RSS Feed Wed, 17 Sep 2014 23:25:46 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev ( Daily Lives Affected by Prolonged Elections

Many people express concerns over the deteriorating living conditions in the past six months, adding that the prolongation of the election process has caused an increase in poverty and unemployment.

The electoral tensions and prolonged disagreements between the candidates have provoked the people's anger.

"They [the politicians] have armored vehicles, money and cement wall houses. They don't care about us. We had some day-to-day work and the election crisis took even that away from us," a laborer named Lajmir said.

Shah Hussain, another manual worker, expressed similar sentiments.

"I don't know what to do. We don't even have money for food. We wait for work from the morning to evening, but find none."

Ghulam Mohammad was a contract laborer who has lost his job and is currently a shoemaker to make ends meet being the only breadwinner of his family.

"Before the election, there was work at companies, but in the past six months, many factories have closed. We cannot even make 100 AFS a day."

Six months into the election process and the final results still remain unclear. The uncertainty has immensely affected businesses and the lives of people all around the country.

Wed, 17 Sep 2014 17:07:55 GMT
MoF Rejects Washington Post's Budget Crisis Claims

The Afghan Ministry of Finance (MoF) on Wednesday called into question claims made in a recent article in The Washington Post, which suggested that the Afghan government was desperately seeking an emergency aid package from its western allies in order to pay its employees salaries next month.

The article, which was published on Tuesday in the U.S. based newspaper, quoted the head of the Treasury Department of the Afghan Ministry of Finance, Alhaj Mohammad Aqa, as saying that Kabul has requested a $537 million "bailout" from the U.S. and other international donors.

According to the story, the Afghan government was barely able to pay the September salary payments for its roughly 500,000 employees nationwide, and it could be unable to cover October's payments if the emergency aid package is not delivered.

However, officials from the MoF on Wednesday maintained that the aid package request is not out of emergency, but rather just to meet the full budget deficit for this year.

Yet the MoF did acknowledge that if the current election stalemate between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai continues, the country could in fact face a real financial crisis. "We are facing many financial issues, but we fear that if the electoral stalemate is prolonged further, the situation could become move severe," MoF spokesman Abdul Qadir Jailani said.

Many experts, politicians as well as everyday citizens have begun to raise concerns about the economic and financial toll the now six month long election process has taken on the country.

On the other hand, some are less inclined to blame the election. MP Hamida Akbari on Wednesday said the MoF was to blame for the budgetary issues, arguing officials at the Ministry had overreached in their budget for this year and that it had been clear there was not enough money to meet the allocations all along.

"The elections are only a pretence, even in the beginning of the year the Ministry was lacking enough money to finance a number of projects that were included in the budget," Akbari said. "We raised the issue several times and questioned the minister about where the money allocated for funding these projects in the budget is."

Wed, 17 Sep 2014 16:50:57 GMT
ANSF Casualties on the Rise

Military analysts name the electoral stalemate, the increase in militant offensives and the lack of sufficient arms and ammunitions as the main reasons for the high rates of casualties among the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

"The main reason is lack of military equipments, change of war tactics and offensives and increasing numbers of foreign militants," military commentator Jawed Kohistani said.

The Minister of Interior Mohammad Umer Daudzai said that over the past six months 1,523 police officers have been killed in blasts and clashes with insurgents. The attacks have also claimed the lives of 800 Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers.

Afghan National Police (ANP) officer, Mustafa, lost his life after he stopped a truck loaded with explosives, saving hundreds of other innocent lives during the elections.

"My son was a champion. He saved the lives of hundreds of people. He was my elder son, my strength. And I lost him," Mustafa's father Colonel Abdul Fatah said.

Mustafa's son Zubair was only 40 days old when he lost his father. His two daughters, Nadia and Wahida, still do not understand why their father has disappeared.

"My father was martyred; they say he will never return," Wahida said innocently.

Over the past six months, at least 2,000 families have experienced tragedies similar to Mustafa's family.

ANSF Families hope that the political tensions will soon come to an end so that more soldiers do not have to bear the consequences of the rising instability.

Wed, 17 Sep 2014 16:14:00 GMT
TOLOnews 6 pm News 17 September 2014 Top news in this bulletin

Winless Simorgh Alborz was knocked out of contention for this year's Roshan Afghan Premier League (RAPL) championship on Wednesday when it suffered a 3-1 loss to Toofan Harirod.

To watch the bulletin, click here:


Military analysts name the electoral stalemate, the increase in militant offensives and the lack of sufficient arms and ammunitions as the main reasons for the high rates of casualties among the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

"The main reason is lack of military equipments, change of war tactics and offensives and increasing numbers of foreign militants," military commentator Jawed Kohistani said.

Wed, 17 Sep 2014 16:05:19 GMT
Simorgh Alborz Falls to Toofan Harirod 3-1

Winless Simorgh Alborz was knocked out of contention for this year's Roshan Afghan Premier League (RAPL) championship on Wednesday when it suffered a 3-1 loss to Toofan Harirod.

The first goal of the game came early in the first half when number 10 for Toofan Harirod, Abdul Rauf Qaderi, received a beautiful pass from Maroof Mohammadi and slotted one away.

Toofan Harirod kept up the pressure on their opponents through the rest of the half. In the 33rd minute, Bashir Ahmad Azdani scored the second goal for the team from the West, ending the first half two goals up on Simorgh Alborz.

After the second half began, in the 58th minutes, Simorgh Alborz's number 15, Farhad Sawgan, was able to notch one for the northern side and bring them within one goal of their opponents.

However, Toofan Harirod did not let up the pressure and eventually Ahmad Fawad Kakar scored the third and final goal for his side to give them the victory.
Abdul Rauf Qaderi was named Man of the Match after the game.

Toofan Harirod will now move into the seminal finals against the winner of Da Spinghar Bazan versus Da Maiwand Atalan scheduled for Friday.
Following Wednesday's game, players and coaches from both sides spoke with TOLOnews.

"I had promised that this year my team would be the champion, but the reason that we were defeated is because several goals were missed," Simorgh Alborz coach Hamidullah Masoodi said.

"This year, Toofan Harirod drew the first game and lost the second match, we played well, but missed several goal opportunities, but our forwards failed to use the opportunities," Toofan Harirod coach Tahir Munawari said.

"We failed to win our matches, the main reason is that there was no technical harmony in Simorgh Alborz, the coach didn't understand the players well and didn't use key players in the match," Simorgh Alborz team captain Munirulhaq Nadeem said.

"I think the only problem for our team was that we were unlucky during the match, however we everything we could to get the victory," Toofan Harirod player Hamidullah Karimi said.

The next RAPL match is scheduled for Thursday between Da Abasin Sape and Mawjhai Amu.

Wed, 17 Sep 2014 15:50:02 GMT
Parliament Summons Security Ministers

Parliament summoned the Minister of Defense and Minister of Interior on Wednesday in order to question them about the current national security situation, which has appeared increasingly unstable in recent months, as well as about reoccurring issues along the border with Pakistan.

This year's fighting season has seen more aggressive and large-scale ground offensives by the Taliban in various parts of the country than in past years.

Moreover, Kabul has been hit by a series of high-profile attacks that have fueled anxieties already peaked by the tumultuous presidential election process that has dragged on for over five months.

During the parliamentary session on Wednesday, the Ministers were subjected to an intense cross-examination by representatives. Many of the MPs seemed to have already formed opinions regarding the causes of the recent surge in insecurity.

Mir Dad Khan Nejrabi, the head of Parliament's Commission for Internal Security, asked the Ministers, "aren't the stoppage of nighttime military operations, prisoner releases and the lack of ISAF air support the main reason that casualties have increased among our security forces?"

Over the past two months, government initiated prisoner releases have been a hot-button issue, particularly among critics of President Hamid Karzai, who has released thousands of suspected militants over the past couple years. There have been reports around the country of former prisoners rejoining the Taliban and continuing to fight against security forces.

However, the Ministers on Wednesday suggested the involvement of Pakistani intelligence in supporting insurgent activities was a more pressing concern.

"Pakistan's military, intelligence services and other groups such as Lashkar-e-Tayyeba support the Taliban and help them in war against our forces," Minister of Interior Mohammad Umer Daudzai said.

Nevertheless, the Ministers were quick to assure the MPs that such designs would not be allowed to get the better of the Afghan government. "Those who exist behind the war and support the instability of Afghanistan have imagined that the servile Taliban and criminals will get control of Afghanistan, but the Taliban have failed to occupy even a small piece of this land," said Minister of Defense Bismillah Mohammadi.

The top security officials also claimed that decreased support from NATO forces, which are drawing down ahead of the end of their combat mission in December, has emboldened the Taliban and made it more difficult for the security forces to hold them back.

Although coalition forces have taken an increasingly hands-off approach to counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan over the past two years, that shift was accelerated this year in part due to worsening relations between President Karzai and Washington. In the spring, Karzai ordered Afghan forces to stop requesting foreign air support and to refrain from using heavy weaponry against the Taliban, a move that garnered heavy criticism.

But Minister Daudzai defended the order on Wednesday, saying that Karzai's order was made in order to try and protect innocent civilians and prevent collateral damage from clashes with militants. He also said that nighttime operations would be conducted by Afghan forces, despite rumors to the contrary.

The frustration of the MPs was obvious during the questioning session. At one point, MP Ramazan Bashardost interrupted the Minister of Defense and accused him of working for the Taliban.

"You are a spokesman of the Taliban leader Mullah Omar," Bashardost yelled down from the top of the assembly room.

Minister Mohammadi responded in kind, accusing Bashardost of being a spy. "We are standing against the invasion of the enemy, but Bashardost, you are a spy...a spy...a spy of the foreigners," he said.

Bashardost was escorted out of Parliament, but other MPs did not hide their distress about the exchange. "We all know Bashardost, he always insults others, but we also say approach of the minister was unacceptable, to call a representative of the people a spy," MP Sadeqi Nelizada said.

Once the assembly room was calmed, Minister Daudzai spoke to the MPs concerns about released prisoners rejoining the Taliban. Daudzai downplayed the threat posed by the prisoners, but acknowledged that some of them rejoin militants after being freed.

"It is certain that some of these crazy cowards who were released from jail reenter the battlefield and have started fighting against our security forces," Daudzai said.

Regarding recent revelations of a Pakistani effort to dig a massive ditch along the border with Afghanistan prompted MPs to question the Ministers specifically about their planned response.

"In response to the question about why we don't attack directly is that the ditch has been excavated away from the border, if we attack on that place, it means that we are involved in a war with another country, then it is the job of the government to conduct high level talks," Daudzai said. He went on to say that they should go to the United Nations with their complaints about Pakistan's activity along the disputed Durand Line.

But MP Shukria Barakzai said the time for negotiations through the UN had past. "It is too late now to complain about the issue of the Durand Line to the UN."

Wed, 17 Sep 2014 14:24:39 GMT
If a Crisis Emerges IEC is Responsible: Bakhtiyari

Mohammad Aziz Bakhtiyari, a member of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), is concerned that if the commission announces final results the chance of a crisis may emerge for the nation.

Bakhtiyari warned that if final results are announced and the country does go into a crisis, the IEC and the people behind the fraud will be held responsible.

"Those who create problems for the nation will be held responsible," he said pointing toward the election commission. "The IEC and institutions involved in the fraudulent acts will be held accountable."

The works of the IEC have ended and are now awaiting the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) to finalize their decision on the registered complaints and invalidation of ballots passed on by the IEC. Once concluded the electoral commissions have announced that the final results will be publicized.

"The commission's technical work is completed and details of the outcome have been sent to the ECC," Ahmad Jawid Habibi, acting IEC secretariat, said. "As of now, we are waiting for ECC's final decision."

When the audit process was concluded, IEC announced that votes from 1,124 polling stations were invalidated.

IEC has not mentioned the exact number of votes that were invalidated, but according to reports more than 800,000 votes have been voided, which according to the IEC will not bring significant changes to the final results.

ECC is said to finalize their decision by the end of this week.

Wed, 17 Sep 2014 14:02:54 GMT
Female Journalist Killed in Balkh Province

Female journalist Palwasha Tokhi, who worked for Bayan, a local radio in northern Balkh province, was killed inside her home on Tuesday evening.

Tokhi had just returned to Afghanistan after completing her master's degree in Thailand two months ago.

According to Palwasha's father, Mohammad Khalil Tokhi, she was stabbed by unknown men who broke into their house when he was not home. She lost her life at a hospital in Mazar-e-Sharif.

"I don't know the reason behind this incident. We don't have any personal enmity with anyone," he added.

The Northern Journalist Association in Mazar-e-Sharif has strongly condemned the incident.

"We are deeply saddened by the murder of Palwasha Tokhi who worked for Bayan radio for five years," Gulab Shah Bawar, head of Northern Journalists Association in Mazar-e-Sharif, said.

Palwasha is the second journalist killed in Mazar-e-Sharif in the past two months. No one has been arrested in relation to either case yet.

Wed, 17 Sep 2014 10:51:30 GMT
FARAKHABAR: 16 September 2014

A suicide attack on a foreign troops convoy in Kabul early Tuesday morning killed three foreign soldiers and injured 21 Afghan civilians.

The attack came just after the National Directorate of Security (NDS) deputy, minister of interior, and minister of defense were summoned in the Senate over the increasing insurgent attacks in the recent months.

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

Shah Hussain Murtazawi, Journalist

Nazari Paryani, Journalist

To watch the program, click here:


Wed, 17 Sep 2014 08:04:45 GMT
8pm Program: Review of the Afghan Foreign Policy Toward Pakistan

Has Afghanistan had a clear strategy and policy towards Pakistan in the past thirteen years?

In this episode, host Omid Farooq discusses the issue with the following guests:

Jawed Ludin, Deputy Foreign Minister

Haroon Mir, Political analyst

Dr. Amin Habibi, International relations analyst

To watch the program, click here:


Wed, 17 Sep 2014 08:01:33 GMT
TAWDE KHABARE: Democracy in Afghanistan

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Zabiullah Sadaat discuses why the main concepts of democracy are not defined in Afghanistan, with the following guests:

Lal Gul Lal, Head of Human Rights Organization

Helai Arshad, Head of the Religious and Cultural
Committee of the Parliament

Ghulam Hussan Gran, Civic issues analyst

Baqi Samandar, Civil society activist

To watch the program, click here:


Wed, 17 Sep 2014 07:46:38 GMT
Obama: Ebola Crisis 'Spiraling out of Control'

President Barack Obama issued a global call to action to fight West Africa's Ebola epidemic, warning the deadly outbreak was unprecedented and "spiraling out of control," threatening hundreds of thousands of people.

Speaking as he unveiled a major new US initiative which will see 3,000 US military personnel deployed to West Africa to combat the growing health crisis, Obama said the outbreak was spreading "exponentially."

"Here's the hard truth. In West Africa, Ebola is now an epidemic of the likes that we have not seen before," Obama said.

"It's spiraling out of control. It is getting worse. It's spreading faster and exponentially. Today, thousands of people in West Africa are infected. That number could rapidly grow to tens of thousands.

"And if the outbreak is not stopped now, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people infected with profound political and economic and security implications for all of us."

As well as the military deployment, the US will also set up a command and control center in the capital of Liberia, the hardest-hit country, build new treatment centers and train health workers.

Precise timing on deployment was still unclear.

"No deployment in the coming days. The troops have to be properly trained and equipped," a Pentagon official said privately. Among the US soldiers sent to West Africa will be doctors and also engineers to set up the field hospitals, the official said.

Meanwhile, the United States moved to fund these plans.

Specifically, the Department of Defense plans to ask Wednesday to have reprogrammed "an additional $500 million in Fiscal Year 2014 Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to fight Ebola," an administration official said.

This is separate from the funds already put toward the effort, including the $175 million already dedicated, and the $88 million requested through a continuing resolution.

The Ebola epidemic has killed more than 2,400 people in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone this year.

The virus can fell its victims within days, causing severe fever and muscle pain, weakness, vomiting and diarrhea -- in some cases shutting down organs and causing unstoppable bleeding.

No licenced vaccine or treatment exists.

- Security Council action -

The United Nations Security Council is poised to adopt a resolution on Thursday exhorting countries to provide more field hospitals and urgent aid to the crisis-stricken region.

Likely passage of the resolution marks only the third time that the Security Council will vote on a public health crisis after resolutions on AIDS in 2000 and 2011.

"This has gone beyond health issues," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said.

"It has gone to areas affecting social and economic situations. It may even affect political stability if not properly contained and treated."

The United Nations said nearly one billion dollars would be needed to beat back the worst-ever outbreak of the disease, which is on track to infect 20,000 people by the end of the year.

The world body has set a goal of stopping the spread of Ebola within six to nine months but aid agencies are complaining that help has been too slow.

Ban is planning a "high-level event" on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly next week to draw attention to the crisis.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos told reporters in Geneva the Ebola crisis faced a "huge funding challenge."

The capacity of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia to provide even the most basic necessities is "on the brink of collapse," she warned.

The United Nations said the response to the crisis would require $987.8 million (763 million euros), with about half needed for Liberia.

- World 'needs to do more' -

The World Bank meanwhile approved a $105 million grant, part of a $200 million pledge made in early August aimed at helping people cope with the economic impact of the crisis and strengthening public health systems.

"The world needs to do much, much more to respond to the Ebola crisis in these three countries," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement.

The UN said if the international community and affected countries respond swiftly and energetically, transmission should begin to slow by the end of the year and halt by mid-2015.

"The level of surge we need to do is unprecedented. It is massive," the United Nations' Ebola coordinator David Nabarro told reporters.

China will send a 59-person mobile laboratory team from its Centre for Disease Control to Sierra Leone, including epidemiologists, clinicians and nurses -- bringing the number of Chinese medics in the country to 174, the WHO said.

The EU, Britain, France and Cuba have also pledged to send medical teams and other aid to the region.

But this is far from enough, warned Joanne Liu, head of the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) charity.

Noting that the known Ebola toll "represents only a fraction of the real number," she stressed that "the ground response remains totally and lethally inadequate."
"The window of opportunity to contain this outbreak is closing," she warned.

Wed, 17 Sep 2014 06:58:45 GMT
Roadside Blast Kills Two Civilians in Helmand

At least two civilians were killed and three others were wounded in a roadside blast in Helmand province on Tuesday, local officials said on Wednesday.

The incident occurred in Musa Qala district when a roadside mine hit a civilian vehicle, District Governor Mohammad Sharif said.

"Among the injured civilians were two women and a child; they were all from the same family," Sharif added.

The victims have been taken to a nearby hospital.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

Wed, 17 Sep 2014 06:41:18 GMT
Taliban Burn Down Civilian Homes in Kunar

Taliban insurgents burned downed six civilian houses in Kunar province on Tuesday night, local officials said on Wednesday.

According to the provincial Police Chief Abdul Habib Sayedkhili, the Taliban ambushed local police outposts in Marwara district of the province two days ago, starting a clash with the local police in which seven insurgents were killed.

The Taliban retaliated with torching civilian houses on fire in the district.

The Taliban have threatened to burn other houses too and because of these threats 154 families have fled their homes.

The insurgent group has not yet commented about the attack.

Wed, 17 Sep 2014 06:04:31 GMT
TOLOnews 6 pm News 16 September 2014

After weeks of negotiations, the camps of the presidential candidates remain in disagreement on two central issues to resolving their dispute over this year's election. Nevertheless, on Tuesday, both teams met and appeared relatively optimistic about the possibility of their reaching a satisfying conclusion soon.

To watch the bulletin, click here:


With the vote auditing and invalidation processes all wrapped up, pressure on the two presidential candidates to come to an agreement and end the election stalemate has mounted over the past week. Although they have restarted negotiations, including meets with President Hamid Karzai as well as U.S. officials, no progress has been made on two key points of contention between the sides.

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:12:45 GMT
Afghan Energy Watchdog Reports Steep Drop in Extraction Revenues

The Afghan Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (AEITI) has released a report arguing that the revenues from Afghanistan's resource extraction industries over the past five years have plummeted from 286 million AFS to three million AFS.

The AEITI report also suggests there have been major differences between the facts and figures regarding revenues reported by the Afghan government and those documented by independent organizations over the years.

"One of the main problems that we found and failed to settle is that one of Afghan companies in 2008 deposited seven million AFS into a government account as customs duty for importing equipments for mines extraction in Afghanistan, but there is no record in the company, the company has lost its record, but it is kept by the government," AEITI head Mirwais Sarah said, providing an example of the kind unstandardized systems and documentation that trouble the resource extraction industry in Afghanistan.

Officials at the Ministry of Finance (MoF), from which AEITI was created in 2009, have said that the lack of clear policy and protocol when it comes to mining, in particular, has caused major problems. "We still have no special or clear policy for mining; major companies invest, but we don't have a clear policy," Deputy Minister of Finance for Customs and Revenues Gul Maqsood Sabet said.

However, the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP) has defended the transparency of the government's contracts system. "So far, all contracts - whether small or large - have been published and they have been available for all," Deputy Minister of Mines and Petroleum for Policy and Programs Mir Ahmad Jawed Sadat said.

AEITI officials have said the primary issues facing the Afghan resource extraction sector is the lack of standardized policy and protocol, accountability and transparency. They have argued these are the major causes for the differences in government-reported revenues and real revenues.

AEITI was originally established to ensure the transparency and monitoring of revenues collected from the mining sectors. They have published three reports, and the most recent one was put together in coordination with an Azerbaijani company known as Moor Stephens.

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:11:32 GMT
"A Man and A Motorcycle, How Hamid Karzai Came to Power"

"A Man and a Motorcycle, How Hamid Karzai Came to Power" is a new book written by Dutch author Bette Dam about Karzai's life and his journey to becoming the president of Afghanistan.

Dam's interest in Afghanistan has inspired her to write this book. The author has stated that writing the book has helped her better understand Afghanistan as well as Karzai's character.

"Karzai is under a lot of pressure from the west as well as key domestic players. He is more in touch with the internal figures than the west," she said. "He is under pressure from influential figures outside his cabinet as well."

Dam has stated that while writing the book, she came to the conclusion that President Karzai has his own special ways and strategies of handling various situations.

"When we saw him in western media, he seemed like a very moderate, highly-educated, democrat. We thought the only thing he wanted was an American style democracy. But when I started researching, I found that Hamid Karzai is much more like an Afghan from Kandahar, someone who has always been in contact with Afghan players, someone who knows how to make deals and how work with tribes. He is very experienced," Dam added.

The book was written in two years after interviews with 150 key figures, close to the Afghan president not only in Afghanistan, but also in Pakistan, the U.S. and some European countries.

Written in 230 pages, the book was first released in September 2014.

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:05:01 GMT
Campaigns Stay Hopeful Despite Disagreements

After weeks of negotiations, the camps of the presidential candidates remain in disagreement on two central issues to resolving their dispute over this year’s election. Nevertheless, on Tuesday, both teams met and appeared relatively optimistic about the possibility of their reaching a satisfying conclusion soon.

With the vote auditing and invalidation processes all wrapped up, pressure on the two presidential candidates to come to an agreement and end the election stalemate has mounted over the past week. Although they have restarted negotiations, including meets with President Hamid Karzai as well as U.S. officials, no progress has been made on two key points of contention between the sides.

According to the campaigns, the distribution of power between the president and the chief executive along with the manner in which the election results will be announced remain the issues unreconciled. The Abdullah Abdullah team has argued for the chief executive to serve as the Chairman of the Council of Ministers while Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and his supporters maintain such a move would be unconstitutional.

Still, despite their differences, both campaigns have presented an air of confidence that there will be an agreement soon.

“The negotiations were conducted between the candidates in a friendly and trusting spirit, but still there are some disputed points that haven’t been settled and an agreement hasn’t been made on them,” Ghani spokesman Faizullah Zaki said on Tuesday.

While not as positive about the prospects of a deal on the near horizon as their opponents seemed to be, the Abdullah camp on Tuesday said they remain hopeful and simply await their opponents consent to their “joint declaration”.

“Given the experience that we had with the previous talks between the candidates, we can’t be very optimistic about the outcome of the talks, but overall, we are hopeful,” Abdullah spokesman Mujiburrahman Rahimi said. “The negotiations will bear results once the Change and Continuity team signs the joint declaration.”

Meanwhile, the ripple effects of this year’s protracted and uncertain election process are continuing to be felt by Afghans of all walks of life. In addition to economic concerns, recently security officials have also voiced concerns about the impact the stalemate is having on counterinsurgency efforts nationwide. The past month and half have seen increasingly bold and aggressive moves by the Taliban and other groups.

The Minister of Defense Bismillah Mohammadi on Tuesday called on the candidates to reach an agreement as soon as possible. “Unfortunately, the election process is prolonged, but we are hopeful that they will reach an agreement, because I have heard some good news and I hope that they can reach an agreement and the problems of the public are resolved,” he said.

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:01:31 GMT
Deadliest Year for the ANSF: Mohammadi

According to the Minister of Defense Bismillah Mohammadi, Minister of Interior Umer Daudzai and the National Directorate of Security (NDS) Deputy Hasamuddin Hassam, who were summoned to the Senate on Tuesday, the current year has been the deadliest for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

The officials stated that in the past six months, Taliban insurgents have conducted about 700 offensives in different parts of the country with the cooperation of their foreign and domestic counterparts.

"This year has been the deadliest year in the past 13 years. The Taliban have conducted 691 offensives this year with the cooperation of their domestic and foreign counterparts," Minister of Defense Bismillah Mohammadi said. "We had the cooperation of the NATO forces in the past; but we fought alone this year."

Minister of Interior Umer Daudzai stated that this year's war was led by foreign Taliban.

"There were many foreign Taliban this year; they were not speaking Dari or Pashto [Afghanistan's official languages]; they were speaking Urdu [Pakistan's official language]," Daudzai said.

Daudzai stated that in the first six months of the year, 955 civilians 1,523 police officers were killed and another 2,394 civilians and 2,506 police officers were injured.

The Taliban, too, have suffered from casualties. In the last six months, 5,503 Taliban insurgents have been killed and another 2,370 have been wounded.

The ANSF tackles the unprecedented rates of insurgent attacks as the forces get ready to take on the full security responsibility after the foreign troops withdraw from the country at the end of the current year.

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 15:11:48 GMT
National Cricket Team Heads to South Korea for Asian Olympics

The Afghan National Cricket Team left Kabul for South Korea on Tuesday to participate in the 2014 Asian Olympics.

There are 12 cricket players, two coaches and two observers who are currently on their way to South Korea. Twenty other players from the national cricket team are in Australia partaking in friendly matches and training with other teams from around the world for the 2015 Cricket World Cup.

Hamid Hassan, player for the national team, said that the team is "very strong this year and are hopeful for a victorious tour in South Korea." He added that three other team members, including the captain of the team, Nabi Essakhail, will join them from Australia.

"We lost in the last round to Bangladesh and won silver medals, but this time we will aim to bring the cup to Afghanistan," Shirzad Mohammad, another player on the team, said.

In the semi-finals of the Asian Olympic games, Afghanistan will face the team placed first in the second group.

The Asian Olympics are held every four years. In 2010 Afghanistan placed second, coming home with silver medals.

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:10:02 GMT
Afghan Soldier Kills ISAF Trainer in Herat

In a recent green on blue attack in Herat on Monday, an Afghan soldier shot an International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) trainer dead, injuring another trainer and an interpreter, local officials said on Tuesday.

The incident took place in a foreign military base in the 207 Zafar Army Corps, the commander of 207 Zafar Army Corps, Taj Mohammad Zahid said, adding that the shooter was also killed during the fire exchange.

"The soldier had no link with the Taliban insurgents. He had psychological problems," he said. "Investigations are underway."

The ISAF, in a statement, has confirmed the death of one of their soldiers in western Afghanistan, but nor provided details about the soldier's nationality.

"We can confirm one ISAF member died as a result of an individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform turning his weapon against ISAF members in western Afghanistan yesterday. Currently, Afghan officials and ISAF are reviewing the incident," the statement read.

"ISAF continues to train, advice and assist the ANSF, and does not view these incidents as representative of the positive relationship between our forces."

This is while three other ISAF soldiers were killed in a suicide attack on Kabul's airport road early Tuesday morning after a suicide bomber detonated himself near the Supreme Court.

The death toll of foreign troops in Afghanistan has reached 64 this year.

There are about 50,000 foreign, mostly U.S., forces in Afghanistan.

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 09:28:00 GMT
TAWDE KHABARE: Afghan Govt. Concern Over Pakistan's Tribal Areas

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Shapoor Bakhtyar discusses the Afghan government's concerns over the potential threat Pakistan's tribal areas could pose to Afghan security after the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, with the following guests:‎

• Atiqullah Amarkhil, Military analyst
• Zahir Sadaat, MP
• Kamal Nasir Osuli, MP
• Khalid Pashton, MP

To watch the program, click here:


Tue, 16 Sep 2014 07:56:32 GMT
8pm Program: Punjabi Taliban to Increase Insurgency in Afghanistan

In this episode, host Omid Farooq discusses the implications of the Punjabi Taliban's assertions about increasing insurgency in Afghanistan with the following guests:

• Wali Aria, Analyst
• Alami Balkhi, Member of Afghanistan's Ulema Council
• Shikeeba Hashimi, MP
• Mirza Mohammad, Military analyst

To watch the program, click here:


Tue, 16 Sep 2014 07:37:46 GMT
FARAKHABAR: 15 September 2014

Pakistan's Punjabi Taliban recently announced that they will shift their focus to Afghanistan and fight the enemies of Islam on the Afghan soil.

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Punjabi Taliban Chief Ismatullah Muawiya announced that the group would no longer carry out insurgent activities on Pakistan's soil, instead will guide the focuses of all Pakistani and Afghan Taliban on Afghanistan.

"After talking to the tribal elders, we have decided to focus on the enemies of Islam in Afghanistan," Muawiya asserted. "From now on, the Punjabi Taliban will focus their attacks on Afghanistan."

What are the reasons behind Muawiya's assertions?

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

• Jawid Kohistani, Political analyst
• Sharifi Balkhabi, MP


Tue, 16 Sep 2014 07:08:29 GMT
UPDATE: ISAF Troops Killed in Kabul Suicide Attack

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in a statement said that three soldiers were killed in a suicide attack on Kabul's airport road early Tuesday morning.

"We can confirm three ISAF members died as a result of an enemy attack in Kabul today. Currently, Afghan officials and ISAF are reviewing the incident," the statement read.

ISAF did not provide the nationality of the soldiers.

"It is ISAF policy to defer casualty identification procedures to the relevant national authorities," the statement added.

According to Kabul police, 21 civilians were injured in the attack.

Afghan security forces immediately responded to the attack and arrived on the scene minutes after the attack.

"The attack took place near the Supreme Court on Kabul's airport road when a suicide bomber detonated himself," said Senior Deputy Minister of Interior Affairs, Gen. Ayoub Salangi.

At least one vehicle from the foreign convoy was destroyed by the blast, which was near a military base known as Kabul Compound.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.

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Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:02:29 GMT
Suicide Bomber Attacks Torkham Customs

Two suicide bombers attacked Torkham customs in eastern Nangarhar province on Monday evening lighting 26 fuel tankers on fire, local officials said.

The attack took place after one of the suicide bombers detonated his explosives near the fuel tankers of foreign troops, while the second suicide attacker was shot dead by the security forces, border police officials said.

Heavy rounds of gun fires were exchanged between the Afghan security forces and the insurgents, according to eyewitnesses.

Officials said the clash ended after an hour with no civilian or security forces fatalities.

The Taliban insurgents have claimed responsibility for the attack.

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 03:26:55 GMT
President Karzai Meets With Candidates Monday

The two presidential candidates met with President Hamid Karzai Monday night to discuss the new terms of their power-sharing arrangement that have been negotiated over the past couple of weeks.

According to a press release from the Presidential Palace, the meeting between the candidates and Karzai went well, and both men were said to have reaffirmed their commitments to resolving their differences and reaching an agreement soon. The press release said Karzai' vice-presidents were also in attendance. 

Before the sit-down at the Palace, however, the Abdullah Abdullah campaign asserted that a key dispute over whether or not the Chief Executive position would be in charge of the Council of Ministers had been put to rest. The Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai campaign has reported something different.

Both teams have confirmed that the candidates have discussed a new plan for the national unity government they agreed to form back in August following meetings with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. According to Abdullah's camp, the two campaigns have agreed that the Chief Executive will serve as the Chairman of the Council of Ministers.

"An agreement has been made on one of the disputed points regarding whether the Chief Executive will also serve as Chairman of Council of Ministers," Abdullah spokesman Syed Aqa Fazel Sancharaki said Monday.

Meanwhile, the Ghani campaign has maintained that the elected president will serve as head of government and Chairman of the Council of Ministers. "The presidential order will certify the job descriptions of the Chief Executive and his vices and the elected president will be head of the government and Chairman of Council of Ministers," Ghani spokesman Faizullah Zaki said on Monday.

Although the two sides have been in contention over the issue of the Chief Executive for weeks, it remains unclear why, now, after negotiations reached an impasse that they would report such different stories about the outcome of their talks.

Both campaigns confirmed that they remain at odds over the final results of the election and the manner in which either camp will participate in the formation of the national unity government.

In addition to Karzai's expected meeting on Monday, the United Nations, the U.S. and other allies have played a huge role in mediating the negotiations and trying to move them forward.

"We are studying the new plan submitted by our U.S. friends, both candidates are meeting at the moment and candidates will have a meeting with President Karzai this evening," Zaki said.

According to Sancharaki, Abdullah has taken a stance against the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announcing the election results. IEC officials last week said that they would release the results in a week's time regardless of where the candidates' negotiations stand.

Many Afghans have grown tired of the election process, and have said the uncertainty surrounding it has caused businesses to take a hit.

Mohammad Zahir is a street seller and has felt the hurt of the tumultuous election process in his day-to-day life. "We do not have good business these days, our economy is declining, we ask the candidates to reach an agreement soon, because people are tired," he told TOLOnews.
The election process has now dragged on for six months.

Mon, 15 Sep 2014 15:19:37 GMT
Afghan Team Starts Asian Games With Loss to Bangladesh

The Under-23 Afghan National Football team lost 1-0 to Bangladesh in its first match of the Asian Games on Monday.

Despite being heavily favored coming into the tournament, which is being hosted in South Korea, the Afghan side was unable to beat their Bangladeshi opponents after going scoreless in the first half and then conceding one late in the second.

In just the 7th minute of the game, Afghan player Faisal Shayesta passed the ball to Amruddin Sharifi right in front of the Bangladeshi goal, but Sharifi's shot went wide.

Both teams played fairly calm during the first half, though Afghanistan had a clear dominance when it came to possession of the ball.

It wasn't until the 83rd minute when the Bangladeshi captain, Mohammad Mamunul Islam, netted one for his team. Afterward, the Afghan team launched continuous attacks on their opponents' goal, but was unable to get a point.

After the game, Afghan officials spent time trying to diagnose exactly what went wrong.

"We had tactical problems, there were more individual game problems than group ones, the same problem that we had in the national team in the past," said Yousuf Kargar, the Technical Deputy of the Afghan Football Federation (AFF). "The offensive line had its problems," he added.

"The Under-23 players do not have the coordination required," said Said Ali Kazemi, the head of the AFF's Youth Committee. "I think one of the reasons that the Afghan team lost was the lack of coordination."

The main question on viewers' minds, meanwhile, will likely have to do with the attire of the players during the game. The team did not play dressed in their usual uniforms.

"This was not our problem; the airline could not get the uniforms there on time," Kargar said. "When we found out about it, we contacted the airline who could not fly from New Delhi due to protests that resulted in the airport to close."

According to Kargar, if they are still unable to get the uniforms by the next game that a contingency plan is in place.

Afghanistan shares a group at the Asian Games with Bangladesh, Hong Kong and Uzbekistan. Their next match will be against Hong Kong.

Mon, 15 Sep 2014 15:00:07 GMT
Appeals Court Upholds Death Penalty for Five of Paghman Gang Rape

An appellate court in Kabul on Monday upheld death penalty sentences for five individuals convicted of gang raping four women in the Paghman district of the capital. The other two men were given 20-year prison sentences each, overturning the initial court's decision to put all seven to death.

The head of the Kabul appellate court, Sediqullah Haqiq, attributed the decision to alter the sentences of two of the criminals to a lack of evidence against them. The decision comes just eight days after a primary court in Kabul convicted the seven men in a case that has received nationwide attention.

Three more criminals, known as Mukhtar, Faizullah and Maiwand, have been tied to the incident by investigators, but remain on the run.

During the appeals process, when court was in open session, the prosecutor Shamsurrahman Azizi was given the opportunity to read out eyewitness testimony and the confessions of the seven men.

"Azizullah [one of the criminals] in his confession has accepted that on the same night, he alongside his collaborators, after stealing the jewels, committed gang rape against four women," Azizi said.

The victims were not present in the court session, but a number of eye witnesses who had been robbed by this particular gang before spoke.

"The same guy, Azizullah, a month before the Paghman incident entered my house and took my mobile and pistol," one man named Syed Sher Aqa testified.

The defense attorneys, who were appointed by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), did not try to refute the claims made against the seven men as much as they did highlight the improper methods used by investigators and biased coverage in the media. They said the gang members were tortured, and that footage of them was broadcasted in the media before they had been convicted.

"Footage of my defendants was shown in the media before the court decision and this is against the law," defense lawyer Najibullah said.

Later, the judge asked the criminals to respond to the claims made against them, but all they really did was criticize the way they have been treated by the police and media.

"They beat us at the police headquarters, we have bruises all over our body, and we are wounded," one of the men said. "Our faces have been disclosed in the media, how can we return to our families?"

The five men who were given the death penalty are known as Qari, Nazar, Mohammad, Samiullah and Qaisullah. The two who had their sentences knocked down to 20 years in jail are named Saifullah and Jamil.

The criminals were also found guilty of a number of other crimes in addition to rape, including robbery and kidnapping. Two of the men had been recently released from Kabul Pul-e-Charkhi jail.

The gang stopped four cars on Qargha-Paghman road the night of August 22, robbed the occupants and kidnapped four women who they then raped.

Mon, 15 Sep 2014 14:50:54 GMT
TOLOnews 6 pm News 15 September 2014 Top news in this bulletin:

On Monday, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced that the votes of 1,028 polling sites have been invalidated throughout the 100 percent vote audit process.

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 Provincial Governor of Kunar, Shuja Malek Jalal, has asserted that Pakistan's missile attacks on the province are obvious infringements of international law and should face serious responses. About 6,018 missiles have been fired on Kunar from Pakistan since the middle of March this year.

Mon, 15 Sep 2014 14:37:47 GMT