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Old May 30th, 2009, 10:30 PM   #1
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AFGHANISTAN | افغانستان‎ | Projects and Updates

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

Map of Afghanistan:
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Old May 31st, 2009, 06:46 PM   #2
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Time Magazine: Iran's Spending Spree in Afghanistan

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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.
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Old June 18th, 2009, 08:00 PM   #3
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US ambassador dedicates first Afghan nat'l park

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.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090618/...nal_park/print
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Old August 19th, 2009, 10:57 PM   #4
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Indian projects in Afghanistan from the WSJ-

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Old April 23rd, 2010, 06:21 AM   #5
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Iran major contributor to Afghanistan

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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

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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.
....
..
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Old April 25th, 2010, 12:01 PM   #6
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Malaysia To Provide Mobile Military Hospital In Afghanistan
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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/ne....php?id=493239
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Old April 26th, 2010, 05:42 PM   #7
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Iowa National Guard team to help Afghan farmers
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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
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Old May 9th, 2010, 11:33 AM   #8
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Afghan railway to draw Taliban fire as it boosts economy, NATO
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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.

Needing Pakistan

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.

First Step

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.

Rail Bed

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
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Old May 12th, 2010, 06:48 AM   #9
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AFGHAN PROHIBITION OF UNDER-AGE POLICE RECRUITMENT WINS UN APPLAUSE
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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
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Old May 14th, 2010, 02:36 AM   #10
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Latvian Minister of Defence to Take Part in the Conference Dedicated to the International Operation in Afghanistan
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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
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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/
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Old May 31st, 2010, 09:39 AM   #11
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Afghanistan sees 'revolution' with first railway
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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...20100530071259
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Old June 12th, 2010, 05:03 AM   #12
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Afghanistan faces 'vital year', Cameron warns
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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...n-81c5b50.html
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Old June 14th, 2010, 03:52 PM   #13
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U.S. DISCOVERS VAST RICHES OF MINERALS IN AFGHANISTAN -- DAILY
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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
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Old June 21st, 2010, 04:27 PM   #14
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Afghanistan To Re-Tender Oil, Gas License In Summer - Minister
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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/mar...Search+Results
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Old July 26th, 2010, 05:30 AM   #15
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BODY TO TAKE PARLIAMENT INTO CONFIDENCE OVER AFGHAN TRADE: PAKISTANI PM
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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
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Old August 22nd, 2010, 07:01 AM   #16
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Afghanistan Opening First Shariah-Based Banks: Islamic Finance
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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.”

Sukuk Plan

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.

Debt Returns

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.

‘Good Growth’

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/201...c-finance.html
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Old September 24th, 2010, 06:49 AM   #17
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Afghanistan, China Metallurgical Sign Agreement on Rail Line, Xinhua Says
Quote:
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/2010-0...nhua-says.html

Afghanistan says confident can secure TAPI gas pipeline
Quote:
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.

SECURITY CONCERNS

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/2...-gas-pipeline/
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Old October 6th, 2010, 09:43 AM   #18
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Afghanistan bans foreign security firms
Quote:
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...20101003133804

Afghanistan storm into ICC Cup final
Quote:
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...006-166l3.html
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Old October 9th, 2010, 04:43 AM   #19
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Afghanistan wants to buy Kazakhstani wheat
Quote:
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/...5/newsbrief-08
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Old November 2nd, 2010, 07:56 AM   #20
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PCA hails new Pak-Afghan trade pact
Quote:
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 report
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default...11-2010_pg10_3
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