Parliamentary Election and Women's Greater Interests

With less than three weeks to September's historic parliamentary election, despite security concerns, Afghan women have shown deep interest in participating in the parliamentary election. There had already been a marked increase in women's voter registrations, especialy in the troubled southern and southeastern provinces where only a few women had registered during the presidential election last year. It is very encouraging that after so many years without any elections in Afghanistan, greater women's participation is at a pretty high level. According to the JEMB joint electoral management body, of the over 12 million registered voters in Afghanistan today, more than 40 percent of the total were female. Registration of Afghan women increased by 35 percent in the troubled southern province of Uruzgan and 23 percent in Helmand province. The most interesting registration was in Ajristan district of Ghazni province where no women registered during last year's presidential election but this year 13,000 women registered. In the Desho district of Helmand province only one woman registered last year for the presidential election, but this year 1,361 women registered for the parliamentary election. In some other southern provinces like Khost and Paktia, greater numbers of women registered and dozens of women are standing as candidates themselves for the parliamentary election.

Out of 5,800 candidates to stand for the Wolsi Jerga {lower house of parliament} and provincial councils, 582 are women. Afghanistan is one of the 20 countries in the world which has verified 27 percent of women representation in the parliament. Security concerns kept away many women to start their campaign especially in the troubled provinces. In the capital Kabul, despite warnings from the enemies of freedom, dozens of women have started their campaign. Everywhere you go you see the posters of men and women candidates stuck on the buses, taxis, walls, and on the trees in some rural areas, particulary in the southern provinces. Women voters can not even attend public meetings. This forces female candidates to meet women inside their homes if they want to compaign and make speeches. While most candidates had vowed to run election despite the threats, in some troubled areas a number of candidates have indicated that they will not carry out any campaign activities due to security concerns and threats against their life and some of these candidates campaign inside the mosques and schools.

In some villages authorities have begun shows to teach ordinary people to encourage them to vote and to explain the process and also the importance of the election and it's benefits. There are theaters on radio and television for people and these theaters play a key role to reach out to the ordinary people. These shows are very useful, especially for ordinary people, because it tells them what the election means and also provides good entertainment and fun for the these people.

People of Afghanistan show a great interest to participate and vote for the upcoming parliamentary election. They know it is a great step towards democracy after almost three decades of war in the country.




Rampant Killing

The enemies of peace and stability intensify their attacks in Afghanistan ahead of its first parliamentary elections next month. Every day the terrorists cowardly kill innocent people under the name of spying for U.S Army and working for the government. In recent months the Taliban have killed dozens of innocent civilians such as religious scholars, village leaders and pro-government officials in different provinces such as Uruzgan, Zabul, Helmand, Paktia, Ghazni and Khost and once again show their cruel faces to the Afghan people. Over the past 7 days the rebels killed more than 10 civilians including a woman who was killed in front of her family, accused of spying for the U.S military in Zabul province. In another incident in Helmand province the enemies of peace beheaded 5 civilians accused of facilitating the government and in the same incident they killed two people in Ghazni province on Thursday evening, accusing them of spying and facilitating the U.S-led coalition forces. On Sunday the rebels killed a religious scholar with one of his fellows in Kandahar province and they killed another parliamentary candidate on Saturday.

The Afghan people believe that the Taliban who committed high crimes against the Afghan people during their regime are still committing crimes and they are crueler than before and they obey their foreign bosses and under their orders they kill innocent Afghans which in against humanity and against Islam. Meanwhile the Taliban spokesman Abdul Latif Hakimi said yesterday that the Taliban fighters will not attack polling stations during the parliamentary election but he vowed that they will continue war against the government and U.S-led coalition forces. On one hand the Taliban condemned the election and kill candidates and warn people not to take part and vote during the parliamentary elections, but on the other hand they announce that they will not attack the polling stations. We should not trust them because if they are honestly not attacking the polling station then they should stop killing the religious leaders and village elders and other civilians - otherwise people will not be deceived. General Azimi, the spokesman of the Defense Minister, welcomed the Taliban announcement and said it is a big change in Taliban policy. Meanwhile the US military spokesman referred to the announcement as a positive step.

I think we must not believe the Taliban's word. They said they will not attack the polling stations but in the meantime they say that they will continue their attacks against government and coalition forces which means they will also attack the polling stations. The Taliban say this because they are not strong enough to attack and disrupt the election. During the presidential election they said they will attack the polling stations but the election ended peacefully. This time we have even more security forces. NATO deployed extra forces to help with security during the election. We hope the Afghan National Army, National Police together with coalition forces tighten security all over Afghanistan so people can vote in a peaceful environment.




24 Afghan Policemen Wounded in Two Different Mine Blasts

One Afghan policeman was killed and 16 others were wounded when a roadside bomb hit their vehicle on Wednesday in the southern city of Kandahar. According to the Kandahar police the blast hit the police convoy while it was passing a bridge in a crowded area of Kandahar city. Officials said it was a remote control bomb which was planted and conducted by Taliban insurgents but no Taliban members immediately commented on the incident. A day earlier on Tuesday in a similar attack eight policemen were injured as their convoy ran over a land mine in the troubled Uruzgan province. Jan Mohammed Khan, the Governor of Uruzgan, confirmed the blast and said the mine was planted by the Taliban rebels recently and detonated by remote control. Meanwhile the Taliban spokesman Latif Hakimi accepted the responsibility for the incident and said that the Taliban fighters were behind the attack. Two U.S soldiers were wounded in a clash with Taliban insurgents in the eastern province of Kunar according to a statement from the U.S. military in Kabul. Hundreds of U.S. Marines and Afghan special forces are trying to take control of a remote mountain valley from insurgents tied to the deadliest attack that killed 19 U.S soldiers in June. 3 Navy soldiers were killed in an ambush and 16 soldiers were killed on a helicopter that was sent to rescue the Marines. Southern and south-eastern parts of Afghanistan have been the scene of deadly attacks by the Taliban insurgents. Since the beginning of this year over 500 people, mostly militants including insurgents, Afghan forces and coalition forces as well as pro-government officials have been killed.




10 Taliban Fighters Killed, 14 Captured

At least 10 Taliban insurgents were killed and 13 others were detained in the past three days during a cleanup operation in Paktia province, according to the press release of Defense Ministry. Soldiers of the Afghan National Army {ANA} killed six suspected Taliban rebels and captured 13 others in the troubled southeast Paktia late last week. The statement said the cleanup operation which started on Thursday ended successfully, killing six Taliban and arresting 13 others in Paktia province. The troops of the Afghan National Army also seized thirteen assault rifles from the militants.

At least three other Taliban militias were killed and one was arrested Friday in Deh Rahwod district of southern Uruzgan province during a clash between Taliban insurgents and Afghan National police in which two Afghan National police were wounded. The fight occurred when Afghan and U.S. forces patrolling in the area came under attack from an unknown group of rebels. During the incident a rocket-launcher and some small arms were also seized.

Meanwhile one insurgent was killed by a roadside bomb while he was setting the explosive device in the way of an Afghan and U.S. military convoy south of Kabul. His target was Afghan and U.S military convoy but he was not lucky and he was killed by his own bomb before he harmed the joint convoy. Afghan and U.S forces are fighting successfuly against the enemies of Afghanistan in recent operations. The Taliban vowed to derail the parliamentary election which will be held on 18 September. Therefore they have intensified their attacks against the Afghan government and coalition troops. We hope that our National Army troops with the help of coalition forces will continue to fight the enemies of peace and stability until the nation is free of enemies, so our nation will have a safe and bright future.




Taliban Assassinate Afghan Woman

Taliban rebels gunned down a woman in the Mizan district of Zabul province Tuesday night on a charge of spying for the US military, a government official said on Wednesday. Some armed Taliban rebels entered the house of the lady during the night in Mizan district and killed her in front of her family and took the father and brother of the accused woman to an unknown location. He refused to give more details. Taliban spokesman Latif Hakimi took responsibiliy for the incident and said that Taliban fighters took two family members of the lady into custody.

Suspected Taliban rebels have killed many goverment officials, religious leaders and Afghans working for the Americans and coalition forces in the form of interpreters and contractors. Over the past two months over 10 pro-government religious scholars and influential leaders have been killed on charge of espionage for the US Army in Afghanistan. It is the first time that the Taliban have executed a woman on charge of spying and supporting the Afghan government and US presence in Afghanistan. The remnants of the outsed Taliban regime called on people to stop working for Americans in Afghanistan or face death.

Three days ago Taliban suspects killed the head doctor of Under district of Ghazni province who was a candidate for the provincial council in Ghazni province. After the attackers shot him the villagers took arms and open fired on the attackers and one innocent villager was killed and two attackers were wounded and they were captured by locals and handed over to police. But two other attackers escaped from the area. In an interview the provincial police chief said that after the incident he went to hospital and met the two injured Taliban and asked them why they killed the doctor. He was not a goverment official and he was not an Army officer - instead he was a doctor and he was helping people and he was not an armed man. Was it good to kill a civil servant? One of the patients replied "I don't know - our commander ordered us to kill him". Eight parliamentry candidates have been killed so far in different parts of Afghanistan by the rebels.

I totally agree with the provincial police chief - it is very cowardly to kill innocent people, especially civil servants like doctors, teachers and other civil servants. I apperciate the district people's effort in fighting the rebels. I hope all Afghans in different parts of the country help police and coalition forces to prevent such attacks in the future.




Pakistan Closes Afghan Refugee Camps

The government of Pakistan recently announced Afghan refugees living
in their capital city, Islamabad, as well as the nearby Rawalpindi
city, will all be moved to camps in Pakistan or repatriated back to
Afghanistan because of security concerns. According to Pakistani
sources over 100,000 Afghan refugees have been living in the twin
cities of Islamabad and and Rawalpindi Despite hundreds of thousands
of Afghan refugees having returned home, still some 3 milion Afghans
are living in Pakistan. According to Pakistani interior ministry
officials, these refugee camps provide easy shelter for criminals like
robbers and terrorists, so the refugees living in those two cities
will be shifted to other camps elsewhere in Pakistan, or sent back to
their homeland under the assistance of the United Nations High
Commission for refugees.

A UN spoksman on Friday said Pakistan had decided to shut down all the
Afghan refugee camps in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, and also from the
country's tribal region bordering Afghanistan, by August 31. He added
that approximately 105,000 refugees will be sent back to Afghanistan
with the closure of all 32 camps located in the tribal region. The
spoksman said that Pakistan's government cited security reasons for
the closure of these camps. Afghan embassador Nangiali Tarzai, in a
meeting with Pakistani interior minister Aftab Shirpao, requested them
not to repatriate Afghans living in Islamabad and other areas. He also
urged Pakistan to consult with the U.N. and repatriate the
refugees voluntarily under the agreement signed between Pakistan,
Afghanistan and the UNHCR three years ago

Milions of Afghans immigrated to Pakistan after the Soviet invasion
and during civil war, and many of them settled in camps scatterered
across Pakistan. After the U.S. military operation ousted the Taliban
regime from power in late 2001, almost 3 milions of Afghan refugees
have been returned home.

Many Afghan refugees are against the pakistan goverment's decision and
they are not ready to come back to Afghanistan. The current situation
is bad because there are no shelter facilities for refugees in
Afghanistan so it is really hard for them to afford living in
Afghanistan. But according to some eyewitnesses, the Pakistani police
harass Afghan refugees, and sometimes take money from them, according
to some refugees who recently came back to Afghanistan. Many Afghan
refugees would love repatriate back to their homeland but in a time
when they are ready.

In the current situation they are not ready to come back. The
government of Pakistan should not force Afghan refugees to leave
Pakistan it is against the agreements that were signed three years ago
between Pakistan, Afghanistan and U.N. Under that agreement the
government of Pakistan agreed that the repatriation would be voluntary
and Afghan refugees would not be forced to repatriate, but recent
decisions of the Pakistan government go against the agreement. There
is still year lelft before the agreement expires, and Afghans never
involved in any crime in Pakistan are being targeted.

Meanwhile many Pakistani criminals cross the border and fight against
the Afghan government and coalition forces. Yet Afghan refugees are
being force to leave Pakistan.

Every Afghan dreams to come back to their homland. We hope the
government of Pakistan change its decision and gives more time to
refugees so they can voluntarily come back to their country in a more
reasonable time frame.




Living Conditions in Afghanistan

Life has changed a lot for most Afghans since the Taliban was removed from power. During the Taliban regime most people were jobless, producing a very small economy. Foreign investors, as well as national investors, saw no benefit to invest their interests and money into a country that had so many economic, as well as political and social problems. However, after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, life has become considerably better for most people. This is due to growing peace and stabilty in the country. Most educated people who were jobless during the Taliban regime are now working in government organizations, foreign organizations, and the private sector. Some people are busy working in private businesses. Other people who are illiterate are now working in the construction field or making their own small businesses.
Life has also changed for me and my friends. Now most of my friends who were jobless work in different organizations. Other friends who were not able to continue their educaton under Taliban regime have gone back to complete their high school education. Some of them are now in their first year of college, and they are very happy in their new and changed lives. Everybody works hard and everyone is busy with new jobs and life situations.
Most young boys and girls are learning English; most schools offer English courses after regular school hours. Everyone now understands the importance of English (the international language). Many people learn English and computers to get a better job.
Some well educated people who graduated college but do not speak English, or understand how to use computers, cannot find a well-paying job. Other people who only have a high school diploma, earn better money then some university graduates, because they understand English and computers. This has shown the people how important it is to understand the English language and computers to gain a job easily in foreign companies and government organizations. Now, many older people with a university education are taking english and computer classes to keep their position at work, or to gain a better job. In some English calsses there are young boys and and girls learning English next to adult men and women; age is no factor in education and learning. Some people think it's strange for a 45 year old man to learn English. I personally think education is important for every age; there is no age limit for education.

Many new and modern markets have been built in downtown Kabul. Some of these markets are from 8 to 12 floors high. At some of these markets you can find clothes, shoes, and cosmetics. Other markets specialize in motor parts, electronics, and computer parts. A few markets are very modern and famous in Kabul City. The most famous market is named "Roshan City Tower", Kabul City Center; which was inaugurated last month, and its the biggest one. Here you will find internet facilities with power 24 hours a day and lift facilities.
The reconstruction process is going a bit slow - this is because of Afghanistan's still-weak economy. The Kabul-Kandahar Motorway is a big sucess in construction here in Afghanistan. Almost 50% of the construction work of the Kabul Paktia Motorway is complete. This motorway is very important for tansportation between Kabul and the southern provinces of Afghanistan. Work on the Kabul-Jalalabad motorway is also in progress. According to planning officials, the work on this project will be completed in 2007.
We are making progress in every field, but it will take time to reconstruct our entire beautiful country.


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