Khost Suicide Blast Kills 16 or more. Reports say that a suicide attack against an anti-corruption protest killed at least 16 and wounded around 40 in Khost province. An MP from Khost province was wounded in the explosion. The acting governor of Khost has been accused of land-grabbing (a common practice in Afghanistan) and rampant corruption (also a common practice among government officials). Civilian casualties have jumped by 22% in 2014.
Hope and Obstacles in Afghanistan. President Ghani's recent trip to the United States secured continued funding and a pause in the U.S. troop withdrawal. His visit also inspired some hope that Afghanistan can turn the corner; yet having hope won't fix the many obstacles in Afghanistan's path. Much work has to be done. Read "Tentative Hope, Continued Obstacles After Leaders' U.S. Trip", by Farishta Jalazai, Gandhara Blog, April 2, 2015.
China's Fiber-Optic Silk Road. One of the overlooked benefits of China's "New Silk Road" initiative (which involved connecting China with Central Asia and Afghanistan with rail and road LOCs) is the building of a fiber-optic regional network. The fiber-optic cable (1/10th the cost of satellite usage) can be laid alongside rail lines. This will benefit Afghanistan as well. Read more in "A Fiber-Optic Silk Road", by Nadege Rolland, The Diplomat, April 2, 2015.
Video - AMC Perspective on Afghanistan Retrograde. General Dennis Via, commanding general of Army Materiel Command provides an AMC perspective during the 2015 Global Force Symposium. (Posted by US Army TRADOC on YouTube.com on April 1, 2015, 30 mins).
SIGAR Questions USAID's PROMOTE Project. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is spending lots of money on the Promoting Gender Equity in National Priority Programs (Promote) project. This project is committed to provide support for Afghan women. However, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) office is concerned that USAID will not be able to effectively implement, monitor and assess the impact of Promote. Read a SIGAR letter (March 27, 2015) to USAID expressing its concerns and requesting additional information.
Expensive Wedding Cap. Afghan lawmakers have passed a law limiting the costs for weddings. The cap is now at $3,500. Over the past ten years the cost of weddings have grown significantly and become a huge social problem and a burden for families. The law caps the number of wedding guests to 500 and the cost per head at 400 afghanis (which is about $7 U.S.). (NBC News, April 1, 2015).