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Dormitory inaugurated

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: A new dormitory, designed to house 200 female students, was inaugurated by US Ambassador to Afghanistan John R. Bass, USAID Assistant to the Administrator for Afghanistan and Pakistan Gregory Huger, and American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) Registrar Dr. Julie Barker Holland. Constructed with support from USAID’s Promote Gender Equity and Women’s Empowerment program, the new facility is designed to increase female attendance at AUAF by providing a safe and secure living and learning environment.

The US Embassy in Kabul says The women’s dormitory is a state-of-the art three-story 3,000 square meter building that includes living quarters for up to 200 students, study and lounge areas, and administrative space. To expand housing opportunities to the broadest possible range of women, priority placement will be given to women from outside the capital, who are unable to commute to classes.

According to an official statement, from its inception, the women’s dormitory was designed to advance women’s empowerment. Fifteen female engineering graduates from Kabul University participated in the dormitory’s design and construction, receiving on-the-job training and increasing their skills.

Since its establishment in 2006, the American University of Afghanistan has played a key role in educating the next generation of Afghan civic, business, and government leaders. With a nearly 50 percent female student body and with the addition of the women’s dormitory, AUAF is poised to continue advancing women’s education and economic opportunities. The United States is proud to partner with AUAF as it contributes to a more inclusive and prosperous future for Afghanistan’s women leaders.

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Fine on butchers imposed

F.P. Report

ASTORE: The district administration is taking stringent measures to ensure quality edible items at affordable prices to citizens, imposing fines on several butchers’ shops for violating hygiene standards. Following several complaints, district magistrate Mehboob Ali conducted raid on several shops at various places at the area and fined dozens of them for selling substandard meet.

He told media persons that drive against such elements and profiteers would continue and urged the shopkeepers to display prominently price list at their outlets, otherwise, strict action would be taken against anyone if found in charging for items more than the prescribed prices as displayed on the list. He said under the directives of concerned authorities markets in the district were regularly monitored and fine was imposed on profiteers and hoarders, indiscriminately.

He said such surprise visits to different markets across the city should continue on regularly basis to ensure that people who were hardly meeting their daily expenditure purchase household commodities at the prescribed rates.

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Musician’s role for Pashto language vital

F.P. Report

SWABI: Speakers in a literary program said that it had widely recognized by historians that the Pashto language musicians and singers had played a distinguished role in the Pashto language strengthening and protecting its unique position during the different invaders and influencing the Pakhtun land.

They were speaking on gathering organized in honor of Farooq Ustaz, alias Gulgi, a well-known musician and singer in a local hotel on Thursday. The gathering was organized by Qam Qalam, a literary body in the district. They said it was district Swabi which had produced peoplelike Ali Haider Joshi, who produced the first Pashto film, Yousaf Khan Sherbano, Abdul Wahid Tikadar, known as Baba-i-charbetha, and numerous other poets. The outstanding musicians and singers also rose from Swabi’s soil. At Present Kifayat Shah Bacha, a folk singer popular across Pakhtuns.

The participant expressed deep concern over the decline of Hujra music where people in past gathered to enjoy the music while the youngsters were always inspired but now free music downloading and the free materials available  at internet of worldwide had changed the landscape of the music.

Gulgi belongs to Tordher village and his family had producedseveral professional musicians and singers but no one can match with him. A major part of life had passed by him in Charsadda because there he got as killed group of musicians and singers. They said that the contribution and services of Gulgi to the music and Pashto language immense and he won praise across the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for signing and composing the dynamic songs and all other Pakhtun terrains, including war-ravaged Afghanistan. Gulgi had stepped out of the shadow of his father, a well-knownlocal singer in the district but his music composing was totallydifferent and perfectly fit to the modern era and Pashto environment.

Song like “Zama ghazal ghazal janana (Oh my sweet beloved)” sangby Asfandyar Mohmand and the poet is Tasawar Minerwal and another song “Kalawane me na kara zaba lewany naeyema, zakana goroba ba janana (If I could not make you mad, I would not call myself a mad person. Let’s see what happened ahead)”. These two very popular songs across the Pakhtun belts and numerous others have composed by Mr Gulgi. Majority of his composed songs, especially the last one the beloved woman lover warned her lover to see that what she would do in making him a mad lover, a theme that continues to be pertinent with various events happening all around the Pakhtun regions.

Gul Zamin Shah, Awami National Party contesting candidate from PK-31, Swabi-1 said that the songs composed by him have been designed to produce startling and thrilling impression comfort the listeners and lovers. He said that Gulgi’s extraordinarily and magnificent contribution to  the Pashto culture and Pashto language is that he brought together musicians, singers, poets and politicians on one platform.

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Attempt of ice smuggling thwarts at Torkham border

Ahmad Nabi

LANDIKOTAL: The custom officials foiled a bid of smuggling of ice from Afghanistan to Pakistan by recovering 4 kg from truck here at Torkham border on Thursday. According to custom official sources, collector custom, Peshawar Gul Rehman received secret information of smuggling attempt of drugs via Torkham border. On the direction of the collector, an official party under the head of assistant collector, Torkham center Miss Sadaf Ali was comprised that tightened examination process.

The officials stopped Pakistan returned truck bearing registration no.C-1239 for routine examination. During checking 4 kg fine quality ice was recovered, concealed in numerous cavities in the vehicle, the official said. One drug pusher identified as Sher Haidar son of Mir Bashan Afghan national of Jalalabad, Afghanistan was apprehended and case was lodged against him.

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32 countries officials visit Landi Kotal

Ahmad Nabi

LANDI KOTAL: Thirty two countries forces officials pay a visit to Landi Kotal on Thursday noon and inspected the border management process carried out by Pakistan at the Pak-Afghan sharing western border.

The foreign delegation including representative forces officials of Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Germany, Egypt, France, Azerbaijan, Bulgharia, Iran, Japan, UAE, UK, Korea, Libiya, Malaysia, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Plestine, Romania, Russia, Kazekestan, South Africa, Thailand, Tunis, Turkey, Switzerland, Thailand and Hungary arrived at the town through helicopter where they were received by Inspector General Frontier Corp (IGFC) Major General Waseem Ashraf. The visiting officials were taken to Big Ban post, located at Pak-Afghan border where from they examined the fencing and other border controlled procedures.

IGFC brief the visiting guest on the security measures adopted by the Pak official to curtain illegal penetration on the border. Members of the delegation felt satisfaction over the security procedures followed by the Pakistan at the border and said Pakistan assumed effective border management to control border movement. Prior to it, tight security arrangements were made in the area to avoid any untoward incident on the visit of 32 countries officials.

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Teachers’ come on roads for up gradation

F.P. Report

TIMERGARA:  Government schools’ teachers on Thursday threatened to set up protest camp at Bani Gala in front of the PTI chief Imran Khan house and observe class boycott on Feb, 1, 2 and 3 if the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government failed to notify time scale formula and one step up gradation for them. Hundreds of schools’ teachers on the call of All Teachers Grand Alliance (ATGA) walked on the roads and chanted slogans for acceptance of their demands. They also stage a protest rally in front of Timergara press club and blocked the Timergara Dir road for some time.

Teachers affiliated with different teachers’ organizations including Tanzeem e Asateza, Ittihad e Asateza, Wahdat e Asateza, Malgari Ustazan, Insaf Teachers’ Association, Senior Staff Association and All Primary Teachers Association participated in the protest. Addressing the rally Principal Humayun Khan, Principal Salah ud Din, ATGA Lower Dir president Syed Muhammad Shah, Wazir Muhammad, Shafiq ur Rehman, Siraj ud Din and others said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government was unnecessarily delaying the approval of time scale formula and one step up gradation for teachers.

They said the government had promised teachers’ community three years ago to announce time scale and their posts’ up gradation but to no avail. They announced that teachers throughout the province would observe class boycott on Feb, 1, 2 and 3. “If the government did not take notice of it the teachers will set up protest camp in front of Imran Khan house at Bani Gala on Feb, 10,” Muhammad Shah announced, adding the camp would be continued until teachers did not get notification of their demands.

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No progress sans education: Jhagra

F.P. Report

BARA: Education is milestone for every progress and the countries with high literacy rate lead the world. The government strives hard to impart knowledge to the tribesmen and for the purpose it establishes standardized educational institutions throughout the tribal belt. The views were expressed by the governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa , Iqbal Zafar Jhagra while speaking as chief guest on the occasion of inaugural  ceremony of Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum Khan Model School & College at Dogra of Tehsil Bara of Khyber Agency on Thursday.

Beside the governor, Assistant Chief Sectary (ACS) Sikandar Qayyum,Political Agent (PA) Khyber Agency Khalid Mehmood, Member Parliament Nasir Khan Afridi large number of tribal elders and forces officials were among the participants.

Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra said that no society could make development without education and the newly established educational institution would change fate of the local tribal youth by giving them quality education. “The government has reconstructed more schools and colleges that had been destroyed in militancy during the last decade in Bara and it will resume education activities in the area that will remove a sense of deprivation among the tribesmen”, he remarked.

By setting up Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum Khan Model School & College, he maintained the tribal children would get quality education at their door steps and it would cause positive change in the area. ACS, Sikandar Qayyum and PA, Khyber Agency Khalid Mehmood also addressed on the occasion. It is to be mentioned here that the new School & College will be functional in coming session after winter vacation.

At the end the governor distributed domicile certificates to the students of government schools in Bara, freely provided to them under a scheme jointly initiated by the administration and education department in Khyber Agency.


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Afghanistan under attack

Mohammed Harun Arsalai

The recent attack on Save the Children in Afghanistan is further proof that the country is still at war, and solutions to end the violence are few and far between. Residents of Nangarhar province are being attacked from all sides. The Taliban, Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP) and other militant groups pass back and forth through Nangarhar’s 100km border with neighbouring Pakistan.

Local leaders and strongmen hold a tight grip on poor local communities, the Taliban are ever-present even offering to broker land disputes, the US military regularly conducts airstrikes which often times kill civilians, but it’s ISKP that all factions in Nangarhar want eliminated. A suicide car bomb was detonated allowing for insurgents armed with AK-47s to enter the Save the Children NGO building in Jalalabad city early Wednesday morning.

Sources on the ground indicate that the fighting is ongoing and employees of Save the Children, a Non Governmental Organisation based in the UK, were still holed up in the buildings bunker as security forces continue to battle their way through the building. Sources within the governors office have confirmed that the first and second story of the NGO have been cleared by Afghan security forces, but that two floors and at least one insurgent remained. There were approximately 50 people inside the building at the time of the attack and up to 40 maybe still be in the compound, trapped, at the time of writing this.

“The governor received a call from the head of the organisation shortly after the first explosion” said an anonymous source within the governor’s office, “he said that many of the NGO’s employees were hiding in a bunker and asked that the security forces please be careful in their operation not to harm the employees”. At least 20 people, including children, had been taken to a local hospital.

At least two have been confirmed killed, one civilian from the explosion of the initial car bomb and an Afghan soldier who died during the battle with insurgents. A local shopkeeper told me that a car bomb detonated killing a beggar pulling a cart and also killing or severely injuring another shopkeeper. So far two attackers have been killed with at least two more insurgents continuing to battle Afghan security forces.

The Taliban were quick to deny any involvement leading authorities to believe that ISKP militants carried out the attack – the group has now released a message claiming responsibility.

The Murky History of ISKP in Nangarhar: As US and Afghan forces battle to stop the growth of ISKP in Nangarhar the group continues to hold ground in several rural areas in the mountainous Achin district as well as in Boti Kot, Khogyani and Pacher Agam, but continue to be a violent and deadly force in other regions of the country like Jawzjan in the north and within major cities like Kabul and Jalalabad. ISKP’s growth inside Afghanistan, much like the group’s inception, has been a point of contention among journalists, analysts and government officials alike.

Blame has been thrown in the direction of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the Haqqani Network, Pakistan’s intelligence service – the ISI, the Afghan NDS as well as others including the USA. The groups appearance was first reported by locals in Achin, but shortly after in Boti Kot and other districts as well, though the two do not seem connected. In Achin, locals say refugees fleeing the Pakistani military and US drone strikes came and settled in the region.

Some of the young men among them encouraged the locals to join them and fight of what they called “the oppression of the Taliban” – which they did, successfully. What came after, was a brutality that the locals had not yet witnessed. In the Boti Kot region however, a disgruntled Taliban leader angry with the groups peace negotiations with the National Unity Government declared his allegiance to ISIS and began a campaign in his local area. Children were abducted and forced to fight along side his men.  This led to fighting among the newly formed ISKP and the Taliban who had traditionally held territory in the areas.

Locals also began taking up arms against ISKP and joined “uprising” groups led by local strongmen, while others coordinated with Afghan Security Forces or even the Taliban in an effort to fight off ISKP in Nangarhar. Local politician and strongman, Haji Zaheer Abdul Qadeer was initially the main advocator and actor in the battle against ISKP in Nangarhar but according to the Afghan Analysts Network (AAN), “other mobilising forces for the militias are Haji Hayat Khan, another former jihadi commander, close to Provincial Governor Muhammad Gulab Mangal and active in Kot.”

In a 2015 interview with this journalist Qadeer complained that the government had done little to nothing to support his efforts and that the group was being allowed to spread, even claiming that the president’s Chief Intelligence Advisor Mohamad Hanif Atmar was behind ISKP’s inception.

Qadeer pointed to an interview with Paktika governor Abdul Karim Mateen in which Mateen claims that Atmar brought money to a branch of the Taliban that then initiated an ISIS cell in the area. Others within the government have also suggested this by indicating Atmar was eager to foment in-fighting amongst the Taliban who had been having deep internal disputes and either mistakenly, or consciously funded the most radical elements of the Taliban.

President Ashraf Ghani was forced to investigate the claims, but has maintained that the allegations are without merit. On 13 April 2017, newly elected president Donald Trump and his generals in Afghanistan dropped the MOAB or the “mother of all bombs” in the area of Achin, which did little to nothing to stop ISKP in the area.  Achin remains the most dangerous place for US troops in the world.

ISKP continues to target civilian or soft targets as well the Hazara community in an effort further destabilize and sectarianise an already devastated country. At this point it is clear the group is lodged in quite deeply and their popularity is growing among the youth. Ashraf Ghani’s approach has not centered on building alternatives for Afghans outside of joining armed groups, be that the ANA or the ISKP. Without an approach that centres Afghanistan’s underprivileged, the violence will continue to be an inevitability.

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Drone strike on Refugee Camp

A US drone strike killed two Afghan nationals on a Refugee Camp in Aurakzai Agency close the Thal Subdivision of settled district Hangu. Speaking on the condition of anonymity and official of the political administration revealed, “Two Afghan Refugees namely, Ahsanullah and Nassir Mahmud alias Khawari, who been killed in the attack, were both mid-level commanders of Haqqani network.” Station House Officer Thal, Police Station, Ameer Zaman confirmed the death of Nasser Mahmud alias Khawari.

The drone strike in Spin Tal Dapa Mamozai area came in the wake of terrorist attack on Intercontinental Hotel Kabul which killed 18 people including foreigners. Unlike the past practice, Pakistan foreign office has issued a rather weak condemnation of the Wednesday’s drone strike and complained that the United States should have shared the information with Pakistan instead of carrying out a unilateral action. However, foreign office spokesman Dr. Mohammad Faisal aptly emphasized the Afghan Refugees repatriation to Afghanistan as early as possible. He said that their presence in Pakistan helps the terrorists to mix up with them. This argument is absolutely valid but how can the international community give liberal funding to the UNHCR when the Federal Minister for SAFRON is not active to work out Afghan Refugee Repatriation Plan in line with the decision of the National Security Committee chaired by the Prime Minister. The Committee decided not to extend the deadline for the stay of Afghan Refugees beyond 31st January, 2018.  The deadline expires after five days but no tangible initiative for the repatriation plan is in sight. Afghan Ambassador in Islamabad Umer Zakhelwal has already given green signal to Afghan Refugees to make preparation for the homeward journey and participation in the reconstruction of the wars torn Afghanistan. Besides the lukewarm attitude of the Ministry of SAFRON, the ideological buddy of the disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz, Chief of Pk MAP Chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai is opposing the repatriation of Afghan Refugees tooth and nail for his personal and political interest of his party. The priorities of foreign and national security policies should no longer remain hostage to vested interest.

Peace and stability in Afghanistan is inevitable not only for the peace in this region but for the entire world as well. But the present ruling political leadership does not give importance to the formulation of a comprehensive Afghan policy which is the utmost need of the hour. Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif showered precious pearls of undiplomatic wisdom at World Economic Forum meeting when he told CNBC that PAK-US relations should not hinge on the volatile situation in Afghanistan. This is a demonstration of absolute naivety about the historical fact that Afghanistan had been an important foreign policy factor of British Empire from mid 19th century to early 20th century in its rivalry with Czarist Russia. Likewise, from mid 20th century till the signing of Geneva Accord for the withdrawal of forces of former Soviet Union from Afghanistan it was an important ingredient of the foreign policy of the both the Super Powers in Cold War Era. The Foreign Minister has unnecessarily made sweeping remarks about the contents of President Donald Trump’s speech at World Economic Forum, saying that his speech is unlikely to do anything to improve bilateral relations with Islamabad.  Khwaha Asif said, “Frankly speaking we are a bit apprehensive from what we have been hearing from over the past one year and we don not expect any radical change e from what he(Trump) has been saying.”The foreign Minister expressed the hope that Pakistan and the United states would soon focus on their relations once again rather than just looking “through prism of Afghanistan.”It is a strange logic of the foreign Minister to suggest improvement in Pak-US relations by excluding the Afghan bubbling cauldron. A sincere and meaningful dialogue between all the stakeholders including Afghan Taliban is must to resolve the Afghanistan problem on permanent basis. In the pursuit of this goal Pakistan, the United States, Russia, China and other countries of this region should make sincere efforts.

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No danger to PSL, tournament will take place at any cost: Sethi

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Najam Sethi said on Thursday that there was no danger to the third edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) tournament and that it would take place at all cost.

Speaking to media personnel outside the PCB head office, Sethi rebuffed reports that the tournament was in danger and would not take place.

The PCB chairman said that he had spoken with Haroon Rashid and Inzamam-ul-Haq to come up with a proper management plan for every Pakistani cricketer.

“We will come up with a management plan that deals with every individual cricketer as to how many leagues does he play within a single year,” he said.

Najam Sethi said that those international franchises and leagues that were hostile in their dealings with the PCB would be responded to in kind.

The third edition of the Pakistan Super League is set to kick off from February 22nd and will end with the final match taking place in Karachi on March 25.