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CFC Afghanistan Review, 24 September 2013

CFC Afghanistan Review, 24 September 2013

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Published by CFC Cimicweb
This document provides an overview of developments in Afghanistan from 10 to 23 September 2013, with hyper-links to source material highlighted in blue and underlined in the text. For more information on the topics below or other issues pertaining to events in Afghanistan, contact the members of the Afghanistan Team, or visit our website at www.cimicweb.org/cmo/afg
This document provides an overview of developments in Afghanistan from 10 to 23 September 2013, with hyper-links to source material highlighted in blue and underlined in the text. For more information on the topics below or other issues pertaining to events in Afghanistan, contact the members of the Afghanistan Team, or visit our website at www.cimicweb.org/cmo/afg

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Comprehensive Information on Complex Crises
Afghanistan Review
24 September 2013Week 39
Economic DevelopmentGovernance & Rule of LawSecurity & Force ProtectionSocial & Strategic InfrastructureThe Civil-Military Fusion Centre(CFC) is an information and knowledge management organisa-tion focused on improving civil-military interaction, facilitatinginformation sharing and enhancingsituational awareness through theCimicWeb portal and our bi-weekly and monthly publications.CFC products are based upon and link to open-source informationfrom a wide variety of organisations,research centres and media outlets.However, the CFC does not endorseand cannot necessarily guaranteethe accuracy or objectivity of thesesources.
CFC publications are inde-pendently produced by DeskOfficers and do not reflectNATO or ISAF policies or posi-tions of any other organisation.
The CFC is part of NATO Allied Command Operations.For further information, contact:
Afghanistan Team Leader
The Afghanistan Team
This document provides an overview of developments in Afghanistan from 10 - 23 September 2013, with hy- perlinks to source material highlighted in blue and underlined in the text. For more information on the topicsbelow, or other issues pertaining to events in Afghanistan, contact the members of the Afghanistan Team byvisiting www.cimicweb.org/cmo/afg.
Economic Development
 Jan Nalaskowski
n 14 September, a coal mine collapsed in Samangan  province, killing at least 28 miners, according to
Global Post 
. Mohammad Sediq Azizi, Samangan
s provincial spokesman,said that the collapse was caused by a large gas explosion. The conditions in Afghan coalmines are dangerous, as miners usually work with obsolete equipment and lack proper ventilation,reports
. Governor Khairullah Anwash concluded the accident was consequence of  non-standardised mining activities and, given the high revenues of the Afghan mining sector, the gov- ernment should ensure adequate and standardised working conditions for miners. The govern-
ment’s inattention infuriated the 
mistreatment of Afghan workers “due to the absence of insurance culture in the country.” In rela
t-ed mining news, China announced its willingness to undo the multi-billion dollar agreement to in-
vest in Afghanistan’s mining industry, says
. The decision was taken due to the concernsabout how the security situation will unfold after the withdrawal of international troops and the
decline of the global demand of mineral products, particularly in developed countries. “As the
commodities cycle turns, prices drop, mining firms scale back on new projects, and 
n-omy slows,experts said that Afghanistan appears to have missed out on the resources boom for 
now,” adds an article from
South China Morning Post.
 The Afghanistan Banks Association (ABA) is trying to persuade the international banking com-munity that banks in Afghanistan are progressive, transparent and ready for business, says
 Bank-ing Technology
. Ahmad Javed Wafa, the director of the ABA, says “Afghanistan has a huge i
n-vestment potential, with construction, housing and industry playing major roles. It has one of the
region’s lowest corporate tax rates and, thanks to external
investment, it now has a responsible,trustworthy banking
industry.” The main barrier to
foreign investment is not the internal problemsin the Afghan banking sector, but the lack of trust international investors place in Afghan banks. Afurther obstacle is the reluctance of Afghan citizens to deposit their money in the national banks.
“What we need to do is to persuade these customers that they can trust their banks
and we are try-
Highlighted Topics
Clicking the links in this list will take you to the appropriate section.
The collapse of a mine in Samangan province kills at least 28 miners.
China undoes a multi-billion investment  plan
in Afghanistan’s mines.
Pakistan releases Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar ,a founder of the Taliban.
Would-be presidential candidates  begin to register for the presidential election race.
Karzai: Not in a hurry to sign the  bilateral security agreement with the US.
Several voter registration centres are closed due to the lack of security.
will be a key issue on Afghanistan’s transition.
Russia offers funding and technical assistance for  
24 September 2013 Page 2
ing to offer incentives including excellent interest rates to make longer term savings more attractive. The more confidence banks can
instil in their customers, the more confidence foreign banks and foreign investors will have,” adds Wafa. In order to bolster 
the Af-ghan financial system the Afghanistan Central Bank recently auctionedUSD 60 million 
conducted by Afghanistan’s Central Bank.
According to
, a
ll private banks, which have their guarantees deposited with the Central Banks’ Market Operations depar 
t-ment, were requested to participate in the auction. Auction-selling of dollars is implemented regularly in order to keep the exchangerate with the US dollar stable.According to an article by
 NBC News,
the experiment to introduce  private universities in Afghanistan as an alternative to public insti- tutions, which are unable to meet the demand, has proven successful. As a result, seventy private institutions are already established, providing higher education to approximately 74,000 students. The chancellor and president of Kardan University, Roeen Rahmani,desires that his institution expand and that more rigorous academic standards will gradually be implemented. One of the most im- portant benefits of developing domestic academic institutions is the chance for Afghan women to pursue higher education, somethingunconceivable under the Taliban government. In this regard, there is a concern amongst Afghan academics about a potential regres-sion in the education sector after the international troops withdraw if the Taliban gain political power. In other education news, Af-ghan Minister of Finance Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal announced a grant of  USD 1 million to Badakhshan University to establish two new faculties and send graduate students abroad.The World Bank will assist the Afghan cashmere sector  in western Herat  province by insuring the cashmere-scouring and disinfection facilities against the risk of transfer restriction, expropriation, war and civil disturbance, says the
World Bulletin
. The assistance isaimed to enhance the nascent cashmere industry and foreign investment in Afghanistan, since until now, the shortage of productionfacilities led this sector to stagnate. Given the large amounts of raw cashmere available, the investment potential is tremendous andwill largely benefit the rural population. In other agriculture development news,
reports that the Afghan Agriculture Ministryhas recently distributed 3,200 kg of saffron corms to farmers in Daikundi  province. The spice has the potential to become a lucrative  business for the farmers as it grows easily in dry environments and may be a feasible alternative to poppy cultivation. Moreover, thisyear, wheat production has declined by thirty per cent in Samangan province, mainly due to poor rainfall. Likewise, orchard farmers in Qarabagh district of Kabul have complained about their  damaged orchards as a result of monsoon rains and sub-standard pesticides, notes
.A number of other articles related to economic development appeared over the past two weeks, including those below
Afghan and Kyrgyz presidents, President Hamid Karzai and President Almazbek Atambayev, reached an agreement to increasetrade ties  by establishing road and rail infrastructure between the two countries, reports
 Daily Outlook Afghanistan
. Both leadersalso suggested a project of a railroad linking China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Iran.
According to
 Pajhwok Afghan News
,  prices of gas, sugar and Arabian gold fell but the cost of the Iranian variety gold of increased during the outgoing week in Kabul. The cost of diesel and petrol remained unchanged, whereas the cost liquefied gas dropped.
Independent Media Consortium Productions has accused the Afghan private sector of  misreporting export figures 79 per cent lower  than the original price, says
. Traders allegedly kept their real earnings hidden in order to pay lower income taxes. In de-fence of expo
rters, deputy chief of the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries said the government is “plundering” traders,
not only when it comes to taxes but also corruption and bureaucracy.
Governance & Rule of Law
Katerina Oskarsson
akistan set free a former Taliban second-in-command and one of the founders of the Taliban, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, imprisoned in Karachi since 2010, reports
 Agence France-Presse (AFP)
. The Afghan government welcomed Pakistan’s dec
i-sion to release Baradar, who may help bring moderate Taliban leaders to the negotiation table.
President Hamid Karzai’s
spokesman stated,
“This release has occurred because of the Afghan government’s consistent pressure requesting that Mullah Baradar  be set free”. Baradar is at the core of Afghan efforts to revive the 
. Although Baradar has once before sought reconciliation with Kabul,critics contend that years in detention may have diminished his influence over the insurgency.
The details of Baradar’s whereabouts following his release are unclear. While there have been speculations that he could be s
ent toTurkey or Saudi Arabia, a Taliban source told
that he may remain in Karachi.Some observers doubt the release will facilitate a  breakthrough in the peace process. Political analyst Talta Masood says that w
hile the move was a “sort of a confidence
measure between Pakistan and Afghanistan […] this release is not likely to make any significant difference in the negotiating
cess”, quotes
. Similarly,
The Washington Post 
assesses the release says
more about the newly elected Pakistani government’s
efforts to improve strained relations with Afghanistan than bolstering the peace process. Likewise, some Afghan officials also ex- pressed doubt over the prospect of a  breakthrough in the peace  process with
the Taliban, despite Pakistan’s recent release of 33 Tal
i- ban prisoners aimed at accelerating the process, reports
 Khaama Press
. According to Zarawar Zahid, provincial police chief of  Ghazni 
 province, “The Taliban who are released…rejoin the battlefield again”, further adding “We put our lives in danger to arrest t
hem, but
the central government releases them under different pretences”. Zahid told
that over forty insurgents recently released from
Ghazni central prison on President Karzai’s order have re
-joined the insurgency.In related news, the Pakistani
 Express Tribune
reported the Afghan Taliban may not open a new political office to conduct peace ne-
gotiations following the closure of insurgents’ office in Qatar’s Doha in June. Instead, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US are
24 September 2013 Page 3
finalising a new arrangement
which would prevent a controversy similar to one surrounding the Doha’s office which had been closed
following the
Afghan government’s objections to
the Taliban displaying
a flag depicting the ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ – 
ghanistan’s official name
under the Taliban rule. According to a Pakistani official, “Under the new plan, discussions will probablytake place in Saudi Arabia but without giving Afghan Taliban any formal office”.
Although the would-be presidential candidates can already register for the  presidential election race to be held in April 2014, the ma-  jority of candidates are not expected to submit their nomination until closer to the 06 October deadline, reports
 Associated Press (AP)
.So far, only one presidential candidate, Bismillah Sher ,the leader of the Wefaq Millie Party (WMP), completed the nomination pro- cess with the Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC), highlights
Tolo News
. As a part of the registration process, nomineesare obligated to pay a fee of AFG 1 million (USD 18,000) and prove that they have the support of at least 100,000 people. While cur-rently there are no clear forerunners, some speculations point to Zalmai Rassoul, current Afghan foreign minister and former nationalsecurity adviser, who may become a joint candidate among some of the political factions, writes
. Other potential candidates in-clude: Abdullah Abdullah, an
opposition leader and Karzai’s contender in the 2009 election; Ashraf Ghani, an academic and former 
finance minister; Hanif Atmar, a former interior minister and a critic of Karzai; Farooq Wardak, the education minister; and, AbdulRab Rasoul Sayyaf, a lawmaker and a former jihadist alleged to maintain ties with Arab militants in the past. According to
Tolo News
,the IEC will release the final list of presidential candidates on 16 October. An unpublished UN report circulated among senior Afghan officials indicates that Afghan female police officers, who constitute lessthan one per cent of Afghanistan
s roughly 155,000-strong police force, are victims of extensive sexual violence and harassment bytheir male colleagues,reports
The New York Times
. Approximately ninety per cent of the interviewed female officers reported thatsexual abuse has been a serious issue within the Afghan police, while seventy per cent indicated that they had personally experiencedsexual violence or harassment. Ghulam Mujtaba Patang, a former Afghan Interior Minister, expressed doubts about the re
 port’s fin
d-ings, and countered by saying that when his team of investigators met with female police officers, none reported such mistreatment.
According to Patang, “If an
Afghan policewoman is being raped or sexually harassed, they would report that
they wouldn’t keep itsecret”. He added “the reason they told these things to the [UN] and did not mention it to my inquiry was that these were mai
nly illit-erate women who th
ought they might gain more attention and support by making these claims”. However, women’s rights advocates
note that these women, often the sole family breadwinners, fear being stigmatised, demoted or even jailed, and therefore are discour-aged from reporting abuse at the
hands of their colleagues. Despite the Afghan Interior Ministry’s doubts about the
conclusions drawnin the report, ministry officials said they were working improve the conditions for female officers.
In related news, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed concerns over waning government support for Afghan human rights as demonstrated by an increase in civilian casualties in the first half of 2013, recurring attacks on women, and
the appointment of conservatives to the Afghan independent human rights office, reports
. During her first official visit toAfghanistan, Pil
lay urged the Afghan government “to ensure that the human rights gains of the past 12 years are not sacrificed to p
ical expediency during these last few months before the election.” Some Western officials and Afghan human rights activists e
x- press conce
rn over what they perceive as the government’s increasing willingness to accommodate Afghanistan’s conservative elite atthe expense of the human rights. Pillay, for instance, questioned President Karzai’s June appointment of conservative members
, in-cluding a former Taliban member, to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), asserting that the selection
has derailed the panel’s independence. Lastly, over 4,000 instances of assault against women and girls were reported to Afghanistan’s
nistry of Women’s Affairs in 2010
-2012, adds Pillay.A number of other articles related to governance and rule of law appeared over the past two weeks, including those below:
A former Afghan parliamentarian and district governor, Qazi Abdul Hai has re-joined the Taliban,reports
The Express Tribune
Hai stated “I am sure the Americans will be forced out soon and the Islamic Emirate will rule Afghanistan”. According
to Mo-hammad Alam Ezedyar, the Afghan upper house deputy speaker, Hai defected to the Taliban following his visit of Pakistan some
four months ago. Ezedyar further noted that Hai’s decision may have been driven by concerns for his safety as the country “ha
seen a targeted Taliban campaign assassinating government officials”.
A number of  Afghan journalists staged a protest in front of the National Assembly, demanding the enactment of the Right to In-
formation Law, which stipulates the public’s rights regarding access to information about the government, reports
Tolo News
. Pro-testers accused the government of postponing the law
s approval in an eff 
ort to conceal the government’s wrongdoings.
A pre-election survey conducted in five provinces revealed that 79 per cent of respondents plan to cast their vote in the 2014 presi- dential elections, highlights
Tolo News
. Only six per cent were in a favour of a religious leader ruling Afghanistan and re-establishing an Islamic Emirate.
Security & Force Protection
Eray Basar
ne day after President Obama’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins expressed optimism about
reaching a security agreement with Afghanistan in October, President Hamid Karzai said he is in no hurry to sign such an agreement with the United States, reports
Washington Times
. The deal has been negotiated by the two countries since October 2012 and, if sealed, will grant the US a legal basis for keeping some of its troops and leasing bases in the country. President Karzainever publicly disclosed the details of the Afghan conditions; however, according to
Washington Times
, these demands include Af-

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