A Fearless Voice

March 3, 2007

I look forward to watching the documentary Enemies of Happiness, and to someday soon meeting this fearless lady.

Malalai Joya

I can rarely bring myself to praise persons, but I firmly believe that notwithstanding any alleged past associations, what Malalai Joya is doing now is cathartic, and it is redemptive for our national soul – and there has to be such a thing as a national soul, because if not, then how could we all suffer from such a huge and terrible madness?


A Refresher on the Taliban

December 9, 2006

It is often easy to lose sight of the stakes in Afghanistan or to forget the worldview and the determination of those bent on destroying it even more thoroughly. The likes of Sibghatullah Mujaddadi and others in the current Afghan government (going all the way up to the president himself) often muse about granting a general amnesty to the Taliban and having them rejoin the political process. History is often contentious in Afghanistan, and even when it is not, it can be easily distorted and forgotten -even history as recent as the yesteryear’s barbarism and the draconian laws that the Taliban had imposed on the country’s people.

Lest we forget that history too soon, the Taliban are still here to refresh our minds. In some macabre fashion they probably deserve our thanks for their solemn reminders of how they would run (and did run) Afghanistan, if they were to control it in a totalitarian fashion once again.

To all those who say that the Taliban too are “sons of Afghanistan” and are not as bad as they are depicted, lo and behold:

“GHWANDO, Afghanistan: Following up on a death threat, Taliban militants broke into a house where two teachers lived and shot dead five family members in eastern Afghanistan, bringing to 20 the number of educators killed in attacks this year…(meanwhile, 128 schools have been burned down this year alone.)

The five family members were killed overnight in the eastern province of Kunar after gunmen climbed over the home’s high outer wall using a ladder they had brought with them…A grandmother, a mother and two daughters, who were teachers, were killed… A 20-year-old grandson was also killed and a younger grandson injured in the attack in a village in Narang district.”  (continue)

Conflicting Polls and Waning Optimism

December 7, 2006

According to yet another opinion poll from Afghanistan (this one conducted by ABC+BBC) the people of Afghanistan are increasingly pessimistic about future:

“Public optimism has declined sharply across Afghanistan, pushed by a host of fresh difficulties.” (Click here for PDF copy of the poll’s findings)

These findings fly straight in the face of another recent poll, the very first “Key Finding” of which was that:

“The national mood was found to be positive on the whole.” (Click for Asia Foundation’s Survey of Afghan People)

I always felt that the methodology used for these surveys (especially given the constraints peculiar to Afghanistan) was suspect -now I have evidence.

Methodology aside, the findings do reflect what a modest measure of common sense would also reveal: the people of Afghanistan are not happy about how things have turned out (which is very different from what they had expected, and what they had been promised,) and they have little reason to think that this will change in the forseeable future.

Sympathy for the Taliban has increased in the South (among Pashtuns,) while at the same time as increasing numbers of Tajiks and Hazaras see the Taliban once again threatening Afghanistan. More people think that it is OK to cultivate opium. Other indicators (security, quality of life, the condition of women…) also point to a dismal downward trajectory.

I personally feel that the condition of the economy (unemployment is at roughly 50%) has a lot to do with how people view their future and that of the country at large, and justice has not been done in the recent polls (especially this one) to reflect this.

“It’s the economy, stupid!” -somebody ought to yell that in Afghanistan as well.