. I would also like to recognize Ambassador Khalilzad for his remarkable achievements in Afghanistan over the last 18 months.
Mr. Chairman, Let me also thank this committee and the Congress as a whole for its sustained support for Afghanistan over the last four years, both in terms of visits and resources. Congress has appropriated over $9 billion since 2002 for Afghanistan -- and we have much to show for that investment.
Lessons from Baghdad
If confirmed, I would take to Kabul the benefit of 16 months' experience in Iraq, where I had the privilege of serving this year as Political-Military Counselor to Ambassador Negroponte. Clearly the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan are very different, with vastly different histories, cultures and economies, but in both countries we have seen courageous and bold steps toward democracy that we could not have imagined five years ago, and that would not have happened without the courage and dedication of American military and civilian personnel.
One lesson that I would take with me from Baghdad is the decisive importance of working closely with local leaders, of consulting with them, listening to them and empowering them. If confirmed, I would look forward to working closely with President Karzai, a visionary leader with a clear mandate to lead his people toward a brighter future as a constitutional democracy. I would also take with me a deep appreciation for the sacrifices and skills of the American men and women serving on the front lines -- both in and out of uniform -- and I would make it a priority to ensure that they receive all the support they deserve. Thirdly, I would take with me an appreciation of the importance of teamwork -- with military and civilian branches of the Administration working seamlessly and in regular consultation with the Congress. Above all, I pledge that I will do all in my power to keep the people in my charge safe and their morale high.
Allow me to review our key accomplishments and challenges in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is in the midst of a historic transition. In just over three years, we have seen extraordinary progress on the political, security and reconstruction fronts.
Opponents who previously settled scores through violent confrontation faced off at the ballot box in October 2004 for presidential elections, an unprecedented success for a country torn apart from three decades of conflict. Karzai's subsequent appointment of a qualified, multi-ethnic cabinet further demonstrated that Afghanistan is entering a new time with possibilities for stability and democracy that can ensure a better future for the people of this long suffering land.
Afghanistan's presidential elections followed on the adoption in January 2004 of one of the most enlightened constitutions in the Islamic world, a remarkable accomplishment considering that four years ago the Taliban ruled Afghanistan with an Islamic absolutism that denied fundamental human rights, even denying women the right to work or go to school.
We have also seen real progress on the security front as major militias have surrendered their heavy weapons and warlords have had to choose between supporting the new Afghan government on the one hand and becoming marginalized on the other. Despite continuing attacks, there are also unmistakable signs that the Taliban insurgency is weakening, with many mid-level Taliban leaders, as well as low-level fighters, taking advantage of an amnesty program that allows them to lay down their weapons and rejoin Afghan society if they have not committed any serious crimes. Meanwhile, the Afghan National Army is steadily coalescing into a national defense force and an important tool for President Karzai in his efforts to extend the reach of the national government and bring stability to the provinces. At about 24,000 strong, the ANA is an ethnically mixed force from all areas of Afghanistan. The force has successfully deployed to quell factional fighting in the north and the west, and has won praise for its capabilities fighting alongside Operation Enduring Freedom troops against insurgents in the east and the south.
Other Afghan forces also contribute to security. National, border, and highway police, over 41,000 so far, are being trained by the U.S. and Germany to provide day-to-day security throughout the provinces and in Kabul.
U.S. and international forces are also, of course, a key element of the security equation. With multiple countries operating in the U.S.-led coalition and many others in the International Security Assistance Force under NATO command, security operations have been a model of international coordination. NATO's command of ISAF is the Alliance's first operation beyond Europe, and over the last year we have seen its capabilities grow and its mandate expand beyond Kabul into northern and western Afghanistan.
On the economic front, Afghanistan has made significant progress in the last four years. The creation of a new, stable currency in 2002 was an impressive achievement and government policies have helped lay the groundwork for an economic expansion that has seen GNP increase by over 50 percent over the last three years. Reconstruction efforts are also showing results. The drive from Kabul to Kandahar now takes five hours instead of 16, thanks to a fully paved highway that links Afghanistan's two largest cities. Work is ongoing on the Kandahar to Herat portion of the road and on some 1000 kilometers of secondary roads. In the south, the Kajaki Hydroelectric Plant, which provides electricity to Kandahar, is being overhauled and throughout the country hundreds of schools and health clinics have been constructed and rehabilitated. School attendance for girls and boys increased to a record four million last year.
In sum, a great deal has been accomplished. If confirmed I will arrive in an Afghanistan that is undergoing a transformation brought on by the vision and hard work of the Afghan people and by the generosity and dedication of the United States and our friends in the international community. But significant threats and challenges remain. The two principal threats are the lack of security and the growing narcotics menace. Longer-term issues of a very poor country driven by years of strife remain.
Threats and Challenges
On the security front, illegal armed groups, not recognized by the Ministry of Defense, still need to be disarmed. Taliban elements, particularly in the South and Southeast regions, continue to mount sporadic but nevertheless damaging attacks, deterring NGO and UN reconstruction efforts in the affected provinces. We have seen an upsurge in security incidents in recent weeks, including the assassination of a pro-government religious leader in Kandahar, a subsequent attack on a mosque that killed 20 Afghans and an attack on election workers. With parliamentary elections on the horizon, the Taliban are trying to disrupt progress toward stability and participatory government and return Afghanistan to a past when it served as the global headquarters of hate and oppression. We must not and will not allow that to happen, and addressing these security challenges will be a central priority for me if I am confirmed, as I know they are already for President Karzai. Success will require sustained military pressure, continued strengthening of Afghan security capabilities and -- just as important -- the opportunity for amnesty and the creation of democratic political sphere where every Afghan will have an opportunity to make his or her case without recourse to weapons.
Poppy cultivation also continues at a dangerous level -- dangerous for the drugs it unleashes on the world and dangerous, because the record shows that the combination of weapons, illicit wealth and lawlessness associated with narcotics production and trafficking is corrosive to stability and good government, with implications for all we have achieved to date in Afghanistan. I am convinced that there are no quick fixes or silver bullets here. Ending the narcotics menace will take time and it will take a multi-track approach that includes not only eradication and interdiction but also alternative livelihoods for farmers, law enforcement and effective public education efforts with the Afghan people.
The principle near-term challenge is the need to prepare for national assembly and provincial elections in September, ensuring that they meet the high standards of the Afghan people. I am informed that preparations are on track and that thousands of candidates and scores of political parties have registered, but logistics and security will require ongoing and intensive international support. I would stress that the challenge will not end after election day. It is essential that these representative bodies develop into genuine expressions of the popular will, working constructively with the President to fashion a better future for Afghanistan. Here, too, continued U.S. and international assistance will be essential.
Over the medium and longer term, the challenge will be to continue our reconstruction and development efforts and to ensure that our friends in the international community remain fully engaged as well. Afghanistan remains a desperately poor country with some of the world's worst health and education indicators. If we hope to have a meaningful and lasting impact in Afghanistan, it will take a sustained commitment. A central concern will be the need to build Afghan capacity at all levels and in all sectors. After decades of war and destruction, there are simply not enough educated, trained and experienced Afghans to address its needs, either in the public or private sector.
A Long-Term Commitment
As the Bonn Process draws to a close with the Parliamentary elections, Afghan leaders have been urging the international community to make a long-term commitment to Afghanistan and to offer assurances that our engagement will continue. The United States has responded to this request, in part, by working with Afghan leaders to define a long-term Strategic Partnership. These discussions were finalized during President Karzai's visit to Washington last month with the signing of a Joint Declaration for a U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership that assures continuity along the main avenues of our cooperation to date, specifically in the areas of security, economic development and democracy and governance. For its part, Afghanistan pledged its continued support in the war on terror and its commitment to democratic principles.
This partnership will benefit not only Afghanistan and the United States, but also the region as a whole. It is our hope -- a hope that is shared by Afghan leaders -- that it will contribute to progress in establishing Afghanistan as a secure, democratic partner for other countries in the region.
I expect the challenges ahead -- including some that we have not foreseen -- are at least as great as what we have faced to date. But I am optimistic about Afghanistan's future. It has already made a historic transition, and I am convinced that the Afghan people will see it through and that Afghanistan will achieve its appropriate place as a stable, prospering, and respected member of the community of nations.
Afghanistan has a long and proud history that is well known to its people and that they now have a chance to reclaim. The city of Kandahar is named for Alexander the Great and some of its cities were once the leading cities of Asia. With peace and stability, Afghans know that they are capable of great things. As they embrace the universal ideals of freedom, representative government, individual rights, and the rule of law they are laying the groundwork for a very bright future.
It is in our vital national interest to ensure that the Afghan people succeed. Afghanistan must never again serve as a terrorist safe-haven.
If confirmed, I will do my part to ensure that they do succeed, working with the Afghan leadership, with my colleagues in uniform, with my diplomatic team in Kabul and with you.
Finally, on a personal note, it was on a visit to Afghanistan in 1967 that my wife and I began a life-long interest in the Muslim world and culture. We traveled extensively in Afghanistan, by car, jeep, horse and yak. My brother Gregory finished high school there and my parents were deeply involved in the country during their long tour in Kabul and for many years thereafter until their deaths. I remember the country and the people with delight. I look forward to resuming a relationship that is so much a part of my own family history and guiding a post once led by my father.
Wardag Province turned into "region of violence"
Kabul - Saydabad District of [eastern] Wardag Province has been turned into a region of violence and security crises for some weeks now.
Unidentified people destroyed a school that was built by a Swedish organization and where girls and boys studied twice a day in (?Nurayo) village of Shekhabad District of Saydabad on Friday [17 June] night.
Armed people set fire to another girls' school in the Dara-e Nur area of this district on the same night. The armed men also fired a rocket on the home of the person, who rented out his home for the girls' school. These attacks have not caused any casualties. However, people are scared and concerned about the security situation.
A rocket was fired on a security checkpoint in the (?Top) area of Saydabad District, wounding two security officials two days ago. Though the second phase of disarmament has been implemented in Wardag, armed men still walk freely, and rob and kill people. The killing of Mohammad Wali, chairman of the National Solidarity Council of (?Lachikhel) village of this district, is a good example for this. Security officials reach the scene of incident immediately after, but people accuse them of failing to ensure security and arrest the real culprits
Departing Envoy Says Afghans on Right Path;
The Washington Post
June 20, 2005 Monday
Departing Envoy Says Afghans on Right Path; Khalilzad to Become U.S. Ambassador to Iraq by N.C. Aizenman, Washington Post Staff Writer
-- The occasion was a groundbreaking ceremony for a U.S.-funded bridge, and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad rose to deliver his speech with the casual air of a man who has attended countless such events.
But toward the end of his remarks Saturday, the expression on the face of the gregarious, Afghan-born diplomat became
uncharacteristically grave. "The United States' commitment to Afghanistan remains unshakable," he said in Dari, stressing each word for emphasis as the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, looked on.
It seemed an apt time to offer reassurances: On Monday, Khalilzad vacates the post from which he has exercised extraordinary influence over Afghanistan's development to take up the job of U.S. ambassador to Iraq.
He leaves behind a country that by his own description remains at "the fourth kilometer of its 10-kilometer journey" toward a stable democracy.
Three-and-a-half years after the extremist Islamic Taliban government was ousted from power, the country has its first democratically elected president, millions of Afghan girls are enrolled in school, and there are more than 20,000 members of an ethnically integrated national army.
But Khalilzad's departure also comes as Taliban fighters have launched a campaign of almost daily bombings and ambushes in the south and east, scaring aid workers from large swaths of the country and threatening to undermine parliamentary elections scheduled for September. Meanwhile, the ambassador's early policy of accommodating powerful regional warlords in the interest of stability is increasingly coming into question because of their role in
Afghanistan's burgeoning heroin trade, which produced nearly 90 percent of the world's supply last year. At a final news conference Thursday, Khalilzad -- dubbed "the viceroy" by Afghans -- expressed confidence that Afghanistan would succeed despite those challenges and said President Bush tapped him for the Iraq job because of "the belief that Afghanistan is on the right trajectory."
"The key thing is not the person of the ambassador," said Khalilzad, whose nominated successor, Ronald Newman, was an adviser to the previous ambassador to Iraq, John D. Negroponte. "The key is the strategic relationship . . . between the two countries."
Many Afghans are not convinced.
When word of Khalilzad's likely job change surfaced in April, the chief of Afghanistan's Supreme Court, Fazl Hadi Shinwari, sent a letter to Bush pleading with him to keep Khalilzad in his post until the parliamentary elections.
"No one else can work as he has been doing," Shinwari rote.
And even some Afghans who complained that Khalilzad too often upstaged Karzai say they are sorry to see him go.
The burst of nostalgia is a testament to the unique combination of qualities Khalilzad brought to the assignment when he was first appointed U.S. envoy to Afghanistan in January 2002, and ambassador in November 2003.
A former university professor who has served in the State Department, the Pentagon and the National Security Council, Khalilzad had the connections and influence of a consummate Washington insider.
But his Afghan heritage and work supporting anti-Soviet fighters going back more than two decades afforded him a mastery in Afghan languages and tribal politics that few diplomats manage to acquire by the end of their tours.
Nader Nadery, a member of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, recalled first seeing Khalilzad in action in 2001 at a conference in Bonn at which Afghanistan's disparate opposition groups hammered out a plan for an interim government.
"I thought, 'Wow, this guy is really capable of making people come to agreement,' " Nadery recalled. "It wasn't just that he could speak Dari or Pashto, but the way he could find the right words to sway the people between whom he was mediating."
In the years since, Khalilzad has used his negotiating skills to defuse numerous potential crises -- effectively forcing a Tajik warlord, Ismail Khan, to step down as governor of the western province of Herat last August after fighting broke out between Khan and a rival militia leader, for instance. More recently, he persuaded several losing candidates to drop their complaints of fraud in the October presidential election. But Khalilzad also earned the resentment of various opposition figures, who complained that he had been too overt in supporting Karzai. Meanwhile, Khalilzad's high profile and energetic style often seemed to undermine the president's authority.
"Some of the pronouncements that he would make were things that you would expect to come from a government official, not a foreign representative," said Paul Fishstein, director of the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, a nonprofit research organization based in Kabul.
At the news conference Thursday, Khalilzad was napologetic. "I'm here to help," he said. "I'm not a potted plant."
During a brief interview after the bridge ceremony on Saturday, however, he seemed more reflective on his early decision to allow warlords with checkered pasts, such as Khan -- who has been appointed energy minister since his ouster from the governorship of Herat -- and Gen. bdurrashid Dostum, an Uzbek strongman, to play a role in the formation of the government.
"Of course, I retain the right to change my mind down the road," he said, laughing. But he said that "at this point in time," he still felt it was the right move.
"It allowed for disarmament and reintegration to move forward without it becoming very violent and requiring the use of force," he said, referring to an official disarmament program under which 99 percent of registered strongmen have given up their declared weapons. Fishstein countered that many former militia leaders retain hidden stockpiles and have only grown in power through profits from the drug trade. "Whether you could have neutralized the warlords back then is not clear," he said. "But it's certainly going to be harder to neutralize them now." Khalilzad stressed that Afghanistan's setbacks measured up well against the challenge of building a nation from such an ethnically diverse population after years of conflict.
"I'm not saying the process is completed," he said. "But we've done things in terms of achieving those goals that in other places have taken hundreds of years."
Press selection list for Afghan newspapers 18 Jun 05
Newspapers published in Kabul
Arman-e Melli (Independent daily)
1. Report that the interior and justice ministers of industrial nations have warned that special attention should be paid to the drugs situation in Afghanistan, otherwise the country will turn into a drug state. (p1, 400 words in Dari, NPP)
2. Report that security forces arrested two drug smugglers with 180 kg of heroin in Zabol Province last Thursday. (p1, 160 words in Dari, NPP)
3. Report: Military Division No 36 of Logar Province submitted heavy and light weapons to disarmament authorities. (p1, 180 words in Dari, NPP)
4. Article by Dr Ramazan Bashardost, former planning minister and a parliamentary candidate, entitled "Compulsory military service could ensure balance in society - a professionally trained army can defend the national interests", stresses that foreign military bases will not help improve the security situation or defend Afghanistan's territorial integrity. (p2, 1, 200 words in Dari, NPP) Second and last instalment.
5. Report: Gen Mohammad Zaher Azemi, the spokesman of the Defence Ministry, says conditions to enforce compulsory military service in Afghanistan do not yet exist. (p2, 400 words in Dari, NPP)
Cheragh (Independent daily)
1. Report on recent security incidents in Wardag Province. Unidentified gunmen set fire to a girls' school in the province last night. (p1, 300 words in Dari, PROCESSING)
2. Report on yesterday's blast on the Kabul-Kandahar highway. President Hamed Karzai condemned the attack and indirectly warned foreign countries not to interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. (p1, 250 words in Dari, NPP)
3. Editorial, entitled "Musharraf is shocked by the national reconciliation process in Afghanistan and speaks nonsense", accuses the Pakistani president of attempting to distract the international community's attention from Afghanistan and sabotage the ongoing positive developments in the country. Musharraf has recently asked the Australian authorities to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan. (p2, 500 words in Dari, NPP1)
4. Article by Marzia Adil, saying that Kabul residents are seriously suffering from the lack of clean water. (p2, 400 words in Dari, NPP)
Anis (State-run daily)
1. Editorial, entitled "Democracy and law are binding", stresses that law and democracy should be implemented to ensure people's rights and lead the country towards development and prosperity. (p1, 400 words in Dari, NPP)
2. Report: President Hamed Karzai met a number of religious scholars at the Presidential Palace yesterday. He indirectly accused foreign elements of sabotaging the ongoing national reconciliation process in Afghanistan. (pp1, 7, 600 words in Dari, NPP)
3. Report that 20 people were killed and 12 injured in Thursday's floods in northeastern Badakhshan Province. (p1, 150 words in Dari, NPP)
4. Article by Dr Mohammad Tahir Hashemi, entitled "The political scene in Afghanistan", comments on the latest political developments in the country and says Afghanistan is in dire need of strategic cooperation with the United States to rebuild its shattered infrastructure. (pp2, 6, 2, 500 words in Dari, NPP)
5. Exclusive interview with Interior Ministry spokesman Lotfollah Mashal about the security arrangements for the upcoming parliamentary elections. (p3, 1, 200 words in Dari, PROCESSING)
Eslah (Independent daily)
1. Editorial, entitled "Authorities' inadequate reaction to the effects of drought", says that the Afghan economy is hit by chronic droughts and calls on the authorities to take practical measures to address this problem. (p2, 200 words, NPP)
2. Report that President Hamed Karzai met the Iranian ambassador to Afghanistan yesterday and discussed closer relations between the two countries. (pp1, 4, 200 words in Dari, NPP)
Erada (Independent daily)
1. Editorial, entitled "Musharraf's remarks are like hidden swords", sharply criticizes the Pakistani president for pursuing a hostile policy against the Afghan government and harbouring terrorists. (pp1, 4, 400 words in Dari, NPP)
2. Report that security authorities in Kandahar Province claim they have killed two Taleban fighters and arrested 11 in a recent clash. (p1, 150 words in Pashto, NPP)
Hewad (State-run daily)
1. Editorial, entitled "The enemies wishes will never come true", says that terrorists and the enemies of Afghanistan have recently stepped up their attacks to disrupt the ongoing peace process and hamper the smooth running of the upcoming parliamentary polls. (p1, 350 words in Pashto, NPP)
2. Article by Alkozai, entitled "Enemies of peace and stability are being harboured outside Afghanistan", criticizes the neighbouring countries for harbouring and training terrorists and sending them to Afghanistan. It urges them to reconsider their policies towards Afghanistan and stop interfering in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. (p2, 700 words in Pashto, NPP1)
3. Article by Abdol Karim, entitled "Parliamentary elections and current challenges", expresses concern that terrorists have intensified their attacks in the run-up to the polls, the National Understanding Front is striving to take revenge on the president for their previous defeat, and that the disarmament programme has yet to be implemented throughout Afghanistan. (p2, 700 words in Dari, NPP)
Newspapers published in Herat
Etefaq-e Eslam (Officially-funded daily)
1. Editorial, entitled "The second national process - security", highlights the significant role of parliament and calls on the Pakistani government to devise concrete programmes to prevent terrorist acts in the border areas and urges the parliamentary election committee not to let criminals put themselves forward as candidates. (p 1, 250 words in Dari, PROCESSING)
2. Report that residents of Parchaman District, Farah Province, complain about the current district governor and claim that although the central government has dismissed him, he has not left his post and still relies on his armed supporters in the area. (p 1, 100 words in Dari, PROCESSING)
3. Report, quotes Finance Minister Anwar al-Haq Ahadi as saying that the government is to impose more taxes to meet some of its essential economic requirements in the coming years. (p 1, 100 words in Dari, NPP)
4. Unattributed article, entitled "Violence against children and the solution" outlines the main challenges facing Afghan children. (p 2, 2500 words in Dari, NPP)
5. Unattributed commentary, entitled "New appointments: Rumour or fact?" comments on the recent rumours about the reshuffling of a number of senior government officials. It says the government will appoint officials in line with the circumstances and to ensure the smooth running of local administrations. (p 4, 650 words in Dari, NPP)
Newspapers published in Kandahar
Tolo Afghan (state-run daily)
1. Editorial, entitled "Suicide attack is the intentional killing of oneself and others, Allah (God) never forgives such crimes". The international enemies of Muslims (Al-Qa'idah) use the pious feelings of ignorant Muslims to achieve their own objectives. (P2, 1,500 words in Pashto)
2. Interview with Besmellah Khan, Chief of Zabul Information and Culture Department. Zabul does not have a library yet. (P2 , 550 words in Pashto)
Newspapers published in Mazar-e Sharif
18 June 05
1. Article entitled "The new important phase of the elections" urges people to cast their votes for capable and competent candidates. (P1, 100 words in Dari, NPP)
2. Report that as a result of an oil tank explosion near a Korean road-building team in Mazar-e Sharif, a Bangladeshi worker has been killed. (P1, 100 words in Dari, NPP)
3. Report that a number of Afghan actors have been beaten by the public during the shooting of a new Afghan film in Mazar-e Sharif. They were filming poppies and the public thought that they had come to destroy their poppies. (p1, 100 words in Dari, PROCESSING)
4. Report that Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador and special envoy to Afghanistan, has appealed to President Karzai to tackle the people's problems. (P1, 100 words in Dari, NPP)
5. Report highlights the reasons why people commit suicide. (p2, 700 words in Dari, NPP)
6. Page 3 and 4 carry poems and advertisements.
Source: Afghan press selection list in Dari and Pashto 18 Jun 05
Afghan government issues decree to launch second phase of disarmament
Afghan government issues decree to launch second phase of disarmament [Announcer] Afghan officials issued a decree, calling on armed men to hand over their weapons under the second phase of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Programme.
In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate. Following the decree No 52 of the presidential office and based on the requests of the people, the following points are announced for a better implementation the second phase of disarmament process in the
country. 1. To ensure better security in the country, the second phase of the disarming of and weapon collection from non-governmental armed people has started in the country. The Commission on Disarmament and Demobilization has been tasked with taking certain measures to smooth the implementation process. The required information about local armed commanders has been collected from the military bases and military officials. Based on this information and information provided by the people, the commission will take action.
2. The law for holding weapons has been approved by the cabinet and permission for holding weapons will be granted in accordance to the law and requirements of the Interior Ministry. The people who did hand over their weapons on time, will receive the required weapons for self-defence. However, the ones who have not handed over their weapons on time will not be entitled to hold weapons. Also, such people will be dismissed from government posts, if they defy the rules.
3. The commission appreciates and welcomes the decision by a number of commanders who handed over their weapons or expressed readiness to join the disarmament programme. The commission hopes that other armed people take the same step towards a peaceful and proper life. 4. The disarmament programme has been implemented by the government with cooperation of the world community. The commission has ordered the governors, security commanders, and heads of government departments to set up separate commissions in each province to handle matters in cooperation and coordination with officials of the Afghanistan's New Beginning Programme [An NGO working on disarmament programme] and foreign officials from the Provincial Reconstruction Teams. 5. According to a request by the Joint Electoral Management Body, the Commission on Disarmament and Demobilisation has decided to give priority to those local commanders or armed people who had registered for the parliamentary election and willing to hand over their weapons. As a result, candidates to the parliamentary elections who still hold weapons are requested to join the process as soon as possible.
6. The commission will collect the weapons based on the above mentioned priorities. The implementation of the programme will be carried out by the Afghanistan's New Beginning Programme and will be closely monitored by international and Afghan officials.
7. The people who hand over their weapons will receive a special receipt, confirming the delivery of their weapons and ammunition. This will help to better record the weapons collected, destroyed and left with the commanders.
8. With UN cooperation, the provincial governors have been instructed to set up a centre in consultation with Defence Ministry officials in their respective provinces.
9. The candidates to the parliamentary elections who are holding weapons are required to hand over their weapons from 21 Jawza to 09 Saratan [11 June-30 July]. The provincial disarmament centres will give priority to the candidates. 10. With cooperation of the world community, Afghanistan's New Beginning Programme (ANBP) will transfer the collected weapons from 09 Saratan to 16 Saratan to the respective caches and the final report will be submitted to the secretariat office of the commission on disarmament and demobilisation by ANBP.
Collection of weapons is considered a national duty, which builds the system for which the people have fought for many years. The government of Afghanistan believes that this process, with the cooperation of the people, will be completed successfully. We request all the people who still hold weapons to hand over them and take a step towards a peaceful life without arms. May God grand his ultimate blessings on all. Secretariat Office of the Commission on Disarmament and Demobilisation Source: Afghanistan Television, Kabul, in Dari 1430 gmt 18 Jun 05
WILL SUSPECTED WAR CRIMINALS STAND FOR PARLIAMENT?
An apparent loophole in the election law means some of Afghanistan's worst warlords could run for the legislature. By Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi in Kabul
Could Mullah Omar, the former Taleban leader who is currently believed to be
in hiding somewhere on the Afghan-Pakistani border, end up as a member of parliament after the September election?
According to legal experts contacted by IWPR, that eventuality, while highly unlikely, is technically possible due to a loophole in Afghanistan's constitution.
Article 85 of the constitution bars convicted criminals from running for office, and it specifically rules out those convicted of crimes against humanity.
The problem, experts point out, is that no one has ever been brought to trial for such crimes, let alone convicted. While Mullah Omar's name doesn't appear on the list of registered candidates, several other leading figures widely believed to have committed crimes against humanity during the years of civil war and the Taleban regimeare listed.
"There is an article in the constitution, but it doesn't have any practical effect," said Qayoum Babak, a registered candidate and chief editor of Jahan-e-Now monthly. "Despite this article, even Mullah Omar and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar can run for parliament because they don't have any criminal records in the courts."
Mullah Omar was head of the Taleban government and an ally of Osama Bin Laden. Hekmatyar, who heads the Hizb-e-Islami faction, has also been accused of war crimes, and is presently a fugitive, leading forces allied with the Taleban against the United States-led coalition.
The Joint Electoral Management Body, JEMB, has said that anyone who committed crimes while leading an armed militia faction or who has been convicted of a crime such as drug dealing is ineligible.
But while many have been accused, no one has been tried, let alone convicted of such activities.
Babak noted that several candidates in last year's presidential election faced similar accusations yet were allowed to run for office.
Dr Abdul Malik Kamwi, a senior official with the Afghan Supreme Court, told IWPR, "For those candidates who were accused by people before the presidential elections, there was no document to prove their crimes in court, so the government didn't condemn anyone at that time."
Alam Khan Azadi, a former commander of the Jamiat-e-Islami faction in Balkh province, is among those who have been accused of war crimes but are still seeking elected office.
"He is a warlord… he led armed men, and he used to torture people," said a local man who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Now he has nominated himself as a candidate." Many people in the provinces have already complained of coercion by former warlords who are running for parliament. These include General Abdul Rashid Dostum, whose supporters have been accused of taking voters’ registration cards by force in order to make sure he meets registration requirements. A voter in Sar-e-Pul province, who also requested anonymity for fear of his life, alleged that a local commander had killed his brother two years ago but never brought to trial. Now the man is a parliamentary candidate. "I went to all the judicial and human rights offices asking for an inquiry, but they didn't take any steps," he said.
Candidates cannot be disqualified merely on the basis of accusations, said Abdul Hakim Murad, a member of the JEMB. After the registration period, said Murad, which has been extended beyond the original May 19 deadline, a list of candidates will be posted in their home regions for three days. Anyone with a complaint relating to alleged crimes committed by a candidate may submit it to the board; the individual will then be investigated, and if the complaint is then accepted at a court hearing, the candidate will be disqualified, he added.
"Just as the voting process is free, so the right to criticise and complain is also free," continued Murad. "But we will admit only legal complaints."
In addition, if the ministries of the interior, defence or other security agencies ask for a candidate to be disqualified, the election board will comply, he said.
But Habibullah Rafi, a political analyst and a member of the Afghan Sciences Academy, said such safeguards are too little, too late.
"The government and the human rights organisations should have already investigated the entrance of warlords and human rights violators [to the election process] and informed the people about them," he said. "We can expect a parliament formed out of war criminals," warned Rafi. Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi is an IWPR staff reporter in Kabul
Protests in Afghanistan
by Jim Ingalls; May 19, 2005
A recent wave of anti-US protests in Afghanistan indicates widespread resentment of the foreign troop presence, especially US troops, in the country. According to some, this reflects a country-wide sentiment that all foreign troops should leave the country immediately. In my view, it is too soon to tell if this is true. What is true is that, like in Iraq, the people in Afghanistan most likely to take advantage of the anti-US feeling are not progressive ecular
democrats but right-wing fundamentalist extremists. Those of us who want to work in solidarity with the Afghan people should resist the temptation to see the situation as presenting a choice between freedom-loving protesters and US imperialism.
The reason I am cautious in judging the implications of the demonstrations stems from a recent trip to Afghanistan I made with Sonali Kolhatkar. In contrast with what appears to be happening now, we couldn't find anyone that thought foreign troops should leave immediately. To the people we talked with, withdrawal of foreign troops at the current stage would be a disaster. People feared the many warlords who were armed by the US to oust the Taliban after 9/11. The US has essentially engineered a situation that requires its presence. If foreign troops left, people told us, the warlords would fill the power vacuum and end any possibility for secular democratic change in Afghanistan. This strategic decision was expressed even by some who took part in the recent demonstrations, people obviously well aware of the abuses committed by US troops. For example, Ahmad Jawed, a 19-year old literature student at Kabul University. Even though he demonstrated against US behavior, Jawed "believed the U.S. presence is necessary for the country's security," but emphasized that the foreigners should answer to the Afghan people and not stay any longer than necessary. "Up until the time they are needed, they should stay. But then they should go."
The only Afghans who have anything close to freedom of speech are either those that do not question the warlords, or those who espouse fundamentalist Islamic values. Consider people like Malalai Joya, a 26-year old woman whose impassioned denunciation of warlords at the constitutional assembly in January 2004 made her the recipient of death threats. When we met her in Afghanistan this February, Joya could only go outside wearing a full burqa, and her ompound was patrolled by armed guards. Other journalists, lawyers, human rights workers, and activists that we met were also operating in relative secrecy. Some of them had been openly threatened, others just feared retaliation for their views.
One recent disturbing current happening almost simultaneously with the anti-US wave is the series of incidents across Afghanistan of violence against women. One woman was stoned to death for "adultery." In another village, three women were found raped and murdered, with a note warning women not to work with foreign aid agencies. A woman television presenter was shot and killed two months after she was fired from her job due to complaints from "religious conservatives." About 300 or so women demonstrated in Kabul against these incidents, calling on the government to "implement the laws and rights given to us," but this was a much smaller outing than the more than 3000 who filled the streets of Jalalabad shouting "Death to America." A recent statement by the Afghan women's rights organization RAWA stated that events like the stoning are the result of the "traitor-fostering policies of [president Hamid] Karzai and the US government," who supported fundamentalists and warlords to topple the Taliban in 2001. The catalyst for the anti-US protests was not the violence against women, but apparently the report in Newsweek that US interrogators in Guantanamo put Koran's in the toilet, or flush them down, to "rattle suspects." Newsweek has since recanted, saying that they haven't confirmed the toilet allegations but the Pentagon told them "other desecration charges [were] 'not credible'." This says nothing of the proven violations of actual humans at Guantanamo, and certainly doesn't make them any easier to accept. As mentioned by Reuters, there is certainly growing resentment of U.S. forces, especially in ethnic Pashtun areas of the south and east where they [US troops] mainly operate." By joining in protests against Koran desecration, it is likely that many people angry with the US presence are expressing themselves in the only "safe" venue available to them. Unfortunately, since the anti-US sentiment is channeled into religious--as opposed to human rights--issues, this makes it a lot easier for fundamentalists to exploit it for their own gain.
Even fundamentalists close to president Hamid Karzai lessed the events. Sibghatullah Mojadeddi, president for a few months under the US-backed Mujahideen government that ousted the Soviet puppet Najibullah in 1992, told followers at Friday prayers, "we...support those who emonstrate...But we want peaceful demonstrations." Mojadedi seems to share many of the perspectives of the Taliban. When he chaired the late 2003 constitutional convention, Mojadedi told delegates what he thought of women seeking equal rights: "Do not try to put yourself on a level with men. Even God has not given you equal rights because under his decision two women are counted as equal to one man." It was ojadeddi who had Joya's microphone shut off when she denounced arlords at the assembly. Recently Mojadeddi, as head of Afghanistan's "Reconciliation Commission" offered amnesty to the extremist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Mullah Omar, the former Supreme Leader of the Taliban.
Those who stand most to gain from the current wave of anti-US protests are people who share the ideology of the perpetrators of the recent atrocities against women. Furthermore, there are hints of a political agenda underlying the agitation that goes beyond the need to preserve the sanctity of the Koran. The Italian news ervice ADN Kronos International points to the former Taliban, forces of renegade Islamists Yunus Khalis and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and "political parties and groups that supported the Northern Alliance" as among those most eager for the anti-US actions to continue. According to ADNKI,
Sources maintained that five parties met last week near Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan and agreed to support the mass mobilisation of people against the US presence in Afghanistan and to try to turn it into a political movement. Among those present was former Afghan president [1992-1996] Burhanuddin Rabbani [the nominal
head of the Northern Alliance]... Significantly, Amin Tarzi of RFE/RL notes that the Pakistani consulate was targeted for vandalism in Jalalabad, and that just after the first protests had started, a letter was circulated in Kabul declaring that the "principle duty of the Mujahedin has just started." He doesn't come out and say it, but Tarzi is hinting that members of the Northern Alliance or other anti-Pakistan and anti-Taliban fundamentalists could be orchestrating some of the demonstrations. Shukria Barakzai, the editor of a women's newspaper in Kabul, told Sonali Kolhatkar that the protests are being fanned by "some of our neighbors" (Pakistani groups that are against president Musharraf) as well as "inside people [who would] like to be in power," and drug smugglers. If indeed the anti-US mobilizations are being fomented for political gain by embers of the Northern Alliance or other warlords, they may be reacting to the recent ad hoc tribal council called by resident Hamid Karzai, which agreed in principle that an extended foreign troop presence is necessary for the country until the Afghan National Army is strong enough to ensure security. The obvious consequences of such a decision would be that Alliance commanders might lose much of the military control of the country that they currently enjoy.
Notably, the delegates emphasized that this was not an official decision, since only the parliament, which has not yet formed, can rule on such matters.. But the ad hoc meeting was mainly assembled so that Karzai, whose own status depends on foreign support, would have some legitimacy (with foreigners and with his own people) in his current trip abroad when he asks the EU, NATO and the US or aid. Rumblings that the US is eager for permanent bases in Afghanistan have not gone down very well with the populace. That resentment is easily harnessed by the fundamentalists who can rally people to their side by calling the president a supine puppet who asks for support from blasphemers. By calling a meeting behind people's backs in advance of parliamentary elections, Karzai makes the case against him that much easier for the fundamentalists.
It is ironic, but not surprising, that the men applauding, and perhaps orchestrating, the movement against the US presence in Afghanistan happen to be the same men that the US helped to power, first in the early 1990s against the Soviet-backed regime, and later in 2001 to replace the Taliban. We've seen this happen often enough (eg., Osama bin Laden, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar). The men who were restored to power by the US after 9/11 now want the US out of their way so they can run the country. The brutal warlord Ismail Khan, returned as governor of Herat by US action (now minister of energy), told his benefactors, "thank you for your help, such as it was, but it is no longer needed." (New York Times, November 17, 2001) While he governed Herat, Khan kept alive the Taliban's legacy of oppression.
In the past, the United States empowered extremists with little popular support to fight the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. (This is not to say that the anti-Soviet jihad had little popular support. The United States and its allies simply chose to back the most extreme factions that were not well regarded by the people.) Afghans were in effect forced to decide between two centers of power, both criminal. Today, Afghans (and progressives in the US who want to work in solidarity with them) are forced into a similar false choice between the imperialist US and its client Hamid Karzai on the one hand; and their loudest opposition, the fundamentalist warlords like the Taliban and Northern Alliance, on the other. Most Afghans we met
rejected this dichotomy. There is a silent but large portion of the population that wants the warlords to lose the power given to them by the US. The "Call for Justice" produced by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission voices some of the concerns of this silent majority. Because of its relative weakness, however, the secular democratic movement in Afghanistan will probably not be a major player in the current protests against foreign occupation. The demonstrations are symptomatic of a real resentment, but without strengthening democratic forces, that resentment is likely to be channeled by reactionary warlords, drug lords, and the Taliban.
Jim Ingalls is a codirector of the Afghan Women's Mission, a US-based nonprofit that works in solidarity with the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). Jim publishes the blog, political conScience. He is also a staff scientist at the Spitzer Space Telescope Science Center.