Tag Archives: Afghans

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 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.

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.