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Afghanistan’s Newly Appointed Defense Minister Under Fire

The allegations against Khalid initially stemmed from his stint as the governor of Kandahar a decade ago

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Afghanistan, defense, peace
Afghanistan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani. VOA

A global watchdog demanded Saturday international donors impose sanctions against Afghanistan’s new defense minister, Asadullah Khalid, saying there is “credible evidence” linking him to serious rights abuses.

Khalid’s appointment in December was part of a shake-up President Ashraf Ghani ordered amid sustained countrywide battlefield setbacks inflicted on embattled Afghan government forces by Taliban insurgents.

The defense minister, who previously had governed volatile Kandahar and Ghazni provinces and served as the Afghan spy chief, is also accused of ordering the killing of five United Nations workers in a roadside bombing in April 2007 in Kandahar,

Afghanistan,  defense
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a news conference in Kabul. VOA

“Credible evidence of serious human rights abuses and war crimes linked to Khalid have followed him throughout his government career,” Human Rights Watch noted. There is also strong evidence directly implicating him in acts of sexual violence against women and girls when he was governor of Ghazni and Kandahar, it added.

The HRW report denounced Khalid’s appointment as an “opportunistic and callous move” by President Ghani to score to “short-term gains” in the upcoming Afghan presidential election.

The move should have rung alarm bells not only in Kabul, but in the capitals of Afghanistan’s major donors, lamented HRW.

Afghanistan
Ghazni Afghanistan. VOA

“That it didn’t says a lot about how little human rights matter to an increasingly shaky government, and to donors looking for an exit from the long Afghan war,” the group noted.

The Afghan government has not immediately commented on the scathing report.

In a bid to preempt the criticism, officials invited among others the head of Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission to Khalid’s inauguration as the country’s new defense minister two weeks ago.

“My expectation from my soldiers is that while they would be rough and rude against enemy, they would do their best to reduce civilian casualties and demonstrate good behavior with war prisoners under their legal and religious obligation,” Khalid told the ceremony.

Afghanistan, defense
Kandahar province, Afghanistan. VOA

President Ghani’s government has proved unwilling to criminally investigate Khalid but the United States and Canada have the authority under their respective laws to impose financial and travel sanctions on him, asserted the HRW report.

“The European Union and other donors should impose similar sanctions to send a clear message that returning a known human rights abuser to a position of authority is simply unacceptable.”

The allegations against Khalid initially stemmed from his stint as the governor of Kandahar a decade ago – a time when thousands of Canadian troops were based in the province as part of the U.S.-led military coalition.

Also Read: US Military to Withdraw 7,000 Troops From Afghanistan

The HRW noted that Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin testified to a Canadian parliamentary commission in 2009 that Khalid perpetrated enforced disappearances and held people in private prisons. The testimony included evidence of Khalid’s personal involvement in the torture of detainees. (VOA)

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World’s First Green Concrete Being Used in a Road Trial in Sydney

Projects like this geopolymer trial can result in new products that make a real difference in slashing carbon emissions

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World, Green, Concrete
Nine sensors have been positioned under the concrete to monitor. Pixabay

 In a world’s first, ‘green’ concrete” which is made using industrial waste from coal-fired power stations and steel manufacturing is being used in a road trial in Sydney.

Researchers from the University of New South Wales, Sydney and research and innovation hub called CRC for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) would use results from the trial to create the first set of industry guidelines for “geopolymer” concrete.

Nine sensors have been positioned under the concrete to monitor and compare how the ‘geopolymer’ concrete performs.

“Projects like this geopolymer trial can result in new products that make a real difference in slashing carbon emissions.

World, Green, Concrete
CRC for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) would use results. Pixabay

“Local governments are responsible for maintaining local roads, so if we can purchase more environmentally sustainable materials, we can fight climate change,” said Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

Made from fly ash and blast furnace slag, ‘geopolymer’ generates just 300 kgs of CO2 per tonne of cement, compared with the 900 km from traditional cement production — saving the equivalent of the electricity used by an average household every two weeks.

The low-CO2 concrete has the potential to put the 400 million cubic tonnes of globally documented waste from the coal and steel industries to good use.

UNSW Sydney researchers will monitor the road performance for up to five years.

Also Read- Australia’s State of Victory, The First in the Country to Leagalize Euthanasia for the Terminally Ill

“Research into geopolymer has been undertaken since the ’90s, but it’s only now that it’s starting to be commercialised,” said Professor Stephen Foster, Head of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UNSW Sydney.

Concrete contributes 7 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions and in 2018, the world produced about 4.1 billion tonnes of cement which contributed about 3.5 billion tonnes of CO2.

“Low-CO2 concrete materials offer potential benefits in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with conventional concrete,” said Professor Foster. (IANS)