Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Communicate with ordinary Afghans

By Hanan Habibzai  
Religious-hood is an extensive thought in Afghanistan,and you can not deny the reality.
Afghans want more than
anything is for the violence
 and killing to stop.
At this time of intensification of conflict, a debate is taking place among Afghan intellectuals questioning the presence of the US and NATO in Afghanistan. This is the anti-Western sentiment that the Taliban have for long been whispering into the ears of ordinary Afghans in the villages and valleys of the restive regions. 
Those Afghans who saw their children die those who watched their women and elders in pools of blood are increasingly becoming susceptible to this type of rhetoric.  Many are in the process of changing their minds about the international troops.Military attacks carried out by foreigners and that result in the killing of civilians are an insult to Afghans’ traditions and beliefs. In many instances, when the local population accuse international forces of killing civilians, the troops deny it and often dismiss evidence provided by Afghans. Also commonly heard is that troops were targeting terrorists in a raid, even when the victims are school children, or mothers with young children.
Sadly these tragedies overshadow the killing of civilians in suicide attacks  by the Taliban – preventing the public mourning of the innocents who lose their lives in such attacks.
In 2003 and 2004, I was reporting for international media agencies on clashes between two notorious warlords in the north, Rashid Dostom and Atta Mohammad. At the time I regarded the American presence in Afghanistan as crucial for protecting the country from war criminals and for helping to bring stability to the country. But now, I have begun to lose hope. The international security forces are creating such a terrifying atmosphere that it is hard for people to sleep at night.
Afghan Taliban should be brought to the political process and should be recognised as a political entity in Afghanistan.
Traditionally, mosques are run and controlled by Mullahs and historically they have enormous impact on peoples’ opinion in Afghanistan. They are the only source who rolling the public minds .One of the most effective ways to achieve stability in Afghanistan is to win the support of Mullahs and of influential religious leaders. Religious-hood is an extensive thought in Afghanistan,and you can not deny the reality. War alone will never produce a brighter future for Afghans; it can only result in the loss of more and more lives and hopes.
You can not establish democracy by force where people widely hate the word ‘democracy. Only when the violence ebbs will the torch of democracy be lit. As long as the fear and instability spreads, as long as each family is mourning a loss, so the enmities will deepen between families and tribes, and between the US and Afghanistan. 
Communication and Negotiation is always going to be more productive than violence. There can be no doubt that what Afghans want more than anything is for the violence and killing to stop.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Radio station director completes third month of being held for no good reason

Reporters Without Borders is outraged by Radio Kapisa director Hojatullah Mujadadi’s prolonged detention by the Afghan intelligence agency known as the National Directorate of Security (NDS). Tomorrow, Mujadadi will complete his third month of being held at NDS headquarters in Kabul, where he has not been allowed to see a lawyer.
The NDS and certain officials in the northeastern province of Kapisa, where Mujadadi’s radio station is based, have behaved in an illegal and unreasonable manner in this case. Mujadadi is neither a terrorist, nor an insurgent nor a criminal. He is a respected journalist whose only offence was to upset officials in Kapisa.
President Hamid Karzai’s credibility as someone able to enforce respect for the rule of law and guarantee a minimum of security for Afghan journalists is at stake in this case. We urge him to intercede to obtain Mujadadi’s release.
NDS spokesman Saeed Ansari told Reporters Without Borders that the NDS has the right to detain “any suspect in a terrorism case for an indefinite period.” After confirming that Mujadadi’s case had been sent to the prosecutor, he promised Reporters Without Borders to reexamine the case file to see if there was any possibility of Mujadadi being released quickly.
Since his arrest on the day of the most recent parliamentary elections on 18 September, Mujadadi’s case has been marked by serious irregularities and barefaced lies by certain officials. Reporters Without Borders discovered that his arrest was carried at former Kapisa governor Ghulam Ghawis Abubaker’s request, with the help of two of his sons-in-law, the parliamentarian Mohammad Eghbal Safi and the NDS representative in Kapisa province, Khajeh Zafar.
The NDS recently claimed that a suspect from Kandahar who is also being held by the security services had accused Mujadadi of being an accomplice of insurgent groups.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

After Holbrooke, chances of political settlement in Afghanistan fall

By Reuters

Reading through some of the many thousands of words written about Richard Holbrooke, for me two stories stood out in their ability to capture what will be lost with his death:

“While beleaguered members of Mr. Holbrooke’s traveling party sought sleep on transcontinental flights, he usually would stay up late reading. On one trip to Pakistan, he padded to the forward of the cabin in his stocking feet to point out to a reporter a passage in Margaret Bourke-White’s memoirs of the time of India-Pakistan partition and independence. Bourke-White quoted Pakistani leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah telling her that Pakistan would have no problems with the Americans, because ‘they will always need us more than we need them.’ Mr. Holbrooke laughed, saying, ‘Nothing ever changes.’”

Talking about Washington’s approach to Pakistan, Holbrooke said, “The relationship with Pakistan is so fraught with a history of disappointment on both sides… We can’t align our interests exactly, because they live in a different space, and their history is defined by their relationship with India. . . . The one thing I believe we can do with Pakistan is to try to reach a strategically symmetrical view on the danger posed by Al Qaeda and its allies. That’s the proximate strategic goal.”

Put together, those comments cover a huge sweep of history and geography which explain why the war in Afghanistan is proving to be so intractable. While the military, and much of the media, focus on Afghanistan – since that is where western troops are deployed - Pakistan is fighting its own battle with India born out of the bloody partition of the subcontinent in 1947.

Holbrooke was one of the few U.S. officials to have the intellectual range to fully grasp how far the problems of the Afghan war stretched back into history and out into the wider region, from Kabul to Kashmir, from Islamabad to Delhi, from 2010 to 1947. And though he was not allowed to include Kashmir in his mandate because of Indian objections, he nonetheless travelled frequently to India to seek ways of easing tensions with Pakistan. Without such an easing in tensions, Pakistan was never going to turn fully against the Afghan Taliban, believing it might need them to counter Indian influence in Afghanistan.

It is not at all clear whether the United States can find someone to replace him with the kind of intellectual range, experience and determination to untangle that knot. According to Julian Borger at The Guardian there is already some talk that the task could instead be handed over to a new U.N. peace envoy, whose job it would be to sound out the Taliban and Afghanistan’s neighbours on a political settlement. (At first glance, that would seem to be a non-starter if you wanted to keep India in the loop. Though India tolerates behind-the-scenes diplomacy by the United States and Britain in its relations with Pakistan, it would be expected to reject any U.N. interference which threatened to internationalise the Kashmir dispute.)

As Holbrooke’s comments on finding “a strategically symmetric view” with Pakistan on al Qaeda suggested, he also appeared to be focusing on the art of the possible. This was neither the ”grand bargain” floated during President Barack Obama’s election campaign of seeking peace in Afghanistan by resolving the Kashmir dispute; not the other extreme of ramping up military operations into Pakistan itself. He may even have been making progress — Pakistan has been signalling of late a willingness to push for a settlement in Afghanistan which would force al Qaeda out of the region.

For the moment, the question of who replaces him may be academic. Despite a rising number of people calling for a political settlement of the Afghan war (likely to require multi-layered talks, from negotiations with Afghan insurgents to broader regional dialogue) for the time being the focus of U.S. strategy is still very much on the military campaign in Afghanistan. Holbrooke had been somewhat sidelined in recent months, in part because of that military focus. But as and when efforts to reach a political settlement began to take shape, he would have come into his own. No one is talking of utopian peace deals here, but of least bad options. Holbrooke’s death probably makes the chances of eventually reaching that political settlement less likely.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Julian Assange a real intellectual

Linda Nylind
Assange's creativity shakes
global politics
His creativity shakes global politics

WikiLeaks will continue releasing the leaked US embassy cables despite the arrest of its founder, Julian Assange, over allegations in Sweden of sexual offences.

According to the Guardian News Paper, the whistleblowers' website has made arrangements to continue publishing the classified documents, the airing of which has embarrassed the US government.

The leaked cables have provided a daily flow of revelations about the superpower's involvement in the most sensitive issues around the world, including those affecting Iran, Afghanistan and China.

The decision to press on will help allay fears among Assange's supporters that his arrest would hobble the organization’s work.

Assange has also pre-recorded a video message, which WikiLeaks which was released last week shortly after his arrest.

The Guardian cited that it understands the organization has no plans to release the insurance file of the remaining cables, which number more than 200,000.

It has sent copies of the encrypted file to supporters around the world. These can be accessed only by using a 256-digit code.

US officials: Holbrooke Hospitalized

                                                            By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS 
Holbrooke with Obama
photo:Ruth Fremson
Th New York Times

Richard C. Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, was hospitalized Friday after falling ill at the State Department.

The department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, said Mr. Holbrooke, 69, was undergoing evaluations at the hospital, but he declined to provide details.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The power of Wikileaks

US embassy cables :  whats happening in the world of powerful diplomacy? Remember, Wikileaks's recent releases below.

(Lennart Preiss/AP/File) Julian Assange
The founder of Wikileaks arrested Tuesday
Assange, 39, turned himself in to police 
Tuesday morning, hours after Britain
 received a formal warrant for his arrest
 from Swedish authorities. Assange denies 
any wrongdoing and says he will fight the 
attempt to extradite him, beginning with a
hearing Dec. 14.
That could be the start of a legal battle 
that could drag on for weeks or even 
months, in part because the case against 
him in Sweden remains rather murky. 
Assange, who is Australian, is eager to
 avoid extradition for fear that it could set 
the stage for him to be sent to the U.S. if 
prosecutors there charge him with offenses
 relating to the WikiLeaks disclosures of 
State Department diplomatic cables and
 classified Pentagon files related to the wars
 in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Those leaked files have turned Assange into
 an international figure, vilified by the U.S. 
and governments around the world for spilling 
official secrets but lionized by activists 
demanding a free flow of information. 
In Washington, the Obama administration
 blames Assange for recklessly damaging 
U.S. relations with other countries and even 
aiding terrorists.
A spokesman for WikiLeaks vowed that 
Assange's arrest would not affect the website's 
plans to continue publishing its cache of 
confidential documents.
The accusations against Assange in 
Sweden have dogged him since the summer,
 before his organization began releasing
 portions of its huge trove of rifled State
 Department cables. The allegations stem
 from separate sexual encounters he
 had with two women in August, 
which Swedish prosecutors say may
 have involved molestation, 
"unlawful coercion" and rape.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Afghanistan living with less or no Healthcare

  She has no access to healthcare
and she lost her son

By Hanan Habibzai 

Malalai mourns the death of her one-year-old son, Jamil, who died two weeks ago due to water-borne diseases at a local hospital in Baghlan Province, Northern Afghanistan.
For several days, Jamil and his family slept in open air with no shelter. The child had drunk dirtied water, which his mother had collected from a nearby river for drinking, cooking and washing.
There is consent among some residents in Seya Saang village and indeed many other rural communities across Afghanistan, that water is always clean, unless its colour, smell and or taste change. However, not only was Malalai's son but many other children are the victims of various water-borne diseases according to medical experts in Pulikhomri, provincial capital of Baghlan region.

 UNICEF estimates around 92 percent of Afghanistan’s nearly 30 million populations do not have access to proper sanitation. This has placed the country at the top of the list of "the worst places in the world ".

Furthermore the Afghan Ministry of Public Health one out of six children under five years of age dies from pneumonia in Afghanistan.” Ten years ago, in Afghanistan, one in every four child deaths was caused by pneumonia", states the Afghan Minister of Public Health Suraya Dalil.

Pneumonia and severe diseases developed while Billions of international funds were being channelled to Afghanistan. The average Afghan did not see in practice what was said and promised by the authorities in the news.

‘’The packs of those donations were only for corrupt Afghan official who built coloured palaces’’, said Wali Mohammed a local residence of Dushi district of Baghlan province. 

Friday, 3 December 2010

The plight of asylum seekers in the UK

By Hanan Habibzai

Zamarai Ahmadzai from Logar province of Afghanistan found himself in England when he came out from a container on a lorry.

His journey begins in Logar province of Afghanistan in mid-2001 but it was August 2002 when he got in to the UK. Alongside the time, the journey cost thousands of US dollars paid to several layers of human traffickers.

Now, he lives in east London. However, despite his eight-years-stay in the UK, he has not succeeded in obtaining the right to live in the UK as a resident.

‘’This is all because of our own government.’’ He added. ‘’One dollar earned at home is better then in a foreign country. I didn’t know but now I regret I should not have come to the UK.’’

Since he left his country of origin, he suffered long tiredness, but his efforts to get asylum in the UK were unsuccessful.

Zamarai illegally came to the UK in search of a safer and better life and to be able to repay the money his family had borrowed to furnish his journey.

Though out of terrible journey via Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy, and France and finally to England he suffered various tortures and abusing situation. As a result of all these sufferings and abuses, Zamarai cannot live as a happy individual.

His dream of the kind of life in the UK did not come true. ‘’When we were in home, we didn’t know this.’’ He said. ‘’Every one used to say that London is good and you will earn good money but you know, we have some boys here working 12 hours per day but get paid only £20.’’

Zamarai is not the only asylum seeker, thousands of others, many of them under the age of 18, is experiencing the same fate.

14 year old Javeed Ahmad from Dhaka, Bangladesh, is always singing songs which are killing his stress feelings. This is almost two years since he got in to the UK. ‘’I was unable to obtain legal documents in the UK, my future is doubtful.’’He regretfully added.

The UK border Agency is trying to stop the increasing number of asylum seekers illegally coming to the United Kingdom but there is no change seemed yet.

The parents across overseas give their children in the hands of human traffickers while they don’t know their child going through what kind of troubles. That’s why, despite all these problems illegal migrants are increasingly flooding to Europe and the United Kingdom.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Media faces serious threat under Karzai

In January 2002, Tom Ford, aka Mr Fashion, at his menswear show for Gucci in Milan, comes up with a surprising idea to recognize the newly appointed Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai, “the most chic man in the world”.
He was in the news not for his political knowledge and foreign policies but for his dressing style. After eight years, Mr Karzai no longer remains a ‘’chic man ‘’.
His government appeared deeply involved in corruption and injustice. Most Afghans no longer hope for a better life while corrupt officials hold power.
‘’It is a shame that  foreign donors are wasting their money by giving it in the hands of corrupt officials and we therefore do not see any positive result’’ a Kabul shopkeeper Sayed Karim regrettably told me during an interview.

‘’International community and Afghan people should bring a change within official circles to insure that people have access to justice, food, education and remain united.’’ Karim added.

His government appeared deeply involved in corruption and injustice. Most Afghans no longer hope for a better life while corrupt officials hold power.
These are the common thoughts. Afghan media is seriously considering the frail official performance. On the other hand the Afghan government avails every opportunity to curb the Afghan writers and journalist from finding the best obtainable version of truth.
The recent detention of Radio Kapisa’s director, for being outspoken on government corruption, raised concerns within Afghan journalists.
The 34 year old Hojatullah Mujadidi has been arrested by Afghan National Directorate of Security (ANDS) in Kapisa province.
A press statement of Reporters Without Borders confirms; ‘’a high ranking ANDS official  Khajeh Zafar in Kapisa province ,ordered the arrest on 18 September in connection with terrorist activities but the ANDS has produced no evidence to support the cliaim.’’ 

Support for Mujadidi is high. His arrest damages the credibility of Karzai and his government, particularly in Kapisa where the number of his critics is widespread and his opponents are apparently active in political conducts.
There is a growing clamour from members of the press and cultural figures for a crackdown on what is seen loutish behaviour of officials.
‘’ He was not permitted by Kapisa’s governor to investigate the increasing corruption within local official branches. An innocent journalist can not behave as a violent person. We are quite hopeless.’’ Mohammed Adris a friend of Mr Mujadidi shared his via phone.
Afghan Justice Ministry suggested the safe release of Mr Mujadidi because the ANSD failed to provide evidence in support of the organisation’s claim against Mujadidi.
The dispute is a local in its very essence but the government is caught up in it. This dispute resonates among ordinary Afghans, who remember previous attempts by government to silence the voice of the country’s writers. Afghans increasingly believe that the marginalisation of writers results in marginalisation of the society at large.
Afghan intellects and journalists are still mourning the cruel murder of BBC journalist Abdul Samad Rohani andCTV’s Ahmad Javeed Yazmy-Jojo.
Rohani was kidnapped in June 2008few metres away from provincial office, the seat of the Afghan government’s power. He has not been seen alive since. While Javeed was assassinated in Kandahar earlier last year, having spent nearly a year in an American military jail in Afghanistan, after being accused of having links to militants. He died just a few months after his release.
A great deal of Rohani’s work focused on uncovering war crimes, corruption and documenting the increase in drug trafficking. For this he was widely detested by local government.
In June 2010, the Governor of Helmand province Gulab Mangal confirmed the murder was staged by local security officials. The Governor also admitted that he was too weak to arrest the killers.
The Government’s refusal of hearing the demands for justice deteriorated its position in the Rohani and Javeed’s murders cases. In addition, by targeting Hojatullah Mujadidi, the government has left itself vulnerable as people inevitably start to question the war being waged against journalists, writers and other activists who dare to hold politicians to account.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Musharaf dreaming new power in Pakistan

Therefore, he faced the serious anger of his fellow countrymen but despite widespread displeasure he announced a new party All Pakistan Muslim League the APML, earlier  October.
‘’I’d like to come to the politics in democratic dispensation of Pakistan.’’ The former Pakistani ruler said during an exclusive interview with RFERL.
In October 1999, Musharaf comes up with a military coup against Nawaz Sharif and seizes the power. He was long regarded as a military dictator who ended a democratic regime.

He spent most of his life in military uniform, now in civilian dress, vigorously blames India of ‘’trying to create anti-Pakistan Afghanistan
Soon after the 9/11, he becomes a close ally of the west when he slashes links with the Taliban. He was forced out from the country after a political deal with the newly elected government two years ago.
The ousted ruler of Pakistan says, he committed indefinite mistakes in power but rushed on Zardari’s government saying   ‘’ the leadership continuously failed to harness all the resources for the betterment of Pakistan. Unfortunately we are going down.’’
He served years in military until his last job, the commander of the world’s second largest Muslim state’s land-based armed force which brought him to a controversial stage of Pakistani politics.
Musharaf was born in Delhi, in August 1943 to Muslim parents. After the partition of the Indian sub-continent into the present day India and Pakistan in 1947, his family migrated to Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city.
He spent most of his life in military uniform, now in civilian dress, vigorously blames India of ‘’trying to create anti-Pakistan Afghanistan.’’
General Musharaf criticized India’s role in Afghanistan and called on Delhi to cool down in Kabul.He believes that India is investing on Afghan war to use the intermingled situation and geographical position of the war torn country against Pakistan.
‘’If we were to collaborate against the terrorism and extremism then we need a respective behaviour in a political manner. If we were squabble between ourselves and fight each other and trying to stab each other at the back in Afghanistan and any other country, which would be very sad day, sad for the region sad for both the countries. ‘’
He was speaking on behave of his new political party insuring the world; he is ready to stand against the Taliban in Pakistan.
‘’We do not want Talibanization of Pakistan said Musharaf. I never called them strategic partners or anything. We were in the side of the Taliban against the Northern Alliance because Northern Alliance was aided by India and Russia.’’
General Musharaf wanted to manifest his new political strategies in order to chart a stable government in Afghanistan. Former military commander and ousted ruler of Pakistan thinks, the majority of Afghan Population was ignored  by United States and the western allies.
‘’ Taliban were all Pashtun who had ethnical and geographical link with Pashtuns in Pakistan side, therefore we were on their side. After the 9/11 I called it the third blender, the biggest blender that we didn’t change strategy. Their command structure totally smashed and disorganised. We can easily take Pashtuns on board; give them their legitimate position of governance in Afghanistan. We have to deal with the Pashtuns in Afghanistan. We didn’t do that.’’ He added.
Despite his ties with the Taliban regime Musharaf agreed to join the Bush administration’s “war on terror” following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He took the step for some obvious reasons.  Between 2001 and 2007, the United States funnelled more than $12 billion in aid to Musharaf’s regime, most of it to military. He also received cash price of each suspected Al-Qaida or Taliban member handed over to the US but still does not change his mind.
‘’ They are coming in to Pakistan; they have support in Pakistan there are Taliban in the mountains of Pakistan.  But the main force and the concentration of Taliban are in Afghanistan and this is what the misperception is being created. If you win in Afghanistan, you also win in Pakistan. You win in Pakistan, I don’t think you win in Afghanistan.’’
General Parviz Musharaf is hoping a return to Pakistan in order to play a new rule in the future of his country. Most of his party members belong to Pakistani community in the UK who do not have much influence in Pakistan.