Sunday, October 7, 2012
http://www.ctvnews.ca/Nobody wants a repeat of the bloody ethnic fighting that followed the Soviet exit from Afghanistan in the 1990s - least of all 32-year-old Wahidullah who was crippled by a bullet that pierced his spine during the civil war. Yet as the Afghan war began its 12th year on Sunday, fears loom that the country will again fracture along ethnic lines once international combat forces leave by the end of 2014. "It was a very bad situation," said Wahidullah, who was a teenager when he was wounded in the 1992-1996 civil war. "All these streets around here were full of bullet shells, burned tanks and vehicles," he added, squinting into a setting sun that cast a golden glow on the bombed-out Darulaman Palace still standing in west Kabul not far from where he was wounded. "People could not find bread or water, but rockets were everywhere," said Wahidullah, who now hobbles around on red-handled crutches. The dilapidated palace is a reminder of the horror of the civil war when rival factions - who had joined forces against Soviet fighters before they left in early 1989 - turned their guns on each other. Tens of thousands of civilians were killed. Fed up with the bloodletting, the Afghan people longed for someone - anyone - who would restore peace and order. The Taliban did so. But once in power, they imposed harsh Islamic laws that repressed women and they publicly executed, stoned and lashed people for alleged crimes and sexual misconduct. The Taliban also gave sanctuary to al-Qaida in the run-up to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. When the Taliban refused to give up the al-Qaida leaders who orchestrated 9/11, the U.S. invaded on Oct. 7, 2001. Eleven years later, Afghanistan remains divided and ethnic tension still simmers. The Taliban, dominated by the ethnic Pashtun majority, have strongholds in the south. Ethnic minorities such as Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks live predominantly in central and northern Afghanistan. The fear is that when international forces leave, minority groups will take up arms to prevent another Taliban takeover and that members of the Afghan security forces could walk off the government force and fight with their ethnic leaders. Anxiety and confusion about what will happen after the foreign forces leave permeates every aspect of society. Political debate about an Afghanistan post-2014 is getting more vocal. Some political leaders threaten to take up arms while others preach progress, development and peace. Young Afghans with money and connections are trying to flee the country before 2014. There also is mounting uncertainty about the upcoming transfer of power. At the same time that foreign troops are scheduled to complete their withdrawal in 2014, Afghans will go to the polls to elect a successor to President Hamid Karzai, who is barred by the constitution from running for a third term. The Afghan people already view their government as weak and corrupt and those doubtful of a peaceful future say that if the upcoming presidential election is rigged and yields an illegitimate leader, civil war could erupt between ethnic groups backed by neighboring countries trying to influence Afghanistan's future. "Unfortunately in Afghanistan, we do not have any political unity," said Gen. Sayed Hussain Anwari, a former governor of Kabul and Herat provinces who led fighters during the civil war. Speaking in emotional, rapid-fire sentences at his home in Kabul, Anwari says that the Taliban have a right to participate in the political process. "But if the scenario changes and they come to power by force, there will be groups that won't go with the Taliban and the fighting will continue," he said. Ghairat Baheer offers an even gloomier prediction. Baheer is a representative and son-in-law of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a key civil war leader in the 1990s whose fighters attack foreign troops today. He warns that the current Afghan government will collapse with the international troop withdrawal and says civil war is likely without a peace agreement. "The realties are that the government is not sustainable," he said in a telephone interview. "Anti-Americanism and anti-western sentiment is increasing daily in Afghanistan and the resistance is spreading day-by-day across the country." Fahim Dashti was with Ahmad Shah Massoud, the charismatic Tajik leader who commanded the Northern Alliance of minority groups, when he was fatally wounded by two terrorists posing as journalists two days before the Sept. 11 attacks. Dashti's face and hands were burned when one of the journalists blew himself up as the interview began. Even now, Dashti's hands are not strong enough to twist the cap off a bottle of water. Despite his experience, Dashti, who now directs the National Journalists' Union in Afghanistan, doesn't think his country is headed toward a civil war. "I do share the concerns of the people, no doubt. But there are some positive points such as the (growing) capability and the ability of the Afghan security forces," he said in his office. Donor nations have pledged to continue supporting the Afghan forces, which will avoid civil war and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a sanctuary for international terrorists again, Dashti said. He's more worried about the upcoming presidential race. "There is no one-man solution," he said, adding that a team of leaders from all ethnic factions needs to be assembled to lead the nation forward. Gen. Majid Rouzi, who also commanded fighters in the civil war and is now an adviser at the Afghan Interior Ministry, agrees. "Nobody has any justification for rearming," he said, sitting cross-legged on a rug in his home in Kabul. "The Taliban coming again? It is not possible. A factional war is not coming." However, Gen. Sahki Dad Ghafel, who led 1,500 troops fighting under Hazara commander Abdul Ali Mazari during the civil war, says civil strife is inevitable unless a peace can be reached with the Taliban before 2014. And he's not optimistic that the Taliban will renounce violence, moderate their hardline ways and participate in the political process. "Maybe if there is a deal between America, Pakistan and the Taliban, the Taliban might come with the tie instead of the turban," Ghafel, a round-faced military man with a small black mustache, said snacking on green grapes and melon in his office. "If the foreign troops leave, there will not be a good result. I am not confident about the future. I'm not optimistic." Karzai has called for national unity and has tried to reassure his people that Afghanistan will not collapse when the troops leave. "If the foreigners are not here, we are nothing?" he asked sarcastically at a news conference last week: "We were not a nation before NATO and the Americans came?" Karzai claims there has been a decline in violence in areas where Afghan troops are taking over from U.S. and NATO forces and that Afghan policemen and soldiers will be strong enough to provide security in the future. He blames the media for scaring Afghans into thinking they have no future once the international coalition leaves. Those who share Karzai's optimism argue that despite reports of drug use and unprofessionalism, Afghan security forces -- now 352,000 strong - will be capable of securing the nation by international troops leave. Coalition officials claim they have battered the Taliban and that while they are capable of staging suicide bombings and insider attacks, the insurgents cannot defeat the Afghan forces on the battlefield. They contend that keeping up the pressure on insurgents will push Taliban leaders to the negotiating table and that the international community's pledge to bankroll the Afghan army and police force in coming years will support the Afghan government as it works to provide better governance. The more pessimistic view is that the Afghan forces won't be up to the task. The joint international and Afghan force is fighting a losing battle, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement marking the 11th anniversary of the start of the war. Mujahid claims the Taliban have infiltrated the Afghan forces and are responsible for the rash of insider attacks that have left more than 50 U.S. and NATO forces dead at the hands of their would-be Afghan partners so far this year. "Right now, the foreigners are in a position where they are just trying to escape," Mujahid said.
http://www.thenewstribe.com/A 31-member trade delegation of Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry will visit Afghanistan from October 7 -11, 2012. In reciprocity to the delegation from Afghanistan that visited Pakistan in the month of July 2012, a group of business delegates from across the Pakistan has joined platform of PAJCCI and will visit Afghanistan for a business and networking visit. The prime objective of this visit is to provide an opportunity to the business community across the border to interact with each other for transforming bi-lateral economic deals. The agenda includes meetings with Afghanistan Ministry of Commerce, Afghanistan Investment Agency, Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce, Ambassador of Pakistan to Afghanistan and other most important organizations of repute. Further during B2B meetings, businessmen from across Afghanistan are invited to meet delegates from Pakistan. PAJCCI President, Mr. M. Zubair Motiwala elaborated that as a Founder President of this unique Chamber, it would be my utmost priority to ensure win-win situation for all stakeholders by resolving long pending issues between Business Community amicably, and help provide facilitation to the business community across the border in the greater interest of both the nations. The Chamber will serve as a body to enhance trade relations between two brotherly nations without succumbing to any unrelated political or cultural influence. Muhammad Zubair Motiwala informed that during the visit, board members will also deliberate upon feedback collected from stakeholders across the border pertaining to APTTA 2010. The meetings were conducted with stakeholders in the month of September 2012 and participation in those meetings was overwhelming. In July 2012, Executive body of PAJCCI met Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Mr. Munir Qureshi and discussed issues faced by business community across the border and assured that after feedback will be acquired from stakeholders then a comprehensive draft proposition will be prepared and submitted to Ministry across the border. Mr. Motiwala further added that this visit along with Executive Committee and Members of Business Community to Afghanistan would InshaAllah prove to be a leap forward in the enhancement of Bi-lateral and Trade relations between the two Countries.
Secretary Information PML-N Mushahidullah has said PTI Peace March has flopped. Mushahidullah Khan Sunday said that Imran Khan announced to go to North Waziristan at first, but in the end went to South Waziristan just to do point scoring. There is a difference between Imran’s words and his actions, he observed. The foreign lobby, which is supporting Imran Khan, is worried about his declining credibility and wants to restore it, he claimed. He said the foreign media considers Imran Khan near to its own agenda, which is why it is supporting him. He noted that international NGO, namely Code Pink is helping Imran Khan financially. Answering to a question, he said Jamaima Khan is making a film and Imran Khan has shares in it. To another question, Mushahidullah Khan said the dual-nationality holders should be allowed to contest elections and after their election, they should give up the foreign nationality.
http://www.brecorder.comPakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan are likely to sign a trilateral transit trade agreement on the pattern of Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), officials told Business Recorder on Saturday. The sources said during meetings with his Afghan and Tajik counterparts on the sidelines of the Chicago-NATO Summit, President Asif Ali Zardari proposed trilateral transit trade agreement between Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Both the president agreed to the proposal. President, sources said, has desired that the agreement may be ready for signatures at the fourth quadrilateral Summit to be held in Islamabad. The Summit, has, however, been postponed indefinitely. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had requested that a draft agreement be prepared along the lines of Afghanistan-Pakistan transit trade agreement signed in October for sharing with the governments of both the countries. The sources further stated the proposed agreement had been prepared in consultation with the relevant stakeholders i.e. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Communication, Revenue Division and Ministry of Interior. The agreement has been vetted by the Law and Justice Division. Commerce Ministry had submitted summary to the Cabinet for approval, in principal, to start negotiations. However, Secretary Commerce informed the Cabinet that due to time constraints, approval of Prime Minister has been obtained to start negotiations under rule 16(2) of the Rules of Business 1973. Ex-post facto approval of the Cabinet was therefore, solicited to initiate negotiations for trilateral transit trade agreement amongst Pakistan –Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The countries private sector argues that though Pakistan’s economic relations with Tajikistan were on an upward trajectory yet there was still a rich potential to enhance relations manifold. Both countries have to work harder on the removal of impediments and invest more on building air, road and rail links, besides easing the problems faced by the businessmen of the two countries. Pakistan has been urging Afghanistan to facilitate the opening of a road linkage through the Wakhan corridor as it provides a shorter route to Tajikistan. Both countries are also negotiating CASA-1000 (Central Asia-South Asia) project for the last several years but the project has yet to begin implementation. Under CASA -1000 Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan would supply 1000 MW electricity to Pakistan through Afghanistan, becoming the first energy project connecting Central Asia and South Asia. Afghanistan too will get 300 MW power from the project. In August 2012, Pakistan-Tajikistan held extensive meetings as the latter sought different commodities from Pakistan to deal with its food security issues. Pakistan, on request of Tajikistan had agreed to provide 30,000 tons of white refined sugar through Trading Corporation of Pakistan in compliance with the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet’s decision dated August 7, 2012 at a rate $20 per ton lower than the international market in the wake of humanitarian crisis faced by the people of Tajikistan. The Tajikistan government, while appreciating the goodwill gesture of Government of Pakistan, requested for early delivery of sugar to Tajikistan i.e. before the onset of winter season. Sugar deal, however, has not yet materialised.
Daily TimesIn view of severe resistance from senior leaders of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Law Minister Farooq H Naek is likely to stick to mentioning presidential immunity in the draft of the letter to be sent to the Swiss authorities for reopening of graft cases against President Asif Zardari. He will present the draft before the Supreme Court’s five-member bench on October 10. Sources revealed to Daily Times that a group of PPP leaders close to former premier Yousaf Raza Gilani was already upset over change in the party’s policy on the NRO implementation case and were questioning as to why did the PPP’s legal team not advise about writing the letter to former PM Gilani, who was disqualified by the Supreme Court in the same case. It has been learnt that due to pressure from this group, the law minister was likely to mention Article 248 of the constitution in the draft, as on Friday he had refused to give any commitment before the bench for further improvement in the proposed letter. It was Naek who convinced the PPP leadership to write a letter to Swiss authorities by claiming immunity for President Zardari. He also said at this stage it would be easy for the government to settle the issue but it might lose control over contents of the letter during tenure of the caretaker government. The sources also said the PPP legal experts have suggested President Zardari show flexibility in the exclusion of presidential immunity from the proposed letter, otherwise cases against him would be reopened in Pakistan as well. They said Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf was also reluctant to show flexibility in the immunity issue after the court’s proceedings against non-implementation of its judgement in the Rental Power Projects case. A PPP lawyer claims the bench is divided over the immunity issue, therefore, the 30-month deadlock between the judiciary and executive could remain unresolved. He also lauded the efforts of Justice Asif Saeed Khosa in resolution of the long-standing issue. It is to be noted that Justice Khosa on July 25 had assured the government’s legal team that they did not want to prosecute President Zardari, and that Zardari as the president of the country enjoys customary international immunity abroad. Similarly, Justice Khosa on Friday observed they were only “inches away” from the perfect solution that would uphold the dignity of the court and also address the government’s concerns. “We have in the last hearing said that it is the last opportunity, but don’t want the efforts to go to waste,” he further noted. On the other hand, a number of PPP workers still believe that writing to Swiss authorities would be tantamount to the trial of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s grave.
President Pukhtun Students Federation (PSF) Peshawar University Campus Imtiaz Wazir has strongly condemned the violent action of IJT students in Post Graduate College Charsadda and has termed the incident as inhuman and sorrowful. In a press statement issued on Saturday, Wazir said that PSF was a well organized association of students who were followers of the great Pukhtun leader Bacha Khan’s philosophy of non violence and peace. "We believe in a peaceful environment in all the institutions of KP and want to act upon live and let others live" said the veteran student politician in his statement. He also expressed great concern over the conditions of the injured fellow Sangeen Shah and demanded of the college authorities to probe into the case and bring the culprits to the book. He warned that if PSF observed any kind of apathy in this regard, they would not hesitate to go to any extent.
A Pakistani politician has bought a house from former Prime Minister Tony Blair after outbidding dozens of millionaires who were vying to buy the house due to the political significance attached to the Edwardian property. Dr Ashraf Chohan, a Pakistani professional with interests in nursing homes and real estate, paid £1.3 million to Tony Blair and his wife Cherie Blair, a human rights lawyer, for their house near his clinic in Marylebone, an exclusive London area, only a stone’s throw from Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and Rehman Malik’s properties in nearby Park Lane and Marble Arch areas. Incidentally, Dr Chohan belongs to PML-N and was a Punjab assembly lawmaker from Gujranwala until the dual national Pakistanis were barred from holding a public office. The Blairs had put the property on market for over 6 months and although there was a huge interest in the sale from the property hunters who make business out of places linked to celebrities, Dr Chohan stunned everyone when he gave an offer that the Blairs found hard to refuse. The market price of the house is stated to be £1.3 million in papers but it’s understood that in every such sale, tens of thousands of Pounds are paid under the table to win the deal. When reached for comment, the estate agent, who negotiated the sale of the house, refused to answer whether any amount in cash had been paid to the Blairs but it is believed that the deal was finalised after Tony Blair told the estate agent that he was interested in the offer put up by the Pakistani doctor. Speaking to Dr Chohan commented that when he heard about the Blairs’ were selling their home through press reports, he didn’t even think about bidding for it because of the huge interest the property was receiving. “Then I was told that property hunters were trying to play hard and negotiate the price and taking their time to see the interest trend in the house. I made an offer to the Blairs they found difficult to turn down and the deal was done. “Doing business with notables is a joy in itself and it has been interesting to see how this deal has attracted so much attention. When Pakistanis do good in public life, this helps to lift the image of the country of their origin. I always tell my clients and business people that I am a proud Pakistani and my motherland sets my direction,” he said. Dr Chohan has been a neighbour to the Blairs for several years. “It has been shocking to see children of Tony Blair doing their own shopping, cycling around like ordinary children, having no protocol to them. We would hardly see children of ministers in Pakistan mixing with anyone other than their own class. The Blairs have been very good neighbours, always courteous.” Since the deal was finalised two weeks ago, Dr Chohan’s new home has received huge attention from media. He has been interviewed about the purchase of the house and the questions to him have focused on whether he will sell the house at an even an inflated price, his connections with Blairs and his decision to buy the house from a leader who remains deeply controversial. Tony Blair and his wife have recently been in news for their interest in real estate investment and it is believed that that they own properties worth £14 million. Dr Chohan, who came to Britain 22 years ago from Pakistan, owns 6 properties around and in central London and his worth stands at around £17 Million. Tony Blair currently lives a few streets away from the property he has sold to the Pakistani doctor in a £3.7 million mansion on Connaught Square. Scotland Yard’s armed officers provide round-the-clock protection to the Blair family due to his role in the Iraq war.