Tuesday, September 16, 2014

President Obama travels to Tampa to visit CENTCOM

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U.S. - Poverty dropped but household incomes didn’t rise, Census Bureau says

By Carol Morello
The nation’s poverty rate dipped slightly last year as more Americans shifted from part-time work to full-time jobs, but wages barely kept up with inflation so there was no significant change to incomes, according to Census Bureau statistics released Tuesday.
The poverty rate in 2013 was 14.5 percent, down from 15 percent in 2012. That was the first decline in the rate since 2006, a year before the recession began. However, the number of people living at or below the poverty line, about 45 million, did not budge. The decline in the rate at a time of unchanging raw numbers was attributed to population growth.
One in five children in the country are living in poverty, the census said. The 20 percent poverty rate for children represented a drop of 2 percentage points from 2012.
Mississippi registered the highest level of poverty in the country, at 22.5 percent.
Census economists said median household income in the U.S. last year was just under $52,000, roughly where it was in 2012 when the figures are adjusted for inflation. That figure is 8 percent lower than it was in 2007, the last full year of pre-recession economic well-being, and 11 percent below what it was in 2000.
Overall, the Census Bureau said, about 2.8 million more people had full-time, year-round jobs in 2013. Since 2010, the census has detected a gradual shift from part-time to full-time jobs, but the trend seemed to accelerate last year, economists said.
“The good news is that more people are working full time,” said Sheldon Danziger, president of the Russell Sage Foundation, a New York-based social research group. “The bad news is, for the typical worker, wages are just keeping up with inflation.”

There Are A Disturbing Number Of ISIS Recruits From NATO Partner Turkey

A startling number of recruits for ISIS come from neighboring Turkey, according to a report by Ceylan Yengisu of The New York Times. "As many as 1,000 Turks have joined ISIS, according to Turkish news media reports and government officials here," Yengisu writes.
Turkey, a secular Muslim country led by a moderate Islamist party, faces a problem of disgruntled Islamists hoping for a more purely Islamic society.
"Recruits cite the group’s ideological appeal to disaffected youths as well as the money it pays fighters from its flush coffers," Yengisu notes.
ISIS pays its members $150 a day, a potentially significant financial incentive to join the radical organization. Unemployment in Turkey was an estimated 9.3% in 2013, and almost 17% of the population lived below the poverty line in 2010, according to the CIA World Factbook.
By fighting for ISIS, youth with limited opportunities would be able to earn more than three times Turkey's average per capita GDP. Turkey is a NATO member, but it's allegedly turned a blind-eye towards jihadist recruitment in its own territory. The Republic's policy of regime change within Syria, supported by what could generously be called a lax attitude towards anti-Assad Islamist extremists recruiting and operating inside of Turkish territory, has largely been credited with facilitating the rise of ISIS. Rebel fighters could retreat into Turkish territory and sneak recruits and supplies into and out of Syria.
“There are clearly recruitment centers being set up in Ankara and elsewhere in Turkey, but the government doesn’t seem to care,” Aaron Stein, a fellow at the Lond-based Royal United Services Institute think tank, told The New York Times. “It seems their hatred for Bashar al-Assad and their overly nuanced view of what radical Islam is has led to a very short- and narrow-sighted policy that has serious implications.”
This estimate of about 1,000 Turks fighting alongside ISIS disagrees with other attempts at determining the number of foreign fighters in Syria. AFP, citing numbers from the London-based Centre for the Study of Radicalization, placed 400 Turks fighting in Syria for ISIS.
So far the Turkish government has resisted calls for it to join a US-led coalition against ISIS, and it has failed to fully secure its border with Iraq and Syria. But Turkey also has its hands tied: ISIS is holding 49 Turks hostage.
The hostages include diplomats, along with their wives and children. ISIS's recent spate of beheading Western hostages could be a message for Turkey not to become involved, lest the 49 Turks face a similar fate.

Video Report - General Martin Dempsey says U.S. strikes in Syria won't be "shock and awe

U.S. General to Seek Combat Troops if Airstrikes Can’t Stop ISIS

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress on Tuesday that he would recommend deploying United States combat forces against Islamic extremists in specific operations if the current strategy of airstrikes was not successful, raising the possibility of the kind of escalation that President Obama has flatly ruled out.
General Dempsey said that the ground forces would likely be Special Operations commands who could call in airstrikes from the ground.
In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, he said that while he was confident in the ability of the coalition of American, European and Middle Eastern governments to stop the Islamic State, he could not completely close the door to eventually asking Mr. Obama to commit ground troops to fight the group, known as ISIS or ISIL.
“My view at this point is that this coalition is the appropriate way forward. I believe that will prove true,” he said. “But if it fails to be true, and if there are threats to the United States, then I of course would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of U.S. military ground forces.”
Gen. Dempsey acknowledged the awkward position he was in. His remarks put him at odds with the president, who has repeatedly insisted that no American ground troops would engage in the fight to thwart ISIS.
“His stated policy is that we will not have U.S. forces in ground combat,” General Dempsey said, adding, “He has told me as well to come back to him on a case-by-case basis.”

Dr. Markus Ederer called on former President Asif Ali Zardari here at Bilawal House

Karachi, Sept 16, 2014: State Secretary of Federal Foreign Office Germany Dr. Markus Ederer called on former President Asif Ali Zardari here at Bilawal House. PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Sherry Rehman were also present in the meeting.

Balochistan: a Forgotten Frontier

Haji Mohammad Barrech
Two weeks ago, National Assembly has unanimously passed a resolution for strengthening the democratic process, on account of prevailing political turmoil in the country. The sit-in the heart of Islamabad by PTI Chairman Imran and PAT Chairman an eminent Islamic Clergyman Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadiri have disrupted official business in capital of Pakistan. In this ongoing political crisis Electronic and print Media are highlighting non-stop coverage and neglect the other serious issues such as the security crisis in Balochistan. In the same framework, it seems that, the great concern among the marginalized masses of restive Balochistan also enlarged the matter of great concern is that, media cannot catch up their grievances in front of the responsible stakeholders.
In last, two days, at least three indigent people were indiscriminately killed, after the remote control bombs ripped through the Balochistan capital Quetta, no special coverage was given to the brutal, pernicious attack by the corporate media and merely covering the Central news rather than emanating heart touching news from peripheral areas. In the same way, killings of three journalists in Capital City of Balochistan were not given too much media coverage the way it was given to Islamabad, When Punjab and federal police wounded the media persons in front of federal Minster of railway Khawaja Saad Rafique.
Why is Balochistan forgotten frontier of Pakistan? The answer is very concise and stunning; Balochistan is one of the provinces of Pakistan, which is replete with tapped and untapped natural resources, including (Gold, Silver, and Gas). While, Balochistan is supplying 37% gas total demand of country, more importantly its strategic significance attracts not only regional powers (Iran, Afghanistan, India) but also supers powers (America- China) influence also count in this regards. Ironically, countless mystery in this murky circumstance has not only grappled the situation more egregiously it is now well uncontrollable for the ruling government.
In 21th century, the mountainous people of Balochistan simultaneously facing a numbers of issues either traditional or non-traditional threats. It is matter of great concern how to protect their precious life in-front of imminent implicit or explicit pitfalls? Surprisingly deprived people of Balochistan are seeing latest development in the name of emergence of Lashkar-e Khurasan (LK) an outlawed extremist organization which had not only burnt down the Girls English schools in Turbet, but also extended and wrote their ideological slogan on the wall boundary of streets and emphasized to study Islamic education rather than following the Western education approach. Is emerging extremist group undermining the liberal and civilized approach of Baloch Society?
Indeed, the extremist groups pose a new set of challenges for the Baloch society to intimidate people through different tactics to proliferate, inject their ideological motto in the mind of liberal and tolerant people of Balochistan. Why can’t the alarming news from densely land of Makran division catch up the room in media’s discourse? Especially, when non-state actors are easily accomplishing their task for the willingness of Almighty Allah.
Similarly, civil society and human rights organizations neither issued a comprehensive statement about the duress activities of Post colonial state nor did they make fully aware of excruciating situation of province, eventually it seems that no one is ready to highlight voice of depressed people. Coincidentally, as federal government passed the federal budget 2014-15 in June, Rs. 3.936 Trillion estimated in the budget for Development programme, Armed forces and cheap and rapid transportation project for the people of Punjab and Karachi. Unfortunately, no mega project for Balochistan includes in the federal budget, except the future proposal of controversial Gawadar Kashgar trade route which is named China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This route was ray of hope for the people of Balochistan particularly; the route had to go through Northern part of Balochistan. But it has now diverted to Sindh and Punjab, hope of hapless people of the province has been dashed to the ground. Central Government shows less interest to the development of Balochistan in many social fields either education, Health, agricultural or fisheries sector. It is presumed, only 45 billion rupees is going to be spent on luxuries metro-mega project from Rawalpindi to Islamabad route. According to one statically estimate, instead of such a mega- project Federal Government could have established at least 200 primary schools and 100 elementary colleges in less developed province of Pakistan. Education department could easily enhance the capacity building and standard of Education in Balochistan. Ironically, the literacy rate of Pakistan is 57% whereas Balochistan literacy rate is 39% respectively. Central government and provincial government are deliberately not interested in decreasing the darkness of education for their own vested interest. Our political leaders either Baloch or Pasthuns can raise their voice for the promotion of democracy, then why don’t they bring a single Overseas Pakistan foundation college (OPF College) in their ignorant constituency? As article 38 says that, it is fundamental obligation of state to provide basic necessities such as food, education, shelter, and job opportunities etc.
Last but not least, still 90% areas of Balochistan don’t have gas for their daily usage, approximately 75% areas lack the utility of electricity, and even more astonishing fact is that, they are not having access of sanitation drinking water. Then, how can we claim that, there would be a prosperous future for the people of Balochistan if they don’t have basic social needs in their life? The answer is very simply that; actions speak louder than words.

Pakistan - IMRAN - Falling From Grace

The revolution will not be televised because there is none. Instead, the people are witnessing on their television screens a man falling from grace; a symbol of change changing for the worse, promising true democracy while shredding his garb piece by piece, speech by speech, revealing the autocrat beneath. Is this a new Imran, a frustrated, disgruntled man shrinking in stature and mind as mischievous plans fall apart and opponents come together?
Someone who openly orders his supporters – or “tigers” as he aptly describes them considering the job they must perform – to “attack” Police if confronted at checkposts or elsewhere. Someone who gets on top of a container and threatens senior Police officials by name, warning them of dire consequences for actions he deems unfavourable or unfair. Someone becoming his enemy, engaging in forcible ‘liberation’ of arrested party workers, transforming into everything he left home to crusade against. His opponents despise him. His well-wishers – they are many and most of them are not present at the sit-in – pity him. Imran is falling from grace, and no one from within or outside or himself, seems to be able to break this seemingly perpetual fall. The journey of an aspiring reformist is tough one, riddled with hardships and losses which threaten to stop and push back or worse, push off the track. Many a reformists become anarchists, and their fate, more often than not, is defined aptly as a bewildered run into the abyss, with their excellent and idealistic manifestos clenched in their fists, never to be reconciled with the persons holding on to them so dearly. If Imran wants to be Che Guevara, he must declare so. If he claims to be following Gandhi’s or Mandela’s path, his actions must demonstrate such. But what the last thirty days have shown everyone is that he’s neither Che nor Mandela, only Imran. He’s still something, which means he’s not nothing. If he self-destructs, the people will suffer. If he succeeds in what he’s attempting to accomplish by hook or by crook, the people will still ultimately suffer.
Much responsibility rests on saner elements within the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to rescue their leader and their party from the disastrous path it is on. The PTI has promise and potential, seeing which so many flocked towards it hoping for meaningful change. It would be extremely unfortunate if it all goes to waste owing to self-serving and shortsighted politics. More responsibility lies on the Government to engage with the PTI and to sincerely address its issues. It would be the height of naiveté and foolishness if it tries to anatgonise, obliterate or unreasonably reject what’s only fair. Both the Government and the PTI will have to find a way to co-exist and compete within the system. That is, after all, what the people’s mandate suggests.

Pakistan: Zarb-e-Azb: 31 militants killed

Pakistan army prevented a cross-border militant attack from Afghanistan, killing 11 militants and eliminated 20 others in fresh airstrikes in North Waziristan Agency today.
At least 11 terrorists and three Frontier Corps (FC) soldiers were killed as a militant attack from across the border was thwarted by Pakistani security forces in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) today.
The Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) confirmed that a group of terrorists from the Afghan side of the border attacked Dandi Kuch in the Spinwam area of NWA. Pakistani troops repulsed the attack, killing 11 terrorists while arresting one. Security forces also recovered bodies of three terrorists. During the gun-battle, at least three FC soldiers lost their lives. A militant was apprehended by army, officials said. During the military’s Zarb-e-Azb operation in North Waziristan region, ISPR said, at least 20 more terrorists were killed in today’s airstrikes that were carried out in Khyber Agency early morning. Three hideouts and two ammunition dumps were also destroyed in Tordara and Koki Khel areas of Khyber Agency bordering Afghanistan. Nearly 1100 terrorists have been killed since the operation begun on June 15.

Pakistan: Raped by PMLN's MNA's Sons : A gang rape most foul

In a case of extreme abuse, torture and injustice, a young girl has been silenced and forced to drop charges against the men who have stolen her dignity and violated her in the worst possible way. This young girl was gang raped in Faisalabad on Friday and her first reaction was to register a complaint with the police against her rapists. The named accused turned out to be the three sons of a PML-N Member of the National Assembly (MNA), Mian Farooq. The girl said that they were accompanied by five other accomplices in this act of extreme degradation. She even submitted herself to medical tests and it was proved that she had, indeed, been gang raped. In a sudden turn of events, the girl retracted her statement the very next day, refusing to give a blood sample and denying the need for a DNA sample from the accused. In effect, there is now no first information report (FIR) against the accused who would, no doubt, be gloating at this victory against a defenceless, tortured girl. MNA Mian Muhammad Farooq has said that his sons are innocent of this crime and this has been proved by the girl’s retraction of the allegation.
This is a textbook example of how injustice is the staple diet of the weak, poor and marginalised in our society. If you are a woman on top of all this, you may never expect to see any kind of fair play. One does not need to look long and hard at this case to understand what is going on. This girl was raped; her medical examination says so. She was made to take back her statement to the police by the very men who demeaned her. The victim is usually abused and violated again and again in the land of the pure because the aggressor is almost always more powerful and influential. Mian Farooq and his sons have pulled their weight and exercised their brute strength in overpowering this woman physically and emotionally. No doubt they have threatened and intimidated her and her family with dire consequences if she goes ahead with her accusation. Her trauma has been compounded: she mustered the courage to go public with her ordeal by registering a case in a society that stigmatises rape victims and now she will never get justice because she has been silenced into submission.
Where is the government of Punjab? How can it allow this blatant disregard for the law by a member of its own party and parliament? No civilised society can ever tolerate this kind of heinous crime but here we have the progeny of political leaders accused of not just rape but gang rape. Shame on us and shame on the PML-N for tolerating this kind of violation of human rights.

Pakistan left behind as Asia forges ahead

India has just inked a set of agreements with Vietnam. /blockquote> Earlier this month, Shinzo Abe of Japan became the first Japanese prime minister to visit Bangladesh, a tour that included a stop in Sri Lanka.
He brought along with him an entourage of 22 Japanese businessmen looking to do business in both countries.
And this weekend, China’s president Xi Jinping concluded a visit to the Maldives, where amongst other engagements, he contributed a written piece to a local newspaper that talked of a 21st-century “maritime silk road”, and said, “China welcomes Maldives to get actively involved” in building this trade corridor.
He then headed for Sri Lanka, where the maritime silk road is already in substantial evidence, with a Chinese deep sea port as a key factor in a sea lane that connects Southeast Asia with the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Japan this past Saturday, meeting Shinzo Abe and giving him his own message of “come, build in India”.
Both sides agreed to set up a dialogue process involving their foreign and defence ministers to create a long-term, sustained process of cooperation on strategic and economic concerns.
Soon the Chinese president will sit down with Modi in discussions that will touch on the sources of tension between these two giant economies, as well as the wellsprings of opportunity that exist.
A Sri Lankan diplomat, observing the whole round of meetings and summits and state visits taking place around Asia all month, described it as a “complex tapestry of relations” that is being woven in the region ever since India’s new prime minister was elected.
Asia has been abuzz with activity throughout the month so far, weaving itself together, talking, building and positioning its assets and relationships in a complex multi-player game that is all but set to emerge as the dominant theatre of Great Power rivalry. There is much tension across the region. A festering border dispute and suspicion of each other’s motives animates much of India’s relationship with China.
In the rest of Asia too, rising China inspires as much trepidation as it does awe.
Now consider what Pakistan has been busy doing since last month: indulging in political bickering, listening to scathing speeches with little purpose, and making hardly any attempt at a solution.
For decades now, we have remained mired in conspiring against each other as a globalising world has raced ahead.
Now, as globalisation draws to a close and a new world dominated by regional trading blocs begins to take shape before our eyes, we still remain busy in scuffles and speeches and point-scoring.
At some point this behaviour must end. At some point we must learn to respect the rules we have laid down for ourselves, learn to demarcate our interests into strategic, political and economic domains, and pursue each separately.

India slams Pakistan for saying Hafiz Saeed free to roam, demands his arrest

India on Monday hit out at Pakistan for its remarks that Hafiz Saeed had no case against him and he was free to roam, saying the designated terrorist was the "evil" mastermind behind the Mumbai attacks and it is Pakistan's responsibility to bring the chief of terror outfit JuD to book and deliver justice.
"Our views on Hafiz Saeed are very clear. To us, he is the evil mastermind of the attacks on Mumbai and one of the accused in an Indian court for killings on streets of Mumbai. We have repeatedly asked Pakistan that he should be apprehended and taken through normal judicial process.
"Alas! He has never been arrested on account of 26/11. Therefore.... he is only free because he is a Pakistani citizen," external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said here.
The sharp reaction by India came within hours of Pakistan high commission Abdul Basit's remarks that "Hafiz Saeed is a Pakistani national so he is free to roam around. So what is the problem...he is a free citizen so there is no issue as far as Pakistan is concerned. Courts have already exonerated him. There is no case pending against him."
Asked about Pakistan's stand that there was not enough evidence to prove his involvement, the MEA spokesperson said, "99 per cent evidence in this case is in Pakistan. That is because the entire conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan. The planning for this dastardly act was done in Pakistan.
"The financing for this act was undertaken in Pakistan and people involved who were involved in this were from Pakistan. Therefore, it has always been our view that it devolves on Pakistan that it ensures that criminals like Hafiz Saeed were brought to book and justice was delivered in the instance of crime in Mumbai."
166 people were killed in the terror strike in Mumbai in 2008. New Delhi has also protested the delay in the on-going trial of the case in Pakistan.
Recently, Saeed, known for his anti-India tirade and designated as a terrorist by the US, has also accused India of indulging in "water-terrorism".

China’s WMD cooperation with Pakistan looms over Xi-Modi talks

By C. Uday Bhaskar
The visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to India and his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week has elicited considerable positive interest in both countries. It has the potential to recast the uneasy Asian strategic framework, and by extension the relations of emerging global powers that are currently clouded by acrimony and mutual mistrust.
India and China are two civilizational states with a quantitative contour and complex pedigree that is both ancient and yet recent. The two Asian giants have a population in excess of one billion and unbroken histories that go back by a few thousand years. Yet their bilateral relations are of very recent origin – when they became independent nation states in the 1940s.
Opting for two very different political systems – one a diverse and federal democracy nurtured by Jawaharlal Nehru and the other a near homogeneous authoritarian communist regime consolidated by Mao Zedong – the received wisdom is that the two neighbours are both committed to ‘peaceful coexistence’ enshrined in the 1954 Panchsheel principles, whose 60th anniversary was marked in Beijing in June. However, the brief Sino-Indian war of October 1962 over contested territoriality reflected the fragility of peaceful coexistence and relations have since been uneasy. The border dispute remains unresolved 52 years after that war and progress, if any, has been glacial.
Over the last few decades, there is a strongly held view in New Delhi that while espousing peaceful relations, Beijing has assiduously sought to ‘contain’ India in the South Asian box by entering into a deep and covert strategic relationship with Pakistan.
Thus, it was encouraging to note that on the eve of Xi’s visit to India, a senior official in Beijing tried to assuage Indian anxieties. Assistant Chinese Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao asserted that the leaders of China and India had pledged to work together to manage and control their differences and highlighted their shared common interests as large developing nations.
He said: “India is a country with which China has been friendly for thousands of years. China has never, and will not, use so-called military or other means to try and hem in India.” And to further reiterate Beijing’s benign intent, he concluded: “There is no strategic competition between China and India in our relationship and there is certainly no such word as ‘surround’.”
Given the political definitiveness that both Xi and Modi bring to the table, it is likely that they will be able to review the complex and tangled territorial and border dispute to some degree of minimum acceptable mutuality. There is reason for cautious optimism and if both sides revisit their inherited and emotionally embedded national narratives, a modus vivendi is a possibility. Not in the first summit, but clear political directions to the zealous officials who are guardians of territoriality cum sovereignty and a concurrent effort to infuse in their respective citizens a new narrative that accepts the omissions of the past by leaders on both sides – Mao and Nehru – would be very propitious.
But the more nettlesome issue that lies at the core of the current anxiety and suspicion in India about China’s true intent is the opaque Sino-Pakistan nuclear weapon and missile cooperation. Shrouded in secrecy, this WMD (weapons of mass destruction) cooperation goes back to the late 1980’s and most domain experts are familiar with the empirical facts of the issue.
For reasons best known to Beijing at the time, China decided to enable the Pakistan military to acquire nuclear weapon capability and missiles to deliver them. Consequently, Pakistan carried out a secret nuclear weapon test in May 1990 and the strategic reality was that India was ‘hemmed’. For a few years, India was in an asymmetrical WMD position in relation to both its neighbours and finally took the decision to demonstrate its own nuclear weapon capability in May 1998.
The greater anxiety for India is not the fact that it has two nuclear weapon neighbours with whom it has had an adversarial (Pakistan) or uneasy (China) relationship. It is the malignant reality that Rawalpindi – the general headquarters of the Pakistan Army that controls its nuclear weapons – chose to use this apocalyptic capability to enhance its ability to unleash terror attacks against India.
Thus, well before the misplaced U.S. certitude about Iraq as a deviant state that was likely to use WMD as a shield to engage in terrorism, Pakistan had refined the new global security challenge – NWET (nuclear weapon enabled terrorism). The Mumbai attacks of November 2008, or India’s 26/11, are a case in point and China is indirectly culpable.
For years, Beijing and its interlocutors refused to enter into any dialogue on this subject and steadfastly obfuscated the reality. Tenacious amnesia is the leitmotif. However warm the Xi-Modi handshake and embrace this week, unless this core issue is satisfactorily addressed – the vast potential being enthusiastically anticipated for Sino-Indian relations to bloom under two new and pragmatic leaders will, alas, be short-lived.

Fears of unrest cloud Afghanistan as election dispute drags on

As Afghanistan’s disputed presidential vote nears an uncertain conclusion, fears are mounting that post-election unrest could threaten the fragile political order that the United States has struggled for 13 years to help build.
Recent developments have raised questions about the ability of Abdullah Abdullah -- the one-time front-runner who has alleged a conspiracy to rig the results against him -- to pacify supporters if he, as expected, is declared the runner-up.
The concerns have increased as he has clashed with rival Ashraf Ghani over the details of a power-sharing proposal, brokered by the Obama administration, in which the new president would cede some decision-making authority to a chief executive from the opposing camp.
Last week, at an event commemorating the slain Afghan resistance commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, Abdullah had to calm angry supporters heckling a 92-year-old former president who endorsed Ghani. At a busy Kabul intersection named for Massoud, a crowd of protesters chanted, “Death to Ghani!”
Two days later, a group massed outside the United Nations offices carrying signs disparaging the chief U.N. diplomat in Afghanistan, who has overseen a controversial election recount. The protest has prompted outrage from the world body.
One of Abdullah’s running mates, Mohammed Mohaqeq, said over the weekend that if a power-sharing deal isn’t reached, or is seen as being too favorable to Ghani, the Abdullah campaign might not be able to restrain dissatisfied backers.
“We will try our best to manage and control the people not to go the wrong way,” he said at his home in western Kabul. But he added: “What the people’s reaction will be is unpredictable at this point.”
The candidates met Monday with outgoing President Hamid Karzai for the latest round of talks, still reportedly at odds over the authority to be held by a chief executive. Abdullah envisions the holder of the newly created post as having the power to appoint cabinet ministers, including those responsible for security forces, while Ghani believes it should be an advisory position reporting to the president.
As talks have dragged on since Secretary of State John F. Kerry announced the plan in July, many Afghans express fear that tensions could explode into the streets.
“Of course there will be violence,” said Solaiman, a 26-year-old tailor in Kabul, who goes by a single name.
Abdullah said last week that he would not accept the results of the U.N.-supervised audit, which he contended has not eliminated fraudulent votes cast in favor of Ghani in a June runoff election between the finalists. U.N. officials said Sunday that the audit was completed, and Afghan election authorities are expected to announce the results within days.
Zabihullah Jaffari, a painter, said Afghans have waited too long for the candidates to reach an equitable agreement, while unemployment and other economic problems have worsened. “If they don’t come to an agreement, the poor people who have been out of work for months will have no choice but to take to the streets,” said Jaffari, 46.
The election has taken on an ethnic dimension because Ghani, like Karzai, is a member of the Pashtun community, Afghanistan’s largest, and his running mate, Abdul Rashid Dostum, is a former Uzbek militia leader. Abdullah is more closely identified with the Tajik minority and also enjoys support from the Hazara community.
Some analysts believe that even if ethnic divisions worsen, the rival camps will try to avert major violence –if only to protect their considerable economic interests.
“The potential for a violent rupture between the rival camps poses an enormous risk, but it still seems unlikely to escalate out of control,” said Graeme Smith, Afghanistan analyst for the International Crisis Group. “The powerful men who are now negotiating their places in the next government are very wealthy. Many of them own large parts of Kabul, and I doubt they want to see the capital burn.”
Earlier this month, Atta Mohammad Noor, a key Abdullah ally who is governor of the northern province of Balkh, warned of sweeping street protests if the talks failed to produce a satisfactory outcome. On Monday, Juma Khan Hamdard, governor of Paktia province in the east, who supports Ghani, warned against attempts at destabilizing the country.
“We want to clarify that we are not pro-crisis but if some people intend not to accept the final results and attempt to push Afghanistan towards crisis, we are ready to defend our votes at any cost,” Hamdard said in a statement. Scattered violence attended last week’s events in memory of the 2001 death of Massoud.
Abdullah, a former spokesman for the Tajik militia commander during the war against Soviet occupation, urged supporters to refrain from violence But a demonstration in Kabul’s Massoud Circle, near the U.S. Embassy, quickly turned angry.
Officials announced later that gunfire in Kabul celebrating Massoud’s memory had killed a 21-year-old man and injured five others. Last Friday, after pro-Abdullah demonstrators chanted slogans against the head of the U.N. mission in Afghanistan, Jan Kubis, the mission tweeted that it had “grave concerns related to direct threats and verbal attacks against the U.N.” Mohaqeq, the Abdullah running mate, denied that the campaign was involved in the protest, saying he learned of it later from Facebook. “What people do,” Mohaqeq said, “is up to them.”

NATO troops killed in Afghanistan

By Sayed Salahuddin and Tim Craig
A suicide bomber killed three coalition soldiers near the U.S. embassy in Kabul on Tuesday morning, and a fourth soldier died late Monday when an Afghan soldier opened fire on NATO forces.
The violence, the deadliest aimed at NATO troops in more than two months, highlights the continued vulnerability of American troops serving in Afghanistan.
The suicide attack jolted Kabul about 8:15 a.m. when a car packed with explosives detonated next to convoy of armored vehicles. The blast occurred as the convoy left a heavily fortified area near the U.S. embassy and other government buildings, witnesses and Afghan officials said.
“It was a very powerful blast and happened just as the vehicles sped out of the embassy,” Taj Mohammad an eye witness who works as civil servant said.
Television footage in the aftermath of the attack showed mangled vehicles and coalition troops providing first aid to two soldiers whose bodies were lying next the road. At least 13 Afghan civilians were also wounded, according to spokesman for Kabul police Hashmat Stanekzai.
The Afghan Taliban took credit for the attack, saying the suicide bomber had waiting in his vehicle “a long time” in search of coalition forces.
The attack resulted in the greatest coalition loss of life in a single attack since July 8, when five soldiers from Czechoslovakia were killed during a Taliban assault on Bagram air base on the outskirts of Kabul, according to Icasualities.org, which tracks coalition casualities.
Though there has been a rapid drawdown of coalition forces this year, about 41,000 foreign troops from 44 countries remain in the country. About three-fourths of them are Americans, and President Obama announced this summer he plans to keep up to 10,000 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan into 2015.
The international coalition declined to identify the nationalities of the soldiers who were killed.
The blast, which could be heard for miles and sent a large plume of smoke towering over downtown Kabul during rush hour, occurred less than 24-hours after a coalition soldier died in an apparent “insider attack” in western Afghanistan.
Coalition officials said the soldier died Monday after a man wearing an Afghan Army uniform shot him. It’s believed to be first such attack since Aug. 5, when an Afghan soldier shot and killed a two-star American general.
In that incident, Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene was shot by an Afghan soldier during a joint training exercise. Greene was the highest-ranking U.S. service member to be killed in the Afghan war. About a dozen other coalition soldiers, including at least five Americans, were wounded in that attack.
According to Long War Journal, an online publication focused on counterterrorism, there have been 88 insider attacks since 2008, resulting in 142 coalition fatalities. Such attacks — referred to “green on blue” assaults — peaked in 2012 but have slowed dramatically over the past two years.
In a recent interview, Afghan army spokesman Mohammad Zahir Azimi said combatting the threat has been a chief priority of the country’s military.
“We are deeply concerned about this because it affects the mutual trust between soldiers,” Azimi said.
The violence targeting coalition troops this week comes as Afghans are eagerly awaiting the conclusion of the country’s election to replace outgoing President Hamid Karzai.
Former finance minister Ashraf Ghani and former foreign secretary Abdullah Abdullah have been locked in a heated dispute over the validity of the results of the runoff election in June. Ghani easily prevailed, but Abdullah has alleged the election was corrupted by widespread fraud.
In recent days, however, Ghani and Abdullah have made significant progress in the formation of a national unity government, according to a Karzai spokesman and campaign officials.
Once finalized, the deal calls for the top vote-getter to serve as president and the second-place finisher to serve in newly created chief executive position. The inauguration of the new president could be held as early as next week.