Afghanistan News & Discussion

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Sudhanshu
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Postby Sudhanshu » 18 Jun 2007 05:42

Sanjay M wrote:No way, Pak would love to have Indian Army to take shots at in Afghanistan, just like the Soviet occupation. Something to rally the jihadis towards, rather than having them sit around and curse Musharraf all day.

Besides, we don't have any territorial access to Afghanistan, how would we sustain a large force there for logsitics resupply?


Are not they doing something similar in Kashmir itself, since 1989?? What would make difference if just location changes? Are we really afraid of that?

I am sure, days are not far when that small group of ITBP personal will be under lethal and overwhelming fire power from Pak supported Taliban.

As far as territorial access is concerned it is task of Foreign Ministry to get it. If my understanding is correct, we already have sufficient number of friends in central Asia who shares border with Afganistan.

OR :) we can request our friend and ally on war on terror, Pakistan to give us over-flight rights to fight "Terrorism" in Afganistan. Why they would not help for such great cause?

Moreover, the case with soviets were totally different, they were there as occupier not helper and there was full American support to their enemies. This time all the super-powers will be in our side, unlike those times. Will that not make a difference.


P.S I know this debate has no end. But, no harm in putting counter argument.


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Postby ramana » 19 Jun 2007 00:01

Op-ed in Telegraph, 18 June 2007


link:
http://www.telegraphindia.com/1070618/a ... 917682.asp


LOOKING AT AFGHANISTAN
- India is blind to the opportunities at its doorstep
Commentarao S.L. Rao
The author is former director- general, National Council for Applied Economic Research


Indian network
Afghanistan has become bracketed with Iraq and its instabilities. In Afghanistan, the mujahedin ousted the Soviet occupiers and then lapsed into civil war. Afghans welcomed the taliban because they brought peace after protracted turmoil. They then suffered the oppressively fundamentalist and conservative rule by the illiterate and brutal taliban. The American invasion has led in the last five years to much reconstruction and economic growth. Iraq was an artificial country created by the British while Afghanistan is an old nation with no secessionist movements despite being a highly individualistic people, with strong tribal loyalties and a fairly rigid Islam. As the gateway to Asia, it has been fought over but never conquered until the Soviet occupation, with help from quislings within. The taliban evicted the Russians but left their imprint of illiteracy and fundamentalist Islam on a whole generation of young people. An economy and a country destroyed by 30 years of Russian and then taliban rule are visibly rebuilding itself — and fairly well.

Past rulers used central funds and a strong army and police to keep the tribes in line. The new constitution is centralist. The army is still untrained; the police are a rabble; there is no honest judiciary. There is little semblance of the rule of law. Warlords dominate many provinces. There is rampant red tapeism and widespread corruption. Ministers vary in quality. The president is universally acknowledged to be lacking in vision and to be very weak. This makes the imposition of central authority very difficult.

Afghanistan has no census, with no certainty about its population (said to be almost 30 million) and its composition. Yet, a recent study shows definite improvement (in relation to the last 20 years) in human development indicators like infant mortality. The economy is similarly believed to be growing. New industries have come up to supply the occupying International Security Assistance Force (mainly American) and the local population. But security continues to be a worry, outside (and also inside) Kabul. The south, on the Pakistan border, is the refuge of the taliban and is the worst for security, hampering development there.

At an international conference in Kabul sponsored by the Aga Khan on creating an enabling environment for private initiative, telecommunications was rated a major success. There are other smaller ones as well. In 2003, telecom was a national monopoly with 12,000 fixed line phones in the whole country, 50,000 mobile phones and 20,000 satellite phones. The cost per call was three to four dollars per minute. For long distance calls, Afghans had to trudge hundreds of miles to a neighbouring country.

Today, there are 2.5 million subscribers, with five operators, one of the four private companies, Roshan, having 50 per cent share. Call rates today vary around 10 cents per minute for a local call anywhere in the country and 45 cents for international calls. The market is growing at 50,000 new connections per month. Roshan is the leader and the other operators follow its lead. It employs over 1,000 people of average age 23, and indirectly (outsourcing and so on) another 20,000. Except corporate accounts, almost all subscribers are pre-paid ones. As in India now, each has to submit personal details, but apparently the police have no access to cell phone calls except through the ministry. Telecom contributes to 10 per cent of government tax revenues. Roshan provides all employees with transport to work and back, lunch, and has significant community involvement in health, education, children and rural social work. Women are 40 per cent of this work force.

High illiteracy, desire for communication, news and information explain the demand for cell phones. It will help to bind the country since the coverage is already over 45 per cent of Afghanistan. Roshan was promoted by the Aga Khan Development Network (as it did a five-star hotel and other investments) as part of its high-risk initiatives programme. The network is ready for its investments but it will take time in becoming self-sustaining. In Afghanistan, it is now doing very well. These investments have introduced new norms for behaviour and responsibility as well as skills in a workforce unaccustomed to such. There are said to be 16,000 local community councils. These constitute a tremendous resource for decentralized development, essential for a country as individualistic and tribal as this. Afghanistan must encourage private organizations to become active. Here, the existing network of local councils is ideal and must be more fully used.

However, the government is bent on expensive new central and large projects. In the power sector, Afghanistan is ideally placed with its harsh terrain, climate and the nature of the people to generate power locally in small quantities for local use. The fuel could be portable diesel or even gas, and biomass. As with telecom, terrorists might not hinder movement of such fuels since everyone otherwise becomes vulnerable. But the government is focussed mainly on long transmission lines from neighbouring countries and large hydroelectric projects.

The workforce in the twenties-to -thirties age group is uneducated, having been trained to use guns. Few are prepared for menial work, most are expensive, demanding higher wages than similar workers in China or India. Considerable help and effort are needed to give such people literacy, skills and training. India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have the experience and thus can induct them into the workforce. Adult literacy programmes are urgently required. Distance learning might help. The use of television as in India’s satellite instruction for television education could help and telecom operators can deliver it. Literacy, computer usage and the internet could help spread other specialized education and skills.

The taliban is growing in strength. Pakistan is a safe haven for them. The Afghan army is unable to suppress violence. But Afghanistan is not a basket case; nor is it beyond redemption as Iraq appears to have become. Strong leadership and policies more relevant for a nation composed of tribes led by warlords are necessary. But Afghanistan is saddled with a centralized constitution and large-project mentality. The few ministers who could be effective are more concerned with positioning themselves to succeed the present president than in demonstrating capability in their present assignments.

In these circumstances, much cannot be expected from the government. Private initiative through business and civil society and decentralization are the answer. Roshan and the telecom sector and other investments have demonstrated this. More is required. The bureaucracy must be made responsive and corruption reduced. Strong external pressure can achieve some results as it did in China where Deng Xiaoping created a China Council of high-level foreign businessmen and experts meeting annually with Deng (and his successors) along with every top minister. It identifies problems and bottlenecks, monitors implementation and suggests new directions. In Afghanistan, where many ministers were educated abroad and are not politicians, they give time (unlike in India) for such meetings and listen to advice. Such a council could therefore be a strong lobby to move Afghanistan forward.

Afghanistan is ill-served by the Western media, which focuses only on the disturbances and not on progress. The media in south Asia, particularly in India, have neglected Afghanistan. Despite Indian movies and film songs dominating the air, Indian products are invisible. No Indian private enterprise, politician, diplomat, government official, Chamber of Commerce or media attended the ‘Enabling Environment’ conference. Pakistan had a big presence, with the prime minister flying in for the closing session. Afghanistan offers great opportunities in future years with its minerals, gas, location and virgin markets. India must not let Afghanistan slip away from its orbit as it has done with Myanmar.


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Postby Sudhanshu » 19 Jun 2007 21:21

I might sound stupid.

But, I think the least thing our govt. can do is make BRF or BRF like forums a compulsory reading list for every minister. It is obvious, they can get qualitative as well as quantitative analysis of any problem from a vast number of intellectual or non-intellectuals, that is what called as "out of box" thinking. Earlier only the newspaper columns have been used to communicate someone's thoughts but I think the time has changed we should recognized this form of communication too.

In US the TV news channels have already started quoting from such forums.. I don't know why Indian 24 hrs news channels are way behind in such approach. I think it would be better filler for them than those rubbish repeated old news.

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Postby svinayak » 21 Jun 2007 03:27

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtb1kkW0G9A
This is the first part of a documentray of the Soviet Afghanistan War 1979 - 1989...
SHOWS how our brothers in Afghanistan fought against the invading soviet, some pretty cool clips of ambushes in the Panjsher Valley & of the Panjsher LIONS... ALLAHU AKBAR. (more) (less)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9z9vMTc6jU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9ti7kXGYv4

This is the Third & final part of a documentray of the Soviet Afghanistan War 1979 - 1989...
SHOWS how our brothers in Afghanistan fought against the invading soviet, some pretty cool clips in the Panjsher Valley & of the Panjsher LIONS... ALLAHU AKBAR (more) (less)

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Postby Malayappan » 24 Jun 2007 01:53

An article by Bhadrakumar. Although he is teasing us by drawing attention waving the name of Pakistan, there is more on Afghanistan here. Coming from Bhadrakumar, has the inevitable coloring, but worth a read.

All roads leading to Pakistan
By M K Bhadrakumar

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/IF23Df03.html

Some excerpts...
Malcolm Rifkind recently wrote..."The key will be winning full Pakistani support ... That will not be achieved by threats or exhortations. It needs a more sophisticated approach, one that recognizes legitimate Pakistani concerns and interests. Only then will we make real progress."

The Anglo-American camp will remain vigilant, of course, while trusting Pakistani instincts. Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is immensely endowed with the expertise to chaff the grain from the husk. Its Afghan cell was highly skilled in playing disparate, freewheeling, unruly, violent, moody and ideologically fired-up elements of the Afghan mujahideen like puppets on a string. It is capable of weaning the Taliban and inserting them into Kabul as a "responsible" stakeholder.

In all likelihood such an effort is on. Hardcore Taliban commanders like Mullah Dadullah may be incrementally eliminated. "Burned-out" figures like Jalaluddin Haqqani may be pulled back from the arena. What is abundantly clear is that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is rising into prominence once again.

From Washington's perspective, what might tilt the balance in favor of Hekmatyar is his visceral hatred toward Russia. From all accounts, he was also bitter about his humiliating expulsion by his Iranian hosts in 2002.

Potentially, as per MKB's assesment, US, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan on one side. Russia, Iran, India on the other. Have we heard this before?

"History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce." - Karl Marx

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Postby Sanjay M » 27 Jun 2007 10:53

Taliban Tried to Coerce 6-Year Old Into Suicide Bombing

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id ... _article=1

Raju

Postby Raju » 27 Jun 2007 19:02

Evil Taliban Freedom Fighters, out smarted by a 6 year old 8)


uh, ya.

quuuuuack

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Postby abhischekcc » 27 Jun 2007 19:27

Here is the reason yankee doodle went to afghanistan

Afghanistan opium cultivation surges in volatile south

Astutre readers will remember that when US attacked Afghanistan, the Taliban had nearly wiped out poppy production in the country, threatening the supply of narco dollars into the western financial system.

However, with its liberation came an abundance of the drug, and now as the above report shows, Afghanistan supplies 92% of the global production. It will produce 30% more than the global need. No need to guess that some people will be working overtime to see demand increase to absorb the excess supply.

UNODC notes that this year's harvest of around 6,100 tons of opium will represent 92 per cent of total world supply and exceed global consumption by 30 per cent.


I have said this before, and I will repeat it again. The reason the US supports the paki army like it supports Israel is because the paki army is the local manager of the drug trade. Anybody remember BCCI?

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Postby amol.p » 28 Jun 2007 13:08

AFGHANISTAN: Soviet-Era Weapons Handy for Taliban

MAZAR-E-SHARIF, Jun 26 (IPS) - While United States officials accuse Iran of arming a resurgent Taliban, officials here say the weapons are actually part of vast caches left behind by the Soviet army that fought a nine-year war in Afghanistan before withdrawing in 1988.

Ustad Basir Arifi, secretary for the Disarmament of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) programme in northern Afghanistan, told IPS that weapons abandoned by the Soviet Union there are now being moved by professional smugglers to the southern provinces where the Taliban Islamist movement has its stronghold.

"Huge caches of weapons remained with the people from the Soviet Union period. These are now being smuggled to the south of Afghanistan. These weapons are bought in the north of Afghanistan and smuggled to the south to be used against government and foreign forces," Arifi said.

According to Arifi, security officials have on several occasions intercepted weapons being smuggled to the south. He said the DIAG has urged the government to take firm measures to avoid all this.

Abdul Aziz Ahmad Zai, the chief of DIAG, said his group was "very concerned over the issue. It shows that the Taliban are being fortified."

Zai did not rule out the possibility of weapons originating from outside Afghanistan. "Smugglers could be bringing weapons from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to the north. A good transit point could be Badakhshan province," he said without mentioning Iran.

Zai said powerful syndicates were carrying out the smuggling. "However, our security officials and the Interior Ministry are working very actively in this regard," he added.

According to Zai, the recent riots in northern Jowzjan province were an indicator of the fact that weapons were freely available to people. He also said that there still were armed groups in the north of Afghanistan. "It is a very great concern for us that there are lots of illegal armed groups in the north," he said.

Gen. Abdul Manan, representative of the defence ministry in the DIAG programme, said the government has been able to collect 70,000 heavy and light weapons from the whole country under the DDR and DIAG programmes. But he believes that at least a million more pieces were in the hands of armed groups in the north.

A gun smuggler operating from the Balkh province district told IPS that he has been in the business for the last two years. The Pashto-speaking, bearded man who spoke on condition of anonymity said he regularly comes to the north to buy different kinds of weapons. "I have employed people to collect weapons from people who have them and these are ferried to the south."

"I have my customers in Kandahar. When the weapons reach there, they come and receive it. I make good profit. I can buy an AK47 for 200 dollars in the north and sell it for 400 dollars in the south," he added. Occasionally he smuggles explosives as well.

Ahmad Shah, 45, a resident of Chemtal district in the Balkh province freely admitted to supplying the smugglers with guns. "I earn my living through running this business," he told IPS.

Atta Mohammad Nur, the governor of Balkh province, neither accepts nor rejects the fact that the weapons are being smuggled to the south. "It could be right. Insurgents are doing their utmost to disrupt life in the country. They could be smuggling weapons from north to the south," he said.

Rohullah Samun, spokesman for the Jowzjan governor, accepts that vast amount of weapons still exist in the province. "People do have weapons. There are lots of illegal armed militias in Jowzjan and its neighbouring provinces. Some of the warlords are regrouping," he said.

The reference was to Abdorrashid Dostum, one of Afghanistan's most formidable warlords. Dostum, who once supported the Soviets, has had a hand in the many regime changes that this war-torn country has seen over the last three decades and retains enormous influence in Jowzjan.

Dostum was among leaders who helped the U.S.-led forces to overthrow the Taliban government in 2001. Until recently he was regarded as the strongman of the north but his role has been reduced to that of being a military adviser to Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai.

On Jun. 13, U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns told CNN television in Paris that there was "irrefutable evidence" that Iran was supplying weapons to the Taliban.

Ironically, the Taliban owes its origins largely to Mujahideen (freedom) fighters that were once armed and backed by the U.S. against communist rule in Afghanistan and the Soviet occupation. (END/2007)

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=38323

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Postby Sanjay M » 30 Jun 2007 09:16

talibs blow up fuel convoy:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/30/world ... istan.html

Who are the Kalasha?

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/06/28/ ... mucker.php

Here's some info:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalash

They must be a very hardy people, if they can exist as non-Muslims in Afghanistan.

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Postby ShibaPJ » 05 Jul 2007 23:08

Some not so flattering findings..

Afghan prison bodies discovered

An underground prison containing hundreds of bodies has been discovered in Afghanistan.

The prison, a former military barracks on the outskirts of the capital, Kabul, dates from the Soviet occupation of the 1980s, officials say.


A senior police officer in Kabul says that many of the bodies were found blindfolded with arms tied.

The find was revealed by a 70-year-old Afghan who worked for the Russians and only recently returned to the country.

There has been no immediate response from Russia to the news of the find.

"This is a big mass grave from the Russian days," police chief Gen Ali Shah Paktiwal told the BBC, adding that there were hundreds of dead bodies inside.

He said the base, on the northern outskirts of Kabul, belonged to the communist defence ministry.

"There are at least 15 rooms full of dead bodies," he said, adding that as the base was large there could be further rooms yet to be discovered underground.

Many of the victims' remains were found with rope or cloth around their eyes and hands, suggesting they had been blindfolded and bound.

The old man who led police to the site of the grave is reported to have told police that he had seen people killed by firing squad at the barracks.

The underground prison is the second Soviet-era mass grave to be found near the capital.

In 2006, a grave was discovered by Nato-led forces near the capital's notorious Pul-e-Charkhi prison.

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Afghan president pardons failed suicide bomber boy

Postby Nayak » 15 Jul 2007 15:06

Afghan president pardons failed suicide bomber boy

Sun Jul 15, 2007 5:05AM EDT

By Jon Hemming

KABUL (Reuters) - A 14-year-old would-be suicide bomber from Pakistan, caught while on a mission to blow up an Afghan provincial governor, was pardoned on Sunday by President Hamid Karzai.

Taliban insurgents and their al Qaeda allies have launched a wave of suicide attacks against Afghan, NATO and U.S.-led forces in the last two years, seeking to show the government and its Western allies are incapable of providing security.

Most of the victims are Afghan civilians.

The first whiskers of a moustache on his top lip, Rafiqullah stood to one side of the Afghan president, his father, with a full beard, stood to the other, at a ceremony in the capital on Sunday.

Rafiqullah's father, a poor tradesman from South Waziristan in Pakistan, had sent his son to a religious school, or madrassa, to learn the Koran. Later, when he asked where his son was, the teachers there brushed him off, he said.

Then last month, the 14-year-old was caught wearing a suicide vest on a motorbike in the eastern Afghan city of Khost.

"Today we are facing a hard fact, that is a Muslim child was sent to madrassa to learn Islamic subjects, but the enemies of Afghanistan misled him towards suicide and prepared him to die and kill," Karzai told reporters, his arm on the boy's shoulder.

The boy and father bowed their heads as Karzai spoke.

"His family thought their child was learning Islamic studies. That is not his fault, nor his father's, the enemies of Islam wanted him to destroy his life and those of other Muslims. I pardon him and wish him a good life," the president said.

"You are now free and forgiven by the people of Afghanistan," he said turning to the boy and smiling.

Walking to the gates of the presidential palace with his father, Rafiqullah said: "I am very happy that I am pardoned and released."

Afghanistan has accused Pakistan of harboring Taliban and al Qaeda militants and trying to destabilise its neighbor, a charge the Islamabad government denies.

Kabul officials say many of the suicide bombers and Taliban fighters are recruited from impressionable youths in Pakistan's madrassas and sent across the border to kill.

Asked if he had a message for Pakistan, Karzai said: "I have a message, it is a message of peace, forgiveness, a message pleading for better relationships, not cheating the children and encouraging them into terrorism and suicide."

© Reuters 2006. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.


:eek: :eek: :eek:

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Postby Philip » 16 Jul 2007 15:12

British casualty rates in Afghanistan are WW2 level.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

Afghan casualty rate 'at level of last war'
By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent and Graeme Wilson
Last Updated: 2:19am BST 16/07/2007

Frontline: In-depth coverage on our forces in Afghanistan and Iraq
The rate at which British soldiers are being seriously injured or killed on the front line in Afghanistan is about to pass that suffered by our troops during the Second World War.

The casualty rate suffered by British troops in the most dangerous regions of Afghanistan is approaching 10pc


The casualty rate in the most dangerous regions of the country is approaching 10 per cent. Senior officers fear it will ultimately pass the 11 per cent experienced by British soldiers at the height of the conflict 60 years ago.

The rise is partly driven by a tenfold increase in the number of wounded in action - those injured, but not killed - in the past six months as fighting in Afghanistan has intensified.

Last November, only three British soldiers were wounded in Afghanistan by the Taliban, compared with 38 in May.

Meanwhile in Iraq, British troops are now suffering a higher rate of fatal casualties by proportion than their American colleagues.

In a five-month period this year, there were 23 fatalities among the 5,500 British troops compared with 463 fatalities among the United States's 165,000 troops, according to the Royal Statistical Society.

Military commanders are concerned that the high rate will start to have an impact on operations and morale.

advertisementThe official injury rate given by the Ministry of Defence among the 7,000 British troops in Afghanistan is about three per cent. But when the figures are applied to the three infantry battalions on the front line, it rises to almost 10 per cent.

The disclosure follows concern that the MoD's official figures do not accurately reflect the true injury rate in the way the US figures do.

They do not take into account, for example, soldiers treated on the front line.

Last autumn, Major John Swift, who was commanding a company of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in Afghanistan, complained in the regiment's newsletter that the "scale of casualties has not been properly reported".

More than 11 million troops served in the British Commonwealth during the Second World War with 580,000 killed or missing and 475,000 wounded, giving a casualty rate of almost 11 per cent.

However, the MoD said last night the casualty rate in Afghanistan included non-combat related injuries, such as diseases.

The three infantry battalions fighting in Afghanistan have seen the brunt of the action and suffered the most.

Out of a well-manned battalion of 650 men, the 1st Bn the Royal Anglians has in the first three months of its tour suffered 42 casualties, who were sent back to Britain.

This has included three dead and three who returned to the front line. But 36 soldiers remain in hospital and are unlikely to return to combat operations.

With more fighting expected during the summer, officers are bracing themselves for the figure to double in the last three months of their tour, meaning that the battalion could be without an entire combat company.

It will also mean that the infantry could exceed the Second World War casualty rate of

11 per cent experienced at the height of the conflict. The Anglians, nicknamed the Vikings, have also sustained a number of minor casualties treated on the front line, which are not included in official MoD statistics.

The other two infantry regiments, the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters and Grenadier Guards have been involved in heavy fighting suffering similar casualties.

Opposition politicians have condemned the Government for not providing enough resources for troops while waging war on two fronts with "a peace-time budget".

"No one except the Government ever thought that a campaign in Afghanistan would not be extremely dangerous," said Julian Lewis, the shadow defence minister.

"The fear that we have is that casualties may be higher than otherwise would be the case if our forces fighting in this dangerous theatre were properly resourced."

The majority of the wounded are much needed front-line soldiers, experienced in fighting the Taliban. The battalions are relying on soldiers coming straight from basic training to the front line as soon as they turn 18.

At least 30 will deploy to the Anglians in Helmand in the next two months, but this will not be enough to replace those being lost.

Military commanders are now worried about the dangers raised by a high casualty rate.

"There are two issues," said an officer who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Firstly, there is the morale component with teams being broken up when individuals are shipped home. Secondly, there is a reduction in available troops where if you lose 70-odd soldiers with two months of the tour remaining then this will have a real effect on our ability to conduct operations."

The Ministry of Defence said it was "nonsense" to suggest that casualty rates in Afghanistan were "anywhere near those suffered in the Second World War".

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Postby ramana » 18 Jul 2007 00:02

Interesting!
From Pioneer, 18 July 2007
Breach of trust

Devyani Rao

An American hairdresser came to Kabul, wrote a book and went home. Afghan women who figure in the book have to now fend for themselves

Deborah Rodriguez is an American hairdresser, who came to Afghanistan and set up a beauty salon and training school, along with her husband, Sher Mohammad, Head of Foreign Relations for the Chief of Staff to the Supreme Commander of the Afghan Armed Forces. With the publication of her book Kabul Beauty School: An American Goes Behind the Veil, Ms Rodriguez exposed and thereby endangered the lives of several Afghan women, before escaping from the country, leaving behind a perplexed husband whom she calls a "warlord".

"We feel threatened by the publication of our photographs and many like me have applied for a US visa so we can escape from the country. Two have already gone to India and Pakistan," said Sharifa Ahmadi, a teacher at the Kabul Beauty School, founded by Ms Rodriguez.

Ms Rodriguez worked as a hairdresser in Michigan, until one day, her search for something more exciting led her to train with a Disaster Relief Team. It was just days before 9/11, and her first deployment was to Ground Zero, where she felt deeply impacted by the destruction and loss of life.

"After that all I could see was 'Taliban, Taliban, Taliban on TV, 24 hours a day'," she said, in a televised lecture, adding that that prompted her to get out of her abusive marriage and come to Afghanistan with an NGO.

Once in Afghanistan, she found her talent as a hairdresser was likely to have a far greater market than if she stuck to the NGO. So, she established the 'Oasis Rescue' Beauty Salon in the centre of Kabul, with the donation of equipment worth thousands of dollars which she gathered from several American firms.

At the same time, she opened the Kabul Beauty School - a training centre to teach Afghan women hairdressing, make-up, etc, because she said the situation of Afghan women, hidden behind their burqas, pained her greatly.

Ms Rodriguez married Sher Mohammad, whom she qualifies as a "warlord" because of his having been an aide to warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, who now serves as the Chief of Staff for President Hamid Karzai, and for whom Mohammad works as Head of Foreign Relations.

Sher Mohammad was already married and his wife and eight children live in Saudi Arabia. But believing he did not love his wife, Ms Rodriguez wed him, some 20 days after they first met.

The marriage proved to be a useful one to her, since Mohammad could not only help her set up her business, but also provide the necessary security for such a novel project in a country which had barely recovered from the oppressive regime of the Taliban, who obliged women to wear the burqa and forbade them from studying or working. Soon, the business took off and more women came to train as beauticians.

Ms Rodriguez decided to write a book, jointly with Ms Kristin Ohlsen, about her experiences and about the lives of the women she came across. However, soon after returning from her book promotion tour, Ms Rodriguez packed her bags and fled Afghanistan, claiming that the US Embassy had warned her that her life was in danger.

Soon after, the book was released, which while bringing fame and fortune to Ms Rodriguez, brought threats and pain to the women about whose lives she had written. And whose photographs she had published, breaching the agreement she had made with them to keep their identities a secret.

Stories such as that of a girl who had lost her virginity and who had surgically managed to fake it before her wedding, were among the intimacies the book revealed, and which could have the gravest ramifications for the women in a society where personal and familial honour are accorded the fiercest importance.

Apparently, negotiations are underway between Ms Rodriguez and Hollywood filmmakers to make a movie based on the book, and starring Sandra Bullock.

Ms Rodriguez also claimed Mohammad had planned to kidnap her son from her first marriage and seek ransom, a charge he vehemently denies.

"I think she is upset with me for some reason and so she is saying all these things. Till the last day there was no problem between us", he said, with a timid smile.

The story reeks of an elaborate scheme by the unlikely couple, to sell each other out, and for the time being, Ms Rodriguez seems to hold the cards. Several interviews of hers, after her escape from the country, speak of her as a heroine, who broke the windows and brought out the women in their burqas, who had not been out of their houses in eight years and some of whom could barely stand to see sunlight. But for someone who knows Afghanistan, with all its traumatic past that still seems a bit far-fetched.



:eek:

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Postby Anand K » 18 Jul 2007 00:43

"Shantaram" meets "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan" meets "The King and I" meets "Not Without My Daughter", eh?
Insert a beefcake "contractor" herrow who saves her from the clutches of Hamid Karzai and we have a guarenteed Hollywood hit! :P

Pah..... even (somewhat) hatchet jobs like "Persepolis" and "Reading Lolita in Tehran" are prolly more honest than the adventures of the amazing hairdresser.

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Postby Sanjay M » 21 Jul 2007 04:53

Meanwhile in Afghanistan, the Taliban have abducted some moonies:

Taliban Kidnap Korean Church Members

I'm guessing that it's hard to tell the difference between Koreans and Chinese ;)

Hehe, this will give the Chinese more cause to freak out.

But I'll really laugh my sides out if Taliban & jihadis start turning up the heat in Xinjiang/Uighurstan with cross-border militancy support for Uighur rebels.


Can we please start a new thread entitled "The Unending Oppression in Uighurstan" or "Uighurstan: The Story of Another Chinese Military Genocide"?

That would be appreciated, thanks.

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Postby Philip » 24 Jul 2007 15:50

The West's "great hope".RIP.

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asi ... 795821.ece

Zahir Shah: The last king of Afghanistan
He was King of a nation that, in the minds of many, does not really exist. He was a feudal master who believed in liberating women. He was a figurehead who lived a life of luxury in exile while his people suffered the agonies of war and occupation. The story of Zahir Shah is the story of Western arrogance and Eastern impotence, argues Robert Fisk
By Robert Fisk
Published: 24 July 2007
When I arrived in Afghanistan to cover the 1979 Soviet invasion, I mischeviously purchased a huge tin of talcum powder, produced by a German factory in Kabul and called – for local consumption – " Buzkashi". The front of the tin was illustrated with a portrait of a massive Afghan warrior in long red robes, riding towards the purchaser upon a fiery steed and with an expression of utmost ferocity on his bearded face.

What puzzled me was why a talcum manufacturer would name his product after one of the bloodiest of Asian sports: a mounted version of rugby football played with a decapitated goat – riders were supposed to tug the bloodied corpse of the wretched creature from each other, often ripping the beast apart in the process. Of course, someone German had concluded that this manly sport emphasised the romantic warrior of the desert, the spirit of Afghan individuality amid the rugged landscape – Afghan landscapes were always "rugged" or "forbidding" – although I noticed that the only buyers of Buzkashi were foreigners. Afghans had no interest in this exotic talcum powder.

Zahir Shah was much the same. We in the West loved him. He was a king. He was a unifying figure in a country that many people suspect does not really exist – it was the country's first king, Ahmed Khan, who created Afghanistan in the 18th century – or so we thought. In reality, Zahir was never a really a king. Like the Buzkashi talcum powder, Afghans did not greet his accession in 1933 with roses and song – any more than they did when the Americans freighted the old man back from his Roman exile after the overthrow of the Taliban government. His supporters – those who could remember his calls for democracy, the "free" period as Afghans called it – approved of his written constitution, his enthusiasm for a free press and for the spread of legal political parties. But Zahir was essentially disinterested in this much-trumpeted democracy and the moment that his courtiers warned him that a party system would prove a threat to the monarchy, he refused to sign the new party legislation into law – even though it had been passed by the new parliament. Parties were closed down. So were the newspapers. He created democracy – and then he destroyed it.

Afghanistan has proved a mirage to every foreigner, a land whose images and history – however ferocious – draw back the doomed armies of countries that have already been humiliated over two centuries. The British suffered their greatest pre-Boer War loss of arms in the Victorian age when an entire army was massacred in the Kabul Gorge in 1842. We lost again in the Second Afghan War when the British were defeated at the Battle of Maiwand; young, black-turbaned Afghan students would choose a grenadier and hurl themselves towards this one man, drag him from the ranks of his comrades and cut his throat. They were called "Talibs" or "Taliban". Many of the Afghan warriors were led by a girl called Malalei – she later fell victim to British bullets – who tore off her veil to use as a flag. The young Zahir Shah, when he ascended the throne at the age of 19, would have approved. He was, after all, a man who believed in modernisation and women's rights and the unveiling of women. The Russians, after a century of diplomatic humiliation in Afghanistan, spent 10 years in occupation, only to leave in further humiliation – a frustration that they finally vented on the equally innocent Muslims of Chechnya.

But there was another Zahir Shah, who liked to "unveil" women in a far less liberating way. In his early years as king – when he was a mere boy by Asian standards – his two uncles, who effectively ruled the country, supplied him with a driver and a black Chevrolet. The job of "the man in the black Chevrolet" – as he was known in the streets of Kabul – was to tour the colleges of Kabul and choose the most desirable girls for the king's bed. The Afghans has a word for their pleasure-loving king – " ayoshi" – which roughly translates as "having a good time" . "Ayoshi" is not a polite word. Even so, in a country whose kings were alost all cruel – Amanullah, the reformist Shah was an exception – Zahir was a peaceful man. He did not want to involve himself in politics; indeed, he had no interest in political life. He was an artist who loved paintings and books. He was actually taking a mud bath in Italy when his cousin Daoud – a highly ambitious prime minister who adored politics – staged his bloodless coup d'etat in 1973.

And what did our favourite Afghan king do as his country descended into foreign invasion, occupation, mass murder, civil war and Islamic puritanism of the least educated kind? He enjoyed Rome. Just as he ignored the possibility of war with Pakistan when he was King, so he largely ignored the catastrophe of his country when he was enjoying his long years of exile. His life in Rome, his visitors reported back to Kabul, was very much like the life he had lived in his royal palace at home. He was happy with his art and archaeology books and sport, and with his friends among the Italian upper classes. True, he occasionally – very occasionally – expressed his sorrow at the chaos of Afghanistan. But he was a man of the past, a victim of politics rather than a leader, a long-forgotten figurehead – until the Americans rediscovered him – for whom the dramas of his homeland were like the shadows in Plato's cave, mere ghosts of the titanic tragedy played out 2,000 miles from Rome.

His life, of course, encompassed a familiar narrative of the 20th and early 21st centuries; exile amid the ambitions of others and then the resmption of colonial rule, first under the Russians and then – after the overthrow of Mullah Omar (a man who at least understood the history of Afghanistan and acted a role in it, however perverse) – under the Americans and British. As the poppy crop was reborn under Nato's gaze, the British found themselves fighting for their lives in Helmand and on the very site – did they realise this? – of the Battle of Maiwand. The Taliban know their history even if the British do not.

And yet, it was to the ageing king that the Bushes and the Blairs turned when they needed a "unifying" figure to reunite the Afghans. In reality, it was folly to think that the old man culd be taken from his Saturnalian life of ease in Rome to play the one game in which he was never interested: politics. Yes, he was exotic. He was, after all, a king, even if he had no robes to match those of Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's impotent President. But he was attractive to us in the same way that all monarchs appear useful in the West. He was educated, pro-Western, pro-democracy (up to a point) and, though a Pashtun, a supposedly popular figure across all Afghanistan's tribes. He was not. But we like to promote these people because we feel they are "safe". We understand monarchies, and Zahir, though he was closer to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in his desire to " secularise" his country (why must we always expect Muslim countries to be "secularised"?), was a king and we are familiar with kings and queens. We liked King Idris of Libya and King Farouk of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan, just as – after we were forced to dispense with Idris and Farouk and replace them with supposedly pro-Western colonels and generals – we continue to love King Abdullah of Jordan and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and all the other princes and emirs of the Gulf.

That is why the Americans – and, to a lesser extent, the British – thought that they could return Zahir to create a land of peace. His welcome was supposed to be as glorious as that which was supposed to be accorded the Americans and the British in Iraq. It was a dream; it was our Orientalist view of how the Afghans should behave. We thought the natives would admire this symbol of old-world élitism because – and here's the rub – old Zahir Shah was more like "us" than "them", more European than Afghan, more secularist than Muslim. If he was trained as a soldier in Afghanistan, he was educated in France. "I wish just to do things for my country and serve it," he said pitifully when he returned to Kabul, to be proclaimed by Karzai and the Americans – but few others – as "Father of the Nation". When he ascended the throne in 1933, he was hailed as a new star in the Afghan firmament, a foreign-educated man who could modernise his country, govern during a period of rapid transition to " modern political institutions". I'm quoting from a US history book published the year before Zahir's overthrow by Daoud. The same words were pulled out of the drawer for reuse in 2002. Will we ever learn?

Afghanistan: a history soaked in blood

Compiled by Simon Usborne

1919 - Afghanistan gains independence after a third war against British forces, which for decades have sought to annex the country from India. Amir Amanullah Khan appoints himself king in 1926 but flees two years later after his campaign of social and economic reform leads to civil unrest.

1933 - Zahir Shah becomes king. Afghanistan would remain a relatively stable and progressive monarchy for the next 40 years. The US recognises the state in 1934; in the 1950s the Soviet Union becomes a strong ally.

1973 - Mohammed Daoud Khan overthrows Shah in a military coup. He abolishes the monarchy and establishes the Republic of Afghanistan, with firm ties to the USSR.

1978 - Khan is killed in a Communist coup led by Noor Mohammad Taraki (below), who becomes President and bases his policies on Islamic principles. Conservative Islamic leaders begin an armed revolt and the mujahedin guerrilla movement is created to fight the Soviet-backed government.

1979 - The USSR invades to support the faltering Communist regime. Britain, the US, Pakistan, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia supply money and arms to various mujahedin groups fighting Soviet forces. Osama bin Laden visits in 1984. By 1985 half the population is displaced and Gorbachev vows to withdraw Soviet forces.

1988 - As Soviet troops pull out, Osama bin Laden forms al-Qa'ida. The group claims victory over the Soviet Union and shifts its focus to the US as the main obstacle to the establishment of a pure Islamic state.

1992 - After rival militias vie to topple the Soviet-backed government led by Mohammad Najibullah (below left), the mujahedin forms an Islamic state, installing Burhanuddin Rabbani as President.

1995 - The Taliban militia seizes Kabul and establishes an ultra-conservative regime. Women cannot work and Islamic law is enforced via public executions. Ethnic groups, including those under the Northern Alliance, fight back.

1998 - After al-Qa'ida bombs American embassies in Africa, President Clinton orders missile attacks against bin Laden's Afghan training camps. The Taliban rejects US attempts to have bin Laden extradited. The UN imposes sanctions in 2000.

2001 - US and British forces launch airstrikes on Taliban and al-Qa'ida targets following the September 11 attacks. By December, the Northern Alliance has ousted the Taliban and US-backed Hamid Karzai (above) is sworn in as leader.

2004 - As violence increases and Nato takes control of Kabul, the Grand Council adopts a new constitution and Karzai is elected President. Parliamentary elections follow a year later. But violence builds as Taliban fighters reorganise, especially in the south. In 2006, Nato takes control of security.

2007 - Coalition and Afghan forces launch Operation Achilles as the Taliban continues to engage in heavy fighting in the south. Former king Zahir Shah dies aged 92 after a long illness.

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Postby ramana » 27 Jul 2007 20:15

Op-Ed by Swapan Dasgupta in Telegraph, 28 July 2007

[quote]
A NEW BREED OF PARASITES - Helping Afghanistan helps the donor, not the recipient
Swapan Dasgupta


If you go into one of the better hotels and restaurants in Kabul — particularly the ones that boast a “UN security clearedâ€

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Postby Neshant » 31 Jul 2007 09:55

A mess that perhaps India could learn a lesson from. Countries should not let their citizens go willy nilly into a war zone like Iraq or Afghanistan.
Indian truck drivers in Iraq was one careless example of this.

Police find body of 2nd slain SKorean
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070731/ap_ ... fghanistan

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Postby Babui » 01 Aug 2007 22:34

Who knew that Indian soaps were so popular in Afghanistan
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/01/world ... KYt6hKSOGA :D

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Postby Philip » 10 Aug 2007 10:27

From the piece below,it is very clear that the US has learnt nothing from Vietnam,where it bombed the Viet Cong and villagers at will, making no discrimination between innocent civilians and enemy fighters.The war crimes of murder,rape and torture that we witnessed in Vietnam have their well publicised counterparts in Iraq. In Iraq too chemical warfare (depleted uranium and Gulf War syndrome) has been used,with consequences to UStroops too,as did Agent Orange in Vietnam.

Now even US allies,the British,want US forces out of parts of Afghanistan,where the same US style of warfare is taking place.The more the US act,the more the locals act against them ,preferring the Taliban instead.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/afghanistan/s ... 73,00.html

UK officer calls for US special forces to quit Afghan hotspot


High civilian toll as teams rely on air strikes to provide cover

Declan Walsh in Islamabad and Richard Norton-Taylor
Friday August 10, 2007
The Guardian


US soldiers disembark from a Chinook helicopter in the Ghazni province of Afghanistan. Photograph: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty images



Tension between British and American commanders in southern Afghanistan erupted into the open yesterday as a senior UK military officer said he had asked the US to withdraw its special forces from a volatile area that was crucial in the battle against the Taliban.
British and Nato defence officials have consistently expressed concern about US tactics, notably air strikes, which kill civilians, sabotaging the battle for "hearts and minds" and infuriating Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president.

Des Browne, the defence secretary, recently raised the issue with Robert Gates, his US counterpart, and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Nato's secretary general, admitted last month that an increasing number of civilian casualties was undermining support for alliance troops. He said Nato commanders had changed the rules of engagement, ordering their troops to hold their fire in situations where civilians appeared to be at risk.

Yesterday, a senior British commander was quoted in the New York Times as saying that in Sangin, in the north of Helmand province, which had been calm for a month, there was no longer a need for special forces. "There aren't large bodies of Taliban to fight any more," he said. "We are dealing with small groups and we are trying to kick-start reconstruction and development."

Twelve-man teams of US special forces had been criticised for relying on air strikes for cover when they believed they were confronted by large groups of Taliban fighters and their supporters.

Unnamed British officers were quoted yesterday as saying the US had caused the lion's share of casualties in their area and that after 18 months of heavy fighting since British forces arrived in Helmand they were finally making headway in securing key areas, but were now trying to win back support from people whose lives had been devastated by bombing.

The newspaper estimated the number of civilian casualties this year in Helmand at close to 300 - most caused by foreign and Afghan forces, not the Taliban. Human rights and aid groups estimate that 230 Afghan civilians were killed throughout the south of the country last year.

Nato officers admit they are troubled by the high toll. One medic told the Guardian that during a 14-day period last month, British soldiers rescued 30 Afghan civilians wounded in bombings or firefights - half of whom were children.

The US and Nato yesterday denied the British commander had asked US special forces to leave his area of operations. However, Mr Browne, visiting British and Nato troops in Afghanistan, said the commander was expressing a personal view.

"It is the reporting of an observation of a British officer on a particular part of the American military," he told reporters in Kabul. "That may be his view, but it is not the view of the Helmand taskforce commander, it is not the view of our government, it is not the view of the Americans, it is not the view of the alliance. These things can be said in the heat of battle. These are very difficult circumstances."

After a meeting with Mr Karzai, Mr Browne said the British-led Helmand force has made "enormous progress in driving back the Taliban in the north of the province". He added: "The forces' progress has been followed by targeted development projects that are making a difference to ordinary Afghans' lives."

British officers say US special forces are cavalier in their approach to the civilian population. The tensions were illustrated by an incident the Guardian witnessed in Sangin earlier this summer.

A British patrol was abandoned by its American special forces escort in the town for several hours. Stranded in central Sangin, British officers tried to establish radio contact with the Americans, who had disappeared without warning, and swore impatiently when they could not.

The British criticisms intensified after the Americans led them to their proposed site for a new Afghan patrol base in the town - beside a graveyard and a religious shrine. "Sensitivity is not their strong suit," said one British officer.

Most British soldiers work well with regular American troops and some speak admiringly of them. But US special forces units are a different matter.

They operate under a different chain of command, with their own rules on everything from dress code to the use of weapons. Whereas the British troops operate under Nato command, the American special forces are commanded from the US-led coalition in Bagram airbase outside Kabul. That means the Americans can call on a wider range of airstrikes, and also that British officers have little control over which munitions are dropped in populated areas.

The British military spokesman in Helmand, Lt Col Charlie Mayo, said the special forces had supported seven British-led operations in Helmand since last April. He said that relations between the two sides were "excellent".

"To work together effectively we have to have bloody good cooperation and we have to mutually support each other," he said. Col Mayo stressed that the British commander who had a problem with special forces had requested them to leave Sangin town only, not all of Helmand.

Officers also argue that where Taliban fighters mount ambushes from inside heavily populated areas, civilian deaths are unavoidable. "When you are working in a high intensity counter insurgency environment like this, regrettably you are going to have civilian casualties," Col Mayo said.

In London, British officials confirmed UN forecasts that southern Afghanistan's opium poppy crop, based in Helmand, will exceed last year's record. Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch Brown described the figures as "extremely disappointing".

Philip
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Postby Philip » 15 Aug 2007 11:57

Jiggery-pokery at the "jirga".

Gen.Bandicoot finally made his entrance just before the tribal leaders made their exit."Exiting" in this wartorn country is an occupational hazard for an Afghan leader.Depite all the bonhomie and brotherliness expressed by the faithful,it is hard to see how Gen.Bandicoot can rein in his own Paki creation,the Taliban,especially after he has given the Talib the equivalent of a separate state for their ungodly practices of terrorism.The uniformed vermin who truly rule Pak ,the ISI and the mad mullahs,lust after the "strategic depth" of Afghanistan,as they have tried for decades and lost every battle to wrest Kashmir from India.The Saudi hand in this international "jiggery-pokery" must also not be underestimated.George Bush,who is alleged to have lost his "brain",after Karl Rove became the latest rodent to leave Bush's fast sinking presidency,is displaying his new-found mental capabilities by rewarding Gen.Bandicoot's chicanery with his congratulations! As western casualties accelerate in Afghanistan,where the troops involved there say it is harder than Iraq,his congratulations might turn out to be utterly misplaced.

Meanwhile,pres.Ahmed-in-a jacket of Iran is raising the Afghan stakes by a visit there throwing in Iran's legitimate rights as a neighbour into the plot.

US feels heat as Iranian leader visits Afghanistan


Robert Tait in Tehran
Wednesday August 15, 2007
The Guardian


The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, addresses a press conference in Kabul as his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, looks on. Photograph: Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images



Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, signalled his determination to counter US global power yesterday by meeting his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, in a demonstration of growing Iranian influence in Afghanistan.
The visit - Mr Ahmadinejad's first to Afghanistan, where the US, Britain and other western powers are engaged in a bitter struggle with the Taliban - is certain to alarm the Bush administration, which accuses Tehran of destabilising its efforts and claims the Taliban is being armed with Iranian weapons. Iran, which is mainly, Shia, denies helping the Taliban, whose puritanical Sunni ideology it has condemned.


Article continues

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The trip came just a week after Mr Karzai, a key US ally, clashed publicly with President Bush about the nature of Iran's involvement. Addressing a joint White House press conference last week, Mr Bush said: "I would be very cautious about whether or not the Iranian influence in Afghanistan is a positive force." Mr Karzai flatly contradicted him by describing Iran as "a helper and a solution".
Departing from Tehran, Mr Ahmadinejad deepened the disagreement by saying yesterday's talks would cover arrangements for establishing Afghanistan's security and independence.

Describing Iran and Afghanistan as "two brother nations with common interests, cultures and histories", he told reporters: "The present condition of the region demands more exchange and negotiations between Tehran and Kabul. In this trip economic cooperation, especially over Iran's participation in Afghan development plans, will be discussed."

The trip is intended to put the seal on a range of Iranian-led reconstruction projects as well as consolidate areas of cooperation such as combating drug traffickers. Iranian aid - worth £125m - has been provided for three projects: a water research centre, a dental college and equipping Kabul's medical university.

Illustrating the trip's importance to Iran was the presence of several senior government figures in the party, including Ali Larijani, secretary of the supreme national security council, Manouchehr Mottaki, the foreign minister, and the economy minister, Davoud Danesh-Jafari.

Iran gave Washington informal help in overthrowing the Taliban government following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. Months later, Mr Bush killed any prospect of a thaw in relations by labelling Iran as part of the "axis of evil", along with Iraq and North Korea.

Despite US suspicions, Iran, which has one of the world's highest drug-addiction rates, argues it has legitimate interests in combating the influx of heroin and opiates from the Afghan poppy fields.

There are also at least 2 million Afghan refugees in Iran. The issue has caused recent tensions after Tehran forcibly sent around 100,000 back to Afghanistan, arguing that they were illegal migrants and a huge drain on the Iranian economy.

Yesterday's trip came just days after another key US protege, Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, visited Tehran. The US accuses Iran of aiding Shia and other insurgents in Iraq, a charge Tehran denies.

After leaving Kabul, Mr Ahmadinejad was due to fly to Turkmenistan and then to Kyrgyzstan for a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a body created by Russia and China to address regional security, foster economic integration, and counter US influence in central Asia.

Raju

Postby Raju » 15 Aug 2007 18:07

Indian flexes muscles abroad
15 Aug 2007, 0454 hrs IST,Indrani Bagchi,TNN

NEW DELHI: Indian diplomats do not come in such perfect proportions. Sandeep Kumar, a senior foreign service officer posted in Kabul, could teach a thing or two to our sadly out-of-shape South Block mandarins.

Along with his official duties, Kumar has also built up a formidable reputation of being a difficult-to-match fitness freak. Recently, displaying rippling pecs and abs at a ‘Mr Kabul' body-building contest, Kumar walked away with the third prize. Though the title was won by 28-year-old Wahid-ullah, Kumar's was certainly the best face (and body) the international diplomatic community put forward. For IFS officers, many with intellectual inclinations, Kumar's utterly "physical" hobby is difficult to grasp.

But in Afghanistan, this gym-lover evidently struck a chord. When Afghans are not battling the Taliban, mounting opium production and suicide bombers, body-building is a growing passion along with wrestling and karate. "I was amazed, I was the only outsider to be allowed into the local gyms. Afghans' love for body-building is a story that never gets told," Kumar told TOI from Kabul.

From Mazar-e-Sharif to Herat, this craze is all-consuming, he said. "Afghans even invest in very expensive body-enhancing substances and anabolic steroids, particularly in cities like Mazar where the stuff comes in from Iran. Many young Afghans download videos of famous body-builders like California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and watch them for hours."

Kabul's gyms may not be kitted out with the best equipment but Afghan fitness freaks even make do with weights that were once canisters, says Kumar

url for article

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Postby JE Menon » 15 Aug 2007 18:43

For those who feel the US is poorly advised, and does not know Pakisatan's true colours, this should be an eyeopener. It could have been written by a BRFite:

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB97/tal30.pdf

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Postby Gerard » 19 Aug 2007 17:45


gurudas
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Postby gurudas » 20 Aug 2007 07:46

<delete duplicate>
Last edited by gurudas on 20 Aug 2007 07:48, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby gurudas » 20 Aug 2007 07:47

At the risk of taking a couple of taliban bullets/head chops ..lots of real estate and mortage to sell to the returning afghanis.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6953860.stm

Maybe even some motels for temporary relocation.

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Postby Philip » 20 Aug 2007 10:55

Britain covering up Afghan casualties?
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

'Cover-up' over casualties in Afghanistan
By Thomas Harding Defence Correspondent
Last Updated: 4:02am BST 20/08/2007

The Government was accused of hiding the true casualty rate of troops in Afghanistan yesterday as it emerged that nearly one in two soldiers fighting on the front line had been wounded.

Frontline: Our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan
The Conservatives claimed that the Ministry of Defence was guilty of deception and not giving the full picture on the number of wounded despite being asked to do so in Parliamentary questions.


Medics evacuate an unidentified British soldier
The shadow defence secretary Liam Fox said there was a discrepancy over the recording of casualties and claimed that the rate was far higher than Government figures.

Although the Government had promised to give the Tories fuller information on the number of wounded it had never arrived, he said.

The row broke as the head of the Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, said troops were currently operating on the limit.

The Chief of the General Staff was visiting troops at Camp Price in Gereshk, southwestern Afghanistan yesterday. He said the mounting death toll in the country should not overshadow the success forces were having on the ground.

Military sources yesterday put the number of Servicemen injured on the front line at 700 out of 1,500 combat troops since April. Medical conditions included shrapnel wounds, cuts, burns, heat stroke and diarrhoea.

Mr Fox said there was a vast discrepancy over recording casualties. The American reported nine wounded for every fatality whereas the British reported three wounded for every dead soldier. "We believe the casualty rate is higher than the Government is reporting," he told the BBC's The World This Weekend.

On the same programme Bob Ainsworth, the Armed Forces minister, hit back. "What possible motive would there be for anyone in Government to hide casualty figures?" he said. "It's complete and utter nonsense to suggest that we do. We are not hiding casualty figures for Afghanistan, Iraq or anywhere else."

He added that the MoD released a comprehensive list on the internet every fortnight of casualty figures for those wounded in action or suffering illnesses.

Doctors would rather do their job than the "bureaucratic nonsense" of recording every time someone suffered a minor injury or illness, he said.

The latest MoD figures showed that since 2001 there have been 751 personnel admitted to field hospitals for various ailments and 70 troops have been killed. More than 25,000 have served in Afghanistan over the period. An MoD spokesman said: "While we do not publish statistics for all personnel who require minor treatment, we do record details for all personnel who are admitted to our field hospitals with more serious injuries and with diseases."

Gen Dannatt admitted that his troops were "certainly stretched" and doing more work than he would like.


General Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of The General Staff talks to soldiers from the Territorial Army
"We can be busy, we can be stretched, we can run hot - provided we are looking after individuals," he said in his first comments about the Army's operations since he admitted last year that the presence of British soldiers was sometimes part of the problem in Iraq.

Yesterday he said he felt "pride and admiration" for the young soldiers who were "winning our tactical engagements".

"Of course, tragically, we take casualties from time to time. I don't want to get into a numbers count, but the Taliban have taken a lot more casualties than we have," he said.

Amid headlines comparing casualty figures in Helmand province to those in the Second World War, the Chief of the General Staff said it would be a "tragedy" if the public did not realise the significance of what soldiers are doing there.

"Yes of course this is tough, and in a tough fight we are bound, from time to time, to have fatalities and of course that's tragic," he said.

He added that battles being fought at a platoon level in Afghanistan were "very, very intense" and could have been replicated in Normandy in 1944 or during the Korean War.

"It is really, really intense, it is life-threatening, it is life-taking here in Afghanistan," he said.

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Postby Vivek_A » 25 Aug 2007 06:58

via LGF

http://billroggio.com/archives/2007/08/ ... ghanis.php

The eastern Afghanistan offensive
nangarhar-provincial-map%20copy.jpg


Senior al Qaeda leader may have been wounded in the ongoing battle at Tora Bora

The battle at the Tora Bora mountains in Nangarhar province has completed its first week, the fighting has intensified as Afghan Army and US forces hunt Taliban and al Qaeda fighters who have infiltrated the region. Scores of Taliban and al Qaeda operatives are reported to have been captured after upwards of 50 terrorists were killed in the initial fighting. A senior al Qaeda leader was also reported to have been wounded in the attack.

Several senior al Qaeda leaders -- such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Saif al Adel, and Walid bin Attash -- rose through the ranks in al Qaeda by serving in the Black Guard. A Special Forces raid against the Black Guard camp in Danda Saidgai in North Waziristan, Pakistan in March 2006 resulted in the death of Imam Asad and several dozen members of the Black Guard. Asad was the Danda Saidgai camp commander, a senior Chechen al Qaeda commander, and associate of Shamil Basayev, the Chechen al Qaeda leader killed by Russian security forces in July 2006.

Philip
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Postby Philip » 28 Aug 2007 16:36

Taliban on "high"!

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asi ... 901006.ece

Record opium crop helps the Taliban fund its resistance
By Anne Penketh and Ben Russell
Published: 28 August 2007
Britain faces a war on two fronts in Afghanistan, following the revelation that the province where British troops are deployed has become the biggest source of illicit drugs in the world.

In an annual survey of opium production released yesterday, the UN reported that Helmand province had produced 48 per cent more opium compared to its record-breaking crop last year. Opium production in Afghanistan as a whole will reach a "frighteningly new level" at 8,200 tons, 34 per cent higher than last year, the report said.

British troops sent to back up reconstruction efforts in Helmand have been pinned down by resurgent Taliban fighters, who have a stranglehold over the drugs trade which is funding the resistance.

Although another record opium crop had been expected, the massive jump in the Helmand output reflects the level of insecurity in the province, where the insurgency has deepened in the past year. British commanders have described the conflict as the most intense since the Korean war.

Alongside the fight against al-Qa'ida after the 11 September attacks in 2001, cutting opium production was one of the main justifications for British involvement in military action in Afghanistan. Opium provides the raw material for heroin.

Tony Blair repeatedly referred to the fact that Afghan heroin accounted for an overwhelming proportion of the drug available on British streets and agreed to lead the international coalition's anti-narcotics effort.

But yesterday the Government was accused by its critics of "failing spectacularly". The report by the UN office on drugs and crime said: "An astonishing 50 per cent of the whole Afghan opium crop comes from one single province: Helmand."

Although cultivation of the opium poppy had decreased in parts of Afghanistan, "where anti-government forces reign, poppies flourish".

"With just 2.5 million inhabitants, this relatively rich southern province has become the world's biggest source of illicit drugs, surpassing the output of entire countries such as Colombia (coca), Morocco (cannabis) and Burma (opium) - which have populations up to twenty times larger."

The head of the UN agency, Antonio Maria Costa, said: "No other country in the world has ever had such a large amount of farmland used for illegal activity, beside China 100 years ago," when it was a major opium producer.

He urged Nato to more actively support counter-narcotics operations. "Since drugs are funding insurgency, Afghanistan's military and its allies have a vested interest in destroying heroin labs, closing opium markets and bringing traffickers to justice. Tacit acceptance of opium trafficking is undermining stabilisation efforts."

Britain, which is increasing the number of troops in Helmand to a total 7,700 by the end of the summer, backs greater involvement by Nato in crop eradication, by providing protection and logistical help for the Afghan forces involved in the effort.

Diplomats stressed however that British soldiers would not be directly involved in crop eradication.

Given the dramatic failure of the strategy in curbing the opium poppy cultivation - which was drastically scaled back under the Taliban - future policy is expected to focus more on forced eradication by a specialised Afghan unit. Britain has already announced an additional £22.5m for the Afghan interdiction forces.

It is generally admitted that separate efforts led by the province's governor, Asadullah Wafa, have been disappointing since he took on the job eight months ago.

Government corruption, particularly what Mr Costa calls the Karzai administration's "benign tolerance of corruption" is also blamed for the explosion in the opium crop.

British diplomats rejected suggestions that forced eradication risked damaging the "hearts and minds" campaign among the Afghans. Locals would welcome the broadening of the struggle to target rich farmers who had been able to bribe their way out before.

Last month the all-party Commons Defence Committee issued a critical report on drugs eradication in Afghanistan, warning that uncertainty among Afghans about the role of international forces in poppy eradication could put service personnel at risk.

Reacting to the report, Liam Fox, the shadow Secretary of State for Defence, said: "The British Government has overall responsibility for dealing with poppy production in Afghanistan and is failing spectacularly. There needs to be a redoubling of reconstruction effort at ensuring alternative incomes for Afghan farmers so that poppy eradication does not drive them into the arms of the Taliban. There also needs to be an unequivocal effort by the Afghan government to deal with the corruption which encourages poppy, and ultimately heroin, production."

In a statement, Gordon Brown said: "The international community is united in its desire to prevent Afghanistan once again becoming a failed state." He said progress would be measured "across a wide range of activity" but the Foreign Office agreed the figures for Helmand were "particularly disappointing".

Crop spraying: a controversial solution

When William Wood, America's ambassador to Colombia, was named envoy to Afghanistan a few months ago, there was concern he would bring with him the US crop eradication technique of choice.

Discussing possible new strategies for coping with the record increase in opium production in Afghanistan with a New York Times reporter this week, Mr Wood acknowledged spraying poppy crops with herbicide was "a possibility".

The government of President Hamid Karzai has rejected crop spraying in the past, as do the British who have the unenviable responsibility for dealing with poppy production in the troubled Helmand province.

Such tactics could damage the health of the local population in areas of open irrigation channels, and contaminate the legal crops which are interspersed in Helmand with the illicit opium poppy. There are also fears crop spraying could drive local farmers into the arms of the Taliban and enable the Taliban to accuse the "occupying forces" of poisoning the Afghan people.

The United States has budgeted $449m (£223m) to tackle opium production in Afghanistan this year alone. The British are spending $60m on promoting legal crops such as mint, wheat, chillies and cotton. But Afghan farmers have yet to be persuaded it is worthwhile financially to give up a lucrative illicit livelihood in favour of a legitimate crop.

The Senlis Council yesterday reiterated its call for a "Poppy for medicine" programme which would would allow farming communities to produce morphine locally, providingrural communities with economic opportunities. But the US, Brit-ish and Afghan governments remain opposed to any legalisation of opium in Afghanistan, which has a million addicts.

Anne Penketh

PS:Simple solution,since the Taliban are the ungodly and the bulk of production is in Helmand alone,,the US can as in Vietnam use "Agent Orange" (or a less controversial successor) to remedy matters! As for the locals-who in any case are mainly Talib supporters,ask them to destroy the poppy crops themselves or let NATO and Uncle Sam do it for them.The pros and cons must also weigh the enormous effect such a bumper crop will have on liberal western countires and their youth.The bumper crop could also play havoc woith nations like India,where a growing and rising middle class have more money to burn on the illusion of a "western" lifestyle.

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Postby shyamd » 03 Sep 2007 00:29

Hostage Families Visit Indian Embassy

Image
Family members of Korean hostages kidnapped by Taliban in Afghanistan outside the Embassy of India in Hannam-dong, Seoul on Monday, the 40th day since the abduction. They urged the Indian government to help them in their fight for the hostages’ release. /Newsis

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Postby Tilak » 04 Sep 2007 04:29

Taleban 'getting Chinese weapons'
By Paul Danahar
BBC Asia bureau chief, Beijing

Britain has privately complained to Beijing that Chinese-made weapons are being used by the Taleban to attack British troops in Afghanistan.

The BBC has been told that on several occasions Chinese arms have been recovered after attacks on British and American troops by Afghan insurgents.

The authorities in Beijing have promised to carry out an investigation.

This appears to be the first time Britain has asked China how its arms are ending up with the Taleban.

Boasting

At a meeting held recently at the Chinese foreign ministry in Beijing, a British official expressed the UK's growing concern about the incidents.

When asked about the latest British concerns, the Chinese foreign ministry referred back to a statement made by their spokesman Qin Gang in July who said China's arms exports were carried out "in strict accordance with our law and our international obligations".

For their part, the Taleban have recently begun boasting that they have now got hold of much more sophisticated weaponry although they refused to say from where.

Afghan officials have also privately confirmed to the BBC that sophisticated Chinese weapons are now in the hands of the Taleban.


They said these included Chinese-made air-to-surface missiles, anti-aircraft guns, landmines, rocket-propelled grenades and components for roadside bombs.

A senior Afghan official told the BBC, "Chinese HN-5 anti-aircraft missiles are with the Taleban, we know this... and we are worried where do the Taleban get them, some of these weapons have been made recently in Chinese factories".

Another Afghan official who deals with counter-terrorism said, "Serial numbers and other information from most of the Chinese weapons have been removed in most cases and it's almost impossible for us to find out where they come from but we have shared our concerns with the Chinese and the Americans also".

Worried

The Afghan government considers China to be a friend, and a much less meddlesome ally than the other big player in its neighbourhood, India. :roll:

But, the counter-terrorism official added, "China is worried about the presence of the US in the region".

Southern Afghanistan has been awash with Chinese made arms for decades which are some of the cheapest on the market.

In the past the Taleban got them via the Pakistan intelligence agency, the ISI, or bought them directly from arms smugglers.

But it is extremely unlikely the ISI would now allow them access to anti-aircraft missiles or armour-piercing ammunition.


The Pakistani army's relationship between militants in its tribal areas along the Afghan border has deteriorated sharply in recent years after Washington put pressure on President Musharraf post-9/11 to crack down on al-Qaeda and Taleban groups operating inside Pakistani territory.

So the Taleban might well use any sophisticated new weapons it received against the Pakistani army.

It is not in China's interest either to arm Pakistan-based militants.

Over the last couple of years Chinese workers in Pakistan have been targeted by militants, in retaliation for the Pakistani army allegedly going after hard-line Muslim Uighur leaders from China's Xinjiang province, hiding in the tribal areas.

Proxy network

So instead of Pakistan being the transit point for these weapons, the finger is being pointed by many commentators towards Iran.

The Afghan government has long acknowledged privately that Iranian intelligence agencies have been active in southern Afghanistan post-9/11.

Iran has been pursuing a policy of building up proxy networks to be able to attack American forces in response to any US attacks against Teheran's nuclear infrastructure.


The Americans are suspicious of Iran's role in Afghanistan

A Shia Iran and the Sunni Taleban had been firm enemies since 1998.

Then, Iran threatened to invade western Afghanistan, when the country was largely controlled by the Taleban, after nine of its diplomats were massacred in Mazar-e-Sharif.

But times have changed, now America is a common enemy and senior American commanders in Afghanistan have acknowledged the growing ties between the two.

The complication for both the UK and US is China.

Unnamed US officials have recently been quoted as saying that China has been selling arms to Iran which Iran is then passing on to insurgent groups in Afghanistan and Iraq.

China's booming economy and its seat at the UN security council have made it an important player on the world stage.

It is a major trading partner for the UK whose economy has benefited enormously from China's cheap goods.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's newly-appointed British Minister for Asia, Lord Mark Malloch Brown acknowledged to journalists in Beijing last week that countries "need to work with China to get things done in today's world".

China is going to have to show that getting things done also means stopping its arms illegally ending up in the hands of men bent on killing British troops.


Philip
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Postby Philip » 05 Sep 2007 14:45

During the Raj,the "Great Game" was being played by Russia and Britain mostly,with Britain worried that Russia would get a foothold in the region and eventually a "warmwater port" in the Arabian Sea.These days,it is not the Russians who are the most fervent players of this ancient game but the Chinese who have been playing it right from the 1950s!

After chasing out the Dalai Lama from Tibet,the first strategic move on the chessboard of Asia,the war against India in '62 was next,followed next by building the Karakoram highway into Pakistan and huge arms shipments to help Pak to defeat India in '65 and '71.That having failed,the fourth major move was played,giving Pak nuclear technology and strategic missiles.The fifth move was to develop Gwadar into a future Chinese naval base,as is being done in the Bay of Bengal with Burma (economic and military assistance to Sri Lanka is part of this move).The sixth move,actually played much earlier,but only now seen in all its scope and scale,was assisting Pak and Bangladesh in exporting terrorism into India,all across the country,but mainly in Kashmir and the N-East,the hope being to sever these areas from India at the opportune time.The seventh,huge arms shipments to Iran-thus keeping a foot in both Pak and Iran,two nations who are suspicious of each other,religious rivals,but who can strangle the Gulf in a crisis.The eigth has been the completion of the Tibet railway,a monumental feat,which spells doom for the Tibetan culture through "social engineering" and the ninth is aiding the Taliban,in the sinister move to replace the current Afghan regime at a later date with the return of the Taliban,who along with Pakand the ISI are spearheading the war against the Karzai regime.China knows that the US and NATO troops will vanish one day and are investing heavily with their fundamental (hopeful) successors.A careful examination shows that to counter the US,China resorts to international proliferation,whether it be nuclear and missile proliferation,now it also uses international "Islamist" terrorism.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jh ... erc105.xml

Army blows up £50m Hercules plane
By Patrick Phelvin
Last Updated: 8:27am BST 05/09/2007

A modified Hercules transport plane which was being used to transport SAS units was blown up in the Afghan desert so that sensitive equipment would not fall into enemy hands.

Gen Sir Mike Jackson relives IRA Paras bombs

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Postby shyamd » 06 Sep 2007 03:39

Interesting article on IHT
The Taliban, the hostages and the South Korean spy master

A very different Afghanistan
[quote]In an Islamic State like Afghanistan, one of the most hopeful signs is the ragtag traffic being held up by lines of young girls crossing the road returning home from school. When you recall that when the Taliban were in power from 1996 to 2001, girls were not even allowed to go to school, this is a sign of change.

Something really serious must be happening 'beneath the surface'. Although from a low and uncertain base, the Afghan economy grew by 14 per cent last year. In the next few weeks, Afghanistan will get its fifth cellular licencee. India has only about seven licences per circle. It is also quite likely that Kabul will have a 3G operator before Delhi gets its own. If you are not quite convinced by that statistic, how about the news that a third private airline operating out of Kabul is about to launch operations soon with two early movers already running their own network of domestic and international flights. Clearly, something is happening in Afghanistan that most of us are unaware of.

Even the media here are buzzing. At least six new TV channels have rushed in. FM channels are the new and reliable medium of choice with dozens operational across the country. The buzz is that the warlords who control large parts of the country outside Kabul are now busy establishing TV channels of their own. Imagine not a war with bullets and bombs, but with channel pitched against channel.

Large swathes of the city still bear tell-tale marks of rocket attacks and snipers. The mud buildings that scurry across the mountain-scape belong to the 15th century. Yet, the biggest building in town is the City Centre Mall with its eight floors of shopping to tempt any customer. Some serious investment is going on in this country of 30 million people where most of us only see and hear of war and warlords.

Indian ambassador to Kabul, Rakesh Sood, is the second-most guarded diplomat after the American ambassador. He has just returned after a visit to the provinces where he inspected, with a local cabinet minister, a project where an Indian company is building a road. “The $ 750 million of Indian aid flowing into Afghanistan is helping Indian companies look at some serious projects in this country,â€

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Postby Rich » 19 Sep 2007 01:16

Karzai pleads for Canadians to stay in Afghanistan - G&M

[quote]Mr. Karzai said he is aware of Canadians' debate about their role in his country, and seemed eager to contradict some ideas raised in the discussion. Canadian officials have claimed that Afghan forces could be ready to take over the lead role in protecting Kandahar by the time the Canadian mandate expires in February 2009.

But the Afghan president bluntly disagreed with that assessment.

“The presence of Canada is needed until Afghanistan is able to defend itself, and that day is not going to be in 2009,â€

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Postby Rudranath » 20 Sep 2007 19:50

Taliban attack leaves 24 dead in Afghanistan
20 Sep 2007

HEART, AFGHANISTAN: A Taliban attack on a police post in western Afghanistan sparked a battle that left at least 20 militants and four police dead, a provincial governor said on Thursday.

Dozens of Islamic fighters attacked a police position in Badghis province on Wednesday, setting off a three-hour gunfight, governor Mohammad Ashraf Nasiri said.

"Twenty militants were killed and nine militants were wounded in the fighting," he said. Four police were also killed.

Western Afghanistan is relatively peaceful compared to the insurgency-hit south and southeast of the country, where militant attacks are an almost daily routine.

But Bala Murghab district, the scene of the latest attack, has seen a spike in violence in the past months.

Seven Afghan soldiers and 20 militants were killed in a battle there last month that was sparked when Taliban militants ambushed an Afghan and NATO army convoy.

Taliban insurgents have waged a bloody insurgency since their ouster from power in late 2001 by the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, which has claimed thousands of lives so far.

In another incident related to the insurgency, a suicide bomber on a bicycle blew himself up on Thursday in the southern province of Ghazni, provincial police chief Alishah Ahmadzai said.

His target was an Afghan army truck, and a soldier was severely wounded. Elsewhere Afghan soldiers carried out an operation in Wardak province in which three "enemies" were killed and nine wounded and arrested, police said.

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Postby Rudranath » 20 Sep 2007 19:53

No country can leave Afghanistan, says NATO chief
20 Sep 2007, 0022 hrs IST,AFP

THE HAGUE: No NATO country can or will pull their troops out of Afghanistan, the alliance's chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said in an interview published on Wednesday.

"There are 40 countries participating in the NATO mission in Afghanistan (ISAF). And nobody can leave, nobody will leave," De Hoop Scheffer said in an interview with Dutch daily NCR Handelsblad.

"I honestly cannot imagine that the Netherlands would pull out single-handedly," he added.

The Dutch cabinet is set to decide within the next few months whether or not to extend the mission of Dutch troops in southern Uruzgan province beyond its scheduled end in August 2008. There are currently 1,665 Dutch soldiers stationed in Afghanistan.

When the Netherlands agreed to go to Afghanistan the deal with the NATO was that it would be a two-year mission and the alliance would look for a successor for the Dutch deployment.

De Hoop Scheffer stressed that things have changed since then.

"Much has happened in Afghanistan. The situation in the south is more complicated than we could foresee two years ago," he said.

"I cannot imagine that the Netherlands will leave single-handedly just because of the situation that will arise with Australia that would then find itself in Uruzgan without a lead nation," De Hoop Scheffer explained.

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Postby Rudranath » 20 Sep 2007 19:56

Rudranath wrote:No country can leave Afghanistan, says NATO chief
20 Sep 2007, 0022 hrs IST,AFP

THE HAGUE: No NATO country can or will pull their troops out of Afghanistan, the alliance's chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said in an interview published on Wednesday.


P.S: He meant until Taliban captures citizens of a NATO country.

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Postby ramana » 26 Sep 2007 08:04

India’s toilet diplomacy a hit in Kabul

India’s toilet diplomacy a hit in Kabul

Aunohita Mojumdar, Hindustan Times
Kabul, September 25, 2007

Mohammad Sharif is extremely happy. The former Air Force pilot’s work as a freelance language teacher keeps him on the road for most of the day, and he has just found a series of clean, cheap and efficient public utilities in his city Kabul.

The Indian government’s $1 million project for five toilet-cum-sanitation complexes, implemented by Sulabh International, is up and running. The complexes are already catering to between 4,500-5,000 users everyday. The eco-friendly toilets complexes are just what he needs to take the pressure off the mushrooming demands of Kabul’s citizens.

Rohullah Arman is thrilled. He has the unenviable task of trying to provide basic utilities in the capital city of a country destroyed by three decades of war and Kabul, at the centre of the power struggle, has seen all infrastructure bombed to smithereens.

Internal displacement and unemployment has led to a population explosion in the city. Laying new sewer lines in the busy crowded city and catering to the needs of its four million habitants is an urban nightmare. The eco-friendly toilet complexes are just what he needs to take the pressure off the mushrooming demands of Kabul’s citizens.

For the construction of the complexes, Sulabh International has chosen some of the most densely populated areas of the city. The complexes are an example of what appropriate technology can achieve, and reflects a growing realisation of the need for greater use of regional technology and expertise in rebuilding Afghanistan.

Dr Bindeshwar Pathak,the founder of Sulabh International hopes the technology will be adopted more extensively in Afghanistan — pointing out that both the home toilet and public toilet technology can be used here. The lack of effluents and the biogas generated from the plant are even more important in Afghanistan, a city without proper sewerage systems and scant electricity. The user costs are extremely low and make it affordable for most residents.

Maintenance of the project is being ensured with the training of 35 Afghans running the project. The project will also be a learning experience for Sulabh itself.

No one is quite sure whether the design can survive Kabul’s harsh winters, which can plummet to minus 20 degrees. The only other worry about the project is articulated by Kabul Mayor Rohullah Arman. How can he ensure the funding to extend this eco-friendly project throughout his city?


OK can Delhi based BR members contact
Sulabh International and find out how funds can be raised for Afghanistan project?

Webpage and contact details;

http://www.sulabhinternational.org/

and

sulabhacademy@vsnl.net

We could do a fund raiser for this venture.


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