Four killed in Afghanistan

Four people were killed in Afghanistan during a three-hour gun battle with US-led international forces near the Pakistani border on Tuesday as preparations for began to draw up a new constitution.

    Military operations against
    US-led troops continue

    A patrol came under fire from an unknown number of fighters near a US base in Shkin, in the south eastern Paktita province which borders Pakistan, a US military spokesman said.

    Colonel Rodney Davis said there
    were no casualties among the US-led international troops.

    In a separate military operation, four rocket-propelled grenades were launched targeting an area near an Afghan military border checkpoint close to Shkin.


    There were no casualties.


    Davis also said US Special Operations Forces found three Blowpipe missiles near an ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) base in the vicinity of Asadabad, eastern Afghanistan on Monday


    The spokesman said that the missiles were still in shipping containers and were in “excellent condition”.


    Constitution underway


    With fighting still continuing, Afghans began a national debate on the constitution to determine the future of their country, less than two years after the ousting of the Taleban regime.


    Officials are confident that the constitution can be prepared in detail by the end of October as planned.


    A constitutional commission has begun, visiting different areas in Afghanistan in a consultation process to see what the Afghan people want.


    Afghans must decide what kind of rule they prefer. They have to choose if they want a government based on a presidential system, a parliament or a return to a monarchy.


    They also have to choose how much power they want the central government to have. Regional power brokers and governors have shown resistance to abandoning control over revenues and personal armies.


    Officials say such domination of revenues has undermined security in the country.


    A spokesman for the constitutional commission, Farooq Wardak, said the consultation process would last for 50 days, ending on 31 July.


    Process criticised


    But analysts and diplomats criticised the process, saying it was being rushed and that public consultations were superficial.


    “You are reaching a very small number of people and you are not going to provide the sense among the general populace that yes, we have been consulted”, Aziz Huq, a consultant for the International Crisis Group said.


    He said international agencies should have educated people about the significance of drawing up the constitution in the last few months.


    Some Western diplomats in Afghanistan say the constitutional process was largely influenced by powerful interest groups in the government.


    These groups have large personal militias that have brought a climate of fear and insecurity across much of the country, which could prevent a free debate on the constitution, one diplomat said.


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