View Full Version : [Afghan News] February 15, 2012


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03-03-2012, 05:28 AM
Afghan government asks for headscarves, less make-up on TV
Reuters By Amie Ferris-Rotman Wed Feb 15, 2012
KABUL - An Afghan government request that female television presenters don headscarves and avoid heavy make-up angered journalists on Tuesday, who said the move was proof authorities expected the Taliban to regain a share of power.
Afghan and U.S. officials have been seeking peace negotiations with the Islamist group ousted over a decade ago as a means to ensure stability after foreign combat troops leave, though the talks are in a very fragile state.
In a letter distributed to media, the Ministry of Culture and Information said it had received complaints from members of parliament and families that female news presenters were not observing Islamic and cultural ethics.
"All female news presenters must avoid heavy make-up and wear a headscarf," Minister Sayed Makhdoom Rahin told Reuters by telephone, adding this applied to state and private TV stations.
The ministry's plea came as a surprise to some Afghan media. Journalists all female anchors appear with their heads covered, sparking suggestions the directive was designed to impress the Taliban by pandering to their ultra-conservative views.
"Since we are at the beginning of serious peace and reconciliation talks, the government wants to show they are like the Taliban," said Zarghoona Roshan, a radio journalist for 10 years before she joined media development group Nai.
"The request itself is useless," Roshan added, adjusting her two-toned black and grey headscarf. Nai, which also tracks media infringements, estimates there are around 120 female TV presenters across the country.
Nai's executive director Abdul Mujeeb Khalvatgar said the government had been piling pressure over the past year to restrict content and "keep the public away from the facts they need.
"We have concerns, fears, that this pressure is the beginning of media limitation and this is because of the Taliban. They are paving the way for them," he said.
Khalvatgar cited numerous examples of pressure on the press over the last year, including throwing acid on a veteran Afghan journalist and preventing a Turkish soap opera from being aired.
While Afghan women have gained back basic rights in education, voting and work since the Taliban was toppled in 2001, their plight remains severe and future uncertain as Afghan and U.S. officials seek to negotiate with the hardline group.
As the 2014 deadline looms for foreign combat troops to return home, some activists in and outside Afghanistan fear that women's rights may be sacrificed in the scramble to ensure the West leaves behind a relatively stable and peaceful state.
U.S. officials said last week they wanted to accelerate the talks so peace negotiations can be announced at a NATO summit in May. The Taliban's announcement last month that it was opening a political office in Qatar was seen as a prelude to peace talks.
(Additional reporting by Hamid Shalizi; Editing by Ron Popeski)

Freedom of Expression Should be Protected, MoIC Says
TOLOnews.com By Shakeela Abrahimkhil Tuesday, 14 February 2012
The Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture says that the last decades' achievements particularly freedom of expression should be protected in any kind of peace negotiations with the Taliban.
The comments come as recently Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture ordered Afghan media female presenters to avoid appearing bare head and strong makeup on TV.
"We said the female presenters should at least wear a small veil, but the international media called it a lead-up to bring Taliban into power," Minister of Information and Culture, Sayed Makhdoum Rahin told TOLOnews .
"Some of the media runners believe that this is a pretext to bring back the Taliban," he added. "But whether they come or not, these values should be considered."
The order has no link with peace negotiations with the Taliban, he added.
Some of the media support agencies are concerned over censorship by the government, as some vital information about peace negotiation with the Taliban is believed to be censored.
Some of the government spokespersons are prohibited to provide certain information to media.
Mr Rahin said that he will discuss the issue in the Afghan Council of Ministers.
Some media support agencies believe that several parties within the government are trying to impose some censorship and restrictions on the Afghan media.
There are about 44 TV channels in Afghanistan with a high number of female presenters.

Taliban says the U.S. to repeat Soviet defeat in Afghanistan
By Amie Ferris-Rotman | Reuters – Wed, Feb 15, 2012
KABUL (Reuters) - The Taliban used the 23rd anniversary of the humiliating Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan on Wednesday to taunt the United States that it would suffer the same fate as preparations to hand over security to a shaky government are underway.
"Selfish Americans must learn a lesson from ... the Russian defeat and no longer fight a meaningless battle with zealous Afghans and take their invading forces out as soon as possible," the Afghan Taliban said in an e-mailed statement to media.
Forces from the former Soviet Union exited Afghanistan in 1989 after handing over security to a shaky government that was quickly beset by heavy fighting led by mujahideen groups, many of which were initially aided by the United States and Pakistan.
Now the United States and NATO are racing against the clock to train a 350,000-strong force of Afghan police and soldiers who will take over all security responsibilities before end-2014, though skepticism looms that the target can be met in an increasingly violent war.
"Today's American occupying invaders and their coalition allies are facing the same future the Russian invaders faced in the past," the Taliban statement added, referring to the NATO-led war now dragging into its eleventh year.
Comparing the two wars is not limited to Taliban hype -- fears are surfacing amongst Afghans and analysts that a repeat of the aftermath could take place.
"When the Soviet troops left, it was both a military and economic withdrawal. And once Americans leave, everything else will go with them," said Mir Ahmad Joenda, who was a member of the Afghan parliament during Communist times and now works at the country's Civil Society Forum.
"There is a definite possibility of a repeat of 1989 and its aftermath," Joenda told Reuters.
Afghans -- even those of opposing political sides -- hold intense pride over the forced withdrawal of the former Soviet Union after a decade of war.
Afghan state TV showed rolling footage of Red Army troops atop armored vehicles crossing a bridge at the former Soviet northern border on February 15 1989, an image that has become synonymous with the end of a war that still haunts Moscow and cost 15,000 Soviet lives fighting mujahideen insurgents.
After the dispirited Soviet exit, the Afghan communist government collapsed, leading to infighting between warlords and a vicious civil war that reduced much of Kabul to rubble and paved the way for the Taliban's rise to power in 1996.
"NATO LEAVING BEHIND AN IMPOVERISHED COUNTRY"
Washington has pledged military support and aid -- though at much reduced levels that the billions of dollars spent now -- well after its troops withdraw, much as the Soviets continued to prop up the Communist government of Mohammad Najibullah after their 1989 rush from the country.
But when the Soviet Union collapsed two years later, the aid vanished, Najibullah was ousted in 1992, and in the ensuing war two thirds of Kabul was razed and about 50,000 civilians died.
"Like the Soviets, NATO will be leaving behind an impoverished country crippled by corruption, a government whose writ doesn't extend to many places outside Kabul, and where insurgent fighters are presumably waiting out foreign forces to assert themselves," said Gregory Feifer, author of The Great Gamble, which examines the Soviet war in Afghanistan.
But unlike the Soviet exit strategy, Afghan and U.S. officials are seeking peace negotiations with the Taliban as a means to ushering in some form of stability when foreign combat troops leave though the talks lay in a very fragile state.
Alexander Golts, a military analyst in Moscow, said there was "no doubt" the Taliban would regain a share of power following the NATO pullout, and predicted it would occur more quickly for the austere Islamist group the second time round.
"American and NATO forces will leave Afghanistan with limited success, which means we cannot be absolutely sure that in two, three or in five months' time, the Talibs will not return to power."
(Reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman, additional reporting by Mirwais Harooni in Kabul and Thomas Grove in Moscow, Editing by Rob Taylor and Ed Lane)

I Would Not Approve Transfer of Any Taliban Inmates: Panetta
TOLOnews.com Wednesday, 15 February 2012
The US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said on Tuesday that he would not approve the transfer of any Taliban inmates held at the US-run prison in Guantanamo Bay, unless he was sure the detainees would not return to the battlefield.
His comments come as President Barack Obama's administration has confirmed tentative discussions with the Taliban insurgency on a possible transfer of five inmates from Guantanamo Bay to Qatar.
Recently the CIA Director General David Petraeus has told a congressional committee that he believes Afghan forces should not enter Pakistan to destroy the sanctuaries that the Taliban leaders allegedly enjoyed in that country.
But the US Defence Minister struck a cautious tone at a senate hearing, saying he was legally bound to ensure the release of an inmate would not pose a security threat.
Mr Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee, "absolutely no decisions have been made along this line."
Kabul and Washington have agreed to the establishment of a Taliban office in Qatar and stressed that the talks have to be led by Afghans.
But the main precondition of the Taliban to hold talks is the release of Taliban prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay detention centre.
Previously, there were reports that three high profile Taliban prisoners were released from Guantanamo Bay detention centre and transferred to Qatar.
The transfer of Taliban detainees was strongly criticised by top US Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss.
President Karzai's National Security Advisor Dr Rangin Dadfar Sapanta in his recent Exclusive Interview with TOLOnews, said that Taliban are the murderers of Afghan people and servants of foreigners.
Mr Spanta said one should not expect humane behaviour from the Taliban.
He said if government tries to bring Taliban to power, he will feel ashamed to be part of it.
Killing is the art of the Taliban and if anyone calls Taliban leaders as "heroes" will be a traitor and enemy of Afghanistan, Mr Spanta continued.
He emphasised that Taliban propaganda must not cause the Afghan government to lose the war that it has to win.
Mr Spanta believes that the Taliban can be considered the main problem for Afghanistan in the last 10 years.
He called Taliban's Qatar office is only an address to the militant group, and not a political office.

Afghan bride burns herself in protest of domestic violence
By Abdul Haleem, Chen Xin
KABUL, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- "I have knocked any door to get rid of violence but all of my complaints have fallen to deaf ears. Instead, the prosecutor accused me of lying and warned me of dire consequence," a woman named Sadat revealed her ordeal in a weak voice while receiving treatment in Herat hospital.
The bandaged wrapped image of the young woman showed by the private Tolo television on Wednesday tells of the nightmare she had faced in her in-laws home.
Sadat, 15, is a native of Herat province 640 km west of Afghan capital Kabul. She married a man five months ago, hoping to start a happy new life.
"I got married to a man in Sawa village of Anjil district five months ago. My husband and my father-in-law had beaten me without any reason several times. The repeated mistreatment had forced me to complain, but all in vain as the prosecutor in Herat city overlooked my petition and warned me to either withdraw the complaint or face imprisonment," the badly injured bride told Xinhua from her bed in hospital.
"The last time I sought justice on Monday, the prosecutor again warned me of dire consequence if I refuse to withdraw my complaints.
"Such behavior left me with no choice but self-immolation because it was the only way to get rid of violence and insult," the severely burned lady murmured in her bed.
The doctor treating her in Herat hospital was skeptical of her recovery.
"She is in critical condition as 80 percent of her skin is burned. she has only 20 percent chance to survive," a doctor in the hospital told Xinhua.
This is not the first case of violence against women in post- Taliban Afghanistan.
For instance, Sahar Gul, a 15-years old girl from northern Baghlan province, was found by police last December to have been locked in an underground cell for six months by her in-laws.
Women's life has been tremendously changed in post-Taliban Afghanistan compared with a decade ago when Taliban regime ruled the country, but Afghan women are still suffering.
Taliban regime had confined women to their houses and outlawed schooling for girls. But in today's Afghanistan women are active in political, economic and social activities.
There are three women in Afghan cabinet and several women in parliament. Meanwhile, 30 percent of more than 8 million school children are girls.
Nevertheless, in the war-torn and conservative Afghanistan some traditional practices that violate women's rights are still widespread. Child marriage, forced marriage and exchange marriages are singled out by right activists as the most common violations.
"We presented our petition and complaints three months ago to get justice but have been overlooked, because the father-in-law of my daughter is an influential gun lord," the dejected mother standing alongside the bed of her burned daughter told Xinhua.
"This is my earnest demand not to trample the right of a woman and bring to justice those behind the crime as soon as possible," the mother of the young victim said.

Afghanistan's foiled 10-year-old suicide bombers come back for more
Los Angles Times Opinion February 14, 2012
What do you call a 10-year-old boy in Afghanistan? Apparently, a suicide bomber.
The Times reported Tuesday that two 10-year-olds who had been arrested for trying to carry out suicide attacks, then released last year, had been rearrested -- for trying to carry out suicide bombings.
Provincial spokesman Zalmay Ayubi said the boys each had a vest full of explosives when they were detained along with three adults suspected of being militants, and that they told intelligence officers they had been recruited for suicide missions.
A statement from provincial officials quoted one of the boys, named Azizullah, as saying the pair had undergone training at a madrasa, or religious school, in Pakistan. The mullahs there told the boys they would be unharmed when they set off their bombs, Azizullah reportedly said.
News of the boys' arrest came the same week that Muslim militant Umar Patek appeared in court in Indonesia to answer charges related to deadly bombings a decade ago in Bali that killed 202 people in a nightclub. Oddly enough -- or perhaps not -- he was captured last year in Abbottabad, the Pakistani town where Osama bin Laden was hiding.
But unlike the 202 people killed in the bombings, Patek gets a lawyer. And surprise, he downplayed his client's role: "His involvement in the Bali bombing ... [was] not as big as is being described. We will challenge that in a defense plea next week."
Also this week, a radical Islamic preacher, Abu Qatada, who had been under detention in Britain for most of the last 6 1/2 years, was released from jail Monday.
British officials consider him extremely dangerous, saying he encourages suicide attacks and terrorism, and they want him sent back to Jordan to face terrorism charges.
But Abu Qatada also is being given the benefit of the doubt in some legal circles. Last month the European Court of Human Rights blocked his deportation, saying he could face conviction on the basis of evidence obtained by torture.
And what do these cases have in common?
They show the difficulty -- perhaps even the futility -- of trying to fight terrorism within the judicial system.
When religious leaders find it acceptable to use children as bombs, it says something terrible about the values of our enemies.
And although it's a tribute to modern society that we remain committed to legal rules, those same legal rules can be -- are being -- manipulated by those committed to our destruction.
It would be nice if there were an easy answer. Perhaps the madrasas that are training children to be terrorists should be shut down?
Not likely. As the recent controversy in the U.S. over health insurance coverage for contraceptives shows, government interference in religious freedom is a tough sell everywhere.
No, we're stuck. We must stick to our legal system. We must allow freedom of religion.
And we must fight our enemies and safeguard our soldiers and our nation.
But it would be nice if we could keep 10-year-olds out of the fight.

NATO Says 8 Youths Killed in Recent Afghan Air Strike
VOA News February 15, 2012
NATO-led forces in Afghanistan have offered condolences for eight young Afghan men killed in an air strike last week in eastern Kapisa province.
Army Brigadier Gen. Lewis Boone told reporters in Kabul that the aircraft dropped two bombs on the group which was carrying weapons and believed to be an imminent threat to coalition forces in the area.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the air strike and ordered U.S. and NATO forces to take more actions to prevent civilian casualties.
Local officials say the dead were between the ages of 6 and 14 with one being a mentally-ill young man around 18 to 20 years old.
British Air Commodore Mike Wigston says the young men were "adult-sized" and he had no doubt they were carrying weapons. He says military examinations of photographs of the bodies puts them about 15, with one being older.
The issue of civilian casualties caused by coalition operations has long been a source of tension between President Karzai and NATO.
A United Nations report released earlier this month said more than 3,000 civilians were killed in 2011 - the worst death toll in the decade-long Afghan war.
Officials with the U.N. mission in Afghanistan said insurgents were responsible for 77 percent, or 2,300, of Afghan civilian deaths, and that the 410 deaths caused by foreign and local forces dropped by 4 percent.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

New Ministers Introduce to Afghan Parliament for Vote
TOLOnews.com Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Afghan Minister in Parliamentary Affairs, Homayoun Azizi on Wednesday said that some changes have been brought in the Afghan cabinet.
Mr Azizi said that the list of ministers has been sent to Afghan parliament to win vote of confidence.
It comes after some MPs criticised the government for not introducing the remaining cabinet and Supreme Court members to win vote of confidence.
Several ministries including Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Transport and Aviation, Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of Water and Energy, Ministry of Women's Affairs, Ministry of Communication and Technology and Ministry of Urban Development are still being managed by acting ministers since nearly two years.
The Afghan Parliament has said that MPs have decided not to approve next year's budget unless the government introduces the remaining ministers and members of the High Court and Attorney General.
Some of the MPs believe that even if the budget is approved, some ministers within Afghan cabinet are not competent enough to spend it properly.
The Afghan Civil Society Forum also criticised this week and said that the government may not introduce the remaining cabinet members even by the end of the announced deadline.
Head of the Afghan Civil Society Forum, Azizullah Rafie, said that despite several promises by the government, the remaining cabinet members have not been introduced to the Afghan Parliament to win vote of confidence.
List of new ministers:
1- Obaidullah Obaid, Minister of Higher Education.
2- Engineer Najibullah Aazhang, Minister of Public Works.
3- Dr Hassan Abdulhai, Minister of Urban Development.
4- Wais Barmak, Minister of Rural Development.
5- Suraya Dalil, Minister of Public Health.
6- Mohammad Ismail Khan, Minister of Energy and Water.
7- Husn Banu Ghazanfar, Minister of Women Affairs.
8- Amirzai Sangin, Minister of Communication and Technology.
9- Daoud Ali Najafi, Minister of Transport and Aviation.

NATO-led forces kill 2 suspected militants, detain 2 in northern Afghan town
KUNDUZ, Afghanistan, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had killed two suspected Taliban militants and captured two others on Tuesday night during an operation in Khanabad district, Kunduz province, 250 km north of Kabul, a local official said Wednesday.
"The international coalition forces raided a house in Laghmani Qushlaq village of Khanabad district last night and killed two brothers on charges of having links to the Taliban," a local police officer Mohammad Omar told Xinhua.
The troops also arrested two more others from the village, he said.
Meantime, the NATO-led troops confirmed the operation in a statement released here.
"An Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation in search of a Taliban leader in Khanabad district, Kunduz province, yesterday. The leader is responsible for attacks against civilians and Afghan forces in the region. During the operation, two armed insurgents displayed hostile intent toward the security force. The security force engaged and killed the two insurgents," the statement added.

A grim future for Afghanistan
ABC Online By Amin Saikal 15 February 2012
The United States has announced that it intends to withdraw most of its troops from Afghanistan a year earlier than it had originally declared. This is in sync with an earlier French pullout, but confusing for the Afghan government and music to the ears of the Taliban and their supporters.
Meanwhile, a leaked secret NATO report has presented a very grim picture of the situation in Afghanistan. It clearly establishes the links between Pakistan's notorious military intelligence, the ISI, and points to the Taliban's growing strength and alludes to the militia's ability to regain power.
The report makes very uncomfortable reading for the Karzai government and Washington. Yet these are not altogether new revelations.
It is a presidential election year in the US. President Barack Obama wishes to be seen as having fulfilled his pre-election promise to end America's involvement in the trillion-dollar wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. An indication of an early withdrawal from Afghanistan could also mean that Washington is preparing for a military showdown with Iran over the country's nuclear program, as the US remains conscious of not allowing too many American troops to become Iran's target in Afghanistan.
As for the NATO secret report, it essentially confirms what some Afghanistan specialists (including myself) have repeatedly been saying: Pakistan's notorious military intelligence service, ISI, continues to leverage the Taliban and their affiliates, the so-called Haqani network, with a clear aim of securing a receptive government in Kabul in the wake of the US-led NATO troop withdrawal.
It also reinforces the view that the Taliban, as fractured as they may be, are doing a lot better than the Karzai government in winning over an increasing number of the Afghan people, especially among the ethnic Pashtuns, who form about 42 per cent of the Afghan population, with even some of the people within the Karzai government ready to jump ship. This is for a number of reasons. Chief among them are three.
First of all the Karzai government has remained extremely weak, dysfunctional, corrupt and untrustworthy. Most Afghans do not know what it precisely stands for: is it a perverted form of a politically pluralist Afghanistan with an Islamic face, with which most Afghans cannot identify, or a kind of tribalised authoritarian Muslim Afghanistan, with some distorted democratic trappings, which have proved to be very confusing to most Afghans? As for the Taliban's stance, it is easily discernable by the mostly illiterate, conservative Muslim Afghan population: defence of Islam, country and honour.
Secondly, the US and its allies have pursued a strategy that has been inappropriate for Afghanistan's conditions. The shift from counter-terrorism to counter-insurgency under president Obama has been more in name than substance. In the absence of a credible Afghan partner on the ground, no strategy can achieve its objectives. The US and its allies have certainly sunk a lot of money and energy into building the Afghan National Army and Police Force.
It all looks good in terms of numbers, but their ability to grow as coherent national forces able to take over security operations from foreign troops is highly doubtful. They remain very much captive of the dynamics of the mosaic nature of the Afghan society, with little or no identification with a central government for which they could fight.
Besides which, like the Karzai administration (if one can call it an administration), they are penetrated, at all levels, by the Taliban as well as an array of foreign intelligence services, most importantly the ISI.
Thirdly, there is no regional consensus on Afghanistan. The US and its allies have not given this a top priority, largely due to US-Iranian hostilities and an American inability to rein in the Pakistani military/ISI.
As long as these factors remain in place, the Taliban and their Pakistani backers have good reason to remain hopeful about their chances of succeeding in the end, but a Taliban takeover of power also carries the serious risk of non-Pashtun Afghan population clusters taking up arms once again to defend themselves, with Iran, India and Russia providing support. This would be a development that could plunge Afghanistan into a wider bloody conflict.
The Taliban and their Pakistani patrons are aware of this, and this is a challenge that they may try to address by enticing Karzai and some of his ministers, who are more keen to protect their interests than those of Afghanistan, to join them.
In this, the 10,000-20,000 troops that the US may leave behind to man a few bases in Afghanistan for 'above the horizon' operations until 2024 may prove to be of little use in saving what Washington claims to be the momentum of stability in Afghanistan.
Amin Saikal is professor of Political Science and Director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (the Middle East and Central Asia) at the ANU. A new edition of his book Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival will be published in April. View his full profile here.

Pakistan’s Musharraf Has Been Accused of Knowing Osama bin Laden’s Hideout
Gen. Ziauddin Khawaja, an ex–security chief for Pakistan, accuses former president Pervez Musharraf of knowing where bin Laden was hiding and saying nothing.
The Daily Beast By Bruce Riedel Feb 14, 2012
Ever since the Navy SEALs found Osama bin Laden hiding in Abbottabad, Pakistan, less than a mile from the country’s national military academy, the question haunting American relations with Pakistan has been: who knew he was there? How did the most-wanted man in human history find a hideout in one of Pakistan’s most exclusive military cantonment cities and live there for five years without the Pakistani spy service finding him? Or did it know all along?
Now there is an explosive new charge. The former head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) says former president Pervez Musharraf knew bin Laden was in Abbottabad. Gen. Ziauddin Khawaja, also known as Ziauddin Butt, was head of the ISI from 1997 to 1999. A four-star general, he fought in the 1965 and 1971 wars with India. He was the first head of the Army’s Strategic Plans Division, which controls the country’s nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made him director-general of the ISI in 1997 and promoted him to chief of Army staff on Oct. 12, 1999, when he fired Musharraf from the job. Musharraf refused to go and launched a coup that overthrew Sharif. Ziauddin spent the next two years in solitary confinement, was discharged from the Army, and had his property confiscated and his retirement benefits curtailed. So he has a motive to speak harshly about Musharraf.
Bearing that in mind, here is what the former spy chief claims. Ziauddin says that the safe house in Abbottabad was made to order for bin Laden by another Pakistani intelligence officer, Brig. Gen. Ijaz Shah, who was the ISI bureau head in Lahore when Musharraf staged his coup. Musharraf later made him head of the intelligence bureau, the ISI’s rival in Pakistan’s spy-versus-spy wars. Ziauddin says Ijaz Shah was responsible for setting up bin Laden in Abbottabad, ensuring his safety and keeping him hidden from the outside. And Ziauddin says Musharraf knew all about it.
Ijaz Shah is a colorful character. He has been closely linked to Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British-born Kashmiri terrorist who was imprisoned in India in 1994 for kidnapping three British citizens and an American. Saeed was freed when Pakistani terrorists hijacked an Indian airliner to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in December 2000, a plot masterminded by bin Laden and assisted by the ISI and the Afghan Taliban. Saeed was part of the plot two years later to kidnap Daniel Pearl and turned himself in to Brigadier Shah. Musharraf nominated Shah to be ambassador to Australia, but Canberra said no thanks. So he got the intelligence-bureau job.
Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto accused Shah of being behind the attempt to murder her when she returned from exile in late 2007. She was, of course, killed in another attempt later that year. Shah fled to Australia for a time while the situation cooled off.
Ziauddin says Ijaz Shah was responsible for setting up bin Laden in Abbottabad and Musharraf knew all about it.
Without a doubt, Ziauddin has an ax to grind. But he is also well tied in to the Pakistani intelligence world. When he was DG/ISI, he set up a special commando team to find and capture bin Laden with U.S. help. Elite commandos from the Special Services Group, Pakistan’s SEALs, were put on the hunt. Musharraf disbanded the group after he took power. Ziauddin’s successor at the ISI, Gen. Mahmud Ahmad, refused American requests to go after bin Laden right up to 9/11. Then Musharraf had to fire him because, even after 9/11, he did not want to do anything to bring bin Laden to justice.
We don’t know who was helping hide bin Laden, but we need to track them down. If Mush, as many call him in Pakistan, knew, he should be questioned by the authorities the next time he sets foot in America. The explosive story about him, which was first reported in the must-read Militant Leadership Monitor, is more than an academic issue. If we can find who hid bin Laden, we will probably know who is hiding his successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the rest of the al Qaeda gang.
Bruce Riedel, a former longtime CIA officer, is a senior fellow in the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution. At President Obama’s request, he chaired the strategic review of policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2009. He is author of the book Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America and the Future of the Global Jihad and The Search for Al Qaeda: Its Leadership, Ideology and Future.

Russia to Clear it's Shares from Two Afghan Companies
TOLOnews.com Tuesday, 14 February 2012
The Afghan Ministry of Commerce and Industries on Tuesday said that the Russian Embassy in Kabul wants to clear it's shares of Afsotr and Strauss companies.
The ministry has started it's researches about Russian shares in these companies and Afghan government will welcome if Russia is interested to re-open these companies in Afghanistan.
As approved by the Afghan Council of Ministers, the Afghan Ministry of Commerce will help in clearing 40 percent of shares of the Afghan-Russian Strauss company.
Besides 50 enterprises established by the Russians, it opened some corporate with the Afghan government. Officials say that most of these companies are currently inactive or have been transferred to the private sector.
"In 1382, it was proposed to them but they didn't accept it," a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce and Industries said. "But now they have shown interest."
The Ministry is pessimistic about reopening of these companies by Russia.
"They are experienced enough in this regard and if it's in the interest of Afghan people," he added. "Then the Afghan government will welcome their proposal."

Snowstorms Take A Toll In Afghan Refugee Camps
NPR By Quil Lawrence February 14, 2012
Kabul's fourth snowstorm in the past month brought children out to play across the city, including those in the Charahi Qambar refugee camp in the western part of the capital.
Many of the children in the camp don't remember any other life outside of this mud-brick shantytown. Most of their parents fled the southern province of Helmand when the war heated up there four years ago.
Opening the plastic sheet that serves as a door to her one-room home, Ram Bibi's hands shake from arthritis and the cold. She left Helmand four years ago after a bombardment that killed her husband. Now her home is a room about 10 by 20 feet wide, where she says 13 people sleep, most of them children.
"This is the worst winter we've had," she says, noting that the families in the area came from the warmer areas in southern Afghanistan. "The kids don't realize that playing in the snow and getting wet can leave them with a deadly chill as night falls."
Still Dependent On Aid
Despite a decade of substantial Western aid, Afghanistan remains one of the world's poorest countries, and this winter is testing the government's ability to help its citizens in need. The cold has claimed the lives of at least two dozen children so far.
At another house in the Charahi Qambar refugee camp, Aw Muhammad pulls back the curtain on an even smaller room where he, his wife and his children sleep. There were nine in the family, he says, until the last storm hit. His daughter Naghma was just 2 years old — and was beautiful and healthy until this winter.
"She got really, really sick when the ground was really cold," he says. "She died at night while she was sleeping, and [when] we woke in the morning, she was dead."
Muhammad points to snow that is melting off his makeshift roof. The water soaks the floor and makes it impossible to feel warm at night, even next to the family's small, smoky wood stove.
"This is the coldest winter in many years, some would say decades," says Ken Yama****a, who directs the U.S. Agency for International Development in Afghanistan. He says that media reports about the deaths in the camp have inspired a flood of donations.
A Slow Government Response
The Afghan government, however, was slow to react to the problems in the camps. Dayem Kaakar, director of Afghanistan's National Disaster Management Authority, says the government still isn't ready to handle a crisis on its own, and probably won't be for years to come.
There is also a political dimension to the camps. The government and international organizations have resisted setting up permanent shelters or aid distribution for fear of making the camps more permanent. Even as the aid started to flow, some leaders in the camp were angry.
"To hell with President Karzai," said Taj Muhhammad Khan, an elected leader of the Charahi Qambar camp. "They don't even treat us like we're from Afghanistan. The government just wants us to disappear."

Afghan Investors Scared by Kidnapping Wave
Businessmen suspect they make easy targets for organised criminals linked to government.
IWPR By Mina Habib 14 Feb 12
Afghanistan - Afghan police and relatives of powerful officials have been linked to a wave of kidnapping and killing that threatens to scare away investors vital to economic recovery.
When Shour Niazi, a trader, was kidnapped in the capital Kabul on January 20, it was by armed men in the uniform of the National Security Directorate, the domestic intelligence agency.
Once inside the vehicle, they pulled a black mask over his face and drove him to a building where he was detained and beaten every day, while the kidnappers demanded a three million US dollar ransom from his family.
“When they realised they wouldn’t get the money, they wanted to kill me,” Niazi told IWPR. “I made a hole in the wooden ceiling of the room and escaped. I then informed the police, who arrested some of them.”
Niazi has little confidence the men will be punished. He says suspects in such cases are always released.
Kidnappings are nothing new in Afghanistan, but some fear the problem is escalating ahead of the 2014 withdrawal of American forces.
The Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, ACCI, says 85 of its members have been killed or abducted since late March 2011, 20 more than in the preceding 12 months.
Ahmad Shah Hakimi, deputy chairman of the Kabul Chamber of Commerce, believes police were complicit in an attack on his entourage while he was transporting three million dollars last July.
The assailants attempted to kidnap Hakimi and his brother, and killed two of his bodyguards. Although the abduction attempt failed, they made off with the money, held in a box inside Hakimi’s vehicle.
The circumstances of the attack made him suspicious.
“If government officials are not supporting these groups, how come they were able to kill two of my bodyguards and steal my money close to a police checkpoint?” he asked.
ACCI vice-chairman Khan Jan Alokozay told IWPR that his organisation believes senior officials and their relatives, rather than insurgent groups or ordinary criminals, are involved,
“These are officials who have positions in the government. High ranking officials support them and they use government facilities,” he alleged.
When the perpetrators of abductions are arrested, Alokozay says they are often released soon afterwards on the orders of corrupt officials.
“There are documents and evidence available that indicate that some kidnappers have been released by the legal and judicial authorities,” he said.
Alokozay said criminal proceedings against suspected kidnappers had been derailed by interference in Paktia and Logar provinces, and in Jalalabad city in Nangarhar province, all in eastern areas of Afghanistan.
“Investment has fallen by 30 percent because of these factors,” he added.
Alokozay said police were currently under pressure to release a man arrested last month for alleged involvement in a kidnapping. The pressure, he said, was being exerted by the suspect’s brother, a member of the Meshrano Jirga or upper house of parliament.
General Mohammad Zaher, head of criminal investigations at Kabul police headquarters, acknowledged that this was the case but insisted the force would not be swayed.
“The senator is exerting pressure on us to release his brother,” he said. “We have never released a criminal because he is a someone’s relative or client, nor will we ever do so.”
The general insisted the police had a good record on solving abduction cases.
“The police have acted successfully in every kidnapping case, and have arrested the criminals with all due haste,” he said.
His predecessor in the post, however, conceded that some members of the Afghan National Police had taken part in kidnappings.
“When I was head of criminal investigations at Kabul police headquarters, I arrested about seven police officers for involvement in such cases,” Sayed Abdul Ghafar Sayedzada, now director of criminal investigations at the Afghan interior ministry, said.
Sayedzada said the courts needed to make more of an effort to ensure suspects were prosecuted.
“I would urge the legal and judicial bodies to act swiftly and seriously in solving these cases,” he said.
Officials at the prosecution service and Supreme Court declined to be interviewed on these matters.
Economists warn that increasing lawlessness targeting businesses is bad news. With international aid expected to decline following the withdrawal, domestic economic activity will become increasingly important. But crime and poor security could prompt an exodus of investors and their capital.
Economist Hekmat Samsor says poor security and suspicions of official complicity in criminality is already hitting businesses hard.
“When investors are kidnapped or assassinated, and when they don’t feel safe, they will undoubtedly freeze their capital and transfer it abroad,” he said. “I’ve personally witnessed the closure of dozens of companies and factories. They have all stopped working for this one reason.”
Businessman Babrak Sherzai is among those now considering leaving because of the lack of protection.
“Over the past decade, investors have faced many problems – interference by neighbouring countries, extortion by police on the highways, kidnapping, and assassination – yet the government has done nothing about it,” he said. “If security cannot be guaranteed for our capital, for ourselves and for our families, we will have to move abroad.”
After his kidnap experience, Niazi is considering leaving Afghanistan for a safer environment.
“I don’t think I will be able to continue living in this country under these circumstances,” he said. “I have to think of other options that will allow me to survive.”
Mina Habib is an IWPR-trained contributor in Kabul.

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