News - Afghanistan
Written by   
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 11:28

A suicide attack claimed the lives of two policemen, injuring a civilian and another policeman in Nangarhar on Tuesday, local officials said.

News - Afghanistan
Written by   
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 10:41

A group of unknown gunmen shot dead a tribal elder in western Herat province on Monday night, local officials said.

According to the Herat Police Chief Abdul Raouf Ahmadi, a tribal elder named Abdul Malik was shot dead by unknown gunmen on motorbikes as he was on his way home. Ahmadi added that Malik was the former local police leader of Shindand district of Heart province.

"Abdul Malik was shot dead after he was on his way home from the mosque; the gunmen have fled the area," he said, adding that the case is under investigation.

No group has yet claimed the responsibility for the attack.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 September 2014 11:42
News - Afghanistan
Written by AFP   
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 10:16

Pakistan's interior minister said Friday the intransigence of anti-government protest movements had left no alternative but mediation by the army to end a two-week political crisis that has shaken the nuclear-armed nation.

The country's powerful army chief General Raheel Sharif on Thursday held talks with populist cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri and cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan in the standoff between the government and protesters.

The move has raised fears of increased military dominance over the civilian government in a country ruled for more than half its life by the army.

Thousands of demonstrators led by Khan and Qadri are camped outside the parliament building in Islamabad demanding the prime minister step down.

More than a week of government efforts to negotiate an end to the standoff made little headway, with Khan adamant the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif must resign.

Late on Thursday, Qadri and Khan announced General Sharif would mediate and later the army chief met them both, according to a military spokesman.

Qadri, head of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) group, said he met General Sharif for nearly three and a half hours early on Friday morning.

- 'What option remains?' -

Interior Minister Chaudhry Ali Nisar Khan told parliament the protesters' unwillingness to trust anyone had left no alternative but army mediation.

"Again and again they said they only trust the army and will only have talks through the army," he said.

"When a group or two parties has no faith in the judiciary, the opposition, lawyers or civil society and has no confidence in anybody, what option remains for the government?"

A furious row blew up almost immediately over the chain of events leading up to the army stepping in.

The interior minister and PM told parliament the request for military help had come from the camps of Khan and Qadri.

Sharif said he had not asked for the intervention, but was told by a military officer that Khan and Qadri had said they wanted to meet the army chief.

"I... told him that if they wanted to meet and if they have requested to meet, then the army chief must meet them," he told parliament.

Qadri, who is usually based in Canada, hotly denied this and demanded Sharif resign.

"This is a lie, a lie, a lie. This request has been made by the prime minister and the government and I reject his claim," he told supporters.

Meanwhile, chief military spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa said on his official Twitter account: "The Chief of Army Staff was asked by the government to play a facilitative role for resolution of the current impasse, in yesterday's meeting at PM House."

The interior minister late Friday said that the military statement endorsed the government's stance in the crisis.

"Role of facilitation by army is within constitutional ambit and the statement endorses our stance," he said.

Khan, the head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party which scored its best-ever result at last year's election, once again insisted he would not leave the protest until the prime minister quits.

A fresh round of talks between Khan's party and government broke down, while talks with Qadri were in progress.

- Military influence -

Khan alleges the 2013 general election that swept Sharif to power in a landslide was rigged, though international observers said the vote was largely free and fair.

Qadri has demanded wholesale changes to Pakistan's political system and called for an interim "unity government" while they are implemented.

The leaders have drawn thousands to the streets in Islamabad, though support has dwindled over the last week and their call has not mobilised a mass movement in the country of 180 million people.

But the standoff has weakened Sharif, and led a number of observers to say the military would use the crisis to reclaim a hold over its traditional spheres of influence in Pakistani politics -- defence and foreign policy.

The army is widely viewed as hostile toward Sharif's efforts to normalise ties with India -- the perceived threat from Pakistan's giant neighbour is a big part of the justification for the military's large budget and prominent role.

Sharif is also thought to have angered the military by pursuing treason charges against former chief General Pervez Musharraf.

There is speculation that the military will use the current crisis to get Sharif to let Musharraf -- who deposed him in a coup in 1999 -- leave the country.

A military-negotiated end to the crisis would also lend credence to the view, held by many analysts, that the army and its intelligence agencies have been providing material aid to the opposition groups.

Analyst Imtiaz Gul said that Sharif was likely to survive the crisis, but would need to make major concessions to the army in exchange for its support.

News - Afghanistan
Written by Tariq Majidi   
Monday, 01 September 2014 20:54

Three men have been arrested in relation to the recent rape and robbery case that took place in Paghman district of Kabul province, the Kabul police said on Sunday.

The men had stopped the vehicles of the eight women and two men who were traveling home from Paghman to Kabul city after a wedding party about a week ago. They had taken four of the eight women to a nearby garden, beating and raping them.

It is said that the women's families took them to the Rabia Balkhi Hospital of Kabul without informing the police. Hospital officials did not inform the police either. The victims' families requested that the women's identities remain undisclosed.

According to Kabul Police Chief, Gen. Zahir Zahir, those who were involved in the crime had criminal backgrounds.

"At around 10 p.m. a number of criminals—who have previously been to prison and have criminal backgrounds—stopped two cars and took the women to a nearby garden," he said. "By the time we were informed and reached the scene, they had already fled."

Kabul police has expressed frustration over the irresponsible release of criminals, claiming that many of the criminals have contacts in the legal and judicial organs enabling them to get away with their crimes.

"My demand from the legal organs and the attorney general's office is to execute these individuals after showing their faces to people," Gen. Zahir asserted.
Meanwhile, last week a woman's body was found hidden in a ditch in western Kabul and another body was found around Kabul's 3rd security zone. Both cases are under police investigation.

These recent incidents have added to the concerns already existing about the increase in insecurity around the county.

Written by Shakila Abrahimkhil   
Monday, 01 September 2014 19:43

Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah's campaign team on Monday threatened to boycott political negotiations with their opponents if their demands are not addressed by Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's camp has expressed a resilient hope for a positive outcome from the negotiations, despite their impasse over the powers and authorities of the Chief Executive position, namely, whether or not the Chief Executive should be the head of the Council of Ministers.

Ashraf Ghani's team has maintained that the candidates are largely in agreement on the issue, and that elements within Abdullah's camp have tried to undermine potential compromise.

But Abdullah's side has criticized the vote auditing process as well, and warned that if the international community, which is overseeing the audit, does not address their concerns by Tuesday, then they will boycott that too.

"We will give one day to the international community to review and assure that the vote auditing and the political negotiations are moving forward properly," Abdullah spokesman Syed Aqa Fazel Sancharaki said on Monday. "If our demands are not met and the auditing not conducted legitimately and the political talks without honesty, then we will withdraw from both processes."

Negotiations over the past week included meetings between the candidates, United Nations officials and diplomats from the United States.

Ashraf Ghani's side has kept an optimistic stance toward the negotiations, which began after the National Unity Committee - appointed jointly by the candidates - was unable to reach a comprehensive agreement on the power-sharing arrangement. The national unity government was initially agreed to, as a framework, when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Kabul to mediate negotiations between the two candidates in early August.

"Last night's meeting was conducted in an environment of trust and consensus, the disputed points were again discussed, it is expected that soon there will be an outcome," Ghani spokesman Tahir Zuhair said. "Last night's meeting showed that the gap between the views of the candidates has closed."

Nevertheless, Sancharaki went so far as to suggest members of Ghani's camp were in agreement with Abdullah, and not their own leader, when it came to the political negotiations.

"The sitting government minister who is a part of your delegation, he came and talked with us; he is the serving cabinet minister, and he came and said 'I don't accept it,'" Sancharaki said.

The Ghani team has said the final result of the election is expected on September 10, and will then be followed shortly by the inauguration ceremony.

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