Jul 29, 2008


By Sanjar

In my last post I tried to explore the reasons for suicide. I emphasised there is a strong element of unhappiness and dissatisfaction behind suicide whether its by women who can’t bear their miserable lives anymore or it’s a child or a man who targets foreigners and the government. There is a deep element of unhappiness. below I am using a story which first appeared in RAWA website, this is shows what the reason for family suicide could be, its injustice and tyranny. As for RAWA I don’t agree with their stand. I don’t think their methods are going to bring about any change and they have got a lot of issues substantially wrong. Having that said, I appreciate their role in the wider social hierarchy, the general public, politicians, journalists and many more tend to conform to tradition and dominant power while RAWA protests and I think that is a good thing, the fact that they protest against norms and injustice is a good thing. it might be that RAWA is a habitual protester and they will always find something to protest against but currently there is plenty to protest against.

Warlords gang-rape 12-year-old girl, her family threatens to commit mass suicide if justice is not done. Uncle of the victim accuses the police chief to have links with the gunmen responsible for such crimes.

A 12-year old schoolgirl was gang-raped by five gunmen in Sarpul province in Northern Afghanistan.

The girl and her family asked Hamid Karzai to prosecute the rapists and take their case seriously. They threatened that if they are not provided justice, the whole family will commit mass suicide to get rid of such life. They say, the local authorities keep silence on such cases and did not act to arrest those responsible.

While crying, the rape victim told journalists that she was raped in a village called Baghabi in Sarpul province. She says five gunmen poured into their house in mid-night and after beating and abusing the family members, gang-raped her.

Ali Khan, uncle of the girl told Ariana TV that he has reported the case to the police and visited the police chief a number of times to ask for justice, but they do not pay attention to the issue and even abused and threatened him to be silent otherwise he will be jailed. He accuses the police chief to have links with the gunmen responsible for such crimes. But General Abdul Khaliq Samimi, police chief says they have arrested three people connected to the issue.

On February 18, 2008 a fourteen-year old girl named Bashira was gang-raped by three men in the same province. One of the rapists is Najibullah, the son of Haji Payinda, a member of parliament from Sar-e-Pul.

Sayed Noorullah, father of Bashira told Tolo TV on July 19, 2008 that the case against the rapist has not been followed property by the court, because the rapist is son of a member of parliament and they bribed the Forensic Medical Investigation department to show the 22-year-old rapist as being less than 18 to escape the charges based on law.

Sayed Noorullah threatened that if the rapists are not punished, he will become “a dangerous suicide bomber” and take revenge himself.

Gang-rape and sexual abuse of young girls in the Northern provinces of Afghanistan by local warlords is very common but only few cases are reported by media, because it is usually risky for the journalists who report such issues.

Sayed Norullah father of 14-year-old Bashira: “I will become a dangerous suicide bomber to take revenge if the court fails to provide me justice.

Jul 24, 2008

Why Suicide and suicide attack is happening in Afghanistan

By Sanjar

Modern way of living and utilities has penetrated deep into Afghan society, even the most conservatives in the remotest village has some access to media, modern transportation, agriculture utilities, health care and medicine and many more appliances. While their values and social structures remain tribal or traditional. The penetration of modernity has been embraced by Islam, Islamists never said ‘NO’ to modernity to achieve their ends, most fanatics such as mullah Omar and Sayyaf, Rabani or Mujadadi uses modern tool to extend their influence on the community. The modern way of life has provided opportunity for some to secure a better life and for others to be worsen as the so called leaders have influenced them by using modern utilities. The tightly knit of society has been broken as everyone struggle for their survival. The means of survival have also changed; people are relying less and less on agriculture and husbandry. Its no more possible because of the drought and natural disasters. Those who have better life are either in business of poppy or have sons in a foreign country or a professional occupation. Te lives of many Afghans have got better today in material term, the poverty of our grandparents are now unimaginable for many Afghans. The society has become more injustice too. The society does not offer the chance to escape from traditionalism, nor the prospect how to make such an escape. Individuals have to accept greater risk and uncertainty in their lives.

Its absolutely wrong to attempt to explain self-emulation by five hundred women last year and over a hundred men most of men in suicide bomb attacks as behaviour and characteristic of individuals. Its not the action of innately disturbed people. These suicides have social causes.

Afghanistan in its traditional form could be seen as working in terms of mechanical solidarity. Afghan society in traditional and tribal form is integrated, or held together, by the fact that Afghans had similar beliefs and values and they have similar roles. In traditional Afghan society all people do similar things, similar job and they live similar lives, doing little farming or something. In traditional afghan society identities are clearly defined in terms of roles and family background.

Afghan society is not traditional in the sense mentioned above. Afghanistan for most has changed, the home which was work space is no more. people to have better life work in a different place than home, work is not controlled by family. People like sayyaf or mullah omar control the village or people work in the cities.

There is no solidarity in Afghan society. People have to struggle to live via other means, while it’s Russians, or mujahdeen or Americans or Taliban or someone else trying to control their lives. The norms in society are old and rotten it does not provide a good framework for individual to act. As a result most individuals are corrupt and their moral structure does not lead them. the society has not lost the morality or it has not been loosen. The only answer afghans think will work is to strengthen norms this is supported by the so called leaders because this serves their purposes. Afghanistan has become corrupt and hypocritical. Life for many has become hard especially for women.

There is a conflict in Afghan society, we as Afghans failed to respond constructively and fix this failure that is why first Russians and now the rest of the world came to fix it. not because they care about Afghanistan but because Afghanistan have caused some serious problems to the rest of the world. The demands of the self proclaimed leaders have conflict with each other and as a result they are in constant conflict and because they have no political intelligence the only way they settle conflict is through bloodshed, and that has turned them into criminals. Individuals have abandoned the social norms but they maintain to conform with it. Afghans support the goal of what is said by the criminal leaders. They do not follow any other route. While they think the goal is not good enough for them but they like the means for achieving it. Afghans are deeply unhappy about their lives, some blame others, others seek god and they commit suicide and kill others for their imagined gods. Some afghans conform, they don’t want to protest, they think the protest route end up not in the desired location. Some are deeply unhappy that includes the 500 women who committed suicide last year.

Jul 21, 2008

Jul 3, 2008

The Second Round Blogging of Workshop in Bamyian

Already published here

Under the auspices of Association of Afghan Blog Writers, the second round on blogging workshop was held for tens of Afghan journalists and writers in ancient city of Bamian. This workshop was underway from June, 12 to June, 15. First workshop of this series was previously held by the Association of Afghan Blog Writers in Kabul for journalists, university faculties, students and teachers.

Two western and three Afghan teachers participated in the latest round of blogging workshops. Mr. Martin (German journalist) who was supposed to teach in the first day of workshop, unfortunately failed to do so due to an illness. In the second day, first hours were dedicated to theoretical issues, in which Mr. Jeffrey Estern (young American journalist) approached weblog phenomenon from a western and modern-world perspective. Mr. Jeffrey compared visual and print media with blogging and evaluated the influence of blogging on public opinions, politics and other media, and said: “In our country, i.e. United States, along with three constitutional powers, Media is the fourth power which monitors activities of government. However, there was no body to supervise the media. After years and with the introduction of technology and internet, Weblog came into existence. Today, weblogs supervise the media, so that there have been several cases in which bloggers revealed misinformation of some prominent journalists who were consequently fired from their positions.”

After some theoretical discussions, the rest of the second day was dedicated to practical issues. According to directors, main goal of such workshops is to turn this new phenomenon into a public one so as to ensure that everybody practices the right of free speech with no censorship. Since increasing pressures of Information and Culture Ministry has led to more censorship by e-media and private TV channels, weblog may be a better choice to experience free speech as well as institutionalizing this principle in the Afghan society.

This was the second blogging workshop held in Afghanistan, and Association of Afghan Blog Writers is supposed to run similar workshops in other cities such as Herat, Mazar- Sharif, Jalalabad, Kandehar, Bamyian and Daikundi.

Blogging is an absolutely new phenomenon in Afghanistan and most of the people do not take it professionally. Therefore, such workshops directed by Association of Afghan Blog Writers may speed up the process of professionalization and facilitate it for Afghan bloggers. Today most of the youth and students have turned to this phenomenon. Though having access to internet is very problematic, the Afghan youth increasingly turn to weblog and blogging, and the number of Afghan weblogs is increasing. Up to now, more than 20,000 Afghan weblogs have been registered by Afghan people in various countries and through various blog service providers, such as Blogger, wordpress, Blogfa, Persianblog.

Barriers to the Way of Afghan Bloggers

Afghan bloggers have to deal with a wide range of problems. Due to recent controversies over Dari (Farsi) and after two correspondents in Mazar-e Sharif were sacked just for using Dari equivalents of ‘University’ and ‘Student’, Afghan Telecom has blocked two popular Persian blogger sites: Persianblog and Blogfa. Some believe that such acts are the continuation of fight of Abdul Karim Khoram(minister of Information and Culture) against Dari Persian.

On the other hand, there is the problem of power shortage. In spite of Hamid Karzai ruling for several years and presence of International Community in Afghanistan, Kabul inhabitants still do not have access to power. Power is available only 6 hours per day, and suffers fluctuations. This problem may be a big barrier to the way of Afghan bloggers and prevent them from updating their blogs.

Help Promote Free Speech

Directors of the project believe that turning this new phenomenon (i.e. Weblog) into a public issue between Afghan youth and writers can help the free speech and institutionalize democracy in Afghanistan. Today many emerging journals claim ‘independence and being free’, but they are unfortunately so associated with political trends and parties that practically come to experience self-censorship. Very often it happens that they fail to publish critical papers. On the other hand, Afghan journals and media have taken an opposition stance and the only thing they may criticize is the government, while there is a myriad of hot and sensitive issues happening all around Afghanistan neglected by such journals and media. Weblog enables the writer to publish his thoughts and criticisms freely and independently, using either real name or nom de plume.


The Washington Times

By M. Ashraf Haidari
Tuesday, July 1, 2008; Page 1

The editorial regarding "Fissures on Afghanistan" (Wednesday) correctly warns that "So long as Pakistan remains a sanctuary for jihadists targeting Afghanistan, NATO's progress in keeping the terrorists out will be limited."

In addition, the ongoing peace negotiations between Pakistan and the Taliban in the country's Federally Administered Tribal Areas have coincided with increased cross-border terrorist attacks in the south and east of Afghanistan, further undermining NATO's stabilization efforts in the country.

For example, terrorist attacks have risen by more than 40 percent in eastern Afghanistan within the first five months of 2008 compared to the same period last year, and 36 of the 103 soldiers killed in Afghanistan this year have died since the beginning of this month.

This shouldn't be much of a surprise, however. During similar Pakistan-Taliban peace negotiations in 2005 and 2006, Afghanistan saw a 300 percent increase in cross-border terrorist incidents.

At the August 2007 Afghanistan-Pakistan Regional Peace Jirga Conference in Kabul, President Pervez Musharraf admitted that the problem existed.

The government and people of Afghanistan strongly support the re-establishment of a civilian government in Pakistan and stand ready to collaborate closely with the new regime to address common security threats to our two nations.

However, Pakistan needs to craft an approach to its northwestern border that balances their internal security needs with their regional and international commitments to Afghanistan's stability.

Peace in Pakistan simply cannot come at the expense of security in Afghanistan, both for international soldiers and Afghan civilians. Talibanization of Pakistan is not a problem that can be resolved by shifting it elsewhere through previously failed peace deals with terrorists - who can and must be defeated where they originate and find easy sanctuary.

At the same time, NATO is in need of bolstering its military strength in the fight against cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan. It would not take much in terms of additional troop deployments to make a big difference in Afghanistan. Just about two additional brigades, or about 7,500 troops, would provide a great boost to efforts to defeat the Taliban.

Ultimately, the key to securing Afghanistan will rest in the buildup of a professional Afghan army and police. To hasten the process, more military and police trainers are needed to build the Afghan national security forces to reach the targeted goals of 80,000 soldiers for the Afghan National Army (ANA) and 82,000 police for the Afghan National Police by the end of 2009.

Specifically, Afghanistan needs more than 70 Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams - each comprising 16 to 20 men - to train ANA units. The country also requires 2,300 police trainers, including force protection, to implement the district police development program currently under way.

Peace can hardly take hold in Pakistan without stability in Afghanistan and vice versa, nor can global peace be ensured without steady consolidation of Afghanistan's democratic achievements during the past seven years. It is, therefore, in the best interest of all stakeholders to commit firmly to helping secure and rebuild Afghanistan.

M. ASHRAF HAIDARI is the Political Counselor of the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, DC. His e-mail is haidari@embassyofafghanistan.org


A EurasiaNet Commentary

By M. Ashraf Haidari

Securing Afghanistan against the Taliban’s cross-border insurgency will take center stage at the NATO summit in Bucharest.

Lagging commitment on the part of donor nations has been a factor in giving the Taliban new life. According to a recent study by the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief, an astounding 40 percent of the $25 billion in aid that has been pledged to fund Afghanistan’s democratization process has not been delivered. And of the $15 billion in aid that has arrived, roughly 40 percent has gone to paying salaries and fees for Western contractors and their employees. On top of it all, officials in Afghanistan admit that they cannot properly account for how $2.5 billion in aid was spent. It all adds up to a sad fact: the Afghan people are being shortchanged. It’s not surprising, then, that a fair share have grown disenchanted, and that this disillusionment has provided fertile ground in which a new generation of Islamic fighters can grow, and narcotics trafficking can once again flourish.

Gaps in security and governance at the district and village level have greatly contributed to increased terrorist activity. Insurgency-related violence spiked in 2006 when a new generation of Taliban forces launched large scale terrorist and even conventional attacks against military and soft targets in the south and east of Afghanistan.

In the face of rising Islamic radical militancy, the democratization process has lost momentum over the past two years. More than 4,000 Afghans, many of them civilians, were killed in military actions in 2006, a three-fold increase over the previous year. Suicide attacks -- a phenomenon unknown to Afghans before 2002 -- jumped to 118 from 21. Worse followed in 2007, when terrorist activity experienced another great leap forward: an average of 566 terrorist incidents per month was recorded in 2007, compared with 425 per month in 2006. Of the over 8,000 conflict-related fatalities in 2007, over 1,500 were civilians.

In addition, the past two years have seen the highest number of foreign military casualties since the US-led invasion in 2001 forced the Taliban from power in Kabul. In 2006, 191 coalition troops were killed in action, and the death toll jumped to 237 the next year. US and coalition forces registered several important battlefield successes in 2007, including the elimination of several key Taliban commanders, such as Mullah Dadullah. But US and coalition military efforts have been hampered by a lack of troops and reconstruction resources. This has prevented pro-democratization forces from implementing an effective "clear, hold, and build" strategy in the restive south and east of Afghanistan, where Taliban fighters with sanctuaries in Pakistan have managed to maintain a foothold and influence over civilians.

Now, the insurgency is approaching a tipping point. The rising tide of violence is diminishing the commitment of some NATO allies to combating Islamic militants, and it is causing a growing number of Afghans to lose hope in the democratization process. In March 6 comments in the United Nations Security Council, Secretary General Ban Ki Moon summarized the dilemma, noting that "two years after the adoption of the Afghanistan Compact, the political transition continues to face serious challenges." He pointed out that the Taliban and related armed groups and the drug economy represent fundamental threats to still-fragile political, economic and social institutions, adding that "despite tactical successes by national and international military forces, the anti-government elements are far from defeated."

Without immediate action on the part of NATO allies, Afghanistan’s delicate social and economic balance may be upended. If this happens, the country’s admittedly fragile democratization hopes will be dashed for the foreseeable future, and the country could easily emerge again as a font of global terrorism.

For the participants at the Bucharest summit, there is no turning back. There is no other option than to make a stand in Afghanistan. And to do that effectively, more troops are needed. In addition, NATO troops need to have "caveats," basically restrictions on their movements and rules of engagement, lifted. This is the most economical option facing NATO. To shrink from the fight at this stage in Afghanistan would be to incur far greater costs, both in troops and materiel, down the road.

It would not take much, in terms of additional troop deployments, to make a big difference in Afghanistan. Just about two additional brigades, or about 7,500 troops, would provide a great boost to efforts to defeat the insurgents. US President George W. Bush has already announced that Washington is ready to contribute almost half that troop total. At present there are about 47,000 troops under NATO command in Afghanistan, along with a 14,000-strong separate US force.

Perhaps most important for NATO at the Bucharest summit is for its European members to rethink caveats that hamper the fighting ability of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Some ISAF participating states believe that the core part of the mission is stabilization and support for reconstruction, and have thus been reluctant to commit their troops to counter-insurgency operations. This argument is merely an excuse for some nations to avoid sending their troops to the restive south and east of Afghanistan, where they are needed the most.

ISAF participating states that opt for human security over protective security have yet to realize that the two realities are inextricably linked in the Afghan context: reconstruction cannot happen without establishing security, and vice versa. That is why the Afghan people cite insecurity, weak governance, a poor economy and unemployment as the largest problems facing their country.

The Afghan government also recognizes a responsibility to do what it can to bolster the democratization. To this end, President Karzai’s administration will try to respond to coalition complaints about rampant official corruption in Afghanistan.

Ultimately, US and European officials believe the key to defeating the Islamic radical insurgency will rest in the build-up of a professional Afghan army. US Vice President Dick Cheney, on a surprise visit to Kabul in late March, reiterated that the United States remained committed to battling the Taliban. "But ultimately, security in Afghanistan will depend upon the ability of the Afghan people to provide adequate forces that are well trained and well equipped," Cheney said at a March 20 news conference with Karzai.

Welcoming the reaffirmation of US support, Karzai nevertheless stressed that the government would not be able to stand on its own soon. "We would like an effective continuation of the two missions that we have here," Karzai said. "One is the fight against terrorism. The other is the rebuilding of Afghanistan -- and especially the rebuilding of the security institutions, the army. As it is a gradual improvement on our side, it is also a gradual reduction of responsibility on the shoulders of the international community. But that is not going to be any time soon. Afghanistan will need, for a long time, support from the international community in the rebuilding exercise here in Afghanistan and in the strengthening of the Afghan security institutions."

To hasten the process, the Bucharest summit must firmly commit to providing more military and police trainers to build the Afghan national security forces to reach the targeted goals of 80,000 soldiers for the ANA, and 82,000 police for the ANP by the end of 2009. Specifically, Afghanistan needs more than 70 Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams (OMLTs) -- each comprising 16-20 men -- to train ANA units. The country also requires 2,300 police trainers, including force protection, to implement the district police development program currently underway.

Two guiding principles -- burden-sharing and the credibility of NATO as a relevant post-Cold War security mechanism -- should underpin this week’s Bucharest Summit. Failure to take action that enhances the fighting ability of NATO forces in Afghanistan could cause bells to toll not only for the democratization process in the country, but also for the Atlantic Alliance itself.

Editor’s Note: M. Ashraf Haidari is the Political Counselor of the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, DC. His e-mail is haidari@embassyofafghanistan.org

Posted April 1, 2008 © Eurasianet