RSS Feed Sat, 30 May 2015 20:10:00 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev ( TOLOnews 6pm News 30 May 2015 Top news in this Bulletin:

Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) on Saturday amended the national health law in order to standardize medical treatment in Afghanistan. The amendments by the Wolesi Jirga will now enable government hospitals and health centers to invoke a fee system for patients seeking treatment in specialized medical departments.

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 In a confidential letter to Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, President Ashraf Ghani has set out a list of demands in terms of bridging the neighboring divide and ending extremism in the region – with the primary focus being on Afghanistan's security. Ghani's letter, of which TOLOnews has a copy, calls for: "An official declaration by the political leadership of Pakistan condemning the launching of the Talban offensive, operation; a directive by the military leadership that sanctuary will be denied to the Taliban and effective measures by the security forces and civil authorities that the directive is carried out."

Sat, 30 May 2015 15:54:11 GMT
AGO Slaps Travel Ban On Six Officials From Urban Development Ministry

The Attorney General's Office (AGO) has announced a travel ban for all six officials of the Ministry of Urban Development who were recently suspended by President Ashraf Ghani over alleged massive corruption.

AGO officials told TOLOnews that it has assigned a team of investigators to probe the case, which is believed to be the largest corruption scandal in Afghanistan's history.

In a meeting with the concerned ministry officials on Thursday night, Ghani ordered suspension of six ministry officials on the charges of corruption and instructed AGO to begin investigations.

Ahmad Shah Hemat, the head of the central housing department; Mohammad Amin, the head of the real estate and accommodations department; Ahmad Nawaz Bakhtyari, the head of the housing enterprise department; Gul Rahim Zyarmal, the head of planning and project manager for the 5th Macrorayan; Sayed Amanullah Sadat, the head of the finance department; and Mohammad Amin Qane, the head of the apartments and rentals department were the six officials suspended on corruption charges.

"As per the instruction of the President and decision of the Attorney General's Office, all six suspects have been banned from travelling and their positions have been suspended. We have sent letters to intelligence agencies, border police and the Kabul Police headquarters," acting attorney general Noor Habib Jalal said in an interview with TOLOnews.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that besides these six officials, there are more high-ranking government officials involved in the case.

According to the reports, the money embezzled in the ministry projects have been invested in neighboring countries, especially Iran.

AGO officials, however, stated that the allegations would be clarified once the investigations are completed.

"We have assigned a team of three investigators. We will probably get a result until the end of this week," Jalal said.

Head of finance and budget commission of the Parliament, Sadeqi Zada Neeli, appreciated Ghani's decision in this respect but stressed the need for transparency in AGO investigations.

He called on the government to find out other government departments and ministries where secretive corruptions take place.

Neeli emphasized on transparent investigation of the case and demanded the government to not restrict its investigations only to the concerned ministry but assess the other ministries as well.

But the economists and financial auditors stress the need for finding the real elements behind these scandals.

"Those who have provided grounds for these embezzlements should also be arrested and brought to justice," economic expert Abdul Jabbar Safi said.

The six alleged corrupt officials are accused of taking bribes in exchange allotting houses, providing apartments to high-ranking government officials and constructing low-standard apartments.

Sat, 30 May 2015 14:34:27 GMT
Outcry Over Closure Of Hospital’s Main Entrance

The closure of the main entrance of the Kabul Police Hospital has sparked an outcry as ambulances carrying injured soldiers are forced to use the long rutted route around the back of the building – which is believed to jeopardize the lives of critically wounded patients.

A source from the hospital told TOLOnews that the decision was taken by the Council of Ministers on the recommendation of the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE). The hospital is situated next to the Kabul Polytechnic University.

However, Afghan National Police (ANP) members have complained that this move means that wounded and injured police officers are subjected to more discomfort when being transported by ambulance.

They complained that the added distance to the hospital now also puts critical patients' lives at risk.
Meanwhile, an ambulance driver confirmed the problem and said a prosecutor, who was injured recently in the Darul Aman bombing, lost his life while being ferried on the alternative route to the hospital.

He said more patients were dying due to the closure of the entrance.

"Definitely, casualty figures increase in such cases. We transport the injured with great difficulty," an ambulance driver Ali Ahmad said.

The ambulances are now forced to drive through the Bagh-e-Bala hill – a narrow and broken road where most of the time, the vehicles get stuck in the mud.

An injured police officer, Abdul Ghani, said his wounds got worse when he was in the ambulance for a long time due to the closure of the main entrance of the 200-bed hospital.

"We want the government to consider the lives of injured soldiers and provide comfortable facilities," he said.
Interior Ministry spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, confirmed the closure and also said the entrance should be reopened.

"We request the higher education ministry to temporarily reopen the route until our hospital is completely built," Sediqqi said.

Sat, 30 May 2015 14:32:43 GMT
Wolesi Jirga Amends Health Law to Boost Quality Medical Services

Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) on Saturday amended the national health law in order to standardize medical treatment in Afghanistan.

The amendments by the Wolesi Jirga will now enable government hospitals and health centers to invoke a fee system for patients seeking treatment in specialized medical departments.

The lack of technology and specialized equipment often force patients to seek medical treatment outside the country – an issue that impacts profoundly on middle-class families, said officials.

According to one MP: "On the basis of the amendments, all sensitive medical services will be provided to the patients in exchange for a fee."

Lawmakers opposing the amendments have announced it is unconstitutional and against article 52 of the law which stresses that all medical and health services should be provided free of charge.

"Asking for a fee in exchange for health services in government institutions is against the constitution," MP Farhad Azimi said on Saturday.

"We cannot violate the constitution by uttering illogical statements and saying that hospitals do not have facilities," MP Ramazan Bashordost said.

The Lower House ratified eight chapters and 34 articles of the country's health law in 2009. However the Ministry of Justice sent recommendations for amending the law last year to the Lower House for approval.

Sat, 30 May 2015 13:57:35 GMT
NDS Foils Massive Attack Plot on Kabul

Security agencies have said a vehicle belonging to Haqqani network has been seized along with 16 tons of explosives which were planned to be used for destructive activities in Kabul.

National Directorate of Security (NDS) said in a statement on Saturday that the explosives – which were being transferred to Kabul – were seized during a special operation in Urgun district of eastern Paktika province.

Furthermore in a separate operation, the NDS forces killed 15 Taliban insurgents and wounded 29 others in Barmal district of the province, the statement added.

In addition, security forces also seized a large quantity of arms and ammunition.

This comes in the wake of a sharp increase in attacks and suicide bombings in Kabul over the past few weeks.

Sat, 30 May 2015 13:54:28 GMT
Ghani Reportedly Sent List Of Security Demands To Sharif

In a confidential letter to Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, President Ashraf Ghani has set out a list of demands in terms of bridging the neighboring divide and ending extremism in the region – with the primary focus being on Afghanistan's security.

Ghani's letter, of which TOLOnews has a copy, calls for: "An official declaration by the political leadership of Pakistan condemning the launching of the Talban offensive, operation; a directive by the military leadership that sanctuary will be denied to the Taliban and effective measures by the security forces and civil authorities that the directive is carried out."

According to a government source, the letter was sent to Sharif by Ghani recently - a letter that reportedly needs to be responded to within the next two weeks.

"If this does not happen, the window of opportunity will be closed," said the source.

The letter meanwhile goes on to state that: "A direct(ive) to extend the counter-terror campaign to the Haqqani network and verification that those responsible for the recent terror campaign in Afghanistan are arrested."

In addition it states that a directive needs to be issued to "place the leaders of the Quetta Shura and the Peshawar Shura under house arrest and to initiate legal proceedings against them for threatening a friendly state."

Ghani goes on to say that "agreeing on an exchange of prisoners such as Mulla Bridar (Afghan Taliban Commander) for (members of) Tehrik-i-Taliban-i-Pakistan".

He also said: "A directive to all medical facilities to turn over those with war wounds to the custody of security officials for investigation and arrest."

Another directive he called for was that the factories producing fertilizer and switches for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) be allowed to sell only to authorized firms.

Lastly he said there was a need for an "agreement to carry out a series of simultaneous operations to deny passage to TTP (Tehrik Taliban Pakistan) and TTA (Tehrik Taliban Afghanistan), such as Baramcha."

The letter is a three-page document with the first two pages outlining the issue of insurgency faced by Afghanistan. The third and final page lists his demands.

Ghani started his letter by pointing out that during the second term of President Hamid Karzai's presidency, relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan descended into a "vicious circle of distrust" and became a public blame game.

He said in the letter that this essentially led to the creation of a sense of uncertainty which further led to the emergence of "terrorism and extremism" as a threat to the state system.

The letter states that directly after Ghani's inauguration he quickly moved to shape the domestic, regional and global relations in a bid to bring stability to Afghanistan.

He stated in the letter that he offered a fresh definition of the key problem and a process for building mutual confidence. "The key problem in relations between the two countries during the last 13 years has been an undeclared condition of hostilities between the two countries," read the letter.

"Peace therefore has two related but distinctive aspects: peace between Afghan state, as represented by its legitimate elected leaders and the Taliban and related armed opposition groups that have distinctive political agendas."

The letter stated that there is a sense of urgency in regards to reaching an agreement by Afghanistan and Pakistan as "the changing and expanding ecology of terror and extremism presents a clear danger to the two states and the state system".

In his letter, Ghani referred to his recent trip to Pakistan and said that there is a window of opportunity that can and should be "broadened to a door, a corridor, a road and eventually into a super highway of cooperation between the two states."

The letter went on to state: "Regardless of his firm commitment to peace, President Ghani has no choice but to become a War President to ensure the survival of his country and the safety of Afghan women and children."

Sat, 30 May 2015 13:53:03 GMT
MoD Leads Offensive in 16 Provinces

Ministry of Defense (MoD) said Saturday they have large-scale military offensives currently underway in 16 provinces – operations that have resulted in high casualty figures among insurgents.

MoD deputy spokesman Dawlat Waziri told TOLOnews that almost 100 armed insurgents have been killed over the past 48 hours in these offensives.

He said nine Afghan soldiers had lost their lives over the same period.

According to Waziri, the operations are aimed at suppressing the Taliban and other militant groups. He said that no mercy was being shown for insurgents.

The operations are being carried out in Herat, Badghis, Ghazni, Logar, Nangarhar, Paktia, Paktika, Daikundi, Kandahar, Sar-e-Pul, Badakhshan, Kunduz, Balkh, Baghlan, Helmand and Uruzgan provinces.

"Today we have 17 operations in 16 provinces," Waziri said, adding that seven Taliban insurgents have been detained and dozens of more were wounded over the past 48 hours.

"We are in an offensive position which has weakened the enemy," he cited.

Based on initial reports, the insurgents had put up strong resistance in Baghlan and Uruzgan provinces after a number of areas had reportedly fallen into the hands of the Taliban.

But the Interior Ministry rejected claims that Uruzgan was in the hands of the enemy and said the province was totally under control of the security forces.

"Additional troops from Kandahar have been deployed to Uruzgan where they are involved in suppressing the insurgents," MoI spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said. "We have no issues right now in Uruzgan."

However, local officials and MPs from Uruzgan expressed deep concerns over what they fear was the possible collapse of some districts.

"If the government fails to pay serious attention to Uruzgan's security situation, four districts will fall into the Taliban hands," female lawmaker Raihana Azad argued.

Sat, 30 May 2015 12:18:31 GMT
Afghanistan Beats Laos in Friendly Football Match

Afghanistan National Football Team beat Laos 2-0 in a friendly on Friday on Laos' home grounds.

Immediately after the game, President Ashraf Ghani took to twitter and congratulated the team.

"Congratulations to our football team for beating Laos in a friendly match today. We are proud of you," said Ghani.

The aim of the match was to give the Afghan team a chance to prepare for the upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifying rounds scheduled to start in June.

Football federation officials are upbeat about the win and said that it bodes well for the national team in the long term – especially for their chances in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Head of the Afghan Football Federation, Kramuddin Karim said he believes that the recent changes in the technical staff and members of the national team were the reason for Friday's victory.

"We have selected new players for the team, the coach is also new and also technical staff and doctors are new," he said.

He said their aim was to improve the team dramatically over the next few years in preparation for the 2022 World Cup to be hosted in Qatar.

"It is like a dream, but we have long-term programs and we will try to succeed and make the country proud," he said.

Friday's game was clinched by Faisal Shaista and Bashir Yousufi who each scored a goal in the game against Laos. The team was captained by Jalaludding Sharyatyar.

Immediately after the match the team left Laos for Bangladesh where they will play another friendly against their host team on June 2.

Sat, 30 May 2015 11:16:12 GMT
China, Russia, India Agree To Cooperate Over Afghanistan

Senior officials from China, Russia and India met in New Delhi on Thursday to discuss issues relating to Afghanistan – especially that of security, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.

According to Hua Chunying the trilateral meeting was chaired by India's Deputy National Security Advisor Arvind Gupta, and attended by Assistant Chinese Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao and Deputy Secretary of Russia's Security Council Yevgeny Lukyanov.

All three officials agreed that their countries were united in playing a constructive role in the stabilization and economic development process of Afghanistan.

"As close neighbors of Afghanistan, the three sides support the peaceful reconciliation and economic cooperation of Afghanistan and would like to play a constructive role towards that end. The three sides agreed to enhance negotiation and coordination on the Afghan issue, give an effective role to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Istanbul process, and jointly propel the realization of security, stability and development in Afghanistan," Hua said during a press conference.

The three sides exchanged ideas on the Afghan and regional situation and their cooperation on the Afghan issue and reached a consensus that the future developments of the situation in Afghanistan is closely related to regional peace, security and stability, according to Hua.

"The three sides also agreed to conduct the third round of negotiation on the Afghan issue at an appropriate time, and details concerning the time and location will be discussed through diplomatic channels," she said.

The spokesperson said they will aim for closer coordination on the issue and give full play to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Istanbul Process, the only Afghanistan-related cooperation mechanism led by countries in the region.

The Istanbul Process has identified a number of confidence-building measures in areas including counterterrorism, drug control, disaster management, trade and investment opportunities, regional infrastructure construction and education to be jointly implemented by a number of countries and organizations involved in the collective.

Sat, 30 May 2015 10:22:16 GMT
TAWDE KHABARE: Opinion of Afghan and Pakistani Youths Over Current Situation in Both Countries

Young Afghans and Pakistani's believe they too could be effective in the political arenas of their respective countries. I speaking with them they said that with the cooperation of the civil society organizations, media and holding of meetings they too can help solve the issues between the two countries.

To watch the whole program, click here:


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

• Shakeeb Mohsenyar, Afghan youth
• Atifa Ibrahimi, Afghan youth
• Sara Khan, Pakistani youth
• Omar Farooq, Pakistani youth

Sat, 30 May 2015 09:44:39 GMT
SPECIAL REPORT: The Green on Blue

The Green on Blue novel is written by the Elliot Ackerman and is based on the lives of two young Afghan boys who lost their father in the Taliban war.

Click here to watch the report.


Aziz and his older brother Ali are coming of age in a village amid the pine forests and endless mountains in eastern Afghanistan. There is no school, but their mother teaches them to read and write, and once a month sends the boys on a two-day journey to the bazaar. They are poor, but inside their mud-walled home, the family has stability, love, and routine.


Sat, 30 May 2015 08:41:58 GMT
Zamir Unveils Solid 100-Day Plan For Agriculture

After only a month as Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, Assadullah Zamir, on Saturday presented his 100-day action plan that looks set to benefit farmers in the long term.

Zamir, who represents a younger generation of leadership, is mandated to oversee major growth in the country's agricultural sector.

He is the youngest member of the new cabinet and said soon after taking oath last month: "My working vision stands on six principles: balance and development will be on the basis of planning and not on the basis of personal projects; reforms in the structure and formation of the ministry will be carried out on the basis of qualification; a focus on insecure regions; fighting corruption; and employment for women."

Already a key priority of his – development – is kicking in as his 100-day plan sets out fundamental projects that will kick off over the next three months.

Ensuring water security in the form of prioritizing irrigation is one such plan, so is his commitment to getting the private sector involved in agriculture.

He said his budget for this phase is between $8 million and $10 million USD and that the launching of his national agriculture program will hopefully spark an "agricultural revolution".

Among specific projects mentioned, Zamir said that 200 bee farms will be established in Badkhshan and that his ministry will continue to focus on increasing the production of vegetable oil in Balkh province.

In addition, at least 5,000 heads of livestock will be vaccinated. Wheat farming will also become a priority so as to ensure production for at least four years.

Meanwhile, Zamir is also committed to tackling education among farmers and said that about 115 education centers will be established around the country where farmers will be trained.

In order to do this, at least 200 ministry employees will receive advanced training themselves in South Korea and Japan so as to be able to teach local farmers at these centers.

Zamir also said that a loan scheme would be made available to farmers through this new program.

Agriculture is critical to Afghanistan's food security and a key driver of economic growth. According to USAID, 60 percent of Afghans rely on agriculture for their livelihoods and their family's sustenance.

The sector also accounts for about 40 percent of Afghanistan's gross domestic product. However, prior to decades of war, Afghanistan's agricultural products had earned a global reputation for excellence, particularly almonds, pomegranates, pistachios, raisins, and apricots but decades of war and neglect have devastated the country's farmlands and displaced millions of people.

Sat, 30 May 2015 08:18:19 GMT
32 Insurgents Killed in ANSF Operations

At least 32 insurgents were killed and 14 others arrested in a series of coordinated operations by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in the past 24 hours across the country, the Ministry of Interior said in a statement on Saturday.

The operations were conducted in Nangarhar, Kunduz, Badakhshan, Sar-e-Pul, Ghazni, Uruzgan, Paktika and Herat provinces, the statement said.

"During the same 24 hour period, Afghan National Police discovered and defused nine different types of IEDs placed by enemies of Afghanistan for destructive activities in Nangarhar, Kandahar, Paktiya and Helmand provinces," according to the statement.

However, the statement did not mention casualties of any ANSF members during the operations.

The Taliban has yet to comment about the operation.

Sat, 30 May 2015 05:46:27 GMT
Kankash: Opium Production Increased Fifty Times in Afghanistan

Opium production has increased fifty times in Afghanistan since the global coalition intervention in 2001.

To watch the whole program, click here:


The Russian government has warned that opium production in Afghanistan is on the rise and after the US forces ousted the Taliban regime, production has increased by at leats fifty times in the war-ravaged nation.

In this episode of Kankash, host Fawad Aman discusses the topic with the following guests:

• Mohammad Homayoun Faizad
• Mohammad Hashim Wahdat Yar, in charge of regional cooperation office of UN anti drug office
• Khuda Dad Irfani, member of parliament's anti drug commission


Sat, 30 May 2015 05:20:02 GMT
Defiant Blatter Wins FIFA Vote Amid Corruption Storm

Sepp Blatter won a fifth term as FIFA president on Friday in a dramatic end to an angry campaign dominated by a corruption storm that engulfed the leadership of world football.

His challenger Prince Ali bin al Hussein withdrew from the race after preventing Blatter from getting the required majority in the first round of voting.

Blatter, who had defied calls to resign, raised his arms in triumph and promised the congress to be the "commander" who "guides this boat FIFA" out of the corruption turmoil it has sunk into.

"I'm not perfect. Nobody is perfect. But we will do a good job together," he said.

The 79-year-old Blatter also indicated he would not stand again saying he would hand over a "strong" FIFA to "my successor" in four years.

Blatter fell seven votes short of the two thirds majority to win in the first round. He got 133 votes to Prince Ali's 73.

The brother of Jordan's king got further than any challenger to Blatter, highlighting divisions within the scandal-tainted body that Blatter will struggle to overcome.

The prince thanked those "brave enough" to vote for him before announcing he was pulling out.

The end of the campaign was overshadowed by the arrest in Zurich on Wednesday of seven FIFA officials, including two vice presidents, accused by US authorities of taking tens of millions of dollars in bribes.

Swiss police are also investigating the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar which have also been surrounded by corruption allegations.

In a final plea for votes, Blatter vowed to lead FIFA out of the corruption controversy if reelected.

- 'Morally bankrupt' -

"I promise a strong FIFA, I want to climb back up the hill, arrange FIFA's situation. I want a beautiful, robust FIFA, out of the storm," he said.

Prince Ali promised "transparency" and to "restore respect".

"We have heard questions raised about whether our family is morally bankrupt," the prince said in his final campaign address.

Most of Europe's 53 votes went to Prince Ali, along with the United States and Australia. But Blatter's rock bed support in Africa and Asia saw him through to a new term.

Blatter questioned the timing of the Zurich arrests so close to the election, declaring: "People say it was a coincidence. But I have a small question mark."

Blatter said the arrests had unleashed a "storm". But he repeated his case that he cannot "monitor" football affairs alone and calling for greater action by regional confederations and national associations.

Blatter scored one victory when the Palestinian Football Association withdrew a motion to expel Israel from FIFA because of restrictions on Palestinian teams.

But he his victory was met with new hostility from the football leaders who have opposed him in the past six months.

On Thursday, he rejected an appeal by UEFA's president Michel Platini to resign because of the scandals that the European football leader said has critically tarnished FIFA's image.

Platini was among those to express disappointment at the result and praise Prince Ali's campaign.

"I am proud that UEFA has defended and supported a movement for change at FIFA. Change which in my opinion is crucial if this organisation is to regain its credibility," he said.

Platini said UEFA could discuss measures against FIFA on June 6.

"This vote has only served to endorse the election of a man who can't remain in charge of world football," said Luis Figo, the former Portugese star who was a candidate in the race until last week.

"There's no way someone can lead FIFA ignoring the most elementary rules of transparency, legality and democracy," Figo added.

"We will continue to push for meaningful change within FIFA," commented US Soccer president Sunil Gulati who said reform should be Blatter's "number one priority".

"Our goal is for governance of FIFA that is responsible, accountable, transparent and focused solely on the best interests of the game."

Blatter has remained defiant as governments joined sponsors in crying foul over FIFA's corruption scandal.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has backed calls for Blatter to resign.

French President Francois Hollande said sports groups running major events must be "irreproachable".

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that if world football cannot clear up "poisonous" corruption, government agencies would be forced to step in.

- Sponsors' anger -

Commercial fallout grew with South Korea's Hyundai Motor, a major sponsor of FIFA, saying it was "extremely concerned" at the new scandals.

Credit card giant Visa has threatened to "reassess" its sponsorship if FIFA does not clean up its act. Coca-Cola, Adidas, McDonald's and Budweiser have also spoken out. The United Nations says it is reviewing its cooperation accords with FIFA.

The seven arrested football officials -- including FIFA vice presidents Jeffrey Webb and Eugenio Figueredo -- remained in custody on Friday. Six have indicated they will fight extradition to the United States, Swiss authorities said.

Sat, 30 May 2015 03:32:12 GMT
TOLOnews 6pm News 29 May 2015 Top news in this Bulletin:

The travel ban imposed on five high-ranking Taliban leaders released by the U.S. from Guantanamo Bay two years ago will end in two days. The Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) has warned of damaging consequences if the former prisoners are allowed to rejoin the Taliban and contribute to their insurgency.

To watch the whole news bulletin, click here:


 President Ashraf Ghani suspended six top officials from the Ministry of Urban Development Affairs on charges of corruption Thursday night. The investigation will now be handed over to the Attorney General's office.

Fri, 29 May 2015 16:43:21 GMT
Travel Ban for Five Former Taliban Detainees in Qatar Expires in Two Days

The travel ban imposed on five high-ranking Taliban leaders released by the U.S. from Guantanamo Bay two years ago will end in two days. The Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) has warned of damaging consequences if the former prisoners are allowed to rejoin the Taliban and contribute to their insurgency.

In Washington, the White House has assured that the U.S. will prevent the five men from becoming threats to Afghanistan once again. In the past, Taliban prisoners freed under former president Hamid Karzai, and across the border in Pakistan, have often reintegrated with militants and taken up arms against the Afghan government again.

Based on the agreement signed between the U.S. and Qatar, the release of the five Taliban commanders came originally as part of a prisoner swap for American soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been abducted by the Taliban. The Taliban leaders have been under how arrest in Qatar since their release from Guantanamo, however, that restriction will end in two days.

Afghan HPC members have urged that the prisoners remain in Qatar or be handed over to the Afghan government in order to support the peace process.

"Any move that supports war against the people of Afghanistan, we consider it a hostile move," HPC global affairs advisor Mohammad Ismail Qasimyar said on Friday.

Washington, meanwhile, has assured that it is working with its allies around the world to ensure prisoners released from the Guantanamo Bay prison, which President Barack Obama has promised to close, do not become threats once again.

"We do remain in close contact with our partners to mitigate the threat that might be posed by former detainees," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said on Friday. "That's a general rule that we operate by, but I can tell you that I don't have specific conversations to read out to you in regards to the folks that you're referencing," he added, responding to a question about the five Taliban leaders. "I can tell you that it's fair to say that we and our partners remain vigilant and in close contact."

Independent analysts have urged the Afghan government to take responsibility for dealing with the prisoners, including utilizing them for mediating purposes in talks with the Taliban.

"The government of Afghanistan needs the support of these individuals so that they can play a mediator role between the two sides," political analyst Bakht Mohammad Bakhtyar told TOLOnews. "Otherwise, there is the possibility that they reintegrate and return to war."

The Taliban members having their travel ban lifted this weekend include Mullah Khairullah Khairkhaw, the Taliban regime's former governor of Herat province; Mullah Noorullah Noori, the Taliban's former national security deputy; Mullah Abdul Haq Wasiq, the Taliban's former deputy minister of interior; Mullah Fazil Mazloom; and Mohammad Nabi Omari.

Fri, 29 May 2015 15:58:01 GMT
Ghani Suspends Six Officials From Ministry of Urban Development on Corruption Charges

President Ashraf Ghani suspended six top officials from the Ministry of Urban Development Affairs on charges of corruption Thursday night. The investigation will now be handed over to the Attorney General's office.

In the near-term, Ghani has requested travel bans be issued for the officials to ensure they do not escape prosecution.

However, sources have told TOLOnews that at least one of the suspects has already fled the country across the Torkham border with Pakistan. In addition, some of the money allegedly embezzled from the Ministry of Urban Development Affairs has been transferred abroad.

Ghani met with officials from the ministry Thursday night. He issued suspensions for the following individuals: Ahmad Shah Hemat, the head of the central housing department; Mohammad Amin, the head of the real estate and accommodations department; Ahmad Nawaz Bakhtyari, the head of the housing enterprise department;

Gul Rahim Zyarmal, the head of planning and project manager for the 5th Macrorayan; Syed Amanullah Sadat, the head of the finance department; and Mohammad Amin Qane, the head of the apartments and rentals department.

"Fighting corruption constitutes the president's top working priority," presidential spokesman Hamdullah Muhib said on Friday. "The six individuals who are accused of large scale corruption have been introduced to the Attorney General and the relevant department has been assigned the task of investigating their cases," he added.

The allegations leveled against the ministry officials include taking bribes in exchange for signatures on new housing projects, dolling out apartments to high ranking government officials and their relatives and constructing sub-standard apartments in order to pocket ministry funds.

"Corruption exists in the contracting of the Ministry of Urban Development Affairs; secondly, projects are completed at a low quality; and, thirdly, most of the apartments are distributed to family members and relatives of officials of the concerned ministry," a former employee of the ministry named Mohammad Kabir Quraishi told TOLOnews.

Highlighting the high-profile nature of the case, the Attorney General spoke about it with media on Friday. He said the six individuals are under investigation for abuse of office.

"The individuals are accused of corruption and misusing their official positions, the attorneys will start working on their cases tomorrow [Saturday]," Attorney General Noor Habib Jalal said.

Lending further credence to his claims of being tough on corruption, President Ghani this week also moved to suspend the acting chief and deputies of the Afghan Investment Support Agency (AISA) on corruption charges.

"The president has suspended the job of the acting chief and deputies of AISA and has asked the ministers not to meddle in the appointments," spokesman Muhib said. "The Minister of Commerce was assigned the duty of recommending some names for AISA chief."

Combating corruption has been touted as a top priority of the national unity government. This week's developments mark the third major push by Ghani to cleanse his administration's ranks since the Ministry of Defense (MoD) fuel contract and Kabul Bank cases.

Fri, 29 May 2015 15:44:16 GMT
Air Force Training Abroad Used As Ticket to Asylum

Lower House Second Deputy Speaker Mohammad Nazir Ahmadzai on Friday spoke out about a worrying trend of Afghan Air Force (AAF) recruits seeking asylum while abroad for training purposes. He urged the Ministry of Defense (MoD) to put in place a number of safeguards and restrictions in place to curb the trend.

"The pilots issue is quite a concerning one," Ahmadzai said on Friday. "There is a need for a guarantee to be taken from the recruits sent for training abroad. During the tenure of the ex-defense minister, one of our colonels ran off and asked for asylum; therefore, this is quite a concerning issue, and our expectations and hope for the security institutions, particularly the Ministry of Defense, is to ask for a guarantee from any officer who is supposed to go abroad for pilot training."

While MoD officials confirmed that AAF pilots have gone absent without leave (AWOL) while abroad for training, they tried to downplay the gravity of the situation. They highlighted that Afghan National Army (ANA) officers, as well as members of the national football and cricket teams, have done similar things while abroad.

"You are aware that it is a general problem for all Afghan institutions," MoD spokesman Dawlat Waziri told TOLOnews. "Even some of the football and cricket players who travelled for competitions didn't come back, and sometimes the Ministry of Defense faces the same issue."

Nevertheless, on the surface, the disappearance of AAF officers - the training of whom the Afghan government has invested immense amounts of money - seems like a greater loss than the other examples. The development of the AAF has been cited as a decisive factor in determining the success or failure of the Afghan government's struggle to defeat the Taliban and other militants groups destabilizing the country. Currently, AAF officers receive training in key NATO ally states such as the US, UK, Italy, India and UAE.

To make matters worse, sources say it is often top figures within the security forces who are able to leverage their influence to get their sons and relatives into the AAF training programs. These individuals enter the programs with no intention of returning to Afghanistan once abroad.

Yet the MoD maintains the trends are headed in the opposite direction. "When they [recruits] are being sent for training, one or two of them do not return. In recent years, it was a major issue, because more people were going abroad," Waziri said. "But over the past few years, the issue has ended."

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) has confirmed that a number of police officers have also been sent abroad through the MoD program and not returned to Afghanistan. Unlike the Defense Ministry, however, MoI officials have openly blamed influential powerbroker a inside and outside of the government for abusing the program through nepotism.

"With the support of Allah, we have professional cadres in the air force, even if politicians have gotten enough experience and are willing to serve, they are welcome to serve the people of Afghanistan, this is extremely difficult task and we need more capacities," MoI spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said on Friday.

The AAF has over 100 aircrafts and helicopters, and currently 130 recruits are receiving related training in the U.S.

Fri, 29 May 2015 15:37:56 GMT
From Conflict To Peace, Arghandab Now A Picnic Spot

Once the frontline of Afghanistan's war, the southern province of Kandahar is finally experiencing a semblance of peace with residents even able to enjoy peaceful picnics in the infamous Arghandab district.

According to one resident, Gul Mohammad Yarana, Arghandab - an area previously plagued by deadly battles between security forces and insurgents - has in recent times become an important leisure area for locals.

"The Taliban were living here and no one could come here at ease – especially not government officials or military forces. Now there is no Taliban and anyone can come here for a picnic," said Yarana.

Sallahuddin, a Nimroz resident concurred and said even he had traveled to Arghandab for picnics. It is also here where the famous Baba Wali shrine is – a shrine that attracts visitors from around the country.

Even a Kabul resident, Haji Ali Ahmad, said: "We came from Kabul and see the security of Kandahar is better than in the past,".

It is because of this turnaround that children and the elderly also have the chance to live a fairly peaceful existence, said residents.

However, locals and visitors alike made it clear that government would have to help to maintain the current security levels.

"Our security is better now, but we request the government pay attention to picnic sites," said Nazar Mohammad one resident.

He said that it was not only Arghandab district that was experiencing this new found security – but the current situation had spread to other parts of the province as well.

But this level of peace can only be maintained with the help of government, he said.

Arghandab is a district best known for its fierce local pride and farming tradition. However in recent years it became known as a district of conflict, which brought with it political instability and poverty. Arghandab is a lush district adjacent to Kandahar with many villages mostly occupied in farming.


Fri, 29 May 2015 12:12:03 GMT
Taliban Attack Kills 19 Police in Uruzgan

At least 19 policemen have so far been killed and 31 others are missing in a 16-day long clash between Taliban and special forces in Uruzgan province.

Uruzgan representative in the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) Mohammad Hanif Hanafi, has confirmed that 19 policemen have been killed. He said that over the past sixteen days, 54 police posts have fallen and another four are currently under siege.

"According to my information 15 policemen were killed in Khas Uruzgan and 31 other policemen have disappeared, it is not clear if they are in the custody of Taliban, or if they have been killed or are alive. And four other policemen were killed in other districts," said Senator Mohammad Hanif Hanafi.

According to Hanafi, a police commander committed suicide out of fear of being taken hostage by the Taliban after his police officers were killed.

Residients of Uruzgan are meanwhile extremely concerned about the state of security in their province and, along with tribal elders, have asked the Interior Minister and Chief of Army Staff - who visited Uruzgan province on Thursday - to take serious steps towards security the province.

"It has been fifteen days of war in Uruzgan and there are posts that have no water, no food and no bullets and also our martyrs have not been transferred yet," one of the tribal elders said.

Heavy clashes are reportedly ongoing in Chinartoo, Deh Rawud and Khas Urozgan districts of the province. Interior Minister Noorulhaq Olomi, who visited the province on Thursday, said that the insurgents are looking at foreign terroritsts to halp create chaos in the province but said that the Taliban will fail to defeat security forces or other capture parts of the country.

"They are mostly foreigners and the Taliban is encouraging them to create chaos but be sure that your government and security forces will suppress them," said Olomi.

"The security situation has deteriorated slowly in Uruzgan and we are to investigate the security situation and to take steps to protect the province," said chief of army staff Gen. Qadam Shah Shahim.

In addition, the lack of a provincial police chief has been said to be one of the main reasons for the increase in clashes in Uruzgan province. However, Olomi appointed Gen. Toryalai Abadyani as the provincial police chief during his visit to Uruzgan province on Thursday.

Their visit came shortly after 37 Afghan security force members, including soldiers and police, switched sides to join the local Taliban in Uruzgan – taking their weapons with them, said officials Thursday.

District governor of Khas Urozgan, Abdul Karim Karimi confirmed the reports but said that a number of these defectors have since been killed by the Taliban after crossing over.

Also, recent reports stated that Uruzgan deputy head of the provincial education department Mohammad Noor Amini said that at least 69 schools have closed due to insecurity in Uruzgan.

Amini said that there are 290 schools in the province of which 69 have closed over security issues.

Apparently 19 schools are closed in Trinkot, the provincial capital, 16 in Gizab district, 18 in Chinartoo district, 10 in Khas Urozgan district, four in Deh Rawud district and two others in Chora district.

Fri, 29 May 2015 10:58:17 GMT
Everywhere With The Citizens

TOLOnews brings you an exciting series of the role of Afghans in society.

Tune in every Monday and Thursday at 7.30 pm between now and June 25, 2015.

The following program is the second in the series and was screened on Thursday May 28.

To watch the whole program, click here:


Fri, 29 May 2015 09:34:41 GMT
Schools Closed in Baghlan Due To Insecurity

A number of schools and education centers have been closed due to missile attacks in Pol-e-Khomre capital, northern Baghlan province.

According to local officials clashes and the recent increase in missile attacks in Pol-e-Khomre have forced authorities to send students home.

"The recent missile attacks have forced the officials to take the decision to stop students from going to school," said Abdul Qayoum Shariyati one private school director.

"In consultation with the Baghlan education department we have taken the decision to close schools‎ for few days," said Saiful Rahman Farhadi a Pol-e-Khomre's Schools director.

Baghlan education department confirmed the decision and said schools closed three days ago due to the attacks.

"We dismiss students for one day but on Wednesday and Thursday the students did not attend schools as it is a matter of concern," said Abdul Rashid Baghlan education department acting-director.

Baghlan provincial council warns that if the government does not take serious steps to improve security in Baghlan province soon the province will change to one of the insecure provinces and the government will face a public outcry. ‎

"We are concerned about security in Baghlan and if the government does not pay attention the people will go to streets and will rise up against the government," Baghlan provincial council head Dr. Safdar Muhssini said.

In addition, a number of provincial council members blame local officials for siding with the Taliban.

"Both local officials and military generals have ties with the Taliban and giving opportunities to the Taliban to increase the war in the province," said provincial council member Bismillah Attash.

"The government got the power and now they don't pay attention to the people. National unity leaders! When you got to power now you have to pay attention for those poor people who are losing their close ones and day to day they are becoming poor. Ignorance is enough now," said provincial council member Shamsulhaq Barakzai.

The provincial council said insecurity is because there is only an acting governor appointed.

The provincial council of Baghlan province urges the central government to take steps to bring an end to the problem.

Fri, 29 May 2015 08:32:57 GMT
EXCLUSIVE PROGRAMME: Afghanistan, Region and The World

In this episode of exclusive program, Afghanistan, region and the world host Muslim Shirzad discusses the top with the following guests:

Mahmud Saiqal, Afghanistan Policy Group director
Sima Samar, Afghanistan Policy Group member
Syed Eshaq Geelani, Afghanistan Policy Group member
Markus Potzel, Germany representative to Afghanistan
Khalid Aziz, Pakistan Policy Group director
Gen. Ashiq Mehta, India Policy Group director

To watch the program, click here:


Fri, 29 May 2015 07:03:26 GMT
TAWDE KHABARE: Afghanistan Was Takes on New Dimension

Apparently the war in Afghanistan has taken on a new dimension. One of the factors could be the recent uprising of people in various regions of the country who have voluntarily taken up weapons to fight insurgents.

Recently the Wall Street Journal published an article in which it revealed that pro-government militia have played a crucial role in combating the surge of Taliban. However some analysts believe that this could lead to some issues in the future.

In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Shahpor Bakhtiyar discusses the topic with the following guests,

Abdul Rahman Hotak, AIHRC commissionor
Najibullah Manalai, political analyst
Basher Ahmad Tayyanj, MP

To watch the program, click here:


Fri, 29 May 2015 06:36:08 GMT
Former Jihadi Leader Assassinated In Kabul

Former jihadi leader Mawolawi Syed Maqbol was assassinated Thursday night in Deh Sabz district of Kabul, officials said Friday.

Humayun Aini, 119 police helpline chief, said a group of unknown gunmen shot dead Syed Maqbol in Ali Khail area of Deh Sabz district when he was on his way home from mosque.

The attackers were riding on a white Toyota ‎Corolla and fled the area.

Police have started an investigation into the incident.

No group including the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Syed Maqbol was a famous commander during the jihad against the Soviet Union in Pol-e-Charkhi area of Kabul. ‎

This comes after unknown gunmen recently killed eastern Paktia province appellate court chief Najibullah Sultanzoi in Kabul city.

According to the ministry the incident occurred in Neiaz Big area of police district 5 when gunmen also shot him while he was on his way home.

Fri, 29 May 2015 04:33:02 GMT
Car Bombs Rock Two Upmarket Baghdad Hotels, Five Dead

Car bombs ripped through car parks at two high-profile Baghdad hotels on Thursday that had been targeted in deadly attacks five years before, killing at least five people, police said.

The explosions occurred just before midnight (2100 GMT) and were heard across the city centre. According to police and an interior ministry source, at least 13 people were also wounded.

One of the bombs exploded at the Ishtar, shattering windows of the recently renovated hotel and turning rows of cars and SUVs into piles of charred, twisted metal.

People traipsed through the site of the blast inside the walled hotel compound, while a group of men struggled to remove the smashed windshield from an SUV on the other side of the hotel.

The Ishtar is a popular site for wedding celebrations, and the area -- which also includes a club and the Palestine hotel -- is crowded with people on Thursday nights.

Another blast hit the car park of the Babylon hotel, another upmarket and recently refurbished hotel that overlooks the Tigris river in the Jadriya neighbourhood.

Police said security forces found another car bomb in the Babylon's car park and defused it.

A years-old midnight curfew was lifted in February after Iraqi forces retook areas around Baghdad from the Daesh jihadist group and a huge car bomb-making cell was dismantled.

Attacks have continued since but are less frequent than the previous year.

Daesh, which is still battling government forces barely 30 kilometres (18 miles) west of the capital, has claimed many of the biggest attacks in Baghdad and elsewhere in the country.

The Babylon and Sheraton were hit in coordinated attacks in January 2010, together with the Hamra, which never reopened.

The attacks five years ago were carried out by suicide bombers and killed at least 36 people. They were claimed by Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the group that later became Daesh.

Fri, 29 May 2015 03:35:59 GMT
Ghani Suspends 6 Officials of Ministry of Urban Development Affairs

President Ashraf Ghani has ordered the suspension of six officials from the Ministry of Urban Development Affairs. Those suspended are:

1. Ahmad Shah Hemat

2. Mohammad Amin Amin

3. Ahmad Nawaz Bakhtyari

4. Gul Rahim Ziarmal

5. Syed Amanullah Sadat

6. Mohammad Amin Qane

Ghani has asked the Attorney General's Office to investigate the actions of the concerned individuals on the basis of the prevailing laws of the country and take necessary legal action in this respect.

The president has also directed the Ministry of Interior to ensure the suspended officials do not leave the country.

No further details available.

Thu, 28 May 2015 17:50:54 GMT
TOLOnews 6pm News 28 May 2015

Greece officials on Thursday announced that up to 1,200 Afghan and Syrian asylum seekers have been arrested in the past two days while attempting to cross through Greece to other European nations.


Greece is considered a hub of Afghan asylum seekers from where the migrants try to reach other European countries. However the plight of migrants in this country is worrying as they do not have access to basic living necessities, said one Greek official. Human smugglers receive thousands of dollars from the migrants to travel through Turkey and Greece to reach other countries, he said.


Thu, 28 May 2015 15:00:11 GMT
Ghani's Trip to Qatar Cancelled Amid Debate Over NDS-ISI MoU

A government source speaking on condition of anonymity has told TOLOnews that plans for President Ashraf Ghani and the High Peace Council to travel to Qatar on Saturday have been cancelled. The change of plan is supposedly a result of continued debate over the finalization of the intelligence Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Pakistan.

The High Peace Council has said that one of the important goals of the trip was to establish a clear role for Doha in the Taliban peace process. "One of the important issues that was a priority in our trip to Qatar was to discuss the role of the Qatari government in supporting the peace process," HPC Global Affairs Advisor Muhammad Ismael Qasimyar said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, independent analysts have said that backlash to the National Directorate of Security's (NDS) cooperative agreement with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) could be behind the setback. Specifically, they say, Pakistan might have asked the Taliban to not show up to the peace talks in Qatar.

"What is very important is that Pakistan has not allowed the Taliban to go to Qatar and talk with the Afghan government," Afghan Civil Society Association Director Aziz Rafiee said. "This means that Pakistan does not have the commitment to create peace in Afghanistan."

News that the NDS had secretly signed a MoU with the ISI broke last week, and was largely received with concern and skepticism from Parliament and civil society groups. The agreement reportedly made it so Pakistan would help train Afghan forces and the two countries would share intelligence information and collaborate on operations. However, upon receiving such backlash, the agreement is said to be under revue once again.

Regarding the cause for the change in travel plans, the Presidential Palace avoided the topic of Pakistan all together. "The president's focus is on domestic issues," spokesman Hamidullah Moheb said. "The trip has been delayed for the review of 100-day plans," he added, referring to the policy presentations expected from cabinet members.

Former president Hamid Karzai has been one of the most vocal critics of the U.S. and the NATO coalition's involvement in Afghanistan since leaving office. On Thursday, in an interview with CCTV, Karzai expressed his doubts about the war on terrorism and his belief that greater international backing is needed for peace to be realized.

"We have constantly told the west that the war against terrorism that we have been fighting for the past 13 years has had no result. Are we safer?" Karzai asked. "If it's really about war against terrorism, there are many countries in the region that have the military and technology capabilities that can help in jointly fighting the battle; the West must then count on these countries, and if it's really war against terrorism, then we cannot move forward without these countries."

In addition to Qatar, China is also seen as a critical ally in the peace process for Afghanistan. Officials from Beijing have reportedly met with Pakistani and Taliban leaders already, urging them toward a negotiated peace.

Thu, 28 May 2015 14:45:38 GMT