15 December 2019

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Friday November 8, 2019
Kabul (BNA) For decades, Pakistan has played an active however negative role in Afghanistan, a Congressional report has mentioned, asserting that Islamabad desires a weak authorities in Kabul.
In its newest report on Afghanistan, the impartial and bipartisan Congressional Analysis Service (CRS) recognized Pakistan as crucial neighbor of Afghanistan.
Pakistan, it mentioned, has played an active, and by many accounts, a negative role in Afghan affairs for many years.
“Pakistan’s security services maintain ties to Afghan insurgent groups, most notably the Haqqani Network, a US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) that has become an official, semi-autonomous component of the Taliban,” CRS, which periodically prepares reviews on points of significance for Congressmen for them to make knowledgeable choices, mentioned.
Afghan leaders, together with US army commanders, attribute a lot of the insurgency’s energy and longevity both immediately or not directly to Pakistani help, the report mentioned, including that President Donald Trump has accused Pakistan of “housing the very terrorists that we are fighting”.
US officers have lengthy recognized militant secure havens in Pakistan as a risk to Afghanistan’s safety, although some Pakistani officers dispute the cost, it mentioned
“Pakistan may view a weak and destabilized Afghanistan as preferable to a strong, unified Afghan state (particularly one led by an ethnic Pashtun-dominated government in Kabul; Pakistan has a large and restive Pashtun minority),” the CRS mentioned.
Nevertheless, instability in Afghanistan might rebound to Pakistan’s detriment; Pakistan has struggled with indigenous Islamist militants of its personal, the report added.
Afghanistan-Pakistan relations are additional sophisticated by the presence of over 1,000,000 Afghan refugees in Pakistan, as properly an extended-operating and ethnically tinged dispute over their shared 1,600-mile border.
“Pakistan’s security establishment, fearful of a strategic encirclement by India, apparently continues to view the Afghan Taliban as a relatively friendly and reliable anti-India element in Afghanistan,” the CRS mentioned.
“India’s diplomatic and commercial presence in Afghanistan and US rhetorical support for it exacerbates Pakistani fears of encirclement. Indian interest in Afghanistan stems largely from India’s broader regional rivalry with Pakistan, which impedes Indian efforts to establish stronger and more direct commercial and political relations with central Asia,” the CRS mentioned in its newest report on Afghanistan.
The CRS mentioned rebel and terrorist teams have demonstrated appreciable capabilities in 2019, throwing into sharp aid the daunting safety challenges that the Afghan authorities and its US and worldwide companions face. On the similar time, prospects for a negotiated settlement, pushed by direct US-Taliban talks, are unsure in gentle of the September 2019 cancelation of these negotiations and the Taliban’s continued refusal to speak to the Afghan authorities, it mentioned.
The CRS warned {that a} potential collapse of the Afghan army and/or the federal government that instructions it might have vital implications for the US, significantly given the character of negotiated safety preparations.
Regardless of how doubtless the Taliban can be to realize full management overall and even most of the nation, the breakdown of social order and the fracturing of the nation into fiefdoms managed by paramilitary commanders and their respective militias could also be believable, even possible, the report added.
Timesofindia
Ansari

 

Friday November 8, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Leaked documents have unmasked senior Afghan officials and their families as recent owners of luxury offshore property in Dubai, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal.
Included in the documents seen by the Bureau are relatives of two former presidents, a presidential candidate whose brother was reported to have flown into the UAE with more than $50 million in cash, and a senior intelligence official whose father was implicated in involvement with the transfer of large sums of money from Afghanistan.
Holding property overseas is not illegal and does not in itself imply any wrongdoing. But concerns have been mounting generally about alleged corruption among some senior Afghan officials. Few, if any, of the properties appear to have been declared on official registers, as is required by Afghanistan’s often ignored and broadly ineffective anti-corruption rules.
The evidence of luxury property ownership in Dubai raises concerns that merit further investigation, according to a leading anti-corruption charity.
“It’s too easy for officials to buy property in Dubai with anonymity,” said Maira Matini, from Transparency International. “There's no information available that would help detect wrongdoing. There needs to be more transparency.
“This doesn’t mean that those officials are corrupt,” she added. “However, it does raise red flags and needs to be investigated by the authorities.”
Over the past twenty years, Afghanistan has been rocked by numerous corruption scandals, some of which have gone to the very top. From wartime contracts to unchecked foreign aid and CIA suitcases full of cash funneled to favored politicians and warlords, corruption has proved a stubborn problem to solve. The U.S. special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction has said: “While Afghanistan undoubtedly had a corruption problem prior to 2001, U.S. and coalition spending acted as gasoline thrown on an already burning fire.”
Despite numerous initiatives, critics have lambasted government programs to tackle corruption, with one calling them “cosmetic.”
The reputation of the Afghan government has ramifications for the country as a whole. Last month the U.S. announced it would cut $160 million in aid, accusing Afghanistan of failing to fight corruption—only a week before the country’s presidential elections began. It is rare for Washington to withhold direct funding from Kabul, which relies heavily on its support.
The Bureau’s findings are based on a leak of property data in Dubai, first obtained by the U.S. non-profit C4ADS and shared with the Bureau by Finance Uncovered and OCCRP. The Bureau then cross-referenced this data against official and public records to corroborate the findings.
The results shed light on assets held in the usually secretive emirate. The Bureau found numerous Afghan officials and relatives have recently owned property in Dubai, including members of prominent political families that have been linked to some of Afghanistan’s biggest corruption scandals.
One leading Afghan found to have owned property in Dubai is Ahmad Wali Massoud, who is currently running for president. A leaked diplomatic cable alleged that in October 2009, his brother Ahmad Zia Massoud, then the vice-president of Afghanistan, flew into the UAE with $52 million in cash.
Also in the records was Adib Ahmad Fahim, a senior intelligence official. His late father, General Mohammed Qasim Fahim, another former vice-president, was identified as the part owner of Pamir Airways in a U.S. diplomatic cable. The airline was believed to have ferried money to Dubai hidden in airplane food trays. Fahim’s uncle Haseen was also a major shareholder in Kabul bank, which was at the centre of a massive scandal over millions of dollars allegedly given out in suspect insider loans before it collapsed in 2010.
Ghulam Farooq Wardak, the state minister for parliamentary affairs, appears in the records with his wife. They recently owned two properties in exclusive areas of Dubai, including one on Jumeirah beach.
Wardak was previously Afghanistan’s education minister, and his successor in the post raised concerns over possible corruption at the ministry. An investigation ordered by President Ashraf Ghani is said to have found evidence of embezzlement within the ministry and inaccurate data records on the number of schools that diverted money from donors.
Two members of Afghanistan’s parliament appear in the list. Saleh Mohammad Lala Gul and Feda Mohammad Ulfat, who are father and son, owned a villa in the springs and another in the Jumeirah Park area. Both are flashy residences with features such as man-made lakes and swimming pools.
Close relatives of two former presidents also appear in the list. One is Fatima Rabbani, whose late father, Burhanuddin Rabbani, led Afghanistan in the late 1990s. Her brother was, until this week, a foreign affairs minister. She runs various businesses in Dubai, including an upmarket restaurant and a business selling luxury products with the niece of another person in the records, former Afghan ambassador to Jordan, Sayed Mohammad Gailani.
The other is Mahmood Karzai, the brother of the former president Hamid Karzai. He was also a shareholder of Kabul bank and, alongside Fahim’s uncle, there have been concerns that he sought to use his closeness to the very top of Afghanistan’s leadership to assist in protecting the bank from greater scrutiny.
In an email, Mahmood Karzai confirmed ownership of a property in Dubai and said he had lived in the country since 2007. He denied any wrongdoing or corruption, and said he had attempted to sue the private investigation firm Kroll for a report it wrote alleging misconduct on his part in Afghanistan.
None of the other people named in the records responded to multiple requests for comment in English, Dari or Pashto.
Afghan law appears to require people in positions of authority – known as “politically exposed persons”—to publicly declare their assets and source of funds, as well as those of their close relatives. Few, if any, of the individuals named in the leaked Dubai documents appear to have declared such assets, but experts say the laws are not fit for purpose, and contain many loopholes that could allow someone to not disclose an asset without breaching the rules.
Sayed Ikram Afzali, the director of anti-corruption organization Integrity Watch Afghanistan, said the disclosure system had proved useless.
“The asset forms are largely incomplete, the data published is inconsistent and not verified, and even at times contradictory. You could say it’s a useless system,” he said. “It’s an ineffective system and it's not meant to be effective. It's a system the government is following to keep international donors happy.
“I doubt that the Afghan government means to achieve anything through this process, aside from ticking a box to keep the international community happy,” Afzali added.
Anti-corruption efforts in Afghanistan have a checkered history. President Karzai attempted to clamp down on corruption, partly in efforts to please international partners, setting up an anti-corruption office in 2008 whose duties included registering the assets of public officials. The office was quickly mired in controversy—after damning criticism of its first attempts, Karzai appointed a new head, choosing an official who had been previously accused of election fraud.
That office was eventually shut down, and there have been successive attempts to get Afghan officials to register their assets. Stronger legislation was introduced in 2017, but years on, asset registration for officials is seen as a failure.
The body in charge of the current register has been placed under the office of the president, raising concerns from anti-corruption activists. Questions have been raised over its independence: its latest director, Naheed Esar, has recently been appointed the new deputy foreign minister.
Sarah Chayes, an anti-corruption expert who has advised the U.S. military in Afghanistan, said the Afghanistan needed to work on tackling corruption and rebuilding trust in its ruling class in a root and branch way.
“Corruption in Afghanistan is systemic. It is perpetrated by networks,” she said.
“For years I heard comments from my neighbors like: ‘The Taliban shakes us down at night, and the government shakes us down in the daytime.’” Chayes added: “The difference is, the government is supposed to be upholding the law, but is violating it.”
Thedailybeast
Ansari

 

Friday October 4, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen praised the people of Afghanistan for the conduct of presidential elections on 28 September 2019 and commended all who participated in and supported the electoral process.
The OIC Secretary General recognized Afghanistan’s remarkable endurance, and strong determination to build a peaceful and prosperous future.
SPA
Ansari

Tuesday September 24, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan met with the United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, in New York on Sunday.
The meeting took place on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
During the meeting, Khalilzad informed Imran Khan about “how far his negotiations with the Taliban had gone, the nature of the talks and what expectations he holds in the future,” Pakistan’s foreign minister said.
“So, he presented his entire analysis of the US-Taliban talks,” Shah Mahmood Qureshi said.
The meeting comes after US President Donald Trump declared talks with the Taliban as dead, citing the group’s continued violence.
Earlier, Pakistan’s Khan said that he would encourage US President Donald Trump to restart talks with the Taliban to end the Afghan conflict.

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