Welcome to our e-newsletter Vol. 64 April 2009  

U.S. Senate Praises Bravery of Afghan Schoolgirls: The U.S. Senate praised the outstanding courage of Afghan schoolgirls who suffered an attack by Taliban militants in Gondigan village in Kandahar in a resolution introduced in late April by Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Senator Mike Crapo (R-Id.) and Sen. James Risch (R-Id.). The resolution, S. RES. 109, "recognizes and commends the extraordinary bravery shown by the girls and families of the Mirwais School for Girls." MORE

Afghan Officials Predict Rise in Poppy-Free Provinces: In late April the Associated Press reported that Afghan officials destroyed over 6 tons of illegal drugs and reported that the number of poppy-free provinces in Afghanistan would likely increase in 2009. In 2008 18 of Afghanistan's provinces were considered "poppy-free," a number that could increase to between 22 and 26 provinces in 2009. A report released by the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy in late 2008 found that opium production in Afghanistan in 2008 declined by 31 percent. MORE

Afghanistan Establishes First National Park: In celebration of Earth Day, on April 22 Afghanistan announced the establishment of its first national park, Band-e-Amir. The park is located in the central province of Bamiyan and includes six spectacular deep blue lakes separated by natural dams made of a mineral deposit known as travertine. MORE

Ambassador Jawad Speaks at Atlantic Council: Ambassador Said T. Jawad joined his Pakistani counterpart Ambassador Husain Haqqani at The Atlantic Council of the United States on April 9 for an event on the new U.S. strategy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan. During the event, titled "Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Obama: Discussions on the New Strategy," Ambassador Jawad detailed the most important elements of the new strategy and identified a primary challenge for the future -- its implementation. MORE

New U.S. Strategy, Civilian Casualties Discussed in Interviews: Ambassador Said T. Jawad addressed the new U.S. strategy towards Afghanistan, relations with Pakistan, President Barack Obama's outreach to the Muslim world, and civilian casualties and the U.S.'s response to them in two extended interviews with Bloomberg and Al Jazeera on April 10. During the interview with Bloomberg, Ambassador Jawad also stressed that a controversial law dealing with Afghan Shia women would not go into effect. MORE

Political Counselor Speaks at Arlington National Cemetary: Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari joined Iraqi Ambassador Samir Al-Sumaidaie to commemorate the fallen soldiers of the United States and allies in Afghanistan and Iraq at an event organized by the American Gold Star Mothers at the Arlington National Cemetery on April 9. MORE

Education Key to Empowering Afghan Women: Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari delivered a speech on "Education Key to Empowering Afghan Women" at the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women (IEAW) in Washington, D.C. on March 30. Recounting the significant achievements made by Afghan women since the fall of the Taliban, Haidari said that they "enjoy the deep respect, support and commitment of President Hamid Karzai to their Constitutional rights and the implementation of those rights through various mechanisms established in the Government so far." MORE

Afghanistan's Wheat Crop Looks Good: Agriculture analysts say beneficial rains should lead to a healthier wheat crop in Afghanistan this year, although prices will be lower as well. "Taking into consideration all factors, even with the recent uncertainties about the actual amount of rainfall, we assume that food security conditions will be better than in 2008, after the harvest," a report issued by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network stated. MORE

Looted Afghan Treasures to Go On Show: More than 3,000 antiquities have been returned to Afghanistan after being confiscated by British customs officers and identified by the British Museum. Situated at the crossroads of Asia and washed by centuries of trade, migration and invasion, Afghanistan has one of the richest archaeological heritages in the world. However treasure hunters and looters have taken advantage of three decades of war and civil chaos to dig up and steal large numbers of antiquities. MORE

Afghan Forces Pitching in With Security: Right in the heart of Taliban territory, the Afghan army is lending a crucial helping hand to Canadian forces. Every morning at dawn, the Afghan National Army (ANA) leaves forward operating bases in their Hummers or Ford Rangers and begin combing the nearby roadways. Moving on foot, they carefully look for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that may have been planted by the Taliban during the night. MORE
In Other News: Polish Travel Agency Takes Tourists to Afghanistan (AP) ... Afghanistan Bets on Peace with First National Park (Reuters) ... Afghan "Terps" Risk Lives to Work With U.S. Forces (Reuters) ... Afghan Official Says Mosques To Be Used To Fight Illiteracy (RFE) ... Afghan Capital Teeters Among Building Boom (USA Today) ... Direct Flights Between Afghanistan and UK 'to Return' (Telegraph) ... Afghan Schoolgirls Say Not Intimidated by "Poisoning" (Reuters) ... UNU to Help Build Electronic Government in Afghanistan (UN). MORE

Embassy in the News: This month, Ambassador Said T. Jawad's speech at the Atlantic Council was covered by AFP, he stressed to Bloomberg that a law relating to Shia women would not go into effect, discussed civilian casulaties with Al Jazeera and commented on the Pakistani military to Pajhwok news. Political Counselor Ashraf Haidari published an op-ed in in the Washington Times. To read these and other articles and op-eds, please click Embassy in the News.


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