Tag Archives: Kabul

Wikileaks and our fantasies

Raza Rumi

The Wikileaks’ damning half-truths pertain to the anti-war movement within the US. This has caused embarrassment to the US war architects and stirred the military industrial complex and its cousin, the corporate and embedded media. Similarly, what has been said about the role of Pakistan and its globally famed Inter Services Agency (ISI) is not something that is really a revelation and is more or less an open secret. Three important questions need to be considered before Wikileaks can be taken seriously.

Do field reports from individual sources, especially disgruntled, anti-Pakistan Afghan nationals constitute ‘evidence’? No. Is there sufficient evidence to substantiate the startling sensational pieces of information? Perhaps not. Is the Pakistan-ISI role central in the Taliban insurgency within Afghanistan? No clear answers can be determined due to the complexity of the Taliban resistance and the involvement of multiple players.<!–more–>

The ‘leaks’ identify that Pakistan, India and Iran are fully involved in the Afghan drama and singling out the ISI is not the whole truth regardless of whatever the western media says. Afghanistan is an occupied and fragmented country, far more layered than the simplified views from Washington, Islamabad or New Delhi. Continue reading



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From the Frying Pan into the Fire

They say in Africa that when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. To this Julius Nyerere had once added  that when elephants make love, the grass still suffers. Nyerere had made this witty remark at a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in the 1970’s. The organisation had been formed to extricate as much of the world from suffering the same fate as the grass in this African proverb, during the Cold War. Yet, it failed Afghanistan as most of NAM’s members were anything but non-aligned. Unfortunately, this included its leading lights.

The US decided to give the USSR a bloody nose in Afghanistan. It seemed no one cared for the poor country caught in the crossfire. Washington found Gen Zia ul Haq’s Pakistan to be a more than willing partner. For the Pakistani dictator, this was an unbelievably lucky opportunity to gain international ‘legitimacy’, even recognition. But for Afghanistan and her people this superpower showdown meant the worst misfortune, misery, death and destruction in the country’s history. The misery continues even two decades after one of the superpowers is no more.

The following article is a short trip down memory lane by an Afghan expat, Muhammad Qayoumi, for Foreign Policy (May 27, 2010). It is one glimpse, through  a particular little window, of how three decades of war can push a country six centuries back in time. It is not claimed that Afghanistan did not have large areas which were, as it were, centuries behind parts of Kabul, Herat and Mazar e Sharif, even 30 years ago. But what is most saddening about this little window on the past is the realisation of the damage that has been done to the psyche of the Afghan people, regardless of who they were, where they lived and in which ‘century’. To regain self-confidence, and to let go of anxieties of more than one sort, would perhaps be the most difficult task faced by the Afghans in their efforts to try and rebuild their country. They will have to relearn to be Afghans, rediscover their own history and not only find hope and security, but once again get used to feeling hopeful and secure. They will have to learn to smile again. (bciv)

Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan…

Record stores, Mad Men furniture, and pencil skirts — when Kabul had rock ‘n’ roll, not rockets

On a recent trip to Afghanistan, British Defense Secretary Liam Fox drew fire for calling it “a broken 13th-century country.” The most common objection was not that he was wrong, but that he was overly blunt. He’s hardly the first Westerner to label Afghanistan as medieval. Former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince recently described the country as inhabited by “barbarians” with “a 1200 A.D. mentality.” Many assume that’s all Afghanistan has ever been — an ungovernable land where chaos is carved into the hills. Given the images people see on TV and the headlines written about Afghanistan over the past three decades of war, many conclude the country never made it out of the Middle Ages. Continue reading


Filed under Afghanistan, Books, Citizens, History, Images, Photos, war, War On Terror

Speculation surrounds Pak arrests of Taliban

Junaid: Rumors are flying that Pakistan’s arrests of Taliban leaders may signal secret negotiations.


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Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Army, FATA, Great game, Islamabad, Obama, Pakistan, Peshawar, state, strategy, Taliban, Terrorism, USA, war, War On Terror

Desperation Time?


Two speeches by President Obama within a span of one week have shown how incredibly superficial arguments are being made by the US administration to continue the war in Afghanistan. The Obama administration does not even appear to be convinced of the necessity of the Afghan war. In his next speech in Oslo, Norway he presented the Obama’s doctrine of “just wars”. After more than eight years in Afghanistan, does the “Just war” doctrine really apply? Continue reading


Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Obama, Pakistan, Taliban, Terrorism, USA, War On Terror

The Taliban in Their Own Words

By Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau | NEWSWEEK  05 Oct 2009

During wars and after them, the real voice of the enemy is rarely heard. Propaganda is plentiful, as are prideful boasts—and the Taliban have certainly been quick studies at the modern art of information warfare. But the fears and ambitions of ordinary fighters are too often buried under statistics and theories propounded from thousands of miles away. That’s been even more true in Iraq and Afghanistan, where reporters who might accurately convey the other side’s perspective are at risk of being kidnapped or killed for their efforts. Continue reading


Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, FATA, Islamism, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan, Taliban, USA, War On Terror

Thank You Taliban

During the five years Taliban held court in Afghanistan, horror stories of the ruthless rule exemplified by the fiercely Wahabbi interpretation of Sharia, spread far and wide. The spiritual kin of Taliban across the border in Pakistan conversely labelled the same horrific tales as inspirational and even necessary. Back then the threat of such a model of dogmatic governance seemed distant and was taken as yet another setback in Afghanistan’s history of unfortunate events. Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Islam, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan, Religion, Society, Taliban

Afghan Law is about Power not Culture

Mona Eltahawy

I thought I was used to seeing politicians bargain with each other.  A few concessions here and there to influential voting blocs are part of the elections game.

But Afghan President Hamid Karzai — the “liberal” darling of the international community — surely wins that game by throwing women’s rights like bargaining chips at the feet of religious conservatives he’s courting for Afghanistan’s August presidential election. Continue reading


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