Category Archives: Afghanistan

Anything about Afghanistan

Pretend Democracy Campaign in Afghanistan takes a blow

Carrey, Abdullah and Ghani
Carrey, Abdullah and Ghani

A national unity government now in Afghanistan means that the struggles and oppression that people of Afghanistan went through since at least 2001 when NATO invaded Afghanistan were basically for nothing. It is like saying, “We made a mistakes. Let’s go back to drawing board and start over. Democarcy has failed.”

The idea that we are somewhat better off than 1992 is laughable at best.  A government of coalition is basically what was agreed upon in Berlin back then and this is what we are going back to. As a matter of fact it is the same as when the Mujahideen took over Kabul in 1992. Hundreds of thousands of people killed by kinds of murderers from Jihadis to Talibs to Pakistanis to Americans since then and the ending is where it all began.

The naivety of us to think that somehow we would become civil and incorporate some form of democracy in our society boggles my mind. But then again I said this several times. My friends with whom I had similar discussions over the years will attest to that.

The fact that supporters of Dr Ashraf Ghani and Dr Abdullah Abdullah embarassed themselves on social media belittling each other was not surprising either. This was exactly what happened back in 1994. Hekmatyar was on about the fact that Rabani had joined with Kuffar but the moment he had an opportunity to make a deal with Dostum he did not think twice. Similarly, people in Dr Abdullah’s camp throwing all sorts of hypocritical statements that Ashraf Ghani has joined with Dostum while they were the ones who empowered Dostum to being with.

The idea that somehow one of these people will make a difference in the lives of common Afghans is a tall tale. The fact that people are so up in arms to defend these symbols of neo-clonialism is shameful. I am just hoping that at least some issues are addressed in the next couple of years, provided thugs do not jump each other before some order is established. However, political allegiances in Afghanistan being tribal and ethnocentric, it would be too much to hope for.

It is clear from what is happening in Iraq, Palestine and Syria that America has no intention of letting peace finds its way in the middle east. Similarly, this development in Afghanistan is a proof that the same is true for Afghanistan.

Thus a Thug Becomes an Afghan Hero

Marshal Fahim
Marshal Muhammad Qasim Fahim

 I will not mourn the death of Marshal Fahim for a moment let alone three days.

This idea of holding national mourning is absolutely ridiculous.  I have not seen a single positive achievement from Fahim to make his death a sad occurrence.

There is a saying in Dari, “Morgh kam Goish kam” which roughly translates, “The fewer the chicken, the less chickenshit.”
I am being very insensitive here but none of the warlords who brought death and destruction to Afghanistan has any right on people to hold three days of mourning. Frankly, this is embarrassing for the government to announce three days of national mourning for a person whose sole interest was his growing wealth. Will all government high ranking officials get three day national mourning? I doubt it.

Fahim was not a hero by far and not a man who deserves kindness and prayers from people.  Throughout his time, there have been several reports of human rights violations and corruption, including occupying land illegally.
In 2005 Human Rights Watch described Fahim as “one of the most notorious warlords” and implicated him of torture and murder. In recent years he was associated with Kabul criminal gangs that were involved in abductions and smuggling of weapons and drugs.
He has also been refereed to as “semi literate, self appointed field marshal, and one of the principal obstacles to Afghan unity because of his alleged ruthless threats, beatings and general thuggery, ” in The Essential Field Guide to Afghanistan.

His legacy a long with his friends, in addition to all deaths and destruction that he is directly and indirectly responsible, is also the invasion of Afghanistan by foreign forces.

In few days or weeks, they will probably name a street after him, if they haven’t done that and few year later a statue will be erected for him and he will be named a national hero.. and thus a thug becomes a hero.

Afghan Girls and the Dilemma of Marriage

Contributed by Haya

Afghan girls and Dilemma of Marriage

Except for the monks, priests and nuns who wish to remain celibate and dedicate their lives in worshiping God, sacrificing affection, love, partnership and children then this article will not interest you. The rest of us who are too selfish to do so may read on.

Now, I’m not going to talk about the wedding expenses or what marriage in itself looks like as I haven’t got the experience to do so and my version may mislead many of those who wish to be realistic about it – which is probably the best way to do it. Thanks to the many hours dedicated to Bollywood movies that have forever ingrained in me the hope that I will find Raj and I will be his Simran have probably set my expectations bar way too high that if I jump to pull it back down I wouldn’t reach.
However, what I can be useful for is to give a little walk into the mind of single Afghan girls who suffer the pressures of the community and society at large that have been put on her when finding her spouse. Of course this will not be a general account but I will do my best to incorporate what I can of every version of an Afghan girl from the highly conservative to the “ultramodern”.

Buckle up guys, you heard it here first from some random anonymous claiming to be a single Afghan girl but for all you know can be a balding Afghan father crying out to single Afghan men out there to give their daughters the benefit of the doubt.

For starters let’s begin with the fundamentals that apply to every version of an Afghan girl whether she fears God or fears getting caught by her dad.

Introducing the AGE BRACKET!
That’s right folks we have an expiry date. 17-26 if you aint married in this bracket you have one of the following;

  1. A past that everyone knows about
  2. In love with an Indian or a White boy
  3. Has no idea how to wrap up a quick Qabeli palao
  4. Has a tongue so sharp she strikes before you serve

If she’s lucky and ends up being a Doctor or a Lawyer then they might forgive her a couple of years otherwise she has no reason to be picky and it serves her right for still being single! That ought to show her!
Second.
Anything outside the border specially Pakistani or Iranian you’ve sold your soul to the devil and you deserve to be outcast from the community and your parents for the rest of their lives will have to give apologetic smiles upon entering functions and “mehmanis” where they’ll be asked about how their foreign son-in-law is doing. This is still an exaggeration! Oh, no silly not the last part, I mean how we can only select from Afghan guys, we have families that won’t look past their own ethnicities within Afghanistan, better yet they might even tell you you’re stuck to picking from your first cousins. Enjoy!

Of course this is totally flexible to the Afghan guy. Why would I even bother talking about that? I mean his one legitimate excuse is … “Well he’s guy!” DUH!

Anyway, again we are subject to random searches that take place when our parents suspect that Mariam may just be Michael. Whether Afghan parents like it or not there’s MSN, Facebook and a plethora of other means that technology today has made possible. Seat belting them into everything they do in life will teach them to be dependent and naive forever; they might as well tie us in a straight jacket.
Either way, they are going to go behind their parents’ backs, because their hot-blooded and no amount of security will have them monitored every step of the way. Even if she does and is caught, she has tarnished her father’s name and it’s her fault for not suppressing her wishes to spend her life with someone she has a mutual understating and interest with.

I don’t see how Afghan families do not allow their daughters to have chaperoned meetings with individuals so that they may have the chance to formally meet and exercise their birth right. The girls suffer the most because we live in a box that has a ticking time bomb on it. We have to race to find the groom before the alarm beeps and we realise we are a day over the bracket.

The pressure does not only stop there. Treading softly all our life until we are married is our duty upon us. Obviously, in many cases if this does not work out then we ship her off to Afghanistan and we hand her over to the next guy that gets a wife and a free ticket to the land of the white man. Buy one, get one free!

We don’t need to treat our daughters like possessions. Women have been suffering enough as history illustrates very clearly. There is not one type of Afghan girl willing to sacrifice her list that her future husband would tick most of the boxes. There are many dynamics to her and each one whether she is traditional, conservative or modern lives a different day-to-day life in which they have different ideals and expectations that they want in a man.

As a Muslimah, I understand that Islam has freed us of the shackles of nationalism and limiting ourselves to one race.

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you people and tribes so that you may know one another” (Qur’an 49: 13)

There is nothing wrong with marrying within your own race and to limit the differences as much as possible, but only if it is an option and not a requirement.

There are many ways in which women can get to know a prospective husband the” safe way”, rather than having to wake up a day after your wedding and getting ready for work when your new husband asks you “Where do you think you’re going?”

Marriage is the biggest decision of our lives. There is a biological clock that we should pay attention to, but not to rush into it.
If parents teach their daughters that they are free to choose and select their life partner but to consult that matter as a family and to exercise that right in a manner pleasing and safe and stop shipping off their daughters and making them someone else’s problem when they “deviate”. The problem can be nipped in the bud.

Parents play a major role in every child’s life and being brought up with Afghan values and the culture is to be respected. However, we should keep in mind that times are changing and Afghan girls are no longer submissive and will not allow to be treated how they were back in the days. We have rights that are given to us and being able to select our life partner without feeling like running a marathon is an obvious one.

In conclusion, if you are still here reading then congratulations you are one step better at knowing what we deal with.

Bottom line is that the only way for an Afghan girl to get married is not with her cousin, who she calls her brother one day and is then walking down the aisle hand in hand with him the next day because her parents weren’t able to trust anyone else. She does not need to be shipped off and made somebody else’s business either (although this is not a bad idea sometimes but there may be backlash).

Taking your sweet time cruising through life and then realising the only way you will have kids is through IVF or adopting isn’t the way to go either and neither am I trying to say we need to be treated like princess’s. There needs to be a balance of what someone is comfortable with. As Afghans are pretty divided when it comes to being traditional, conservative or westernised, every family will have a different take on the issue. We just need to sit back a little and stop standing on our toes all the time. Otherwise it’s just a vicious cycle that never ends and creates more problems than it does solutions.

 

Afghan War: A popularity contest for Western Leaders

Afghan War
Afghan War

From when NATO invaded Afghanistan under the guise of fighting terrorism, the poverty-stricken country has served as an election-winning tool for leaders of the involved countries. Every time election gets closer, the leaders of these countries make an announcement that could potentially win them votes.

Julia Gillard’s announcement of Australian troops withdrawal is nothing but a means for Labour to try and gain some popularity as they have been doing not all that good in the polls. This might just work for them as noted 64% of Australians are in favour of pull-out.

Every time the government is in trouble, they talk about the “War on Terror” to take people’s attention away from their national screw-ups and to try to stay as the favoured party around the time of the election. It is not surprising that withdrawal might start just before next federal election.

Obviously, both Obama and Gillard will spin the achievements as victory, but they know and everyone else knows that this illegal war and occupation will end as badly as it started.

Afghan conflict is complicated, obviously, NATO has not figured it out. Sooner or later they all will leave, shamelessly and all they have is nothing to show apart from a claim that they supposedly killed Osama and dropped his body in the sea and neutralized terrorist threat that supposedly existed in Afghanistan. And of course no one will ask them about the innocent lives lost and destructions they brought upon people of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan: The blame game

از ماست که بر ماست – It is from us which is upon us

It is very rare for a country to get involved so deep in the affairs of another country without an ulterior motive. If NATO countries are fighting in Afghanistan, they are doing it only for their own sake. They are not the least bit interested in what happens to Afghans and Afghanistan. If in the process of their work, some Afghans benefit, they claim the credit but they don’t really give a fig either way.

Let’s face it, Pakistani government is not our best friend either. Fair enough, they let refugees in their country during the years of Soviet invasion and Afghans are still living there as refugees in somewhat peace of mind, but their intention is clear. They only want a government in Afghanistan that is more than just friendly neighbour. The same goes for Iran and even India.

Consequently, whenever there is a discussion about Afghanistan among Afghans, there is hardly a time when some outsider is not blamed for the miseries Afghanistan has faced and still facing. Some blame America, some blame Pakistan, some other blame Iran, and some blame all of them. While there is no doubt all these countries played us over the years, what people forget is a great deal of blame falls on us too. A puppeteer without his puppets is nobody. His art can only exist if he has puppets.

There is a saying in Dari, “Az maast ke bar maast” which translates to “It is from us, which is upon us.” Certainly external forces have been a big factor in the destruction of Afghanistan, but we as Afghans have done enough to 1. Directly by following their order, 2. Indirectly by creating unfortunate situations to benefit them. We have been more than accommodating to their demands for a few dollars.

If we keep a balanced view, we should notice that we share enough responsibility in making Afghanistan what it is now; either as a proxy for outsiders or for our very personal advantages. Next time when you get into a discussion about who is to blame for the bad fortune of Afghanistan, do not forget to mention “Afghans” along with other candidates.

Afghanistan: No Way Ahead

AFghan kid
Poor is getting poorer and rich is getting richer

First thing first, I do not like Karzai. I really don’t, but I can’t help feeling sorry for him at times. When he was offered the position of being a puppet of USA, he probably thought that he would go to Afghanistan, help NATO in capturing Osama and Mullah Omar, get some high-profile jobs and government contracts for his relatives, make some cash in the process from different sources, things will go better, US will leave and he would become the saviour of Afghans from whatever they thought they were fighting.

Didn’t work well for him, did it?! Well, he did most of those things, but now he is stuck in a situation that nobody likes him or trusts him. Northern alliance think he is helping Pakistan, Americans think he has a little too much sympathy for Taliban, Taliban know him as servant of America, people are sick of him because his government is very corrupt and incompetent. I would hate to be in his position right now!

He knows the issues and he knows that he is nobody’s favourite anymore. He tries to change things but it is too late for him. He constantly asks NATO to schedule a withdrawal of their troops, he encourages Taliban to make peace, he even once confronted his own brother about his illegal activities months before he was killed. But nothing seems to be going his way anymore. When I was in Kabul in 2002, I thought Karzai was doing some positive things and since he inherited a fairly peaceful Kabul city and surroundings, we didn’t believe American occupation would last this long.  At that time at least people in Kabul kind of liked him, because they copped it worst from Taliban’s social and recreational restrictions.

I am not a political analyst, but the way I see, the whole thing is one big mess. To be honest I do not see anything that is happening over there in a positive light. It is dim and grim; US  is supposedly staying until 2024 now, which by the way indicates how badly they have failed, insurgents have changed their strategy and are doing more targeted damage now and it is very clear from the recent assassinations that they are picking up momentum, corruption is through the roof, poor is getting poorer and rich is getting richer. Well, actually the last one is true about everywhere in the world.

Right now, I do not believe anyone has a solution for Afghanistan. It looks like they are letting chips fall wherever they may and nobody has a sense of direction. As a matter of fact there is no destination to have a sense of direction for. Walking blind and hoping the next step is the right one, or do we even care if the next step is the right one?

The future is bleak

Afghan kids
42% of Afghans live below national poverty line. Photo A.P

Afghanistan government estimates that 42 per cent of Afghanistan’s population live below the national poverty line and another 20 per cent just above the line in a position that they could fall below the line at any time. That is pretty sad, however you look at it.

There are probably thousands of organisations that are funded by their governments or through fundraising that have taken oath to help these people. But it seems that the money people so eagerly pay to these organisations do not reach the people who truly need it. Obviously when the field director of an NGO and other expats are paid so handsomely than most of us are paid over here, not much is left to reach to the poor.  Sure, there are some reputable agencies and they are doing the best they can, but obviously they are not enough.

At the moment there is no hope for sustainable future for people who have little to no income. Most of those if lucky are living on either charity or begging. It is also expected that this coming autumn, millions will be struck by hunger. UNWFP is short in funding for its Afghanistan mission and US Congress has proposals to cut funding for humanitarian projects.

In Kabul one Joraie (ie double) Naan costs 10.00 Afghanis, one kilo of potatoes about 20.00 – 30.00 Afghanis. To factor in other staff that are used to prepare a meal of potato and have it with bread for a medium size family will probably be around $2.00  (AU$1.00 ~= AF40.00).  With an average income of $30.00 per month, a man can barely feed his family.

The future looks bleak with little hope of improvement to the life of common man. Corporations are still trying to milk whatever is left from this country. Security is getting worse by the day with recent attacks and assassinations in sight. While US is trying hard to convince us that Afghans are better off now (than say 10 years ago), the statistics are against them. May 2011 was apparently the deadliest since 2007 in terms of civilian casualties.

So on one side, war is causing so much death to innocent civilians (we are not debating who is doing most of the killings here), on the other side, poverty.

When people come back from a trip to Afghanistan they all talk about development. I say to them, what development? Of course we have many TV channels now, but what percentage of population have access to electricity and TV to watch those channels? Sure there are booming shopping centres and modern buildings around Kabul, but who are in them? Obviously somewhere along the line, people have lost their sense of priority.

While we do not see anything in foreseeable future that can provide means of sustainable income to people who are below the poverty line, we can still help those in need to survive the coming autumn and winter. The summer is gonna pass, although it is hot and dry, but when cold comes and people not only have not much to feed themselves, they don’t have any means to stay warm either.
Through however way possible we have to assist those less fortunate. Whether you have family in Afghanistan, or know of a reliable agency whose aim is to help people and not make money on the process, you should help. Forget about computers and technology, people don’t have food and drinking water. Forget about sending computers to schools in Kabul, there are places where there is no school. There are children who do not have access to a pen to write with.

Let’s also pray that, this coming Ramadan, our Du’as are accepted and peace and security is established in Afghanistan so that people can start living again.