Archive for the 'Afghanistan' Category



Rumsfeld in Afghanistan

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld arrived in Afghanistan on July 13. He met with President Karzai and discussed issues relating to Afghanistan’s collaborative efforts with the international community to suppress the Taliban resurgence and the country’s efforts to curb the cultivation of opium poppy. Also, he met with US military commanders and NATO officials to discuss plans for the military handover of Afghanistan to NATO.

Rumsfeld expressed his support for Karzai and praised his leadership. He lauded Karzai and his team’s achievements on various fronts including the offensive against Taliban and the subsequent peace prevalent in Afghanistan.

This visit shattered speculations in some Afghan circles regarding America’s growing discontent with president Karzai and his inefficacy to produce desirable results. It was speculated that, because President Karzai has failed to rid his government of maladministration and corruption, stop the cultivation of opium poppy and produce greater achievements, America was thinking of forcing radical changes in Karzai’s government. These ‘radical changes’ would, in the extreme case, force Karzai to resign.

Rumsfeld stung Pakistan, an important ally in the war on terror, for not doing enough to stop the operation of terrorist training camps. He said, “There is no question but that there is some cross-border activity… and it is something that needs to be worked on, on both sides of the border.”

Pakistan has already positioned some 80,000 troops on the border with Afghanistan and some 10,000 more troops are scheduled to be stationed soon to prevent illegal cross-border activities.

He ensured Afghanistan of his country’s continuous support.

He also called on European countries to help Afghanistan in its war on drugs. Afghanistan is currently the source of 90% of the overall illegal drug production in the world.

This post was also contributed to Publius Pundit.

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Israeli Retaliation against Hezbollah Kills Civilians

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) — Hezbollah militants crossed into Israel on Wednesday and captured two Israeli soldiers. Israel responded in southern Lebanon with warplanes, tanks and gunboats, and said seven of its soldiers had been killed in the violence.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called the soldiers’ capture “an act of war,” and his Cabinet prepared to approve more military action in Lebanon…

Olmert said he held the Lebanese government responsible for the two soldiers’ safety, vowing that the Israeli response “will be restrained, but very, very, very painful.”

 

Israel retaliated by bombing bridges and Hezbollah positions and killing two Lebanese civilians. Kofi Anan, the UN General Secretary, condemned Israel’s offensive in Lebanon and called for an immediate release of the kidnapped soldiers.

Meanwhile, Israeli aggression in Gaza continued killing 23 people. Among those killed are nine members of a family on whose house a bomb was dropped.

Israel is defying all international treaties by continuing to use force to gain the freedom of its captured soldiers. In addition, it is not only defying norms of democracy by imprisoning the democratically elected Hamas officials, but also committing war crimes by killing innocent civilians.

 

However, international response has been disappointing: The UN, which has sensed the manslaughter and violation of laws, has no authority to take action. The US, a traditional backer of Israel, is legitimizing the use of force against civilians. The rest of the world, including the EU, has taken no serious action in the wake of the prevalent circumstances.

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The Ethnic Face of Afghanistan

Afghanistan is considered by many a glowing paradigm of America’s success in the war on terror. It has its elected parliament and government, and the ministries are functioning smoothly. However, this calm is only apparent from a view from the surface, below which ethnic tensions and favoritism are plaguing the structure.

Irrespective of how this trend started, we must know it is everywhere—all ministries, directorates and sub-directorates are plagued.

A look, for example, at the Afghan National Army will reveal that it is comprised of 85% ethnic Pashtoons. Likewise, a look at the Ministry of Justice will reveal that there is less than 2% representation of ethnic Hazaras, one of the three largest ethnic groups in Afghanistan. Other ministries have similar situations. Ministers, in most cases, induct officials and personnel from their own ethnic group and generally neglect candidates belonging to other groups. This has caused a widespread disregard to merit and competence.

Even during the parliamentary and presidential elections votes were cast on ethnic lines. Almost all the people voted for a candidate belonging to their ethnic group. This, while may be called a manifestation of democracy, is severely endangering the competence and efficacy of the Afghan government. According to the minister of taxation, Anwar-ul-Haq Ahadi: “Many ministries lack the insight and ability required to draft acceptable development projects. Resultantly, most of their proposed projects are rejected. And, by the end of a fiscal year, they are not even able to use up the amount of funds—usually quite modest—allocated to them. This is coupled with the failure of these ministries on many occasions to successfully execute projects and produce desirable results.”

This is causing millions of dollars pumped into Afghanistan to go to waste.

Ethnic problems have even affected President Karzai: in all three of the offices he has held as head of the Afghan government so far, he has faced the specter of balancing ethnic representation. While trying to divide power equally, president Karzai is forced to discredit merit and competence. For example, in his current cabinet, the minister for water and power is Ismail Khan, an ethnic Tajik warlord. Khan has very little formal education and is certainly not capable of smoothly running the ministry. He has been chosen minister because President Karzai had to give the Tajiks an acceptable role in his government.

The entire political arena and the parliament in Afghanistan are dominated by three parties representing the three largest ethnic groups. Other parties, striving for a ‘united’ Afghanistan and advocating national reconciliation, have almost no say in the proceedings.

This ethnic dimension in the state of affairs in Afghanistan has already done much damage. It is still going unheeded; and, if this trend continues in the future, it can even endanger the very bases of democracy from the country; not to mention the fact that the international efforts may go to waste as well.

Nonetheless, it must also be known that eradicating this problem may require a considerably long time. Even on the common-man level, ethnic divides run deep. Ethnicities find it very hard if not impossible to rid themselves in a couple of years of the mutual distrust which has taken decades to build up. And, to build up confidence and a sense of solidarity among the masses, it is vital to use the media systematically and methodically. Also, inter-ethnic cultural festivals must be organized to bring the peoples closer. In the meantime, the administration must remain disinterested and unaffiliated to the maximum extent possible to any particular ethnic group. It is also very important not to offer governmental posts to warlords and other individuals who are notorious among the people due to their bleak track records in persecuting peoples of a particular ethnic group. The last two steps are difficult as they have almost had no precedent in the last one hundred years in Afghanistan. However, a gradual trend for change, coupled with the DIAG—disbandment of illegal armed groups—and a strong administration, can achieve this goal.

Note: This post was originally written by me, the author of MyScribbles: Write-ups of an Afghan, and contributed to Publius Pundit.


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MyScribbles Responds: Answers to Comments on America’s Dirtiest Open Secrets

When I originally posted America’s Dirtiest Open Secrets, I intended it to be only of educative nature. However, it became astonishingly popular and attracted an unprecedented level of user comments. However, most of the comments were illogical and emotional. I had tried to supply proof in order to substantiate what I said, but instead, I met irrationality and emotionality. I received a lot of comments like: “The second part of # 3 is bullshit”, “Yes, we people of the U.S.A. completely f*cked things up and now take full responsibility for the error of our ways”, “i’m getting really tired of reading so much ant-america crud. if you don’t like living here in america them move!! better yet,join the dam*ed iraqi movement”, “…but your article is hypocritical, fallacious, a harangued calumny!…But its good though”, etc.

However, there were some very thoughtful comments too from which I learned a lot. Also, there were some that require more attention. Here they are with my responses to them…


“We should have allowed the Russians to simply conquer Afghanistan How dare we interfere!”

Did you know that the Afghans were better off during the Soviet-installed regime of Dr Najibullah than during any other period in the last fifty years? Prices were low, employment was high, food and ration were distributed among the people plentifully and the country was peaceful. Everyone was happy. Then came the Mujahideen and worse yet, the American-sponsored Taliban. Life became very bad for everyone. Killings, beatings and public executions became the order of the day.

And by the way, you didn’t interfere because you wanted to help; you interfered because you wanted to curb the growth of the Communist bloc in Central Asia.

“And Iran, a country 3 times the population of Iraq, should have been allowed to conquer their neighbor.” [Comment justifying the US backing of Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war]

Actually Iran didn’t attack Iraq; rather, it was the other way round. Even if it had been so, do you think it would have been legitimate to urge and help Iraq to counter the Iranian attack by the use of chemical weapons on civilians?

“Yes, we tried to help a friendly government (the Shah) and stopped helping when the crazies took over.” [Comment about the American help for the start-up of the Iranian nuclear program during the Shah]

You were not helping a ‘friendly country’, you were using a yes-man (the Shah) to further your own profits. Remember the six billion dollars in cash profits that went into corporate accounts in America?

“And yes, I remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Do you remember Pearl Harbor???” [Comment justifying the American use of the atom bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki]

Oh, yes, I remember Pearl Harbor: It was a military base in Oahu, Hawaii, which was attacked by Japanese fighter planes on December 7, 1941. It was a military base. And you are trying to make the attack on a military target as an excuse to mount an attack on two purely civilian targets. And remember, one of the basic criteria for selecting Hiroshima and Nagasaki was that the bombs should produce the highest possible effect on the morale of the Japanese people by killing them and inflicting damage unto them and their property to the maximum extent possible.

“there is nothing wrong with helping another nation create something of this nature” [comment about America’s backing to start Iran’s atomic program during the Shah]

 

There are many problems with helping a nation gain an atomic bomb. The foremost problem is that you are going against the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (I admit, the US helped start Iran’s nuclear program before the NPT came into effect). Then there is the problem of irresponsible usage and further proliferation. I think these two reasons are enough to deter any nation state from helping another nation to make an atomic bomb.

“Fat man and Little boy probably did more to stop continuing attempts at conquest than anything ever has in history, it puzzles me why not many see this as clearly as I do.” [Comment justifying the use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki]

 

 

Fat Man and Little Boy have also probably killed more civilians in one shot than any other bomb. I believe the use of a weapon of mass destruction is almost never justified; and, in the circumstances prevalent in Japan at that time, it was a complete no-no. This view is echoed by Einstein and Szliard, the two scientists who prompted America to make atom bombs. Furthermore, according to General Douglas McArthur, General Carl Spaatz, Brigadier General Carter Clark, Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy and some other high-ranking American army officials at that time, the target of deterring the Japanese from further continuing the war could have been achieved by other more feasible tactics. In addition, as General Eisenhower had advised the Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, in July 1945, the Japanese had almost essentially been defeated much before the use of the bomb. Wikipedia has a good argumentative article both for and against the use of the atomic bomb. I hope you will read them and come to a more rational conclusion rather than an emotional one motivated by patriotism and other such feelings.

 

“I also notice that you post nothing of the good Americas has and continues to do around the world. Why don’t you write about how wonderful your world would be without America?”

First, it is wrong that I don’t write the about ‘good’ things America has done. Second, there are not enough really good things done by America to inspire me to write about them. All I see are maladministration, misconduct, anti-human and egoistic policies being pursued by American politicians.

My world (as an Afghan) would have been far better if it weren’t for America. It would have been far better if I, my family and my people hadn’t suffered in the hands of the American-backed Taliban and Al-Qaeda. It would have been far better if I hadn’t suffered the disastrous effects of the destructive policies pursued and formulated in Washington. It would have been far better if my country hadn’t seen the wars and destruction it saw in the hands of superpowers including Britain and Soviet Union. It would have been far better if I had lived and educated among my people and in the peaceful atmosphere of my country. It would have been far better if I hadn’t been rendered destitute as a result of American and Soviet imperialistic policies.

 

Also, the world would have been far better for me and many other people form Vietnam, Iraq, North Korea, the Balkans, Japan, Cambodia, Palestine, Israel, Niger and all other places around the world where they are either directly affected by American policies or indirectly by the misconduct of its greedy multinationals and puppet regimes.

 

 

“You cannot lay the blame for Al-Quaeda on America, no more than you can lay the blame of atrocities of any war upon the shoulders of civilians.”

America created Al-Qaeda, funded it, provided it with logistical support and expertise and legitimized it among the Muslim people. This is a solid, proven fact. Don’t you think America should be blamed for it?

 

 

 

“I just…I’m scared of the terrorists.”

That is exactly what the Bush administration wants you to be. It wants to capitalize upon your fears in order to levy more tax on your hard-earned money so that they can spend trillions of dollars on buying arms and creating and funding organizations like Al-Qaeda.

 

“i’m getting really tired of reading so much ant-america crud. if you don’t like living here in america them move!! better yet,join the dam*ed iraqi movement”

Just because you are tired of hearing ‘anti-American crud’ doesn’t mean the realities have changed and that America didn’t do the wrong it has done. All of this ‘anti-American crud’ is intended to awaken negligent citizens in America and to motivate them to take action.

 

Also, I am not living in America. I am an Afghan living in Pakistan.

 

“This guy is an Afgan living in Pakistan. Most likely a pashtun loser. Get a life moron, your country is doing great without you. Come back to Afganistan and w’ll kick your butt in public.”

Yep, I am an Afghan living in Pakistan. However, I am not a ‘Pashtun loser.’ Quite on the contrary, I am a Hazara—one of the three largest ethnic groups and the most down-trodden one. Please do not try to make a distinction between the different ethnic groups in my country. We are trying to stay calmly and peacefully together. Oh, and who are you to kick my butt in my own country?

And by the way, if you can not contribute to a public debate like this in a responsible, logical manner, why do you resort to irrationality and bad behavior?

“Can we truly believe everything written in Wikipedia? My history is not that strong but I believe in the saying that history is written by the victors. There may be more than meets the eye.” [Comment regarding the selection of my sources to back my opinions]

If you were to believe any source of information, you would most probably believe Wikipedia. It is written by knowledgeable people volunteering from around the world. It has a good moderation policy. If a writer shows a biased opinion or inaccuracy, readers and writers from around the world can point it out and the problem would be settled in a ‘discussion page’. This doesn’t mean Wikipedia is completely accurate and unbiased, but it is much more accurate and unbiased than any other source because it is not bounded by corporate or state interests.

“Yes, the USA has done great things for world as well.”

I don’t remember anything truly nice done by America. All the ‘nice’ things done are a result of the cunning of American administrations in shaping the public view in their own interest. And very honestly, maybe I am too skeptical of the American foreign policy to notice the ‘nice’ things, but I am very truthfully waiting for someone to show me something truly good that America has done for all the peoples of the world.

“But average American people are not in the situation room at the Pentagon.” [Comment arguing that American citizens are doing enough to keep a check on their politicians]

America is a democratic country in which the policymakers can be directly held accountable for their wrongdoings. And quite honestly the rest of the world hasn’t seen any remarkable sense of responsibility from the American public in the wake of the destructive policies its policymakers pursue. Many Americans say, “Look, I’m an average American guy. I can sense all the terrible things done by my government. But I did my part. I didn’t vote for Bush and the other creeps.” But they fail to recognize that their democratic duties range far beyond only using their vote. As George Bush once said, “With great power comes greater responsibility”, and, as the citizens of the most powerful country in the world, you have the greatest responsibility to keep your policymakers sane.

I am not saying America has to be 100% noble and sane. It is powerful. And power, by nature, is subjugating, dominating and greedy. Therefore, American citizens have to do their best to keep it as sane as possible.

America’s Dirtiest Open Secrets

(Or Five Things Everyone Must Know About America)

The Americans admit it themselves and I agree: They are a bunch of oblivious folks too engrossed in their struggle to obtain the American Dream to pay heed to anything else. They have too much of a blind faith in their democratic values and in their elected leaders. Therefore, they do too little to keep a check on the activities of these leaders. Resultantly, they pursue policies which, despite being in negation to the American values, go unchecked—even supported at times.

This post attempts to introduce to them—and to all of my readers—some of the dark policies pursued by American politicians.

  1. America created the biggest and most dangerous terrorist organization—Al-Qaeda. Yes, America created Al-Qaeda. When the Russians invaded Afghanistan in the late 70s, Al-Qaeda emerged as an international Jihadi movement against the Soviets. It was funded directly by the Pakistanis and Saudis and indirectly by America, which channeled its military hardware and other logistics through the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate. For more details, read this Wikipedia article.
  2. America created the Taliban. Again yes, America created the Taliban. Ahmad Rashid, a widely acclaimed Pakistani intellectual, writes in his book, Taliban, that: “The Taliban originated when the CIA with ISI recruited radical Muslims from around the world to fight with the Afghan mujahadeen against the Soviet Union.” Ahmed Rashid also estimates that after 1982 more than 100,000 Muslims from dozens of countries received political or military training in the CIA-backed camps of Pakistan and Afghanistan. For more details, read this Wikipedia article about Taliban.
  3. America sold arms to Iraq and urged it to use WMDs against civilians in Iran. During Iraq’s war with Iran, many American policymakers, arms suppliers and makers benefited immensely by selling large amounts of weaponry to Iraq. These weapons included chemical agents like cyanide. In addition, America also encouraged Iraq to use chemical weapons against Iranian civilians and helped Iraq develop its chemical weapons arsenal. For more details, read Iraq and Chemical Weapons: the US Connection by Daniel E Boles.
  4. America helped Iran to start its nuclear program. During the Shah’s period, America signed two agreements–the Atoms for Peace Program and the U.S.-Iran Nuclear Cooperation Agreement–with Iran to urge it to start its nuclear program. These two pacts, which would help Iran build up to 20 nuclear reactors, brought the US corporations as much as $6 billion in profits. However, after the Iranian revolution of 1979, America stopped backing Iran and its nuclear program. Resultantly, the program remained suspended for some time. Today, however, Iran is still trying to pursue what it calls a peaceful nuclear program. For more details read this Wikipedia article and this report written from an Iranian perspective.
  5. America is the only country to have used WMDs against civilians. Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki? American bombs, Little Boy and Fat Man, killed 66 and 39,000 innocent civilians respectively. This Yale University website has a very good report.

America also used Depleted Uranium (DU) in the Gulf War, in the Balkans and allegedly in its recent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. DU is a highly penetrating, toxic element which can cause an increase in cancers and severe birth defects. The use of DU not only affected American war veterans, but has also thousands, maybe millions of innocent people in areas it was used. DU is considered to be a WMD and its use is prohibited by many international agreements. For more details, read this BBC report, this Information Clearing House article, this Sunday Herald report and this report by Prof. M. Miraki, an Afghan expatriate [WARNING: This last report contains extremely graphic images which most visitors may find disturbing].

America’s use of the herbicide, Agent Orange, not only caused health problems and damage to its own veterans in Vietnam, but also to millions of Vietnamese who live in areas sprayed by this toxic agent. Currently there are 150,000 Vietnamese children with birth defects caused by Agent Orange. For more information, read this BBC report, this Wikipedia article, and the Department of Veterans Affairs website.

With all these hideous crimes, I fail to find a reason why Americans still back administrations which are not only against American values, but also against the common human morals; which kill indiscriminately and which only think of their own personal ends and those of a few corporations. This makes Noam Chomsky’s claim that thought control is conducted to spread a matrix of necessary illusions, true; and, the necessity of ‘an intellectual self-defense’, inevitable.

 

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Disturbing News From Iran

This bit of news, depicting the maltreatment of Afghan refugees in Iran, has almost gone unnoticed.

HERAT CITY, June 18 (Pajhwok Afghan News): Bodies of seven Afghans, killed in the Iranian city of Shiraz, have arrived … The seven people, who were members of the same family, had gone to Iran to seek the hand of an Iranian girl for a boy named Noor Ali. However, father of the girl, in connivance with his associates, allegedly shot dead all the seven people, including the would be bridegroom, his mother, two brothers and three cousins. Read the rest of the story here.

 

Comments and analysis on this issue will be posted shortly.

Why the Latest Kabul Unrest?

On May 29th, a US armored vehicle, while patrolling through the streets of Kabul, crashes into a dozen Afghan cars and kills four on the spot. The angry Afghans, who attribute the attack to an apparently 'drunk' driver, retaliate by throwing stones at the Americans. The Americans, later assisted by the Afghan police force, open fire on the mob. The affair goes out of control as more Afghans join the agitated mob and indulge in arson. Order is restored in the afternoon by which time as many as 20 protestors are killed by firing from security personnel. Many buildings and shops are set ablaze and looted. The deadliest incident involving civilians since the ouster of the Taliban, it has prompted serious trepidations among ordinary Afghans regarding the stability of the country.

However, answering the question as to how a handful of protestors turned out to be violent enough to neglect security measures and indulge in anarchy in such large scope is important. Some speculate that the peoples' incubating frustration at the slow pace of progress in the country led to the incident. While I wouldn't totally rule out the involvement of this factor, I would also like to point out a few other factors which have played critical roles.

Afghanistan prides itself over having defeated the then superpower Russians in the late 1980s. They also pride themselves over their victory against the Britons in the early 1900s when the then superpower retreated with only one severely wounded soldier left in its ranks. The Afghans still believe that despite their war-weariness, they can thwart out any 'invasion' on their soil.

The looming presence of foreign troops is hurting that national pride. On top of that, the troops' domineering behavior characterized by their careless patrols, recklessness in breaking local laws and ridiculing the local people, is fermenting resentment against them. This means the people react very strongly whenever-during such incidents-they get a chance of doing so. This also means that the widespread protests may have been a response to those feelings of subjugation and trampled national pride.

Afghanistan, with no exception of the capital, Kabul, is still geographically divided over ethnic lines. West Kabul, for example, is identified by its predominant Hazara populace; areas like the Qal'a Cha, by their predominant Pushtoon inhabitants, while Khair Khana, where the bloody traffic incident took place, is known by its Tajik population. Some speculate-with a fair degree of verity-that since the protests began there, and that the protestors were carrying photos of the Tajik warlord, Massoud, it may very well have been an upshot of incitement by Karzai's archrival and Tajik leader, Younus Qanuni.

However, that alone doesn't seem to have been the cause. When ATN-a private TV channel operating in Kabul-came under attack, the police-despite having been requested to interfere-came to the rescue two hours later, by which time almost half of the TV station had been engulfed by fire.

The fact that President Karzai fired 50 police officers and relocated more than 30 others right after the riots is an indicator of the incompetence of the force. Among those fired was the Kabul police chief, Jamil Junbish, who lost his job because the reaction of his department had been "very weak." The Defense Ministry, which admitted its shortcomings, has also been criticized by many. The worsening of situation after the traffic accident can almost exclusively be attributed to a poor handling of the incident by these institutions.

The growing dislike for foreign troops, dirty politics, and incompetence of the administrative cadres are some of the important catalysts which, if left unattended, can help speed up Afghanistan's tumble into chaos.


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I no longer update this weblog due to academic and other preoccupations. However, feel free to browse through its older entries. Thanks.
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