Jul 17, 2007

Picnicking Out of Kabul

Last Friday we went out of Kabul for a picnic. I was invited by my German friend Martin Garner.
In the early morning I went to Park-e- Share-e-Naw to watch partridge fighting in order to complete my articles about animal fighting in Afghanistan. After some murmurings the competition started. I witnessed two matches and interviewed the winners.

Later I called Martin and joined him after an hour that I passed in the heavy traffic. It was not only me who Martin and his friend were waiting for but another Kandahari guy coming from far away was expected too. We came out of the car and walked along side the area when I saw a motorcyclist stopping nearby and looking as seriously. Soon, he pulled out his cell-phone and started calling and looking. I was about to be afraid and noticed Martin and his Afghan friend who were talking in French. When he heard what I saw he was afraid more than me and started calling to his friends who had left us in the street.

After a while his friend came and we continued our journey to Wardak. We had multi problems, not only security, and this deteriorated over the last few days. The driver was careless and nearly crashed two to three times. After we insisted much, he started to drive a bit more slowly but still there was fear. We reached Maidan Wardak, where a tanker was set on fire just a few days before. I asked Martin to change his seat and sit in the back to avoid more attention. On the way we saw a school that was fired at and a road was ruined by a roadside bomb.
“This village is full of Taliban and I have no doubt that many bombs are planted at the road side”, the driver whispered slowly to his friend.

We reached and entered his village in Sayed Abad and after turning we stopped in front of a house where we were invited by Nawid Sahil. We drove to a garden where many elderly villagers were already drinking and chatting. We sat on a carpet and leaned on pillows. For the whole way I had felt increasingly tension but I was comfortable at last. I told Martin that these villagers have the power and control, and we’re safe. The villagers were talking about political issues and it seemed they were not very satisfied with the Karzai government.
The glassman who seemed to be a family member of our host was asking us from time to time how we felt, “do we feel comfortable?” I assured him that we were fine and comfortable.

We started to eat lunch very late; if it would have taken any longer we were close to start eating the leaves.
The meals were delicious, the bread was local and tasty, and especially the yoghurt’s water was so yummy. The guys were telling us about the local beer. It was a bit strange that a few people drank beer while the elder villagers were there. I thought maybe they might not understand if it was bear rather than Pepsy or any other soft drink.

The lunch was too much and we only ate a bit of it. This is a part of Afghan traditions; they always cook more than there are expected guests. They presume other coming un-expected guests or sometimes are afraid of having a lesser meal. It is a bad reputation for the hosts if meals don’t satisfy the guests. Therefore they cook for 50 people when there are only 20 invited.

I was a bit uncomfortable because of the security measures and the tight space where to walk around. You had to be careful when walking in garden, and there shouldn’t be women in sight otherwise you’ll be shot by the men. This is what they call honor and pride; this is a very sensitive part of the traditions, mostly among Pashton but among other ethnicities differences are there. For example the Hazara woman works with her man side by side and appears with him together in public, same for Tajiks.

On our way returning to Kabul, we changed the car, now obviously with a good driver who was careful of himself. The same fear I had felt in the morning I felt again in the afternoon. We again put Martin among us to hide him out of sight to not attract curiosity. When we crossed the Maidan Shar hill I was a bit relieved and thought that at least we were not in danger anymore.
The Taliban's influence on the people is growing. Their access to the villagers too.

A few weeks ago, Taliban entered into the Wardak district “Sayeed Abad” and asked the local governor to leave his job and support the Taliban. Local elders and the governor discussed, and after two weeks they told and promised the Taliban that if they conquer Ghazni province they will join and support them.

Taliban are entering villages and distribute their messages through Mullah’s and students studying in religious schools. They promise to support the villagers and to bring peace instead of horrors and fears. In their message they call the people to stand up against the US and its allies, they call for the people to stand up against the US forces who killed the civilians in southern provinces. Recently a video of beheading people who supported the US and the Karzai government was released by the Taliban. In the video some of the people were beheaded from their back neck while others kept their feet tight. One of the pictures shows Mullah Dadullah, the infamous and brutal Taliban leader who was killed a few months ago in the Uruzgan province by the international forces.

Jul 12, 2007

Family Supporter


Every day her mother makes her some Bolani (Afghan fast food) and sells each one for 5 afg, almost ten cents.
She is 9 years old and wishes to go to school one day. She wishes that one day they’ll have food at home and a schoolbag for her brother. She wishes for the day when he will have shoes on his feet. She is tired.

I asked her if she likes to go to school.
“If I go to school who is going to take care of my little brother and sister? Who is going to feed my mother? We don’t have a home, we don’t have food, and we don’t have money. That is why I am coming to the street to sell Bolani and earn a little money, to buy food for my family”, she answered.

I looked down at her feet in the old torn shoes. Her toes came out and were terribly harmed. She suffers from her long walks to reach this place to sell her bread.
“Look I have no shoes to go to school; I walk 30 minutes to get here. And here I am not comfortable also, because the traffic comes towards me, forcing me to leave this place. At night when I go back home I am tired and I can’t play. So I go to sleep and early in the morning I wake up again and take me and my breads back to this place”, she said.

Jul 3, 2007

Taliban Radio station back On air


Radio Voice of Shariat has been launched again by the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. Locals and authorities have accepted that they started broadcasting in the southern provinces. Radio Voice of Shariat has been heard in the provinces of Paktia, Paktika and Khost.

In June 1996, when the Taliban captured the capital of Kabul, they controlled the Radio and TV. They cancelled what they considered ‘female stuff’, and turned off the TV, after which broadcasting through Radio in MW and FM was started. Playing music and broadcasting female sounds was stopped; meanwhile they changed Radio Afghanistan to Radio Voice of Shariat.
Following September 11 and after opposition forces entered Kabul with the help of the US, Radio Voice of Shariat was stopped. And Radio Afghanistan started its broadcasting.

According to locals, the programs were already heard during the last few years. According to locals Radio Shariat broadcasts every night from an unknown place on FM band, which can be heard for over a week. Most of their programs are propaganda against the Karzai government and international forces based in Afghanistan.
Their propaganda calls the country occupied and they encourage the people to fight against the government and international forces. Parts of the program are messages of Mullah Mohammad Omer, the Taliban leader that provokes people for Jihad.

They do broadcast songs, but without music, the same music was heard during the times when Afghanistan was under their control. The songs do have music; are more provocative and remind the history of Taliban as a good period of their rule.
In the songs the Taliban played during their time of rule, the Northern Alliance was described as un-Islamic, and fighting them was called the holy war.

The Taliban used to distribute letters throughout the night, dropping them in the front of house doors, throwing them inside shops, hanging them on walls and especially in mosques.
As long as Radio Shariat broadcasts, they are able to have easily access to people, and this will make it easier too for them to reach people and harass them.

Without doubt they’re getting more powerful day by day, but this is just one of the signs, now that they launched a mobile FM radio that makes it difficult to trace the place from where they are broadcasting.