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Freeing the Prisoners Blog 2: Protecting the Innocent?

An unknown number of Afghans are being held in custody suspected of being Taleban or convicted of insurgency-related crimes. Complaints about wrongful arrest, detention without trial, torture and a justice system where influence and money count for more than guilt or innocence are rife – and, of course, not limited to security prisoners. President Karzai’s […]

Freeing the Prisoners Blog 1: Letting the Guilty Go Free?

When the Afghan intelligence boss, Amrullah Saleh, said he could not, in all conscience, carry on in his post if it entailed “negotiating with suicide bombers” he became the first person to take a principled, stand against the way Afghan policy on the Taleban is developing. Saleh is particularly opposed to freeing Taleban prisoners. Yet […]

More on the resignation of Atmar and Saleh – and who might replace them

The repercussions of the sacking/resignation of two of the president’s three top security officials on Sunday are still sinking in, along with the President’s decree that the status of Taleban prisoners must be reviewed. These major changes on security follow his proclaimed success in demonstrating ‘national unity’ at the peace jirga. Despite the tent being […]

PEACE JIRGA BLOG 8: The Afghan jungle’s big beasts and ‘lively debate’

The peace jirga has left the older generation of factional leaders nicely split: a few (Sayyaf, Rabbani, Mujadddidi) have been honoured by the president and treated like long-lost brothers by the world’s diplomats; others (Dostum, Mohaqiq, Abdullah) are sitting, Achilles-like, sulking in their tents; while just a couple from the 80s generation of mujahideen stalwarts […]

PEACE JIRGA BLOG 4: Who’s come to town… and who’s staying away

The peace jirga has begun today without President Karzai’s main rival in last year’s presidential elections, Dr Abdullah, who has announced that he and his supporters are not attending. Abdullah’s party comrade, head of Jamiat-e Islami and former president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, however, looks set to chair the jirga – a move which is seen as […]

PEACE JIRGA BLOG 3: Preparing the Delegates

The long-anticipated and twice-delayed ‘consultative peace jirga’ is about to happen. Delegates from across Afghanistan have been arriving in Kabul and the press corps of the world is arriving to report on them. Journalists are here in such numbers that AAN is wondering if there will be more reporters than delegates. Diplomats are also excited […]

Afghan Journalists Push into Parliament

With the release of the names of candidates for the parliamentary elections, AAN has been excitedly pouring over the candidates’ list. The former journalists among us – myself and Thomas – were pleased to see a high number of our colleagues putting themselves forward for public office – at least twelve for Kabul alone – […]

Drugs, plots and stockpiles: Afghanistan’s failing poppy crop

A mysterious desease is spreading through Afghanistan’s poppy fields: Is it a secret counter-narcotics operation or simply caused by nature? And what do ‘the markets say’? Answers given by Kate Clark, AAN Senior Analyst ‘Reports of a “mysterious” fungus that has damaged opium poppy crops in Afghanistan have hit international headlines’ writes a breathless commentator […]

New Bureaucracies to Welcome ‘Upset Brothers’

Jobs, training, psychosocial counselling and block grants: A look at the Afghan government’s new ‘peace and reintegration’ plan to bring home the Taleban. By Kate Clark (with input from Thomas Ruttig) Reading the draft of the Afghan government’s programme for peace and reintegration is a surreal experience, starting with the opening and the first sentence’s […]