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                     Weekly Press Review – March 18 - 24




Headlines
Khyber restaurant to be converted into a conference hall

Purchase of publication, promote the intellectual capital

No attention to economical foundations

Netherlands Aid to Afghanistan Reconstruction Expected To Last 10 Years

Pakistan-Afghanistan sign six agreements for cooperation

Afghanistan's Karzai on a Two-Day Visit to Pakistan

Pakistan, Afghanistan agree to push long-delayed gas pipeline

Pakistan's Exports to Afghanistan Reach US$752 MLN

India weighs pipeline options

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton Announces Partnership to Bring New Yorkers Together
To Seed Afghanistan's Growth

Rebuilding Afghanistan: challenges and opportunities

Musharraf, Karzai reiterate pledge to root out terror: Accord to boost economic, trade ties

Afghan Gov't Predicts High Economic Growth

Pakistan, Afghanistan to set up bus link

Pakistan, Afghanistan to sign pacts, protocol

Government predicts high economic growth but traders have doubts
Reconstruction projects in Laghman

Custom revenues from Herat increases this year

4 accords to be signed with Afghanistan

Effects of the circulation of Pakistani rupees in Nangarhar

Provincial Reconstruction Team established in Helmand

Indian satellites to enable telemedicine in Afghanistan

Aid to Afghanistan remains high priority, Rice says

Pakistan, Afghanistan Cooperation Will Revive Region, Rice Says

Afghan paper condemns Iran for competing over Turkmen pipeline

IA to mount 28 new flights to SE Asia resumes Kabul operations

Union of construction companies demand more astringent government controls on
building regulations

"Iran: Afghanistan's economic rival in the region"

More gas, another deal

"State building on the cheap"

Low-Tech Afghanistan A Wireless Hotbed

Herat Bakers complain that the new industrial flour mill and bakery will destroy their
livelihood
Press Clippings



Netherlands Aid to Afghanistan Reconstruction Expected To Last 10 Years
(NRC Handelsblad, Netherlands)
23 March 2005

The Hague, 22 March -- Development Cooperation Minister van Ardenne (CDA
[Chistian Democratic Appeal]) believes that the Netherlands will remain involved in the
reconstruction of Afghanistan for another five to 10 years, with support from Netherlands
troops.

He made the comment this morning at a press conference in The Hague at which a joint
plan was presented for cooperation in this field between the Development Cooperation,
Defense, and Economic Affairs Ministries.

According to Defense Minister Kamp (VVD [People's Party for Freedom and
Democracy]), the deployment of Netherlands troops for such a long period is not a
foregone conclusion, despite the Netherlands long-standing involvement in Afghanistan.
"In the long term it will have to be adapted, and become only intermittent, for example in
response to specific requests from the Afghan Government," says Kamp.

The defense minister also said that he was in principle prepared to participate in a new
peace initiative for Sudan, provided the EU, NATO or a larger country takes the
initiative. In addition to the present UN peacekeeping force made up of African countries,
this peacekeeping force could consist of a force of 750 military observers, a force that has
yet to be set up.

Under the new cooperation model between development cooperation, defense, and
economic affairs, for missions abroad the Defense Ministry will set up teams of experts at
an early stage. These would be able to work with the military in determining strategy for
the civil reconstruction work. They would also be consulted on the possible rate and
tactics in case of withdrawal of Netherlands troops from the countries in question.

Van Ardenne sees the aim of this cooperation with the Defense Ministry as being to
guarantee that development can take place under conditions of security. Minister Kamp
says that the development aims do not influence the habitual criteria for sending troops
abroad or bringing them home as laid down in the Review Framework.

In reconstructing a country after conflict, it is not only development aid that is important
but also security and economic recovery. This is why peacekeeping- and security-related
activities should have a place in reconstruction strategy. The departments involved see
peace and security as preconditions for sustainable development.
Pakistan-Afghanistan sign six agreements for cooperation
GEO, Pakistan
03/23/2005

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and Afghanistan Wednesday signed six agreements to enhance
cooperation between the two countries in Culture, Media, Tourism besides launching
Peshawar-Jalalabad, Quetta-Kandahar bus service.

The signing ceremony, followed by a round of delegation level talks here at the PM
house, was witnessed by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Afghan President Hamid
Karzai.

The two leaders earlier had an around half an hour long exclusive meeting, where they
discussed bilateral matters, regional situation, cooperation in the war against terrorism
and measures to boost trade.

They also signed a protocol on regular consultations between the Ministries of Foreign
Affairs, which were signed by Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri and his
counterpart Abdullah Abdullah.

The agreements from the Pakistan side were signed by Information Minister Sheikh
Rashid Ahmed, Culture Minister Muhammad Ajmal Khan and Tourism Minister Dr
Ghazi Gulab Jamal and their Afghan counterparts.

The agreements on the bus service relate to starting bus service between Peshawar and
Jalalabad and Quetta and Kandahar was signed by Afghanistan Transport Minister
Enayatullah Qaasemi and Pakistan's Minister of Communications Shamim Ahmed
Siddiqui.

President Karzai said the strong relations between the two countries would translate into
stronger links among the people. "The people to people contacts are moving ahead at a
speed, hard even for the two governments to catch up with and will benefit the people of
the two countries," Karzai said.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said Pakistan and Afghanistan have deep-rooted ties. "The
talks encompassed measures to further boost these ties through enhanced trade and
economic cooperation," he said.



Afghanistan's Karzai on a Two-Day Visit to Pakistan
Wednesday March 23, 7:48 AM
Asia Pulse
KABUL - Afghan president Hamid Karzai left Kabul on Tuesday for a two-day visit to
Pakistan. Ahmad Navid Ma'ez, a spokesman for the foreign ministry said President
Karzai would hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart, Gen. Pervez Musharraf and
Pakistan's Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz, on extension of the Central Asian gas pipeline.

The pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan is viewed as an important
economic project of the region that would attract considerable benefits for landlocked
Afghanistan. The project is expected to provide 10,000 jobs and US$300 million in taxes
for Afghanistan.

The ministers of foreign affairs, transport, refugees, youth, and frontiers are
accompanying the President on this trip. The foreign ministry spokesman added that both
sides would also discuss the ongoing war on drugs and on economic and trade ties.
Transit issues and the condition of Afghan refugees in Pakistan would also be discussed.

Karzai will participate in the ceremony of the National Day of Pakistan tomorrow. Jalil
Abbas Jilani, a spokesman for the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, told Pajhwok that the two
sides would sign five agreements on political consultations between the two foreign
ministries, tourism, cultural cooperation, cooperation in mass media and creation of
Transportation Company of Peshawar-Jalalabad and Quetta-Kandahar.

Jilani predicted trade between the two countries would reach $1 million in the current
year. Pakistan pledged $100 million in aid for reconstruction of Afghanistan in the Tokyo
conference in January 2002.The Pakistani spokesman said his country has delivered $43
million of this pledge so far.



Pakistan, Afghanistan agree to push long-delayed gas pipeline
Associated Press
March 23, 2005 8:59 AM Eastern Time
BY MUNIR AHMAD

Afghan and Pakistani leaders on Wednesday agreed to do more to push forward a long-
delayed natural gas pipeline that will run through gas-rich Turkmenistan to Pakistan and
possibly India, an official said.

The 1,680-kilometer (1,044-mile) Afghan-Turkmen pipeline project has been on hold
since the 1990s, when Afghanistan's hard-line Taliban came into power.

Since U.S forces ousted the Taliban in late 2001, the project has been revived and has
drawn Washington's support. Officials from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan
have held meetings in recent months to discuss how to proceed with the plan.
On Wednesday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat
Aziz agreed to concentrate on the US$3.5 billion ([euro]2.7 billion) pipeline because it
would benefit the whole region, an official said on condition of anonymity.

He said Aziz told Karzai that Pakistan needed more gas and is interested in more than
two pipelines. Pakistan this year has held several rounds of talks with Iran and Qatar on
two separate pipelines. The Afghan-Turkmen pipeline is to run through Afghanistan and
Pakistan to India.

The pipeline would tap into natural gas wells at Turkmenistan‟s huge Dauletabad-
Donmez field, which holds more than 2.83 trillion cubic meters (100 trillion cubic feet) in
gas reserves.

Turkmenistan on Jan. 17 had said that a feasibility study for the pipeline was complete,
and construction on the long-delayed project could begin in 2006.

Karzai's meeting with Aziz came a day after Karzai arrived in Islamabad for talks with
his counterpart, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Pakistan was once a key supporter of the Taliban regime, but Musharraf switched sides
after the terror attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. On Wednesday, Pakistan
and Afghanistan signed five agreements to enhance cooperation in culture, media,
tourism, and transportation.

Karzai and Aziz witnessed the signing ceremony, officials said. Karzai later returned to
Kabul, ending his fourth visit to Pakistan since he became Afghanistan's leader after the
ouster of the Taliban regime.



Pakistan's Exports to Afghanistan Reach US$752 ML
Tuesday March 22, 4:45 PM
Asia Pulse

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's exports to Afghanistan during eight months of current fiscal
have surpassed last year's total turnover of the exports to Afghanistan by Rs 6.94 billion
to reach Rs 44.66 billion (US$752 million).

The exports for July-February stood Rs 44.66 billion compared to Rs 25.14 billion during
the same period last year. Exports during the whole previous fiscal year were worth Rs
37.71 billion.

According to data, Pakistani exports include wheat and flour (Rs 5.29 billion), rice (Rs
1.68 billion), ghee (Rs 3.98 billion), sugar (Rs 2.1 billion), cement (Rs 1.84 billion),
paints and varnish (Rs 1.44 billion), mild steel products (Rs 2.8 billion), sanitary ware
(Rs 52.53 million), construction material (Rs 896.86 million), electrical goods (Rs 201.3
million), electronic goods (Rs 124.62 million), medicine (Rs 367. 07 million), grain and
pulses (Rs 55.44 million), fruit and vegetables (Rs 895.02 million), milk and cereals (Rs
594.71 million) and miscellaneous items (Rs 21.18 billion).



India weighs pipeline options
By Ramtanu Maitra
March 22.2005

One should not be surprised if New Delhi's enthusiasm for laying the US$4.5 billion gas
pipeline between Iran and India via Pakistan begins to take a downturn. New Delhi may
cite a number of reasons for the shift, such as the high price of Iranian gas and the
endemic security problem of laying the pipe through less-than-reliable Pakistan, among
others. What, however, New Delhi will not say is that when US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice showed she was ready to shoot across the bow, the Indians blinked.

That India, a country that aspires to global-power status, got itself into the position of
having to backpedal on this important matter in the first place is telling. Whether the
explanation lies in residual naivete at the official level or poor intelligence, or some
combination of the two, is hard to determine.

Indian intelligence was admittedly badly battered in Nepal recently, but there is little
excuse for being caught flat-footed as far as the US view on the Iran pipeline is
concerned.

A few days before the American secretary of state arrived in India for a 24-hour visit last
week and the Indian petroleum minister headed to Islamabad for tri-partite talks between
India, Pakistan and Iran on the planned gas pipeline, US Ambassador David Mulford, a
former banker, had already conveyed that though he appreciated New Delhi's interest in
the pipeline project, he felt it was his "duty to highlight US concerns on Iran".

Mulford was merely preparing the Indians for the full court pressure that would be
exerted on them when Rice arrived. It is not clear how much pressure was in fact exerted,
but it is evident that New Delhi decided rather abruptly not to risk the wide-ranging
security and economic relationship with Washington now in the process of gelling for
Iranian gas.

India holding its own

Describing what transpired at the meeting between Indian External Affairs Minister
Natwar Singh and Rice in New Delhi on March 16, Principal Deputy under Secretary of
State Donald Camp told a panel discussion at the Heritage Foundation in Washington on
that same day that the talks reflected a difference of views between two matured nations.
At a joint press conference, Rice said, "We do have our concerns. And we have
communicated our concerns to the Indian government about gas pipeline cooperation
between India and Iran." But, she added, "We do need to look at the broader question of
how India meets its energy needs."

"We have no problems of any kind with Iran," Singh said, standing beside Rice. "We
need a lot of new additions to our sources of energy, and so the pipeline is important." He
added, though, that "the dispute is rather hypothetical at this stage". These reports gave
the impression that India was very much holding its own, and did not waiver under US
pressure. However, that may not be the real picture.

One Indian newspaper has already reported that Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar
indicated off the record that Iran was pricing the gas too high, and "if they [Iranians] say
they have alternate markets in the US, China and Japan, then I might as well ask them to
tap those markets".

It has also been reported that the entire time that the petroleum minister was trying to
work out a deal to get the Iranian gas to India, the Indian Embassy in Tehran was
opposing the deal. According to these reports, the embassy echoed the hardliners in
Washington, saying Iran was a highly unstable place to risk long-term investment, that
Iran had an established history of reneging on contracts, and that it would be disastrous in
terms of worker layoffs if gas supplies from source to dependent industries and townships
abruptly ceased because of war, terrorism, or other reasons.

"Even if you build 10% dependency on the gas, that is a lot of dependency," said an
energy expert, "and then the producer holds the levers against you. It no longer remains a
buyer's market, because established infrastructure cannot be moved around."

In the pipeline

Iran and India signed an agreement for an overland natural gas pipeline in 1993, and in
2002 Iran and Pakistan signed an agreement on a feasibility study for such a pipeline.
India-Pakistan tensions over Kashmir and related security concerns have delayed the
project. In late February and early March diplomats from all three countries said a deal
would be signed soon, and Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said the pipeline
would be 2,700 kilometers long, and India would buy 7.5 million tons of LNG (liquefied
natural gas) a year for 25 years.

On March 16, however, Aiyar said that his country might withdraw from the deal. Aiyar
explained that Iran wanted to charge as much for natural gas as it does for LNG (about $4
per million British thermal units MBTU), whereas the main Indian consumers - the
fertilizer and power sectors are unwilling to pay more than $3 per MBTU. With the
addition of transportation and transit charges to the Iranian price, Aiyar said, the gas
would end up costing $4.50 per MBTU. Aiyar added that India and Pakistan will need
approximately 200 million standard cubic meters of gas daily, and Iran should offer a
special price for such a large order.
Tehran, furthermore, is insisting on a "take-or-pay" agreement in which India must pay
for the agreed amount of gas even if it does not take delivery of it, Press Trust of India
reported. India reportedly prefers a "supply-or-pay" contract, in which Iran must deliver
gas to the Indian border or pay for the contracted quantity. Tehran also rejected India's
request for natural gas that is rich in petrochemicals, preferring instead to deliver "lean"
gas that does not contain butane, ethane or propane.

India's other suppliers

India is a huge and growing natural gas market. According to the Energy Information
Administration, natural gas use was nearly 25 billion cubic meters in 2002 and is
projected to reach 34 billion cubic meters in 2010 and 45.3 billion cubic meters in 2015.
India produces gas and has worked with outside partners - including Bechtel, Gaz de
France, General Electric, Total and Unocal - to increase production, but it is looking to
other countries to fulfill its requirements.

One idea is to connect Bangladesh's natural gas reserves with the Indian gas grid.
Myanmar could be a source of natural gas, too. Two Indian companies - Oil and Natural
Gas Corporation and erstwhile Gas Authority of India, Ltd own equity in Myanmar's
natural gas reserves, and officials there have indicated an interest in running a pipeline to
West Bengal in India.

Qatar - with the world's third-largest natural-gas reserves (14.4 trillion cubic meters) - is
another competitor for the Indian market. India's Petronet and Qatar's Ras Laffan LNG
Company (Rasgas) signed an agreement for the provision of 10.3 billion cubic meters per
year of LNG, and deliveries began in January 2004, according to the Energy Information
Administration.

Aiyar visited Moscow and Kazakhstan in late February to discuss energy issues. He
reportedly said that India was willing to pay $2 billion for a 15% stake in Yugans knefte
gaz. He also said India could invest $25 billion in the entire Russian energy sector. India's
cabinet recently authorized discussion of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan Natural
Gas Pipeline Project. Iran does not, therefore, have a stranglehold on the Indian market.

Iran's other markets „Iran natural gas reserves are an estimated 26.6 trillion cubic meters,
according to the Energy Information Administration, but the country only produced about
76.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2002. Most of that gas was used domestically,
although Iran did export to Armenia and Turkey.

Iran is eager to reach other markets. Iranian Petroleum Minister Bijan Namdar-Zanganeh
and Omani Oil and Gas Minister Muhammad bin Hamad bin Sayf al-Rumhi on March 15
signed an agreement on the export to Oman of 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas
annually, beginning in 2006, IRNA reported.
The same day, Zanganeh and Kuwaiti Energy and Oil Minister Ahmad Fahd al-Ahmad
al-Sabah signed a deal for the export to Kuwait of 10 million cubic meters of natural gas
a day, beginning in late 2007, IRNA reported. Zanganeh said the deal with Kuwait is
worth more than $7 billion over 25 years. He went on to say that the legal documents
relating to the deal will be drawn up in a few months.

Earlier in March, the possibility of Ukraine purchasing 15 billion cubic meters of natural
gas from Iran every year was discussed at an Iran-Ukraine energy commission meeting in
Kiev. Two pipeline routes are being considered - Iran-Armenia-Georgia-Russia-Ukraine
or Iran-Armenia-Georgia-Black Sea-Ukraine. Other countries that have signed gas-
related memoranda or at least discussed the topic with Iran include Austria, Bulgaria,
China, Greece, Italy and Turkey.

Iran likes to present every meeting as a major accomplishment by staging the signing of a
memorandum of understanding, but these are not binding contracts. Conclusion of the
deal with India is potentially very important for Iran, because it will curtail some of its
political isolation and will earn it a place in the international gas market. But Tehran's
pricing policies and Washington's opposition may scuttle this effort to break out.

A deal in the works

The US seems to be aware that it would be difficult to take away the pipeline project
without offering India some form of solution to its burgeoning energy shortage problems.
Joel Brinkley of the New York Times reported from Islamabad March 16 that Rice has
indicated that the US may help India build one or more nuclear power plants. That article
also claims that Singh acknowledged that India may have to rethink its pipeline plan,
should the United Nations impose sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear program.

Another report suggested that a "deal" is in progress between India and the US to drop
the pipeline. That report pointed out that Rice signaled the Bush administration's
willingness to end over 31 years of nuclear energy blockade of India. Whether this will
translate into reality is another matter. But as senior Indian government sources said,
"The difference is the willingness to move away from a traditional theological approach
to India's nuclear power aspirations."

The biggest American reactor manufacturer, Westinghouse Inc, is vying for an $8 billion
contract for four nuclear power plants in China, competing against Areva SA of France.
In India, the Department of Atomic Energy has a master plan to install 20,000 megawatts
of electrical power generation capacity in nuclear energy by 2020.

It is evident that India is not geared up to carry out such a large nuclear power generation
expansion within the next 15 years by itself. But Russia is no longer willing to provide
new reactors in violation of the Nuclear Suppliers Group's regulations, and the non-
proliferation lobbies in US Congress and the administration so far have shown no
indications that they are willing to help out a non-signatory of the NPT. Still, New Delhi
must have seen some positive signals in that direction to choose to comply with the
American objections to the pipeline.

US opposition is loud and clear:

In her interview with Rediff.com on March 18, Rice said her government had voiced
concerns to the Indian government about the gas pipeline with Iran. "It's not only with
India. We've similarly talked to Japan about a gas project that they would have, because
the United States has sanctions on Iran for good reasons. We have many differences with
Iran about terrorism, about interference in their neighbor's affairs, about the fate of the
Iranian people themselves. And so we've voiced our concerns," Rice said.

The US originally imposed sanctions against Iran on November 12, 1979, seven months
after the "Khomeinization" of Iran and the second and final ouster of Washington's best
ally, Reza Shah Pehlavi. But after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime and the
occupation of Iraq by US troops, the campaign against Iran was rejoined, led by neo-
conservatives.

In May 2003, Senator Sam Brownback, a long-time supporter of exiled Iranian
opposition groups, including the front organization of the militant Mujahideen-e Khalq,
introduced a bill called the Iran Democracy Act. This legislation declared US support for
an "internationally monitored referendum" to achieve peaceful regime change in Iran.
Brownback later told the press that top Pentagon officials backed funding for covert
operations as part of the legislation, but the bill was not so amended and remains in
committee.

Later, tougher companion legislation was sponsored in the House of Representatives by
Democrat Congressman Brad Sherman. The Iran Freedom and Democracy Support Act
calls for rolling back the Bill Clinton administration's partial trade allowances and
discouraging the World Bank from giving loans to Iran. The Iran and Libya Sanctions
Act Enhancement and Compliance Act, yet another measure introduced in October 2003
by Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a very important cog in the India caucus in
Washington, would tighten the existing sanctions.

Dumping on Iran

Sherman's Iran Freedom and Democracy Support Act says, among other things, the
following: "The Government of Iran is currently seeking to develop nuclear weapons and
other weapons of mass destruction and has an active and successful ballistic missile
program.

"Recent revelations have shown that Iran is further along than previously believed in
enriching uranium and developing nuclear weapons, and may only be months away from
developing the capability to manufacture nuclear weapons.
"There is currently not a democratic government in Iran. Iran is an ideological
dictatorship presided over by an unelected supreme leader with limitless veto power, an
unelected Expediency Council, a Council of Guardians capable of eviscerating any
reforms, and a president elected only after the council disqualified 234 other candidates
for being too liberal, reformist or secular.

"The April 2003 Department of State report on terrorism indicates that Iran remained the
most active state sponsor of terrorism in 2002. That report also states that Iran continues
to provide funding, safe heaven, training and weapons to known terrorist groups, notably
Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestine Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine.

"Human rights have failed to improve in Iran under the pseudo-reformers. Torture,
executions after unfair trials and censorship of all media remain rampant throughout the
country. Stoning and beheading are used as methods of punishment."

Sherman's bill said the US would support transparent, full democracy in Iran; an
internationally-monitored referendum in Iran by which the Iranian people can peacefully
change the system of government in Iran; the aspirations of the Iranian people to live in
freedom; and would help the Iranian people achieve a free press and build an open,
democratic and free society.

Ramtanu Maitra

Writes for a number of international journals and is a regular contributor to the
Washington-based EIR and the New Delhi-based Indian Defense Review. He also writes
for Aakrosh, India's defense-tied quarterly journal.



Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton Announces Partnership To Bring New Yorkers
Together To Seed Afghanistan's Growth
News Wire, Press Release
03/22/2005

WASHINGTON - Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton today announced the launch of the
New York Partnership for a Green Afghanistan, an initiative to replant trees to revitalize
Afghanistan's orchards, nurseries, woodlots and greenbelts. The people-to-people tree-
planting program is designed to help Afghanistan regain its historic position as the
"orchard of Central Asia" and support Afghans as they rebuild their orchard, vineyard
and forestry businesses.

The announcement was made in conjunction with a tree planting ceremony that took
place in Kabul, Afghanistan earlier today. The ceremony, which was attended by
President Hamid Karzai, marked the beginning of a major tree planting campaign in the
country.
The group is organized under the auspices of the Global Partnership for Afghanistan
(GFPA), founded soon after 9/11 by New Yorkers and Afghan Americans in recognition
of the tragedies suffered by both countries. To lead the project launch, the Global
Partnership for Afghanistan is developing family-owned orchards, nurseries and woodlot
businesses encompassing an initial 70,000 trees. Afghan farmers will begin planting
today following the completion of demonstration orchards and nurseries last year.

The Partnership will include private citizens and organizations from non-profits and
corporations to educational institutions across the state and beyond to support
Afghanistan's economic and environmental development.

In making the announcement today, Senator Clinton confirmed that The State University
of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF), Cornell
University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, American Forests and International
Paper had all signed on as initial partners in this important effort.

As part of the Partnership, the State University of New York College of Environmental
Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) will immediately reach out to Kabul University to
support a university-to-university exchange for forestry faculty and students.
Additionally, SUNY-ESF has donated 10,000 willows that can be used as a woody crop
for fuel and bio-energy. The Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
will contribute expertise in the areas of fruit breeding, production and disease and insect
management, vital to the revitalization of Afghan fruit farms. American Forests, a
nonprofit conservation organization, is seeking support from corporate and individual
sponsors for this critical effort.

Senator Clinton also announced the creation of a dedicated fund coordinated by GPFA, a
NY-based nonprofit organization, and urged supporters to send contributions for spring
tree planting.

"After more than a quarter-century of war, nearly 28 million Afghans are struggling to
rebuild their livelihoods and communities in the face of destroyed homes, roads and
infrastructure, a devastated natural environment and a shattered economy," said Senator
Clinton, who recently returned from Afghanistan. "New Yorkers want to support this
struggling democracy. The New York Partnership for a Green Afghanistan is an
important step toward helping Afghans regain self-sufficiency, rebuild a viable economy
and achieve political stability."

"Known as the orchard of Central Asia in the 1980s, the country was recognized
throughout the region for its harvest and export of quality fruits. Today, Afghanistan has
lost the large majority of its orchards and vineyards. Once a net agricultural exporter, the
country is now a net importer. This effort is another step in helping revitalize the country
from the ground up," said Senator Clinton.
"I am so pleased that we have brought so many New Yorkers together to help
Afghanistan and this is just the beginning. New York's farmers, growers and research
institutions are world-class. They have so much to contribute to this campaign through
their knowledge of forestry and their growing and research techniques," Senator Clinton
said. "I am so pleased that they can bring this expertise to not only help deliver food,
income and a range of vital environmental benefits to the people of Afghanistan, but to
help restore lives and livelihoods."

"I have personally witnessed the generosity of the American people as I revisit the
Afghan countryside," said GPFA Co-chair Professor M. Ishaq Nadiri. "With US support,
Afghanistan is rebuilding roads, infrastructure and security. Now we need to help
Afghans restore livelihoods. Acres of scorched earth stand and dried fields stand where
Afghans once cultivated flourishing orchards and vineyards, and the country struggles
today to feed its population." Professor Nadiri serves as senior economic advisor to
President Karzai in Kabul and is the Jay Gould Professor of Economics at New York
University.

"The leadership of Senator Clinton in launching this people-to-people initiative will
provide lasting benefits to Afghanistan whose people so urgently need the creativity,
expertise and financial resources that America can deliver," said Prof. Nadiri. "Through
the Global Partnership's work, we know first-hand how Afghans deeply value our
concrete assistance. No one better embodies this spirit than Senator Hillary Clinton in
launching this effort."



Rebuilding Afghanistan: challenges and opportunities
Kamal Matinuddin
The News International
22 Mar 05

During her recent visit to Kabul, Condoleezza Rice admitted that America had made a
mistake by losing its focus on Afghanistan following the Soviet withdrawal. She now not
only looks forward to a long-term commitment to the country, but has also hinted at a
mid-course correction. Rice has realized that there is more work to be done than just
eliminating the remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda and capturing Osama. The United
States now has to direct its energies towards state-formation and the rebuilding of
Afghanistan.

Having been duly elected through a democratic process and obtained an absolute majority
Karzai now has the confidence to turn his attention towards improving the quality of his
citizens' lives. Rice's pat on the back gives him that extra self-assurance he needs to
remove all obstacles in the way of reconstructing his war-ravaged nation. It is a major
challenge for he has to cross a number of hurdles, but it has also given him an
opportunity to make a place for himself in Afghanistan's history.
Karzai's immediate task was to correct the ethnic imbalance in his cabinet, which he has
been able to partly achieve, without a backlash from those who dominated the scene soon
after the removal of the Taliban regime. He is now trying to win over some moderate
Taliban to make his cabinet more broad-based. He has also appointed two women
ministers. For the first time in Afghanistan's history a woman has taken over the
responsibility of running a province.

The second challenge he faces is to disarm the militias. The Disarmament,
Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process, however, is not a simple affair as
merely taking away weapons is not enough to ensure peace. Adequate funds have to be
raised; alternative employment has to be provided; instructors have to be arranged;
training has to be given and above all a peaceful environment has to be ensured. These
are major challenges for the President.

There is a danger of civil war breaking out when the coalition forces leave Afghanistan
unless an Afghan police force backed by a new Afghan national army, fully trained and
equipped with modern weapons is established.

Afghanistan has not had a modern police force for the last three decades. But by February
2005 an estimated 30,000 police had completed a short training course. An effective
police force, however, also needs the presence of a legal system, which will enable them
to arrest, investigate and prosecute criminals according to an accepted code of law. The
Shariah and Loya Jirga have to be dovetailed into universally recognized judicial
procedures. The new Afghan police will need better intelligence gathering units, more
sophisticated communication equipment, improved measures for detecting crime and
better mobility to trace out and arrest criminals.

A 70,000-strong new Afghan army is to be trained by the end of 2007. As many as
25,000 army personnel had been recruited and 17,000 adequately trained by the end of
2004. The process is incredibly slow, as a certain amount of verification has to be carried
out to ensure that those who are recruited are not tainted with pro-Taliban sentiments.

The post-election scene in Afghanistan remains disturbing when it comes to the
production of opium poppy. In 2003 opium poppy was cultivated on around 80,000
hectares. In 2004 the figure has risen to 131,000 hectares, which comes to an increase of
around 200 percent in one year. Eighty four percent of the world's production of heroin
comes from Afghanistan. Since many warlords and government officials are either
directly involved in opium poppy cultivation or are encouraging drug trafficking, the
problem of eradicating poppy and preventing drug trafficking has become even more
difficult.

The Afghan government did not have a proper organization to deal with narcotics, but in
the post-election period a narcotics ministry has been formed to handle this issue.
Hopefully the new cabinet will take steps in the foreseeable future to reduce and
eventually eliminate poppy cultivation in Afghanistan.
A correct decision was made to hold only Presidential elections in October last year and
parliamentary and district elections in May or June 2005, which will probably be
postponed to September this year as a great deal of work has yet to be accomplished. If
parliamentary elections are delayed for a longer period of time Karzai's credibility will be
badly damaged, as people will begin to doubt his intention to have a parliamentary form
of government.

Provincial Reconstruction teams (PRTs), involving armed military and civilian
development personnel, are to help in maintain law and order in the area of their
responsibility, and also assist in reconstructing their areas and complete small-scale
reconstruction projects. By the end of 2004, 27 PRTs had been established, and are
projected to cover all of Afghanistan's 34 provinces by the year 2006.

It is gratifying that governments, which were instrumental in destroying Afghanistan's
infrastructure, are now taking steps to undo the damage their armies caused. According to
one report a total of $17.4 billion has been pledged. Out of which only $3.4 billion have
actually been received and only $.9 billion has so far been utilized for major projects.

The United States has provided $4.2 billion from October 2001 to June 2004 and the
Congress has been asked to approve another $1.2 billion for 2005. American engineers
have rebuilt 400 kilometers of the Kabul-Kandahar highway and paved 1,600 kilometers
of provincial roads. They have also repaired the Salang Tunnel.

Russia has written off the debt Afghanistan owes to it. In addition it has given a donation
of $117 million for raising the Afghan National Army. India has established six more
medical centers, six more schools, a polytechnic institution, and has provided twenty-five
tones of winter clothing. It has provided 50 buses and three airbuses and is training pilots
for Ariana Airlines. The Karzai administration has given major projects to thirty Indian
companies. India is laying power lines and carrying out a feasibility study of renewable
sources of energy for the Afghan government. Indian products, including computer
software and films, are flooding the Afghan market. In the military field India has given
300 military vehicles.

Iran has given $ 560 million for the rebuilding and reconstruction of Afghanistan the
largest donation from a developing country. Pakistan has also joined the international
community in the rebuilding and reconstruction of Afghanistan and has committed to
providing $100 million, out of which $30 million have already been disbursed. Pakistan
has to speed up its efforts to help in this area.

It was asked to rebuild the Torkham-Jalalabad Road, but the job has not been completed
yet. Islamabad is still in the process of carrying out a survey of a rail link between
Chaman and Kandahar. Islamabad sent 50 buses to Afghanistan but they were all right-
hand drive vehicles, and Afghan drivers were reluctant to drive them as one drives on the
right in Afghanistan, and not on the left.
The transit trade for Afghanistan does pose a problem, as Afghanistan does not want
Pakistan to place any restrictions on the type of goods destined for Afghanistan and
passing through Pakistan, although many items meant for Afghanistan find their way into
our Baraa markets. The official trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan is, however,
expected to rise to $1 billion as Afghanistan needs a lot of material for its reconstruction,
which can be provided by Pakistan.

Reconstructing Afghanistan will require political stability, peaceful conditions, allocation
of enormous resources, administrative ability, good governance, cooperation of the
warlords and strict control over corruption. The challenge for Karzai is to disarm the
militia, reduce the power of the warlords, increase the pace of reconstruction before
donor fatigue sets in and the United States and the international community divert their
attention towards more pressing requirements in rebuilding Iraq. The writer is a retired
Lt. Gen. and a former Director General of the Institute of Strategic Studies



Musharraf, Karzai reiterate pledge to root out terror: Accord to boost economic,
trade ties
Dawn
ISLAMABAD, March 22

Pakistan and Afghanistan resolved on Tuesday to forge a broad-based relationship with a
thrust on invigorating trade and economic ties and expressed the common commitment to
step up their coordination in the fight against terror.

President Gen Pervez Musharraf and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai told the
media after formal talks that they remained firmly committed to rooting out terrorism for
sustainable development, peace and stability in the region. "We are resolved to combat
terrorism until it is completely removed - we will fight terrorism together in a coordinated
manner," emphasized President Musharraf.

He declared that Pakistan had been successful in its fight against terrorism, having
destroyed the sanctuaries and communication links of terrorists who had taken refuge in
the country's tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

"This force (terrorists) stands defeated, although they are still there in small pockets, we
have broken the communication linkages; now what we need is to destroy their penny
pockets." The president termed the fight against terrorism in the region a success story.

"We expressed satisfaction that we have been successful in the campaign against the
menace, we are succeeding in our tribal areas boarding Afghanistan," he said, adding that
Afghanistan had also been successful in its counter-terror drive on its side.
Afghan President Karzai, who will be the guest of honor at the Pakistan Day Parade on
Wednesday, fully backed President Musharraf's call for addressing the menace of
extremism in its long-term perspective.

"Afghanistan has wholehearted support for President Musharraf's emphasis and we have
been conveying to the world community to commit itself to addressing the problem
through a process of socio-economic uplift of the Muslim countries," he said,
appreciating Pakistan leader's position on the issue.

The two sides discussed enhancing trade, with President Musharraf saying that they had
removed minor differences in the way of Afghan transit trade. "We are in an era of
irritant-free interaction; we will enhance and cement our trade relations through
homogeneity in the region from Central Asian states to Afghanistan and to Pakistan.

We discussed how we can integrate advantages of our geography for our mutual benefit.
The whole region should benefit from robust trade activity," he said. President Musharraf
expressed satisfaction at the existing political, diplomatic and trade relations between the
two countries.

"Whatever Pakistan can do in the development, reconstruction and political process of
Afghanistan, we will do," he said, welcoming Karzai to Pakistan on the eve of the
Pakistan Day.

The president expressed the hope that Mr. Karzai's visit would help strengthen the ties
between the two brotherly countries. During the wide-ranging talks, the two leaders
reviewed Pakistan-Afghanistan relations and exchanged views on developments in the
region and beyond.

"We have agreed to strengthen the institutional underpinning of our bilateral relations,"
said President Musharraf. Pakistan and Afghanistan are expected to sign a number of
agreements covering political consultations between the two foreign ministries as well as
cooperation in the transport, tourism, media and cultural fields.

In response to a question, President Karzai favored a pipeline project for supply of gas
from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan, and said his country enjoyed stability
and peace and 'offers a conducive environment' for such a project.

"The two countries will gain tremendously from the project as it would help generate
economic activities in Afghanistan and meet Pakistan's energy requirements," he said. -
APP



Afghan Gov't Predicts High Economic Growth
Tuesday March 22, 3:44 AM
KABUL, March 22 Asia Pulse
The Ministry of Economy is optimistic about the rate of growth for Afghanistan in the
forthcoming fiscal year, predicting 11 per cent growth rate.

However businesses operating in Afghanistan feel the country has a long way to go
before it can meet this target. They point to the absence of a friendly business
environment and laws, lack of electricity, shortage of land, expensive custom tariffs and
absence of security.

Ghulam Nabi Farahi, an official in the Ministry of Trade said next year would hopefully
see a huge growth in economy. However, Ibrahim Amil, head of the Iranian Izogam
Gulbahar construction company in Kabul, said: "the situation in Afghanistan is really
bad." According to him the biggest problem for economic growth in Afghanistan is lack
of electricity.

However Afghan Investment Support Agency (AISA) which is registering investors in
Afghanistan feels differently. "Investment in the next year will show a considerable
increase," the agency's Shakib Noori told Pajhwok Afghan News. He argues that the
reason for the predicted increase is improvement in security, new commercial and custom
laws, improvement in supply of electricity and construction of industrial parks.

During the past year, 1,722 companies, most of them Afghan, were registered, Noori
said. Most of these companies work in construction industry and agriculture. Thanks to
information sharing by AISA and preparedness of a better ground for investment, the
number of foreign companies registered in the last year (2004-2005) was higher by 266
than the previous year(2003-2004) Noori said.

Sulaiman Fatemi, an official with AISA, said that $867 million had been invested by
foreign and Afghan investors in Afghanistan since October 2003 and that had provided
jobs for more than 1000 people.

Saifuddin Saihon, professor of economics in the Faculty of Law at Kabul University,
however said that though some bureaucratic problems related to securing trading licenses
and attracting foreign investment had been removed, more needed to be done.

He agreed with the traders saying that problems of security, marketing, electricity and
bureaucracy should be dealt with.

Farahi of the Ministry of Trade said that one of the main programs for growth of the
economy would focus on raising the amount of domestic production, giving loans to
traders and creating insurance programs. He said the past year had been a very successful
year for economic growth of the country. "The level of exports increased by 100 per
cent," he said, adding that Afghan carpets and dried and fresh fruits were the main
exports of the country.
The United Nations had estimated that 60 per cent of Afghanistan's domestic income was
from opium production last year.



Pakistan, Afghanistan to set up bus link
New Kerala
March 21st, 2005

Pakistan and Afghanistan would soon start bus services between their cities, a foreign
office spokesman said here Monday.

"The agreement for bus services will be signed tomorrow during Afghan President
Hamid Karzai's visit," spokesman Jalil Abbas Jilani told reporters.

Karzai arrives in Islamabad Tuesday on two-day visit. The two countries will ink four
agreements on cooperation in various fields and sign a protocol on political consultations.

The protocol would be about political consultations between the foreign ministries and
two agreements on cooperation in tourism and culture and the media. There will also be
an agreement each on bus service between Peshawar (Pakistan) and Jalalabad and
between Quetta (Pakistan) and Kandahar, Jilani said.

Karzai will also hold a meeting with President Musharraf and witness the "Pakistan Day"
military parade in Islamabad Wednesday (March 23) the day Muslim leaders of
undivided India approved a resolution in 1940 for creation of a separate homeland.

Jilani said the two sides would discuss bilateral and regional issues and economic ties.
"The two countries enjoy close economic relations with trade around one billion dollars,"
the spokesman said.

He said steps had been taken to encourage Afghan transit trade. Port charges for Afghan
goods have been reduced by 50 percent and railway charges by 25 percent. The National
Logistics Cell had been authorized to transport Afghan transit goods and the Qasim port
had been declared as an additional entry point for Afghan goods.

Jilani said that of the 100 million dollars pledged by Pakistan for Afghan reconstruction
in January 2002, over 43 million dollars had been spent on project such as repairing the
Torkham-Jalalabad road, setting up hospitals in Kabul, Jalalabad and Logar and faculty
blocs in Kabul and Jalalabad universities.

Pakistan recently gifted two radio transmitters to the Afghanistan government and would
be donating 100 buses shortly.
Pakistan, Afghanistan to sign pacts, protocol
By B. Muralidhar Reddy
ISLAMABAD, MARCH 21

The Afghanistan President, Hamid Karzai, is arriving here tomorrow on a two-day visit
for discussions with the Pakistani leadership on a wide range of bilateral issues.

Since joining the international coalition against terrorism led by the United States,
Pakistan has played a major role in the American war in ousting the Taliban and fighting
the Al-Qaida elements entrenched in the country. Four agreements and a protocol on
political consultations are to be signed during Mr. Karzai's visit here. The agreements are
for a bus link between Peshawar, Jalalabad and Quetta, cooperation between the media
and tourism.

The protocol on political consultation pertained to broad-based discussion at the levels of
Foreign Ministers and Secretaries for strengthening bilateral relations. The draft of the
protocol was submitted to the Afghanistan Government by Pakistan last year and it has
been going back and forth between the two capitals.

There has been no major agreement between the two countries since the 1965 Afghan
Transit Trade Agreement. The agreements would be signed after Mr. Karzai's meeting
with the Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz, on Wednesday.

Mr. Karzai is leading a 30-member entourage, including the Ministers for Foreign
Affairs, Defense, Commerce, Transport and Tribal Areas and the National Security
Adviser of his country.

Mr. Karzai will hold talks with the President, Pervez Musharraf. He will be the guest of
honor at the military parade on Pakistan Day, observed every March 23 in
commemoration of the 1940 Lahore Resolution of Muslim League seeking creation of
Pakistan.

Trade between the two countries is around $1 billion and recently both sides have taken
fresh measures to increase bilateral trade.



Government predicts high economic growth but traders have doubts
KABUL, Mar. 21,
(Pajhwok Afghan News)

The Ministry of Economy is optimistic about the rate of growth for Afghanistan in the
forthcoming fiscal year, predicting 11% growth rate.

However businesses operating in Afghanistan feel the country has a long way to go
before it can meet this target. They point to the absence of a friendly business
environment and laws, lack of electricity, shortage of land, expensive custom tariffs and
absence of security.

Ghulam Nabi Farahi, an official in the Ministry of Trade said next year would hopefully
see a huge growth in economy. However, Ibrahim Amil, head of the Iranian Izogam
Gulbahar construction company in Kabul, said: "the situation in Afghanistan is really
bad." According to him the biggest problem for economic growth in Afghanistan is lack
of electricity.

However Afghan Investment Support Agency (AISA) which is registering investors in
Afghanistan feels differently. "Investment in the next year will show a considerable
increase," the agency's Shakib Noori told Pajhwok Afghan News. He argues that the
reason for the predicted increase is improvement in security, new commercial and custom
laws, improvement in supply of electricity and construction of industrial parks.

During the past year, 1,722 companies, most of them Afghan, were registered, Noori
said. Most of these companies work in construction industry and agriculture. Thanks to
information sharing by AISA and preparedness of a better ground for investment, the
number of foreign companies registered in the last year (2004-2005) was higher by 266
than the previous year(2003-2004) Noori said.

Sulaiman Fatemi, an official with AISA, said that $867 million had been invested by
foreign and Afghan investors in Afghanistan since October 2003 and that had provided
jobs for more than 1000 people.

Saifuddin Saihon, professor of economics in the Faculty of Law at Kabul University,
however said that though some bureaucratic problems related to securing trading licenses
and attracting foreign investment had been removed, more needed to be done.

He agreed with the traders saying that problems of security, marketing, electricity and
bureaucracy should be dealt with. Farahi of the Ministry of Trade said that one of the
main programs for growth of the economy would focus on raising the amount of
domestic production, giving loans to traders and creating insurance programs. He said the
past year had been a very successful year for economic growth of the country. "The level
of exports increased by 100%," he said, adding that Afghan carpets and dried and fresh
fruits were the main exports of the country.

The United Nations had estimated that 60% of Afghanistan's domestic income was from
opium production last year.



Reconstruction projects in Laghman
JALALABAD, March 20
(Pajhwok Afghan News)
Reconstruction projects totaling $ 4 million have been started in three districts of
Laghman - Alishing, Daulat Sha and Alingar, under the National Solidarity Program
(NSP) on Sunday.

According to officials, the project involved construction of roads, highways, clinics,
schools as well as dams and embankments to stop floods. The head of the rural
rehabilitation department in Laghman, Eng Mohammad Karim told Pajhwok "most of the
schools and clinics are damaged in the villages and these will be rebuilt".

Residents of the area are happy about the projects. Mohammaduddin a 57-year-old said "I
hope after this the floods will not destroy my land since it my only source of livelihood
because walls are being constructed to safeguard in order to be safe from floods"


Custom revenues from Herat increases this year
HERAT, Mar. 20,
(Pajhwok Afghan News)

Custom revenues from the western border province of Herat increased by 38% in the past
year according to customs officials.

Abdul Azim Rahimi, head of the customs department of Herat, said that the provincial
customs revenue collection increased by 859 million Afs from 2.225 billions Afs to 3.084
billions Afs. He said this was possible due to tighter border security.

Herat's border towns of Tor Ghundai and Islam Qala Afghanistan to Turkmenistan and
Iran have yielded a large customs revenue giving Herat the distinction of a revenue rich
province.

Zia-ul-Haq, head of the department of finance in Herat, said that all customs revenues
were transferred to Kabul this year while in the past, under the former Governor Ismael
Khan, "a part of the revenues were transferred to the central government."



4 accords to be signed with Afghanistan
By Qudssia Akhlaque Dawn
ISLAMABAD, March 20

Pakistan and Afghanistan are likely to sign four agreements, including a protocol on
political consultations, during President Hamid Karzai's two-day visit to the country,
starting on Tuesday.

Agreements in the fields of transportation, tourism and culture were also expected,
sources told Dawn on Sunday. They said one of the agreements related to a bus service
between Peshawar and Kabul.
The protocol on political consultation pertained to broad-based discussion at the levels of
foreign ministers and secretaries for strengthening bilateral relations. The draft of the
protocol was submitted to the Afghan government by Pakistan last year and it has been
going back and forth between the two capitals.

There has been no major agreement between the two countries since the 1965 Afghan
Transit Trade Agreement. The agreements would be signed after President Karzai's
meeting with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Wednesday, the sources said.

The Afghan president will arrive here on Tuesday with a 30-member entourage,
including the ministers for foreign affairs, defense, commerce, transport and tribal areas
and the national security advisor of his country



Provincial Reconstruction Team established in Helmand
KABUL, March 19
(Pajhwok Afghan News)

A Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) has been established in the capital of
Lashkargah in southern Helmand province to improve security and reconstruction
projects, according to a statement issued by a Combined Forces spokesman in
Afghanistan, Maj Steve Wollman.

There are 19 PRTs established throughout Afghanistan, 14 are manned by the US-led
coalition forces and 5 are operated by the rest of the International Peace keeping forces
(ISAF).

The US-led PRT has injected US$ 100,000 in Lashkaragah for the rebuilding of 16
schools, 12 schools and roads.



Indian satellites to enable telemedicine in Afghanistan
India News
19 March 2005

[India News]: Bangalore, March 19 : A three-member Afghan delegation is here seeking
help to set up a high-tech telemedicine facility in 10 Afghan cities linked via Indian
satellites.

The satellite-based networks that will be established later this year with the help of the
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will offer connectivity to major hospitals in
India to improve healthcare in the war-ravaged country.
An ISRO team will visit Afghanistan soon to install the network at the Indira Gandhi
Institute of Child Health (IGICH) - a 250-bed hospital in Kabul set up during the mid-60s
with funds from the Indian government - which will be linked with New Delhi's All India
Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

After the recent visits of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to Delhi and Indian foreign
minister K. Natwar Singh to Kabul last month, the Afghan health ministry decided to
upgrade IGICH with a polyclinic, a diagnostic centre and a surgical block, IGICH
director Abdul Salam Jalali told IANS here.

He is part of the delegation, led by Public Health Minister Syed Mohammed Amin
Fatimie, which is participating in the three-day international telemedicine conference
"Intel med India 2005" here since Thursday.

After the telemedicine network becomes operational in Kabul, the ISRO and the Afghan
health ministry will jointly work on expanding the facility to other provinces. "We plan to
set up similar telemedicine networks in Kandahar, Jalalabad, Mazar-e-Sharief, Herat, and
other provinces in the northern parts of the country so as to provide the latest healthcare
to our people living in the villages and remote areas," Jalali said.

The Afghan government will be entering into an MoU (memorandum of understanding)
with AIIMS, Apollo Indra prastha Hospital and Escorts Heart Institute for the proposed
telemedicine projects in its provinces.

In the past, hundreds of Afghan patients have been allowed to visit India for medical
treatment, life-saving surgeries and investigations into communicable or rare diseases
under bilateral agreements.

A trip to India has been found to be more cost-effective and easier than healthcare
services in other neighboring countries in central Asia, including Iran and Pakistan.

Afghanistan has a population of 23-25 million, a majority of the people scattered in semi-
urban and rural areas where public health system has remained neglected due to the
quarter century of strife, civil war and Italianization, Jalali recalled.

Though a demographic census is yet to be conducted in the post-war period, Kabul alone
is estimated to have 3-4 million people.

After the Taliban regime was evicted from Kabul by US-led allied forces in 2001-2002,
Afghanistan has embarked on massive reconstruction and rebuilding of its basic
amenities such as houses, schools, roads, hospitals and local industries.

"India has been one of the frontline nations helping our country rebuild brick-by-brick.
Though the US has also been contributing its mite, we are getting funds and other
assistance from many countries in the European Union, West Asia, the UN, Unicef and
the WHO," Jalali said.
Aid to Afghanistan remains high priority, Rice says
Chicago Tribune
March 18, 2005
By Michael Tackett

KABUL, Afghanistan--Touring this grim, forlorn nation whose political transformation
she helped design, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday said that
reconstruction aid remains one of "the very high priorities of this administration" even as
the House voted to cut $ 570 million in assistance.

In a six-hour visit, Rice saw only a glimpse of the country that has been so central to the
war on terrorism, the place where Al Qaida planned and trained for the Sept. 11 attacks,
where the Taliban was toppled, and where U.S. forces hunted for Osama bin Laden.

But even from the view of her motorcade she stopped only at government buildings there
were inescapable signs that despite U.S. efforts to bring democracy here, Afghanistan's
apparently intractable struggles are far from over.

Though Hamid Karzai has been elected president, the nation's government overall
remains in its nascent stages, and parliamentary elections scheduled for May have now
been postponed until September, Karzai confirmed Thursday.

Streets in the capital are strewn with rubble and trash; buildings bombed in numerous
wars remain hollow shells; serpentine barricades are in place to deter suicide bombers;
the National Museum holds only a spare collection after its priceless artifacts were either
looted or destroyed.

"It used to be a nice building," one Afghan man said. The U.S. Embassy is a fortress of
trailers. American contract security workers said they rarely venture into the city unless
they are guarding the ambassador.

At Rice's joint news conference with Karzai on the grounds of the presidential palace,
guards armed with assault rifles stood next to the lecterns before the two officials
appeared, and the guards stood just out of camera range as the officials spoke.

Despite the cordial tone between Rice and Karzai, one point of friction with the United
States has been the resurgent opium poppy trade in Afghanistan, a situation so dire that a
State Department report said earlier this month that the country had almost become a
narcotics state that "represents an enormous threat to world stability."

Karzai said that both opium trafficking and overall violence are down from last year and
gamely said that the declines will continue.

"It all comes with the increasing capacity of the Afghan state," he said. The opium crop
provides a far greater return for Afghan growers, he said, than pomegranates. "This is a
long-term fight and requires a long-term strategy," he said.
And that is just one measure of the trouble. A headline in the Kabul Weekly said
"Corruption on the March," a reference to a kickback scandal and purported insurance
fraud.

Karzai expressed confidence in Rice's personal commitment to rebuilding Afghanistan
"because she was there from the first day of the liberation."

Before her session with Karzai, Rice spoke to about 100 cheering U.S. troops at a base in
Kabul and linked their service to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "I just stopped by to say hi
to you ... for what you have done. I know it's been a sacrifice and sometimes it's been
tough because this is not an easy place."

Then she recalled how President Bush, Vice President Cheney, herself and others
gathered at Camp David five days after the Sept. 11 attacks to plot strategy. "We rolled
out a map because we knew that the people who had done that to us had come right out of
here, right out of Afghanistan, which had become a terrorist haven for Al Qaida and for
the ideology of hatred that caused people to fly those airplanes into our buildings."

Now, she said, Afghanistan is an ally in the war on terror, though there were signs even
Thursday that the country is in no way unified. An explosion near Kandahar killed five
people and wounded more than two dozen.

But that was far removed from the reception Rice received from the soldiers. "I think it's
great of her to come all the way out here," said Petty Officer Dianna Gosha of
Birmingham, Ala. "For somebody to take the time really motivates you."

Within two hours, Rice was gone, returning to Pakistan for talks. While in Islamabad, she
said Pakistan "has come an enormously long way" while giving no indication that she had
pressed President Pervez Musharraf on a longstanding U.S. demand to give up his control
of the armed forces, The Associated Press reported.

Rice also declined to criticize Pakistan for what other U.S. officials have said is lackluster
cooperation in tracing nuclear secrets sold by rogue former nuclear chief A.Q. Khan.

On Friday, Rice will embark on the final three days of her Asian trip, which includes
stops in Japan, South Korea and China. The focus then is expected to be on North Korea's
aggressive posture on its nuclear weapons program.

In one encouraging sign ahead of Rice's arrival, China freed a prominent businesswoman
who had been jailed and whose release had been sought by the Bush administration, AP
reported. The release came as the U.S. announced Thursday that it would not propose a
United Nations resolution critical of China's human-rights policy this year.

Rebiya Kadeer, a member of China's Muslim minority, had been jailed on national
security charges. Her release with 17 months left on her sentence was described by
Chinese officials as a medical parole due to a heart ailment, according to John Kamm, an
American activist who helped arrange the release.



Pakistan, Afghanistan Cooperation Will Revive Region, Rice Says
Bloomberg
18 March 2005

The improved relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan will help establish the
“economic vibrancy” of the region, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said at the
end of visits to both countries.

“It is a relationship that could anchor an entire region in trade and in development, in
economic commerce,” Rice said late yesterday in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, according
to a U.S. State Department transcript. “We look forward to trying to help the regional
actors, particularly Afghanistan and Pakistan, reestablish that economic vibrancy.”

Afghanistan will hold parliamentary elections in September, President Hamid Karzai said
as Rice visited the capital, Kabul, yesterday. The polls will be delayed from May for
“technical reasons,” Karzai said at a briefing.

Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have improved since the Taliban regime was
ousted in 2001. The countries cooperate in the hunt for Taliban and al-Qaida along their
2,430- kilometer (1,510-mile) border. Pakistan withdrew its support for the Taliban in
2001 and joined the U.S.-led war against terrorism that began after the Sept. 11, 2001
attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.

“The increasingly productive relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan, one that
was really unthinkable some years ago, has really begun to blossom,” Rice said at a
briefing with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri. “The United States and
Pakistan are working closely together in this region also with Afghanistan in the fight on
terrorism.”

Afghan Democracy

Rice, who travels to Japan today on the next stage of her first visit to Asia as secretary of
state, said in Kabul the commitment of the Afghan people to democracy was “an
inspiration to people all over the world.”

The country took its first step toward democracy with presidential elections in October
won by Karzai, 46, who led an interim government after the fall of the Taliban. Karzai
won 55.5 percent of the vote. About 8 million of the 10.5 registered Afghan voters took
part.
Karzai said yesterday the delay in holding the elections was at the suggestion of the joint
electoral commission that includes Afghan and international officials. “It was impossible
to have it in May as we wanted it,” Karzai said at a briefing with Rice, according to the
U.S. State Department. “I cannot enumerate the issues there, from refugee participation to
the census, to the forms of election, to the district boundaries, to so many questions that
the election commission has to find technical solutions for.”

Election Costs

Afghanistan needs $148 million to run the parliamentary and local elections, the United
Nations said yesterday. About 8,000 officials will be needed to prepare the polls and
about 180,000 people will be helping on polling day, Ariane Quentier, a spokeswoman
for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said at a briefing yesterday in Kabul,
according to the UN. The Joint Electoral Management Body forecasts there will be
10,000 candidates for the two houses of parliament, she said.

The cost of the polls will increase by $30 million if the estimated 3 million Afghan
refugees living in neighboring Pakistan and Iran, the UN said in January.

Two decades of civil war and drought in Afghanistan produced the world's largest
refugee population of 3.5 million people, most of who fled to Pakistan and Iran. Afghans
have returned to the country under a UN program since 2001.

About 850,000 Afghan refugees voted in Pakistan and Iran in the Oct. 9 presidential
election.



Afghan paper condemns Iran for competing over Turkmen pipeline
BBC Monitoring (Cheragh paper, Kabul)
18 March 2005

The Afghan newspaper Cheragh says that Iran cannot face watching the Afghan economy
grow and Afghanistan stand on its own feet. That is why Iran is competing with
Afghanistan over the Turkmen pipeline project, even though this is not necessary given
Iran's economic position as a significant supplier of gas and oil and its alternative routes
for export.

The world and our region in particular, have gone through major changes in different
areas since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The economy has come to the fore. After
they were liberated from the Soviet yoke, countries in Central Asia adopted an open
market economy to become more prosperous and independent from the Russian
economy.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the newly-independent countries of Central Asia,
which were formerly part of the Soviet Union, each chose a different way to reach
economic self-sufficiency in proportion to their economic potential. They considered
access to the international waters of the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean to be the
easiest way to achieve their goals. So, political efforts and negotiations have been going
on for 10 years to achieve this important objective. This could bring major economic
changes to the region.

Turkmenistan's plan to export oil and gas to international markets is economically
significant and if successful, it could bring great fortunes not only to Turkmenistan, but
also to other countries in the region, particularly those located on the pipeline route. It
could bring economic prosperity to the region. The plan for this pipeline, which will start
in Turkmenistan and reach India and the international high seas via Afghanistan and
Pakistan, has been under way for 10 years. But the lack of security in Afghanistan
delayed the construction work.

Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran were already competing over pipelines. But the long distance
and the high costs of the project, coupled with Western, particularly American,
opposition to the idea of a pipeline running via Russia and Iran, resulted in the suspension
of the construction of the pipeline. However, since the establishment of the interim,
transitional and now elected governments of Afghanistan, regional negotiations have
started again.

The construction of the Turkmen pipeline, which will run through Afghanistan and
Pakistan, was one of the main discussion topics during the Indian Foreign Minister
Natwar Singh's visit in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and also during President Karzai's visit
to India, where he attended the "India Today" conference. However, Iran, which borders
on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan, does not view this project as being in its
interest.

Since the very beginning, when the West, particularly the USA, proposed this pipeline
project, Iran, as a regional country, has not been able to conceal its discontent. It has
conducted a lot of negotiations in the region to change the route of the pipeline, or at least
to postpone its construction.

Iran has constructed the Sarakhs-Tedzhen railway which connects Iran's northeast to
Turkmenistan. It has built a bridge over the river running between Iran and
Turkmenistan. It buys Turkmen oil and transfers it to the Persian Gulf for sale. And it has
been relentlessly trying over recent years to get the Turkmen pipeline running through
Iran. Iran tried to achieve this goal before the restoration of security in Afghanistan and
the implementation of the project via Afghanistan.

In the meantime, the Iranian foreign minister's Kamal Kharrazi trip to India, his
negotiations over the transfer of Iranian oil and gas to India via Pakistan and the
construction of a pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan, is part of the fierce competition
and negotiations into which the country has entered. In doing so, Iran wants to discourage
India and Pakistan, who play a decisive role in the construction of the pipeline via
Afghanistan and Pakistan to India, or at least try to hinder the project.
The Iranian ambassador to Kabul has denied any competition with Afghanistan in this
regard and said the demand for and supplies of oil and gas resources are high in the
region and in the world. But even an economically naive person can understand that the
proposal to transfer Iranian oil and gas to India via Pakistan is aimed solely at competing
with the transfer of Turkmen oil and gas to India via Afghanistan and Pakistan. If Iran
achieves this, the project of transferring Turkmen oil and gas to India and international
waters via Afghanistan will lose its importance or, at least, it will not be implemented in
the near future. But if the pipeline runs through Afghanistan, in addition to transferring
Afghan gas, it would bring 340m dollars of transit money to Afghanistan. Such an
income is crucial for Afghanistan's economic prosperity.

Having sea ports and exporting oil and gas by sea, Iran is not in need of overland oil and
gas pipelines. Moreover, the pipeline will be much longer and more expensive. If laid
through Afghanistan, the pipeline will be 1,600 km and will cost 3.3bn dollars. But via
Iran, it will be 3,000 km and will cost 6bn dollars.

Iran has started to compete economically with Afghanistan while its economic growth
rate is not comparable with that of Afghanistan. Moreover, it has many other ways to
market its oil and gas. Big European countries, Japan, South Korea, China and many
other countries are presently customers of Iranian oil and gas.

Rather than benefiting Iranian economy, Iranian economic competition with Afghanistan,
particularly over this oil and gas pipeline, is a politically-motivated. For many years, Iran
could not face watching the Afghan economy grow and Afghanistan stand on its own
feet. As witnessed at the ECO meetings in Kabul, out of the 10 members, the Iranian
representative was the only one opposed to the transit through Afghanistan of goods from
the ECO member countries. If Iran wants to show its goodwill to Afghanistan, they
should try to help Afghanistan's fledgling economy, instead of creating obstacles.

Like any other country, Iran is entitled to put first and defend its national interests. But
the high cost of the Turkmen pipeline lay through Iran, and the Iranians' efforts to
transfer oil and gas to India shows Iran's ill intentions. This could be termed a strong
rivalry with Afghanistan. Under such circumstances, the Afghan government should be
very careful and should try to win the agreement of the countries financing this project
and to take firmer steps next time. The Afghan government should get such projects
implemented because they can save the ailing Afghan economy and bring prosperity to
the country.



IA to mount 28 new flights to SE Asia resumes Kabul operations
Manorama Online
03/18/2005
New Delhi - Indian Airlines (IA) on Friday announced 28 new flights a week as part of
expanding its operations to south east Asian destinations from March 27 while Air Sahara
said it will launch 14 flights a week from May.

IA is also launching one flight a week on Delhi-Kabul-Amritsar-Delhi route during the
summer schedule which comes into effect from last week of March. The Kabul flight will
resume for the first time after November 1989.

The government-owned airline is also adding a daily flight on Mumbai-Sharjah sector,
officials said. There will be daily flights on Mumbai-Bangkok-Mumbai route and Delhi-
Bangkok-Kuala Lumpur route, thrice a week on Hyderabad-Singapore-Hyderabad,
Chennai-Bangkok-Chennai, Kolkata-Bangkok-Kolkata routes, twice a week on
Bangalore-Bangkok-Bangalore and Hyderabad-Bangkok-Hyderabad routes besides once
a week on Gaya-Yangon routes.

''There will now be 38 flights a week to Bangkok, 33 to Singapore, 14 to Kuala Lumpur
and two to Yangon,'' said director for IA's public relations Manjira Khurana.

To Bangkok, there will be 14 flights from Delhi, seven each from Mumbai and Kolkata,
and three from Chennai, two each from Bangalore and Hyderabad and one each from
Gaya, Guwhati and Jaipur



Union of construction companies demand more astringent government controls on
building regulations
Pajhwok Afghan News
03/18/2005
By: Mustafa Basharat

Members of the Afghan Union of construction companies meeting at a seminar on
Wednesday in the capital Kabul have expressed concern over the unauthorized
construction of buildings and apartments around the country, using low quality material,
and called for stricter government controlled building regulations.

The seminar which was held at the Intercontinental Hotel, under the banner of
"construction problems and solutions", was addressed by the deputy director of
professional affairs of the Afghan Union of construction companies, Abdul Latif
Noorzad. "We have to be concerned about the buildings constructed in our country. The
structure of the buildings cannot withstand the pressures of earthquakes, which
Afghanistan is so prone to."

Since the fall of the Taliban, there has been a boom in the building industry in Kabul city
and the provincial capitals. With many returnees and expatriate Afghans coming back to
their homeland, there has been an influx of private companies that flocked to the cities
with construction companies.
Noorzad added that the houses and apartments were being built without planning
permission from the municipality, and every one introduces himself as a professional
engineer or architect. It is a big threat to the lives of the Afghan people.

In particular, the members of this meeting complained about the low quality of the
materials and the lack of cement, and asked for cement factories to be built in the
country.

Nearly six months ago, the Jumhoriat General Hospital under construction by a Chinese
company in Kabul collapsed and some 50 people were killed or injured. Mohammad
Hanif Atmar, minister of rural rehabilitation (MRRD), speaking at the seminar said the
role of the private sector in the country is very important, and said: "The Afghan
government and the international community are concerned about the management of the
private sector."

Leaders of the union suggested that in order to improve the work within the private
sector, a commission comprising of representatives from the rural rehabilitation ministry,
urban development, and Kabul municipality and the union, should be set up.



"Iran: Afghanistan's economic rival in the region"
Cheragh (in Dari)
March 17, 2005
Kabul, Afghanistan

The world and our region in particular, have gone through major changes in different
areas since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The economy has come to the fore. After
they were liberated from the Soviet yoke, countries in Central Asia adopted an open
(market) economy to become more prosperous and independent from the Russian
economy.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the newly-independent countries of Central Asia,
which were formerly part of the Soviet Union, each chose a different way to reach
economic self-sufficiency in proportion to their economic potential. They considered
access to the international waters of the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean to be the
easiest way to achieve their goals. So, political efforts and negotiations have been going
on for 10 years to achieve this important objective. This could bring major economic
changes to the region.

Turkmenistan's plan to export oil and gas to international markets is economically
significant and if successful, it could bring great fortunes not only to Turkmenistan, but
also to other countries in the region, particularly those located on the pipeline route. It
could bring economic prosperity to the region. The plan for this pipeline, which will start
in Turkmenistan and reach India and the international high seas via Afghanistan and
Pakistan, has been under way for 10 years. But the lack of security in Afghanistan
delayed the construction work.

Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran were already competing over pipelines. But the long distance
and the high costs (of the project), coupled with Western, particularly American,
opposition to the idea of a pipeline running via Russia and Iran, resulted in the suspension
of the construction of the pipeline. However, since the establishment of the interim,
transitional and now elected governments of Afghanistan, regional negotiations have
started again.

The construction of the Turkmen pipeline, which will run through Afghanistan and
Pakistan, was one of the main discussion topics during the Indian Foreign Minister
Natwar Singh's visit in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and also during President Karzai's visit
to India, where he attended the "India Today" conference. However, Iran, which borders
on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan, does not view this project as being in its
interest.

Since the very beginning, when the West, particularly the USA, proposed this pipeline
project, Iran, as a regional country, has not been able to conceal its discontent. It has
conducted a lot of negotiations in the region to change the route of the pipeline, or at least
to postpone its construction.

Iran has constructed the Sarakhs-Tedzhen railway which connects Iran's northeast to
Turkmenistan. It has built a bridge over the river running between Iran and
Turkmenistan. It buys Turkmen oil and transfers it to the Persian Gulf for sale. And it has
been relentlessly trying over recent years to get the Turkmen pipeline running through
Iran. Iran tried to achieve this goal before the restoration of security in Afghanistan and
the implementation of the project via Afghanistan.

In the meantime, the Iranian foreign minister's (Kamal Kharrazi) trip to India, his
negotiations over the transfer of Iranian oil and gas to India via Pakistan and the
construction of a pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan, is part of the fierce competition
and negotiations into which the country has entered. In doing so, Iran wants to discourage
India and Pakistan, who play a decisive role in the construction of the pipeline via
Afghanistan and Pakistan to India, or at least try to hinder the project.

The Iranian ambassador to Kabul has denied any competition with Afghanistan in this
regard and said the demand for and supplies of oil and gas resources are high in the
region and in the world. But even an economically naive person can understand that the
proposal to transfer Iranian oil and gas to India via Pakistan is aimed solely at competing
with the transfer of Turkmen oil and gas to India via Afghanistan and Pakistan. If Iran
achieves this, the project of transferring Turkmen oil and gas to India and international
waters via Afghanistan will lose its importance or, at least, it will not be implemented in
the near future. But if the pipeline runs through Afghanistan, in addition to transferring
Afghan gas, it would bring 340m dollars of transit money to Afghanistan. Such an
income is crucial for Afghanistan's economic prosperity.
Having sea ports and exporting oil and gas by sea, Iran is not in need of overland oil and
gas pipelines. Moreover, the pipeline will be much longer and more expensive. If laid
through Afghanistan, the pipeline will be 1,600 km and will cost 3.3bn dollars. But via
Iran, it will be 3,000 km and will cost 6bn dollars.

Iran has started to compete economically with Afghanistan while its economic growth
rate is not comparable with that of Afghanistan. Moreover, it has many other ways to
market its oil and gas. Big European countries, Japan, South Korea, China and many
other countries are presently customers of Iranian oil and gas.

Rather than benefiting Iranian economy, Iranian economic competition with Afghanistan,
particularly over this oil and gas pipeline, is a politically-motivated. For many years, Iran
could not face watching the Afghan economy grow and Afghanistan stand on its own
feet. As witnessed at the ECO meetings in Kabul, out of the 10 members, the Iranian
representative was the only one opposed to the transit through Afghanistan of goods from
the ECO member countries. If Iran wants to show its goodwill to Afghanistan, they
should try to help Afghanistan's fledgling economy, instead of creating obstacles.

Like any other country, Iran is entitled to put first and defend its national interests. But
the high cost of the Turkmen pipeline lay through Iran, and the Iranians' efforts to
transfer oil and gas (to India) shows Iran's ill intentions. This could be termed a strong
rivalry with Afghanistan. Under such circumstances, the Afghan government should b
every careful and should try to win the agreement of the countries financing this project
and to take firmer steps next time. The Afghan government should get such projects
implemented because they can save the ailing Afghan economy and bring prosperity to
the country.



More gas, another deal
Financial Express, UK
03/17/2005

Focus shifts to Turkmenistan with Iran pipeline on backburner New Delhi Clearly the
focus seems to be shifting away from the proposed Iran-India pipeline with India actively
contemplating a dialogue on extending the proposed $3.3 billion Turkmenistan-
Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) natural gas pipeline to its border. Asian Development Bank
(ADB) is the lead project development partner.

Alongside, India is also working out a strategy for tapping the huge gas reserves of over
30 trillion cubic feet (tcf) which exist in the northern part of Afghanistan.

A senior petroleum ministry official told FE, "The energy ministers of Turkmenistan,
Afghanistan and Pakistan are keen to associate India in the proposed natural gas pipeline
project. Petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar has been invited as an observer at the
8th steering committee meet of energy ministers of these countries in Islamabad on April
12."

Mr. Aiyar, sources said, was also equally keen to attend the meeting and has conveyed
the same to the MEA. With the Cabinet authorizing him to negotiate all gas import
options, MEA clearance does not seem to be an issue, sources said.

Officials said Turkmenistan is slated to make a detailed presentation of its gas reserves at
the 8th steering committee meet following a certification report from international
consultants DeGoyler and Macc Naughton on the Dauletabad field. The ADB-assisted
feasibility study on TAP proposes a 1680-km pipeline, with a capacity of 90 million
cubic meters per day at a cost of $3.3 billion.

Officials said the ministry has asked ONGC to explore the huge gas potential in
Afghanistan. At a recent meeting, Afghanistan's mines and industry minister Mir
Mohammad Sediq had conveyed that many of the wells in the gas-bearing areas of
Afghanistan have been clogged and choked up after the exit of Russia.

"It was with great difficulty that the Afghan government could revive two wells for
meeting the requirement of a urea plant nearby. ONGC can associate itself in reviving the
remaining wells. An equity stake can also be negotiated," a senior ministry official said.



"State building on the cheap"
The Nation
03/16/2005

The visit of Senators Hillary Clinton and John McCain, plus the release of an alarming
UN report, put Afghanistan back in the news this week, at least temporarily. According to
the UN report--the first examination of Afghanistan's development in more than thirty
years--the country ranks near the bottom of virtually every social development indicator,
behind only a few war-torn countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Progress has not replaced peril. New schools are opening, but Afghanistan still has the
world's worst education system. Life expectancy, at 44.5 years, is at least twenty years
lower than in neighboring countries. One out of two Afghans is classified as poor. "The
fragile nation could easily tumble back into chaos," the UN report observed. "The price
the international community would pay to protect itself from Afghanistan would be far
greater than what it will pay to develop the country."

Four years ago, the world recognized this objective. "To overcome evil, the great
goodness of America must come forth and shine," President Bush said in October 2001, a
few weeks after launching Operation Enduring Freedom. "And one way to do so is to
help the poor souls in Afghanistan." Dick Cheney reaffirmed US support a month later.
"We've made it clear that we have no interest in abandoning the country."
Though commitment may have been the mantra in the months following invasion,
international assistance and attention--particularly with regards to reconstruction--has not
been sustained. A new constitution and elected government cannot by itself erase a
legacy of foreign intervention, chronic poverty, ethnic dominance or a war-driven
economy. Six months after the international community pledged $4.5 billion over five
years in January 2002, then-Afghan Reconstruction Minister Amin Fahang warned that
the money was not reaching Afghans as promised. Congress scrambled to add $300
million for schools, roads, hospitals and infrastructure after Bush provided no money in
the 2003 budget. A Government Accountability Office review found the US lacked "a
coherent, consistent, and closely coordinated" aid strategy between 2002 and 2003.

As the US shifted resources and attention to Iraq, the resurgence of the Taliban,
continued warlordism, spikes in opium production and delays in funding hampered long-
term reconstruction efforts. Money allocated in 2002 wasn't spent until late 2003. On the
one year anniversary of the 2002 Bonn Agreement declaring a new Afghan government,
only two of USAID's six planned long-term reconstruction projects--for infrastructure
and economic governance--had begun. By the Berlin conference in April 2004, the world
community had netted an additional $6 billion for reconstruction. But the $13.4 billion
pledged was less than half of the $27.5 billion the Asian Development Bank estimated
Afghanistan needed. "The low level of funding for reconstruction remains astonishing,
given the importance with which major nations claim to regard it," wrote the Center on
International Cooperation at New York University.

To date, $9 billion of the $13.4 billion has been committed, of which only $3.9 billion
has actually been disbursed. A mere $900 million worth of reconstruction projects are
actually finished. The completed projects, such as the highly-touted Kabul-Kandahar
road, did little to foster long-term independence. (USAID contracted the road to a Texas
firm who then subcontracted to Turkish and Indian companies.) "The reconstruction
money is too little and spent badly," says Barnett Rubin, an advisor to former UN envoy
Lakhdar Brahimi and internationally-known expert on Afghanistan. The US gave Iraq
$18.6 billion for reconstruction in 2004 and Afghanistan only $1.2 billion. This is what
Ashraf Ghani, the chancellor of Kabul University and former minister of finance, rightly
labels "state building on the cheap."

Many high-ranking Afghan officials, including Minister of Rural Development Haneef
Atmar, affirm this view. James Dobbins, Bush's first special envoy to Kabul, calls
Afghanistan "the least-resourced long-scale American reconstruction program ever."
Cambodia, Sierra Leone and the Congo received more per capita spending in their first
two years of reconstruction than Afghanistan, to say nothing of expensive efforts in
Kosovo, Bosnia and East Timor.

Revenue from poppy cultivation is now double the amount of disbursed international aid.
The cost of maintaining 18,000 US troops along the Afghan-Pakistan border is nearly
four times that, at $12 billion yearly. "The focus on security is also deviating necessary
funds from reconstruction," says Sharbanou Tadjbakhsh, editor of the new UN report.
"Poverty is more threatening to the every day life of Afghans than terrorists."

If this failed trajectory continues, Afghanistan will never develop into a viable state, and
the US will never leave. On his recent visit, John McCain floated the idea of permanent
US military bases. But the country would be better served by the massive infusions of
economic and humanitarian assistance promised by the US three years ago.

"In your struggle to regain your nation's independence, the American people stand with
you," an American President said not long ago. "This policy has broad and deep
bipartisan support; it is an unshakable commitment. Your goal is our goal--the freedom of
Afghanistan. We will not let you down." That was Ronald Reagan in 1986.



Low-Tech Afghanistan A Wireless Hotbed
Investor's Business Daily
Reinhardt Krause / Wed Mar 16

When Barry Rosen travels through Afghanistan, he sees how modern technology and
ancient cultures mix. "It seems like everybody has a mobile phone," said Rosen. "It's an
amazing situation. It's farmers in villages, merchants. They look like they're out of the
11th century. And all of a sudden, you see them flip open their phones. It's the cutest
thing in the world to see."

Rosen heads an education project in Afghanistan run by Columbia University Teachers
College. He lived in the country for 10 months in 2004.He spent only $40 a month on
wireless services, even though he made many calls to the U.S.

Rosen signed up for mobile services from Roshan. It's Afghanistan's biggest wireless
operator, with some 450,000 subscribers. No. 2 Afghan Wireless Communications has
about 260,000.

Afghanistan is a poor country. Yet wireless use is growing fast. Roshan and Afghan
Wireless are locked in a fierce battle over customers‟ government officials, foreign
workers, traders, professionals and well-to-do farmers that have enough money to spend
on wireless.

A visiting educator like Rosen is another coveted customer. "Afghanistan is clearly low
tech in almost every area expect the wireless phone business, "said Rosen. He knows the
region. A former U.S. embassy press attaché in Tehran, Rosen was a hostage during the
15-month crisis in Iran that started in November 1979.

"It's impossible to get a home (landline) phone in Afghanistan, and they're unreliable
anyway," Rosen said. "A mobile phone is really indispensable." After the U.S. ousted the
Taliban and al-Qaida from Afghanistan in late 2001, the country had a mere 33,000
landline connections. Decades of war had damaged its telecom networks. Kabul, the
capital city with millions of residents, had just 12,000 phone lines.

Roshan estimates Afghanistan will have 1 million wireless users by year's end. That's up
from 100,000 in 2003 and 15,000 in 2002. Roshan and Afghan Wireless have ties to U.S.
companies. Alexandria, Va.-based MCT owns a 14% stake in Roshan. Privately held
MCT runs mobile firms in Russia and central Asia, including Uzbekistan. Roshan Chief
Executive Karim Khoja says ties to MCT make Roshan a strong regional operator,
though its focus is Afghanistan.

"Most of our calls go from Kandahar to Jalalabad or from Kabul to Herat," he said. Those
are all Afghan cities. Roshan charges 10 cents per minute for calls inside Afghanistan and
45 cents for calls to neighboring countries Iran, Pakistan and Uzbekistan.

Friday specials drop the cost to 25 cents or 30 cents per minute to those three neighboring
countries. Besides MTC, the Agha Khan Fund for Economic Development owns 51% of
Roshan. Monaco Telecom, controlled by U.K.-based Cable & Wireless, owns the other
35%. French gear maker Alcatel helped Roshan get up and running.

New Jersey-based Telephone Systems International owns 80% of rival Afghan Wireless,
which started in April 2002. The Afghan government's Ministry of Communications
owns the other 20%.

Afghan-born Ehsan Bayat started TSI in 1998. Afghan Wireless has invested $150
million in building a mobile network in its country, says Dan Florentine, TSI's chief
financial officer.

One of its projects has been completing coverage along a major highway route that runs
from northern Afghanistan, near Uzbekistan, to its southern border with Pakistan. Roshan
and Afghan Wireless must deal with the country's rough terrain and legacy of war. When
constructing cell phone towers, the companies often must clear leftover mines.

In the U.S., mobile firms use wire line long-distance networks to transfer calls. Roshan
and Afghan Wireless use a mix of microwave and satellite links. Roshan rolled out
commercial service in July 2003, 15 months behind its main rival. But Roshan has
jumped ahead in subscribers.

Roshan the word means "light" in Pashto, which with Dari dominates among the 70 or so
languages spoken in the country has marketed aggressively. Its posters and billboards
stand out at airports and shopping areas in major cities. It advertises on radio and TV.
And it sponsors cricket and soccer teams.

Roshan operates three Western-style retail shops, with the latest snazzy wireless gadgets
for sale. It plans to add two more this year. One quarter of Afghanistan's 28 million
population lives in poverty. Average per capita income is about $240 officially, though
it's closer to $700 when including the gray market. That puts Afghanistan in the lowest
10% worldwide.

Still, Khoja says there's demand for wireless services. He says many of its wireless
customers are traders that sell carpets, textiles, furniture and other goods.

"There's an incredible big-trader mentality here," he said. "The bazaars are filled with
traders. They have money. And they have a propensity to want to communicate
efficiently."

Khoja is a wireless industry veteran. He's worked for Motorola in Pakistan, Deutsche
Telecom in Croatia and, in Poland, for US West, which Qwest Communications
International now owns.

Afghan Wireless operates in 15 cities. Roshan is in 25. Neither firm's network covers the
whole country. Both of their networks get stressed during peak calling from noon to 8
p.m.

Some foreign workers in Afghanistan prefer satellite phone service to conventional
wireless. Connections are more reliable, though it costs more than conventional wireless.

Rosen says he and many other wireless users in Afghanistan have adapted to network
reliability issues. They use two phones -- one each from Roshan and Afghan Wireless.
Depending on where they are, they decide which one to use, he says. It works because
customers aren't billed monthly. They buy minutes using prepaid cards. "It's a good
system," said Rosen.



Herat Bakers complain that the new industrial flour mill and bakery will destroy
their livelihood
HERAT, March 16,
(Pajhwok Afghan News)

The owners of small private bakeries in the western province of Herat say the opening of
a large industrial bakery in western Herat will put them out of business.

However the spokesman for the Aria bread and flour mill claims that he noticed that there
was no one producing good quality bread in the province and seized the business
opportunity in the market.

Sayed Mohammad Sarwar Alawi, a manager at the mill says their company is equipped
with automatic machinery to meet the demands of the people living in the province.

However, Herat bakers who have been producing bread for decades, claim that the mill
imports all its materials from abroad, blocking any flour sales within Afghanistan. And
the private bakers say they can provide bread for the people of Herat at a fraction of the
cost.

The price of bread at the Aria mill ranges from AFS 3-50, while a piece of bread at a
local bakery costs only AFS 3.One of the bakers in Herat, Thirty-four year-old
Mohammad Jan said: "Products baked at this new bakery are not for the consumption of
the Afghan community, because it brings in all its wheat and flour from abroad, and the
traditional Nan-bread is baked out of country wheat flour."

Mr. Alawi told Pajhwok Afghan News: "Many small city bakers created problems for us
when we were opening the company, but now the problems have lessened." According to
Mohammad Sarwar, the wheat they import is tested before use, and it is imported from
Qazakistan. We also stick to the prices stipulated by the Herat provincial government.

Aria mills started its operations about a year ago, when it opened seven mills throughout
the densely inhabited cities and provincial capitals. The mill which has imported
machinery from Germany, costing US$ 1M has the capacity of grinding 120 tons of
wheat daily.

But Mohammad Noor a thirty-seven year-old baker from Herat city says: "We have
invested AFS. 30,000 of our own money in our bakery, anyone can produce good quality
bread if they have as much money as the Aria Company or mill has."

The only fact that contributes to the survival of the smaller bakers is the high prices of the
big industrial bakery that has inflated prices.

Forty-two year-old Zainab buys bread from Aria. “I am satisfied with this bread but the
only problem is the price of the bread is too high, and it will be good if the price was
reduced."

Aria Company is privately owned, and provides bread in addition to the state-owned
Herat mill. It employs 60 people.

				
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