one week in kabul

July 23, 2006

One week in Kabul, a lot of mixed feelings. I haven’t had this feeling at least for a couple of years; I wanted to write so I could record this feeling and come to it when I wanted to make drastic decisions in the future or work-cross-culturally.

i am frustrated and upset when I am lost and I am lost when I go through a cultural, job and intellectual change. Once I adapt to a society, I have an opinion and social stand which goes against the majority and I could go extreme on this. In afghan society I can’t stay in the mainstream, I had to go to the margins in opposition with what all wanted. In a European society, I am socially pragmatist and political left – realist. Standing for values such as no war, human rights, homosexual rights, etc, etc.
here in Afghanistan I have been struggling between my previous values and the ground realities.
At this very moment I feel like I can’t have my European values system. I can’t be a political activist; I have a very liberal view of things. I hated liberals two weeks ago; I thought their decadents sucks. Unlike artists they can’t be appealing. but now I see myself as a liberal someone who is not involved with the deep socio-political issues. Someone who just want to do something to help and bring good. two weeks ago I wrote an open letter to expatriates in Kabul to provide an alternative view on them, but I wouldn’t do that now.

The hard part is if you choose to do something in another culture, but you might not like it in the beginning. The key is not too think to much and see how it goes.
And the hardest is when you are in love. Something you don’t want to fuck with.

حامد کرزی در جمع رسانه‌های آزاد

July 22, 2006
حامد کرزی رئيس جمهور اسلامی افغانستان در ديدار با جمع کثيری از مسئولان رسانه‌های آزاد داخلی يک بار ديگر حمايت همه جانبه خود را از آزادی رسانه‌ها اعلام کرد.
در اين نشست که به روز چهار شنبه در قصر گلخانه رياست جمهوری برگزار شده بود، کرزی داشتن رسانه‌های آزاد را يک ضرورت اجتناب ناپذير برای پيشرفت و تامين نظام مردم‌سالار در افغانستان خواند. و به رسانه‌ها اطمنان داد که کوچکترين محدوديتی را برای نشرات آنان ايجاد نخواهد کرد اما از رسانه‌ها خواست تا با تشخيص موقعيت فعلی افغانستان نشرات خود را بر اساس منافع ملی عيار کنند.
گفته می‌شود در اين نشست کوتاه مسئولان رسانه‌های داخلی نيز صحبت کردند و از عملکرد دولت کرزی و کارمندان دفتر مطبوعاتی رياست جمهوری نيز انتقاد کردند که حامد کرزی از انتقادات آنان استقبال کرده و قول رسيدگی به آن را داده است.

follow up on expatriate responses

July 22, 2006

I got almost a dozen varied responses on my letter to expatriates.

Some responders saw part or more element of truth in it. Never the less, they raised some circumstantial concerns; most important of all is security. This means in the face of deteriorating security there is going to be less and less understanding and interaction.

I think trust and respect shall be brought to bear on security in a practical as well as principle fashion. Having that said the level of risk needs to be analysed and dealt with according the UN policy working group on the UN and Terrorism recommendation. The report published in 2002 says: ‘the protection and promotion of human rights under the rule of law is essential in the prevention of terrorism.’ This is not only because such an approach is right and any other method destroys the democratic credentials of the expatriates, but also because terrorists ‘exploits human rights violations to gain support for their cause’ which explains why Taliban elements are getting stronger in the south of Afghanistan where the coalition (and afghan forces) has killed, tortured and illegally detained and searched villagers.

As the secretary general Kofi Annan said in a speech to the security council in the beginning of 2002 “while we certainly need vigilance to prevent acts of terrorism, and firmness in condemning and punishing them, it will be self-defeating if we sacrifice other key priorities in the process” exactly, in the process of providing security Mr. Annan’s very own organisation has forgotten about the priorities. We need to find a common ground which reaches behind the particulars of our identity and culture, the overreaction to security challenges the ethical basis behind such a project, or at very least undermines it’s utility.

How can the expatriates build the trust and respect? I would say through showing a strong commitment to Afghanistan and human rights, and the full set of values that underpin the human rights ideal will have every chance of emerging from the current violence not weakened but rather strengthened, forged in the heat of battle into something tougher and therefore more durable. But this outcome is not preordained; I am sorry to say that I got responses which were not convinced about Afghanistan and human rights (I don’t want to make a direct quote). In the bigger picture back in your home there are very powerful elements (as well as in the rest of the world) that are not convinced that each of us deserves equality of esteem. ‘Conflict of Civilisations’ a famous essay by Huntington is a good proof of my point here.

With all due respect; what upsets me the most is the hypocrisy surrounding the whole security fuss. Expatriate’s exclusive outlooks have increased since last year while the security has got worst. Incidents happen, there is a lock down for a few days then everyone carries on as before. There is no learned lesson or change of tactic and life style.

The second kind of feedback said “no distinguish was made between expatriates. It was a sweeping generalisation which could be no where close to accuracy; as a matter of fact this kind of stereotyping is used when one fail to identify the right person”.

I have been stereotyped too, and I tried to prove differently. Attached please see some of my friends who believed it was unfair to stereotype me.

In my case stereotyping is not only about some guy sending an email; I abused by individual and institution.

I have been discriminated and was treated badly because I was from Afghanistan and I looked different. My very basic human rights were violated; I was subject to different treatment, which are politics and government laws. However the most crude and stinging form of abuse was individuals’ stereotypical conduct.

I felt it was unfair and I wanted to help them realise that. I delivered the letters from my friends, it didn’t help.

I appealed to justice and the court said that if I am stereotyped by an individual it’s not something claimable or if I am denied because of regulation then what I am saying is not enough to review government politics.

I am hoping that you could find a better way to deal with it.

I have a suggestion, maybe we write such letters for each other. But this is when we trust each other.

Another number of responders thought it was a pessimistic Afghan approach; it was a flawed criticism without offering a better approach. Let me quote something for you, “If the Afghan people do not want to engage themselves, to make the best use out of Help/Foreigners/Money: just tell us and it will be no problem, to spent it elsewhere.”

This is exactly what I was fearful of, the word foreigner, help and money has been used interchangeably as synonyms. From a rational point of view an individual or NGO has close to NO say where the money is spent. It’s a political decision. It’s very unlikely that you could convince your government who spend billions on military budgets to aid starving people in Liberia. or to cut down US military research which is 73% of all research projects and use that money to cure AIDS or cancer.

As a matter of fact Israel is the largest US aid recipient both in term of per capita and in blunk numbers in the world. Pointless to comment how Israel spend aid money and weapons.

Talking about aid weapons, quite a lot of that came to Afghanistan in the 80s and then some how the aid community forgot to send the aid medicine for the victims in the 90s, sugar coated and coloured with democracy, so they died.

Starting from the end of Second World War, throughout the cold war and until today western politicians’ weapon of choice hasn’t been WMD but aid money. International law has always been disregard under the pretext of providing or not providing aid.

Further more, why is the word “help” so often mentioned; it’s not only in my friend’s statement above but every aid website has a lot of it. This in itself is politicizing the aid mission; it makes the aid community a target of political opposition. “Help” becomes a hypocritical and double standard concept just like everything else in power politics game.

It will be more welcomed by Afghans if you say “I am here because I want to be and I enjoy it”

it sounds cooler too.

brand new kabul

July 18, 2006

“Healthy children have brighter future….. Children born from parents under eighteen will be ill. There is a fourth percent more chance of death for ill kids before the age of five…… to have healthy kids marry above the age of 18”
This was a PSA on the radio. As I was listening to this the driver took over a bus narrowly passing by a truck approaching from the opposite direction.
“watch it blind mother fucker” the truck driver shouted.
Our driver said “its better to be early”
“Where is Rajab? Today” asked Massood “he plays videogame. He goes so fast….
he was interrupted with a sudden break, an old man was crossing the street, covering his mouth with his scarf to protect from the dust.
He didn’t pay much heed to the cars. The pedestrian in Afghanistan is even getting prouder, that is a change for sure.

my next daring adventure would be to take a walk in town.
i just want to be ready for this; it’s going to be a lot to take in.
All I’ve done so far is to go to work and visit a few friends. Last night I went to see a bunch of friends and as I arrived I was surprisingly welcomed by Trumpet and fire crackers. Ten minutes later the security guards from the neighbourhood entered with rigours steps and marched to us with straight chest. “you are not to be too noisy, you should be vigilant, more than ten security sources know about you by now. You have disturbed the area”
When leaving my friends place I noticed a little paper “…. the enemies are active and plotting against us. If you come across a terror act, do not panic and remain calm. Please contact us at the following numbers….”

تحقيق بمباردمان ولسوالی نوزاد

July 17, 2006
حامد کرزی دستور داده است که در رابطه به بمباردمان ولسوالی نوزاد ولايت هلمند که از طرف نيروهای ائتلاف صورت گرفت است تحقيقات انجام شود.گفته می‌شود که در اثر اين بمباردمان يک تعداد غير نظاميان کشته شده‌اند.
در اثر بمباردمان سنگين قوای ائتلاف در بازار ولسواری نوزاد، يک باب مکتب و تعداد از دکان‌ها و افراد ملکی به هلاکت رسيدند. سربازان بريتانيايی، گفته‌اند که حمله‌ای هوايی به درخواست آنها انجام يافت زمانی که طالبان در حال اشغال اين ولسوالی و جايی که اين نيروها سکونت داشتند بودند. و اذعان کرده‌اند که يک باب مکتب در اين حادثه تخريب شده است. و اضافه کرده‌اند که طالبان از اين مکتب منحيث پايگاه استفاده می‌کردند. گفته می‌شود جنگ هنوزم در اين منطقه ادامه دارد.

NATO decide to increase the number of troops to 26,000 in Afghanistan

July 13, 2006

Secretary General of NATO announced that they are going to increase the number of troops to 26000 in Afghanistan. In an interview with Alps newspaper he mentioned that NATO mission in Afghanistan is very complex. He admitted that NATO has increased its troops from 3000 to 6000 in southern part of Afghanistan.

He also admitted that Taliban had intensified their activities over the past months. He hoped that NATO will be successful in its mission in Afghanistan

Six Tabliban killed in south Afghanistan

July 10, 2006

Six tabliban militants were killed and eight others were wounded, a statement of defense ministry said on Sunday.

A Tabliban group commander Mullah Nazar is also among the detainees, the statement added. Ravel checks worth 300,000 us dollar were also recovered from the possession of the arrested militants , commander, it added. These militants, it added were killed in Uruzgan and Laghman province.