TOLOnews.com RSS Feed http://tolonews.com/ Thu, 23 Oct 2014 00:28:05 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev (info@mypapit.net) TOLOnews 6pm News 22 October 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16841-tolonews-6pm-news-22-october-2014 Top news in this bulletin

Acting Minister of Defense Bismillah Mohammadi has asserted that certain circles supporting regional countries and terror organizations strive to sabotage unity among the Afghan National Army (ANA). He added that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are completely ready to defy such threats and takeover full security responsibility.

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 A number of parliamentarians and electoral analysts on Wednesday asked President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah to bring structural reforms in the electoral commissions, stressing the need to bring reforms before the parliamentary elections.

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Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:10:45 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16841-tolonews-6pm-news-22-october-2014
Ghani to Travel to China With Afghan Business Leaders http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16840-ghani-to-travel-to-china-with-afghan-business-leaders

President Ashraf Ghani will travel to China next week for a three-day trip with a group of top Afghan business leaders. The visit is intended to start a new chapter in Kabul-Beijing relations, one that the new Afghan government hopes will lead to greater economic and political ties.

The Presidential Palace has expressed optimism about the trip, which will be Ghani's first trip abroad as president, and will take him to Beijing for a sit-down with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. In addition, an investment summit will be held in order for Afghan and Chinese businessmen to connect and discuss investment opportunities in Afghanistan.

"President Ghani will talk with the investors and businessmen of China on his official trip and he will encourage them to invest in Afghanistan, a new gateway for improving economic and political relations will be established and efforts will be made to build a better relationship in this regard," deputy presidential spokesman Fayeq Wahidi said.

At the moment, China is not a major aid provider in Afghanistan. But according to experts, President Ghani will not only focus on securing a larger amount of aid from Beijing, he will also emphasize opportunities for mutually beneficial business ventures, such as in the natural resource sector in Afghanistan.

"It is a very good opportunity and President Ghani will try to provide opportunities for investment instead of attracting aid, and the profits from natural resources will increase as China is a country that will invest more in Afghanistan to improve them," economical expert Muhammad Qurban Haqjo said

The fact that Ghani will be accompanied by a contingent of leaders from the Afghan private sector is a further sign that business investment, rather than just aid, will be a major theme of the trip. "The private sector officials will also go with the president, steps are being taken for the joint meeting of investors to emphasize establishing companies and good opportunities for improving trade between the two countries," said Atiqullah Nasrat, the head of the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI).

China is one of the leading foreign investing countries in the world. In Afghanistan, Chinese companies have already brokered million dollar deals in northern Afghanistan for the Ainak Copper Mine project and a number of oil filled projects.

But experts, like Haqjo, say that security problems have persistently delayed and derailed the projects, causing Chinese companies to put them on hold or abandon them all together. "The Afghan government should try to resolve the issue of security for these big projects implemented by the Chinese companies and the projects will be completed and more opportunities will be provided for investment in the country," Haqjo said.

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Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:44:53 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16840-ghani-to-travel-to-china-with-afghan-business-leaders
Groups Strive to Create Division in ANA http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16839-groups-strive-to-create-division-in-ana

Acting Minister of Defense Bismillah Mohammadi has asserted that certain circles supporting regional countries and terror organizations strive to sabotage unity among the Afghan National Army (ANA). He added that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are completely ready to defy such threats and takeover full security responsibility.

Mohammadi stressed that the ANA has steered clear of all ethnic divisions and is committed to fully defend the country.

"These people are our enemies; they are against national unity and peace in our country," he said. "Certain groups who support the Taliban are trying to disperse the army and increase ethnic issues. But over the past 13 years, our security forces have shown their full commitment to shield the country against such threats."

The defense minister added that the ANA has gained much expertise and ground capabilities; however, they still lack heavy weaponry and proper air support.
"Last year, nearly 150,000 foreign soldiers were supporting the Afghan forces. This year, however, the forces defended the country without any support, gaining national and international trust. We are grateful to NATO and ISAF who have supported us over the past 13 years."

Recent reports indicate that the ANSF casualties have been on the rise since 2009, which is why many people have not showed interest in joining the forces. Security ministries, however, maintain that the ANSF are fully prepared to take on all security responsibilities. As a part of the foreign forces evacuation process, the forces left Kunar yesterday, handing over three military bases to provincial security forces.

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Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:15:18 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16839-groups-strive-to-create-division-in-ana
Controversy About Access to Information Law http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16838-controversy-about-access-to-information-law

After a three-year delay, the Lower House of Parliament approved the Access to Information Law in July, leaving few of the articles open to further adjustments. The law is expected to be sent to the Presidential Palace to be signed by the president.

Afghanistan Integrity Watch and civil society institutions have asked that certain adjustments such as creating an independent information commission with independent and experienced members and an independent budget that will ensure accurate and precise definitions for the rights of others, public security and national interest.

"Afghanistan Integrity Watch and other civil society organizations have made many efforts for the past three years for the approval of the access to information law," Executive Director of Integrity Watch Afghanistan, Sayed Ikram Afzali, said. "We believe that there are still problems that need to be addressed."

The organizations have asked President Ashraf Ghani to send the law to the national assembly for adjustments before signing it.

"Afghanistan Integrity Watch believes it is better if the joint committee of the national assembly looks over the law for adjustments. The law needs some necessary changes," Afzali added.

The statement comes while Nai—a NGO supporting open media in Afghanistan—announced that the Access to Information Law does not need any changes and the delay in signing the law will increase violence against journalists.

The six-chapter, 32-article law has been subject to controversy over the past few months.

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Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:56:47 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16838-controversy-about-access-to-information-law
MPs Ask for Reforms in Electoral Commissions http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16837-mps-ask-for-reforms-in-electoral-commissions

A number of parliamentarians and electoral analysts on Wednesday asked President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah to bring structural reforms in the electoral commissions, stressing the need to bring reforms before the parliamentary elections.

"Members of the election commission are corrupted and I ask the new president to dismiss them as soon as possible," MP Abbas Abrahimi said.

Analysts have also asked the national unity government to stand by its commitments and not prolong the implementation of the promised reforms.

"Reforms in the election commissions and election system are the responsibilities of the national unity government," Fazl Ahmad Manawi, former IEC chief, said. "The parliamentary elections would be impossible without the necessary reforms."

Abdullah recently talked about bringing reforms into the structure of the electoral management bodies.

"The national unity government is committed to bringing reforms in the election commissions and we will implement these reforms in the upcoming days," Abdullah said.

The Afghan presidential election lasted more than six months, leaving huge financial burdens on the country, which were finally resolved with a political agreement.

Meanwhile, the provincial council election results remain uncertain despite being dragged for about seven months. Dragging out the process has discredited the electoral management bodies, raising concerns about the urgency of reforms.

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Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:40:41 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16837-mps-ask-for-reforms-in-electoral-commissions
Solution to Insurgency is Not Military Alone: Daudzai http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16836-solution-to-insurgency-is-not-military-alone-daudzai

Acting Minister of Interior Muhammed Umer Daudzai highlighted Afghanistan's two major transitions this year during his speech at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) Core Group Meeting in New Delhi on October 21.

"We successfully completed two transitions this year," he said. "The first one was the political transition... For the first time in our history, one elected president transferred authority to another elected president peacefully, and with a lot of dignity...Second, was the transition of security leadership from ISAF to ANSF. We have now assumed almost complete responsibility for security of the country."

Daudzai emphasized that the contributions and efforts of the international community in Afghanistan have not gone to waste as thousands of people have joined the ANSF ranks to fight against terrorism. He added that the transition has strengthened the morale of the ANSF, as their mantra of "it is our land, and we will defend and secure it" has become even stronger than before.

"The people of Afghanistan made history this year by their unprecedentedly large turnout in the election," Daudzai added. "They proved that democracy is embraced, and extremism is rejected."

The interior minister went on to admit that despite the achievements, there are still serious challenges that have yet to be fully addressed, stressing that "Afghanistan is victim of the negative sides of regionalization and globalization."

"We have not been able to break the Taliban movement and seasonal cycles," he said. "In winter, Taliban cross the Durand Line to their shelters in Pakistan, where they get training and equipment, and come back along with new recruits the following spring. They are accompanied by Pakistani-based extremist militant organizations."

After explaining the problems, he stressed that "the problem of insurgency does not have a military solution alone," adding that the National Unity Government is an opportunity to work for a "negotiated settlement."

"We are counting on emerging powers in our neighborhood to come forward and form coalitions for peace in the region...I want to come back to the issue of Afghanistan, and state that our vision is to transform our country from the crossroad of terrorism to the crossroad of gas, electricity and trade of other goods," he said, ending his speech with emphasis on re-definitions of "national interests."

The MSC Core Group meeting took place in New Delhi on October 21 and 22, in cooperation with the Observer Research Foundation. In addition to Afghan Interior Minister Daudzai, other participants included Indian National Security Advisor Doval, Mexican Foreign Minister Meade, Israel's NSA Cohen and a number of German officials and MPs.

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Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:13:26 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16836-solution-to-insurgency-is-not-military-alone-daudzai
Pakistan's Malala Receives US Liberty Medal http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16835-pakistans-malala-receives-us-liberty-medal

Malala Yousafzai, the child rights activist and youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, received the Liberty Medal and pledged her $100,000 award to education in her homeland Pakistan.

Yousafzai won the annual prize from the National Constitution Center for her "courage and resilience in the face of adversity and for serving as a powerful voice for those who have been denied their basic human rights and liberties," the NCC said.

The 17-year-old gave a speech outlining her desire to see 57 million children out of school given the right to an education, speaking less than two weeks after winning the Nobel prize with India's Kailash Satyarthi.

"I'm honored to receive this medal," she said in an address peppered with jokes.

"It encourages me to continue my campaign for education and to fight for the rights of every child," she added, announcing the money would go toward education in Pakistan.

She called on countries around the world to stop spending money on weapons and instead invest in their children's futures.

"Education is the best weapon through which we can fight poverty, ignorance and terrorism. So I ask all countries all around the world, let us say no to wars."

The schoolgirl, who currently lives in Britain, rose to prominence in Pakistan by campaigning for girls' right to education.

In October 2012, she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman and is regarded with suspicion and hatred among many in Pakistan.

Evacuated to Britain, she made a remarkable recovery and today attends school and flies around the world to champion for universal access to education through her Malala Fund charity.

"Malala's courageous fight for equality and liberty from tyranny is evidence that a passionate, committed leader, regardless of age, has the power to ignite a movement for reform," said NCC chairman Jeb Bush.

"Let us all, young and old, strive to be like Malala -- to challenge the status quo and to serve as catalysts for meaningful change."

The Liberty Medal is awarded to people who strive to secure freedom for people around the world.

Past recipients include former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Shimon Peres, Kofi Annan and Bono.

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Wed, 22 Oct 2014 06:50:12 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16835-pakistans-malala-receives-us-liberty-medal
Tawde Khabare: Pakistan's National Security Advisor Meeting with Afghan Officials http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/16833-tawde-khabare-pakistans-national-security-advisor-meeting-with-afghan-officials

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Shapoor Bakthyar discusses about the meeting of Sartaj Aziz, the Pakistan's National Security Advisor with the Afghan officials and its outcomes with the following guests:

• Ikramuddin Andishmand, political analyst

• Mohammad Naeem Lalai Hamidzai, MP

• Qazi Nawaz Tanai,Head of Khost tribes council

To watch the program, click here:

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Wed, 22 Oct 2014 02:21:34 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/16833-tawde-khabare-pakistans-national-security-advisor-meeting-with-afghan-officials
First 100 Days: President Ghani Meets with Foreign Ambassadors http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/16832-first-100-days-president-ghani-meets-with-foreign-ambassadors

In this episode of the program, host Omid Farooq discusses President Ghani's meetings with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan's ambassadors. Discussions on the formation of the cabinet‎ and how the changing tactics of the Taliban have inflicted rising casualties on the ANA, with the following guests:

Karim Amini, reporter

Asadullah Sadati, Ghani's transfer committee member

Mohammad Natiqi, Abdullah's transfer Committee member

Arif Rahmani, university professor

Idres Rahmani, political analyst

To watch the program, click here:

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Wed, 22 Oct 2014 02:18:57 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/16832-first-100-days-president-ghani-meets-with-foreign-ambassadors
FARAKHABAR: 21 October 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/16831-farakhabar-21-october-2014

A member of the committee charged with overseeing new ministerial appointments on Monday said that discussions were ongoing regarding who from President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah's respective electoral teams would be tapped for an appointment in the new cabinet.

In this episode of Farakhabar, host Yama Siawish discusses the topic with the following guests:

Azeta Rafat, Right and justice party member

Farhad Azimi, MP

To watch the program, click here:

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Wed, 22 Oct 2014 02:07:05 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/16831-farakhabar-21-october-2014
TOLOnews 6pm News 21 October 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16829--tolonews-6pm-news-21-october-2014 Top news in this bulletin:

While proceedings have moved forward quickly since President Ashraf Ghani ordered the Kabul Bank corruption case be reopened, the Attorney General's office, charged with prosecuting the case, faces an uphill battle in recuperating the assets embezzled from the bank and retrieving the suspects who have fled abroad for trial.

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 The Acting Minister of Counter Narcotics Din Mohammad Mubarez Rashidi on Tuesday reported that drug smugglers, in joint collaboration with the Taliban, have launched major clashes in various regions to ensure the flow of drug money, adding that the political will to curb the menace has not been strong enough.

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Tue, 21 Oct 2014 15:27:13 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16829--tolonews-6pm-news-21-october-2014
Six-Year-Old Boy Sexually Abused in Kandahar http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16828-six-year-old-boy-sexually-abused-in-kandahar

Local officials in southern Kandahar province on Tuesday confirmed the sexual abuse of a six-year-old boy in the province. Officials said that the victim, who has been admitted to hospital, is in a critical health condition.

The victim's family members have refused to talk to the media. However, it has been said that the crime might have happened due to some family enmity.

"A six-year-old boy was raped in district five of Kandahar two days ago, leaving the child in critical condition at the hospital," Samim Akhpalwak, spokesman to Kandahar's acting governor, said. "The criminal involved in the atrocity has fled the area," adding that the security forces are making all efforts to arrest the fugitive.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) in Kandahar has called on security organs to ensure the arrest of the perpetrator and bring him to justice.

"The child was abused in a tragic manner and the police must arrest the criminal as soon as possible," deputy head of AIHRC in Kandahar Shamsuddin Tanvir said.

The incident was not the first of its kind in Kandahar. Cases of sexual abuse against children have been reported in the area in the past as well; however, this is the first time a six-year-old child is abused.

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Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:33:45 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16828-six-year-old-boy-sexually-abused-in-kandahar
Attorney General Under Pressure to Recoup Kabul Bank Losses http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16827-attorney-general-under-pressure-to-recoup-kabul-bank-losses

While proceedings have moved forward quickly since President Ashraf Ghani ordered the Kabul Bank corruption case be reopened, the Attorney General's office, charged with prosecuting the case, faces an uphill battle in recuperating the assets embezzled from the bank and retrieving the suspects who have fled abroad for trial.

"Now we work on two aspects of the case: first, to regain the money and transfer it to the national treasury, and secondly, to implement justice on those involved in leading the bank toward crisis," Attorney General spokesman Basir Azizi said at a press conference on Tuesday.

At a press conference held on Tuesday the Attorney General office announced that official letters have been dispatched to seven countries for certification of the assets related to the Kabul Bank case. Once certified, the process of getting the assets back to Afghanistan will begin, and it will likely not be an easy one.

The Attorney General's office also announced on Tuesday that cases have been brought against five former ministers thought to have been involved with the Kabul Bank. The cases were referred to the Supreme Court.

Those cases put added pressure on the country's top lawyer, who has verified the arrests of only seven of the 19 individuals suspected on embezzlement-related charges in the bank case. Meanwhile, a former shareholder of the bank and a brother of the former president Mahmoud Karzai has said that those who were arrested were not even among the main plotters of the crime.

"Those arrested are not influential, if there is war against corruption, it is possible to bring them to justice, but if the effort is to bring plotters of Kabul Bank bankruptcy to justice, then those arrested are not important enough," the source said on condition of anonymity.

According to Azizi, the names of the five former ministers being looked at include Sediqullah Eshan, Enayatullah Qasimi, Jalil Shams, Amin Farhang and Habibullah Qaderi. Although some of these individuals were accused of corrupt practices and abuse of official positions before, it is said the Attorney General's office made its move on them in response to pressure from the Presidential Palace.

"There are cases of some other ministers as well and they will be referred to the Supreme Court after the necessary undertakings are completed," Azizi said.
The Kabul Bank faced bankruptcy after inquiries revealed in 2010 that $1.3 billion worth of assets at the bank declined to $557 million. Ultimately, shareholders suffered $987 million in losses.

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Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:21:26 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16827-attorney-general-under-pressure-to-recoup-kabul-bank-losses
Minister Calls for Political Will to Curb Smuggling http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16826-minister-calls-for-political-will-to-curb-smuggling

The Acting Minister of Counter Narcotics Din Mohammad Mubarez Rashidi on Tuesday reported that drug smugglers, in joint collaboration with the Taliban, have launched major clashes in various regions to ensure the flow of drug money, adding that the political will to curb the menace has not been strong enough.

Summoned at the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Rashidi asserted that many of the recent battles in various parts of the country were fought over drugs.

"The battles fought in recent days in southern Helmand and some other provinces have been fought over drugs by major drug mafia in the shape of the Taliban or alongside the Taliban," he said. "It is obvious that it is a drug war."

In addition, Rashidi said that the funds derived from drug-smuggling are estimated to around $80 billion on an annual basis.

"From the total amount of about $70 or $80 billion, only one million goes to the poppy farmers and another $150 million or so goes to armed insurgents."

Meanwhile, the Minister of Public Health, Suraya Dalil, too, emphasized on a solid political will to seriously accelerate anti-drug efforts and remove the roots of the problem.

"We have to undertake serious work to combat drug smuggling in joint cooperation with the neighboring countries and the international community, mainly those that are the victims of drug smuggling," Dalil said.

Over the past 13 years, more than $7.8 billion was allocated for efforts to combat drug smuggling in Afghanistan.

Based on the statement of the Ministry of Interior Affairs, 53 percent of the overall opium is cultivated in southern Helmand, one of the most insecure provinces in the country.

Despite this, Afghanistan still constitutes the world's largest producer of opium.

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Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:10:41 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16826-minister-calls-for-political-will-to-curb-smuggling
650 People Receive Hearing Aids in Kabul http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16825-650-people-receive-hearing-aids-in-kabul

On Tuesday a national and an international aid agency, Bayat Foundation and Starkey Hearing Aid Foundation, distributed hearing-aids to 650 deaf children and youth going to deaf schools in Kabul.

According to reports, some of the kids are born deaf, while others have been victims of other incidents and diseases.

Both organizations stressed that there should be more initiatives to provide the disabled with necessary means to reach their potential.

"The deaf children need our attention. They could be the leaders of the country and the world in the future," founder of Bayat Foundation, Ehsan Bayat, said.

Member of Starkey Hearing Aid Foundation, Bill Austin, added that their team came to the event "as respect to those who suffer from disability."

The kids, who will now be able to hear sounds they could not previously hear, expressed happiness about the aids through sign language.

"One of my biggest dreams was being able to hear," deaf student Mujib Rahman said.

Another student Maryam stated that she had come to receive the hearing-aid so she "could be able to hear."

According to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, roughly 100,000 people who are deaf have been registered with the ministry, most of whom are victims of war.

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Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:38:11 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16825-650-people-receive-hearing-aids-in-kabul
Delay in Approval of the RAIL, Rise of Violence Against Journalists: NAI http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16824-delay-in-approval-of-the-rail-rise-of-violence-against-journalists-nai

NAI—an NGO supporting open media in Afghanistan—and a number of journalists on Tuesday said that the delay in approval of the Right to Access Information law (RAIL) has contributed to the rise of violence against journalists in the country.

"Ratification of the bill will help journalists get access to accurate and precise information," Head of NAI Sediqullah Tawhidi said, also stating that there should be a monitoring committee to oversee the bill's implementation.

Journalists have asked for the approval of the RAIL, adding that government and non-government officials are preventing access to information. According to NAI, the approval of the law will make access to information easier.

"I have encountered problems while trying to receive information many times and I ask the President to approve the law quickly," journalist Wahida Faizai said.
Another journalist Emad Rostaye added that "the approval of the law will also pave the way for investigative reports."

In the past few weeks only, 18 cases of violence such as beating and imprisonment of journalists have been recorded. Moreover, reports indicate that some high-ranking government officials, such as Kunduz and Ghazni governors, have shown harsh attitudes toward journalists in the recent weeks.

After three years of circulation in governmental offices, the six-chapter, 32-article law was finally approved by the Parliament more than a month ago. It is now awaiting the president's approval.

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Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:46:44 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16824-delay-in-approval-of-the-rail-rise-of-violence-against-journalists-nai
Kargar Receives Honorable Football Award http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16823-kargar-receives-honorable-football-award

The National Football Team Coach, Yousef Kargar was awarded the title of the most prominent and influential man in the history of Afghan football by Afghanistan's Football Federation (AFF) at an event in Kabul on Monday.

This is the first time in the history of the country that a football coach has received such an award.

Kargar received this award over his recent success in South Asia, winning the FIFA Fair Play award and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Best Football Federation award in 2013.

"Until we do no increase our capacities, we will not reach our goals," Kargar said accepting the award. "This is an honor for me today to have receive such an award. There are other people who deserve this award in the AFF."

The event was held at a private hotel in Kabul. During the momentous ceremony, a number of other Afghan coaches received certificates issued by FIFA and the AFC for their efforts and time.

Roshan Afghan Premier League (RAPL) Commissioner, Shafic Gawhari, said that Kargar "is a person that has always raised Afghanistan's flag."

"His family and friends live outside of the country, but he has decided to stay in Afghanistan because of his love for football," Gawhari added.

A number of Afghans have said that football is the new face of Afghanistan.

"Football means national unity in the country; it means a stronger and unified Afghanistan," Sayed Massoud, a professor at Kabul University, said.

Kargar, who is 51 years old, previously was the assistant coach and today stands as Afghanistan's National Football Team coach for more than four years.

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Tue, 21 Oct 2014 08:08:23 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16823-kargar-receives-honorable-football-award
Changing Face of News and Online Advocacy http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16822-changing-face-of-news-and-online-advocacy

During the last day of the second annual Afghan Social Media Summit, talks were held on the evolution of news in today's digital age that have paved the way to diminish the gap between the people and the government.

Representative for Mobile Peace Reporting, Javid Faisal, said that the digital age has allowed "citizen journalists to send their stories via text messages or voice messages," which has created a stage for discussions and a developing relationship between the government and the people.

"We want to get people involved in the government," Faisal said hinting at the power and capacity of mobile phones.

In efforts to forming an honest, transparent and reliable relationship between the government and its people, SadRoz.af is an initiative that aims to keep the government accountable on the promises made during the presidential campaigns.

"We started SadRoz.af to institutionalize democracy," Aziz Koshan, representative for the initiative, said. "We want to hold the government accountable to their promises by tracking their promises with the help of citizen journalists in areas we cannot reach."

Mohammad Sufyan, head of Pajhwok's communication and marketing, added to Koshan's statement that social media is a viral and efficient platform for individuals to accentuate and highlight issues.

"Strong campaigns shared on social media creates large public awareness and interaction," Sufyan said.

In a separate panel that expanded on online advocacy on women's rights, Monica Ibrahimi represented HarassMap in Egypt, discussing the issue of harassment and the role of social media in tackling it.

Ibrahimi stated that harassment is not a women's issue, but a societal issue, stressing that social attitudes toward the issue need to change. A volunteer-based initiative, HarassMap aims to end "the social acceptability of sexual harassment and assault in Egypt."

"We want to change the common social norms and shift the blame from women to harassers," Ibrahimi said. "We want people and bystanders to speak up against harassment and see it for what it is, a crime."

After Ibrahimi's presentation, Eileen Guo, the founder of Impassion Media and Impassion Afghanistan, stated that HarassMap can be a great model for Afghanistan.
"Campaigns can be started by anyone—without any campaign budget," Guo said.

Tuesday marked the last day of the second annual Afghan Social Media Summit in Kabul. The summit detailed aspects of social media that can be used in innovative and progressive that can impact and cooperate with mainstream media, spread awareness, and hold involve the people in the government.

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Tue, 21 Oct 2014 07:38:52 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16822-changing-face-of-news-and-online-advocacy
FARAKHABAR: 20 October 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/16821-farakhabar-20-october-2014

After more than seven months from the provincial council elections, the electoral commission has not announced the final results of the election.

To watch the program, click here:

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The delay in the announcing the result of the provincial council election has added the number of the dissatisfaction over the electoral commissions. But the Deputy of the IEC claimed that the election was successful in the region.

Will the National Unity Government bring reformations in the electoral commissions?

In this episode of Farakhabar, host Yama Siawish discusses the topic with MP Helai Ershad and political analyst Mawalana Farid.

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Tue, 21 Oct 2014 05:55:06 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/16821-farakhabar-20-october-2014
First 100 Days: Kabul Bank Case Deadline Ends http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/16820-first-100-days-kabul-bank-case-deadline-ends

In this episode of the program, host Omid Farooq discusses about the ending of President Ashraf Ghani's deadline for the investigations of the Kabul Bank corruption case with the following guests:

• Raeb Noori, TOLOnews reporter
• Mahmoud Karzai, brother of former President Hamid Karzai
• Shah Hussian Murtazawi, journalist
• Naqibullah Fayeq, MP

To watch the program, click here:

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Tue, 21 Oct 2014 04:22:28 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/16820-first-100-days-kabul-bank-case-deadline-ends
Tawde Khabare: Re-Opening of the Kabul Bank Case http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/16819-tawde-khabare-re-opening-of-the-kabul-bank-case

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Shapoor Bakthyar discusses the re-opening of the Kabul Bank case with the following guests:

• Mohammad Asif Ashna, Aware of the issues relating to corruption
• Amir Khan Yar, MP

To watch the program, click here:

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Tue, 21 Oct 2014 04:11:33 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/16819-tawde-khabare-re-opening-of-the-kabul-bank-case
UPDATE: Four ANA Soldiers Killed in Kabul Blast http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16818-update-four-ana-soldiers-killed-in-kabul-blast

Four Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers were killed and 12 others including three civilians were injured in a blast in Kabul City early Tuesday, local officials said.

The blast took place in Aqa Ali Shams area of district seven of Kabul City, after an ANA vehicle was passing the area and a remote controlled mine that was placed on the road, detonated, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said.

The victims have been taken to a nearby hospital, according to eyewitnesses.

The police have blocked the road to traffic and have started investigations.

In the past three weeks, the Afghan military forces vehicles have been targeted in different parts of Kabul.

"The problem is this that intelligence organizations need to increase their efforts and equipment in searching for mines," deputy spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, Najib Danish said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

To watch the footage, click here:

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Tue, 21 Oct 2014 03:06:46 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16818-update-four-ana-soldiers-killed-in-kabul-blast
TOLOnews 6 pm News 20 October 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16817--tolonews-6-pm-news-20-october-2014 Top news in this Bulletin:

A member of the committee charged with overseeing new ministerial appointments on Monday said that discussions were ongoing regarding who from President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah's respective electoral teams would be tapped for an appointment in the new cabinet.

To watch the whole news bulletin, Click Here:

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 Next week the Afghan Parliament will decide whether or not to completely reject or endorse the Kabul-Washington Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) and Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which will determine whether or not foreign troops have a presence in Afghanistan post-2014

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Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:23:26 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16817--tolonews-6-pm-news-20-october-2014
Guarantors to Face Legal Action if Bank Suspects Don't Show for Court http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16816-guarantors-to-face-legal-action-if-bank-suspects-dont-show-for-court

The Attorney General's office has cautioned that the guarantors of individuals being called to court for questioning in the reopened Kabul Bank case, which include top Afghan government officials and foreign embassies, could face legal repercussions if the suspects they vouched for do not return for the proceedings.

President Ashraf Ghani's decision to immediately tackle Afghanistan's biggest corruption case of the post-Taliban era upon his taking office has been applauded by many who hoped to see the new administration take on corruption issues early on. The move, while encouraging confidence in the new Kabul government, is also being viewed as a major test for Afghanistan's legal and judicial institutions, which have been associated with major corruption problems themselves.

With the case lying in the appellate court, the Attorney General's office has said only seven of the 19 individuals accused of embezzlement have been arrested and are expected to be present in court.

"We are in touch with some of the defendants who were released on bail and are trying to bring them to the court," Attorney General spokesman Basir Azizi said.
"If the guarantors fail to convince them to appear in court, they will face legal actions on the basis of the prevailing laws of the country."

According to investigators, the Ministry of Finance and the Indian Embassy both vouched for individuals accused of involvement in the Kabul Bank case and got them out of jail on bail. But the Kabul Police Department has said at least nine of the accused individuals have fled the country and their arrest is out of their capabilities.

"Police arrested seven of the accused individuals who were in Kabul, but two of them who were guaranteed by the Indian embassy must be dealt with through diplomatic channels, Interpol can arrest them, but not the Kabul police," Police Chief Zahir Zahir said.

The Attorney General's office was the organ charged by Ghani's presidential order with overseeing the reopening of the Kabul bank case, so it is expected to be held accountable for the outcome, adding pressure to make sure there are convictions.

"If the legal and judicial institutions fail to pursue the case, it means that they ignored the presidential order, this would indicate that the legal and judicial organs aren't cooperating," political commentator Mir Ahmad Joyenda told TOLOnews.

President Ghani gave legal authorities until the London Summit expected to start on November 24 to finalize the case. The summit will be an important gathering of the international community in which levels of aid and strategy for Afghanistan will be discussed. The Afghan government, no doubt, hopes a speedy resolution to the Kabul Bank case will inspire confidence among the donor countries that attend the summit.

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Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:55:14 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16816-guarantors-to-face-legal-action-if-bank-suspects-dont-show-for-court
Government Should Prioritize Environmental Issues http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16815-government-should-prioritize-environmental-issues

French Ambassador to Kabul Jean-Michel Marlaud emphasized on the support of his country for making the environment in Afghanistan better, stating that the international community has failed to decrease greenhouse gas in the world.

"Our commitments to support Afghanistan will not end in 2014," Marlaud said. "We have strategic commitments and a vision," adding that he launched a 10 million Euro project on behalf of the French government to improve the environment in Bamyan province last week.

Meanwhile, at a meeting in Kabul on Sunday, a group of people gathered to discuss ways Afghanistan could participate in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in 2015. The participants emphasized on reduction of greenhouse gases around the world.

In response to the recent statements, Kabul Mayor Mohammad Yunus Nawandish said that the city's environment has improved since the past year.

"We have made a lot of efforts to improve the environment in the city," he said. "We have planted about five million trees that we take care of. They have brought great changes to the city."

The Afghan National Environmental Protection Agency has requested that all environmental organizations should come together to come up with effective plans to reduce pollution.

"We should establish green places and reduce garbage and have systems for their management," head of the agency, Ezatullah Sadiqi, said.

Global changes in the world can affect the environment in Afghanistan and vice versa; therefore, active participation in the upcoming summit in Paris is considered very important for the country.

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Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:44:45 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16815-government-should-prioritize-environmental-issues
Parliament to Vote on BSA, SOFA Next Week http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16814-parliament-to-vote-on-bsa-sofa-next-week

Next week the Afghan Parliament will decide whether or not to completely reject or endorse the Kabul-Washington Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) and Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which will determine whether or not foreign troops have a presence in Afghanistan post-2014.

The agreements were sent for review by Parliament's International Relations Committee last Tuesday, and will be looked over by each of the 17 parliamentary commissions. The legislators will not have the authority to bring any changes or amendments to the provisions of the agreement, but instead will only be able to give each one of the deals a simple up or down vote.

"Transcripts of the agreements have been dispatched to international relations commission of parliament by the administrative board and members of the commission have started discussions over the transcript of the pacts," Parliament Secretary Syed Ekram said.

Many MPs have come out in public support of both agreements in lead up to the vote. After the BSA was approved by a Loya Jirga last November, despite former President Hamid Karzai's reservations, Afghan leaders have been very open about their support for the accords.

"Signing the agreements is in the interests of Afghanistan's economic growth and security situation, and we saw the example of that in the Sangin war in which international forces provided air support to the Afghan army against the Taliban," MP Zekriya Zekriya said.

When Karzai was refusing to sign the pacts, Washington warned that in addition to a full troop withdraw, the U.S. and its allies would have no choice but to cut financial support for the Afghan forces if there was no deal in place governing the terms of the partnership in the coming years.

The BSA and SOFA agreements were both signed in Kabul a day after the new government took the charge in the country, after both candidates had committed to finalizing them upon taking office. Afghan National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar signed the agreements with the U.S. and NATO ambassadors.

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Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:24:08 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16814-parliament-to-vote-on-bsa-sofa-next-week
Cabinet Appointment Process Underway http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16812-cabinet-appointment-process-underway

A member of the committee charged with overseeing new ministerial appointments on Monday said that discussions were ongoing regarding who from President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah's respective electoral teams would be tapped for an appointment in the new cabinet.

Alami Balkhi said the full appointment process would likely take a long time, despite the fact that President Ghani set a 45-day deadline back in mid September following his inauguration.

"For preparing a comprehensive list of qualified and effective cabinet members, we need more time as the cabinet is being formed from two electoral teams who used to be rivals," Balkhi said. "Appointments expected from the winning team also need time; you are aware that in the second term of [former] President Hamid Karzai, he announced his cabinet after two months. It is natural for the appointments of qualified individuals to take time."

Balkhi's comments come at time when many Afghan MPs have raised concerns about the conduct of acting ministers, who will be serving in the cabinet until new, permanent appointments are made. Chief among the issues raised by the MPs have been inefficient work and corruption.

"Appointment of ministers must be conducted on the basis of commitments, professionalism, honesty and faithfulness, ministers who are expected to be appointed must not be involved in embezzlement and discrimination...they should be national personalities to revitalize national trust," MP Habiba Danish said.

"The cabinet must be formed as soon as possible, because acting ministers do not show interest in working," Balkh MP Abbas Ibrahimzada said. "Corruption has also increased in the ministries after ministers turned into acting ministers."

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Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:11:37 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16812-cabinet-appointment-process-underway
Daily Decrease in Value of Afghani Compared to USD http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16813--daily-decrease-in-value-of-afghani-compared-to-usd

Reports indicate that the value of the Afghani, the Afghan currency, has decreased compared to the U.S. Dollar (USD).

According to money exchangers at the Shahzada market of Kabul, in the past two weeks, the U.S. dollar supply has decreased to half by the Central Bank, causing a decrease in the value of the Afghani.

"Before Eid, the Central Bank supplied close to $80 million every week, but now the amount has decreased to half," Muhammad Zeerak, spokesman for the Shahzada Market Money Exchangers Union, said.

Meanwhile, officials at the Central Bank have stated the reason behind the decrease in the value of the Afghani are the increase in the country's imports and the decrease in its exports, adding that people's dollar savings have also contributed to decreasing the value of the Afghani.

"We will try to increase the value of Afghani by adding to the amount of USD that we supply to the market every week," Muhammad Eisa Turab, Second Deputy of Central Bank, said.

Meanwhile, a number of economic analysts have said that the decrease in foreign aid, the increase in the country's imports and the decrease in the government's income are among the main factors behind the instability of the country's currency.

"Unless we focus on fundamental solutions, this problem will not end," economy Professor at Kabul University, Taj Muhammad Akbar, said. "It is important to root out the reasons behind the decreasing value of the Afghani. The decrease in government revenue and foreign aid are among those reason."

This is while some recent reports have claimed that the Afghan government is bankrupt and is unable to even pay the salaries of its employees.

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Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:07:32 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16813--daily-decrease-in-value-of-afghani-compared-to-usd
Haqqani Leaders Captured Outside Afghanistan http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16811-haqqani-leaders-captured-outside-afghanistan

Anas Haqqani and Hafiz Rashid, the two leaders of the Haqqani Network that were captured last week, were arrested outside of Afghanistan contrary to previous reports, a high-ranking Afghan security official told TOLOnews on condition of anonymity.

He said the the two men were traveling in the Persian Gulf to visit the brother of Hafiz Rashid, Nabi Omari, who was recently released from Guantanamo Bay prison in exchange for the only U.S. soldier in Taliban captivity. But he denied that U.S. forces had any role in the arrests, in contradiction of claims made by the Taliban last week.

The two senior members of the Haqqani Network were arrested in Bahrain and then sent to Qatar. After Nabi Omari was exchanged for the U.S. soldier, he went to Qatar as well, which is why there was the rumor that the men had been arrested there as well.

Nevertheless, the men have been transferred to Afghanistan and are in the custody of the National Directorate of Security (NDS). They are expected to be questioned and put on trial.

Many experts have used the arrests as an opportunity to highlight Pakistan's role in backing groups like the Haqqani Network, which have been waging terrorist and insurgent warfare in Afghanistan for over a decade.

"It is clear to all that Pakistan always uses these terrorist groups to maintain their interests and they never want such men and members of the groups to be arrested or put on trial," political analyst Maya Gul Wasiq said.

Sources have said that Hafiz Rashid had a Pakistani passport when he was arrested and that a Pakistani government representative tried to arrange for his release from the Afghan security forces. Rashid reportedly wanted to escape to Dubai but he was unable.

"In the United Arabic Emirates, General Shuja Pasha made an effort to release Hafiz Rashid because he had a Pakistani passport," said Ahmad Sayidi, a former Afghan diplomat based in Pakistan. According to security experts, Rashid was the man who would oversee the preparation of suicide bombers bound for Afghanistan.

Anas Haqqani was the youngest son of Jalaludin Haqqani, and after the deaths of his two brothers, he became a central leader of the Haqqani Network. Anas was known to travel in the Gulf in order to collect money for Haqqani fighters.

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Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:05:01 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16811-haqqani-leaders-captured-outside-afghanistan
Lack of Coordination in Afghan Forces Increases Casualties http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16810-lack-of-coordination-in-afghan-forces-increases-casualties

Figures show that the Afghan National Army (ANA) casualties are higher than they have been in the past 12 years.

Experts have named some of the main causes as the security transition from foreign to international forces, the direct support of Pakistani military forces for insurgents and the occasional recklessness of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

Ministry of Defense (MoD) spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimi said that certain mistakes by the ANA have increased the fatalities for the forces.

"Mistakes happen, but negligence should be assessed and those at fault should be held accountable," Azimi said.

Lack of coordination among lower security departments and organization between the ANA and Afghan National Police (ANP) are also considered as causes involved in the rise of casualties on the Afghan side.

Security ministries have acknowledged that there is lack of coordination among the security forces that are in need of improvement.

Ministry of Interior (MoI) spokesman Sediq Sediqqi stated that coordination is good among high-level management, but not at the lower ranks of the forces.

"We need to improve coordination in all levels, especially in low level security forces," he said, adding that as Taliban's war season ends and winter approaches, the ANP and ANA will launch major military operations in different parts of the country to rid them of insurgents.

Reports indicate that an accurate assessment of threats by the security forces and usage of precise intelligence information can substantially decrease ANA casualties.

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Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:48:13 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16810-lack-of-coordination-in-afghan-forces-increases-casualties