The Ministry is once again in trouble, it has so much work to process. Hence it will just continue delivering the new feature at this blog: pointing out key indicators here and there. For us here at the Ministry, four were particularly newsworthy in the daily press in the last two days.
Some at the Washington Post still don't know better than to call one Afghan presidential candidate, Ramazan Bashardost, an "eccentric crusader."
Saving face for WaPo, and for embedded reporting in general, Greg Jaffe filed a decent report from the Afghan-Pakistani border, worth reading all the way. A slight problem is that the thing that really caught my attention is not something he picked up in person, but something he likely heard at some briefing. How much may this be true?
"U.S. commanders have been able to slow the flow of Taliban fighters across the 90-mile stretch of border by winning over Afghans who live in the Konar River valley, which the insurgents must traverse as they move deeper into Afghanistan."
Back in October 2007 (and before that) we wrote about the polio eradication campaign in Afghanistan - the eradication campaign this Ministry is ready to wholeheartedly support. It is important. Polio is one of the threats that would come to one's door if one abandoned Afghanistan. It is a threat that made Pakistani health ministers in the past realise that "when it comes to the threat of polio, Afghanistan and Pakistan are one country" (which is a nice beginning towards realising many other things relevant from Pakistan's perspective). Here's the heads-up from IRIN News.
"Only 13 percent of children in the southern provinces routinely received oral poliovirus vaccine compared to 47 percent in the southeast, 66 percent in the east and 69 percent in central areas, according to a WHO weekly epidemiological record in March 2009.
About 200,000 children miss out on polio drops every time the vaccinators conduct a nationwide immunization drive, it said. “Three things impede polio immunization in Helmand Province: First the insecurity, second a lack of public awareness, and very low payments to vaccinators,” said Jan Agha, a local health worker.
“The Taliban often oppose vaccinations. They threaten and beat vaccinators and break their vaccination kits… so people don’t want to risk their lives for 150 Afghanis [US$3] a day,” said a vaccinator in Kandahar Province who declined to be named.
Also, the return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan and unregulated cross border movements between the two countries have contributed to the movement of the poliovirus, health officials say. "
An information operation clearly aimed at the Western press and Western audiences. Impressive, in a way.
"Operation Foladi Jal, Pashtu for "iron net", would teach the Marines "a lesson". Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi told AFP by telephone from an unknown location."
"In response to Operation Khanjar by the invading forces, we have launched Operation Foladi Jal," Ahmadi said."
"Their Khanjar will get stuck in our Foladi Jal," the rebel spokesman said." "
So much for today. The Ministry is sorry we cannot post something more substantial for now. We have to get back to messing with paperwork.