NEWS: “NATO is not winning in Afghanistan”

Calls grow for shift in Afghan policy

The Bush administration faces increasing pressure to make a major policy course correction on Afghanistan, shifting the focus from Iraq to fight a resurgent terrorist threat and build up the faltering government in Kabul.

A Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing today is set to take up a string of new reports warning that the political and economic situations in Afghanistan are deteriorating amid growing strains between the United States and its NATO allies over the military mission there. [complete article]

Demise of al-Qaida’s ‘number three’

If Abu Laith al-Libi is indeed dead, then there is a certain inevitability to his sudden demise.

The Libyan militant has lived dangerously for nearly two decades, starting his career in militant groups in his homeland before turning to operations in Saudi Arabia in the mid-90s.

In 1999 or thereabouts Libi, believed to be aged in his 40s, surfaced in Afghanistan, operating as both a field commander and later a spokesman for al-Qaida. His most recent post was his most dangerous to date. [complete article]

Suicide bomber kills Afghan official

The deputy governor of Helmand Province and five others were killed by a suicide bomber during afternoon prayers in a mosque in the provincial capital, Afghan officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

The deputy, Hajji Pir Mohammad, was dead on arrival at a hospital in the capital, Lashkar Gah, the duty doctor there said, and at least 21 injured people, including a 5-year-old boy, were treated.

The bomb went off just after 1 p.m. in a mosque near the governor’s office, the provincial police chief, Muhammad Hussain Andiwal, said. He confirmed that six people, including the deputy governor, were killed as they were praying. [complete article]

Sentenced to death: Afghan who dared to read about women’s rights

A young man, a student of journalism, is sentenced to death by an Islamic court for downloading a report from the internet. The sentence is then upheld by the country’s rulers. This is Afghanistan – not in Taliban times but six years after “liberation” and under the democratic rule of the West’s ally Hamid Karzai.

The fate of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh has led to domestic and international protests, and deepening concern about erosion of civil liberties in Afghanistan. He was accused of blasphemy after he downloaded a report from a Farsi website which stated that Muslim fundamentalists who claimed the Koran justified the oppression of women had misrepresented the views of the prophet Mohamed. [complete article]

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