TOLOnews.com RSS Feed http://tolonews.com/ Sat, 25 Oct 2014 06:57:21 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev (info@mypapit.net) Ghani Leaves Kabul for Saudi Arabia to Perform Umrah http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16870-ghani-leaves-kabul-for-saudi-arabia-to-perform-umrah

President Asharf Ghani has left Kabul for Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah and to meet with Saudi officials, the president's office said in a statement on Saturday.

President Ghani will meet the Saudi King and other officials to discuss the two countries' relations and the role of Saudi Arabia in the peace process, according to the statement.

First VP Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, First Deputy of Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, Mohammad Khan, Ghani's Special Envoy for Reform and Better Governance Ahmad Zia Massoud, National Security Council Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Acting Minister or Interior Mohammad Umer Daudzai and few other Afghan officials will follow the president in his first trip abroad.

During the election campaigns, Ghani had promised to make his first foreign trip to Saudi Arabia to perform Umra Hajj.

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Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:54:28 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16870-ghani-leaves-kabul-for-saudi-arabia-to-perform-umrah
State of Emergency in Sinai After Bomb Kills 30 Egypt Soldiers http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16869-state-of-emergency-in-sinai-after-bomb-kills-30-egypt-soldiers

Egypt declared a three-month state of emergency would begin Saturday in the north and centre of the Sinai Peninsula after a suicide car bombing killed 30 soldiers.

The bombing on Friday was carried out by a suspected jihadist who rammed a checkpoint with his explosives-packed vehicle, security officials said.

The emergency measures will begin Saturday at 0300 GMT "for a duration of three months", the presidency said in a statement in the wake of the deadliest attack on the security forces since the army deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last year.

The decision was also taken to close the Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip, the only route into the Palestinian territory not controlled by Israel.

"The army and the police will take all necessary measures to tackle the dangers of terrorism and its financing, to preserve the security of the region... and protect the lives of citizens," the presidential decree said.

The attack, in an agricultural area northwest of El-Arish, the main town in north Sinai, killed at least 30 soldiers and left 29 others injured, medics said.

A senior army official and five officers were said to be among those wounded.

Gunmen also shot dead an officer and wounded two soldiers on Friday at another checkpoint south of El-Arish, security officials said.

Jihadists in the peninsula have killed scores of policemen and soldiers since Morsi's overthrow to avenge a bloody police crackdown on his supporters.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the army chief who toppled Morsi and later won elections, has pledged to eradicate the militants.

- Three days of national mourning -

After Friday's attack, Sisi announced three days of national mourning and summoned a meeting of the national defence council -- the country's highest security body -- to discuss the killings, his office said.

The European Union and United States both condemned the attack.

"The United States continues to support the Egyptian government's efforts to counter the threat of terrorism in Egypt as part of our commitments to the strategic partnership between our two countries," the State Department said.

"We regret the loss of life and express our deepest condolences to the families of the victims," an EU spokesman said.

It was the latest in a string of bloody attacks against security forces in Egypt.

In August 2013, just weeks after the army ousted Morsi, 25 soldiers were killed in the Sinai when gunmen opened fire at two buses transporting troops with automatic rifles and rocket launchers.

In July this year, 22 border guards were killed in the western desert near the border with Libya.

Militants killed 17 policemen in two bombings in the Sinai later the same month and released footage of the attacks.

Those bombings were claimed by Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the most active militant group in Egypt.

From the desert and mountainous Sinai, which borders the Gaza Strip and Israel, the attacks have also extended to the capital and the Nile Delta to the north.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis tried to assassinate the interior minister in Cairo last year with a car bomb.

The group has expressed support for Islamic State (IS) group jihadists in Iraq and Syria, although it has not formally pledged its allegiance.

The military has said it killed at least 22 militants in October, including an Ansar Beit al-Maqdis commander.

The group itself has acknowledged the arrest or deaths of militants, but the army has been unable so far to crush them despite a massive operation in which it has deployed attack helicopters and tanks.

- Deadly crackdown -

The latest bombing came after an Egyptian military court sentenced to death seven members of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis on Tuesday for carrying out deadly attacks on the army.

Since Morsi's ouster, more than 1,400 of his supporters have been killed in a crackdown by the authorities.

Over 15,000 others have been jailed, including Morsi and the top leadership of his Muslim Brotherhood, and more than 200 sentenced to death in speedy trials.

The authorities have also dissolved the Brotherhood's political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, since Sisi became Egypt's second democratically elected president following a landslide victory in a May vote.

The secular April 6 movement, which led the 2011 revolution that ousted president Hosni Mubarak, has also been banned, prompting activists to charge that Egypt was heading to a worse autocracy than under the longtime ruler.

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Sat, 25 Oct 2014 03:28:39 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16869-state-of-emergency-in-sinai-after-bomb-kills-30-egypt-soldiers
First 100 Days: President Ghani's Meeting With Residents of Helmand http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/16868-first-100-days-president-ghanis-meeting-with-residents-of-helmand

In this episode of the program, host Fawad Aman discusses President Ashraf Ghani's meeting at the Presidential Palace with a number of residents of the southern Helmand province over security issues in the province, with the following guests:

• Aazem Arash, TOLOnews reporter
• Mohammad Sediq Patman, political analyst
• Fardin Hashimi, University professor
• Nabi Musadiq, Political analyst
• Nazir Paryani, Journalist

To watch the program, click here:

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Sat, 25 Oct 2014 03:03:56 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/16868-first-100-days-president-ghanis-meeting-with-residents-of-helmand
TAWDE KHABARE: Public Trust in Afghanistan's Legal and Judicial Institutions http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/16867-tawde-khabare-public-trust-in-afghanistans-legal-and-judicial-institutions

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Zabi Sadaat discusses the level of public trust in Afghanistan's legal and judicial institutions, with the following guests:

• Belqis Roshan, Senator
• Mohammad Hassan Haqyar, Political Analyst
• Mohammad Hashim, Member of the Lawyers Union of Afghanistan

To watch the program, click here:

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Sat, 25 Oct 2014 02:40:24 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/16867-tawde-khabare-public-trust-in-afghanistans-legal-and-judicial-institutions
TOLOnews 6pm News 24 October 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16866-tolonews-6pm-news-24-october-2014 Top news in this Bulletin:

A number of residents and local officials of Nawzad district of southern Helmand province on Friday raised apprehensions on the possibility of the district's collapse and takeover by the Taliban.
"It's no secret that the security situation is really bad," District Governor Sayed Murad Sadaat said. "We only have control over the official district building and some small areas."

To watch the whole news bulletin, Click Here:

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President Ashraf Ghani took the first anti-corruption initiative by ordering the reopening of the infamous Kabul Bank corruption case, asking the attorney general's office to retransfer all of the embezzled money within 45 days of the presidential order. With only two weeks left until the deadline, the case remains inconclusive as some of the main people involved continue to be on the run.

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Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:06:03 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16866-tolonews-6pm-news-24-october-2014
IEC to Announce Provincial Council Results Saturday http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16865-iec-to-announce-provincial-council-results-saturday

After more than six months, the Provincial Council election process is expected to come to an end on Saturday when officials from the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announce the results.

"Today we are reviewing the work that was done and tomorrow we will announce the result without any delay," IEC Commissioner Sarir Ahmad Barmak said on Friday.

While there was less public pressure on the election commissions to bring the provincial council elections to a close promptly than there was in the case of the presidential race, many question remain surrounding the numerous delays the provincial contest faced.

"There were technical issues and the Electoral Complaints Commission submitted final decisions that did not match our system, so later a joint commission of both the IEC and ECC solved the issues," Barmak said.

But it is doubtful the IEC and the ECC will be able to win back the public trust they lost during this year's process without first going through an overhaul of reform.

"As the electoral bodies continue to exaggerate, I have lost trust in them and am doubtful about the announcement of the final results of provincial council elections," Provincial Council candidate Nida Kaihan told TOLOnews.

Questions initially arose about the integrity of the election commissions and their potential involvement in fraud during the first round of voting this year. Those questions intensified, and turned more toward accusations, as the election process continued, and allegations of fraud derailed and prolonged the presidential contest between Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah.

"I don't trust the statements of the electoral bodies anymore, because we waited for so long," said Rahimullah Mujahid, another Provincial Council candidate.

The national unity government that emerged out of the presidential race made commitments to electoral reform, particularly within the commission, but as of yet, no significant steps have been taken.

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Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:57:32 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16865-iec-to-announce-provincial-council-results-saturday
NUG Under Pressure to Fulfill Electoral Reform Commitments http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16864-nug-under-pressure-to-fulfill-electoral-reform-commitments

A number of election monitoring groups have criticized the national unity government (NUG), saying that the power-sharing agreement made between Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah included promises for major reforms in the electoral system that have not been honored.

When the national unity government was formed, bringing the election standoff to an end, Chief Executive Abdullah pledged that fundamental changes would be made to the election commissions and the electoral system more broadly to ensure smoother and more trustworthy elections in the future. This commitment was included in the written agreement the candidates signed.

"In order to ensure that future elections of Afghanistan are conducted properly, the Afghan electoral institutions need fundamental changes," the national unity government agreement reads. "The President, with consideration of Article 7 of the political framework and the establishment of the national unity government, will issue an order creating a special commission for reforming the elections institutions."

But after 26 days, the new coalition government has failed to take any steps to reform the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC).

"Despite that the people and security forces made history, people's trust was damaged in the process; the recent survey conducted by ACSOR reveals that 65 percent of people will not participate in elections and that is a serious problem," said Zekirya Barakzai, the head of Afghanistan Democracy Watch. "I think the government must seriously work at brining necessary reforms to the electoral bodies as it has prioritized formation of the new cabinet."

Since assuming office, the national unity government has already taken major steps in a number of critical areas, including an attempt to put to rest the longstanding Kabul Bank corruption case and bring reform to Afghanistan's troubled judiciary. Negotiating the appointments for the new cabinet has, of course, received considerable attention as well.

Yet, like the Afghan judiciary, many say the electoral bodies have lost the public's trust. This year's process saw widespread fraud and constant delays on the part of the election commissions. The second top election official, Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhail, even resigned his post in the middle of the election crisis amid allegations of fraud. All together, the drama around the election was said to have contributed to worsening economic and security conditions across the country.

Chief Executive Abdullah assured a group of tribal elders in Kabul over ten days ago that the necessary reforms would be brought to the election commissions. But whether those changes will come soon enough, at least before the next parliamentary elections, remains to be seen.

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Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:53:51 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16864-nug-under-pressure-to-fulfill-electoral-reform-commitments
New Govt. Should Take Fight Against Corruption Serious: Marlaud http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16863-new-govt-should-take-fight-against-corruption-serious-marlaud

In an exclusive interview with TOLOnews, French Ambassador to Kabul Mr. Jean-Michel Marlaud warned that if the new Afghan government does not take the fight against corruption seriously, foreign aid might be cut off. He emphasized on the French government's commitment to help Afghanistan in the fight.

"The fight against corruption, I think, is a necessity for donors, but more than anything for the Afghans themselves," Marlaud said. "First, because one of the danger with corruption is that one day the donors might say, well, we also have our own economic problems we also have poor people in our countries why we should continue to pay for Afghanistan if the money is used by corrupt people."

The French ambassador stressed that anti-corruption initiatives should be on the government's priority list, adding that the London Summit will be an opportunity for the new government to share its priorities with the international community.

"It is money which is supposed to be used for social projects, hospitals, schools, for economic development. So the victims are not so much the foreign donors, the victims are the Afghan themselves."

Additionally, Marlaud stressed on the importance of the fight against drugs, hinting at the high numbers of drug addicts in Afghanistan.

"Opium is also an important subject," he said. "The victims of opium and the victims of heroin are not so much the French people or the foreigners, they are basically the Afghans themselves."

The National Unity Government is expected to announce the list of its priorities and programs at the London Summit next month. Analysts believe that the country's appearance at the summit will be significant for its relationship with the international community.

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Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:32:55 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16863-new-govt-should-take-fight-against-corruption-serious-marlaud
Kabul Bank Case Remains Inconclusive http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16862-kabul-bank-case-remains-inconclusive

President Ashraf Ghani took the first anti-corruption initiative by ordering the reopening of the infamous Kabul Bank corruption case, asking the attorney general's office to retransfer all of the embezzled money within 45 days of the presidential order. With only two weeks left until the deadline, the case remains inconclusive as some of the main people involved continue to be on the run.

Nearly $913 million was embezzled from the bank, of which only $226 million has been reclaimed.

"Regaining $226 million of the total embezzled money is a major achievement," spokesman to the attorney general Basir Azizi said. "The Kabul bank case has been completed and the attorney general awaits the decision of the appellate court," he added, stressing however, that the main people involved in the case have taken refuge abroad.

Meanwhile, a number of MPs have warned that if the total amount of the embezzled money is not reclaimed, the new government's credibility will be harmed.

"The president shouldn't have put the reassessment of the case among his top priorities. The case needs more time," MP Fatima Aziz said. "Now if the government fails to follow through with the promises regarding the case, it will lose its credibility before people and the international community."

MP Ramazan Juma Zada added that the full retransfer of the embezzled money is a major challenge and if the government wasn't successful "its credibility will be tarnished."

The attorney general's office has stated that those involved in the case could possibility return to the country in a week with the help of the Interpol.

As efforts to return the fugitives to the country continue, the international community and the people of Afghanistan impatiently await how the new government's first anti-corruption initiative would conclude.

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Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:11:24 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16862-kabul-bank-case-remains-inconclusive
Five Civilians Killed in Taliban Attack in Nangarhar http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16861-five-civilians-killed-in-taliban-attack-in-nangarhar

At least five civilians were killed and two others--children-- were wounded in a Taliban attack on a civilian vehicle early Friday in eastern Nangarhar province, officials reported.

Confirming the incident, Ahmad Zia Abdulzai spokesman to the governor stated that the attack occurred early morning in Khogyani district.

The incident stirred the anger of local residents as well as provincials council members.

"Innocent people are being brutally killed in Khoghyani," Nangarhar provincial council member Zabiullah Zamarai said. "We ask president to stop these killings."

Local resident Mohammad Asif asked the government to "prioritize the security of citizens."

The news comes while clashes between the Taliban and local Afghan forces continue in Sangin and Nawzad districts of southern Helmand province.

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Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:29:56 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16861-five-civilians-killed-in-taliban-attack-in-nangarhar
Nawzad District on the Verge of Collapse http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16860-nawzad-district-on-the-verge-of-collapse

A number of residents and local officials of Nawzad district of southern Helmand province on Friday raised apprehensions on the possibility of the district's collapse and takeover by the Taliban.

"It's no secret that the security situation is really bad," District Governor Sayed Murad Sadaat said. "We only have control over the official district building and some small areas."

They stress that if the government does not deploy additional troops to the district, the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) will lose the control. News of the deteriorating security in Nawzad comes as clashes between insurgents and the ANSF continue in Sangin district of Helmand as well.

Reports indicate that the infrastructure in the district has not developed much in the past 13 years; many residents are unemployed and live in poverty.

"We don't have security. We face danger every day when we leave our houses," Lal Gul one of the district residents said.

Another resident Mohammad raised concerns over unemployment, adding that "all schools are closed to children because the Taliban have captured all areas."

Residents have stated that if the government does not resolve the security issues shortly, they will have to flee their homes and take refuge in other provinces.

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Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:18:05 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16860-nawzad-district-on-the-verge-of-collapse
China Launches First Mission to Moon and Back http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16859-china-launches-first-mission-to-moon-and-back

China launched its first space mission to the moon and back early Friday, authorities said, the latest step forward for Beijing's ambitious programme to one day land a Chinese citizen on the Earth's only natural satellite.

The unnamed, unmanned probe will travel to the moon, fly around it and head back to Earth, re-entering the atmosphere and landing, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) said in a statement.

"The first stage of the first return journey test in China's moon probe programme has been successful," it said after the launch, from the Xichang space base in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

The module will be 413,000 kilometres from Earth at its furthest point on the eight-day mission, it added.

The official Xinhua news agency said it would re-enter the atmosphere at 11.2 kilometres per second (25,000 mph) before slowing down -- a process that generates extremely high temperatures -- and landing in northern China's Inner Mongolia region.

The mission is intended to test technology to be used in the Chang'e-5, China's fourth lunar probe, which aims to gather samples from the moon's surface and will be launched around 2017, SASTIND said previously.

Beijing sees its multi-billion-dollar space programme as a marker of its rising global stature and mounting technical expertise, as well as evidence of the ruling Communist Party's success in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-stricken nation.

The military-run project has plans for a permanent orbiting station by 2020 and eventually to send a human to the moon.

China currently has a rover, the Jade Rabbit, on the surface of the moon.

The craft, launched as part of the Chang'e-3 lunar mission late last year, has been declared a success by Chinese authorities, although it has been beset by mechanical troubles.

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Fri, 24 Oct 2014 07:44:24 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16859-china-launches-first-mission-to-moon-and-back
First 100 Days: Indian National Security Advisor Visit to Kabul and Meeting with President Ghani http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/16858-first-100-days-indian-national-security-advisor-visit-to-kabul-and-meeting-with-president-ghani

Indian National Security Advisor visited Kabul and met with President Ghani, Chief Executive Officer and Afghan National Security Advisor and discussed creation of joint working groups for implementation of 2011 strategic agreement between India and Afghanistan.

Host Omid Farooq discusses the issue with the following guests:

Jafar Mahdawi, University Professor

Ikram Andeshmand Political Analyst

Sayed Ikram Afzali Director of Afghanistan Integrity Watch

Qasem Rahmani Legal Advisor to Nai

To watch the program, click here:

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Fri, 24 Oct 2014 06:10:18 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/16858-first-100-days-indian-national-security-advisor-visit-to-kabul-and-meeting-with-president-ghani
TAWDE KHABARE: Absence of Accurate Trade Figures Between Afghanistan and Neighboring Countries http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/16857-tawde-khabare-absence-of-accurate-trade-figures-between-afghanistan-and-neighboring-countries

Figures provided by the Ministry of Commerce and Industries for trade between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, has a difference of $1 billion and $730 million dollars figure provided by the Chamber of Commerce and Industries of Balkh province.

On the other hand, figures provided by the Central Statistics Office are different from what is provided by the Ministry of Commerce and Industries and Balkh Chamber of Commerce and Industries.

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Shapoor Bakthyar discusses the topic with the following guests:

Muzamel Shinwari Commercial Deputy at the Ministery of Trade

Mir Zaman Popal Director Industrial Development, Chamber of Commerce

Haseebullah Mohed Deputy Director of Central Statistics Office

Abdul Satar Sarhal Director of Balkh Customs

To watch the program, click here:

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Fri, 24 Oct 2014 04:09:54 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/16857-tawde-khabare-absence-of-accurate-trade-figures-between-afghanistan-and-neighboring-countries
Afghanistan Prepares for Heart of Asia Summit Next Week http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16856-afghanistan-prepares-for-heart-of-asia-summit-next-week

Ambassadors from various regional countries gathered in Kabul on Thursday to review Afghanistan's draft declaration for the 14th "Heart of Asia" summit expected to be held in Beijing over the course of two days next week.

The declaration, and the summit more broadly, will seek to bring regional countries together for better economic and trade relations and greater cooperation on security issues. President Ashraf Ghani plans to attend the summit, which will make it his first trip abroad since taking office.

The meeting in Kabul on Thursday was chaired by Hekmat Khali Karzai, a special representative of President Ghani."Today's meeting, after the ambassadorial meeting on the 14th of October, is a working session to discuss the content of the revised draft for the 14th ministerial conference," Hekmat Karzai said. "Today's meeting is an important step in completing the task related to the Beijing declaration."

Chinese and Afghan relations have remained relatively subdued over the past decade, with Beijing largely steering clear of Afghanistan and its security problems. However, Chinese companies have expressed considerable interest in Afghanistan's mining sector. Experts hope that the summit next week will provide the opportunity for Ghani to work on strengthening ties between the two countries.

"We are ready to have your valuable input and feedback about the latest version of the declaration drafted by Afghanistan, which was circulated by the Regional Cooperation Department of the Afghanistan Foreign Ministry," Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan Deng Xijun said.

The "Heart of Asia" includes Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates.

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Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:53:37 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16856-afghanistan-prepares-for-heart-of-asia-summit-next-week
TOLOnews 6pm News 23 October 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16855--tolonews-6pm-news-23-october-2014 Top news in this bulletin

The Afghan judicial system was thrown under the spotlight this week. Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdul Salam Azimi had his resignation accepted by President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday and a new survey by Gallup indicates only 25 percent of Afghans trust the country's judiciary.

To watch the whole news bulletin, Click Here:

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Vice President Sarwar Danish spoke at a meeting on Thursday in Kabul, praising the performance of former Vice President Karim Khalili.

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Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:13:30 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/16855--tolonews-6pm-news-23-october-2014
Analysts Want Ghani to Seek Out China's Help on Pakistan, Taliban http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16853-analysts-want-ghani-to-seek-out-chinas-help-on-pakistan-taliban

President Ashraf Ghani should seek out help from China and other countries at the Heart of Asia conference in Beijing next week to pressure Pakistan into being an honest partner for peace with the Taliban, analysts say.

On his first trip abroad since taking office, President Ghani will travel to China for the Heart of Asia conference where he is expected to push for stronger economic and security ties between Kabul and Beijing. One of the chief issues experts have encouraged the president and his delegation to focus on is leveraging China, a close ally of Pakistan, for support in the Taliban peace process.

Since the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) and Status of Troops Agreement (SOFA), it has been presumed that western nations would continue their commitments to Afghanistan when it comes to the fight against the Taliban. However, in the long term, experts know that any sustainable solution lies in the cooperation of regional countries, particularly fellow muslim ones, and most especially Pakistan.

"Afghanistan needs the cooperation of regional and world countries, but unfortunately a number of Islamic countries don't have a clear understanding of the situation in Afghanistan and even show hesitation toward the Afghan government and contracts between Afghanistan and other countries," university lecturer Tahir Hashimi told TOLOnews.

Pakistan has long been the subject of suspicion and derision inside Afghanistan in result of the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) and military's involvement in supporting the Taliban and its associates for fighting inside Afghanistan. But, now that it has become a major beneficiary of economic ties with China, many hope Kabul can get China to put pressure on Islamabad.

"There is no doubt, China is a key ally to Pakistan and could put pressure on Pakistan to honestly contribute in the peace talks," said Mohammad Ismail Qasimyar, the Afghan High Peace Council's advisor for international affairs.
Still, others believe that while China has plenty to offer Afghanistan economically, it is the U.S. that is needed in restoring peace. "We can't ignore this issue, it is a fact that China is a key ally to Pakistan, it could support us economically, but western countries, particularly the U.S., can do more for the peace restoration process in the country," political commentator Jawed Kohistani said.

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Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:55:10 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16853-analysts-want-ghani-to-seek-out-chinas-help-on-pakistan-taliban
New Political Will Pushes Attorney General Into Action http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16852-new-political-will-pushes-attorney-general-into-action

In response to a recent surge in activity by the Attorney General's office, including the re-prosecution of the infamous Kabul Bank corruption case, commentators have said that there is a new political will fueling the country's top legal authority that was lacking for before.

The Attorney General's office has quickly emerged as a key tool for the new administration of President Ashraf Ghani, which has strived to take a firm and high-profile stance against corruption in his first month in office. On the basis of a presidential order, the Attorney General has arrested major suspects in the Kabul Bank case and launched cases against a number of government ministers who served under President Hamid Karzai and are suspected of different forms of malfeasance, including embezzlement.

"Until today, the main thing that had undermined progress in the work of the legal and judicial institutions and the attorney general was in fact the lack of political will and differentiation between the jobs of the three branches of the government and meddling of officials in work of these institutions," MP Shukria Barakzai told TOLOnews on Thursday. "But there is political will to combat corruption and there are no more interferences like existed in the past for the legal and judicial institutions."

On Thursday, Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdul Salam Azimi resigned from his post amid controversy surrounding corruption in the Afghan judiciary. But beyond Kabul, the season of change has crept in. Over the past week, the Attorney General in Khost province arrested the acting mayor of Khost, the deputy head of the Provincial Council and a member of the Khost Provincial Education Department on charges of corruption.

Political expediency was often thought to be the rational for keeping the Attorney General at bay, and not letting the office loose on the many government officials - on the provincial and national level - suspected to be involved in corruption and other illegal activities. But since taking office, the Ghani administration has made corruption and reforming the legal and judicial system a top priority.

"We are optimistic that the present administration will reassess the issue of negligence and deficiencies in the legal and judicial institutions, particularly in the Attorney General's office and the courts in Afghanistan," civil society activist Aziz Rafaee said.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General's office has sought to assure the public of its integrity and independence. "There hasn't been any sort of pressure in our organ, the attorney general has never endorsed any kind of political expediency and pressure and executes its duties on the basis of the prevailing laws of the country," Attorney General spokesman Basir Azizi said. "The Attorney General is a completely independent institution."

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Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:45:38 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16852-new-political-will-pushes-attorney-general-into-action
Survey Says 25 Percent of Afghans Don't Trust the Courts http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16850-survey-says-25-percent-of-afghans-dont-trust-the-courts

The Afghan judicial system was thrown under the spotlight this week. Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdul Salam Azimi had his resignation accepted by President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday and a new survey by Gallup indicates only 25 percent of Afghans trust the country's judiciary.

Although President Ghani made a clear stance in favor of judicial reform just weeks into his presidency, given the recent Gallup survey, it would seem he will face a major uphill battle in convincing Afghans to put trust in the courts again.

The Gallup survey found that 69 percent of respondents, out 1,000 people phone interviewed, said they do not trust the judiciary. And based on that figure, Afghanistan has the second lowest level of trust in the judiciary in the world, with Taiwan being just a little worse off.

But the Afghan Attorney General's office has rejected the survey and maintained that it is not reflective of the truth. "If these surveys are realistic, at least 50 percent of our people would have trusted us, because there are people who accept us and there are people who do not like us," spokesman Basir Azizi said.

According to legal experts, corruption and even just the presence of it has caused people to become disaffected when it comes to the Afghan judicial system. In many parts of the country, people no longer turn to the state judiciary for adjudication and resolution of disputes. Instead, some are said to look to the Taliban's makeshift courts for justice.

The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has said that the main problem is law is not implemented consistently or evenly. "Our people expect judicial institutions to work better, so that the people can stop referring to the Taliban courts," said Rafiullah Bedar, a Public Relations Official from AIHRC.

Although Chief Justice Azimi's resignation is sure to be seen as a sign that the Ghani administration is serious about reform, it will likely take much more than a high-profile figure stepping down in Kabul to win back the trust of Afghans around the country who face local corruption and malpractice day-to-day.

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Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:43:04 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16850-survey-says-25-percent-of-afghans-dont-trust-the-courts
Kabul Bank Case, Major Challenge for Ghani Administration http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16849-kabul-bank-case-major-challenge-for-ghani-administration

Economic analysts praise President Ashraf Ghani's firm commitment to re-open the investigation of the Kabul Bank case of fraud and embezzlement., stressing, however, that setting a strict deadline could undermine proper assessments. The case is expected to be finalized in three weeks.

"The president's order to re-open the Kabul Bank case is a a great achievement. I am sure he has the capability to resolve the case. But the deadline could undermine just assessments," university lecturer Ustad Masoud said.

Analysts stress that the government must prove Afghanistan's ability to handle the case, as the international community's remains wary of its competency.

"The new government faces a major challenge: the Kabul Bank case. It must be reinvestigated and resolved; otherwise, Afghanistan can not have any expectations from the international community," civil society advocate Mir Ahmad Yoyenda said. "The case should be one of the president's priorities in the fight against corruption."

Ten days ago, President Ghaniassigned Ministry of Finance (MoF), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and the attorney general's office to establish contacts through diplomatic channels with the representatives of the concerned countries to ensure the transfer of Kabul Bank money and to freeze the bank's assets abroad. However, no further developments have been made thus far.

"Even though the president issued a decree, I don't think hat the case will be reassessed according to the timeline or bear any positive outcomes. We are more concerned about the money than the arrest of the criminals," political commentator Ahmad Saeedi said.

The Kabul Bank bankruptcy case is among one of the top corruption cases in the country. President Ghani had ordered the attorney general's office to arrest those allegedly involved in the case and assigned the Supreme Court to issue the final order about the case in 45 days. Only two of the criminals have been detained so far; seven others will be arrested in the upcoming days while another seventeen are on the run.

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Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:18:55 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16849-kabul-bank-case-major-challenge-for-ghani-administration
Ghani Approves Resignation of Chief of Justice http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16848-president-ghani-signs-chief-of-justice-resignation-letter

President Ashraf Ghani signed and approved the resignation letter of Supreme Chief Justice Abdul Salam Azimi on Thursday.

According to the Presidential Palace, Azimi submitted his resignation letter few days ago.

No one has been introduced for the position yet.

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Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:03:51 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16848-president-ghani-signs-chief-of-justice-resignation-letter
10 Insurgents Killed in Badakhshan Operation http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16847-10-insurgents-killed-in-badakhshan-operation-

At least 10 Taliban insurgents were killed and three others were detained on Wednesday in an operation by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in Badakhshan province.

According to  Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, spokesman to the provincial police chief, the operation was conducted in Darayim district. Officials have no reported about any casualties on the Afghan side.

The Taliban have yet to comment about the operation.

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Thu, 23 Oct 2014 07:58:21 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16847-10-insurgents-killed-in-badakhshan-operation-
Danish Praises Khalili's Performance http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16846-danish-praises-khalils-performance

Vice President Sarwar Danish spoke at a meeting on Thursday in Kabul, praising the performance of former Vice President Karim Khalili.

"Former VP Karim Khalili did his job in the most rational and moderate manner," he said. "Khalili was patient in dealing with societal problems. His performance symbolizes wise leadership and we would appreciate his assistance and advice in all areas of governance."

Danish praised Khalili for speaking up against injustice and corruption, stressing that, "the new government, too, is committed to fight against corruption, injustice and political and economical mafia,"

Khalili, who was also at the event, thanked the event organizers as well as VP Danish for his comments regarding his performance.

"I was at your service will be at your service," he said. "I will not hesitate to offer all my support," adding that the day of the political transition was "a day of celebration" for him.

"Transfer of political power from one president to another was a source of pride for our nation."

Moreover, Khalili welcomed the preliminary steps taken by the National Unity Government for elimination of corruption in the country. He stressed that there are serious issues in the government in need of prompt action.

"The initial steps taken by president Ashraf Ghani to end injustice and corruption have been very effective," Khalili added, emphasized that since there is no opposition in the National Unity Government, the leadership should be able to tackle tensions and uncertainties more effectively.

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Thu, 23 Oct 2014 07:44:32 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16846-danish-praises-khalils-performance
FARAKHABAR: 22 October 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/16845-farakhabar-22-october-2014

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has stated that despite an expenditure of more than seven billion dollars to fight drugs in Afghanistan, opium production has increased in the country.

SIGAR asserted that Afghanistan remains the world's largest source of drugs, adding that drug trade is one of the main causes of corruption in the state institutions as well as being one of the main sources of funding for the Taliban.

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Shapoor Bakthyar discusses the topic with the following guests:

Abrahim Azhar, Deputy Minister of Counter-narcotic

Hashim Wahdat Yar, Spokesman for the United Nations Program of Fight against Drugs and Crime

Nilofar Ibrahimi, MP

Mohammad Naeem Lalai Hamidzai, MP

To watch the program, click here:

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Thu, 23 Oct 2014 05:56:54 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/16845-farakhabar-22-october-2014
TAWDE KHABARE: Increase of Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/16844-tawde-khabare-increase-of-poppy-cultivation-in-afghanistan

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has stated that despite an expenditure of more than seven billion dollars to fight drugs in Afghanistan, opium production has increased in the country.

SIGAR asserted that Afghanistan remains the world's largest source of drugs, adding that drug trade is one of the main causes of corruption in the state institutions as well as being one of the main sources of funding for the Taliban.

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Shapoor Bakthyar discusses the topic with the following guests:

Abrahim Azhar, Deputy Minister of Counter-narcotic

Hashim Wahdat Yar, Spokesman for the United Nations Program of Fight against Drugs and Crime

Nilofar Ibrahimi, MP

Mohammad Naeem Lalai Hamidzai, MP

To watch the program, click here:

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Thu, 23 Oct 2014 05:43:08 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/tawde-khabare/16844-tawde-khabare-increase-of-poppy-cultivation-in-afghanistan
Obama Invites Ghani and Abdullah to Visit U.S http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16843-obama-invites-ghani-and-abdullah-to-visit-us

On a videoconference on Wednesday night, United States President Barack Obama invited Afghan President Dr. Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah to visit the U.S early next year.

According to a White House statement, Obama, Ghani and Abdullah have talked about strengthening Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), the U.S. continued support for the Afghan-led peace process, financial terms of budget, and long-term vision for Afghanistan.

The U.S, president reiterated Washington's long-term support to Afghanistan, asking the Afghan government to work toward achieving reform and maintaining good governance . Washington stressed that the international community's support for Afghanistan depends on The country's commitment to serious reforms and anti-corruption initiatives.

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Thu, 23 Oct 2014 03:23:06 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/16843-obama-invites-ghani-and-abdullah-to-visit-us
Canada Soldier, Gunman Dead in Ottawa Parliament Attack http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/16842-canada-soldier-gunman-dead-in-ottawa-parliament-attack

Gunfire echoed through the Gothic halls of the Canadian parliament Wednesday as police shot dead a gunman who had killed a soldier guarding a nearby war memorial before storming the building.Police said an investigation was continuing, but did not confirm earlier reports that more gunmen were involved. Heavily armed officers backed by armored vehicles sealed off the building.

There was no immediate word on the gunman's motivation, but the attack came a day after an alleged Islamist drove over and killed another soldier in what authorities branded a terrorist attack.

Authorities had raised the security threat level from low to medium after the car attack, which came as Canadian jets were to join the US-led air armada bombarding Islamist militants in Iraq.

"One shooting victim succumbed to injuries. He was a member of the Canadian forces. Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones," the Ottawa Police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.

"One male suspect has also been confirmed as deceased," they said, in a joint statement, calling on witnesses to come forward and for residents to stay clear of Ottawa's downtown area.

Lawmakers, staff and reporters evacuated from the building spoke of intense gunfire in the historic building on Parliament Hill.

Video footage posted online by the Globe and Mail newspaper showed police ducking for cover as they advanced along a stone hallway, loud gunfire echoing among parliament's stone columns.

- 'Pop, pop, pop' -

A member of parliament, Maurice Vellacott, told AFP that House of Commons security had told one of his aides that the suspect had been killed inside parliament.

"I literally had just taken off my jacket to go into caucus. I hear this 'pop, pop, pop,' possibly 10 shots, don't really know," Liberal Party member John McKay told reporters outside.

"Suddenly the security guards come rushing down the hallways and usher us all out to the back of the parliament buildings," he said, as lawmakers, staff and reporters scurried from the area.

Witnesses at the scene said they saw a man armed with a rifle running into parliament after shooting a guard at the war memorial.

Passers-by told reporters that a bearded man had gunned down the soldier and hijacked a passing vehicle to take him the short distance to Parliament Hill, on a bluff over the Ottawa River.

One witness, parliamentary aide Marc-Andre Viau, said he saw a man run into a caucus meeting at the parliament, chased by police armed with rifles who yelled "take cover."

That was followed by "10, 15, maybe 20 shots," possibly from an automatic weapon, he said.

"I'm shaken," said Viau.

Police raced to seal off the parliament building and the office of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, pushing reporters and bystanders further back and blocking roads with squad cars.

Harper -- who was attending a meeting with lawmakers at the time -- left the area of the shooting and was "safe," his spokesman Jason MacDonald said.
- Jihadist sympathies -

In Canada's southern neighbor the United States, the White House said President Barack Obama had been briefed on the situation and an official said US and Canadian air defenses were on alert.

The US embassy in Ottawa was placed on lockdown.

The incident came a day after 25-year-old Martin Couture-Rouleau ran over a soldier, killing him before being shot dead by police as he emerged from his wrecked car wielding a knife.

The government branded this a terrorist attack by a suspected Islamist, amid reports that Couture-Rouleau was a supporter of the so-called Islamic State, a jihadist group operating in Iraq and Syria.

If the driver's alleged jihadist sympathies are confirmed, it would be Canada's first-ever Islamist attack, although authorities have warned they are tracking 90 suspected extremists in the country.

The heightened threat level "means that intelligence has indicated that an individual or group within Canada or abroad has the intent and capability to commit an act of terrorism," the Public Safety Ministry said.

Outside parliament, police were seen taking cover behind vehicles, as others expanded a cordoned off area to a city block around parliament.

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Thu, 23 Oct 2014 03:04:08 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/16842-canada-soldier-gunman-dead-in-ottawa-parliament-attack
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.

To watch the bulletin, click here:

{youtube}X6z7tWZoNDA{/youtube}

 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