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The Unlikely Industry Empowering Women in Afghanistan


NOVANEWS

By Ruchi KumarYES! Magazine

The Unlikely Industry Empowering Women in Afghanistan

(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)

The typical depiction of an Afghan woman looks like this: Timid and fearful, she is a victim of her extremely conservative and regressive society, unable to move around or do much without a man. But some Afghan women are busting these stereotypes, creating a niche for women to empower themselves and change the status quo.

A 36-year-old restaurant owner named Laila Haidary walks around the cafe gardens, carefully tending to the colorful foliage that grows generously around Kabul. She narrates her story of building a business in Afghanistan, a country governed by the rules of men. Overlooking the gardens is a midsize structure: a traditional Afghan house, with thick walls, large windows, and ample courtyard space, converted to a cozy restaurant with old tables and chairs and plenty of handmade rugs. The vibe is welcoming.

Haidary explains she wanted to provide a social space for artists and other young Afghans who want to interact with their culture and rich heritage. “This idea in itself had its own challenges because our extremely conservative society does not always approve of artistic expressions. Added to that, the fact it is run by a businesswoman makes many people uncomfortable,” she says.

Haidary’s cafe is among the many newer restaurants in Kabul, and around Afghanistan, that are either owned or managed by women in an otherwise male-dominated industry. Although data measuring this trend wasn’t available at the time of publishing, anecdotally, more women are entering the service industry: Within a two-block radius of my home in Kabul, I can count seven restaurants that have come up in the past year; that wasn’t the case in 2014, when I first came here.

Of course, not every woman in the industry is a business owner. A small but significant number of Afghan women are working jobs in the service sector — a profile that was unimaginable for Afghan women a decade ago and is still considered inappropriate.

“I feel like I’m breaking stereotypes every day by just being here. That makes me feel very proud of myself,” says 20-year-old Mujda Nasiri, who started working at 50/50, a local fast-food restaurant in Kabul, about a year ago. “Initially, my parents were reluctant, but now that they see how independent I have become, financially and personally, they’re happy for me,” she says, adding that she had always been fascinated by the restaurant industry.

In a deeply conservative society such as Afghanistan, women have few avenues to pursue careers. Many of the jobs available — such as manual labor, technical positions, and banking and finance — are not considered suitable for women because traditionally a woman’s priority has been with her family and, especially, their honor. Added to that are the decades of war that have left the Afghan economy enormously dependent on foreign aid, thereby increasing unemployment and competition in the markets. As the rate of unemployment peaked at 40 percent in 2015, it has been even more challenging for women to be considered for jobs in a market that tends to favor men.

However, restaurants such as 50/50, which strives to be an equal opportunity employer, hires several women in various positions. “We are trying to create an all-inclusive space for our customers, especially for women and families, who can come here without any fear of harassment. Such a place is also good for women to work at,” explains Zahir, 37, the restaurant manager at 50/50 (most Afghans traditionally go by just one name). “We also find that women employees are more professional, timely, and able to work with grace despite pressures — a right fit for this industry.”

Nasiri is one of three waitresses the restaurant hired last year, and the move was welcomed by many of their customers. “I’ve had a very good experience working here; my colleagues are like my family and are very protective of my safety,” she says, recalling an incident where a displeased customer lectured her about how inappropriate such a job was for a woman.

“But I see that there has been a change in attitudes,” Nasiri says. “I find that a lot of our customers are not only happy to see me serve them, but [are] also very encouraging of my work. This one elderly gentleman was so happy to meet a working woman, that he left me a Afs1000 [$15] tip to keep me motivated,” she says, adding that the joy of meeting new people every day is a bigger motivation than money to stay with this job.

Twenty-five-year-old Nikbhakt, a barista at a local coffee shop frequented by the many foreigners and expats in Kabul, would agree with Nasiri. “I’ve been making and serving coffee for the last four years, and the best part of my job is interacting with people from around the world,” she says. There was a time when an Afghan woman couldn’t leave the house without a mahram — a male escort who is a blood relative — let alone talk to other people. Women had few places to engage socially in the extremely conservative and patriarchal society under the Taliban regime in the late 1990s.

Parents have reason to be concerned about their working daughters. Harassment at work and in public is a common sight in Kabul and other Afghan cities. Afghan women have to fight many gender stereotypes and inequalities along with abuse if they choose to pursue a career, any career. As a result, many women prefer jobs that require less mobility because even the act of traveling to work daily can often subject women to street harassment. Added to this the rising insecurity further discourages families from allowing their daughters to go to work.

Last year, the cafe where Nikbhakt works was attacked, and she barely missed the explosion that claimed the lives of two people, including the cafe’s guard. “I was extremely depressed for a long time after that attack. My family didn’t want me to work anymore, and I didn’t want to step out of home, either,” she says. “But now I know that cutting myself from the world isn’t a solution, and decided to come back to work two months ago.”

Since no institutes offer training to work in the service sector, Afghans have to learn on the job, which can be tedious for the employers. “We’ve had to let two of our female staff go because they were unable to cope with the pressure of working in a restaurant, but that isn’t to say that women can’t work in this industry,” Zahir says. “The environment, of course, matters, and it is perhaps up to us as employers to help create working environments that allow women to work comfortably and to their full potential.”

Women customers are drawn to restaurants where women work. “Having women around the restaurant creates a comforting and calm environment that eventually attracts a wide diversity of customers,” says Haidary, who also employs several women as servers, managers, and cooks.

She started her cafe as a way to fund her other initiative: the Mother Camp, a nonprofit drug rehabilitation shelter she opened seven years ago for homeless addicts in Kabul. When the funding to the shelter started to dry up (few in Afghanistan consider donating to rehabilitating drug addicts), Haidary and her volunteers came up with the idea of establishing this cafe. Even today, most of her employees are former or recovering addicts from the Camp, which also continues to help hundreds of Afghans recover every year.

Haidary has been successful as a restaurateur, but the ride hasn’t been smooth. On the contrary, she faced several threats and intimidations, sometimes even from her own customers who would show up drunk or high on hashish to her cafe, breaking her one cardinal rule — no drugs, no alcohol.

Terrorized but not afraid, Haidary would often take these men head-on. “There was a time when she literally pounced on a large Afghan man who was a guard to a local parliamentarian,” recalls a regular customer at Taj Begum who witnessed the attack. “He had come drunk to the cafe, gotten into a brawl, and threatened to have [Haidary] shut down. When [she] protested, and had him kicked out of the cafe, he smashed her car windows.”

Despite that chaos, Haidary persisted because she wanted to be an inspiration to other women in Afghanistan. “Even when the going got tough, I didn’t quit. Not only did I need this to support Mother Camp, but I also wanted to show to our society that a woman can run a successful business,” she says.

The social change, however, will have to be gradual, and Afghan society will need more time to accept working women, especially in the service sector, as a norm. That said, women have come by leaps and bounds, having survived many wars and the brutal and patriarchal Taliban regime, during which they couldn’t even step out of their homes without male escorts. They know they’re more than just victims — they’re survivors who are overcoming odds, every day.

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Is TIME’s Afghan “cover girl” really a victim of mutilation by the Taleban?


NOVANEWS
Zero Anthropology 

TIME : What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan (story)

 

BOING BOING : What Still Happened Despite 10 Years of Occupying Afghanistan (story)

ZERO ANTHRO : What Happens When We Don’t Fix Problems at Home (story)

The August 9th TIME magazine cover story is about a young Afghan woman whose nose and ears have been allegedly “mutilated” by the Taleban. The story has generated widespread self-serving moral indignation and self-righteous clamor in the U.S. propaganda machine supporting the occupation of Afghanistan run by the Israeli-American weapon-making industry. The American culture cleansing project in Afghanistan must be in need of a booster shot from the radical feminist forces that so fervently collaborated with the American war machine in initiating this racist imperial enterprise in 2001. Perhaps the flaunting of this fictitious story is a desperate attempt by the Obama war regime to offset the steep decline of support for this murderous program against unarmed and helpless pre-industrial Afghanistan. Let us recall the production of the picture of the frightened green-eyed Afghan girl on the cover of the National Geographic magazine to justify the United States sponsorship of local anti-government terrorist gangs who currently host the American occupation of Afghanistan.

TIME’s story does not provide its readers with any specific or credible factual text and context about what has really caused the deformity in this young woman’s face. Like much fiction that has been produced in the shadow of the American war machine in Afghanistan, this “story” appears to be a string of hearings and imaginings about women’s life in Afghanistan put together by Aryn Baker and Jodi Bieber, two young American journalists who probably first encountered Afghanistan in the pages of “the kite runner”. Having the readers see the reporters’ pictures (p. 4) in a “Kabul kite shop” speaks to the compelling impact of the untruths about life in Kabul in that “bestseller” book. What is the relationship of kites to a story about a mutilated nose? TIME’s story by Baker and Bieber has no truth value. Let us have a closer look at some of the cultural content and ethnographic claims in this fabricated telltale.

The narrative in which the Taleban single out this young woman for ears and nose mutilation at the instigation of her husband cannot be credible when exposed to the spatial, temporal, and cultural framework provided by the reporters.  First, Urozgan province is located in central Afghanistan not “southern” Afghanistan. And if the alleged mutilation took place in central or northern Urozgan,TIME’s tale becomes even less credible for these parts of Urozgan are home to non-Paxtuns, especially Hazaras. What is the victim’s ethnic background? Even if the agency of this “mutilation” were the Taleban, why would they devote this amount of precious human resources in a hostile area to the personal disenchantment of a single Taleb foot soldier with his runaway wife, Aisha? This does not make tactical or strategic sense.

The Taleban dragged Aisha “to a mountain clearing near her village” where “[s]hivering in the cold  air and blinded by the flashlights trained on her by her husband’s family, she faced her spouse and accuser… and men moved to deliver her punishment. Aisha’s brother-in-law held her down while her husband pulled out a knife. First he sliced off her ears. Then he started on her nose. Aisha passed out from her pain but awoke soon after, choking on her own blood. The men had left her on the mountaintop to die” (pp. 20-22).  If the men wanted Aisha to die, why did they not kill her on the spot, on the mountain? Why give her a chance to live? Why risk her potential recovery and/or rescue?

To receive her punishment, why would Aisha have to be dragged to the mountain clearing (or is it a “mountainside”)? Where is this mountain clearing or side located in Urozgan? However, it must be at a distance from the village. And if TIME’s narrative is valid, the mutilation is a public affair with the husband, his family, and Taleban officials present. Thus, there are witnesses to the mutilation of Aisha’s nose and ears.  These witnesses, especially members of her husband’s family, can be located. Did Aisha “pass out” from “pain” or loss of blood? How does a victim whose ears and nose have been mutilated and is choking on her own blood, and left alone “on the mountainside to die” survive such virtually fatal injuries? The human face is heavily irrigated with blood. I am not a medical doctor, but based on common sense, it would not take more than a few minutes of suffering heavy blood loss from open veins around the nose and ears to become fatal? How does a rural 19 year girl in such perilous medical condition, bleeding from open veins around her nose and ears, manage to move from a mountainside in remote Urozgan to a “shelter” in downtown Kabul hundreds of miles away? “A few months after Aisha arrived at the shelter, her father tried to bring her home with promises that he would find her a new husband. Aisha refused to leave. In rural areas, a family that finds itself shamed by a daughter sometimes sells her into slavery, or worse, subjects her to a so-called honor killing—murder under the guise of saving the family’s name” (p. 26). Now, what are the prospects (or practical feasibility) for marriage of a woman who has her ears and nose mutilated for having dishonored her own family, husband, and in-laws in patriarchal Afghanistan or for that matter in patricentric United States? What would be the market value of Aisha’s labor? What kind of labor could a severely mutilated woman like this produce as a slave? Only total ignorance of the Afghan cultural plane and complete disregard for the intelligence of the audience by the American popular media would allow such fabricated prattle to see the light of public print.

Aisha’s disposition could be congenital. It could be caused by a bacterial or viral infection such as cancer, a malady not rare in Afghanistan among both men and women. Or it could be related to an injury caused by firearms or explosives. Harelips and other deformities in the mandible, although rare, occur in the population of Afghanistan. Incidents of human body deformities in Afghanistan have steadily increased with the expanding military interference of the United States going back to the 1980s. These incidents have soared since 2001 with the American occupation and experimentation with weapon systems designed for “population centered wars” in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The non-Paxtun Northern Alliance warlords and their inner circles are the only Afghans that pray and beg for the American military presence in Afghanistan. It was these anti-Paxtun American trained and subsidized terrorist gangs who scouted and pimped for the American occupation of Afghanistan. And it is the Northern Alliance that opposes a political solution in Afghanistan because any such solution would remove them from power and expose and punish their criminal deeds. Amrullah Saleh, a known psychopath and a leading member of this criminal gang who headed Afghanistan’s intelligence services, recently expatiated: “I have killed many of them (Taleban) with pride”, killing “them is part of my blood” (Lara Logan interview on “60 Mintes”, August 1, 2010). The informants for TIME’s reporters of this story are the female dependents of the Northern Alliance criminal clique one of whom is credited with this rabid hateful lie “I go running in the stadium where the Taliban used to play football with women’s heads” (p. 24). This woman is pictured standing in Kabul stadium with three Kabuli teenagers in the background clearly running-in-place! There is not a shred of evidence for a football game played with human heads anywhere at any time in Afghanistan. TIME magazine has truly stooped to the lowest standards in journalism. During the 1990s the Kabul stadium was used once for the public execution of a woman found guilty of violating a Taleban decree.

The American intimate love affair during the past three decades with the various gangs of terrorists including Al-Qaeda, Hezb-e Islami, Northern Alliance, and sporadically the early manifestation of the Taleban movement during the 1990s has inflicted irreparable damage on the political, economic, and security prospects of Afghanistan. The ethnic and sectarian divisions caused by the American military operations and criminal deeds in South Asia has brought the frail state structure of Afghanistan to the verge of total collapse. It has destabilized the whole region. Tens of thousands of innocent and helpless Afghans have been slaughtered by the American Zionist-controlled killing machine. These are war crimes and crimes against humanity for which history will condemn its perpetrators.

On an ethnographic level, the manipulation of the body of the subject human population by the state has historical roots in several culture areas including Europe, the Middle East and South Asia. To this day in the popular lore of non-Paxtun areas of Afghanistan (especially among the Farsi-speaking population) a person, male or female, who compromises the interests and standards of the larger community, is symbolically labeled “beeni borida” (Farsi, one whose nose has been cut, one who has lost his nose, i. e. one who has lost her/his honor, a person without honor). The equivalent of this linguistic construct and its cultural content does not exist among Paxtuns.

However, no matter the untruths and distortions from which TIME’s August 9th cover story is concocted, we need a proper comparative cultural framework for the understanding of abuse of the human body including the practice of mutilation of body parts. An informed glance at global ethnographic realities connects such practices with a relation of power called patriarchy—male domination of society. As a system of ideas and practices patriarchy “is a threat to public health everywhere” (Laura Nader, Anthropology News, September 2006, p. 7) including Afghanistan and the United States. In principle the socio-cultural ingredients involved in the mutilation of the human body in Afghanistan are not different than the socio-cultural forces that impose industrial “vaginal rejuvenation”, “pussy tightening” (JoAnn Wypijewski, The Nation, 9/28/2009, p. 8), and breast enhancement in Euro-America. In no other culturally constructed space are women, womanhood, and femininity so universally abused, exploited, demeaned, and vulgarized than in the Euro-American industry of internet pornography—the biggest money making enterprise in cyberspace. Comparative studies reveal that American domestic violence is approximately 25%–about the same as in Syria and Bolivia (Nader 2006:7). The extensive system of shelters for abused women throughout the United States is symptomatic of a widely practiced tradition of physical and verbal abuse of women by men that is qualitatively not different than the abuse of women by men elsewhere in the world.

TIME, you are a beeni borida!

_________

Addendum by Max Forte:

[“In 2005, 1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner. That’s an average of three women every day. Of all the women murdered in the U.S., about one-third were killed by an intimate partner” (source). 17.6 % of women in the United States have survived a completed or attempted rape. Of these, 21.6% were younger than age 12 when they were first raped, and 32.4% were between the ages of 12 and 17. 64% of women who reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked since age 18 were victimized by a current or former husband, cohabiting partner, boyfriend, or date. Only about half of domestic violence incidents are reported to police. The National College Women Sexual Victimization Study estimated that between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 college women experience completed or attempted rape during their college years. One out of every six American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. Factoring in unreported rapes, about 5% – one out of twenty – of rapists will ever spend a day in jail. 19 out of 20 will walk free. The costs of intimate partner violence against women exceed an estimated $5.8 billion. These costs include nearly $4.1 billion in the direct costs of medical care and mental health care and nearly $1.8 billion in the indirect costs of lost productivity and present value of lifetime earnings. A University of Pennsylvania research study found that domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to low-income, inner-city Philadelphia women between the ages of 15 to 44 – more common than automobile accidents, mugging and rapes combined. In this study domestic violence included injuries caused by street crime (see sources).]

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Turning the Corner in Afghanistan


NOVANEWS

The news about the wars the U.S. is waging all over the world is unreliable. The same statements of progress are repeated year after year. The official numbers, be they of civilian casualties or deployed troops, are mere lies. Every news presentation should be engraved with a warning: “Assertions and numbers are not what they appear.” Consider, for example, the various “turned corner” statements officials have made about Afghanistan.

On October 5 2017 the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani confirmed to the BBC that Afghanistan has “turned the corner”:

… when I ask whether he is saying Afghan forces have turned the corner in the fight against the Taliban, there is no hesitation: “Yes,” he says.

On October 24 the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan General John Nicholson agreed with President Ghani:

“With the mounting military, diplomatic, and social pressure that is building – that we all are collectively committed to sustaining over the coming years – the enemy will have no choice but to reconcile. I believe, as President Ghani says, ‘we have turned the corner,’” he concluded.

But a month later General Nicholson seemed to disagreed with his earlier statement:

“We are still in a stalemate,” Nicholson, a four-star Army general said in an exclusive interview.

Today, five days after his “stalemate” statement, the general’s opinion has changed again. Kevin Baron, the editor of Defense Onereports:

‏JUST IN: Top US general in Afghanistan says war has “turned a corner… “ The momentum is now with the Afghan security forces.” …

The General seems confused. But he is not the first to have such a change of mind.

On February 3 2010 then U.S. commander General Stanley McChrystal was cautious about the proverbial corner:

General Stanley McChrystal also expressed confidence that Afghan forces would grow quickly enough to allow a reduction in U.S. troop numbers to begin on schedule in 2011. … “I‘m not prepared to say we have turned the corner,” he added.

Only twelve days later the turn had been made:

Gen Stanley McChrystal had his own words. Helmand had “turned the corner” in its four year war, he told The Daily Telegraph.

In May 2011 a British General also noted the turn:

The civilians are looking to people such as General James Bucknall, a British Coldstream Guards officer who is second in command of the International Security and Assistance Force (Isaf).

[H]e sets out why he thinks a corner has now been turned, nodding to the surge in American troop numbers that has made it possible.

Six years earlier another British General had already seen that turn:

Handing over to 3 Commando Brigade, Brig Butler said: “When we prepared, we knew there would be rocky times ahead, and that things would get harder before they got easier. That has certainly been the case, but I judge we have turned the corner. We have achieved a huge amount.”

In May 2011 the U.S. Secretary of Defense was more cautious than the generals but nonetheless optimistic:

I think we could be in a position by the end of this year where we have turned the cornerin Afghanistan,” [U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates] said.

According to is boss, progress came faster than Gates anticipated. On June 23 2011 CBS headlined Obama: U.S. has turned corner in Afghanistan:

President Barack Obama on Thursday told American troops who’ve fought in Afghanistan that the U.S. has turned a corner after nearly 10 years of war, and it’s time for their comrades still in that country to start coming home.

Obama’s victory jump may have been a bit premature, but a month later the local commander agreed that the turning process had at least begun:

I spoke to Gen Petraeus as he stopped off in London on his way home from Afghanistan. In the interview, he spelled out what makes him think the country has begun to turn a corner after nearly 10 years of war.

In September 2012 another U.S. Secretary of Defense asserted that the turn had finally been completed:

[US Defense Secretary Leon] Panetta, however, has rejected suggestions that the strategy is failing, and on Friday he said “we have turned the corner,” in Afghanistan …

Four month later the Afghan President confirmed the turn:

[President] Karzai also said that Afghanistan has turned the corner in terms of battling the Taliban.

Karzai was very modest in acknowledging the turn. He knew that it had already happened much earlier:

On October 9th, 2004, Afghanistan turned the corner. After decades of invasion, civil war, and anarchy, Hamid Karzai became the first democratically-elected President of a united Afghanistan.

In May 2014 another man was elected President of Afghanistan. This finally turned the corner:

Tonight there is a sense that the country has turned a corner – a new president who will sign the BSA, a continuation of developmental aid and training programmes, and Afghanistan has more than a fighting chance.

A year later the Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani was encouraged by the corner turning progress the new government had made:

With the successful conclusion of the security and political transitions, Afghanistan turned the corner in our path to becoming a self-reliant nation.

Today, two and a half years later, General Nicholson is still in the corner turning business.

The corner turning in Afghanistan is similar to an earlier war the U.S. had fought in vain:

Of course, the Afghanistan War (ostensibly part of a Global War on Terrorism) differs from the Vietnam War (ostensibly part of the Cold War) in myriad ways. Yet it resembles Vietnam in three crucial respects. First, it drags on with no end in sight. Second, no evidence exists to suggest that mere persistence will produce a positive outcome. Third, those charged with managing the war have long since run out of ideas about how to turn things around.

Another similarity is the constant lying by the military spokespersons. The famous Five o’clock Follies of Vietnam have been replaced by video conferences and drone videos but the central issue is the same. The military is consistently and consciously lying to the public.

How many U.S. troops are there in Afghanistan? By law the Pentagon has to release the deployment numbers every three month. The latest release for September 2017 lists 15,298 soldiers and 1,202 DoD civilians in Afghanistan. But there are 29,092 soldiers listed in “unknown locations”. The generals must have lost these somewhere. The report also lists nearly 2,000 soldiers in Syrian and nearly 9,000 in Iraq. The publicly admitted numbers are way lower. They are as trustworthy as all the “turned corner” claims. Indeed:

The Defense Department’s publicly disclosed data, which tracks U.S. personnel levels in dozens of countries, are “not meant to represent an accurate accounting of troops deployed to any particular region,” said Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman.

The Pentagon clearly states that official data and assertions are “not meant to represent an accurate accounting”. It is a warning. Whatever officials claim about this or that war, about “turned corners”, or casualties, or troop deployments, must be considered to be a lie until it has been confirmed by observation or additional sources.

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New York Times Strikes Out Again on Afghanistan


NOVANEWS

American people expect full story from their “free press” and Constitution demands the press serve the people and not bureaucracy; New York Times needs to get its mission straight.

An old witticism going around the Soviet Union about truth (Pravda) in its final days went something like this: In the United States they tell you everything but you know nothing, in the USSR they tell you nothing but you know everything.

Who would ever be nostalgic for the old Soviet Union where truth was what the official government mouthpiece told you and everything else was a lie meant to undermine the state?

Whoever that might be, they would feel at home in the now totally neoconized U.S. where the old mainstream media marches in lockstep with a dysfunctional federal bureaucracy; to aggressively narrow freedom of speech and label anything that contradicts their ideological view of reality as enemy propaganda.

New York Times Building from the street level

From 1918 until its demise in 1991, the Russian people at least knew that Pravda (Truth) was the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. But what most Americans would be surprised to learn is that The New York Times has been operating for decades as the U.S. government’s Pravda without anyone being the wiser.

Now the truth-war rages between the old mainstream media outlets like The New York Times and any news operation or website that puts out any story challenging their version of the official truth. Even Facebook and Googleare under attack. Much to our surprise we were recently drawn into this battle by a New York Times Obituary for our dearest Afghan friend, Sima Wali who fled the violent Marxist coup in 1978 that kicked off the U.S.-backed rise of Islamic extremism and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Considering that the Times maintains that the alternative media is filled with false news and Russian propaganda, we were shocked to find that there were many claims made in Sima’s obituary that contained American Cold War propaganda about Afghanistan that have long since been debunked as fabrication! One particularly outrageous example came with the claim that in 1978 “gender apartheid” had been “imposed by the Communists and then by the Taliban.”

Apparently The New York Times believes it can turn day to night by blaming the Communists for introducing “gender apartheid.” Gender apartheid was the name adapted (from the South African apartheid regime) in 1996 to draw the public’s attention to the cruelty and human rights abuses imposed by the Taliban on the women of Afghanistan. It was not imposed by the Communists after their takeover in 1978. In fact, quite the opposite was true.

Afghan Human Rights Expert Sima Wali Returns to Afghanistan in 2002 for the first time since her exile in 1978

As Sima stated in the introduction to our book Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story,“The draconian Taliban rule stripped women of their basic human rights. Their edicts against women in Afghanistan led to an introduction of a new form of violence termed “gender apartheid.” In point of fact a major cause for the growth of the resistance to the Communists in the more tradition-bound countryside was the forced education of women and girls and the forced removal of the veil. Nor is it understood in the West that these reforms had been attempted by many Afghan rulers in the past with some level of success.

Related Articles  Sima Wali obituary | theguardian.com  What Have They Done to Our Fair Sister? by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould | VT

As David B. Edwards writes in his book Before Taliban , there is actually a direct line between these and other reforms to the reforms mandated by King Amanullah after 1919. He writes, “The transformations that he [Amanullah] sought to bring about before his overthrow in 1929 were in many respects forerunners of those of the Marxists and were particularly revealing of the problems they later encountered.”

An accurate picture of what was being done by the Communists during their rule in the early 1980s can be read in Jonathan Steele’s 2003 Guardian article Red Kabul revisited in which he compares the U.S. occupation of Kabul in 2003 with Soviet occupied Kabul of the 1980s. “In 1981, Kabul’s two campuses thronged with women students, as well as men. Most went around without even a headscarf. Hundreds went off to Soviet universities to study engineering, agronomy and medicine.

The banqueting hall of the Kabul hotel pulsated most nights to the excitement of wedding parties. The markets thrived. Caravans of painted lorries rolled up from Pakistan, bringing Japanese TV sets, video recorders, cameras and music centres. The Russians did nothing to stop this vibrant private enterprise.”

Prior to 9/11 Laili Helms, a spokeswoman for and defender of the Taliban and niece to former CIA director Richard Helms, went so far as to diss educating women as a Communist plot, claiming that any Afghan woman who could read had to be a Communist, because only the Communists had educated women.

After the American invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, Sima Wali was outraged by this Taliban mentality that she saw creeping into the American-installed Afghan leadership with the blessing of the American government. In an address to the Global Citizens Circle in Boston in 2003 she stated her objections clearly: “[A]s an Afghan and an American I will testify to you that the argument against women’s rights is neither Afghan nor Islamic!”

Thirty four years ago last May I stood before the irate Afghan press officer for the “Communist” government in Kabul, Afghanistan as he threw down a copy of The New York Times onto his desk. “Have you read this,” he demanded, pointing to an article by Leslie Gelb, titled “U.S. Said to Increase Arms Aid For Afghan Rebels.” What Gelb, The New York Times national security correspondent and former Carter administration Assistant Secretary of State had disclosed, angered the foreign ministry’s press secretary Roshan Rowan, and as an American he was holding me responsible. “Why are you doing this to us?” He shouted. “What is it we have done to you, to deserve this invasion?”

I didn’t need to rely on The New York Times to tell me what was going on in Afghanistan. As the first American journalist to risk the wrath of the Reagan administration’s newly installed neoconservative foreign policy by bringing a news crew to Kabul in 1981, I was one of only a handful of Americans who knew the score. The United States was backing Muslim guerillas that were burning down schools, specifically for girls and killing local officials regardless of whether they were Communist or not.

The Gelb article made clear that in collaboration with the Saudis, Egyptians, Chinese, Iranians and Pakistanis, the “bleeders” inside the Reagan administration were upping the ante in order to “draw more and more Soviet troops into Afghanistan,” while at the same time claiming to pursue “a negotiated settlement to the war.” It was not obvious from the Gelb article how the United States could be escalating a conflict in Afghanistan in 1983 while at the same time negotiating a settlement. Also missing from the article was any indication that the administration’s policy was a fundamental contradiction.

That spring of 1983 we had invited Roger Fisher, director of the Harvard Negotiation Project to return with us to Kabul to unwrap this riddle of why the UN negotiations were getting nowhere. Contracted to ABC Nightline, Roger met with the Kremlin’s chief Afghan specialist who’d flown down from Moscow and told him point blank, “We want to get out. Give us six months to save face and we’ll leave the Afghans to solve their own problems.”

Upon his return Roger expected his discovery would be greeted with relief. Instead he found that “negotiated settlement” was only a fig leaf for escalating the war. The mainstream media was just beginning to ramp up a propaganda campaign, which would become known as Charlie Wilson’s War, to drive support for keeping the Soviets pinned down in their own Vietnam while bleeding Sima Wali’s Afghanistan to death.

The American people expect the full story from their “free press” and the Constitution demands that the press serve the people and not the bureaucracy. The New York Times needs to get its mission straight lest it sacrifice its credibility to the very thing it claims to stand against. Left wing Afghan Communists cannot be magically transformed into right wing Pakistani Taliban. The United States is not the Soviet Union and The New York Times should stop behaving as if it is Pravda.

Copyright – 2017 Fitzgerald & Gould All rights reserved

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Afghanistan Inspector General Ready to Criticize War “The First Day I’m Out of This Job”


Inspector General John F. Sopko testifies before Congress on April 10, 2013. (Photo: Special IG for Afghanistan Reconstruction)

Inspector General John F. Sopko testifies before Congress on April 10, 2013. (Photo: Special IG for Afghanistan Reconstruction)

As the most prominent official overseeing the War in Afghanistan, John Sopko has made some enemies among hawks on Capitol Hill.

At a House Oversight Committee panel on Wednesday, Sopko had a warning for them.

“The first day I’m out of this job — because it’s not my job to talk policy — I’m happy to publicly tell you what I really think about our mission in Afghanistan,” he said.

The Special Inspector General of Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) was responding to a question from Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC).

A lawmaker since 1995, Jones has been a critic of US military intervention since the middle of last decade, after the War in Iraq. He isn’t even on the Oversight Committee, but was allowed to participate in Wednesday’s proceedings by Ron DeSantis (R-Fla), chair of the Subcommittee on National Security.

“I know there are people who don’t appreciate you and your staff and what you do because many of them are in Congress,” Jones said, referring to media reports last year.

In May 2016, Politico ran a lengthy article calling Sopko’s work into disrepute, entitled “The Donald Trump of inspectors general.” The piece featured claims that Sopko’s analyses are flimsy, and that he’s mostly interested in media attention.

The article centered on unattributed quotes from national security mandarins, and previously public criticism of Sopko, from John McCain (R-Ariz) and Jack Reed (D-RI), leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Sopko has served as SIGAR since 2012.

“Y’all are the truth tellers,” Jones added on Wednesday. “The problem is Congress continues to pass, to waste money over there, and we can’t even get a debate.”

In July, House Republican leaders unilaterally stopped legislation that would have put an eight month sunset on the broadvague post-9/11 law authorizing the War on Afghanistan and the Global War on Terror. It had been passed through committee overwhelmingly, without a recorded vote, and was proposed by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) — the only lawmaker in both houses of Congress to vote against the so-called 2001 AUMF.

While there wasn’t much criticism of Sopko at Wednesday’s hearing, the subcommittee wasn’t without harsh words for the watchdog.

“The more that we feed this narrative that our nation does not have the will and the resolve to get things done is part of the problem,” Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) said.

A veteran of Afghanistan, Russell, at one point, seemed to question the very idea of civilian oversight of ongoing military operations.

“What is hard for me as a warrior — for most of my adult life — it’s always people sitting here talking to people sitting there, pointing bony fingers with red faces saying: ‘why is this a failure?’ Why did this go wrong? We should quit. We should pull out,” he said.

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3,000 US troops headed to Afghanistan—to die for I$raHell


NOVANEWS

3,000 US troops headed to Afghanistan—to die for Israel

Donald Trump (2013): “Do not allow our very stupid leaders to sign a deal that keeps us in Afghanistan through 2024—with all costs by U.S.A. MAKE AMERICA GREAT!”

 

Donald Trump hasn’t learned a damn thing about the past. And here we are talking about recent history, specifically the recent wars in the Middle East. He knows what happened when Bush sent thousands upon thousands of American soldiers in places like Iraq to die for Israel.

If you remember correctly, between 300,000 and 360,000 veterans returned home with brain injuries,[1] many of which went untreated.[2] By 2005, more than 6,000 soldiers serving in Iraq committed suicide.[3] In 2012, more soldiers committed suicide than died in combat,[4] making it the year with the highest suicide rate since 2001.[5]

In addition, a debt ceiling was rising every six months or so.[6] The US national debt had reached $16 trillion by the end of 2012.[7] Because of this wrecked economy, suicides in America’s civilian population have increased at an alarming rate as well.[8]

And if you are a student trying to get a decent education in order to get out of this economic sinkhole, the government is going to profit from your student loan. It was reported that the government made a profit of $51 billion in 2013 off student loans.[9]

So, what is the Pentagon’s solution to all of this? Well, they decide to send more troops to Afghanistan. Get this:

“US Defense Secretary James Mattis confirmed that over 3,000 new US troops will be headed to Afghanistan as part of President Donald Trump’s new strategy to win the war that has dragged on for almost 16 years.”[10]

3,000 new US troops in Afghanistan will help win the war “that has dragged on for almost 16 years”? Isn’t that worse than stupid? And who are those puppets fooling this time? “Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov described the new strategy as a ‘dead end,’ while Pakistan and China were critical of Washington’s approach, noting there was ‘no military solution’ to the situation in Afghanistan.”[11]

No politician has been able to tell the American people why more US troops need to die in Afghanistan—for Israel. Keep also in mind that Trump himself railed against US troop engagement in Afghanistan long before became president. Here is what Trump said back in 2012: Afghanistan is a complete waste. Time to come home!

In March of the following year, Trump tweeted that U.S. troops “should leave Afghanistan immediately. No more wasted lives.” In January of the same year, he declared: “Let’s get out of Afghanistan. Our troops are being killed by the Afghanis we train and we wasted billions there. Nonsense! Rebuild the USA.” Trump again couldn’t resist stating:

“I agree with Pres. Obama on Afghanistan. We should have a speedy withdrawal. Why should we keep wasting our money—rebuild the U.S.! We have wasted an enormous amount of blood and treasure in Afghanistan. Their government has zero appreciation. Let’s get out!”

And then this:

“Do not allow our very stupid leaders to sign a deal that keeps us in Afghanistan through 2024—with all costs by U.S.A. MAKE AMERICA GREAT!”

So, why can’t Trump look at himself in the mirror and simply ask himself basic questions about perpetual wars? Why can’t he give the American people a solid foreign policy? He obviously has the answers to these questions, but he will never flesh them out to the American people because Israel is the only reason America is still finding monsters to kill in the Middle East. As Jim W. Dean has recently put it:

“Trump has obviously made a deal with Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia, with their Syrian plans failing, that he would try to make it up to them by sticking it to Iran with more sanctions.”

Trump is causing trouble in the Middle East because the Israeli regime tells him what to do. If fighting terrorism was his main goal, he would almost certainly go after terrorist states like Saudi Arabia, which destroyed Yemen and imposed a blockade on Qatar.[12]


[1] Gregg Zoroya, “360,000 Veterans May Have Brain Injuries,” USA Today, March 5, 3009; Denise Grady, “Brain Injuries Are Seen in New Scans of Veterans,” NY Times, June 1, 2011; “Mental Health Injuries Scar 300,000 US Troops,” MSNBC, April 17, 2008.

[2] Lizette Alvarez, “War Veterans’ Concussions are Often Overlooked,” NY Times, August 25, 2008.

[3] Armen Keteyian, “VA Hid Suicide Risk, Internal Emails Show,” CBC News, July 30, 2010.

[4] Allison Churchill, “Military Losing More Troops to Suicide than Combat,” Business Insider, October 25, 2012; Helen Pow, “More US Troops Committing Suicide Than Being Killed Fighting in Afghanistan,” Daily Mail, October 24, 2012.

[5] Kelley Vlahos, “Surviving War, Falling to Suicide,” American Conservative, Jan. 1, 2012; James Dao and Andrew W. Lehren, “Baffling Rise in Suicides Plagues US Military,” NY Times, May 15, 2013.

[6] Kelley Vlahos, “Surviving War, Falling to Suicide,” American Conservative, January 1, 2012; James Dao and Andrew W. Lehren, “Baffling Rise in Suicides Plagues US Military,” NY Times, May 15, 2013.

[7] Simon Rogers, “US Debt: How Big is It and Who Owns It?,” Guardian, October 2, 2012.

[8] Deborah Kotz, “Suicides Surge During Tough Economic Times,” Boston Globe, April 14, 2011.

[9] “Obama Student Loan Policy Reaping $51 Billion Profit,” Huffington Post, May 14, 2013.

[10] “Over 3,000 new US troops headed to Afghanistan – Pentagon,” Russia Today, September 18, 2017.

[11] Ibid.

[12] See Mohamad Bazzi, “How Trump Is Inflaming the Middle East’s Proxy Wars,” The Nation, June 9, 2017.

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The People of Afghanistan Have Had Truly Enough of Western Imperialist Barbarism


NOVANEWS

Interview with Andre Vltchek by Alessandro Biancchi, Chief Editor of Anti-Diplomatico

 

Alessandro Bianchi: The geographic location of Afghanistan has always occupied a central role. The April peace talks between Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Russia and China seemed to have put an end to the persistent and dominant American presence in the country. What’s your opinion?

Andre Vltchek: What you have mentioned is extremely important, but I’m not ready to celebrate, yet. This could be, at least in theory, the first step towards the end of one of the most destructive and brutal occupations in NATO’s history, or in what the US mainstream press likes to describe as “the longest American war.”

Let us also not call it only the “American presence”. I know some Europeans lately love to portray themselves as some kind of victims, but they are definitely not. Europe is at the core of this entire global nightmare. And the US is nothing else other than its creation: it is Europe’s offspring. In many ways, the United States is Europe.

The UK is now well behind this horror through which Afghanistan is being forced to go through, at least theoretically; a sadistic revenge for all former British defeats in the country. The UK is responsible for more massacres worldwide than any other country on Earth. And now it is shaping the US and in fact the entire Western imperialism, ideologically. Its Machiavellianism, its propaganda machine is second to none.

What I can confirm from my first-hand experience is that by now the people of Afghanistan have had truly enough of this Western imperialist barbarism. They are exhausted after 16 years of the horror invasion. They dislike the West; mistrust the West… But most of them are silent, because they are constantly being frightened into submission. And also remember: collaboration with the Western occupation forces is now the greatest ‘business’ in the country. Afghan diplomats, many politicians, countless military commanders, Western-funded NGOs, even thousands of educators, are all serving the occupiers. Billions of dollars are being made from such shameful collaboration.It is all one huge business, and the mafia of servile Afghan ‘journalists’, diplomats, governors and ‘educators’ will never leave their lucrative positions voluntarily.

Western colonialism corrupts! It corrupts one generation after another in all conquered, occupied countries.

Afghans who are pure, Afghans who are proud, true patriots with beautiful hearts (and there are still many of such people in this country that became one of my favorite places on Earth) have presently no power, no say.

Fortunately, even the elites are now realizing that there is no way forward under the present regime, and under the present foreign rule.

In Kabul and in the provinces, people are beginning to look towards Russia, China, but also Iran, even India. Despite its terrible past track record in this part of the world, even Pakistan cannot be ignored, anymore. Anything is better than NATO.

AB: Like in other parts of the world, the presence of American troops does not fully explain the long-term goals of military planners. Afghanistan in some respects resembles a similar situation to Southeast Asia. In South Korea, the American presence has persisted since 1950, and with it the destabilization of the Korean peninsula. The American surge will not change the delicate balance negotiated between the parties back in April and it will not affect the efforts of Moscow and Beijing to stabilize the country. How do you define the US presence today in Afghanistan?

AV: I define it as inhuman, barbaric and thoroughly racist. And I’m not talking about the US presence only, but also about the European presence, particularly the British one.

There could be absolutely no doubts regarding how deep once-socialist Afghanistan has sank under the NATO cruelty. It is enough to go even to the sites of the UNDP or the WHO and it all there, in details: Afghanistan is now the least ‘developed’ (using HDI criteria) country in Asia. Afghan people have the lowest life expectancy on their continent.

The US alone claims that it has managed to spend, since the invasion in 2001, between 750 billion and 1.2 trillion dollars. That’s huge, an astronomical amount, even bigger than the entire Marshall Plan after WWII (adjusted to today’s dollar)! But has it been spent to help the Afghan people? Of course not! It has gone mainly into corrupting of ‘elites’ and their offspring, into the military, into the salaries of foreign contractors. Huge military bases were built; some were at some point decommissioned, others were moved somewhere else. Airports were constructed – all of them military ones. Private Western security firms are having a ball. I once calculated that if all that money were to be equally divided between all Afghans, the country would have had a much higher income per capita than relatively affluent Malaysia, for 16 consecutive years!

What the West has done to Afghanistan is insane! It is Orwell meeting Huxley, and all mixed with the worst nightmares of painters like George Grosz and Otto Dix.

Old trolley bus lines built by the former Czechoslovakia are gone; only stumps are left. But so much is still surviving. Soviet apartment buildings, so-called Makroyans, are still standing and flats there are in great demand to date. Water ducts in the countryside were built by Soviet Union, and so were irrigation canals around Jalalabad and elsewhere. India built dams. China constructed public medical facilities. What did the West create? Nothing else other than total misery, armed conflicts and above all–countless military barracks, tall concrete walls and fences, the drug trade, intellectual prostitution and as always, dark and complete nihilism!

In 2007, around 700 Afghan civilians were killed by Western airstrikes alone, a great increase even when compared with 2006.

Georgian military contractors who are working for the US occupation army recently told me: US have total spite for Afghan people. They even destroy unused food at its military bases, instead of giving it to starving children.

People of Afghanistan know perfectly well who are their friends, and who are enemies.

AB: The world is changing, and more and more fruitful efforts to replace the chaos wrought by US policies can be seen. The road to economic prosperity and a re-established unity among the Afghan people is still a work in progress, but once the country manages to establish its independence, Washington will have a hard time dictating conditions. Will countries like Russia, China and India be able to prevent a dangerous escalation in Afghanistan?

AV: Many people in Afghanistan are actually dreaming about true independence, and most of them remember with great love, all the kindness and internationalism given to them by the Soviet people. Unlike the Westerners, the Soviets came here first as teachers, doctors, nurses and engineers. They shared with the locals all that they had. They lived among them. They never hid behind fences. To date, in Afghanistan, you say you are Russian, and dozens of people will embrace you, invite you to their homes. It is all in stark contrast to the Western propaganda, which says that Afghans dislike Russians!

When it comes to Russia and China, yes, both countries acting in concert would be able to bring economic prosperity and social justice to Afghanistan. I’m not so sure about India, which is, until now, clearly sitting on two chairs, but definitely China and Russia are ready and able to help.

The problem is that Afghanistan is still very far from any sort of independence. The West has occupied it for 16 years, that’s terrible enough. But the country has also been sacrificed for the even more sinister designs of the US and NATO, for much longer than that: Afghanistan has been, for decades, a training ground for the pro-western jihadi cadres, starting with Al-Qaeda/Mujahedeen (during the ‘Soviet War’ and the war against Afghan socialism). Now the Taliban is ruining the country, but also, increasingly, ISIS are murdering all in sight here. Recently, ISIS have been arriving from Syria and Lebanon, where they are in the process of being defeated by the Syrian army, by the Russians, but also by the Lebanese forces and Hezbollah. The ISIS was, as is well known, created by the West and its allies in the Gulf.

This is essential to understand: two countries that the West wants to fully destabilize are Russia and China. In both of them, Islamist fundamentalists have been fighting and bringing horrible damage. The West is behind all this. And it is using and sacrificing Afghanistan which is absolutely perfect for the Western imperialist designs due to its geographical location, but also because it is now fully destabilized and in a state of chaos. In Afghanistan, NATO is maintaining ‘perpetual conflict’. Jihadi cadres can be easily hardened there, and then they can be ‘exported’; to go and fight somewhere in Northwest China or in the Central Asian parts of Russia.

The destruction of Afghanistan is actually a well-planned genocidal war of the West against the Afghan people. But the country is also a training ground for jihadists who will eventually be sent to fight against Russia and China.

AB: While the United States exhales the last breaths as a declining global power, no longer able to impose its will, it lashes out in pointless acts like lobbing 60 cruise missiles at Syria or sending 4,000 troops to Afghanistan. Such acts do not change anything on the ground or modify the balance of forces in Washington’s favor. They do, however, have a strong impact on further reducing whatever confidence remains in the US, closing the door to opportunities for dialogue and cooperation that might have otherwise got on the table.

AV: Here I have to strongly disagree. I’m almost certain that the West in general, and the United States in particular, are clearly aware of what they are doing. The US has some of the most sinister colonial powers as its advisers, particularly the United Kingdom.

The US will not simply go down the drain without a great fight, and don’t ever think that Europe would either. These two parts of the world were built on the great plunder of the planet. They still are. They cannot sustain themselves just from the fruits of their brains and labor. They are perpetual thieves. The US can never be separated from Europe. The US is just one huge branch growing from an appalling trunk, from the tree of European colonialism, imperialism and racism.

Whatever the US, Europe and NATO are presently doing is brilliantly planned. Never under-estimate them! It is all brutal, sinister and murderous planning, but from a strictly strategic point of view, it is truly brilliant!

And they will never go away on their own! They will have to be fought and defeated. Otherwise they are here to stay: in Afghanistan, in Syria, or anywhere else.

AB: What is the role of Italian troops that you have seen in your last visit to Afghanistan?

Italian troops took over ancient Citadel in Herat City (Source: Andre Vltchek)

AV: It is a usual cocktail consisting of what Italian fascism has been made of throughout its colonialist, fascist and NATO eras: a medley of cruelty, hypocrisy, as well as some great hope in Rome that Italy could finally become a competent and ‘respected’ occupier… I saw the Italian troops in Herat… They occupied an ancient citadel of the city, jumping like members of some second-rate ballet troupe all around, just because some high-ranking Italian officer was bringing his family to visit the site. It was all tremendously embarrassing… I still have some photos from that ‘event’. But the best thing about Italians as occupiers is that they can hardly be taken seriously; they are disorganized, chaotic, and hedonistic even during war.

I actually love to see them in such places like Afghanistan, because they do very little damage. They are true showoffs. The French, Brits, and the US – they are efficient and brutal, true killing machines. Italians are still better at making movies, writing poetry and cooking, than murdering locals in occupied foreign countries.

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Afghanistan’s Illogical Blame Game against Pakistan


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Image result for Afghanistan CARTOON
By Sajjad Shaukat
Even in the modern world of today, if any country accuses any other country of supporting terrorism or militancy, there is some logic. But, it is quite surprising that Afghanistan continues illogical blame game against Pakistan in this respect. Therefore, Kabul’s such a policy needs analysis.

On May 31, this year, a massive truck bombing of the Afghan capital’s diplomatic section killed more than 150 people and injured hundreds of others, including foreigners. It was the deadliest terror attack in the 16-year- old conflict.

Taliban denied responsibility for the terror attack. But, Afghanistan’s intelligence service accused the Haqqani network by saying that a Taliban-affiliated group in Pakistan, carried out the attack. Addressing the conference-the “Kabul Process on Peace and Security Cooperation”, held in Kabul on June 6, this year, which was attended by representatives from 26 countries and
international organizations, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that he would not be drawn “into a blame game.” But, he left no stone unturned in reviving the old blame game against Pakistan. Ghani, criticized Pakistan for a lack of cooperation in promoting Afghan peace and alleged that Taliban insurgents are using sanctuaries on Pakistani soil to wage the insurgency in
Afghanistan.

In the same speech, President Ghani offered peace talks to the Afghan Taliban by reiterating his preconditions such as recognition of the Afghan constitution, continuity of the reforms of educating and advancing the rights of women, and renunciation of violence and linkages with terrorist groups.

A Taliban spokesman rejected Ghani’s latest offer of a peace dialogue by stating that it is another attempt to endorse and prolong foreign occupation of Afghanistan.

The Taliban unofficially maintains its political office in Qatar, but Kabul does not recognize it and has been pushing Qatari authorities to close it down.
Notably, on the same of the conference, a powerful bomb went off at a main mosque in the western city of Herat, killing at least 10 people and wounding many more. Again, Taliban spokesman denied its involvement in connection with the explosion.

However, Pakistan’s special Corps Commander Conference took the stern notice of Afghanistan’s allegations and threats and vowed to defend the country the with full forces. According to the press release of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), issued on June 6, 2017, the “Special Corps Commanders Conference presided over by Chief of the Army Staff
(COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa has called for Afghanistan to introspect and not allege Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism…the conference reviewed the security situation under the backdrop of recent terrorism incident in Afghanistan…Strongly condemning the Kabul blast…meeting has expressed complete solidarity with Afghan government…instead of blaming Pakistan, Afghanistan needs to look forward and identify the real issues…Armed
forces will defend the country from each challenge and will continue work to establish peace in the region.”

ISPR statement further reported that the meeting took exception to the unwarranted accusations and threats against Pakistan in the aftermath of Kabul blast. While reaffirming continued support to regional peace and stability, the forum reiterated military’s resolve to defend the motherland against all types of threat.

In fact, the US and India do not want to see peace and prosperity in the region. Sadly, Pakistan’s dominant role in Afghanistan’s peace process under the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) has, deliberately, been sabotaged by killing of the Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansur in CIA-operated drone attack in Balochistan. After the incident, Afghan Taliban leaders refused
to participate in the US-sponsored talks with the Afghan government. While, in the recent past, with the help of Pakistan, a series of meetings were held in Islamabad and Kabul among the representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US to develop an understanding for the earliest possible resumption of stalled talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban
with view to ending nearly 15 years of bloodshed in Afghanistan.

Owing to America’s double game, trust deficit has deepened between Islamabad and Washington. Therefore, on June 10, last year, a high-level delegation of the US visited Islamabad and met the Pakistan’s former Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif and Adviser to the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz separately.

During the meeting, expressing his serious concern on the US drone strike in Balochistan as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, Pakistan’s former Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif highlighted as to how it had impacted the mutual trust and was counterproductive in consolidating the gains of Operation Zarb-i- Azb against terrorists. He elaborated, “All stakeholders need to understand Pakistan’s challenges-inter- tribal linkages and decades—old presence of over three million refugees—blaming Pakistan for instability in Afghanistan is
unfortunate”.

In this context, in the recent past, new wave of terrorism in Pakistan killed several innocent people, while various terrorist outfits such as the Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS, ISIL) and the affiliated faction of the Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur- Ahrar (TTP-JA also known as JuA) claimed responsibility for these
brutal acts. TTP based in Afghanistan has its connections with ISIL and other terrorist organizations and affiliated terror groups, including Baloch separatist elements, and all these groups are promoting the anti-Pakistan agenda of the foreign entities to destabilize Pakistan.

As part of the double game, American CIA, Indian RAW, Israeli Mossad and Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) which are in collaboration, are using these terror outfits in weakening Pakistan and especially Balochistan, including Afghanistan through various acts of terrorism in order to fulfill their covert strategic aims against Pakistan, China, Russia and Iran.

In the recent past, the capture of secret agents of RAW and NDS by Pakistani intelligence agencies might be cited as an instance. These external secret agencies are particularly supporting the TTP which is hiding in Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan. Reportedly, Mullah Fazlullah led TTP is behind several terror activities inside Pakistan, as the latter has also become
center of the Great Game due to the ideal location of Balochistan. With the tactical assistance of CIA, particularly Indian RAW is trying to damage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

While, India, the US and puppet rulers of Afghanistan have always blamed Islamabad for cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan to divert attention from the acts of sabotage, which they have been arranging in Pakistan. Main purpose behind is also to pacify their public, as the US-led countries have failed in their fight against the Taliban who are waging a war of liberation against the occupying forces. In this connection, besides the previous false accusations against Islamabad and Pakistan’s security agencies, blame game of these countries could be judged from some new development.

In this regard, on January 10, 2017, an explosion took place in Governor House Kandhar (Afghanistan) where diplomats of United Arab Emirates (UAE) were also present along with the Governor, Deputy Governor, Inspector General of Police (IGP) and other dignities. The blast killed 12 people—five UAE diplomats and injured 18 persons, including Governor of Kandhar
and UAE Ambassador to Afghanistan. IGP Abdul Razziq went outside the hall few minutes before the blast. IGP Razziq put blame on Pakistan’s Haqqani network and its primary intelligence agency, ISI on the very next day.

The matter was investigated by two committees, consisting of NDS and Afghan government and UAE, including Scotland Yard. IGP Razziq did not cooperate with the investigation teams, even though he was responsible for the security of Governor House.

Online reports disclosed that IGP Abdul Razziq did not enjoy good relations with the Governor over custom collection issue. All illegal taxes were collected by IGP’s dedicated persons, instead of custom officials. Governor wanted to streamline the system to benefit the Afghan government which was not liked by IGP Razziq and developed enmity with the Governor. All this led to blast
at Governor House. These developments indicate that explosion could not have occurred without facilitation by IGP Razziq and his men employed at Governor House.

The reports also revealed that Abdul Razziq is a staunch enemy of Pakistan and a dedicated planner and supporter of anti-Pakistan activities. The attack was planned by him to blame Pakistan-based anti-Afghan government group’s involvement in the incident, while the planning was done by Indians who control Razziq, and aim of the incident was also to deteriorate Pakistan
and UAE relations.

It is notable that after the recent terror attacks in Pakistan, a statement by the ISPR said that senior Afghan diplomats were summoned to the General Headquarters (Of army) and asked to ensure that immediate action was taken against the Pakistani terrorists, living in safe havens in Afghanistan.

The army, which took the lead in dealing with Kabul over the terrorist sanctuaries there, had announced closure of the border crossings with Afghanistan, citing security reasons.

According to the statement of the DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor, on February 17, 2017, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa had called Gen. John Nicholson, commander of America’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan through telephone to protest continued acts of terrorism in Pakistan, perpetrated from Afghanistan, saying that they were testing
Pakistan’s policy of cross-border restraint.

Gen. Bajwa told Gen. Nicholson that recent incidents of terrorism in Pakistan had been claimed by terrorist organizations whose leadership is hiding in Afghanistan, and asked him to play his role in “disconnecting this planning, direction, coordination and financial support”.

In a terse message, during the conversation with Nicholson, Gen. Bajwa also informed him of the list of 76 “most wanted” terrorists handed over to Afghan authorities earlier—operating from Afghan territory or hand them over to Pakistan for trying them over their involvement in terrorism.

Taking cognizance of the terror assaults, Pakistan Army targeted a training camp of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and militant hideouts located close to the Pak-Afghan border in areas adjacent to Mohmand and Khyber agencies (Tribal areas).

It is mentionable that the porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is frequently used by human and drug traffickers, criminals and terrorists. Their easy access through unguarded porous border provides opportunity to miscreants to cause havoc inside Pakistan and Afghanistan. For effective counter terrorism measures, strong border-control management is vital at Pak-Afghan border. But, Afghan rulers are using delaying tactics in this respect.

Taking note of the anti-Pakistan intruders, Pakistan’s army had decided to build a fence along the border and to control the border crossings. In this context, the strategic project of 1,100-kilometre-long trench with the cost of Rs14 billion which was initiated along Pak-Afghan border in Balochistan by Frontier Corps in 2013 has been completed. In the next phase, the project will
be extended to the entire long border with Afghanistan which had opposed this plan.

Meanwhile, during his visit to the Pak-Afghan border regions in Mohmand and Orakzai agencies, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Bajwa who was given a detailed briefing on security arrangements, cross-border terrorist threat and recent terrorist attacks from across on the Pakistani posts (From Afghanistan) stated on March 25, 2017 that fencing on the Pak-Afghan border has commenced and the border areas of Bajaur and Mohmand agencies will be given first
priority, as they are high-threat zones.  He further added that Pakistan Army would employ all resources required for the defence of the country.

It is noteworthy that during the sixth Heart of Asia Conference which was held in the Indian city of Amritsar on December 3 and 4, 2016 proved fruitless in achieving its goals due to secret diplomacy of the US, India and Afghanistan owing to the blame game, especially of New Delhi and Kubal against Islamabad.

During his opening remarks, following American secret strategy in Asia, in his frenzy and ferocious speech, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi lashed out at Pakistan on terrorism as the central subject of the moot.

Speaking in the Indian tone, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accused Pakistan of providing sanctuary to terrorists and cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan. By snubbing a $500 million pledge from Pakistan for development projects in Afghanistan, he said, “This amount can be spent to contain extremism…Afghanistan suffered the highest number of casualties last year.”

Pakistan’s Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz who also participated in the conference slammed baseless accusations of Modi and Ghani on Islamabad and called for evolving a joint and purposeful strategy for lasting peace in Afghanistan and to combat terrorism in the region. He explained, “It is simplistic to blame only one country for the recent upsurge in
violence. We need to have an objective and holistic view…peaceful resolution to all the longstanding issues is the only way forward for regional cooperation and connectivity…Pakistan is ready to extend every kind of cooperation for lasting peace in Afghanistan.”

The adviser added that peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban had not produced positive results, adding that Pakistan was making a serious effort to facilitate peace talks through the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG). He urged all QCG members to continue their efforts for talks between the Afghan government and Taliban.

Addressing the conference, Russian envoy Zamir Kabulov rejected the Indian and Afghan allegations against Pakistan. He stated that Afghanistan is the pivot of the conference and the agenda of the conference should not be hijacked. He added that being friends and supporters, we should avoid the blame game and work together. He also said that Sartaj Aziz’s speech at the
conference was friendly and constructive.

It is of particular attention that the armed forces of Pakistan have successfully broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists by the successful military operations Zarb-e- Azb and Radd-ul- Fasaad which have also been extended to other parts of the country, including Balochistan. And Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI has broken the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of terror attempts.

Besides, since the government of the Balochistan province announced general pardon and protection to the Baloch militants as part of reconciliation process, many insurgents and their leaders have surrendered their arms and decided to work for the development of Pakistan and the province, peace has been restored in Balochistan.

Nevertheless, peace has been restored in Karachi, Balochistan and other provinces of Pakistan, including the tribal areas. But, recent blasts in Balochistan and other regions of the country show that the US-led India, Afghanistan and Israel have again started acts of sabotage in to destabilize
Pakistan and to sabotage the Pak-China CPEC project.

Returning to our earlier discussion, in pursuance of anti-Pakistan agenda, President Ashraf Ghani has only revived Afghanistan’s illogical blame game against Pakistan in order to conceal the reality that external secret agencies, including Afghan intelligence are sponsoring acts of terrorism in Pakistan.

 

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Haven’t We Had Enough of Afghanistan?


NOVANEWS

The forever war continues

 

Will there ever be an end to the war in Afghanistan? Apparently not if our generals have anything to say about it – and they do. President Trump has turned over the prosecution of our perpetual “war on terrorism” to the Pentagon, claiming that they’ve been held back by previous administrations. The new policy is to turn them loose.

We saw what this means when the so-called “Mother of All Bombs” was dropped in a remote location where ISIS was said to be hiding: 92 “militants”were said to have been killed. Contrary to the triumphalist reports in US media, the biggest non-nuclear bomb ever deployed in combat had a minimal effect. And the cost, at $16 million for a single MOAB, came to around $174,000 per “militant.”

With anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 ISIS fighters in Afghanistan, let’s take the median number of 2,000 and estimate that getting rid of all of them will cost around $348 million, give or take $10 million or so.

And you’ll note that we’re just talking about ISIS here. The Taliban is not only still in the mix, they’re actually in a better position than ever. In March, the Taliban claimed that 211 administrative districts of the country were either under their control or else contested: this isn’t far off the report of the Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, which put the number at 171. The Taliban control more of Afghanistan than at any time since the war started, and they continue to make major gains, such as in Helmland province. The pace and severity of Taliban/ISIS attacks has recently escalated, with a suicide bombing in Kabul that killed 100 people, the culmination of 8 major attacks just in the month of May.

The Taliban in Afghanistan (credits to the owner of the photo)

After 16 years of fighting, the US is no closer to defeating the radical Islamist insurgency than it was at the very beginning. The original rationale for the invasion – the presence of Osama bin Laden – is long since gone.

The justification for continuing the Afghan war, you’ll recall, was that we couldn’t allow any “safe havens” where the terrorists could plan and carry out attacks on the US and Western Europe. The logic of this is difficult to follow, however, since a “safe haven” can be defined as anywhere terrorists gather – which can occur just as easily in Hamburg, Germany, than in some mountain cave in Afghanistan. Furthermore, we are now told that the primary locus of terrorist activities is in territory controlled by ISIS, which has few strongholds and little support in Afghanistan.

The reality is that terrorist plots are more likely to be hatched in Western Europe and right here in the United States than in the Afghan wilds.

Yet that hasn’t stopped our generals from requesting thousands more US troops to be sent to fight the longest war in our history: news reports tell us they want “a few thousand” more, but it’s hard to imagine this will make much difference. It’s also hard to imagine that the American people support this: while no recent polls have been taken — for some mysterious reason they stopped measuring support for the war in 2015 – the last time anyone looked opposition was over fifty percent.

Naturally, given the current atmosphere in Washington, there’s an anti-Russian angle to all this: General John Nicholson recently testified before Congress that Moscow is pushing a “false narrative” that the Taliban is fighting ISIS while the Afghan government army is sitting on its haunches, collecting bribes and managing the drug harvest. Russia’s goal, he said, is to “undermine the United States and NATO.”

Yet the Taliban is not the same as ISIS, and the latter has largely alienated Afghan civilians, just as al-Qaeda did in Iraq: foreign fighters, no matter their religion, are not popular in Afghanistan. The Taliban, for all its theological pretensions, is essentially a nationalist movement fighting a foreign invader: ISIS, however, is quite a different story.

The Trump campaign told us that all foreign commitments were going to be judged by new criteria: how does this serve American interests? And the question of how continuing to fight this war serves our interests has yet to be answered by the Trump administration. They have simply taken the war as a given.

In a 2009 speech at Tennessee State University, I asked my audience to

“remember the fate of the previous would-be conquerors of the proud Afghan people: the Russians, the British, the Golden Horde, and even Alexander the Great. They all failed, and the bones of their centurions are dust beneath the feet of a warrior people. In that kind of terrain, against that kind of enemy, there is no such thing as victory – there is only a question of how long it will take for them to drive us out – or whether we go bankrupt before that happens.”

Even earlier, in 2001, I predicted that the Afghan war would be a quagmire, a mistake we would eventually come to regret – an opinion for which David Frum, then National Review’s neocon enforcer of ideological correctness, saw cause to label me “anti-American.”

When the truth is considered “anti-American,” then we know we’re in trouble. Indeed, we’ve been in some pretty serious trouble for the past 16 years. Now is the time to reverse course and make it right.

It’s time to acknowledge that truth. It’s time to get the hell out of Afghanistan – now.

Posted in AfghanistanComments Off on Haven’t We Had Enough of Afghanistan?

The Solution is in the Hands of the People of Afghanistan


NOVANEWS

The Solution is in the Hands of the People of Afghanistan: The US Must Leave for Peace to Reign in Afghanistan

A suicide attacker struck the heavily guarded diplomatic quarter in Kabul with a massive truck bomb during rush hour on Wednesday morning, killing 90 people, and wounding more than 400. There was no claim of responsibility.

“I have been to many attacks, taken wounded people out of many blast sites, but I can say I have ever seen such a horrible attack as I saw this morning,” ambulance driver Alef Ahmadzai told The Associated Press. “Everywhere was on fire and so many people were in critical condition.”

Contacted moments after the attack, Friba, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan’s representative, said:

“Everyone is still rattled. The city died with the blast.”

In a short interview, the Afghan women’s leader speaks on one of worst suicide attacks in Afghanistan in many years, and the mockery of the U.S. “War on Terror”. Friba, who doesn’t mention her real name for security reasons as RAWA works underground, unmasks once again local government and intelligence, and U.S. led coalition which promised to free her people 16 years ago, especially the women.

Corruption and alliance with terrorists, according to RAWA’s representative, permeates all powers in her country, including the foreign ones.

“Traitors that sell their country to aliens obviously do not care about their people or their security. A government that welcomes their killers with open arms despite countless massacres committed by them; and a government whose foreign backers provide these enemies with arms and money!” she says.

Friba states that insecurity has increased in her country after U.S. invasion in October 2001, and the solution is not with any foreign power, but only in the hands of the Afghan people.

“Barely a month goes by without one or two attacks that leave tens dead and hundreds of loved ones in mourning.”

A reality not shown in the West by a mainstream media, supported by weapons manufacturers, which raises the question once again: are some human lives more valuable than others for Westerners?

Afghanistan: Security forces open fire on protesters voicing anger over http://amn.st/60178YU19  Photo: AFP/Getty Images

“’War on Terror’ is not actually waged against terrorists, only those terrorist groups that do not comply with the U.S’s orders. Just like the U.S., the puppet Afghan government also uses terrorist groups for its purposes. It is no secret that the U.S. actively nourishes terrorism in Afghanistan and the region to attack its rivals, Russia and China,” says RAWA’s representative.

Below, the full interview with Friba.

Edu Montesanti: A massive explosion in a secure diplomatic area in Kabul killed at least 64 and injured 320 this Wednesday, Friba. Apparently by the Taliban. Can you tell us what exactly and why the Afghan forces, financed and trained by US military cannot keep your country safe, 16 years after U.S. led coalition invasion to Afghanistan are attacks like this frequent?

Friba: The death toll has climbed to 90 now with more than 400 injured. These are however official statistics which we cannot entirely trust, the casualties may be higher than this. Insecurity in Afghanistan has been the biggest hardship our people have faced after the U.S. invasion. Not knowing whether they will return alive after leaving their homes in the morning has become the norm here now. Barely a month goes by without one or two attacks that leave tens dead and hundreds of loved ones in mourning. Yesterday’s attack killed Kabul city. The city will remain silent for many days to come, as our people will sit mourning silently this devastating situation.

To begin with, the “war on terror” is not actually waged against terrorists, only those terrorist groups that do not comply with the U.S’s orders. This means that the U.S. and its allies do not target the Taliban or other terrorist groups fighting the Afghan forces, uniformly. In fact Afghan soldiers have witnessed foreign forces’ helicopters dropping off weapons in Taliban-held areas, and the payment of huge bribes to the Taliban. It is no secret that the U.S. actively nourishes terrorism in Afghanistan and the region to attack its rivals, Russia and China – the growing instability and shift of terrorist presence to northern Afghanistan is proof of this policy.

The Afghan apparatus is comprised of Jehadi criminals who are lackeys of foreign countries and whose own lives depend on the support of their foreign masters. Traitors that sell their country to aliens obviously do not care about their people or their security. Their only aim is to fill their pockets by taking money from foreign countries and in return, allowing them to influence the state at the highest levels, maintaining their mafia ties, dealing drugs (many prominent Afghan government officials are mafia figures and drug lords), running kidnapping rings, and other such criminal activities. This greedy mercenary nature of the state also translates into corruption in the high ranks of the military and Defense Ministry. These bodies have been hit with high-level corruption cases, with scandals ranging from land grabbing and fuel theft worth millions of dollars, to accusations of collusion with the Taliban.

While the Afghan youths die on the war front every day, the brethren-in-creed of the Taliban in the Afghan government, propose peace talks with them. It is natural that this entire situation kills the spirit and will of the young Afghan soldiers, dying in battles every day, to fight against these terrorists resolutely. These forces are fighting for a government and military that does not care about them, is deeply embroiled in corruption, and is rolling about in money; a government that welcomes their killers with open arms despite countless massacres committed by them; and a government whose foreign backers provide these enemies with arms and money! These soldiers have been deserted by their superiors when they were under Taliban siege, and several bloody attacks on these soldiers have carried suspicions of inside collusion. How can these youngsters fight whole-heartedly in such a situation? Today, the purpose of most Afghan soldiers is to earn a mouthful for their families in this extreme poverty and unemployment, with the salaries they are paid. Many soldiers even join Taliban ranks to retaliate against the government. This is not to mention that the police and army force is already ravaged by illiteracy, drug addiction, and poor management. All these are reasons that the Afghan forces have failed continuously for the past 15 years.

It is curious that, again, a very safe place has been attacked in Afghanistan – months ago, the Afghan military area was strongly attacked by the Taliban, too. What can you say about the Afghan intelligence?

The situation described above extends to the Afghan intelligence as well. Just like the US, the puppet Afghan government also uses terrorist groups for its purposes, and turns a blind eye to terrorists on the orders of their foreign masters. According to former intelligence chief, Rahmatullah Nabil, figures within the highest ranks of the government maintain the interests of different foreign countries, yet continue to enjoy their position and the backing of the president – in other words they are “untouchable”. Hanif Atmar, senior national security advisor, and Masoom Stanekzai, the intelligence chief, are called the “suit and tie wearing” Taliban by our people for their lack of action against the Taliban, and the figures within the government who serve the intelligence agencies that support the Taliban.

The corruption and absolute breakdown of military leadership means that the Taliban can easily penetrate the capital city, military bases, ministries, military hospitals, and now the diplomatic area. Regarding yesterday’s attack, Afghan soldiers standing guard at the gates of Kabul complained of lack of forces to secure all the roads that lead to Kabul from different parts of the country and the interior Ministry indifferently stated that reinforcement is “underway”, after months of countless attacks on the capital city! These complaints are heard all over Afghanistan from helpless Afghan forces who risk their lives every day, yet receive no significant assistance from the state.

No group has claimed responsibility: what is said in Afghanistan about the author of this attack?

The Taliban denied any responsibility, and Afghan intelligence have stated that the Haqqani Network inside Pakistan carried out the attack with the help of the Pakistani intelligence. ISIS has not made a statement yet. The specific target of the attack is also unknown, which would have offered clues as to which country was behind the attack. Afghanistan has become the center of intelligence warfare between the West and its regional rivals, Russia, China, Iran, and India. The U.S. and NATO, along with Pakistan are heavily engaged in fostering terrorism and designing plans using terrorist groups to achieve their strategic interests. If Russian or Iran support a certain Taliban leader or group, he is immediately targeted by the U.S.. Similarly, if India supports some group of terrorists, it is immediately attacked by the U.S., with Pakistan at its heels. In this complex and foggy situation, it is very difficult to ascertain exactly which intelligence agency is behind such attacks, but the U.S. knows this very well and might even have prior knowledge of such attacks, but it never reveals such information. We believe if some attack of this scale was actually planned against the U.S. – which is unlikely since all the terrorist groups are on a leash in U.S.’s hand – it would be neutralized before even materializing. Such is the game ongoing in Afghanistan today.

When do you think it will end in your country? What must happen to attacks like this have an end?

The only solution to this situation is in the hands of the people of Afghanistan. If our people are mobilized and organized under a truly democratic and national leadership, and rise up against their enemies – Islamic fundamentalists inside and outside the government and their foreign masters – only then can our country escape from this quagmire. After the Taliban were ousted and the U.S. promised not to support fundamentalist forces, our people were very hopeful about peace and prosperity returning to the country after decades of war. After a few years, the insecurity and instability returned in a more vicious form than before, killing thousands of innocent civilians every year. Afghanistan is now in a deadlock, under siege from all sides, and only our people have the great strength and power to defeat these bloodthirsty foreign powers and their traitorous stooges.

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