Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

You were born in Afghanistan, raised in the west, considered yourself  ‘Afghan’ all your life. You decide to come to ‘Kabuljan’ for a holiday. You hang around, dressed in your peraan tomban thinking you fit in and that these people don’t know you’re from ‘khaarij’.

Think again…

Body of abducted Afghan-American found in well

By Frozan Rahmani

The dead body of an Afghan-American was found in a well in Paghman district five months after his abduction from Kabul City and his killers have been arrested, National Security Directorate (NSD) said in a statement on Thursday.

The body of Sultan Ahmand was recovered from a well in Qala-Naw area of the district with his hands and feet tied, the statement said.

Ahmad was abducted five months back from Kabul by Shamim Ahmad, a resident of 9th district of Kabul and Mohammad Daud and Mohammad Sidiq residents of Paghman district along with his motor car, the statement said.

The accused had confessed to their crime and said they killed Sultan Ahmad on the very first day of his abduction and thrown his body into a well in Qala-i-Naw area of Paghman district.

The perpetrators had unveiled that they wanted to transfer Sultan Ahmad to Kapisa.

The case is under investigation and the dead body has been subjected to forensic check up, the statement concluded.

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Moisturising my blog…

So, I was told that my blog is ‘drying up’. And now here I am to water/moisturise it.  Kabul has been very relaxed lately. It’s great, but I can’t help the itty bitty pessimism in me and think that a big explosion is bound to happen anytime soon. Especially with the upcoming elections just around the corner, let’s see what our Mullah Omie (Omar) has in store! Actually, how about let’s NOT see! I hope he’s given up and realized that there is no hope for him to win.

On my way home yesterday, I was looking at the people and I don’t know why – I just felt sorry for them but at the same time a touch of admiration. I wonder what keeps them going, what motivates them? What is the driving force in their life? If I was in their place, I would be devastated at the lack of opportunities and not a future with no finishing line – no goals. Not to mention the low quality schools. Maybe I’m just being naïve and plain ignorant but I can’t help it! Ah well… I guess I have plenty lots to learn.

Wow, it’s June already, time FLIES! The end is near for us – we are leaving Afghanistan at the end of this year, Inshallah. Even though I’m beginning to like it, or maybe it’s because I know I’m leaving that I’m starting to like it. Ha! Anyhoodles, I just want to leave safe and sound. Just like Iraq, the tension in Afghanistan is going to heighten heaps more and then drop sharply. That’s what the experts are predicting!

Oh yeah, another phrase used by the military which I find complete BS is ‘escalation of force’. What is that you may ask… here is an excerpt from an article:

How Afghanistan’s Little Tragedies Add Up

By Jason Motlagh
Tuesday, May. 26, 2009

There are large-scale civilian deaths in Afghanistan that make headlines; and then there are the small incidents that are barely noticed at all. That was the fate of 12-year-old Benafsha Shaheem.

On May 3, she was traveling with family members from her village in western Farah province to a wedding party in the neighboring province of Herat. Packed into a white Toyota Corolla wagon, they neared the outskirts of the city of Herat when, according to a report compiled by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, the vehicle was fired on by an Italian patrol convoy. Benafsha was seated in the middle of the backseat wearing a red dress, her relatives say. She was shot in the face and died instantly. Her mother was wounded in the chest. (See pictures of U.S. troops operating in Afghanistan’s deadly Korengal Valley.)

Italian security forces based in Herat province said the vehicle was repeatedly warned to stop before it was fired on. Benafsha’s uncle, Ahmad Wali, who was driving, says traffic was moving in both directions but that rain made visibility poor. Suddenly, he recalls, sparks flew in front as armored vehicles came into view. Glass was sprayed into his face.

Such incidents are not uncommon in Afghanistan today and parallel thes situation in Iraq where similar shootings were instrumental in turning popular sentiments against the Coalition forces led by the United Sates. In Afghanistan, as it was in Iraq, when civilians die, international forces say that a suspicious vehicle approached a checkpoint or convoy and failed to heed calls as well as possibly warning shots to stop. After those standard procedures are done, an “escalation of force” takes place.

Photos of the Shaheem family’s vehicle show that multiple bullets passed through both the front and rear windshield. Afghan investigators point out that the incident took place in daylight, in moving traffic on a main road, and most of the passengers were women. Given these facts, they say, it’s hard to gauge why shots were fired. A coalition spokesman in Kabul said he was not free to discuss the shooting in more detail because of an ongoing probe.

Benafsha’s death yielded just a few paragraphs in the day’s wire reports, lost in the stream of bigger names and numbers. She was wrapped in a blanket inside a particle board coffin, and loaded into the trunk of the Toyota where her brother sat next to her remains for the long drive back. Within hours, another deadly U.S. airstrike in Farah’s Bala Boluk district would kill scores of civilians and reverberate from Kabul to Washington. Criticized around the world and beset by demonstrations in Afghanistan, U.S. military continues to dispute the high death toll estimates in Bola Boluk. But even so, it is low-key tragedies like Benafsha’s that are adding up.

According to United Nations figures, of the 2,1118 Afghan civilians killed in 2008 — an almost 40% increase versus the year before — coalition and Afghan forces accounted for 828, largely from errant airstrikes and raids. Until the Bola Boluk incident, one of the worst tolls was exacted on celebrants of another wedding occasion in July in eastern Nangarhar province. Mistaken intelligence reports of an insurgent gathering prompted a U.S. airstrike that left 47 people dead.

The Taliban is still to blame in most instances, using misinformation and human shields to intentionally draw civilian casualties and exploit the backlash to their advantage. Brig.Gen. Richard Blanchette, the coalition spokesman, says the stricter protocols have come into force down the chain of command to ensure operational decisions are fully vetted, with additional confirmation on the ground before airpower is deployed. This means “taking more time” if necessary, he explains, or if civilians are at risk: “just cancel it.” While roadside incidents are trickier since they involve split-second judgment, there is a top-down emphasis on restraint. “We are spending an enormous amount of time trying to make the system as safe as possible for civilians,” he says. (See pictures of the perils of childbirth in Afghanistan.)

In the aftermath of Benafsha’s death, investigators from the Afghan rights commission said the presiding Italian commander contacted them to inquire how compensation might be made. Past settlements have averaged about $2,000, distributed through the Afghan government. In a rare gesture, the commander himself later traveled by helicopter to Benafsha’s village in Farah where they say he offered her family several thousand dollars. The family refused to accept the money upfront. But when it was agreed the funds would go toward building a school in Benafsha’s honor, they relented.

Contacted by phone, Aref Shaheem, Benafsha’s father, angrily said that coalition forces were “only killing people.” They claim to be here to protect Afghans, he says, but they continue to take innocent lives. “They can’t be trusted.” As a result, he argues, the Taliban in his area only grows stronger. He says it was little consolation to learn the soldiers responsible for his daughter’s death were punished, as investigators say they were told. (The coalition would not confirm.) She is gone, he says, and so is any vestige of faith he had left in the Afghan government and its foreign backers.

Escalation of force, nice use of words to lessen the agro of the situation. Oh yeah, and how the article mentions ‘compensation’ for the families after they shoot one of the children, they have a term for that too – solatia!

Nevertheless, I don’t entirely blame the soldiers. I’ve said this before in my previous post and my stance has not changed. I’ve seen the way some of the drivers drive behind ISAF tanks – they swerve their dodgy looking Corolla in zigzag patterns, trying to bypass the tank or what I say ‘being cocky’. It’s like WHY BOTHER? You won’t get through!  They are supposed to keep clear, a distance of at least 10 metres or so – but they just don’t get it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not fair that the children suffer. But I partly blame the driver for being cocky and the soldier for being ultra paranoid!

Anyhoo, another thing that happened just this morning was a document that I needed to print for the upcoming elections. I told the national staff EXACTLY what I want, and they did it fine! I cross checked it with other colleagues and they understood it perfectly. Then along comes UN foreign expat and decides she knows the language better than the nationals. Which she does not! So I’m meeting with her today and will tell her nicely that we are in no position to tell the locals how to speak their language.

 Oh yeah, I’m going to start up a ‘You know you have been in Afghanistan for way too long when…’ list! So yeah, it should be cool! J Actually, I’ll do that now 😀

As for the previous trips we took around Kabul, I promise to put pics up. I’m at work right now so I will put it on my flash drive tonight and upload it soon!

Oh another thing, the other night, we had a ‘movie night’ and we watched La Vie En Rose – a French movie based on the life of Edith Piaf. AMAZING actress – she got the Oscar awards and rightfully so. It was a depressing movie, I guess that’s because she had a morbidly depressing life. But it was truly amazing! I highly, highly recommend it!

In the meantime, khuda hafiz.

In my upcoming posts – I will write a true story about a 52 year old man who married a 13 year old girl, just have to figure out some complications first.

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Yes, yes, yes!

Karzai removes Sabit from attorney-general post

Written by www.quqnoos.com
Wednesday, 16 July 2008 

Attorney-general forced to resign after signalling intent to run for president

Karzai has fired Afg’s attorney General- Abdul Jabar Sabit. Personally i like Sabit, he’s very firm and won’t put up with anybody’s rubbish! I don’t think ‘democracy’ is going to work for afg just yet, we need a firm but fair dictator. Right now, ‘democracy’ is NOT working.

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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!


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

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Homaira Rahman

The body of a 25-year-old Afghan woman, Humaira Rahman,  was found on the sidewalk of a cul-de-sac in the Vienna area early yesterday, and Fairfax County police said they charged a man, Ehsan Amin, with abduction and murder in the case.

My heart goes out to her family. I hope she’s forgiven and granted heaven. Please pray for her.

I hope the murderer is brought to justice and the Afghans guided!

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Media: AP

Byline: Alisa Tang

Date: 14 June 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan – The girl was 11 when she was molested by a man with no legs.

The man paid her $5. And that was how she started selling sex.

Afghanistan is one of the world’s most conservative countries, yet its sex trade appears to be thriving. Sex is sold most obviously at brothels full of women from China who serve both Afghans and foreigners. Far more controversial are Afghan prostitutes, who stay underground in a society that pretends they don’t exist.

Customs meant to keep women “pure” have not stopped prostitution. Girls are expected to remain virgins until their wedding nights, so some prostitutes have only anal sex.

Police make two to three prostitution arrests each week, according to Zia ul-Haq, the chief investigator in the Interior Ministry’s department of sexual crimes. They are often the casualties of nearly three decades of brutal war and a grinding poverty that forces most Afghans to live on less than $1 a day.

“Prostitution is in every country that has poverty, and it exists in Afghanistan,” says women’s rights activist Orzala Ashraf. “But society has black glasses and ignores these problems. Tradition is honor, and if we talk about these taboos, then we break tradition.”

The girl is now 13, and her features have just sharpened into striking beauty. She speaks four languages – the local languages of Pashtu and Dari, the Urdu she picked up as a refugee in Pakistan and the English she learned in a $2.40-a-month course she pays for herself in Kabul. She is the breadwinner in her family of 10.

She does not know what a condom is. She has not heard of AIDS.

The Associated Press learned her story in a dozen meetings over four months, as well as interviews with police and aid workers. For months she insisted she was a “good girl” – a virgin. But in March, she confessed to having anal sex with men for years, starting with the legless beggar.

She looked down as she spoke, her face and hands sooty from car exhaust.

She tucked her hair repeatedly under her head scarf.

The girl grew up in Pakistan, where her family fled during a bloody civil war in Afghanistan in the early 1990s. She cleaned cars for money.

Five years ago, her family and a flood of other refugees returned to Afghanistan after the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban regime. But her father could earn only $40 a month doing various odd jobs.

So she sold chewing gum and newspapers and cleaned car windows in the muddy, potholed streets of Kabul. She made about $3 a day.

That was where she met Uncle Lang, a nickname that literally means Uncle Legless.

Uncle Lang was a land mine victim. When the girl and a friend brought him tea and food, he forced himself upon them, police say.

“I didn’t know anything about sex,” she says. “But it happened.”

It’s hard to know how many other women in Afghanistan are prostitutes because of the extreme secrecy around the issue. A University of Manitoba report last September estimated about 900 female sex workers in Kabul.

A 2005 report by the German aid group Ora International drew data from

122 female sex workers, of whom less than 1% knew about AIDS. The youngest was 14.

Prostitutes in Afghanistan include scores of Chinese women serving Western customers who work for security firms, companies and aid groups in Afghanistan. Many of the women say they were tricked into the trade by middlemen who promised them respectable jobs, but Gen. Ali Shah Paktiawal, head of Kabul’s criminal investigations, denies this, saying:

“They come here of their own will.”

The shame of prostitution in Afghanistan is intense.

“In our culture, it is very, very bad,” said Soraya Sobhrang, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commissioner for women’s affairs.

Under the Afghan penal code, prostitution is often considered adultery, which is punishable by five to 15 years in prison. Under Islamic law, married prostitutes can be stoned to death.

Some prostitutes are forced into the sex trade by their families. The Ora report said 39% of the sex workers interviewed found clients through their relatives – including 17% through their mothers and 15% through their husbands.

For many girls, there is little recourse.

“They think that if they tell us the truth, we will return them to their families, and their families will kill them, or that we will send them to an institution and they will be put in prison,” says Jamila Ghairat of the aid organization Women for Afghan Women. “The girls are afraid of their families, the government and everyone.”

In some cases, it is families that pimp out the girls. At one family-run brothel, the oldest girl was a 15-year-old, orphaned when her parents died in rocket attacks in Kabul. A relative had married her off to a 9-year-old boy whose father was a pimp. She ran away three times, but each time her father-in-law bribed police to bring her back. She finally escaped to the human rights commission.

Makeshift brothels exist all over Kabul, but they are always moving, says Esmatullah Nekzad, a policeman formerly with the force’s Department of Moral Crimes. The clients are mostly Afghan men.

“Most Afghan men have this hobby – young men from about 16 to 30 years of age,” says Nekzad. “You go, you take their phone number, then you tell your friends. It’s all by telephone.”

The girls stay in one place for anything from five days to three months, until neighbors learn of their business.

That’s what happened with the girl Uncle Lang raped. In November, he trafficked her and several others to the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif to beg and sell sex. Within days the neighbors became suspicious and tipped off police.

Police raided the place and arrested the prostitutes. Uncle Lang fled.

For a few weeks, the girl went daily to a women’s aid organization. She arrived in the morning, worked in the kitchen and had an hour of counseling every day. She left at 4 p.m.

Her hands became clean and soft. She was happier. She started praying to ask Allah forgiveness for her sins.

At first she said her family did not know she was selling sex, and her mother would kill her. But during the counseling sessions, she let it slip that her parents encouraged her to work with Uncle Lang. When she stopped seeing him, they sent her 10-year-old brother instead.

One day, an aid worker spotted her with Uncle Lang on a popular street lined with kebab and ice cream shops.

The aid worker confronted her. A day later, the girl stopped going to the organization.

She has not been seen or heard from since.

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Making peace with Shariah

“Is Sharia compatible with justice? The answer, of course, is yes,” he said. “But can it be abused? Also yes.”

 Keeping the Sharia Peace

Washington Post, United States, Posted by Jack Fairweather
February 29, 2008

Sharia law gets bad press in the West. It’s the body of law drawn from the Koran, reported sayings of the prophet, and centuries of jurisprudence, and in its most extreme form it prescribes punishments such as beheadings, amputations and stonings.

In Afghanistan, tribal law suffused with Sharia is the only form of legal redress for the vast majority of the country. (A central justice system has yet to take off anywhere other than the capital, Kabul). Terrorism aside, few would argue the sophistication of Afghan crime; most is gun battles between warring families, theft of livestock and land, and government brutality. Those offenses can be found anywhere.

But what’s remarkable about Afghanistan, and rural areas of countries like Jordan and Syria, is the degree of community and family cohesion. Terrorism again aside, crime is rarely committed by strangers. Tribal law, usually administered by elders or the local religious leader, is intended not as a form of public punishment but as conflict resolution.

This point was rammed home to me on a recent trip to Khost in Eastern Afghanistan. The town is nestled in a leafy bowl on the mountainous border with Pakistan, with a Californian climate and powerful tribal code known as Pashtun Walia. I was driving through the town with Afghan security forces last week, when they pointed out a man crossing the street ahead.

“He killed his neighbor last night,” said the driver.

“Why?” I asked.

“There was a dispute over land between their families. He’s crazy,” he said as we drove past the man.

“Why don’t you arrest him?”

“That’s not our job. Their tribal leaders will gather tonight to decide on how much compensation the man should pay,” he said.

That amount could range anywhere between $10 and $100 depending on the family’s demand, explained the driver. Once paid, the dispute is laid to rest.

This is how tribal justice works in many areas of the Middle East: traditional, influenced but not dominated by the Koran, and effective (in contrast to Khost’s criminal justice system, which has failed to prosecute a case in two years and has a medieval-style vault for a prison.) (Atash Parcha’s note: The present failing criminal system is that of the ‘western democratic’ system)

“No one is a loser in this system,” said Nasir Ahmed, one of two general attorneys in the city. “No one loses face, and that is important for keeping the peace.”

There is, of course, a more developed form of Islamic jurisprudence that constitutes Sharia. Centuries of Koranic interpretation have built of a vast body of legal precedents that have developed with the changing demands of society. At the core of Sharia,¬ in contrast to tribal law, is the principle of punishment for transgression. That’s where the stonings and beheadings come in.

“A far bigger issue for me, no matter the system, is whether there is justice,” he said. “That’s where the real problem lies.” For Nasir, the harsher Sharia punishments are often a response to failing judicial systems, although he does not doubt that groups like the Taliban use these punishments to create fear.

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