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Kabul Korrespondence

Fresh, factual, and funky view of Afghanistan and the surrounding Central Asian region

Quote of the Week

Friday, May 30, 2008

I dont mind the sun sometimes, the images it shows,
I can taste you on my lips and smell you in my clothes.
Cinnamon and sugary and softly spoken lies
You never know just how you look through other peoples eyes

Gibby Haynes
posted by Travis, 10:16 am | link | 3 comments |

Intimidation of Journalists continues.....

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Written by M Reza Sher Mohammadi 

Second attack on local journalist; governor says press freedom exists
MASKED men have used razor blades to slice the arms and hands of a female journalist in Herat on the same day that media groups expressed concern over the welfare of journalists in the province.

The attack, the second within the last week in Herat, took place yesterday (Wednesday) days after the men had threatened to kill local television presenter Nilofar Habib if she failed to leave her job.

“The men told me that if I didn’t leave the TV station, then I would be killed. Then they came and cut my arm with blades,” Habib said.
The attack comes only days after the governor of Herat, Said Hossain Anwari, was accused of beating the deputy controller of the local state-run television station.
posted by Travis, 10:21 am | link | 2 comments |


Infamous musical artists M.I.A.'s little sister is quite talented herself. Check out her range of ethnic inspired jewelry.

posted by Travis, 8:14 am | link | 0 comments |


Single soldiers and civilians working for the U.S. military in Afghanistan can now have sex legally. Sort of … Previously, under the regulation, sexual relations and "intimate behavior" between men and women not married to each other were a strict no-no.
The new regulation warns that sex in a combat zone "can have an adverse impact on unit cohesion, morale, good order and discipline."

Single men and women can now also visit each other’s living quarters, as long as everyone else who lives there agrees, and as long as visitors of the opposite sex remain in the open "and not behind closed doors, partitions or other isolated or segregated areas," according to the new regulation.

A cursory reading of the order would seem to suggest that unmarried men and women could have sex in their living quarters, as long as all other persons who live there agree, or if they left the door open, if they were otherwise alone. But that’s not the case, said Lt. Col. Rumi Nielson-Green, a spokeswoman for Regional Command East and Combined Joint Task Force-101.

"Sex in both scenarios … would be a chargeable offense under the UCMJ," Nielson-Green said, referring to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.
Sexual relations between subordinates and higher-ranking personnel are prohibited within the same chain of command. Sexual relations between officers and enlisted personnel are generally prohibited as well. Homosexual relations are completely prohibited under the code. 

posted by Travis, 8:12 am | link | 3 comments |


According to a report released today by the National Security Network (NSN), Afghanistan's poppy crop, in terms of the acreage of land used for its cultivation, goes beyond anything Colombia's cocaine kings would dare to dream.

It's the country's largest export, worth more than $4 billion per year and employing some 3.3 million Afghans. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that last year's harvest was of "unprecedented size in modern times and unseen since the opium boom in China during the nineteenth century." So much for the War on Drugs.

The facts are stunning: in 2001, after a Taliban ban on poppy cultivation, Afghanistan only produced 11 percent of the world’s opium. Today it produces 93 percent of the global crop; the drug trade accounts for half of its GDP; and nearly one in seven Afghans is involved in the opium trade. In Afghanistan, more land is being used for poppy cultivation than for coca cultivation in all of Latin America.
posted by Travis, 8:05 am | link | 1 comments |

Taliban to sue Musharraf!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Daily Times - National

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said on Sunday that they intend to sue President Pervez Musharraf in the Federal Shariah Court for being responsible for the deaths of people at Jamia Hafsa and in the Tribal Areas, if their peace accord with the government succeeds, Dawn News reported.

TTP spokesman Muslim Khan, in an open letter to the government, army and the public, said militant groups had come into being in reaction to the pro-American policies of the previous government. He added that if the current peace accord succeeded, the TTP intended to file a case against Musharraf for killing innocent people in Waziristan, Bajaur, Swat and Jamia Hafsa.

He hoped the new government would not support Musharraf like the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid had done in the past.
posted by Travis, 7:23 pm | link | 0 comments |

Aina Photo gets new offices!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Our exciting news that comes with this transition is that we are moving into a new premises. We were lucky enough to be invited by the MESBAH Higher Education Institute to share their grounds. MESBAH provides courses in economics, journalism and business management.

posted by Travis, 8:33 am | link | 3 comments |

One of the boys own story…..

Nabil Tanha:

Two weeks ago me and Mirwais were coming back from skating it was around 9:00 and we stopped a taxi and asked him to drop us to Klola Poshta the taxi driver who was around 40 to 45 years old, told us 40 afs (80 US cents). This was little bit surprise for us as we usually we pay 60 afs from there or if you bargain them down it will be 50.... so we sit in taxi and taxi driver start conversation with us and he tells us that he is very happy to see us with skateboards in our hand and he wants that all young Afghans start this sport. He really likes to watch this sport on Dish Satellite on the Extreme channel. He told us that he is watching Skateboarding for hours and he really enjoys it ... When we arrived back at my office, he asked me if I can show him a trick. As you know there is not a good place for skating in our streets, so i take him to my yard where I have set up some carpet to practice my tricks on and i just show him how to do Casper ...

The taxi driver is very impressed by our tricks and we talk more about in Afghanistan and how there are 3 sports that usually afghan youths do ... Body building , Karate ,Taekwondo, Kung fu (I mean martial arts) cricket and Football .. this is ok, but there is nothing else. We like to do something extreme and more fun and skateboarding is perfect for us........

posted by Travis, 8:27 am | link | 1 comments |

US soldier shoots the Koran

A unidentified US soldier serving in Iraq, who pumped bullets into the Muslim holy book and wrote an expletive inside, has since been expelled from his unit and sent home.

The American military described the incident as "as both serious and deeply troubling," but stressed it was an "isolated incident and a result of one soldier's actions."

The desecration of the Koran was also strongly condemned by the Association of Muslim Scholars, which claims to represent more than 3,000 mosques. It said the "heinous crime shows the hatred" that the US military and American leaders had for the Koran and the Muslim people.

AP Image
posted by Travis, 5:35 am | link | 0 comments |

Girls attend school for the first time in 30 years

KABUL, Afghanistan – One hundred forty girls in the Shajoy district of Zabul province attended school Saturday, a first for females there in 30 years.

The girls are currently studying lessons such as religion and math in a small mud house, however they are in need of a suitable location in the district for a school.

“I hope all these girls will have a good future,” said Mr. Qayoum, district administrator. “I’m happy the girls can come to school and be in this good situation. I and the police chief are always here to work with the people of Shajoy.

“In the name of God, honorable teachers and honorable students, today I am pleased I’m seeing children in school,” said the deputy governor. “I couldn’t believe you have students in a safe and secure area; I would appreciate all forces’ cooperation for security. For everyone in Shajoy, farmers, teachers and each individual, I’m asking you to send your children to school. It’s our obligation. You (the children) are the future of Afghanistan.”
posted by Travis, 5:26 am | link | 2 comments |

Skateistan skates pool on top of Kabul

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sharna made it to Kabul this week and is under taking the well needed funding drive to raise funds for shipping the donated gear to Kabul and buying land to build the school on. She has been real busy, has already got some results and in her spare time she went for a skate with the crew.

Great work Sharna!

posted by Travis, 7:57 am | link | 9 comments |

Kazai a Biker?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Afghan President Hamid Karzai had left Pakistan in 2001 on the directives of the ISI that set deadline of September 30 for him, plainly telling him that his visa would not be renewed.

Two years after the assassination of his father in Quetta allegedly by Taliban in which Karzai also implicated the ISI, he went back to Afghanistan riding a motorbike, with an old satellite phone a new book has revealed.

This book also unfolds Karzai's chequered history of relations with Taliban whom he gave fifty thousand dollars plus a cache of weapons by the time they captured Kandahar and that Taliban later wanted to appoint him as their ambassador in the United Nations.

No way!
posted by Travis, 1:31 pm | link | 0 comments |

Skateistan is published in Switzerland!

check it out

or kinkimag and follow the magazine to the article

posted by Travis, 12:13 pm | link | 1 comments |

There was an Old Man with a beard

Monday, May 12, 2008

by Edward Lear

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, "It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!"

My father passed away today.
He wasn't that old and he didn't wear a beard.
But he wore the name with pride.

R.I.P. Howard Raymond Beard

posted by Travis, 7:36 am | link | 10 comments |

Mum's a Teahcer, so I guess Im one too...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I came here in December 2006 and taught photojournalism. I'm still doing this.
In 2007 I started teaching skateboarding with Sharna and Ollie. We are still doing this. Now in 2008 I have started teaching guitar. My Afghan friends have been begging me to teach them for months. I said to them when you have your own guitars I will teach you.

Last night we had our first lesson. The boys are obsessed with song 'Nothing Else Matters' by Metallica. I learnt this song when I was 15 and probably havn't played it in 15 years!

So this is the first song I am teaching them and they are doing well. Maybe one day we can invite Metallica over to Kabul to hear a private concert of their music Afghan style. They used to be hard core metal band. I don't know if they are still hard enough to make a trip to Afghanistan....
posted by Travis, 9:44 am | link | 2 comments |

The Wheat/Flour Crisis Continues

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Pakistani militia 'murder' child flour smuggler

by quqnoos

7-year-old girl tossed under truck for smuggling flour, police say

PAKSITANI militiamen have killed a seven-year-old girl by pulling her under the wheels of a lorry because she was allegedly smuggling a 3kg bag of flour across the Pak-Afghan border, police officials said.

The killing on Thursday sparked clashes between the Afghan and Pakistani border police, but neither side suffered injuries.

Hundreds of children and adults have started to smuggle 3kg or 4 kg flour bags from Pakistan to Afghanistan because of sharp increases in the cost of wheat, caused in part by Pakistan’s ban on exports of the basic food.

The child smugglers say they are frequently beaten up by the Pakistani police when they are caught carrying flour into Afghanistan.

These children, aged between five to 12 years old, say they have to bring flour from Pakistan through the Torkham border crossing because flour is too expensive in the provincial capital of Nangarhar, Jalalabad.

One of the children told our reporter in Torkham: “When I carry a few kilograms of flour and cross the border, the Pakistani militias start beating me.”

Some of these children say that they are the only bread winners in their large families.

The recent rise in the cost of flour has been triggered by the failure of the Afghan government to sign a deal with Pakistan and Kazahkstan that would allow wheat to be imported from the two countries.

The cost of flour has more than doubled this year compared to last year in many parts of Afghanistan, and the cost of a piece of bread in parts of Kabul has risen from Afg6 to Afg20 in recent months.
posted by Travis, 1:37 pm | link | 0 comments |

Careless Accidents

A blast happened in Kabul this week as a group of police officers was preparing for a 'mission'.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said one of the officers accidentally dropped a rocket-propelled grenade.

Sources told us that the police rested their RPG's up against the side of the pickup as they were holding on for better grip on the bumpy Kabul roads. As the pick up hit a deep pot hole, one RPG fell out of the pick up and detonated on the road

The explosion killed three officers and injured several bystanders.

posted by Travis, 1:32 pm | link | 1 comments |

No worries for me!

A Pakistani Taliban leader has warned local tribesmen to grow beards within the next two months in accordance with Islamic teachings or face harsh punishment, residents said Monday.

The threat came amid an apparent increase in incidents of militants trying to enforce Islamic Sharia law in Pakistan's tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, where the new government is trying to make peace with hardliners.

"Men must grow beards and stop shaving within the next two months," residents quoted senior Taliban commander Maulvi Faqir Mohammad as telling dozens of people at a mosque in Khar, the main town in Bajaur tribal district.

Beards were mandatory under the harsh Taliban regime which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 as part of a strict morality code that also made women wear the all-encompassing burka and outlawed music and other entertainment.

"It is un-Islamic to shave beards. Harsh punishments will be awarded to all violators," added Mohammad, the central vice chief of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistan Taliban Movement) and also a Muslim cleric.

Suspected Islamic militants have been meting out vigilante justice in the tribal belt and targeting "un-Islamic" hair salons, music and video shops with explosive devices for the past few years.

But activities have increased in recent weeks amid a lull in military operations and fighting since a new government took power after defeating President Pervez Musharraf's allies in elections.

posted by Travis, 9:38 am | link | 2 comments |

Six Afghan exchange students flee to Canada

Allan Woods
They're on Facebook, they clown for the cameras with pals and they sit down to eat each night at the dinner tables of their American host families in small towns across the United States.

But three weeks ago, the Afghan exchange students on a U.S. State Department program started to go missing. Since the second week of April, six have fled to Canada to make asylum bids just weeks before they were to have been returned to their Afghan villages.

"We've heard from them mostly by email. They've been in contact with their hosts, some by phone and some by email," said Benjamin Gaylord, with the Washington-based American Councils for International Education, which runs the exchange program.

"There's been no talk about concerns about their future. They've said `I'm safe. I'm in Canada. I'm doing okay. I'll tell you more later,'" said Gaylord.

Mesbah Habibi, 17, is the latest student to flee to Canada. He did so after a trip to Washington to meet with his 38 fellow students. He checked in at the airport Monday to return to his guest home in Columbine, Colo., but wasn't on the airplane when it landed.

Some Americans are voicing suspicions, wondering whether the students present a security risk, possibly a teenage terror cell.

"I'm thinking to myself, `Geez, Louise.' They are 16-year-old Afghan kids," said Gaylord. "They're probably as American as most kids in high school. They're making the same jokes, wearing the same clothes. They're on Facebook just like everybody else."

Almas Kazimi, an Afghan exchange student living in Iowa, told the Star that Habibi was worried about the dangers that would await him at home in Herat, in western Afghanistan, where he was schedule to return in June.

Kazimi said he was angry because he feels these students are putting the exchange program, and the opportunities that go with it, in jeopardy. "Afghanistan is a bad place for everyone, but you have to go back. You have to bring change to the country," he said. "I know the risks."

The Youth Exchange and Study Program is a tool of Washington's public diplomacy strategy after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The idea is to bring Afghans and Americans face-to-face, while providing selected students an education they might use back in Afghanistan to help in the rebuilding process.
posted by Travis, 9:31 am | link | 3 comments |

Where's your pro-enviro golden child now?

Friday, May 09, 2008


US presidential candidate Al Gore has carefully cultivated his image
as an environmentalist.

But now he is under fire over his close links to the oil company,
Occidental Petroleum, which has begun looking for oil in the Amazon
against the wishes of a tiny local tribe called the U'wa.

The tribe is threatening to commit mass suicide if the drilling goes ahead.

The U'wa tribe is trying to stop Occidental Petroleum, from drilling
on its sacred land.

But Occidental is undeterred. It has started moving its heavy
equipment in, backed by the Colombian Government.

Last year, three American environmental activists were killed by
guerrillas while trying to defend the U'wa. They included Terence
Freitas. During an interview in March 1998, he explained what was at
stake for the U'wa people. "The struggle now is simply life or death,"
he explained at the time.

Gore reputation at stake

This dispute is threatening Al Gore's reputation as an environmentalist.

He has close ties and a large financial stake in Occidental Petroleum,
despite its poor environmental image.

His father, Al Gore senior, was on Occidental's board for three decades.

Charles Lewis, of the Center for Public Integrity, has examined the
ties between Al Gore and Occidental. "We have looked at the records
for 25 years around Al Gore," he says. "We've followed every penny he
has ever received and I'm telling you that the company he is beholden
to, the one company that has helped make him financially whole and has
helped him politically is Occidental Petroleum."
posted by Travis, 7:06 pm | link | 2 comments |

Thought of the Day

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Someone asked me the other day if I got any good shots from the 'attempted' assassination of President Kazai?

I told them; No the press were kept too far away from the 'action'.
If you look on the day's news feeds the only images to come out were of of soldiers running away form the scene. Aren't soldiers meant to stay and defend the president?

Anyway. Our conversation took a likely turn and we ended up talking about the grassy knoll assassination.

Do you think if the JFK assassination was not caught on film, then the whole world having the chance to dissect that piece of footage in every possible way known to man ....Without that footage, do you think that it would have been such a prolific event?
posted by Travis, 12:35 pm | link | 0 comments |

Skateistan interview on JJJ

Friday, May 02, 2008

Last Friday around 5ish pm JJJ's Kate O'Toole interviewed me about our project: skateistan.

Follow this link http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/hack/default.htm

on the home page of the Hack program and go to the section:
Listen: stream programs from the past week

Then click on Friday in the music format you prefer.


posted by Travis, 8:21 pm | link | 6 comments |

Skateistan finds Bank!

My good friend Jeremy spotted a fountain in town that had 'skate' potential. So we got the crew together and headed down to check it out.

Nabil is taking skateistan so serious that he has downloaded 'How to skate' videos off the internet and transfered them to his iPod. Here he shows the others his latest trick.

Every session we are lucky enough to witness pioneering skateboard feats. Here Murwais attempts the first ever 'drop in' by an Afghan.

It didnt take long for a crowd to gather and after they watched for a while, kids climbed in and had a go at riding these strange moving objects.

Our current program is to teach our crew to ride well enough so they can start to teach the younger Afghan youths themselves.

The children are so keen to give it a go. We can't wait to get the shoes here so we can protect their feet while they learn.

The fountain turned out to be quite 'skateable'. It had a circular bank, enough semi smooth concrete in the middle and even a lip for the daring rider.

Last week a good friend donated a generous amount of money to skateistan. When we asked her why she had been so generous, she told us it was a reward for prducing the first ever female skater. Well today we got a second girl on board.

And she loved it!

Hameed attacked the bank with confidence, while the 'new kids on the block' watched in awe.

So we have a new location to skate. Its relatively smooth, its got characteristics and appears to be in a safe environment. We dont know how longer we can skate there, but until the skate park is built, its the best we got.
posted by Travis, 4:00 pm | link | 0 comments |