Stories about Kabul

Afghan malangs: Keeping the country’s mystic roots alive

In Afghanistan, there is a special group of people called the malangs. This is an Afghan word which describes men who live a very austere and dangerous life and who are happy with the hardships they endure. A malang is somewhat like the Afghan version of a shaman. They have been part of the Afghan society for centuries and have been forced to live an extremely hard life. These harsh circumstances are not just because of the wars; these people are neither accepted nor respected in the Afghan society. The main reason behind such ill treatment is that in mainstream Islam, shamanism (or anything like ...

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Does Afghanistan really need a Pashtun leader?

As I am writing this, the people of Afghanistan have already casted their votes in what is arguably the most important election in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. The whole world’s eyes are fixated on the upcoming results, which will be announced on April 24 and finalised on May 9. So I also asked a friend from Afghanistan which candidate his family voted for and he replied, “Of course, they voted for a Pashtun because we need a Pashtun leader. After all, Pashtuns constitute the majority of the Afghan population.” In fact, all eight candidates in this presidential run are from ...

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What did the US accomplish from the invasion of Afghanistan?

The year 2014 has marked the start of NATO’s withdrawal of its combat troops from Afghanistan, 12 years after the war against al Qaeda and the Taliban began, in the autumn of 2001. Many explanations were given as to why the invasion of Afghanistan was vital – from the necessity of finding and punishing the perpetrators of 9/11, to liberating Afghan women and eradicating the opium trade. Time and again, politicians and the media tried to legitimise the war in the eyes of the public. We were told in the weeks following 9/11 that the invasion was an act of self-defence, by former US president George W ...

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Af-Pak relations: Brothers at war

The Soviet war, the Taliban regime, 9/11, and now the 2014 pull out. Yes, we are talking about Afghanistan, a country that has provided  justification to the US geopolitics for interventions outside the US, and fed the world media for over three decades. Ironically though, Pakistan has played the facilitator all through ─ hosted and trained Afghan mujahideen, and also sheltered over 3.5 million Afghan refugees for over two decades. One major question that boggles many minds is why, despite the material and political sacrifice and socio-political suffering, does Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan continue to draw negative publicity. Why do our relations with ...

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He had a gun, she had nothing

She stared at him; this woman whom he had never seen before in his life. She stared at him. Her face was disconcerting; a paradox of expressions. Her eyes, deep azure stones set upon her countenance worried him. They beckoned him closer. The rest of her, dark and furrowed, pushed him away. Who was she? She sat cross-legged in the corner of the hut with her back against the wall, the wrinkles in her shawl mirroring the folds across her face. A baby’s head reared from beneath the cloth, its upper lip still wet with her milk. Confined, the two ...

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Who is the real enemy in Afghanistan?

In 11 years of warfare, Kabul has never seen a Taliban offensive such as this; government buildings, foreign embassies, NATO offices and bases were continuously attacked for two days by coordinated rocket and gun attacks around the country. Deeming the violence as a ‘spring offensive’, it is disheartening to see that 11 years of war and devastation have not had the result some may have hoped for, and also raises questions as to who the ‘real enemy’ is, and whether the ‘enemy’ can be pinpointed to being one group or individual. It also raises the question as to how many different perspectives ...

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Ryan Crocker: Afghanistan’s Lawrence of Arabia

As the military drawdown begins in Afghanistan, the Americans are upping the diplomatic ante. They want a neat transition and a solid presence in Kabul after the exit. It was in this connection that Ryan C Crocker was sworn in as the new United States (US) top diplomat in Afghanistan on Monday July 25. Crocker’s earlier stint in Kabul involved reopening the US embassy in 2002, after the Taliban government was replaced by that of the Northern Alliance. In his new assignment Crocker may actually be talking to the Taliban. Crocker’s predecessor, Karl W Eikenberry, was a former general, whose ...

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Afghanistan without Petraeus: ‘Tough days ahead’

On July 18, General David H Petraeus handed over command of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) and US Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) to his successor, Marine Corps General John Allen. Petraeus had been in charge of military operations in Afghanistan for a little over one year. According to The Christian Science Monitor the change of command has taken place at “a time of increasing instability” – not a good sign for the Americans who want to hand over the security of Afghanistan to the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP) over ...

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An Indian view on Kashmir: Do we deserve this valley?

A visit to Kashmir will remind you of Kabul: a war torn region where the penetrating eyes of hostile security forces watch your every movement. Over the past half century much has changed in India and Pakistan but not the persistent conflict over the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmiris have continued to gradually lose trust in the Indian government’s ability to give them a fair deal. This raises the question of how successful Indian democracy has been in dealing with the wishes of a people who want to be maintain a unique identity. In the valley political protest is seen as ...

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Afghans point finger at US: Who’s corrupt now?

Many Afghans, from government officials and parliamentarians to the common man are disgruntled with the US officials relentlessly accusing them of being corrupt – while ignoring their own government’s fraud and misappropriations in the $56 billion development budget approved by the Congress for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Afghans deem US responsible for corrupting their society. For Obama’s administration, ‘corruption warnings’ are a new blackmail tool to use against the Karzai government. There has been constant rhetoric to “eradicate corruption” and “stop misusing US tax payers’ money,” without realising that only 20% of the allocated funds are at the disposal of ...

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