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  • A bloody day in Kandahar

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    • KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai sat at the head of the long table and told the tribal elders he would try to help them with a personnel problem. But he had to balance the needs of Afghans and the desires of foreigners.

      "Do you agree with me?" Karzai asked. The room of 60 men was silent. "Why are you quiet? Do you agree with me? Do you support me?"

      "No!" several men shouted. Not unless Karzai reversed his decision to remove the eastern Afghanistan border-police commander.

      "You are the president," said elder Payandagul Shinwari. "You can do it. You should do it for us. Otherwise we will not support you."

      This was just one group demanding something from Karzai in exchange for its support. Strangled by high expectations, squeezed from all sides, Karzai is caught between foreigners and Afghans, between tribes and ethnic groups. At times he appears paralyzed, unable to act. He's in a corner, trying to please as much as he can but suffering his lowest popularity ratings.

      As for the request to keep the border commander in his post, Karzai, of the Pashtun tribal group, said he would look into it.

      Nearly five years ago, Karzai was Afghanistan's hope, the darling of the West, the embodiment of democracy and Islam. He was charming, dashing, inspiring. When the question of leadership in Iraq came up, the world bemoaned the fact that Iraq had no Karzai.

      But in recent weeks Karzai, 48, has faced some of the worst pressure of his presidency, and not just over the re-emergence of the Taliban, the burgeoning heroin trade and allegations of corruption within the government.

      The pressure also comes from the international community, baffled by his recent decisions on security and police reform. It comes from average Afghans, increasingly frustrated with what they see as a lack of progress in their war-torn nation. And it's from new political opponents, flexing muscles in the fledgling parliament and working to undermine Karzai in the streets.

      Continue reading..... Once Afghanistan's great hope, Karzai sees critics everywhere

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      • ISLAMABAD, June 25: A private television channel on Sunday broadcast what it said was an audiotape from the fugitive leader of the ousted Taliban militia, Mulla Omar, claiming his fighters still controlled large parts of Afghanistan.

        The authenticity of the tape could not be independently verified. The network said it had been sent the voice clip via email from Afghan capital Kabul.

        A purported Taliban spokesman, Mohammed Hanif, quoted by the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press denied that Mullah Omar had issued any new audiotape.

        The man said to be Omar was purportedly addressing a Taliban military council in the southern Afghan province of Helmand and claimed that his movement still held sway over large parts of Afghanistan.

        “Losing the capital of Afghanistan does not mean that Taliban have finished,” the network’s translation quoted him as saying.

        Addressing Afghan President Hamid Karzai but not naming him directly, the man said: “If today the American military abandons you, you have no standing. Russia’s military also came to Afghanistan — remember its fate.”

        The man said that Afghanistan was a Muslim country where believers were in a majority and outsiders would never be able to impose their ideology there.

        “The rulers of Kabul would not be able to run the country with the wisdom of others, and God willing they would be destroyed,” he said.

        Large parts of Afghanistan under Taliban control: Omar

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        • Many great armies have rolled through Maiwand. Over the centuries Persians, Moghuls and Russians have traversed the ramshackle hamlet on the sunbaked plains of western Kandahar. But nobody has forgotten the British.

          "Even a child knows the history," snorted Muhammad Amman, an 85-yearold with a combed white beard, recalling a battle 126 years ago. "A king gathered the people to vanquish the British - a great victory." Other shoppers in the town bazaar nodded vigorously as he described Britons in derogatory terms, including one involving sexual relations with donkeys.

          Anti-foreigner sentiment has risen sharply in southern Afghanistan as bloodshed intensifies. Over the weekend 45 Taliban militants and two soldiers from the US-led coalition were killed in Panjwayi district, near Maiwand, the coalition said. More than 250 people have died in Operation Mountain Thrust, a major anti- Taliban offensive launched 11 days ago.

          Western commanders claim they are bringing the insurgency to heel, but there is growing resentment among Afghans at the high death toll. President Hamid Karzai acknowledged this last week, saying: "It is not acceptable for us that in all this fighting, Afghans are dying."

          Memories of expelling unwanted outsiders are strongest in Maiwand. In 1880 almost 1,000 British and Indian soldiers died at the hands of an Afghan tribal army at the height of the second Anglo-Afghan war. One British officer, recalling the frantic retreat along a "blood-stained" road, described Maiwand as "simply a rat trap".

          Today the town - an unlovely haunt of drug traders, Taliban spies and unhappy tribesmen - has lost little of its menace. A charred police jeep lies where four police died in a recent roadside bomb. Hashish and opium are sold openly in the bazaar, where pro-Taliban sympathies are freely expressed.

          "The Taliban want to clear our territory of infidels, and why not?" said shopkeeper Abdul Ali Maiwandi. "At least when the Taliban are in power your property is safe, your family is safe, and you are safe."

          Bullet holes pockmark the front gate of the police station. The militants are well equipped and organised, said Umar Jan, the chain-smoking police chief. "They use mobile phones to coordinate ambushes on our patrols. It's a big problem," he said.

          One quarter of the town's 60 police had been killed in the past three months, he complained, yet Canadian soldiers based in Kandahar, 40 miles east, had done little to help. "They show up maybe once a week, promising vehicles and ammunition but bringing nothing," he said. "Now we take their words like a joke."

          Around 3,300 British troops are stationed in Helmand province, 15 miles away.

          The heroine of the 1880 battle was Malalai of Maiwand, who roused Pashtun tribesmen to fight and is still celebrated as a national hero. Lal Muhammad, 61, who described himself as her great-greatgrandson, declared: "I am not afraid of you foreign infidels. We have a proud history against you."

          Soon the Afghan tribes will rise up, he said. "A time will come when your modern technology no longer works. Then we will fight you by sword, and we will see who is strongest," he said, predicting a "great war" in which Christ will return and convert to Islam.

          Others had more prosaic concerns. Haider Khan, 38, was disgusted that his son, 16, could no longer attend school. "I want him to be educated but the school is closed. There is no good system here."

          Talatbek Masadykov, head of the UN office in Kandahar, said he believed most southerners still supported western intervention.

          But rising violence had released frustrations at the failures of the Karzai administration, he said. "The government's popularity is very low in the south," he said. "It has failed to provide security and been slow to sack corrupt officials. That creates a lot of animosity."

          We'll beat you again, Afghans warn British

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          • KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Two British soldiers were killed in fighting on Tuesday in southern Afghanistan, where U.S.-led forces are mounting their biggest offensive against Taliban militia since 2002.

            Violence has surged in Afghanistan this year to its worst level since the hardline Islamist militia was ousted in 2001 for refusing to give up Osama bin Laden. More than 1,100 people, including nearly 50 foreign troops, have been killed.

            In other violence on Tuesday, a suspected suicide car-bomber attacked a German peacekeeping patrol in the generally peaceful north but none of the troops was hurt, a spokesman said. The bomber and two passers-by were killed, an Afghan official said.

            A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman in London said the two British soldiers were killed in action in the Sangin valley of Helmand province, in the southwest of the country, in the early hours of the morning.


            "Two members of the UK armed forces have been killed in action in Afghanistan," she said. "The next of kin are being informed but there are no further details."

            The deaths are the second and third British military fatalities since UK forces were deployed to the volatile area of Helmand in recent months.

            A spokesman for the Taliban said its fighters had killed a large number of foreign and Afghan troops in Helmand and destroyed three trucks carrying supplies for foreign forces.

            The spokesman, Qari Mohammad Yousuf, said the fighting went on for four hours. Residents in the area reported heavy fighting including airstrikes by foreign forces.....

            Continue reading..... Two British soldiers killed in Afghanistan

            2-page article

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            • ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she will visit Afghanistan on Wednesday to bolster President Hamid Karzai as he fights to stem a surge in militant violence.

              "This is an extraordinary leader and we're going to back him and back him fully.

              "And when he has problems, we're going to sit with him and we're going to find ways to resolve those problems," Rice told reporters en route to Pakistan, where she arrived on Tuesday.

              Rice to visit Afghanistan Wednesday to back Karzai

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              • It is very sad that the killings still continue in Afganisthan & Iraq,
                even after installation of an elected government.

                Even in the aftermath of WW II there has not been so much killings for so long in encounters between local militant groups and occupying Russian & Allied forces!

                I fervently hope the killings of innocent civilians come to an end soon.

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                • Growing Taliban violence, drug-smuggling, corruption and deteriorating foreign relations are eroding Afghan president Hamid Karzai's authority:

                  The grumbling men gathered in Maiwand, a southern town of slouching shops, greasy truck stops and alarming violence. Days earlier a roadside bomb killed four police, they said. Taliban spies roamed the bazaar. Foreign soldiers visited infrequently.

                  But for a moment inside the pokey shop, the current of debate swirled angrily around Afghanistan's amiable leader, Hamid Karzai.

                  "Pah," said Abdul Ali Maiwandi impatiently. "He speaks well but fails to act. He would be a good president if he delivered on his promises. But there is nothing but trouble."

                  The southern shopkeeper is not the only one raising uncomfortable questions about Mr Karzai's leadership as Afghanistan lurches through its worst crisis since the Taliban's ouster in 2001. Surging Taliban violence has caused 600 deaths in the past six weeks. Corruption is rife and drug smuggling is virtually holding the economy hostage.

                  Karzai, 48, once hailed as the best hope for galvanising a fractious nation, is increasingly blamed. There are no opinion polls, but his popularity has undeniably dipped sharply.

                  Ordinary Afghans are angry he has failed to deliver them from abrasive poverty or to fire corrupt officials. Western diplomats say he has reneged on promises of reform in favour of bullying warlords.

                  And in the south, where the Taliban has made a dramatic return this year, some hold Karzai indirectly responsible for US and British bombing campaigns that have caused most of the 600 deaths.

                  The sense of resentment exploded in Kabul in late May when a US military road accident touched off citywide riots that left about 20 people dead. Suddenly even the old jibes about Karzai being the "mayor of Kabul" - a reference suggesting his power was limited to the capital - rang less true.

                  The barrage of criticism has caused secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to fly to Kabul today [Wednesday] to bolster America's main Afghan ally. "This is an extraordinary leader and we're going to back him and back him fully," she told reporters on the plane.

                  Yet four years ago, after he was propelled to power by the US, Karzai could do little wrong. Charming, urbane and respected, the royal-blooded Pashtun wooed billions of pounds in western development funds to help rebuild his country. Admirers spoke of his dignified poise; the Gucci designer Tom Ford termed him the "most chic man on earth".

                  Karzai toiled to forge consensus among Afghanistan's sparring factions, urging them to embrace his vision of a unified nation unspoiled by ethnic rivalries. The October 2004 presidential election, which he won with 54 per cent of votes, confirmed that most Afghans agreed with his ideas.

                  But as chaos spilled across the countryside this summer, those qualities are shadowed by questions. Karzai looks increasingly isolated inside his fortified Kabul palace. He remains an inspiring statesman, many agree. But is he a good leader?

                  There have been a number of stumbles. A bad-tempered war of words with President Pervez Musharraf has plunged relations with Pakistan to their lowest level in years. On the current trip - Islamabad yesterday, Kabul today - Ms Rice hopes to help them mend relations.

                  Karzai is affected by dark rumblings about powerful officials being involved in the drugs trade (including one of his own brothers) that refuse to go away. And his dependence on foreign aid - over 30,000 troops and billions in cash - can make him look impotent.

                  Six months ago, for example, Karzai ordered the removal of concrete bomb barriers outside foreign embassies, which snarl the traffic and annoy many Afghans. The barriers are still standing.

                  But now the foreigners are also unhappy, particularly with his reluctance to sideline the faction leaders who helped destroy the country during a quarter century of war, yet remain powerful. Earlier this month, for example, European diplomats were livid at the appointment of 13 new police chiefs, all of whom had links to crime or human rights abuses.

                  "This is unacceptable," said one. "It undermines the efforts we have already agreed upon."

                  Relations soured further with a plan to arm southern villagers against the Taliban. Karzai's officials termed the force "community policemen". Others saw it as the rearming of warlords' militias. Japan, which has spent $100m (£54.9m) on disarming 62,000 gunmen, is particularly displeased.

                  The finger-pointing has provoked bitter indignation from Karzai's officials, who accuse the foreigners of hypocritical meddling. "People forget this is the president they are talking about. It's his responsibility to do his best for the people," said chief of staff Jawed Ludin.

                  Other officials say the west is blaming Karzai for a mess that it created four years ago - an argument with some validity.

                  In 2001, US military had too few troops in Afghanistan to establish control over rural areas. So they turned to regional mujahideen commanders, who also helped with the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the Taliban remnants.

                  Today's chaos partly results from this myopic, cut-price nation-building. The warlords have become drug kingpins, engaged in spectacular corruption, or deeply embedded themselves in national politics.

                  "The president was never opposed to cleaning the slate and separating good from bad," said one frustrated palace insider. "But you know who stopped him?"

                  The sharp talk may be just a product of stressful times. In public, Karzai maintains an air of confidence, visiting Baghlan province to open a $30m road this week. And most Afghans say they can't imagine another leader.

                  But failure to tackle the three factors that threaten Afghanistan more than ever - drugs, thugs and corruption - could endanger more than just Karzai's popularity ratings. Just ask the shopkeepers of Maiwand.

                  Distempered days

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                  • "That Afghanistan has enemies is not a surprise to anyone," Ms Rice said after meetings behind heavy fortifications with President Karzai and military commanders.

                    Rice: U.S. 'will not tire' in fight against Taliban

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                    • Rice should know that fighting and using Military power is not going to solve the problem . rice should help Karzai build roads , instead of Mansions to all the Ministers and their relatives .
                      Karzai should create jobs ,a basic infrastructure, basic schooling , help to the widows who are begging on the streets . May be keeping people happy , showing them a little hope will make them Fight the Talibans instead of offering them food and shelter and amunitions agaisnt karzai government.
                      Friendship

                      [60:8] GOD does not enjoin you from befriending those who do not fight you because of religion, and do not evict you from your homes. You may befriend them and be equitable towards them. GOD loves the equitable.

                      [60:9] GOD enjoins you only from befriending those who fight you because of religion, evict you from your homes, and band together with others to banish you. You shall not befriend them. Those who befriend them are the transgressors

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                      • Fourteen Taliban rebels and one coalition soldier have been killed in fighting and a mine explosion in southern Afghanistan, the U.S. military confirmed Thursday.

                        Twelve rebels were killed in an attack on a Taliban post in the province of Uruzgan, while another two were killed by police in the province of Kandahar, according to a military statement and a report from Pajhwok news agency.

                        The coalition soldier was killed in Helmand province when a mine, believed to have been buried during Afghanistan's civil war, exploded. Three soldiers were injured in the blast.

                        >>>Source<<<

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                        • 20 dead in fresh Afghan violence

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                          • KABUL, July 1 (Reuters) - Two rockets hit the main international military base in southern Afghanistan wounding 10 people including two Canadian soldiers, military officials said on Saturday.

                            Violence has surged in Afghanistan in recent months to its worst level since the Taliban were ousted in 2001. More than 1,100 people, including about 50 foreign troops, have been killed since January.

                            Two 107 mm rockets hit the main foreign military base at the airport in the town of Kandahar on Friday evening.

                            Taliban occasionally fire rockets into the sprawling base, home to 7,000 soldiers and civilian workers, but they usually explode harmlessly on open ground. Friday's attack was the first time anyone had been hurt.

                            "Two explosions occurred within the perimeter of Kandahar air field," said the Canadian military spokesman, Major Marc Theriault.

                            "One of them occurred in a common area and several people from various nations were wounded, among them two Canadian soldiers," he said.

                            The U.S. military said 10 people were hurt. Three people had been treated for injuries and released, six were in stable condition and one was in serious condition, it said. It gave no more details.

                            The Taliban commander for southern Afghanistan, Mullah Dadullah, claimed responsibility.

                            "We fired several rockets at the air base and they hit their target," said Dadullah, speaking by telephone from an undisclosed location. "We will carry out more such attacks."

                            Theriault said the attack was the seventh since he arrived at the base in February. In all, 22 rockets had been fired, he said.

                            The Canadian in critical condition was being evacuated to Germany, he said.

                            In a separate incident, gunmen attacked a police post in the generally peaceful north of the country early on Saturday, seriously wounding two men, police said.

                            It was the first suspected insurgent attack in the town of Koad-e-Barq, in Balkh province, and follows a series of attacks on foreign troops in the north that have raised fears the Taliban are expanding operations from their southern and eastern heartland.

                            Rockets hit foreign base in Afghanistan, 10 hurt

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