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Week 43

23 October 2012

R E Review Afghanistan W e e k 4 3 23 October 2012 Comprehensive Information on

Comprehensive Information on Complex Crises


Economic Development

Governance & Rule of Law

Security & Force Protection

Social & Strategic Infrastructure


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Afghanistan Team Leader

The Afghanistan Team

This document provides an overview of developments in Afghanistan from 16 22 October 2012, with hyper-links to source material highlighted in blue and underlined in the text. For more information on the topics below or other issues pertaining to events in Afghanistan, contact the members of the Afghanistan Team, or visit our website at

Highlighted Topics

Clicking the links in this list will take you to the appropriate section.

The Afghan Cabinet has approved a new industrial policy to provide low-cost loans.

CNPC has begun operation in the Amu Darya basin.

President Karzai demands removal of foreigners from election panel.

Afghan government testing out new hiring procedures for civil servants.

President Karzai says ANSF are ready to take responsibility for the country’s security

NATO commits to continue advisory and training support of ANSF.

MoTCA dissatisfied with the ministry’s activities results during last decade.

India’s role as a key ally is reaffirmed in a trilateral meeting.

Economic Development

Steven A. Zyck

T he Afghan Cabinet has approved a new industrial policy which will, among other things, enable the Afghan government to provide relatively low-cost loans to Afghan businesses, wrote Wadsam. It will also enable Afghan officials to raise tariffs on the

import of goods which are already domestically produced within Afghanistan, thus protecting nascent Afghan businesses which may find it difficult to compete with larger and lower-cost foreign competitors. The head of the Afghanistan Industrialists’ Association, Abdul Jabbar Sa- fi, praised the new policy.

The China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has begun operations in the Amu Darya basin in northern Afghanistan, with drilling underway in Sar-e Pul province, according to Reu- ters. Afghan Mining Minister Wahidullah Shahrani said: “The company will extract 1,950 bar- rels per day, which will crucially help Afghanistan towards self-sustainability and economic independence.” CNPC will be paying the Afghan government a 15% royalty on oil, a 20% cor- porate tax rate and give 50-70% of the profit from the project to the Afghan government. Start- ing in 2013, CNPC will extract 1.5 million barrels of oil per day from its current operations in northern Afghanistan. Forward progress on this project could also help Afghanistan, which currently imports USD 3.5 billion in oil each year, to inch closer to energy independence.

In related news, Wadsam reports that a 75-day survey undertaken by a Canadian company on behalf of the Afghan government has found major gas reserves in Andkhoi district of Faryab province. The results of the USD 7 million survey were reportedly sent to the United Arab Emirates and India. Companies from those countries and several others are reportedly interest- ed in bidding on the rights to northern Afghanistan’s gas resources during the coming months.

Increased economic cooperation between Afghanistan and Iran continued to feature in the news this past week. Building upon the outcomes of the September 2012 Iran-Afghanistan Joint Economic Cooperation Commission meeting in Kabul, an Afghanistan-Iran joint trade committee meeting will be held in November, according to Wadsam. This new committee will

focus on developing trade relations between the two countries. The head of the Iran-Kabul Friendship Association, Reza Esmayeeli, says the meeting in November will particularly focus on Afghan traders’ access to the Iranian port at Chabahar. The Iranian govern- ment has offered to establish specific facilities near the port to facilitate Afghans’ imports and exports. Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai said that ensuring Afghans’ access to Chabahar is very important and will allow India to trade with Af- ghanistan and Central Asia without needing to pass through Pakistan. As highlighted in the 16 October Afghanistan Review, Pakistan has been accused by Afghan officials of impeding Indo-Afghani commerce.

In other regional economic news, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MoCI) announced that the Afghan and Paki- stani governments had established a new agreement aimed at expanding transit trade opportunities, reports Wadsam. Under the new

agreement, Afghan businesses would be able to export goods to India via the Pakistani seaport at Gwadar. Commerce Minister Anwar ul-Haq Ahadi stated: “With this new agreement, almost 70% of the traders’ issues would be resolved. The rest of the problems would be addressed in the next two months, as we are still discussing the transit issue with the relevant parties.” This agreement was reached

at the recent Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority (APTTCA) meeting in Islamabad. However, Afghan traders

told Wadsam they have doubts as to whether the new agreement will be fully implemented.

In agricultural news, elders in Helmand province say an increasing number of farmers will begin growing opium poppies if a profita-

ble market is not found for their cotton crop, according to Pajhwok Afghan News. Elders in Nad-e Ali, Marjah, Garshak, Nawa and Garmsir districts of Helmand also told Wadsam that replacing poppies with cotton could benefit both security and the economy. “Cot- ton would not only be an alternative to poppy cultivation, but also a better source of income for people and security would also im- prove,” stated Haji Barekzai, the chief of the Nad-e Ali district council. Cotton had once been grown across 26,000 hectares of south-

ern and south-western Afghanistan but had largely been supplanted in recent years by opium poppies. It still remains common in some areas. For instance, Haji Shireen Jan, who heads a cotton factory in Helmand, announced that the cotton yield in Lashkar Gah district would reach 2,500 tonnes by the end of this year. Yet Pajhwok reports that increased yields may be undermined by a lack of pro- cessing facilities and low global market prices for cotton.

A number of other economic development stories, which are summarised below, emerged this past week.

During a visit to Balkh province, Alex Thier, the chief for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), said that USAID currently provides USD 2 billion annually for Afghanistan and intends to continue do- ing so in the coming years, according to Wadsam.

Afghan consul general to Iran, Zahedan Mohammad Zaher Norestani, called for the easing of travel procedures for Afghan busi- nessmen in Iran. Norestani said that the easing of visa restrictions would help to foster economic cooperation between the two countries.

Agriculture Minister Asif Rahimi is working to build the skills of those involved in horticulture and animal husbandry, reports Wadsam. Afghans have been receiving training in Purdue University in the United States under the Advancing Afghan Agricul- ture Alliance (A-4) Program, which is financed by USAID.

Food prices in Kabul increased marginally during the course of the past week, according to Pajhwok. The value of one US dollar against the afghani rose to AFN 52.97 from AFN 52.30 last week. This constitutes a 1.3% decline in the value of the Afghan cur- rency over the course of a single week.

Governance & Rule of Law

Stefanie Nijssen

A fghan President Hamid Karzai has suggested that foreign members be removed from the country’s election watchdog, the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), in a step that could be aimed at strengthening his hold on power, according to Reu- ters. On 24 September, the lower house of Parliament, the Wolesi Jirga, approved a draft law on the ECC’s composition, du-

ties and powers. Under the draft, which is now with the Meshrano Jirga (upper house) for approval, the number of panel members will be increased though two seats remain reserved for foreigners. President Karzai said that “Foreign observers can still come to mon- itor the transparency or non-transparency of the election, but their interference in the election process is against Afghanistan’s sover- eignty.” Meanwhile, Tolo News and Pajhwok Afghan News report that the reaction of Afghan lawmakers has been mixed with some believing that a foreign presence will help deter electoral fraud and others believing it would increase it. Meanwhile, the Independent Electoral Commission announced its impartiality and said it would implement any decision taken by the authorised bodies.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of the insurgent faction Hizb-e Islami, has reportedly sent sixty political figures a proposal in which he recommends presidential, parliamentary and provincial council elections to take place simultaneously in the first half of 2014 to avoid a possible civil war, states Pajhwok, which also obtained a copy of the proposal. Rejecting the current electoral strategy as flawed with unfairly high election fees, Hekmatyar proposed the need for free, fair, transparent elections. Hekmatyar also said that the large numbers of political parties are damaging national unity.

In related news, 16 civil society organisations and 34 political parties have joined together to draft a set of recommendations to the

Afghan government, stating that it should issue new vote polling cards to promote greater transparency in upcoming elections, reports

Ariana News. The advisory draft urges that issues such as women’s participation in elections, international community oversight, gov- ernment security and logistics preparedness, and provision for implementation of timely elections be properly handled.

The Afghan government is testing out new hiring procedures for civil-service positions, writes Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which include posing a variety of questions to hundreds of job candidates on topics such as strategy, planning and other managerial issues. The effort is part of the Afghan government’s fight against corruption and hopes to change the entrenched culture of nepotism within the government recruitment process. The organisation tasked with overseeing these new procedures, Afghanistan’s Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (IACSC), has adopted an evaluation process under which test takers names are kept anonymous. Outside advisers from various government and private entities are brought in to monitor every stage. Since the new system was launched last month, the IACSC says it has received nearly 2,000 applications from candidates looking to become deputy provincial governors, district governors, or administrative personnel in various central or provincial departments.

The head of the Afghan Senate’s complaints committee, Ubaidullah Barekzai, told Radio Free Afghanistan on 18 October that the country’s second vice-president, Muhammad Karim Khalili, has allegedly bailed out a warlord accused of murder, kidnapping and bribery, among other crimes. Barekzai said Abdul Hakim Shujai is an influential warlord in his native Uruzgan province and that he has been accused of involvement in the killings of at least 120 people. Uruzgan residents have reportedly complained to the Senate committee that an illegal armed group run by Shujai recently kidnapped twenty local villagers, killing seventeen.

Afghanistan’s Attorney General Mohammad Ishaq Aloko told Tolo News that violence against women is much greater than what is reported or known by the country’s judicial bodies. Many incidents allegedly go unreported because most women in the remote areas of the country do not have access to or are not aware of the judicial bodies. “You see that women in the provinces such as Badghis and Dai Kundi don’t know at all where the judiciary organisations are and what they do,” he said in an interview.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) notes that over the past six months there have been 600 reported cases of honour killings in Afghanistan and plans to launch a six-month investigation into rapes and honour killings, states Ariana News. AIHRC deputy Fahim Hakim urged that there must be a concerted effort to struggle against the terrible abuses against women, including the enforcement of the law that prohibits such practices and the punishment of the perpetrators of these crimes. The AIHRC officials demanded more of the governmental institutions, and asked for increased cooperation between civil society activists, media outlets and justice department members in coordinating their efforts to help reduce abuses of women.

This comes as The Telegraph reports that a twenty-year-old girl, named Mah Gul, was beheaded after her mother-in-law attempted to make her sleep with a man in her house in Herat province last week, provincial police chief Abdul Ghafar Sayedzada said. “We have arrested her mother-in-law, father-in-law, her husband and the man who killed her,” he said. The police chief added that Gul was mar- ried to her husband four months ago and her mother-in-law had tried to force her into prostitution several times in the past. The sus- pect, Najibullah, was “paraded by police at a press conference”.

Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune states that government officials from Pakistan and the US have finalised the details of a new bilateral commission to lure Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table. Details of the proposed commission were not immediately avail- able. This comes as a number of Senators in the Meshrano Jirga, the upper house of Parliament, criticised the peace talk process with the Taliban and demanded that the talks should be discontinued, according to Ariana News. Some lawmakers reportedly believe there is a relationship between the peace talks and the current insecurity.

Pakistani authorities have allegedly stated they would like Afghanistan to hand over Mullah Fazlullah, believing he was involved in planning the attack on Malala Yousafzai, the fourteen-year-old activist for women’s right to education, sources told Khaama Press. Mullah Fazlullah along with his men are reportedly hiding in Kunar province of Afghanistan.

Tolo News reports that residents of the Sorobi district 25 km east of Kabul have taken up arms against Taliban insurgents, joining the growing tide of local uprisings which began in other provinces in late June. Residents said they are tired of conflict and the Taliban’s violent ways, which included the burning of schools and clinics, and have called on the government to rebuild those fa- cilities.

According to local authorities, Afghan security forces arrested the Taliban provincial governor of Kunduz province, Mullah Ab- dul Rahman, writes Khaama Press. Police officials said Rahman was detained along with two security guards by Afghan security forces during a military operation in Ghani Kali village.

France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said that the withdrawal of French combat troops from Afghanistan may happen “a bit more quickly than anticipated” and could be completed before the end of December, writes the Australian Associated Press. Some troops may remain to repatriate equipment and participate in the training of the Afghan army.

Security & Force Protection

uring a joint press conference in Kabul with visiting NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Afghan President

Hamid Karzai stated that Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) are ready to take full responsibility for the country’s

Dsecurity if the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) chose early withdrawal, informs Khaama Press. Rasmussen,

who made a surprise visit to Afghanistan this week along with ambassadors from several partner nations, alleviated any speculation that President Karzai’s statement was an indicator that ISAF is withdrawing early when he stated “We are all committed to see our combat missions through by the end of 2014.Critics state that although the ANSF have drastically increased in size, their capability to plan and conduct operations without support from ISAF has not improved. ISAF currently has around 100,000 troops in Afghani- stan; however, all of its combat troops are scheduled to leave the country by the end of 2014.

In similar news, NATO reasserted its commitment to continue advisory and training support to the ANSF post-2014, reports the Bokhdi News. Dominic Medley, civilian spokesman for NATO, stated that “NATO has committed to launching a new mission to train, advice and assist Afghan forces from 2015.” This statement was one of the key takeaways from a two-day meeting of NATO Defense Ministers in Brussels regarding the future landscape of Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO-led foreign forces in Afghanistan. Medley recapped the two day meeting by stating that “NATO defense ministers and the ministers from potential operational partners concluded the first stage of planning for that new mission. This will guide the military experts as they take the planning process for- ward,” adding that “it is expected to agree on a detailed outline early next year, and to complete the plan well before the end of 2013.” In related news, President Karzai has stated that foreign troops deployed in Afghanistan beyond 2014 may not be granted immunity from prosecution if insecurity continues and the country’s borders are not protected, writes Tolo News. This was refuted by other gov- ernment officials who stated that the status of the security situation in Afghanistan was not solely the responsibility of foreign but also of Afghan troops. According to Nasrullah Sadeqizada, a member of parliament from Dai Kundi, such statements could affect NATO’s mission. Some analysts link the threat of denied immunity to an attempt by President Karzai to garner more funds from the United States and NATO.

On Tuesday, 16 October, Afghan intelligence officials announced that their security forces were able to disrupt suspected militant attacks against Kabul Airport, the Interior Ministry and the Afghan Parliament house, highlights Ariana News. Afghanistan intelli- gence has detained a suspected militant who was involved in the planning of these attacks. The Deputy Spokesman for the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) stated: “The detained militant has been recognized as Noor Mohammad who had taken shelter in a residential area in capital Kabul and wanted to carry out attack on Kabul Airport, Afghan interior ministry and Afghan parliament house. He was arrested by Afghan intelligence forces from a residential house in the 9th district of Kabul city.” The spokesman went on to say Afghan intelligence forces have arrested over forty additional suspected militants throughout Afghanistan, including two Tajik suspects who crossed into Afghanistan from Pakistan with plans to conduct insurgent activities. This is the first time officials from Afghan NDS have disclosed the detention of foreigners tied to insurgent activity.

In other security-related news from Afghanistan and its region:

A suicide bomber reportedly deployed a vehicle born improvised explosive device (IED) in the Zarmat district of Paktiya prov- ince, killing or injuring numerous ANSF and civilians, reports Wakht News Agency.

According to Khaama Press, ANSF supported by ISAF conducted an operation in Helmand province which resulted in the arrest of a senior member of the Taliban who controlled numerous facets of Taliban operations in Helmand province including assassi- nations, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, and suicide bombings. In addition to this key arrest, numerous other suspect- ed militants and materials used to manufacture IEDs were seized.

A minibus en route to a wedding ceremony in Balkh Province was struck by a roadside bomb killing eighteen civilians on 19 Oc- tober, reports Khaama Press. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack; however, the tactics are in line with Taliban opera- tives in the area. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has condemned the attacks stating IEDs are by far the biggest killer of civilians in Afghanistan’s armed conflict. UNAMA’s tracking of civilian casualties reveals that IEDs killed 340 civilians and injured a further 599 over the past nine months, an increase of almost 30% compared to the same period in 2011.

Social & Strategic Infrastructure

Rainer Gonzalez

T he Afghan Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, Daoud Ali Najafi, showed his dissatisfaction with the ministry’s activities over the last decade at a ceremony held to mark the National Transit Day, says Tolo News. The minister pointed to project de- lays, unclear policies as well as lack of cooperation between government bodies as main issues that negatively impacted the

activities of the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation (MoTCA). Najafi highlighted different examples, including the Transporta- tion Services law, which has been held-up at the Ministry of Justice for several years. Another obstacle to the development of Afghan- istan’s transport sector, according to Najafi, is the disagreement on transit issues with Pakistan. As a result, experts are calling for a transparent transit policy to deal with regional transport issues. “To solve the transport and transit issues with neighbours, government should have a clear policy and negotiate with neighbouring countries through an active diplomacy”, says Kabul University Economics Professor Taj Mohammad Akbar. According to the MoCTA, 98% of transportation in Afghanistan occurs via land routes, reports Wadsam. For that reason, Najafi highlighted the importance of having the physical infrastructure in addition to the appropriate regula- tory frameworks and legal standards. In this regard, the minister claims that thousands of kilometres of roads built during the last dec- ade are in a very bad state due to lack of construction standards.

During the first ever trilateral meeting between Afghanistan, India and the United States, the role of India as a key stakeholder in Af- ghanistan after 2014 was reaffirmed, reports The Economic Times. The deputy Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jawed Ludin, said

who have pledged to work to-

increasing regional trade,

investment and integration.The first area the three countries will work together on is mineral resources; so far, the Hajigak deposit

has been awarded to an Indian consortium, but India is also interested in obtaining rights to exploit other deposits. Secondly, India will work on developing regional land connections, either by road or by railway. For instance, after the completion of the Zaranj-Delaram road connecting Afghanistan to Iran in 2008, India will fund a

new project to connect Afghanistan with its Central Asian neighbours of Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. India has the con- viction that the stabilisation of Afghanistan has a crucial role to its national security.

Talks on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline have reached an impasse since international com- panies are only willing to participate in the project if they re- ceive a share in the construction and operation of the Turkmen gas fields, according to The Economic Times. The four coun- tries and the Asian Development Bank recently held road shows in New York, London and Singapore to attract international investment and experience to the project but so far no compa- nies have signed up. The main obstacles are Turkmen national laws that do not allow foreign firms to hold a stake in its oil and gas initiatives. On the other hand, the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline will be completed by December 2014 as scheduled despite the enormous US pressures, according to the Business Recorder. An Iranian official said that both countries are com-

that the meeting marks the beginning of a series of consultations among our three governments [

gether on common challenges and opportunities including combating terrorism and violent extremism [



Humanitarian Update A coalition of NGOs led by Amnesty International warns that urgent assistance is
Humanitarian Update
A coalition of NGOs led by Amnesty International warns that
urgent assistance is required to avoid a repeat of deaths
amongst children and adults in the internal displaced persons
(IDPs) camps during the forthcoming winter, says an Amnesty
International press release. In an open letter to the United Na-
tions, the Afghan government and international donors’ coali-
tion called for the immediate launch of a winter assistance
campaign to safeguard the lives of hundreds of IDPs. The di-
rector of Amnesty International, Polly Truscott, says: “What
happened last year was a preventable tragedy, and should act as
a sharp reminder that emergency assistance must be provided
immediately before the winter arrives.” A similar warning was
sent by the director of the Afghanistan National Disaster Man-
agement Authority, Mohammad Dayem Kakar, during the In-
ternational Day for Disaster Reduction, reports Wadsam. Kakar
said that 52 of the 480 districts in Afghanistan could face pos-
sible disasters due to heavy snowfalls and floods.

mitted to finishing the project within the stipulated time frame. On the Iranian side, the construction of the pipeline is advanced and will be completed well before December 2014. On the Pakistani side, the survey has been completed and the National Engineering Services Pakistan, the private company in charge, has delivered 320 documents to the government regarding project costs and designs. The Iranian official said, referring to India, the IP gas pipeline is a major project and Iran has the capacity to take on board any other country who wanted to benefit from the venture.

A number of other social and strategic infrastructure issues emerged this past week, including those summarised below.

The recently released Afghan movie Buzkashi Boyshas earned international acclaim for its portrayal of two impoverished boys in Kabul struggling to follow their dreams, describes Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty. The movie has been funded by the Af- ghan Film Project, a non-profit production company that aims to rebuild the Afghan film scene by mentoring and training local filmmakers on major film productions.

The government of India has inaugurated a new girls’ school in Kunar province, reports Wadsam. The building cost AFG 8 mil- lion (USD 157,000) and will provide education to more than 900 girls.

The Minister of Public Health, Suraya Dalil, and the Iranian Ambassador to Afghanistan, Abulfazi Zuhrwand, assisted at the stone-laying foundation ceremony for a new 200-bed hospital in Bamian province, reports Wadsam. The USD 20 million hospital will be fully funded by Iran and will also provide health services to Bamian’s neighbouring provinces.

Turkey will build a new research hospital in Kabul at a cost of USD 283 million, highlights Wadsam. The hospital will be con- structed in the next five years and will have 200 beds and 49 polyclinics.

Abdul Qayum Pukhla, Public Health Director, said that Kandahar province needs 5,000 medics, midwives and nurses but current- ly only 480 health workers are providing services to population, says Pajhwok Afghan News.

Recent Readings & Resources  “Global Emergency Overview”, Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS), October 2012.
Recent Readings & Resources
 “Global Emergency Overview”, Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS), October 2012.
 “Asia Pacific Food Situation Update”, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), October 2012.
 “Protecting Civilians While Fighting War in Somalia – Drawing Lessons from Afghanistan”, Norwegian Institute of Interna-
tional Affairs, October 2012 by Alexander William Beadle.
 “Human Rights and Democracy: The 2011 Foreign and Commonwealth Report”, United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth
Office, April 2012.
 “Economic Assistance in Conflict Zones. Lessons from Afghanistan”, Centre for Global Development, October 2012 by Ethan
Kapstein and Kamna Kathuria.
 “Gender, fragility and the politics of statebuilding”, Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre, October 2012 by Clare Cas-
 “Land Governance at the Crossroads: A Review of Afghanistan’s Proposed New Land Management Law”, Afghanistan Re-
search and Evaluation Unit (AREU), October 2012 by Liz Alden Wily.
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