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Reports Archive

Afghan Report: August 7, 2003

7 August 2003, Volume  2, Number  28
SPECIAL FEATURES
THE 'DURAND LINE' -- FROM IMAGINATION TO AN INTERNATIONAL BORDER
By Amin Tarzi

In June, Afghanistan began accusing Pakistan of violating Afghan territory by crossing the infamous Durand Line, which led ultimately to anti-Pakistani riots in Kabul and other Afghan cities. During one of these demonstrations, the Embassy of Pakistan in Kabul was ransacked by a mob, causing the closure of the mission (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 17 and 24 July 2003). While both governments have attempted diplomatically to quell the resulting tension since the riots, low-intensity armed skirmishes have continued in the disputed area along the Durand Line, bringing the two neighbors close to an outright military conflict (see news section below). While Islamabad has maintained throughout the minicrisis that its forces were inside its own territory, Kabul insists that Pakistani forces did, in fact, intrude anywhere from 60 meters to 40 kilometers inside Afghanistan.

Fortunately, the situation was brought under control with the formation of a tripartite commission, consisting of representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States. During a meeting of this tripartite commission in Islamabad in July, it was agreed that Afghanistan and Pakistan would use the Ground Positioning System (GPS), with U.S. help, to determine if the border had indeed been violated and possibly to prevent future incidents along the Durand Line. However, an unidentified Pakistani official attending the meeting is reported to have said that even if the sides "use the GPS coordinates," they would "have yet to agree on which map to use as a benchmark." According to the Pakistani official, Afghanistan based its claims of Pakistani intrusions on Soviet military maps, while Pakistan was using maps drawn by the British when the territory of today's Pakistan was still part of the empire in India. The Pakistani official explained: "Afghanistan being a successor to the state of Amir Abdul Rahman, and we being successors to the British Empire, are signatory to the November 1893 Durand Line Treaty. The Durand Line was drawn by the British and we are using the same British maps."

Sources close to the tripartite commission have indicated that upon further review, Pakistan has moved back some of its newly positioned border posts. Moreover, the cause of the Afghan-Pakistani row may have less to do with maps than with elements that are not pleased with the current realities in Afghanistan. One issue that must be addressed by both Kabul and Islamabad, with international supervision, is the exact coordinates of the "Durand Line." By accomplishing this and settling the border once and for all, Afghanistan and Pakistan can alleviate the provocations by the various elements on either side of the border.

What Is The Durand Line?

The boundary between Afghanistan and Pakistan takes it name from Sir Henry Mortimer Durand, foreign secretary of British India, who concluded an agreement with Amir Abdul Rahman Khan (ruled 1880-1901) of Afghanistan on 12 November 1893. This agreement formally adjusted the "the eastern and southern frontier of His Highness's dominions, from Wakhan [corridor] to the Persian border."

The history of the Durand Line goes back to the Treaty of Gandumak, signed in May 1879 between British Major Louis Cavagnari and the Afghan Amir Mohammad Ya'qub Khan during the Second Anglo-Afghan War of 1879-80. According to provisions of the Gandumak Agreement, the British were to maintain a military and diplomatic presence in Afghanistan and control its foreign policy. Also, Britain was granted jurisdictional control of the three strategically significant frontier districts of Kurram, Sibi, and Pishin. However, when the Gandumak plan failed to achieve peace, the British opted to leave Afghanistan, but to ensure that it remained a buffer state between their own Indian empire and the Russian empire in Central Asia.

When Abdul Rahman became the amir, Afghanistan's boundaries were not demarcated. The British sought at that time to keep the Russians out of and the amir inside a geographically defined Afghanistan.

According to Article 4 of the Durand Agreement, the "frontier line will hereafter be laid down in detail and demarcated, wherever this may be practicable and desirable, by Joint British and Afghan Commissioners, whose object will be to arrive by mutual understanding at a boundary which shall adhere with the greatest possible exactness" to the agreed map, and "have due regard to the existing local rights of villages adjoining the frontier." While the Durand Line set the limits of the territories of Afghanistan and British India on paper, the entire border was not actually demarcated at that time.

The issue of the Durand Line became more sensitive after 1947, when the British empire in India was split into two independent states: India and Pakistan. Afghanistan, deep into its own search for identity and the formation of a nationalistic agenda, called for the right of self-determination for Pashtuns inhabiting the region between the Durand Line and the Indus River. This became known, at least in Kabul, as the "Pashtunistan" policy, and it had the effect of alienating Afghanistan and its new neighbor, Pakistan. On official Afghan maps at that time, the Durand Line was marked as disputed.

The issue of "Pashtunistan" has brought Afghanistan and Pakistan to the brink of war on more than one occasion, and drained Afghanistan's political and real economy. For Pakistan, the existence of two hostile neighbors, Afghanistan and India, had become a source of great concern. Even though Kabul eventually opted to stay out of all of the Indo-Pakistani wars, the possibility of having to fight on two fronts at one time pushed Pakistan to try to muscle the weaker of the threats -- Afghanistan -- continuously over the years.

Islamabad's golden chance to reduce the real or perceived Afghan threat came when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. Although initially Pakistan was viewed as the next step in the Soviet march towards the "warm waters" of the Indian Ocean, the Soviets became bogged down in Afghanistan. And this occurred with the help of mainly Pakistan-based resistance groups. Finally, Islamabad could envision a friendly post-Soviet Afghanistan, if not its own satellite state. The quest to have an Islamabad-friendly government in Kabul manifested itself in the person of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and other resistance leaders, all the way to the formation of the Taliban in 1994.

Time To Settle The Durand

Today, both Afghanistan and Pakistan have suffered from their misjudgments of one another over the past five decades. There is no need to prolong this suffering, which has served as an indirect catalyst for international terrorism and a source of great instability in both states.

The Durand Line that was drawn on the map by a British emissary 110 years ago should not be allowed by the leadership of both states to become a flashpoint. To ensure its viability and secure the sovereignty of both Afghanistan and Pakistan, it should be demarcated wholly and officially.


NEWS
UN OFFICIAL STRESSES NEED FOR SECURITY BEFORE MEANINGFUL ELECTIONS IN AFGHANISTAN.
On 30 July, the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special representative to Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, delivered a speech to the Symposium on Security Sector Reform that was held in Kabul on 30-31 July. A text of Brahimi's speech has been obtained by RFE/RL. Brahimi said the Constitutional Loya Jirga scheduled for October and the general elections slated for 2004 can only "be meaningful" if Afghans are "at liberty to express their views, free of threats of violence, intimidation, and pressure by anyone." However, Brahimi added, "from across the country we continue to receive daily reports of abuses committed by gunmen against the population -- armed gangs who establish illegal checkpoints, tax farmers and traders, intimidate, rob, rape, and do so -- all too often -- while wielding the formal title of military commander [or] police or security chief." He said that quite often these lawbreakers and warlords claim to be affiliated with political organizations or prominent individuals who are part of the Transitional Administration or of provincial governments (for more on Afghan elections, see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 19 July 2003). (Amin Tarzi)

NATO CONSIDERING EXPANDED PEACEKEEPING ROLE IN AFGHANISTAN.
As NATO prepares to take command of the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) next week from the joint German and Dutch command, it is also considering expanding its presence and activities throughout Afghanistan, according to a 5 August "Financial Times" report based on statements made the previous day by NATO military officials. According to the report, some NATO countries have expressed concern that there are not enough available troops for such an expanded role. (Amin Tarzi)

NATO COMMANDER ARRIVES IN KABUL FOR ISAF TAKEOVER.
German Lieutenant-General Goetz Gliemeroth is in Kabul to prepare for NATO's 11 August assumption of ISAF command from German Lieutenant-General Norbert van Heyst, Bakhtar news agency reported on 5 August. Gliemeroth met with Afghan Army Chief of Staff General Asef Delawar and talked about cooperation between NATO and the Afghan National Army. (Amin Tarzi)

ICG REPORT CALLS FOR EMPOWERMENT OF AFGHANISTAN'S PASHTUNS.
A report published on 5 August by the International Crisis Group (ICG) says that a key obstacle to an enduring peace in Afghanistan is the perception among Pashtuns that they are not meaningfully represented in the Afghan Transitional Administration. In the report, titled "Afghanistan: The Problem of Pashtun Alienation" (available at www.crisisweb.org), Vikram Parekh, Afghanistan analyst for the Brussels-based ICG, said, "Unless measures are taken to address Pashtun grievances and ensure that a more representative government emerges from the 2004 elections, the political process could end in failure." According to the report, although Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai is a Pashtun, Tajiks from Panjshayr Valley dominate security institutions in his administration. The ICG recommends that beyond addressing the ethnic imbalance in the Afghan power structure, the abusive regional authorities (i.e., warlords) need to be removed with the help of an expanded ISAF or a similar peacekeeping operation. (Amin Tarzi)

AFGHAN LEADER SAYS REFORM OF DEFENSE MINISTRY UNDER WAY...
Wrapping up a two-day conference in Kabul on defense reform, Chairman Karzai told reporters on 31 July that "in a few days' time you will see the announcement with regard to the new appointments and the new structure" of the Defense Ministry, AFP reported. Karzai gave no details about what the reforms might entail, nor did he say when the particulars would emerge. Much discussion on the topic has focused on the need for broad ethnic representation within the ministry, said to be dominated by Tajiks appointed by Defense Minister Mohammad Qasim Fahim. Karzai said the provincial governors, military leaders, and government officials who attended the symposium also discussed police and judicial reform. Xinhua News Agency reported on 31 July that final recommendations from the conference were presented to National Security Adviser Zalmay Rassoul and UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. (Isabelle Laughlin)

...AS SENIOR UNITED FRONT OFFICIALS DISCUSS FUTURE.
Top members of the United Front (Northern Alliance) met in Kabul on 1 August to discuss the formation of a new party ahead of national elections next year, Reuters reported on 2 August. The meeting, attended by Defense Minister Fahim, Transitional Administration Deputy Chairman Abdul Karim Khalili, Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, Education Minister Yunis Qanuni, and former mujahedin commander Abdul Rabb al-Rasul Sayyaf, was intended to smooth over disputes within the alliance and respond to moves to minimize the alliance's influence, according to sources cited by Reuters. The meeting followed a conference on defense reforms, which one United Front official described as a U.S.-led effort to undercut the power of the alliance. Reuters quoted one source as saying that "there are efforts at home and abroad to exclude the mujahedin one after another." (Isabelle Laughlin)

AFGHAN SECURITY ADVISER BEGINS DISARMING HIS OWN TROOPS...
General Abdul Rashid Dostum, special adviser on security affairs to Transitional Administration Chairman Karzai and commander of 10,000 troops in northern Afghanistan, has begun his own disarmament campaign despite the postponement of a government-sponsored program, a spokesman for Dostum told Xinhua News Agency on 3 August. According to the spokesman, the process began in five districts of Jowzjan Province on 3 August with the collection from 3,000 soldiers of more than 1,000 rifles and ammunition. (Isabelle Laughlin)

...WHICH IS VIEWED AS 'NONSENSE' BY RIVAL.
General Ata Mohammad, commander of the 7th Army Corps, has said he will not disband his forces as suggested by his rival, General Dostum, until the Afghan National Army (ANA) is formed, Balkh TV reported on 30 July. He added that, "Since a broad-based national army has not been formed and there is no powerful government [in Kabul], putting guns away would be nonsense." Ata Mohammad also rejected earlier reports (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 July 2003) that he has agreed to relocate his forces from Balkh Province to neighboring Baghlan Province. "Why should [I] go to Baghlan Province, since Baghlan is not part of the northern provinces? What kind of resolution is that?" he said. Ata Mohammad suggested that Dostum's forces should leave Mazar-e Sharif, capital of Balkh Province (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 23 May 2003). (Amin Tarzi)

GOVERNOR DENIES ASKING FOR HELP TO COMBAT NEO-TALIBAN FORCES.
Zabul Province Governor Hamidullah Tokhi on 31 July denied reports that he has requested assistance from U.S. forces in neighboring Kandahar Province to help his forces defeat the neo-Taliban forces active in Zabul Province, the Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran reported. Tokhi also categorically denied reports that forces loyal to the former Taliban regime, or neo-Taliban, have taken control of parts of his province. Zabul Province Deputy Governor Mulla Mohammad Omar (not to be confused with the Taliban leader of the same name) was quoted as saying the neo-Taliban has increased its activities in his province, forcing the government to seek assistance from U.S. forces (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 31 July 2003). (Amin Tarzi)

U.S. TROOPS INJURE THREE ANA OFFICERS.
Three officers of the nascent Afghan National Army (ANA) were injured on 31 July when U.S. troops fired on their taxi in Pol-e Charkhi near Kabul, Hindukosh news agency reported. A spokesman for the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Lefforge, said that U.S. military police "attempted to wave off the taxi, but the taxi continued to aggressively approach the [U.S.] convoy," Reuters reported on 31 July. The driver of the taxi disputed the claims, saying the U.S. forces "suddenly fired on my car," without giving any warning. Guards at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul shot dead four ANA soldiers and wounded four more on 21 May in what was described as a "misunderstanding" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 May 2003). (Amin Tarzi)

ACCIDENT KILLS 13 IN DISARMAMENT EFFORT IN AFGHANISTAN.
Thirteen soldiers died and 21 were injured on 4 August when munitions collected during a disarmament drive in Jowzjan Province accidentally detonated, Reuters reported. All the casualties were troops loyal to powerful regional commander General Abdul Rashid Dostum (see above). According to Xinhua News Agency, a representative of Dostum's said on 4 August that the blast, which destroyed five trucks, occurred when a land mine accidentally detonated. The spokesman said the accident will not stop the disarmament effort. A spokesman for Chairman Karzai was quoted by Xinhua as saying Dostum's disarmament campaign is a "positive development," but that it is not part of a comprehensive government-sponsored effort that was scheduled to begin on 1 July. That disarmament campaign has been postponed until Defense Ministry reforms can be implemented (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 23 May and 31 July 2003). (Isabelle Laughlin)

IRANIAN PRESIDENT PROMISES SUPPORT FOR AFGHAN STABILITY.
President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami assured the UN secretary-general's special representative to Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, that Tehran will "spare no effort" in establishing peace and security in Afghanistan, IRNA reported on 4 August. Khatami highlighted Iran's road- and rail-building projects in Afghanistan as examples of Tehran's helpfulness and voiced concern over the burgeoning opium trade, IRNA reported. Much of the opium trafficked out of Afghanistan crosses the Iranian border. Brahimi, describing the situation in the country as "difficult and dangerous," asked for more help from Iran in guaranteeing Afghanistan's security. (Isabelle Laughlin)

AFGHAN LEADER CALLS ON PAKISTAN'S HELP TO FIGHT TERRORISM.
Transitional Administration Chairman Karzai told the BBC that a resurgence of Taliban attacks is "not a serious concern" but that with Pakistan's help Afghanistan could be rid of the rebel elements for good, AFP reported on 2 August. Karzai said that "what is important for us in this region, especially for Afghanistan and Pakistan, is to fight terrorism together...and to finish this menace." Meanwhile, AFP reported that after weeks of strained relations between Islamabad and Kabul over border tensions, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri will visit Afghanistan later this month. The Associated Press of Pakistan reportedly quoted Kasuri as saying the two countries had "close and brotherly relations" but that "forces averse to the growing Pakistan-Afghanistan ties are trying to reverse" them. (Isabelle Laughlin)

AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN TO MONITOR BORDER USING GPS...
To ensure that Afghan and Pakistani forces do not cross the poorly defined border between the two countries during antiterrorist military activities, Kabul and Islamabad have agreed to use the Global Positioning System (GPS) under the aegis of the United States, the Pakistani daily "Dawn" reported on 30 July. The agreement came at a 29 July meeting of the tripartite commission of Afghan, Pakistani, and U.S. representatives that was established on 15 July to investigate claims by Afghanistan that Pakistani forces had violated its territory (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 17 July 2003). An unidentified Pakistani official said, "The Afghans brought Russian maps of the Pakistani-Afghan border, the Americans had their own maps, and we gave them ours," adding that GPS technology is being used to "see if there has been any [Pakistani] intrusion as alleged" by Kabul. The official maintained Islamabad's position that its forces have never crossed into Afghan territory, adding that they were positioned "minus one kilometer from the zero-line." He said that the border was quiet despite skirmishes on 26 July (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 11 and 24 July 2003). (Amin Tarzi)

...AS PAKISTAN CLAIMS AFGHANISTAN'S USE OF FAULTY RUSSIAN MAP CAUSED CONFUSION OVER BORDER.
An unidentified senior Pakistani official said on 31 July that Afghanistan has mistakenly claimed that "Pakistani forces have intruded 12 kilometers inside Afghanistan" because Kabul is using old, Soviet-produced maps, the Pakistani daily "Dawn" reported on 1 August. The official added that this claim "cannot be true." "Russian maps are known to be flawed and inaccurate," he said. "Even if there was an intrusion, it could not possibly be more than a few meters." The official claimed that the maps used by the Afghan side "vary from the maps used by Pakistan and the United States." He said that Islamabad is using British maps, on the basis of which the "Durand Line" -- after Sir Henry Mortimer Durand, the British signatory of the 1893 agreement that demarcated the border between Afghanistan and British India -- was signed. The comments came after a meeting of the tripartite commission of Afghan, Pakistani, and U.S. representatives established to investigate claims by Afghanistan that Pakistani forces have violated its territory (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 17 and 24 July 2003). (Amin Tarzi)

INDIA ACCUSED OF INCITING AFGHAN-PAKISTANI TENSIONS...
Citing unidentified sources, Pakistan's official Associated Press of Pakistan claimed in a 29 July report that since the reopening of the Indian Consulate in Jalalabad, Nangarhar Province, in December 2002, tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan have escalated. According to the report, Indian officials in Jalalabad have "established links with local [Afghan] warlords and are using them to vitiate Pakistani-Afghan ties." Since the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Islamabad has regarded ties between Kabul and New Delhi as a danger to its security. When the Pakistan-backed Taliban regime took control of Kabul in 1996, it closed the Indian consulate. (Amin Tarzi)

...WHICH IS AFFIRMED BY ISLAMABAD.
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry on 1 August alleged that India's Research and Analysis Wing is running espionage and terrorist operations aimed at Pakistan from India's consulates in Jalalabad and Kandahar, AP reported on 2 August. A statement by the ministry reportedly provided no evidence to support the accusation. The Press Trust of India news agency reported on 2 August that India has denied such activities and that on 29 July Pakistan's high commissioner in New Delhi, Munawar Saeed Bhatti, was told by Indian External Affairs Ministry officials that "even Afghan officials and ministers, including their interior minister," have publicly rejected "these preposterous allegations leveled by Pakistan." (Isabelle Laughlin)

AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN DISCUSS BILATERAL TRADE.
Afghan Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai traveled to Islamabad on 4 August at the head of a 17-member delegation participating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Joint Economic Commission, dpa reported. In the first day of the two-day talks, the commission agreed on 4 August to forge closer bilateral relations in trade, banking, and other finance-related areas. Pakistani Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz said his country last year exported $400 million worth of goods to Afghanistan, imported $35 million worth from Afghanistan, and allowed a further $15 million of Afghan goods to pass through Pakistan en route to India. Ahmadzai sought Pakistan's assistance in establishing Afghanistan's own postal services, customs administration, and accounting practices, and said imminent reforms will allow Pakistani banks to open in Afghanistan. The two sides also discussed fostering business travel by increasing the frequency of flights between their countries, which currently number two per week. (Isabelle Laughlin)

AFGHAN WOMEN PRESENT DECLARATION OF RIGHTS.
The women's group Negar on 3 August presented Afghanistan's 35-member Constitutional Review Commission with a declaration and 100,000 signatures demanding equal rights for women under the country's forthcoming constitution, AP reported. The "Declaration of the Essential Rights of Afghan Women," drafted in 2000 by Afghan women in exile in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, seeks to end gender-based discrimination and grant women freedom of movement and choice in such substantive and symbolic matters as dress. Negar, reportedly formed with international assistance during the Taliban era, said in a statement that without equality between the sexes, "Afghanistan cannot achieve its legitimacy as an independent, sovereign, and self-ruling state of the world." The final draft of the constitution is due in October. (Isabelle Laughlin)

RECOMMENDATIONS BY AFGHAN CIVIL SOCIETY REPRESENTATIVES ON THE CLJ.
Following recommendation were made on 30 July on the decree of Chairman Karzai issued on 15 July concerning the procedures of the Constitutional Loya Jirga (CLJ) (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 17 July 2003). The recommendations were singed by university professors, members of the judiciary, the Independent Afghan Human Rights Commission, the Academy of Sciences and students, NGO representatives, and other civil society representatives after a gathering held in Kabul on 26 July.

1. We are aware that the Emergency Loya Jirga [June 2002] was held in a situation of emergency and that the procedures were not always clear or well applied. Many of the delegates were therefore elected on unclear grounds. We therefore suggest that in the coming Loya Jirga the criteria for the election of the delegates be better specified and practical, and that specific measures should be taken to ensure these criteria are well applied. The criteria in article 3 are much too vague (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 17 July 2003). For example, during the election phase, a special committee with full authority, consisting of representatives of the Government, the international community, human rights and civil society, should review the candidates to determine whether they respect the criteria or not -- in which case they will have to withdraw their candidacy.

2. To ensure a true representation of all the different social communities in Afghanistan, we suggest that -- as in the Emergency Loya Jirga -- part of the 344 elected seats be reserved for these communities. A specific allocation of seats should be given to, for example, universities, journalists, artists, writers and other associations, businessmen, youth groups etc. The proportions used in the Emergency Loya Jirga can be followed as an example.

3. More that half of the population of Afghanistan consists of women. Considering their sufferings and miseries, their active presence in the process of [a] Constitutional Loya Jirga will make it more legitimate and democratic. The allocation of only 20 percent of total seats for women would therefore seem to be insufficient. Measures must be found to increase the participation of women.

4. According to the experiences of the Emergency Loya Jirga, in some provinces cultural restrictions and interference prevented women's participation in the election process. We suggest three different options:

a. As in the Emergency Loya Jirga, the allocation of seats for women should be on a regional basis.

b. In provinces with large cities, the number of seats allocated to women should be increased (more than two)

c. At least one woman should come from each province. If she cannot be elected, the Executive Committee should select her under the supervision of the Special Committee mentioned in our first recommendation.

5. In some cases it is unclear how the allocation of seats has been decided. For example, the percentages allocated to women vary: 15 percent of the refugees in Pakistan and Iran, internally displaced people, Kuchis [nomads], Hindus, and Sikhs; 50 percent of the selected seats; and about 20 percent of the total number of delegates. The president or the Constitutional Commission should explain how these percentages were determined.

6. On the same principle, there should be an explanation of why the Afghans living abroad have been ignored in the decree.

7. The possibility of interference by the warlords and local commanders is considered a serious threat for free elections. Therefore we suggest that the impartiality and freedom of elections in the regions be guaranteed by international security forces (see above).

8. The criteria that the 50 selected delegates need to fulfill (article 6) is considered a positive step guaranteeing the presence of scholars. However, the 25 women must also be legal scholars, specialists of the constitution and other experts. We suggest that, to make this Loya Jirga more democratic, these selected delegates should be chosen from lists prepared by civil and social organizations.

9. The Constitutional Commission is responsible for creating the draft of the constitution, organizing the elections, determining the electoral procedures, etc. To avoid the concentration of authority in a few hands, we recommend the creation of an independent body with representatives of civil, social, and professional organizations to supervise the organization of the elections for the Constitutional Loya Jirga. (Amin Tarzi)


AFGHAN ADMINISTRATION INCREASES OVERSIGHT OF PROVINCIAL RECONSTRUCTION.
A senior commission to coordinate and supervise the activities of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) throughout the country has been formed in accordance with a decree by Chairman Karzai, Radio Afghanistan reported on 24 July. The commission is headed by Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali and includes Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, National Security Adviser Zalmay Rasul, Urban Planning Minister Yusof Pashtun, Rural Development Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar, and a deputy finance minister who was not identified in the report. PRTs are part of a U.S. plan to promote reconstruction projects in Afghanistan while safeguarding security (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 30 January 2003). (Amin Tarzi)

AFGHAN ADMINISTRATION SETS UP ELECTION COMMISSION.
Transitional Administration Chairman Karzai has decreed the formation of a joint Afghan-United Nations commission to coordinate and supervise the general elections scheduled for October 2004, Radio Afghanistan reported on 26 July. The Joint Electoral Coordination Office comprises 10 members, five of whom will be members of the Afghan Interim Election Commission, which includes the head of the electoral section of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). The remaining five members will be recommended by the UN special envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, to the Joint Electoral Coordination Office (for an analysis of the Afghan elections, see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 19 June 2003).

TEXT OF KARZAI'S DECREE BROADCAST BY RADIO AFGHANISTAN ON 26 JULY:
Article No. 1: The Joint Electoral Coordination Office shall be set up for the registration of the voters' names and supervision of the same process for the elections of the year 1383 [starting March 2004], and to coordinate the elections according to their regulatory powers and the decrees by the head of the state.

Article No. 2: Formation and membership: The Joint Electoral Coordination Office comprises 10 members, and five of them are the members of the Afghan Interim Election Commission, which is set up on the decree of head of the state. Including the head of the electoral section of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), five other members will be recommended by the UN special envoy to the Joint Electoral Coordination Office.

Article No. 3: Law Branch Committee: A Law Branch Committee is to be formed within the structure of the Joint Electoral Coordination Office to study the complaints about the voters' names registration, based on Article No. 5, and to advise the Joint Electoral Coordination Office accordingly. The Law Branch Committee shall be formed by two members of the Joint Electoral Coordination Office, a member of the Interim Election Commission, and a delegate from UNAMA. Afghan members of the Joint Electoral Coordination Office shall select a member of the Law Branch Committee. The members of UNAMA who are also the members of the Joint Electoral Coordination Office shall select another seconded member of the Joint Electoral Coordination Office.

Article No. 4: Fundamental duties of the Joint Electoral Coordination Office:

Legislative duties: The Joint Electoral Coordination Office shall compile, prepare, and implement appropriate criteria, rules and regulations, instructions, notes, and forms in an appropriate manner to organize the electoral process.

Advisory duties: The Joint Electoral Coordination Office shall give advice to the head of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan and the UN secretary general, via his special envoy, for preparing an appropriate environment for the registration of names in such a manner as to hold timely, free, and fair elections, in accordance with the law on elections and the Bonn agreement.

Article No. 6: Forwarding the contents of the electoral registers: The Joint Electoral Coordination Office shall forward the latest lists of the voters, in accordance with the standards of the decree, to a permanent election commission, which will be formed by the head of the state in accordance with the law on elections and the constitution.

Article No. 7: Attending to complaints: The Joint Electoral Coordination Office shall hear just and lawful complaints as per the instructions of the Law Branch Committee and Article No. 3 of the decree.

Article No. 8: Examining violations: The Joint Electoral Coordination Office shall examine all of the issues adversely affecting the process of voter registration, such as intimidation, sabotage, negligence, corruption, pressure, interference, issuing wrong information, and other actions that are aimed at impeding timely and fair elections, which should be in accordance with the Bonn agreement.

Article No. 9: Working status of the Joint Electoral Coordination Office: The head of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan shall convene the first session of the Joint Electoral Coordination Office. The office shall appoint one of its members as the head of the Joint Electoral Coordination Office. UNAMA is responsible for the duties of the Joint Electoral Coordination Office's secretariat, which will also be supervised by the head of the electoral section at UNAMA.

The Joint Electoral Coordination Office shall keep a record of its sessions. The office is authorized to take appropriate measures for holding the necessary sessions.

Article No. 10: Decisions: Decisions taken by the Joint Electoral Coordination Office shall be based on a vote. The issue shall be forwarded to the head of the state if a vote is not possible.

Article No. 11: Strategy of the work: The Joint Electoral Coordination Office shall prepare working strategies when needed and implement them.

Article No. 12: Period of validity of the orders: The decree is effective from the date of issuance until the end of the work of the Joint Electoral Coordination Office Commission. (Amin Tarzi)


GERMAN-STYLE BEER GARDEN POPULAR IN KABUL.
The Deutscher Hof has become a popular destination in Kabul, dpa reported on 5 August. Two former German soldiers opened the beer garden, which also offers pork to its customers. Five-meter walls surround the restaurant and guards carrying submachine guns provide security. Afghan Muslims, who are forbidden by their religion to drink alcohol or eat pork, are only allowed into the Deutscher Hof in the company of foreigners. (Amin Tarzi)

THIS WEEK IN AFGHANISTAN'S HISTORY
7 August 1842 -- British forces evacuate Kandahar, leading to the end of the First Anglo Afghan War (1839-42).

6 August 1962 -- President Ayyub Khan of Pakistan suggests a confederation of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. A year later the Shah of Iran says the idea is good, but he cites many obstacles.

5 August 1979 -- In one the earliest acts of resistance to the communist takeover in Afghanistan, heavy fighting breaks out in Kabul between loyal troops and a rebellious army unit at the Bala Hisar Fort. The communist loyalists prevail.

Sources: "Historical Dictionary of Afghan Afghanistan," by Ludwig W. Adamec, (Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1997).


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