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Qanooni claims Pak initially opposed ousting of Taliban

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Afghanistan’s former vice president Mohammad Younus Qanooni has revealed some untold stories of the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan which was convened by the UN in late 2001, saying Pakistan was initially opposed to the collapse of the Taliban regime, although it finally conceded but with conditions.

Speaking at an Afghanistan Law and Political Studies Organization gathering in Kabul on Thursday, Qanooni said: “CIA’s site office in Islamabad was coordinating with (Pakistan’s) ISI; this office recommended to the US that any alternative to the Taliban must be a Pashtun-oriented alternative and that the United Front shouldn’t be an alternative to the Taliban at any cost,” said Qanooni.

On the nomination of Hamid Karzai as Afghanistan’s president post-Taliban, Qanooni said the US and the international community had already decided on Karzai as new president even before holding the Bonn Conference.

“They obtained the agreement of the European Union, six plus two countries also agreed including those countries which were supporting the resistance front; all of them had consensus on the alternative to the Taliban and the coming of Mr. Karzai including Iran, India, Russia, Pakistan and the European Union in total,” added Qanooni.

According to Qanooni, Pakistan first strongly reacted to the removal of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, but later gave in and set four conditions.

He said Pakistan was afraid its stance would threaten its relations with the US and would push the country towards isolation.

“Pakistanis had said that the coming of the United Front in Kabul is like the coming of India to Kabul and we will not tolerate the United Front, secondly the coming of the United Front to Kabul should be prevented robustly, thirdly, in the south, a new front must be created as an alternative to the Taliban,” he said.

“The expectations we had, the commitments and the guarantee we had, most of them have not been completed,” said Amina Afzali, who attended the Bonn Conference.

Former vice president Mohammad Younus Qanooni believes that the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan opened a new chapter in Afghanistan’s history. He also accused Pakistan of using its influence to try to disrupt the Bonn Conference.

If the Bonn Conference failed, Afghanistan would once again move towards civil war, he said.

After the Taliban government was toppled in Afghanistan, in December 2001, the German city of Bonn hosted a conference of Afghan leaders at Hotel Petersberg, to choose the leader of an Afghan Interim Authority – widely known as the Bonn Conference.

 

 

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Meeting evaluates voter’s registration process

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: President Ashraf Ghani discussed the ongoing voter’s registration process with provincial civil and security officials via a video conference and issued necessary directives in this regard, the Presidential Palace said Thursday.

Governors of 34 provinces, security and Independent Election Commission (IEC) officials attended the conference from the Tawhidi Melli video conference hall at Presidential Palace, the palace said in a statement.

The president asked Minister of Hajj and Religious Affairs to use Friday sermons as an opportunity and urged imans to deliver speeches regarding the importance of voter registration and raise awareness in this regard and encourage people to take part in the national process.

Ghani asked governors to provide all necessary facilities to women voters’ registration centers. The president also directed security personnel to ensure security of registration centers.

Earlier, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah expressed concern over the slow-paced process of registration. Common people and experts have criticized the IEC for not conducting seminars and other awareness creating programs regarding the registration process.

 

 

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ADFD reaffirm help for Afghanistan’s development

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) has reassured its support to the people of Afghanistan in addressing their development challenges, a media report said on Thursday.

Addressing a workshop Director General ADFD Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi reaffirmed the keenness of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and its leadership to stand by the people of Afghanistan, and support them in addressing their development challenges.

He said: “ADFD works closely with the Government of Afghanistan to support various economic and social development projects that contribute to the country’s sustainable growth.” ADFD hosted the workshop for Arab and regional development institutions to discuss ways of supporting the government of Afghanistan in implementing its development plans and programmes.

The one-day workshop was also attended by Dr. Mohammed Qayoumi, Chief Advisor to the President of Afghanistan, Sultan Mohammed Al Shamsi, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for International Development Affairs, Abdul-Fareed Zakaria, Ambassador of Afghanistan to the UAE and Khalifa Abdullah Al Qubaisi, Deputy Director General of ADFD, among others.

Al Suwaidi added: “ADFD has maintained a strong relationship with the Government of Afghanistan that dates back to 1977. During this period, the Fund has supported several key development projects that have had a significant impact on the economy of the country.”

Mohammed Qayoumi applauded ADFD’s efforts in supporting Afghanistan in achieving its sustainable development objectives.

Qayoumi noted that ADFD was one of the first aid agencies to support development projects in Afghanistan that improved the living standards of its citizens. The Fund has emerged as a top international aid agency due to its active role in providing the much-needed support for developing countries to achieve sustainable development.

Since it started its support for development projects in Afghanistan in 1977, ADFD has allocated AED1.2 billion towards the development of 14 projects that contributed to the economic and social development of the country.

 

 

 

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USAID backs women-owned business

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Afghan businesswomen summit has helped identify area of reforms which would assist women-owned businesses in access to finance, market and increased revenue, a statement from the USAID said on Thursday.

The national summit of Afghan businesswomen had been launched in Kabul with support from USAID’s Promote: Women in the Economy (WIE) project, in close cooperation of the Office of the Chief Executive, the statement said.

The summit brought together more than 150 women-owned or managed Afghan businesses, government officials, interest groups, and industry leaders from throughout the country to examine challenges facing businesswomen.

Convened at the Kabul Star Hotel, the summit encouraged participants to share individual examples of issues they face, and work together to create practical and constructive plans that will help them grow.

“USAID is proud to support the National Business Women’s Summit—a unique representation of diverse businesses from across the country”, said Susan DeCamp, Director of USAID’s Gender Office.

Groups of Afghan businesswomen have held meetings since March to identify economic opportunities and initiatives designed to help women better participate proactively in the mainstream economy and become more competitive.

With support from business sector experts, the groups identified actions that would form the basis for a comprehensive blueprint for initiatives designed to create a more conducive business environment for Afghan businesswomen.

Addressing the event CEO Abdullah said, “Investment in women’s development and capacity building can lay the foundation of a better future, and contribute to the stability of the country.” WIE and the Office of the Chief Executive vowed to work together in promoting adoption of the blueprint as part of the official policy related to women’s economic empowerment.

USAID Promote: Women in the Economy is a four-year program that assists women-owned businesses or those employing women to perform better, increase income growth, and provide business sustainability. WIE also supports Afghan women in finding new or better jobs through career counseling and workplace skills development.

 

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Fair elections to increase pressure on Taliban

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Ministry of Defense hosted the quarterly “Women in Security Advisory Committee (WSAC)” with focus on two topics —election planning and the Afghan National Police Family Response Units.

“The past few weeks were punctuated by two happy events. We are progressing, albeit at a slower pace than expected,” said First lady Rula Ghani on the occasion. She was quoted as saying in a statement by the NATO’s Resolute Support (RS) mission in Kabul that “patience and perseverance are some of the requirements to work in the Afghan environment.”

The first lady said: “We celebrated phase one of the New Police Town that will provide apartments for women in the police force. The Ministry of Defense witnessed the unveiling of plans for pediatrics and women’s wellness clinic and a daycare center to be built at the Kabul National Military Hospital.”

With parliamentary elections scheduled for later this year, the committee has put an emphasis on the importance of the government of Afghanistan setting the conditions for maximum participation of women as candidates, voters, and as part of the overall security effort.

Resolute Support provides crucial support in this complex task. “The basic fact is that women have a rightful place in the elections of Afghanistan as guaranteed in the Constitution – not just as voters and candidates – but as election officials, security officials, observers,” said Grant Kippen, chief electoral advisor for the United Nations Electoral Support Team.

“When it comes to elections, often solutions such as public awareness campaigns are only viewed with a short term focus in mind. While short-term solutions are valuable, what is really required is a much longer term focus with multi-year programming in place in order to really make a difference.”

Family Response Units (FRU) are a unique initiative within the Afghan National Police (ANP), assigning ANP personnel to provide initial care and reporting for women involved in episodes of violence, largely domestic.

“Family Response Units (FRUs) are a critical element of the ANP first response to assist women who have no option but to flee the family home due to violence,” said Royal Australian Air Force Group Capt. Kirrily Dearing, senior advisor for gender.

He said the fundamental issue for FRUs was that they were not fully resourced and equipped to assist those community members in need

“We must also ensure that any report of family violence is then properly documented, investigated and passed through to the judicial system. This is an area that needs constant, dedicated focus.”

Speaking on the occasion, US and NATO forces commander in Afghanistan Gen. John Nicholson said FRUs would be added to the model police district concept. “When its capacity increases, it will be a powerful tool to increase public trust in the police,” added the American general.

The committee is chaired by Gen. Nicholson, with the First Lady Rula Ghani serving as honorary chair.

Members of the committee include Afghanistan’s ministers of defense and interior; ambassadors or senior civilian representatives from Norway, Italy Canada and Resolute Support.

Other members are from the European Union; United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan’s senior representative as well as Afghanistan’s minister of women’s affairs, deputy of the High Peace Council, and the chairperson for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

“Secure, inclusive, and credible elections in October will not only help show the progress and raise the legitimacy of the National Unity Government, but also increase social pressure on the enemy,” said Gen. Nicholson. “Women’s participation is critical in the upcoming elections.”

The meeting supported WSAC’s main priorities of monitoring and advising on efforts toward the meaningful integration and participation of women in the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

 

 

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Efforts on to facilitate polls in Taliban-held areas: CEO

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) office said on Thursday the ongoing voter’s registration process faced some issues but security officials were trying to resolve them.

Mujeeb Rahman Rahimi, CEO’s spokesman, told a press conference here that it was the time for all tribes of Afghanistan to support the ongoing voter’s registration process and vote in the parliamentary and district council elections.

He urged all jihadi leaders, political figures and civil society activists should play their part in ensuring transparent elections and motivating others to participate in the democratic exercise.

The CEO spokesman said security forces were trying to facilitate elections in areas where the Taliban were in control. However, the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) had earlier expressed concern over a slow pace of the ongoing voter’s registration drive and termed the lack of awareness a huge problem for countrymen.

The electoral watchdog had said a large number of countrymen did not possess paper national identity cards particularly women if the ID cards were not issued to them before the Oct 20 elections, it would be another tension.

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Taliban blow up another power pylon

Monitoring Desk

KUNDUZ: Taliban gunmen blew up a pole of imported electricity in Kunduz province, cutting off power supply to neighboring Takhar province, resident said Thursday.

The Taliban gunmen blew up the power pylon in the Khwaja Pasti area of Khanabad district as result, electricity supply to Khanabad district and Taluqan, capital of neighboring Takhar province, was disrupted, local residents told Afghan Islamic Press (AIP).

Few weeks ago, the Taliban had threatened to cut off supply of imported electricity to Kabul and other provinces, if the government failed to supply electricity to thier controlled remote areas in Kunduz instead of Takhar.

According to local residents, the latest attack on power pylon was the part of the same Taliban warning.

The Taliban also blew up a power pole in Doshi district of Baghlan province on April 14, pushing parts of Kabul into darkness.

Qudratullah Safi, executive officer of Kahanabad district, confirmed the incident to AIP, saying supply of Tajikistan’s electricity to Khanabad and Takhar was disconnected. The power outage has created problems for the people in Kabul, Kunduz and Baghlan.

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NDS forces arrests Taliban shadow district governor

Monitoring Desk

HELMAND: National Directorate of Security (NDS) has arrested the Taliban’s shadow district governor for Washir district of Helmand province of Afghanistan.

The NDS officials told media that the arrested Taliban leader was identified as Muhammad Nabi and he was arrested during an operation which was conducted by the NDS’s Special Forces in Lashkargah city of the province.

The arrested Taliban shadow governor confessed his crimes that he was leading a group of 10 insurgents named “Kamil” in Beshran village and a second 10-member group in Shah Peshta district of Washir.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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31 militants killed, 37 injured in coordinated air, ground operations: MoD

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Afghan Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that at least 68 militants were killed or injured during the operations conducted by Afghan air and ground forces in various provinces of the country in the last 24 hours.

General Mohammad Radmanish, Deputy spokesman of MoD informed Afghan media a total of 31 militants were killed and 37 others were wounded during the operations.

He added that the operations were conducted in Nangarhar, Kunar, Kapisa, Paktia, Paktika, Logar, Khost, Uruzgan, Faryab, Balkh, and Helmand provinces.

General Radmanish also said that the Afghan army teams also defused 24 improvised explosive devices.

Gen. Radmanish also added that 15 operations are underway in 11 provinces of the country at the moment as commando forces have conducted 66 operations while Afghan Air Force has carried out one airstrike during the same period.

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‘Peace basic desire of Afghans, top priority of govt’

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani has said peace is the basic desire of the people of Afghanistan and top most priority of the government and they are ready to take any step for peace and prosperity of the people. The president said this during a meeting with British High Commissioner for Pakistan Drew Thomas here on Wednesday.

Drew Thomas said President Ghani’s peace offer to Taliban and government to government level talks proposal to Pakistan at the Kabul process conference has brought positive change to dialogue process.

Terming government to government talks between Afghanistan and Pakistan as positive step, he said his government was ready to cooperate in this regard. President Ashraf Ghazni said on the occasion that they were ready to resolve all the issues with Pakistan through government to government level talks

To create an atmosphere of trust, officials of Pakistan and Afghanistan resumed meetings and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khan Abbasi visited Kabul on the invitation of Afghan president few days ago. Pakistan’s PM also invited Ghazni to visit Islamabad.