Tag Archives: Afghan

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.

More Afghan Stereotypes in Alphas

Episode 2×8: Falling (Plot Summary)

Alphas
Alphas

It was really annoying. Rachel has a boyfriend (Steve Byers) and she is planning to take him to meet her parents for dinner.

She is trying to prepare him for the visit so that her parents are impressed. Let me tell you that almost everything she said to her boyfriend is so greatly exaggerated and is ridiculous.

I have family members who are married to non-Afghans and I am very sure the first meeting did not go down as it is anticipated in this episode.

Here are a couple of the gems:

  • if her parents offer food, he should eat it all no matter what
  • he should not compliment anything otherwise her parents will give that to him as gift and then later on talk about it as if he stole it.

Ridiculous! In most cases, people who become modern, like Pirzads, they, in majority of cases, lose certain aspects of Afghan culture that conflict or that might make them “look bad” in front of their western friends. Besides, most people who have spent most of their lives in west understand how to treat a non-Afghan differently so they are not uncomfortable. Either Pirzads are the new standard for FOBish behaviour or the writers are trying to make a comedy of Afghan’s hospitality. Epic fail, either way!

Fair enough, Afghans can be a little pushy at the table, offering food too much and too often, that can be annoying to some people, but she was making it look really awful.

The show goes into the details of the lives of all main characters. Their families are an important part of the character building and I can appreciate that putting someone with an “exotic” ethnicity in the mix might  make things more interesting. But that was far enough… but no they had to bring up the stereotypes as if Muslims and Afghans in particular are not being targeted enough in reality.

Even, if the Pirzads were more traditional or if they were new to America, most of those issues were just over the top. But Pirzads  have lived there most of their lives, raised their kids, established their own business and are very liberal and that is why this whole thing is so annoyingly idiotic.
I could be OK with it, if it were a comedy. In comedy you have to use the stereotypes to make people laugh. But this is not a comedy and it certainly didn’t make me laugh. As a matter of fact, it was rather tragic to know how little they knew.

Other than that, show is getting really interesting and the events seem to be turning more in favour of the ‘good’ Alphas.  Dr. Rosen turning his own daughter in, Kat finding out some aspect of her past, Hicks and his son finally understanding each other and above all the drug that makes you invincible ; the whole thing was really neat.

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.

The Afghan Alpha II: Pirzads Having a Party

Episode 8: A Short Time in Paradise (Plot Summary)

I am still watching Alphas. Slightly losing interest, but I am still watching. I like Gary.

Azita Ghanizada as Rachel Pirzad in Alphas
Azita Ghanizada as Rachel Pirzad in Alphas

So Rachel is going to her sister’s engagement party. She is trying to get herself a date to the party so she is not “auctioned off” to her “third cousins” and not having to go on “blind dates” with them.

Now, here is what happens to the majority of Afghan girls who turn in to their sister’s engagement party with a “date”. Well, it does not happen. It is unheard of except in very rare cases of, oh, so liberal families who probably have not much to do with the rest of Afghan community.

Let us say we all wake up one day it has become somewhat normal for an Afghan girl to take a white male co-worker as her “date”, she will definitely have to buy him a nice black suit and a tie that matches her top.

Let me also let you in on another secret about Afghans. Although marrying cousins is quite normal, not all of us marry our cousins. Surprisingly most of us in west marry from other families. Even in cases of arranged marriages, it is still outside own families. Probably mother of the guy sees a girl in a gathering. Then she calls few places to identify the girl, and then find someone who is close friend of that family and asked them if they could talk to the family and organise a visit.

Another thing, the girl’s family do not usually approach to a man or to his family or in Rachel’s terms “auction off” their daughter. In majority of cases, even if it is a love marriage and the two know each other, fell in love and all, when families get involved, the  man’s family would find out about the girl’s family. They then call and ask if they can visit, then they go to the girl’s house. Get to know them, talk about their son who is very respectful, educated and responsible who loves his family, etc. Similarly, the girl’s family would talk about how many other families are interested in their daughter, who is very pretty and educated and loves her siblings, etc. They never act desperate as shown in Rachel’s case.

Let us make one thing clear. It is not unheard of Afghan girl ending up with non-Afghan and non-Muslim guy, but generally nobody knows about such relationship until they are engaged and the guy supposedly converts to Islam and has a Muslim name. Yasin and Yousuf are in public demand. In addition, being in a premarital relationship is not something you would announce to everyone in your sister’s engagement. Therefore, when you turn up with a “date” people will talk about you. There is nothing surprising about it. You are an Afghan and supposedly a Muslim, so you should not engage in dating and whatever comes with it. Doing that and then announcing it in your sister’s engagement party is simply asking for negative attention and hurting and embarrassing your family. Unless, that is exactly your intention. Even those who date generally keep it a secret.

But the talk will not be “Oh I feel sorry for her mother.” or “Her poor mom.” It probably will come up, but in most cases, they will be like “Is that guy with Rachel? Oh man, he is in jeans. How embarrassing!” or comments like “Why is Rachel not wearing something fancy? After all it is her sister’s engagement.” “Is she dating an American now? What a shame!”

Here is another one, in an Afghan gathering the host family would try very hard not to make a scene. If Rachel tells her father that he needs to go to the doctor, the dad will probably say, “I will see”. Then Rachel will say, “Promise me you will, dad!” and then the dad will possibly get mad and without yelling, make an angry face saying, “Ok. I got it. I will. Now get out of my face with your crazy boyfriend.”

The rest of the Episode 8 was ok, I guess. It was those inaccuracies that got me thinking and wrote this. Perhaps, writers should do a little research before writing and making generalized statements.

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 Afghan Alpha

Azita Ghanizada in Alphas
Azita Ghanizada in Alphas

American TV Channel, Syfy, has recently started a new TV show, Alphas. It is about a group of people with extraordinary abilities.

Azita Ghanizada, an Afghan-American is playing the role of Rachel Pirzad, An Afghan girl whose superpower is magnifying her senses.

Rachel Pirzad is not an assertive woman. She is portrayed as a woman with this amazing superpower who is very passive. The show does not directly link her passiveness to her background but indirectly shows some relevance.

Her family considers her condition as an illness and feels that this illness may cause her to live alone for the rest of her life.  In the story, her mother is trying to arrange her marriage with someone that she has not met yet. It also shows that her parents are obsessed with her way of clothing. The first scene she appears in episode 1 she is telling her dad that her skirt covers her knees. Very typical, indeed!

First, when I watched the show, I was a little angry for stereotyping. I even found it insulting. However, later I realized that they had actually done this very accurately.

There you have a young educated Afghan woman, living with her parents. She wears western style cloths and is not fully covered, however she is required to get married with someone that her parents choose. She is allowed to stay out late, however she must not date….

The story of Rachel Pirzad is very typical of a “modern” Afghan. It is the story of all of us Afghans in west who are stuck between the three cultures. We have our Islamic values, Afghan traditions and newly discovered western trends that for most of us are dominating. Most of us find it very hard to manage all that.

The society that we live in is not compatible with most of our values. Obedience to parents and respect is seen as weakness. At the same time, parents are overly protective and inconsiderate towards their children. If you notice, Rachel is not disrespectful to her parents. She is trying to have a voice and make her own choices. Her parents are pushy indeed, but do not seem to be the cruel type. All they want for their daughter is to have a secure future with a decent man from a decent family.

In the latest episode, there is a guy who has the ability to make people around him angry to the extent that they start rioting. In one scene when he uses his ability where all Alpahs are present, Rachel is on the phone with her mother. She becomes angry, starts yelling and telling her mother to shut-up and that she hates her, and that she will move out; the worst things that you could say to your parents, especially if you are Afghan. It is not clear whether she has decided to leave home or she was kicked out (which I doubt). However, she says to Nina (Laura Mennell) that she will stay with her cousin. Nina offers her to move in with her.

I am not sure why so much attention was paid to her life outside Alpha team. So far I haven’t been able to see any relevance. I am not sure how they are going to shape Rachel’s story in later episodes. It seems that there will not be good relations between her parents and her in the next few episodes, which is sad, really. She didn’t intend for it to happen that way and her parents are not bad at all. It cannot be said whether she will meet the man her mother found for her, or whether she will move back with her parents. Alternatively, it could be that her moving out becomes a pivotal point in her life and she can fully focus on her power.

We will have to wait and see.

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