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Journalist Bilal Sarwary provides a rare glimpse into life in Afghanistan on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
14 January 2015 - Bilal Sarwary is showing the world the glimpses of Afghanistan few see. The country used to attract tens of thousands of Western tourists each year, drawn by its rugged scenery, vibrant culture, and relics from its time at the heart of the Silk Road trade route. By regularly posting photos of Afghan life, people, and the country's diverse landscapes to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, accompanied by the Afghanistanyouneversee hashtag, Sarwary has provided a chance for the curious to get a peek into a land long plagued by discord. (more)

American seeks to preserve storied Afghan past
15 December 2014 - Nancy Hatch Dupree fell in love with Afghanistan on her first visit in 1962, and embarked on a lifelong mission to preserve the rich cultural heritage of an ancient land scarred by modern wars. In happier times she traversed the country with the other love of her life -- archaeologist Louis Dupree, a fellow American -- studying its history, writing travelogues, and collecting books, maps, photographs, and even rare recordings of folk music. The couple continued their efforts, often from abroad, during the tumultuous decades that followed, and their vast collection, now housed at Kabul University's sunlit Afghanistan Centre, provides a rare journey through the country's past. Afghans regard Dupree as one of their own, with some even calling her 'grandmother of the nation'. Dupree now heads one of the foremost research centres on Afghanistan's cultural heritage, which stretches back thousands of years. She laments that Afghanistan is barely understood beyond the seventh-century arrival of Islam, and that little of its historical tapestry or influence on the surrounding region appears in the local school curriculum. (more)

New Afghan leader promises equal rights for women
22 September 2014 - Afghanistan's new President-elect pledged in his victory speech on Monday to give women prominent roles in his government and told his nation that women are important to the country's future. The remarks by President-elect Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai came a day after the landmark power-sharing deal signed by Afghanistan's two presidential candidates. The speech Monday took on the air of a campaign celebration, with a large crowd of supporters in attendance. Ghani Ahmadzai clasped the hands of female supporters and he and others raised their hands over their heads, a notable moment in a country where women are often socially segregated. (more)

Afghanistan's presidential rivals sign power-sharing deal on Sunday
21 September 2014 - Afghanistan's rival presidential candidates signed a deal on Sunday to share power after months of turmoil over a disputed election that destabilized the nation at a crucial time as most foreign troops prepare to leave. Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister who will be named president, embraced rival Abdullah Abdullah after they signed the power-sharing agreement at a ceremony watched by outgoing president Hamid Karzai, and broadcast live from his palace. (more)

Afghanistan: UN welcomes conclusion of presidential elections, deal to form unity government
21 September 2014 - United Nations Secretary-General and his most senior envoy in Afghanistan welcomed the agreement signed on 21 September by presidential candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, to establish a government of national unity, ending months of political uncertainty in the country. In separate statements, the UN Chief and Jan Kubiš, his Special Representative for Afghanistan also welcomed the conclusion of the county's months-long presidential polling process and congratulated Mr Ghani as the President-elect of Afghanistan. (more)

Afghan presidential rivals at last reach unity deal on Saturday
20 September 2014 - The rival candidates in Afghanistan's messy election for a new President finally struck a power-sharing deal on Saturday, aides said, after more than two months of tension over a vote in which each side accused the other of fraud. 'Both camps have agreed 100 per cent on everything and we'll sign the deal tomorrow. Everything has been initialled and there is no disagreement on anything,' said Faizullah Zaki, a spokesman for ex-Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani. (more)

UN welcomes Afghanistan's recommitment to end recruitment of child soldiers
1 August 2014 - Afghanistan took another step forward in protecting children from being recruited into and used by national security forces, a move welcomed by the United Nations. The Government recently endorsed a so-called 'road map,' supported by the UN Assistance Mission in the country (UNAMA) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), in their roles as co-chairs of the UN-led Country Task Force on Children and Armed Conflict. (more)

UN mission welcomes efforts to begin audit of Afghan presidential run-off vote
14 July 2014 - The top United Nations official in Afghanistan has hailed the efforts by the country's Independent Election Commission (IEC) to start the implementation of an audit plan to help resolve concerns over the results of the presidential run-off poll. (more)

Afghanistan: Election commission welcomes UN mediation
13 July 2014 - Welcoming an agreement between the two top candidates brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry and the United Nations, Afghanistan's election commission hopes to finish an audit of 23,000 polling stations within three weeks. Ahmad Yousuf Nouristani, chairman of the Independent Election Commission, told reporters Sunday that the commission is ready to start auditing all 8 million votes cast in the 14 June presidential runoff as soon as possible. (more)

Afghans express relief at election deal
13 July 2014 - Amid relief that a dangerous rift in the country's troubled democracy has been averted, Afghan officials praised a deal between presidential contenders brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry and said Sunday they hope to finish a full ballot audit within weeks. Kerry unveiled the breakthrough deal Saturday night, with both hopefuls promising to abide by the results of the audit, followed by plans for the winner to form a government of national unity with participation of the losing side. (more)


Success of Maharishi's Programmes
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'Military solution improbable in Afghanistan': Invincible Defence Technology addresses root causes of terrorism and war - Pajhwok Afghan News
17 June 2009 - A scientifically verified alternative to military action is available in Afghanistan, say Invincible Defence Technology (IDT) experts Major General (Ret.) Kulwant Singh, Colonel Brian Rees, and David Leffler, PhD. Extensive peer-reviewed published research demonstrates the effectiveness of group practice of the Transcendental Meditation Programme and its advanced techniques for reducing the societal stress that fuels violence, terrorism, and war. (more)


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Taliban claim attack on Afghan guesthouse that killed 14
14 May 2015 - The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility on Thursday for an attack on a popular guesthouse in Kabul that killed at least 14 people, including foreigners attending a dinner and arriving for a concert. The five-hour assault occurred at Park Palace guesthouse in an upscale neighbourhood of central Kabul. The attack heightened a sense of insecurity in the Afghan capital and throughout the country as the Taliban step up attacks following the withdrawal of most foreign troops. There have been a spate of similar attacks in Kabul last year. (more)

Taliban announce plans to ramp up attacks in Afghanistan
22 April 2015 - The Afghan Taliban on Wednesday (22 April) announced the start of its annual spring offensive, warning it would ramp up attacks on foreign embassies and government officials, as well as military targets, starting on Friday. The Taliban typically steps up its military efforts when warmer weather facilitates the transit of fighters and weapons. The Taliban made no mention of the much discussed peace process, which the Afghan President said was close to restarting several months ago. (more)

Gunmen storm Afghan police station as mine clearers abducted
19 April 2015 - Insurgents armed with guns and explosives attacked a police station Sunday in Afghanistan's southern city of Lashkar Gar, wounding two officers and a civilian as gunmen elsewhere kidnapped at least a dozen mine clearers, authorities said. Nabi Jan Malakhail, the police chief of Helmand province, said at least two insurgents were inside the police station, fighting late Sunday with police who had the building surrounded. One suicide bomber had blown himself up outside the station to allow the others in, he said. The attacks come a day after a suicide bomber in Jalalabad killed at least 35 people and wounded around 125. (more)

For Afghan women, violence remains entrenched despite gains
7 April 2015 - Rights workers say violence and abuse against women remains one of Afghanistan's most deeply entrenched problems, even as the government tries to build greater rights for women. Even measuring the extent of abuse is difficult. In 2014, for example, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission received 2,026 reports of violence against women, up from previous years. But Hussain Mohsen, of the group's investigation department, said variations from year to year are usually just technical blips and that the problem in general is more pervasive. 'The violence is so high and was high in the past as well,' Mohsen told AP. (more)

Islamic State group reaches for Afghanistan and Pakistan
16 January 2015 - Afghanistan and Pakistan, home to al-Qaida and Taliban militants and the focus of the longest war in US history, face a new, emerging threat from the Islamic State group, officials have told The Associated Press. Disenchanted extremists from the Taliban and other organizations, impressed by the Islamic State group's territorial gains and slick online propaganda, have begun raising its black flag in extremist-dominated areas of both countries. Analysts and officials say the number of IS supporters in the Afghan-Pakistan region remains small and that the group faces resistance from militants with strong tribal links. However, the rise of even a small Islamic State affiliate could further destabilize the region and complicate US and NATO efforts to end the 13-year Afghan war. Taliban militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan owe their allegiance to Mullah Omar, a cleric who has led the Taliban since the 1990s but has not been seen or heard in public for years. Officials fear that an Islamic State push into the region could bring an infusion of guns and money, sparking brutal competition among local militants disenchanted with Mullah Omar's silence and eager to prove themselves with escalating atrocities. (more)

Afghan officials: Islamic State group operating in south
12 January 2015 - Afghan officials confirmed for the first time Monday that the extremist Islamic State group is active in the south, recruiting fighters, flying black flags, and, according to some sources, even battling Taliban militants. The sources, including an Afghan general and a provincial governor, said a man identified as Mullah Abdul Rauf was actively recruiting fighters for the group, which controls large parts of Syria and Iraq. The Taliban have confined their insurgency to Afghanistan, and do not espouse the pan-Islamic model of jihad embraced by the Islamic State. (more)

Afghan students find inspiration in Islamic State's success
8 December 2014 - A quiet student at Kabul University, 25-year-old Abdul Rahim has a dream: to join Islamic State in Syria and fight for the establishment of a global caliphate -- a new, alarming form of radicalism in war-weary Afghanistan. Although IS is not believed to have operations in Afghanistan, its influence is growing in a country already mired in daily bombings and attacks by Taliban insurgents. A few dozen students have set up an underground group a few months after IS started making inroads into Central and South Asia this year. Some have already travelled to Syria. Several hardline insurgent groups in tribal areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan have pledged allegiance to IS, propaganda leaflets have been distributed and some local commanders are said to have met IS members. But the clandestine student group is the clearest indication yet that IS ideas are taking hold more broadly. (more)

Afghanistan mired in war as US combat command ends
8 December 2014 - American and NATO troops closed their operational command in Afghanistan on Monday, lowering flags in a ceremony to mark the formal end of their combat mission in a country still mired in war 13 years after the US-led invasion toppled the Taliban regime for harbouring those responsible for 9/11. Not only are the Taliban a resilient insurgency, a new generation of extremists inspired by Osama bin Laden threatens the entire region. American forces are now also involved in a burgeoning military campaign against Islamic State group militants in Syria and Iraq, where Obama had hoped to end combat operations three years ago. (more)

Afghan troop deaths up; called 'unsustainable'
5 November 2014 - Afghan security forces have suffered more battle casualties this year than last year, rising to a level that cannot be sustained in a successful fight against the Taliban, the second-ranking American commander in Afghanistan said Wednesday. The toll increased even though the number of attacks by Taliban fighters has decreased to about 18,000 this year from about 24,000 last year. Afghan government forces, on the other hand, have initiated more attacks on the Taliban this year. (more)

Violence marks Afghan President's first month
28 October 2014 - Suicide bombers, roadside bombs, and rocket attacks on the Afghan capital have intensified in the one month since President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai took office as the Taliban are sending a message that they disapprove of his tough stance on ending the insurgency and close security ties with Washington, officials, analysts and the Taliban said. In recent days, central Kabul's diplomatic neighborhood has been shaken by late night rocket attacks. Security in the capital -- already fortress-like -- had been stepped up, said General Murad Ali Murad, commander of Afghan National Army ground forces. Jawed Khoistani, a political analyst, suggested that the accuracy of the rockets that have landed in the green zone pointed to some degree of cooperation with the security forces that are supposed to be guarding the city perimeter. 'Rockets are more dangerous than terrorist attacks in Kabul because it is clear there is help from within the capital itself,' he said. (more)

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