[Afghan News] July 21, 2012 - 08-03-2012, 04:40 AM
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — NATO says insurgent attacks have killed three of its service members in eastern Afghanistan.
A roadside bomb killed two Sunday morning, while another service member died in a separate attack on Saturday. It provided no further details on the incidents or the nationalities of the troops.
The deaths bring the number of foreign forces killed in July to 30, for a total of 245 so far this year.
NATO also said that it killed a number of insurgents with an airstrike in the Mohammad Agha district of eastern Logar province. It did not provide further details.
Fighting in eastern Afghanistan has been raging since spring as NATO tries to clear the area of insurgents
6 insurgents killed in Afghan operations
KABUL, July 21 (Xinhua) -- Six insurgents had been killed and three others detained in military operations within the past 24 hours, the Afghan Interior Ministry said Saturday.
"Afghan police, army and coalition forces launched seven joint cleanup operations in Takhar, Kandahar, Zabul, Herat, Farah and Helmand provinces, killing six armed Taliban insurgents and detaining three others," the ministry said in a statement.
They also found and seized weapons, the statement said, without saying if there were any casualties on the side of security forces.
The Taliban insurgents group, which stepped up their attacks on Afghan and NATO-led troops since an annual spring offensive was launched on May 3 in the war-ravaged country, has yet to make comments.
Afghanistan Maps Natural Mineral Resources
VOA News July 21, 2012
Afghanistan has become the first country to map its natural mineral resources using an advanced remote sensing technique known as hyperspectral imaging.
The mapping, a collaborative effort between the U.S. Geological Survey and the Afghan Geological Survey, generated more than 800 million pixels of data from Afghanistan's rugged and mountainous terrain.
Afghanistan's ambassador to the United States, Ekil Hakimi, says the "transparent and credible information" about its minerals has already helped to attract foreign investors.
"Countries like India, China, Canada, Turkey, and companies like Exxon, Mobil, and Chevron have all either secured contracts or expressed serious interest in resource extraction," said Hakimi.
About 70 percent of Afghanistan has been mapped with the hyperspectral imaging, giving the government a clear picture of the country's abundant natural resources, an essential tool for the development of an economically viable minerals market. Hakimi says this information is the beginning of a new vision for Afghanistan.
"This will once again establish Afghanistan as a strategic land bridge that connects the Asian and middle Eastern markets, stimulating broad-based development and economic diversification," Hakimi added.
The director of the U.S. Geological Survey, Dr. Marcia McNutt, says going to Afghanistan to map its resources with the new technology was a dream come true.
"Suddenly someone comes to you and says 'I'm going to give you more money than your agency has ever seen and you get to go - we've going to give you the key to unlock this country that for 75 years has been undiscovered from a natural resources standpoint and by the way there's a new tool that has never been used on this planet before to map natural resources,'" McNutt recalled.
McNutt says with the success Afghanistan has had with mapping its mineral assets, she is sure other countries will want to use the hyperspectral imaging technique.
Feature: Fasting Afghans in Ramadan pray for lasting peace
by Adbul Haleem
KABUL, July 20 (Xinhua) -- "Oh Allah Almighty, please accept our pray for the sake of Ramadan, for the sake of innocent children and for Your Greatness, ignore our sins and ensure lasting peace in Afghanistan," a prayer leader prayed in a local mosque here in the Afghan capital at Friday congregation.
In his call which was accompanied by hundreds of praying people inside the mosque, the prayer leader also called on praying people to observe Ramadan with fervor and pray for forgiveness, for the end of conflicts and for the progress of the conflict-ridden country.
Friday is the first day of Ramadan or the holy fasting month this year in Afghanistan and other Islamic countries.
Ramadan is a special month of the year for the Muslims as the faithful people including women and men who are mature and adolescent, observe Roza or fast from dawn to dust during which eating food, drinking water and having love are forbidden.
Nowadays, Iftar or fast breaking meal in Afghanistan begins at 07:15 p.m. local time and Sahar or pre-dawn meal begins at 03:15 a. m. local time. After having Sahar, taking any meal is forbidden for a fasting man until Iftan which begins at 07:15 p.m. local time.
The fasting people, after having Iftar, perform Tarawih or congregation night prayers in which the women also can join it.
During Ramadan the hustle bustle in bazaars begins in the afternoon. The roadside restaurants begin cooking variety of dishes including Bar-b-qeu.
Along the roadsides and corners of bazaars, working men are seen preparing soft food and light food such as soup, Pakora, Samousa, Baloni or pizza-like bread.
"This is the month of blessing, the month of forgiveness and the month of worship. Let us to get more benefit for our welfare in this world and the world hereafter," said a fasting man named Nur Agha.
During Ramadan, the dining table of well-off families is decorated with variety of food and the fasting people often break the fast with date. However, the prayer leaders called on wealthy people to assist the poor families during Ramadan.
The rich people during Ramadan are religious obligation to assist the poor from cash to cattle and humanitarian assistance.
All the Afghan television channels including the national one have begun airing special programs ranging from religious to health for Ramadan. A doctor hosted by the private television channel Tolo in Sahar time urged the viewers to have light meal in fast breaking time.
Ramadan lasts 28, 29 or 30 days, depending on moon sight. However, the fasting people, usually in the middle of Ramadan begin preparation for Eidul-Fitr, the second largest religious festival in year. The biggest religious festival among the Muslims is Eidul Adha or Eidul Qurban during which the Muslims slaughter an animal and distribute meat to the poor.
UN, Clerics Urge Afghan Peace During Ramadan
Aru Pande VOA News July 20, 2012
The United Nations is urging an end to violence in Afghanistan, as Muslims mark the first day of the holy month of Ramadan.
The head of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Jan Kubis, issued a statement calling for all parties to "respect the sanctity of this month and allow Afghan families to worship and celebrate in peace."
"Let us all work during this holy month for the peace and the welfare of all Afghans who have suffered for over three long decades of conflict," Kubis said.
In Kabul, clerics also called for an end to violence. Abdul Raouf led Friday prayers in a Kabul mosque. He told The Associated Press, "This holy month of Ramadan is a holy feast for Muslims. During this feast, people should not kill by suicide attacks, people should not get killed by any means anywhere, but instead we should give the message of peace, the message of brotherhood and the message of mercy to everyone."
Human rights activist Niamatullah Hamdard hopes the calls will have a "positive impact" so that "we will have peace in this country and more children and Afghans are not killed."
Despite the calls for peace, authorities in southern Afghanistan said a roadside bomb killed a district police chief and at least four of his guards in Uruzgan province. The blast took place in the Sarab district late Thursday.
Afghanistan’s Economic Challenges
New York Times Editorial 20/07/2012
As American and coalition forces prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the Afghan government faces a challenge as daunting as the need to take over the fight against the Taliban: assuming responsibility for an economy that has been almost exclusively dependent on outside assistance for more than a decade.
The numbers are staggering. According to the World Bank, an estimated 97 percent of Afghanistan’s roughly $15.7 billion gross domestic product comes from international military and development aid and spending in the country by foreign troops. The economy is already contracting as troops leave, and future growth will be slower, especially in urban areas and areas of conflict.
To increase the odds for a more gradual and manageable transition, the United States and other major donors pledged $16 billion in development aid through 2015 at a conference in Tokyo last week. It was an important and necessary commitment. Now they have to deliver.
The United States and other nations have promised that they will not abandon Afghanistan, which happened in 1989 after the Soviet Union was pushed out. The World Bank has warned that an abrupt aid cutoff could provoke a collapse of political authority, civil war and a greater reliance on opium profits.
The major donors, however, are mired in financial crisis, and they are tired of war and with the corruption and ineptness of President Hamid Karzai’s government, which has failed to build a stable and viable country despite the loss of thousands of lives and billions of dollars of assistance.
Not all the money has been wasted. Since 2001, many more Afghans have access to health care, schooling and even cellphones. But the country is still one of the world’s poorest and lacks reliable basic services like electricity.
The government has been unable to generate enough revenue to cover more than a fraction of its budget. Billions of dollars have been transferred to Dubai and elsewhere as Afghans with huge caches of cash bet against their country’s future and sabotage its ability to grow.
Transparency International, a watchdog group, says Afghanistan is among the world’s most corrupt countries and getting worse. The group says at least $1 billion donated over the past eight years has been siphoned off.
The Tokyo conference tried to address this issue by requiring, for the first time, the Afghan government to reduce corruption before receiving all of the newly promised aid. Mr. Karzai gave all the right assurances, but he has done that before. If he is serious now, he is fast running out of time.
Just days after the conference, seven top members resigned from the government agency that promotes investment in Afghanistan over what they said was rampant corruption and mismanagement. If Mr. Karzai fails to enact serious reforms and prosecute lawbreakers, the United States and other donors will lose all credibility if they don’t withhold at least some aid. Now is also the time for Afghans and the international community to work to guarantee free and fair elections so a new president can be chosen as called for, in the constitution, in 2014.
Eventually, Afghanistan has to wean itself from its donors. Indigenous businesses are growing, and there is even greater potential. The country has significant mineral deposits. Exxon Mobil has hinted at interest in exploring for oil. A recent conference organized by India drew investors from more than 40 countries. These opportunities will have much better prospects with a transparent, honest, competent and law-based government.
Leaving Afghanistan by 2015 Requires Shipping a Container Every 7 Minutes
By Esther Zuckerman | The Atlantic Wire – Fri, Jul 20, 2012
How could NATO get supplies out of Afghanistan in time for the drawdown? A shipping container worth of gear sent every seven minutes, all day, every day.
Writing in Foreign Policy, Vanda Felbab-Brown explains that, according to NATO officials, in order to remove International Security Assistance Force military equipment from Afghanistan by the end of 2014: "a container would have to leave the country every seven minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, starting now."
Felbab-Brown's report brings up an interesting point, pairing that oft-asked question of how soon should the U.S. leave with how soon can the U.S. leave. Getting everything they want out of there will not be easy or quick. According to Felbab-Brown, about 100,000 containers and 50,000 wheeled vehicles need to go.
Joshua Kucera, writing in The Diplomat, asked a similar question back in April, when the Pakistan-Afghanistan border was shut down following a November NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. Earlier this month Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apologized to Pakistan, partially, as our Adam Martin wrote back then, due to the expenses the U.S. was suffering in light of the closing. Even with the border opening, Felbab-Brown says that NATO will still be using their treacherous alternate route through Central Asia linking to northern Afghanistan called the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) for "at least a third of its cargo." Why?
One might may be tempted to argue for leaving the military equipment behind. But that would be expensive -- and it could intensify a civil war, if it comes. Alternatively, the supplies could be airlifted out. But that would cost about ten times as much as going through Pakistan, and about three times as much as going through the north. Thus, even with the Pakistani border reopened and the southern route again in operation, the northern route will necessarily remain in heavy use for some time; there are simply too many supplies and too few options for transporting them to avoid it.
Felbab-Brown concludes by saying that logistics are not the only part of the drawdown to take into account; leaving a stronger Afghanistan is "more crucial." That said, she admits that the "worst possible outcome" would involve leaving too quickly "and then lacking even the logistical routes to do so."
Afghan refugees leaving Pakistan for home – but there’s little to return to
ByHeath Druzin Stars and Stripes July 21, 2012
KABUL — Behind the court rulings and loud pronouncements about mass expulsions, harassment of Afghan migrants by Pakistani authorities is causing a steady stream of returnees with the potential to become a human flood, swamping Afghanistan’s already shaky social services.
These returnees are largely poor. Many have been in Pakistan for decades and have nothing to return to in their native villages, so they turn to Afghanistan’s cities. Makeshift squatter settlements have sprung up in places like Kabul.
Pakistan has been threatening mass deportations in recent weeks, saying it will expel 400,000 unregistered Afghan migrants in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. A court ruling in Peshawar last month called for the immediate ouster of the 1.7 million registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
In total, there are estimated to be 3 million displaced Afghans living in Pakistan, whose government has recently threatened wholesale expulsion by the end of the year — a potential disaster for Afghanistan.
The deadline for the expulsion has been pushed back twice, and it’s unclear whether Pakistan will make good on any of its threats. But recent returnees and officials say, behind the scenes, Pakistani authorities are putting the squeeze on Afghans in an attempt to push them to leave “voluntarily.”
Random arrests, demands for bribes, phone calls in the middle of the night and evictions are some of the methods described by recent returnees, and it’s gotten so bad that Afghanistan seems like a peaceful alternative.
Ilija Todorovic, deputy representative for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said these tactics have become commonplace in Pakistan. There has also been a recent uptick in harassment of Afghan refugees with government and security forces connections.
“They pressure them out,” Todorovic said.
Afghanistan already struggles to deal with the estimated 400,000 Afghans displaced within the country and is not prepared for a major influx, he said. About 5.7 million Afghans have returned to the country since the U.S. invasion in 2001. With official unemployment at 35 percent — many think real joblessness is even higher — returnees face bleak employment prospects.
“It could put a lot of pressure on the urban areas for work,” he said. “There’s the possibility you have a lot of unemployed, unskilled people.”
Jobs are likely to get more scarce as international militaries and aid organizations scale down operations in the country.
“Security has been the best provider of jobs,” Todorovic said.
For Atiq Mohammed, his first weeks back in the country he left as a boy have been miserable. Graying, with a deeply lined face that looks a decade older than his 37 years, he languishes in a fly-ridden tent in Kabul, sharing the roughly 10-by-10-foot space with his wife and 10 children. Only one of the children attends school, and the small encampment where he lives — mostly inhabited by returnees with similar circumstances — lacks water and electricity.
After a campaign of bribe-taking, detention and threats of imprisonment in Peshawar, Pakistan, where he had lived since his family fled the Soviet-Afghan war 30 years ago, Mohammed’s last straw came when authorities ordered his landlord to evict unregistered Afghans.
Thrown out of his apartment onto the street, he brought his family to Kabul, saying he had nothing to return to in his native Laghman province. The former baker and ice cream seller is illiterate and has been unable to find work in Kabul.
“I just borrow money and survive,” he said.
While there are doubts that Pakistan will follow through on its threats for mass expulsions, Afghanistan got a possible glimpse into that future in 2011 when about 18,000 Afghans originally from Nangarhar province were expelled from Pakistan. Nearly every one returned to Nangarhar, swamping the local government services and causing tension in the province.
Now, the Afghan government is trying to get ahead of the next possible flood of returnees with a three-year plan to build “townships” with schools, roads and water to replace the squalid tent camps where many returnees now live.
“We are trying to settle them inside the community,” said Afghan Minister of Refugees and Repatriation Jamaher Anwari.
The Afghan government has been working with agencies like the International Organization for Migration to persuade the Pakistani government to send undocumented migrants back gradually. The latest negotiations are for a test run of 50,000 migrants, said IOM spokeswoman Aanchal Kurana.
“(The government) cannot handle them all at once,” she said.
But there are no guarantees with the mercurial officials in Islamabad, and so aid workers must also work on contingency plans for mass expulsions.
“Possibility is the important word here,” Khurana said. “We don’t know if it will happen but should it happen we want to be prepared.”
For returnees like Abdul Jabar Muhsan, these negotiations are too late. Three weeks ago, he saw his ancestral homeland for the first time.
The 23-year-old left Pakistan for Kabul with 11 family members late last month and has been unable to find steady employment. He gets occasional work as a delivery driver, which he said barely covers his fees at the Maiwand Institute of Higher Education, where he is studying computer science.
Police on the street sometimes question him, suspicious of his beard, and he struggles as the only breadwinner for his family, all of whom cram into a four-bedroom apartment. They’ve received no help from the Afghan government.
Despite all of that, he is happy to be away from his birthplace, Peshawar, where he said he was constantly harassed by Pakistani authorities.
Last year, he was thrown in jail for no reason, he said, and the police threatened to imprison him for three months and hand him over to the feared Pakistani intelligence service unless he paid 4,000 Pakistani rupees (about $42). It was a large sum for Muhsan, but he agreed and vowed to leave.
“That’s why I decided to come back to my own country and live in peace,” he said.
Pakistan: Contempt of court or democracy?
By scrutinising aspects of elite privilege, the Supreme Court has 're-enchanted' democracy in Pakistan.
Aljazeera By Moeen Cheemam, Moeen Cheema is a lecturer in law at the Australian National University's College of Law 20 Jul 2012
On June 19, the Supreme Court of Pakistan barred the country's elected chief executive, Yusuf Raza Gilani, both from being a member of parliament and prime minister on the basis that he had been guilty of contempt of court and had thereby brought the judiciary into ridicule. The court's decision was subsequently subjected to severe criticism in the international press as well as by Pakistan's liberal intelligentsia in leading English-language publications; the court's action was portrayed as essentially anti-democratic and "political" in nature.
The international response to this action is understandable. Every event with political consequences is analysed solely in the light of likely impact on the "War on Terror" or the NATO involvement in Afghanistan. As such, any manner of instability in Pakistan is problematic.
In voicing such a strong reaction to the court's decision, however, Pakistan's small but disproportionately influential liberal elite displayed its (post)colonial hangovers. The discourse surrounding the court's actions was framed in the language of parliamentary supremacy and separation of powers in a manner reminiscent of AV Dicey, who at the turn of the 20th century shaped, as much as described, the dominant view of British constitutionalism.
This is by no means exceptional: post-colonial elites everywhere tend to perpetuate political ideologies fermented by their former colonial rulers long after they lose currency in their original climes. And this is no idle fancy for irrelevant theory: the deeper interests of these elites are vested in the continuation of the forms of politics and state structures legitimated by such discourses. So it is with Pakistan.
An old battle continues
The tussle between the judiciary and the executive is not a recent affair. Nor are the tensions confined to the highest levels of the political executive. Since the restoration of Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry as the Chief Justice of Pakistan in March 2009, the Supreme Court and the elected government of Pakistan have been entangled in a fractious and destabilising dynamic. The Supreme Court has adopted an aggressive posture towards governmental corruption, which has undermined the democratic credibility and popularity of the incumbent political party.
In particular, the court has relied on its self-styled powers to initiate cases - based on media reports - to highlight the involvement of several federal ministers in scandals of corruption and malpractice. The court's decision to revive long-standing bribery and money-laundering charges against Asif Ali Zardari - the country's president, leader of the Pakistan People's Party and widower of the late Benazir Bhutto - has proven to be the greatest source of friction.
The refusal of former Prime Minister Gilani to write a letter to prosecutors in Switzerland in accordance with the court's directions is what landed him in the dock on contempt of court charges in the first place, leading ultimately to his disqualification. The likely refusal of his replacement to comply with the court's order will ensure that the institutional struggle continues.
In response to the court's actions, the government has attempted to politicise the court's actions, and portray it as biased and vengeful, with considerable success. The government has highlighted the constant threat to "democracy" at the hands of the country's powerful military, which supposedly gets magnified by the court's destabilising actions. The tactics adopted by the political government in response to the court's scrutiny of corruption charges have increasingly made the state's civil apparatus into the site of the institutional tussle between the court and the elected executive.
On the one hand, the government has relied on its powers of appointment, transfers and promotions of senior bureaucrats and investigative agency officials to thwart the court's inquiries. It has sought to remove key officials entrusted with the responsibility to investigate, prosecute and report on aspects of corruption scandals, and replace them with more pliant individuals.
On the other, the court has retaliated by prohibiting such transfers or removals, and protecting the relatively more independent officials from any pressures that the government might bring to bear on them. The government has also adopted a number of tactics intended to cause delay, including changing lawyers at key stages, demanding adjournments and filing multiple interlocutory challenges, appeals and review petitions. The vast majority of cases have thus been stalled for months, if not years, and the court's inability to expeditiously pursue the charges has weakened its position.
A 'political' court?
As a result of governmental push back and the mobilisation of its key constituencies, the court is beginning to be seen by some as acting "politically". Politics is a dirty word in Pakistan. It connotes unprincipled, self-serving and often corrupt actions of people seeking a share in state power and resources. At best, it suggests amoral compromises and shifting loyalties to parties and positions that characterise electoral politics in Pakistan. If the court comes to be seen as yet another "political" player, its credibility will be seriously damaged. Leading lawyers and members of the country's "civil society" - in reality a narrow liberal elite - are therefore cautioning the court to avoid a relentless pursuit of corruption scandals and to leave such matters to political, rather than legal, accountability through forthcoming general elections.
There is, however, another sense in which the term "politics" can and ought to be used in public discourse. In a more structural context, the term denotes engagement with processes that shape governance structures, practices and cultures. In that sense of politics the court has a legitimate role to play. Through its judicial review jurisdiction, the senior judiciary has developed a certain understanding of the nature and defects of the post-colonial state's structures and its (unhealthy) relationship with certain segments in Pakistan's pluralistic social mosaic.
Far from being the product of personal likes or dislikes, or merely the hangover of the recent Lawyers' Movement for the restoration of the Chief Justice, the Supreme Court's jurisprudence reflects deeper ideological commitments, in light of which the court sees governmental corruption, absence of legal accountability and excessive amounts of undue influence exercised by the elected government over state apparata - bureaucracy, police and regulatory agencies, etc - as the most serious governance malaise in Pakistan.
One might disagree with the court's diagnosis and/or prescription, but to argue that the court is acting politically - in the narrow, partisan sense - is to grossly misrepresent the current tussle between the judiciary and the elected executive.
By indulging in the discourse of parliamentary supremacy and separation of powers, it is Pakistan's liberal intelligentsia that is asking the court to play politics in the narrow sense by deciding cases in accordance with calculations of likely impact on electoral processes, rather than on the basis of its established course. Furthermore, in taking this anti-court position, this small but articulate and disproportionately influential segment of Pakistan's society has also betrayed its own deeply held ideological commitments and vested interests.
Their commitment is to reallocate greater power to certain segments within the progressively consolidating elite and state-classes - that is, towards the political parties that overwhelmingly represent rural landed, urban mercantile and professional classes, and away from the military-bureaucratic complex that also draws largely from the same classes. As such, the structural politics of Pakistan's liberal intelligentsia is deeply implicated in an internecine tussle between the country's elite classes over the control for resources and privilege.
The Supreme Court is no saviour of Pakistan's poor. No court can be. Nonetheless, it is the only institution in Pakistan's state structure which has continued to scrutinise and highlight certain aspects of elite privilege during Pakistan's most recent experience with electoral democracy. It has thus opened some possibilities for more progressive forms of politics and aspirations of substantive democracy. To borrow from Upendra Baxi's description of an earlier era of judicial activism in India, the court has thus "re-enchanted democracy" in Pakistan. Without even this limited intervention, governance under an elected government would have remained as much an elite affair as it did in previous eras of military rule.
Moeen Cheema is a lecturer in law at the Australian National University's College of Law, specialising in the contextualised history of the law and courts in postcolonial Pakistan.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.
NATO Trucks Remain Stalled in Pakistan’s Southern Port
Voice of America By Sharon Behn July 20, 2012
KARACHI, Pakistan - Hundreds of NATO supply trucks are stuck in Pakistan’s southern port, Karachi, despite Islamabad's decision to re-open routes to Afghanistan earlier this month.
Some trucks and drivers have been waiting for months to return to the road. Entry points to Afghanistan were closed after the United States mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in an airstrike last November.
But truck owners say they are not moving until they are compensated for the money lost during the shutdown that stranded more than 1,500 shipments on the road.
Muhammad Khan, who owns 310 trucks, said he and others deserve to get paid.
“The round figure for the 210 days that these trucks have been held up is $15 million,” said Khan.
High stakes, significant rewards
The NATO shipments are profitable for Pakistani transport companies, but the trip to Afghanistan is a dangerous one.
Israr Ahmed Shinwari, of the Pakistan Oil Tanker Owners Association, said that despite the risks, the truckers must get back on the roads.
“So far, 1,300 drivers and assistants have died. But the drivers have to go because everyone owes money on the trucks now. And security is better now,” said Shinwari.
Threats in the southwest province of Baluchistan have led Pakistan officials to provide enhanced security for NATO supply trucks crossing that area.
Some drivers are not convinced, though, that the route for the 10-day road trip is safe enough.
Driver Kabeer Ahmed, said he thinks security concerns are delaying the trucks’ movements.
“People are saying that loading has not started yet because of the Taliban and protests,” said Ahmed.
Crucial supplies, roads for NATO forces
Pakistan’s supply routes are seen as vitally important to NATO forces in Afghanistan. In Pakistan, they remain politically controversial - but not for drivers like Masood Afridi, who has made the trip to Afghanistan about 12 times.
“It’s dangerous but we have to do it, because there is no work in Pakistan. There is no money here. If the NATO supply roads are closed, there is no work, there is no money, diesel prices are going up. If they open the NATO supply, all our problems will be solved,” said Afridi.
For now, the drivers are getting their vehicles ready to go back on the road.
Taliban lash men in public in Afghanistan: Official
AFP July 21, 2012
Puli Alam, Afghanistan - Taliban militants lashed two men in public on Saturday, witnesses and officials said, just weeks after a video surfaced of a woman being executed for adultery before a crowd of cheering men.The men received 40 lashes each with a leather whip in front of more than a hundred people in Shash Qala village of Charkh district in Logar province, some 70 kilometres (40 miles) south of the capital Kabul.
They were arrested by Taliban insurgents while trying to kidnap the son of a rich man three days earlier, Bashir, a villager, told AFP.
"This morning, the Taliban called people on loudspeakers to gather and watch two men being lashed by them for trying to kidnap a 10-year old boy," Bashir said.
"They were lashed 40 times each by two armed Taliban whose faces were covered."
Charkh district chief Farooq Humayun said the local administration was aware of the incident and an investigation was under way.
A local Taliban commander in the area, who did not want to be named, told AFP that they had carried out the punishment to establish sharia law in the country.
Public punishments and executions were common when the Taliban regime was in power from 1996 until 2001, when they were ousted by a US-led invasion and launched an insurgency against the Western-backed government.
Earlier this month, a horrific video showing the public execution of a 22-year-old woman who was shot in the back in Parwan province just north of Kabul, allegedly by the Taliban, drew worldwide condemnation.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai this week admitted his administration was unable to deliver justice to the people, despite decade-long international efforts to rebuild the war-torn nation.
"The reason that the people of Afghanistan in the villages and across the countryside, (even) in the cities, still seek justice through the traditional method is because the government neither has the ability to provide that justice nor can it be addressed on time," he said.
Because of corruption in the courts many Afghans prefer traditional justice systems, often local community councils, to settle their disputes.
In parts of the country where Taliban insurgents are most active, the villagers turn to the Taliban's harsh interpretation of Islamic sharia law.
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