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Award-winning Afghan refugee whose tent school empowered a thousand girls
14 October 2015 - Aqeela Asifi, a refugee in Pakistan, worked tirelessly to set up a school and educate the girls in her community, helping to shift entrenched gender roles. Today, the school has a permanent building and Asifi's work has seen 1,000 girls attend school, with many receiving national lower secondary certification. But she prefers to look at what remains to be done -- ensuring girls can continue their studies into secondary level and beyond. (more)

Taliban, Afghan officials hold peace talks, agree to meet again
8 July 2015 - The first official peace talks between the Afghan Taliban and the government in Kabul concluded with an agreement to meet again after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, officials said on Wednesday. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the United States welcomed the talks, calling them 'an important step toward advancing prospects for a credible peace'. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China backed the process and was in touch with all sides. (more)

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)

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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Afghanistan faces tough battle as Haqqanis unify the Taliban
7 May 2016 - A shadowy, Pakistan-based militant faction is on the rise within the Taliban after its leader was appointed deputy and played a key role in unifying the fractured insurgency. The ascendency of the Haqqani network, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, could significantly strengthen the Taliban and herald another summer of fierce fighting in Afghanistan. The firepower it brings to the Taliban was shown by a Kabul bombing last month that killed 64 people, the deadliest in the Afghan capital in years, which experts say was too sophisticated for the insurgents to have carried out without the Haqqanis. The network's role could also further poison already tainted relations between Islamabad and Kabul. (more)

Deadly attacks in Afghan capital show Taliban's strength
19 April 2016 - A week after proclaiming their spring offensive, Taliban militants stormed an Afghan government security agency with a suicide car bomb and gunfire Tuesday, killing 28 people and wounding hundreds in a sign of the insurgency's continued strength -- even in the capital. The coordinated attack in central Kabul appeared to have targeted an agency that provides an elite security force for high-ranking government officials, similar to the U.S. Secret Service. On April 12, the insurgents announced the start of their warm weather fighting season, vowing to carry out large-scale attacks in the 15th year of their war against the U.S.-backed government. The Taliban has remained resilient as the government struggles to confront the violence amid a bitter feud between President Ashraf Ghani and the country's chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah. (more)

IS radio beams propaganda, threats across rural Afghanistan
21 January 2016 - The Afghan reporters recognized the voice threatening them with death on the Islamic State group's local radio station. It was a former colleague, who knows their names and where they work. The threats were made during a discussion program on 'Voice of the Caliphate,' an elusive radio station operated by one of the extremist group's newest affiliates. The so-called Khorasan Province has battled Afghan forces and the Taliban alike, carving out an enclave in Nangarhar, a rugged eastern province bordering Pakistan. The group is actively targeting other media outlets to prevent them from competing with its chilling broadcasts. Militants bombed a building housing two radio stations in the provincial capital, Jalalabad, in October, and attacked the local offices of the independent Pajhwok news agency and Voice of America in July. The menacing broadcast in mid-December, in which a former local radio broadcaster called on reporters to either join IS or risk being hunted down and killed, could be heard across Jalalabad. The message is clear: the Afghan government is a doomed 'puppet regime' of the Americans. The Taliban are a spent force hijacked by Pakistan. The caliphate is coming. (more)

Pentagon says violence is on rise in Afghanistan
15 December 2015 - Violence in Afghanistan is on the rise, according to a new Pentagon report to Congress that says the Taliban was emboldened by the reduced U.S. military role and can be expected to build momentum from their 2015 attack strategy. The number of effective insurgent attacks rose this year, causing increased casualties among Afghan security forces, the report said. While Afghan forces have demonstrated a will to fight and to learn from their battlefield mistakes, the report said the Taliban's resilience has made security fragile in key areas and at risk of deteriorating in others. The U.S. now has about 9,800 troops in Afghanistan. (more)

Over 260 dead as earthquake strikes Afghanistan, Pakistan
26 October 2015 - A massive earthquake struck remote and impoverished regions of northern Afghanistan and Pakistan on Monday, killing at least 263 people as it shook buildings across South Asia and knocked out power and communications to already-isolated areas. The 7.5-magnitude quake was centered deep beneath the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan's sparsely populated Badakhshan province, which borders Pakistan, Tajikistan, and China, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Despite vast mineral deposits, Badakhshan is one of Afghanistan's poorest provinces. It is often hit by earthquakes, but casualty figures are usually low because it is so sparsely populated, with fewer than 1 million people spread across its vast mountains and valleys. It also suffers from floods, snowstorms, and mudslides. Taliban-led insurgents have used its remote valleys as cover recently to seize districts as they spread their footprint across the country. Abdul Humayoon Dehqan, the head of the National Disaster Management Authority's provincial office, said some districts remain under Taliban control 'and we don't know how we will be able to help people in those areas.' (more)

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)


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