AFGHAN EXAMINER VOL-1 ISSUE-2 NOVEMBER-2012
Eid Mubarak Homayoun Sakhi Speaks to Peaceful Afghanistan Eid Pictures on page 3
U.S. SOLDIERS PERSONAL LETTER ABOUT AFGHANISTAN Graham Clumpner The recent massacre in Afghanistan brought a lot of questions and ignited the American debate around the war in Afghanistan. Most Americans have expressed extreme shock that an American soldier would stalk from house to house, pumping bullet after bullet into innocent civilians including nine children. The government and the Department of Defense labeled this as a rogue act by a man who had “snapped”. That it was just one bad apple. That these things happen in war. When I joined the military they taught me something different.
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Homayoun Sakhi. By Farah Lalani HOUSTON, September 26, 2012 — Not many people associate “peace” with Afghanistan. Usually, thoughts of war and chaos come to mind. However, Homayoun Sakhi, a California-based musician, thinks
differently. “When I think of Afghanistan, I think of peace,” says Sakhi. “Because I think of music and music to me is peace.” This leading Afghan rubâb player was in Houston earlier this month to perform at the Voices of Afghanistan concert presented by Asia Society Texas Center. Sakhi was ac-
companied by the legendary Afghan singer Ustad Farida Mahwash and the Sakhi Ensemble. Together, the group created an acoustically rich experience filled with poetic ghazals (songs of love and longing), Sufi songs of devotion, and traditional folk melodies.
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Statement by the President on Hajj and Eid al-Adha
Michelle and I extend our best wishes for a joyful Eid al-Adha to Muslims in the United States and around the world. We also congratulate the millions of peaceful pilgrims who are performing the Hajj, including thousands of American Muslims. Throughout the year, Muslims join members of many faiths in serving those suffering from hunger, disease, and conflict. Muslim communities will continue this practice as they celebrate Eid by distributing food and charity to those in need. Such acts of compassion underscore the shared values of the Abrahamic religions and people of all faiths. On behalf of the American people, we extend our warmest greetings on this holiday.
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Homayoun Sakhi A 45-minute interview with Sakhi enriched my afternoon and made me ponder over Afghanistan’s rich cultural history. Much of Afghanistan today may be shattered by the war, but the country was once vibrant with culture and at the heart of the Silk Road. Throughout history, Afghanistan has seen various invaders and conquerors who have all left behind a unique blend of cultures. Located at a central point of trade and migration, Afghanistan emerged as a regional hub of cultural and social activity and is home to a vast array of musical genres. Yes, people in Afghanistan do listen to music, even though this freedom was challenged in the past. “It was very tough before,” says Sakhi about Afghanistan’s political conditions, “But a lot better now…people are now able to freely to listen to music.” But this was not always the case. Born in Kabul in 1976, Sakhi and his family experienced a challenging war climate after the Soviet invasion of 1979. At a time when music was controlled, censored, and even banned altogether, Sakhi stayed true to his music. From an early age of ten, Sakhi studied rubâb with his father, Ghulam Sakhi, in the traditional form of apprenticeship known as ustadshagird, Persian for “master-apprentice.” In 1992, Sakhi’s musical studies were interrupted when his entire family moved to the Pakistani city of Peshawar, a place of refuge for many Afghans from political disorder and violence. “In Peshawar, I opened a small school and introduced the Kabul style of rubâb,” says Sakhi, “I was able to pick up many different styles and techniques… there are seven notes and a thousand styles— and I like each style.” After the fall of the Taliban in 2001, political climate in Afghanistan fairly eased. At that time, many Afghan musicians in Peshawar returned to Kabul, but Sakhi chose a different path that led him to Fremont, California. He brought with him Afghanistan’s musical tradition and the original rubâb style. As talented as he is, it is no wonder that he established himself as a leader of the local musical community in Fremont and today he is in high demand for performances, workshops, and teaching opportunities across the U.S. “I like giving performances and sharing my music with the world,” says Sakhi. “It makes me happy to see people happy…people give me energy and music gives me peace.” Sakhi’s journey may be unique to many living in America, but to the performers of Voices of Afghanistan this struggle is not new. Many musicians from Afghanistan have faced similar challenges in preserving their musical tradition and keeping their musical origins alive. Yet, they triumphed. In the words of Asia Society Texas Center Director of Programs Sabrina Lynn Motley, “Voices of Afghanistan is an exquisite reminder of the tenacious presence of love that no war can ever crush.” Reported by Farah Lalani, Houston Chronicle.
I Was Not Born a Slave IWPR investigation reveals children trapped in unending bonded labor to pay off loans. By Sayed Samiullah Sayidi “I was not born a slave,” Mirwali said. “I’ve been held hostage with two of my older brothers at this brick factory… for the past two years.” Just 14 years old, Mirwali is one of around 6,000 minors forced into servitude at the brick factories of Afghanistan. An IWPR investigation has uncovered a consistent pattern where underage as well as adult workers are forced into bondage after their families borrow money from brick plant owners. Mirwali’s story is typical of these modern slaves, most of whom are aged from eight to 17. He and his brothers have been forced to work at the brick plant in the village of Sultanpur to pay off 3,000 US dollars which the family borrowed two years ago from the factory owner, Ustad Khoshal (not his real name), to pay for their father’s heart surgery. They have more than repaid the money with their hard labor, but there is no end in sight to their serfdom. It is hard work – 250 times a day, Mirwali carries a tenkilogram mould full of clay 20 meters to lay the brick out for drying. Working in 30-degree temperatures, his skin is scorched the same color as the bricks, and his frame is hard and bony. Their accommodation is basic, in clay-built rooms beside the brick plant, with snakes and scorpions a constant danger, as the heat of the kilns attracts them. Ustad (“Master”) Khoshal pays the three brothers a rate of five dollars each for a ten-hour day, for which they make 1,000 unbaked bricks. Hiring a laborer would cost him eight dollars a day, for eight rather than ten hours of work – a rate twice the amount he now pays. By that reckoning, he has recouped the original loan sum several times over simply by underpaying the brothers. Ustad Khoshal told IWPR that the brothers each get paid 150 dollars a month, but he retains half of it to offset the loan. He says they are allowed to keep the remaining 75 dollars and use it to support their families. To settle the loan in full, he said, “Mirwali and his brothers may work for me for another eight months.” Mirwali described how the family, living in the vil-
lage of Trili village in the neighboring Chaparhar district, first got into difficulties. “My father farmed the land of other villagers in return for 50 per cent of the profits. We didn’t have a good life, and I couldn’t go to school,” he said. When his father Lal Mohammad fell ill, there was no money for treatment. Doctors in the main provincial city Jalalabad diagnosed a cardiac valve blockage and said the patient must travel to Pakistan as soon as possible to have an operation, or else he would die. Doctors at the Al-Rahman hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, required the 3,000-dollar fee to be deposited in the hospital’s bank account they would carry out before the operation. With no chance of a loan from friends or relatives, Mirwali’s uncle Mohammad Yaqub secured the funds from Ustad Khoshal, an acquaintance of his. The condition was that the three brothers would work for the factory-owner until the money was paid off. The family had no choice but to accept the deal. Lal Mohammad had the operation, but is still not well enough to resume working and contributing to the household. Adults, too, are pressed into service at the brick factories when they take out loans they cannot repay. Often they work together with their entire families. Lal Agha, 36, originally from the village of Niazi in the Laghman province, has spent the last eight months at the Chaharbagh Safa factory, trying to work off the 600,000 Pakistani rupees – equivalent to 6,500 dollars – he borrowed to buy treatment for one of his children. “My nine year old daughter was suffering from cancer, so I borrowed money from friends and enemies alike to get her treatment. I took her to hospitals in Peshawar, Islamabad and even Karachi, but she did not recover and finally she died,” “When my daughter died, I owed people 600,000 rupees. The creditors would knock on my door morning and evening to ask for their money. I had no option but to accept 600,000 rupees from [factory owner] Shoaib Agha and enter into enslavement.” Working together with his three young sons and two daughters, Lal Agha produces 2,000 bricks a day. He believes he might remain in servitude until the end of his life, trying to pay off the debt.
An IWPR reporter visited 59 of the 85 brick factories in Sorkhrod district in April and May 2012, and gathered numerous testimonies confirming the presence of underage workers held as security for loans and made to perform heavy labor. He spoke to 25 workers aged between eight and 17, and 49 of the owners. His research resulted in a list of names and addresses of 6,000 children in bonded labor, plus 2,400 families living at brick plants because the adult breadwinner is working to pay off a loan. The Afghan government is aware of the situation, although officials say they only have records of 1,300 families in Sorkhrod district with members working to pay off loans given by brick factor owners. Wasel Nur Mohmand, Afghanistan’s deputy minister of labor and social affairs, told IWPR that the “laborfor-loans” practice was customary everywhere in Afghanistan, and amounted to a personal contract between the factory owner and the family concerned. Mohmand said that while the government did not view child labor at the factories as a form of slavery, it was a matter of concern. “It is an obvious case of cruelty against children,” he said. Article 13, point four of Afghanistan’s labor law prohibits the recruitment of under-18s for work that is hazardous or liable to lead to disability or underdevelopment. But there are no mechanisms for ensuring that the law is observed. Hajji Gol Pacha, the head of the brick manufacturer’s association in Sorkhrod, told IWPR that there were 15,000 laborers including 6,000 children at the factories in the district. He said the local brick industry had taken off in the last ten years and had employed thousands of workers from various parts of Afghanistan as well as from Nangarhar
itself. He added that hundreds of dormitory rooms had been built to house child workers so that they could get to the brick factories by dawn each day. Factory owners deny that child labor constitutes a form of enslavement or a breach of children’s rights. Ustad Khoshal, for example, said it was ethical and humane to give loans to the poor and vulnerable. “What we do is both reward and profit,” he said. Loans of between 1,000 to 5,000 dollars made all the difference to these families, he said. “We have managed to get operations for dozens of patients with the loans we’ve given people. We have helped them mark dozens of events – both joyous and mournful – with dignity. We have also freed hundreds of Afghan laborers from Pakistani and Punjabi masters who held them hostage for years,” he said. “Now tell us whether we serve people or enslave them.” Mirwali has now spent two years in effective slavery, even though he is still a beardless boy. What upsets him more than all the hardship and misery of his life, he says, is seeing Samir, a boy of his own age, when they both attend evening prayers at the mosque in Sultanpur. Samir’s father, a wealthy car dealer in Jalalabad city, has enrolled him at the prestigious Afghan-Turkish High School – something Mirwali can only dream of. “When Samir enters the mosque, I say to myself, ‘God – what would happen if You made us rich too, so that I could go to school and study in style as others do?” he said. Sayed Samiullah Sayidi is an IWPR-trained journalist in Afghanistan.
Cash flow Crisis as Afghan Dam Crumbles
The Darunta dam in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province is showing worrying signs of wear and tear, which officials say could be fixed if only they had any money coming in. They hydroelectric dam, built in 1964 on the Kabul River, generates electricity for the region and regulates flows on
Nangarhar’s waterways, above all a major arterial canal used for irrigation. The power plant’s generating capacity is estimated at a third of what it was when it was built. Work has been going on to refurbish the turbine generators, but now cracks have appeared in the dam wall itself. Muheburrahman
Mohmand, head of the provincial electricity department, says about four cracks have been observed over the last two years, caused by the sheer pressure of the water in the reservoir behind the dam. Engineer Shaker Faroqi, a professor at Nangarhar University, says the dam has deteriorated
badly and is now at serious risk of major structural damage. Remedial work is clearly needed, but Mohmand says there is no money to pay for it. Government agencies have run up debts of 800 million Afghanis in unpaid electricity bills – the equivalent of some 15 million US dollars. This
would cover the repair work needed, he said. Mohmand said a number of officials including Nangarhar provincial governor Gul Agha Sherzai had been asked to ensure that payment was made. Sherzai’s spokesman Ahmad Zia Abdulzai denied receiving any official request, but gave an assurance
that if such an application was made, the various offending government offices would be made to pay up. Muhibullah Allahyar is an IWPRtrained radio reporter in Afghanistan.
On the Inauguration of the US-Afghanistan Bilateral Commission Dr. G. Rauf Roashan Afghanistan and the United States have entered into an “Enduring Strategic Cooperation Agreement.” The agreement called for the establishment of a USAfghanistan Bilateral Commission to work on details of implementation of the agreement. To do this the Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs visited Washington DC last week and together with the US Secretary of State inaugurated the commission. A joint statement at the conclusion of the meeting was issued that touches on some important social, economic and political issues to be tackled by the commission in the near future. This paper touches on some salient points and issues of importance reflected in the document. On October 3, 2012 the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul issued a joint statement that describes guidelines for the work of the com-
mission and joint US and Afghanistan plans for the continuation of cooperation between the two countries based on what is officially called The Enduring Strategic Cooperation Agreement between the two countries signed earlier by Presidents Barak Obama of the United States and Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan. This recent document is important in that it touches on issues that both sides find of joint interest. On the issue of a military and political transition the statement says: “An inclusive, open and transparent political transition is crucial to the long-term success, progress and stability of a democratic Afghanistan.” On the issue of the upcoming elections in Afghanistan the statement notes that: “The United States is to continue to provide technical and financial assistance in support of Afghanistan’s elections. Protecting and promoting democratic values and human rights is a fundamental aspect of our long-term part-
nership.” The document goes on to touch on the progress of the transition by stating: “The United States and Afghanistan welcomed the progress already made in the Transition process, with 75 percent of the population living in areas where Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are leading. As agreed in the Strategic Partnership Agreement, the United States reaffirmed its intention to support the training, equipping, advising, and sustaining of the ANSF. On the most important issue of Afghanistan’s efforts for peace the statement says: “The United States and Afghanistan emphasized support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, through which individuals and groups break ties with al-Qaeda, renounce violence, and abide by Afghanistan’s Constitution, including its protections for the rights of all Afghan women and men.” On the delicate issue of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s relations re-
garding cooperation for regional peace the joint statement says: “… both sides discussed enhanced cooperation and coordination with Pakistan through the Afghanistan-Pakistan-U.S. Core Group, which is to convene later this month in the region.” On one of the economic aspects the joint statement said: “The United States and Afghanistan reaffirmed a strong commitment to work together to promote regional transit, trade, and investment, and expand economic cooperation, trade liberalization, and people-to-people linkages throughout the region.” It further states: “The United States reaffirmed its pledge to encourage American companies, other private investors and regional and international financial institutions to invest in the development of Afghanistan’s natural resources and its agricultural and agro-business sectors.” The joint statement refers and advises strongly that the government of
Afghanistan must take constructive steps towards planning and execution of the recommendations of the Tokyo conference providing for accountability, and planning for a schedule for transparent elections at all levels and work on combating corruption. As per the joint statement there is work ahead to be done by the commission and especially by the Afghan government to realize the objectives of the strategic agreement. Putting all of this together it means another and rather more serious test of not only the ability of the Afghan government to realize the goals set by the strategic agreement and for the commission, but also to have clear plans for taking full responsibility for talks with armed opposition that is mostly the Taliban as well as fighting corruption which was made a condition for the continuation of aid to Afghanistan in the after 2014. The statement for the most part counts on the ball that fo the most
part is in the court of the Afghan government. It is hoped now that the Afghan players play their parts smoothly, efficiently, timely and prudently in order to pave the way for Afghanistan’ s future beyond 2014, and keeping of a just alliance with the United States that has promised help in many spheres of life of the Afghan people including human rights and especially the rights of women. This window of opportunity must be kept open by considering Afghan sovereignty and dignity in an equal footing to the benefit of the peoples of both countries and the region as a whole. It is utmost important that these plans should also provide for prevention of interference in the affairs of Afghanistan by any of its neighbors.
Afghan Seniors of the Bay Area meet the Candidates
AFGHAN EXAMINER NOVEMBER-2012 Continue from page 1 the recruits was I was incredibly affected by 9/11. I had grown up in the 1990s, when the only priority for Americans was getting more money so they could buy new houses or cars or maybe a vacation spot to visit on weekends. This lifestyle never appealed to me and I felt like those materialistic pursuits left one floating lifeless through our culture. It seemed for a time that Francis Fukuyama’s view of the end of history, that is, capitalism triumphing over all other systems, was actually true. Sure, there might be a little genocide over there in an eastern African country from time to time, but here in America things were swell. I wanted to do something important, I wanted to matter and be part of something bigger than myself. 9/11 gave me that opportunity. I believed that there couldn’t be any more of a disparity between the way we conduct ourselves in the West and the way the Taliban and Al Qaeda conducted themselves in Southeast Asia. It was black and white. Good and evil. I bought into the idea of America liberating the Afghan people hook, line and sinker. So, when I turned eighteen I enlisted in the United States Army to become a Ranger; to liberate the women of Afghanistan, to end the tyranny of Islamic fundamentalism, and to assuage the guilt of an ignorant young white man. I had prepared for years to go through training. Getting off the bus at Fort Benning in the middle of the night, I felt I was as prepared as anyone could be for what was about to come. I had seen every military movie, read every book I could get my hands on, and viewed war as the most effective way to affect social change. Our training immediately destroyed our individualism. Each one of
responsible for the others and group punishment for individual mistakes was commonplace. The separation between the civilian world and the military world widened with every moment we spent on that military base. It was us against them. We were never taught anything about the culture of the people we were going to fight. They were terrorists that needed to be destroyed. Every day during training your weaknesses are pointed out and criticized. Everything is fair game and on the table and every insult one might hear in a high school is now institutionalized in a rigid military structure. Everyone has his or her hair cut. Everyone wears the same uniform. Everyone uses the same language. Everyone walks the same and conducts themselves in the same way. If you deviate from this you are smacked back into line or are removed from the military altogether. You are told the mission itself is the most important thing: not your own life or the life of that person next to you, and definitely not the lives of the people in the country that you are occupying. You realize that you are just a piece of equipment in the grand scheme of the US military. Thats what GI means. Government Issue. You begin to lose respect for life. You are asked to live in an environment where at any moment you could be killed. You become a killer. Two weeks ago we heard news reports of a massacre of Afghan civilians by a US soldier. A soldier on his fourth deployments. Immediately the military blamed it on a bad apple. The reality is that in an abnormal situation acting abnormal is normal. We have never deployed soldiers like this in our history. Three or four deployments. Years in foreign countries
www.afghanexaminer.com not knowing what you are fighting for aside from platitudes and slogans. There is no justification for these atrocities. Yet Im not surprised. A soldier is asked at twenty years old to be a cultural analyst, census taker, political operative and an efficient killer. You are asked to do things in a year most people won’t do in a lifetime. Yet there is a limit to what we can ask of our young women and men who so badly want to serve their country and make the world a better place. We ask our soldiers to do the impossible for political reasons. We ask them to bring democracy through the barrel of a gun. We ask them to risk their lives for this when there is no clear justification, and no attainable mission. When our soldiers are targets sitting and waiting out a deployment schedule for the time that they can go home, these atrocities happen. The military believes, and I’m inclined to agree, that the dehumanization of ourselves and the enemy within our training is necessary to create effective soldiers. Effective, defined as, killing anyone they are ordered to without question. When I enquired how I was supposed to interact with the Afghan people, I was told by my chain of command that they were the enemy. If they weren’t shooting at us, they were helping those who were. I was never taught any Pashto. I was never instructed on how to be courteous or not offend the people’s culture. I was taught how pathetic and helpless the people of Afghanistan were. I was told we were there to kill terrorists, not build a nation. Yet when I came home that is exactly what the media talked about if it ever got around to the subject of the war in Afghanistan. Nation building. Saving the women. Protecting democracy. I never saw evidence of such things nor the willingness to carry them out. We broke into houses to look for terrorists at three in the morning. We did this because people are most likely to be in a vulnerable stage of sleep. We surprised them. When we didn’t shoot the people in the house we tied every man up with flex cuffs and asked him if he knew where Bin Laden was. If an Afghan got too close I jabbed them in the chest with the barrel of my rifle. We yelled at them and
swore and screamed obscenities. Most of which the people couldn’t understand. But they understood body language. They saw the hatred in our eyes. I am convinced that every house we raided, if there weren’t terrorists there before, they definitely were after we left. I often think of my own family. If there were foreign soldiers in my community and they raided my parents house and abused them, what would I do? I would pick up a gun and fight them. I would be a terrorist to the Occupation Forces. The first time I left the wire I was driving. I was idealistic about saving the people and changing the country. We drove past a closed up gas station at seventy kilometres an hour. A young boy of six was standing by the road. As I passed him he raised his hand and gave me the finger. I was crushed. Why does he hate me already? I just got here! If we have lost the six year olds, we have lost the war. There is so much terror involved in the military. The people you are fighting are terrorized by our military actions. The people in the military are terrorized by the environment they inhabit. And all the people caught in between, the civilians we are trying to “protect” are terrorized by all sides. Modern war is terrorism to everyone. We cannot defeat an adjective. We cannot hope to abolish terror by using it on others. We are not the only people on this earth and we have to stop viewing everyone else as less than human. We have to stop seeing terror and fear everywhere. Terror is only a tactic and can be used by anyone. Even George Washington was a terrorist to the British.
This was written by a former American Solider in response to another American soldiers attack on Afghan Civilians in April 2012. Mr. Clumpner is an active member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (ivaw.org) as an organizer in the Colorado territory. He refused redeployment to Iraq when he was re-called in 2009. He studied PoliSci and History at UW-La Crosse.
Afghanistan combat stress changes the brains of soldiers says study
A new study of NATO troops returning from Afghanistan has found an ongoing impact from combat stress
Charis Palmer Editor The Conversation A new study of NATO troops returning from Afghanistan has found an ongoing impact from combat stress. AAP Soldiers should be given regular periods of respite to recover from combat exposure, experts argue, following the findings of a Dutch study of NATO soldiers returning from deployment in Afghanistan. The study of 33 soldiers, published in US journal PNAS, found exposure to combat stress, such as armed combat, enemy fire and improvised explosive device blasts, caused changes to the brain, impacting the soldiers’ ability to remain focused during challenging tasks. The soldiers were studied before and after a fourmonth long deployment, with 26 soldiers who were never deployed serving as a control group. Guido van Wingen from Amsterdam’s Brain Imaging Centre, and colleagues, studied brain changes tied to so-called executive functions, which rely on attention and working memory for planning and decisionmaking. “This study is of considerable importance and consistent with several other studies,” said Sandy McFarlane, director of the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies and Professor of Psychiatry at The University of Adelaide. “It demonstrates that soldiers require regular periods of respite from combat exposure to let their neurophysiology reset itself.”
The study found the brain changes were reversible upon follow-up 18 months later. However, changes to the functional connections between the midbrain and the prefrontal cortex persisted, suggesting combat stress may have long-lasting effects on cognitive brain circuitry. “The fact that there is a lasting disruption of prefrontal connectivity highlights that people do have a limit to how much traumatic stress they can endure,” Professor McFarlane said. The study did not include soldiers that had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. “The study clearly shows that combat exposure takes its toll even in soldiers without psychological problems,” said Julie Krans, postdoctoral research fellow at University of New South Wales’ School of Psychology. “It would not be an unwise precaution to monitor Australian soldiers returning from deployment who were exposed to combat situations even if they do not present with psychological symptoms. They might be more vulnerable in future stress situations compared to never deployed soldiers.” Dr Krans said given the relatively small sample size in the study the implications are very preliminary. “For example, the long-term effects on the brain may not be permanent but may need more time than 18 months to return to normal.”
Solaiman Nuri and his 9-year-old daughter Hadessa will not be forgotten
Omid Mehdavi The City of Concord and the Nuri family dedicated a tree and a bench in memory of Solaiman and Hadessa Nuri. The dedication took place at Ygnacio Valley Park off Oak Grove Road in Concord on Friday, October 12th. The City worked with the family for this memorial through the efforts of Councilmember Tim Grayson. The bench was unveiled by Mayor Ron Leone and
Vice Mayor Bill Shinn during the ceremony. Family members helped plant a tree that will offer shade for the bench. The bench has an inlaid plaque that reads: Remembering with love Solaiman Nuri and his daughter Hadees. The park was chosen because the Nuri family spent many hours in the park, as it was near their home. Solaiman Nuri coached soccer on the sports fields over which the bench provides the perfect
view. Dr. Younos and Mr. Grayson who is also the Concord Police department’s Police Chaplain lead prayers in both Farsi and English. Solaiman Nuri, 41, and Hadessa Nuri, 9, were killed when they were struck by a vehicle driven by a teenager on April 7, 2012. Another daughter, 12-year-old Hannah, suffered minor injuries. The teenager who hit them was sentenced on October 22nd to the maximum term
of more than seven years confinement for running over and killing the father and daughter riding their bicycles. The driver who turned 18 will be released at the age of 21 as required by state law because he was convicted as a minor of two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter. Nuri’s widow, Stoorai Nuri, told the crowd during the memorial that when she misses her husband and daughter she can sit on the bench and
remember the good times they spent together. The Nuri family has vowed to take their story to Sacramento in an effort to pressure legislators into passing stricter laws against people who kill while behind the wheel. The crowd of about one hundred people included the Nuri family, Dr. Farid Younos, Mayor Ron Leone, Councilmember Dan Helix, Chief of Police Guy Swanger, Police Chaplain
Tim Grayson, Interim City Manager Valerie Barone, Motor Officer Ken Carlson, Parks Manager Steve Voorhies, City Clerk Mary Rae Lehman, Maintenance Team Leader Chris Llata, Representative from Senator Mark DeSaulnier’s office, players and parents of Aria Soccer Club.
AFGHAN AMERICAN FRIENDS ASSOCIATION Inaugural Dinner
Please come to support the establishment of an Endowed Chair for an Islamic Studies Program at San Jose State University (SJSU). Dr. Mohammad Qayoumi, President of SJSU, is leading this effort and needs the support of the American Muslim community to make it a reality. Sh. Hamza Yusuf has graciously agreed to be the Keynote speaker for this event we are hosting on Sunday, November 4th.
Saturday November 17, 2012 7.30 PM SHARP Guest Speaker Attorney Wahida Noorzad, Esq.
The mission of this Islamic Studies program is to: • Cultivate an understanding of Islam and its impact on world civilization. • Encourage an objective study/understanding of Muslims around the world • Encourage mutual respect among members of academia and civil society to counter bigotry, misinformation and Islamophobia. To start this program at SJSU an initial funding of $1M is needed. The good news is that a Muslim Foundation on the East Coast has already donated $500,000 towards this Endowed Chair. So we just need another $500,000 to complete the initial funding.
All welcome! Khyber Pass Restaurant
7467 Village Parkway, Dublin, CA 94568 Dinner: $20 per person
We are looking to invite 700 community members to the November 4th event and raise the remaining $500,000, Inshallah. By coming and supporting this very worthwhile cause, you will be supporting not only the present, but future generations of American Muslims.
Please see the attached flyer for additional information and contact me for tickets. Thank you in advance, Sincerely, Javed Khan, Cell (408) 836-1121
PLEASE READ Southern California Girl needs blood donations A beautiful girl Marjan (17 year old Afghan girl), is a patient with leukemia and SEVERELY needs platelets. CHLA has a shortage- If anyone in LA can go to the children’s hospital on Sunset to donate blood for Marjan it would be amazing! Make sure to refer to AMELIA RAHEEMZAI when donating blood and platelets, also remember no ADVIL or blood thinning medication two days prior to donating. Please contact George- 323-361-2370 to make an appointment. PLEASE!!!!!!!!!
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Afghan Fury at Planned Pakistan Pact
Mixed messages as Kabul asks Pakistan to stop border shelling, then agrees to strategic partnership. By :Hafizullah Gardesh - Afghanistan
ARR Issue 440, 9 Oct 12
T alk of a strategic agreement with Pakistan has scandalized Afghans who believe their southern neighbor wants to undermine rather than help
their conflict-torn country. The pact came up apparently out of the blue during a meeting between Afghan president Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York
at the end of September. They agreed to instruct their foreign ministers to work together to draft a final agreement by the end of 2013. At the meeting, Zardari told Karzai that Islamic militancy, terrorism and the drugs trade were common challenges on which their two countries must cooperate. Many Afghans, however, suspect the Pakistani authorities of covertly backing the Taliban
and other insurgent groups in order to prolong instability. In recent months, their sense of anger has been increased by wave upon wave of crossborder shell and rocket fire targeting the eastern Afghan provinces of Kunar, Nuristan and Nangarhar. Dozens of civilians in these border areas
have been killed, and thousands forced to leave their homes. In late September – just as the two presidents were holding their meeting – residents of Nangarhar’s Lalpur and Goshta districts received news of an impending bombardment. They ignored the warning, but thousands then had to flee when the shelling started. The Afghan government has faced mounting criticism at home for seeking a diplomatic solution rather than ordering a direct military response. Karzai and his foreign minister Zalmay Rasul complained about the shelling during the United Nations assembly. When the Afghan defense and interior met tribal elders in Nangarhar on October 1, they again said diplomacy was the preferred approach. In the last year, Afghanistan has signed strategic pacts with the United States and India, but Pakistan is a different matter altogether. Karzai’s critics say that with the crossborder shelling and many other issues still in dispute, it is hardly the time to be talking about strategic cooperation. “We have signed many agreements… but Pakistan has not delivered on even one per cent of its commit-
ments, nor has it acted for the good of Afghans. It would do better to meet these prior commitments,” parliamentarian Aryan Yun told IWPR. “Pakistan has shown its true colors to the Afghan people over the last 30 years. There’s no need to sign a strategic agreement with it now.” Meeting on October 2, Afghan members of parliament denounced the idea, saying it would be completely wrong to sign this kind of agreement with a country which behaved so aggressively towards their state. “Instead of complaining to the UN Security Council and submitting documents and other evidence of Pakistani interference, Karzai has rushed to sign a pact with the Pakistanis,” said Sayed Fazel Hussein Sancharaki, spokesman for the opposition National Coalition. “Karzai has not only trampled on the country’s national interests; he has destroyed Afghan pride in the process.” Sancharaki said the president was seeking to bolster his own position at any cost, and was prepared to do a deal with Islamabad in return for its support in the 2014 presidential election in which he would seek “to bring one
of his relatives to power”. “It would be ridiculous to sign such a pact unless Pakistan was prepared to work honestly with Afghanistan and respect its national interests and territorial integrity,” he added. By contrast, the Truth and Justice Party gave the plan its official backing, though it wanted numerous conditions written into any agreement. Speaking on September 30, party spokesman Hamidullah Faruqi said these terms should stipulate that “Pakistani military attacks on Afghan soil come to an end… and that nests of terrorism inside Pakistan, which have fought against Afghan interests for the last 30 years, are eliminated.” Karzai’s spokesman Siamak Herawi attempted to dispel the anger by saying the strategic agreement was just an idea. “This is no more than a proposal. There’s no written blueprint for this pact,” he told IWPR. “Parliament, civil society and the Afghan nation will be kept informed, and the content of the pact will be scrutinized by experts. So in general, a decision will be made once a general consensus has been achieved.” Despite being approached
by IWPR several times, the Pakistani embassy in Kabul refused to give an interview on the issue. Political analyst Abdul Satar Sadat said that in the current circumstances, talk of a bilateral treaty was premature. “The pact will be signed in the midst of a conflagration, it isn’t certain whether it will survive the flames,” he said. Sadat said a lot of work needed to be done to build confidence at a political level, and one issue would certainly have to remain off-limits – the Durand Line, the contentious and poorly-defined AfghanPakistani boundary originally established in 1893. Islamabad would like to see the line formalized as the official frontier, but Kabul has never recognized it. “If the Durand Line question is mentioned in the pact, it definitely cannot be signed,” Sadat said. He noted that greater trust would also have to exist at grassroots level. As an example of Afghan mistrust of Islamabad’s intentions, he recalled one case where army personnel were offered training scholarships in Pakistan. “No one was prepared to go, except for two army bandsmen who wanted to learn the trumpet,” he said.
Taliban “Disgraced” by Attack on Child Activist Afghans express disgust at shooting of Malala Yousufzai. By :Mina Habib - Afghanistan ARR Issue 440, 9 Oct 12
“The Taliban are digging their own graves with acts like this,” Kabul resident Mohammad Yunus said, shaking with rage at the shooting of 14-year-old blogger Malala Yousufzai in northwest Pakistan. “The attack on Malala showed up the group as weak and impotent against a child. I see it as vindication and victory for Malala, and a disgrace for the Taleban.” Malala was shot in the head by gunmen who singled her out on a school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley on October 9. Pakistan doctors managed to remove a bullet lodged in her neck, and she has now been taken to Britain to receive specialist care. The Pakistani Taliban Movement, closely associated with the Afghan Taliban, was quick to claim responsibility, and said it would target the girl again if she recovered. Malala Yousufzai attracted the militants’ attention by campaigning for girls in Pakistan to be able to go to school. She began writing a
blog in 2008, when the Pakistani Taliban controlled her native Swat Valley and included a ban on girl’s schooling among the many draconian rules they imposed. As a PR exercise, attacking a child has proved counterproductive, galvanizing public opinion across the board against the insurgents, in Afghanistan as well as in Pakistan. There are parallels with atrocities that Afghan insurgents have committed against minors, such as the hanging of an eight-year-old boy in Helmand province in 2010, supposedly for “spying”. Mohammad Yunus’s sense of outrage was shared by many other Afghans interviewed by IWPR, as was his prediction that the attack would generate a backlash against insurgents operating on either side of the border
with Pakistan. “This act, by those who attack children and innocents in cowardly fashion, bears no relation to Islam,” Qaramatullah Siddiqi, director of Islamic studies at Afghanistan’s religious affairs ministry, said. “They are in fact committing two sins – first as murderers, and second as enemies of Islam who pretend to be adherents of the sacred religion yet abuse its pure name.” According to Afghanistan’s education ministry, nearly ten million school pupils across
the country said prayers for Malala’s recovery on October 13. “We raise our voices because this is an attack not only on humanity but on the right to education,” Education Minister Faruq Wardak said at a meeting at Kabul’s Rabia Balkhi High School the same day. Wardak said 4,500 teachers and pupils in Afghanistan had been killed or injured in militant attacks over the past decade. There was universal con-
demnation from Afghan women a n d school pupils. “It was a barbaric attack, unforgivable in Islam or indeed any other world religion,” said Parwanama Yusuf, w h o heads a group that offers legal aid to women and children. “Those who carried out this attack…. are the enemies of our sacred faith.” Soraya, a teacher at the Aisha Durrani girls’ school in Kabul, said pupils there were left downcast by this attack on someone like them. “If the Taliban are so brave and zealous, let them fight a national army, not a 14-yearold girl,” she said. Maryam, a pupil in the 12th grade at the Rahman Mina High School, was worried
that the attack on Malala Yousufzai might be the start of things to come in Afghanistan. “I’m afraid that after this incident, extremist groups might incorporate attacks on school pupils into their war tactics in pursuit of their political aims,” she said. At the same time, political analyst Abdul Hamid Mobarez suggested that the attack on Malala showed that in Swat Valley, at least, the insurgents were in retreat and getting desperate. “Life started deteriorating for people there when the Taliban came,” he said, referring to the Taliban’s 2007-09 occupation of Swat before the Pakistani army drove them out. “There’s a kind of covert war going on between people there and the Taleban. Malalai wrote articles against the Taliban for the media, the BBC in particular, and she might have accelerated that dynamic. So they attacked her.��� Mobarez concluded, “In my view, this incident will mark the start of a new movement against fundamentalism in Pakistan.” Mina Habib is an IWPRtrained reporter in Kabul.
Herat pushcart vendors fed up with extortion
By: Hamed Mehri Herat city – About 2,000 roadside vendors ply their trade on Herat streets everyday, selling everything from bananas to tools or clothing. The work is hard and most make barely enough money to pay expenses and pocket a little profit. But the trade is a huge moneymaker for scores of municipal employees who thrive off the daily street sales, levying unofficial taxes on the vendors and pocketing most of the cash in a system of extortion that, while widely condemned, is also allowed to flourish. Municipal officers do not issue receipts, so the exact amount charged cannot be determined. But research by the Institute for War & Peace Reporting indicates that pushcart owners have to pay an average of 40 afghanis a day (about $0.85). Based on that figure, officers from Herat municipality’s Market Regulation Unit collect about 2.4 million afghanis (about $51,000) per month. No government agency has attempted so far to curb this prac-
tice, losing thousands of dollars each month in potential revenue, officials and vendors interviewed told IWPR. One-wheel and four-wheel handcarts, made either of wood or metal, cost between 2,000-7,000 afghanis. Cart owners, mostly between ages 15-45, usually sell vegetables, fruits, dishes, clothes and other daily use items. Darbe Malik, Darb-e Kandahar, Jada Lailami, and the road beside the Palace are among dozens of crowded areas in Herat city that are key locations for these handcarts. Cart owners and street sellers interviewed by IWPR in various areas of Herat city say they earn a daily income of 150-250 afghanis. The most successful sellers – those who have paid for prime locations – can manage to earn 700 afghanis a day but also have to pay bigger bribes, according to vendors. These petty merchants lead a difficult life, selling from their carts in freezing cold and blistering heat. Many work as long as 15 hours a day. At the crack of dawn or even
before, they push their carts to a marketplace to purchase fruits or vegetables. After washing their merchandise, they arrange it on the carts. After a long day of selling, the sellers return the carts to wherever they are kept overnight before returning to their homes. The sellers say that if they did not pay the Market Regulation Unit officials, they would be told to quit selling because their business was illegal, according to road traffic laws, which state that businesses conducted on roadsides that hamper the flow of vehicles and pedestrians are prohibited. Herat municipal officers say the carts not only add to traffic chaos, but also create security problems. Nawab, 16, sells women’s clothes from a cart on Lailami Road. He said he has to give municipal officers 40 afghanis every day, and that the officers harass him even after he pays. Nawab said four municipal employees work in shifts on Lailami Road and extort money every day from cart owners and street sellers. High-ranking municipal officials, including the mayor or his depu-
ties, occasionally appear on the streets to inspect traffic and see how the lower-ranking municipal officers operate. At these times, the officers who every day take money illegally from street sellers make a pretense of enforcing the traffic laws and ban the sellers from doing business on roadsides, vendors say. Sometimes the officials angrily fling a vendor’s merchandise out onto the road. Extorting money from street vendors and cart pushers by municipal workers have very much become a routine part of what municipal officers do, without having any fear of punishment and law. On July 31 an IWPR reporter spent the day with cart owners and street sellers on Lailami Road. Late in the morning, around 11 am, he was walking along the street when he said he suddenly noticed that three uniformed municipal workers had gathered around a cart pusher selling bananas. The municipal workers were beating the cart owner. After that,
In Wakhan, threatened sheep show signs of recovery
By: Noor Agha Noori Wakhan district, Badakhshan province – Counting sheep in Afghanistan’s Badakhshan Province may be difficult, but shooting them is no doubt easier when the weapon of choice is an AK-47. The famed Marco Polo sheep, first described for the Western world by the 13th century Italian explorer, is considered one of the fastest and smartest of game animals. Its meat is delicious and the beautiful, rounded horns often grow from 140-160 centimeters. Killing them is now prohibited. For 18 years before the Russian invasion in 1979, hunting of the Marco Polo sheep was carefully regulated, with tourists and foreign hunters allowed only one gunshot at the animals, which stand almost a meter high and often weigh between 125 and 130 kilograms. The sheep, known locally as nakhjipar, are found mostly in Badakhshan province, located along the far northeastern border with Tajikistan and including the narrow Wakhan Valley district that separates northern Pakistan from China. How many Marco Polo sheep are there? According to a survey conducted by the Badakhshan Province Agriculture Department, there were 4,000 Marco Polo sheep in 1971. A survey completed this past May by the American-based Wild Conservation Society (WCS), using technically advanced camera traps at several locations in the Wakhan valleys, put that number at 1,500. This is actually being touted as an environmental gain – in 2009, Dr. Mohammed Shafi, head of the veterinary division for the provincial agriculture department, estimated the population to be as low as 220 after a survey conducted in cooperation with WCS that relied mostly on captured photos, hoof prints and traces of sheep found by a combined team of six Afghan and foreign surveyors. What is not debatable is the change in the culture of hunting Marco Polo sheep in the past 30 years.
From 1961 to 1978, rules for hunting Marco Polo sheep were administered by the country’s tourism departments. Every year, hundreds of foreign tourists visited the Wakhan valleys, which meant thousands of dollars in guide fees and tax receipts for the impoverished region. Each foreign tourist was required to register at the Information and Culture Ministry office. According to office records, six officials named Abdullah, Said Ibrahim, Niamatullah, Nasruddin, Ali and Gohar Khan received monthly salaries of 1,200 Afghanis (about $36 at today’s rates) and was responsible for accompanying foreign citizens until the end of their visit. According to Abdullah, one of those six former officials who is now 60 and lives in Bokowi village in the Wakhan valleys, “Each tourist and foreign hunter was permitted to have only one shot at a Marco Polo sheep during their visit. If they missed, they didn’t have permission for a second shot. “At that time a foreigner was paying $3,000 to $10,000 in exchange for a shot. Our most important duty was to safeguard and maintain Marco Polo sheep and snow leopards.” Abdul Zahir, who resides in Panja village, says he began hunting professionally 40 years ago at the age of 16. He claims that after sheep were killed and the meat was either eaten or preserved, the skins and horns were smuggled illegally into Pakistan and sold for as much as 5,000 afghanis. “We were bringing back wheat from Pakistan with the money from the horn and the skin,” Zahir said. According to Zahir, in the old days hunters used single-shot Britishmade rifles to hunt the sheep. The Russian invasion brought with it the AK-47, which can fire dozens of bullets with one pull of a trigger. Profits have also multiplied. Zahir claims to have sold a Marco Polo sheepskin for 5,000 Afghanis. A three-month investigation by an IWPR reporter indicates that ab-
sence of oversight by government officials, along with poverty among local people, leads to illegal hunting of Marco Polo sheep without any fear of punishment. According to current Afghan law, Marco Polo sheep are national property, and hunting and smuggling of sheep parts are prohibited under a decree issued by President Hamid Karzai, with penalties set at two months to two years in prison and a fine of up to 100,000 Afghanis. Local officials in Badakhshan claim that most of the illegal hunting and smuggling of Marco Polo sheep is organized by Pakistani dealers based in the border province of Chitral. Ghulam Nabi Sarfaraz, head of the environment department for the province, said his personnel captured a Pakistani citizen last year near the Chitral border carrying a Marco Polo sheep that had been killed. He said the suspect was handed over to Afghan border police and that he has heard nothing about the incident since. The struggle for the conservation of wildlife including Marco Polo sheep in Badakhshan gained ground after American WCS resumed activity in 2006, and other organizations, including the Aga Khan Foundation, began contributing to the effort. WCS conservationist Anthony Simms said for the last four years his organization has employed 40 local young people as Civil Guards, which act as game wardens to protect Marco Polo sheep. Abdul Sabir, one of the Civil Guards, said that every week they are divided into eight-member groups and go on patrols in areas apparently used for hunting and smuggling. “We are guarding (just like) police and don’t permit anyone to hunt Marco Polo sheep,” he said. The Civil Guards perform their tasks without weapons. Wakhan District chief Sayed Feruz Shah says there are many illegal hunters and smugglers. He says illegal activity starts in the Broghil valley and stretches up to the Chi-
nese border, an area 250 km long and 230 km wide. He admits the authorities cannot provide protection for such a vast territory. “What could our government do with two policemen to cover a 250 km-long desert and mountain?” the chief asks. He noted the installation of digital binoculars at high perches in the Pamir Mountains along with dozens of cameras put in place by WCS. But a veteran Wakhan Valley hunter who didn’t want to give his name said all the illegal hunters and smugglers know the locations of the cameras and hunt in other valleys instead. According to district chief Sayed Feruz Shah, Wakhan has a population of 18,000 people and is largely controlled by only a few individuals – mostly large land owners whose influence over the hundreds of small settlements in the area is nearly absolute and who, according to local hunters, have a hand in the continued hunting on the sheep. In interviews with IWPR, local hunters, Abdul Sabir, Abdullah and Abdul Zahir claim that each year a large number of Marco Polo sheep are hunted on the orders of Wakhan’s powerbrokers for meat, or to be served at elaborate picnics. Mohammad Sadiq, Wakhan district security director for the last four years, said there are secret, dangerous people behind this hunting and smuggling, a so-called Marco Polo Mafia, intent on making money. He said that last year a three-member group was caught with a Marco Polo sheep with an injured hoof. He wouldn’t name those captured hunters, but said his department obtained confessions in which the alleged smugglers asserted that the sheep was to be sent to a zoo in Islamabad. “Before implementing the mission, the smugglers had received $100,000 from Pakistanis in advance,” Mohammad Sadiq said.
these three officers accompanied the cart pusher to the area near Malaka Jalali School and parked his cart among other confiscated carts. When he asked the vendor what was going on. The cart seller said: “They were municipal workers and demanded money from me. Since I didn’t pay them any, they took me off the streets.” The reporter returned to Lailami Road and soon witnessed another incident: A municipal worker known by the vendors as Muhyeddin was sitting in a motorized rickshaw on the Lailami roadside and taking money from a banana seller. While he was counting the money, the reporter asked him why he took money from the vendor. Noticing the reporter’s microphone, Muhyeddin got frightened and the money slipped out from his hand onto the street. A crowd of passersby soon huddled around Muhyeddin, and in front of that crowd demanding an explanation. Muhyeddin admitted to having taken that money as a bribe. “I ask the vendors to come to me when they come near my post and put the money in my hand without speaking to me. Don’t rush over to me, so people don’t notice us,” he said, before quickly leaving the area. After his departure, the banana seller, who introduced himself as Mohammad Arif, said: “This guy, Muhyeddin, works for the municipality. He takes money from me every day, and in return, allows me to peddle on the street with my cart.” Taking bribes from vendors is not limited to municipal officers; cart pushers allege that police officers sometimes violently remove their carts from the streets and physically assault them. Nearly 20 handcart owners who were interviewed, however, refused to have their voices recorded or to be named during interviews with an IWPR reporter, for fear that police or market officers would learn of the interviews and ban them from doing business. But Ghulam Nabi, a street vendor who sells women clothes, said municipal officers took 50 afghanis every day. He said he has no other choice but to pay the bribes in order to keep working, because he’s supporting 12 members of his family. He said municipal officers patrolling in the streets order the vendors to pay them kickbacks in a way that no passersby will notice. “Municipal officers tell us to get away from the crowd when we see them, and to hand them the money without uttering a word,” Nabi explained. “Several days ago, municipal officers confiscated 120 pairs of girls’ pants worth 6,000 afghanis and fined me 1,000 afghanis,” Nabi said. “When I went to the municipality to pay the fine, all the pants had been plundered stolen y municipal workers.” Rasikh, manager of Herat Municipality’s Market Regulation Unit, denied Nabi’s allegation, and said he would not accept any
allegations of bribe taking unless proper video proof was provided. “It’s true that my officers confiscate merchandise from street sellers, but we store the merchandise in big containers until it is claimed,” he said. “Most of the time, handcart owners do not come after their confiscated merchandise for fear of our officers,” he added, without explaining, however, why the vendors would be fearful of collecting their goods. Despite regulations governing the behavior of city employees, vendors say few – if any – are ever punished for preying on the pushcart owners; they become emboldened and only take more. As well, vendors explain that their activities are not regulated by any laws, exposing them to extortion. IWPR interviews with dozens of vendors revealed that some of these employees – identified by the sellers as Muhyeddin, Mohammad Akbar, Momin, Ahmad Zia, Khalil Ahmad and a man simply nicknamed “The Fox” – have held their current posts for more than five years. The vendors say these government employees curry favor with their bosses by giving them a large percentage of the money they take off the street, further encouraging this cycle of graft. None of the municipal workers on the street would talk. An IWPR reporter tried seven times to interview Heart’s mayor, Mohammad Salim Taraki, and other top municipality officials, but was refused an audience every time. But Rasikh, the manager of the Market Regulation Unit, said he thought the estimate of 2.4 million afghanis a month in illegal collections was too high a figure. “I’m not saying that corruption doesn’t exist in our office,” he said. “But (some) cart owners are lying. They have a hostile attitude towards us. My officials can’t possibly collect that much money.” Mohammad Rafigh Mojaddadi, the previous mayor of Herat, was fired after accusations of corruption and embezzlement made by prosecutors, and was later convicted and sentenced to five years in prison and fined $90,000. At a press conference in Herat in April 2009, Taraki acknowledged that embezzlement is widespread among municipal workers and that this practice was one of his gravest concerns. Little, however, appears to have been done to curb the practice of shaking down street vendors for money. Back on Herat’s streets, the city worker known only as the “Fox” carries a club and is much loathed by hundreds of shopkeepers and pushcart owners along Lailami Road and near Kandahar Gate who have give him money every day. Many cart sellers say that when they see him, they are reminded of Taliban times. The difference is that the Taliban lashed cart owners to make them go to mosques and observe their prayers, while the “Fox” uses his club to extract bribes.
FREEKICK SOCCER NEWSLETTER
Afghan 2012 Thanksgiving Cup
By Kamran Faizi The 2nd annual Afghan Thanksgiving Cup hosted by Afghan Premier Soccer Club will take place from November 22 to 25 in Union City and Dublin in Northern California. In late 80’s and early 90’s, the Thanksgiving weekend tournament was a regular event on the Afghan sporting calendar and in the last year Afghan Premier has restarted the tradition with a successful tournament culminated with the hosts winning the title over Afghan United of Virginia to claim the Open Men’s title. Aria Club of Concord won the O-35 division and the Girl’s division in a penalty shoot-out over Itifaq FC of Tracy.
This year once again the tourney will consist of open division for men and women, O-35 for men, U-16 for boys and possibly a U-13 division for boys as well. For the men’s division, participants would consist of California, New York, Virginia, New Jersey and Canada based teams. All other brackets would be Northern California clubs. It will be another weekend of top class football played by Afghan athletes some of whom represent Afghanistan on the Men’s and Women’s National Teams. The O-35 teams consist of players some of whom played instrumental roles in the launch of Afghan soccer in the United States
and its growth and expansion in the last 2-1/2 decades. The junior squads are the future of Afghan soccer and potential candidates for the National teams. Sports have always been a unifying force for the masses and this is especially true in the Afghan community of today when more than ever we need all the constructive and available reasons to get together and enjoy our common passion which has always been football. For further information about the tournament, please visit www.afghanpremierfc.com
Home favorite wins first Afghan pro bout Afghan-German
boxer Hamid Rahimi beat his Tanzanian opponent in Kabul on Tuesday in Afghanistan’s first professional bout, prompting jubilation among thousands of home fans. Ecstatic supporters mobbed the ring in the capital’s Loya Jirga (grand assembly) tent as the referee declared Rahimi, 29, winner after Said Mbelwa withdrew with an injury in the seventh round. It may not have been the “Thriller in Manila”, but the bout billed as the “Fight 4 Peace” marks another
sporting landmark for the war-torn nation after the resounding success of the Afghan Premier League football tournament. Amid tight security, around 2,000 fans including dignitaries such as the head of the intelligence service packed the Loya Jirga, and hundreds of thousands were expected to watch live television coverage. The crowd cheered every blow as Rahimi, who grew up in Germany, dominated the early exchanges, while his 23-year-old opponent looked to frustrate the home favourite by dancing round the ring before
a shoulder injury got the better of him 17 seconds into the seventh. “I thank you all for coming -- you gave me power, this belt belongs to Afghanistan. It is yours,” Rahimi told the crowd after receiving the WBO intercontinental middleweight belt. After more than three decades of war, Afghans are no strangers to fighting, but Tuesday’s bout was their first taste of top international boxing and the clash began with the sport’s usual theatre and razzmatazz, much to the delight of the sell-out crowd, many of them waving
the national flag. “I’m very happy to be here, I’ve waited for a month to come and see this match. I’ve never been to a live boxing match before,” said fan Abdul Maqsood, who paid 5,000 Afghanis ($95) for his ticket -- around a month’s salary for an average government employee. “Rahimi is my favourite boxer, he is our pride.” Despite their penchant for floggings and public executions, the Taliban declared boxing to be “against human dignity” during their hardline rule and banned it, along with most other forms
of entertainment. Since the Islamists were toppled in a USled invasion in 2001, combat sports have grown in popularity in Afghanistan and taekwondo star Rohullah Nikpah won bronze at both the Beijing and London Olympics. Earlier this month Afghanistan held its first professional football championship, which proved wildly popular, drawing large television audiences and sellout crowds to virtually every match. Football was one of the rare activities that escaped a ban by the Taliban during their 1996 to 2001 regime as they took advantage of
the sport’s popularity and the large numbers of spectators it drew to carry out punishments, using the half-time interval to chop off the hands of thieves on the pitch. Afghan-German boxer Hamid Rahimi (R) fights with Tanzanian Said Mbelwa in Afghanistan’s first professional bout in Kabul. Afghan-German boxer Hamid Rahimi beat his Tanzanian opponent in Kabul on Tuesday in Afghanistan’s first professional bout, prompting jubilation among thousands of home fans.
Imran Khan Detained on US Flight over Anti-Drone Activism Pakistan’s ant-drone politician and former cricketstar, Imran Khan, was taken off an international flight from Toronto to New York for questioning over his political views, and his critical stance on US foreign policy, immigration officials have confirmed. “I was taken off from plane and interrogated by US
Immigration in Canada on my views on drones. My stance is known. Drone attacks must stop,” Khan tweeted yesterday after his questioning. Ali Zaidi, an official in Khan’s party demanded “a prompt and thorough inquiry into this sordid episode” and “an unconditional apology from the US
government”. Khan was on his way from a public lecture in Toronto to a fundraising event in New York. He was eventually released and allowed in the US. He added: “Missed flight and sad to miss the fundraising lunch in NY but nothing will change my stance.”
Khan, leader of the Pakistan Movement for Justice party (PTI), and Prime Minister candidate in next year’s elections in Pakistan, has been a loud voice in the anti-drone movement in Pakistan. Khan recently lead a high-profile anti-drone march aimed at south Waziristan along with US peace activists
from the group Code Pink and 15,000 others. Khan maintains that US drone strikes in Pakistan and around the world are counterproductive because they have resulted in thousands of innocent civilian deaths, cause great hardship in the country and drive up anti-US sentiment and militant recruitment.
In an interview with BBC News last month, Khan stated that if he were elected as Prime Minister he would opt to shoot down US drones that invade Pakistan, should the US and the international community continue to ignore pleas to stop the fatal strikes in the region.
The Black Tulip Premiered on October 26th
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925-922-3551 www.dressyourface.com Afghanistan by telling a story through the eyes of an everyday family from Kabul, who remain hopeful despite constant struggle and tragedy.
After the Taliban is routed from Afghanistan in early 2001, the Mansouri family seizes the new window of freedom by opening a restaurant called “The Poet’s Corner,” with an open microphone and
an inviting platform for all to read poetry, perform music and tell their stories. This newfound hope proves to be fleeting as they struggle to maintain their way of life when encountering opposition from
lingering factions of the Taliban. “Black Tulip” is a modern portrait of Afghanistan that captures the current plight and resilience of its people. The film was made to give voice to the voiceless people of
“The Black Tulip” is a journey into the heart and soul of the real Afghanistan. At its heart, I wanted to explore the contradictions that exist in a world ravaged by decades of war. In this kind of setting, every sense is heightened. The violence is real. The fear is constant. Yet, for the people of Afghanistan, my people... despite the oppression, despite the
brutality, despite the constant struggle, there is the constant will to live and to enjoy life. Each day is savored, each moment is never taken for granted. These people are truly alive. I wanted to celebrate the colors, the music, the culture, the traditions... I wanted to capture what no else has done, the soul of Afghanistan represented by the families who live there. Fortunately, we put a great script together, based on a true story. Often true stories are more incredible than
anything we imagine. But I didn’t want to focus just on the war. I wanted to tell a real story about the people who dream and who hope the way we do. I was told that “The Black Tulip” would be impossible to make. Despite the war, the bombings, the shootings, the death threats, the kidnappings, we risked our lives and found a way to make this film. I hope that you walk away with something more. Sonia Nassery Cole www.breadwinnerfilms. com/work/blacktulip
Solution for Afghanistan Crisis "SEE" Security, Economy, and Education Editors Note this proposal was submitted to the US Congress and eventually Dr. Younos was invited for a Congressional briefing in July 2010 Farid Younos After the collapse of the Taliban and the American involvement in Afghanistan, Afghans and non-Afghans were hoping that Afghanistan will take the path of progress with America’s support. Unfortunately, not only was this aspiration vanished, but Afghanistan in return became a dangerous place for her citizens well as other world citizens to reside in, due to her narcotic trafficking. Increased poverty, lack of security, minimal justice towards the impoverished, women burning themselves due to lack of family justice, imprisonment of free thinkers made the imported American democracy questionable. This lead Afghans to question the system: Is this democracy? Injustice, poverty, lack of gender equality and so forth. The problem of Afghanistan is not only a corrupt government; however a lot more than what meets the eye. Corruption is a relative concept, it solely depends how one defines corruption around the world. We have corruption with different face, kind and approach all over the world. The biggest obstacle Afghanistan is currently facing is lack of political belief to unite the country. Borrowing ideas from the West, and implementing imported democracy has not and will not solve the crisis in Afghanistan. Afghans would generate their own political thinking that fit their own needs, creed and way of life. In another word, homegrown democracy is what they may need. In this paper, the author tries to pinpoint the problem of Afghanistan within the context of Afghan culture and Afghan politics. To approach this issue, three main factors play a major role in bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan. They are namely security, economy and education with an acronym of “SEE.” In order to achieve her goal, Afghanistan must conceive with a political thinking of her own. It is the political thinking plus leadership that makes a cohesive political society. Unfortunately, Afghanistan is lacking both political thinking and leadership. Afghanistan is not the only country faced with these problems, thus most underdeveloped countries are faced with these is-
sues as well. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, Afghanistan is a Muslim country. Politics and religion are not two separate entities in Islam. So the first approach is to formulate an Islamic political system which speaks of justice for all, gender equality, and reconstruction that fits the Afghan culture and its way of life. The benefit of this approach is that the opposition forces believe that Afghanistan is under the yoke of American imperialism and their mission in Afghanistan is to destroy Afghan culture, and particularly the Islamic way of life. The opposition forces strongly believe that the United States and her allies are there to protect their own strategic interests in the region, however not the interest of Afghans. They came to a conclusion that the entire fund supposedly accommodated for Afghanistan’s reconstruction, went to American military establishment and administrative costs. The second reason for Islamic political thinking is that it fits the Afghan mainstream culture. Unfortunately, a few Afghan seculars took over the political power, of which most are American educated. The problem with this elite group is that they are detached from the Afghan needs and Afghan culture. Instead of finding ways within the Islamic culture and Afghan culture to improve Afghan lifestyle, they borrowed foreign ideas which are not practical and does not correspond well with the Afghan lifestyle. For example, Zakah (Charity due) in Islam is one of the five pillars of Islam and it is an economic principle for Muslims. It is much more practical in a society like Afghanistan to establish a Zakah institution rather than borrowing fund from the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund with interest. Imposing foreign ideas caused backlashes, created haves and haves not and more importantly, deculturized the masses under the name of democracy and freedom. Afghans are the most freedom lovers of the world. It is because of love for freedom that they fought against the British, the Russians and now against the Americans. However, they love freedom not from an outsider’s viewpoint
but rather their own vision of history, culture and faith. A Political thinking that the majority adheres to, a political thinking that the majority believes in it, a political thinking that connects people of Afghanistan is Islam. Unfortunately this thinking did not surfaced on the political agenda, and after the demise of Taliban those who fought for the independence of Afghanistan were called “Warlords” and those who sold out Afghanistan to the then the Soviet Union, caused millions of death, displaced millions and created a huge refugee problem are back to power. Hence, now, Western power as a power broker wants to bring the Taliban back to power, whom that they favored before 1996 and as well as being supported by the United States for their own economic and strategic plan. The question is this: Is Afghanistan going back to the Taliban era? In a tribal society, does political pluralism work where the communists, Islamists, and secular liberal cooperate with one another? I doubt it because there is 88% illiteracy, tribal affiliation, religious affiliation, and language affiliation, it would create more chaos, division, and anarchy. However, if Afghans manage to bring an Islamic agenda that fits everyone need, desire for freedom such as freedom of press, gender equality, and economic opportunity, that would lead to a peaceful coexistence. But this is an Ethiopic wishful thinking considering that Afghanistan is under a foreign occupation. To many Afghans, Afghanistan is an invaded, and an occupied country. Their democracy is not homegrown but imported, supported and fed by an outside power. Afghanistan’s lack of security not only halted development, but also worried the international circles. Therefore, the first step needs to be achieved is Afghanistan’s independence, in which it eventually leads to security of not only Afghanistan, but also the region. Afghans have a proverb that translates like this: The snake does not like mint but it grows at his cave doorstep. How could Iran, Pakistan, and the Federation of Russia in Central Asia keep quiet and not interfere in the affairs of Afghanistan when there is an enormous presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan?
Security: With the assistance of all powers involved, Afghanistan should be declared non-aligned, neutral and return to her position of neutrality among nations. After 30 years of war, resistance, civil war and destruction, Afghanistan is currently not equipped psychologically, economically and does not possess the manpower that’s needed to engage into any sort of war any more. For this purpose, Afghanistan must be demilitarized. Afghanistan’s neighbors particularly Iran and Pakistan, regional powers such as China, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia, the United States and her allies particularly in case of Afghanistan, the Great Britain, France, and Germany should sign a treaty of regional peace and non-inference militarily. As it was mentioned in this peace treaty Afghanistan must remain demilitarized and nonaligned. Afghanistan will not import or export weapons or produces weapons for that matter. During the same conference, they should determine the time table for foreign troop withdraws. This plan has been implemented after World War II, used for the Swiss and the Germans. It is with demilitarization of Afghanistan that neighbors will settle down, thus not interfering in the affairs of Afghanistan. Of course, a strong police force is needed for national security. Iqbal Lahoori, a Farsi poet of the subcontinent of India, mentioned so beautifully in one of his poems, and I paraphrase and transliterate the poem that, Afghanistan is the heart of Asia. Her misery and insecurity is the misery and insecurity of Asia. Her peace and glory is peace and the glory of Asia. The only way to bring peace into the region is to demilitarize Afghanistan. The other solution is that the central government should be given enough military power not only to fight but totally crash her opposition. Is this approach solving Afghanistan’s problem? The answer is no, the fact that Afghanistan, in the mind of Muslim radicals is a litmus test. If the imposed democracy succeeds in Afghanistan, then countries in the region particularly the Gulf States supposedly follow suit. We need to remember that radicalism against the central government of Afghanistan is not for the sake of Islam or establishing an Islamic state, it is not to allow western democracy to
succeed. Therefore, that is why the Sheikhs of the Gulf States funnel fund to protect their sheikdoms in the region by supporting the Taliban. If the Taliban succeeds, it is in the interest of the Arab Sheiks. If the reader recalls, the Taliban was officially recognized by the Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and their agent in the region, Pakistan. Demilitarization of Afghanistan, establishing a moderate Islamic state, would make the supporters and funders of the Taliban at ease, although one of the principle agenda of the Saudi foreign policy is to introduce their Wahabi brand of Islam and stand firm against Shias especially in the region of Iran. Economy: It is only through regional peace that Afghanistan can think of reconstruction. Implementation of foreign ideas on Afghanistan’s economy makes it a dependent nation as it did for Iran before the Shah, and in Chile in Latin America. For the last of thirty years, the United States preached neoliberalism around the world for their own economic gain. This policy lay off million of people, caused famine, spread injustices when they tried to privatize from A to Z of the economy. This system which gives more power to the capitalists ignores the need of the ordinary citizen, the middle class and the poor. The system makes people rely on banking interest heavily while Islam prohibits interest. Hence, not only is neo-liberalism not fit for Muslim people, but also free-market economy is not in their interest but rather a market economy. Afghanistan needs some regulation for the sake of justice for all. Afghanistan needs foreign investment that should serve the interests of both parties. One reason that underdeveloped countries never developed is because foreign investment is not in the interest of the people but the investor alone. Nigeria is a case in point. Political thinking plus leadership will result into unity while using human resources plus natural resources result into reconstruction. Afghan natural resources are untapped and human resources are not educated. To boost the economy, Afghans should not only seek investment but at the same time educate, and train their labor force. Afghanistan should become a producer nation, exporter nation not a dependent na-
tion and importer nation that depends on foreign goods and services. Education: The foundation of Islam is knowledge. As a matter of fact the first word revealed to Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), was to read. According to one hadith (saying of the Prophet), the first thing was created was the pen. Therefore, Afghanistan must invest more money into her education rather than that of the military. Afghanistan needs to have a literacy plan. At this time of reconstruction, vocational education is a must, so people could attain jobs. Unemployment is against the law of economics in Islam. Dignity and pride of a society is her workforce. Especially in Islam that men are the providers, creating work by the government is a major task. This does not mean that women are not allowed to work. On the contrary, Islam does not discriminate between men and women. But enforce family relationship where everyone has a responsibility. An educated force will not only contribute but also produce quality products which Afghanistan needs. As men of knowledge say, knowledge is power; Afghans with the tool of knowledge should overcome their socio-economic malaise and become a role model of Islamic nations to the world without compromising their indigenous cultural values. It is utmost important that education should take the path of Islamization. Students should develop their skills on all aspects of life based upon Islamic thinking. This approach will ensure that the Afghan culture is preserved from deculturization. The principle of Islamic education will pave the path of progress, and will not alienate people from their cultural roots. Therefore, those who want peace in Afghanistan must think, formulate, and compose an agenda of Islamization that could create a challenge to the opposition forces who, in the era of the Soviet Union were under the impression that Afghanistan went towards infidelity; however, they now think that Afghanistan went towards secularity. ©Dr. Farid Younos is with the Department of Human Development Studies at the California State UniversityEast Bay. He is the author of Democratic Imperialism: Democratization vs Islamization.
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