Mar 26, 2008

Is Aid effectively delivered in Afghanistan?


With the arrival of 2008, the international community's aid and reconstruction effort in Afghanistan has been put under the microscope with publication of a number of reports on aid effectiveness, succeses and failures of the whole aid delivery in Afghanistan.

Most recently ACBAR has published a report rightly titled "Falling Short: Aid Effectiveness in Afghanistan".

The report Author Mr. Matt Waldman is an insider in the whole development process in Afghanistan, working as policy and advocacy adviser for Oxfam International's office in Afghanistan.

The report clearly demonstrates the failure of international community in delivering what was promised to the Afghan people, but it does not extensively cover the part Afghan Government plays in the process.
I believe if Donors are responsible for keeping with their promises the Afghan Government should be more vigilant and more responsible than Donors.

There might be some minor inconsistencies with the data that is being reported but overall the report captures the picture well and really comes up with good recommendations for both the Afghan Government and the Donors providing ODA to Afghanistan.

I wish and am sure all the Afghan people wish that this and other reports published in 2008 will be a wake up call for the Afghan Government and Donors and hope that they will accept criticism with courage and bring about a change that is so much needed in Afghanistan.

In the end Let us not forget what International community has done for Afghanistan, but they could have done better and that is what every Afghan and our international friends want for the future direction of reconstruction in Afghanistan.

Mar 25, 2008

Nato launches Psy Ops to distract the hostile Afghans

By Sanjar

Nato and its member states have faced increasing public criticism in Afghanistan. Mass protest was lounged against Denmark, Holland and other western countries for printing Mohammad Cartoons; voices of concern were also heard among political circles against the appointment of Lord Ashton as UN representative to Afghanistan. Public protests in Afghanistan against western countries would negatively affect NATO presence. Nato, appears, to have learned from the culture of protest and can turn it around to its own benefit.

A credible source within Polish Contingent of NATO, which preferred to remain unanimous, has confirmed that the PsyOps Unit of Polish contingent based in Gardez and Sharana was involved in an operation resulting in a mass protest on Monday. PsyOps stands for Psychological Operation and is the military version of Public Relation. The protest took place after a Polish Newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza wrote an article about possible Russian contribution to Nato operation in Afghanistan. the article was translated into Farsi and Pashtu by Polish PsyOps unit and circulated among Gardez citizens. Azizuddin an employee of Gardez Information and Culture Department said to a local journalist that copies were delivered to the State Radio and TV station in Gardez too. The demonstration was staged in the southeastern Paktia province against a Russian plan to contribute peacekeepers to International Security Force. Attended by hundreds of Gardez, Paktia provincial capital, residents. Provincial Ulema Council head Maulvi Khaleq-Dad told Pajhwok News Agency that “deployment of Russian forces will amount to aggression against our motherland; we are staunchly averse to that proposal.” A declaration issued at the conclusion of the protest denounced the proposed deployment of Russian troops to Afghanistan as an act of aggression that would be stoutly resisted. This is the first cleric gathering in Afghanistan in the last few months not to protest against the Nato member states or the Cartoon publishing. The clergy managed to rally thousand of Afghans in the cities of Mazar, Kabul, Hirat, Nangarhar and Kandahar to protest against cartoon reprint. Political analysts have pointed out that the aim was to distract public, or specifically the Mullah and clergy, attention from Holland and Denmark for the reprint of controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad and the forthcoming film.

Gazetta Wyborcza’s story had no mention of the Russian side amid the statements made by the first deputy press secretary of the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov, defying rumours of Russia sending troops to the Afghanistan. NATO has a well funded PsyOps unit in Afghanistan to influence public opinion or to persuade them to act in certain ways. For this reason the Afghan operation is most popularly dubbed “Winning Hearts and Minds”. Although the name psychological operation is associated with guerilla warfare, rebellion and subversion Nato has made no effort to camouflage it. to give an example of the scale of NATO propaganda; in 2007 an Afghan marketing agency, alone was contracted for six million dollars by the International Forces to set up hundreds of NATO friendly billboards. The techniques used to influence the public attitude and opinion so far has been the use of positive messages and promises for a better future through the use of newspapers, radio and television. Nato PsyOps is not subject to Afghan media law and legislation, based on the agreement signed by the afghan government and UN in Bonn in 2001. Afghanistan provides unregulated media access, radio and TV frequency for Nato.

In spite all Nato investment the propaganda so far hasn’t been a very successful operation partly because Nato hasn’t yet built a good knowledge of Afghan psychology. The message Nato was trying to put through was to promote women’s’ rights, peace, anti-Talibanism and disarmament; those messages didn’t get through very well. This is the first time that Nato has manipulated a rally through operatives and propaganda. It is quite easy to manipulate the mass organised around the clergy, Afghan warlords and tribal leaders have managed to do this with a very low budget. Clergy rallies are organised around sensationalism, the hot temper of participants are used to intimidate opponents and gather commitment from participants. Afghan Rallies are effective to use if the Psychology is understood. Rallies are organised around trusted authorities or clergy. The participants have little knowledge of the protest and are mostly uneducated, therefore they accept information uncritically. Information is wrapped in Islamic concepts to make it believable for participants. Most often participants do not understand their own motivations or reasons for their presence.

Its hard to understand the purpose of the newspaper for running the story other than lack of facts. But the subsequent circulation is intended to stimulate anger among a fanatic group by reminding of an external threat in order to provide a reasonable justification for NATO's military presence in Afghanistan.

Mar 18, 2008


WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Mach 14, legislation was introduced to the U.S. Senate by Senators Maria Cantwell, Orrin Hatch, Kit Bond, Joe Lieberman, and Chuck Hagel that would authorize President George W. Bush to designate Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) in Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan (Senate Bill no. 2776). ROZs enable non-trade sensitive exports such as rugs, gemstones and handicrafts from Afghanistan to enter the U.S. duty-free. They will provide a compelling economic incentive for private sector investment and become a major source of employment in Afghanistan. The bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee for further review.
“We fully support the Senate ROZ bill introduced last week and encourage members of the U.S. Congress to pass this important piece of legislation that promotes economic opportunity and increased stability in Afghanistan,” said Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the United States Said T. Jawad. “Improving the lives of ordinary Afghans now suffering from severe poverty will directly impact security concerns in Afghanistan by providing economic alternatives and empowering communities against extremism. We see support for ROZs as a significant sign to the Afghan people that the U.S. pledged commitment to Afghanistan is strong and growing.”
“Our Embassy has been working closely with the U.S. State Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to design the ROZ initiative for the last two years. We urge members of Congress to work together and continue this trajectory by passing the ROZ legislation at this critical time.”

Specific goods will become eligible for duty-free entry into the U.S. if at least 35% of the value of the good comes from the ROZ in Afghanistan or designated areas of Pakistan, a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member-country, or from materials produced in the U.S. The Government of Afghanistan is fully committed to enabling a strong market-based economy, eliminating any remaining barriers to U.S. trade and enforcing the rule of law.

“The U.S. government is assisting us to export our goods duty-free to the largest economy of the world,” said Afghanistan’s Minister of Commerce & Industry Dr. Mir Mohammad Amin Farhang. “ROZs can stimulate economic activity, and attract considerable foreign investment into productive industries. Over time, each ROZ will be an important catalyst for creating local employment, building Afghan skills and technology, and promoting local and regional economic development.”

In a press statement released Friday, co-sponsor Senator Maria Cantwell said, “We hear countless stories about increased violence and a lack of economic development in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Creating ROZs will promote opportunities as alternatives to extremism and narco-trafficking.” Senator Cantwell stressed that America’s national security is connected to the licit opportunities that are available to impoverished Pakistanis and Afghans. “ROZs should become part of a long-term international strategy to promote sustainable economic development in the region,” she said.

U.S. State Department Spokesperson Sean McCormack welcomed the legislation, describing the bill as “a strong message of support to the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan, symbolizing our long-term commitment to the security, peace, and prosperity of the region.”

Afghanistan’s economy has grown exponentially in recent years. The Afghan licit economy has increased from $2.4 billion to nearly $8.8 billion, GDP growth remains in the double-digits, and per capita income has doubled since 2001. However, Afghanistan’s economy experienced a 50% decline in foreign direct investment last year. Despite the security concerns that have deterred some investors from Afghanistan’s perceived high-risk investment environment, many U.S., European, Middle Eastern and Asian corporations and individuals have recognized the potential for high profits in Afghanistan’s virgin market. Major U.S. multinational corporations, such as Coca-Cola, Ford, 3M and Boeing have either set up operations in Afghanistan or are actively examining business opportunities. Over 70 American companies have registered in Afghanistan, representing more than $75 million in potential investment. ROZs have the potential to introduce new opportunities for this community of entrepreneurs to reengage Afghanistan, while allowing them to directly participate in Afghanistan’s reconstruction.
March 17, 2008

Joshua Gross, Director of Media Relations
Office: (202) 292-4285

Mar 15, 2008

Equal human rights

The Washington Times
Article published Mar 7, 2008
Equal human rights
By M. Ashraf Haidari
Afghan women have much to celebrate on International Women's Day. Yet their precarious situation still warrants international attention and support. Although Afghan women have now regained most of the freedoms that they lost under the Taliban's gender apartheid, they still constitute one of the most vulnerable groups in Afghanistan. Worsening security and violence threaten the freedoms Afghan women have fought for over the past seven years. The Taliban have been able to regroup and expand their presence in the countryside where women are prime victims of attacks against soft targets. Taliban fighters have killed female teachers and burned down hundreds of schools, depriving more than 300,000 girls of education in the south and east of Afghanistan. Insecurity in Afghanistan is also due to a lack of international financial assistance, a problem that has resulted in weak state institutions. For example, of the overall $35 billion in international pledged assistance, $14.5 billion has been actually disbursed—out of which only $4.2 billion has been channeled through the Afghan government with the rest delivered via donor-related NGOs and private contractors. Therefore, without capacity and resources, most of Afghanistan's state institutions — including those focused on women — are unable to enforce the adopted legal framework, provide basic public services and generate employment for the people. The justice sector, for instance, remains severely under-reformed and lacks capacity to provide legal protection for women under Afghanistan's progressive laws. In Afghanistan, a country of roughly 25 million people where more than half of citizens are women and children, there are only 60 female judges, 35 female prosecutors, 70 female attorneys, and no female defense attorneys. Less than half of these women hold a four-year degree, which may not be in a legal field. And those women who do show up to work lack a physical office with proper equipment. In the Western province of Herat, for example, female attorneys take great personal risk to work out of grocery stores to help provide legal protection and services to women. The challenge facing Afghan women is further compounded by elements of Afghan culture that preserve conservative male domination. Although women's equal human rights are guaranteed under the Afghan constitution, it will take generations for a fundamental change in Afghan societal norms and perceptions. In the battle for women's rights, education will be our most effective weapon. Women are the pillars of communities and cultures across the globe, and Afghanistan is no exception. No nation has ever rebuilt or fully developed without the participation of women. Afghan women have made notable progress since the end of the Taliban's unforgiving gender apartheid seven years ago. But their painful gains could easily be lost unless the international community doubles and effectively coordinates their efforts to improve security and governance across Afghanistan in three key ways. First, the international community must help extend the reach of the Afghan government beyond provincial centers by providing its local-level governance and security institutions with capacity and the necessary resources to protect people against criminality and terrorism. Second, NATO member states participating in the International Security Assistance Force must bolster their troop levels by additional forces, while expanding their limited mandate to include effective counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics. Finally, security will be unlikely to improve in Afghanistan unless the command and control of the Taliban and Al Qaeda leadership and their terrorist operational infrastructure in Pakistan are completely dismantled. With the Afghan people firmly on the side of the international community and their forces, victory against a desperate enemy — who has not been able to articulate anything resembling a national vision in seven years — is only a matter of strong international unity, resolve, and recommitment. It is only in the enabling environment of security, rule of law, and prosperity that the hopes and dreams of Afghan women can grow.
M. Ashraf Haidari is the Political Counselor of the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C.

Mar 10, 2008



This photo shows a part of exhibition in GEMEENTEMUSEUM in Holland.
Robert Kluijver is the Consular of says: "the exhibition is going very well. The visitors are very impressed by the whole show as it changes their idea of Afghanistan completely. Your video has attracted a lot of attention. I always show people it because I find it's one of the strongest pieces in the show."
Gol Pary is in display on a flat screen TV installed in a room which dedicated to the growing drug problem in Afghanistan. There are some images attached.

Note: Gol Pary,the name of Documentary which made by Mustafa Kia in Afghanistan.
This movie shows a girl that she is living in bad conditions in Kabul. Her name is Gol Pary and she addicted to Heroin. When I saw Gol Pary at first time…

Mar 9, 2008

Afghans protest at Danish cartoons

by Sanjar
Over a thousand protesters gathered in Mazar Shariff to protest against the republic
ation of a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad in Danish newspapers, they also demanded the withdrawal of Danish and Dutch troops from Afghanistan. I don’t believe there is going to be any repercussion negatively affecting NATO troops in Afghanistan. If there was any it could have happened in the first round of print. But I do think it will negatively affect the image of the west in Afghanistan, while they are trying so hard to win the hearts and minds of Afghans in unwinnable battle against insurgency. The protesters, mostly religious clerics in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, also condemned plans by a right-wing Dutch politician to broadcast a film on the Koran.

I think the publication of cartoon shows how reconcilable Islam is with western secular values. In the west its seen as gesture to reemphasize western commitment to freedom of expression. In the muslim world its not about freedom of expression. It’s about the way of life. Afghanistan's Religious Affairs Ministry has called the reprinting of the cartoon as an attack against Islam. Several other Islamic countries have demanded that the film by the Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders must not be released.

I believe Afghans and muslims in general didn’t get the issue right. I don’t believe the publisher benefits from the muslim reaction but I do think there are circles which do. thus influencing public opinion in the West in aid of various political projects, for example to support further military intervention in the Middle East. In the west and specially in Europe the dispute is as one between Islam and freedom of expression.

The controversy was used to highlight a supposedly irreconcilable rift between Europeans and Islam. If the muslim world publishes insulting cartoons to Europe would Europe react like this. I don’t think so. as the journalist Andrew Mueller put it "I am concerned that the ridiculous, disproportionate reaction to some unfunny sketches in an obscure Scandanavian newspaper may confirm that ... Islam and the West are fundamentally irreconcilable"

The cartoon was republished in 130 newspapers in 49 other countries, not to humiliate muslims but as an act of support of free speech. Not only muslim nations saw it humiliating but countries with murky record of freedom like Belarus, Russia and south Africa also prohibited the cartoons or punished the publishers. What is bugging me is the reaction of moderate muslims protesting peacefully against conditional freedom of speech, requesting punishments and press control.

Afghan clerics and the government not only got the crisis wrong, as they usually do with crisis but they are also full of hypocrisy. The government budget and effectively Afghanistan is funded by countries that have published the cartoon. Why do you receive their charity while strongly oppose their values. Cartoon is another pretext for mullahs, as its for the right wing in the west, to strengthen their grip on society. Protests like today is solely the initiative of few mullahs and its primarily aimed at suppressing moderate elements of Afghan society, if such a thing exist:-)