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Archive for the ‘Afghanistan’s development’ Category

She’s hidden. She’s concealed. She’s Afghanistan’s first lady. She’s Zenat Karzai.

But where exactly is she? Hidden in a house which has been cordoned off by four security check points, two body searches and a secret code. It could be the security situation that has prevented Zenat Karzai from coming out to the public, but she’s the president’s wife. She’s Afghanistan’s first lady, she should at least release videos or transcripts to support women of Afghanistan and promote women’s rights.

Lady Karzai is a waste! She really is! She’s a doctor, a gynocologist, yet she’s kept at home and all she does is read medical books. Her coming out of her compound will encourage women to step out of their homes and enter the workforce. Afghan women need a role model, not a western role model, but one whose shared a common life with them. Growing up in the village, in refugee camps, witnessing the same terrors, so that when she talks the other village women feel what she’s saying.

The security situation isn’t top notch, i know, but if Karzai can have an entourage, so can she. If he’s worried about leaving her with a group of men, perhaps a male relative can chaperone her around. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

The President locking up his wife isn’t doing his nation a favour! Let her out, Mr President. Let her out!

Please.

Oh and if she ever does come out, can i be her stylist? She needs one!

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An innocent civilian was on the way to his brother’s wedding when he was mistakenly shot dead because he failed to slow down at some check-point. Coalition forces controlling the area or those working for them thought he was a talib…

This happens nearly ALL the time. While i dont agree with it at all, Afghans know the consequences of following too closely. They shoot at you if you follow too closely. But they tell you on the news, they tell you in ads on TV and in newspapers, they have pictorial signs on the back of tanks, on bulletin boards, translated Dari, Pashto and English. Soldiers motioning for you, warning you to slow down but ppl just don’t seem to learn! They still drive in close proximity to the convoy or they zig-zag, trying to pass through the convoys, reckless driving. obviously the troops feel like it’s a suicide bomber about to detonate. I’ve seen how these ppl drive.

Let’s ignore that they are ‘American’ and ‘evil’ for a second. 

I see it happen all the time, a convoy of tanks are passing through the road, they’re trying to get by as fast as they can. They motion for other cars to slow down, they have their weapon, ready to fire.

One time, we were driving and my driver and i saw a car accident. So his attention was diverted towards the scene. All of a sudden we heard someone yell out ‘OYYYYYYYY” it was the Italian convoy, passing by. our car was about to hit them. The driver slammed the brakes. The convoy passed on as normal.

I agree and sympathise with the Afghans that this is our land and we should have the right to do whatever we want. But let’s face it, these coalition forces are here. You want to play stupid by outrunning them, you WILL get shot. Having said that, i believe the forces can come up with an alternative.

Despite them being ‘American invaders’, Afghans need to learn to follow the law.

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Danishgah, danishkada, daanishmand, daanishjoyan…

Say these words on Afghan TV and you’re busted.

Three Afghan journalists working for government-owned media have been fined five days salary for using words from the wrong language (Persian).

and for not “observing cultural and Islamic principles”.

Abdul Basir Babai had been reprimanded for using three words from Persian, as used in Iran, instead of their local equivalent derived from Pashtun — the language of the Afghan majority.

One of the word was daanishgah instead of pahantoon to refer to university.

Farsi speakers suggest that there’s nothing wrong with the terms, Pashtoons say otherwise. Why change our language? Why be influenced by external factors, namely Iran? Unfortunately, i’ve witnessed this on Afghan TV where majority of the newsreaders and hosts adapt the Iranian accent and terminology. At the same time, I don’t think journalists should have lost their jobs over it. What if the journalist has spent most of his/her life in Iran? Can’t blame them can you?

I’m sitting on the fence here.

A Mazar-i-Sharif journalist was sentenced to death by a provincial primary court last month for downloading from the Internet and distributing articles said to question Islam. (AFP, 11/02/08)

And how is this justified? Islam encourages Muslims and Non-Muslims to question and debate the religion. There are no mistakes in the Quran or in it’s teachings, so let them question on. What is wrong with these people?! So upsetting.

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The 177-room Serena is a newly built luxury hotel frequently used by foreign embassies for meetings, parties and dinners. The nicest hotel in the city, visiting Westerners often stay, eat and work out there. Located in downtown Kabul, it is near the presidential palace, although separated by fences, blast walls and checkpoints. It is also near several government ministries and a district police station.

Huddled in the gym locker room of the Hotel Serena with five other women, Suzanne Griffin could hear the explosions and gunfire _ so close that it chipped away the ceiling above her. (AP) With a shaking voice, she recalled that they all kept quiet and even turned their cell phones to ring silently. When Griffin was finally evacuated, the 62-year-old worker for Save the Children said said she had to step over a woman’s lifeless body. Militants throwing grenades and firing AK-47s stormed Kabul’s most popular luxury hotel Monday evening, breaching heavy security and hunting down Westerners. At least six people were killed, including an American and a journalist from Norway. The coordinated assault at the Serena, including a thunderous suicide explosion, killed six people and could signal a new era of brazen Taliban attacks. More than 30 U.S. soldiers in a half-dozen Humvees rushed to the hotel as part of a quick reaction force, and security personnel from the nearby U.S. Embassy ran through the building looking for U.S. citizens. It was the deadliest direct attack on a hotel in Kabul since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. “Thank God I didn’t get into the shower because then we heard gunfire, a lot of it. It was very close, close enough that plaster came off the ceiling,” Griffin said. “We all just sat on the floor and got as far as we could from any glass. … We turned our phones on silent.” The assailants appeared to concentrate their assault on the Serena’s gym and spa, where foreigners relax and work out at night, suggesting the militants had cased the hotel in advance. The Taliban has targeted aid workers and civilian contractors with kidnappings and killings, but this was the most daring and sophisticated attack yet and was aimed at a prominent symbol of foreign presence in the country, apparently designed to point out the vulnerability of the Western presence. Taliban attacks have typically targeted Western and Afghan government or security personnel, not Western civilians. Witnesses said they first heard gunfire, then several explosions _ likely from hand grenades _ and also one large blast _ the suicide bomb. “There were two or three bombs and there was complete chaos,” Stian L. Solum, a photographer from the Norwegian photo agency Scanpix, told Norway’s state radio network NRK. “When I started to walk out (of the elevator), a bomb went off a little way from me. There were shots fired by what I think was an ANA (Afghan National Army) soldier.” The attack killed six people and wounded six, said Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary. He spoke before news of the Norwegian journalist’s death and it was not clear whether he was counted among the six dead. One of the militants was shot to death and a Taliban spokesman said a second died in the suicide explosion. It was not clear what happened to the other attackers. Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, told AP that four militants with suicide vests attacked the hotel _ one bomber who detonated his explosives and three militants who threw grenades and fired guns. The claim could not be verified but came very soon after the attack. The bomber was not included among the count of the dead. In Washington, two State Department officials said that one American citizen had been killed. The victim’s identity was being withheld pending notification of relatives, the official said on condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement. White House press secretary Dana Perino said the attack was carried out by extremists “killing innocent people to pursue their political objectives. “It underscores the reason we have to stay on the offense against the extremists in places like Kabul but also in other places around the world,” she said. “We’re in for a long, hard fight. These are deliberate, patient people who will murder innocents including our own people.” There are more than 50,000 troops from at least 39 countries, including about 25,000 U.S. forces, in Afghanistan. A reporter for the Oslo newspaper Dagbladet, identified as Carsten Thomassen, 38, died from wounds he sustained in the attack, according to the paper’s Web site. “We feel great sorrow and powerlessness,” managing editor Anne Aasheim said. The Committee to Protect Journalists mourned Thomassen’s killing, calling it a reminder of the dangers that exist in countries like Afghanistan. A Norwegian Foreign Ministry employee was also among the wounded but was out of danger at a Kabul hospital, officials said. Stoere, who was in the hotel basement with a Norwegian delegation at the time, said he was about to start a meeting when the explosions hit, and everyone was ordered to get on the floor for about 10 minutes. On its Web site, the hotel bills itself as an “oasis of luxury in a war-ravaged city.” The Serena has a double-gated entrance for cars, several armed guards and a metal detector at the entrance. While the number of casualties from the attack could have been higher, the militants were still able to penetrate a well-guarded and high-profile target, a symbol of progress in an otherwise downtrodden capital. The reverberations of the attack could be felt for months. While Western aid workers, embassy employees and businessmen enjoy a fair amount of freedom of movement in Kabul, security companies could now restrain their Western clients from visiting restaurants at night if the Taliban start targeting them. Griffin had contacted the U.S. Embassy, which told her to not open the door to the room unless she heard an American voice. U.S. soldiers evacuated her, she said. Stoere said Afghan President Hamid Karzai called to express his concern, and offered assistance, including accommodation in the presidential residence if needed. In 2003, a rocket exploded near the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, knocking some guests from their restaurant chairs and shattering windows. No injuries were reported.

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The corrupt government, huge amounts of aid misused by a particular section of people, and the presence of foreign forces have all together contributed to the doubling of the miseries of the common Afghan.

Prices of basic items have soared up and are still on the rise, ratio of unemployment is going higher and higher, and the real income level is going down. For example, during the Taliban era, one loaf of bread was sold for 3 Afghanis, now its price has doubled. One liter of petrol was sold for 11 Afghanis, now it is over 50 Afghanis. Similarly, one kilogram of liquefied gas was sold for 20 Afghanis, but now it is over 60 Afghanis. Prices have increased manifold, but the income of the common man has dropped.

Residents of Kabul enjoyed at least 12 hours electricity six years ago, but now it decreased to four hours. Kabul is perhaps the only capital in the world living in blackout. The roads of the heart of the capital have not been asphalted, but they have further damaged. This is the case in the capital, Kabul, which is often depicted as a success story of the post-Taliban Afghanistan. The situation is far worse in the countryside and the provinces.

Poverty and deterioration of daily life is not the only fact contributing to the common Afghan’s increasing disappointment and lose of trust in the government. One other reason that make people turn against the incumbent regime is that its ‘international friends’, a term used here for the occupying forces, are relentlessly turning against the civilians.

In such a situation, the international community must not be taken by surprise if overwhelming number of Afghans are joining Taliban or becoming members of the suicide squads of al-Qaeda. The phenomenon of suicide bombing is alien to this proud nation, but they deem it fit to cut off the link between their body and soul at once instead of dying in bits.

 (Source: Bourhan Younous, ION, 2/8/08)

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A  man in his thirties suddenly threw himself on a busy road in Kabul and yelled, “kill me and drive over me.”

“They can’t feed us; the easier way is to kill me and my children. Oh people, for God’s sake, come and kill us,” shouted the apparently exhausted man lamenting the government’s failure to provide him with a livelihood.

Bodyguards of a former commander, disembarking from a luxury Jeep, were the first to respond to his call by kicking and hitting him with the butts of their Kalashnikovs. The armed men then dragged and removed him off the road. In utter disappointment, the man, in shabby cloths, started weeping like a child. Misery-Stricken

BEGGARS 

Beggars are the prime feature that draws the attention of tourists and foreigners who come out to the streets of Kabul. This is not the only way adopted by the misery-stricken people of this impoverished country to express their feelings about the awful circumstances they are passing through every day. When one goes shopping in the markets or walks in the streets of the Afghan capital, Kabul, he has to face swarms of beggars, old, young, burqa-clad women, and underage children, asking for alms money. A shopper has to talk to beggars more than anybody else while moving from a shop to a shop or from a street to a street of the capital city. Others, mostly disabled during the three decades of war and civil strife, have adopted a novel and more attractive way of begging—sitting in the middle of a road and displaying the chopped parts, usually hands or legs, of their body to attract the sympathy of the passers-by and motorists.

sense of pride among the people of this nation is fading away because of a government that is begging before the international community every now and then. The incumbent Afghan government has always been seen holding the bowl before every visiting foreign dignitary asking for “more assistance”.

President Hamid Karzai was on a tour to Copenhagen last year to attract support and assistance from Denmark. His visit coincided with the beginning of the row over the publication of the blasphemous cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Karzai told reporters that the stance of the Danish newspaper and government on the cartoon’s issue was understandable and completely convincing to him as a Muslim. These comments came at a very sensitive time when millions of Muslims were pouring into streets to condemn Denmark for its folly.

It was impossible for President Karzai to object the policies of his backers, especially in return for aid. Thereby, stuck between two options, whether to defend Islam’s precious values in a very sensitive time or to surrender to his donors’ demands, Karzai chose the second, proving that “beggars can’t be choosers”.

The biggest manifestation of change and development could be seen only in cities where high-rise stores, fashionable markets, and luxurious hotels have been built. But this just benefits the private investors and foreigners involved in the business.

There is less interest in investing in projects of long-term benefit to the country, such as launching factories, rebuilding the nation’s infrastructures, and taping of the country’s natural resources.

 Both investors and top government officials, who mostly have come from the West, are living like guests and have no intention to stay here for long. Even some ministers did not give up their foreign nationality and did not bring their families from abroad. They are sure that they have nothing to do with future of this country apart from their present personal interests. They are sure that they will leave or will be forced to leave as soon as the foreign occupation forces pull out of Afghanistan. Nobody in the government or among the investors really wants to rebuild this war-torn country.

So where does the $$ go?

Nobody knows what happens to the billions of dollars in aid and where this money is being spent. The answer could be found when you ask about the ownership of many of the lavish stores and hotels in the city. Most of them belong to the government’s bigwigs, former Mujahideen leaders, and a clandestine circle of mafia. When somebody is appointed to a high-level government job, he starts as ordinary man, but when he leaves the job, his kitty is bulging with money and he becomes a trader, a big investor, or at least has got bank accounts abroad. This fact can give an answer to where the money, begged in the name of this proud nation, goes.

 Another exit for the money is the presence of overwhelming number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The international donors do not trust the corrupt Afghan government, alternatively they pass the money to NGOs, most of them run by foreigners. NGOs, for their part, often spend most of the aid money on their personal needs, transportation, holidays, high staff salaries and renting comfortable guesthouses and offices. A small portion of the aid is thereby spent on improving the lives of Afghans.

 (Source: Bourhan Younous, ION.  2 January 2008)lrg-83-larawbar_loy_afghanistan__3_.jpg

A disheartening photo. I know it’s sad, but i can’t stop looking at this and feel deeply upset.

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Doctors at a hospital in Qalat, capital of Zabul Province in southern Afghanistan, are treating a brutally tortured woman whose husband cut off both her ears and nose, broke her teeth and shaved her head only three months after their marriage. The victim, 16-year-old Nazia, is also suffering from psychiatric distress due to her experience, according to a doctor in Qalat hospital.

From her bed in Qalat hospital Nazia told IRIN her story:

“My family wedded me to Mumtaz [a 40-year-old man] some three months ago, in Pakistan. Soon after our marriage we moved to his house in Qalat where his relatives told me he had another wife who had died a year ago. In Qalat my husband was jobless and was always complaining about economic problems. Two weeks after we moved to our new home he beat me for no obvious reason.

“One day I asked him to let me go to a party at my in-laws. He agreed and said I should return home in the afternoon. That day, although I came home early, I found him very angry. He beat me again, worse than the first time, and warned that he would kill me if I stepped outside the home again. He also told his brother and nephews not to come to our house in his absence.

“Day-after-day Mumtaz’s suspicion increased. He was thinking other men were visiting me while he was not at home. He did not listen to my pleas and was always saying that all women are bad and unfaithful to men. During this time he often beat me with a stick.

“One night he hit me so much that I fainted. When I regained consciousness I found my head had been shaved. I cried so much, but he did not care.

“One week later he knocked me down, bound my hands, and then broke my teeth with a stone. He also poured boiling water on my feet. After this I could not walk and was in a lot of pain, but he said I was only pretending.

“No one was coming to our house so I could not tell anyone about my situation. I had nowhere else to go either. My family lives in Pakistan.

“One night I could not cook dinner for him because I could not stand on my feet. He got so upset when he found that there was nothing for him to eat. He started beating me. Again, he bound my hands with a piece of cloth. I felt a terrible pain in my left ear and then blood was flowing down my face. I thought that he wanted to kill me so I started screaming. Then I felt a similar pain in my right ear and more blood.

“I tasted a mixture of blood and tears in my mouth while my voice was fading. I felt the worst pain in my life only a few seconds later when my husband used his knife to cut off my nose. I fainted.

“Now I do not know where my husband has gone.”

(Source: IRIN, Qalat, 26/12/07)

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