Sep 1, 2021

Why did Kabul fall so easily into the Taliban's hands?

They came, yes, the Taliban came at last, the vampires to drink the human blood, they are still thirsty though they have spilled too much blood for the past 20 years but it seems not enough. 

People were expecting this calamity but no one expected it to such a degree that overnight everything fell apart. The political turmoil in the months of May and June featured a doomy future. It became a reality in July when the Taliban's offense metastasized across the country. This catastrophe should be blamed on the stubborn and arrogant Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, who did not want the army to take the offensive.

I heard Biden saying that the Afghan Army did not fight. That is not true. How to fight with your hands tied? The decrepit old man who was an illegitimate president and with his fascist team did not allow the Army to fight the Taliban. Most of those generals and senior ranks of Afghan forces who wanted to fight were ousted or replaced with lower rank officers. In some cases, some generals faced mandatory retirement like Lt. Gen. Murad Ali Murad. In the past two years, nearly 35 generals were forced into retirement.

Now they are trying to explain why the Afghan central government collapsed. Well, if anyone followed the events evolving in the past three months, it was certain that the government would collapse eventually, only the narcissist leader, Ghani, stubbornly refused to believe it. He intentionally did not allow the army to fight against the Taliban and when they asked for air support, they were left alone to die at the hands of the Taliban. This gradually eroded the morale of the Afghan Army fighters. 

Not only Ashraf Ghani did not allow the Afghan Army to fight, but he and his team in the government suppressed popular uprisings against the Taliban. So, any local resistant groups from non-Pashtun that stood up against the onslaught of the Taliban, Ashraf Ghani's government considered it a threat, but ironically, not the Taliban who were inching close to the capital as districts after districts and provinces and provinces were falling to the hands of the Taliban.

Jul 29, 2021

racial scapegoating

if you have ever wondered what would racial profiling or racial scapegoating look like, here is a classic example:

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered state troopers on Wednesday to begin pulling over vehicles whose drivers are transporting migrants who pose a risk of carrying COVID-19, escalating his hardline approach on immigrants and eliciting outrage from advocates calling the order a ticket to racial profiling. Read the rest here

this is sad and scary; sad because racist ideology is persistently targeting immigrants and minorities; scary because it doesn't only permeate the airwaves and social media sites, it saturates the power structure that can put their pernicious ideology into practice, like what the governor of Texas is doing. what astonishes me is not the practice of pulling over by state troopers because it has been mandated for awhile, but the malleability of racial scapegoating, specially when it's related to covid-19 and anything that would be align with partisanship.

Jun 1, 2021

traveling into the past through smell

Yesterday, I went on a hike on nearby hills that were lavishly covered by sagebrush, a familiar shrub with abundant memories of my childhood. In the Hazaragi vernacular, it's called butta, they are strongly aromatic and can be felt from a distance. Back in the village, we used to collect them every fall. Sagebrush is arid-adapted shrubs that grow in harsh habitats in the mountains, deserts and steppes. 

When I was very young I used to go with my mother to nearby hills and mountains for collecting sagebrush. We burned them to cook our meals or heat our house in winter. I remember, my mom used to wear a long colorful gown with velvet flowers, contrasting the pale greenish landscape. I often drifted away from her, following my own passion, running after marmots, stalking them at their dens or climbing  up on boulders and rocks until I heard my mom’s worrying call “where are you?” “Here, coming,” I would respond. Then I followed her through the sagebrush that some were taller than me. Occasionally, she would need my assistance, especially when her skirt stuck in bushes or needed help removing thorns and thistles from her long beautiful skirt that was decorated with delicate flowers. 

It was the first time to see sagebrush plants in this country. I was so excited as soon as I found myself among them. I walked off the trail to pace through a sea of sagebrush to feel them, to pick up the strong pleasant scent on my clothes while at the same time caressing the petals with my hands. As memories flew in, suddenly, a powerful sense of being removed overwhelmed me. I found myself back in the village, on the mountains and hills that were so immensely familiar. I felt my mother's hands, the fragrance of the sagebrush on her hands, on her clothes, on her homemade leather gloves that she used to wear when collecting shrubs and on the way back, I used to carry them. I sat under a sagebrush and wept.

If the war and its horrible consequences wouldn't have happened, I would have been in the village, in that pristine and healthy ecosystem, having a normal and peaceful life, walking on hills and mountains with my mother. Yesterday, ambling through the sagebrush and picking up its fragrance was a revisit to my childhood, a moment that harked back to the good old days that will never repeat.

May 27, 2021

endless mode of injustice

The United States says Israel has the right to defend itself, meaning it can drop as much bombs as it can that disproportionately impact Gaza's civilian population. The US has now pledged $ 75 million to the Palestinians to rebuild Gaza. I read somewhere that the reconstruction of the destroyed areas in Gaza from a decade ago is still going on. 

During the brutal Israeli attacks that lasted 11 days, about 2,000 houses were completely destroyed and more than 15,000 others were damaged. It will take another decade to rebuild, but several thousand more homes may be demolished before they get reconstructed because US unconditional support for Israel's oppressive government's brutality is endlessly encouraging.

But there is a bitter irony in American benevolent aid to Palestinians. That is, we support Israel to do everything in its power to destroy you, but we also help you rebuild. That is, we share in both your destruction and reconstruction. Can you see the endless injustice?

May 21, 2021

out of desperation

This morning I heard on NPR that a truce between Palestinians and the state of Israel is ensued. A correspondent was reporting from the streets of Gaza where people came out to celebrate the ceasefire. In the background, the sound of drums and singing could be heard. It seemed that everyone was happy that the cruel and oppressive apartheid state has finally agreed not to pour bombs on people's homes and kill children any longer.

What a sad world we live in that now people are taking to streets to celebrate their survival and to produce euphoria that they were not completely eliminated. Concerning about human rights and respect for humanity? Forget it, that is a joke for the Israeli government and its accomplice, the US.

Unwavering support for Israel and the statement that it has legitimate right to defend itself produce more violence and further apartheid and persecution. The question is, how long will this unequivocal support lasts? Only time will tell.

May 8, 2021

Targeted killings of Hazaras by Sunni Islamist Militants

Today, Islamic militants have targeted school children belonging to ethnic Hazara in Dasht-e Barchi, a predominantly Hazara community in west of Kabul. A car bomb blasted right outside of the main gate of Sayed al-Shuhada, a secondary school as students, mostly girls, were exiting. Eyewitnesses have told that the explosion was followed by mortars and some residents have even heard gunshots as well. According to CNN, 85 people are killed and 150 others are wounded. It is still early, the number of casualty may grow.

My heart is bleeding with sorrow for children who died today. Sunni Islamist militants are committed to their beliefs and principles inspired by their holy book and god to kill us and our children. The enormity of such a crime is so horrendous that cannot be fathomed and cannot be put into words or described other than being indignant at your inability to do anything but to begin wringing your hands in silent rage amidst incessant weeping.

For the past few years, Hazaras have been systematically targeted across Afghanistan. This attack is part of a series of targeted killings of the Hazaras. The Afghan government is unable to protect them, in fact, the Hazara population look on government and its local authorities with growing suspicion. There is no option left for the Hazaras but to pick up arms and protect their own communities. As the US and other foreign forces are withdrawing from Afghanistan, the risk of relapsing into a renewed civil war is very likely. Hazaras must be prepared for the worst.

Apr 29, 2021

getting the covid vaccine

I waited long enough to make sure that I'm not among the privileged ones to receive the covid vaccine before those in need. Given my field of occupation, I fall under the category 1b, meaning that I am eligible for covid vaccine as those essential workers at stores, transportation, etc. I thought it is a privilege that other don't have and it made me uncomfortable because I've never considered myself to be in that position. 

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I went online on the university's health portal, I saw several openings. I was hesitant. I went back a week after and saw more openings. Then, I was convinced that perhaps a lot of people have vaccinated in my community, then I registered. The following day, I received my first shot of Pfizer vaccine which wasn't too bad except that I felt soreness in my arm that I was told is a common effect. I couldn't do workout for the next 24 hours but it went away quickly. There wasn't any serious side affect involved but the second shot was completely different. 

Yesterday, I received the second dose of the covid vaccine. I took it in the morning and I felt fine throughout the day but in the middle of night I felt chills in my body. It knocked me down for at least 12 hours. I recovered pretty quickly without taking any tylenol or ibuprofen. I was told to take pain relief medication but I ignored it and jokingly told a friend that I am a caveman and can make covid vaccine sick. It was the other way around. My body responded but lightly. Last night at midnight, I went for a mid-night stroll in the alleys and the surrounding streets. It was deserted except for the cars that were occasionally passing by. I came back and slept. I woke up in the morning. I felt extremely well. I feel relieved to have received the vaccine and I hope everyone receives it so that we get back to normal. 

Victim of conspiracy theory

No wonder why misinformation has become such a serious problem. Here's an example of how conspiracy theories are so alluring that even grown-ups can fall prey to it. It has become so dangerous that it can render its victims devoid of faculty for practical judgement, which ultimately lead to the deprivation of individual's agency because it erodes the very foundation of knowledge that is imperative to social agency.

In a video clip shared on twitter (see below) Donald Wagner, a GOP lawmaker of the Orange County asks doctor if vaccines had tracking devices. At first, it sounds like a joke but it is not, it's real. I quote what he says in the video clip: 

Is there any--in the vaccine--we heard about the injection of a tracking device. Is that being done anywhere in Orange County?

It took a few seconds for the top health official Clayton Chau to figure out what he just heard. The doctor's answer is NOPE. 

It is very unfortunate that Wagner is elected in that capacity, it is so embarrassing to have him in that position because politicians like him can drive people to danger and that can be more lethal than the coronavirus itself. Maybe it is not very surprising to hear such an absurdity since one of the super-spreaders of covid-19 misinformation, Trump suggested whether coronavirus might be treated by injecting disinfectant into the body.

If he would be seriously worried about tracking and surveillance, tracking happens through other means, for instance through fitbit, cookies, http referer, smartphones, smartwatches, and other virtual assistant AI. Wagner is currently representing 600,000 residents in District Three (Anaheim Hills, Irvine, Orange, Tustin, North Tustin, Villa Park, Yorba Linda, and the unincorporated canyons) and previously served as a mayor of Irvine. His profile says, he is "a vigorous advocate of public safety," considering his denials, the right wording would, he's a threat to public safety.

Apr 24, 2021

Armenian genocide and the Hazara massacres 1888-1893

Fearing of alienating Turkey, for decades US presidents have tried to avoid recognizing the events of 1915-1923 that led to 1.5 million death of Armenians at the hands Turks as "genocide." Finally, today, Biden is going to acknowledge the Ottoman Turks atrocities as genocide. It is considered to be the most monstrous crime against humanity to have occurred in the outset of the twentieth century. But it is not the only one, in fact, almost 25 years before another genocide occurred against indigenous population of the Hazaras in Afghanistan.

Abdul Rahman khan, a Pashtun leader organized a mass genocidal campaign between 1888 and 1893 in order to subjugate the Hazaras in Hazarajat, a geographical area in central Afghanistan. The Pashtun Sunni mullahs declared fatwas that the Hazaras are infidel and they must be killed. Suddenly, every Pashtun rose up to become ghazi, someone who kills non-Muslim for pleasing the Muslim God and wishes to enter to heaven. 

In addition to government forces, ordinary Pashtuns joined the onslaught. Between 1888-1893, more than 60% of the Hazara population was vanished, some were displaced but the majority of them were massacred while thousands of others sold in slave markets such as khiva, Bukhara, Bombay, Kabul, and Kandahar. 

Here is a piece of news dated October 19, 1893, published in The Argus, a local newspaper based in Brighton, UK. It says: "Advices from Cabul [Kabul] state that the Ameer [Amir abdul Rahman khan] has sold 10,000 of the captive Hazaras as slaves in order to defray the expenses incurred in suppressing the rising."

This crime is one of examples that was reported and documented but not all events were reported, especially the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent Hazaras, displacement of hundreds of thousands of others who permanently left their native land. Human rights groups have moral responsibilities to dig into history and investigate the crimes, so that one day, the mass atrocities against the Hazaras by Pashtuns also be recognized as a genocide. 

As we are going to hear today Biden's acknowledgment of Arminian genocide, I hope the young generation of Turks today take a moment and think what had their ancestors done against the Armenians. Instead of being ashamed, they should feel sympathetic and acknowledge those events as genocide. Equally, I hope young Pashtuns today feel the same whose ancestors committed atrocities against the innocent Hazaras. They should come out and acknowledge our historical pain and suffering so that we can hope and realize a better future alongside each other.

Related topic:
Massacres of Hazaras in Afghanistan by the Taliban between January 2001 and May 2000

Apr 21, 2021

Vartan Gregorian Passed Away at 87

I am very saddened to hear that Vartan Gregorian just passed away. There is an obituary of him published in the New York Times that chronicles his academic and philanthropic achievements as well as his service to American people. He was born the city of Tabriz to a Christian family who moved to the US at age 22. I have been knowing him from his book, The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan: Politics of Reform and Modernization, 1880-1946 (1969). Initially it was written as a dissertation but later he turned it to a book. 

Among many books written on the modern history of Afghanistan, I found Gregorian's book remarkably comprehensive. He highlights every turn of events between 1880 and 1946 to carefully analyze and provide a clear picture of how modern Afghanistan has tumultuously been emerging. After I graduated from college, I wrote him an e-mail to inquire whether he was looking for a research assistant because I heard from Jeffrey that he was planning to rewrite his book on Afghanistan. At the time, he was the president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. He kindly replied to my e-mail, ironically dated April 11, 2014, he died on April 15. 

My dear Nasim:

 

Thank you for your email.  I am glad that you enjoyed The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan.  I am very grateful for your interest in research assistance.  However, I have completed the bulk of the research for the next edition of the book and do not have a need for help at this time.  I will hold on to your contact information, however, in case I embark on further updates or publications and find myself in need of someone with your expertise.  Thank you again.

 

With best wishes,

 

Yours,

Vartan Gregorian

I am not sure whether he had a chance to publish it. I hope someone will take it to a publisher, it will be a huge contribution to the body of knowledge on Afghanistan, a country that has been engulfed in violence and turmoil for centuries. I am curious what he wanted to add and what informed his decision to rewrite the book.

Apr 19, 2021

Unfinished Job and Hasty Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan

I am reposting this piece that I wrote for CNN in December 2009 when Obama planned to send more troops to Afghanistan to "finish the job" and bring back the troops. I argued that sending more troops doesn't help, instead, the US should allocate all those resources to train Afghan security forces. This year, Biden has decided to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan leaving behind nothing but a shaky, discriminatory and corrupt administration with weak and worn out security forces. 

After a long debate over increasing troops in Afghanistan, finally, President Obama said that he has decided to send around 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan. Now, deploying 30,000 troops to Afghanistan is a good idea but I’m doubtful that this will work as a long-term strategy to “finish the job.” A long-term strategy to mitigate the violence and end the war in Afghanistan is to train and equip the Afghan National Army.

No so long ago in July 2009, around 4,000 U.S. Marines alongside 650 Afghan police and soldiers took a massive operation called Khanjar (dagger) in Helmand in southern Afghanistan. It was supposed to wipe the Taliban out of the area but ultimately nothing remarkably happened. The Taliban mobilized their insurgency against international forces, Afghan Army and police in different areas and especially started moving to the northern Afghanistan. Northern Afghanistan, which has been quite peaceful since 2002, in the spring 2009 became insecure and unstable - hindering the peaceful life of every Afghan. More troops will be unhelpful unless there is an explicit strategy towards the future. If the Obama administration does not plan a clear strategy for the next four or five years, sending triple number of these troops will not be helpful.

One of the reasons for failing in southern Afghanistan is that after the NATO troops cleaned the area of Taliban, they didn’t stay in there and the ANA (Afghan National Army) was not capable to take the security. Ultimately, the Taliban returned to the area. Horribly, the poor villagers who helped NATO forces and the ANA were targeted or killed by the Taliban. Musa Qala is one of the districts in Helmand that the most intensive operation took place. In 2006, it was turned into a terror university for Taliban and deemed to be influenced by Al Qaeda. The British troops fought against the Taliban and cleaned the area but they left the region for elder leaders and villagers that promised keep their own security. But a few months later, the Taliban attacked those whom worked and helped NATO forces and some were beheaded by the Taliban.

Unfortunately, since then, the locals lost trust towards foreign forces. This created a lack of confidence between foreign forces and Afghan locals because the locals are 100 percent sure that foreign forces will leave the area sooner or later but the Taliban will be back. The locals do not have interest in Taliban but they have no choice, they are exposed from both sides and ultimately they prefer the Taliban. It will take time for the Afghan government and its supporters to reshuffle its relationship among locals but still it is possible to regain.

It is imperative to plan a clear strategy alongside of extra troops in Afghanistan. Specifically, if the United States and its allies help and train the Afghan National Army they will be able to handle the task well. For the last eight years this was not taken serious and less money spent on training the army and more money spent on foreign forces. On November 12, the ministry of defense said that if the world communities fulfill their commitment to train and equip the ANA, within four years they will be capable of taking responsibility of security across the country.

Since 2002, especially when the insurgency increased in the southern region, training ANA wasn’t so much in demand. But within the next four years, if the Afghan government with the support of the United States and its allies focus on increasing the capability of ANA, soon we will witness that they will triumph over the enemy. And finally, by increasing the ANA capabilities, the United States and its allies will be able to finish the job, but not so hastily.

Apr 18, 2021

relentless gullibility

Here's an example of relentless gullibility from a representative, Luaren Boebert. I looked her up and found that she dropped out of high school in her senior year, and didn’t attend college, nothing to blame her there, but she still can educate herself by looking things up on google or in a book or ask someone to define what Marxism is. A Ponzi scheme is a product of Capitalism, not Marxism which theoretically sees a classless society where everyone is equally contributing to a common good. I suspect one reason that she tweeted about Ponzi scheme is because Bernie Madoff just passed away. I feel sorry for her and for the people who sent her to congress. Apparently, she is also a QAnon enthusiast.


Apr 16, 2021

they are leaving

They came, made a mess, and now they are going back. Then there are the unfortunate and defenseless people like the Hazaras who have no way to escape and no ability to confront the most evils on earth. These evils (the Taliban) are celebrating the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, they call it a "defeat" because they claim to have brought the Americans to their knees. No, you didn't brought them to their knees, their mission is over. It has always been like this, in times of war, they come and destroy, and then return to where they came from. 

Mar 21, 2021

It's a new year in Afghanistan

I wrote this piece for CNN long time ago, I'm reposting here:

This year, the Nowruz festival holds even more significance and importance in the lives of Afghans since the United Nation’s General Assembly recognized March 21 as International Day of Nowruz.

Nowruz, banned under Taliban rule, begins on the day of the vernal equinox (the first day of spring) and marks the beginning of the new year. Every year, three days before Nowruz, tens of thousands of people travel to the northern Afghanistan city of Mazar-e Sharif to watch the elaborate ceremony.

Nowruz is celebrated for two weeks throughout Afghanistan. People wear new clothes, refurbish their house, paint the buildings and henna their hands. Young girls go with their mothers to holy shrines and pray to have a good future, a good life and a good husband and be fortunate while the boys have an eye on their parents to decide who is fair and suitable for him.

One of most famous of Nowruz traditions among Afghans is to forget and forgive mistakes of one another and start the New Year with new hopes and new goals. During the first three days of the year, families and relatives meet and visit each other’s houses. These are parts of Afghan traditions that date back centuries.

Jashni Dehqan, which literally means the festival of farmers, is also celebrated in the first day of year, in which the farmers walk in the cities as a sign of encouragement for the agricultural productions. For the last few years, President Hamid Karzai always participated in the festival of farmers and encouraged the farmers in agricultural productions and environmental green movement. This activity is being performed in Kabul and other major cities, in which the mayor and other high governmental personalities participate.

One of the most significant symbolic traditions of Nowruz in Afghanistan is haft mewa, or “seven fruits.” (haft sin, or seven “s,” is a similar tradition common in Iran.) The “seven fruits” table starts with seven dried fruits: raisins, senjed (the dried fruit of the oleaster tree), pistachios, hazelnuts, prunes (dry fruit of apricot), walnuts and either almond or another species of plum fruit. Haft mewa is like a fruit salad, served in the fruits’ syrup.

Haft mewa and haft sin’s philosophy is almost the same. The seven items symbolically correspond to seven creations and holy immortals called Amesha Sepanta (meaning “bounteous immortal” in the Avestan language) protecting them. The seven elements of life - namely fire, earth, water, air, plants, animals and human - are represented.

 Some Afghans have never forgotten the bitter period of their life during the Taliban regime when they were banned or excluded from the traditions. Celebrating Nowruz always involves music and various entertainments that from the Taliban point of view, were forbidden. Another reason that the Taliban banned Nowruz was that women have a significant role in the Nowruz ceremony. In the time of Taliban, women were not allowed to participate in any ceremonies that music played and dancing was involved.

Traditionally, Afghan women celebrate Nowruz with samanak: it is made of wheat germ and is a special Afghan female tradition. They cook it from late in the evening until daylight. During this cooking time, the women gather around and sing Nowruzi songs, accompanied with special drums and dancing. No men are allowed to take part in this ceremony.

According to BBC report, the director of the Nowruz festival in Mazar-e Sharif said that this year an estimated 120,000 people throughout the country are traveling to Mazar-e Sharif. The ceremony always taken place in the Shrine of Hazrat Ali, also known as the Blue Mosque.

One part of the Afghan New Year is a speech by President Karzai, outlining the events of the past year and his programs for the new year. After the official speech, the president calls upon the special security guard to start the New Year celebration with three shots of a cannon. Following the three shots, a huge flag is raised from the ground. People watch the movement carefully - if it rises hard and slowly, a bad year is predicted but if the flag is risen gently, the new year is predicted a fortunate and happiness year.

When the day’s ceremony ended, the night’s ceremonies arrive, full of music and concerts. Every year, top singers are invited by the government to travel from Europe and America to northern Afghanistan and sing for the new year celebration. Not only Afghan singers are invited but groups of musicians and singers from Pakistan, India, Iran, Turkey, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are included to participate and demonstrate their culture alongside Afghan artists. After the official ceremony, people head to a huge field for a game of buzkashi, an ancient traditional sport where riders on horses compete over a goat or calf carcass.

This year, all Afghans are hoping to start a good year with changes and improvement in security issues. Some refer to the Marjah operation as a successful example of fighting against the Taliban insurgency and wish that the Taliban will be wiped out in the southern region. Afghans are excited that from now on, Nowruz will be recognized by the United Nations as it becomes part of the world’s many heritages.

Mar 7, 2021

20th anniversary of the destruction of Buddha statues of Bamiyan

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the destruction of the two monumental Buddha statues of Bamiyan which were built in the 6th century AD. Twenty years ago, on March 02, 2001, the Taliban on the orders of their leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, began destroying the statues. The destruction process took several weeks. They first began with heavy artilleries but soon realized they couldn't destroyed. So, they forced the local men to descend the cliff and drill holes into the statues. Then they placed dynamites and blew them up. This was a tragic event but it is not the whole story.

When the Taliban took control of the city of Bamiyan, they first massacred the Hazaras who were residents of the city. The victims were mostly old men and women and children, too weak to fight, and too old to run. They were left behind and everyone else who could run, fled to the mountains and hid in the caves.

The people later died of starvation. A few months after the fall of the Taliban, the locals started searching for their loved ones in the mountains. They found their remains in the caves, torn by predators, and some that were leftovers of vultures still showed undigested grass in their stomachs. Trapped in the mountains, they consumed grass to survive but eventually succumbed to death.

When we talk about destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, it is important to first foreground the human cost of this tragedy. We need to highlight the Taliban's crime and atrocities against the Hazaras, the local population in the city of Bamiyan. For centuries, these people were neighbors with Buddha statues. We should ask ourselves, what it meant for these people to have lived there? What price did they pay because of being Hazaras and Shias? And what was their relationship with the statues of Buddhas historically and culturally?

The Western perspective and their understanding of the destruction of the statues are aesthetic, meaning they look at Buddhas and their demolition as objects that belonged to history but disregard the subjects of history. This is a colonial perspective, an epistemic violence that is integral to their practice of domination and subjugation. They have rendered this horrific human tragedy as a singular and abstract event.

This is cruel and violent because such narrative removes the Buddhas from its context, and that context is the Hazara people whose culture and history are intertwined with the statues.  I am not saying that we should not highlight the importance of historical tragedy of the destruction of Buddhas, my point here is that the objectification of the Buddhas solely as a tragic event not only trivializes and downplays the human costs but also leads to omission. 

We need to change the narrative in order to avoid any violence against the Hazara people. Every year, in this time, we should all come together and commemorate the death of people of Bamiyan alongside the destruction of their Buddhas. Finally, we need to talk and pay attention to the Taliban's atrocities that happened on a large scale and simultaneously think it as a warning sign as their return is looming.

Feb 22, 2021

An existential threat to Indian farmers

Farmers protest at the Delhi Singhu border in Delhi, India. Getty images
These ongoing protests of Indian Punjab farmers are just implications of what a far-right Hindu nationalist government would offer to its people. In hoping to reboot the economy, the government has passed laws that is, in someway, a form of dispossession and control over agricultural lands to which farmers have special relationship. These bills, that were introduced and passed by the parliament last year and then signed into laws are tailored to only benefit giant corporations while lacking any sustainable, ecological, social and economic integrity. 

What these laws would basically do is to replace the market that is ran and protected by committees of traders and land owners with a free market where farmers will have neither control over the circulation of their products, nor the market values. In the long run, this would result to self-indenturement of farmers to billionaires sitting in Delhi and buying stocks in the US. 

And there is always IMF as a hegemonic force from outside that offers its prescriptions. It is always there to advocate and support any offense a government commits against its citizen. It does not only co-opt neoliberal elites for enforcing their ideals but also crafts and promotes hegemonic norms, especially in developing countries where they are left with no choice but unconditional surrender.

The worse part of these laws is that it does not offer any future to farmers who may eventually lose control over their lands. Right now, millions of people work on farms, what will happen to them when their farms are taken by corporations? It is obvious that they will be replaced by a reduced number of workforce that’s also cheap, and that is what big corporations always do otherwise they can’t make surplus profit. At the time when the India's unemployment is at its highest rate, what opportunities will be available to these farmers who have no other skills than farming? There is not much prospect that these laws would do anything positive but to harm and exploit the lands whose farmers’ livelihood depends upon.

Feb 17, 2021

a time unlike now

I reminisce
that rotting wooden bench
on Louther street
next to the library and
across from the Lutheran Church
we used to sit
you always insisted
"let's tarry awhile"

a time
unlike now,
like ephemeral past
sends new nostalgic
errands

Feb 12, 2021

Happy Dawin Day

It's Darwin's Day. February 12, the day we, anthropologists, commemorate the birth of Charles Darwin in 1809, one of the greatest naturalists in our history. In 1831, he made a voyage to the Beagle in which he observed and collected specimens of plants, animals, rocks, and fossils, some were mostly on land, far apart from the sea. At the time, he was just 22 years old. (this makes me feel bad about myself, what a useless life I have lived so far). On his return, he published his findings in a book called The Voyage of the Beagle. His discoveries and ideas shaped our understanding about the natural world and ourselves. He showed that we humans are just another type of animal living on earth, a small branch on a big tree of life.

My field, anthropology, is deeply influenced by Darwin's evolutionary theories about human evolution. His ideas on the evolution of human traits and natural selections may have been disputed by recent studies on fossil records, but his fundamental arguments that we humans share similar traits with African great apes and that our ancestors first originated in Africa, remain valid.

To appreciate Darwin, let's take a moment and look back at nearly two million years ago to see how our opposable thumbs evolved to its current level of dexterity. Check out this fascinating article.

Feb 11, 2021

Bidel's Wikipedia page

Today, I got a chance to tweak Abdul Qadir Bidel's Wikipedia page. I corrected some of the references and added several others. I also entered that he was the greatest poet of Indian-Persian, next to Amir Khusrau, who lived most of his life during the reign of Aurangzeb, the sixth Mughal emperor. This is very close to historical reality than branding him based on cultural biases. I noticed some entries labeled him as a Persian poet from Khorasan or from the Indian subcontinent (though the later has a modicum of truth). The fact of the matter is, he was Indian, born and raised and eventually died there. He belonged to that geographical area, to that culture and people and he should be studied within that context. Removing him from this context is unjust and discriminatory. 

I also added some other sections in his Wiki page, such as bibliography, notes, and works. I entered several bibliography entries, fixed some while redacted and retracted others. I hope others contribute to Bidel's page as well, so that those who are interested in learning about him can have access to an array of resources. 

On a final note, I added mostly references that are available in English language. That means, I disregarded books published in Farsi, Tajiki, Uzbek, and other languages.

Feb 7, 2021

With pots and pans against coup

The pots and pans ring across Myanmar against the military coup. It's a familiar ring for all of us but a special one for people in Myanmar, they use them to exorcise the evil spirit. For the past few days, it has been used against the military coup that seized power last week from a democratically elected - now detained- leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. Now the evil spirit is the military. It's pots and pans' clatter and clang that has become a utility of anger and the sound of dissent. Pots and pans have always been a utility of dissonance and so, sometimes became political tool in different manner. When every other means of communication is controlled and the internet is shut down, pots and pans can be the strongest tool for expressing anger and to protest against the military dictatorship. Let pots and pants' clink and clunk rattle the dictators' conscience if they have any, I don't think they do.

Feb 4, 2021

A lesson to be learned from the miners in Pakistan

This AFP news published on Dawn says that after the 10 Hazara miners were killed a few weeks ago, "Pakistan coal miners reluctant to work after Hazara killings." Around 15,000 Hazara miners stopped going to work and as a result, around 200 mines are about to close or slash their production.

The reason for Hazara's reluctance to return to work is obvious. They are not secure and their return to work means their might be potentially more attacks because there is no guarantee for their safety. The Hazaras in Pakistan have been systematically persecuted by various extremist Islamist groups and the Pakistani government has done very little to stop it.

Now that the businesses are getting closed and people are out of work, the government eventually understands what such precarity means and what it would do in the long run in the province of Balochistan. The Hazaras in Pakistan should turn their reluctance into a movement and use it to pressure the federal government to beef up security in their areas.

But guess what happens if Hazaras in Afghanistan takes this lesson and use it for their own struggle against the Afghan government's aggression. If Hazara leaders and elders call on the Hazara men and women, who are now in the battlefield fighting against the Taliban, to come home, the government would stop its onslaught on the Hazaras in Behsud and else where.

This is a trump card that can be used against this government for any type of negotiations. Hazaras would lose nothing and won't go hungry if their sons and daughters leave the army, in fact, they save their lives, not getting killed in vain by the Taliban.

Feb 3, 2021

On US withdrawal from Afghanistan

These are important suggestions that the Biden administration should take into account while ruminating on the nature of a possible withdrawal from Afghanistan. A complete withdrawal is a disaster that should be avoided and in fact, it should be off the table when negotiation over peace with the Taliban. 

The peace negotiation that was ensued by the previous administration based on narcissistic whims should be rethought. The whole negotiation scheme needs to be reassessed because it was a unilaterally designed between the US and the Taliban insurgents. The Afghan government and the people were not involved in this negotiation from the beginning and even now, they don't have much control over it.

The Biden administration should make a revision to the peace scheme and add mandates to commit the Taliban to reduction of violence; otherwise, any dodgy deals not only perpetuates war and violence, but also emboldens the Taliban and other insurgents for further violence. 

Feb 2, 2021

Afghan security forces open fire on civilians

In my previous post, I mentioned that the Afghan security forces have been deployed to Behsud, a Hazara district in Wardak province, to disarm locals who stood up against the Taliban atrocity. These Hazara civilians were peacefully gathered in front of the district's office to inquire why these forces were there because there was no reason for them to be there, unless they are there to weaken the local's resistance, which would provide some leeway to the Taliban's assaults. 

Here is a video as evidence showing Afghan security forces positioned in armored military Humvees opening fire on civilians and then run over them that is partially captured. So far, more than 10 people have been killed and nearly 30 people are injured. 

Jan 30, 2021

hegemony and the Hazara state of survival

The relationship of the Hazara people and the Afghanistan's state has always been a historical hegemonic relationship. Historically it has been the Pashtuns (and to some degree the Tajiks) as superior tribe ruling the country. Not the class, not the political party, but a tribe. The Hazaras have been scapegoats  for various problems that the state faced. As a result, they have become the primary targets of systematic persecutions, which has historically created a lingering hegemonic force that can be exerted against the Hazaras at any given time.

Let me contextual this historical hegemony. Recently, the Afghan central government deployed security forces to Behsud district, in Wardak province, to ostensibly quell the unlawfulness there, which is controlled by locals. The locals have armed themselves against the onslaught of the Taliban and to prevent their advance towards Bamiyan and the Hazarajat.

Yesterday, the government forces opened fire on civilians who were gathered in a local Bazaar to inquire why these forces were there. According to BBC, the government forces killed 9 civilians and injured dozens of others. Different sources indicate that at least 10 people are killed and 28 others are wounded. The government, simultaneously has shut down the telecommunication system, so that the locals can't report what is happening there.

We know that the Taliban has kneeled on the neck of Ashraf Ghani's government and it is gasping its last breath. And we know that sooner than later this government is gone and there will be an interim government installed. This is what the international communities that support the Afghan government has already decided. So, the end of this government is imminent.

What can the Hazaras do at this critical moment in order to end the government's onslaught? The Hazara leaders and elders should call on the Hazara men and women, who serve in the army and are now in the battlefield against the Taliban, to come home.

Jan 27, 2021

farewell my mtb

ah I'm missing my rad mountain bike. Rad is a term commonly used by mountain bikers, I like it a lot, especially if you constantly use it, like a rad ride, a rad bike, a rad drop, it does not only vigorously boast your self-assurance but also indexes something else, that you are a professional rider and close to others of that ilk. Another telling indicator is that you have successfully fetishized your bike so much so that you talk about it in a manner that no other can relate. Yeah, that's a bit of me, when I'm on the trail or descending down the hills. Anyway, I sold this rad icon but now I'm having a compulsive urge to buy another one. I'm thinking of Santa Cruz or Yeti. 


Jan 16, 2021

Iranian flag at pro-Trump rally

I just read a great piece by Sonja Thomas explaining about the presence of the Indian flag at the capitol riots. It's confusingly fascinating to see that among the sea of flags at pro-Trump rally on January 6th, there were flags of many other nations. I noticed an Iranian flag of the pre-Islamic Revolution monarchy with a lion holding a sword waving among the crowd, and signs that repeatedly read "we love you," "#Iranians for Trump," and "stop the steal." There is an article about it here

Trump supporters hold a sign that says: "Iranians for Trump" (MEE/Ali Harb)
Iranians of pre-1979 Iranian revolution have strong feelings about their particular history that can be traced in their support of Trump and his policies against Iran. As far as I have been following the US politics, this particular group has always supported conservatives and their policies. They ideally think Trump aggressive policies may cause the current Islamic regime to collapse and the monarchy get restored, so that they can go back, but it seems that is unlikely to happen, at least now and perhaps, in the near future. But as a minority, their presence at this dangerous rally and their support of far-right groups, may hunt them in the future.

Jan 14, 2021

The semantics of racial slurs in Afghanistan

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on my Farsi blog about my experience with racial discrimination and racial prejudice in Afghanistan and today I thought I should start writing a few posts about the semantics of some those ethnic slurs that people of other Afghan ethnic groups commonly use against the Hazara people. Here is one of the most popular racial slurs used toward Hazaras:

"God forbid my dog to be a Hazara" (خدا سگ مره هزاره نکنه  khuda sagi mara hazara nakuna). 

1. Dogs are known to be loyal, friendly, and even protective. Hazaras are so disloyal, unfaithful, and unfriendly that they do not deserve to be even like dogs and as such, God has created them a different species other than humans.

2. Dogs in Islam are considered najis (Arabic word), meaning untouchable, and unclean. Hazaras are so vicious, wicked, and dirty that dogs are way kosher and clean that deserved to be kept as friends but not Hazaras. They must be outcasted.

3. Dogs are animals and Hazaras are even worse than animals. They have no culture, no religion, no ethics, and they deserved to be annihilated. 

4. Dogs are also considered infidel. This trope is twofold. One that Hazaras are infidels, therefore, they are not Muslim. It has both religious and historical bearings and so it commensurates with the mainstream Sunni doctrine that the Shias are heretics. As a direct result, Hazaras have been subjected to genocide two times in history and almost 100 years apart. One by King Adbul Rahman during 1890s, which resulted to 60% extermination, and most recently by the Taliban between 1998 and 2001. Another meaning of this trope is that infidels (any non-Muslim) in the West keep dogs as friends. In a way it lacks strength but it also brings back the idea of infidelity and the dehumanizing view that the Hazaras are not part of Islam and should be dealt with like non-Muslims because ultimately the purpose is to deprive them from humanity and anything that aids this purpose is useful.

These are the four big and important semantic features of the ethnic slur, "God forbid my dog to be a Hazara," that powerfully pervade in the common sense of Afghan racial discriminatory language and thinking against the Hazara people. And yet, it has a more broader range of invisible but dangerous connotations that is beyond this blog post. I may come back to this later. 

The main purpose of this kind of slur is to dehumanize the Hazaras, to dispossess them from their humanness, and to project or see them as less than oneself. Subsequently, what follows is cruelty and suffering through different means with an end result of killing Hazaras mercilessly. Based on dehumanization ideology, when you deprive someone from all human qualities, then it's easy to kill them.

Jan 12, 2021

and those for us who stammer

Many of us at some point stammer, either for a short or longer time, or often try to remember but we can't help ourselves. The repercussion is of course a multiplicity of psychological anxiety, but here's a video on the BBC website showing kids can't utter their names, a BBC journalist who experienced years of stuttering but worked her way out; a UK MP who is being ridiculed in the House; and Joe Biden who acknowledges that he has worked hard to deal with his stuttering. Also check out this video where an Irish fireman tells his story of fighting stammer stigma.

Jan 10, 2021

to speculate about targeted killings

Everyone wonders who is behind all these targeted killings in Afghanistan. No one knows the answer yet. I have been asking my journalist and pundit friends, they have no idea, and if they do, they just regurgitate what government officials have been touting. Basically, the prevalent view among the general public is that the Taliban are be behind all these attacks. The Taliban deny but if we look at the patterns of the attacks, we can see a repetition of the same tactics the Taliban have used in the past. The only difference is that they now go after every prominent figures irrespective of their political affiliation or ideological standing. 

But there are also those who argue that why the Taliban should kill people who pose no threat to them. For instance, in the past few months former journalists, activists, and not very high profile individuals have been targeted whose presence obviously considered innocuous because they were simply not very much active as they used to. Now, we can also speculate that it might be the ISIS group but that still leaves a room for doubt, specially when we consider their sectarian ideology. They generally target Hazaras because they are Shia who are considered heretics from Sunni extremists perspective.

Superficially, I think that behind these latest strings of attacks might be a criminal group but that is anachronistic and one wonder why now. My sense is that there is a parallel ultra criminal religious group forming that is ideologically not far from that of the Taliban or ISIS and it is going after those individuals who are considered liberal and socially influential. Generally these are journalists, writers and pundits. 

Jan 7, 2021

the irony of yesterday's events

In the aftermath of the attack on the capitol in Washington D.C., a lot of leaders around the world reacted, some condemned Trump for inciting the violence, while others expressed anger, horror, sorrow and sadness. In the Muslim world, the attack turned into an interesting topic of satire and reticule of Americans and their democracy. In the Arab world, people draw cartoons of the attack, they satirized and criticized the US for being hypocrite, the fact that its leadership can't deal with its own problem at home, they have no right to point fingers at others or meddle in their affairs. 

I also saw some Afghan leaders on social media expressing their concerns about the future of United States and the transition of power. They called for calm and urged Trump to respect the people's vote. I laughed at this bitter irony that Afghan leaders are now worried about the integrity of the US presidential election. It sounds like one of those April fool's jokes, but it's for real.

Jan 6, 2021

When democracy dies

Photo credit: Getty images
Today, I was watching the live session on Biden's certification of electoral college on NYT when suddenly a chaos ensued in the congress. The camera was running but the sound disappeared immediately. Lawmakers rushed to the exit doors and then suddenly the video stopped. It was sad to see what was happening at the capitol after. I used to believe that Americans are more civilized than what I saw today, but today's events changed my mind. Today's events showed that even in a civilized nation violence is inevitable and that what happens sometimes in the developing world can happen in the most democratic country like the US as well. I just looked at the international news headlines, the world laughs at the US. It's sad and full of sorrow. I feel there are some Americans who grieve and mourn their dying democracy.

Jan 3, 2021

Terror and chaos in Kabul

The Times speculates that behind the targeted killings might be some factions in addition to the Taliban. It's not clear what factions might be in point, but it is pretty clear at this point the Taliban is behind such attacks. It's possible to assume that they carry out their attacks through their third-party criminal groups but what makes the difference? It's still Taliban carrying out these attacks against innocent civilians. The claim that magnetic bombs are homemade is also questionable, at least we should cast doubt on Afghan government officials who make such claims under anonymity. How does the Afghan government know that the sticky bombs are homemade? We know that every one of those bombs are exploded so far and the question is, how did the government find out about the nature of the bombs after they blasted? The degree and magnitude of explosion of all these magnet bombs reveal that they are not homemade, they are rather imported from one of the two neighboring countries. 

Jan 2, 2021

Discovering Marx too late

For the past few weeks, I have reading Marx. To have a better understanding of his social, political, and economic theories, I visited Feuerbach and Hegel. How happy I'm for this late discovery, and how much I envy those who discovered him early in their lives, and those who read his works and understand him better. Today, I thought if had I discovered Marx 20 years ago, I would have a better understanding of the world and situation that I grew up, and the situation that I'm in now. Perhaps, my life would be different, perhaps, I would be different person.

For the past few days, I had a heavy feeling of some sort of loss, loss of time and opportunity. I told myself, alas, what opportunities that could have produced strength and ability I missed! Or opportunities that I took for granted and now I have to work hard to revive or repossess that in some sense is not too late but frankly it's late. Anyway, I feel contented to have spent the latter part of the month of December 2020 in reading Marx and understanding him a little bit.

Jan 1, 2021

reMarkable 2 pdf and ebooks review

Here is a short review of Remarkable 2. It's strictly about the reading features and how adaptable this device is to pdf and eBook files. I did not look at other features since I did not see the need. I have read a lot of good reviews but they did not mention anything about its capability of handling pdf files and eBooks. As you can see in the video, eBook files are fine but there are some issues with pdf files, especially if you want to zoom in. 

The normal view which is 100% is too small for me, so I need to increase the text size but unfortunately you can't customize the percentage of zoom in and zoom out. So you are strictly left with some preset options that you can select from, and if you do, the text goes off the edges. That means you can't pull up or pull down or pull to the right, you are stuck with 100% normal view which is really small, at least for me. 

On the other hand, you don't have issue with eBook files. It has a perfect normal view but if you zoom in or zoom out like you do on iPad, you have similar issues with pdf files, meaning text goes off the edges. It is so pricy, I paid $557 (including a marker and a sleeve case) and it took four weeks to arrive. I don't think it's worth it. I will return it and keep using my iPad for now.