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Kabul Korrespondence

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

Another Aina Photo Agency Success Story

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

One of our brightest Aina Photo Agency photographers: Nasim is now on a scholarship from at Duke University, studying in North Carolina:

You can check out his work on his blog: Afghanlord.org
"It is almost a week I am in US at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina on a fellowship program about media. As a Duke Media Fellow, we attend special seminars about media and democracy, led by Duke University faculty, leading journalists and guest lecturers. We are also be able to attend regular Duke University classes and work with faculty and staff to pursue independent projects. It is great opportunity to learn from other fellows about media challenges in US, France, Germany, South Africa and Georgia."

We wish Nasim all the best with his studies and hope he comes home soon, as he is an important cog in the motor of Afghan media.

posted by Travis, 12:34 pm | link | 0 comments |

From my country

Monday, March 23, 2009

A good friend of mine work with native title claims in Australia. The other day we were chatting about life, what we are up to and she sent me this email, which I think sums up the situation of native title in Australia perfectly:

"Just a quick response as too busy with everything: the sad fact is that even when these guys get the Native Title, there will be mining. The only difference is that then they can get compensation and get to negotiate and be consulted on the destruction of their land. I'm working on a particularly bad case at the moment, where people say the engravings can't be moved, they were placed where they are by the old people, the spirits are still watching us and there will be serious consequences for the group if they start messing with the engravings, but the mining company say 'too bad, if you don't move them, we'll smash them'. So there is not much you can do and the negotiations are often done in the mining companies' terms. Such is the Native Title Act and the law here! Most of it is just created to protect the land owners, government and the mining companies. The locals get the scraps. Basically just a right to get heard and then some money, maybe jobs. But I still think it is worths struggling to get the Native Title, even just morally, and to legally acknowledge the real owners of the land. And things may be different in the future. I hope."

These actual engravings being are not distroyed/removed but are very similar to ones that are. They depict human and animal forms dating back around 30,000 years and permission has been granted from the traditional owners to use photo.

posted by Travis, 2:39 pm | link | 0 comments |


Sunday, March 22, 2009


I don’t know if you were ‘lucky’ enough to hear the interview of Binyam Muhammad on the BBC this week, but if not then I would like to share with you one disturbing chapter of his harrowing tale.

Eithopian Binyah was detained in Pakistan after spending some time in Afghanistan in the year of 2001. He was questioned in Pakistan and Morocco then moved to Kabul, to the Dark Prison.
The interviewer asks Binyah to describes the Dark Prison, he reluctantly doesn’t want to recount his time there but he does refers to his subsequent 7 years in Guantanamo as being like a 5 star hotel in comparison.

From my experience living in Kabul I believe there is only two place they could house this so called Dark Prison: the city prison at Pul e Charki in southern Kabul or Bagram Airbase 45Km north of Kabul. My educated guess is Bagram.

The interviewer then pushes Binyah further about this less than 5 star accommodation. Binyah reveals a little about his time in this inhumane location.

The Dark Prison was a pitch-dark cell inside another dark cell, which was inside a hangar. There was no light for all the time her was there. His captors played music 24 /7. When asked what type of music they played he said it was Eminem for one month, horror film soundtracks for another month and so on. They would also play various combat sounds including gunshots etc. All of this: 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Asked did they feed you? He replied that food was served but it was inedible. Many prisoners lost teeth from breaking them on the stones and rocks inside the food. Personally Binyam lost over 30 Kgs in his time in the Dark Prison.

He was also asked if there was a toilet in the cell? He said that there was a bucket to use and if you could find it then you would use it until it was full. Sometimes you couldn’t find it and would bump into it and spill the contents, which would land on your bed. Your bed consisted of a blanket on the floor.

posted by Travis, 12:06 pm | link | 0 comments |

Hope is Lost for Youth of Iran

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

While in Iran last month, my friends and I talked about the up and coming elections. 95% of them said they hoped Khatami would get back into power and they could relax a little and enjoy his more liberal stance on Iran youth issues.

Khatami pulls out of Iranian race

Mohammad Khatami at a meeting in Tehran, 3 February
It remains unclear who Mr Khatami will support in June's election

Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has officially announced his withdrawal from the country's presidential election in June.

In a statement, he said he would pull out in order not to split the reformist vote. Two other pro-reform candidates are also in the running.

Mr Khatami was president of Iran from 1997-2005 and was succeeded by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hard-line conservative.

Mr Ahmadinejad is widely expected to stand for re-election.

I hope that that my friends and all Iranians choose a president that makes life easier for them..... :-(

posted by Travis, 10:11 am | link | 3 comments |

Spring is apon us

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happily Spring has arrived in Afghanistan. After a cold but not too bitter winter, we have been blessed with sunny days, warmer nights and roads without lakes of muddy water occupying them.

This time of year also spells the start of riding season. The KKMC has already been out on several trips around the province and we are looking forward to a lot more days cruising this year.

Sadly we had our last ride with long time member Jean (Frenchy getting bike fixed and with big black helmet). Jean is following his heart and leaving the country. We wish him all the best and know he will be back to ride with the KKMC one day (soon:-).
posted by Travis, 11:29 am | link | 1 comments |


Saturday, March 14, 2009

I just got back from 'holidays' in my beloved Iran. It was my 6th visit and 10 years since I first went there.

As per usual it was a roller-coaster ride with lots of ups and downs, but ever disappointing.

Besides hanging out with my good (musical) friends and long term friends, I went up to the Alborz Moutains for some snow action! between ripping up the mountain on my snowboard I shot the colourful, elite and autonomous Iranian ski scene.

posted by Travis, 11:13 am | link | 4 comments |

What does it cost to free a hostage?

BANNU, PAKISTAN and VANCOUVER — Taliban insurgents active in Pakistan's lawless tribal region have offered to free a Canadian woman held since November in return for a $375,000 (U.S.) ransom.

The demand came in an interview near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border with Qari, a man who preferred to identify himself only by his first name.

Qari says he's a close aide of Gul Bahadur, the Taliban head in the volatile North Waziristan region who is alleged to be responsible for the kidnapping of Beverly Giesbrecht, a West Vancouver woman who was in the area working as a freelance journalist.

Ms. Giesbrecht, 52, also goes by the name, Khadija Abdul Qahaar, after converting to Islam in 2002. She is the publisher of a pro-Islamic website, Jihad Unspun.

Ms. Giesbrecht was seized at gunpoint along with two local assistants while traveling in the Bannu district, a gateway to the North Waziristan tribal belt, which borders Afghanistan.
posted by Travis, 10:38 am | link | 0 comments |

10 million Afghans are jobless......

I reported a couple of months back about the fact that Afghanistan is recession free and has not been effected by the global economical crisis. Well, obviously the jobs and money are not getting to the people who need it the most:

Around 10 million out of the whole population of the war-torn Afghanistan are jobless, a local newspaper reported Tuesday.

"About 10 million out of 25 million populations of Afghanistan are without job," the newspaper Arman-e-Millie quoted Mohammad Zahir Kargar, the president of Workers Union of Afghanistan, as saying.

Based on the remarks of Kargar, the daily said that high rate of unemployment and joblessness is the main reason for taking people towards committing criminal activities, armed robberies, suicide attacks and resorting to drug smuggling and addictions.
posted by Travis, 10:24 am | link | 3 comments |

Freedom: Azadi

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Reporters Without Borders is appalled to learn that the Afghan supreme court has upheld the 20-year prison sentence which Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh received on a blasphemy charge. The supreme court took its decision without hearing arguments from the defence. In fact, the journalist’s lawyer learned of the ruling as he was about to submit his letter of defence.

“At no point in this case has the Afghan judicial system observed the correct procedure,” Reporters Without Borders said. “After an initial trial behind closed doors without any defence lawyer and after all the appeal court irregularities, the supreme court has now confirmed a very severe sentence without even hearing the defence’s arguments.”

Kambakhsh was arrested on a blasphemy in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif on 27 October 2007 for downloading an article about the role of women in Islam. A Kabul appeal court imposed the 20-year prison sentence in October 2008.

After 8 years of 'democracy' freedom of press or freedom of expression still does not exist in Afghanistan.
posted by Travis, 10:16 am | link | 7 comments |

Bonus Track online now!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Hey all.

Our beloved guitarist Archie has come out of the cave and mixed the last track from our recordings at Awaz studios.

Dont Smoke B4 12
was inspired by many aspects of living in Afghanistan.

So please click on the link below and either listen there or download (free) the tune.


White City has a big year planned with tour inside and outside Afghanistan plus the recording of our first album.

So stay tuned.
posted by Travis, 11:57 am | link | 0 comments |

Afghan Employment Agency (AEA)

Someone joked the other day that I should start an employment agency here. With all the networks I got, people regularly asking me to find people for vacant positions.

Bottom line is that while the World is economically sliding down the gurgler, Afghanistan's economy is booming.

Recently I was offered a job teaching bass guitar at the newly formed and first of its kind: Afghan Institute of Music.

When I went for the interview the director told me that he is in desperate need of more modern music teachers. So I told him I would find him the people he needs.

So if you are an adventurous musician (or you know one) who wants to make good money and help build the depleted Afghan music scene, then please check out the positions that are now advertised at:

Classes will start on the 01/05, so teachers would need to be here 1-2 week before to get 'orientated'. They have 200 students and are building the school as I type.

Hope hear from you soon

posted by Travis, 11:15 am | link | 20 comments |