International Information Programs
September 6, 2005

September 6, 2005





**  Global observers see Afghans "embracing democracy" despite daunting challenges.

**  Afghan, Indian outlets tout trade initiatives but Pakistani papers want Kashmir settled first.

**  New Delhi and Kabul move towards "security cooperation," upsetting Islamabad.




The 'test of success'--  Demanding that the International community "stand united" behind Afghani voters in September's elections, Canada's conservative Montreal Gazette praised Afghanis, particularly women, for their "enormous" courage in running for office.  An Afghani writer saw the elections as a "golden opportunity," and argued "anti-government elements" should "surrender" to the supervision of the international community and "join the political process."  Yet other Afghani editorialists demonstrated concern over election violations, "fragile" security, and general ignorance of electoral procedure.  One writer claimed "no proper measures" have been taken to "enlighten the public" or "encourage" them to vote.  Brazil's center-right O Estado de S. Paulo emphasized the elections' "high risk," warning that the "absolutely corrupted" process would lead to the election of "clan leaders, the rich, the gangsters."  There are "many roads to failure" in Afghanistan, observed one Thai editorialist, but if they keep "their eye on the goal" there is "little chance" Afghanis will return to "dark days."

'At the crossroads of Asia'--  Indian and Afghani papers hailed a "new chapter" in an "old friendship" carried along a trade route for "the last several centuries."  Trade and investment can "increase exponentially" declared India's centrist The Hindu, recognizing that cooperation with Kabul "makes economic sense" because Afghanistan will be the transit route for oil and gas pipelines from Central Asia to India.  Indian and Afghani advocates of "regional economic integration" worried over Pakistan's "refusing to permit" land transit because of the Kashmir issue.  One Pakistani writer claimed India is out to "control the Afghan market" and Afghan resources.  Most Pakistani papers agreed that disputes between the two countries [read: Kashmir] must be "resolved amicably" before embarking on any regional trade initiatives.  Pakistan should "lift the restrictions," countered Afghanistan's independent Erada, if it wants to "maintain friendly relations."            


'Security sleepless in Kabul'--  Pakistan media viewed comments regarding terrorism at the meeting of Indian Prime Minister Singh and Afghani President Karzai with "grave concern."  Their statements, according to editorialists, amount to an accusation that Pakistan is "fomenting terrorism."  Indian papers, indeed, claimed Pakistan is "helping" the Taliban, insisting that a Taliban "resurgence" is "nudging" Kabul and New Delhi towards greater "security cooperation."  Afghani outlets agreed, assailing Pakistan's alleged support for "terrorists and destructive elements."  Independent Thubat warned the "re-emergence of Taliban rule [and al-Qaida]" would become a "real possibility" if the Afghan security situation gives the coalition forces a "reason to leave."  In fact India would like to "do more" to train Afghan security forces, said India's nationalist Hindustan Times, but cannot do so because of U.S. "deference" for Pakistan.  Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888,


EDITOR:  Erin Carroll


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 56 reports from 10 countries over 19 August - 5 September, 2005.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.




GERMANY:   "The Apparent Revolution"


Werner Menner commented in right-of-center Müncher Merkur (9/5):  "The news sounds great, at least at first glance:  Sixty-eight out of 249 parliamentary seats will be reserved for women in Afghanistan's parliamentary elections on September 18.  That is not just a sensation, that is a revolution.  But maybe we should say that it would be a revolution.  There is no doubt that the war against the Taliban and their ousting has changed the country, but to claim that this was a change to the better would be wrong.  We cannot see an end to the violence, given the daily killings.  In many regions, the Taliban are gaining ground again.  Fighting them is so difficult because they still enjoy great support among the people and in neighboring Pakistan.  The fight against the powerful drug mafia, which is identical with the local warlords, who no longer care about Kabul and President Karzai, is not making progress.  On the contrary, opium production is on the rise.  Where are the human rights and rights of women in such a fundamentalist country?  The parliamentary list is a fake, because many women do not promote themselves in public in fear of men.  The government in Kabul speaks of improvements but it conceals that 200 women committed suicide only in Herat.  And the rest of the world does not want to know about it, because the war against the Taliban must have liberated the country."


"Not Just Struck's Concerns"


Berthold Kohler noted in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (8/30):  "The German soldiers, who help rebuild Afghanistan and fight terrorists, are not immune to attacks by drug lords and the remaining Taliban.  Only because of their professionalism, their limited mandate and some fortune, they were not yet dealt greater losses.  If Struck, who does not tend to exaggerate, now expresses security concerns, there must be reasons.  But even the Schröder government does not consider pulling out of Afghanistan, because that would only mean to plunge the country into war and chaos again.  Struck says he can bear the responsibility for the security of the soldiers.  He has to settle this with his conscience for the next three weeks, at least.  However, German soldiers will remain in Afghanistan for many years and their tasks will hardly become easier."


"In The Middle Of A Mess"


Uwe Krüger commented in centrist Märkische Oderzeitung (8/30):  "There can be no talk of stability in Afghanistan.  The separated moves by ISAF and the U.S. mission contributed to it.  While the international forces want to safeguard the establishment of political and economic structures, Americans are in the middle of a permanent war on terror.  German Defense Minister Struck does not think much of combining both tasks, although it would increase the power.  Given the rising number of U.S. casualties, Berlin fears that high numbers of German troops could be injured in combat missions.  Instead the Germans offer to increase the number their troops to 3,000 and to expand the area of operation.  That might clear the conscience, but it does not change the situation in Afghanistan."


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "The New Wave Of Aggression"


Middle-East expert Magda Katona wrote in left-of-center Nepszava (9/1):  “Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States are playing a complicated game and under the pretext of the joint fight against terrorism their interests are completely different.  For President Bush, Afghanistan is only the weakest link of the pro-American Great Middle East vision that possesses the hydrocarbon reserves of Central Asia and the Persian Gulf.  Instead of building a nation, nominally he concentrated on capturing Bin Laden’s group...and he entrusted the warlords with peacekeeping.  Even capturing Bin Laden’s terrorists was of secondary importance, since forces were soon redeployed from Afghanistan to Iraq.  For President Karzai the real danger lies not in al-Qaida but in the fact that Pakistan and the Afghan warlords are supporting the new rebellion of the Taliban.  But the real disaster for him was the start of the war in Iraq which drew away the majority of Western help....  In fact, Washington would prefer India as the strong bastion of the region.  This can only be delayed but not hindered by the Pakistani officers allied with the Islamic fundamentalists, for whom keeping Bin Laden alive is of vital interest.… Militant Islam is kept alive in the region not by military ineffectiveness but by unsolved problems and these political games.”


HUNGARY:  "Afghan Tolo TV Breaking Taboos"


Staff writer Peter Rozsahegyi wrote in pro-government left-wing daily Nepszava  (8/31): “The cultural diversity transmitted by MTV [Tolo TV prepares a program similar to Music TV] is almost shocking to young people [in Afghanistan].  They see a more free world, how people dress and speak in other parts of the world, and this may motivate them to follow these examples....  Islamic jurists see an enormous danger in all this.  They feel that not only the Islamic traditions are in danger but also the preservation of Afghan traditions....  The mullahs’ speaking out against Tolo cannot be a problem, since the members of the government have repeatedly expressed their intention, namely that they are more interested in the establishment of the free press in Afghanistan than in what the ulemas say about specific programs.  And the government in Kabul enjoys the support of the United States.  It is not of minor importance that the family operating Tolo TV also owns a radio station in Kabul.  They have received significant American support in the establishment of both.  In Afghanistan, they want to use the power of the media to shape public opinion not only for political purposes but also for cultural changes.  And these two are not far from each other, cultural influence results sooner or later in a political one.…  As a consequence of the modern programs, the role of women might change in the currently rigid Islamic society.”




INDIA:  "Restoring A Historical Bond"


The centrist Hindu (9/1) editorialized:  "Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit earlier this week was significant.  The potential for constructive interaction is enormous; trade and investment can increase exponentially and Afghanistan can provide a transit route for oil and gas pipelines from Central Asia and the Caspian Sea region.  That this landlocked country can be the much-needed link between South Asia and the petroleum-rich countries beyond the Oxus has been recognized in the proposal for its inclusion in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).  Pakistan has accepted this idea in principle but has made its implementation contingent on the Kashmir issue being resolved.  But the point is that the interlinking of the three countries through lucrative commerce can only enhance the prospects for the resolution of contentious issues.  However, Islamabad has refused to buy into this thesis until now.  Against this background, New Delhi's attempt to play a role in the rebuilding of Afghanistan's security forces appears somewhat problematical.  It has been clarified that India is interested only in giving a helping hand to the police and not the military.  But any cooperation between the two countries in matters of security would have further aroused the suspicion of their mutual neighbor.  The composite dialogue between India and Pakistan is so delicately poised that measures likely to disrupt the process should be avoided.  That the proposal has been set aside because New Delhi did not want its advisors to work under the 'lead country' framework appears a blessing in disguise.  In other respects, the policy towards Afghanistan has been fashioned quite wisely.  Instead of imposing projects of its own choosing, the Manmohan Singh Government has let President Hamid Karzai and his men identify the areas in which they require assistance."


"In Concert With Kabul"


Mumbai-based, centrist DNA (9/1):  "It is all the more important that India engages ‘Afghanistan’ today when the discredited Taliban are seeking to exploit conditions of extreme deprivation to make a comeback.  Many may decry Hamid Karzai as being nothing more than the mayor of Kabul, but he is the best bet for Afghanistan.  New Delhi has a vital interest in seeing that his regime is not derailed by the Taliban with a jihadi agenda....  Cooperation with Kabul makes economic sense for India because Afghanistan will be a transit route for the Iran gas pipeline.  In recent years, Islamabad’s influence over internal developments in Afghanistan has waned to some extent and New Delhi could use this to its advantage.  Whether we agree with the U.S. policy on Iraq or not, it makes good political sense for New Delhi to work with Washington to strengthen democracy in Afghanistan.  And to this end, the Manmohan Singh visit has sent out all the right signals.”


"PM's Visit To Afghanistan" 


Guwahati English left-of-center The Sentinel editorialized (8/31):  "Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Afghanistan is significant for more than one reason....  There is a marked change of mind in Pakistan.  India and Pakistan are moving from a regime of mutual hatred towards mutual accommodation of each other's viewpoints and a regime of understanding.  The obscurantist and mediaevalist Talibans have been driven out from power in Afghanistan and Hamid Karzai’s Government has been sending friendly gestures towards India....  The change of climate gives one hope that a highly volatile zone of conflict may turn into a zone of peace if all the players play a positive game.  India-Pakistan-Afghanistan has been one of the world's worst terror zones and at one time was considered a flash point that could trigger even a world-scale war.  If there has been a dramatic change in the world scenario after 9/11, one of its better effects can be seen in this zone.  In this context, the Prime Minister's visit to Afghanistan is not only a ritualistic visit for exchange of superficial niceties but an important step to promote and consolidate regional peace....  It is for India's interest that Hamid Karzai’s government not only survives but consolidates its position....  This country cannot allow Afghanistan to land into the lap of the al-Qaida and the Talibans once again.  In this context, India's financial assistance to Karzai Government to build the Parliament building in Kabul is more than a symbolic gesture.  It is a strong commitment to work together for peace and for the cause of democracy in that country."


“A New Look For The Old Friendship" 


The Hyderabad-based independent Telugu Eenadu remarked (8/31):  “Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has assured the Afghan President Hamid Karzai that India will extend every possible help for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.  Afghanistan was earlier destroyed due to the conflict between two superpowers and an evil administration run by religious fundamentalists.  Later, the U. S.’ operation-Enduring Freedom--in the aftermath of September eleven, further destroyed the country.  The Afghan President is in favor of India using its territory for business with central Asian countries.  But, Pakistan is not willing to allow this.”


"A New Construction"


New Delhi Times of India Group, centrist, and independent Navbharat Times (8/30) editorialized:  "An effort is being made to sow a sapling in the plateau turned into a wasteland after years of civil war.  This is the ray of hope and the quiet message sent out by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Kabul visit.  This is a critical time for Afghanistan....  The emergence of a liberal democratic and peaceful Afghanistan is a far cry today.  India is ready to go all the way with it in this long and risky journey.  It is cooperating in practically every reconstruction work, right from the field of education, police, and infrastructure to rural development.  For the first time in the last 29 years, an Indian Prime Minister visited Kabul.  This will be seen as a glorious example of India's commitment....  However, vast changes have still to be introduced.  As was quite obvious during the present visit, Pakistan is an important factor in this relationship.  It is situated between the two countries and is refusing to permit transportation of goods.  Pakistan's cooperation is essential, whether the case is that of mutual cooperation or trade, or an effort to bring Afghanistan closer to the SAARC, or the laying of gas pipelines from Turkmenistan.  Islamabad should appreciate this need or countries like the United States should make it realize that its own welfare lies in burying the past.  If this change can be brought about, Afghanistan will once again be able to assume its serious role of a 'land bridge' between South and Central Asia.  This is what Karzai also aspires for.  India, in whose memory the Kabul-Kandahar trade path still remains fresh, and which used to be the center of the cultural world spread from Afghanistan to Cambodia, is in absolute agreement with Karzai.  Times might have changed but old ties matter even today.  That is why Afghanistan continues to be a natural ally of South Asia.  In this capacity, it can link India with the oil resources of Central Asia in the midst of international competition for oil and gas.  In the meantime, India will help Kabul in reconstructing its Parliament, lighting up its villages, and building its roads.  Hopefully, at the same time, India will also inspire Afghanistan to become a stable and modern state.


"Our Man In Kabul"


The nationalist Hindustan Times (8/30):  "Singh's visit to Afghanistan, the first by an Indian PM since 1976, is part neighborhood diplomacy and part contribution to the wider battle against extremism and terror.  India's ties with Afghanistan go back to antiquity.  In modern times, barring the period between the Soviet invasion of 1979 and the end of the Taliban in 2001, they have shared common aspirations as developing countries.  Afghanistan's importance today lies in the fact that it is the intersection of the interests of various countries fighting terrorism--the U.S. and its Nato allies, Russia and India.  They are all part of an enterprise that will transform the war-torn country into a stable and democratic entity that will not allow itself to be used as a training ground for terrorists, nor be a major source of illicit opium....   India would like to do more to train Afghan security forces, but the U.S. has placed restrictions out of deference for Pakistan's concerns.  The truth is that Islamabad's sole interest is in restoring the Taliban regime.  It is doing its best to thwart India's aid effort by refusing to provide a transit route to enable us to do more for Afghan reconstruction on the specious excuse that the Kashmir issue must be settled first.  There is considerable evidence that Pakistan continues to nurture the Taliban leadership as a lever against Afghan President Hamid Karzai.  It is up to the world community, especially the U.S., to reflect on how important it is to effectively drain the swamp, extending to neighbouring Pakistan, that produced al-Qaida [as published] and the Taliban.  The battle for the hearts and minds of Afghans has not quite ended."


"Prime Minister's Afghanistan Visit:  Combating International Terrorism Jointly"


Chandigarh Punjabi Tribune in Punjabi (8/30):  "Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's historic visit to Afghanistan has proved fruitful in many ways.  Its major success lies in the fact that the two countries have resolved not to allow any complacency in their fight against global terrorism.  In the joint statement issued at the end of the meeting between Singh and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, an attempt has been made to convey that Afghanistan would no longer allow its land to be used as a training ground for terrorism.  Certain forces that do not wish to see Afghanistan as a prosperous country have been seeking to create an impression of the country as terrorist infested....  In view of the defense and strategic needs of Afghanistan, India is making substantial contribution to that country's reconstruction.  Considering the century-old historic and cultural ties between the countries, it is highly desirable to provide fresh opportunities to extend mutual cooperation to each other.  It is in this context that Singh ventured to undertake a tour of Afghanistan at a time when the Afghan intelligence and security agencies are not competent to provide necessary security to any visiting dignitary.  Emphasis has also been laid on providing land transit through Pakistan for the promotion of trade and commerce between India and Afghanistan.  Even as Pakistan has linked the reports regarding this transit with the Kashmir issue, Karzai has said that the possibility of such a transit in the near future cannot be ruled out.  In historic perspective the fact cannot be denied that Indian-Afghan trade has been carried out through this route for the last several centuries."


"Advantage India And Afghanistan"


The Mumbai edition of centrist Gujarati language Gujaratmitra stated (8/29):  “The 9/11 incident changed the very course of politics of Afghanistan.  The U.S.-led coalition waged a war against terrorism in a bid to nab the main culprit behind the 9/11, Osama bin Ladin, who had been provided a safe refuge by the erstwhile Taliban regime.  Except for their failure to nab bin Ladin, the U.S.-led coalition forces were successful in dismantling the terrorist infrastructure in Afghanistan by ousting the Taliban regime.  This cleared the decks for democratic governance in Afghanistan.  India understands the importance of re-establishing a strong bilateral relationship with this Central Asian nation.  Maintaining cordial relations with Afghanistan is key to strengthening India's relations with Middle East countries.  Afghanistan's geographic location also makes it a strategically important nation for India since it can access much-needed energy sources both in Iran and Central Asia.  Afghanistan, on the other hand, needs India's help in its reconstruction and development.  Considering all this, Prime Minister Singh’s visit will benefit both the nations in the long term” 


"Delhi-Kabul Friendship"


Varanasi Aj (8/29) editorialized:  "Singh's visit, when that country is passing through a transition, would create a new chapter in the two countries' old friendship....  Six major countries, including India, are helping the rebuilding process.  The main occupation of this country devoid of resources is opium farming.  Karzai wants to put an end to it, but it would only be possible if the country has industrial infrastructure....  Elections will be held in Afghanistan in a few months' time, and the Taliban are escalating their attacks as the time is nearing.  Islamabad is helping the Taliban, which is clear from the recent conflict on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.  India would want peace and stability in Afghanistan because it is in its interest.  The Taliban who made the country a bastion of international terrorism should not reemerge.  It is India's fervent desire that democracy is firmly established in Afghanistan.  India is making efforts in that direction.  It has given a $50 million financial assistance, which is being used for providing educational and health facilities there."


"Threat Of Taliban Revival Brings Kabul, Delhi Closer"


C. Raja Mohan, member of India's National Security Advisory Board and professor of international studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, commented in New Delhi's centrist Indian Express (8/28):  "The resurgence of the Taliban, with alleged support from within Pakistan, is nudging New Delhi and Kabul towards greater security cooperation and aligning Indian and American interests in Afghanistan.  The joint statement between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Manmohan Singh, who begins a two-day visit to Kabul tomorrow, is expected to highlight the new political urgency in New Delhi and Kabul to draw closer and do more for regional security....  The joint statement, an idea which apparently came up only in the last few days, will reflect the tectonic shifts in the geopolitics of the north western subcontinent amidst a renewed political threat from the Taliban....  The resurgence of the Taliban is also driving India and the United States towards each other in Afghanistan....   With the renewed threat of the Taliban's return, and the growing number of American military casualties in Afghanistan, Washington might be less averse to an expanding Indian security role in Kabul.  India, on its part, has no reason to back the new demands from China and Russia for a withdrawal of American troops from Central Asia and Afghanistan.  India has no desire to see a re-establishment of Taliban rule in Kabul.  Meanwhile, the unfolding peace process between India and Pakistan has opened the door for some creative new thinking in all the three capitals--ideas that look beyond the traditional zero sum game in Afghanistan.  Manmohan Singh's visit to Kabul might see strong Indian support to the Afghan pipeline project that the Karzai government and the international community are keen to promote.  Besides helping Afghanistan take advantage of its location at the cross roads of Asia, the pipeline to bring natural gas from Turkmenistan in Central Asia to India via Afghanistan and Pakistan should help lay the foundation for regional economic integration in the north western part of the subcontinent.  Beyond the Afghan pipeline project, which could supplement the energy flows into India through the Pakistan-Iran pipeline, New Delhi and Kabul will hope Islamabad will soon offer India overland access to Afghanistan.  A trade and transit arrangement involving India, Pakistan and Afghanistan will benefit all three countries, and is being backed by the Bush Administration.  Sections of the Pakistan establishment, however, appear to be betting on an early withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and a political future for the Taliban."


"Kabul Calling"


The centrist Indian Express editorialized (8/27):  "In his Independence Day address, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a special mention of his trip to Afghanistan...[that] signifies India's interest in regaining the cordiality of its old equation with Afghanistan.  Signals from Kabul indicate a reciprocity of interest....  In many ways, the visit itself is the message.  The focus will be on things developmental.  What does help is the current cordiality in Indo-U.S. ties.  America, which has in the past viewed India's involvement in Afghanistan with suspicion, is now more than willing to lend a hand in furthering friendship between the two countries.  The delicate issue is really handling Pakistan.  Ever since the overthrow of the Taliban, the Musharraf government has done everything it could to queer the Indo-Afghan pitch.  Even the humanitarian relief that India has sought to send to Afghanistan had to be re-routed through Iran.....   It would be in India's interests to calm Pakistan's apprehensions about its renewed stake in Afghanistan, and take both countries along in its endeavor to stabilize its presence in the area.  Projects like the gas pipeline linking Turkmenistan with India would, in any case, require the active cooperation of both Afghanistan and Pakistan."


"Security Sleepless In Kabul”

Defense Correspondent Sujan Dutta wrote in centrist The Telegraph (8/27):  “In the Kabul locality called the Argh that houses the palaces of King Zahir Shah and President Hamid Karzai, Indian security personnel from the Special Protection Group confer with American army and NATO soldiers....  Singh’s decision to accept Karzai’s request and prolong his visit to Afghanistan to include an overnight stay has meant that security forces from across the globe have to coordinate.  Singh will be staying in a palace ringed by American troops, a multinational contingent of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and, finally, India's own VIP security personnel from the SPG.  His decision to stay the night in Kabul is a statement of Indian commitment.  The Prime Minister’s schedule is packed with engagements that will emphasize India's contribution to Afghanistan's reconstruction effort....   It is also all about a great diplomatic game.  Delhi's access to Kabul has two objectives: cut down Pakistan's strategic space and pave a road to Central Asia....   Afghanistan is headed for its first parliamentary polls and despite a Taliban statement that it will not disrupt the elections, violence in the countryside is escalating.  More U.S. troops have been killed this year than at any time since the war. The toll is higher for Afghanistan's fledgling national army that provides the foot soldiers for the U.S. ‘war on terrorism’.  The security of Kabul city is the responsibility of the ISAF that is operating under a UN peace enforcement mandate.  It has troops from 37 countries.  Indian and international forces are...securing each spot that the Prime Minister is scheduled to visit.”


PAKISTAN:  "Repatriation Of Afghan Refugees And The Need To Extend The Deadline"


Peshawar-based Urdu daily, Mashriq (9/1):  "The deadline for the repatriation of the Afghan refugees from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas has expired on August 31, and there is no indication of extension of this date.  But there are still thousands of refugees residing in the areas, which can't return to their homeland despite of their willingness to do so, as the Pak-Afghan border is closed....  It is important that government extends the date for repatriation of these refugees." 


"India-Afghanistan Imperialistic Collusion"


Popular, Urdu-language Ausaf editorialized (8/30):  "In the past as well, India had been involved in hatching conspiracies against Pakistan in collusion with former Afghan governments.  Whereas, it is feared that a new era of anti-Pakistan conspiracies can begin with New Delhi's new strategic alliance with the government of President Hamid Karzai.  Reports about the dubious activities of an Indian consulate in Jalalabad have already surfaced.  Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing [RAW] is interfering in our internal affairs.  It is playing a special role in spreading anti-Pakistan public opinions in Afghanistan.  It is matter of grave concern for us that the meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan and President Hamid Karzai tried to link terrorism with Pakistan by declaring it as a serious issue." 


"Indian Prime Minister's Visit To Afghanistan, Its Impacts"


Lahore-based populist Urdu daily Khabrain (8/30) noted:  "Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his government have tried their level best to cause tension in relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.  For this purpose, it hyped up terrorism in Afghanistan, but Afghan President Hamid Karzai has openly said that it is not possible to establish peace in Afghanistan without Pakistan's cooperation.  Terrorism can be defeated only with the assistance of Pakistan.  He said that Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan will have to work together to defeat terrorism.  Pakistan has been cooperating in the war against terrorism in the past.  Pakistani leaders can be convinced to make more efforts in this connection by further strengthening relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.  During this visit, Manmohan Singh also announced that India is prepared to cooperate in the gas pipeline project from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan." 


"Admission Of Pakistan's Vital Role Against Terrorism"


Leading, mass-circulation Jang (8/30) opined:  "However, it is a matter of great satisfaction that while addressing a joint news conference with Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz during his recent visit to Kabul, Afghan President Hamid Karzai admitted that the only way for Pakistan and Afghanistan to move forward is on the path of friendship and cooperation.  As far as preventing cross-border infiltration and ensuring peace during the upcoming Parliamentary elections in Afghanistan are concerned, Pakistan has deployed about 80,000 of its troops along the border with Afghanistan.  On the contrary, according to international media, India has set up RAW training camps in Kandahar, Jalalabad, and several other cities in Afghanistan.  Meanwhile, the Indian Embassy in Iran is also allegedly involved in patronizing and assisting them [RAW agents].  Apart from this, Mossad and KGB are also fully active in Afghanistan--thanks to the U.S. influence and occupation.  Trained terrorists from these foreign agencies are busy carrying out terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan, particularly in Baluchistan.  According to relevant officials of the Baluchistan Government, weapons worth millions of dollars have been smuggled from Afghanistan into Baluchistan.  Recently, a tribal assembly of more than 500 tribal representatives and religious scholars of North Waziristan held India, Russia, and the Northern Alliance responsible for attacks on Pakistani security forces in the area."


Pakistan Animosity Hidden In Afghanistan-Indian Joint Statement"


Second largest nationalist Urdu daily Nawa-e Waqt (8/30) declared:  "What India really wants is transit facilities from Pakistan to Afghanistan, so that it will have opportunities to control the Afghan market and its resources in the name of Afghanistan reconstruction.  In this regard, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz is justified in his stance that unless and until the Kashmir dispute is resolved, Pakistan can neither grant the Most Favored Nation status to India nor strengthen trade and economic ties with it.  Trade between Pakistan and India is in progress despite this principled position of Prime Minister Aziz, but as a matter of principle this trade should not take place and India should not get transit facilities to Afghanistan as well.  This is because India can use these facilities to accomplish its evil designs." 


"Indian Prime Minister In Afghanistan"


Sensationalist Karachi-based Ummat (8/30) commented:  "Keeping in view the current situation and the Indian prime minister's visit to Afghanistan, it can easily be assessed that India is busy trying to isolate Pakistan through its sly and crafty tactics.  Should we call it the failure of Pakistan's foreign policy or the indolence of its diplomats that Indian leaders have been successful in getting support, sympathy, and attention from Iran, Afghanistan, the United States, Britain and other countries?  It is also conniving to push Pakistan to the wall.  It is not only a matter of surprise but a moment of reflection as well that not only Iran and Afghanistan are our neighbors, but they also have ideological affiliations with Pakistan.  Still, India has more influence on them compared to Pakistan.  Moreover, India is neither concerned about Afghan people nor their reconstruction and economic progress.  It just wants to eliminate the feelings of love and fraternity between the peoples of Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Not only Afghan people are indebted to Pakistan for its monetary assistance and sacrifices to Afghan refugees during the jihad against Soviet forces, but they are also prepared to make sacrifices for Pakistan." 


"Another Demand Of India"


Karachi-based right-wing, pro-Islamic Unity Jasarat (8/30) stated:  "During their joint news conference in Kabul, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have described the India-Afghanistan alliance as indispensable for regional peace and security.  What kind of alliance will it be?  The Indian Government is making all-out efforts that Pakistan should not strengthen its feet in Afghanistan, and it has succeeded in the attempts to a great extent.  Currently, anti-Pakistan elements are dominant in Afghanistan.  Under such a circumstance, the Pakistani Government will have to devise a foreign policy with great caution.  We have already given India a lot of concessions."


"Implications Of Karzai-Singh Overtures "


Islamabad rightist English daily Pakistan Observer (Internet Version-WWW) (8/30):  "President Hamid Karzai and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have said that the threat of militancy can be defeated only with Pakistan's help.  India, Pakistan and Afghanistan need to join hands and work together for security of the people of the three countries, they said at a joint Press conference in Kabul on Sunday.  The statement of the Indian and Afghan leaders may be innocent on the face of it, but to say that only Pakistan can help fight the threat of militancy amounts to obliquely accusing her of fomenting terrorism.  It's thus clear that the overt friendly overtures of Hamid Karzai and Manmohan Singh have a dangerous hidden agenda of defaming Pakistan.  It's really unfortunate that Pakistan, which has done so much to fight terrorism and promote peace, security and stability in South Asia has been targeted by the two leaders.  Afghanistan owes its process to democracy to Pakistan because of its firm action against the militants, who had shifted to its Tribal Areas following U.S. military action in the war torn country.  The militants were neither of Pakistani origin and belonged to Afghanistan, Central Asia and Arab countries, nor were they trained, funded and pampered by Pakistan.  On the contrary, Pakistan apprehended some and killed others.  As a matter of fact, Pakistan has offered sacrifices in men and material for Afghanistan's security and stability.  Is this the reward of affording shelter and succor to about six million Afghan refugees for over quarter of century?  Hamid Karzai's endorsement of Indian Prime Minister's assertion is regrettable.  As for India, it has never wished Pakistan well and has seldom spared opportunity to harm its interests.  Pakistan has been, in fact, victim of Indian-sponsored terrorism.  The truth is that militants and terrorists are pushed into Pakistan from India and Afghanistan, who targeted its places of worship killing hundreds of innocent Muslims and Christians, besides creating sectarian and communal tension in the country.  Pakistan is being blamed for their own follies.  It's hoped that the authorities in Pakistan will evaluate the Karzai-Manmohan statement with all its connotations.  Pakistan should, however, have no illusion about Afghan leadership, because it's a matter of record that it has always colluded with India to Pakistan's detriment." 


"'Cooperate' And 'Do More'" 


The centrist national English daily, The News expressed the view (8/30):  "For a change, Pakistan is 'in the loop,' so to speak, rather than being the odd man out.  Indian leaders, and too often Mr. Karzai himself, have held Pakistan undeservedly responsible for terrorism in their respective countries.  If Pakistan is the source or facilitator of terrorism, then it doesn't make sense why the springboard is at the same time the target.  However, Mr. Karzai's appreciation sounds like a grudging, 'yes-but' kind of recognition of Pakistan's anti-terror role, for which this country has earned global approbation.  While the Afghan president acknowledged Pakistan's 'co-operation' in the anti-terror fight, he also spoke of the need for Islamabad to 'do more.'  Co-operate is all Pakistan can do....  Mr. Karzai's routine calls for Pakistan to 'do more' are almost akin to his demanding the impossible of Islamabad....  Cooperation ought to extend to empathy, where one side understands and accepts the other's limitations as well.  So, what exactly does Mr. Karzai mean by 'co-operation'?  And what does he have in mind when he says 'do more'?"  


"The Afghanistan Factor Between India And Pakistan" 


The Lahore-based liberal English Daily Times editorialized (8/30):  "Afghan President Hamid Karzai wants Pakistan to allow overland transit for Indian goods bound for Afghanistan in the wake of improving ties between Islamabad and New Delhi....  No one can fault Mr. Karzai’s assessment that Pakistan-India relations will always affect his country.  His request that Islamabad allow Indian goods to reach Afghanistan overland from Pakistan is also understandable....  The problem is that while India and Pakistan are embarked on a normalization process, they have made no real progress on substantive issues even as they have nibbled at the fringes of the problems....  But Mr. Singh knows, better than Mr. Karzai, the difficulties involved in India's relations with Pakistan. More than anyone else, it is Mr. Singh who can qualitatively change that and increase the pace of normalization.  Next month he is scheduled to meet with General Musharraf on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting.  We hope that the meeting will result in the kind of understanding that can be beneficial to the region, including Afghanistan."


"Karzai's Justified Wish"


The center-right national English daily The Nation opined (8/30):  "If Mr. Karzai wishes Pakistan to grant India transit rights for goods destined for Afghanistan, he should urge Dr. Singh remove the sticking point.  India's intransigence is creating a deadlock in the composite dialogue.  Even back channel contacts appear to be fizzling out....  And if General Musharraf and Dr. Singh, who are due to meet during the course of their visit to New York in September to address the UN General Assembly, fail to break the ice it might threaten to unravel to the peace process....  Pakistan would welcome Mr. Karzai's request to join the SAARC but the beneficial impact on mutual trade that he should be expecting from the regional grouping could only be felt once its two major constituents have resolved their disputes amicably and forged a spirit of trust and understanding.  It is this fact that he should be trying to bring home to Dr. Singh before the thick clouds of estrangement begin to hover on the Subcontinent's horizon."


IRAN:  "Relations Between India and Afghanistan"


Mashhad government-run Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran External Service in Persian commented (8/30):  "Afghanistan has been important for India due to its strategic location between the Central Asian countries and the Indian subcontinent.  Relations between India and Afghanistan have been changing over the past few years in view of the rapid changes in the government structures in this country.  As a matter of fact, Afghanistan is in its recovery phase, and this war-torn country is in dire need of international assistance, in particular of powerful countries of the region.  There is no doubt that India can play a positive role in rehabilitation of Afghanistan.  During the Taliban regime, which was directly supported by Pakistan, the Indian government was supporting the anti-Taliban groups indirectly....  India is making every effort to promote democracy in Afghanistan; this is because India has great experiences in democratization of its own society.  On the other hand, the Indian government tries to expand trade with Afghanistan and through Afghanistan with the Central Asian countries.  The government and the people of Afghanistan are keen on boosting ties with India rather than Pakistan.  By boosting relations with India, the Afghan government tries to appear as a rival for Pakistan.  On the other hand, the Indian government is planning to launch its consulates in most parts of Afghanistan, in particular in areas where the Pashtun ethnic group lives.  In fact, this is not good news for Pakistan."


"India's Interest in Afghanistan"


Mashhad government-run Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran External Service in Dari (8/28) noted:  "The main reason for India's interest in boosting relations with Afghanistan is its unstable relations with Pakistan.  Afghanistan has become a source of competition for Pakistan and India.  Pakistan considers Afghanistan as a strategic partner to compete with India.  On the other hand, India tries to boost relations with Afghanistan.  India was supporting the Afghan Northern Alliance during the Taliban regime, which was supported by Pakistan.  After the fall of the Taliban and the establishment of the new government in Afghanistan, New Delhi is trying to strengthen ties with Afghanistan.  Since 2002, Indian government has provided the government of Afghanistan with more than 500m dollars for rehabilitation of infrastructures, education, transportation and social affairs.  During this visit, the Indian prime minister will provide 50m dollars to the government of Afghanistan.  The government and the people of Afghanistan are also keen on boosting ties with India rather than Pakistan.  Furthermore, India is trying to influence the markets of the Central Asian countries through Afghanistan. 


 AFGHANISTAN:  "Deterioration Of Security"


Kabul's Rah-e Nejat (9/1):  "The parliamentary and provincial elections are drawing closer with the passing of every day.  However, the security situation is getting worse and worse.  The security situation is fragile and instability is still felt despite the slogans by the government and the coalition forces to the contrary.  The intimidation of some female candidates, the killing of some candidates and the rise in attacks on government and non-governmental organizations show the unbelievable weakness of the government, particularly the security bodies.  It also shows the inability and procrastination of the foreign forces in Afghanistan.  The presence of foreign military forces to restore security and the spending of huge sums of money to strengthen and expand the national police and army have given rise to questions.  The Taliban and al-Qaida groups are not that strong that cannot be dealt with by the foreign forces.  Lack of organization, rampant administrative corruption among high-ranking officials, procrastination and the ceremonial presence of foreign troops are the factors behind the inability of the coalition forces and the national army.  Anyhow, the security of the elections should be generally ensured and the lives of the candidates and other citizens should be protected.  This responsibility lies with the government.  The government should not disappoint the people by exhibiting weaknesses, and should quickly review its security programs."


"Pakistan's Vicious Ends Regarding Afghanistan Disclosed Yet Again"


Independent Dari-language Erada (8/30) editorialized:  "Some well-known circles in neighboring countries spared no efforts when it came to destroying our country and causing bloodshed during the bitter years of wars.  In addition to carrying out reconstruction projects, the legitimate new Afghan government has taken effective steps towards establishing strong relations with various countries of the world.  But, Pakistan has adopted a policy of double standards towards our country and is doing its utmost to increase our troubles and misery.  It is backing subversive elements in Afghanistan and not preventing the training and infiltration of terrorists into our country from Pakistani soil.  Moreover, this creates obstacles to the establishment of relations between Afghanistan and various other countries, particularly India, which is our historic friend.  Indian Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh arrived in Kabul on Sunday [28 August] at the formal invitation of the Afghan government.  India has accused Pakistan of creating obstacles to the establishment of its trade and economic relations with Afghanistan.  Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz proved the truth of this accusation when he told a meeting that India could not export its goods to Afghanistan via Pakistan until the issue of Kashmir was resolved. Pakistan wants our country to be a lucrative market for its goods and to gain millions of dollars in this way.  This has always created obstacles to our legitimate government in the pursuit of such interests and markets.  It wants to undermine the Afghan government and promote ethnic prejudice by imposing bans and interfering in our internal affairs.  If Pakistan truly wants to maintain friendly relations with us, it should lift the restrictions from the trade route between Afghanistan and India and should not try to gain dominance over our country for the sake of selling its goods.


"Election Violations"


Independent Dari-language Erada (8/31) opined:  "Even though the government supports the process of election and the Joint Electoral Management Body works to prepare the ground for the elections, there are reports on the violation of the election law.  People have witnessed that some candidates are trying to get into parliament by using the physical and financial support of specific political parties....  If the government and the JEMB do not take measures against such activities, we can have a clear idea of what the future parliament would be like."


"Public Awareness"


Independent Cheragh noted (8/31):  "We have only a brief period until the elections, but no proper measures have so far been taken to enlighten the public about the elections and to encourage them to take part....  Some of the parliamentary candidates themselves are unaware about the responsibilities and scope of authority of the national and provincial councils....  If the government of Afghanistan wants honest and competent people to get into the parliament, it should launch vast public awareness campaigns and inform the people about their role in the future parliament."


"International Assistance"


Official Dari-language Anis (8/31) declared:  "Democracy and social justice build up confidence and strengthen national unity.  It also limits foreign interference and enables the people to determine their fate....  At present, the Afghan economy relies on international assistance.  It is one of the responsibilities of the future parliament to develop a proper economic system that will help Afghanistan stand on its own feet."


"A Reformist Measure"


State-run Dari-language Eslah (8/31) commented:  "President Hamed Karzai has issued a decree on appointing professional cadres in government departments which prepares the ground for the participation of specialists and experts in the government.  This can be considered a reformist measure for capacity building in government departments ahead of the parliamentary elections....  The ministries, state departments and enterprises should try to appoint people with high skills and competence."


"Cultural Life"


State-run Herat based Etefaq-e Eslam (8/31) noted:  "Not sufficient attention has been paid to the quality of the programs by the government media in Herat and to cultural activities in general in view of the current situation and the government's old and incompetent administrative system.  The expectation is that cultural life should be the focus of attention and appropriate programs should be provided."   


"Relations With India"


Independent Arman-e Melli (8/30) noted:  "The Indian prime minister has paid an official visit to Afghanistan at a rather critical juncture of history....  India has taken an active part in Afghanistan's reconstruction process....  Furthermore, it has never shown any signs of hostility towards and interference in Afghan affairs....  We greatly appreciate friendly relations between India and Afghanistan and hope that this splendid relationship between the two countries could encourage the Pakistani leaders to put a stop to their vicious and hostile policies and cultivate amicable relations with Afghanistan."




The state-run biweekly Kabul Times editorialized:  "The official state visit of the Indian prime minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, to Kabul is considered a landmark in bilateral relations between Afghanistan and India, especially at a time when Afghanistan is in urgent need of assistance from friendly countries such as India to realize its reconstruction drive....  The visit has proved most significant in further deepening the already historic ties between the two Asian countries and it is an indicator of that country's continued support to Afghanistan....  At present India is one of the leading donor countries assisting Afghanistan....  Afghans are really grateful to their Indian friends for their continued assistance and wish that cooperation between the two friendly nations in future be expanded."


"Hostile Pakistan"


Independent Dari-language Erada (8/30) opined:  "Even now that the Afghan government is legally established and seeking international support for its reconstruction efforts, Pakistan still pursues a hostile and double-standard policy against our country.  It largely supports the terrorists and destructive elements and does not stop training, arming and sending terrorists to Afghanistan.  Furthermore, Pakistan views with envy our friendly relations with foreign countries, particularly with India."


"Administrative Affairs"


Independent local daily published by the Association of Young Journalists of the Herat University Pagah (8/30) commented:  "With the reshuffle of officials over the past few months...nothing considerable has been achieved to improve administrative affairs in government departments, and there are still major irregularities....  Top government officials are only engaged in appointing new chiefs...and have not effectively tackled or reduced bureaucracy and corruption.."




State-run Herat based Etefaq-e Eslam (8/30) declared:  "The candidates' election publicity programs broadcast by television is a good opportunity provided by the joint election commission and [Herat] TV.  However, those candidates who appear on TV are unable to positively encourage people to vote for them....  We should tell these individuals that standing as a candidate is not an easy task....  People should also be aware that the person they vote for must, at least, be literate."


"Relations With India"


Independent Dari-language Erada (8/29) declared:  "The Indian government has generously assisted the Afghan government in its reconstruction efforts over the past three years.  The Indian prime minister's trip to Afghanistan will further strengthen relations between the two countries....  It is hoped that the Afghan government will be able to make optimum use of the assistance provided by the Indian government."


"India Prime Minister Visits Kabul"


State-run Hewad (8/29) opined:  "The Indian prime minister's current trip to Kabul is seen as a major historic event.  History shows that Afghanistan and India have always enjoyed friendly relations and close cooperation....  India has played an active part in Afghanistan's reconstruction over the past three years and has granted a sum of 500m dollars to Afghanistan so far....  It is believed that the Indian prime minister's trip will further strengthen friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries."


"Regional Importance"


State-run Dari-language daily Eslah (8/29) commented:  "The Indian prime minister arrived in Afghanistan yesterday....  It is almost 29 years since a senior Indian delegation has visited Afghanistan....  His trip takes place precisely in the run-up to the Afghan parliamentary election....  The Indian prime minister's visit to Afghanistan shows that neighbouring countries are committed to ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan and have realized that helping Afghanistan is tantamount to helping establish peace and security in the region.  With this in mind, it is hoped that other neighbouring countries will also contribute to the reconstruction process in Afghanistan."


"Power Sharing"


Independent weekly Mardom (8/29) declared:  "What is needed in the current critical situation is a fair distribution of power among the major ethnic groups and unanimous efforts on the part of all security departments....  Afghanistan's political leaders should learn from the faulty patterns of a century of power being distributed unfairly...and should create the conditions for the participation of all ethnic groups and move towards delegating authority."


"Cultural And Scientific Deprivation" 


Independent daily published by the Association of Young Journalists of the Herat Faculty of Literature Pagah (8/29) noted:  "The size of the media and the number of publications have increased significantly since the downfall of the Taliban...but have they fulfilled their duties well or devised proper programs to improve the general awareness of the people, who have suffered from cultural and scientific deprivation for many years?  No, never.  The majority of people working in the media lack journalistic knowledge and skills...  Moreover, the younger generation is only interested in entertainment programs rather than educational programmes."     

"Kidnapping People Is Contrary To Islam And Afghan culture"


Habibollah Momand commented in Kabul's independent Arman-e Melli in Pashto (8/29):  "The Taliban kidnapped a Lebanese engineer working for a Turkish construction company in Zabol Province a few weeks ago....  The Taliban once again proved that they do not have any belief in Islam and Afghan culture.  The Afghan people have suffered three decades of troubles and their country has been destroyed.  Now they have got the opportunity to rebuild their economic, political and social lives and enjoy the international community's support in this regard.....  The fact is that those calling themselves Taliban are either deceived by Afghanistan's enemies because of their ignorance or have sold themselves out to the historic enemies of Afghanistan.  For a true Muslim and Afghan will never try to disrupt Afghanistan's reconstruction.  It is clear that the Taliban receive instructions from others.  Three years ago, Pakistan tried to destroy Afghanistan.  It cannot tolerate the presence of a self-sufficient Afghanistan in the region.  Pakistan believes it will suffer damage and will lose control of its Pashtun and Baluch regions if Afghanistan stands on its own feet.  Then Afghans living on both sides will join each other.  Afghanistan is now moving towards peace, prosperity and democracy.  We are on the threshold of the parliamentary election.   Afghanistan has relations with the entire world and has signed declarations on strategic partnership with some strong countries of the world.  This will help Afghanistan restore its position and emerge as a strong, prosperous and self-sufficient country in the international community....  Do the Taliban not know that Allah said: Those who intentionally kill a pious Muslim will be put in hell forever."   


"The Taliban Will Not Disrupt The Elections"


Kandahar Tolu-e Afghan in Pashto (8/28) editorialized:  "A few days ago, the international media announced that the anti-government Taliban have said they will not disrupt the elections scheduled for September.  The elected Afghan government, candidates and civilians appreciated what the Taliban said.  It is fighting that sets our houses on fire....  There is no family in this country that has not been effected by the last two and a half decades of war....  Now, Afghans have an elected government under the inspiring leadership of President Hamid Khan Karzai and every Afghan has benefited from the rights that the constitution has given him/her.  Our people have the rights to either nominate themselves for high-level government posts or elect those who they think fit for those positions.  Every Afghan who considers him/herself a real Afghan, supports the current state....  There is a great difference between the previous government and the one that is in power at present and this is something everyone knows.  This is a golden opportunity that we can freely vote for the candidates of our own choice as thousands of candidates campaign in the elections.  Anti-government elements should stop assassinating innocent Muslims.  They should surrender to the supervision of the international community and join the political process, if they want to achieve their goals.  They must understand that the use of guns only means the destruction of their own home and it will stop the country's development process.  Every Afghan must know who were the victims of the previous wars and who took advantages.  Those who still try to assassinate people and spread fear, in fact have no reason to do that, so they should come and join the process through the National Understanding Campaign.  They must know that it is the enemy that tries to take advantage of the situation and destroy our country.  May God destroy those who want to destroy us?"


"National Army In Comparison To The Past"


Kabul's Independent Arman-e Melli editorialized (8/27):  "Today's national army not only fails to adhere to national values but is quite unfamiliar with them.  The soldiers receive dollar salaries and is commanded by NATO, and does not answer to the Ministry of Defense.  As victims of political prejudices of disloyal authorities, many people who were educated in different military fields were mercilessly removed from their posts....  Instead of reconstructing and strengthening the national army, the government is destroying it.  By making an unexpected decision, the government destroyed the all important and strong defense units including air reconnaissance and strike units, rocket units, artillery units, radar units, tank units, those that once shook the belligerent neighbors and had a decisive role in the Afghan defense force....  Making such harmful decisions and issuing such orders is worrisome in a country that does not have a defense force and is dependent on foreign troops.  Such hasty measures that are taken against the will of the people and throws the independent defense of Afghan territory into doubt, not only brings shame and incompetence, but underestimates the historic defense force of the country that enjoyed strong and victorious armies.  Setting up and funding a puppet army in a war-stricken and poor country like Afghanistan is militarily and logically wrong.  How will the national army be funded and with what patriotic zeal it will defend security and our national values once international assistance stops flowing into the country and when the ISAF and American forces leave in the future?  Instead of going into reconstruction, hundreds of millions of American assistance is wasted in the army or other military programs."


"Is The National Solidarity Program Being Implemented In A Balanced Way?"


Kabul state-run Eslah in Dari (8/25) commented:  "The Ministry of Rural Development invited to Kabul more than 350 representatives from tens of thousands of villages and, in the course of a four-day seminar, and described the National Solidarity Program to them.  Having been launched more than two years ago in Afghanistan, the National Solidarity Program has planned 10,000 projects in Kabul.  Some of those projects have been implemented in some villages.  The whole country was severely damaged over the past crises, but it was the villages that sustained the heaviest losses, and they are facing numerous problems.  Most of the Afghan villages are deprived of drinking water, transport, clinics and many other basics of life.  According to the statistics published by the Ministry of Rural Development, the reconstruction process and the projects of the National Solidarity Programs are being implemented in a balanced way.  Badghis is a poor province full of sick and unemployed people.  In spite of the huge magnitude of the problem there, only 45 projects have been registered as completed.  In comparison to this province, the projects launched in Bamian seem many, 248 projects have been implemented in Bamian.  Some remote districts in provinces are deprived of transport and health services and drinking water, there is not even one bed or a doctor for 5,000 people in some districts.  So, the Ministry of Rural Development should first focus its assistance on the regions that need more and the regions that have been deprived of the most basic facilities.  The ministry should assign honest and committed people to the implementation of its projects in the provinces, otherwise people will be deprived of the benefits of the big program." 


"Thirty Five Are Killed And...Wounded Every week"


Kabul's Independent Cheragh in Dari (8/25) declared:  "Security is the main pillar of a government in any country.  It is under the aegis of security that government can duly establish other foundations.  To restore security, there is a need for experienced and well-equipped armed forces.  The better the defense and security forces are equipped, the better security would be.  The better the Afghan government achieves security with the consultation of its international friends, the more it can come to the conclusion that is should differentiate between al-Qaida and the Taliban.  The government announced that, except for 150 of them, all Taliban members were granted amnesty.  They were even allowed to be present in the political arena....   Security has not however improved so much in spite of the strong presence of the coalition forces, NATO and the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the announcement of general amnesty.  There are always reports of clashes and killings and injuries of the enemy and government forces....  So the Afghan government, in cooperation with its international friends, should seek other approaches to the restoration of peace and stability.  They should believe the people and give them a share in the security restoration process.  They should be invited to cooperate.  The Afghan people have got more experience than any national and international soldier and officer over the past three decades of war.  They know how to restore security in their land, identify their enemies and destroy them.  They do so only if they become confident that the central government respects national unity."


"Taliban, Al-Qaida Danger Still Not Eliminated"


Kabul Thubat Weekly in Dari (8/3):  "The Taliban regime collapsed as a result of attacks by American B-52 bombers.  However, despite the heroic and brave resistance of the mujahidin and despite the anticipation and prognostication of foreign and domestic politicians and policy makers regarding the annihilation of the Taliban and al-Qaida, when we look into the events of the recent past and those that are currently taking place in different parts of our country and in the world at large, these events reflect the fact that the Taliban system has not been annihilated as expected, and the Al-Qaida terrorist organization, in spite of its leaders being encircled in the border regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, has not been suppressed....  The reality is the re-emergence of Taliban rule in Afghanistan would become a real possibility if a situation develops which gives the coalition forces reason to leave Afghanistan....  We have to explain to the people that whatever they say is wrong, as they follow the wrong interpretation of religion and Islam; the people should not be deceived by them, and should avoid cooperating with them.  We can also fight against them by way of implementation of the tenets of Islam and religious rule and the prevention of the desecration of religion in the country....  Such a fight against the Taliban would be very quickly effective if we imparted consciousness to our youths and make them understand that the killing of innocent people is not permitted in Islam.  With that understanding they could not be deceived by the Taliban and would avoid following them and that is where we would deal a shattering blow to the Taliban's false edifice of religious authority."


THAILAND:  "Afghans Choose Democratic Road" 


The lead editorial in the top-circulation, moderately conservative, English-language Bangkok Post read (8/29):  “The war in Iraq has largely overshadowed the conflict and struggle that marked the beginning of the controversial war on terrorism.  There has been much achieved, amid undoubted setbacks in Afghanistan.  Most importantly and tellingly, the elected president is conducting a second election for the first post-war parliament....  It is easy to be a pessimist.  Afghanistan has become the world's largest opium supplier again, warlords continue to defy Mr. Karzai and the Taliban roam parts of the country almost freely.  But neither security nor democracy can happen quickly.  The test of success in Afghanistan, as in every developing democracy, is the continued progress toward the target of a freely chosen, accountable government.  Parliamentary elections are a crucial part of that process, not a final or decisive moment....  There are many roads to failure in Afghanistan, but so long as the country and its leaders keep their eye on the goal, there is little chance they will fall back into the dark days of uninformed and manipulative rule again.”




CANADA:  "Afghans Embracing Democracy"


The conservative Montreal Gazette commented (8/30):  “Most astonishing of all, in a country where four short years ago women were attacked in the street for daring to appear without a burka, there are 582 women running for office.  Such enthusiasm for public office would be remarkable in a country where calm prevails and no one has to put his or her life on the line when they go out to press the flesh.  But Afghanistan is neither peaceful nor very safe....  But the fact remains that it takes an enormous amount of courage to run for office in the Afghanistan of today.  Women are especially vulnerable....  If women are to take their rightful place in Afghan society, it is critically important that women run for office, and that once elected, these women have their share of power....  Afghanistan needs a parliament.  It needs a forum where solutions to its enormous problems can be hammered out....  The international community should stand united behind Afghans.  By registering to vote in the millions, by running for office in the thousands, Afghans have taken control of the election.  Next is to take control of their country.”


BRAZIL:  "Elections Put Democratic Advance At Stake"


Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo's Paris correspondent Giles Lapouge remarked (8/27):  “The war in Iraq and the U.S. Army's suffering in that nation have relegated Afghanistan to a secondary importance....  The analysis has been that although George W. Bush's action in Iraq has been disastrous, the attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan was a success.  A proof of this are the parliamentary elections considered a triumph for democracy.  Nothing could be more false.  The elections involve high risk. The process is absolutely corrupted....  It is clear now that the elections will be won by the clan leaders, the rich, the gangsters.... The U.S.’s main ally in the region is India.  The Pakistanis know very well that their alliance with the U.S. is ephemeral.  Washington has already chosen India.  As a result, the Pakistani military (who are already very sympathetic to Islamic militants) have a reason to pressure American soldiers in Afghanistan by supporting the Taliban and closing their eyes to al-Qaida and Islamic guerrillas.  All Islamic wars, even when separated, communicate with each other and mutually support themselves.”


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