View Full Version : AFGHANISTAN | افغانستان | Projects and Updates
May 30th, 2009, 10:30 PM
This thread will be used to chronicle and track all the projects that are proposed and underway in Afghanistan.
Link to Kabul cityscapes thread --> KABUL, Afghanistan - capital city (http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=127446)
Map of Afghanistan:
May 31st, 2009, 06:46 PM
Time Magazine: Iran's Spending Spree in Afghanistan (http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1900013,00.html)
By Jason Motlagh / Herat Wednesday, May. 20, 2009
Afghan students walk the campus of Herat University, May 17, 2009. Iranian charities have been supplying the school with textbooks and other items.
Some locals jokingly call Herat the "Dubai of Afghanistan." The nickname is a stretch, but the mini-boom taking place in this commercial capital is borne out by 24-hour electricity and pothole-free streets where people wander without fear of the random violence that afflicts other urban centers in the country. Who gets the credit? Much of it goes to Iran, which lies less than a hundred miles to the west and is moving closer.
After completing a highway from its desert border, the Islamic Republic next door bankrolled an extension linking Herat city to Afghanistan's remote northern provinces. Later this year, a host of Iranian-built schools, clinics and industrial parks around the city will be connected to the Iranian interior thanks to an $80 million railroad spur currently under construction.
June 18th, 2009, 08:00 PM
BAND-E-AMIR, Afghanistan – The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan pedaled a green swan-shaped boat across the deep blue waters of the Band-e-Amir lakes Thursday during a dedication of the country's first national park.
Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, a former three-star Army general, told several hundred Afghans gathered for a ceremony that Band-e-Amir reminded him of one of America's national parks — the Grand Canyon.
While walking around one of the lakes, he jumped in a swan-shaped pedal boat and beamed a bright smile as he cruised the waters with different Afghan officials, including one of the country's two vice presidents.
"Seeing these crystal blue waters, set among the red cliffs and the travertine dams, shows the beauty in this land and the hope for the future," Eikenberry said in his dedication speech.
Band-e-Amir is a cascading collection of six high-mountain lakes in the country's peaceful central highlands. Surrounded by stark red cliffs, the lakes were a popular tourist destination before the Taliban's 1996-2001 rule, and officials hope they can attract tourists from around the world.
Band-e-Amir is located in Bamiyan province, which has been relatively unaffected by the violence that plagues eastern and southern Afghanistan, where Taliban fighters and other militants control swathes of land and regularly clash with international and Afghan forces. Band-e-Amir was declared a national park in April.
The capital of Bamiyan is where Taliban fighters in spring 2001 blasted away two towering ancient Buddha statues carved into the region's red cliffs. Officials believe that Band-e-Amir and the remnants of the statues can combine for a powerful tourist attraction if Afghan, U.S. and NATO forces can tamp down militant violence.
Mustafa Zahir, the director of the country's environmental program, who spoke at the park's dedication, called for Afghans from across the country — from the southern city of Kandahar to the western city of Herat — to visit the park.
"It's my desire that Band-e-Amir becomes a symbol of national unity," he said.
The Band-e-Amir lakes sit at some 9,500 feet (2,900 meters), and the park covers about 230 square miles (600 square kilometers).
USAID, the U.S. government aid arm, spent almost $1 million to help the lakes gain national park status. The Wildlife Conservation Society helped identify the park's boundaries and worked with villagers living near the park, who have been persuaded to shift a bazaar that was located at the lakeside to prevent pollution of the water.
Making Band-e-Amir a national park means that planning regulations will also be in force to prevent property development at the lakeside. It will also give the four park rangers who now patrol the shores more enforcement powers to protect the area.
August 19th, 2009, 10:57 PM
Indian projects in Afghanistan from the WSJ (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125061548456340511.html)-
April 23rd, 2010, 06:21 AM
Iran major contributor to Afghanistan (http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=124084§ionid=3510212)
ran's role in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan is gaining in significance having spent more than 350 million dollars on civil projects.
Since 2001 Iran has provided more than 350 million dollars in aid to Afghanistan. These contributions made Iran one of the major donor states after the removal of the Taliban in 2001, a Press TV correspondent reported Thursday.
Most of the aid has been spent on building roads across the country. The Dogharun-Herat trade route is one of Iran's major projects. The 123-kilometer road was built at an estimated cost of 60 million dollars. The road is now a major trade route between Iran and Afghanistan.
“Our construction efforts are under way. We are investing heavily in road building projects as well as welfare and energy,” Iran's Ambassador to Kabul, Fada Hossein Maleki, said.
The contribution of Iran has always been welcomed by the Afghans. However, experts say some of the projects have not been implemented well because of inexperienced Afghan workers.
“The Afghan government has not done enough for the implementation of some of the projects and this has created some problems,” Vaheed Mujde, an Afghan political expert, said.
Iran has also invested heavily in the Afghan healthcare system. There are dozens of Iran-led health projects across Afghanistan. The Fatima al-Zahra medical center in Kabul is one such project.
This center has been equipped with modern facilities and provides medical aid to more than 300 patients every day.
India goes ahead with plan to train Afghans (http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/India-goes-ahead-with-plan-to-train-Afghans/articleshow/5756164.cms)
NEW DELHI: As India recalibrates its presence in Afghanistan, it is quietly going ahead with a plan to train Afghan government officials.
India is taking part in a new training programme for Afghan civil servants in collaboration with the Afghan government and the UNDP. The initiative called the National Institution Building Project — an expanded version of two earlier projects —will be implemented over a period of four years from 2010 and is being put together at an estimated project cost of $115 million. Sources said India has decided to carry out the training both in Afghanistan and in India.
Afghan government officials will travel to India, while Indian trainers would also travel to Afghanistan as part of this fresh initiatives. The exact modalities are being worked out.
One of India’s strongest initiatives remains its capacity building programmes which train a cross section of people in Afghan society. Sources said that India would continue to contribute financially to capacity building programmes and also provide the training when needed. Sources further said India was keen on continuing the ``developmental partnership’’ with Afghanistan. But there is no doubt that India’s Afghan policy and initiatives are contingent on the US plans, which are expected to become clearer after the congressional mid-term elections.
As of now India has only two large infrastructure projects in hand. The Salma Dam power project in Herat and the construction of the parliament building in Kabul, which has 55 Indians on the project, are projected to be completed by 2011.
April 25th, 2010, 12:01 PM
Malaysia To Provide Mobile Military Hospital In Afghanistan
BAGAN DATOH, April 24 (Bernama) -- Malaysia, which has agreed to send a military medical team to Afghanistan, will provide a mobile military hospital which is of the same size as a local district hospital in the strife-ridden country.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the mobile hospital would have facilities for a surgery room.
Speaking to reporters after a function here, he said the ninth military mission to Afghanistan, which would comprise between 80 and 100 personnel, would be dispatched in the middle of the year for a duration of between six and nine months.
"The Afghanistan government has requested for more medical personnel comprising women officers and the armed forces have identified medical specialists, medical officers, nurses and medical support staff to be sent to that country," he said.
"The Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) will assist the Afghanistan military in the field of medicines and will also provide training to medical officers at the battle field," he said.
Ahmad Zahid said the government had also offered to the Afghan government to accommodate their military personnel to undergo training at the National Defence University of Malaysia or the Royal Military College (RMC).http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsgeneral.php?id=493239
April 26th, 2010, 05:42 PM
Iowa National Guard team to help Afghan farmers
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa National Guard is getting ready to send a 60-person agribusiness team to Afghanistan to help rebuild the farm-based economy and increase crop production.
The military began sending such teams to Afghanistan in early 2008.
The Iowa team will deploy in June and will arrive in northeast Afghanistan in early August on a 1-year deployment. The mission will occur as the Iowa Guard deploys a 3,500-member combat force.
In a conference call Monday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack claimed Afghans are learning there are advantages to growing legitimate crops, such as wheat, instead of poppies for the opium trade.
Vilsack says the goal isn't to turn Afghanistan "into an Iowa cornfield," but to help the Afghans grow stable crops with their limited resources.http://www.woi-tv.com/Global/story.asp?S=12375445
May 9th, 2010, 11:33 AM
Afghan railway to draw Taliban fire as it boosts economy, NATO
Workers are laying track across north Afghanistan's rolling grassland for the country's first rail line, a project that will boost the economy, supply NATO troops and become a target for Taliban bombs, Bloomberg reported.
The railway, being built by Uzbekistan's state railroad, will run 75 kilometers (45 miles) from the Uzbek border to the city of Mazar-e-Sharif, said Craig Steffensen, Kabul-based Afghanistan country director for the Asian Development Bank, who has inspected the work.
The line, to be completed this year, will more than double shipments of fuels, food grains, consumer goods and construction materials through a border crossing that handles half of the country's imports, the bank says.
"Railroads can reduce our isolation," said Hamidullah Farooqi, a Kabul University economics professor and former transport minister, in a phone interview. "This is just the first line for a network that we hope can turn our country into a new trade route. That is what we need to create stability."
The line not only will help develop the north, which holds most of the country's known gas, oil and coal, it is the first step in linking Central Asia to seaports in Iran, Steffensen said.
The link to Uzbekistan and onward to Kazakhstan and Russia also will reduce the dependence of Afghanistan and of US-led NATO forces on Pakistan, where local Taliban have hijacked or burned trucks carrying US military supplies.
The railway will connect to a new US supply network from the north and so "will be particularly helpful in bringing goods into the country for our needs," said US Colonel Wayne Shanks, a spokesman in Kabul for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's International Security Assistance Force.
Thus the Taliban plan to strike, said movement spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, in a mobile-phone interview. "If NATO uses this railroad to import their supplies we will attack them 100 percent, and we'll block the railroad," he said.
That may be difficult. The rail line passes west of the Pashtun districts in the north that the Taliban, a movement of ethnic Pashtuns, recently have taken over.
Ethnic Uzbeks and Tajiks who live nearer the line are "not sympathetic," to the Taliban, said Zabi Wahab, a native of the region who is the business development manager at the Dubai-based Kefayat Group.
The Manila-based Asian Development Bank is paying $165 million, 97% of the line's cost, because "this is the first step of a development that will benefit the whole region" of Central Asia, Steffensen said in a telephone interview. The Afghan government is paying another $5 million.
More rail construction may follow. A separate line partly built by Iran into Afghanistan's northwest, plus two projects being studied by China and the development bank, could give north Afghanistan the shortest rail link yet from Central Asia to Iranian seaports, and the first standard-gauge line from the Pacific Ocean to Europe, said Steffensen and Farooqi.
A standard-gauge route would eliminate the need for trans-Asian trains to stop at the Chinese-Kazakh border and in Eastern Europe to change their wheel assemblies to fit the broader ex-Soviet rail gauge.
Beijing-based Metallurgical Corp. of China Ltd. agreed to help build a railway to export ore in 2007 when it won the license for Afghanistan's biggest copper mine. Afghan and Chinese officials have discussed a route north through Tajikistan to western China, Farooqi said.
Oil and Gas
Reports show Afghanistan has more than 150 million barrels of oil reserves and more than 4.5 trillion cubic feet of gas, the US Geological Survey says.
The first Afghan rail line may turn Mazar-e-Sharif, a city of more than 300,000 people, into an Afghan transport hub, promoting business development in the north that "is crucial to Afghanistan's economic development and stabilization," said Anne Benjaminson, an economic officer at the US Embassy in Kabul.
Companies suffer as much as a month's delay in getting rail shipments transferred to trucks at the northern Afghan border town of Hairaton. Uzbekistan "often closes the border for two weeks at a time, saying it is because of congestion at Hairaton," said Wahab in a phone interview.
Trade at Hairaton is expected this year to reach 40,000 tons a month, Steffensen said. The greater efficiency of the railroad may boost demand for haulage across the border to 5,000 tons per day, according to the development bank.
In northwest Afghanistan, Iran has built two-thirds of a 190-kilometer rail bed from the Iranian town of Khaf to the northwestern Afghan city of Herat. The Afghan government is seeking funds to build the rest, deputy public works minister Ahmad Shah Waheed said.
The development bank is funding technical surveys for a line of more than 700 kilometers (430 miles) to connect the two Afghan spurs under construction. That would offer the five, landlocked Central Asian countries - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, which have a combined Malaysia-sized GDP of $187 billion - their most direct trade route to Iran's Gulf or Indian Ocean ports.http://business.uzreport.com/mir.cgi?lan=e&id=75234
May 12th, 2010, 06:48 AM
AFGHAN PROHIBITION OF UNDER-AGE POLICE RECRUITMENT WINS UN APPLAUSE
KABUL, May 11 (NNN-UNNS) -- The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Monday welcomed a ban on the recruitment of people under the age of 18 into the national police force and called on the defence ministry to adopt a similar prohibition with regard to the army.
“This was one of the issues that the UN Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, pressed the Government on during her visit to Afghanistan in February,” UNAMA said in a news release. “Despite a law requiring the age of recruitment to be 18, there has been evidence of under-age recruitment.”
An executive order from the Interior Ministry bans the recruitment of such under-age people in the police and provides for any now serving to be demobilized and reintegrated into civil society, with disciplinary action to be taken against the recruiters.
“UNAMA welcomes this order and hopes the Minister of Defence will follow with a similar decree to prevent the recruitment of children into the Afghan National Army,” the release added.
In a separate development, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) conducted a three-day workshop last week with local officials for newly-elected members of provincial councils, briefing them on the Constitution, their responsibilities, and administrative and financial procedures.http://namnewsnetwork.org/v2/read.php?id=119939
May 14th, 2010, 02:36 AM
Latvian Minister of Defence to Take Part in the Conference Dedicated to the International Operation in Afghanistan
On 11 May, Latvian Minister of Defence Imants Liegis and Commander of the National Armed Forces Major General Juris Maklakovs will participate in the conference of the defence ministers and headquarters commanders of the ISAF Northern Region Command States in Berlin, Germany.
The current situation in Afghanistan and especially in the Northern Province will be discussed at the conference, as well as further military involvement strategy of the member states and cooperation with Afghan security forces.
Minister Liegis participates in the conference at the invitation of German Minister of Defence.
Latvia has been participating in Afghanistan NATO-led International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) operation since February 2003. The goal of ISAF is to provide support to the Afghan government in the stabilisation and renovation processes. http://www.defpro.com/news/details/15164/
Helicopter Exchange in Afghanistan
Chinooks are taking over the transport mission in southern Afghanistan from 5 smaller Cougars. The Air Force helicopters will transport people and equipment within the ISAF mission area. The last two Cougars left today [May 10] for the Netherlands in an Antonov An-124 cargo plane.
The Chinooks were flown to Afghanistan in recent weeks, also by an Antonov, one of the largest cargo planes.
A special team from the Defence Helicopter Command from Gilze-Rijen Air Base, home of both helicopter types, managed and coordinated the helicopter exchange. For example, the rotor blades were removed so that the helicopters could fit inside the airplane. The flight home had to contend with the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland, which eventually led to a delay of four days.
Since October, the Cougars flew 271 missions in southern Afghanistan, spread over 1,096 flight hours. They transported over 6,400 passengers and 128,000 kilos of freight, including to forward bases in Uruzgan province. They also supported special operations units of Task Force 55 with Dutch commandos and marines.http://www.defpro.com/news/details/15146/
May 31st, 2010, 09:39 AM
Afghanistan sees 'revolution' with first railway
HAIRATAN, Afghanistan (AFP) – Afghanistan has launched what it says is a revolutionary project that could revive the poverty-stricken, war-ravaged, landlocked country's status as a thriving "silk road" trade hub.
In the harsh desert heat on the northern border with Uzbekistan, workers are hammering down the tracks of Afghanistan's first railway, being built with a grant of 165 million dollars from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The first section of 75 kilometres (50 miles) will link the northern Afghan city of Mazar-I-Sharif to the Uzbek border, where the Friendship Bridge crosses the Amu River into the vast expanses of the former Soviet states and beyond.
The line, being built by Uzbekistan's state-owned rail corporation, is due to be completed in September, the first section of a network that officials hope will facilitate trade and link Afghanistan to international seaports.
"This is an historic day, it's the beginning of a vital project for Afghanistan and the region," Finance Minister Omar Zakhailwal told officials and diplomats at an inauguration ceremony last week.
"This railroad will spark an economic revolution not only in Afghanistan but across the region," he said, after flying into the border town of Hairatan by helicopter.
The project aims to open up the agricultural, textile and mineral wealth of Afghanistan -- which borders Pakistan, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran -- to export markets from Asia to Europe.
"I think it's a very, very important project," said Sayed Masoud, an economist at Kabul University.
"It gains us credibility among our neighbours and makes our country a stable transit hub in the regional trade between Pakistan and the Central Asian countries and China," he told AFP.
Future plans to open up the country with rail include a line from Mazar-I-Sharif to Herat, the eastern city close to the border with Iran, to connect with a track being built from the other side.
Mazar-I-Sharif was once an important caravan stop on the ancient "silk road" which connected China to the world.
But a series of wars and the thwarting of British imperial overtures saw Afghanistan -- long at the vortex of geopolitical games -- miss out on the railway boom that colonisers brought to its neighbours.
A tiny sliver that served as a city link in Kabul almost a century ago is now on display in a museum in the capital, a relic of what could have been.
Afghanistan has known little but war and brutality for 30 years, starting with the 1979 Soviet invasion, civil war from 1990, the 1996-2001 Taliban regime and, since its overthrow in a US-led invasion, Taliban-led insurgency.
The country of mountains, valleys and deserts lacks basic infrastructure, with just one ring road linking major cities but offering an often-treacherous drive through teetering passes and territory controlled by the Taliban.
The north has been largely sheltered from the insurgency, though in recent years the Taliban have made inroads as they have targeted the road routes for NATO supplies coming from Tajikistan.
This could make the railway project vulnerable to militant attack.
The international community wants to speed up the end of the war with an influx of soldiers taking the fight to the Taliban in their southern fiefdom in Kandahar province, with hopes the threat will be quelled later this year.
In tandem with these plans are efforts to build up Afghanistan's security forces and pour aid money into rebuilding the country from the ground up.
Experts say the railway is integral to Afghanistan's ability to stand alone.
Hairatan is showing the way forward, having in recent years become a lively centre for trade with more than half the country's imports -- mostly fuel, food and construction materials -- coming in through Uzbekistan.
"The tangible benefits of the new rail link are tremendous," said Haruhiko Kuroda, ADB president.
"The line will help reduce trade bottlenecks, boost commerce and speed the flow of much-needed humanitarian assistance."http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100530/wl_sthasia_afp/afghanistanunresteconomyrail_20100530071259
June 12th, 2010, 05:03 AM
Afghanistan faces 'vital year', Cameron warns
David Cameron has said 2010 is a "vital year" in which success or failure will become much clearer for Afghanistan, on his first visit as prime minister to the country.
The Conservative leader flew in on an RAF aircraft before engaging in talks with president Hamid Karzai in Kabul.
He announced plans to spend an extra £67 million on countering the threat from improvised explosive devices, the Taliban's most effective method of attacking British soldiers in the country.
The money will double the number of British teams in Afghanistan tackling IEDs exclusively.
"This is the year when we have to make progress, for the sake of the Afghan people but also on behalf of people back home who want this to work," Mr Cameron said.
"No one wants British troops to stay in Afghanistan a day longer than is necessary. What we want, in our national security interest, is to hand power over to an Afghanistan that is able to take control of its own security."
The coalition government has struggled in its first month to present a united front on its approach to Afghanistan.
Defence secretary Liam Fox has said the purpose of the mission has not been to help advance the country from its current "13th century state" condition.
International development secretary Andrew Mitchell has emphasised the importance of improving Afghanistan's society and economy in a way which directly improves Britain's national security.http://uk.news.yahoo.com/14/20100610/tpl-afghanistan-faces-vital-year-cameron-81c5b50.html
June 14th, 2010, 03:52 PM
U.S. DISCOVERS VAST RICHES OF MINERALS IN AFGHANISTAN -- DAILY
WASHINGTON, June 14 (NNN-KUNA): The U.S. has discovered nearly USD one trillion in "untapped mineral deposits" in Afghanistan, the New York Times reported Monday.
The daily quoted senior American government officials saying that minerals discovered are "far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself."
It added that U.S. officials believe that "previously unknown deposits, including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium, are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world."
According to the newspaper, "the vast scale of Afghanistan's mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists."
"The mineral deposits are scattered throughout the country, including in the southern and eastern regions along the border with Pakistan that have had some of the most intense combat in the American-led war against the Taliban insurgency," the daily indicated.http://namnewsnetwork.org/v2/read.php?id=123623
June 21st, 2010, 04:27 PM
Afghanistan To Re-Tender Oil, Gas License In Summer - Minister
LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Afghanistan plans to start retendering concessions for sizeable oil and gas reserves this summer, the country's energy and mines minister said Monday.
Speaking at a National Oil Companies conference, Wahidullah Shahrani said "we are going to package" the Kashkari oil block in Northern Afghanistan in July or August.
He said the country will also tender a larger block in the Amu Darya oil and gas basin next year.
Afghanistan last year launched its first oil and gas tender, selecting Total SA (TOT: 50.6335, 0.8035, 1.61%), Switzerland-based Addax Petroleum Corp. (ADXTF: undefined, undefined, undefined%) and Canada-based Nations Petroleum Co., among others.
Shahrani said "conditions were not favorable" to award the licenses as the round came amid a presidential election and the process was restarted as a result.
The country's Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal said in January that the awarding of natural resources licenses had been postponed to improve governance and ensure Afghanistan gets the best deals when bringing in foreign firms to exploit its natural resources reserves. http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/markets/afghanistan-tender-oil-gas-license-summer---minister/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+foxbusiness%2Flatest+%28Text+-+Latest+News%29&utm_content=Yahoo+Search+Results
July 26th, 2010, 05:30 AM
BODY TO TAKE PARLIAMENT INTO CONFIDENCE OVER AFGHAN TRADE: PAKISTANI PM
LAHORE, Pakistan July 25 (NNN-APP) --Prime Minister Syed Yususf Raza Gilani has said that a three-member committee comprising foreign, commerce and finance ministers has been constituted to take parliament into confidence on Afghan transit trade.
Talking to the media after visiting Lahore General Hospital to enquire after PML-N leader Makhdoom Javaid Hashmi here on Saturday, he said that all decisions would be taken in line with greater interests of the nation and the country.
Responding to a question about rumour of sanctions on the media, he said there was no restriction on the media as the PPP had itself struggled for the freedom of journalism.
He said that he himself belonged to the media as he had done his master’s in mass communication, adding the PPP had protested against media curbs imposed by Pervez Musharraf.” How my government can impose restrictions on the media?” he asked.
To another question on an extension to the Chief Of Army Staff, he said that it was just an administration matter so he would not comment on it.
To a query about his meeting with officials of the education department, he said that it had no connection with the issue of fake degrees, adding that he was not in favour of fake degrees.
He said the issue of bogus degrees had been referred to the Election Commission and it would decide about it according to the constitution.
Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said the government was not fulfilling the desires of any friend, adding just interests of the country were watched.
Regarding target killings in Karachi, he said it was directed to all departments to join their hands and form a common strategy against terrorism.
To a question about the statement of Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif regarding sharing information on terrorism, the Prime Minister said that it was not true that law-enforcement agencies were not cooperating with the Punjab government on the directions of Interior Minister Rehman Malik, adding all departments were not under the Interior Minster.
He said Karachi was a very big city and its fool-proof security was not an easy matter.
He said the government was specially focusing on the development of Balochistan but a lot of work was yet to be done there.
The Prime Minister said that it was directed to departments concerned to ensure the availability of sugar in the markets before the holy month of Ramazan and added the government would not spare any department for negligence.
Earlier, he enquire after Makhdoom Javaid Hashmi and presented him a bouquet. He offered prayers for early recovery of Hashmi. He also directed the administration of LGH to take care of the PML-N leader.
Farooq Saeed Khan, Federal Minister for Textile Industry, and Mujeebur Rehman Shami, a renowned journalist, were also present. http://namnewsnetwork.org/v2/read.php?id=128095
August 22nd, 2010, 07:01 AM
Afghanistan Opening First Shariah-Based Banks: Islamic Finance
Aug. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Afghanistan plans to issue licenses for three Islamic banks, the first to offer a range of services that comply with religious law in a country where 99 percent of the population is Muslim.
Afghan United Bank, Ghazanfar Bank and Maiwand Bank are seeking permission to provide products that meet Shariah principles, said Aimal Hashoor, a central bank spokesman in Kabul. Now, seven local banks can offer Islamic services through dedicated tellers at branches, he said. The products are limited to Islamic loans, said Sayed Mahmood-ul-Hassan, chief executive officer of Afghan United Bank.
The government wants to expand Islamic finance to draw more assets into the financial system and help reduce the nation’s reliance on overseas aid for reconstruction following 30 years of war and insurgency, according to Hashoor. The country has received more than $32 billion in international aid since U.S.- led forces toppled the Taliban in 2001, he said.
“Afghanistan is a Muslim society and many people don’t want to use conventional banking,” Hashoor said in an interview on Aug. 15. “We want to bring all of the money that we have in businesses and with individuals into the economic cycle.”
The $23 billion economy has expanded an average 11.3 percent annually since 2004, according to the U.S. Department of State. Islamic finance would be popular with Afghans, who are “very religious” and often prefer cash transactions to interest-based banking, holding back the development of local businesses, according to Al Baraka Islamic Bank.
“Islamic banks can fill the vacuum as conventional banking is not fully developed in Afghanistan,” Kaleem Iqbal, a senior executive vice president at Al Baraka Islamic, a unit of Bahrain-based Al-Baraka Banking Group, said in an interview yesterday in Islamabad. “The government would be looking forward to participation by banks in its plans to sell sukuk.”
Afghanistan’s government is limited to using short-term bills and international aid to finance development. The central bank has about 12 billion Afghanis ($261 million) of bills due in 12 months or less outstanding, Rahimullah Zaker, general director of the market operation’s department, said in an interview on Aug. 16.
A government sale of Islamic bonds is planned for the future once full Islamic banking has started and services expand, according to Hashoor. The nation may issue non-Islamic long-term notes next year, he said, without being more specific.
Global sales of sukuk fell 25 percent to $8.3 billion so far this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Issuance totaled $20.2 billion last year, up from $14.1 billion in 2008, and reached a record $31 billion in 2007. The debt is based on asset returns rather than interest to meet Shariah guidelines.
The difference between average yields on Islamic bonds and the London interbank offered rate narrowed four basis points, or 0.04 percentage point, to 381 yesterday, according to the HSBC/NASDAQ Dubai US Dollar Sukuk Index.
Shariah-compliant bonds returned 10 percent this year, according to the HSBC/NASDAQ Dubai US Dollar Sukuk Index, while debt in developing markets gained 13 percent, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s EMBI Global Diversified Index shows.
Malaysia’s 3.928 percent Islamic note yields due June 2015 fell three basis points to 2.73 percent today, according to prices from Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc.
Afghanistan, with a population of 29 million, is the poorest country in the Asia-Pacific region, with 42 percent of people living on less than $1.25 a day, according to a report on the Manila-based Asian Development Bank’s website.
The government announced a five-year plan to build its finance industry and reduce reliance on aid in 2009. President Barack Obama told Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Aug. 13 that the U.S. is committed to helping Afghanistan become a “stable, secure and prosperous” nation.
The three likely license winners are already among seven lenders providing limited Islamic services such as deposit accounts and loans, said the central bank’s Hashoor.
“Once the banking regulations are in place, the banks can offer a wide range of advanced products such as project financing, mortgages and credit and debit cards,” he said. “The customers will also feel comfortable doing Islamic banking with lenders as they will know that these services are regulated under law.”
The parliament needs to approve Islamic banking laws before the central bank issues licenses to start Shariah-compliant services, Hashoor said. Afghan United plans to offer Islamic credit cards once the bank wins its license, Hassan said.
“We will have good growth of Islamic banking in the future as this is where Muslims prefer to invest their money,” Rama Raju, president of Maiwand Bank, the first lender to provide Islamic loans in Afghanistan, said in an Aug. 15 interview from Kabul. “We are looking forward to the sukuk auction.”http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-08-19/afghanistan-opening-first-shariah-based-banks-islamic-finance.html
September 24th, 2010, 06:49 AM
Afghanistan, China Metallurgical Sign Agreement on Rail Line, Xinhua Says
Afghanistan’s government signed an agreement to have China Metallurgical Group Corp. build a rail corridor in that country, Xinhua News Agency reported, citing Afghan Minister for Mines Waheedullah Shahrani.
The line will link the Aynak copper mine in Logar province with Kabul and the border towns of Torkham and Hyratan, the news agency said. The study and survey process for the railroad will take two years, Xinhua said. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-22/afghanistan-china-metallurgical-sign-agreement-on-rail-line-xinhua-says.html
Afghanistan says confident can secure TAPI gas pipeline
KABUL, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Afghanistan will secure aplanned international gas pipeline through the Talibanheartland by burying sections underground and paying localcommunities to guard it, the mining minister said on Wednesday.
Wahidullah Shahrani also said he was confident the project-- valued at $3.3 billion and which would run fromTurkmenistan, through Afghanistan and Pakistan to India (TAPI)-- could secure international funding.
"This huge project is very important to Afganistan,"Shahrani told a news conference in the capital, Kabul.
"We will be earning a transit fee of hundreds of millionsof dollars each year, it will create tremendous jobopportunities for the people of Afghanistan during and afterthe construction, and the major population centres along thepipeline will benefit from the gas supplies," he said.
Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has orderedthat the project be completed and operational by 2014, one ofShahrani's aides told Reuters, so the four countries areworking at top speed to complete preliminaries before seekinginvestors.
Berdymukhamedov has also provided audited studies of thegas fields which would supply the pipeline, to reassureinvestors and the governments involved that there will beenough supply.
Analysts, however, say the agreement is still at apreliminary stage and that security challenges in Afghanistanand the tensions between India and Pakistan remain an obstacle.
The project was originally mooted in the early 1990s, buthas been stalled by years of conflict and instability inAfghanistan.
Turkmenistan, holder of the world's fourth-largest naturalgas reserves, is actively looking to diversify energy salesfrom its traditional market, Russia, and is courting investorsfrom the West, China and other Asian countries.
The four countries the pipeline passes through signed theframework of an agreement on Monday.
They will have three or four meetings before the end of theyear to bash out technical details, and the heads of governmentof all countries will meet in December to sign anintergovernment agreement giving political impetus to the deal,Shahrani said.
Energy-hungry Pakistan is pushing hard for a quickimplementation of the long-delayed project.
Turkmenistan has previously estimated the cost of theproject at $3.3 billion, with initial capacity to transport 33billion cubic metres a year over nearly 2,000 km (1,250 miles),including 735 km across Afghanistan and another 800 km throughPakistan.
The pipeline route takes it through areas of extremeinstability. In Afghanistan it would snake from western Herat,near the border with Iran, through the southern Talibanheartlands of Helmand and Kandahar.
The central government has only a tenuous grip on much ofthis territory, despite the presence of tens of thousands offoreign troops meant to bolster security.
But Shahrani said he was confident Afghanistan could securethe pipeline. Pakistan, Afghanistan and India are all hungryfor more energy but are at times uneasy neighbours.
"The government will provide security along the line, whichin most places will be 2 metres underground," Shahrani said.
The four countries, which are currently being advised bythe Asian Development Bank, aim to set up a consortium ofinternational investors. They are currently working with atransaction adviser, Shahrani's aide said.http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2010/09/22/afghanistan-says-confident-secure-tapi-gas-pipeline/
October 6th, 2010, 09:43 AM
Afghanistan bans foreign security firms
KABUL (AFP) – Afghanistan has formally banned eight foreign private security firms, including the controversial company formerly called Blackwater, a spokesman for President Hamid Karzai said on Sunday.
The Afghan government announced in August that it was giving security firms working in Afghanistan four months to cease operations, potentially hitting hard efforts by NATO-led troops fighting a nine-year insurgency in the country.
There are fears the measure could create huge problems for the military and other international entities that depend on the estimated 40,000 employees of private security contractors.
"The Afghan interior ministry today reported the dissolution of eight private security companies to the national security council of Afghanistan," Waheed Omer told reporters.
Omer said some of the companies had been fully dissolved and their weapons had been collected, while for others the process was still under way.
Xe -- the former Blackwater -- and White Eagle Security Services, which provides security for Afghan government officials and NGOs in particular, are among the first companies banned.
The security firms provide a wide range of services including protecting supply convoys for NATO, guarding foreigners' compounds, embassies and other installations, as well as training Afghan security forces.
The dissolution will not immediately affect companies' activities that deal with the training of national security forces or those guards who operate inside buildings to provide protection, Omer said.
"The focus is on those security companies which are protecting the highways, protecting transport caravans -- those areas other than the training of Afghan security forces or protecting the internal premises of international organisations or embassies, or others," Omer said.
Omer said the eight companies included both Afghan and international firms, and two of them were small outfits employing only about 100 guards.
The August presidential decree ordered the 52 private security contractors operating in the country, both Afghan and international, to cease operations by January 1, 2011.
Karzai had accused the security companies of running an "economic mafia" based around "corruption contracts" favoured by the international community.
He has said the firms duplicate the work of the Afghan security forces and divert much-needed resources, while Afghans criticise the private guards as overbearing and abusive, particularly on the country's roads.
Omer said security had improved along some highways since the banning of private guards operating as escorts for supply convoys in those areas.
Critics, though, say the tight deadline will not allow enough time to negotiate an alternative to private contractors in a country were security is a priority and police are generally not trusted.
Private security firms in Afghanistan are employed by US and NATO forces, the Pentagon, the UN mission, aid and non-governmental organisations, embassies and Western media.
They employ about 26,000 registered personnel, though experts say the real number could be as high as 40,000.
The contractors themselves have been reluctant to comment publicly but some have said privately they believe many of their clients would leave the country if they could not source their own security.
Xe, formerly Blackwater, gained notoriety in Iraq after guards protecting a convoy opened fire in a busy Baghdad square in September 2007, killing as many as 17 civilians.
Last month two former Blackwater security guards went on trial in the United States, accused of the murder of two Afghan citizens in a 2009 shooting. http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101003/wl_afp/afghanistanunrestsecurityblackwater_20101003133804
Afghanistan storm into ICC Cup final
Afghanistan thrashed Kenya by 167 runs on Tuesday to top the standings in the ICC Intercontinental Cup tournament and book their place in the final against Scotland in November.
The Afghans, who are competing in the first class tournament for the first time, built on a solid first innings lead total of 464, and a big contribution of 168 from skipper Nawroz Mangal, to dominate the match.
Kenya put up some resistance on the third day to finish on 324 but the tight Afghan bowling attack led by medium-pacer Hamid Hassan, who grabbed five wickets in the second innings, snuffed out all local hopes after dismissing the Kenyan tail-enders to ensure an early end to the match.
Advertisement: Story continues below After the victory, Afghanistan coach Rashid Latif said his team should start as favourites against Scotland in the United Arab Emirates in November to complete a remarkable rise to their game.
"We beat Scotland by a huge margin of 229 runs in Ayr in August and I am sure we will be able to repeat that performance again," Latif said.
"We are a very disciplined side. We play as a unit and we never rely on one player," he added.
"I thank the International Cricket Council (ICC) for the support that they have offered to Afghanistan for the last three to four years. Cricket is now the hope for the whole of the nation."
Latif said he hoped his side will beat Kenya in the three one-day match series which starts on Thursday, to complete their first ever tour of the country on a high note.
The Kenyans will, however, play the series under a new captain - Jimmy Kamande, who will replace Morris Ouma who resigned his position after the Afghan defeat.http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-sport/afghanistan-storm-into-icc-cup-final-20101006-166l3.html
October 9th, 2010, 04:43 AM
Afghanistan wants to buy Kazakhstani wheat
KABUL – The Afghan agriculture ministry is encouraging the country's wheat traders to import wheat from Kazakhstan, an October 4 UN statement said.
Flooding and drought have caused Pakistan and Russia, respectively, to cut off wheat exports. Afghanistan expects to produce 4.5m tonnes in 2010 but to need more than 5.2m tonnes.
Afghanistan is concerned that Kazakhstan might also curb wheat exports, Afghan Deputy Commerce Minister Ghulam Mohammad Ayelaqi said. http://centralasiaonline.com/cocoon/caii/xhtml/en_GB/features/caii/newsbriefs/2010/10/05/newsbrief-08
November 2nd, 2010, 07:56 AM
PCA hails new Pak-Afghan trade pact
ISLAMABAD: New transit trade agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan is a welcome step to boost economic activities in the region. However, the concerns of business community in regard with smuggling and abundance of smuggled items in Pakistani markets must be redressed to achieve the desired results as far as protection of local economy is concerned, Munawar Iqbal, Central President of Pakistan Computer Association (PCA) said while commenting on the possible impacts and implications of the new agreement. staff reporthttp://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\11\02\story_2-11-2010_pg10_3
November 17th, 2010, 01:51 PM
Chinese mine in Afghanistan threatens ancient find
This photograph made on Oct. 12 shows ancient Buddha statues inside a temple in Mes Aynak, south of Kabul, Afghanistan. AP photo
It was another day on the rocky hillside, as archaeologists and laborers dug out statues of Buddha and excavated a sprawling 2,600-year-old Buddhist monastery. A Chinese woman in slacks, carrying an umbrella against the Afghan sun, politely inquired about their progress.
She had more than a passing interest. The woman represents a Chinese company eager to develop the world's second-biggest unexploited copper mine, lying beneath the ruins.
The mine is the centerpiece of China's drive to invest in Afghanistan, a country trying to get its economy off the ground while still mired in war. Beijing's $3.5 billion stake in the mine - the largest foreign investment in Afghanistan by far - gets its foot in the door for future deals to exploit Afghanistan's largely untapped mineral wealth, including iron, gold and cobalt. The Afghan government stands to reap a potential $1.2 billion a year in revenues from the mine, as well as the creation of much-needed jobs.
But Mes Aynak is caught between Afghanistan's hopes for the future and its history. Archaeologists are rushing to salvage what they can from a major seventh century B.C. religious site along the famed Silk Road connecting Asia and the Middle East. The ruins, including the monastery and domed shrines known as "stupas," will likely be largely destroyed once work at the mine begins.
Hanging over the situation is the memory of the Buddhas of Bamiyan – statues towering up to 180 feet high in central Afghanistan that were dynamited to the ground in 2001 by the country's then-rulers, the Taliban, who considered them symbols of paganism.
Salvaging the site
No one wants to be blamed for similarly razing history at Mes Aynak, in the eastern province of Logar. The Chinese government-backed China Metallurgical Group Corp., or MCC, wanted to start building the mine by the end of 2011. But under an informal understanding with the Kabul government, it has given archaeologists three years for a salvage excavation.
Archaeologists working on the site since May say that won't be enough time for full preservation.
"That site is so massive that it's easily a 10-year campaign of archaeology," said Laura Tedesco, an archaeologist brought in by the U.S. Embassy to work on sites in Afghanistan. Three years may be enough time just to document what's there, she said.
Philippe Marquis, a French archaeologist advising the Afghans, said the salvage effort is piecemeal and "minimal," held back by lack of funds and personnel.
Around 15 Afghan archaeologists, three French advisers and a few dozen laborers are working within the 2-square-kilometer area - a far smaller team than the two dozen archaeologists and 100 laborers normally needed for a site of such size and richness.
"This is probably one of the most important points along the Silk Road," said Marquis. "What we have at this site, already in excavation, should be enough to fill the [Afghan] national museum."
The monastery complex has been dug out, revealing hallways and rooms decorated with frescoes and filled with clay and stone statues of standing and reclining Buddhas, some as high as 10 feet. An area that was once a courtyard is dotted with stupas standing four or five feet high.
More than 150 statues have been found so far, though many remain in place. Large ones are too heavy to be moved, and the team lacks the chemicals needed to keep small ones from disintegrating when extracted.
MCC appears to be pushing the archaeologists to finish ahead of schedule. In July, the archaeologists received a letter from the company asking that parts of the dig be wrapped up by August and the rest to be done by the end of 2010.
A copy of the letter - signed by MJAM, the acronym for the joint venture in charge of the mine, MCC-JCL Aynak Minerals Co. - was provided to the Associated Press by the head of the archaeological team. MCC and MJAM officials did not respond to requests for comment.
August has come and gone, and excavations at Mes Aynak continue. But the Afghan archaeologist overseeing the dig said he has no idea when MCC representatives might tell him his work is over. So he tries not to think about deadlines.
"We would like to work according to our principles. If we don't work according to the principles of archaeology, then we are no different from traffickers," Abdul Rauf Zakir said.
The team hopes to lift some of the larger statues and shrines out before winter sets in this month, but they still haven't procured the crane and other equipment needed.
Mes Aynak, 30 kilometers south of Kabul, lies in a province that is still considered a major transit route for insurgents coming from Pakistan. In July, two U.S. sailors were kidnapped and killed in Logar. Around 1,500 Afghan police guard the mine site and the road.
Promised funding from foreign governments has yet to materialize. The Afghan government has allotted $2 million for the dig and is trying to find another $5 million to $10 million, said Deputy Culture Minister Omar Sultan.
The United States has promised funding but hasn't yet figured out how much, said a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman, Mireille Zieseniss.
Mes Aynak's religious sites and copper deposits have been bound together for centuries - "mes" means "copper" in the local Dari language. Throughout the site's history, artisan miners have dug up copper to adorn statues and shrines.
Afghan archaeologists have known since the 1960s about the importance of Mes Aynak, but almost nothing had been excavated. When the Chinese won the contract to exploit the mine in 2008, there was no discussion with Kabul about the ruins - only about money, security and building a railroad to transport the copper out of Logar's dusty hills.
But a small band of Afghan and French archaeologists raised a stir and put the antiquities on the agenda.
The mine could be a major boost for the Afghan economy. According to the Afghan Mining Ministry, it holds some 6 million tons of copper (5.52 million metric tons), worth tens of billions of dollars at today's prices. Developing the mine and related transport infrastructure will generate much needed jobs and economic activity.
Waheedullah Qaderi, a Mining Ministry official working on the antiquities issue, said MCC shares the government goal of protecting heritage while starting mining as soon as possible.
A good resolution is important for MCC "because it is their first-ever project in Afghanistan," Qaderi said. MCC is expected to make an offer for another lucrative mineral prize - the Hajigak iron mine in central Afghanistan, estimated to hold 1.9 billion tons (1.8 billion metric tons) of iron ore. Kabul opened bidding to develop the mine in late September and is expected to award the contract late this year or in early 2011.
Still, a diplomat briefed on internal meetings says MCC has pressured Kabul to stop archaeologists from looking for new places to dig beyond the 12 sites already found. The diplomat spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Marquis said MCC has been cooperative and has helped the archaeologists, hauling dirt away and asking what more needs to be done.
Zakir, the Afghan archaeologist, laughs. "Yes, they are very helpful. They want to help so that we can finish quickly. They want us gone."
December 14th, 2010, 02:40 PM
Afghanistan pledges to secure major pipeline
KABUL (AFP) – Afghanistan will deploy up to 7,000 troops to secure a major transnational gas pipeline slated to run through some of the most dangerous parts of the war-torn country, an official said on Sunday.
The pledge comes a day after Turkmenistan signed broad agreements with Afghanistan, India and Pakistan at a summit in its capital Ashgabat on the ambitious venture.
The 1,700-kilometre (1,050-mile) TAPI pipeline, Ashgabat's dream project that first appeared in 1995, has been on hold for many years due to the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.
The pipeline aims to transport over 30 billion cubic metres of gas annually from the Dauletabad gas fields in southeast Turkmenistan and could turn into a cash cow for Afghanistan in transit fees.
"This huge project is very important for Afghanistan," Wahidullah Shahrani, the minister of mines and industries, told a press conference in Kabul.
"Five thousand to seven thousand security forces will be deployed to safeguard the pipeline route."
The proposed Afghan section of the pipeline passes through southern Taliban heartlands including Helmand and Kandahar, where the central government has a tenuous grip on the territory.
"We will also keep an eye on the security situation as it develops. If we conclude that more troops are needed, we will take action," the minister added.
According to Shahrani, the pipeline will generate thousands of job opportunities for local communities during and after construction.
"This (job opportunities) will encourage local communities to contribute more in securing and protecting the pipeline," he said.
The pipeline will allow the Afghan government to earn "hundreds of millions of dollars each year" from transit fees, he added.
Construction of the pipeline is due to start in 2012 and be completed and operational by the end of 2014, he said.
The pipeline is slated to go through the Quetta area in Pakistan and end in Fazilka, an Indian city near the India-Pakistan border.http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101212/wl_sthasia_afp/afghanistanunrestenergy_20101212162954
Afghanistan plans national electronic ID cards
KABUL (Reuters) – War-torn Afghanistan lacks basic national infrastructure, yet on Sunday the government unveiled plans for a $100 million electronic identification system with cards to be issued to all Afghans within five years.
A chip in the wallet-size identification cards will hold a drivers' license, vehicle registration, signature and voting registration and would aid fairer, more transparent and efficient future elections, the Ministry of Communications said.
After three decades of conflict, Afghanistan is struggling to rebuild its economy and crumbling infrastructure such as roads, electricity and water access.
A September parliamentary election was tainted by widespread allegations of fraud, including reports of fake voter identification cards and repeat voting.
"We consider this a very important initiative for the development of Afghanistan," Minister for Communication and Information Technology Amirzai Sangeen told a news conference at which a $101.5 million contract for the project was signed with Afghan company Grand Technology Resources.
"In our country the need for having proper identification is a very urgent matter," he said. "Giving ID cards to everyone is a process ... probably it is a three to five year process."
The Ministry of Finance will fund the project from its development budget, as the government believes the system will help improve the country's security.
Distributing ID cards in insurgent strongholds in the south and east of the country could prove difficult, however, as insurgents often intimidate or target Afghans seen to be cooperating with the government or foreign troops.http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101212/ts_nm/us_afghanistan_identification_cards_1
Afghanistan envoy Richard Holbrooke dies
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Richard Holbrooke, who was President Barack Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, died on Monday, an administration official confirmed. He was 69.
The veteran diplomat, who brokered the 1995 peace agreement that ended the Balkans war, had been a key player in Obama's efforts to turn around the faltering 9-year-old war in Afghanistan.
Holbrooke, who also served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and to Germany and twice was assistant secretary of state, died after surgery on Saturday to repair a tear in his aorta. He fell ill at the State Department on Friday.
Holbrooke was once called "Washington's favorite last-ditch diplomat" and "America's toughest diplomatic tactician" by Time magazine. His portfolio included serving as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Germany and he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize seven times.
Holbrooke joined Obama's administration in 2009 as special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, a tough job coordinating the approach to trouble spots that are key foreign policy priorities for Obama.
Holbrooke had been very critical of President George W. Bush's Afghanistan policy. His position in the Obama administration was considered critical as the new president sought to crackdown on al-Qaeda and a resurgent Taliban in the region.http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101214/pl_nm/us_usa_holbrooke_19
December 20th, 2010, 06:02 PM
If there is any valuable heritage in Aynak in Logar, especially if it is 2,600 years old, it should be definitely protected, no matter how much minerals is hidden under it.. :(
Anyway, other news from Logar:
: Czech PRT and Afghan authorities starts construction of one of the first high schools in SE Afghanistan in Pol-e-Alam:
January 23rd, 2011, 12:40 AM
President Hamid Karzai agrees to let new Afghanistan parliament meet, averting crisis
Reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan, and Kabul, — A showdown between President Hamid Karzai and his country's newly elected parliament was averted late Saturday after the Afghan leader agreed to convene the inaugural legislative session this week rather than push for a one-month postponement.
Lawmakers were intent on defying Karzai's order to delay the first session, initially scheduled for Sunday, and had vowed they would meet at a mosque or in the street if security forces blocked them from the parliament building.
The standoff had pushed the Afghan leader and his government to the brink of a full-blown political crisis.
Members of the 249-seat lower house of parliament were elected in September in elections tainted by allegations of fraud and voter intimidation. After investigating the allegations, an election watchdog body discarded one-fourth of the ballots cast and disqualified 19 winning candidates.
Karzai's government, however, pushed for further inquiry into alleged irregularities. It is widely believed that Karzai, an ethnic Pashtun, felt that vote fraud prevented a higher turnout in districts dominated by Pashtun constituencies.
A Supreme Court-ordered special tribunal was established in December to continue investigating the election, and Karzai wanted the inaugural parliamentary session delayed while the tribunal continued its work.
Fraud charges that have come to define elections during Karzai's tenure as president. When he was reelected in 2009, findings of fraud disqualified a third of the vote.
Karzai met with lawmakers Saturday at the presidential palace to hammer out a compromise. Under mounting pressure from the U.N. and the U.S. to back down, Karzai backed off of his insistence on a one-month delay.
Lawmakers said they expected Karzai to formally announce Sunday the agreement reached between the two sides, and then be present Wednesday to inaugurate the new parliament as required by the country's constitution.
If he reneges on the compromise, said lawmaker Fawzai Kofi, "we are ready to inaugurate parliament ourselves at any time."
Elsewhere in Afghanistan on Saturday, one Afghan civilian was killed and two others injured when three militants caught in a firefight with Afghan and coalition troops detonated their explosives-filled suicide vests in the eastern province of Khost, said Abdul Hakim Eshaqzai, the provincial police chief.
Ten militants were killed in the gun battle and 11 others were arrested, Eshaqzai said.
Also Saturday, two NATO troops were killed in a roadside bomb attack in eastern Afghanistan. NATO did not divulge the nationalities of the troops or the specific location of the attack.http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghanistan-karzai-20110123,0,858910.story
March 11th, 2011, 04:24 PM
Chinese mine in Afghanistan threatens ancient find
Wow, I never heard about this.
May 30th, 2011, 09:02 PM
anyone has any recent pictures of azizi tower construction site in kabul.
August 9th, 2011, 04:30 AM
In Afghanistan, a Village Is a Model of Dashed Hopes
ALICE-GHAN, Afghanistan — This tiny village rose from the rocky soil with great hopes and $10 million in foreign aid, a Levittown of identical mud-walled houses built to shelter some of the hundreds of thousands of Afghans set adrift by war and flight.
Five years later, the village of Alice-Ghan and those good intentions are tilting toward ruin. Most of its 1,100 houses have been abandoned to vandals and the lashing winds. With few services or jobs within reach, hundreds of residents have moved away — sometimes even to the slums and temporary shelters they had sought to escape. More: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/09/world/asia/09land.html
August 21st, 2011, 03:21 AM
Kabul Rock City
Afghan youth take on corruption and war with heavy metal.
The Afghan rock band, The White Page, takes on corruption and war via their music [Travis Beard]
In November 2010, four 20-something Afghans took the stage at a private party in a Kabul French restaurant. As the young men walked on stage, their long black hair, leather jackets, hoodies, electric guitars, a bass, and a drum kit conspicuously took the place of the traditionally Afghan tabla, harmonium, and robab. This was Afghanistan's "first heavy metal band," D.U., who proceed to rip into a cover of shock-rocker Marilyn Manson's cover of the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)".
The shock rocker's disturbing and gritty take on a pop song built almost entirely on computers may seem to some as out of place in today's Afghanistan, but it is in fact a perfect continuation of Afghanistan's long legacy of music and poetry. From Rabia Balkhi's fabled odes, to her beloved writing on the walls of a hamam (bath) with the very blood gushing out of her jugular veins in the final moments of her life, to an iconic Afghan singer-songwriter singing about crushing defeats in a life full of "death and despair" in the 1970s, the rich history of poetry and music in Afghanistan has often veered onto darker paths than the devotionals to the beloved that have made Afghan-born Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi the world's best-selling poet.
Though icons of Afghan music like Ahmad Zahir, Farhad Darya, and the band Stars have been mixing Western and traditionally Afghan styles of music since the 1970s, D.U. is part of a new wave in the youth-led Afghan music scene. Along with the White Page and Afghan-American singer-songwriter Ariana Delawari, D.U.'s music has the distinct character of post-Taliban Kabul. This is music that is as much affected by the artists' time outside the nation as they are brazenly vocal affronts to Taliban-era repression of Afghan culture and self-expression.
September 3rd, 2011, 08:08 PM
First major Afghan railway opens
25 August 2011
AFGHANISTAN: Freight services began running on Afghanistan's first major railway on August 20-21. This followed the signing on August 4 of a three-year agreement for Uzbek national railway UTY to operate the 75 km 1 520 mm gauge line, which it built at a cost of US$165m using Asian Development Bank funding.
The line starts at the Hayratan freight terminal on the Afghan side of the Uzbek border, which handles around half of Afghanistan's imports and is served by a Soviet-built rail spur dating from the early 1980s. It runs though an empty landscape to a freight terminal near Mazar-i-Sharif airport.
UTY has been appointed to operate the line as its only international connection is through Uzbekistan, and the lack of an indigenous rail industry in Afghanistan means it will take time to train local operations and maintenance staff.
Afghanistan's only other main line railway is a short spur across the border from Turkmenistan. However an Iranian-funded 1 435 mm gauge line is under construction from Iran to Herat, and studies are underway for the creation of a northern rail corridor from Herat to Mazar-i-Sharif and Tajikistan. This would provide the Central Asian republics with a route to the sea; studies are underway for a link from Atamyrat in Turkmenistan to Andkhoi which could link with this corridor.
A north-south line to serve the Aynak copper mining development is also being studied by Chinese mining firm MCC.
October 6th, 2011, 06:27 PM
^A video from last year showing some scenes of the railroad:
November 2nd, 2011, 06:10 AM
India's Track 3: Afghan-Iran rail link (http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/India-s-Track-3-Afghan-Iran-rail-link/Article1-763448.aspx)
In a bold move to assert itself in the Af-Pak region and reduce Pakistan's room for manoeuvre, India is finalising a plan to construct a 900-km railway line that will connect Chabahar port in Iran, being built with Indian help, to the mineral-rich Hajigak region of Afghanistan.
It will open opportunities for Indian companies to explore Afghanistan's mineral wealth, believed to be worth $1-3 trillion (Rs 50-150 lakh crore), for mutual benefit. Just consider: the entire Indian economy is valued at $1.2 trillion (Rs 60 lakh crore);
It will add to the economic rationale for Indian investment in Chabahar; Once the entire network comprising of road, rail and port is in place, it can become a launching pad for greater economic and strategic involvement of India in the oil and mineral-rich Central Asia; However, the greater cooperation with Iran in Chabahar (and, presumably, in other areas) will almost certainly upset the Americans, whose support is essential if India is to play a greater role in the region.
Based on a note prepared by the ministry of external affairs (MEA) on this subject, foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai held a meeting on August 10 with representatives of the ministries of railways and mining, sources told Hindustan Times.
Indian ambassador to Afghanistan Gautam Mukhopadhyay was also present at the meeting.
"In order to coordinate the strategy for investment in Hajigak in the backdrop of the security, infrastructure, financial and regional challenges involved, there is a need to plan and craft our strategy to address these challenge," says a note the MEA had sent to the Railways.
Hajigak, 130 km west of Kabul in Bamiyan province, holds Afghanistan's largest iron ore deposits. Of the 22 companies shortlisted for the bid for these mines 14 are Indian, including a consortium led by the public sector Steel Authority of India Limited.
November 3rd, 2011, 07:09 AM
Map showing priority areas for mineral development
Source-The Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/8862583/India-plans-worlds-most-dangerous-railroad-from-Afghanistan-to-Iran.html)
November 21st, 2011, 03:21 PM
アフガニスタン (http://www.flickr.com/photos/7571106@N07/1786362341/) by bbjunko100 (http://www.flickr.com/people/7571106@N07/), on Flickr
June 6th, 2012, 04:41 AM
Afghanistan likely to dominate summit
The 12th Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit opened in Beijing on Tuesday, ahead of next week's International Conference on Afghanistan in Kabul on June 14.
Therefore, even though the agenda for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit is one of finalizing its membership procedures, Afghanistan will still set the tone and tenor of proceedings. Read more (http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2012-06/06/content_15477043.htm)
July 17th, 2012, 05:10 AM
-- India's growing stake in Afghanistan (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-18622573)
-- Afghanistan woos Indian investors (http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,16062576,00.html)
India's SpiceJet launches service to Kabul from Aug 14 (http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/logistics/article3634736.ece?ref=wl_industry-and-economy)
NEW DELHI, JULY 13:
Low-fare airline SpiceJet has announced launching flights to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, from August 14. With this, it will become the first private airline to operate to that country. Ticket sales commence today. Its fleet consists of Bombardier Q400 NextGen Turboprop and Boeing’s 737 aircraft.
Speaking on the announcement, SpiceJet's Chief Executive Office, Mr Neil Mills said, “Kabul is an important destination for us. India and Afghanistan have ancient cultural connections and the launch of new services would bridge the distance between the two countries and help to enhance this old relationship. It is our endeavour to offer and maintain a competitive and affordable price structure to make SpiceJet a preferred carrier for inbound and outbound passengers.”
SpiceJet would initially offer thrice-weekly flights on the Delhi-Kabul route — on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
July 17th, 2012, 05:16 AM
US Army Press Release: Corps of Engineers completes $5 million Afghan flood-control project (http://www.army.mil/article/82038/Corps_of_Engineers_completes__5_million_Afghan_flood_control_project/)
KABUL, Afghanistan (June 19, 2012) -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a $5 million flood-control project constructed to protect the Afghanistan National Army 201st Corps garrison at Gamberi from devastation.
Lakeshore, who built the flood control project located in Laghman Province, was joined by members from the Afghanistan National Army 201st Corps, USACE, the director of Public Works and other civic and provincial leaders and stakeholders in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the project's completion.
After a local Imam blessed the project, an ANA official thanked everyone for their contributions to the success of the ANA mission. The ceremonial ribbon was cut into many pieces and passed as souvenirs. Many in the crowd applauded as the first cars drove across the new bridge. The old bridge will be demolished and removed.
Constructed by Detroit-based Lakeshore Toltest JV LLC., the Wadi Mitigation and Outer Perimeter Road project was built after the garrison experienced two back-to-back 100-year floods in 2009 and 2010. A 100-year flood is often described as flooding that is expected to exceed water levels every 100 years on average, thus there is a one percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any single year.
"The project was designed to capture rain runoff from the surrounding hills and channel it to a nearby river before it runs through the garrison," noted Maj. James Thompson, officer-in-charge of the Afghanistan Engineer District-North's Gamberi Resident Office. "The diversion ditch is lined with concrete to enhance its long-term sustainability by allowing ANA to remove any silt build-ups after major rains."
July 24th, 2012, 04:26 AM
- Turkey to Extend 150 mln USD to Projects in Afghanistan (http://www.turkishweekly.net/news/137990/turkey-to-extend-150-mln-usd-to-projects-in-afghanistan.html)
- Afghanistan Signs $125m Grant with the World Bank to Improve Rural Roads
- US to spend $297m on energy projects in Afghanistan (http://www.thefrontierpost.com/article/168662/#)
November 20th, 2012, 07:47 PM
So there are no development news? A few years ago there where pretty spectacular ides for Kabul.
December 29th, 2012, 09:37 AM
AFGHANISTAN, SMART DEFENCE DOMINATE NATO''S FOCUS IN 2012
BRUSSELS, Dec 29 (NNN-KUNA) -- Future engagement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Afghanistan, developing NATO's military capabilities and strengthening partnerships worldwide were three issues which dominated the focus of the 28-member Alliance in 2012.
And concerning the Gulf region, namely Kuwait, officials re-affirmed the strategy of maintaining "partnerships" with states of the region, namely Kuwait. Read more (http://namnewsnetwork.org/v3/read.php?id=MjE2NjYz)
January 7th, 2013, 04:17 PM
World's best frenemies: Karzai, Obama set to discuss long-term ties
KABUL, Afghanistan -- Nabilla Achmadi should be a poster child for the United States intervention in Afghanistan: She attends high school and is a member of the the country’s cricket team, both of which would have been unthinkable under the Taliban.
Despite this, she has decidedly mixed view of the foreign soldiers in her country.
“It is time for America to go,” she told NBC News, then added: “But after they do, the Taliban will recapture Afghanistan and their cruel rule will begin again, so maybe the U.S. should stay here."Read more (http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/07/16390901-worlds-best-frenemies-karzai-obama-set-to-discuss-long-term-ties?lite)
March 15th, 2013, 12:16 AM
This thread should be renamed to 'Aghanistan Projects and Updates' or something along those lines.
From a PDF (http://www.mea.gov.in/Uploads/PublicationDocs/176_india-and-afghanistan-a-development-partnership.pdf) on the Indian Ministry of External Affairs' website:
If you've got time, then I'd recommend checking out this PDF (http://www.mea.gov.in/Uploads/PublicationDocs/176_india-and-afghanistan-a-development-partnership.pdf) on India and Afghanistan's partnership on developing the country. It contains a comprehensive (but not exhaustive) list of all the small to big projects underway and built.
March 15th, 2013, 12:38 AM
Japan funds 4 Afghan development projects (http://centralasiaonline.com/en_GB/articles/caii/newsbriefs/2013/03/06/newsbrief-11)
KABUL – Japan March 5 agreed to provide about US $117m (6.1 billion AFN) for four major development projects in Afghanistan, the Afghan Foreign Ministry said.
Japan will provide US $34.6m (1.8 billion AFN) to provide oil to governmental organisations, US $16.8m (882m AFN) to develop Kabul International Airport, US $33.9m (1.8 billion AFN) to maintain roads and US $31.6m (1.7 billion AFN) to develop the water supply network for the New Kabul City Project, the ministry said.
Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul has welcomed Japan's financial aid and lauded its contribution in rebuilding Afghanistan, TOLO News reported.
Afghanistan possibly could join Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project (http://www.messenger.com.ge/issues/2817_march_13_2013/2817_econ_two.html)
During the official visit of the Afghan delegation in Baku on March 7, the issue of possibly joining of Afghanistan with the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway link was discussed. With this possibility, Afghanistan could manage to establish a land connection with Europe. This option shows that the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project has the prospects of becoming a very important link connecting Europe with Asia.
March 16th, 2013, 06:45 AM
this is really nice!
March 18th, 2013, 05:23 PM
Eight new 0.9M US dollars Japan funded projects for the Ghor province
CHAGHCHARAN, Afghanistan - On March 13, in the Lithuanian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team ISAF base, Japanese Embassy and local NGOs representatives have signed eight new projects concerning infrastructure, health and education systems.
All projects have been funded by the Japanese government - which has allocated almost 900 thousand. U.S. dollars - and involve the construction of two elementary schools, two primary health care centers, a women's human rights center building, a surrounding wall for the Chaghcharan women's dormitory, a small hydropower construction and the Chaghcharan sanitation improvement.
The projects are committed to improve the development level of the Ghor province and will have a direct impact on people living in the area. The two newly built primary school, for instance, will give the opportunity to 600 students to study under better conditions, while the two primary health centers will provide public health protection to more than 33,000 inhabitants.Read more (http://www.dvidshub.net/news/103607/eight-new-09m-us-dollars-japan-funded-projects-ghor-province#.UUcw9RdqTzw#ixzz2NuBRLLaA)
April 11th, 2013, 08:11 PM
In Northern Afghanistan