Friday, March 27, 2009

Four bomb explosions in NWFP(Pukhtunkhwa) mosques thus far


PESHAWAR: The devastating explosion at Bagyari near Jamrud in Khyber Agency on Friday was the fourth time in NWFP that a mosque was targeted by terrorists.

In both the Bagyari blast and the one at a mosque in Sherpao village in Charsadda district on December 20, 2007, the officially certified death toll was over 50. The number of injured was also around 200 in both cases.

There was apparently no high-profile target at the Bagyari mosque as those offering Friday prayers at the roadside place of worship were common tribesmen, travellers and low-ranked officials of the Frontier Corps and Khassadar force.

The target of the suicide bombing at the mosque in Sherpao village was the then federal interior minister Aftab Sherpao. It was Eid day, or Eidul Azha to be precise, and Sherpao, his sons Sikandar and Mustafa, and relatives and guards were praying at the village mosque. Sherpao survived and so did his sons, with Mustafa receiving some injuries, but more than 50 people were killed.

On that fateful day, it became obvious that for some people calling themselves to be Islamic fighters the mosques were no longer sacrosanct.

Incidentally, Sherpao had survived an earlier suicide bombing as well in his native Charsadda but that attack had taken place during a public meeting in an open place and not in a mosque. More than 30 people were killed in that blast.

Two other mosques were also attacked by the terrorists. One was actually a Shia place of worship, the Imambargah Qasim Beg, in Jhangi Mohalla in Peshawar where a suicide bomber blew himself up on January 18, 2008. The explosion in the congested Imambargah killed 12 worshippers and caused injuries to 20 others.

The other mosque that suffered a bomb explosion was located in the remote Miskeeni Darra area in Dir Lower district. The incident took place during the month of Ramazan last year when seven faithful offering prayers were killed and several other were injured.

Two other attempts by suicide bombers to attack worshippers during congregations were foiled. In one case, the bomber wearing suicide jacket was overpowered by policemen before he could enter an Imambargah in Dera Ismail Khan. If the young suicide bomber had succeeded in his misguided mission, the human losses at the crowded Imambargah would have been enormous.

In the second incident, the suicide bomber due to nervousness or inadequate training blew himself up before he could reach and target an Eidgah where Eidul Fitr prayers were being offered in Daggar in Buner district. Two children who happened to be in the vicinity were injured by the force of the explosion.

It was unimaginable until a few years ago that mosques, referred to as the House of Allah, would be attacked and that too in the NWFP where Islam plays a dominant role in life. In fact, attacking any place of worship was something unthinkable. But the terrorists have no qualms exploding bombs in mosques and sending suicide bombers to kill and maim the innocent Muslims who come to offer prayers.

Jamrud attack victims tell horrible tales

PESHAWAR: More than a hundred tribesmen injured in a suicide attack inside a mosque in Bhigiari area of Khyber tribal agency on Friday noon were shifted to three major hospitals of the provincial metropolis.

The hospitals wore a gloomy look as agony-stricken attendants were in tears to see their relatives writhing in pain. The worried relatives of the wounded persons rushed to the hospitals to inquire after the injured, but police deployed at wards’ gates allowed only one person to stay with the wounded.

The injured were first rushed to Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC), the nearest tertiary-care hospital, but due to lack of facilities to address causalities in such a large number, most of the wounded were referred to Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) and Lady Reading Hospital (LRH).

Twenty-eight victims, including three bodies were brought, to HMC, while 71 injured and seven bodies were shifted to the KTH. About 10 patients were referred to cardio-thoracic and cardio vascular wards of the LRH.

Lying on a bed in surgical ward of the KTH, Khalid Mir had received abdominal injuries. Student of first-year at Higher Secondary School Jamrud, Mir still in his blood-soaked clothes, told The News he was standing in the third row inside the hall of the mosque.

“The moment imam (prayer leader) said Allah-o-Akbar I heard a deafening sound and saw a raging flame of fire and then smoke everywhere,” he said. “Everything was falling and the entire roof caved in and I was hit by a wooden beam,” he added.

Mir said that he was a player of volleyball and he along with his friends used to play game near the mosque. “We decided to offer Friday prayer before the game, but the fate has decided something else,” Khalid Mir said. Waqif, 17, from Jamrud was lying on the next bed. He received head injuries as well as shrapnel’s bruises on his face and right foot.

Talking to The News, he said that he was standing in the first row when a loud blast occurred. “A piece of slab fell on my foot. However, I managed to remove that and take out two of my cousins injured in the attack,” he said.

“Smoke was all around and bodies as well as the injured were scattered at the scene and the children were crying for help,” he said. Bakhat Zameen, 25, a driver by profession, sustained head injuries and also shrapnel’s mark on his left cheek. He said the moment he entered the mosque the blast occurred and people fell on one another. “Soon after the blast firing was also started by locals as well as by Khassadars,” he said.

The bodies and the injured were lying on the spot for more than 20 minutes as people were panicked and shocked, he said. Asim, a Khassadar force personnel hailing from Jamrud, admitted to the emergency ward of the HMC told The News that he discharging duty at the nearby checkpoint. “My duty starts at 3pm, but I left home to reach in time to offer my ‘juma’ (Friday) prayer in the mosque and then join the duty,” he said. Asim was standing in the veranda of the mosque when the suicide bomber blew himself up, injuring his (Asim) right leg and hands.

Suicide hits on public places register increase

14 attacks in first quarter of 2009 left 201 dead
PESHAWAR: Suicide attacks have once again registered an increase in Pakistan, mostly targeting public places this time, as 14 assaults in the ongoing quarter of 2009 have so far killed 201 people.The last of the suicide attacks took place at public places where innocent civilians were targeted and not security forces. Previously, security forces were the main targets of the suicide bombers. Eleven out of the total 14 suicide blasts occurred either in NWFP or Fata.The latest incident was that in Jamrud, Khyber Agency, where over 80 people were reported killed and over 150 wounded when a suicide bomber detonated explosives around his vest exactly when Friday prayer was being offered inside a mosque.Twelve others were killed and 22 wounded a day earlier in Jandola town of Frontier Region Tank, when a teenage bomber blew him up outside a restaurant. The Friday attack was 5th of its kind during the month of March. In earlier three attacks, 25 people were killed and around 40 wounded. The first incident occurred on March 2 in Pishin district of Balochistan where six seminary students were killed and scores other injured. As many as 15 people were killed and 25 others wounded in another suicide hit in Pir Wadhai area of Rawalpindi district on March 16.NWFP Senior Minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour escaped second suicide attempt on his life on March 11 in Namakmandi here. He was lucky enough as explosives did not go off when the suicide bomber intended to attack the senior nationalist leader. The bomber later blew him up inside a house after taking shelter to escape police chase. A newly married girl, her elder sister, a brother and their mother were killed in the blast.Six suicide hits were reported during the last month wherein 65 people were killed. Two of these attacks occurred in Bannu while one each happened in Dera Ghazi Khan, Dera Ismail Khan, Swat and Jamrud.The first suicide attack of 2009 in the country came on January 4 in Dera Ismail Khan where 10 people, including four policemen, were killed and 27 wounded. The same day another suicide bombing took place in Bannu where two security personnel sustained injuries. Two security forces personnel were killed in another suicide attack on January 23 in Mingora, Swat.As many as 61 suicide attacks have been reported in 2008 killing at least 889 people and injuring 2,072 others. The total number of suicide blasts in Pakistan since 2002 has risen to 154, to date. As many as 56 bombers struck in year 2007 wherein former premier Benazir Bhutto was also a victim.Authorities disclosed that 290 people were killed and 711 other wounded in 30 suicide bombings in the NWFP during the previous year. At least 337 people were killed and 585 wounded in 28 suicide bombings in the province, last year.Swat topped the list of districts where 11 suicide bombers hit targets, killing 101 people and injuring 294 others. Four suicide bombers struck in Peshawar in 2008, killing 99 and wounding 226 others.

Obama's Afghan plan

As a candidate, Barack Obama called Afghanistan "the war we must win."
On Friday, however, President Obama laid out a new US strategy that sees Afghanistan and Pakistan as one problem and provides more resources for both countries, but also with the goal that they eventually defeat Islamic terrorists largely on their own.
He no longer seeks a US victory over Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Rather, he now defines the US interest as merely preventing the Taliban from returning to power in Afghanistan and will do so by turning over much of that task to others.
He calls such a handover a "new sense of shared responsibility."
His plan appears designed to have a US surge in troops, money, and civilian workers merely contain and deter Taliban and Al Qaeda for about two more years and then slowly reduce America's role. He will set out benchmarks for Afghan and Pakistani leaders to meet by 2011, such as beefing up their capabilities against terrorists.
The implied threat is that the US will withdraw its forces if those benchmarks are not achieved.
"We will not blindly stay the course," Obama says.
His administration is even trying to lower American expectations of ever defeating Al Qaeda, even though that officially remains a goal. His officials now refer to the campaign against Osama bin Laden and his followers as simply an "overseas contingency operation," not a war on violent Islamists.
And he doesn't call for democracy in Afghanistan as way to keep the Taliban at bay, saying only that the US "can't dictate" that country's future.
The president's strategy may reflect his concern about the high cost of the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq at a time of recession and when Democrats want to spend hundreds of billions more on healthcare, clean energy, and education.
He's taking a big risk by trying to push more responsibility for Afghanistan onto Europe, the UN, China, Russia, and Iran as well as the governments in Afghanistan and Pakistan. His threat assessment of Al Qaeda's capability to conduct another 9/11-style attack must be quite low. Or else he has simply weighed the price of such an attack against his domestic priorities and decided the latter is more important to America's future.
In the seven years since 9/11, Americans have become more complacent about terrorist threats. Barely half of them support the US role in Afghanistan. Last year, US soldiers suffered the highest death toll in that country since the 2001 invasion. Obama may sense a low political risk by reducing the US role after a temporary surge in forces and aid.
It took President Nixon four years and thousands of American casualties to extract the US from Vietnam. The result was a communist victory and the loss of thousands of Vietnamese lives. But the cold-war strategy of containing communism globally did eventually win out.
Can Obama likewise win the "overseas contingency operation" (formerly known as the war on terror) by withdrawing from Afghanistan in a few years?
His combination of a resource surge and a delegation of duties to others may prove effective. But like any commander in chief, he should have a back-up plan. Events on the ground, rather than politics at home, should drive his decisions.

EU warns Netanyahu over stalled peace process

The European Union warned Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday that EU ties with his country would suffer if he did not accept Palestinian calls for statehood.

Netanyahu this week said his future right-leaning Israeli government would negotiate peace with the Palestinians, but made no mention of a policy aim long backed by both the United States and Europe.

Asked how a failure to commit to the goal would affect EU-Israel ties, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, said: "Relations would become very difficult indeed. At one of our next ministerial meetings we would have to discuss what consequences the EU would draw from that."

Speaking after EU talks, Schwarzenberg did not elaborate but Luxembourg's Jean Asselborn said a long-mooted upgrading of EU-Israeli trade and political ties depended on Israel achieving a peace deal with the Palestinians.

"We must tell the Israelis that it is not allowed to walk away from the peace process... The upgrading process was always to be viewed from the perspective of the peace process having been completed," Asselborn told reporters.

The EU already put talks on an upgrade of ties with Israel on hold in January after its assault on the Gaza Strip, in which Palestinian researchers said some 1,300 inhabitants were killed. The assault followed rocket attacks by Hamas militants.

Netanyahu plans to present his new coalition government for parliamentary approval next week.

While he has shied away from backing the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, his Likud party agreed in a coalition deal with the Labour party to respect all of Israel's international agreements - a formula that includes accords envisaging Palestinian statehood.

"We Europeans are insisting that whatever the weighting is in the two governments (Israeli and Palestinian), the creation of a two-state solution must stand first and foremost," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.

"We should not always have to start from the beginning again - that is my urgent appeal," he told reporters at talks with EU counterparts in the Czech Republic.

Girls edu must for development: Owais

PESHAWAR: The NWFP Governor Owais Ahmed Ghani Friday awarded cash prizes to six position-holder students of Khyber Agency, who stood first among both boy and girl students of Khyber Agency in the latest SSC, Intermediate and Bachelor degree examinations. The Political Agent of Khyber Agency has created these special awards for each boy and girl student, who studies in the government educational institutions of the Agency and take highest marks in all the three annual examinations. Among boys, Muhammad Fayaz of Government High School Shalobar, Bara got Rs. 30,000/= for obtaining 741 marks in the SSC annual examination 2008, Wazir Akbar of Government Degree College Landi Kotal Rs. 40,000/= for obtaining 834 marks in the Intermediate examination 2008 and Shamsher Khan of Government Degree College Kohi Sher Haider Rs. 50,000/= for obtaining 396 marks in the Bachelor degree annual examination 2008. Among girl students, Humaira of Government Girls High School Jamrud was given Rs. 30,000/= for obtaining 697 marks in the SSC annual examination 2008, Amna Sharafat of Government Girls Degree College Jamrud was given Rs. 40,000/=for taking 798 marks in the Intermediate examination 2008 and Gul Naz of Govt. Girls Degree College Jamrud Rs. 50,000/= for obtaining 317 marks in the Bachelor degree examination 2008. Talking on the occasion, the Governor congratulated the winning students and advised them to not only maintain the level of their excellence but get it more improved to win highest distinctions in the years to come. The Governor also appreciated the political administration of Khyber Agency for creating this special award to encourage the local students and hoped that other Agencies would also follow the example in the same way. The Governor was happier over the performance of girl students and urged the need for female education, which he added was all the way necessary for the development of an educated, disciplined, civilized and cultured society. Political Agent Khyber Agency Tariq Hayat, Agency Education Officer Khyber Hashim Khan and Assistant Education Officer (Female) Ms. Zahira Begum were also present on the occasion.

Afghan soldier kills two U.S. troops -military

KABUL - An Afghan army soldier shot dead two U.S. servicemen and wounded a third before killing himself in northeast Afghanistan on Friday, U.S. military said.

The Afghan soldier fired at the U.S. soldiers, killing one and wounding two others, one of whom died later, it said in a statement.

"One coalition service member was killed ... another died of wounds and a third was wounded by an Afghan National Army soldier who reportedly fired upon them," it said. "The Afghan National Army soldier reportedly killed himself immediately after the incident."

The incident occurred at about 2:20 p.m. (1020 GMT), before U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled the results of his administration's strategy review of Afghanistan, which includes strengthening Afghanistan's national security forces.

The training of the Afghan army and police is being undertaken by U.S. forces.

The U.S. statement quoted Afghan Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak as saying the incident was being investigated and "full corrective action" would be taken.

No further information was available from U.S. military. Similar incidents have occurred in the past in Afghanistan, where about 70,000 foreign troops are fighting a growing Taliban insurgency.

Obama's new strategy for Afghanistan set out as its key objective the defeat of al Qaeda militants there and in Pakistan who he said were plotting new attacks on the United States.

US, Iran could work together in Afghanistan: official

MOSCOW :Afghanistan is a 'very productive area' for engagement between Washington and arch foe Tehran, a US official said Friday at a meeting in Moscow aimed at curbing rising violence in the conflict-riven nation.

Obama: Safety of world at stake in Afghanistan

Story Highlights
NEW: $1.5 billion in aid for Pakistan part of Afghan strategy
NEW: 4,000 additional U.S. troops to be sent to Afghanistan
NEW: Substantial number of civilian specialists also to be deployed
WASHINGTON -- President Obama -- saying "the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks are in Pakistan and Afghanistan" -- announced a "comprehensive" new strategy Friday confronting the growing threat in Afghanistan and now Pakistan.

Obama said "situation is increasingly perilous" in the region and 2008 was the deadliest year of the war for U.S. forces in Afghanistan in the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda.

"It's an international security challenge of the highest order," he said in an address at the executive office building. "The safety of people around the world is at stake."

He called on Congress to pass a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Sens. John Kerry and Richard Lugar authorizing "$1.5 billion in direct support to the Pakistani people every year over the next five years -- resources that will build schools, roads, and hospitals, and strengthen Pakistan's democracy."

He is also urging Congress "to pass a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Maria Cantwell, Chris Van Hollen and Peter Hoekstra that creates opportunity zones in the border region to develop the economy and bring hope to places plagued by violence. And we will ask our friends and allies to do their part -- including at the donors conference in Tokyo next month."

Obama said he is sending another 4,000 troops to Afghanistan along with hundreds of civilian specialists. The troops -- which are in addition to the 17,000 the president announced earlier would be sent to Afghanistan -- will be charged with training and building the Afghan Army and police force.

"We will shift the emphasis of our mission to training and increasing the size of Afghan security forces, so that they can eventually take the lead in securing their country," he said. Watch Obama tell terrorists U.S. will defeat them »

"For three years, our commanders have been clear about the resources they need for training. Those resources have been denied because of the war in Iraq. Now, that will change. The additional troops that we deployed have already increased our training capacity. Later this spring we will deploy approximately 4,000 U.S. troops to train Afghan Security Forces."

Obama said the coalition "will accelerate" efforts to "build an Afghan Army of 134,000 and a police force of 82,000 so that we can meet these goals by 2011 -- and increases in Afghan forces may very well be needed as our plans to turn over security responsibility to the Afghans go forward."

Obama said Afghanistan's government has been "undermined by corruption and has difficulty delivering basic services to its people" and its economy is undercut by a booming narcotics trade that encourages criminality and funds the insurgency. "

"To advance security, opportunity, and justice -- not just in Kabul, but from the bottom up in the provinces -- we need agricultural specialists and educators; engineers and lawyers. That is how we can help the Afghan government serve its people, and develop an economy that isn't dominated by illicit drugs. That is why I am ordering a substantial increase in our civilians on the ground. And that is why we must seek civilian support from our partners and allies, from the United Nations and international aid organizations -- an effort that Secretary Clinton will carry forward next week in the Hague."

Chinese interests caught in drone threat

QUETTA, Pakistan - The reported United States plan to use Predator drone aircraft to attack targets in Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan may affect activity there by the Chinese, who have focused most of their investment in the country in that area, notably around the seaport of Gwadar, according to local analysts.
United States President Barack Obama and his top aides are reported to be considering expanding covert operations against Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders to Balochistan, particularly in and around the provincial capital of Quetta. Taliban leader Mullah Omar is rumored to be based in the province, something denied last week by Balochistan chief minister Mohammad Aslam Raisanit. The US operations could include strikes by remote-controlled aircraft, or drones. To date, these unmanned craft have concentrated their efforts on the tribal areas that border Afghanistan. US drones have carried out more than 30 drone strikes since early 2008. The strikes have killed about 300 people, including several mid-level al-Qaeda members, according to a tally of reports from Pakistani officials and residents of border regions, according to Reuters.
While Gwadar seaport, just 624 nautical kilometers east of the Strait of Hormuz, gateway to the Persian Gulf, lies about 1,000 kilometers from Quetta, the project has already been delayed due to insurgent activity by rebels hostile to the central government. The possibility of using America's Central Intelligence Agency-operated drones in the province, the country's most economically backward area, may further destabilize security there and create a severe domestic backlash.
Projected improved transport links between Gwadar and Quetta and a planned oil pipeline linking the port to China's western region could also be threatened if drone attacks increase the level of local unrest.
The Chinese are developing Gwadar to serve as a strategic base to spread Beijing's influence in oil-rich Middle East and Central Asia. The mineral-rich province has also attracted Chinese miners and oil companies.
Firms working in Balochistan include Tianjin Zhongbei Harbor Engineering Supervision Corporation of China, China Harbor Engineering Company Group, Metallurgical Construction Corporation (MCC) and its subsidiary, MRDL and Chinese petroleum outfit, the Bureau of Geophysical Prospecting (BGP).
So far, China has been the biggest investor in developing Gwadar. The two-phase program of port construction is being supervised by Tianjin Zhongbei Harbor Engineering, with a total estimated cost $1.6 billion. China has so far contributed about $198 million, while Pakistan has allocated $50 million. Elsewhere in the city, China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) is involved in building an international airport at a cost of $70 million.
An important feature of the city's development and strategic importance is a $12.5 billion oil refinery being built by China's Great United Petroleum Holdings Company. The China-funded refinery will have an annual refining capacity of refine 21 million tonnes of oil.
China and Pakistan are also working on a plan to lay a trans-Himalayan pipeline to carry Middle Eastern crude from Gwadar to the remote western area of China, running alongside the Karakoram highway. Development of the Gwadar port project has already been delayed over security concerns. In May 2004, three Chinese engineers were killed by terrorists and in the same month the city's airport was attacked by rockets.
Inland, Chinese company MCC acquired the 18 billion-rupee (US$223 million) Saindak copper and gold project on a 10-year lease in September 2002. It has been operated by MRDL, with an initial investment of $26 million, since August 2003. Exports from Saindak started the next year.
Under a March 2002 memorandum of understanding, state-owned MCC also agreed to invest $74 million to exploit and develop lead and zinc deposits, estimated at over 14 million tonnes, at the Duddar Lead and Zinc Project, northeast of Gwadar. The project got underway in April 2005.
Zhuzhou Smelter, China's second-largest zinc producer by capacity, plans to import 50,000 tonnes of zinc concentrate and 20,000 tons of lead a year from Duddar. The company owns less than 40% of the Duddar mine but plans to take its entire output.

The Chinese are also engaged in petroleum exploration in Balochistan. BGP was awarded a $1 million contract in 2001 to survey an area in Dera Bugti, in the province's heartland. The survey was suspended soon afterwards for security reasons before being resumed the following year.

Sparsely populated Balochistan has a population of only 7.5 million people, yet occupies 44% of the Pakistan's total area. It is re-emerging as a front line for the US military campaign in Afghanistan, with which it shares a 1,100 kilometer northern border, after playing an important role in the post-1979 US-backed Afghan jihad against occupying Soviet Union forces.

Some analysts also believe that the $5 billion cash lifeline recently proposed by Washington for Pakistan, along with $1.5 billion annual assistance over the next five years, to avert an imminent economic meltdown and destabilization, will go to waste if the US expands its air strike targets to the impoverished province.

Jamrud attack: Heavy machinery requisitioned to remove rubble

JAMRUD: Relief activities are underway following the deadly suicide attack at a mosque in Jamrud near Bhegari Camp while heavy machinery has been requisitioned to remove the rubble.According to sources, over 70 people are feared dead in the attack.

Russia hosts summit on Afghanistan

Russia is hosting an international conference it hopes will help bring about stability in Afghanistan.

Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said on Thursday that the meeting in Moscow should improve co-ordination of global efforts to combat "terrorism" and drug-trafficking in Afghanistan.

The hosting of the conference on Friday is seen as the Kremlin's desire to expand its role in regional affairs.

"It's aimed primarily at increasing the efficiency of international co-operation in support of the Afghan leadership's efforts to combat terrorism and drug-trafficking," Lavrov said.

"We would like to agree on closer co-operation to help make these efforts more efficient."

Alexander Konovalov, head of the Moscow-based Institute of Strategic Assessment, said: "Moscow realises that the situation in Afghanistan threatens its security."

He said Russia has become "the main destination for drugs from Afghanistan".

Vying for influence

The conference has been organised by the the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, which includes Russia, China and the ex-Soviet Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

The group has served as a vehicle for Moscow and Beijing to limit Western influence in energy-rich Central Asia.

Delegates at the conference will include Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general.

Last month, Kyrgyzstan ordered the US to vacate a military base which has been key in supporting operations in Afghanistan.

The move came immediately after Moscow promised $2.1bn in loans and aid to the impoverished country.

US suspicion

Although Russia insisted that it did not influence the decision, US officials suspected the Kremlin of instigating the move.

Russia is wary of the US military's presence in the strategic region that it considers part of its traditional sphere of influence.

But while Moscow appears opposed to the US foothold in Central Asia, it wants the US presence in Afghanistan to prevent the expansion of terrorism and drug-trafficking to Russian borders.

But speaking to Al Jazeera on Friday, Daoud Sultanzoy, a member of Afghanistan's parliament, cautioned that internal co-ordination between the Pakistani government's civilian and the military-intelligence branches holds the key to Afghanistan's stability.

"So far that co-ordination has been very, very anaemic," he said.

"I don't think so far the level of co-ordination has produced any tangible or lasting solutions. All solutions have been periodic and short-lived."

Bomb at Khyber Agency mosque, at least 45 dead: official

LANDI KOTAL ( March 27, 2009, 14:47 ) :A bomb destroyed a mosque in Khyber Agency during prayers on Friday, killing at least 45 people, a government official said.