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70pc work done on using biometrics in polls: IEC

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Independent Election Commission announced completing 70 percent work, including talks with political parties, on the use of biometric system in upcoming elections.

The IEC also said it would soon announce its final stance on the matter. The announcement comes amid protests by political parties demanding the induction of biometric system for the October 20th polls. Earlier, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah said the biometric system would be introduced in the upcoming Wolesi Jirga polls and reservations of political parties and people would be addressed in this regard.

IEC spokesman Syed Hafeezullah Hashami assured the elections would take place on due time and logistic preparations in this regard had been completed.

“Another development the IEC has been working on it is the introduction of casting vote through biometric system. Our study and evaluation of the system is underway.”

He said 70 percent work on the issue had been done the remaining 30 percent work concerned technical and operational measures. “It is expected that in the coming two or three days, there will be solution to them as well,” he said.

He said after a final decision on biometric system, one package of biometric system would be dispatched to 5,100 polling centres and 21,000 stations country-wide.

Hashami said the biometric system was capable to take picture of a voter, his/her two finger prints and identify Tazkera and sticker in 40 seconds.

He added after completion of this process the same system would print another sticker for voters which will be stippled with the ballot paper. Hashami said the second sticker is readable only by the biometric system.

“This system belongs to a German company which could be made operational online and offline. It has 10 hours power storage with additional power bank which could supply the system electricity for another 71 hours.”

He said security was a huge issue for upcoming polls but assured that security forces were committed to ensuring security of elections.

He said information of 8.8 million persons had been entered to the database so far. Earlier the commission had said that over nine million persons have registered as voters for the upcoming polls.




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Ghani orders work expedited on Dasht-i-Burchi projects

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday directed the Kabul Municipality to expedite work on development projects west of the central capital city.

A statement from the Presidential Palace said the president discussed projects in Dashti Burchi area west of Kabul with the deputy mayor and head of the Capital Development Department.

Kabul deputy mayor Shoib Rahim said focus in terms of projects on the western Kabul had been increased and the Imrani road project work was ongoing. Rahim and Capital Development Department head Sami Stanekzai shared information with the president about the current and future status of the West of Kabul including roads, canals and parks, capacity and design of roads, urban design, timetable for road construction, capacity building, alternative neighborhoods and coordination between government offices.

President Ghani directed both the officials to prepare map and suggestions about the road in the west of Kabul.



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Abdullah off to New York for UN General Assembly

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Abdullah Abdullah on Sunday left for the United States to attend the 73rd United Nations General Assembly.

The CEO, heading a high-level delegation, would take part in the assembly on behalf of the unity government articulate Kabul’s views on different issues, a statement from his office said.

Abdullah will underline the need for counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, regional and international cooperation with Afghanistan, as well as preparations for parliamentary and district council elections.

The CEO would also explain the steps the government has taken to curb corruption, promote education and women empowerment, besides plans for economic development.

Efforts to achieve sustainable development, internal and regional challenges are the issues in Afghanistan that would be spotlighted by the CEO during UN General Assembly.

According to the statement, Abdullah will meet the UN secretary-general, prime ministers and foreign ministers of different countries on the sideline of the 73rd UNGA session.

On the margin of the important event, the statement added, Abdullah would participate in a banquet to be hosted by US President Donald Trump.

Acting Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani and other high-ranking officials are accompanying the CEO on the trip.



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Workshop underlines women’s role in elections

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Participants of a two-day workshop in capital Kabul termed media’s role in promoting awareness about elections as essential and demanded more work to encourage people particularly women to actively partake in the upcoming polls.

Speaking on the occasion, Palwasha Hassan, head of the Afghan Women Education Centre (AWEC), said the role of media in spreading awareness specially among women regarding the importance of elections and transparency was important.

She said AWEC had sponsored the workshop “Media Response on Gender Equality during Elections” for 60 journalists to effectively cover the election process.

A representative from the UN Women also participated in the inaugural ceremony of the event and termed the workshop as essential.

He said journalists who participated in the workshop would play an effective role in the coverage of election process.

Fahim Dashti, head of the Afghanistan National Journalists Union (ANJU), termed media’s role in elections as vital and added the Independent Election Commission (IEC) did not cooperate fully with the media and had failed to provide information on time to the media.

He said if the IEC wanted to increase public awareness specially among women regarding elections, it should increase its interaction with the media.

Danish Karokhel, Pajhwok Afghan News editor in chief, termed the workshop as important in terms of spreading awareness among people and said problems and challenges that plagued the elections needed collective efforts from the media to deal with.

“Media should be careful in publishing footages and photographs of women and should not make them public without their permission,” he said.

Karokhel stressed an effective media role in spreading awareness regarding elections and strengthening women’s role in the democratic exercise.

He said it should be kept in mind that women candidates had limited resources and media outlets should keep balance in disseminating candidate-related information and massages.

He also urged media outlets to reduce the price of election advertisement for women. He said Pajhwok has created an SMS section for women candidates.


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Afghan officials ready to meet Taliban in Moscow

Monitoring Desk

MUMBAI: Afghan officials have said that they are ready to meet with Taliban representatives in Moscow, however still the exact date of Moscow meeting will be finalized to initiate peace talks between government and Taliban.

According to Russian newspaper report, Russia’s Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov has said the Afghan officials confirmed that work is ongoing on the content of Moscow meeting.

Kabulov added that he talked with Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Nasir Ahmad Andisha and Andisha said Moscow conference composition is now being put together.

Kabulov said now the critical thing about Moscow meeting is not the date but is the content that should be put together.

Moscow meeting was supposed to be held in September 4, but a few days before the meeting, Kabul refused to participate in the meeting.

Recently, Kabul confirmed it will attend the meeting that will be co-chaired by Afghanistan and Russia.

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Seven children killed in Faryab explosion

Monitoring Desk

FARYAB: As many as seven children were killed and five others were injured in an IED explosion on Saturday in Faryab province of Afghanistan.

According to local media reports, Ghulam Ali, CID Director for Sherentagab district police headquarters said the incident occurred in an area which fell to the Taliban last week – in Koh Sayyad of Sherentagab district.

He added that Taliban had placed an IED in Koh Sayyadarea and eleven children playing in the area were hit.

Ali informed that two of the injured children lost their limbs and are in a critical condition. They have been transferred to Jawzjan hospital.

Taliban has not yet commented.

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Enemy wants Afghanistan turned into Karbala, says Ghani

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: “The Yazids of our time want to turn Afghanistan into another Karbala, but the Afghans’ unity would not let them succeed,” said President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday, marking the Day of Ashura.

Addressing a gathering marking the 10th of Muharram, the Day of Ashura in Hazrat Rassoul-i-Akram mosque here, Ghani said the Day of Ashura had equal importance for the Sunni and Shiite sects as the day offered the lesson of resistance to tyranny, corruption and misuse of public wealth.

“I have come to the place which was many times put in the harm’s way, I acknowledge the danger you face, we have come here to renew our pledge to follow the path of Imam Hussain (RW).”

The president said the Yazids of the current time wanted to turn Afghanistan into another Karbala by staging terrorist attacks on mosques, worship places, schools, academic and social centers.

Ghani said innocent and defenseless citizens were massacred in recent attacks in Zabul, Helmand, Paktia, Nangarhar and more recently in Momand Dara and Barchi area of Kabul.

He said the enemies of Afghanistan wanted to give these attacks the name secretarin strife, something dangerous for the Afghans. “We can defeat this threat in cooperation with the people.”

The president urged the people to stand together in the fight against enemy designs and take wise steps against those fueling hatred in the name of religion, language and tribe.

“The blood of a Shia and a Sunni has the same color, in this country the Pashuns and the Tajiks have the same fate. The honor of Hazara and Uzbeks is the honor of all.”

He said despite repeated enemy attacks, the religious harmony in Afghanistan remained a model for others.

The president said his government was fully prepared to deal with the enemy and dividing Kabul into four security zones, categorizing threats, consulting different sections of the society in this regard and focusing the Kabul’s west were part of those measures.

He said police and intelligence cover had been increased in the Kabul’s west where operations were ongoing in affected areas.

“Our success in the war against terrorist depends on mutual cooperation between the government and the people, as seen in developed countries.”

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Four civilians injured in explosion

Monitoring Desk

JALALABAD: Four people sustained burn injuries when a bomb went off inside a shop in this capital city of eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistanon Thursday and triggered a fire at a nearby gas selling shop, an official said.

The incident took place in Chaparhar bus stand in the limits of the fourth police district of Jalalabad at about 7:30am, the governor’s spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told Pajhwok Afghan News.

He said the landmine had been placed inside a shop and as the bomb went off, it caused fire in a nearby gas selling shop, in which four civilians were wounded. He said the wounded were in stable condition and were being treated at the zonal hospital in Jalalabad.

However, deputy police chief for Nangarhar Col. Ghulam Mujtaba Qais said it was a gas cylinder blast caused by a fire. He said firefighters were sent to douse the blaze and they reached on time.

He said the fire that injured three civilians had been extensively brought under control. The police official asked shopkeepers to take care of their shops themselves and report to police the presence of any suspicious individual or thing.

An eyewitness Rizwanullah said they first heard a blast and then the fire erupted.

Rizwanullah said the fire fighters reached the scene when people were shifting the wounded persons to hospital.



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62 anti-govt gunmen killed in separate operations

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Afghan security forces killed 62 anti-government gunmen and wounded 17 others during separate operations over the past 24 hours, defense ministry said Thursday.

The ground and aerial operations were conducted in Nangarhar, Ghazni, Paktiya, Khost, Kandahar, Zabul, Uruzgan, Badghis, Herat, Faryab, Baghlan, Sar-e-Pul and Helmand provinces, the defense ministry said in a statement.

It said five Daesh gunmen killed in Deh Bala district of Nangarhar province were among the dead, adding those killed and wounded also included Haqqani Network fighters. There was no word by Daesh and Taliban in this regard.

Few days ago, Afghan defense ministry spokesman said that Afghan army would increase offensive operations against anti-government gunmen.

15 civilians reported dead in overnight raid: At least 15 civilians and six Taliban gunmen were killed in an overnight in the Sherzad district of Nangarhar province, residents said Thursday.

The security forces raided several houses in the Patlo village of Sherzad district, killing 15 civilians and six Taliban, local residents told Afghan Islamic Press (AIP).

Among the dead were two nephews of a local elder, Malak Imran, and several other members of his family, the residents said, adding identity of rest of the people was unclear. There was no word by provincial authorities in this regard.

The incident happens two days after security forces killed 16 civilians including four minor children and three elderly men in the neighbouring Khugyani district.

Provincial governor Hayatullah Hayat had assured investigations into the Khugyani incident.



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NGOs spent $884 million last year in Afghanistan

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Afghan government officials are saying that the Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) have spent $884 million last year in Afghanistan.

Dr. Mustafa Mastoor, Afghan Minister of Economy, quoted in a report by Government Media and Information Center (GMIC), said that the aim of this report was to creating transparency and accountability of NGOs in the country, based on which the government will decide on the activities of NGOs in the future.

According to Minister of Economy, in year 1396, the total number of NGOs registered in the ministry reached 2399, of which 288 were foreign NGOs. “533 NGOs were dissolved due to not reporting in accordance with law or inactivity,” the minister said.

“NGOs will spend their budget according to the priorities of the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the future” the minister added.

NGOs spent $ 884 million last year, $ 591 million by foreign NGOs, and $ 293 million by local NGOs.

According to the report, employment in NGOs has increased by 7% over the past two years, reaching 84.000, including 24.000 women.