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Kabul Korrespondence

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

Another mile stone for KK

Saturday, August 29, 2009

This week KK passed it 400th posting, plus the 3 year milestone of publishing news and views from Afghanistan. But lets not forget the people of Afghanistan and the fight they struggle with everyday to survive. This blog is dedicated to them.
posted by Travis, 6:13 pm | link | 2 comments |

Only a fraction of the total lost

Victims of the June uprising in Tehran:

posted by Travis, 6:13 pm | link | 0 comments |

Quote of the week

In relation to the bombing in Kandahar this week that killed over 40 people:

'We don't know what the Taliban wants from Afghanistan, and we don't know why the coalition forces are here, but things are getting worse day by day,' said Niamatullah, 30, a high school teacher.

'Sometimes rockets are fired and sometimes it is suicide bombers … even sometimes bombing by coalition forces. It looks like Afghans are created by God to be killed by human machines. We don't feel safe anywhere, even at home.'

The Taliban denied responsibility for the bombing, though the feeling among many here was that almost anyone would disavow it, given the public revulsion. Few doubted that it was the work of the Taliban.

'I am telling all enemies of Afghanistan, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, to gather one day and use all power against the Afghan people and kill us in one go,'' he said. That would be kind to all Afghans. They are killing us every day, which is painful - kill us in one go.'
posted by Travis, 12:01 pm | link | 0 comments |

The worst article written about Afghanistan (and herself)

You have to read it with a bucket at your side:

posted by Travis, 11:48 am | link | 0 comments |

Afghanistan welcomes Ambassador Page

4 months ago UNAMA asked me to select and propose 10 of the world top photojournalist for the position of 'Photo-Ambassador' to the UN. Not an easy task to convince people to come work in Afghanistan, but I knew one snapper that would surely be up for the task.

Finally after all the paper work and UN red tape veteran Vietnam photographer Tim Page landed in Kabul and is creating quite a storm with his gonzo style photojournalism.

Over the next 6 months he is going to teach master class to 6 lucky Afghan photographers and intermediate class to 10's of other Afghans around the country. Welcome Tim to Afghanistan and we look forward to working with you.
posted by Travis, 11:48 am | link | 0 comments |

Counting votes or counting violations

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Image by David Gill

The number of deaths varies between 26 and 30. But no matter how many people died on the day of elections [not to mention the 40+ dead in Kandahar the following day] most Afghans didn't flinch or even comment on the fatalities of the elections

The most over used sentence in this country is "After to 30 years of war........" But I think in this instance we have to use it [again]. After 30 years of war Afghans have become quite complacent and as matter of fact about death and high death tolls in their country.

They and the ever guilty mass-media are talking about the results of the election. With 10% of the ballots counted, Mr Karzai had 212,927 and 202,889 for Abdullah.

We all know that the numbers are manufactured outside Afghanistan and that the final result will not come from the long hours of counting ballot papers by IEC staff.

And we all know the saying 'When it bleeds it leads.' But the 20th of August is now one of the bloodiest days on count for the Afghan people. Yet the only numbers that are being discussed in a smokey tea house are fictitious ballot papers that were sometimes filled out 5 times by one lady in a burka.

[Many women did not have their photo printed on their voting registration card and did not have to lift their burka while in the voting stations. Meaning that they could visit several stations and vote again and again. As long as they brought bleach with them to wash off the indelible ink]

We can't expect the Afghan population to react to the waste of innocent lives like we Westeners based here do. But we can hope that they won't accept these false results and let another 5 years pass, drenched in the blood of their fallen fellow countrymen......
posted by Travis, 11:21 am | link | 0 comments |

And the winner is..........

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Initial counting from Afghanistan's presidential election shows incumbent Hamid Karzai with a slight lead.

With 10% of the ballots counted, the Election Commission said Mr Karzai had 212,000 votes, compared to 202,000 for ex-Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.

However, there remain many allegations of fraud and the commission is investigating almost 800 complaints.

Final results are not expected for several weeks. A candidate needs more than 50% of votes to avoid a run-off.

Ramazan Bashardost, a popular Afghan MP who camps out in a tent near parliament and campaigned against corruption, got 53,740 votes and former World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani 15,143 votes, the commission announced.
posted by Travis, 8:30 pm | link | 0 comments |

Afghanistan: 2009 Presidential Elections

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Afghanistan’s second ever Presidential elections took place on the 20th August with sporadic violence, disruption and intimidation across the country. One of the worst affected areas was Wardak, with the Taliban launching a series of IED and rocket attacks across the province as the insurgents tried to hamper the public’s attempts to vote. One of the most high profile incidents occurred in Maidan Wardak, the provincial capital, and home to Governor Khalim Fidai which was shelled constantly throughout the day.

The bloodshed is likely to prompt further questions about the international mission in Afghanistan following an election last week that was marred by Taleban attacks, low turnout, and allegations of massive fraud.

posted by Travis, 5:02 pm | link | 0 comments |

Links on Afghanistan

posted by Travis, 5:01 pm | link | 0 comments |

New member of White City !!!!

We at White City are very proud to announce we have a new member in the band: Ruth. She is a bass player and singer (great combo) and we are very excited with the jam sessions we have had already. Hopefully we can get a tight set together in the next weeks and present her to the Kabul crowd very soon......

So as usual stayed tuned

posted by Travis, 5:00 pm | link | 0 comments |

Afghan journalist shot dead in northwestern Pakistan

Reporters Without Borders is shocked and saddened to learn that Janullah Hashimzada, an Afghan journalist based in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, was killed yesterday in an armed attack on the minibus in which he was traveling near the town of Jamrud in the northwestern Khyber Agency.

Reporters Without Borders said. “His murder highlights the sharp decline in the security situation in Pakistan, especially in the western Tribal Areas, where journalists are less and less free to move about.”

Operating in plain view of other people, three masked men opened fire with pistols on the minibus, killing Hashimzada instantly and wounding another passenger, one of the passengers told a journalist.

Aged 37 and a student at Peshawar university’s journalism school, Hashimzada worked for several Afghan and Pakistani news media including the Afghan TV station Shamshad, the Pashtun newspapers Vahdat and Sahar. He had also worked for the Afghan independent news agency Pajhwok for the past four years.

Friends said he covered sensitive issues and had been subjected to threats and pressure during the past three weeks to abandon his journalistic work and leave Peshawar.

The head of Pajhwok, Danish Karokhel, told Reporters Without Borders: “He was a professional journalist who covered major stories on the other side of the border. The key to identifying his murderers is to establish who had an interest in preventing the dissemination of the information he possessed.”

Hashimzada was the fifth journalist to be killed this year in Pakistan, now the world’s second deadliest country for the media.
posted by Travis, 5:00 pm | link | 0 comments |

Afghanistan: PRE 2009 Presidential Elections

The second 'democratic' Afghan presidential elections took place on the 20th of August. Afghanistan is a country riddled with corruption, drugs and violence. 6500 polling stations have been set up, but with threats and attacks from the Taliban occurring daily, many wonder how many Afghans will take the risk to vote in an election that most see as being decided by powers outside Afghanistan. On the 19th we headed down to Wardak province [35kms from Kabul] where witness the convenient surrender of 17 Taliban [including to commanders] and their cache of 80 odd weapons.

posted by Travis, 4:54 pm | link | 0 comments |

Joke of the week

Monday, August 17, 2009

What's the difference between the USA and Iran?

In the USA, they have Obama, Stevie Wonder, Bob Hope, Johnny Cash...
In Iran, we have Ahmadinejad, no wonder, no hope, no cash

[Well the government has loads of cash, they just dont share it with their people]
posted by Travis, 11:31 pm | link | 3 comments |

The War on Terror

Sunday, August 16, 2009

In recent months the the Taliban have spread the control to previously government strongholds like Kunduz province in the north. For this reason the German Forces working in Kunduz have had to step up their activities.

posted by Travis, 10:40 am | link | 3 comments |

KK on the Elections

With less a week to go to till the 2nd Afghan presidential elections, the expected attacks on campaigning presidential candidates has increased. The Taliban’s tactics is to create as much disruption and intimidation before and through the voting period that the citizens will be too scared to make the sometimes 2 days walk to polling stations. President Karzai said at a rally yesterday. “We should not be scared of the enemies of Afghanistan and their bombs. Even if there is 100 bombs on voting day, all Afghans should vote.”

Being the colourful country that Afghanistan is, their elections are not short of characters. Candidate Mullah Rocketi (name changed by Afghan Dipole) is infamous for his rocket-propelled grenades firing skills, mainly at the Russian invaders of the 1980’s. The former Taliban commander claims to be (now) a man of peace: “
Then there is also the bicycle-borne candidate Sangin Mohammed Rahmani. "This is going to be my vehicle to success," he says, patting his bicycle, as he pushes it down a rutted, garbage-strewn street. "With my bicycle and my mobile phone, I can solve all the problems of the people."

A recent statement released by the Taliban caught everyone by surprise: "People with camera cell-phones must not have pictures of unrelated women and handsome boys in their phones, which is against Islamic Sharia." (Sharia is Islamic religious law.) "People should think of their Afghan dignity rather than buying shiny phones,"

Kabul city where I live has been relatively safe in recent months. Ever since the ‘Ring of Steel’ program (an increase of police and checkpoint through out the city) was set up there has been a lot less violence. We do get the occasion rocket attack, but most of the noisy projectiles miss their target and just annoy everyone at the ungodly hour of 4 am.

TV is the second most used drug in Afghanistan. The most popular TV channel is Tolo (owned by Afghan/Australian media tycoons: the Mosheni Family) Last week they hosted the first-ever Afghan presidential debate. Main rivals Abdullah Abdullah and Ashaf Ghani were forced to go head to head after the Karzai pulled a ‘nana’ and refuse to show. Abdullah won the debate hands down and he now looks like the only real challenger to Karzai.

The Taliban captured its first American soldier since the start of the conflict. Bowe Bergdahl was captured while apparently ‘lagging behind his patrol’. Conflicting reports from two U.S. officials conceded a soldier had "just walked off" his base with three Afghans after his shift. (Who walks off their base with a few Afghan? Smells fishy to me.) The 23-year-old appears in the hostage video with head shaved, no uniform and sounding distressed: "I am scared, scared I won't be able to go home,"

And to end on a brighter note: The Taliban has stated “We will cut the finger off anyone who participates in the election,” Voters will be asked to dip their index finger in a bottle of indelible ink in order to obtain a ballot paper. The ink is supposed to remain for several days, providing the opposition with an easy way of identifying those who defy their orders......
posted by Travis, 8:56 am | link | 1 comments |

SPY Zeppelin

This week I noticed a blimp hovering above my hood..... Soon the word around town was that not 1, but 2 'Spy Blimps' had been set up in Kabul to watch and record any suspicious behavior.

This is the view from my room:

Well yesterday's attack on ISAF (NATO) H.Q. that killed 7 people and injured many more certainly wasn't detected by the blimps in time to prevent the attack.....
posted by Travis, 8:28 am | link | 9 comments |

Video didnt Kill the Radio

Monday, August 10, 2009

Taliban insurgents fighting Afghan and international troops based in Afghanistan have established their propaganda mouthpiece in the southern Ghazni province, locals said Sunday.

The FM transistor, according to locals, airs program from 07:00p.m. until 09:00 p.m. local time and often broadcasts Taliban anti-government activities in local language of Pashtu.

"This radio called itself "Da Shariat Ghag Radio" or Radio voice of Sharia (Islamic Laws) have been airing programs on Taliban anti-government activities over the past three days," a resident of Qarabagh district Noor Mohammad told Xinhua.

Da Shariat Ghag Radio was the official mouthpiece of Taliban regime before its collapse in late 2001.

If you have a short wave radio.....check it out!
posted by Travis, 10:06 am | link | 3 comments |

Finally some justice (little too late)

posted by Travis, 9:32 am | link | 0 comments |

I love maps, but this is maybe a little too much...

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Almost half of Afghanistan is at a high risk of attack by the Taliban and other insurgents or is under "enemy control," a secret Afghan government map shows, painting a dire security picture before presidential elections.

The threat assessment map, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, shows 133 of Afghanistan's 356 districts are regarded as high-risk areas with at least 13 under "enemy control."

The map shows virtually the entire south of the country under extreme risk of attack, a vast swathe stretching from Farah in the west through Helmand province in the south and east toward provinces such as Paktia and Nangarhar near the Pakistan border.
posted by Travis, 10:21 am | link | 3 comments |

"Join the trenches of jihad."

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Taliban in Afghanistan warned on Thursday it would attempt to derail next month's presidential election, calling on Afghans to boycott the poll and urging them to "join the trenches of jihad."

A statement issued by the Taliban's leadership council and posted on a website it uses (www.alemarah1.net), said the election was a U.S. "invention" and urged voters to join them instead of taking part in a poll it labeled a farce.

"All mujahideen should strongly focus on making this process fail ... strike the enemy's bases and stop people from taking part in the election," the statement, in Pashtu, said.

"All Afghans, due to their Islamic and national sentiments, need to totally boycott this seductive U.S. process and ... join the trenches of jihad," it said.
posted by Travis, 10:33 am | link | 0 comments |