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Kabul Korrespondence

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

Try and get your head around this:

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bahukutumbi Raman

Why did the Taliban attack the ISI?

An emailed question from an editor at this publication asked me: "Why has the Taliban just attacked the ISI? Isn't that like biting the hand that feeds?"

This question was in response to the commando-style attack at Lahore, Pakistan, on May 27, 2009, which targeted the Lahore Police and the local office of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), killing 15 police officers, a colonel of the ISI and 10 other people.

While analyzing the Lahore attack, one has to keep in mind certain ground realities: The first is that there are Talibans and Talibans, and within each Taliban there are mini-Talibans. There are virtually as many Talibans in the Pashtun belt as there are tribal sirdars (leaders).

The second ground reality is the clear distinction in behavior and operations between the “Neo Taliban” of Afghanistan, headed by Mullah Mohammad Omar, based in Quetta, Pakistan, and the various Pakistani Talibans led by tribal sirdars such as Baitullah Mehsud of South Waziristan; Hakeemullah Mehsud, who is responsible for operations in the Khyber, Kurrum and Orakzai areas; Maulana Fazlullah of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), who is a native of Swat; and Sufi Mohammad, his father-in-law, who is actually from Dir and not Swat. Of these various Talibans, only the Neo Taliban of Mullah Mohammad Omar, which was created by the ISI in 1994 when Benazir Bhutto was prime minister, still owes its loyalty to the ISI and the Pakistan government.

The Neo Taliban is active against the U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghan territory from sanctuaries in Pakistan, but it has never been involved in an act of terrorism in Pakistani territory against Pakistani targets, whether from the army, the ISI or the police. All the attacks on Pakistani territory and on Pakistani government targets were carried out by different Pakistani Taliban groups or by the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM)--which has transferred its headquarters from Bahawalpur to Swat--and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), an anti-Shia terrorist organization.

The third ground reality is the distinction between the Pakistani Punjabi Taliban and the Pakistani Pashtun Taliban. Though they advocate the same Wahabized Islamic ideology based on the Sharia, their ethnic compositions differ. The term Punjabi Taliban is used to refer to the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) and the LEJ (above). Punjabis constitute the majority of their cadres. All of them except the JEM are of the 1980s and 1990s vintage. The JEM was born in 2000 through a split in the HUM.

Of these organizations, the LET, like the Neo Taliban, is the favored tool of the ISI, which uses the Neo Taliban in Afghanistan and the LET against India. Like the Neo Taliban, the LET, too, has never attacked a Pakistani target in Pakistani territory. In fact, there has never been a confirmed instance of an attack by the LET on foreign targets in Pakistani territory, lest it create problems from the ISI. The JEM and the LEJ, however, never hesitate to attack Pakistani government targets, either on their own or at the instance of al-Qaida. The attitude of the HUM and the HUJI is ambivalent.

The fourth ground reality is that, while the Pakistani Punjabi Taliban and the Neo Taliban have been in existence for over a decade, the Pakistani Pashtun Talibans are products of the commando raid into the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad in July 2007, in which a large number of Pashtun tribal children, many of them girls, were killed. It was after this that tribal sirdars, including Fazlullah, Baitullah and Hakeemullah, called for a jihad against the Pakistan army and the ISI in retaliation for the raid. While the TNSM has been in existence since the early 1990s, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was born after the Lal Masjid raid.

posted by Travis, 6:45 am | link | 0 comments |

How to buy a motorbike in Afghanistan PART 1: Shopping

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

After some years of riding here, I have learnt (the hard way) that you get what you pay for:
A Chinese bike is cheap for a reason.

So now we ride Japanese bikes. But here in Kabul the quality is not so good. So last week we flew to Herat in the west of the country to buy bikes that are shipped in from Iran and Pakistan.

With some luck we hooked up with the best mechanics (and riders) in town. Brothers Najibullah and Habibullah who had the great selection of bikes in the whole country.

Jeremy, Frauke and I spent some time checking out the bikes, talking 'shop' in bad Dari and trying to make a guessimate of which bike would survive best in the harsh conditions of this country.


Stay tuned for Part 2: Testing and Flying
posted by Travis, 10:18 pm | link | 4 comments |

Pics of the road to hell!

Sorry guys.

I sent you a link to our article in the Australian last week, but I didnt realise that the pics were only used on the print version.

So another paper: The National (great paper from UAE) used the same story with pics.


hope you like

posted by Travis, 8:37 pm | link | 0 comments |


Check it out:


A good cause. No one has an excuse not to try and help.
posted by Travis, 9:44 am | link | 3 comments |

Tora Bora Studios

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

White City has had a dream to have their own studio in Kabul and record some of our own tunes. Tunes that have been written while living under the colourful conditions in our beloved Afghanistan.

So we hope to have some new songs online for your listening pleasure soon and maybe even a video of some tours we are planning.

We are proud to announce the newest member to the band TRYGVE, who has brought banjo, bass, guitar and dobro guitar talents to the band. We had a garden gig last week and personally we were very happy with it. The crowd's feedback verified this and we are looking forward to a summer of music in Kabul and maybe beyond.

Also the space is a chance for others to come and 'make some noise'. We welcome the newest edition to the Kabul music scene: Kyber Zoo. And welcome to the little Afghan Metal Warriors (The next big thing in Kabul metal scene, ok ok the only thing in the Kabul metal scene)

Rock on

posted by Travis, 1:58 pm | link | 3 comments |

Very interesting trend-setter

posted by Travis, 1:45 pm | link | 0 comments |


Sunday, May 10, 2009

An afghan said to me today that:

If Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple Mac) became a Muslim, he could be the next prophet.

posted by Travis, 4:39 pm | link | 0 comments |

From my home town

Created by a very good friend of mine


Classic stuff

Respect to Seedy
posted by Travis, 11:57 am | link | 0 comments |

US using Illegal arms in combat

Saturday, May 09, 2009

By Emma Graham-Harrison
BAGRAM, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Life as 8-year-old Razia knew it ended one March morning when a shell her father says was fired by Western troops exploded into their house, enveloping her head and neck in a blazing chemical.

Now she spends her days in a U.S. hospital bed at the Bagram airbase, her small fingernails still covered with flaking red polish but her face an almost unrecognisable mess of burned tissue and half her scalp a bald scar.

"The kids called out to me that I was burning but the explosion was so strong that for a moment I was deaf and couldn't hear anything," her father, Aziz Rahman, told Reuters.

"And then my wife screamed 'the kids are burning' and she was also burning," he added, his face clouding over at the memory.

The flames that consumed his family were fed by a chemical called white phosphorous, which U.S. medical staff at Bagram said they found on Razia's face and neck.

It bursts into fierce fire on contact with the air and can stick to and even penetrate flesh as it burns.

White phosphorus can be used legally in war to provide light, create smokescreens or burn buildings, so it is not banned under international treaties that forbid using chemicals as weapons.
posted by Travis, 5:01 pm | link | 4 comments |

Loosing the popularity contest (Again!!!!)

Some might remember a post last year about a bombing raid the US conducted in Farah province last year that killed over 90 people.Well they have gone and done it again in the province:

By Sharafuddin Sharafyar

POLICE opened fire during an angry demonstration in western Afghanistan yesterday, where marchers protested against a US airstrike that the Red Cross says killed dozens of civilians.

One person received a gunshot wound from police fire aimed at trying to control the crowd and prevent them from breaking into the provincial governor's compound in Farah City, deputy governor Younus Rasuli said by telephone.

"They threw stones at the compound and police had to stop them," he said.

The crowd of about 200 demonstrators chanted anti-US slogans as it pelted the building with rocks.

A member of Farah's provincial council helped the US investigate two sites where airstrikes took place this week.

Abdul Basir Khan said 55 people died at one location and 92 at another. He said many of the dead were buried in mass graves.

The US airstrikes hit villages in Bala Boluk district, Farah province during a battle on Monday night and Tuesday, with the full extent of the casualties only coming to light late on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Red Cross said it had seen dozens of dead bodies.

US defence secretary Robert Gates said yesterday he regretted all civilian deaths, but added that he had heard reports the Taleban had thrown grenades into houses in Farah to create casualties that could be blamed on American forces.

posted by Travis, 2:53 am | link | 0 comments |

Mum. Your so Cool!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Every so often I get a care package from home, filled with an assortment of stuff you just cant get in Afghanistan. When I asked Mum to send some guitar strings this time she put some real thought into the brand selection.


posted by Travis, 10:22 am | link | 3 comments |