Thursday, 31 August 2017

The beauty of Kabul

On 8th, March, 2017, we travelled from Urumqi to Kabul on the flight of Ariana. In the sunset, our plane flew towards the sun, going through the sea of clouds that were gilded at the rim of them. A blue scarf following the hat of a hostess reminds us that a conservative Islamic country awaits us ahead.

It was dark when we got out of the airport. We were warmly welcomed by teachers from Kabul University and a gift for Women’s Day was brought to me by them on behalf of the Literature Faculty. Our perturbation along the way totally disappeared immediately by such a surprise. On the way to Kabul University, through the window, we saw the dilapidated, low adobe house in the dim light and the hotels with dazzling neon lights in sharp contrast. I cannot help but sigh: "The nightlife seems so diversified! “Those are just wedding halls here” said the local teacher named Wen Pu in Chinese who accompanied the Chinese Director to pick us up from the airport. We all praised his the good Chinese name which sounds so culturally elegant. While talking, we closely looked at the outside in the hope of spotting some views worth visiting for the coming days. We don’t see the rabbles and ruins left behind by the wars took place here, neither have we seen the historical sites created by its 3000 year-old civilization. Obviously, it is hard for foreigners to find things to amuse their romantic souls among these basic facilities for subsistence.

Teacher Wen Pu got out of our car to ask the guard to let us in when it pulled off at a distance around 7 to 8 meters to the fully closed gate of Kabul University. The guards inside warned him not to move any further in shouts, however, he went straight forward the muzzle of his gun, just neglecting him. The guard aimed at him with his gun charged while warning in shouts. Teacher Wen Pu stepped back to the car and we hold our breath and dare not to make any slight move. The scene appeared to freeze the air. “ There was terrorist attack today. Many people died so they are so much frightened.”Explained Wen Pu after stepping back to the car. We were finally allowed in after a long talk over the phone.

The decision to come to work in Afghanistan is kind of out of impulse of adventure and the enchanting depiction of Kabul in Babur biography:

Kabul is not a big city. It is surrounded by mountains from the east to the west and it looks like a rectangle. The castle of Kabul is against the mountains and ranches are scattered on the mountains. In the south of the castle and the east of the Kabul Hill there is a huge Lake whose circumference is about 2 km. There is a river from Kabul Hill flowing to Kabul city, and its two branches are in the vicinity of KurKina ...

After the vivid depiction of the beauty of Kabul, the great Emperor thought it was still not t enough to be sensational and he then quoted the poem by Mullā Muḥammad.Talib.Muaimai to confirm its beauty:

Having a drink in the mansions of Kabul, one shall make a toast to the surrounding,

Since there are mountains,rivers,townships and pastures.

Over the years, people see nothing more than wars and terrorist attacks, as well as extreme poverty and chaos left behind by wars on television.

I am not convinced, there must be always something good, I think.

Kabul in Hindi means the" trading center ". The merchants gathered here the commercial city from China, India and Rome. Today it is desolate; once upon a time, flowing through the Kabul River in Kabul, early spring season attracted a large group of crane and egrets to habitat, The mermaid ducks, the numerous fish are the resources people live on, and now the river is filled with rubbish; we walk in the street there are always elderly, women and children stretching out "the never retracts the hand ".They begged the eyes is so stubborn, so that you cannot refuse.

With the development of the work, the deterioration of the situation, there is almost no possibility for us to go out of the campus. Every day we go nowhere other than office and home. A long dirty road and the trees on both sides of it, the garden, the wasteland seems to appease our lonely heart and the grasses change the colors with the seasons, the first open is the wild tulips, although the varieties are not Babur Said thirty-two, three as many, but that colorful color enough to make me feel pleasantly surprised. Of course, more varieties should be seen in the Dashti-Shaikh. Tulip withered, the room before the house on the open in full bloom of a sea called Kazakh layli saffron, swaying, so delicate. After a spring rain, the roadside cloves and locust trees are quietly open, the air filled with intoxicating fragrance. Discouraged by the fragrance of Sophora japonica gradually fading away and I found the campus where the roses have been budding!

Saib-e-Tabrizi, the famous poet in the 17th century once wrote:

Ah! How beautiful is Kabul encircled by her arid mountains

And Rose, of the trails of thorns she envies

Her gusts of powdered soil, slightly sting my eyes

But I love her, for knowing and loving are born of this same dust

My song exhalts her dazzling tulips

And at the beauty of her trees, I blush

Babur also said that Kabul climate is pleasant, there is no other place in the world there is such a good air elsewhere.

Just like Riley in McGillenn's eyes. Kabul's beauty is full of warmth for the souls to feel. Crescent rising night, I hang outdoors. The daytime summer heat is intolerable; however, the night is "from the Baltic Bay north wind" source, really comfortable. Look at the stars, the East has one of the brightest stars, I call it "Yultuzi Babur" (Babur Star). I think that the military genius who wrote his life in Uyghur was a Uyghur who remembered his performance. The stars rising from the east are so bright in Kabul's night sky, and the thousands of lights on the hills surrounding Kabul reflect the glory of the people into the sweet dreams.

My pen is hard to describe the beauty of Kabul's night sky. After a long time the sun goes down, you can still see the horizon of the mountain was dyed golden, while the mountain is gradually thickening of light and shadow. Pure sky floating with white clouds, with the darkness of the night, hidden in the lacquer stone deep dusk, this time, Kabul night because of melodious, high-pitched Bangke added a few peace and tranquility. During the month of Ramadan, the surrounding mosques, in addition to the rituals, also read the Qur'an for a long time.

Just as people have the same stereotype of Afghanistan, it should be a dry and rainy country. However, Kabul's rain is the most unusual, said under the next, crackling, moisten the vegetation, washed the dust, bit by bit is so precious. After the rain the Kabul air mixed with flowers and the fragrance of the soil, like the subtle Kabul girl, it is the mind waves.

Some people say that like a place, mostly because of the people there.

Morning and afternoon campus grass, flowers and men in college students sitting together to talk and discuss, like pearls scattered on the campus, their purity and elegance is so obvious, people cannot bear to remove their eyes. Slowly walked by their side, some people warmly greeted, soon as "Salam" closer to our distance.

Though the management of university is not rigid enough, the students that do not live on campus come to school to attend their courses every day at the risk of losing life. The calm attitude of students towards frequent terrorist attacks ongoing nearby influences us a lot. As long as the students dedicate to learning more, we would be always there teaching them no matter how the situation would became.

Compared with the young people in other war-troubled regions and countries, the students studying in Kabul University are promising and lucky. Since they have grown up during the post-war period, they have got the chance to study in such a beautiful university. They can freely talk to and get on with their opposite gender students. Enjoying the convenience of the internet, they are well-connected with globally with Facebook. And they share their personal life and emotions with people around the world who they have never met in good English so they become more tolerant and peace-loving than their parents. They can both fully development their individuality and pursuit the dream while observing the traditional rules. We have seen hope and vitality of this country from the young people.

While the Medias are focusing on poverty and chaos in Afghanistan, we have seen the building of homes and the opening of new shops welcoming people. Despite the very slow recovery of this country from hurt of the war and the emerging new threats, people are still praying and fasting and continuing their daily life in the sounds of explosions.

According to Wikipedia, hope, a terminology of emotions, is the positive production of sentiment and is also the response to events related with life and other factors such environment.

In the Greek saga, hope is the last thing left in the Pandora’s box. In a way, hope means no surrender to any difficulty. That’s to say when a nation is still in the belief of hope, she inclined to believe positive changes will take place even though negative incidents occurs frequently.

O, Kabul, the ultimate home of Great emperor Babul, wish you are always with hope side by side and hand in hand.

Authored by Gulinisha Jiamali, a guest teacher at Kabul University
Translated by Wang Jianfeng, a guest teacher at Kabul University

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Five infrastructure projects that survived Afghan wars and conflicts

Band-e Sardeh Dam
Located in the Ghazni province, the dam was constructed in the 1960s and provided irrigation for 13,000 hectares of land. Band-e Sardeh has a capacity of 259 million cubic meters of water. It has also plays an important role in flood control in the region. Land around the dam is under-cultivated at the moment, largely because of attacks on farmers from the Taliban. The Russians also built an airport near the dam, which is now used by the United States and its allies in their fight against the Taliban insurgents.

Salang Tunnel
Built in the 1960s, the 2.6 kilometer-long tunnel is an artery that connects Kabul with cities in northern Afghanistan. It is the only north-south tunnel in the country that is in use throughout the year. Around 10,000 vehicles pass the tunnel every day. It cut travel time from Kabul to northern Afghanistan by almost 62 hours. Moscow agreed to construct the tunnel under the Salang Pass on the Hindu Kush Mountains in 1955. Considered an engineering marvel, the tunnel, which reaches an altitude of 3400 meters above sea level, was thrown open to the public in 1964. It was the highest road tunnel in the world until 1973, when a slightly higher tunnel was built in the United States.

Kabul Polytechnic University
Established in 1963, the university has over 1500 students in seven faculties including chemical technology, geology and construction. According to its website, “the university building materials were given by the people of Soviet Union as gift to the people of Afghanistan. Engineers from Soviet Union and Afghanistan worked jointly.” The main building of the university was built in Soviet modernist style and the campus has several Socialist murals. The university came under heavy fire during the Soviet-Afghan war and was forced to shut by the Taliban. It has since been restored and reopened. A large number of the university’s faculty members were educated at the People’s Friendship University of Russia.

Afghanistan-Uzbekistan Friendship Bridge
Although not built with altruistic purposes in mind, the rail and road bridge, which was opened in 1982, is the only fixed transport link across the Afghan-Uzbek border. The bridge was built by the USSR to supply its troops in Afghanistan, and is featured in an iconic photograph of the last Soviet troops leaving the country. The Uzbek authorities shut down the bridge in 1997 when the Taliban was in power in Afghanistan. Reopened in 2001, it is one of landlocked Afghanistan’s main access points to the trade routes of Central Asia.

Mikrorayon (taken from the Russian word for micro-district, "микрорайон") is one of the most well known addresses in the Afghan capital. Located in western Kabul, construction of this complex of prefabricated residential buildings started in the 1960s. The ‘Khrushchevka’ buildings, which look like any of their counterparts in Russia and Eastern Europe, were built to bring the Soviet vision of modernity to the people of Afghanistan. The Mikrorayon did not just house the elite of Kabul, but was also home to the middle and working classes. A second wave of buildings was built in the 1980s when there was a larger presence of Russians in Afghanistan. In 2012, the New York Times, wrote that even though the Mikrorayon was “cramped, run-down and patched,” it still had “some of the most prized homes for Kabul’s educated and wealthier middle class.”


Sunday, 27 August 2017

Для активизации торговли через сухопутный торговый порт Чабахар правительство Ирана снизило таможенные пошлины для афганских бизнесменов на 80%

Как заявил иранский атташе по экономическим вопросам в Кабуле, Иран также готов предоставить Афганистану снижение таможенных пошлин на импорт через порт Чабахар на 75% и разрешить пользование складскими помещениями порта.

В настоящее время объёмы торговли между Афганистаном и Ираном составляют 1,5 млрд. долларов в год, однако основной статьёй торговли является закупаемое Афганистаном топливо.

L'Italia ha disposto un pacchetto di aiuti umanitari per alleviare le sofferenze della popolazione civile in Afghanistan

Per fronteggiare alcune delle crisi umanitarie più gravi, abbiamo disposto, tramite la Cooperazione Italiana, un pacchetto di aiuti umanitari dell’importo di 9 milioni di euro per alleviare le sofferenze della popolazione civile in diversi Paesi tra cui l'Afghanistan. E’ quanto ha affermato il ministro degli Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale, Angelino Alfano, specificando che l’attuazione degli interventi in questione verrà affidata “alle Agenzie delle Nazioni Unite e della famiglia della Croce Rossa Internazionale in prima linea nello sforzo umanitario, nonché alle Organizzazioni della società civile italiana presenti nei Paesi in questione”. In Afghanistan, grazie ad un finanziamento di 2 milioni di euro, la Cooperazione Italiana interverrà per garantire la fornitura di generi umanitari (tende e coperte) a famiglie vulnerabili nel Nord del Paese ed attività di medicina ostetrica di urgenza in favore delle donne rifugiate e sfollate. Quanto messo in campo sino ad oggi non esaurisce il nostro impegno umanitario in Afghanistan, ha sottolineato il Ministro Alfano.

Friday, 25 August 2017

L'Ambasciata d'Italia sconsiglia viaggi a qualsiasi titolo in Afghanistan

In considerazione della gravità della situazione di sicurezza e dell’elevato rischio di sequestri ed attentati a danno di stranieri in tutto il territorio nazionale, si sconsigliano viaggi a qualsiasi titolo in Afghanistan.
Negli ultimi mesi, in particolare, le condizioni di sicurezza hanno subito un sensibile deterioramento in tutto il Paese, incluse le principali città (Kabul, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Kunduz). Restano critiche le aree meridionali e sud-orientali ed è peggiorata la situazione anche nel nord e nell’ovest del Paese. E’ assai elevato il rischio di attentati nelle principali città, incluse la capitale ed Herat, e nelle altre zone del Paese, ai danni di obiettivi istituzionali o di strutture frequentate da stranieri (guest house, alberghi, ristoranti, uffici, abitazioni, veicoli, mercati, etc.). E' alto il rischio di attentati tramite IED (Improvised Explosive Device) posti lungo il ciglio delle strade, portati indosso da attentatori suicidi o caricati su automobili o altri mezzi motorizzati. I luoghi frequentati da personale internazionale a Kabul e i principali edifici governativi rappresentano obbiettivi privilegiati per attacchi c.d. "complessi" che prevedono l'esplosione di una autobomba o attentatore suicida seguite dall' irruzione di un commando armato. L'elevato numero di mine presenti nel Paese rendono estremamente pericolosi gli spostamenti al di fuori delle principali vie di comunicazione presenti all'interno delle aree urbane. Gli scontri con l'insorgenza talebana sono aumentati in numero, intensità e distribuzione geografica. Sono più frequenti gli attentati contro convogli e strutture militari Nato ed ANSF (forze di sicurezza nazionali afghane) e contro gli aeroporti. Si sono altresì verificati lanci di razzi sulle principali città, sul quartiere diplomatico nel centro di Kabul e contro basi militari internazionali.
AVVERTENZA: Ai connazionali - giornalisti inclusi - che, sotto la propria esclusiva responsabilità, decidessero nonostante il parere contrario dell’Ambasciata di recarsi comunque in Afghanistan, si raccomanda di contattare, sia prima della partenza sia dopo l'arrivo nel Paese, l'Ambasciata d'Italia a Kabul.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Bilateral relations between India and Afghanistan have been characterized by ‘friendly engagement’ and underscored by positive public perception in both countries

Bilateral relations between India and Afghanistan have been characterized by ‘friendly engagement’ and underscored by positive public perception in both countries; this has continued after the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government took office in May 2014. Even then, emerging realities in and related to Afghanistan necessitate innovative action from both countries in at least three key sectors: 1) Political 2) Economy and Developmental Partnership 3) Security.
Overall, over the past three years, political relations between India and Afghanistan have witnessed more flow than the perceived ebb. Both countries held national elections in 2014. The new dispensation in India treaded cautiously during the Afghan presidential election and also during the initial months of incumbent Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s presidency. The commonly held perception at that time was that this caution was due to President Ghani’s overtures to China and Pakistan. However, India demonstrated strategic patience and gauged developments; it continued with its developmental assistance and engagement in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, as President Ghani’s disenchantment with the establishment in Pakistan grew, he began investing relatively more effort towards strengthening Afghanistan’s relations with India. Since May 2014, several high-level visits have taken place between the Indian and Afghan governments, including those of India’s vice president, prime minister, external affairs minister, national security adviser (NSA), and minister of law and justice; and Afghanistan’s former president, incumbent president, chief executive officer (CEO), NSA, deputy foreign minister, and army chief. Recently, the Indian ambassador to Afghanistan met Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of the Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIG), soon after the latter signed a peace deal with the Afghan government. This was the first such interaction between the two sides, and given that Hekmatyar, who is now politically vocal and active in Afghanistan, has enjoyed the patronage of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) throughout his years as a terrorist, the meeting demonstrates New Delhi’s constructive approach towards the Afghan peace process. Moreover, it can also be viewed as part of India’s broader efforts to play a greater, more proactive and responsible role in the overall regional stability and cooperation.
The overarching theme of Indo-Afghan political relations over the past three years has been that of camaraderie and productive exchanges. To build on this and ensure continuity, it would be useful to diversify engagements/cooperation to multiple levels and formats.
Since 2001, India has spent US$ 2 billion on development assistance in Afghanistan. The past three years have seen continuity on this front. The previous government in New Delhi initiated numerous infrastructure projects in Afghanistan, including the construction of Route 606, the new Afghan parliament complex and the Salma Dam (officially, the Afghan-India Friendship Dam); the establishment of the Afghan National Agricultural Sciences and Technology University (ANASTU); and investments in small development projects and skill-building-related initiatives.
After taking charge in 2014, the Modi government ensured completion of key pending projects such as that of the parliament and Salma Dam – both of which Prime Minister (PM) Modi jointly inaugurated with President Ghani during his visits to Afghanistan in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Visas for Afghan businesspersons and tourists were further liberalized; 500 scholarships were announced for the children of the martyrs of Afghan security forces; restoration of the Stor Palace was completed. In 2016, India pledged an additional US $1 billion in assistance to Afghanistan. To overcome the obstacle of land contiguity posed by Pakistan, the India-Afghanistan Air Freight Corridor became operational in June 2017, which has shipped agricultural produce, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment etc.. Additionally, India has steadily been working with regional countries on developing landlocked Afghanistan’s connectivity to facilitate trade and movement of goods. In 2016, India, Iran and Afghanistan signed the Trilateral Agreement on Establishment of International Transport and Transit Corridor (the Chabahar Agreement) and by September 2017, India will begin shipping 35,000 containers of wheat to Afghanistan via Iran’s Chabahar port.
At present, bilateral trade between India and Afghanistan stands at US$ 700 million. New Delhi’s economic relations with Kabul have been overshadowed by the development partnership, which is characterized in part by the view that sustainable development in Afghanistan requires long-term investment in the country. Economic relations will eventually have to evolve into one where the trade and investment component is bigger in proportion than the aid money India spends in Afghanistan so that both countries can benefit. Currently, all sectors of the Afghan economy need a sustainable boost. These matters could be partially addressed by developing a conducive environment (for instance, ease of doing business on issues such as formalities and joint ventures) and encouraging businesses and educational institutions (both small and big) from India and elsewhere to expand their footprint into Afghanistan.
The telecom sector is a potent area of cooperation given India’s efforts in this sector in Afghanistan since 2001 and especially now given the NDA government’s Digital India initiative. Three months after India launched the South Asian Satellite, the Afghan Ministry of Telecommunications and Technology has reportedly requested India to launch a special satellite exclusively for its use. Cooperation in the textile sector too has potential. India’s textile market is expected to touch US$ 250 billion by 2019, and Afghanistan is looking to revive its textile sector. A visit by Ms Smriti Irani – India’s union cabinet minister of textiles as well as minister of information and broadcasting – who is popular in Afghanistan as a television actor – would be an excellent step in public diplomacy and useful to kick off cooperation on this front.
Bilateral engagement in security-related issues has seen continuity and some enhancement. Although India is hesitant to supply lethal weapons to Afghanistan, it delivered three unarmed Cheetal helicopters and four refurbished Mi-25 assault helicopters to the Afghan Air Force (AAF) in April 2015 and December 2016, respectively. In 2016 and 2017, New Delhi participated in multiple Russia-led regional multilateral meetings aimed at addressing the security situation in Afghanistan and its neighborhood, in addition to participating in other ongoing initiatives. Meanwhile, the new administration in the US may be considering different ideas regarding Indian participation in resolving the security situation in Afghanistan. India, too, is evaluating its options.
To that end, it might be useful for India to develop a framework of engagement that envisions human security in the broader ambit of security cooperation. Periodic consultations and exchanges could be held on short and long-term issues and involve Afghan local leaders, civil society members, police personnel and professionals from medical, telecom, education sectors. India enjoys tremendous goodwill in Afghanistan and New Delhi must try to find innovative and varied ways to enhance it, especially in the public diplomacy area. Cost-efficient methods could be explored for this purpose. Simple initiatives like visits by Indian cinema and television stars (even to promote their movies) could provide a sense of normalcy in the prevailing tense circumstances.

India can certainly ‘afford’ to be more proactive in Afghanistan, but proactiveness can be practiced smartly. India should demonstrate confidence strategically and also continue to engage with Afghanistan in its unassuming style.

🗓️Today on a street of 🇦🇫the 5th fastest growing City in the world.

We had the Taliban letter. Now we have the US strategic review. Time to get to work! Peace is Possible: EU Special Representative in Afghanistan

Donald Trump pledged support for Afghanistan and warned Pakistan for harboring terrorists. “America will continue its support for the Afghan government and the Afghan military as they confront the Taliban in the field,” Trump said in his address to the Americans yesterday 21 August 2017.

EU Ambassador F-M Mellbin

He said that the core pillar of the new strategy is a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions. “We will not talk about talk about number of troops or our plans for further military activities. Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on.” He said that it is up to the people of Afghanistan to take ownership of their future. “We will not dictate the Afghan people how to live or how to go govern their own complex society. We are not nation building again. We are killing terrorists.’ Commenting on Pakistan, Trump said that the U.S. can no longer be silent about its safe havens for terrorist organization, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond.” He warned that Pakistan has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists. “We have being paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars, at the same time they are housing the same terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change. And that will change immediately. No partnership can survive a country’s harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. service members and officials.” According to Trump, military power alone will not bring peace to Afghanistan or stop the terrorist threat arising in the country. “But strategically-applied force aims to create conditions for a political process to achieve a lasting pace. America will work with the Afghan government as long as we see determination and progress,” he said. Trump, however, noted that the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan is not unlimited and its support is not a blank check. “The government of Afghanistan must carry their share of the military, political and economic burden. The American people expect to see real reforms, real progress, and real results.” He also appreciated India’s contributions to stability in Afghanistan and called on it to do more especially in the area of economic assistance and development.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Singer Aryana Saeed talks about her concert

Americans are devising a new strategy to further destroy Afghanistan

In recent weeks, two major players in the private security industry proposed that Trump administration officials privatize U.S. military operations in Afghanistan to an unprecedented degree. Erik Prince, former owner of the now-defunct firm Blackwater Worldwide, proposed a scheme that would entail the appointment of a viceroy to oversee operations in Afghanistan, and the use of “private military units” to fill in gaps left by departing U.S. troops. Meanwhile, Stephen Feinberg—owner of DynCorp International, which holds numerous major U.S. government security contracts at present—similarly proposed that the Trump administration privatize the military force in Afghanistan, though his conceptualization of such a force calls for it to be placed under CIA control.
Luckily, Defense Secretary Mattis reportedly has so far declined both offers. Research overwhelmingly indicates that replacing U.S. military personnel with contractors is not likely to be a militarily effective solution for the Afghanistan problem.
First, research has shown that security contractors tend to decrease military effectiveness when working alongside regular military units in large numbers, primarily due to coordination issues fed by convoluted command-and-control systems and resentment and misperception between the two types of forces. Coordination problems between the military and contractor forces lead contractors to have a negative impact on the military’s integration, responsiveness, and skill when the two groups are co-deployed in the field.
Second, while security contractors operating on their own—free from any alliance with an extensive force of friendly military troops—have been shown in some instances to increase operational effectiveness and achieve tactical and strategic goals, this has primarily occurred when they have been sent into an area without clear state support. In such cases, they can operate covertly and with “plausible deniability” for the state actor supporting them, which may allow for looser interpretations of the norms of international humanitarian law. In other words, contractors can be effective, but it may not always be pretty. Notably, current Department of Defense policy mandates compliance with standards of behavior may preclude such activities—but may also explicitly preclude some of what Prince is proposing.
Perhaps more relevant in this case is the fact that the tactical and strategic effectiveness of contractors who are operating without longer-term military support typically lasts only as long as the contract is in place. In Sierra Leone, in the late 1990s, paramilitary firm Executive Outcomes was successful in securing enough of the country to hold the first free elections in thirty years, but the peacefully-elected president was then ousted in a coup within eighty-nine days of the contract expiration.
Third, in a counterinsurgency effort such as Afghanistan, U.S. military policy focuses on establishing legitimacy with local civilians. The use of armed contractors has been shown to be risky in this regard: a survey of 152 U.S. troops showed in 2007 that 20 percent of them had at times witnessed armed contractors performing unnecessarily threatening, arrogant or belligerent actions in Iraq. Similarly, nearly 50 percent of a sample of 782 surveyed State Department personnel who had experience working alongside armed contractors in Iraq showed in 2008 that armed contractors did not display an understanding of—or sensitivity to—Iraqi people and their culture.
Finally, there is the question of who would fulfill the contracts themselves. The Department of Defense already has a relatively large number of operational contractors working in Afghanistan (23,525 in total as of July 2017), and recent Department of Defense reporting indicates that contracted support requirements may increase based on pending troop-cap decisions. A small portion of that number (3,734) are security contractors and of those contractors, only 1,695 are armed and capable of paramilitary activity along the lines alluded to in the recent proposals by both Prince and Feinberg. From what labor pool, therefore, is the “private army” in question to be drawn?
Both recruitment and retention are critical here. At key points during the contracting surge in the early years of the Iraq War, private security company vetting and hiring standards varied and were at times relaxed in order to hire a large number of contractors quickly. A company’s recruitment policy could therefore affect the quality of the force.
Moreover, the labor pool for highly skilled contractors is limited, and both retention of such skilled personnel and their overall effectiveness could be hindered by deployment-related health effects: a 2013 study indicated that 25 percent of a large, multinational sample of contractors screened positive for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a rate higher than among civilians (6 percent have PTSD) or even U.S. service members (8–20 percent). Even more troubling, 23 percent of those who were deployed overseas at the time of the 2013 survey had probable PTSD, and most were not being treated for it. In contrast to the numerous mental-health resources available to members of the U.S. military, very few (if any) resources are available to help private contractors struggling with deployment-related mental health problems, and seeking help is highly stigmatized across this population. Research has found that untreated mental-health problems reduce productivity and attentiveness—setting the stage for decreased effectiveness and even the potential for harm in an operational environment if left untreated.
None of these research findings bode well for the long-term stability and security of Afghanistan if contractors are used to replace U.S. troops in the country. While operational contractors are now an entrenched part of the Department of Defense’s “total force” and are here to stay, large-scale privatization of the U.S. force in Afghanistan is unlikely to be effective.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Afghanistan becomes member of International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD)

Founded in mid 1928, ICOLD is an international non-governmental organization dedicated to sharing of professional information and knowledge of the design, construction, maintenance, and impact of large dams.
Afghanistan’s energy and water ministry in a statement said that the Paris-based organization had announced that Afghanistan had met the criteria for the membership with its solid programs for building dams and water management.
ICOLD totally has 100 members. The Afghan committee for the organization is led by Energy Minister Ali Ahmad Osmani. The organization assists nations in the development and management of water and hydro-power resources.

Ivo Toniut is an Italian Business Consultant - Expert of Afghanistan. He has been working in several infrastructure sector/sub sectors for nearly forty years, holding different management positions; business traveling in more than fifty countries across four continents, and acquiring knowledge of four languages besides Italian native. During almost four decades, he has gained a significant professional background consisting of a mix of technical, commercial, and legal skills. His experience, skills, his ability to adapt to any business environment (including in countries at war), his extensive network of personal and professional relations in Afghanistan, the Region and across the world, makes him a unique specialist and a reliable reference point for foreign companies willing to do business in and with Afghanistan by investing in, or trading with local companies.
Ivo Toniut helps foreign companies by providing business insights which enable them to optimize their operational performance in Afghanistan and neighboring countries.  

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Afghanistan: consultation held in Herat City to discuss international trade challenges

Afghan industry leaders, small business owners and representatives from the public sector met in Herat on August 13 to explore trade-related provincial challenges and solutions that can feed into the ongoing design of the country’s National Export Strategy (NES). 
The NES will provide a blueprint for competitiveness and development of the country’s export sector and strengthen links between export development and socio-economic growth. It will include detailed activities, targets and impact measures, indicating what exactly needs to be done, by whom and with what resources to improve the country’s export competitiveness. The event was jointly organized by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) and the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), with the technical support of the International Trade Centre (ITC). The consultation in Herat follows the first NES stakeholders’ consultation held in Kabul on 20-21 February and in Mazar-e-Sharif on 18 May. A major trading hub, Herat province plays a significant economic role in Afghanistan. It hosts a number of traditional and emerging industries, including sectors prioritized in the NES, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, dried fruits and nuts, marble and saffron. Between August and September 2017, further consultations will be held in Kandahar and Jalalabad, culminating in a second national consultation in Kabul. The provincial NES consultations are crucial in making sure that stakeholders beyond the capital are included in the design of the strategy. These consultations are complemented with factory visits to assess supply-side issues in prioritized sectors. The NES has strong support from both the government and the private sector, as it provides national and international development partners with an appropriate implementation plan for trade-related operations. Resource mobilization efforts will be developed in line with the strategy’s plan of action. ‘The project aims to strengthen the country’s trade capacity so as to capitalize on the recent accession of the country to the World Trade Organization’ and will contribute to enhancing the competitiveness of Afghanistan within the region,’ said Humayoon Rasaw, Afghanistan’s Minister of Commerce and Industry. Atiqullah Nusrat, Chief Executive Officer of the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: ‘This event is an essential breakthrough in capturing, advocating and addressing the challenges, opportunities, and aspirations of the private sector in the Herat region. This will contribute to render the National Export Strategy of Afghanistan even more relevant, inclusive and realistic’. The NES initiative falls under the auspices of the ‘Advancing Afghanistan Trade’ project, funded by the European Union, which aims to assist Afghanistan in improving the conditions to use trade as a lever for enhanced regional cooperation, economic and human development, and poverty reduction.

Monday, 14 August 2017

The President of Afghanistan orders Kam Air to transport fresh fruit to India

The President of Afghanistan, H.E. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, has stepped in to resolve the Afghan-India air cargo issues by ensuring that 120 tons of fresh fruit is transported to India every week. This comes weeks after long delays in air cargo that left tons of fresh fruits rotted at Kabul airport. Last week, the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) called the Afghan-India air cargo a “failed process” as at least 120 tons of fruit are waiting for loading for over two weeks. Traders had complained about cargo flight delays in July as well when their produce were left in a warehouse at Kabul Airport for three days. President’s deputy spokesperson, Dawa Khan Minapal, said President Ghani has ordered Kam Air to prepare a Boeing 737 within the next four days to transport fresh fruit to India. “Our first flight to India will start on 17th of August and we will have two flights per week to India, one from Kabul, another from Kandahar,” Tolo News quotes Farid Paikar, Kam Air deputy head. The first cargo flight from Kabul to Delhi, establishing air freight corridor, was received on June 19, 2017. Subsequently, cargo flight from Kandahar to Delhi arrived on June 24, 2017. The connectivity established through the Air Freight Corridor will promote bilateral trade; provide Afghanistan, a landlocked country, direct access to India; allow Afghan businessmen to leverage India’s economic growth and trade networks for its benefit; and enable Afghan farmers quick and direct access to the Indian markets for their perishable produce.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Afghan models show is time to break down barriers in the highly conservative society

Kabul hosted a catwalk ceremony on Thursday 10 August 2017 where more than two dozen models, including six girls, displayed the costumes worn by the various ethnic groups in Afghanistan. More than 200 spectators attended the fashion show and praised the models for representing the diversity of costumes in the multi-ethnic country. This was the third fashion show that Kabul has witnessed over the past one decade. Holding a fashion show in a conservative society and amidst Taliban-led militancy is a bold step. Fashion is probably the last thing someone would associate Afghanistan with. But to many people’s surprise, Afghanistan’s capital city Kabul was considered one of the fashionable cities in the 1920s-1970s–an era when Afghanistan experienced a rich culture and civilization and a long history of cultural exchange with the West. The fashion story of Kabul city, entitled “Afghan Adventure”, was featured on Vogue magazine’s December issue in 1969. The decades of war not only took away the western influence of fashion from Afghanistan but also destroyed many traditional fashion and style.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Afghanistan Pashto News 09.08.2017 د افغانستان پښتو خبرونه

Twenty women in northern Balkh province of Afghanistan have launched businesses with personal funds for resolving their economic problems

Balkh women open cookie factory with own funds. 
The opening of a cake and cookie factory is one of the women’s recent initiatives in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh. Twenty women running this factory hope their economic situation will improve. One of the shareholders, Marzia Ahmadi, told Pajhwok Afghan News she had devised the plan in collaboration with her other colleagues four months ago. She and 19 other women invested in the factory. “We faced some production problems in the beginning but most of them were gradually resolved,” Ahmadi said. They have hired a professional to manage production and they follow his guidelines. She added they managed all factory activities themselves without support from a third party. Masooma, another investor, said besides working at home, women should also get advantage of their abilities outside. She said they offered quality cakes and cookies to the market. Each of the shareholders earned around 4,000 afghanis a month from the factory, she said, adding they were certain their income would increase with the passage of time. The factory has been opened in a special women’s market in Mazar-I-Sharif where 56 shops are run by women shopkeepers. Habiba Amiri, representative of the market, told Pajhwok women sold their handicrafts and food products there. She asked the government to find international markets for Afghan women’s products. Afghan women needed to showcase their products in international markets, but they were unable to do so, she regretted. Provincial Women Affairs Director Shahla Hadid said they supported women in their business activities. She said they facilitated exhibiting Afghan women’s products in foreign countries. Problems in the advertisement area for domestic products need to be resolved, she concluded.

Assisting European businesses to enter Afghan market

Thursday, 3 August 2017

International Trade Centre helps Afghan businessmen to become more competitive in global markets

Afghan Government officials and private sector met in Kabul this week with representatives from the European Union and the International Trade Centre to take stock of progress on efforts to build Afghanistan’s capacities to participate in regional trade. The 31 July meeting gathered together members of the ‘Steering Committee’ of the Advancing Afghan Trade (AAT) project, an EU-funded initiative launched last November which aims to strengthen the country’s trade capacities so as to capitalize on the recent accession of the country to the World Trade Organization. The project supports Afghanistan to build trade policy, and trade facilitation capacity, as well as to develop trade and export strategies and strengthen product quality standards.
Participants used the meeting to plan activities for the year ahead.
‘Finalizing a national export strategy will be a top priority, to be followed by the implementation of its recommendations for reforms to catalyse export-led growth and job creation in promising sectors,’ said George Cunningham, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation in Afghanistan. ITC will support the development and implementation of the national export strategy, together with a national trade policy, and a strategy on trade facilitation. It will also assist the secretariat of the WTO Inter-Ministerial Committee, which operates under the leadership of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, to develop a detailed trade-facilitation action plan that will guide the reform process as Afghanistan implements the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement over the upcoming years. Additionally, ITC is assisting Afghanistan in the organization of regular bilateral consultations with other countries in the region to enhance bilateral trade through addressing issues related to tariffs and non-tariffs barriers. The project steering committee was established to support the project’s activities; monitor its implementation and progress; ensure that the project outputs respond to the country’s priorities; and advice on next steps. It comprises representatives of relevant ministries and state agencies, the EU, ITC and multiple business groups, such as the umbrella Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) and the sector-specific Afghan Women Handicraft Commercial Association and the Afghan Women’s Saffron Association (AWSA). The committee is jointly chaired by the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MoCI) and the ACCI. ‘The progress of the project is promising and MoCI will certainly provide its full support to ensure that this project contributes to enhance the competitiveness of Afghanistan within the region,’ said Humayoon Rasaw, Afghanistan’s Minister of Commerce and Industry. According to Jean-Sébastien Roure, who is managing the AAT project for ITC, one key accomplishment during the project’s first eight months had been multiple rounds of stakeholder consultations on the content of the future national export strategy, which had fostered broad consensus on key issues and sector-specific priorities. Important steps had also been taken towards developing an Afghanistan National Trade Policy (2017-2022) to guide the direction of the country’s trade policy for the next five years. He also highlighted the technical support provided to assist the Afghanistan’s WTO Inter-Ministerial Committee to progress in complying with its obligation to notify its trade facilitation commitments and technical assistance needs to the WTO secretariat, which Afghanistan is aiming to do by February 2018, in line with the deadline stipulated in the agreement. In the coming months, the project will support provincial consultations with business representatives in Herat and Kandahar on the content of the national export strategy; these will feed into a subsequent national consultation in Kabul, paving the way for the finalization of the document. Over a two-year period, the New Delhi-based Center for WTO Studies will train Afghan government officials, mainly from the MoCI, so as a build a cadre of experts in trade issues ranging from trade policy formulation and implementation to trade facilitation, investment, trade in services, regulatory reform and trade negotiation. Assistance will be provided to strengthen the skills of national inquiry points and the national notification authority on issues related to technical barriers to trade (TBT) and sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS), which will include training on the development, adoption and promotion of standards and other technical regulations. The Advancing Afghan Trade project is funded by the European Union and implemented by the International Trade Centre under the leadership of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MoCI). The project responds to the Afghan government’s efforts to use trade as driver of economic growth, regional cooperation and stability. Afghanistan acceded to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in July 2016 and has placed trade and regional economic cooperation at the heart of its development strategy. Its first action after acceding to the WTO was to ratify the body’s Trade Facilitation Agreement. To ensure local ownership and sustained impact, ITC will be working with a range of Afghan partners from the private sector, non-governmental organizations, academia and civil-society organizations.

Подписан контракт на улучшение водоснабжения в столице Афганистана

В Кабуле подписан контракт на реализацию проекта водоснабжения. В рамках контракта будет реализована первая стадия большого проекта водоснабжения общей стоимостью 72 млн. евро. Стоимость работ данного этапа составит около 11,4 млн. долларов США. Подрядчиком по проекту выступит глава 'Группы Мумтаз'  Б.Латифи а заказчиком, Корпорация городского водоснабжения и канализаций.Финансирование проекта осуществят Агентство международного развития США, а также EU.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Afghanistan’s National Power Company DABS warns Government Officials to clear their electricity bills or their names would be made public

Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), Afghanistan’s national power company, have warned government officials to clear their electricity bills amounting to seven billion Afghanis within the next 10 days or their names would be made public. “The list has been shared with the Presidential Palace, the Attorney General Office and the police headquarters to bring pressure on power bills defaulters,” said DABS spokesperson Wahid Tawhidi in an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News (PAN). According to the source, some government officials have “thrashed” DABS officers for giving the electricity bill. DABS have told a number of the defaulters to pay their arrears in installments in next 10 years, but they still have not cooperated. Last year, DABS shared the names of a number of defaulters with the media and as a result, managed to collect over 1.5mn Afghanis from the defaulters.

Afghanistan Railway Sector - Bidding opportunities

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Tuesday, 1 August 2017

A possible deal between Kabul and Washington on Afghanistan's mines cannot protect Afghan interests and would only benefit the U.S.

The delay in the announcement of the new Afghan policy of Trump-led US administration has fueled various assumptions about the future of Afghan-American relations. Although Trump was against the continuation of Afghan war before becoming the US president, his mind seems to have changed since then. While the Washington has not yet officially declared its Afghan policy, there have been reports that Trump is eyeing for the massive and untouched wealth of mineral resources of Afghanistan. According to reports of western media, the one trillion dollars worth natural deposits of Afghanistan have grabbed the attention of the White House, and Trump has been trying to prevent China from securing the mineral riches. Even though analysts view investment in Afghanistan’s mines as a need, they cast doubts on any possible deal with the United States about the country’s national wealth, believing that such deal cannot protect the interests of Afghanistan given the current US-Afghan ties. Sayed Akram Afzali, the Director of Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA), says the US and UK sometimes exert pressure on Afghan government to award mine extraction contracts based on their agreement and terms. As an example, Afzali mentioned the contracts of copper mines of Balkhab and Herat, gold mines of Badakhshan and Zarkashan in which the US and UK have exerted pressure on Afghan government. According to Afzali, the climate in Afghanistan was not conducive for mine extraction; however, many countries, including the US, have been trying to secure a share in Afghanistan's mineral resources. Sayed Akram Afzali also said key issues related to the country’s mining industry have been ignored while they should be prioritized by the government. Intizar Khadem, a political expert, believed the United States wanted to provide its spending on Afghan war from Afghanistan under the pretext of investment on Afghan mines. "The US president is known for making money, and he is a businessman. If he gets involved in wars, he tries to pay the expenses from the money earned from same place," Khadem added. Without doubt, the 300 various types of natural resources of Afghanistan weere very important for a president like Trump; however, the strategies employed by Americans could not meet the conditions of investment on mines, Khadem stated, adding that if Washington intended to invest in Afghan mining industry, Kabul should specify its share, and not give a free hand to Americans as in other political deals. The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP), however, said it would welcome the US or any other country wishing to invest in Afghan mines providing that such investment was based on the terms of Afghanistan.