Dec 27, 2012

Opportunities for Entrepreneurs in Afghanistan

Submit a photo of real technology entrepreneurs in action along with a descriptive caption for the opportunity to win the latest Apple gadgets, international recognition and most importantly, highlight entrepreneurship happening in Afghanistan to the world!

Follow these easy steps to apply for GIST’s photo competition:

1. 'Like' GIST's Facebook page:
2. Click on the Entrepreneurs in Action tab on the GIST page (second tab)
3. Click on the Entrepreneurs in Action banner
4. Click on the Upload tab and submit a photo/design/artwork and a caption
5. IMPORTANT: Encourage people to vote for your submission, by publicizing in your social networks!

About GIST—Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) builds entrepreneurial ecosystems across the Middle East, Asia, and Africa by identifying, coaching, and funding the most promising technology entrepreneurs. GIST forges links at the individual and institutional levels among entrepreneurs, angel investors, and the marketplace to improve quality of life through economic prosperity. 

For further information, please visit the website 

Apr 21, 2012

Bamiyan Citizens March with Light and Hope to Protest against Karzai’s Neglect

by Basir Ahang
On Wednesday in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan witnessed a demonstration of brilliance by Bamiyan citizens. Hundreds marched together over the 157 kilometers from Bamiyan to Kabul in a unified outcry against injustice and discrimination in their Province. With a unique sign of visionary hope, Bamiyan citizens carried lit kerosene lamps as a sign to President Obama, the United States and the United Nations.

“The United Nations and United States have lost their way in Afghanistan”, are the cries from Bamiyan civic movement leaders and activists. “This is why we march together with our kerosene lamps burning brightly! To bring a message to the world. Please wake up and see the light because our people are in serious trouble!”

These Bamiyan citizens bring their message of light and call for help to the US and the UN as there is still much work to be done to corrupt rule in Afghanistan.
JPEG - 101.4 kb
From right to left: Martyr Jawad Zuhak and Hazara photographer Najibullah Mosafir

Two years have passed since Bamiyan civic activists started their first peaceful protests in the city. The reasons for their protests were discrimination, injustice and neglect of their Province by the Afghanistan government. Discrimination and injustice continues to exist. In the beginning, the protest was led by Jawad Zuhak, the head of Bamiyan Provincial Council.

Bamiyan citizens started their civil protest across from the Parliament’s building. They expected the Parliament and Sena members to join them as representatives of the people and demand the government to stop the discrimination, injustice and neglect against Bamiyan people.

Some representatives of Parliament said they appreciated such civil movement and declared, “We hope to be witnesses of such protests in different parts of Afghanistan.” Parliament representatives emphasized they have had no intention of hurting or disrespect to problems of Bamiyan people.
JPEG - 121.8 kb
Bamiyan citizens asked the representatives of Parliament to give the kerosene lamps to the US Embassy so they will understand that there is no electricity yet in Bamiyan. “We want the United Nations and US to know that of millions of dollars given to help Afghanistan, nothing has been done to help the suffering of the Bamiyan people! We need electricity and clean water to operate schools, a medical clinic and homes!” The civic leaders and citizens have been ignored long enough. Their message must reach out to those willing to help.

As a part of this protest, a commanding resolution has been requested to begin parallel development. There is hope that the law will eliminate all discrimination and injustice, and include participation of all Afghan community leaders. Also included is a request to restrain distrust between government and people. It is imperative the government of Afghanistan clearly state all of its policies and plans before foreign forces have exited the country.
JPEG - 163.8 kb

The Continual Pain of Bamiyani Region

Bamiyan is located in central part of Afghanistan. It is a cultural capital as well. During the height of Afghanistan’s growth, prominent, wealthy cultures and peace loving religions thrived together in this region. But because this province has been the home of Hazara people, an ominous cloud of hatred and mistreatment has come to the countryside. The timeline of history now shows a harsh road of oppression by tribal oriented governors leaving the Hazara people deprived and enslaved without room for improvement.

It does not seem such a long time ago that within the pulsating heart of Bamiyan existed the glorious tall statues of Buddha. They were the most beautiful and magnificent statues which held so much cultural and historical symbolism for Bamiyan citizens and the Hazara People. These statues stood tall with so much spiritual meaning and they embraced the people through time with the truths from teachings of their beloved Buddha. Sadly, men of the Taliban destroyed this sacred place during their occupation of Bamiyan’s "Sun shining region". The Taliban barbarically massacred thousands of men, women and children in the region and destroyed their homes just for being Hazaras.

Eleven years after the downfall of the brutal Taliban regime and the rising of new government in Afghanistan, there has been no change in the oppression of the Bamiyan region. Many families are still without a stable roof over their heads. Remaining pieces of the destroyed statues of Buddha are lovingly relished as hundreds of families live in the most difficult of situations. They live inside of dark caves like prehistoric clans. These caves were originally fashioned by ancestors for the purpose of solitude and prayer. Now they sustain them not only their prayers but in their entire way of life. Imagine life in a cave in the midst of a brutal winter. While Karzai and his parliament rest in warm homes, hundreds must resort to sleeping in caves as shelter.

When the Bamiyan citizens arrive in Kabul with their kerosene lamps, they peacefully urge that the discrimination and systematic oppression by the government be stopped immediately. These neglected citizens know that they are most loyal and humble citizens of Afghanistan. When your country is in danger of foreign occupation or unknown rules, the Bamiyans are the primary Afghan patriots defending the independence of their country.

Upon arrival to Kabul, there was yet again the repeat of conflict between Parliament and the Financial Ministry of Karzai’s government regarding the Developmental Budget of 1391/2012. As in past years, this budget has ignored central and northern Provinces while allocating funds for development and construction to the Pashton Provinces. This partiality toward specific provinces by Karzai’s government is criticized by many well-known personalities and Afghan community leaders. Parliament has indeed rejected Karzai’s plan for a second time, but his cronies will continue to pressure Parliament, or worse pay them with aid money, to vote for his highly discriminatory plan.

In this current shaky situation, the Bamiyan people know it is of vital importance to maintain the given "achievements of ten years" post-Taliban. They know that the only way to maintain these achievements and move toward a stable and developing Afghanistan is demanding elimination of discrimination, injustice and oppression.

Despite their determination to be model citizens, Bamiyan civic leaders know that peaceful movements and protests may create a spark of danger to peaceful negotiations with Parliament. The Afghanistan government is dancing to its own happy tune while the people of Bamiyan have been struggling to find one good string for their aging rubab. While their sincerest hopes are to open the blind eyes and deaf ears of neglectful Kabul governors, there is an ever present fear that a Bamiyan citizen who is suffering, or has lost a loved one due to Karzai’s neglect, will secretly plan an attack which harms innocent people.

History of Civic Movements in Bamiyan

Through this history of hell in Afghanistan, the Taliban were consumed with murder, suicide attacks, treason and narcotics, while the survival of its good people was based on a strategy of hard work and hopes for a return to freedom. Instead of picking up guns and retaliative methods of attack, the Bamiyan people used their pens and symbolic protests. A true sign of wisdom amidst the thunder of arguing voices seeking power.

Jawad Zuhak, Bamiyan’s leading civic activist, was murdered for writing against those suffering from neglect from Karzai’s government. Karzai has focused on the areas of his choosing instead of an equitable rebuilding plan. In a symbolic protest, Zuhak’s mobilized his people to pave the road with mud. After the protest, they presented letters of appreciation to the donkeys used for the purpose of holding water for the people. Bamiyan citizens humbly joked that these donkeys have helped the people more than any government official.

When the electricity was turned off to the region, another civic protest was prepared. The protesters hung a large kerosene lamp in the "Martyred Mazari’s" Field and sent another kerosene lamp as a gift to Esmaeil Khan, Karzai’s minister of Ministry of Water and Energy.
JPEG - 133.7 kb

Serious Life-threatening Problems

Bamiyan citizens are suffering from many problems. Poor roads, lack of medical health and emergency service centers, no electricity, poverty, unemployment and vagrancy. All of these have made a painful situation in this province. In winters, the snowy roads through the mountains to the city are closed for travel shutting off what little flow of supplies from compassionate countrymen to care for the people of the region. With severe drops of the temperature to below zero degrees, something as simple as a cold can cause death for the Bamiyan people.

In education aspect, many schools do not have buildings and the students are obliged to come under a blazing summer sun for study to achieve their intended future. They study to change tomorrow’s situation, give hand their patriots, but because of the difference of their physical faces from others, even they are deprived of public stationeries.

The most painful thing is the absence of a proper house in which to live. Hundreds of families are still living inside caves. Most of them are those whom their houses were destroyed during the murdering forces of Taliban occupation. Life of cavemen is painful for every human being. The majority of the children born in a cave die.

Physical and mental problems are increasing without proper medical assistance. In the winter, because the cold weather forces them inside the caves away from the biting cold and winds, all of them cook their food by collier and wood inside the caves. There is no way for proper exhaust and air exchange. This causes most of the cave dwellers to be stricken with sicknesses.

If you are reading this, please take note to the outcry from the good Bamiyan people. The citizens of Bamiyan region are suffering while the United Nations contributes millions of dollars to Afghanistan. A decade has passed and this money has been poorly allocated and misused. Karzai’s government continues to distribute hundreds of thousands to his own secret people for his own agenda. This is Aid money that is supposed to be used for rebuilding the country of Afghanistan.

How can the Bamiyan people hope for a better tomorrow in a country with such corruption and discrimination? It is a violation to all that is good and true to allow a Bamiyani who loves his country go to his death because of cold weather and hunger when a so called president of his country gives his priority to releasing and providing for Pakistani suicide attackers. Karzai pays who will join his self-righteous cause and they begin assassinating innocent Afghan people.

If the United States, the United Nations and other good people of the world do not see the light from the kerosene lamps of the Bamiyan people, there is no doubt the peaceful movements of the suffering will heighten into conflict. It will only take a few children to die because of government neglect before the Afghan people unite to overturn a government that has turned its back on its people.

Apr 17, 2012

Afghan Photographer Became the 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Tarana Akbari, 12, screams after a suicide bombing at the Abul Fazel Shrine in Kabul, Afghanistan, on December 6, 2011.Click here to find out more!

Columbia University has announced the 2012 Pulitzer Prize winners—and they include Afghan photographer Massoud Hossaini, whose picture of a girl reacting to a suicide bombing took the title in the category of breaking news photography.

The explosion of which the young girl, Tarana Akbari, is a survivor killed more than 70 people. Among the dead were seven of Akbari’s own family members, who had traveled to Kabul in honor of the holiday of Ashura; nine of her other relatives were wounded. The Pulitzer announcement calls the photograph, featured here, “heartbreaking.” Hossaini, who works with Agence France-Presse, is a native of Kabul and was raised in Iran. He was a political activist prior to taking up a camera and got his start photographing Afghan refugees living in his adopted country. He returned to his home country in 2002 and is still based there.

The Pulitzer for feature photography went to Craig F. Walker of the Denver Post for his story about an Iraq War veteran.

A full list of winners can be found on the Pulitzer Prize website.

Mar 28, 2012

Female Taliban?! A group called RAWA

Source: Hazara People

By: Mohammad Amin Wahidi

It is obvious that the role of women as half part of the society is very crucial in any country’s development given that this potential is not mislead in wrong directions that are rather harmful for the society than useful.

The changes in Afghanistan in the last decade following the 9/11 attack opened a new horizon for millions of Afghanistani citizens which benefited particularly two large groups; the ethnic/religious minorities and the women who both suffered from the fundamentalism in Afghanistan during the years of Taliban sovereignty .

These positive changes unfortunately were not so likeable to some specific groups who would look their benefit in the chaos of extremism and fundamentalism in the country to gain bred and fame for themselves.

Among many groups including Taliban and other extremist armed groups that are mainly consist of male members; there is a women group as well, which is not so keen to embrace the new changes because its existence in the new changes would be questioned.

Today unfortunately in Afghanistan, the so called group RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) like most of extremist groups in the world, comes under the category of the movements that function exactly in contrary with the title they carry.

Using the modern fascinating terminologies such as democracy, human rights, and women’s rights in the introduction of their activities, the RAWA group carries on its secret activity that is to gain financial benefits from the western countries for their personal and ethnic interests.

Based on the evidences, in addition to misuse the financial aids that they receive by the name of Afghan Women, this group functions as the left hand of Taliban as well to promote fundamentalism, racism and superiority of the Pashtoons through ethnic discrimination by which they guarantee their own existence.

In this document of Rawa you can read in Pashto language: "for women is a duty to fight the holy war (jihad) against the communists. On the upper left you can see the black flag symbol of fundamentalist jihadist.

The date of establishment of RAWA as an association backs to the acme of the cold war period in the early 1980s, when the Mujahedeen groups were being supported by the west as puppets to defeat the USSR and the role of RAWA was as an anti-puppet against Mujahedeen in case if needed.

Comparing the currently military or political groups in Afghanistan, based on its activities the RAWA group parallels the Taliban movement; a Female Taliban Movement.

The role so far RAWA group tried to play was pretending to be an idealist group of pure, sincere and revolutionary women who work for the women’s rights, democracy and social justice in Afghanistan but the evidences of their relationship with ISI (Pakistani Intelligence Services) and with the Taliban especially during the years of their sovereignty has revealed their real existence.

First of all the most important point is the geographical position RAWA group has chosen for its activities; Quetta.

Quetta is the city where most of the destructives conspiracies against Afghanistan are planned there.

RAWA group has its main office in Quetta Pakistan a city where there are many Religious Madrasas and then the main Taliban Leadership Compound is located there as well and apparently there is no danger for the RAWA group activists, neither clashes between RAWA group and the Taliban which makes us clearly understand about their relationships, their common goal with different tactics and under different names.

The Taliban with an exclusive-structure –only- for the Pashtoons, using the name of religion, follow their ethnic-political goal that is the “state of superiority of the Pashtoons” in Afghanistan and Pakistan while the RAWA group does the same thing but with a different approach. Here we could compare the Taliban and RAWA group based on their activities.

The RAWA organizational structure is very exclusive as the Taliban’s therefore it is hard for a non- Pashtoon woman to get a membership. RAWA group uses the name of democracy, human rights, women’s rights and social justice, while in reality applies discrimination in its non-written membership regulations and in their publication against ethnic minorities.

The Taliban directly and physically harm the members of minor ethnic or religious groups in Afghanistan while RAWA group makes media propaganda against the minor ethnics and their political leaders to harm them in the media.

The Taliban benefits anarchism to rule on people with the power of gun and the money of opium.

RAWA group benefits anarchism to create imaginary women champions and heroine figures to get financial funds from the western societies.

Using religion the Taliban constantly emphasize on the expulsion of the foreign troops and foreign helpers from Afghanistan while they themselves do not have any alternative proposition for the reconstruction of Afghanistan if the ground is given to them.

RAWA group using words such as democracy, women’s rights and social justice issue constantly emphasizes the immediate expulsion of the foreign troops and the foreign helpers of Afghanistan from this country while they themselves do not have any alternative plans for the country.

The Taliban commit suicide bombings and encourage their followers to do the same in order to reach their political goals while RAWA group encourages the women to self-burnings and committing suicides to get their rights. In many cases of women’s self- burnings in provinces of Afghanistan, the self-burners were mostly provoked to self-burning by RAWA group promoters.

In other cases the RAWA group has provoked women in throwing acid on men’s faces in case if their rights were violated.

In a country such as Afghanistan where a great percentage of the population is suffering illiteracy, promotion of violence and intolerance among the women is not a constructive way of living in a society. The women need education, brightness and knowledge not promotion of violence and intolerance.

The Taliban follow the orders of Pakistani Intelligence Services while RAWA group does the same.

The Taliban impose Islamic Hejabs on women while the RAWA group promotes the veils when they go among the women and talk to them.

Considering all these facts, if we want to compare the RAWA group in the regional level, they have some common similarities to some extend to The Women of Hezbollah or Hammas but they are not as organized as them; they are extremist, crusty, intolerable and constant on what they do.

The harshest part of the facts about RAWA group is the financial corruption and RAWA’s partnership with an international MAFIA of fund-raising using the name of Afghan Women who do not benefit even a cent of it.

The RAWA group leaders constantly travel to Europe, Australia, and to the Americas, to give speech about Afghan women and collect money for them, but no body knows what happen to those collected funds.

Lately the Afghan government has repeatedly complained about the way the foreign funds are being stolen in Afghanistan which could refer to RAWA group as well as one of such associations.

RAWA group activities are not known to people, because they do not have a vast root among the people.

If RAWA group is really an association for women’s rights, now that the political ground is open for women in Afghanistan, why it doesn’t sincerely work for women in positive and constructive activities?! May be that way they would not exist anymore.

Feb 22, 2012

Peace with the Taliban: is it Tenable?

       Are the Taliban a terrorist group?Given the Taliban and their supporters’ track record, it is indeed extremely naïve to think that the fundamentalist group and their backers have been reformed or at the very least mellowed in their views on Islam and or geo-politics. The Taliban are an ideologically driven group whose every move is determined by the deviant version of their religious belief. They live by their beliefs and they die by them without any remorse for the thousands of innocent lives they take along with them. They send zealots of all rank and files from foot soldiers to the supposedly top negotiators who in fact murdered the former head of the Afghan high peace council Burhanuddin Rabbani, to blow themselves and their targets up. 


 Is the country that harbors and nurtures them on the US list of states that sponsor Terrorism? The answers to both of these questions are obvious and need not require any elaboration. What does however necessitate scrutiny is why the Obama administration is so keen to support a rapprochement with the Taliban as well as their primary sponsor? Moreover, would it not be logical to talk to the sponsor rather than the sponsored?

The Taliban have not changed since 911. If anything, they have become increasingly ruthless and bold in their tactics and operations as the operations showed in 2011.

2011 also saw a direct attack on the American embassy in Kabul. The individual Talibs that attacked the US embassy had last minute direct contact with its foreign backers who are an off-again-on-again US ally in the war on terror.

It is highly premature at this point to not call the Taliban an enemy. After all if they are not an enemy why does the US negotiate with them? If the Taliban are not the US adversary as claimed by US Vice President Joe Biden, then what is the US doing in Afghanistan? There is no Al Qaeda in the country and the Afghan government for all its ills is not an adversary of the US. The Afghan opposition has no grudge against the US in Afghanistan. Why are the US and NATO spending hundreds of billions of dollars annually in Afghanistan?

Given the Taliban and their supporters’ track record, it is indeed extremely naïve to think that the fundamentalist group and their backers have been reformed or at the very least mellowed in their views on Islam and or geo-politics. The Taliban are an ideologically driven group whose every move is determined by the deviant version of their religious belief. They live by their beliefs and they die by them without any remorse for the thousands of innocent lives they take along with them. They send zealots of all rank and files from foot soldiers to the supposedly top negotiators who in fact murdered the former head of the Afghan high peace council Burhanuddin Rabbani, to blow themselves and their targets up. 

The Taliban are resistant to change. The mere possibility of considering reform is regarded heretic and therefore anyone who may espouse or merely consider the idea is liable to death. Their rigidity is what appeals to thousands of their young aspiring jihadists.

Rapprochement with the Taliban is fraught with a lot of misconceptions. From an Afghan standpoint, approaching the Taliban is faced with a dichotomy. From the Afghan government’s perspective that is dominated by Pashtun nationalists,   it is desirable because it reunites the Pashtuns, possibly at the expense of the rest of the population. President Hamid Karzai has called the Taliban...

Feb 12, 2012

Prince Harry in Afghanistan: PR dream or logistical nightmare?

Prince Harry in an Apache helicopter in California
Prince Harry in an Apache helicopter in California. Photograph: Sgt Russ Nolan Rlc/AFP/Getty Images

The conclusion of Prince Harry's training as a fully qualified Apache pilot gives the army another specialist to fly an attack helicopter, and several headaches about how, where and when to deploy him.

The prince, or Captain Wales as he is known in the military, has consistently made clear he wants to go back to Afghanistan, and there is every chance he will return, possibly this year.

And though it is in some ways a potential PR dream for the Ministry of Defence, those tasked with ensuring he remains away from the spotlight during what will be his second tour may not see it that way.

Four years ago, all of the UK's major media groups, including the Guardian, agreed not to publicise the prince's deployment to Afghanistan with the Household Cavalry regiment.

The request was underpinned by fear that drawing attention to his presence would make him, and his colleagues, high priority targets for the Taliban.

Ten weeks into his tour, the secret was out – in the foreign press, at least.

Once details started appearing on websites, the MoD withdrew the prince immediately, with the then chief of the defence staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, arguing the "worldwide media attention … could impact on the security of those who are deployed there, as well as the risks to him as an individual soldier". Read more on the Guardian

Jan 12, 2012

Sahar Gul’s Story, A Clear Image of Women’s Life in Afghanistan

By Basir Ahang

photo source:

On December 27th, 2011, 15 year old Sahar Gul was discovered imprisoned in her in-law’s musty, dark cellar by the Baghlan Province Police. Seven months earlier, while living in Badakhshan Province, Sahar had been forced into marriage. The police report stated the young girl had been imprisoned, tortured and violently beaten by the husband and his family because she refused to work and earn money as a prostitute.

Sahar was in critical condition when she arrived to a hospital in Polikhomri. The doctors reported she had multiple injuries from the abuse, including a broken shoulder and head trauma. Her torture included someone pulling her fingernails out.

After stabilization, Sahar was transferred to a hospital in Kabul. Soraya Dalil, Supervisor of the Ministry of Health, told journalists that Sahar Gul’s physical condition should improve in several months, but the consequences of negative psychological shocks may remain throughout her lifetime.

Sahar Gul’s story is only one of the thousands of stories of torture and cruel abuse currently experienced daily by Afghanistan women. Whether defamation or traditional conservativeness, most of these women’s stories will continue to remain untold. Seeking justice for their suffering would only expose them; leaving minimal chances for survival after retaliation from the abuser.

What happened to fifteen year old Sahar Gul, her forced marriage, torture and abuse, is a clear example of violation of women’s rights in Afghanistan. Despite the president of the country visiting Sahar in the hospital and ordering the abusive family to be prosecuted, these cases have appeared thousands of times before only to find the violators have gone unpunished.

This violence against Sahar Gul has been vastly reported by media and human rights activists. Once again, the concern for women’s rights in Afghanistan is being voiced louder than ever. When will violators be prosecuted and imprisoned as punishment for their crimes against women?

Last month, the office of UNAMA (United Nations Assisted Mission in Afghanistan) in Kabul criticized the Afghan government for limited application of the "Elimination of Violence Against Women Law“. Based on a UNAMA report, of the 2,299 reported cases of violence against women recorded between March 2010 and June 2011, only 26 cases were processed. Also in this report, only 7% of violators were condemned to punishment by the Afghan courts.

Enacted in 2009, this "Elimination of Violence Against Women Law" forbids more than twenty types of violence against women, including underage marriages, forced marriages, forced suicide and forbids any exchange of a female to resolve a dispute. Rape and physical attacks on women are also considered crimes for sentencing.

Afghanistan Human Rights Commission states there were 1,026 reported cases of violence against women in the first six months of 2011. In most cases, the women are very afraid to file a complaint, stating there is a considerable chance they will be punished severely for doing so. Another 2011 report by OXFOM, shows 87% of Afghanistan women have experienced physical violence including physical and sexual harassment or forced marriage.

Jan 11, 2012

Snow in Kabul

Kabul winter
Kabul Winter
It is really cold out their. All the  mountains and hills were covered with full snow. And it was really I mean extremely cold. It is still cold but the snow is all melted now. Because of the sun. Although I love snow but one thing hate and don't like about it is in Kabul it is the best that it should not snow. Because there is different things that is problem in Kabul with snow. I will tell you:
1/ There is going to a lot of mud in Kabul streets
2/ For poor people there is not going to be enough wood to burn to get warm
3/ Mud houses  are going to collapse due to too much snow
4/ Flood!
See there will be a lot of trouble for most of the people. But again nothing can beat up snow beauty. It is really beautiful and amazing. People tell stories about snow in the past that was in Kabul. Most of them say that decades ago their was a lot of snow and rain in winter season. They say that it was reaching like half a meter in a way. To say this technically I don't know what is the reason for this? Because they say amount of snow have changed from the past till yet. It may be Global Warming. It might be because of Climate Change.
All in all I always want the Kabul city to be white. With snow. For some people snow might bring them depression and sadness kind of...But for some people it is awesome and beautiful.