pxl
bismellah


pixl

Home
News
Articles (New)
AfghanPedia

Contact Us


Why is America Failing in Afghanistan?

- DR. Abdul-Qayum Mohmand

Analysis of “CIA World Factbook” (1981-2012): Dimensions of anti-Pashtun Conspirac

Afghan Fury at Planned Pakistan Pact
What Happens When the U.S. Leaves Afghanistan?
Trying to leave Afghanistan proves to be as troublesome as being there: A Closer Look
Afghanistan: “It’s Just Damage Limitation Now”
Zero Dark Thirty Review-Analysis; Eleven Instances of Disinformation
Why is America Failing in Afghanistan?
 
 
 
US forces in Afghanistan nearly destroyed vital airfield
We Are Those Two Afghan Children, Killed by NATO While Tending Their Cattle
Former Islamist Warlord Vies for Afghan Presidency
Pakistan releases top Afghan Taliban prisoner in effort to boost peace process
Losing the War in Afghanistan
Obama’s troop increase for Afghan war was misdirected
Afghan security vacuum feared along "gateway to Kabul"
Objections to U.S. Troops Intensify in Afghanistan
The Great Afghan corruption scam
War zone killing: Vets feel 'alone' in their guilt
Was Osama for Real? And Was He Killed in 2001?
Afghanistan withdrawal: The risks of retreat
The Real Reason the US Invaded Afghanistan
The Definition of a Quagmire
Huge Uncertainty' in Afghanistan
Controversial ID Cards Expose Ethnic Divisions In Afghanistan
Afghanistan: The Final Curtain Call for NATO?
Afghanistan After 9/11: A Mission Unaccomplished
Why Should Taliban and Other Insurgents Refrain from Negotiation With the US & NATO? By: Dr Mohammed Daud Miraki, MA, MA, Ph

Exclusive: Karzai family looks to extend boss rule in Afghanistan.

Intrigue in Karzai Family as an Afghan Era Closes
For Afghans, Two Outrages, Two Different Reactions
Double blow to west’s Afghan strategy
Does the Taliban need a diplomatic voice?
Afghanistan: Lessons in War and Peace-building for US
Afghan women opposed by former allies
Q+A - Haqqani: From White House guest to staunch U.S. enemy
Haqqanis: Growth of a militant network -BBC
Afghanistan shelves plans for ambassador accused of fraud
Afghan nominated as ambassador to Britain was accused in US of fraud
U.S. deal with Taliban breaks down
The Loneliness of the Afghan President: Karzai on His Own

NATO's Third Alternative in Afghanistan

On the Road: Interview with Commander Abdul Haq:- The Tragedy of Abdul Haq
When the Lion Roared: How Abdul Haq Almost Saved Afghanistan
AFGHAN WARRIOR: THE LIFE & DEATH OF ABDUL HAQ
Pakistan’s ISI: Undermining Afghan self-determination since 1948
Mineral Wealth of Afghanistan, Military Occupation, Corruption and the Rights of the Afghan People
M. Siddieq Noorzoy
Why Isn’t the UN Investigating and Prosecuting the U.S. and NATO for War Crimes Committed in Afghanistan?
Corruption and Warlordism:
Abdul Basir Stanikzai
In Afghanistan, U.S. contracts aren’t crystal balls, but they come close
The great Afghan carve-up
Anatomy of an Afghan war tragedy
Terry Jones Actually Burns a Qur’an and No One Notices
Q+A-Are Afghan forces ready to take over security?
Guantánamo Bay files rewrite the story of Osama bin Laden's Tora Bora escape
Winning Afghan hearts, minds with explosives
Afghanistan’s Mercenaries
KABUL’S HORIZONS
Who is winning Afghanistan war? U.S. officials increasingly disagree
Afghanistan: The Trouble With The Transition
From the Archives: In Quest of a ‘Greater Tajikistan’
The 1980s mujahideen, the Taliban and the shifting idea of jihad
Afghanistan's Karzai complains about interference
Karzai, US ambassador at odds over private security

Karzai Tells Washington Post U.S. Should Reduce Afghan Operation Intensity

Excerpts from Afghan President Hamid Karzai's interview with The Washington Post
What the Afghans Want
New US approach to Afghanistan insurgency: Vindication for Pakistan?
Putting Some Fight Into Our Friends
Afghans 'abused at secret prison
Why We Won’t Leave Afghanistan or Iraq
Indo-Pakistan proxy war heats up in Afghanistan
Canada’s elite commandos and the invasion of Afghanistan
U.S. retreat from Afghan valley marks recognition of blunder
Five myths about the war in Afghanistan
Marine who resigned over ‘conscience’ speaks at MU
The Afghan media may have grown since Taliban rule ended, but not so press freedoms
Mystery holes and angry ants: another Afghan day
Kabul Bank's Sherkhan Farnood feeds crony capitalism in Afghanistan
Marjah War
Operation Moshtarak: Which way the war in Afghanistan?
Q&A: Why Marjah, why now?
In Jalalabad, hope is fading
Seeking reconciliation, US units meet remote Afghanistan tribes
Once Again, Get the Hell Out! "Ending the War in Afghanistan"
Blackwater Kept a Prostitute on the Payroll in Afghanistan; Fraudulently Billed American Tax Payers
Wild West Motif Lightens US Mood at Afghan Bas
In southern Afghanistan, even the small gains get noticed
 Afghanistan war: US tries to undercut Taliban at tribal level
 Soviet lessons from Afghanistan
Are actions of 'super-tribe' an Afghan tipping point
Taliban: Terrorist or not? Not always easy to say
Q&A: Who else could help in Afghanistan?
Vietnam Replay on Afghan 'Defectors'
Washington's Refusal to Talk about Drone Strikes in Pakistan Meets Growing Opposition
Afghanistan summit: Why is the US backing talks with the Taliban?
Taliban's leadership council runs Afghan war from Pakistan
Why buy the Taliban?
2 Afghanistan conferences: No solutions
An Alternative to Endless War - Negotiating an Afghan Agreement?
Do the Taliban represent the Pashtuns?
Afghanistan asks ex-presidential contender to tackle corruption

Tehran Sets Conditions For Attending London Conference On Afghanista

Pakistan says reaches out to Afghan Taliban
Taking It to the Taliban
The Afghan Taliban's top leaders
How significant is Mullah Baradar's arrest?
Secret Joint Raid Captures Taliban’s Top Commander
What's the Quetta Shura Taliban and why does it matter?
What's behind latest Taliban attack on Kabul? See Images of the Attack By WSJ

Pakistan Version of Islam and Taliban ?????
Lahore fashion week takes on Talibanization in Pakistan

Loyalties of Those Killed in Afghan Raid Remain Unclear

After Attack, Afghans Question Motives or See Conspiracies
Gates: Taliban part of Afghan ‘political fabric’

IG: Afghan power-plant project ill-conceived, mismanaged

Taliban intensifies Afghan PR campaign

Taliban Overhaul Their Image in Bid to Win Allies
Karzai plans to woo Taliban with 'land, work and pensions'
Peace scheme mooted for Taliban
Bombs and baksheesh
But By All Means, Continue the Happy Talk on the Afghanistan War
Karzai Closing in on Taliban Reconciliation Plan
Last Exit Kabul
How To Get Out Without Forsaking Afghanistan's Stability
Afghan Recovery Report: Taleban Buying Guns From Former Warlords

'Jesus Guns': Two More Countries Rethink Using Weapons with Secret Bible References

Gun bible quotes 'inappropriate'
Text of Joint declaration of Afghanistan-Iran-Pakistan trilateral meeting
Garmsir Protest Shows Taleban Reach
Rugged North Waziristan harbors US enemies
The Arrogance of Empire, Detailed ( The Untold Story of Afghanistan )
Appointment of Afghan counter narcotics chief dismays British officials
In Afghanistan attack, CIA fell victim to series of miscalculations about informant
Rebuilding Afghanistan: Will government take hold in this post-Taliban town?
Rare bird discovered in Afghan mountains
Blackwater, now called Xe, in running for work in Afghanistan despite legal woes
How Soviet troops stormed Kabul palace
Afghan children 'die in fighting'
Afghanistan war: Russian vets look back on their experience
U.N. Officials Say American Offered Plan to Replace Karzai 
Learning From the Soviets
U.S. faults Afghan corruption body's independence
Intensify fight against corruption, says Afghan meeting
Afghan ministers cleared of charges
Drone aircraft in a stepped-up war in Afghanistan and Pakistan
U.S. Air Force Confirms 'Beast of Kandahar' Secret Stealth Drone Plane
Kissinger's fantasy is Obama's realit
Taliban shadow officials offer concrete alternative
Talking with the Taliban
20. Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart
'Yes, there was torture and people were certainly beaten': Afghan warden
Why we should leave Afghanistan
US pours millions into anti-Taliban militias in Afghanistan
Pakistan to US: Don't surge in Afghanistan, talk to Taliban
A Plan C for Afghanistan
Finding decent cabinet is Karzai's big challenge
A way to get around Karzai in Afghanistan
Corruption fight boosted by 'Afghan FBI'
US demands Afghan 'bribery court'
Afghanistan plans court for corrupt ministers
The man leading Afghanistan's anti-corruption fight
Win hearts and minds in Afghanistan to win the war
Gates blocks abuse photos release
New U.S. Afghan prison unveiled, rights groups wary
War in Afghanistan: Not in our name
How the US Funds the Taliban
Afghan gov't says UN representative out of line
Cabinet of Warlords
Afghanistan and the lessons of history
Clinton says Karzai ‘must do better’
Recognizing the Limits of American Power in Afghanistan
After Afghanistan election, governors seek distance from 'illegal' Karzai
Karzai was hellbent on victory. Afghans will pay the price
Matthew Hoh: Please refute what I'm saying, we are stuck in the Afghan civil war
As US looks for exit in Afghanistan, China digs in
America's Top Diplomat Tells 'Nightline': 'Not Every Taliban Is al Qaeda'
Obama Can’t Make Russian Mistake in Afghanistan
10 Steps to Victory in Afghanistan
Will Obama change Afghan strategy?
Does the U.S. still have a vital interest in Afghanistan?
Pashtuns and Pakistani
The Afghan '80s are back
Pashtun peace prophet goes global
Afghan Road Builder's Dream Thwarted by Violence
A white elephant in Kabul
The Afghan Runoff: Will It Be a No-Show Election?

Ashraf Ghani- Afghanistan's Disputed Election Complicates U.S. Strategy

On Assignment: Into the Maw at Marja

Patrick Witty & Tyler Hicks
The New York Times


Afghanistan Cross Road CNN


The last frontier


Bruce Richardson
 

Articles

CIA: Buying peace in Afghanistan?

With Bags of Cash, C.I.A. Seeks Influence in Afghanistan
CIA Ghost Money: Karzai Confirms U.S. Gives Funds To Afghan National Security Team
What the CIA’s cash has bought for Afghanistan

Khalilzad: A Satan Whispering in the Hearts of Men
The Afghan trust deficitt
Will We Learn Anything from Afghanistan? Part 1
Getting Out of Afghanistan: Part 2
William R. Polk
General’s Defense on Afghan Scandal Ducks Key Evidence
Afghans want Taliban peace talks
Bombing Weddings in Afghanistan: It Couldn't Happen Here, It Does Happen There
Hekmatyar's never-ending Afghan war
Covert American Aid to the Afghan Resistance; A Top-Secret U.S. Foreign Policy Plot to Induce and Effect Soviet Military Intervention
Afghan brain drain fears as Karzai urges education reforms

US considers launching joint US-Afghan raids in Pakistan to hunt down militant groups

Real security in Afghanistan depends on people's basic needs being met
Intractable Afghan Graft Hampering U.S. Strategy
Former Taliban Officials Say U.S. Talks Started
Taliban ready for talks with US, not Karzai government
Emboldened Taliban Try to Sell Softer Image
Leaked NATO Report Shows Pakistan Support For Taliban
Insight: Few options for Afghan, U.S. leaders after Kandahar massacre
Presenter: Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and Daoud Sultanzoy, Tolo Television
NATO’s measured exit plan in Afghanistan faces new obstacles
BFP Exclusive: Karzai Clan Attorney Threatens US Journalist, Uses Intimidation Tactics
Afghanistan Chronicles
Arduous path to Afghan 'end-game'
Fear in the classrooms: is the Taliban poisoning Afghanistan's schoolgirls?
A comment on the recent events of student poisoning in Afghanistan
Rape Case, in Public, Cites Abuse by Armed Groups in Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s Peace Talks Hit Brick Wall
THE ANATOMY OF US’S DEFEAT IN AFGHANISTAN
VOICES OF EMPIRE: FROM CIA’s CULTURAL GREAT GAME TO GLOBAL GREAT GAME TODAY
WHITE PAPER FOR THE PERMANENT PEACE IN AFGHANISTAN
King Karzai
A Federal System of Government is Not Suitable for Afghanistan
CHINA AMO DARYA OIL DEAL
Analysis: Where Afghan humanitarianism ends and development begins
U.S. Envoy: Kabulbank Was 'Vast Looting Scheme'
Speaking with the enemy: how US commanders fight the Taliban during the day and dine with them at night
Afghanistan: Operation Enduring Musery
How to Win Peace in Afghanistan
For Karzai, Stumbles On Road To Election
Cruel human toll of fight to win Afghan peace
Criticism of Afghan War Is on the Rise in Britain
Troops 'fighting for UK's future'
Operation in Taliban hotbed a test for revamped U.S. strategy
Covering Crucial Afghanistan Operation
Afghans still skeptical about Obama
US Defence Department struggling with public release of report on bombing in Afghanistan
Afghanistan on the Edge
Q+A: Who are the Pakistani Taliban insurgents?
Afghanistan Past & Present
Bombs for Pashtoons and Dollars for Punjab
Help! I'm being outgunned on K Street!
ANGELS CHASING DEMONS: “Jesus Killed Mohammad”!
U.S. tested 2 Afghan scenarios in war game
America's Top Diplomat Tells 'Nightline': 'Not Every Taliban Is al Qaeda'
Obama hearing range of views on Afghanistan
What Do Afghans Want? Withdrawal - But Not Too Fast - and A Negotiated Peace
Will Obama change Afghan strategy?
What Do Afghans Want? Withdrawal - But Not Too Fast - and A Negotiated Peace
Afghans tricked into U.S. trip, detained
In the Afghan War, Aim for the Middle
Obama pulled two ways in Afghanistan
Obama Can’t Make Russian Mistake in Afghanistan
10 Steps to Victory in Afghanistan
Gates: Mistake to set time line for Afghan withdrawal
Afghans question what democracy has done for them
High stakes in Afghan vote recount
Two Perspectives On Resolving The Afghan Postelection Crisis
Does the U.S. still have a vital interest in Afghanistan?
Pashtuns and Pakistanis
The Afghan '80s are back
How to Lose in Afghanistan
US in Afghanistan proposes revamped strategy
US 'needs fresh Afghan strategy'
US looks to Vietnam for Afghan tips
Lessons from Vietnam on Afghanistan
Afghan Pres. Skips Country's 1st TV Debate
A proud moment for Afghanistan
Rival to Karzai Gains Strength in Afghan Presidential Election
Afghan presidential candidate withdraws in Karzai's favor
America and international law
Hamid Karzai pulls out of historic TV debate just hours before broadcast
Karzai says no to first Afghanpresidential debate
Afghan election: Can Karzai's rivals close the gap?
Karzai opponents hope to beat him in second round
Afghanistan's Election Challenges
For Karzai, Stumbles On Road To Election
Pentagon Seeks to Overhaul Prisons in Afghanistan
Cruel human toll of fight to win Afghan peace
Karzai’s gimmick
Well-known traffickers set free ahead of election
US president sets Afghan target
U.S. Inaction Seen After Taliban P.O.W.’s Died
Why the Pentagon Axed Its Afghanistan Warlord
Earn our trust or go, Afghans tell GIs
The Irresistible Illusion
Running Out Of Options, Afghans Pay For an Exit
We've lost sight of our goal in Afghanistan
$2,000 for a dead Afghan Child, $100,000 for Any American Who Died Killing it
The strategy is sound – but success is not assured
Operation in Taliban hotbed a test for revamped U.S. strategy
Covering Crucial Afghanistan Operation
Pentagon Seeks to Overhaul Prisons in Afghanistan
Echoes of Vietnam
A Response To General Dostum
Obama orders probe of killings in Afghanistan
Obama admin: No grounds to probe Afghan war crimes
US president sets Afghan target
U.S. Inaction Seen After Taliban P.O.W.’s Died
Afghanistan's Election Challenges
The Irresistible Illusion
Earn our trust or go, Afghans tell GIs
Running Out Of Options, Afghans Pay For an Exit

We've lost sight of our goal in Afghanistan

The strategy is sound – but success is not assured
Stakes High in Afghanistan Ahead of August Elections
$2,000 for a dead Afghan Child, $100,000 for Any American Who Died Killing it
Ex-detainees allege Bagram abuse
Petraeus Is a Failure -- Why Do We Pretend He's Been a Success?
Fierce Battles and High Casualties on the Frontlines of Afghanistan
End the Illegal, Immoral and Wasted War in Afghanistan, says BNP Defence Spokesman
Outside View: Four revolutions
Pakistan's Plans for New Fight Stir Concern
France: liberty, equality, and fraternity – but no burqas
 

 

 

 

 

Echoes of Vietnam

Even the Coalition commanders in Afghanistan wonder if they can win the war
Will history repeat itself in Afghanistan?

British military intervention in Afghanistan has a chequered history, making it easy to conclude that British forces will fail again


 

What Do Afghans Want? Withdrawal - But Not Too Fast - and A Negotiated Peace

What Do Afghans Want? Withdrawal - But Not Too Fast - and A Negotiated Peace
Source: ZCommunications By: Milan Rai  

In his major speech on Afghanistan on 4 September, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown emphasized Britain's self interest in prosecuting the war in Afghanistan: 'We are in Afghanistan as a result of a hard-headed assessment of the terrorist threat facing Britain.' In this, he was only following the lead of US President Barack Obama, who launched his new strategy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan at the end of March with the warning that: 'if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban - or allows al Qaeda to go unchallenged - that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can'.

Neither the Prime Minister nor the President often speak of the wishes of the Afghan people. But these wishes, so far as they can be known, ought to be at the centre of British policy.

What we know is that the majority of people in Afghanistan (77%) want an end to the airstrikes that have killed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Afghan civilians. We also know that the majority of Afghans (64%) want a negotiated end to the conflict, and are willing to accept the creation of a coalition government including the Taliban leadership.

We also know that a majority of Afghans oppose the Obama surge that is increasing the number of foreign troops in the country. 73% of Afghans think that US-led forces in the country should either be decreased in number (44%) or 'kept at the current level' (29%). Only 18% of Afghans favour an increase.

Fear of the Taliban

These are the results of a nationwide poll commissioned by the BBC, ABC News (USA) and ARD (Germany), in which 1,534 Afghans were interviewed in all of the country's 34 provinces between 30 December 2008 and 12 January 2009.

The poll found enormous hostility to the Taliban. 82% of people said they would prefer the present government; only 4% favoured a Taliban government. 90% of people said they opposed Taliban fighters. The Taliban were seen as the biggest danger to the country by 58% of people; the United States was in fourth place with 8% (just ahead of 'local commanders' - a euphemism for US-backed warlords).

'Who do you blame the most for the violence that is occurring in the country?' The Taliban came top with 27%; al-Qa'eda/foreign jihadis were next with 22%. In third place were 'US/American forces/Bush/US government/America/NATO/ISAF forces' with 21%.

69% of people thought it was a good thing that the US-led forces had come to Aghanistan to bring down the Taliban. (Down from 88% in 2006.)

64% of Afghans thought (in January 2009) that 'The Taliban are the same as before', and had not grown more moderate.

Negotiate now

Despite all this, a solid 64% of Afghans thought 'the government in Kabul should negotiate a settlement with Afghan Taliban in which they are allowed to hold political offices if they agree to stop fighting'. However, Afghans favoured preconditions to such talks: 71% said the government should 'negotiate only if the Taliban stop fighting'.

64% of British people also think 'America and Britain be willing to talk to the Taliban in Afghanistan in order to achieve a peace deal'. (Sunday Times, 15 March 2009)

Talks are only meaningful if the other side is willing to play their part. It seems, in the case of Afghanistan, that there is serious interest in a national reconciliation process on the part of the Taliban and the Karzai administration - but that these negotiations are being blocked by the United States and Britain, who are determined to achieve a military victory.

The Taliban position

The Taliban's current demands were set out in a New York Times article on 20 May: 'The first demand was an immediate pullback of American and other foreign forces to their bases, followed by a cease-fire and a total withdrawal from the country over the next 18 months. Then the current government would be replaced by a transitional government made up of a range of Afghan leaders, including those of the Taliban and other insurgents. Americans and other foreign soldiers would be replaced with a peacekeeping force drawn from predominantly Muslim nations, with a guarantee from the insurgent groups that they would not attack such a force. Nationwide elections would follow after the Western forces left.'

A negotiator said the Taliban leaders also added two more conditions: an end to the drone attacks in Pakistan's tribal areas, and the release of some Taliban prisoners.

Taliban softening?

On 2 April, the Independent reported that preliminary talks between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban seemed to have 'yielded a significant shift away from the Taliban's past obsession with repressive rules and punishments governing personal behaviour.'

It was said that the Taliban were now prepared to commit themselves to 'refraining from banning girls' education, beating up taxi drivers for listening to Bollywood music, or measuring the length of mens' beards.'

Burqas would be 'strongly recommended' for women in public, but not be compulsory.

The Taliban's wider political demands appear to have also softened considerably since 2007, when they demanded 'control of 10 southern provinces, a timetable for withdrawal of foreign troops, and the release of all Taliban prisoners within six months'. (Guardian, 15 October 2007)

Withdrawal

The Taliban 18-month withdrawal schedule fits in with Afghan opinion. In the BBC/ABC/ARD poll, 21% of Afghans said US-led forces should leave immediately; 16% said between 6 months and a year from now; and 14% within two years.

So 51% of Afghans want withdrawal within two years.

In May 2007, the upper house of the Afghan parliament voted for a military ceasefire and negotiations with the Taliban, and for a date to be set for the withdrawal of foreign troops. (AP, 10 May 2007)

A staged withdrawal also fits in with British opinion. In a Guardian/BBC Newsnight poll, published on 13 July, 42% of voters wanted British troops withdrawn immediately; and a further 14% wanted withdrawal "by the end of the year" (ie within five months). (36% of people said they should "stay until they are no longer needed".)

A Times poll published on 22 July showed that two-thirds of those polled believed that British troops should be withdrawn either now (34%) or (33%) 'within the next year or so' (ie within 12 months).

So that's 56% wanting withdrawal within months, and 67% wanting withdrawal within a year.

A staged withdrawal also fits in with US public opinion. In a New York Times/CBS News poll, 55% of voters said US troops should be withdrawn within two years (31% said within one year). (24 September)

Replacement forces

The BBC/ABC/ARD poll showed that 63% of Afghans supported the presence of US troops in Afghanistan (but 77% wanted an end to airstrikes). Only 8% supported the presence of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

It seems that Afghans want an international presence in the country to prevent rule by the Taliban, who they fear and detest. That international presence ought to be supplied by independent forces uninvolved in the US-led invasion and occupation, and controlled by the UN General Assembly (rather than the US-dominated Security Council).

Conclusion

It is impossible to take the Taliban's position at face value - particularly on social controls - but there seems to be no alternative to a genuine negotiated solution to the Afghan conflict, in line with Afghan public opinion, Afghan parliamentary opinion, and British public opinion.

Britain and the US should halt their 'surge' into Afghanistan, ceasefire, withdraw to their bases, draw down troops and allow a national reconciliation process to take place. The future of the Afghan people must be determined according to the wishes of the Afghan people.


Afghans tricked into U.S. trip, detained
Source: The Washington Post By: Carrie Johnson  

Possible witnesses have been held under controversial federal law since ’08

For Ziaulhaq, an Afghan driver who had never ventured outside the borders of his war-torn country, the prospect of a trip to the United States seemed like the adventure of a lifetime. He pleaded with his bosses at a contracting company near the U.S. air base at Bagram to include him on the whirlwind trip to Columbus, Ohio.

But the all-expenses-paid travel — billed as a conference to honor Afghan businesses — turned out to be an elaborate ruse to draw Ziaulhaq and two co-workers to the United States. Prosecutors wanted them here as witnesses in a bribery case against U.S. servicemen and some Afghan contractors.

And what began as a celebration in the summer of 2008 has become an agonizing extended stay for Ziaulhaq, who is not accused of any crime but has been forced to stay thousands of miles away from his sick wife and six children at home. Ziaulhaq and two countrymen have spent more than a year confined to a hotel in a drab industrial area near Chicago's sooty Midway Airport.

Their saga highlights anew the power of a controversial U.S. statute that allows prosecutors to hold people, without suspicion or criminal charges, as material witnesses in ongoing investigations. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist strikes, the Bush Justice Department used the law to round up Muslim men, giving rise to a lawsuit against then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft that experts say could make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. And at least one key Senate Democrat has tried, to no avail, to introduce more safeguards into the material witness process.

Authorities say they want Ziaulhaq's testimony in their prosecution of a bribery scheme at Bagram, an Air Force base 27 miles north of Kabul, in which servicemen accepted kickbacks from Afghan contractors. The servicemen, according to prosecutors, packed the cash in boxes that they sent home by way of the U.S. Postal Service.

But the little-noticed case has been beset by delays and confusion. It has drawn increasingly sharp complaints from lawyers and an Afghan diplomat who say that Ziaulhaq, 39, is a casualty in the U.S. government's efforts to crack down on corruption and military contracting fraud in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Justice Department officials declined to comment on the bribery case, but they noted that the lengthy detention was approved by a federal judge.

'He doesn't know anything'
Ziaulhaq, a slender former veterinary student with a scraggly black beard, came to work as an office aide and a part-time driver for the contracting company because of family ties. He says he had no contact with the military and knows nothing about the case.

"I made him available to both sides and he doesn't know anything," said Michael J. Falconer, a court-appointed attorney for Ziaulhaq, who uses just one name. "Unless there's some surprise waiting in the wings, he won't be a material witness because he's got nothing to say that's material. . . . This poor guy just got swept up in the mess."

Ziaulhaq and his confederates — Bashir Ahmad, 30, and Kiomars Mohammad Rafi, 27 — had been employees of companies that provided concrete security barricades and other materials to the U.S. military at Bagram. Now they spend their days attending prayer services and cooking in their small kitchenette of their hotel, where monthly rates range from $2,000 to $3,000. The hotel sits next to a $3 carwash and across the street from an industrial strip occupied by discount-store distribution centers.

They rarely venture out and are subjected to nightly curfews and calls from probation officers. Prosecutors secured court permission to detain the men as flight risks, arguing that they might never return for trials if they were allowed to go home. A few months ago, however, the Afghans were released from electronic monitoring.

At the same time, some of the men who have been indicted in the case have successfully petitioned a judge for permission to travel to the gym, study English and attend a funeral and a family reunion in Wisconsin, court records reflect.

"It's just terrible," Falconer said. "They do not have any identification, so they can't do anything. They can't even go to a health club or cash the checks they get for witnesses' fees."

Ruling deferred
Nearly a year ago, court-appointed lawyers exhorted a federal judge to schedule depositions, giving the Justice Department and defense attorneys a chance to question the three witnesses so they could return to their families. But the judge deferred a ruling. Another bid in June to hold an "emergency" deposition for Ziaulhaq passed without action.

A letter to the Justice Department by Afghan Ambassador Said T. Jawad expressing his concern about "the lengthy and unwarranted detention of three Afghan nationals" received a reply but did not accelerate the pace.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers are blaming each other for the delays.

"Since the return of the indictment, the United States has sought to expeditiously move this case toward resolution," Justice Department antitrust division chief Christine A. Varney wrote to the ambassador in August.

The Justice Department does not control the trial date in the complicated case, a spokeswoman added. But court-appointed attorneys for the witnesses and lawyers for the Afghan contracting companies are questioning why prosecutors lured the Afghan men into the country, only to wait nine months before expanding the criminal charges in the case and adding new defendants, all of which meant further delays.

The Afghans are hoping that a court proceeding later this month could finally pave the way for their return to their homeland.

"He is not a criminal," said Zuriden, Ziaulhaq's brother, in a telephone interview from Afghanistan, conducted in English. "More than one years he is in America. I don't know what is his problem. There is not anyone to help him."

Adding to the mystery of Ziaulhaq's long confinement is a recent statement in a court filing by prosecutors that they would need to interview him for only an hour, raising questions about how critical his testimony is to the case. The other two men detained as material witnesses may have more relevant information because they had more contact with people at Bagram, according to lawyers involved in the matter.

The path to Chicago was a serpentine one for Ziaulhaq, Ahmad and Rafi. They arrived at O'Hare International Airport on Aug. 25, 2008, after 36 hours of flights that took them from Kabul to Delhi and Tokyo before they landed in Chicago. The men — accompanied by some of their supervisors who have been charged with bribery and other crimes — thought they were en route to Ohio, where they would be feted in an event marking the seventh anniversary of Operation Enduring Freedom at a dinner aimed at "honoring the past and building the future."

"We have been very busy here gearing up for what promises to be a great conference and chance to honor those of you who have helped us make such great strides in building the future of Afghanistan," wrote a man identifying himself as a "special programs coordinator" for the Defense Department in a 2008 e-mail to the Afghan contracting company.

Just days earlier, prosecutors had secured grand jury indictments against several military men, Afghan business owners and their companies for allegedly paying and accepting bribes to grease the skids for contracts at Bagram.

Guilty pleas
Court documents said the material witnesses had each worked for the contractors who had been charged and had "gained information, engaged in conversations and/or performed acts that constitute . . . evidence against one or more" of the defendants.

Three of the U.S. servicemen pleaded guilty to bribery last summer. Air Force Master Sgt. Patrick W. Boyd, who doled out contracts for concrete bunkers and asphalt paving, admitted to accepting $130,000 in bribes, prosecutors said in court papers. The government pegged its losses in the case of former National Guard Maj. Christopher P. West at $400,000 to $1 million. A friend of West's pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property — at least $100,000 that West mailed from Afghanistan in 14 boxes.

The case against the foreign companies and the four Afghan men who owned them continues.

Gina Talamona, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to disclose exactly how much authorities had paid to keep the three witnesses in hotels, although prosecutors last month called it an "extraordinary effort and expense." The men earn $88 per day to cover witness fees and incidental expenses, according to one source. But an attorney for Ziaulhaq said that cashing the government checks is "cumbersome" because his client does not have an identification card to show the bank teller.

Talamona noted the Justice Department's efforts in an ongoing multiagency task force to crack down on international contract corruption. The department's antitrust division brought 11 cases last year alleging criminal fraud schemes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"How long a material witness will be held is determined by the court," she said, adding that, when it is possible, the department will ask a judge to expedite a witness's release using a deposition to gather the testimony.

Chuck Aron, an attorney for Ahmad, said he does not discuss pending cases. Matthew Madden, an attorney for Rafi, declined to comment.

"These people have no constituency," said Kirby Behre, a District-based lawyer at the Paul Hastings firm who is representing Assad John Ramin, an owner of one of the companies named in charges. Ramin denies the criminal charges against him.

"This is clearly abusive, but perhaps because these are Afghan nationals and not Americans, nobody seems too concerned about the treatment these men are receiving," Behre said.

Staff writer Kari Lyderson in Chicago contributed to this report.

 

 

 

 

The articles and letters are the opinion of the writers and are not representing the view of Sabawoon Online.
Copyright © 1996 - 2017 Sabawoon. All rights reserved.