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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Good News and Progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Update 4-6-07

"Harry is not the only animal keeping up morale in Helmand; here one of the militia fighters serving in the Afghan National Police in Helmand Province was captured by the Daily Telegraph photographer carrying a songbird in his hand"

  • In Pictures: Sniffer dogs of war in Afghanistan
  • I just read one link from someones blog, I must have copied the article from a Blog.. ?, it says click here, here, here below (one article was dumb? not sure what it is I skiped it.) This one is awesome and is best way to suceeed in Afghanistan http://www.slate.com/id/2110987/

    It is very well written. end update 4-6-7 Ian bach. Also view my comments? That's where I normally add stuff and more links. http://www.slate.com/id/2110987/

    4-5-07

    Afghan army forces and police have now purged the Nad Ali district of Helmand of 400 Taliban fighters, following a series of chaotic battles.

    Allied commanders estimated 70 Taliban fighters were killed in the fighting, while many others fled or gave up their weapons.

    Locals said that the dead included at least one senior commander, Mullah Abdul Bary.

    "Of course there are some Taliban left in here, but they have dropped their weapons and they are hiding," said Colonel Rasoul, the commander of the 3rd Kandak, the best regular army unit in the fledgling Afghan security forces.

    The operation, which began last week during the Persian new year celebrations of Nawruz, involved 400 Afghan security personnel, the biggest Afghan-led sweep yet in the Nato offensive in Helmand.

    Crucially, it was also backed by local militias, whose commanders had sworn to remove the Taliban from their land.

    The success means that much needed-reconstruction projects, postponed for months due to the Taliban presence, can now begin as planned.

    The Afghan army soldiers patrolling through the fields of Nad Ali also boast new helmets, flak jackets and weapons - the first signs of a $2 billion US aid package designed to turn a ragtag force with an acute desertion problem into an army that would allow Western troops to begin pulling out. (Full Article here)

    Mr Blair is now considering whether to back a pilot project that would allow some farmers to produce and sell their crops legally to drugs companies.

    Tuesday, April 03, 2007
    Good News for Afghanistan
    From the Independent:

    "A Downing Street spokesman confirmed last night that Mr Blair is now considering whether to back a pilot project that would allow some farmers to produce and sell their crops legally to drugs companies. His change of heart has surprised the Foreign Office, which recently denied that licit poppy production was being considered. A freedom of information request has revealed that the Government looked carefully at proposals to buy up Afghanistan's poppy crop as early as 2000, under the Taliban. The removal of that regime - justified to both US and British voters partly in terms of a victory in the "war on drugs" - has made it politically difficult to financially reward poppy farmers."

    But the links between drug warlords, terrorism and the Taliban are clear. Traffickers hold poor farmers in a form of bondage through the supply of credit, paid back in opium. Many of those fighting British troops during the winter months will return to their villages to harvest poppy crops in the spring and summer. The traffickers' huge profits help to fund the fight against NATO troops.

    Whether this plan goes anywhere or not is anyone's best guess. What's important, is that a major NATO ally is discussing the possibility of a change of course in Afghanistan. Count that alone as a victory against the global War on Drugs.
    Related links
    here, here, and here. Full article here.

    Land Mine incidents half the number per year, as 5 years ago.

    "Massoud, who like many Afghans uses only one name, is one of nearly 800 people maimed and killed by the debris of war in Afghanistan every year. That's less than half the number five years ago...."

    By Alisa Tang, Associated Press Writer | April 4, 2007

    "KABUL, Afghanistan --At a lecture on dangers of land mines, the schoolchildren listened in horror as a guest speaker recounted how his left leg was blown off above the knee. It was three years ago, 11-year-old Massoud said, and he had been playing with a kite near his home

    When I arrived over the top of the hill, suddenly a bomb exploded," the sweet-faced boy said. "No one would come near me because they were afraid another mine would explode. Then I crawled out of the mined area."

    After a quarter century of war, Afghanistan is still littered with millions of land mines and other unexploded ordnance, and more mines are being planted in regions of the south where a Taliban-led guerrilla war against NATO forces has been escalating.

    Yet as Afghanistan marks International Mine Awareness Day Wednesday, there is some cause for optimism. Accident rates have declined dramatically, thanks to the imaginative and culturally sensitive efforts of organizations such as OMAR -- a mine-clearing NGO that recruited Massoud for the recent lesson in a Kabul mosque.

    His audience, a classroom full of boys about his age, listened, their mouths agape. Their wide eyes moved from his face to the artificial leg under his gray tunic.

    Massoud, who like many Afghans uses only one name, is one of nearly 800 people maimed and killed by the debris of war in Afghanistan every year. That's less than half the number five years ago, when the country was embarking on reconstruction after the fall of the Taliban, the Islamic movement routed by the U.S. and its Afghan allies for hosting Osama bin Laden.

    While nothing conveys the danger of land mines quite like a personal account, Massoud's macabre show-and-tell was just one small moment in a campaign that owes much of its success to its sensitivity to conservative Islam.

    The U.N. has been demining Afghanistan since 1989, spending an estimated $300 million. It now believes it has cleared more than 60 percent of land sown with mines since the Soviet invasion in 1979. But as many as 4.2 million Afghans still live in suspected mined areas, according to U.N. statistics................"

    (Full Article Click Here) - By Alisa Tang, Associated Press Writer | April 4, 2007

    Afghanistan eyes Bangladesh's Grameen Bank to help poor

    Wed Apr 4, 7:03 AM ET

    NEW DELHI (AFP) - Afghanistan may seek to copy micro-credit programmes pioneered by Bangladesh's Grameen Bank to help alleviate crushing poverty in the war-shattered nation, officials said.

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai sought details of the loan scheme during a meeting with Fakhruddin Ahmed, chief of Bangladesh's caretaker government, on the sidelines of a summit of South Asian nations in New Delhi late on Tuesday.

    Karzai "was very impressed with our Grameen Bank and he showed interest in its possible replication," said Bangladesh government spokesman Syed Fahim Munaim.

    Afghanistan was officially accepted on Tuesday as the eighth member of the South Asian Association of Region Cooperation (SAARC) whose two-day meeting was slated to wrap late on Wednesday.

    "The Afghan leader said Afghanistan has been ruined (by war) and needed re-building and asked if Bangladesh could help, especially in the social sector as it had a skilled labour force," Munaim told reporters.

    An aide to Karzai said Afghanistan already had some micro-financing programmes.

    But he said the Grameen Bank "could be an answer" in helping relieve conditions of desperate poverty in the country where an estimated 30 million people live.

    Afghanistan's infrastructure has been almost completely devastated by a series of wars.

    Launched in 1976, the Grameen Bank loans money to poor people to buy their own tools and equipment -- cutting out the middlemen and helping transform their lives through self-employment.

    Grameen alone has given such loans to more than six million people and the model has been replicated in more than 40 nations. (Click here for Full Artical)

    Pakistani tribesmen beat drums of war

    By Hafiz Wazir

    DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan, April 3 (Reuters) - Pakistani tribesmen beat their drums of war for the first time in three years on Tuesday to raise a force to rid their lands on the Afghan border of foreign al Qaeda-linked militants.

    Ethnic Pashtun tribesmen in Waziristan have not beaten their traditional dhol drums since 2004 because the Islamist militants who have been living in their midst disapproved of music, residents said.

    But the tribes of Waziristan have united to form a lashkar, or army, to fight and expel the foreign militants they had until recently sheltered.

    "Drums are being beaten in Wana bazaar to mobilise people for the lashkar. People are dancing, they are in high spirits and very enthusiastic," Noor Ali, a shopkeeper in Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, told Reuters by telephone.

    Thousands of foreign militants fled to the semi-autonomous tribal lands on the Pakistani side of the border after U.S.-led forces defeated the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, and were given refuge by the tribes.

    Fighting broke out between the foreigners, most of them believed to be Uzbeks, and tribal fighters last month in South Waziristan after the militants tried to kill a pro-government tribal leader.

    A peak into how I research information and News and what I find along the way. - Ian Bach 4-5-2007
    I have posted a few articles earlier this week about some of the natural disaster problems like floods and earthquakes in Afghanistan. Often times items like the natural disasters I found may give me insight on why things may be going in one direction or another. I research various Blogs that also look for reliable information and have links to the information. I also check many News/Media Organizations. I may review over 100 various news sources and Articles most are repeats many are old News or compelte crap (good thing I can read fast). I decided to give my readers a small look inside a week of my research and some things I find along the way (like the natural disasters in afghanistan) that may shape, and affect my views and conclusions. In this case I was some what worried that Afghanistan was not going to well. The reason I felt it may not be going well in afghanistan before I started my current/latest research was the focus that cyber terrorists had been making on Iraq. To me that says Iraq is going ok. (since terror groups normally use propaganda to change or derail talks or progress.) Also the fact that Michael Yon mentioned he felt Iraq was going better than expected but he was "worried abiout afghanistan". Also the lack of news media on Afghanistan also was of concern to me. But given the above articles I found after 3 days of seeking, and the reliablity of the information I am happy to say despite the problems of natural disasters it appears to me that the new tactics have been effective in the territories that were once very much under the Iron Thumb of the Taliban. (or better yet behind the Talibans Blinfolds). I use the term conclusions loosely as I am first to say I don't think any conclusion is a good thing. Conclusion suggests a final decision. This is nothing like how I think or live my life. For me the book of life remains open and is not written. We all have the ability to be a positive or a negative force in this world and our decision to do so, weather conscious or sublime, affects everyone. - Ian Bach

    Update 4-8-07

    Here is info about how Afghan women are being trained to be midwives and help reduce infant prenatal and postnatal deaths.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070408/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq;_ylt=Alw6Y2nyGX90LQkh...

    Above article/link is: Iraqi troops fight militia in Diwaniyah. There on 2nd page you will find the pictur below click it to see the video regrading improvements in healthcare in Afghanistan.

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