Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hazaras May Play Key Role in Afghan Vote

Hazaras May Play Key Role in Afghan Vote
Long-Oppressed Minority Is Wooed By Karzai, Others

Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, July 26, 2009

KABUL, Afghanistan, July 25 -- For generations, Afghanistan's Hazara minority has occupied the humblest niche in the country's complex ethnic mosaic. The political power structure has been dominated by the large southern Pashtun tribes, followed by the slightly less numerous northern Tajiks.
During various periods in history, the Shiite Hazaras have been forced from their lands and slaughtered in bouts of ethnic or religious "cleansing." In more recent times, they have often been relegated to lowly jobs as cart-pullers or domestic servants. The abused boy in the novel and movie "The Kite Runner," which generated much controversy here, came from a family of Hazara servants.
But the group now stands poised to play a decisive role in the Aug. 20 presidential and provincial council elections. It has produced a popular presidential candidate, independent Ramazan Bashardost, who is an extremely long shot but has been traveling the country nonstop, preaching a message of government reform and social justice.
Meanwhile, President Hamid Karzai, an ethnic Pashtun who is seeking reelection, and his major challengers are aggressively courting the Hazara vote. The group makes up as much as 20 percent of the country's electorate and had high voter-registration and turnout rates in the last presidential election, in 2004.
"We have become kingmakers," said Mohammed Mohaqeq, a leader of the main Hazara political party, Wahdat-e-Islami, who agreed to support Karzai in return for pledges that Hazaras would be given control of several ministries and possibly a newly created province. "I cannot get elected, because my Pashtun brothers might not support me, but our people can make a big difference in deciding who wins," he said.
Mohaqeq has been campaigning in various provinces for Karzai, who has remained largely invisible during the run-up to the elections. Mohaqeq's party has organized an army of campaign workers and has fielded a slate of 14 candidates for the upper house of parliament and provincial councils, including one young man whose posters depict an old Hazara cart-puller bent under a load of goods.

Karzai, whose second vice presidential pick is a Hazara, took pains to appease conservative Hazara leaders in March by approving a controversial Shiite family law, even though it outraged human rights groups because it subjected Hazara women to the absolute control of their fathers and husbands.
Yet the political emancipation of Afghanistan's Hazaras, whose children are flocking to universities and office jobs, has created a generational and political split in a community that long fell in lockstep behind ethnic militia or religious leaders such as Mohaqeq as a matter of survival.
Many older or less educated Hazaras still express strong loyalty to such leaders and say they intend to follow their political instructions on voting day. But many others, including students and former refugees who have returned after years in Iran, said they value their political independence.
"I am Hazara, but we have rights now, and no one can tell me how to vote," said Farahmuz, 33, a laborer who joins dozens of men each morning at a traffic circle, hoping to obtain a few hours of work. "I don't want ethnic issues to come up in these elections, because they can destroy the country again," he said.

Many Hazaras said their sentimental favorite for president is Bashardost, 44, a reformist legislator and former planning minister whose office is in a tent across the street from parliament. He has been campaigning in much the same style, accepting government-provided planes to reach distant provinces but then mingling with voters in parks and markets.
"I like Mr. Bashardost because he understands our problems," said Jawad, 25, a Kabul resident who grew up in exile in Iran and now supports his elderly parents as a construction worker. "He doesn't campaign in luxury vehicles like the others. He came to Shar-i-Nau Park on foot and sat there in a tent and listened to the people."
Reached on his cellphone Saturday in a noisy market in Khost province, Bashardost said he had discovered "a big distance between the ordinary people and the politicians in Kabul," adding: "I am sure we are going to see a revolution on August 20." He also said he had received a surprisingly large amount of support from Pashtuns at home and abroad. "This is something very new for Afghanistan," he said.
As a minority group that has long faced economic exploitation and social oppression, Hazaras seem to be taking particular advantage of political freedoms that have opened up since the fall of extremist Sunni Taliban rule in late 2001.
At a new private Shiite college in Kabul, teachers and students said the elections are important for their community, no matter who wins, because they represent a step toward modern, democratic practices that can help overcome Afghan traditions of ethnic and tribal competition.
"We need to develop the values and practices of democracy," said Amin Ahmadi, the college director. "Unfortunately, ethnic issues still play a large role in our country, and people don't trust leaders from other ethnic groups. But if we can have fair, transparent and peaceful elections, that will matter more than if we get a good or a bad president."
In West Kabul, the rundown but bustling heart of the capital's Hazara community, every public surface is papered with campaign posters. Yet many cart-pullers, mechanics and other workers said they are fed up with both national and ethnic politics. They said that their community suffers from widespread unemployment and poverty, but that no one in power has done anything to help.
"We are not happy with our government, and we are not happy with our own leaders," said Imam Ali Rahmat, 61, who sells firewood. "To them, we are just made of grime and dust. To us, they are just made of false promises. We need a change and we need new leaders, because we have lost our way."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Iranian’s grand gathering in Paris, Maryam Rajavi: The time has come for the government of the people by the people and for the people!

By M. Amin Wahidi

Will there be a "CHANGE" in Iran?!!

As the protests are still increasingly continuing in different Iranian cities, following the mass fraud in presidential election, it is speculated that the protestors are now demanding more than only the annulment of the election result but rather an entire change in the whole system of the current regime.

Many Iranian political groups who have been waiting for rage of the people against the regime to help them sweep the floor for their presence in the practical political stage of the country, are now beginning count down for the fall of the religious regime in Iran.

Mujahedin e Khalq e Iran or People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI) organized their annual gathering on Saturday June 20 in Villepinte Paris, celebrating the 28th anniversary of creation of National Resistance Council of Iran (NRCI) with the presence of thousands of Iranians from different countries of the world in Paris, to show their support to the residences of Ashraf city the PMOI’s residential – military camp in Iraq.

Maryam Rajavi president elect of the National Resistance Council of Iran and one of the PMOI’s founders gave a speech to the PMOI’s adherents and her supporters while being well received by several European Parliamentarians invited in the gathering.

Although the main occasion of this gathering was the celebration of the 28th anniversary of National Resistance Council of Iran and the support for maintenance of Ashraf city, but the latest post election situation of Iran was more highlighted by Mrs. Rajavi in her speech and she said: “it is the time for the people to have a government by them and for them.”
In this gathering, the European Parliamentarians from the GB, Denmark, Germany, France, Spain and Italy, and a Canadian parliamentarian all spoke on behalf of their parliaments supporting the decision of the European Parliament on removing PMOI from the terrorist list. They emphasized on safety and security insurance of the residents of Ashraf city (PMOI Camp in Iraq), based on international humanitarian and refugee conventions. The Parliamentarians highlighted POMI’s real struggles against Islamic fundamentalism in Iran as far as they had visited the Ashraf City in the recent years.
They all called for the USA to support this decision of the European Parliament and remove them from the terrorist list provided by this country.

In April 24 2009 The European Parliament has signed a resolution considering all security of the lives of residences of Ashraf city, the POMI’s camp in Iraq based on the international humanitarian and refugee conventions.

Mujahedin e Khalq (People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran)
Mujahedin e Khalq is a well known Iran group, that had military basis in Iraq and political offices in Europe, famous for their resistance against the Iranian strict religious regime, is now entering into the stage with a maneuver of its supporters in Europe through a grand gathering in Paris, since lately the restrictions on this political – military group is being released by the European parliament.

Founded basically in the mid 1960s as a political group by the university students, Mujahedeen has first fought against Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlawi the pro America King of Iran until the collapse of monarchy and the beginning of the Islamic Republic, but they did not have a role in the post monarchy Islamic Republic government after that, instead with a new view of the religion they broke with the conservative revolutionary group opposing them for the Wilaiat e Faqeh system (Religious Monarchy of Ayatullahs).

This group then added a military branch to their political structure since they moved out of Iran and was welcomed by Sadam Hussain in Iraq in the early 1980s when the National Resistance Council of Iran was born. By the support of Saddam Hussain they made an army with thousands of bright minded religious believers, they announced war against any interests of the regime until the collapse of the regime and since then has launched many attacks against the IRI officials and interests through the past 20 years.
In the eight years war of Iraq against Iran, 1981-89 they played a major role supporting Saddam against Iran.
Since the collapse of Saddam Regime in 2003, the Mujahedeen e Khalq was peacefully disarmed by the American forces in Iraq and their residential military camp (Ashraf city) was secured by the Americans until August 2008.

PMOI and the USA
While the Mujahedeen is not yet out of terrorist list of the United States but since the American Forces handed the security operations to the Iraqi forces, the Iraqi officials have warned to close PMOI Camp (Ashraf city) and expel the residents to Iran or elsewhere, when they are in good relations with the IRI regime.

The PMOI leaders since then have made many struggles to convince the world that Ashraf city is not a terrorist camp but a city of resistance against the IRI regime.

Their struggles have been successful in Europe to some extend but as long as they are strong Shiite believers with a tendency towards leftist ideology, they are still recognized as a terrorist group by the USA.

The contemporary Iran and the Iranians
While not yet in Tehran and other major Iranian cities the demonstrations and protested are stopped but have been increased rapidly, millions of Iranians around the world are awaiting fundamental changes in the system of the ruling regime in their country.

The latest presidential election that was reported as a mass fraud election in the history of Iran has opened a new page in the contemporary history of Iran.

As the evidences show the protests of the people have reached its acme and seem to result a revolution that could end to collapse the current regime, as say by the observers, the late resent protests of the people within and out of Iran against the result of presidential election, is indeed the need and thirst of the Iranian people for a fundamental change and reform in the whole governmental system that is now called by the people a religious monarchy rather than an Islamic republic.

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The Behsud Conflicts in Afghanistan: A Blueprint to Avoid Further Clashes in 2009 and Beyond

By Lenard MILICH

June, 2009

Not only severely hampered by weak government and judicial branches, a barely nascent civil society, and the Taliban insurrection, Afghanistan now also faces inter-tribal skirmishes in its formerly peaceful (and pro-government) Central Highlands, where transhumant pastoralists known by the term "Kuchi," the vast majority of whom are ethnically Pashtun and Sunni, bring their flocks each summer for highland grazing in the homeland of the Shi'a Hazara. The great danger of these armed clashes, which have left a few score people dead on both sides, Hazara houses burned, and last year generated some 60,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), is that both sides are exhibiting an intransigence that bodes ill for the future. The Hazara have been among the most pro-government of Afghanistan's tribes, and have willingly acceded to the drive for disarmament. They feel betrayed by government inaction, and are preparing themselves for escalating the conflict with the Kuchi as necessary this summer. That perhaps one-quarter of the capital's residents are Hazara threatens to bring Kabul to a standstill, as occurred last summer for one day when an estimated 50,000 Hazara demonstrated in the city center.
At first sight, the Kuchi-Hazara conflict seems to be a quintessential struggle over access to ecological resources - that is, summer grazing. As with so many aspects of Afghanistan, competition over grazing is only the surface veneer. The roots of the conflict go back much further. Nor can the conflict be separated from the very real, but never acknowledged, issue of burgeoning population, coupled with a relatively slow rural-urban migration. Most of Afghanistan's population remains rural - an estimated 80%. Were the country endowed with superior soil and water attributes, this would not necessarily be a contentious issue. But it is not - just 5.5% of the land area consists of irrigated land. As a result, sedentary farming populations subdividing irrigated plots over generations has forced the rural populace into attempting rainfed agriculture on the surrounding hill slopes whenever the residual soil water content from winter snows and spring rainfall permit, which has been infrequent over the past decade in many parts of the country. It is this agrarian expansion that impinges on the use rights of Kuchi pastoralists, fomenting conflict as crops are damaged and grazing areas reduced in size. In turn, the Kuchi believe that all descendents of the families granted grazing rights are entitled to bring their livestock to the summer grazing grounds.

The potential for conflict driven by competition over scarce natural resources cannot be downplayed anywhere in the country. Population data are highly unreliable; there has never been a national census, and the probability of one being held anytime in the next few years is near zero. Estimates from different sources project the country to be home to between 23 and 32 million people. Central Statistical Office population statistics are therefore sheer guesswork, but one number does deserve attention: between 2003 and 2004, CSO figures suggest the population to have increased by 4.4%. Most refugee returnees went home the previous year, and the 700,000 Afghans deported from Iran arrived in later years. Hence, the 4.4% may be CSO's best guess for natural population growth. What is immensely alarming about this figure is that it predicts population doubling in 16.5 years. If in the ballpark, then such growth rates demand a paradigm shift in the business-as-usual development scenarios being constructed by the government and donor partners.

Lastly, casual observers of Afghanistan's history might conclude that the country's monarchy ended with Zahir Shah's abdication in 1973 or perhaps with his death in 2007. They would be wrong because ethnicity was, is, and for the foreseeable future will continue to be, King. And as with any monarch more than merely a constitutional figurehead, viziers vie for influence through political manipulation and intrigue. The swirl of Afghan history of the past 120 years underlie the Behsud conflicts, and it is these manipulative intrigues, summed over this period, that make this particular conflict - and by extension, most Kuchi-Hazara contests over land - intractable to community-based dispute resolution mechanisms.

This paper reports on the themes and details covered by a series of key informant interviews conducted by staff of the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit in late 2008 and early 2009 among prominent and ordinary Kuchis and Hazaras, as well as high-placed Afghan civil servants, international and national staff of UN agencies, and involved NGOs. The regrettable imperative to protect informants' identities means that no individuals can be identified in this report. Furthermore, while throughout these interviews triangulation or confirmation of information freely provided was a priority, a final effort to separate fact from fictional rumor cannot be accomplished. But in the author's view, such separation is, ultimately, unnecessary, because what drives the Behsud conflict is a very strong feeling of righteousness on both sides, rather than cool analysis on anyone's part - except perhaps those of the "King's viziers."

To reiterate, it is incumbent on readers of this document to exercise appropriate judgment with respect to the background section. For example, allegations of severe bias on the part of an organ of the Afghan state may not be substantiated under independent external review; nonetheless, this does not detract from the fact that an involved party strongly perceives that a bias exists, which then affects its subsequent belief systems, responses, and future behaviors.

Background: Elements of the Conflict
Afghanistan, as is well known, has suffered through repeated cycles of violence and warfare for more than two millenia. The current Behsud conflict can be traced back to Royal policy of the late 19th century. Abdur Rahman Khan, Emir of Afghanistan between 1880 and 1901, is justifiably known by the appellation "The Iron Emir," for he crushed, not only suppressed, any attempt to question his authority. In 1892, Abdur Rahman put an end to the Hazara insurrection, which had started in the late 1880s. To assist with the pacification of Hazarajat, Abdur Rahman dispatched Sunni clerics to the area, in an attempt to rid it of Shi'ism; he instituted burdensome taxation on the Hazaras; and his divide-and-rule policies abetted the sale of Hazara men and women into de facto slavery - a situation formally ended by a declaration of the illegality of slavery in 1923. To justify his actions, he is said to have gathered Sunni mullahs in Kandahar, after which they declared the Hazara to be kaffir, i.e., infidels. To gain political control over the fractious Hazara, the Iron Emir commenced the "Afghanization" of Hazarajat, encouraging the settling of the land and use of its pastures by Pashtu speakers, notably from the Ghilzai tribe. His local administrators issued firmans (royal decrees) that formalized access rights of Pashtun Kuchis to summer pasture land. Within these firmans, boundaries were delineated, and individual families having these access rights were listed.
Examples of firmans and two pages from Volume 3 of Seraj-al Tawarikh by Faiz Mohammad Kateb that discusses deeded Pashtun lands in Hazarajat.

The Kuchis contend that their transhumance has been occurring for 300 or more years, and that the firmans merely formalize their activities. They believe that the firmans grant the right to all descendants of the original families list to use the pastures, and claim that these pastures' boundaries are being violated by Hazara encroachment, both for rainfed agriculture and for grazing.

While these firmans were imposed from top-down on the Hazara population, for many decades thereafter, there was little in the way of resistance to Kuchi entry to summer grazing lands. Demoralized and marginalized, the Hazara chose in the main to accept the status quo, while many focused on education and/or migration as a means to a better life. Moreover, Kuchi pastoralists were often the sole source of contact for geographically and socially isolated households in the Central Highlands, arriving each summer with goods to sell or trade, albeit often the terms of trade were unfairly skewed in their favor. The inability of the Hazara to repay Kuchi loans not infrequently resulted in additional land coming under Kuchi ownership.
Kuchi transhumance into Hazarajat slowed or stopped entirely during the civil war, and many Kuchi sedenterized. Because of this vacuum, in some places local Hazara used Kuchi pasture land for rainfed agriculture, and sometimes stopped paying rent to Kuchi landowners. Livestock numbers fluctuated: in 1976, there were nationwide perhaps 23.3 million small ruminants (sheep and goats), rising (according to UN-FAO estimates) in 1995 at the beginning of the Taliban period to around 31 million, then falling to <20>

Concomitantly, the common themes among the Hazaras interviewed are that the firmans are illegitimate, having been issued in an era of despotism; that the Kuchi "are not the original Kuchi" - meaning that there are both non-Kuchis embedded in the incoming groups (this accusation is primarily focused on the belief that the Kuchi have been accused in the past of supporting the Taliban) as well as many non-Kuchi animals that are being collected for pasturing in Hazarajat; and that in any case, population growth among the Hazara has increased the demand on arable land, grazing, and water resources such that there is no longer the carrying capacity to supply food and water to both groups and their animals. In other words, Kuchi transhumance is perceived as adversely affecting the Hazara's right to a decent and secure livelihood, and this is exacerbated by the view that Pashtun Kuchis (as opposed to Arab Kuchis, who pay a head tax per animal for summer pastures in Yawkawlang) act with impunity, not taking sufficient measures to prevent damage to Hazara crops by their animals. There is, it appears, a growing sentiment in Hazarajat - at least among the educated classes as well as traditional and political leaders - that Kuchi transhumance will no longer be tolerated. Conversely, many Hazara state that Kuchi landowners are welcome in Hazarajat, but many also add the proviso that they should reside there year-round.

Most Hazara informants believe that as far as Behsud is concerned, both the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the government-appointed Sabaoun Commission (tasked with investigating the conflict) are biased in favor of the Kuchis. On the other hand, several praised the work of the Afghan National Police (ANP), pointing out that not only did the police protect individuals but also in areas under their control, they maintained cultivated land and livestock left behind by IDPs.

Information provided by national staff working for the United Nations is that Hazaras now contend that the current Pashtun-dominated government has always favored the Kuchis; the government's credibility is at rock-bottom in Hazarajat. The Hazara people have abandoned hope that the government is benevolent, and are taking steps to defend themselves. One Agency has heard of "commitments" from individual businessmen "abroad" (i.e., outside of Hazarajat) to help in this defense. Another marker of escalation is that many Hazara communities have continued to pay rent to their Kuchi landlords, and now some agitation is commencing to persuade people to stop these payments. There is an allegation that a "land tax" is being imposed to gather the financial resources to buy weapons and pay for militias. These are early signs that a conflict that breaks out in Behsud this year could rapidly spread across the Central Highlands, but not necessarily stop there, as connoted by the large Hazara demonstration in Kabul last year against the killings in Behsud.

Given such divergent views between Kuchis and Hazara, it is difficult to conceive of a reconciliation between the parties being plausible at present; in fact, because of heightened tensions, conversation itself may be impossible. The dispute can only be resolved by an essentially political decision. And this, therefore, is the paradox of Behsud, and by extension, other Kuchi-Hazara conflicts: Conflict prevention this year is purely a political decision, while simultaneous stringent depoliticization is required to defuse the underlying tensions that are likely to result in a flare-up of the conflict this or subsequent summers - a situation that could then easily spread to other areas in the Central Highlands as well as erupt in Kabul itself. Once a level of depoliticization is reached, the people who actually have ties to the land are more likely to be able to sit together and come to an agreement. For the interim, however, the recommendations below, if implemented, could extinguish the spark that could erupt into armed clashes this summer, and subsequently build a base for a final resolution in the near future.

A Glance at the Afghan Legal Environment
Article 14 of the 2004 Constitution stipulates that the State "shall design and implement... effective programs for the... settlement and living conditions of the nomads." It is this statement regarding "settlement" -inserted by a prominent Kuchi leader - that offers a realizable, albeit not immediate, resolution to the conflict between transhumant herders and sedentary farmers. The Draft Land Policy (English), dated 1385, offers broad guidance as to how this can happen. Section 3.1.8 opines that "...any approach to sustainable dispute resolution must address the historical and underlying grievances associated with how land was acquired whether by government..." - that is, it suggests that land- or usufruct-granting firmans issued during Abdur Rahman's reign can be analyzed for legitimacy under terms defined by today's more open, democratic society. How should this be carried forward? Section 2.2.6 informs us that "It is national policy that the resolution to complex issues of ownership and access rights to pasture lands be examined at the provincial level and traditional use rights of settled farmers and pastoralists established and respected." Realistically, provincial-level determinations will be untenable given the animosity felt by Hazaras toward Kuchis, hence other solutions acceptable to both parties must be implemented. Finally, land can be allocated to settle Kuchi families, as stipulated by Section 3.1.1 of the Draft Policy: "It is national policy that land distribution schemes for productive and economic activities be balanced to evenly serve the competing interest of all segments of society." The Civil Law of the Republic of Afghanistan (1975), Article 483, allows for reallocation of public lands to private use: Public property shall be deemed non-public when the period of its use in the public interest expires. These indicative mechanisms would need to be fleshed out by legal experts within the Ministry of Justice.

Many of the recommendations below are predicated upon the issuing of a Presidential firman. Under Article 79 of the Constitution, the President may issue a firman (one unrelated to financial or budgetary affairs) if the Wolesi Jirga (the Lower House of Parliament) is in recess and the situation is deemed to be an emergency. The next parliamentary recess is scheduled to begin on 15 Jawza 1388 (5 June 2009). The firman could be valid for at least 10 weeks; Article 79 stipulates that such a firman must be submitted to the National Assembly (i.e., both Houses of the Parliament) no later than 30 days after it reconvenes (recesses are of 6 weeks duration.) The firman can be based on enforcing the Law on Firearms, Equipments and Explosive Materials (Issue #855 of the Official Gazette, dates 21 June 2005), which states that anyone other than the ANA, ANP, or NDS (the intelligence service) must be licensed to carry a weapon. Article 134 of the Constitution specifies that it is the duty of the ANP to enforce the law, and the Attorney's Office to prosecute violators.

Suggestions for an Integrated Strategy to Defuse the Potential for Conflict in 2009 and Beyond
Because the chances of getting an ethnically divided and fractious Parliament to agree on legislation addressing the conflict is, in reality, impossible in the time remaining before the Kuchi are set to arrive in Behsud in May, there is only one legal avenue available: The President must issue a firman: he must state very clearly that no resumption of hostilities will be tolerated, and that the full power of the State will be brought to bear on either side should armed conflict be instigated. Karzai is allowed by the constitution to do so once the parliamentary session ends, and the firman remains valid until 30 days after parliament reconvenes without need for parliamentary endorsement.

This firman must allow the Kuchi access to Behsud through clearly delineated corridors, around which there should be a buffer zone of 500 meters on either side where no weapons can be visibly carried by either Kuchi or Hazara, as per the Law on Firearms, Equipments, and Explosive Materials (dated 21 June 2005). This firman should clarify that violators of the Law and this prohibition on visible weapons are subject to immediate arrest by any of the three branches of the Police (criminal, civil order, and justice).
The firman must specify payment of a "head tax" on every Kuchi animal that transits the Behsud area and the defile of the Jalriz Valley, with money being paid to the District Commissioner (woloswali) or other trusted recipient for subsequent equitable distribution to local communities. Concomitantly, the firman should remind the Hazara that any land deeded as "owned" by the Kuchi should be accessible to the owners at any time, in accordance with Article 40 of the Constitution.

These, however, are only temporary solutions, and do not address the natural resource issues. This can be achieved only through a broad set of initiatives. Following stabilization of the Government as an outcome of the August election, the President should convene a Distinguished Panel consisting of Ministers, legal and technical experts, and traditional representatives (including renowned figures in Shariat and customary law) to decide what is to be done with the firmans granting pastoral use rights (usufruct) during Abdur Rahman's reign. This strategy could be predicated on Article 162 of the Constitution, which states that decrees (firmans) contrary to the provisions of the Constitution (i.e., Article 14, which stipulates Kuchi settlement) are rendered invalid. One possibility could be consideration of the term "unjust" or "just," rather than "illegal" or "legal" to avoid any subsequent compensation claims, as implemented in Spain's recent examination of Franco-era policies.

Since the contribution of the Kuchi to Afghanistan's economy remains poorly understood, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL), together with the Ministry of Tribal Affairs / Department of Kuchi Affairs, should undertake an assessment of the magnitude of the Kuchi's input, both for food security (particularly for urban areas) and provision of livelihoods (through secondary products including fibers, pelts, and skins). Results should drive future policies. One example is that for those Kuchis continuing a traditional lifestyle, integration of methods pioneered by the Pastoral Engagement, Adaptation, and Capacity Enhancement (PEACE) Project ( could inform them where they can go to find optimal summer pastures. For those Kuchis choosing to remain in winter locations over the summer, para-vets or other extension experts can provide advice on the management and housing of animals. None of this needs be carried out in isolation, for Afghanistan can learn from Iran's set of experience with transhumant pastoralists (locally managed agreements, legislative actions, enforcement methods, etc.).

Lenard Milich earned his PhD in Arid Lands Resource Sciences in 1997; he subsequently served with the UN World Food Programme in Asia and Africa as a vulnerability analyst, founded Africa Biofuel and Emission Reduction Company in Tanzania, and was senior research manager for natural resources at the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit when investigating the Behsud conflict. He may be contacted at

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Hundreds of Iranians in Italy demonstrated against presidential election result

Hundreds of Iranians in Italy demonstrated against presidential election result

Hundreds of Iranians including boy and girl students, businessmen and refugees in Milan Italy, demonstrated on Monday June 15th protesting against the unexpected result of the recent presidential election in their country.

Getting in Piazza del Duomo the main city square of Milan, the demonstrators carrying banners and placards rejecting the elections result for mass fraud in counting of votes by the current president team, they have expressed their unity and sympathy with the protestors within Iran.

The boys and girls among the protestors were carrying placards with mottos such as; “Where are our votes?!!” “Where are our rights?” “No to Ahmadinejad!” and “Go Ahmadinajad!” “Musavi is the real president!”

Among the protestors some people were carrying the photo of Mir Hussain Musavi saying that he is the real president of the country if there will be transparency and justice in vote counting.

In their speech the speakers among the protestors, stated that Iranians or the ancient Persia is one of the world known civilizations in the history but today unfortunately the nation is under dictatorship of the a small group of fundamentalists who have blackmailed the dignity and the history of the country and has taken it towards international isolation.

They all emphasized on the change of the fake result of the recent election, whether by the recounting of the votes by a neutral committee or by conduction of another election but a free and fare one.

At the end they said, they would continue their protest by any possible means until practical actions are taken by the leadership of the country regarding the mass fraud in the current election. They encouraged the rival candidates of Ahmadinejat to continue for their protests, because the whole nation is with them.

It is to say that, following the protests in other European cities like London, Vienna and Berlin the Iranians in Milan conducted this demonstration.

Report and photos by Amin Wahidi
Milan Italy

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Afghan lookalikes?!!

See the faces and compare them!
Are they really similar one to the other?

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

The current situation of Afghanistan; " No clear direction where to go!"

A caricature sent by Bashir Bakhtiari, Afghan caricaturist, filmmaker and journalist
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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Exclusive Interview with Bashir Bakhtiari, famous Afghan Caricaturist, filmmaker and journalist

Bashir Bakhtiari, with pen name of Baache Azra is a pioneer Afghan journalist filmmaker who is better known for the caricatures and other graphic works he does among the Afghan artists.

His journalistic works refer to the years back although he still cooperates with some western free media as well, and his filmmaking activities are not being exposed by the media the way it should have been, but contemporarily the caricatures he draws are being noticeably shining in the Afghan media and being published in different sites and blogs all over the world.

Bakhtiari draws the caricatures as precisely as hitting a dart right into target point and that is because of the strong telepath he has with his addresses and the viewers of his works, and the people who enjoys his arts.

What he draws is very simple, but at the same time full of meanings, real but unnoticeable by ordinary people in their daily lives, and are hardly able to be explained by words meanwhile they are full of thousands of meaningful words inside each.

When you see, the caricatures he draws, you laugh and cry at the same time when you go the depth of his works. First for a while you are amazed how tenderly he noticed what you haven’t been able to notice, while you see it in your own life but then you feel may be you don’t have an eye that an artist has, therefore.

The point that makes Bashir Bakhtiari unique is his social background plus his glittering career and experiences; he has been an artist, a journalist from the people, has been raised within the people and has been thinking about and for his people; therefore his discoveries are never something out of harsh realities that exist within the Afghan society which have to be point out by his arts.

As many other artists and journalists of the country, Bakhtiari also had had to flee his country due to existence of threats and insecurity for his life as a reward for what he has been doing especially during the recent years, and now he lives abroad in “New Zealand” but is still strong enough to imagine the situation of his country through tenderly artistic eyes he has, even though being far away from his homeland.

We thought it would be better to hear some of his words as well to know Mr. Bakhtiari more in depth so this interview took place as a result.

This exclusive interview was made online with Mr. Bakhtiari in Dari for Dari version of Kabul Press. And Amin Wahidi did it. He then has translated into English with his broken English for Voice of Criticism.
We invite you enjoy reading the interview!

Amin Wahidi: Mr. Bakhtiari, first of all thank you very much for your valuable time to give us for this interview. Well, as the first question I would like to ask that,
As a caricaturist and graphic designer, what responsibilities do you feel in a country like Afghanistan?

Bashir Bakhtiari: Well, you are welcome and I should say as an answer to you that,
in a country with sick social infrastructures where ethnic fascism has a very important role, where the motto of the students would be condemning the universities, in a country where a gorilla becomes the minister of information and culture, in a country where suicide bombings become a part of the religious culture, in a country, where the senior politicians including the president don’t have nothing except lies and discriminations, there are two ways for an artist to choose, whether to compromise to all these misbehavior and keep quite, or suffer the whole life behind bars of imprisonment.

Amin Wahidi: How do you compare the language of a written text with a drawn caricature?

Bashir Bakhtiari: I think Caricatures are the clear imaginary words of a long boring text that are written in a specific language. Sometimes a caricature or a cartoon can have meanings equal to thousands of words while being sketched only with a few simple lines. The language of caricature is not confined to specific languages or cultures and it is generous enough to remove the language differences between the black and the white, so every one knows the language of caricature. Caricature is the only common language of the men while the text needs specific literacy for a language. Whether blue or oval eyes seeing a caricature drawn with a few lines, receive a concept without having needed to know a specific language. Or if I make it very short in one sentence, caricature is the common language of all nations and all cultures which is stronger than the written text of any pens.

Amin Wahidi: Would it be nice to hear more about your filmmaking and other graphic designing works please.

Bashir Bakhtiari: My graphic works have also been full of shortcomings as my caricatures unfortunately. However, it is about twenty years that I work on graphic works, modern designing, animation cartoons and digital films and so far, I have designed hundreds of logos, posters, billboards, book covers as well as currently I still work with some of the western journals.
And about film; actually I did not make a lot of fictions or short fictions but rather I made a lot of documentaries. During the Russian occupation and then during the civil war, I made more than 200 documentary films, and I have the honor of being the first and the last journalist filmmaker, who made documentary films of Mujahedeen operations in Kabul during the presence of the Russians. And then in the late years, I worked with Tolo TV for about ten months on entertainment programs such as, (Duplicator, the week album) and partly in news department as well. But since I didn’t like the work environment within Tolo TV, I resigned and within the last two years, I was working on TV commercial clips and advertising videos that are the most aired ones on television channels in Kabul. It has been a year that I am out of country, and the commercials I made are still being aired on different television channels in Kabul.

Amin Wahidi: It would be nice to hear about the role of caricature in the society and in the press of Afghanistan, the readers would appreciate to hear more in this regard;

Bashir Bakhtiari: Unfortunately, the same as many other things in our country, caricatures have not found their place and role in the society as they had to.
While technology is very advanced today but still we have many caricaturists who still try to keep the traditions of almost fifty years back. Conservativeness is an obstacle. I am talking of the artists who think working with computer is against Islamic or religious rules. There are still people who avoid adding pictures in their journals but are still using the old method of print. Right now I am not aware of it, but if you see up to last year of Anes Daily paper, how strange it is! Seeing all this I think the modern caricaturists have the right to feel oppressed in this country.

Amin Wahidi: What are you being inspired by mostly when you draw caricatures?

Bashir Bakhtiari: Well, mostly I don’t pay attention to the issues that are already spoken about, within the society. I mean, I want to present through my caricatures what has not been said yet or what is not being spoken about within the society yet. What I always expected from a caricature I drew was to get attention of the people to those issues that are not seen easily today but will become big obstacles tomorrow.
I thought my role was to magnify for the people the big and important issues that have little appearances or that show less dangerous or less important today but for sure, they have potential of becoming something important tomorrow. My motto has always been “if you have ability, demonstrate it today otherwise, tomorrow it will be very late.”
For instance, if I draw caricatures on Karzai’s hand in drug business or Assadullah Khaled’s real face as a Spy for Pakistan, or Shaikh Asif Mohseni’s role as a religious dealer and IRI Agent in Afghanistan, or Pashtoonization process by Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, for me it means that I got to know about these things later than everyone else, because the people are already aware of all these things, while as an artist I have to discover new things to present to the society that are not being yet discovered by anyone else.

Amin Wahidi: You maintain specific characteristics for the caricature characters you draw, would you explain it more why?

Bashir Bakhtiari: Yeah, actually the specific characters by a caricaturist are as his pen signatures that introduces him. The caricaturists, who have created specific characters in their works, do not need to sign their works with their pen names anymore.
As you see in the cartoons I drew, mostly I use tools as personages in them, but in the caricatures, I selected the characters for the personages from the people I have lived with a long time. Some of the viewers and some friends have criticized me saying that the characters in my caricatures are reflecting and pointing out only one specific ethnic while it is the reality.
That truth is that, when I drew a character with an eye out of socket, a peaked nose and a big turban on the head, it mostly a Taliban soldier , and a Taliban as a suicide attacker, as a looter and a killer can not be drawn nicer than this, it is what the reality says to us.
So in this case, therefore, this symbol of fierceness is always drawn with a husky body but bended and obedient, attended to orders, bare feet, with an untidy turban, a religious scroll in green “as a defender” on the shoulder, a dirty waist jacket, long and bushy beard, and glaring eyes! That is what a Taliban is like, no more than this.
And if the people are being slapped by them in the previous pages of the history and they were looted by them, if Ahmad Shah Durrani has looted the India and killed many people there, or if Abdul Rahman with the same specifics has killed major parts of the Hazaras, Nooristanis, Tajiks, Turks and Pashtoons, for more than two centrist this character has been source for boasting and pride in this country, but let the world know about the other side of the coin. Let the people know that the truth is not what is being written in the wrong histories. Let the people know what the British, the Russians, the Pakistani’s and then the Americans did on people under the shadow of these characters.
The people should know about more of the Mullah Trojans that are the real threats for the future of their country.

Amin Wahidi: Have you ever been faced with violence as a reaction of viewers of the caricatures you draw?

Bashir Bakhtiari: It was only once, when I drew a caricature of Shaikh Ibrahimi, a special representative of Ayatullah Khamenayee in Afghanistan, the Iranian Intelligence interrogated me, but any other occasion I don’t really remember right now.

Amin Wahidi: Some people think that caricatures are drawn to make others laugh, what are your opinions on other aspects of caricatures?

Bashir Bakhtiari: You raised a good point indeed, and I should say a caricature is more serious than only make fun of someone and make the others laugh. Caricature is drawn to tell a harsh truth, rather than banter of someone. That is the difference of a caricature with a joke, an irony or a comic.
A caricature is not what most of our people think. I think a good caricature never makes people laugh but it has awareness and message for them so it shouldn’t be expired before using period!

Amin Wahidi: What role does a caricature play in public brightening, or better to say, why caricature is drawn?

Bashir Bakhtiari: First it is important to know in which society we live and what are the price and the value of caricatures here, you know that the art of caricaturing can have a big role in advanced countries for instance, it could bring the prime minister to the court in a country like Germany or in Cuba in could lead the revolution, or it could predict the terror of Regan. It could increase the national revenue in Mexico, or it could cause the heart attack for Japan prime minister. But in countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, where religion is a tool of pressure, drawing caricature is the primary way to face imprisonment, beating up by the police, and finally falling for execution. But in general caricature is a strong and flexible medium that can play a leading role in the society.
It can motivate or destroy the mentality of the society which depends on how it is used.

Amin Wahidi: From the caricaturists, whose caricatures do you like personally?

Bashir Bakhtiari: unfortunately among our Afghans, I don’t really see any caricaturists who have been following it seriously, almost every one is moving around the zero point not further than that.
What most of our caricatures present to the society, are similar to the already chewed morsels that are given back to the society. I mean the caricaturists repeat what they hear from the people and rarely do new things with their own creativity.
There are many reasons beyond it unfortunately, first there are not new things to say, there is lack of concentration on the issues and then lack of support of the artist community. Only in the far off the region there are many great masters in this field whose works are really appreciable and each has many things to say; Aydin Aghdashloo, Mikhail Zlatkovsky, Kozobokeen, Arth, Bartak and others.
But in the near region, Chinese, Iranian, Turkish and Bahrainian Caricaturists are very famous world wide.

Amin Wahidi: Do you laugh when you draw your caricatures or not?

Bashir Bakhtiari: I don’t I have ever worked on a funny caricature, because my caricatures do not make people laugh. The main core of my works are always, mixed with questions and pains and pains never make people laugh.
And I don’t joke with the viewers and the addresses of my works either, so I like to be serious when I have something to say.
It is the way, or the form of saying in which I want to present my feelings and what I want to say to my viewers through my caricatures.

Amin Wahidi: When do you enjoy more; when your caricature makes viewers laugh or when it makes them angry?

Bashir Bakhtiari: My main goal to draw caricatures is to deliver to the others the realities and the harsh truth I feel. I enjoy the most when I feel that I could deliver my message through the caricature I drew. My only satisfactory is my ability to deliver to the people what I have in my heart to say in the form of caricature.

Amin Wahidi: Mr. Bakhtiari, thank you very much indeed for your time and nice talks.

Bashir Bakhtiari: You are welcome and have a nice time.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Elections and financial transparency!

Dr. Ramazan Bashardost, the most popular candidate for presidential election, emphasizing on financial transparency in the election, through an announcement has asked the Afghan citizens for financial aids for his electoral campaign;
“The presidential election of 1388 (2009) is very momentous for the people. And in this election, I am the only independent candidate in all meanings; without any dependency to any foreign country. As it is clear to everyone, during my time in the ministry and then in the parliament, not only I did not loot the public wealth, but I shared my fiddling salary and other ministerial premiums with the poor families, poor governmental employees and widow women.

The process of material and immaterial assistance and aids by people has begun for the presidential election, whether inside the country or abroad.
Every patriot Afghan has his role to contribute in the change process of the country and the nation’s destiny based on his / her ability.

Written by The Supporting Committee for Dr. Ramazan Bashardost

Dr. Ramazan Bashardost, the most popular candidate for presidential election, emphasizing on financial transparency in the election, through an announcement has asked the Afghan citizens for financial aids for his electoral campaign, here is the full announcement:

In the name of Allah and to the memory of the martyred

Dear compatriots!

On Thursday the 17 th March, I reviewed the pages of Financial Assistance Registration Records that were provided to me by people for the parliamentary election, (1384- 2005) and it was practically proved to me that we the Afghans became a see drop by drop when seeing the material ( people financial aids) and immaterial assistance (people’s vote) of the people.

As a matter of fact, the people’s financial assistance to my parliamentary election campaign varied in amount from 20 Afghani (less than fifty cents) to 10,000 Afghanis (200 Dollars) which were assisted by people from within or outside the country.

They were these aids and supports of the people from different sects and ethnics that caused the success of the campaign and let me win and enter into the parliament.

And today for the presidential election I need your help and support but more than ever before.

“The presidential election of 1388 (2009) is very momentous for the people. And in this election, I am the only independent candidate in all meanings; without any dependency to any foreign country. As it is clear to everyone, during my time in the ministry and then in the parliament, not only I did not loot the public wealth, but I shared my fiddling salary and other ministerial premiums with the poor families and widow women.

The process of material and immaterial assistance and aids by people has begun for the presidential election, whether inside the country or abroad.
Every patriot Afghan has his role to contribute in the change process of the country and the nation’s destiny based on his / her ability.

For the financial transparency and for the assurance of the supporters, we would like to publish the names of senders and the amounts of money assisted to us and or in case if people wish privacy of their names, we will not publish their names.

So where ever you are, your financial assistance to the change process of the country, would be acquitting of your national and Islamic responsibility before the nation and the country.

Your financial supports not only worth materially, but also means to us a lot morally. We can not make it only if we say some slogans for lauding a candidate, there is need of practically involvement in the change process of the country, so participate and give your share.

You could send your financial aids through Western Union, Shahzada Market Money Order, or through campaign’s bank account as soon as you can.

So far, with your financial assistance, we have purchased technical facilities such as desktop and laptop computers, scanner, CD writer, etc for the campaign office.

We need to publish hundreds of thousands of posters and visit cards, as well as we have to make an electoral clip for the campaign.

Meanwhile there is need of purchasing a vehicle to be able to travel to all the provinces of the country for the purpose the campaign.

As a matter of fact, the financial condition of most Afghans within Afghanistan is not that good, so we expect the compatriots living abroad to support us for the needs and purposes above mentioned for the campaign.

With respect

Dr. Ramazan Bashardost,

The Independent Candidate for the Presidential Election 2009

Read also:
Will Bashardost be an Obama for Afghansitan?!!
Bashardost, the Crazy Afghan Parliamentarian
Bashardost in Elections meter
Obama of Afghanistan ....
An open letter of people of Afghanistan to Barack Obama
Ramazan Bashardost in Hazaristan Times
Bashardost fighting against corruption

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Deedenow Cinema for the updates on Afghan Arts and Cinema

Follow KabulPress for the latest analysis and reports about Afghanistan and the region

Thursday, April 30, 2009

What are the consequences of the 8th of Saur?!!

A Caricature sent by M. Social, a caricaturist blogger in Australia

Please help us with translations

قابل توجه مترجمین محترم زبان انگلیسی ایکه علاقه مند همکاری داوطلبانه با ما باشند

وبلاگ انگلیسی زبان دراز صفحه نویسندگان زبان درازافغانستان با هدف انجام برگردان نوشته ها، نظرات و مقالات نویسندگان، منتقدین، صاحب نظران و اندیشمندان افغانستانی ازفارسی دری به

انگلیسی درزمینه های سیاست - حکومت داری- جامعه مدنی- حقوق بشر و آزادی بیان واندیشه درافغانستان به تازگی راه اندازی گردیده است.
این وبلاگ که پنجره ای برای انتقال وانعکاس نوشته ها، نظرات و مقالات نویسندگان مطرح افغانستان به دنیای خارج ازافغانستان درنظرگرفته شده است، ازیکسو زمینه، بحث، گفتگو، تبادل نظرو تبادل اندیشه میان نویسندگان، منتقدین وصاحب نظران افغانستانی وخارجی را درزمینه های یاد شده میسرمیسازد وازسوی دیگر برای لابیینگ (تحمیل نظرات ونفوذ) برتصمیم گیران مهم جهانی مسایل افغانستان با بیان حقایقی که تا کنون کتمان و سانسورشده میتواند مفید باشد. هدف اساسی این وبلاگ لابیینگ در وارد نمودن تغییرات اساسی درسیاست گذاری های اشتباه گذشته تصمیم گیران جهانی افغانستان درمسایل کلیدی این کشوراست که تا جایی علل عمده اشتباهات گذاشته تا کنون ناشی ازضعف و موجودیت فساد دردستگاه حکومت، عدم همخوانی وهمآهنگی برنامه های حکومت با خواست ها و معیارهای جامعه جهانی و نبود برنامه آلترناتیف مناسب توسط Third party یا دسته سوم دراین میان بوده است که منجر به نادیده گرفتن بسیاری از واقعیت های عینی جامعه فعلی افغانستان توسط تصمیم گیران خارجی گردیده که اکنون با استفاده ازفرصت مناسب، بیان و یاد دهانی چنین مسایل به جهانیان کارنویسندگان، هنرمندان وقلم بدستان منحیث دسته سوم است که برگردان این نوشته ها نیز مسئولیت خطیری است که به عهده مترجمین میباشد. بناً همکاری مترجمین نیز دراین عرصه ازاهمیت قابل ملاحظه ای برخوردار است.
به این منظوراین وبلاگ راه اندازی گردیده وامید میرود با انعکاس نظرات و آراء نویسندگان و صاحبنظران افغانستانی به زبان انگلیسی که نیازمندهمکاری شما دوستان است، بتواند درپروسه تغییردرافغانستان سهم ناچیزخویش را ادا نماید.
بناً نویسنندگان تا میتوانید ازکمی ها، کاستی ها و کجروی های موجود در نظام ناکارآمد حاکم فعلی با زبان درازانتقاد مینمایید تا دروضعیت فعلی تغییر و بهبود ببارآید و برگردان این انتقادات به عهده مترجمین محترم است.
به امید آن روزکه افغانستان آباد، مستقل، آزاد و سربلند باشد.
موفق وپیروز باشید تا هرچه زود ترشاهد تغییرات اساسی درکشورعزیزخود باشیم!

بناً ازتمامی مترجمین زبان انگلیسی ایکه خواهان همکاری داوطلبانه با ما باشند، خواهشندیم دربرگردان نوشته های فارسی به انگلیسی نویسندگان ما را یاری رسانند و حداقل هفته یک نوشته فارسی را به انگلیسی برگردان نمایند تا دراین پنجره به نشربرسانیم. قابل یاد آوریست اینکه این وبلاگ درمدت زمان کوتاهی و با پست نمودن فقط چند نوشته شماری زیادی از خوانندگان خارجی را جذب نموده است.
امید است مترجمین محترم زبان انگلیسی ایکه فرصت همکاری داشته باشند با همکاری شان درآوردن تغییردروضعیت فعلی افغانستان عزیز سهم خویش را ادا نمایند.

دوستانی که علاقه مندی همکاری با ما باشند، لطفاً با یکی ازایمیل آدرس های زیرتماس بگیرند

ایمیل آدرس تماس:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

This is the man that….

A graphic work done by Jafar Rezaie, Afghan graphic designer, Canada

Apparently he pretends to be very sincere, innocent and a holy spirit, but what he does in reality is all the vice-versa.

He is in a religious costume but what in his mind and heart is all against the religion.

He is the main creator, supporter and then defender of the recent "Rape Law" for the Shiites of Afghanistan.

He is one of the main warlords of the civil war who plotted many conspiracies for massacre of the Hazaras in Hazarajaat during the 1980s and in west of Kabul during the 1990s.

He illegally married (actually raped) one of his femaale students who aged his grand daughter on that time.

He is the main IRI agent to create and then nourish Shiite AlQaeeda in Afghanistan.

He has been funded by IRI to build a Mega Million dollar religious Madrasa and a TV station called Tamadon in Kabul to defend the interests of IRI Regime in Afghanistan.

And his name is Sheikh Asif Mohseni Kandahari.
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Thursday, April 16, 2009

This is how the fundamentalists are nourished!

A Caricature sent by Bashir Bakhtiari, Afghan caricaturist, graphic designer and filmmaker

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International Donors Fund on Political Basis: Bamyan Residents

Residents of Bamyan muddied road protesting discriminatory reconstruction.

Bamyan: Hundreds of Bamyan residents covered the two-kilometer paved roads of the province with clay in protest against the biased attitude of Karzai in the distribution of funds and reconstruction projects.
Large numbers of people collectively worked to clay the road, the only stretch of paved road in the entire province, constructed last year by USAID.
Bothered by the lack of reconstruction, a participant told Hazaristan Times, “We will start the reconstruction of our province voluntarily, no matter how long it takes.”
He continued, “Karzai is prejudiced toward our province. He has been making fake promises of building our roads and providing electricity to the provincial capital, but has met none of them. We have the spirit to build our province because international donors work and distribute funds on political basis.”

Talking to Radio Bamyan, Governor Habib Sarabi said, “I have been trying to get some fund for reconstruction of roads in Bamyan city, but haven’t been able to.”
Bamyan is the most peaceful province of the country, where more than half the population lives below the poverty line. The far-flung highland province suffered the worst of the Taliban when thousands of people were slaughtered. Today, after seven years of international efforts, residents of Bamyan complain of the lack of reconstruction — and of bias in allocation of funds.
The residents’ concerncs seem to be legitimate. Recently, $328 millions was approved for reconstruction projects in Helmand, the Taliban stronghold, where 80% of world poppy is cultivated. Bamiyan has yet to see such huge allocation of funds.
MPs in the Provincial Assembly of Bamyan say international funds are distributed on political basis. Foreign aid organizations such as USAID or CIDA work in the areas where they have military presence.
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A political or a terroristic joke?

Osama and Coca cola

A: Why Osama Bin Laden doesn't drink Coca Cola?

B: Because, when you open the can or the bottle, it says: Buuuuuuuuussssssssshhhhhhhhh!

Legalizing Rape, Iranian Influence and the Hazaras

Shaikh Asif Mohseni's Mega- Million Irani Madrasa
Posted by HazaristanTimes
Thanks to Daily Guardian, the international community’s attention is now set on the political gamble of Karzai’s “Shia Family Law,” which the UN says legalizes rape. The bill, aimed at gaining sectarian votes, was signed into law after Afghanistan’s supreme court declared Karzai’s stay in power beyond his tenure legitimate.
The “Shia Family Law,” said to be lobbied by Shia clerics, restricts women in ways similar to the Taliban era, when women were not allowed to go out for education, work or doctor’s visit without a male companion. Article 132 of the bill says a woman can’t reject her husband’s request to have sex unless she has a “legitimate excuse.” The bill also limits the women’s other rights, such as the right of inheritance.

The shameful bill was rammed through parliament quickly, almost completely bypassing the reading and debate phase, according to MPs. The main influence behind the law is Karzai’s Religious Adviser, Ayatullah Sheikh Asif Mohsini, an Iran-educated Shia cleric of Pushtoon ethnicity. For those who don’t know, he is the cleric who wrote in his book, Rah-e-Taraqee Maa (Our Path to Success), that “a woman should be ready for sex whenever her husband asks.”
Mohsini is also accused of raping one of his young female students in Mashhad, Iran. When word of the shameful act got to the girl’s family in Afghanistan, Mr. Mohsini, then 64, married the 14-year old. And when the girl’s brother — the renowned commander, Mushtaq, spoke against the cleric — he was killed by Mohsini’s men.
In his book Nazariyaat (Ideologies), the Iran-trained Ayatullah admits to have married four women as per the Sharia Islamic law. The number of his non-Sharia “marriages,” of course, is unknown.
Mohsini owns a TV Channel, Tamaddun, which regularly airs Iranian serials. Sources from among the technical staff of the channel tell us that the station’s equipment is supplied by Tehran, and that the Iranian intelligence finances Mr. Mohsini to run anti-US and Israel news programs.
Mohsini also owns a Madrassa in Kabul. In a speech aired on his TVchannel, he admitted to have spent $20 million on the construction of his Madrassa (where people are asked to chant anti-US and Israel slogans after his Friday speech and prayers). Some experts, however, believe that the actual amount spent on the construction and setup of the Madrassa is about $50 million.
Mohsini rejects accusations that Iran funds his Madrassa and TV channel. But in a poor country such as Afghanistan, there is no way a cleric could spend mega millions on mega projects.
Outrageously enough, though, The Independent and The Guardian reported that the “Family Law” Mohsini advised Karzai on is supported by the Hazaras of Afghanistan. The reality, however, can’t be farther than the reports.
A panel of prominent Hazara scholars and religious leaders, for example, criticized the law in a seminar held at Katib University last month.
Moreover, Hazara women have historically enjoyed more freedoms than those of any other group in Afghanistan. For example, there were 13 women in the Central Committee of the Hazara Unity Party during the civil war of the 90s. No other party in Afghanistan had presence of women in such high-profile political roles. Currently, the Chairperson of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission and the former first vice-president of Afghanistan, Ms. Sima Samar, is a Hazara. The first-ever female Governor in Afghanistan is Habiba Sarabi, another Hazara. The first-ever female mayor in Afghanistan, Uzra Jaffery, is a Hazara. In the 2004 presidential election, the highest female voter registration was recorded in Hazara areas.
The list is not exhaustive, but it proves that Guardian and The Independent were wrong: Hazaras don’t support the new bill; they would not restrict the rights of their women. They’ve historically done otherwise.
What these newspapers are doing is attributing guilt by association to Hazaras: Mr. Mohsini advised Karzai. Karzai passed the bill. Mohsini is a Shia. The Hazaras are Shia. Therefore, the Hazaras must support the bill.
No, the reality is quite the contrary.
This is evident from a recent call to demonstration from Mohsini against media critique of his bill. He had called upon the Hazaras of Kabul to demonstrate against the media’s negative coverage of the bill. For a religious leader of his caliber, the turnout was disappointing. This explains something — that the Ayatullah does not speak for Hazaras. And that Hazaras do not support the bill.
The bill, by the way, is a political card Karzai is playing to appease religious fundamentalists like Mohsini. It has no popular appeal among the starving, destitute masses who could care less about legislation on which spouse gets their way during intimate moments.
Prestigious international papers should exercise much care before making sweeping generalizations about the people of Afghanistan. The “Shia Family Law” is against precedent in Hazara history and society, where women have not only played vital roles at home, but also fought battles shoulder-to-shoulder with men. They wouldn’t support such curbs to freedom of women. Neither would they support religious fanatics who sponsor such bills.
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