Jan 29, 2014

America's Drone War Stoned by Afghans

Apparently this drone has crashed three weeks ago. According to PressTV, the unmanned drone has crashed in western province of Herat. From people's words in the video, it appears that the incident has happened in a Pashtun area. Nothing has yet said or published online by American officials in Afghanistan to disclose any details about the incident.

The militants has claimed they have shot it down and then they have taken away the wreckage of aerial vehicle. Since the incident happened in Herat province, which is coterminous with Iran, it might be possible that the Taliban have sold it to Iran. If the Taliban have not sold it to Iran, then, one would wonder, what use the wreckage of drone may have to the Taliban? Apparently nothing and they may destroy it by throwing stones at it, as they do in this video.

A friend of friend who had shared this video on his facebook page sarcastically titled "the stranded pilgrim." According to some, this beast has done a great job, so far, on going after the Al Qaeda members and the Taliban militants. Most of the operations have been taking place in Southern Afghanistan, alongside the borders with Pakistan. The area is predominately populated by Pashtun tribe, a major ethnic group in Afghanistan.

In particular and related to this incident, a plausible guess would cast on American drone operation on Iranian soil, otherwise Herat has not been a hotbed of Taliban activities. Previously, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has often been accused of supplying weapons and funds to the Taliban. It is also possible that the drone had cruised alongside the border of Afghanistan adjacent to Iran to observe the Taliban's movement on the border.

Jan 21, 2014

Under the Frozen Tears of God

riding my bike in the snow
Today, I took my bike out to ride around the block for fun, slipped twice and fell off on the street, made people laugh and it was all entertaining and enjoyable.

riding my bike in the snow
It feels great to bike in a foot of snow, but be careful if you're going to do it, you need to lower the seat, just enough to control your balance. You also need to have mud or studded tires to prevent slide.

Heaps of snow is going to blanket the entire East Coast of the United States tonight. It has been snowing since Tuesday morning with a slightly frigid chill that is sweeping across the Northeast. Tomorrow, a bitter cold is expected to follow after the sky satiates itself from shedding its frozen tears on to earth.

Today, I was feeling nostalgic for those snowy days in the most far-flog village in the central Afghanistan. The snow storm of today reminded me the heavy snow fall - up to 3 and sometimes 4 feet snow - in my village. I recall the winters in which sometimes the slow and steady snow lasted five days. I recall the winter that as a result of a heavy snow a barn was collapsed in the village. In one morning, when I walked out of the house, my elder brother asked me to stand at the edge of snow wall, the snow was higher than my height. I was 11 years old.

The flat and little houses of villagers were enveloped with snow and roads were completely blocked. We used to spend almost three days removing the snow from the roofs, paths, barns and backyards. Then, the fourth day, the whole community were getting together for a mass clearing of the snow from long paths leading to other communities. For almost 3 months, the communities in the entire district were going into hibernation.

In this way, life was simple and warm. It was easy to believe anything that was told us and we never knew what the fact was and what fiction was. Everything was new and fascinating to us. Old mythical stories always amused and amazed us, especially, when we listened to some of them with absolute horror. The fairies, ghosts, and deads becoming alive, were the stories that bewitched our little souls and captivated our memories with imagery fears and attractions.

It is those days’ memories that cling to me, every once in a while. It is those endless reminiscences that fascinate every moment of my life, today. It is those stories, and nostalgia that wistfully hint a river of melancholy mood in me, in the dismal winter of Pennsylvania.

Jan 20, 2014

The Aftermath of Kabul Restaurant Attack

  Afghanistan security forces help an injured man from the scene of the attack, where at least 21 — mostly foreigners — were killed.
By: Massoud Hossaini/AP
The Taliban attack on a Lebanese restaurant, the “Taverne du Liban” in Kabul, which took 21 lives, 13 foreigners, and 8 Afghans, caused a great grief to many families inside and outside Afghanistan. The question that should be asked the Afghan security apparatus and President Hamid Karzai would be: “How is it possible that the three suicide attackers penetrated one of the most highly secure areas in Kabul?”

The government has already suspended three police chiefs who were obviously responsible for Wazir Akbar Khan’s security breach. With no doubt one of these police chiefs must be responsible for allowing the attackers to pass through the security barricades, several check points, and finally infiltrate into the building. It is quite likely that one of those chiefs has received money from the Taliban, and might have involved in the scheme independently if not acted in a group. If so, there must be an element of distrust between Karzai and his senior government officials who might be linked with the Taliban over the attack. Otherwise, doubt may cast on Karzai himself and his commitment towards people’s security. Karzai has been infamous for sympathizing with the Taliban calling them “unhappy brothers” and most importantly, he recently decided to release 72 Taliban prisoners who were considered the most “dangerous criminals.”

Inside Afghanistan, some believe that the recent attack on Kabul restaurant might have operated by those Taliban prisoners that Karzai ordered the release a week ago. However, the Afghan officials have already said that such a sophisticated and complex attack is not expected from the ordinary Taliban. The Afghanistan's National Security Council (which is chaired by Hamid Karzai) has blamed the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, for orchestrating the attack.

Whoever is behind the attack the consequence will be costly on Afghanistan, and its people. First, the security breach demonstrates the weakness of Afghan security forces, and specifically their incapability of sustaining the security of foreigners in Kabul. Such attacks are serious threats towards foreign investors and the consequence is detrimental to the Afghan fledgling economy, which has already flagged as the foreign aid has started drying up. In addition, such attacks on foreigners will potentially generate a ground of distrust and cynicism between foreigners and Afghans. As a result, the community of expatriates in Kabul will isolate more than before as mistrust is breeding.

Second, the accusation of Pakistan involvement in the attack will definitely have a serious repercussion on Afghanistan-Pakistan fragile relations. Since the Afghan government has earnestly been seeking Pakistan’s cooperation for peace talk with the Taliban, the National Security Council’s allegation may halt the peace process efforts, and it is very likely that within the next few days the Pakistani officials will angrily react to the Afghan government’s accusation.

Third, for the Afghan people, since the United State has decided to withdraw its troops in 2014, such attacks cause serious concern for their security. A Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) which allows some of the U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan and has already approved by the Afghan tribal elders, Karzai still refuses to sign the agreement. Finally, such attacks will certainly be a threat to the upcoming 2014 Afghanistan’s presidential elections, though Karzai would benefit for postponing the election in order to hold on to power beyond 2014.

Jan 13, 2014

ISI’s Plot at Indian Consulate in New York

The Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, who was arrested on a slavery offense in New York, finally left the United States for her home country. At the V.I.P aisle at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, hanging on his father's shoulder, Khobragade complained about her cavity search by police in New York: “They put their hands here,” pointing to her crotch “and here,” pointing to her cleavage, “I didn’t understand what they wanted from me.” Said Khobragade.

A journalist who belonged to the National Democratic Alliance asked Khobragade: “Don’t you think your case is being knowingly confused by the ruling party in India that no official has regretted so far?” While Khobragade tried to get her strength back and find an answer, another journalist asked: “Ms. Khobragade, don’t you think your case is a modern day slavery, which is a norm and widely practiced in India and deeply engrained in Indian psych that they don’t think it is wrong?” Bewildered, Khobragade, in the meantime, looking chagrined, she angrily tried to answer the question, but her father, Uttam Khobragade, intervened: “It was a plot by the Pakistan ISI to prepare the ground for another attack on Indian soil by Lashkar-e-Taiba, like the 2008-Mumbai Attacks. Don’t worry, this time, it will be on the U.S. Embassy.” He was reminding the journalists of India’s retaliation against the United States in which the Indian government removed security barriers to U.S. embassy as anger over the diplomat's arrest.

Uttam Khobragade said to media that the slavery charge against his daughter was a plot by the Pakistani intelligence service in New York. Uttam added that at first, he believed that his daughter’s ordeal was a complicated machination by the CIA, but he finally came to the conclusion that Sangeeta Richard was an ISI agent.

“Slave,” Sangeeta Richard, who earlier this week spoke to journalists in New York City, denied the Uttamn’s claim that she has been an ISI agent. She told the media that she was forced by Ms. Khobragade to work 168 to 190 hours a week, with no breaks for sleep, calls, and meals. “I told her a lot of time that madam, I’m unhappy, too much work, no time to do my things.” Ms. Richards continued while a mood of despondency turned her face pale: “In two years, no sex, nothing. Every time I tried with my husband, Philip in Delhi, over the phone, madam interrupted.” Said, salve, Sangeeta Richard.

On Friday, January 11, the Indian government welcomed the return of Devyani Khobragade, and promised to appoint Ms. Khobragade as the Minister of Modern Slavery of India.

Jan 10, 2014

Karzai Gives Away his Bloody Swords

Afghan President Hamid Karzai donated dozens of his bloody swords to the National Museum of Afghanistan. The ceremony which was held under a tight security measure at the Afghan presidential palace hosted chieftains, clan elders with dyed and hoary beards from all over Afghanistan. According to the news, the ceremony started three hours late due to Karzai’s health condition, which was caused by his emotional attachment to his swords that were prepared to be given away.

Among the participants, a long-bearded man in black turban who lost his temper stood up and frantically said: “I’ve never waited for three minutes for my wife let alone three hours for a puppet.” Elders who were personally invited by Karzai gradually began to lose their patience. Another elder who claimed to have three of his failed suicide-mission sons pardoned by Hamid Karzai cried: “This pig-headed doesn’t realize that in three hours I can water my three acre poppy field.”

The hall which was in a complete mayhem, suddenly, sank into full silence as soon as President Karzai entered.  Pausing, and looking around, Karzai, who was overwhelmed by a feeling of pensive sadness, approached the podium.

With a sullen gesture and after repeating “brethrens, you’re welcome” Karzai addressed the participants: “I’m giving away these swords, the honors of our nation and history, the swords that were confiscated from the first infidels who intruded into our fatherland and were contemptuously defeated by us lions, by proud Afghans.” By mentioning “the intrusion of first infidels” Karzai was reminding the elders of the first Anglo-Afghan War in 1839-1842 that left a heavy death toll on the British.

After rubbing his eyes that became red, tears instantly started trickling down his face; Karzai lost his control, first mumbling, but then, hysterically saying: “These are the swords that chopped off the infidels’ heads from their bodies, not far away from here,” Karzai continued while pointing his finger to the southern corner of the hall “Their bones can still be found at Bala Hissar.”

While struggling to overcome his emotion, Karzai, with his right hand pulled out a scimitar with dried blood. He then addressed the elders: “This is the sword that our four fathers used to kill the invaders, the dried blood you see on it is the blood of British soldiers.” Elders immediately cried out: “God is great, down with the infidels, we will kill the infidels.” One of the elders whose blood was boiling as a result of Karzai’s oration against foreigners, immediately started bleeding. Blood gushed out of his ears, nose, and mouth.

Finally, President Karzai erratically took out a sabre - dripping blood - from his sheath, and addressed the elders: “I will not surrender myself to these American infidels; I will not sign the Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States.” He then left the hall without further delay.

The participants all began bleeding, and finally, all sunk into a pool of their own blood, except a short man from Bamiyan with a rounded face, and flat nose who survived. A journalist asked him why he didn’t bleed. In his response, the flat-nosed man while pale and confounded said: “I don’t have blood. I have been bleeding throughout the history.”

Note: The scimitar and sabre were used by the Afghans against the British soldiers in the first Anglo-Afghan War. Some of those swords can still be found in some Afghans' households. Some other parts are allusions to Afghanistan's history, and particularly a reflection on the current political situation.

Jan 3, 2014

Why Modernism didn't Take Place in Afghanistan?

In his introduction in The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan, Vartan Gregorian, mentions a quote from Mohammed Ali’s book, A New Guide to Afghanistan, as follows:

“No country comparable to Afghanistan in size and no people approaching the Afghans in historical interest and importance have received so little consideration at the hands of modern writers as have Afghanistan and the Afghans.”
For its importance and its relevance, Gregorian, puts this quote, contextually, in the 19th century of Afghanistan in which he argues that Afghanistan, for the most part, was culturally isolated, and protected as a parochial region in the Muslim world. That is one of the reasons that Afghanistan remained an unknown region to the rest of the world. He then draws a bigger picture by putting Afghanistan in the colonial frame; Gregorian says that causality of this “isolationism” and “parochialism,” relates to the fact that Afghanistan never undergone of a period of direct, and intensive European colonial rule.

This kind of argument has always made, and for the most part, it is true that Afghanistan in the 19th century had been thrown into the ditch of negligence. In part, colonialism could be blamed for this negligence, on another part, imperialism, however, by in large, it was the Afghans who had been the most neglectful, and ignorantly resentful to spread of any modern, or, European thought in their country. The effect of the harbouring resentment, of course, as Gregorian mentions in his book, was almost a total isolation that its effect has been destructively but invisibly palpable throughout the 19th and 20th century.

There was a chance, at the time, for Afghanistan to layout the ground and expect the waves of modernism, or, European thoughts, which could help Afghanistan not to be completely ignored. Unfortunately, however, it was the tribal Afghan Kings – who were mostly Pashtuns – were unable to understand the necessity of basic human needs, let alone modern thought, and developmental tools; they rather dragged Afghanistan into their Pashtun tribal domination, Pashtun parochialism, and Pashtunwali (a non-written tribal code of conduct of the Pashtuns). 

Tribal groups among Pashtuns began fighting over power – that who should rule Afghanistan – and as a result of blood feuds, they not only wrecked their own bases of tribal unison, but they wreaked havoc on potentiality of human development of other tribes in Afghanistan, namely the Tajiks, the Hazaras, and the Uzbeks. Therefore, Vartan Gregorian’s argument is legitimate, and understandable that if, today, one wonders why modern writers neglected Afghanistan, the clue is to dig into the history of modern Afghanistan, specifically, the period of 18th and 19th century.

Jan 1, 2014

Refusal to Silence

Months have passed by in muteness, I finally decided to return to blogging. This is not a resolution of the New Year, this is rather a promise to myself to update my blog regularly, and ultimately, this is an end to a period of stagnation. This post is a refusal to silence of almost a year; a period in which trifling matter entangled and restrained me from updating this blog.

Having spent four years studying in United States, I feel I've transformed significantly. Great people with their generosity and help made my dream possible which I'm indebted to them for the rest of my life. Henceforth, I’d like to verbalize my experience and my feelings here; the feelings that slip away unnoticed; the feelings that come from meeting incredible individuals, with great experiences and inspiring stories; the individuals who splendidly shared with me an array of knowledge and wisdom. I should acknowledge here that most of them have been the sources of growth and changes in me. I often think about them and I gratefully bow to them in my solitude.

Finally, there’s also one other thing happens today: The assumed date of my birth. With this note, I wish you all a blissful new year!