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The Afghanistan Team monitors major media outlets, think tanks, international organisations, NGO websites and other sources on an on-going basis and updates this page with key stories pertinent to economic development, governance & rule of law, security & force protection, humanitarian affairs and social & strategic infrastructure. This list includes thoustands of articles. To search these items, enter a keywork into the search box on the upper-right-hand corner of this page.   

>>> Contact us at Afghanistan@cimicweb.org.

                                

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UNAMA
21-MAY-13 Transport hub flourishes in northern Afghanistan. A new airport terminal has opened in Mazar-e-Sharif, as plans to turn the northern Afghan city into a regional transportation focal point move forward, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) website. Soon to be a hub for international travel, the new airport will allow travelers to fly directly to foreign cities, including New Delhi, Istanbul, and Dubai, rather than traveling first to the nation’s major airport in the capital Kabul. Afghan official Ahmad Zia Ferozpur has said “This won’t just be an airport, but one of Afghanistan’s most significant global gateways which will help bloom the economy through business, air cargo, tourism and industry. It will be a door to the world.” This newest transportation development is complimented by other initiatives, which include a rail link with Uzbekistan and new ports along the Amu Darya River, and aim to boost trade by investing in transport connections. 
Economics; Infrastructure
Khaama Press
31-MAR-13 Attack on major water dam foiled in Herat province. The ANA and the NDS prevented a major explosion plot targeting the Salam water dam located in Herat province.  During the operation the Afghan security agencies seized 1300gk of explosive. The NDS spokesman stated that the explosives were imported from abroad while the Afghan National Security Council had repeatedly voiced critics towards the interference of neighboring countries trying to stop the Salma dam construction.
Security; Infrastructure
Wall Street Journal
20-MAR-13 China to Produce First Afghan Oil, Kabul Contends. Major developments on the path to extract Afghanistan’s vast trove of untapped resources are underway, as the nation’s mining minister announces plans for China’s largest oil company to begin crude oil production this year, reports the Wall Street Journal. The northern Afghanistan wells of China National Petroleum Corporation in Amu-Darya Basin, which are not currently operational, are allegedly prepared to jumpstart production and have an output of 5,000 barrels a day within a few weeks- and 25,000 barrels a day by the end of the year . Minister of Mines Wahidullad Shahrani announced to the press that this output can increase to 40,000 barrels a day in 2014, and that all crude oil will be transported by truck out of the landlocked nation, to an undisclosed northern neighbor with whom negotiations are currently underway. The project, which has the potential to exploit resources with a projected worth of 45% of the nation’s GDP by 2024, is in need of an investment of a further USD 600 million. The minister met with potential investors in the mining industry on 20 March in order to mitigate the inherent hesitation that accompanies the prospect of investment in Afghanistan due to the associated security risks.
Economics; Infrastructure
Tolo News
5-MAR-13 Japan delivers further USD 117 million in aid to Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s Ministry of foreign Affairs announced Tuesday that Japan has pledged an additional USD 117 million for development projects in Afghanistan, reports Tolo News. Hiroshi Takahashi, Japan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, stated at a press conference “We promised USD 3 billion at the Chicago meeting from 2012 up to 2016 for five years. Last week we signed USD 281 million with the United Nations which becomes around USD 400 million with today’s aid [pledges]”. The newest aid will fund four main projects:  the purchase of fuel for government organisations, road maintenance, development of Kabul International Airport, and the water supply network of New Kabul Project.
Governance; Economics; Infrastructure
Tolo News
3-MAR-13 Afghan company wins tender to renovate Salang tunnel. Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Works has announced that an Afghan construction firm, Omran Holding Company, has won the contract to reconstruct the Salang Tunnel in a USD 11 million project funded by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), reports Tolo News. Assessments and design of the required work of the tunnel were undertaken five months ago by ISAF and the ministry, and the work will begin once weather conditions improve. The Salang Tunnel, located in Parwan province, lies along Afghanistan’s main road connecting the south and north of the nation.
Economics; Infrastructure
Wadsam

28-FEB-13 Japan pledges USD 281 million in aid to Afghanistan. As a part of the money committed to Afghanistan at the Tokyo Conference last year, Japan has arranged for the completion of 14 projects via nine of the United Nations offices in Afghanistan, reports Wadsam. The aim of the funds is to benefit over three million Afghans in the sectors of education, health, agriculture, security and other areas of humanitarian work.  

Humanitarian Affairs; Economics; Infrastructure; Socio-cultural Development; Tokyo Conference
Tolo News
03-Dec-12 HIV cases rising in Afghanistan. The incidence of HIV is increasing in Afghanistan, the Afghan Public Health Minister said.  Afghan lawmaker Naqibullah Fayeq said unclean needle injections and the increase of drug addicts are the main causes behind its spread in Afghanistan. More than 3100 HIV cases were indentified in Afghanistan in 2011, including women and children, according the Ministry of Public Health. The health officials urged all Afghans to test their blood for any possible infection of HIV AIDS in the HIV test centers launched in nine provinces of the country.
Humanitarian Affairs; Socio-cultural Development
Tolo News
02-Dec-12 Sixty-three graduate with Masters from Rabbani Education University. Sixty-three university teachers have graduated with a Masters degree from Burhanuddin Rabbani Education University, a great boost to the improvement of education in Afghanistan, the chancellor Amanullah Hamidzai said Sunday. The two-year Masters programme was launched by the USAID in Kabul in 2008 to boost the abilities of the Afghan university instructors. "I graduated from this programme in 2009 and it was very effective in my academic life. It had remarkable changes in my teaching efforts," Education University teacher Zakia Sharifyan said. According to the university officials, only those instructors stationed in Kabul and a few other provincial branches who have grade averages higher than 75 percent are eligible for the Masters.
Socio-cultural Development
Wall Street Journal
27-Nov-12: Afghans Pin Energy Hopes on Local Gas. A project financed by the US Defense Department's Task Force for Business and Stability Operations is promoting the expanded use of compressed natural gas (CNG), including as car fuel, in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is home to large natural gas reserves, particularly in the North. One taxi driver cited by The Wall Street Journal says that he favour natural gas because it costs more than a third less than diesel or petrol. However, modifying a car to run on CNG does cost between USD 700 and 800. Nonetheless, the Afghan Ministry of Mines is seeking companies interested in taking over a CNG filling station for vehicles which was established in Sheberghan in northern Afghanistan.
Economics; Infrastructure
Tolo News
20-Nov-12 Children of poverty pose a security risk: Islamic Relief Afghanistan. Afghanistan is home to around 1 million orphans with most of them living in poverty, posing a largely unaddressed threat to security, the Islamic Relief Afghanistan (IRA) told Tolo News. On the occasion of Universal Children's Day (Nov 20), IRA country director Fadlullah Wilmot said the plight of children living in poverty sees many of them turn to crime. "I would say of the one million orphans in Afghanistan, 95 percent are living in poverty," he said at the sidelines of a conference in Kabul discussing the state of vulnerable children in the country and the world. He warned that if the disastrous situation of Afghan children does not change, they are more likely to become criminals and thieves which will challenge Afghanistan's future. He added that the children working outside the home, apart from missing out on an education, face many threats including brutal violence like rape, and human trafficking. They are also more likely to be groomed to be suicide attackers, he said.
Humanitarian Affairs; Security; Socio-cultural Development
CBS News
19-Nov-12: Afghanistan: Transition needs investment, involvement to replace troops in 2014. Afghan and Afghan-American businesspeople are beginning to remove assets from Afghanistan as the 2014 transition approaches. While many are hoping for improved security, many are preparing for the worst. NGO workers, both Afghan and foreign, have also become slowly leaving the country, according to CBS News. Many reportedly leave the country "temporarily" for a conference abroad and simply never return. This situation is contributing to unemployment and under-employment, which Samuel Hall, a consulting firm, says is approximately 70% in Afghanistan. This challenge is becoming greater as Afghan firms that service and supply the international community have begun to close up shop as contracts disappapear.
Economics; Socio-cultural Development; Tokyo Conference
The New York Times
19-Nov-12: Freewheeling Afghan City Fearful of U.S. Pullout. Herat has likely developed further than any other city in Afghanistan over the course of the past decade, according to The New York Times. Improvements in the economy have driven large numbers of Afghans to the city, which has long benefited from relative security and proximity to Iran. Women's rights are also greater than in other parts of the country. However, concerns about future security are leading the powerful warlord who once oversaw the city -- and who experts say still holds sway there from his post as Afghanistan's Minister of Energy and Water -- to re-mobilise fighters and prepare for tough times ahead. Ismail Khan's call to re-active his militias drew concern across the country, where memories of the civil war of the early-to-mid-1990s looms large. Regional militas under warlord leaders, including Khan, played a major role in that phase of conflict in Afghanistan. However, Khan's recent actions speak to a broader question that many in Herat are considering: how can they protect the gains they have achieved over the past decade in the economy, education, women's rights and other areas?
Governance; Security; Economics; Socio-cultural Development
The Express Tribune
17-Nov-12: Sweet sojourn: For some Afghans, repatriation is out of question. At the end of 2012, Afghans residing in Pakistan are technically obligated to voluntarily repatriate to Afghanistan under an international agreement between the Afghan and Pakistani governments and the UN's refugee agency. A fee of USD 150 per "returnee" to Afghanistan is being offered. Howver, many Afghans are planning to remain in Pakistan, not believing that the Pakistani authorities have the ability to remove them. Others are also hoping to stay in order to protect businsses that they have invested dearly in establishing and operating, many for decades. Khaksar Khan, who runs a mobile phone business, told The Express Tribune: “How it is possible for us to wind up and leave when we have large investments here[?]". Accordingly, those Afghans who have departed Pakistan in recent months tend to be seasonal or wage labourers or those who were already facing difficulties affording rental housing.
Humanitarian Affairs; Economics; Socio-cultural Development
Agence France-Presse
16-Nov-12: Hard choices as Afghanistan seeks to exploit mineral riches. Mes Aynak in central Afghanistan is home to fourth century Buddhist temples and statues as well as to massive copper deposits. A 30-year lease for the Aynak copper mine to the China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC) is proceeding slowly as a team of 50 archeologists and 550 workers rush to preserve and excavate the site before mining begins. More than one thousand Buddhist statues have been found thus far at the four-square-mile site. Robert Marziani, an Italian archeologist involved in the excavation and preservation of Mes Aynak, stated: “It’s even more important than Pompeii. It’s bigger." Marziani added that “[t]he problem is not finding statues, it’s preserving them. Afghanistan doesn’t have the structures to do that". Despite the site's archeological importance, it is also valuable to the Afghan government, which anticipates receiving USD 320-350 million per year once MCC is able to begin mining operations. However, it is not clear when those operations will begin, both due to the acheological treasures there and given recent Taliban attacks which have impelled Chinese workers to flee the area.
Economics; Socio-cultural Development
Wadsam
15-Nov-12: International conference on strengthening trade between Central Asia and Afghanistan. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission organised an international conference in Mazar-e Sharif on improving trade linkages between Afghanistan and the Central Asian republics. Some participants encouraged the creation of a joint trade centre in northern Afghanistan which would focus on linkages with Central Asia. Balkh province's governor, Atta Mohammad Noor, said that Balkh would be an ideal location for such a centre. He stated: “There is more potential for economic activities in Balkh, given the presence of a standard airport, railway and satisfactory security."
Economics; Infrastructure
RT
13-Nov-12: Aid unpaid: EU reduces financial help to Afghanistan. Vygaudas Usackas, the head of the EU diplomatic mission in Afghanistan, announced the awarding of USD 76 million to the Afghan government for governance and justice-related programming. However, the European Union withheld another USD 25 million in judicial sector financing. EU officials and representatives of other donor countries have stressed that continued support for the Afghan government is contingent on good governance, the rule of law and the control of corruption. Usackas stated: "If the European Union is deeply committed in supporting Afghanistan, it needs to stress that in the spirit of the Tokyo agreement, support will be increasingly conditional of the delivery of the Afghan government on the agreed reform agenda." The Tokyo agreement involved donor pledges of USD 16 billion for Afghanistan between 2012 and 2016, though a portion of the funding was conditional on a series of public sector reforms related, most notably, to anti-corruption efforts and administrative performance.
Economics; Socio-cultural Development; Tokyo Conference
Economic Times
08-Nov-12: India approves project worth 100 million dollars in Afghanistan. The Indian Cabinet approved USD 100 million for a Small Development Project (SDP) initiative in Afghanistan. The proejcts focus on a number of sectors, including education, health and agriculture. This is the third phase of India's SDP initiative in Afghanistan, which began in 2006. However, this disbursement is far larger than the previous two phases, which involved a combined USD 20 million.
Economics; Infrastructure; Socio-cultural Development
Ariana News
06-Nov-12 National Medicine Insitute says 96% of required medicines are imported. The National Medicine Institute in the country reported that the Afghan Government imports 96% of its medicine from outside the country. The head of the National Medicine Institute, Abdul Khaliq Zaray, said, “Annually $ 550 million is spent on the purchase of specialized drugs and medicine from outside the country.” According to Zaray the Afghan Government is not capable of producing medicines within the country in part because there is no industrial town for producing medicines; no medicine centers have been created for medicine production. Ministry of Public Health officials say that for two years they have began been working to construct an industrial town for production of medicines and for growing plants for medicinal use in the country.
Humanitarian Affairs; Socio-cultural Development
Daily Mail
04-Nov-12: Rough road for silkmakers: Afghan families struggle to keep old trade alive in face of competition from cheap synthetic imports. Afghanistan's silk industry is facing threats from cheaper, imported silks, thus causing difficulties for silkworm farmers and silkmakers. The silk trade in Afghanistan, particularly in the western city of Herat, has been evolving over time. Pure silk was increasingly replaced by synthetic varieties, which cost one-seventh as much per kilogram. Now synthetic silk products from foreign countries, such as China, are increasingly available on Afghan markets. While an Afghan silk scarf might cost around USD 8, an imported scarf could be purchased for as little as USD 3. Accordingly, Afghans involved in the silk trader are facing threat, and their livelihood and their centuries-old craft are in danger of disappearing from Afghanistan.
Economics; Socio-cultural Development
Ariana News
03-Nov-12 Nangarhar residents complain about lack of healthcare centres. Residents and healthcare providers in Nangarhar are increasingly frustrated about the lack of healthcare facilities, including health equipment shortages.   They claim that 50% of mothers die while giving birth in Nangarhar Province. According to the head of one of the hospitals in Nagarhar, Dr. Zakia Amiri, in some of the more remote parts of Nangarhar there are no care centers available. A lack of doctors and a scarcity of proper equipment contributes to the fact that birthing mothers are unable to receive proper delivery assistance, causing far too many to die while giving birth. This is particularly the case when the only healthcare solution is traditional birthing treatments—which work if there are no complications—but don’t work if the baby is breach or if there are other complications that require emergency delivery or resuscitation  methods. The residents of Nangarhar also expressed frustration over the fact that they must travel long distances for the most basic of healthcare services. Many people reportdly die during the difficult travel to the hospital. The complaints were made following statements from the Ministry of Health that claimed that 80% of the residents of Afghanistan across the country have access to health care centers.
Humanitarian Affairs; Socio-cultural Development
Ariana News
03-Nov-12 Concerns expressed over population growth Herat: Local officials. Local officials have expressed concerns over pressure that is being placed on community infrastructures because of the constant influx of people into Herat, saying that new approaches should be taken to control the increasing numbers of people moving into the city. The Governor of Herat, Daud Saba said the current infrastructure of the city of Herat cannot support the rising population in the city. Saba said, “New approaches must be taken to provide answers to the needs of all people in Herat Province. Otherwise an unknown tragedy can be expected to occur". Healthcare providers in Herat have concerns about how the province’s healthcare facilities will be able to respond to the needs of the growing population as well as the increasing number of births that are placing strains on hospitals across the province. Local officials claim that the city has the capacity of 1 million residents though there currently 3 million people living there.
Governance; Infrastructure; Socio-cultural Development
Ariana News
02-Nov-12 Vocational training centres are helping improve recovery rates for drug addicts. More than one million people are addicted to drugs in Afghanistan. The Afghan government is trying to seek courses of action to address drug addiction by establishing a vocational institute for assisting drug addicts to improve. Officials at Ministry of Public Works and the Ministry of Martyrs and Disabled said, “Since the beginning of the SY year 600 individuals addicted to drugs have gathered from different parts of the city and are receiving vocational training after being treated.”  The vocational training has been planned by Colombia and funded by US government. This vocational training center provides opportunities for these individuals to learn professions like carpentry, plumbing, radio repairing, television repairing, tailoring and cell repair.
Socio-cultural Development
Tolo News

01-Nov-12: US Working on Afghan Economic Transition: Official. Robert Blake, a senior US State Department Official, met with representatives of Afghanistan's private sector to discuss challenges they are facing and US support to the Afghan economy. Afghan traders highlighted the continued lack of electricity and noted that railway construction in the North of the country had a relatively muted impact given the absence of necessary rail wagon/containers. "A railway has been constructed from Hairatan to Mazar-e-Sharif but unfortunately we do not have the standard wagons to bring the trade materials from Hairatan to Mazar," Ahmad Nawid Barat, Deputy head of Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries in Balkh province, told Blake. However, the meeting also included some more positive news, with the US official announcing that plans were being developed for a USD 300 million investment in a power plant and in the Sheberghan natural gas plant in Jowzjan province.

Economics; Infrastructure
Associated Press of Pakistan
31-Oct-12: Peshawar-Torkham Road to enhance trade in region, says Arbab Alamgir. Pakistan's Federal Minister for Communications, Arbab Alamgir Khalil, said that construction of the Peshawar-Torkham road will begin in December and will be completed in approximately two years. The road project, which is being supported by the US government, will cost PKR 7.5 billion. Once completed, the route is expected to promote regional trade within Central and South Asia, including between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Economics; Infrastructure
The News
31-Oct-12: CAREC countries plan to spend $23bn on regional projects. The Asian Development Bank's (ADB) Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) programme will be investing USD 23 billion in transport, energy and trade-related projects. The CAREC members, which include Afghanistan and several of its neighbours, hope to develop six major corridors linking ports in eastern China with Central Asia, the Caucasus and beyond. In addition, a portion of the USD 23 billion will be spent on establishing linkages between Kazakhstan and the Pakistani ports of Karachi and Gawadar. Improvements in customs and border management are also key priorities for CAREC and its members.
Economics; Infrastructure
Khaama Press
30-Oct-12: Copper extraction in northern Afghanistan to start in 2013. Officials from Afghanistan's Ministry of Mines (MoM) say that extraction will commence at the Balkhab copper mine in northern Sar-e Pul province next year. Bids for the mine, whic his considered to be among the largest copper deposits in the world, have been received, and the MoM is in the process of evaluating them. Minister of Mines Wahidullah Shahrani says the winning bidder will be announced in the near future. Balkhab district of Sar-e Pul is remote and is home to approximately 70,000 people, many of whom have been affected by harsh conditions and flooding in the area. Residents of Balkhab have called on the Afghan government to build additional roads in the area to facilitate future mining operations.
Economics; Infrastructure
Khaama Press
28-Oct-12 Saudi Arabia to build major Islamic centre in Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia is looking to construct one of the region's largest Islamic Centres in Kabul, Afghanistan. According to Afghan government officials the Malik Abdullah Islamic Centre will include a major Islamic studies university, a hostel that will serve at least 5,000 students, a hospital and a sports complex. The Saudis also plan to construct a mosque which will have a capacity for more than 15,000 people. According to the article, the Islamic Centre will help the Afghan government to provide Islamic studies opportunities inside Afghanistan, and also act as an alternative to those who are currently studying in Pakistan which is considered to be a vital place for the Taliban group to attract fighters.
Governance; Socio-cultural Development
The Wall Street Journal
25-Oct-12 Iranians build up Afghan clout. Iran is funding aid projects and expanding intelligence networks across Afghanistan, moving to fill the void to be left by the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, according to U.S. and Afghan officials. While Iran's spending is nowhere near the billions the U.S. spends, Tehran's ability to run grass-roots programs and work directly with Afghans is giving its efforts disproportionate clout. "Iran is the real influence here. With one snap of their fingers, they can mobilize 20,000 Afghans," said a high-ranking official in Afghanistan's presidential palace. "This is much more dangerous than the suicide bombers coming from Pakistan. At least you can see them and fight them. But you can't as easily see and fight Iran's political and cultural influence." Iran's main vehicle for spreading its influence across its eastern border is the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee, or IKRC, a secretive aid organization that operates around the world. The U.S. blacklisted IKRC's branch in Lebanon two years ago for aiding Hezbollah.
Governance; Security; Socio-cultural Development
GreenWise
24-Oct-12 Afghanistan launches USD 6 million climate change policy. The Government of Afghanistan has launched the country’s first ever climate change programme. The USD 6 million initiative will be managed by the country’s National Environmental Protection Agency and the United Nations Environment Programme; and funded largely by the Global Environment Facility. Afghanistan’s environmental disasters are partly induced by human activity and the climate change adaptation programme seeks to address this by working with local communities to plant trees and terrace slopes. The climate adaptation scheme is to be implemented in four locations including Bamyan and Daikundi provinces. Other interventions include investing in climate-related research and early warning systems, improved food security, and rangeland management.
Governance; Economics; Infrastructure; Socio-cultural Development
BBC
24-Oct-12: Afghanistan's mobile phone sector boosts the economy. Afghanistan's telecommunications industry has progressed rapidly over the past decade, surpassing that in some neighbouring countries. Nearly two-thirds of the Afghan population has a mobile phone connection, and the Afghan Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has even warded 3G connections which enable mobile internet access. However, some industry experts indicate that telecommunications may be affected or undermined if security worsens as internatin forces depart Afghanistan by 2014.
Economics; Infrastructure
BBC News
24-Oct-12 Afghanistan warning from MPs on international development committee. The Commons international development committee said the UK should reconsider its ambition of building Afghan government institutions in favour of more traditional aid targets. But the MPs' report also said it was vitally important, nevertheless, not to abandon the people of Afghanistan - especially the country's women. International development committee chairman Committee chairman Sir Malcolm Bruce said: "The Afghan people want their country to succeed, and the UK should continue to support them with a major aid budget in the country after the troops leave". The committee said talk about women's rights had not been followed by "practical action"; the treatment of women after troops left would be the "litmus test" of whether the UK had improved the lives of Afghans. The government said it had pledged to do more to help women in Afghanistan.
Governance; Socio-cultural Development
Deutsche Welle
24-Oct-12 Human trafficking, prostitution thrive in Afghanistan. Human trafficking in Afghanistan is booming - with thousands of girls and boys sold and sent over to neighboring countries each year, mostly to Pakistan. Though prositution is illegal in conservative Afghanistan, many people are unaware of just how many women are forced to work as prostitutes, according to Heather Barr of Human Rights Watch's Asia Division. The reason, she explained, that women were forced into the sex trade by their families was due to poverty and drug addiction - usually of a husband or brother or both. Poor or practically non-existing security at the border means criminals can easily get away with smuggling and trafficking goods and people. Cleric Nek Mohammad, who works for a Nangarhar court and offers consultations on Islamic law says all forms of prostitution are illegal, he told DW. "At least four people have to bear witness to the crime. And should the prostitute or the person who buys her be married, his or her spouse will have to be stoned. If there are no married people involved, then they receive lashings."
Governance; Socio-cultural Development
Tolo News
24-Oct-12 Violence against women cases hit 550 last month. Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has said that violence against women has shown a remarkable increase from previous months. "In the last month, 550 cases of violence against including, beating, forced marriages, murder and rape – most of them happening in the remoter provinces of the country – have been recorded" AIHRC Women's Rights Coordinator Latifa Sultani said. The Afghan Women's Network (AWN) also expressed its concerns over the statistics. AWN chief Ferozan Mashal said she is working hard to launch an awareness programme in order for people to know what are women's rights.
Governance; Socio-cultural Development
Wadsam
24-Oct-12: Kazakhstan to invest in Afghanistan. Kazakhstan's ambassador to Afghanistan, Agybai Smagulov, said that his country is prepared to invest in infrastructure and natural resource projects in and around Herat in western Afghanistan. Kazakhstan is particularly interested in the extraction of coal, copper and fuel from Herat.
Economics; Infrastructure
CNN
16-Oct-12: Afghan malnourished hit by poverty and education. Many Afghans, particularly children, residing in slums outside of Kabul and other major cities face increasing poverty and malnutrition. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates more than three million children in Afghanistan under the age of five suffer from stunting. Approximately a third of those cases are particularly severe (or "acute"). Poverty and families' lack of awareness about children's nutritional requirements combines to lead to key nutrient deficiencies that stunt growth and proper development.
Humanitarian Affairs; Economics; Socio-cultural Development
Radio Free Europe
11-Oct-12: Trade Can Cure Afghan Opium Addiction. Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, tells Radio Free Europe that poppy eradication efforts in Afghanistan must continue but should be paired with alternative crop initiatives which provide farmers with a source of licit income. He said that Afghan officials and farmers with whom he meets "are very interested in opening more border crossings with neighboring countries to ensure that their famers could export their production, vegetables, including dry fruits but also wheat".
Economics; Socio-cultural Development
Stars and Stripes
11-Oct-12: Military reconstruction teams in Afghanistan closing up shop. The US government will be closing down its provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) in Afghanistan by the end of 2013. The United States has already shut down five PRTs, which are civil-military teams focused on local development and governance at the provincial level. The Wall Street Journal has also found that much of the funding for the PRT reconstruction projects has already been phased out. Previously some PRTs spent tens or hundreds of millions of US dollars annually on projects ranging from building roads to helping build the capacities of local officials. Yet they have also been opposed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who said that they comprised "parallel structures" which supplanted rather than complemented local government bodies. An unnamed Western official involved with the PRTs noted that, with many provincial governments drawing heavily on PRT support, there is not a clear sense of how much non-PRT funding they have access to. Some provincial governments may find themselves strapped for cash, and Sarhadi Zwak, a spokesman for the governor of Laghman province in Afghanistan, said that the closure of the PRT there led to a loss in employment opportunities.
Governance; Economics; Infrastructure; Socio-cultural Development
Pajhwok Afghan News
10-Oct-12: Women assured of economic empowerment by ISAF. Brigadier General John Bullard, the deputy commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Regional Command North, told reporters, civil society representatives, female provincial council members, Afghan government personnel and some businesswomen that ISAF would support economic opportunities for women. Bullard reportedly said that ISAF had established a women's council that would receive their concerns and enable ISAF to support women's living conditions.
Economics; Socio-cultural Development
Wadsam
02-Oct-12: 5 new foreign airlines to invest in Afghanistan. Afghanistan's Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation announced that five new foreign airlines will be opening direct routes to Afghanistan from Switzerland, Holland, Austria and Thailand. Representatives of existing Afghan airlins are reportedly concerned about the impact of this new competition on theri businss. However, Afghan Transportation Minister Daud Alid Najafi said “[t]he investment of the airlines will have a good impact on the local airline services". The five new airlines were not specified, but the article notes that the following foreign airlines are currently operating in Afghanistan: Fly Dubai, Turkish Airways, Air India, Sky Airlines, Gulf Air, SpiceJet and Pakistan International Airlines.
Economics; Infrastructure
Trend
01-Oct-12: Iran to build an oil exporting pipeline to Afghanistan. A senior Iranian government official tells the Azerbaijani news agency Trend that Iran will be building an oil pipeline to neighbouring Afghanistan. The official, Fada Hossein Maleki , who heads up the Iranian anti-smuggling agency, said the pipeline will extend 1.5 km from Dogharoon city in Iran to Eslam Qaleh in Afghanistan's Herat province. The pipeline will allow tanks in Iran to feed directly into tanks in Iran rather than having fuel trasported by truck across the border.
Economics; Infrastructure
Global Post
01-Oct-12 Taliban openly supported by clerics in Afghanistan. Clerics and scholars now openly sympathize with the Taliban. Far from being radical, their message is part of a mainstream demand for the creation of an independent state that would impose corporal punishment, stricter dress codes for women and greater censorship of the media. When he is not teaching at a girls’ school, Mawlwai Ataullah Faizani is an imam at a mosque in Kabul. He said that non-Muslims who are guests in an Islamic society have the same rights as Muslims. But he added that this rule does not apply to soldiers, who he insisted are a legitimate target for attacks, including suicide bombings. Away from the battlefield, clerics feel a more insidious fight is being waged against their religion. They believe this can be witnessed in the government corruption and empowerment of warlords. The media has flourished during the last decade and private TV channels that did not exist under the Taliban regime are now broadcasting music concerts, dramas and Indian films. In cities, meanwhile, young women often wear American or European-style clothing with their compulsory Islamic headscarves. Members of the religious establishment claim these seemingly innocuous developments — along with the illicit sale of alcohol, drugs and prostitution — have contributed to the deteriorating security situation by encouraging immoral behavior. For Abdul Zaher Dayee, a professor in the Sharia Law faculty at Kabul University: “There is no democracy and no Islam, there is a kind of anarchy: people are looting land and houses, they are raping. No law exists".
Governance; Socio-cultural Development
Khaama Press
26-Sep-12: Young Bomber Instead Turns Himself In. A young potential suicide bomber instead surrendered to Afghan security forces in Helmand province. The boy, 12-year-old Niyaz Mohammad, told reporters that he was recruited by the Taliban to sacrifice himself in a bombing. He said his entire family was killed in a NATO airstrike in Kajaki district. Provincial security chief General Abdul Nabeel said the boy was sent months ago to carry a suicide bomb aimed at Afghan and coalition security forces; instead, he surrendered to the police. Nabeel said teenagers are recruited to carry out suicide bombings because they are jobless.
Security; Socio-cultural Development
Wadsam
26-Sep-12: Afghan women interested in cultivation of saffron in Jawzjan province. Local officials are introducing saffrom cultivation to Aaqcha district and the city of Sheberghan in Jowzjan province in northern Afghanistan. Women in the area have reportedly been particularly interested in the saffron promotion efforts. “I am very happy to be doing this. They have provided us with clothes to wear while cultivating,” said Roshan, a woman involved with the saffron project. Other women noted that saffron was effective in discouraging poppy cultivation, which has been absent from Jowzjan for the past three years.
Economics; Socio-cultural Development
Wadsam
26-Sep-12: Afghan women prison changed to a vocational center in Herat province. A vocational and sports training center has been established within a women's prison in Herat provice in western Afghanistan. Women at the prison are taught English, computers and Quranic recitation and also have access to tailoring , embroidery, carpet weaving, knitting and hairdressing courses. The head officer at the facility, Colonel Sima Pazhman, says the prison houses 130 women and 85 of their children. It was built with the support of the Italian provincial reconstruction team three years ago.
Economics; Socio-cultural Development
The Telegraph
23-Sep-12: Afghan female factory workers facing the sack. The Telegraph reports that a Kabul-based factory employing 230 Afghan women may be forced to lay off its employees and close. The Sarco Abad factory has been awarded a five-year contract by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to provide uniforms to the Afghan security services. However, as security responsibility is increasingly transferred to the Afghan government, Afghan officials will be reviewing and deciding whether to honour existing contracts. Afghan government personnel have suggested they can get the uniforms more cheaply from either Pakistan or China, a fact which does not bode well for Sarco Abad and its all female staff, most of whom are the sole breadwinners for their households. "We have told the workers we are trying to do everything we can to keep the factory going, but I am afraid the women will slowly lose hope," Angela Sidiqi, the factor's deputy managing director, told The Telegraph.
Economics; Socio-cultural Development
BBC News
23-Sep-12: China and Afghanistan sign economic and security deals. The Chinese and Afghan governments signed a range fo bilateral agreements on 23 September during an unannounced visit by Zhou Yongkang, China's domestic security chief, to Kabul. Zhou is the senior-most Chinese official to visit Afghanistan in the past half century. While in Kabul, he met with President Hamid Karzai. One of the bilateral agreements signed during will allow Afghanistan to send 300 Afghan police officers -- out of approximately 150,000 -- to China for training over the coming four years. In addition to the security sector, China is also keenly interested in Afghanistan's mineral and energy resources. Some analysts believe that Chinese officials are hoping to bolster relations with Afghanistan as the international communtiy's footprint in the country wanes under the on-going transition process.
Governance; Security; Economics; Infrastructure
Wadsam
19-Sep-12: Irrigation projects executed in southern provinces. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched an initiative to improve irrigation infrastructure in Helmand and Kandahar provinces by cleaning canals, installing water gates and strengthening of canal walls. The works cost USD 232,437 and are being implemented through the National Area-Based Development Programme (NABDP).
Economics; Infrastructure
MiningWeekly
18-Sep-12: Afghanistan to announce bidders for mineral tenders by year-end. Afghanistan's Ministry of Mines announced that it had opened bids for the Badakhshan deposit in the north-eastern Afghan province of Badakhshan. This is the fourth in a string of gold and copper deposits that Afghanistan's Ministry of Mines (MoM) has put out for tender. The others include the Balkhab copper project in Sar-e Pul and Balkh provinces, the Shaida copper project in Herat province and the Zarkashan copper/gold project in Ghazni province. “The bid openings for the four current mineral tenders have now been completed and we look forward to selecting and announcing a preferred bidder for Badakhshan in the near term," stated Afghan Mining Minister Wahidullah Shahrani. He further noted that the government was hoping to announce preferred bidders for all four mining projects by the end of this year.
Economics; Infrastructure
Khaama Press
17-Sep-12 Seventy percent jailed Afghan women are accused of home-escape. Chief of the parliamentarian commission for human rights, civil society and women’s affairs Fawzia Koufi said more than 70% of the Afghan women have been jailed for escaping their homes, despite there being no law prohibiting the act. She said, “If the government does not have a specific law in this regard then it should be referred to us in order to modify a regulation in a bid to clarify the rules and prevent misunderstanding and misuse by Afghan attorney and police regarding the Afghan women.” Afghan women’s affairs minister Husn Banu Ghazanfar said “Forced marriages, difference in age of couples, violence, use divorce comments and several other issues are the main motives which forces Afghan girls and married women to flee from their homes.” In the meantime Afghan justice minister Habibullah Ghalib said fleeing from home is not a crime in Afghan law and no case should be referred to Afghan courts in this regard.
Governance; Socio-cultural Development
Wadsam
17-SEP-12: Required protection of Afghanistan roads has not taken place. The Ministry of Public Works noted that many of the approximately 7,000 km of new roads built in Afghanistan during the last decade are severely damaged due to a lack of maintenance. New measures, including traffic laws and increased oversight of construction companies, are being discussed to prevent further deterioration of the country’s transport infrastructure.
Infrastructure
IANS Live
17-SEP-12: Afghan girls dare to play football. A female football team from Rabia Balkhi High School in Kabul travelled to New Delhi to play in the Subroto Cup Football Tournament. The girls’ participation in this tournament is a breakthrough given past and present restrictions on women’s rights in Afghanistan, particularly under the Taliban regime. Zrafchan Nimiy, the team’s spokesperson, said: “When I was a kid I used to be very scared to even step out of my house. But now we have democracy and there is police. The players in this team are not scared any more. We believe in our police; they have assured us that they wouldn’t let anything happen to us.” Nimiy added that her parents had initially refused to allow her to participate in the tournament but were swayed by the team’s coach. In addition to objec-tions regarding girls’ and women’s athletics, female athletes also need to be content that facilities and equipment are limited and that male teams always have priority when athletic resources are being allocated.
Socio-cultural Development
Radio Free Europe
16-Sep-12: Progress Noted, But Questions Remain Over 'New Silk Road' Initiative. Speaking in India last year, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for the establishment of a "New Silk Road" connecting Afghanistan with the ancient Silk Road linking Europe, Asia and the Middle East.  Clinton said it would involve an "international web and network of economic and transit connections", includking the "building [of] more rail lines, highways, [and] energy [pipelines]". S. . Frederick Starr, an architect of the notion of the New Silk Road at Johns Hopkins University, told Radio Free Europe that progress "has been slower than it should have been but faster than the pessimists expected". Starr and US officials pioint to a transit trade agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan and progress on an agreement to build a natural gas pipeline extending from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Yet analysts note that regional rivalries, limited financing and the US government's limited success in building support for the ambitious idea has blunted more meaningful achievements thus far. Many in the US government and elsewhere hope that the establishment of the New Silk Road -- and the many projects which would contribute to it -- could help foster economic growth and stability in Afghanistan as the international presence there declines in the coming years.
Economics; Infrastructure; Socio-cultural Development
Wadsam
16-SEP-12: A ring rail line to be built in Afghanistan. The Ministry of Public Works (MoPW) also opened discussions regarding the construction of a 3,600 km Ring Railway in Afghani-stan, reported Wadsam. Auodjan noted that eight new rail lines are already being built in order to link Afghanistan with neighbouring countries. He further stated that this new project would require large amounts of external financing and would take more than 15 years to complete. The new railway would be similar to the current Ring Road and would help facilitate the development of the country’s mineral resources by aiding in the import of supplies and the export of minerals and metals
Infrastructure
Pajhwok Afghan News
16-SEP-12: Bamyanis stage protest against power outages. Hundreds of people rallied in the streets of Bamian city to protest frequent power shortages. The protesters marched from the city centre to the governor’s office chanting slogans. Some of the protesters tried to seize police weapons, smashed the window of two police vehicles and looted the local religious affairs office. Security forces stabilised the situation and reportedly arrested four people. 
Infrastructure
Ariana News
15-Sep-12 Joblessness causes the youth to join Taliban ranks or to leave the country. A number of Laghman residents have complained regarding the lack of employment opportunities and have criticised the Afghan government for doing nothing to help the youth in the province. According to many in the younger generation, joblessness has led many to flee from the country or to join the ranks of the Taliban or to become involved with narcotics as users and also as traffickers. Though the government has promised to inaugurate new jobs opportunities, Laghman residents say they have yet to see any evidence that job openings are available. The Laghman Governor Mohammad Iqball Azizi, said, “We have the electricity Project of Laghman now in hand as an example of a project that will provide a lot of jobs opportunities and will bring electrical service to residents for their homes and businesses.
Governance; Security; Economics; Infrastructure
Gulf News
14-Sep-12: Taliban link Afghanistan attack to anti-Islam film. Two US Marines were killed in an attack on Camp Bastion late on 14 September. Britain's Prince Harry was in the base at the time of the attack, which included mortars, rocket-propelled grenaces and small arms fire, but was not harmed. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was a response to a movie defamign the Prophet Mohammad. A provincial government official said that 17 bodies, believed to be those of insurgents involved in the attack, were also discovered nearby.
Governance; Security; Socio-cultural Development
Reuters
13-Sep-12 Afghanistan orders YouTube block over ant-Islam film. Authorities in Afghanistan have ordered that YouTube's website be blocked to stop Afghans watching a U.S.-made film that insults the Prophet Mohammad which has sparked unrest elsewhere, government sources told Reuters. "I welcome any decision by the government because it badly affects the minds of young Afghans," a senior government official said. Fears the video could provoke riots prompted at least one provider to act before the government's orders were received. "All it takes is one Mullah watching that video, and then he'll preach about it later on, causing chaos", said Farhad Fazi, the president of Internet provider AFSAT. However, YouTube may remain accessible to some Internet users until Saturday as some of Afghanistan's major servers are based in India and the United Arab Emirates. YouTube was shut for several hours in Afghanistan but was then restored. The film-related violence in the Muslim world prompted Afghan President Hamid Karzai to postpone a Friday trip to Oslo, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry said, adding that he wanted to remain at home at this time. In the past, material and actions deemed insulting to Islam have sparked deadly riots in Afghanistan.
Governance; Socio-cultural Development
Wadsam
13-SEP-12: Afghan government's 16 major development programs in progress. Afghanistan’s Minister of Public Works, Najibullah Auodjan, speaking at a meeting of  government ministries, asked for improved coordination of major development projects, including those related to transportation and energy infrastructure, said Wadsam. The meeting participants, which included the Minister of Economy, the Minister of Urban Affairs and the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, identified security issues, low capacity and a lack of funding as the main factors delaying infrastructure projects. Auodjan proposed the establishment of an inter-ministerial infrastructure cluster to enhance coordination, management, monitoring and reporting.
Economics; Infrastructure
Pajhwok Afghan News
13-SEP-12: 5,000 Nangarhar teachers being trained. The Department of Education in Nangarhar province has started training for more than 5,000 teachers. The training, which coincides with the release of new textbooks, will mainly focus on science and is funded by the Belgian government. There are more than 500,000 students enrolled in primary and secondary schools in Nangarhar.
Socio-cultural Development
AFP
12-Sep-12 Afghan TV stations face legal action. The Afghan government has recommended legal action against two TV channels for allegedly broadcasting scantily dressed women and disseminating immorality, officials said. A ministry of information and culture official said stations Saba and Setara were guilty of broadcasting songs, in which “there was lots of nudity”. “The committee determined that it was against all norms... so the stations were referred to the attorney general’s office for investigation,” ministry advisor Jalal Noorani told AFP. He was referring to a government-led committee that oversees the dozens of private TV stations and other media. The broadcast director of Saba TV, denied the allegations, saying, "We have not broadcast anything that is against Afghan culture or Islamic values". Afghanistan’s media sector has boomed in the last decade, largely with foreign financial support, but the industry, especially television stations, have been under mounting pressure from conservative Islamic circles. In July, Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned that hard-won media freedoms are under serious threat from a draft law the provisions of which the group claims undermines free expression and increase government control.
Governance; Socio-cultural Development
Wadsam
12-SEP-12: New Salang Requires USD 1bn. The MoPW said that rehabilitating the Salang Tunnel will cost USD 1 billion, reported Wadsam. The Public Works Minister added that he has held around 50 meetings with donors to seek the necessary funds to repair the key mountain pass.
Infrastructure
Pajhwok Afghan News
12-SEP-12: 150 students poised for higher edu in India. One hundred and fifty Afghan students have been awarded scholarships by the Indian government to pursue their higher educa-tion studies in India. The Indian government will bear all their expenses, including travel costs and tuition fees.
Socio-cultural Development
Pajhwok Afghan News
12-SEP-12: Polish scholarships for Ghazni students. Likewise, the Polish Ambassador to Afghanistan, Piotr Łukasiewicz, announced that Poland will start offering scholarships for attorneys, judges and students from Ghazni province.
Socio-cultural Development
UNAMA
10-Sep-12 "Global Open Day" marked in Kabul with calls for women's inclusion in political, peace, process. The United Nations in Afghanistan was joined by prominent Afghan women rights activists on 10 September to commemorate the “Global Open Day on Women, Peace and Security”. Ján Kubiš, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan, hosted women peace activists from different Afghan organisations in Kabul. The activists raised major problems faced by Afghan women, including the under-representation of women in the Afghan political and peace process, targeted killings of women, and violation of women’s rights by local militia groups. The Open Day in Afghanistan was marked with the theme of “Inclusive Partnerships for Peace”. Resolution 2041 (2012)  of the UN Security Council, which was endorsed in March, noted that the Government of Afghanistan should continue to increase women’s participation in outreach, consultation and decision-making processes, and in all Afghan governance institutions.
Governance; Socio-cultural Development
AFP
06-SEP-12: Third of children in Afghan south acutely malnourished. Around a third of young children in southern Afghanistan are acutely malnourished. Widespread poverty and insecurity mean aid organisations have a lighter footprint in the south and healthcare is less accessible than in other parts of the country.
 
Humanitarian Affairs; Socio-cultural Development
Wadsam
06-SEP-12: Disabled Women Employed in Bamyan Soap Factory. Bamyan soap factory, established three months ago by a non-governmental organization, employs disabled people, including women, to help them build their financial situations. According to the project manager Sirajuddin Salimi, 25 men and women were trained at the factory last month. Another 50 are currently being trained.

 

Socio-cultural Development
Wadsam
06-SEP-11: Afghanistan Signs $125 million Grant with the World Bank to Increase Equitable Access to Quality Basic Education. A $125 million additional grant, to finance the on-going Education Quality Improvement Project (EQUIP) of the Government of Afghanistan, was signed today between the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank. The Grant financed out of the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) aims to increase equitable access to quality basic education, especially for girls, through school grants, teacher training and strengthened institutional capacity, with support from communities and private providers. This Grant is part of the recently approved $250 million additional financing of the ongoing Second Education Quality Improvement Project (EQUIP II) by the ARTF Management Committee. 
Socio-cultural Development
Wadsam
06-SEP-11: Denmark pledged USD 300 million to Afghanistan Ministry of Education. Minister of Education Ghulam Farooq Wardak inked a USD 300mn contract with Denmark. The first agreement was signed between the World Bank and the Ministry of Education on the basis of which the World Bank pledged USD 250mn. Ministers of Education and Finance signed the second agreement with representatives from Denmark Embassy and UNICEF. Based on the agreement, Denmark pledged USD 55.7mn to the Ministry of Education through UNICEF.
Socio-cultural Development
Khaama Press
06-Sep-12: Afghanistan aims to extract 150,000 barrels fuel this year. Afghanistan's Ministry of Mines (MoM) has announced that the Afghan government will establish an agreement obligating the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) to establish a refinery in northern Afghanistan. CNPC was preliminarily awarded the rights to a portion of the oil and gas in the Amu Darya basin in northern Afghanistan. Afghan lawmakers complained that the deal did not clearly require CNPC to process the fuel in Afghanistan, thus raising the possibility that it woudl be shipped to China for processing -- thus depriving Afghanistan of jobs and added income. Wais Sherdil, chief of the Amu River Fuel Deposits in the MoM, says that the refinery will cost CNPC USD 250-350 million to build. The MoM also confirmed that the Chinese oil deal is progressing and that CNPC and its Afghan partner, Watan, are expected to extract 150,000 barrels of oil this year, a relatively small amount. However, the companies will invest up to half a billion US dollars in Afghanistan during the first five years of their 25-year lease to their part of the Amu Darya basin.
Economics; Infrastructure
Khaama Press
05-Sep-12: Afghanistan and Iran sign mutual cooperation agreement. The Afghan and Iranian governments established a mutual cooperation agreement following a bilateral meeting this week. The agreement, which includes 56 separate articles, aims to books ties between the two nations, particularly in the areas of trade and security. Iran's continued hosting of several hundred thousand Afghan refugees was also noted in the agreement, as was collaboration in the fight against drug trafficking from Afghanistan into Iran. The agreement comes shortly after the US government asked the Afghan government and private sector to limit their ties with particular Iranian companies and banks and to limit importing goods via the Iranian port at Bandar Abbas.
Governance; Security; Economics; Infrastructure
Pajhwok Afghan News
03-SEP-12: Iran-Herat railroad to complete this year. The Afghan Ministry of Public Works (MoPW) said that that Iran has renewed its commitment to complete the 61-km railway linking Iran with Ghoryan district in Herat. The Iranian-funded project was launched in 2007, but construction stopped in 2009 before re-starting in 2011. MoPW officials say that insecurity and land disputes have led to the delays in the project.
Infrastructure
Wadsam
03-SEP-12: Afghanistan’s revenues from over-flight fees increased two-fold. The Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation announced that new equipment in 26 provinces has enabled the government to significantly increase the revenue it receives from flights traversing Afghan airspace, according to Wadsam. New antennas, which have been installed with assistance from Germany and Australia, have given Afghan air-traffic controllers the ability to monitor and track flights over Afghanistan in line with International Air Transport Association parameters. As a result, more flights can use Afghan airspace, and the Afghan government can receive more income from these flights. In 2011, the Afghan government received USD 60 million from “over-flights”.
Infrastructure
Pajhwok Afghan News
02-SEP-12: Telecom services being extended to impassable areas. A contract worth USD 28 million was signed by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and three companies. Under the contract the three companies will install 220 new telecommunication towers in 185 districts across Afghanistan. The new towers will provide 95% of Afghans with access to telecommunications (e.g., mobile phone) networks; currently 85% of Afghans can access such networks. The new towers, which will be installed during the next 18 months, are being financed by a fund managed by the Afghan Telecommunications Regulatory Authority. Telecommunications companies annually contribute 2.5% of their earnings to the fund.  
Infrastructure
Wadsam
02-SEP-12: No region in Afghanistan would be without a school by 2014. Afghan Minister of Education Gulam Farook Wardak pledged that no part of Afghanistan would lack a school by 2014. He said: “We promise that in two years no Afghan child would be deprived of education, no village would be a without a school, no school door would be shut to Afghan children, no school would be without a teacher, and no teacher would have qualifications below Grade 14.” Wardak noted that the Ministry of Education (MoE) has not been able to provide schools in some parts of the country given that the MoE does not have the legal authority to purchase or seize lands on which to build schools. Other experts said that insecurity and insurgent violence have also prevented schools from opening in parts of Afghanistan.
Socio-cultural Development
Wadsam
01-SEP-12: Asphalting of roads in Herat Province. Wadsam reported that a road connecting Herat city and the Guzarah and Pashtoon Zarghoon districts in Herat province is currently being asphalted. The project is being financed by the central government at a cost of USD 45 million. Guzarah and Pashtoon Zarghoon districts are among the most insecure areas in Herat province; hence, local residents are being asked to help provide security.
Infrastructure
Pajhwok Afghan News
28-Aug-12: US Appears to Support Chabahar Port Agreement. The US government appeared to express its support for a trade cooperation agreement established between the Afghan, Indian and Iranian governments. The agreement would see all three countries work to develop the Iranian port at Chabahar, which would then be used for importing and exporting goods -- including minerals and metals from Iranian mining assets in Afghanistan -- to and from Afghanistan. “These three countries are neighbours. They have to get along. We are obviously interested in increased trade and commerce back and forth there. So anything that ameliorates that situation is something that we would support,” US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland announced.
Governance; Economics; Infrastructure
BBC
27-Aug-12 Taliban kill seventeen civilians killed in Helmand. Seventeen civilians have been killed by Taliban insurgents in Helmand province, reportedly for attending a party. The bodies of two women and 15 men were found by the side of a road in the Musa Qala district. They were either beheaded or had had their throats cut. Some showed signs of beatings or had gunshot wounds. Local officials said the men had gathered to listen to music and watch the women dance when they were attacked. The Taliban disapprove of men and women mixing socially. "I can confirm that this is the work of the Taliban," the Helmand provincial governor's spokesman, Daud Ahmadi, told AFP news agency. He added that the men and women were "partying with music in an area under the control of the Taliban". Some reports suggest the 17 were killed because they were local government workers.
Governance; Security; Socio-cultural Development
Tolo News
27-AUG-12: Ring Road Construction Restarts After Five Years. After a five-year delay, construction of the Ring Road in Badghis province will resume, reported Tolo News. The majority of the 3,316-km Ring Road has been completed, but a 213-km stretch of road linking Qaisar district in Faryab province and the northern part of Badghis was put on hold due to insecurity in the area. Completing that remaining stretch of road is anticipated to cost USD 400 million and will employ as many as 2,000 Afghans. Security for the construction workers will be provided by local security forces at a cost of approximately USD 50 million.
Infrastructure
India Times
25-Aug-12: Iran draws India closer with talks on Afghanistan. In a move intended to counter its international isolation, Iran is offering to provide greater access to Afghanistan and India to its Chabahar port. Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai says his country hopes to establish a special economc zone hear the Chabahar port, which could foster trade and enable India to undertake mining projects in Afghanistan without having to send equipment, minerals or metals through Pakistan.
Economics; Infrastructure
Khaama Press
24-Aug-12 Taliban force villagers in Kandahar to destroy roads. Taliban militants in Kandahar province recently forced local residents in Panjwai district to destroy the newly constructed roads in their local villages. Taliban militants in their message to the local residents of Panjwai district warned to take strict actions against them if their request was not fulfilled by them. Panjwai district Haji Fazal Ahmad Ishaq said Afghan villagers in three different villages have already destroyed several meters of newly constructed roads following the warning of the Taliban group. Ishaq further added around 15 meters of newly constructed roads have been destroyed by Afghan villagers in each villages in Panjwai district. This comes as the roads were recently constructed in Panjwai district however Taliban group said the construction of the new roads prevents them from planting roadside bombs to target Afghan and coalition security forces.
Governance; Security; Infrastructure
Ariana News
23-Aug-12 Revised Media Law under review. A revised version of Afghanistan’s media law will soon be presented to Parliament for review and comment. The Ministry of Information and Culture recently published an article about a revised version of the media law. Civil society organisations including media entities and NGOs have questioned and objected to the draft of the media law after seeing the most recent draft of the proposed law. The Minister of Information and Culture said that the period for review would be one week, and then the new media law should be approved by the Parliament. The current media law consists of 54 articles while the new draft of the media law has 110 articles.   Some believe that the new version of the media law will put the physical safety of journalists at increased risk, and that access to draft materials and detailed information from government will be lost under the law’s framework. 
Governance; Socio-cultural Development
BBC
23-Aug-12 Afghan Eid street concert in Herat challenges clerics. For many young Afghans in the western city of Herat, this Eid festival did not go as planned. A substantial number had wanted to see a concert by the popular pop singer Shafiq Murid, known for his patriotic songs. When local cleric Mujib Rahman banned the concert, it prompted public anger about the growing power of religious clerics in the city. The protest came alive when a pop group called Blue Band held a concert for passers-by close to the Herat Stadium where Murid had been due to perform. An Afghan traditional band also came out to join the protesters and the Blue Band. Speaking to the BBC,  Arash Barez, lead singer of Blue Band, said they had decided to hold a performance to show people that Herat still wanted live music and people supported it. The edict by the cleric angered many Afghans on social media sites. For them, this was not a protest about pop music but about the growing clout of conservative forces. "This is not about one concert, it is about the spread of extremism in Herat," one young man from Herat wrote on his Facebook page. "We must put a stop to it," he added. But some supported the ban: "Herat is not Dubai," wrote one person. Another supporter said: "Those who criticise [Mullah Rahman] are Westernised and there is no room for you guys." Some Afghan officials have cited insecurity as one of the main reasons for the cancellation of the concert. Herat has witnessed a series of attacks over the last few weeks. But for young Afghans, such intervention is a cause for great concern, and many are asking questions about the power of religious leaders and the impact they have on the rule of law.
Governance; Socio-cultural Development
Dawn
23-Aug-12: Relief goods gutted in fire at UNHCR warehouse. Dawn reports that a warehouse primarily filled with tents, medicines and other relief supplies for Afghan refugees was destroyed in a fire on 22 August. The warehouse, located near Quetta, was run by the United Nations High Commis-sion for Refugees (UNHCR) and also contained items for flood victims in Balochistan. While UNHCR and local offi-cials have noted that the cause of the fire will not be clear until a thorough investigation is conducted, locals in the are-as tell Dawn that they saw a man throw something towards the building shortly before they noticed it was on fire.
Humanitarian Affairs; Socio-cultural Development
Wadsam
23-Aug-12: Afghanistan’s water resrouces reason for new conflicts? Afghanistan’s mountains and rivers are the source of a large volume of water, much of which is reportedly used by neighbouring countries rather than by Afghans. Iran, in particular, is concerned about losing access to water sources which it shares with Afghanistan. For instance, Iran has been implicated in attempts to stop work on the Kamal Khan and Bakhshabad Abad dams, and Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, reportedly issued a report indicating that an Iranian terrorist group active in Nimroz province was intent on disrupting Afghan water projects.
Infrastructure; Socio-cultural Development
23-Jul-12: Lack of drinking water a major issue in Parwan Province. Residents of Parwan province in central Afghanistan are planning to hold a demonstration to protest their lack of access to clean drinking water. Many in the provincial capital of Charikar claim that the government recently extorted money from them in exchange for improving water supply but has failed to do so.
Humanitarian Affairs; Infrastructure; Socio-cultural Development
Ariana News
22-Aug-12 Ghazni women need recreational parks. A number of young women of Ghazi province have complained about the lack of recreational areas, saying they must spend their special holidays like Eid days, at their homes. A lady’s garden was built last year in the Ali Lala area, three kilometers from the City of Ghazni.  However, the remoteness and insecurity of the area have made it difficult for women to visit the park. Ghazni women want the government to build parks at appropriate locations and inside the city. “There isn’t any appropriate place where we can spend our special days and have some fun. We want the government to build recreational areas, especially for women,” a young lady told Ariana TV.
Socio-cultural Development
Mining Weekly
21-Aug-12: Indian consortium demands Afghan coal for iron and steel project. An Indian consortium of companies that won the rights to the Hajigak iron ore deposit in central Afghanistan is on the verge of finalising its agreement with the Afghan government. One remaining source of contention includes the provision of coking coal by the Afghan government to help fuel a six-million-tonne-per-year steel plant proposed by the Indian consortium, known as AFISCO. The steel plant is a crucial part of the agreement. To pressure AFISCO to follow through on its offer to build the facility, the Afghan government has the right the impose a cap on exports of iron ore; if the plant is not built by a certain point, the cap will reportedly come into play.
Economics; Infrastructure
Khaama Press
21-Aug-12 Religious clerics cancel musician's concert in Herat. Famous Afghan singer Shafiq Mureed confirmed that his concert, which was due to be held in Herat city of Afghanistan on 21 August, was cancelled after a number of religious clerics called it as un-Islamic and urged the local residents to prevent the organisation of such concerts in this province. Mureed said he would have proceeded with the concert but didn't out of concern for thousands of local residents of Herat city would be have been threatened by his decision. The cancellation of his concert in Herat city was widely reflected by his followers in social networking websites specifically on Facebook.
Socio-cultural Development
18-Aug-12: PAJCCI takes initiative to review APTTA. The Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI) has launched a review of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA). Daroo Khan Achakzai, the acting president of the Chamber, says that the agreement continues to face challenges, including the use of parallel systems in Afghanistan and Pakistan which the APTTA aimed to remove. As part of the review, the PAJCCI says that it will organise consultations with stakeholders in Khyber Paktunkhwa and Chaman, both in Pakistan, after the Eid ul Fitr holiday.
Economics; Infrastructure
Daily Mail
18-Aug-12: The British Army's secret weapon in Afghanistan? It's the seven female officers in Helmand Province gaining the trust of the locals. The British military's seven Female Engagement Officers (FEOs) in Helmand province help to speak with Afghan women and gain their trust so that they may support military operations. The article outlines the role and living conditions of the FEOs, who indicate that they hope their presence in southern Afghanistan helps to show Afghan girls that women can have roles beyond those socially prescribed for them.
Security; Socio-cultural Development
Tolo News
18-Aug-12: Illegal Building Halted by Kabul Municipality. Abdul Tawab Ahmadi, the head of construction for the Kabul municipal government, announced that officials would continue to prevent the construction of illegal buildings during the Eid ul Fitr holiday. He indicated that the holiday season, when government officials are often on leave, is often used by unscrupulous builders to begin or complete construction of unapproved structures.
Infrastructure
Press Trust of India
17-Aug-12: UN, US asked to pressure Pak to open Gilgit-Ladakh trade route. The Gilgit Baltistan National Congress, a Washington, DC-based organisation, has asked the US government and the United Nations to pressure Pakistan to open new routes to enable Shias in Afghanistan, Tajikistan and surrounding area to avoid what they described as "killing fields". Shias have reportedly been targeted by Pakistani militants recently. The article says 25 Shias were pulled out of a bus in Pakistan on 16 August and that 21 of them were shot and killed in the sectarian attack.
Economics; Infrastructure
Deutsche Welle
17-Aug-12: To tap its resources Afghanistan must provide security. Experts suggest that Afghanistan’s strategic location at the crossroads of Central Asia and its potential in hydropower and gas could play a significant role in re-building its economy while making Afghanistan self-sufficient. Afghanistan’s energy potential is estimated to amount to the trillions of dollars. According to Mahmoud Saikal, Afghanistan’s former deputy foreign minister and Ambassador to Australia, if Afghanistan’s energy potential is harnessed, the country could eventually begin exporting to the same countries on which it currently relies for its energy imports. Afghanistan has the huge potential for hydropower and could produce between 25 and 30 megawatts of electricity per year, according to Saikal.  Insecurity and weakening of rule of law pose the main obstacles to necessary investment in the energy sector. “Investors could be scared off by having their pipelines and transit routes attacked,” says Saikal.
Economics; Infrastructure
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
16-Aug-12 In Afghanistan, scandal erupts over changing street name to honor Iranians. Provincial officials in Balkh province have asked the central government in Kabul to decide whether a street in Mazar-e Sharif should be named after a group of Iranian diplomats killed there in 1998. The move comes after a scandal erupted over reports that the street with Iran's former consulate building in Mazar-e Sharif already had been renamed Martyrs of the Consulate of the Islamic Republic of Iran without approval from Kabul. Formal approval of the name change risks angering the many Afghans who view the Iranian diplomats as spies who had tried to divide Afghanistan along sectarian lines. Mohammad Akbar Stanikzai, an independent member of parliament from Logar Province said, "If you see how Afghans in Iran are not allowed to attend Friday Prayers, how they don't have permission to attend the religious schools, or how Iran executes innocent Afghans, it is shameful for us to rename our streets in honor of their spies." Provincial administrators say the original request to change the name of the street was made by the Iranian government, which had itself renamed a street in Tehran after the slain Afghan anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Masud. Balkh's governor, Atta Mohammad Noor, is said to have backed the change and forwarded it to the provincial council for their approval in order to recognize "the services and cooperation of the friendly country of Iran with the people of Afghanistan" during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and resistance against the Taliban regime.
Governance; Socio-cultural Development
Center for International Private Enterprise
16-Aug-12: Youth Rebuilding the Economy in Afghanistan. Since 2004, the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the Afghan Ministry of Education (MoE) have provided more than 13,000 Afghan high school students with three-year courses on entrepreneurship, which they refer to as Tashabos. Alongside their regular courses, students in the Tashabos participate in business-related classes and competitions related, for instance, to writing business plans. Many of the studnets in the Tashabos reportedly contribute to their families' enterprises during and after the course.
Economics; Socio-cultural Development
Wadsam
15-Aug-12: Why are major Afghan dam construction projects running so slowly? The Ministry of Energy and Water singled out funding shortages and insecurity as the main obstacles to the construction of large dams in the country. Cost of every major dam project is estimated to be more than USD 4 billion, with work on six major dams currently taking place, according to Minister Mohammad Ismail Khan. He further added that “People, instead of being happy that a dam project is initiated in their area require us to pay them money.” The Ministry was reportedly criticized by the Upper House for their lack of attention to the construction of dams for the past 10 years.
Infrastructure
The Independent
15-Aug-12: Locals Evict Taliban from 50 Villages. A rising of local villagers has evicted Taliban fighters from 50 villages in Ghazni province, in an uprising that Kabul hopes will spread across the insurgent-held territory, the Independent (Ireland) has reported. More than 250 men have taken up arms and are fighting near-daily skirmishes against Taliban attempts to reassert their influence in the area.The armed anti-Taliban movement started as a protest against insurgent edicts closing schools and bazaars, as well as resentment that the Taliban were perceived as outsiders taking orders from Pakistan. Its progress is being closely watched by NATO and Western officials who have long hoped the insurgents' repression might provoke a movement similar to the Sunni Awakening brigades that turned against al Qaeda in Iraq. Lotfullah Kamrani, a young man who commands dozens of anti-Taliban fighters, said his men were in daily clashes, some lasting up to 10 hours. Since forcing the insurgents out of many of the local villages, they reopened shops and long-closed boys' schools
Governance; Security; Socio-cultural Development
Pajhwok Afghan News
15-Aug-12: Khan’s stance on Kajaki dam rejected. Members of the Meshrano Jirga, the upper house of the Afghan legislature, and a representative of Helmand's provincial governor have raised concern over the lack of progress on the third turbine at the Kajaki dam. International and Afghan government stakeholders have been attempting to install the turbine at the Kajaki hydro-electric plant for years. Members of the Meshrano Jirga felt that improved security in Helmand would facilitate progress on the installation works, but Minister of Energy and Water Ismail Khan says security conditions are still not sufficient. Mohammad Daud Ahmadi, a spokesperson for the governor of Helmand, said that the turbine had not been installed due to a lack of attention from the Ministry of Energy and Water. The dam's electrical output would increase and could enable more regular energy suppor to southern and south-western Afghanistan if installed.
Economics; Infrastructure
Wadsam
15-Aug-12: Electricity for 400 Families in Sar-e-Pul City. Houses of four hundred families in the Naw Abad village of the city of Amam Khord in Sar-e-Pul province have been connected to electricity as a result of the extension of power cords in the area. The project has been initiated by the Afghani utility company, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS). The residents in the area have struggled with weak electric power and frequent power blackouts, with the new project alleviating some of these issues.
Infrastructure
Pajhwok
15-Aug-12: Women rally for reopening of girls’ schools. About 300 women from various districts staged a peaceful protest, asking the militants to keep schools for women open and to respect women’s rights. The rally was arranged by the Afghan Sisters Unit and the Women’s Affairs Department. The heads of these two entities also presented a resolution calling for the elimination of violence against women, women’s inheritance rights, and greater representation of women in the peace process. Shabana, one of the participants, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the goal of the rally was to tell opponents of women’s education that girls would go to schools under any circumstances, refusing to bow to any pressure.
Governance; Socio-cultural Development
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