In a mirror, darkly

September 18th, 2013

Two of my uncles, my mom’s older brothers, have disappeared in the torture cells of the Afghan communists in the late 70′ies. We never found out what happened to them, they never showed up again and just vanished like they never existed. The only information we had on them were eye witnesses, that made it out of the torture cells, that told our family how they saw one of them lying in a cell, bloodied and badly tortured. That’s all we knew and from then on they were never heard of again.

The Dutch government has now obtained and released lists of some of those that were killed during the communist regime. I deliberately wrote “some of those” because in reality it wasn’t just the 4.785 victims from that list but hundreds of thousands more.

On the list my uncles show up as #202, Mohammad Yaqhub Arsala, and #4434, Abdul Samey.

Hopefully this will give my family some closure as to what has happened to them, although we always knew that we will never see them again in this life.

Now that communism is pretty much dead the only thing that is not dead are its followers. The only people that unfortunately were almost never punished are the perpetrators, living among us, boasting about how they tortured “Ikhwanis”, a derogatory term for “Ikhwan-Al-Muslimeen”, the Muslim Brotherhood, and how they were in positions of power back then. Many of them now live off of welfare in the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and the U.S., clinging to the “good old times” under the communists, especially Dr. Mohammad Najibullah Ahmadzai, and romanticizing how he was “such a good leader”.

Yes, that Najibullah, the hero and idol of a whole generation of feeble-minded Afghans growing up in the West. Repeating the fairy tales that their mentally deficient communist parents keep telling them about how Kabul was prospering under him and how he predicted the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and how it was him predicting the destruction of Afghanistan should any of the Mujahedeen factions ever come into power. They might have missed the fact that many individuals and institutions predicted bad times for Afghanistan once the Russians were defeated, not only Najibullah. And they left out the fact that it was the communists that started the following three painful decades over Afghanistan.

To quote from a posting my cousin Khushal made:

“In January 1980 the KGB selected as head of KHAD the energetic, brutal thirty-two year-old Muhammad Najibullah, a man capable of intimidating opponents by his mere physical presence. Codenamed POTOMOK, he had probably previously been recruited as a KGB agent. Embarrassed by the reference to Allah in his surname, Najibullah asked to be known instead as ‘Comrade Najib’ […]” (408, Mitrokhin).

This is how the former high ranking KGB officer remembered of Dr. Najibullah the head of KHAD and later president, “Najibullah sometimes executed prisoners himself. His preferred method, according to survivors of his prisons, was to beat his victims to the ground, then kick them to death […]” (409, Andrew and Mitrokhin).

Afghans are easily deluded by eloquent speakers. We always were because many of us keep hanging on to the concept of our country having to be run by one powerful man and not that “complicated” concept of separation of legislative, judicial and executive powers. We’re looking for a leader from our past, someone that is remembered as a great statesman like Mirwais Khan or Khushal Khan and that simple thinking even shows in our songs.

All we need to know and always remember is that we’re our own biggest enemies. We love blaming the fault for our own shortcomings and misery on the West, the “non-believers” and neighboring countries when most of the atrocities were committed by our own people. It was Afghans that turned against Islam and became communists. It was Afghans that turned against their own beliefs and people and became murderers. It was Afghans spying on Afghans and arresting their neighbors all while believing in a delusion called communism.

Whenever we feel there’s something wrong about how things are going in our country and among us all we need to do is look in the mirror to realize that the darker side to it all lies within ourselves, parts of our culture, our illiteracy and our categorical condemnation of any renewal and anything stemming from the West. The only answer we need is to look at our actions and deeds and see how much they are compatible with Islam. Islam has an answer to every one of our questions but in a pathetic chase for modernization we’ve lost ourselves and our faith.

Nowadays Afghans love buying houses on non-Halal loans from non-Halal banks but keep complaining about how the world’s financial systems are all “controlled by Jews”. Afghans love running restaurants that sell alcohol and pork but will raise hell if their daughters decide for themselves to choose whom to marry. Afghans are driven by short-term financial gains while being married to a long-term dream of reputation and prestige. I see contradictions over contradictions in them and no clear vision.

They complain about U.S. involvement (read: help) in the Afghan-Russian war of the 80′ies but keep forgetting that it was for American stingers that prevented more atrocities committed by Russians and Afghan communists against the Afghan people. Yes, it was a proxy war and yes, the U.S. didn’t get involved for altruistic motives but for their own geopolitical strategy but explain that to the widow of an innocent soul that disappeared in an Afghan communist torture chamber.

At least we have some closure but the chapter about justice stays unwritten until all of those responsible have been punished.

The anger, the anger

March 24th, 2012

The title is an allusion to a widely noticed piece by Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar on the massacre conducted by an American terrorist in the district of Panjwayi in Kandahar. I chose this title because after the killings and its subsequent events, and how the situation was handled by the media and the American military, it became evident that certain behaviour patterns have established themselves and all you can feel as an Afghan is anger.

Details of the, and just this one time I’ll be neutral, “incident” have emerged and we now know that the killer went from house to house, rounded up the inhabitants and shot them one by one, regardless of age or gender.
What I have described so lethargically in one simple sentence has in fact been one of the most horrendous war crimes ever perpetrated by a service member of the United States Army. In order not to spare you all the gory details you may picture a soldier kicking in the doors of mudhouses in two villages in Afghanistan, waking up the people who live there, stuffing his rifle in the mouths of 2-year old toddlers, pulling the trigger and enjoying to see their brains splatter onto the walls.

Given the more or less fake outcry this war crime sparked in the Western media it strikes me that it had to be an Afghan journalist, Qais Azimy, that drew our attention back from the perpetrator to the victims of this heinous crime by making us aware of the fact that, once again, no one asked the victim’s names. The fact that this focus-shifting piece was, as usual, published on Al Jazeera is just a footnote in the order of events of a farce that to most of us Afghans seems like a broken record that keeps repeating itself throughout the last 11 years of Afghanistan’s history.

Before we get into that let’s rewind for a bit and remind ourselves of who we are talking about.
We are talking about Mohammad Dawood, the first victim of the rampage. His brother had to scrape his brain and pieces of his skull from the floor. We’re talking about Shah Tarina, a 60-year old grandmother. Then there’s Bibi Zohra and her daughters Nabiya (4), Farida (6) and Masooma (9) and their brothers Faizullah (12) and Ismatullah (13) as well as their nephew Essa Mohammad (15). We’re also talking about their newly-wed uncle Akhtar Mohammad (20) and his wife Bibi Nazia (18).

And then there is Palwasha, 2 years old, who, according to her father had no bullet marks and has not been shot but burned alive. It must take a lot of guts, hate, psychic problems – you name it – to shoot a human being. What it takes to burn a 2-year old child alive is beyond comprehension.

That makes it 11 humans from one family. Wiped out from the surface of earth like they never existed, only their blood on the walls left as a witness to their existence and their gruesome passing from this world.

The terrorist then moved on to the next household, that of Syed Jaan, and killed his wife, brother, brother-in-law and his 3-year old nephew. His niece, Zardana, 6-years old has been shot in the head and is still alive, but not expected to survive.

About humans and non-humans

The cautious attempts of some media outlets at insinuating the area to be a hotbed of Taliban activity came to me as no surprise. Neither did the fact that the military was quite fast at trickling bits of information on the assumed health status of the terrorist to the media, sparking interest in him, his past and his family. It all started with his name, Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, which, despite the usually tight-lipped American military, was released to the public, even before anyone even asked about who the victims were, let alone ask for their names. His wife and children were relocated “to a safe place” right after the incident and the military attempted to wipe out every reference to him from its websites, because “they owed it to his family”. But when Army Major Nidal Hasan went on a killing spree in November 2009 such courtesy was not extended to him or his relatives.

The methodology of labeling the victims of wars is not a feat unique to how Western militaries run and sell their wars but common across the globe. Demonstrators become “rioters” and members of opposition parties are quickly identified as “terrorists” or “financed by neighbouring countries”. Regimes in Muslim countries invented that, no doubt about that.

What is different though is the methodology of dehumanizing the victims, a technique, given the high number of casualties produced by them and the watchful eyes of the moral instances called “media” and “journalists” that they’re under, invented in the West. A killing becomes an “incident” and an atrocity becomes a “mistake”. The American militaries’ marketing machinery releases tiny bits of information that the media grabs and analyzes over and over again but independent research is barely happening. Journalism is expensive and we live in an age where a royal wedding attracts thousands of journalists from all countries all over the world but questioning information the military releases is barely done. What adds up to this is the fact that the media has never shied away from turning into an accomplice in instigating wars and inflaming opposing parties against each other.

So you dehumanize the victims but you also need to shift attention away from the atrocity itself, towards the perpetrator, or perpetrators, and try to build a case and story around his or their actions. Usually the story involves, allegedly, defective chains of command, misunderstandings or insufficient training.
The average human being is accustomed to naming and visualizing the things he talks or reads about. A Bin Ladin has a name and a face and he can be declared an enemy of the state. He can be chased, killed or even, theoretically, put on trial. His face can be shown on TV and he can be declared as the reason why Afghanistan needs to be invaded.
But how does one pursue a lawsuit against a face- and lifeless concept such as a chain of command, a misunderstanding or insufficient training? Responsibility is spread across so many heads that the target gets blurry. Cases like this either seep away, end up in an acquittal or a scapegoat is found that is convicted and locked away, not just physically but also away from all media attention.

But in case of a sole perpetrator, personal issues come into play as well.
The perpetrator is given a name and identified, which shifts responsibility away from the military and attention defocused from his victims. His family story is released to the public and his caring and worried wife is put more or less in the spotlight. A Joe the Plumber is pulled, intended to align the perpetrator’s personal situation to that of the average Joe, by, e.g., releasing information on his poor financial situation. By now the audience is more or less identifying with him by telling itself “If I was in his situation this could have also happened to me.”.

If you go to war, then go the ‘f’ to war

How does one justify not risking the lives of its own soldiers by throwing off bombs from a plane instead of sending in ground troops? Going to war is not what it used to be. It has become a commodity, a computer game in which lifeless creatures need to sacrifice their life for the greater good.
So if an Afghan that has lost his entire family, thanks to an American cluster bomb – yes, bombs now have nationalities – thrown on his village, goes on a revenge spree then it’s safe to put him in the pre-labeled box “Terrorist”, with no right for trauma, anger or even pride, but if an American soldier does the same then, paying tribute to the American self-perception as the keepers of good and opponents of evil, he is immediately, and I mean in the first reports that came in, referred to as “mentally unstable” and having “marriage problems”. This little distinction clearly exemplifies what dehumanization means.

It’s unclear what issues he really had and we will surely never find out but we can rely on the U.S. military regularly feeding us relevant information that will establish the distorted image of him they want us to have.
The traumas millions of Afghans are going through each and every single day don’t qualify for taking revenge, going Israeli on someone or even hating the invaders. They’ve been dehumanized well enough for the population of the invading country to go numb over the invaded’s pain or sorrow or fear.

Or anger.

Just when you thought…

November 19th, 2011

… Afghan music would die and we’d have to spend the rest of our days listening to crappy Afghan Rap Music made in Discos in the U.S. and Holland or watching the 420th version of Dukhtar-e-Kabul along came Ismail and Junaid.

Again.

Enjoy.

Now :-)

Thank you to my cousin’s wife, M. S., for making us aware of this video.

Invited by a Muslim – now what?

August 26th, 2011

A couple of years ago, when I was getting married, some of my non-Muslim/German friends asked me what to wear there and about the Do’s and Don’ts. I didn’t really have to explain much because they know me and my family well enough to know about our religious and cultural peculiarities, in comparison to what they were used to. But sometimes there is a lot more need to explain things.

What I realized in the past few years is that there is little to no knowledge about how things should “go” like when a non-Muslim is invited to a Muslim’s place. This post is for those that are interested in doing everything “correctly”. Actually, there is no right/wrong here as one shouldn’t expect that from each other, but for the culturally motivated I’ll try to be as precise as possible. Please note that much of what is written here is written from an Afghan standpoint but as Muslims from all over the world share common aspects in their cultures it also applies to others.

First off, and you might already be aware of that, many things we say are about making you not feel bad or embarrassed and making you feel taken care of and comfortable. So sometimes you might run into your Muslim friend, maybe even close to his house, and you chat for a while and then, when it’s time to part, he asks you to join him at his place for a coffee or have dinner with him and his family. As you’re close to his place and basically “in his hood” he will feel obliged to invite you over and be a “good host”. He will insist, with very convincing arguments, and try to persuade you and you might get the feeling that he’s serious about his offer.
Well, he’s not.
While he might not mind having you over at his place at that very moment the real reason why he invited you over is because certain complex and unwritten rules in our culture and our genes identify him as a host (which in fact he is not, as he met you outside). Those of us that have not spent their entire life in a different culture than ours and are not integrated or even assimilated will project a responsibility that they’re only supposed to execute among their own people on others as well.

At times this might go uncomfortably wrong, as the following real-life example explains:
A relative of mine moved to the U.S. and got his first job, as a taxi driver. He grew up in Afghanistan and was at quite a mature age when he moved to the U.S., a culture not very well-known to him. So he picks up this American guy and drives him to his destination. During the trip they talk about this and that and the entire atmosphere becomes very friendly. When they reach their destination my relative tries to be polite and declines to charge the customer what he owes him. Afghans usually start those friendly phrases with “be my guest today” which is nothing but politeness and not meant seriously. Well, the American, unfamiliar with Afghan/Muslim culture, takes the offer seriously, gets very happy about it, thanks my relative for the free ride and leaves.

Alright, so back to your invitation.

So now you made it into your Muslim friend’s house. Apparently the offer was meant seriously, meaning: you declined about a thirteen-thousand times but your host persisted and wouldn’t accept a “no”. The rules here are simple and probably not very different to those in other cultures:

Before you leave check your clothes. The more conservative your host’s family is the more conservative you should dress. This is usually no problem for men, unless you’re Scottish and prefer wearing a kilt in your spare time, but it is a bit more complicated for females: no sleeveless shirts, no cleavage, no mini-skirts. Try to show as little skin as possible whereas many Muslims in the West nowadays don’t feel uncomfortable anymore if the female guest wears pants (obviously) or a skirt that covers at least her knees and if her shoulders are also covered.

Little gifts are not unwelcomed but do leave the booze at home. Don’t bring any wine, beer or anything else that is alcoholic.

At the door you will be greeted by your counterpart. If you’re male it will be the man in the house and if you’re female it will be his better half. Depending on how conservative they are/aren’t both of them might be awaiting you at the doorstep to welcome you.

You may greet your host as you always do but as a man don’t stretch out your hand to the females. Here, again, depending on how conservative the family is you should wait and see if she stretches out her hand to you. Cheek-kissing a female, as a male, is not cool so don’t try that. If you want to impress your host big time you may place your right hand at your heart while you greet the females, ask how they are doing etc. and always keep a little bit more distance than you would if she wasn’t Muslim.

When you enter the house take your shoes off. Don’t ask if you can leave them on, just take them off and if your host doesn’t mind you running around his house in your shoes he’ll tell you to leave them on. Be persistent about taking them off and mention it at least two to three times. If your host still insists on you leaving them on then you’re free do so.

Do you see a pattern there? Yes, it’s all about back-and-forth. One party declines multiple times, the other party insists, multiple times. Whoever is serious about what he says will “win”. It always works out, there is no deadlock here. Never happened.

Once the actual invitation is taking place things might get a little more complicated.

As a male guest you’re pretty much restricted to staying in the living-room whereas females have more freedom in moving around the house.

In the conversations do avoid topics and jokes of ambiguous nature, especially if females are around. Don’t comment on the beauty of any females in the house as that will be taken as a grave insult to their modesty and the male host’s dignity and honour.
Feel free to talk politics. We love that and we’re all experts and know-it-alls in politics ;-)
Don’t mention the war (every Muslim knows or has experienced a war that he can talk and brag about), unless you’re on our side ;-) and don’t be insulted if discussions heat up. They often times do and nobody takes them personal.

At dinnertime we will try to stuff you, so you better be hungry. Don’t be afraid of not eating or trying something if you seriously don’t like it or are allergic to it. You’ll notice that, on the second invitation, whoever cooked the food on the first invitation will have memorized what you like and what you don’t like.
During or at the end of the dinner feel free to ask for recipes or for any of the food to be wrapped up so you can take it with you. We love that as the happiness of our guests with the meal we prepared means a lot to us, so special attention will be paid to that.

When dinner is over and conversations are ending, or not ending, you will notice that nobody tells you to leave and nobody makes any allusions for you to leave. You will notice that no Muslim will ever tell you to leave his house. I repeat: you will never be asked to leave and the host will never declare it to be late (meaning: “get the hell out”). As a guest it is your responsibility to call it a day and ask to leave. Actually, you don’t have to “ask” but in our, Afghan, culture we always end such evenings with words similar to “with your permission blahblah we will leave now as you might be tired as well blahblah and our kids are at home alone and blahblah”. Just make up anything, it doesn’t have to sound 100% realistic. Just don’t wait for your host to end the evening, that will not happen and you will see yourself sitting on his couch at 4am in the morning with him trying his best to keep you entertained and… comfortable.

Peace talks and Pakistani demands

April 25th, 2011

For a minute let’s ignore the fact that the main sources of trouble in Afghanistan have been it’s neighbouring countries (besides traitors among our own people). Doesn’t work? Yes, I thought so.
Instead have a look at the following list of demands made by the Pakistani government, an artificial construct with a history 1/100th of that of Afghanistan. While I have great respect for the ordinary people of Pakistan that have sheltered us and sacrificed their lives to save their fellow Afghan and Muslims brothers and sisters someone (yes U.S.A., I’m talking to you) clearly needs to make up its mind about whether it’s worth negotiating with a stakeholder that comes up with such absurd demands.

First published in Arman-e-Milli Daily, for now we’ll assume the following list has not been faked.

1. By convening a Loya Jirga Afghanistan should veto establishment of US permanent bases in Afghanistan. Instead, Pakistan will put pressure on Taliban and other armed oppositions to cooperate with Kabul and stop resistance;

Fair enough.

2. US is losing its influence in the region, so Pakistan, Afghanistan and China should form an economic bloc in the region to make China a superpower in the region;

Left India out of the equation?

3. The influence of resistance fronts [the forces who resist Taliban] should be weakened in the Government;

Sure. Let’s not forget who armed them in the first place.

4. The number of India’s political offices in Afghanistan should be decreased;

What about yours?

5. Baluch tribes of Pakistan who are currently operating inside Afghanistan should be expelled from Afghanistan;

Why?

6. The tribal elders from cross-border areas should be invited to the Loya Jirga;

Need official representatives in Afghan-only matters? Yes, they’re Pashtuns and we consider them Afghans, but seriously?

7. TAPI gas project should be only between Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan and India should be expelled from the deal;

Seriously?

8. Haqqani network should be represented in the future Government in Afghanistan;

Why not involve Lashkar-e-Toiba in a future Pakistani government?

9. Afghanistan should regard the views of Pakistan in appointing its defence, interior and intelligence chiefs and;

Why don’t we just appoint Pakistani generals? Or why don’t you just take care of that for us?

10. Afghanistan should officially recognize the Durand Line in the Loya Jirga.

Not even the Taliban went for this one and this has been one of the main reasons why Pakistan has been involving itself in Afghan matters throughout the last 30 years.

Ismail & Junaid – Qaraara Rasha

April 20th, 2011

Sometimes you can’t help it but fall in love with a song within its first ten seconds. Be it the composition, the instruments or the lyrics. Happened to me today, again… see the video below.

I also found the lyrics and made some corrections to the transcription. Here you go…

Maa Kho Baraan Ka Che Waregama Pe Khkulee Mekh,
Bya Me Janaan Ka Che Gerzegama Pe Sawee Makh.
Za Kho Zaaregam Qurbaanegam Dagha Shondo Rang,
De Yaar Sara Me Ka Malgaro Delta Shoma Tang.

Ooh Qaraara Raasha… Ooh Qaarara Raasha
Ooh Qaraara Raasha… Ooh Qaarara Raasha

Wrek Sho Ghamoona Che Khkaara Sho Dagha Khkule Mekh,
Bya Gham Taaza Sho Che Pana Sho Dagha Storey Mekh.
Ke De Ashnaa Kem Jorrawema De Khoboono Mahal,
Ke De Pradey Kema Da Ghama Ba Rekhtoono Mahal.

Ooh Qaraara Raasha… Ooh Qaarara Raasha
Ooh Qaraara Raasha… Ooh Qaarara Raasha

Ze Kho Ghani Yem Armaani Yem Dagha Shondo Jaam,
Ze Kho Maftoon Yem Lewaney Yem De Janaan Pe Naam.
Ze Kho Khatir Yema Meena Ze Pe Speena Krrem,
Ze Ismail Yema Meena Ze Pe Weena Krrem.

Ooh Qaraara Raasha… Ooh Qaarara Raasha
Ooh Qaraara Raasha… Ooh Qaarara Raasha

Maa Kho Baraan Ka Che Waregama Pe Khkulee Mekh,
Bya Me Janaan Ka Che Gerzegama Pe Sawee Mekh.
Za Kho Zaaregam Qurbaanegam Dagha Shondo Rang,
De Yaar Sara Me Ka Malgaro Delta Shoma Tang.

There’s also an English translation available but the two verses are missing…

Turn me into droplets of rain so I dribble the pretty face,
Then coat me with dearness so I wander around the baked face.
I adore and love the crimson layer on her lips,
And I seek the company of my friends for I’m world-weary.

O serenity, embrace me! O serenity, embrace me!
O serenity, embrace me! O serenity, embrace me!

Begone are melancholies as the angel face rears it’s head,
And when it subsides back, melancholies rejoin.
(missing)
(missing)

O serenity, embrace me! O serenity, embrace me!
O serenity, embrace me! O serenity, embrace me!

I’m “Ghani” for I long for the goblet of beloved’s lips,
I’m “Maftoon” for I break through sanity for the sake of my love.
I’m “Khatir” for my love is pure,
I’m “Ismail” for I love with my dripping blood.

O serenity, embrace me! O serenity, embrace me!
O serenity, embrace me! O serenity, embrace me!

Turn me into droplets of rain so I dribble the pretty face,
Then coat me with dearness so I wander around the baked face.
I adore and love the crimson layer on her lips,
And I seek the company of my friends for I’m world-weary.

O serenity, embrace me! O serenity, embrace me!
O serenity, embrace me! O serenity, embrace me!

Pashtu Sufi Poetry and Double Coffee

November 2nd, 2009

I was always wondering why Double Coffee, a competitor of Starbucks, is using a picture of the famous Pashtun poet Abdul Rahmad Mohmand (1653 – 1711) in their logo. Here’s a picture of “Rahman Baba”, as he’s more commonly known as:
Abdul Rahman Mohmand

… and here’s a small version of the Double Coffee’s logo (a trademark of Double Coffee company) – sorry, I couldn’t find a larger one:

Double Coffee LogoI’d be interested to find out what they have in common with Rahman Baba and what they will do about all the Afghans in Hamburg that have started stealing table mats from Double Coffee stores that have Rahman Baba’s picture printed on them? :-)

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Pakistani soldiers torturing old Pashtun men

October 1st, 2009

At times I run across videos that show horrors of what humans are capable of doing. Many times it’s not clear what’s really happening in those videos and if they’re real or fake but the video below speaks for itself.

Pakistani soldiers enter a building and interrogate the male residents, asking for information on the Taliban. They don’t get the answers they’re looking for so the head of that group orders his subordinates to beat the men. The men are begging for mercy while they get kicked, whipped and hit everywhere but the soldiers are ignoring them and keep on torturing them. One of the brave soldiers shows his female side by pulling his victim’s hair. The most gruesome part comes at the end, when an old man is beaten up while he’s begging for mercy for them to let go of him and screaming “Ya Allah, Ya Allah”.
In war times torturers and those that commit crimes often try to play down their guilt by claiming they were ordered to do what they did but if you have a closer look at the soldiers in this video you will see that some of them really enjoy what they’re doing.

Two of the four beaten men are elderly men that could be your or my grandfather but torturers are not exactly known for their sense of honour so they ignore their pleas for mercy. I’ve been harrassed, blackmailed and chased through Peshawar by the Pakistani police myself so I can tell you one thing: stuff like this is very common over there. In Pakistan, when people speak about the police, they don’t call them “cops” but “dogs”.

Make a right-click here and and choose “Save as…” to download the Video.

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Torture Strategy

March 19th, 2006

Seeing the latest images from the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq reminded me, once again, why every American soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan is considered a legitimate military target by those countries’ resistance movements. Keep in mind that the situation in Bagram/Afghanistan is even worse as nobody – except for the Red Cross – was allowed to see the prison from the inside. How many innocent people were killed in there with the help of the Karzai government?

The message the American government tries to convey doesn’t make sense when it claims that those torturing orgies were the deeds of a few individuals that ran out of control. Apparently there’s a scheme behind this as every U.S. military prison, be it Abu Ghraib, Bagram or Guantanamo, has “a few individuals” that permanently run “out of control”. In addition to that it fits into the strategy that the Strategic Command (STRATCOM) has carefully worded in one of its investigations in 1995 called “Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence” (PDF-Document), which actually refers to the U.S. nuclear strategy in a post-cold war world – but still relates to this very same idea of acting unpredictable and being irrational:

“Because of the value that comes from the ambiguity of what the U.S. may do to an adversary if the acts we seek to deter are carried out, it hurts to portray ourselves as too fully rational and cool-headed…”
[...]
“The fact that some elements may appear to be potentially “out of control” can be beneficial to creating and reinforcing fears and doubts within the minds of an adversary’s decision makers. This essential sense of fear is the working force of deterrence. That the U.S. may become irrational and vindictive if its vital interests are attacked should be a part of the national persona we project to all adversaries.”

To put it another way: just because the “Axis of Good” is bombing the middle-east and Afghanistan into a nicely levelled, peaceful, McDonalds parking-lot it doesn’t mean that they’re acting democratically – according to their self-conception.

… reminds me of what pacifists say: “Fighting for peace is like f4v”.

U.S. Military Asking For Help

March 4th, 2006

A couple of days ago I received an e-mail from a lady that works for the “Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center” (abbreviated as DLIFLC). She asked me to help her find the Afghan author of a Dari book who lives in the same city as me. She wanted to ask him for permission to reproduce some of the stories in his book for her Dari courses. She surfed the web for my last name (why my last name?) and came across this website (thank you, Google).
Misleadingly their top-level domain is “.edu” so I thought I’d be helping an educational institution, such as a university or a college.

Curious as I am I took a look at their website and, besides all the logos of the Department of Defense scattered all over their pages, I ran across this piece of text:

“The mission of the DLIFLC is to educate, sustain, evaluate, and support foreign language specialists under the guidelines of the Defense Foreign Language Program, which provides the Department of Defense and other Federal agencies with linguists fully capable of supporting United States national interests worldwide.”

So basically I would have helped the American military in their efforts to develop the Dari language skills of their spies, agents and soldiers that are responsible for the killing of tens of thousands of Afghans during their attack on Afghanistan, burning killed Muslims, killing crowds of children with grenades, keeping “ghost prisons” and torture and rape men, women and children.

Needless to say that I sent her a negative reply:

“Dear <Name removed>,

I took a look at your employers website and I’m afraid I can’t help you.
I do not agree with the U.S. policy in regard to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, an information you can also read about on my website sherzad.com, and I have serious reservations against helping the DoD in any way – directly or indirectly. If the DLIFLC was a “regular” company – not related to the American military – I would have been more than glad to help you. Unfortunately the American military is directly responsible for arresting, torturing and killing some of my relatives and family friends and this is keeping me from helping them.

Thank you for your understanding,
Rias A. Sherzad”

Of course me rejecting their request won’t change anything in regard to how the world goes. But the American military must be very used to Afghans helping them achieve their aims. They sure do. Who else does the translating on Guantanamo Bay and on the Bagram Airbase if not such be-namos (be = without) Afghan traitors that the Afghan history is full with?

Tora Bora – Afghanistan’s New Tourist Attraction

December 7th, 2004

The British Telegraph is reporting that the Afghan Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry is planning on developing the Tora Bora mountains into a tourist attraction.

“Tourism was once a major industry for Afghanistan. In the 1960s and 1970s the country was a key stopping point on the Hippy Trail from Europe to India – famed for its spectacular scenery, ancient ruins and local intoxicants.”

Alright.

Now imagine if you will, a group of shirtless American tourists (let’s say: Republican males from Texas), aged 50-60, sporting black sunglasses, cowboy hats, and tropically-patterned Hawaiin shorts (a look they so naturally are comfortable in even in a covered Muslim country) collecting “souvenirs” from the mountains of Tora Bora.

Welcome to your choice of Tora Bora souvenirs: warm fertile mud, a refreshingly high altitude, Osama’s dialysis machine, and highly explosive remainders of the American B-52s “Daisy-Cutter” bombs.
Or for more innocent souvenirs, and for the entertainment pleasure of their own young, they could enthusiastically collect a few of those butterfly-like “toys” that the Russians ever so graciously plotted all over Afghanistan for the eradication of Afghan kids.

Ultimately no matter what is collected, they would be actively engaging in Afghanistan’s de-mining efforts. And that is a raison d’être both for transforming Tora Bora into a tourist attraction and incorporating a voluntary draft for such shirtless American tourists.

Along that same generous token, other allies in the 2001 war against Afghanistan should get visas and invitations as well, so they can collect and bring back with them the dangerous goods they so altruistically bestowed upon Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan Justice Project

October 28th, 2004

The Afghanistan Justice Project, established by Human Rights Watch and staffed with non-Afghans and Afghans from the entire spectrum of the country’s major ethnic groups, has published its first report on war crimes and and crimes against humanity committed by all of the parties to the conflict during the wars in Afghanistan, 1978 – 2001.

The AJP’s statement to this enterprise is:
“The objective of the project is to provide needed documentation for Afghans about the crimes of the past so that if there comes a time when Afghans want to pursue justice or a reconciliation process, the means to establish an objective historical record will be available.”

Inasmuch as the report condems present members of the Afghan government as responsible for war crimes, many of the Afghans taking part in the AJP – in fear of retaliation – have decided to stay unknown to the public. This first report concentrates on the time-period 1992 – 2001.

Now that the “democratically” elected administration has the tool (the AJP) to bring these criminals to justice, it is highly unlikely that President Karzai will utilize it – as evidenced by Karzai’s hasty decision to have Abdullah Shah – a former commander of the Wahabbi-group of Abdul Rasul Sayyaf – executed after a dubious, but speedy trial. Karzai simply executing a witness to these crimes leaves me exploring conspiracies. While admitting his guilt without neither remorse or a fight for his innocence, he could have taken part in identifying some of those that committed or ordered the subject atrocities. Shah’s admission and assistance could have assisted in bringing down some of those mass murderers.

Now, please tell me how fruitful the elimination of the Wahabbi-influenced Taliban was when we have the cause of the Taliban’s rise sitting in top governmental positions?

General Dostum’s Vice-President

October 21st, 2004

Infamous Afghan warlord and mass-murderer General Dostum has adopted Shafiqa Habibi as his first vice-presidential running mate.

There would be nothing extraordinary about this fact, if it weren’t for her simply being a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005, journalist, and a women’s rights activist.

How can she put her past altruistic allegiances aside and ignore the facts about General Dostum’s role in the Afghan genocide?

How many tens of thousands of women have been abducted, raped and killed by Dostum’s troops?

I would like to witness her win the Nobel Peace Prize while she is in the shadow of this slaughterer. If she does, then was it really earned?

Lies About Afghanistan’s First Presidential Elections

October 13th, 2004

The U.N. is selling/enlightening us with the informaton that 42% of the registered voters in Afghanistan’s first democratic presidential elections are women. Good news for Afghan women. Thank you U.S. for letting the women be heard. Unfortunately facts about the inequality of women and the lack of women’s suffrage cannot be denied.

Being an Afghan/Pashtoon myself and understanding the intricate and imbalanced Afghan culture and traditions, I am convinced that this magic number of 42% was never reached. Especially among the Pashtoons – that represent 42% of the total population – allowing women to participate in elections is highly unlikely…

10.4 million registered voters?

Pursuant to the CIA world factbook Afghanistan has an estimated population of 28.5 million, 15 million of them are 15 years or older. We’ll subtract another 2 million that are younger than 18 years so we have 13 million Afghans left that have the right to vote.

10.4 million of those 13 million received their registration cards – despite the intimidation of the conservative Afghan culture and very real threats of the Taliban to swiftly and without prejudice kill anyone that participates in the elections?

Thanks for the facts U.N, but we’re not buying.

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