View Full Version : [Afghan News] January 6, 2012


یاسمینه
03-01-2012, 09:02 AM
Lawmakers may seek to block Taliban transfer
By Mark Hosenball and Missy Ryan Fri Jan 6, 2012 6:03pm EST
WASHINGTON - (Reuters) - Critics of a possible transfer of Taliban prisoners are discussing tactics to block it, even before the Obama administration appears to have made a final decision on the most politically contentious element of its bid to broker an Afghan peace deal.
Administration officials have, under strict conditions of secrecy, briefed senior lawmakers dealing with military, foreign policy and intelligence issues about the proposal that would move five senior Taliban detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba to Afghan custody.
But the White House has not yet initiated a formal, 30-day congressional notification process required by a new U.S. law, officials on Capitol Hill said.
Doing so would put the United States closer to implementing a set of confidence-building measures the Obama administration hopes will pave the way for an eventual deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban, who were ousted in a U.S.-led invasion in 2001.
Among detainees who officials say have been earmarked for possible transfer is a former Taliban commander, Mullah Mohammed Fazl, alleged to be responsible for killing thousands of Afghanistan's minority Shi'ites.
The potential hand-over of Fazl, a "high-risk detainee" who was in the first group of detainees sent to Guantanamo in early 2002, has set off alarms in Congress and among some U.S. intelligence officials.
Some members of Congress have already sent classified letters challenging the administration's tentative release plan. Congressional sources said moves to stymie a prisoner transfer could include attachment of blocking amendments to unrelated legislation.
"It's hard to envision that if they transfer really dangerous guys to a really dangerous place, there won't be a fight," a congressional staff member familiar with detainee policy said on condition of anonymity.
TALIBAN TUNNELS
The same staff member said concerns also included where any such detainees might end up even if they were handed over to the Afghan government, given its poor track record of security. "It's not a cut-them-loose option," the staff member said.
Last April, hundreds of prisoners escaped from a jail in southern Afghanistan through a tunnel dug by the Taliban.
Among the objections to a prisoner transfer, especially among Republicans, is evidence that some released Guantanamo detainees have returned to the battlefield.
While the mechanics of a prisoner transfer remain unclear, it would mark a significant step forward in U.S. efforts to bring a decade of bloodshed in Afghanistan to an end. The efforts got a boost this week with news the Afghan Taliban had reached a preliminary agreement to set up a political office in the Gulf nation of Qatar.
By law, the administration must notify congressional intelligence committees which detainees it intends to transfer and specify where a detainee is being sent and if the United States paid the receiving country money as part of the deal.
The administration must also certify to several committees that the Defense and State Departments and director of national intelligence assess that the countries accepting detainees meet certain requirements. Those include not being a state sponsor of terrorism and ensuring former detainees will not pose threats to the United States.
The administration can waive some of the certification requirements, including a guarantee the prisoner will not re-engage in terrorism, on national security grounds.
Democrats are more likely to support President Barack Obama's peace bid. The White House's desire to draw down U.S. forces in Afghanistan is fueled partly by fiscal pressures and a widespread belief the war cannot be won on the battlefield alone.
A senior congressional defense aide said reaction to any Taliban release plan depended on who would get custody, at least initially, of the Taliban detainees and where.
"There are people up here who are going to criticize no matter what. There will be a lot of people who will say, 'I'm against this - this is only going to embolden the Taliban,'" the aide said.
Yet Congress ultimately has little power to delay or stop planned detainee releases, other than its ability to pass new legislation, which would have to be approved by both chambers and signed by the president.
Still, Obama might be risk-averse as he heads toward the November election. One Democratic congressional staff member, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the administration signaled last year it would not go ahead with the transfer if it generated significant opposition in Congress.
(Additional reporting by Warren Strobel; Editing by Peter Cooney)

8 NATO Service Members Killed in Afghan Attacks
By GRAHAM BOWLEY and SHARIFULLAH SAHAK The New York Times January 6, 2012
KABUL, Afghanistan — NATO said eight of its service members died in three attacks in southern Afghanistan, and an Afghan official on Friday identified four of the dead as American soldiers.
The attacks on Thursday and Friday struck at the heart of Afghanistan’s turbulent south. They come just as the American-led NATO command is gradually handing over security responsibility to the Afghan government after a decade of war. And the Taliban this week said they were ready to open a political office in Qatar, apparently a signal that they may be ready for formal peace talks.
Southern Afghanistan was the focus of the Obama administration’s troop “surge” in 2010, and American forces have made significant gains against the Taliban in many districts that had been thick with insurgents.
But the Taliban nonetheless remain potent in the south, especially in Kandahar, the province where the movement began in the mid-1990s.
NATO said one service member was killed Friday in what it described as an insurgent attack.
Four more were killed by a roadside bomb, also on Friday.
Another roadside bomb killed three service members on Thursday, NATO said in a statement released Friday. It did not identify the nationalities of those killed, and gave no more details.
The deadliest attack on Friday appeared to have taken place in Kandahar. Bacha Khan, the governor of Shah Wali Kot district in Kandahar Province, said four American soldiers died and one was wounded when a roadside bomb exploded while the soldiers were on morning patrol with the Afghan police.
The American soldiers belonged to a small military base in Shah Wali Kot, he said. Within the United States-led coalition, American forces are predominantly responsible for security in Kandahar Province.
A spokesman for the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, said the group had planted a bomb that struck a vehicle, killing four foreign soldiers. He said the insurgents had planted other explosives in an effort to disrupt a large joint NATO-Afghan military operation under way in the area.
The deaths brought to 10 the number of coalition troops who have died in the first week of 2012 as a result of the war in Afghanistan, according to figures from the Web site icasualties.org, an independent database that tracks casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq.
According to the database, 566 NATO troops died in Afghanistan in 2011, including 418 Americans. NATO is gradually transferring responsibility for security in Afghanistan to the Afghan police and military. The plan is for coalition forces to end active combat operations in 2014.
In an unrelated episode, also in southern Afghanistan, six children were killed in Tirin Kot, the capital of Oruzgan Province, when a bomb exploded in a trash can near where they were playing, said Matiullah Khan, a senior police official. The bomb was in a suicide vest hidden in the trash can, the official said. Four other children were in critical condition, he said.
The Taliban staged an attack on Tirin Kot in the summer, sending a squad of at least seven suicide bombers into the town and killing at least 21 civilians, half of them children.
Matthew Rosenberg contributed reporting.

Bomb in Garbage Can Kills 6 Afghan Children
VOA News January 6, 2012
Afghan police say six children and one man were killed when a bomb hidden inside a garbage can exploded in southern Afghanistan on Friday.
Police say four children were also wounded by the explosion in Tarin Kowt, the capital of Uruzgan province. It is unclear who the bomb was targeting.
Elsewhere in the south, NATO says bomb attacks killed five service members on Friday.
The international coalition said a roadside bomb killed four soldiers, while a fifth service member died in a separate blast. NATO did not give any other details.
Friday's casualties bring the number of international troops killed in Afghanistan since the start of the year to nine.
At least 544 soldiers died in in 2011, making it NATO's second deadliest year in the 10-year war.
The international coalition is in the second phase of handing security-control over to Afghanistan's army and police in a gradual process due to be completed by the end of 2014.

Children, troops, police die in bloody Afghan day
AFP via Yahoo! News - Fri Jan 6, 11:33 am ET
Six children, five soldiers, three policemen and a civilian died in another bloody day in Afghanistan's long war on Friday, officials said.
The children and the civilian man were killed when a bomb planted in a garbage bin exploded in Tirin Kot, capital of Afghanistan's southern province of Uruzgan, police said.
Four other children who were playing nearby were wounded, said the police spokesman, Farid Ayel.
There was no obvious target for the bombing, although the home of a local police commander was nearby, he said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but this type of attack is regularly blamed on Taliban insurgents seeking to overthrow the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.
Karzai condemned the killings, blaming them on "terrorists".
Earlier in a day of violence in the war-weary country, five NATO soldiers were killed in two roadside bomb blasts, also in southern Afghanistan.
More than 560 foreign troops were killed last year in Afghanistan, where some 130,000 US-led troops are fighting the Taliban insurgency alongside the Afghan army and police.
Also on Friday, a policeman turned his gun on his colleagues in their headquarters of Shahrak district, central Ghor province, killing two before being gunned down himself, deputy provincial police chief Abdul Rashid said.
The motive was not immediately clear, but in the past police and soldiers have turned their guns on their colleagues -- sometimes foreign troops -- and the attacks have been claimed by the Taliban.

10 NATO soldiers killed in Afghanistan since early January
By Abdul Haleem, Chen Xin
KABUL, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- Ten service members with the NATO- led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have lost their lives in the militancy-plagued Afghanistan since the beginning of this year.
The latest casualties for the military alliance in Afghanistan were the killing of four soldiers in the restive southern region on Friday, bringing its casualties to eight since Thursday and ten since the beginning of this year.
"Four service members of International Security Assistance Force were killed in a roadside bomb in south Afghanistan today," the alliance said in a statement released here Friday.
However, it did not reveal the nationalities of the victims and the exact place of the incident.
Earlier, the military alliance in separate statements confirmed losing one and three service members in two separate incidents in the southern region.
"An International Security Assistance Force service member died following an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan today," a statement released Friday morning said.
However, it did not identify the nationality of the victim, saying it is ISAF policy to defer causality identification procedures to the relevant national authorities.
Three more soldiers were killed on Thursday, also in the southern region where Taliban militants are active, said the NATO- led ISAF in another statement confirmed.
The southern Kandahar province and the neighboring provinces of Helmand, Zabul and Uruzgan have been regarded as the hotbed of Taliban militants in the militancy-hit Afghanistan.
Taliban-linked insurgency is scaling up amid efforts for Afghan peace talks and reported readiness of Taliban outfit to open an office in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar to facilitate dialogue aimed at finding a peaceful settlement of Afghan imbroglio.

Despite Possible 'Reset,' Pakistan Keeps Afghan Border Closed To NATO
By Charles Recknagel, Daud Khattak January 06, 2012 Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Pakistan has blocked NATO supply trucks from entering Afghanistan since November 26, when NATO attacks killed two dozen Pakistani border guards.
So far, the only public signs in Pakistan are that the border will continue to remain closed indefinitely.
On January 6, the chairman of Pakistan's Parliamentary Committee on National Security, Mian Raza Rabbani, said the embargo would remain so long as relations with NATO remain fraught.
That came as Rabbani announced his committee has finalized its recommendations for new terms of engagement between Pakistan and U.S.-led NATO forces and will hand its recommendations to Pakistan's prime minister early next week.
He gave no hint of what the recommendations contain.
Once the new rules of engagement are approved by parliament, they will be the trigger for discussions with Washington over the two countries' partnership. If the two sides agree, NATO supplies could again cross the Pakistani border into Afghanistan.
"We are discussing all this. Whatever our foreign policy lines are for the U.S. and NATO, the committee is working on this," said parliamentarian Khurshid Ahmad, a member of the National Security Committee. "This will be a complete package. If the U.S. agrees to work on our terms, well and good. But still we have not finalized this."
But if Islamabad wants to reset relations with Washington on its own terms, there are also signs it may now be feeling the pressure of Washington's July decision to withhold $800 million in aid.
Rabbani's committee is reported to have received briefings by top government financial officials on the impact of the U.S. aid cut as it finalized its recommendations.
That suggests that Islamabad could put more room for negotiations into its final "reset" with Washington and NATO than Rabbani's public statements imply.
Deteriorating Trust
Islamabad's ban on NATO supplies is the longest blockade by far since the start of the Afghan war in 2001.
Pakistan has partially closed the supply routes before, notably for 11 days after crossborder NATO air strikes in September 2010 killed three Pakistani soldiers.
But the November 26 attack, in which NATO helicopters mistakenly struck two border posts, killing 24 soldiers, particularly enraged Pakistan as a symbol of deteriorating trust between the allies.
Today, the Afghanistan-Pakistan border remains as firmly closed to NATO as it was immediately after the November 26 attack.
Muhammad Asghar, the deputy commissioner of Qala Abdullah District in Balochistan, confirmed this week that trucks carrying NATO containers continue to be sent back from the Chaman border crossing to Karachi.
"This [turning back] is a step taken in accordance with the policy of the government of Pakistan," Asghar said. "We have nothing to do with what kind of equipment is [in the containers]. That is a custom's matter."
NATO's second route through the Khyber Pass in northern Pakistan is equally blocked, with border guards subjecting even non-NATO contracted trucks to strict checks to verify they are not carrying any alliance supplies.
NATO has said publicly that it has sufficient alternate routes to supply its forces and that it expects the blockade to be lifted.
The two supply routes through Pakistan account for about one-third of all cargo that NATO brings into Afghanistan.
Another one-third of NATO's supplies are flown directly into Afghanistan, while the remaining cargo goes overland along the Northern Distribution Network, which passes through Central Asia from the Caucasus or Russia.

US urges 'responsible' handover of Afghan prison
AFP – Thu, Jan 5, 2012
The United States said Thursday the transfer of a US military prison to Afghan control should be handled in a "responsible" way, after Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered that the handover take place in a month.
"We have been working... for some time with the Afghan government on appropriate timing and pace for transfer of the detention facilities" at Bagram, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
"We need to do this in a manner that is maximally responsible. That's what we want to do. And we're going to... keep working on it," she added.
When asked about the timeline for the transfer, Nuland replied: "It's a matter that we have to work on with the Afghan government as appropriate mechanisms are put in place for the transfer."
She said discussions were ongoing.
Karzai on Thursday ordered the transfer of the prison at Bagram to Afghan control within a month, citing reports of human rights violations there.
The move comes amid signs of tensions between Karzai and his US backers over plans by Taliban insurgents to open a political office in Qatar as a precursor to possible peace talks.
Karzai is reportedly concerned that he has been sidelined by the move -- announced this week -- and insists that any negotiations should be led by his government.
The detention facility was built within the sprawling US military base at Bagram, north of the Afghan capital Kabul after the US-led invasion in 2001 and soon gained a reputation for extra-judicial brutality.
"We take seriously any charges or allegations of detainee abuse," Nuland said when asked about Karzai charges of such abuses.
"We respect the rights of detainees who are in facilities that the United States manages," Nuland said.
"And we ensure that all detainees in US custody are treated in accordance with international legal obligations, including Geneva Common Article 3," Nuland said.
"Any specific allegations of detainee abuse are investigated fully by the Department of Defense and by ISAF," she added referring to the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force, which is tasked with helping the Afghan government maintain peace and order.

Afghanistan: US press withdraws
Asia Times By Ben Schreiner Jan 6, 2012
Lost amid the attention paid to the historic United States withdrawal from Iraq has been the fact that nearly 100,000 US troops (and a near equal number of private contractors) remain entrenched in Afghanistan. The 10-year-long war has indeed become what many in the US have deemed the "forgotten war". For just as American troops have withdrawn from Iraq, the American press has largely packed up and withdrawn from Afghanistan.
According to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, coverage of the war in Afghanistan accounted for only 2% of all US press content in 2011.[1] That's down two points from 2010, and three points from 2009. To put this in context, American media coverage of Afghanistan was on par with that of sports in the last year, and only one percent greater than the coverage of celebrity and entertainment related news.
Declining US press coverage of the war has no doubt been hastened by withering resources devoted by major American media outlets to Afghanistan. According to the online press-watch organization, Nieman Watchdog, only five US newspapers now maintain bureaus in Afghanistan, while at any given time a maximum of only ten broadcast correspondents can be found in the country. [2]
This dearth of reporters only exacerbates a wide public ignorance of - and often indifference to - the war amongst the US public. As per John Hanrahan, former executive director of the Fund for Investigative Journalism, states, "The fewer the reporters, the fewer the first-hand accounts needed for citizens to form knowledgeable opinions of the war." [3] It is of little surprise, then, that a 2009 Pew poll found a majority of Americans believe that media coverage of Afghanistan "didn't provide enough background info to follow the news". [4]
But given the clear news value of the conflict in Afghanistan and its relevance to the lives of American citizens, (the war, to date, has seen 1,863 American fatalities and cost nearly $500 billion), why has the American press largely withdrawn?
The typical answer given by the press establishment for the scarcity of coverage is that it the war is simply too costly to cover and of little public interests. As the New York Times' Brian Stelter writes, "The news executives that pay for bureaus in Afghanistan have had to contend with tight news-gathering budgets, safety concerns and, in some cases, a perception that American audiences are not interested in the situation." [5]
To that end, Tony Maddox, executive vice president and managing director of CNN international, argues that, "Inside the United States, you've got audiences that are beginning to suffer from war fatigue." [6] (Afghan "war fatigue" has never been of much concern to the US press).
Such explanations from the American media establishment, however, fail to illuminate the underlying reason behind the shortcomings of US press coverage of the war in Afghanistan. For the decay in coverage is attributable to a problem greater than that of a press corps prioritizing perceived audience preferences to the detriment of news. Instead, the main factor in the decline in war coverage is a systemic failure of the American press brought about by the internalization of an US imperial ideology.
Inevitable failure of imperialism The American ruling class has seemingly long fancied rendering American imperialism as distinct from that of the imperialism practiced by the empires of epochs past. For it is claimed that American exceptionalism - ie, the idea that the US is the "world's lone indispensable nation", as former secretary of state Madeleine Albright once declared - has enabled the nation to practice a benign form of imperialism.
As US President Barack Obama remarked in commemoration of the Iraq war, "Unlike the old empires, we don't make these sacrifices for territory or for resources. We do it because it's right." [7]
The truth, though, is that there is really little that is unique about the contemporary American style of imperialism. For all empires have tried to couch their conquests in notions of moral superiority. All empires have cloaked their imperialism in the language of "civilizing".
As the British imperialist Joseph Chamberlain argued in 1897, England's imperialism was driven not by a "sense of possession", but rather by a "sense of obligation". And mirroring the sentiments of modern American imperialists, Chamberlain continued: "Our rule does, and has, brought security and peace and comparative prosperity to countries that never knew these blessings before." [8]
Consequently then, claims of exceptionalism to the contrary, the US is no more immune from the coercive effects of imperial thinking than of empires past. For as the late Chalmers Johnson noted:
One of the severe side effects of imperialism in its advanced stages seems to be that it rots the brains of the imperialists. They start believing that they are the bearers of civilization, the bringers of light to the "primitives" and "savages" (largely so identified because of their resistance to being "liberated" by us), the carriers of science and modernity to backward peoples, beacons and guides for citizens of the "underdeveloped world". [9]
It is this ideology, that to some is considered very perverse, that has come to be internalized by the US press. In fact, the internalization of this ideology by the American media has occurred to such a degree that the nation's imperial foreign policy is not only beyond media reproach, but is in fact all utterly un-newsworthy.
After all, in the US, as Tom Engelhardt puts it, "War is increasingly a state of being." [10] In this context the true story no longer lies in an ongoing imperial war, that is, not in Afghanistan, but in the next war; in other words, in who next shall be "liberated" by the "indispensable nation".
So it is then that in a year marking the second deadliest year for foreign troops in Afghanistan, stories in the American press on the "threat" from Iran now outpace reports from the war in Afghanistan. The true newsworthy story of the moment for the imperial oriented press is thus whether the benevolent empire shall move to "liberate" Tehran.
This, needless to say, is indicative of the systemic failure of the American media. It is indicative of a press which is wholly incapable of challenging the undemocratic tendencies and forces within the American political system. Obviously, such a press cannot be deemed to be free.
So then, as many believe, it is with having succumbed to the scourge of imperial rot that the US press withdraws from Afghanistan.

Will U.S.-Taliban talks lead to peace in Afghanistan?
by Abdul Haleem, Yangtze Yan
KABUL, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- The reported contacts between the U.S. and Afghan Taliban and the latter's plan to open a liaison office in Qatar to facilitate dialogue have met with cautious welcome among war-weary Afghans who are wondering whether the move will lead to viable peace in the country. Meanwhile, the Afghan government has welcomed the step but stressed the peace talks should be an Afghan-led process. The Afghan government welcomes any steps that lead to restoration of lasting peace in the country, said a statement released by the Presidential Palace on Wednesday.
"The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has welcomed the recent talks between the United States of America and the Taliban that led to a practice which will let Taliban to open an office in Qatar," said the statement.
Nevertheless, the Afghan government has stressed that the talks should be an Afghan-led peace process.
"Any talks with the Taliban should be led by Afghans. Today's Afghanistan is different from 10 years ago. Afghanistan has strong government and elected president today," Afghan president's spokesman Aimal Faizi was cited as saying by the popular local television Tolo.
Although the U.S. administration, like the Afghan government, has welcomed Taliban decision to open an office for dialogue in the Gulf state of Qatar, bringing the warring sides to negotiating table remains very difficult in view of their pre-conditions and the complicated political landscape in Afghanistan.
Both Washington and Kabul have categorically demanded that Taliban should severe ties with the al-Qaida network, renounce violence and accept the Afghan constitution which guarantees freedom of press, gender equality, education for women and holding elections. The Taliban outfit, however, has been denying education for women and holding parliamentary and presidential polling in addition to call for pullout of foreign forces from Afghanistan.
In a statement sent to media Tuesday, the Taliban outfit announced the decision to open an office in Qatar in a move that seems to marginalize the Afghan government in the proposed peace talks.
"We are ready to have a political office overseas and in this regard we have reached preliminary understanding with Qatar and other relevant sites," it said in the statement.
However, Afghan political observers believed it is a hard job to bring fragmented factions within the Taliban outfit fighting Afghan and NATO-led forces to a united platform for talks.
"Since there are so many groups who are against any kind of talks and reconciliation with the Afghan government and the United States, these groups will certainly intensify their attacks and we might expect bloody years from now until 2014 because these groups will do everything possible to undermine this reconciliation process," political analyst Haroun Mir told Xinhua.
Again, the Haqqani network, a powerful anti-government militant network operating in Kabul and eastern Afghan provinces along the border with Pakistan, has yet to comment on the proposed peace talks in Qatar.
Taliban's supreme leader, the elusive Mullah Mohammad Omar who has escaped the U.S.-led military campaign over the past decade since his regime was toppled in late 2001 and has ordered his loyalists to intensify attacks in Afghanistan, has also yet to make comment on the talks with U.S. administration, local media reports said.
"Finding solution to Afghan crisis is too difficult as it is a multi-dimensional issue. It takes more time than expected to find a negotiated settlement as there are several splinted groups within Taliban and foreign hands supporting specific factions," Kabul University Professor Faizullah Jalal told Xinhua on Friday.

Multimedia Project Offers Peek into Working Lives of Kabulis
TOLOnews.com By Miriam Arghandiwal Thursday, 05 January 2012
A young boy who sat on the roof of his home to watch rockets fly overhead now passes his time skateboarding. A middle aged man who returned from abroad to find his home reduced to rubble rebuilds his life. And a woman who dared to dream and became her nation's first professional female pilot.
These are some of the stories told in a new multimedia, Kabul a City at Work.
Put together by an international and local media team, the series peek into the everyday lives of Kabul's working citizens.
The project's creative director, David Gill, and his team have created a book, and a website featuring mini documentary episodes and blogs about the project. A full-length documentary for an international audience, and a local television series and possibly a radio programme for Afghan audience are also in the work.
The project is being produced in Farsi, Pashto and English to reach a wide audience of Afghans, who Mr Gill said are his target audience.
Kabul a City at Work started when Mr Gill, who worked as a freelance photojournalist in Afghanistan prior to the project, decided to take a break from the usual coverage of violence, social injustice and corruption that plagues the country and instead focus on telling the overlooked but subtle story of the culture that sustains it.
Afghanistan is the news centre of the world because of the presence of troops from 34 foreign countries, the legacy of 30 years of war, and its reputation as breeding ground for radical violence, Mr Gill said.
Yet, despite its heavy coverage in the media, Kabul remains largely misrepresented, he said.
Given that much of the news being reported focuses on atrocious attacks, the wider world is failing to empathise with Afghanistan as it struggles to transition from what it once was into a democracy, he said. Demoralising people as they struggle to improve their lives and country does little to accomplish anything, because transition does not occur overnight anywhere, Mr Gill said.
"It's all about humanity; we're all the same. It's not so long ago that all of Europe was murdering each other, killing each other. Massive corruption, all of these things, existed in the UK; Afghanistan's just a little behind," Mr Gill said.
To give Afghans a voice, Mr Gill asked Kabul's most interesting characters to tell their stories from a first-person point of view. Characters featured range from being as unusual as a female helicopter pilot to as ubiquitous as a sweet maker.
Twenty-three-year-old female street artist Shamsia Hasani is one of the many hardworking Afghans who told her story. Ms Hasani, who picked up her profession after attending a workshop held by Combat Communications in 2010, said she told her story to introduce a new form of art to her people. Afghanistan is learning to stand on its own feet as its culture improves and progresses, it is important for her to help in that progress, she said.
"When you want to start something, it is important how it starts, where it starts and how it gains attention and to document that struggle of moving forward," Ms Hasani said.
Ms Hasani's struggle lies with her not being permitted to paint outside. Instead she takes pictures of the buildings she would like to draw on, uploads them onto her computer and then digitally places her artwork on the buildings.
These adversities are what are captivating about the characters featured in the project; they are able to function amidst all the dysfunctions that surround them, Mr Gill said.
"There might be a lot of pollution, there might be terrible traffic, there might be corruption in all the ministries, but everyone gets on with it and it kinda works," he said.
In the process of highlighting the journey of these workers, Mr Gill hopes to change people's conception that Kabul is a city where people are hiding in fear and depict the reality of the city instead.
"It's the good, the bad and the ugly. A lot of Afghans have got a great sense of pride, or concept of fame going: ‘I'm the biggest gambler or greatest film maker; they're very proud people. But there are also very bad people and a lot of tragic stories," Mr Gill said.
One of the more harrowing stories is that of a female prostitute. The woman tells her story about suffering at the hands of the Taliban, and then being left with no other choice than to support her family by picking up a stigmatised occupation.
"No woman in Afghanistan would be a prostitute as a life choice, whereas maybe in the west they would because they can earn good money," Mr Gill said. "It has social stigma everywhere but in this country if you're a prostitute it's because you're forced into it."
He said although the series has a list of controversial characters like the prostitute or the gambler, it neither glamourises villains nor their lifestyles.
"I don't want to do political stories. I don't want to expose people. I just want people to tell their stories," he said.
Mr Gill said he hoped these stories would give younger generations of Afghans some knowledge and understanding of their history. Something he realised not many had while doing the project.
"I was driving [with] a young Afghan man in a car, and I said: ‘Can you name me five landmarks in Kabul, places we can go to?' He names the zoo and the national museum. That's it," Mr Gill said. "So I said: ‘Ok name me five national heroes or famous people, excluding warlords.' He named one."
Mr Gill said some young people are totally unaware of what Kabul was like before 30 years of war.
"We'd show people picture of 40 years ago and they almost start crying asking ‘What? That's Kabul?'," he said.
In addition to what still remains in Kabul, Mr Gill said it is important for the youth to know what used to be there.
"People need to know their history, and need to be proud of it," Gill said. "I want them to be proud of their city and share that with the rest of the world."
Kabul, a City at Work may be turned into a television series for TOLO TV.
The contract for the show has yet to be finalised but if all goes well, it is planned to be aired as early as March 2012, TOLO TV channel manager, Masood Sanjer, said.

China hopes Afghanistan can soon realize peace, stability: FM spokesman
Xinhua Jan. 5 , 2012
BEIJING - China on Thursday expressed the hope that Afghanistan can soon realize peace and stability.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the remark at a daily press briefing when asked to comment on the Taliban's decision to open a liaison office in Qatar.
Hong said China supports Afghanistan's efforts to promote national reconciliation and is pleased to see the development of its reconciliation process.
Hong called on other parties outside Afghanistan to fully respect the choice of the Afghan government and people during peace talks and create a favorable environment for the reconciliation process.
In a statement released to media on Tuesday, the Afghan Taliban said that the organization has reached a preliminary deal with Qatar to open a liaison office there in order to negotiate a settlement for the Afghan crisis and hold peace talks.

Slow-Motion Rush to an Afghan Peace
The Huffington Post By Jeffrey Laurenti Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation 05/01/2012
Afghan president Hamid Karzai is feeling rushed.
After all those years of being constrained by the Bush administration's disapproval of negotiations with Taliban "dead-enders," Karzai now sees Barack Obama leapfrogging past his government to conduct talks directly with the Taliban. And with a whiff of the paranoia that most Afghan leaders have historically and not unreasonably had toward their sworn supporters, both foreign and domestic, he fears being left behind as road kill.
Obama in 2011 pivoted decisively toward seeking a political solution, having given the U.S. military a two-year troop "surge" to reverse the resurgent Taliban's sweeping gains since 2005. With Bush-era illusions of victory shattered, Bush-era preconditions on opening talks morphed into "red lines" for the settlement to result from such talks. And a slow-motion minuet toward negotiations began.
U.S. officials talked directly, under German auspices, with one of the closest aides to the Taliban Guardian of the Faithful, Mullah Omar, and under Pakistani auspices with the most brutal Taliban-allied faction, the Haqqanis. At Obama's request the U.N. Security Council separated the Taliban from the strict U.N. sanctions against Al Qaeda, and at year's end, with Obama's approval, Qatar permitted the opening there of a Taliban political office.
Karzai balked at the Qatar office for the Taliban, and relented only under strong U.S. pressure. Despite pious U.S. affirmation of an "Afghan-led" peace process, the fact is that intra-Afghan negotiations will only occur if they are embedded within a larger international negotiation. It is the foreign forces, whom Karzai does not control, that the Taliban are fighting so doggedly to expel; the guarantee the United States must have of no return of Al Qaeda to Afghanistan is one that Karzai's regime cannot deliver.
There are, of course, many different stakeholders and potential spoilers circling around any negotiating process -- anti-Karzai factions in Kabul, civil society groups around Afghanistan, several insurgent factions, neighbors concerned about Afghanistan, neighbors concerned about neighbors, along with more distant countries and aid providers. Today the New York Times called for the Obama administration to support an "international mediator" to ensure the full mix of participants is at the table.
That includes Iran, with which Washington seems incapable of talking without another adult in the room. It includes Pakistan, an indispensable partner in a successful negotiation that is not able to impose a settlement on its Afghan guests but is demonstrably capable of sabotaging one that excludes it.
And, as the international task force led by Lakhdar Brahimi and Thomas Pickering noted in first detailing the international facilitator concept last year, the peace talks will also have to have at their heart an all-Afghan negotiating track -- not just the Karzai government and Taliban, but the many strands of Afghan society that have gained standing and autonomy in the decade since the suffocating Taliban emirate collapsed. It is the participation of these Afghans, more so than of the Kabul heirs of the Taliban's long-time enemies in the Northern Alliance, that will best ensure the maintenance of the human rights and political liberties inscribed in the current Afghan constitution.
For all the criticism justifiably directed at the leadership of Hamid Karzai, his respect for those rights has earned him a preeminent place in Afghanistan's negotiations. In an Afghan novelty, his opponents are not lined up before firing squads. The record of his tenure in expanding access to schooling, health, and safe drinking water has transformed Afghans' expectations of government, in ways that the benighted Taliban regime could never deliver.
There are signs, too, that leading Taliban are becoming aware of the profound changes in Afghan society. When they sought to re-impose their old strictures against schooling, particularly of girls, in areas that came under their sway after 2005, the backlash from villagers forced them to retreat. Now, as analysts Antonio Giustozzi and Claudio Franco report, in provinces where Taliban are active the Afghan Ministry of Education has allowed a tacit accommodation with them: state schools there stay open, free from attack, but with a curriculum acceptable to the Taliban and hiring of religion teachers linked to them.
Former senior Taliban official Abdul Salam Zaeef claims that Taliban leaders increasingly recognize that human rights, freedom of speech, and even female education are compatible with Islam (something long since discovered in most of the Muslim world); they would not, he says, revert to their emirate ways. Most Afghans not associated with the insurgency remain skeptical, but a negotiating table is a better place to test the supposed change of heart than the battlefield.
American champions of continuing the war warn against a "faux peace," insisting, like Max Boot, that there can be no agreement with the Taliban "before they are actually defeated" (though when they were actually defeated, in 2002, the Bush administration disdained talk of any accommodation with them).
Yet even Boot affirms "some value in sounding out one's adversaries." And the United States always has its default strategy of keeping a small but lethal presence in Afghanistan to back up Karzai and his successors in the event the Taliban don't deal.
All in all, it seems the new year is the time to designate that international facilitator and get those multi-track negotiations going.

Will Fawzia Koofi Be Afghanistan's First Female President?
If anyone can make it happen, Fawzia Koofi can. Left out to die in the sun as a baby girl, she became the first female Afghan Parliament speaker. The author of the new memoir The Favored Daughter tells her searing story.
by Fawzia Koofi (/contributors/fawzia-koofi.html) | January 6, 2012 3:52 PM EST The Newsweek/Daily Beast
The day I was born was the day I was supposed to die.
No one, not even my mother, wished me to survive. The reason? I was just another of the hundreds of unwanted girl babies born in Afghanistan every day.
My mother was exhausted even before my birth, having given my father, whom she shared with six other wives, eight children already. In the months before my arrival, she watched with quiet despair as he took a new wife, a girl of just 14. When his child bride gave my father a son three months before my own birth, my mother knew the only way she could retain the merest portion of her husband’s affections was for the baby in her belly to be male. When I arrived into the world, mottled, tiny, and screaming, she didn’t see her infant child. She saw only her own failure as a woman.
As the village women struggled to save her life following my difficult birth, it was understood that I would be placed outside in the sun to die. I was the 19th child in the family. I lay there for hours screaming out my little lungs as the sun burned my newborn skin, until eventually someone took me inside and handed me to my mother. She was overcome with guilt, and as she soothed me, she promised herself no harm would ever come to me again.
My mother, an illiterate burka-clad village woman, became the heroine of my life. As war in Afghanistan raged and my family was torn apart with the death of my father (a member of Parliament) and later several other family members, including my brothers, my mother became the glue that held our extended family together. It is thanks to her determination that I became the first girl child in my family to be allowed to go to school.
Her quiet strength and resilience is replicated in the millions of voiceless women across the mountain villages and desert towns of Afghanistan. The circumstances of my birth might sound shocking to some. But in Afghanistan, this is still not uncommon. This is a land where girl children are seen as less valuable than a goat—a goat will at least give you milk and meat. A girl is another mouth to feed and a dowry to finance.
I remember visiting one village and finding a sick woman due to give birth. She cannot have been older than 25, but she had already given birth to four children. She told me she couldn’t ask her husband to take her to the doctor because to do so, he would need to sell one of his cattle. My heart breaks as I remember her words: "When I die, my husband can find a new wife, but if he sells the cattle, what will my family eat?" I have no doubt that this poor young woman is not alive today.
The discrimination against and poor treatment of women only begins at birth. For many Afghan women, a life of violence, drudgery and ill health is the best they can expect. This month, the story of Shar Gul, 15, shocked the world. Found freezing and starving, the young girl’s nails had been pulled out, the skin on an ear and her nose had been twisted with pliers, and she had been kept without proper food or water in a filthy, dark bathroom for five months by her husband’s family, for refusing to go into prostitution.
Largely as a result of pressure from the girl’s family, two people have been arrested in what Afghan officials called an “un-Islamic act.” What should be truly shocking is that this kind of treatment of young brides is not unusual. And in most cases, it raises little more than a shrug from both officials and civilians. A woman is a chattel, mere property to be exploited as the owner—whether her husband or her father—sees fit. At best an asset, at worst, a liability.
In the eight years I have worked as a member for Parliament in the Afghan government, and before that when I worked as a child-protection officer for UNICEF, I have dealt with countless cases of abuse, violence, and forced marriage. The province I represent is called Badakshan, and it is one of the poorest, most wildly remote and conservative provinces in all of Afghanistan. The province also has the world’s highest rate of maternal and child mortality.
It’s a shameful statistic. Shameful for Afghans, who tolerate the kind of willful ignorance that perpetuates such a situation, and shameful for the international community, which, since the fall of the Taliban government, has pumped billions of dollars into programs that are supposed to rebuild and restore my crumbling nation.
If that was the original objective of the so-called coalition of the willing in 2001, then by what measure can the mission be considered a success? As foreign governments from among the NATO and International Security Assistance Force contingents make plans for troop withdrawal, how is a still largely undeveloped nation that tops world-corruption tables, exports only heroin, and lacks proper infrastructure, security, health care, or education going to be able to successfully integrate into the modern world?
It is fair to say that huge amounts have been achieved in Afghanistan in the past decade since the fall of the Taliban. But there is still so much to do.
This week it was revealed that the Taliban are seeking to open a political office in the gulf state of Qatar, widely seen as precursor to further "peace talks" aimed at bringing the Taliban back into the mainstream political arena. I am one of several voices within Afghanistan questioning this approach as the best route to peace. A couple of months ago, the Taliban tried to assassinate me. For over an hour a gun battle raged between them and my guards as I cowered inside my car, not knowing if I would live or die. They have tried to kill me on several other previous occasions—for the sole reason that I am a woman who speaks out for human rights. And not just me—others like me who also speak out.
Can anyone really believe the Taliban will share power and be willing to sit in a democratic Parliament alongside a woman? I do not believe it. In the past decade, democracy has flourished in Afghanistan, a democracy that was not imposed on us, as some would say, but one that was built on our traditions of democracy. Even at local village level, Afghans have always voted for their leaders under the jirga (tribal council) system. For centuries, the jirgas have settled disputes and negotiated peace. Democratic traditions are not new to us in Afghanistan, but after 30 long years, which have seen a Russian invasion, brutal civil war, and Taliban rule, we still need international support and help to ensure the democratic and social gains of recent years are not lost.
One day the Taliban will probably succeed in killing me. I am resigned to this fate. But for as long as I am alive, I will not rest in my desire to lead my people out an abyss of corruption and poverty. For this reason, I am running for the Afghan presidency in 2014. I was born a girl who should have died. But if God wills it, I may die having become the first female president of a country I love and a country that will finally see all of its children—both boys and girls—born into peace and security, not violence and war.
I want see Afghanistan take its rightful place in the world. And I truly believe that with the ongoing support of the international community, one day it will. My plea to the USA and other nations is not to abandon us yet.
Afghan official gunned down on way to mosque
AP 05/01/2012
KABUL, Afghanistan - Attackers gunned down a local government official on his way to a mosque in southern Afghanistan, authorities said Thursday, in the latest hit on a government figure.
Hundreds of Afghan government officials have been killed in recent years as the Taliban pursue a sweeping assassination campaign seeking to weaken confidence in President Hamid Karzai's administration and discourage people from joining the government.
Haji Fazel Mohammad was shot on his way to evening prayers Wednesday in the volatile district of Sangin in Helmand province, the governor's office said. The attackers escaped.
Mohammad served on the local council for Sangin, which has been targeted by frequent insurgent attacks since U.S. and Afghan forces regained control two years ago. The district, a one-time Taliban stronghold, acts as a regional transit hub and is a gateway to a major dam that provides electricity.
Sangin also has one of the highest concentrations of concealed bombs in Afghanistan. More than 100 British troops died there during several years of operations.
The Taliban's assassination campaign has also hit senior figures.
In September, a suicide attacker with a bomb in his turban killed former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, who led a government council seeking a political settlement with the insurgents. The assassin was posing as a Taliban peace emissary.

Tortured Afghan Girl Wants Tormentors Imprisoned
RFE/RL January 05, 2012
When we last left her, Sahar Gul was in dire straits.
The 15-year-old Afghan newlywed, who was allegedly tortured by her husband and in-laws and kept in a basement for several months, was near death when she was rescued about two weeks ago.
Now her doctors, who spoke to RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan, say Gul's condition has improved a bit and that there's no need to send her to India for treatment, as Afghan officials had planned.
Ghamaredin Hafez, the head of the Kabul hospital where Gul is being treated, said, "She was in such critical condition when she was brought here that she wasn’t expected to survive, but as you see, [she’s getting better]”
He added that it will take significantly more time before Gul’s psychological wounds are healed.
“She’s been psychologically deeply harmed. What she needs is a secure atmosphere and absolute rest,” said Hafez.
RFA correspondents who met with Gul report that the wounds and bruises covering her body are beginning to heal and that she can now open her left eye -- previously swollen shut as a result of the beating she said she was subjected to.
While very weak and barely able to speak, she told RFA that the Afghan government should punish those who tortured her. “Put them in prison. That is all I want,” she said.
Gul previously said she was "tortured continuously, every three or four days," in the six months since being sold into marriage far from home with a man twice her age.
She has accused her husband's family of abusing her with pincers, pulling out her fingernails, and ripping out clumps of her hair.
According to officials in northeastern Baghlan province, where Gul was held, she was also tortured her with hot irons and her fingers were broken.
Some local residents say she was tortured after she refused her in-laws' demand that she become a prostitute.
Gul's plight has attracted domestic and international attention and has underlined concerns over the bleak situation for women in Afghanistan, where many are routinely subjected to abuse and discrimination.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has vowed to punish those responsible for Gul's ordeal.
Fazal Rahman, a police officer in Baghlan's second district, said on January 2 that the authorities had arrested Gul's mother-in-law and sister-in-law and were looking for her brother-in-law and father-in-law.
Afghan officials have directed the Defense Ministry to arrest Gul's husband, who is currently serving as a soldier in southern Helmand Province.
-- Golnaz Esfandiari and Richard Solash, based on reporting by Radio Free Afghanistan

Afghanistan's Little Bollywood
Jalalabad turns out movies by the dozen, despite having no cinemas.
IWPR By Hejratullah Ekhtiyar 5 Jan 12
Afghanistan - At first sight, the green tents standing in a row in the southeastern Afghan city of Jalalabad look like they might be temporary shelter for a group of refugees, but they serve a very different purpose. In a city known as “Little Mumbai” as the nearest thing Afghanistan has to Bollywood, the tents are the local cinema.
For around a US dollar a time, Jalalabad residents can come in and watch a locally-made film in their own language, Pashto.
The tent cinemas are only open for business on public holidays. Gaps in the cloth are patched up to prevent daylight getting in.
Zerawar, 23, has seen three films back to back, although his enjoyment was somewhat reduced by the noise from outside the tent, as young men revved their motorbikes nearby.
“I wish there was a cinema hall in Nangarhar province,” Zerawar said. “Our officials are busy looting, and they don’t attend to things like this.”
Back in the 1980s, Jalalabad had two cinemas, but both are long gone.
The head of the film industry workers’ union in eastern Afghanistan, Najibollah Sadeq, said government inaction meant that plans to build cinemas had never materialised, and shops had appeared on the proposed sites.
Sadeq said his association used to rent halls in Nangarhar’s larger hotels to screen films, but the owners had stopped allowing this because of growing security concerns.
As a result, he said, “We have to set up these tents and present our films to the public.”
Mohammad Zarif, who both produced and acted in one of the films now showing, “Upper and Lower Pashtuns United”, said showing it in a tent was a last resort.
“Filmmakers and actors have made great losses here. They have lost interest in it and many have given up the profession,” he said.
After the Taleban government was ousted in 2001, Afghanistan experienced a boom in all kinds of media. When it came to films, nowhere was more productive than Jalalabad, where over 100 movies have been made in the last decade.
Production values may be basic and some of the acting amateurish, but the volume and popularity of the output won Jalalabad the nickname “Little Mumbai”.
It has been an uphill struggle. For a start, none of the female parts are played by locals, because conservative Afghan customs and values make that impossible.
To get round the problem, filmmakers cross into neighbouring Pakistan and hire female actors there, splicing the footage into the sections shot in Nangarhar.
A male actor called Shaan recalled being in scenes of a film in which no women were involved. “When I watched the finished film, I saw an actress running along, and myself chasing after her,” he said.
Such issues reflect the sensitivities of making films in Afghanistan, where TV stations are often under attack for showing Bollywood movies deemed too racy for local tastes.
For viewers like Zerawar, the Nangarhar-made films in Pashto strike the right tone.
“Foreign movies are harmful to our culture and faith, but Afghan films give us messages of patriotism and humanity,” he said.
But as Sadeq pointed out, filmmakers and male actors are constantly at risk from those with more radical views.
“Every evening when I go home, I check around my house four times. I live in fear,” he said. “People believe that if someone works in cinema, he’s an infidel. And we can’t go outside the city to shoot movies.”
He said many Islamic clerics were happy with the content of locally-made films, but if the Taleban tracked down the filmmakers, “they will behead us with a knife”.
Mohammad Asef Bahadori sees himself as a founding member of the Pashto film industry here, but says it has proved impossible to turn a profit.
“I made 12 films in Nangarhar at my own cost. I spent a lot of money, but made huge losses, because the films didn’t bring in enough income to cover costs. I’ve given up making films now,” he said. “Since there’s no cinema for people to come to and pay admission, the films are released on CD even before the final cut. They go on sale in the shops, and that doesn’t pay even five per cent of their cost.”
Mohammad Shah, the representative of the state agency Afghan Film in the provincial government’s culture and information department, said he had raised the matter with more senior officials, to no avail.
“We have nothing in our hands, and there’s nothing we can do about it. The government has not been supportive of the Afghan Film Agency. When we talk to officials about this, they nod their heads but do nothing,” he said.
Sadeq remains optimistic despite all the obstacles. He cites two success stories – a film called “Handprint” won first prize in a national film festival, while a 22-part drama serial called “White Poison” has been taken up by the national television network.
“We cut down on the cost of food for our own children to pay for these films,” he said. “There are no profits to be made in Afghan cinema, but we are driven to make films by our own enthusiasm and by the popular interest in them.”
Hejratullah Ekhtiyar is an IWPR-trained reporter in Nangarhar, Afghanistan.

Afghan Money Unwelcome in Southeastern City
In Nangarhar, Pakistani rupees rather than afghanis are common currency.
IWPR By Hejratullah Ekhtiyar 5 Jan 12
Afghanistan - Afghan army soldier Ahmad Monir had just been paid, and went straight to a currency trader to exchange his afghanis into Pakistani rupees.
Monir was not planning to travel out of Jalalabad, the main city in Nangarhar province of southeastern Afghanistan, but when IWPR asked him why he needed foreign currency, he replied, “Brother, you must be a newcomer to this city. If you’ve got afghanis, change them into kaldars, because no one will accept afghanis here.”
“Kaldar” is the local term used for rupees.
Asked what was wrong with the national currency, Monir said, “Go to [Nangarhar provincial] Governor Gul Agha Sherzai, and you will see he has dollars and kaldars in his pocket. No one respects afghanis.”
Local resident Rahimdad, on a shopping trip to central Jalalabad, said it was cheaper to buy things in Pakistani currency since a shopkeeper would charge him only ten rupees for an item priced at ten afghanis, when according to the official exchange he should be paying almost twice that amount.
Rahimdad said he would struggle to recognise Afghan banknotes if he ever saw them.
University student Mashal recalled trying to pay for a book in Jalalabad, only to have the bookseller return the cash with the words, “Take this back – I don’t know what it’s worth in kaldars.”
The use of rupees in southern provinces, and Iranian currency in some western border areas of Afghanistan, can be attributed to the destabilising effects of years of war, the lack of strong central government, and forced emigration to Pakistan and Iran, as well as the importance of trade with both countries, in particular for imports of consumer goods. The period since 2001 has added a new currency to the mix, the American dollar, which is used for almost all major transactions.
Currency dealer Ehsanollah told IWPR that everyone, including local government staff and NGO workers, came to him to change their wages into rupees. Meanwhile, the only people buying afghanis were those planning trips to Kabul and other areas to the north.
President Hamed Karzai recently instructed police, prosecutors and bankers to set up committees to curb the circulation of foreign currency and promote the use of afghanis. Although one of these committees operates in Nangarhar and other eastern provinces, it has had little impact to date – everything from food to taxi fares is still paid for in rupees.
Ahmadzai, deputy director of the Afghanistan central bank’s Jalalabad branch, said the local committee was monitoring the use of kaldars on the market and imposing on-the-spot fines on offenders.
He pointed out that the afghani had held its value over the last six years while the rupee had depreciated in comparison, so those who used the latter would lose out financially. But the most important factor was for people to “make a resolute decision that they are Afghans and should use afghanis in their country”.
Shopkeeper Abdol Latif described how a member of the currency committee imposed a fine on him for trading in rupees.
“The same individual turned up a week later and bought things from me in kaldars. I told him he had fined me for using kaldars, and now he was paying me in them. The man started apologising, saying he was no longer a member of the committee,” Abdol Latif said.
Ahmad Zia Abdolzai, spokesman for Nangarhar governor Sherzai, said the authorities preferred encouragement to punitive fines.
“The use of kaldars has been tremendously reduced compared with the past. We hope our campaign will foster a national spirit of using afghanis,” he said.
Hajji Azizorrahman, the deputy head of Nangarhar’s chamber of commerce, said it was pointless imposing fines for trading in rupees.
“Kaldars cannot be curbed through cash fines. Shopkeepers will add the value of the fine to their retail prices and pass it on to the customer,” he said.
Azizorrahman said government monetary policy had been uneven and inconsistent, and what was needed was effective legislation that applied to everyone and to all the currencies now in circulation.
“The government should force traders, major contractors and NGO employees to carry out transactions in afghanis, not in kaldars or dollars,” he said.
Hejratullah Ekhtiyar is an IWPR-trained reporter in Nangarhar, Afghanistan.

www.afghanistannewscenter.com (http://www.afghanistannewscenter.com)