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Ghazni election problem should be solved: MPs

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: A number of Wolesi Jirga or lower house members on Wednesday asked the government address concerns of protestors who have closed the Independent Election Commission (IEC) branch in southern Ghazni province.

Meanwhile, IEC officials said the government would resolve the issue in the next two days.

A number of residents of Ghazni province have erected a protest tent in front of the IEC office in Ghazni City and have not been allow election officials to work over the past one and half a months.

The protestors say most of residents of districts of Ghazni province had been unable to cast their votes in the past elections due to security problems.

They demanded shrinking constituencies so people of all areas could elect their own representatives in the parliament.

No one have so far registered as candidate for the upcoming Wolesi Jirga and district council elections in Ghazni due to the closure of the IEC office as the registration deadline for candidates registration ended on Tuesday.

According to the IEC, more than 50,000 people have been registered as voters in the capital of Ghazni but the voter registration process is yet to be started in districts as essential materials have not been transferred there.

The Wolesi Jirga’s Wednesday session discussed the problem with the IEC office in Ghazni.

Abdul Qayum Sajjadi, a lawmaker form Ghazni province, said “unconstitutional approach to elections and holding people hostage would create serious challenges.”

Without naming anyone, he said some figures inside the government were trying to deprive Ghazni people form participating in elections. The government instead of paving the ground for elections and encouraging people has adopted a policy of depriving people of voting, he said.

He said a delegation that arrived from Kabul in Ghazni few days ago had failed to resolve the problem and it referred the issue to the government.

Ali Akbar Qasemi, another lawmaker said: “Some people in the name of their tribe have closed the IEC office in order to achieve their illegal demands.”

Abdullah Mohammadi, a lawmaker from Samangan province, said that elections would not be nationwide until held in Ghazni province.

Speaker Abdur Raouf Ibrahimi termed the closure of IEC office in Ghazni as against the law and said the move showed the commission’s and the government’s weakness.

He said depriving one or more provinces of elections had no room in the Constitution. He asked the IEC and the government to resolve the issue or they would be responsible for any consequences.

Meanwhile, IEC chief Abudl Baday Sayyad told a press conference here that the government had promised to resolve the Ghazni election issue over the next two days. “If the government fails to resolve the issue then the IEC will take action,” he concluded.





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Karzai says not keen but may consider nomination in polls

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The former Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he is not keen but may consider nomination in the upcoming elections provided that the political parties agree with him and that no other options are left to resolve the issues of the country.

Karzai made the remarks during an interview with the Spiegel Online while answering questions regarding the upcoming elections.

He emphasized that the constitution of the country allows two terms for an individual to serve as the president.

Insisting that he has already served as the president of the country for two terms, Karzai said he would prefer not to compromise with the legacies he has left behind.

However, he said if there were no other options and the political parties agree, he would consider the challenge.

In other parts of the interview, Karzai pointed towards the relations with the United States as he emphasized on the need for the change in the US approach to combat terrorism.

He also added that he is in contact with the US Ambassador in Kabul and hoped that the negotiations would yield positive results and further strengthen the ties of the two nations.

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Airstrikes leave two ISIS-K members dead in Kunar province

Monitoring Desk

KUNAR: At least two militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Khurasan (ISIS-K) were killed during the airstrikes conducted in eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said the airstrikes were carried out in the vicinity of Wataput district.

Without disclosing further information, the Ministry of Defense said the Afghan armed forces carried out airstrikes against ISIS militants, leaving two of them dead.

The anti-government armed militant and terrorist groups including ISIS loyalists have not commented regarding the report so far.

Kunar is among the relatively volatile provinces in East of Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgents as well as militants affiliated with the other terrorist groups are actively operating in its various districts and often carry out insurgency and terrorist related activities.

The latest airstrikes in Wataput have been carried out amid ongoing counter-terrorism operations against the loyalists of the terror group in some restive provinces of the country.

The US forces based in Afghanistan also conduct airstrikes almost on regular basis in a bid to prevent the terror group expand its foothold in the country.




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Ahead of Eid festival, security beefed up in Kabul

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Kabul police on Wednesday said security measures had been put in place in the capital to enable residents to celebrate Eid holidays in a secure environment.

Maj. Abdul Khaliq Bahram Jan, 3rd division commander for 7th police district, told Pajhwok Afghan News: “All detective and security organs are round the clock for the safety of countrymen.”

He hoped the creation of security check-posts at several points and increased police patrols would ensure public safety during Eid holidays. Bahram Jan welcomed the temporary ceasefires by the government and the Taliban.

“All defense and security forces are seeking peace. In fact, all Afghans are thirsty for it and urge permanent stability.”

Last week, President Ashraf Ghani declared a unilateral truce with the Taliban from the 27th of Ramadan till the fifth of Eid-ul-Fitr and Taliban announced a ceasefire for three days.

Masood Khan, a policeman based in the capital, expressed happiness the move would help ensures security of the people. He asked people not to worry about security and sought public cooperation.

“We are here because of the people. Without them, our presence will be useless. Thus we are pleased serving the people,” the cop commented.

He also expressed happiness over the ceasefires between the government and Taliban. All Afghans were yearning for peace and stability in their country, he said, adding working during Eid would be a proud moment for him.

Bahadar Shah, a policeman in the 7th police district in Darul Aman locality, told Pajhwok all police personnel would be serving the public during Eid to let people enjoy the festival in a peaceful environment.

“We are your children, in your service, and fully assure you that we will not allow anyone to threaten your security during Eid,” Shah remarked.

The police personnel urged the people to cooperate with the security forces and not to allow their children to purchase fireworks, which often caused deaths and injuries.


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Pine nuts export protocol signed with China: MoF

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Afghan pine nuts will be exported to Chinese markets under a protocol signed between the two countries on the sidelines of the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, a statement said on Tuesday.

The statement from the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to Pajhwok Afghan News said the protocol was signed between Afghan ambassador to China Janan Musazai and Chinese customs department officials in the presence of Finance Minister Eklil Hakimi during the 18th meeting of the heads of states of the SCO in China’s coastal city of Qingado.

The statement added both the sides hailed the protocol as a step forward in promotion of trade between the neighboring countries. The statement said the two sides would work closely to provide facilities for increasing Afghan exports to Chinese markets.



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WPP investors revolt over Sorrell scandal

LONDON (BBC News): WPP shareholders have challenged the firm’s board of directors amid anger over the way it handled the departure of founder, Sir Martin Sorrell.

Almost a third of shareholders did not back the company’s pay and bonus scheme and almost 17% did not support the re-election of chairman Roberto Quarta. Shareholders have demanded more clarity over the departure of Sir Martin.

He resigned in April amid allegations of misconduct. His departure came amid allegations of payment to a sex worker and poor treatment of staff – which he denies. Sir Martin is due to receive up to £19m over the next five years.

The shareholder votes were announced at the company’s annual shareholder meeting, where Mr Quarta defended the advertising giant’s role in the exit of Sir Martin. The chairman of WPP has defended the way the advertising giant handled the resignation and fall-out from the departure of Sir Martin Sorrell.

Roberto Quarta told the annual shareholders’ meeting that the “board acted appropriately throughout”.

He faces a possible shareholder revolt over his re-election and the company’s executive pay and bonus scheme.

Sir Martin has faced claims involving payment to a sex worker and poor treatment of staff – which he denies. The former chief executive, who over 30 years turned WPP from a small maker of wire baskets into the world’s largest advertising company, resigned in April.

An internal inquiry looked into allegations made by a whistleblower, but the report has not been published because WPP said doing so would breach data protection rules. Mr Quarta told the AGM in London: “The process that the Board followed in response to the allegation against Sir Martin was robust both from a governance and legal perspective.

“Although we have confirmed that the matter was financially wholly immaterial to WPP, we understand why some would like the company to disclose or confirm further details of the allegation.

“However, right from the outset, the board has acted in accordance with unequivocal legal advice that data protection law prohibits us from doing so.” A report in the Financial Times earlier this week raised issues about Sir Martin’s treatment of employees. Quarta said: “While we are not able to comment on individual cases or specific allegations, I want to make it clear that at WPP – as in any other workplace – everyone is entitled to be treated with respect.

“As we said in response to the FT’s report, everyone at WPP should feel able to raise concerns and to have them listened to and acted upon as appropriate.”

The company will announce later the result of shareholder votes on the re-election of directors and the remuneration report, which includes payments worth millions of pounds to Sir Martin over the next five years.


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Dixons Carphone admits huge data breach

LODNON (BBC News): Dixons Carphone has admitted a huge data breach involving 5.9 million payment cards and 1.2 million personal data records.

It is investigating the hacking attempt, which began in July last year.

Dixons Carphone said it had no evidence that any of the cards had been used fraudulently following the breach.

There was “an attempt to compromise” 5.8 million credit and debit cards but only 105,000 cards without chip-and-pin protection had been leaked, it said.

The hackers had tried to gain access to one of the processing systems of Currys PC World and Dixons Travel stores, the firm said.

Dixons Carphone shares fell more than 3% in early trading.

The 1.2 million personal data records accessed by the hackers consisted of non-financial information such as names, addresses and email addresses.

Carphone Warehouse said it had no evidence that the information had left its systems or resulted in any fraud, but it was contacting those affected to advise them.

It added that it had brought in leading cyber-experts and added extra security measures to its systems.

Dixons Carphone chief executive Alex Baldock said it was “extremely disappointed” by the data breach and “sorry for any upset”,

“The protection of our data has to be at the heart of our business, and we’ve fallen short here.

“We’ve taken action to close off this unauthorised access and though we have currently no evidence of fraud as a result of these incidents, we are taking this extremely seriously,” he added.

Bryan Glick, editor in chief of Computer Weekly, told the BBC that the breach was “right up there” as one of the biggest to date involving a UK company.

However, he cautioned against any panic. “If you’ve not heard from Dixons Carphone to warn you, the chances are you’re OK,” he said.

Carphone Warehouse is one of many High Street retailers feeling the strain of tough economic challenges.

Last month, it warned of a sharp fall in profits this year and said it would close 92 of its more than 700 Carphone Warehouse stores.




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AT&T slips after Time Warner buyout gets approval

NEW YORK (Reuters): Shares of AT&T Inc fell 2 percent on Wednesday after a federal judge approved the telecom company’s $85 billion buyout of Time Warner Inc, clearing the path for more deals in a rapidly changing media industry.

The news lifted shares of other telecom and media companies such as Sprint Corp, CBS Corp and Discovery Inc by around 4 percent in premarket trading. Time Warner was also up about 5 percent.

“Once technically driven volatility wears off we expect the stock to move higher as closure will likely provide a new investor catalyst including $1.5 billion in anticipated cost synergies,” said Cowen & Co analyst Colby Synesael.

However, at least one analyst raised concerns about the debt AT&T was taking on as part of the deal.

“Time Warner will be a positive for AT&T’s income statement, at least initially. But it will be a negative for the balance sheet,” said research firm Moffett Nathanson’s Craig Moffett, who downgraded the stock to “sell”. “The new AT&T will carry an astounding $249 billion of debt.”

The approval for the deal, which was opposed by President Donald Trump’s administration, marks a turning point for cable, satellite and wireless carriers all eyeing to buy content companies as a way to add revenue.

Following the approval, investors are looking out for an announcement from US cable operator Comcast Corp, which last month said it was preparing to outbid Walt Disney Co’s $52 billion offer to buy most of Twenty First Century Fox Inc’s assets.



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Dollar picks up ahead of Fed but stocks mostly retreat

HONG KONG (AFP): The dollar extended gains against its peers in Asian trade Wednesday as investors await a key Federal Reserve decision later in the day, but most equity markets dipped.

As the euphoria over the historic summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un recedes, investors are focusing on macroeconomic issues with concerns over global trade causing some discomfort.

“With a rate hike widely expected, investors are focused on the Fed’s statement wording, economic projections and press conference for clarification on the future pace of interest rate hikes,” said Jo Horton, a senior economist at St. George Bank in Sydney.

Speculation about further increases was fuelled by data Tuesday showing US inflation at a six-year high in May.

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Turkey’s milk production up over 17% in April

Monitoring Desk

ANKARA: Turkey’s cow milk production increased by 17.5 percent in April compared to the same month last year, the country’s statistical authority said on Wednesday.

TurkStat data revealed the amount of collected milk reached 899,190 tons in the fourth month of this year.

“Drinking milk production by integrated dairies was 161,374 tons in March and increased by 16.7 percent when compared to the same month of the previous year,” it said.

Official data showed that cheese production from cow’s milk amounted to 63,385 tons — a 14.9 percent yearly increase — while cheese production from sheep, goat, buffalo and mixed milk rose by 8.6 percent to 5,006 tons.

“Yoghurt production became 101,050 tons in April and increased by 4.7 percent when compared to same month of the previous year,” TurkStat said, adding that the production of ayran — a drink made of yoghurt and water in Turkey — climbed by 4.9 percent to 65,104 tons.

The next release on milk production is due on July 13. AA