Ex-Taliban leaders stand on Parlament

Former Taliban foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil along with four other former Taliban members have registered to be candidates in the Sept.18 parliamentry election. All five former Taliban members are running as representatives of southern provinces, which were strongholds during theTaliban regime. Mutawakil, the former Foreign Minister, and Mullah Khaksar, former Deputy Minister of the Interior, and other Ex-Taliban officials have nominated themselves for Parlamentary election. These few Taliban members are considered relative moderates. They have renounced the ongoing Taliban insurgency against the Afghan Government. They are trying to fill the country's new 249-seat parliament and help change their country by winning seats as independent candidates. The Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah welcomed the nomination of the taliban leaders in an interveiw saying, "These Ex-Taliban leaders who have nominated themselves as parliamentary candidates are ordinary Afghan citizens and under the Afghan constitution they have the right to take a part in political activities." According to the ISAF, a local radio station said on saturday two low-ranking Taliban officials have joined the ongoing national reconciliation process, Gul Amir and Mulla islam pledged to support the government's reconciliation efforts to bring permenant peace to the war ravaged country. Earlier this month two high-ranking Taliban leaders including Mullah Mohammed Nasim former Governor of Zabul, and Mufti Habibur Rahman, a famous commander of the Taliban had pledged their support to the Afghan gorvenment

The people of Afghanistan are happy with this political development. because thecoalition and Afghan forces and Taliban insurgents suffered numerous casualties over the past three years fighting each other. Many innocent people were killed during these clashes. Most Taliban members can join the peace process , With the exception of Mullah Omar and a few other Taliban members. President Karzai has mentioned this many times in his statements. He says we welcome all Taliban who want to join the reconciliation program; Karzai is continuing talks with the taliban for the sake of establishing peace in the country. The former US Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, and the commander of coalition forces in afghanistan also took a part in the talks,as a result, a number of Taliban commanders have stopped fighting against the government and surrendered themselves to the Afghan government.




Recent Anti-US Protests

The US-based magazine "Newsweek", in its 9th May issue, reported that some interrogators at the US detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba "in an attempt to rattle suspects, flushed the Holy Koran down a toilet". This news sparked an angry reaction from students at the medical college at a university in Jalalabad, the capital of Ningarhar province. The demonstrations which originally started in the eastern province of Ningarhar, spread throughout the country. In Kabuk, Kapisa and Takhar, the protests were calm and ended peacefully. But in Ningarhar, Wardak and Logar, the protests turned violent. A dozen buildings were destroyed and burned including the governor's offices. Several other government buildings were set on fire, plus dozens of vehicles and a number of offices belonging to the UN. The worst demonstration was in Ghazni where five people were killed. In Ningarhar, four were killed, and in Badakhshan three people were killed. Two people were killed in Badghis and Khost provinces and more than 130 people were injured, including Afghan security officials. In the latest reports, the death toll reached 17. According to the officials, some protestors were carrying guns and five people were arrested with explosive materials.

Demonstrations occurred in many large cities and small cities across Afghanistan in protest against the desecration of the Holy Koran by some US soldiers in Guantumana Bay, Cuba. Demonstrators demanded an apology from the United States and punishment for those who allegedly carried out the act of destruction and asked the US government to put on trial and prosecute and punish anyone found guilty of desecration. Such sacrilege was unacceptable to every Muslim. The American government officialy announced that it would conduct an investigation into this matter and promised to deal legally with the culprits found guilty. Investigations will be made to determine who was behind the demonstrations. Officials claim
that militant groups and outsiders were helping to stoke protesters. In my point of view the enemy's hand was behind the destruction and casualties. The people came to protest against the Holy Koran desecration, but there were some enemy among the people, who destroyed government and civilian property. I condemn the desecration of the Holy Koran, but I also condemn the destruction. People have a right to demonstrate, but not to destroy and cause problems for civilians and government.

I hope the government investigates to identify the "enemies of peace and stability" who are allegedly behind the violence, including the attack on the Pakistani consulate. Also, people in Ningarhar, Badakhshan and Gazni provinces have not ruled out the interference of mercenaries and said armed men from inside the protestors opened fire on police and law enforcement agencies. The enemies of Afghanistan should not take the recent demonstrations as a big acheivment for themselves. These violent protests do not reflect their popularity among Afghan people because none of the Afghan participants in the demonstration took part for their own sake. I think the demonstrations in some parts of Afghanistan were conducted by the Taliban, who turned it into violence because they still hide in some provinces. The worst violence happened in Ghazni and Ningarhar, and Taliban insurgents are hidden in these provinces. But they dont have influence in Kabul. In the northern provinces therefore, the demonstrations were more calm, and patriotic Afghans peacefuly participated in the rallies and expressed their dislike of those culprits who insulted their religion by desecrating the Holy Koran. They didn't come to murder and damage their own property.

If the Newsweek magazine's report turns out to be true, the criminals should be punished for their action. The Holy Koran desecration was carried out by few American soldiers, not by all Americans, and Afghanistan still wants a good relationship with the United States. The enemies wanted to take advantage of the recent demonstrations, but they failed, and the Afghan people will never be deceived by them.




Mujaddedi Backs Amnesty for Mullah Omar and Hekmatyar

The ex-Afghan president and the head of national reconciliation commission participated in a news conference on Monday and said that every Afghan can join the peace process, even Mullah Omar and ex-prime minister Gulbudin Hekmatyar. He called on Mullah Omar and Gulbudin to be included in an amnesty on the condition of observing the constitution. Mujaddedi, who leads the independent reconciliation commission for peace in Afghanistan, opined that the Taliban and Hezb-i-Islami heads were entitled to the amnesty process on condition that they shunned violence and pledged support for the new constitution and basic law of the country. Exception in the reconciliation process constituted the old policy of the government towards the Taliban leader Mullah Omar and the Leader of Hezb-i-Islami Hekmatyar. He stressed such checks would no longer be imposed on the fugitive leaders if they vowed to give up resistance and lay their weapons down. The head of the commission observed that individual who repented their past involvement in violence and promised to support the government and stay peaceful in the future could be forgiven. He pointed out 60 top members of the Taliban movement, including high level figures like foreign minister Wakil Ahmad Mutwakil and Mullah Omar's close confidant Abdul Wahid Baghrani had already entered negotiations with the government as part of the reconcilition process. The head of the independent reconciliation backed the inclusion of the two most wanted people in the current peace process.

Mujaddedi's remarks are totally at odds with the views of president Karzai and US Ambassador Khalilzad, who have expressly ruled out a pardon for Mullah Omar and Hekmatyar, and all those guilty of committing heinous crimes. Spokesman for the US military told Afghan news that neither Mullah Omar nor Hekmatyar qualified for a general amnesty meant for low-level and non criminal people associated with militant outfits. The US spokesman Col James said that Mujaddedi had not suggested forgiveness for the most wanted figures, and that he had been quoted out of context. The spokesman maintained the Afghan government fully appreciated and endorsed the terms set for the general amnesty. According to reports, the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has rejected an offer of amnesty and ordered his militia to keep fighting against the US and Afghan government. "We don't need any guarantee of safety from the government", Taliban spokesman Hakimi said. "We are not hiding Mullah Omar. Our leader is not hiding rather he is fighting". He said Omar had ordered Taliban fighters to battle on. Hakimi said, "On his orders we have increased attacks on US forces in recent weeks and will continue this".

Most Afghan people are against Mujaddedi's amnesty offer for the two most wanted people, and its not up to Mujaddedi to offer forgiveness for these criminals. These two are responsible for killing many innocent people and they must be punished for what they have done, and its very far from Mujaddedi's competence to make such a big offer. But Mujaddedi, the head of independent reconciliation commission, said Mullah Omar and renegade warlords Gulbudin Hekmatyar should be accepted back by the government if they renounce arms. "Our terms are that they lay down their weapons, respect the constitution, and obey the government. We don't have big conditions. President Hamid Karzai has not confirmed Mujaddedi's announcement, and it is not clear if president Karzai supports offering an amnesty to Mullah Omar and Hekmatyar - president Karzai has still not commented on the amnesty offer.




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Suicide Blast in an Internet Cafe

A suicide bomb blast in an internet cafe in Kabul killed three people, including a UN official from Burma, and injured five others at 5:50pm local time Saturday. According to some eyewitnesses, the blast hit the internet cafe immediately after an unusual suspect stepped into the cafe. Around 15 people, including three foreigners, were busy using the internet when the bomb blasted. The name of this internet cafe is Park Resident Internet Cafe. It's in the ground floor of the Park Resident Guest House where a large number of foreigners stay and also come to use the internet. Park Resident Internet Cafe is the first internet cafe in Kabul and it used to be the most expensive one too. This net cafe is located close to the very main area in downtown Kabul. It's beside the main road and opposite the first Microfinance Bank located in "Shar-e-Naw", which means "new city". A lot of non-government organizations are located around this area. I used to go to this internet cafe during the year 2002 and 2003, because it was the only internet cafe in Kabul and there were a large number of foreigners wanting to get a seat. Every time all 20 computers were occupied. During that time the internet cafe security guard didn't let the locals to use the internet. Only those Afghans who had an NGO ID card were allowed to go in. I had a US interpreter ID card so I could go. But after some other internet cafes started operating in different parts of the city, the Park Internet security quit asking for ID cards and everybody was allowed to go to this cafe.

This internet cafe has been targeted by terrorists because a large number of foreigners come to use the internet. Fortunately there was no usual crowd of visitors because of incessant rain in recent days. The Taliban spokesman Hakimi denied the Taliban's involvement in this terrorist attack and the Ministry of Interior Affairs is investigating the explosion. I got some messages from dear readers asking me if I was safe. By the grace of God I am safe. I don't spend much time in internet cafes after I bought a laptop. I write my blogs on my laptop and I just use the internet for 25 minutes to send the blog and check my email. Soon I will have an internet connection so the terrorists will not be able to target me.




Dozens of militants killed in southeastern Afghanistan

US troops and Government forces have killed at least 20 Taliban militants in the mountains of the southeastern province of Zabul near the Pakistan border. US soldiers and the Afghan Army backed by war planes and American helicopters started bombarding the insurgents. The fighting began when an Afghan man complained to Afghan National Police officers of being beaten by a group of unknown militants. The man led the Afghan National Army forces and US forces to the location of the beating at which point they came under small-arms attack and one Afghan police officer was killed in the attack. US troops and Afghan police cordoned off the attackers by use of small-arms fire and air support from coalition war planes and the attackers escaped back to the mountains. According to the residents, hunderds of Taliban fighters from three districts were swarming all over the area. The rebels increasing attacks in recent weeks have proven that the insurgency is far from weakened. Six American soldiers and five Afghan policemen were injured during the fight against the militiants. Unspecified numbers of civilians were killed or injured in the air strikes. Six insurgents were arrested. The village leader was also detained after the villagers reported him as a Taliban member. It was one of the deadliest clashes in recent months. In another clash, 20 insurgents and nine Afghan soldiers were killed in the southern province of Kandahar after the Taliban ambushed the US and Afghan National Army forces on Wednesday evening. Clashes and bombings in recent weeks have killed dozens of rebels, Afghan soldiers, a few coalition forces and many civilians.




Taliban prisoners released from US detention

Eighty-five Taliban prisoners were released on Sunday from different US military bases in Afghanistan. This was the second largest release of prisoners by the US military and comes two weeks after the US released 17 Afghan prisoners from its military prison center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Due to the Afghan government reconciliation program, the US military handed over these prisoners to the Afghan government to be returned to their villages and homes. The Afghan government reconciliation program is to bring fighters from the former Taliban regime back into normal life. Some prisoners who were captured during the US-led military operation were suspected of having a relationship with the Taliban. 70 prisoners were freed from the main US-led military base, Bagram, north of the capital Kabul, while another 15 prisoners were released from a US military base in Kandahar. According to the Afghan officials, they pleaded not guilty and they posed no threat and they swore to be loyal to the government. A lot of eople expressed their worries over the release of large numbers of Taliban prisoners. People are concerned about them returning to the Taliban and re-engaging in war against the Afghan government.




News in brief

A senior Taliban commander was killed and another arrested during a joint operation by the Afghan National Army and coalition forces in Arozgan province after the Taliban attacked ANA and coalition forces. Mullah Abdul Manan was arrested and Mullah Bismillah was killed. Both were key Taliban commanders in the troubled province. According to the ANA, the operation is to be countinued in the area to find other suspicious enemy. Meanwhile, three senior Taliban officials surrendered to the government in the eastern province of Paktia and announced their support for the government. These three Taliban confessed that they were acting against the government and were hiding from coalition forces. A week earlier, Mufti Habibur Rahman, the head of the crime branch of the Interior Ministry under the Taliban regime, surrendered in Khost province.

Violence continues in different parts of Afghanistan. Four Afghan national police were killed by Taliban insurgents. Police were on a patrol when they were ambushed by Taliban. Four of them were killed and three are still missing. In eastern Afghanistan, two civilians were killed and two were wounded in a clash that started while a US military patrol was returning from Khogyani district to Jalalabad province. The Taliban spokesman Hakimi claimed responsibility for the attacks. He said Taliban attacks have killed several ANA and American soldiers. In Zabul province, the US-led coalition patrol came under attack in Deh Chupan district. A US soldier was injured and two Taliban militants were killed. On Wednesday an American soldier was killed in Deh Rawood in the southern Orzgan province when his unit was ambushed. Last week a Romanian soldier in the US-led coalition was killed and another wounded when a roadside bomb ripped through their convoy in Kandahar province. Taliban spokesman Lutfullah Hakimi claimed responsibility for the ambush.

Remnants of the former Taliban regime have begun increasing their attacks after the winter. Attacks by Taliban have recently increased, particulary the southern and eastern provinces Zabul, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Helmand, Paktia, Paktika, Kabul and Nangarhar provinces have seen a wave of fatal attacks in recent weeks. Taliban vowed to intensify attacks on the US and Afghan government after the winter. According to the media, in a meeting held in the mountains of Paktia province last week, the Taliban radical leaders appointed new commenders with a recommendation to step up attacks on foreign forces deployed in Afghanistan, including the Afghan government as well the US Army.


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