The Interpreters We Left Behind.
"As our troops pull out of Iraq
and Afghanistan, we're abandoning fixers and translators to the dangerous countrymen who view them as traitors. Asylum in the U.S. could be their last hope. If only we'd let them in
The A-Team Killings
"Last spring, the remains of 10 missing Afghan villagers were dug up outside a U.S. Special Forces base – was it a war crime or just another episode in a very dirty war?"
Inside the Nanga Parbat Murders
— One of the worst massacres in mountaineering history happened this summer in Pakistan. Will it happen again?
from Outside Online
, July 30, 2013 (more details in Climbers Recount Murder on Famous Pakistan Peak
at National Geographic
and Chilling Accounts of Nanga Parbat Massacre
). One Pakistani Taliban
group claimed the attack was retribution for a U.S. drone strike that killed Wali-ur-Rehman
on May 29, 2013. After a dangerous investigation
by Pakistani Army forces and local police, 20 perpetrators
by August 19, 2013.
, sixteen-year-old Pakistani education activist, has delivered her first public address
since she was shot in the head and neck by Taliban gunmen in October last year
. Yousafzai's speech at the UN headquarters in New York today is available in full as text
. She has been credited with bringing the issue of women's education to global attention, a crucial concern given that a quarter of young women around the world have not completed primary school.
A Deadly Triangle
- the proxy war in Afghanistan
"This is What Winning Looks Like
is a disturbing new documentary about the ineptitude, drug abuse, sexual misconduct, and corruption of the Afghan security forces as well as the reduced role of US Marines due to the troop withdrawal." [via vice
] [more inside]
"We're just trying to lead normal lives, doing what we want to do.
Why shouldn't we?" The members [of Afghanistan women's national team], who range in age from 16 to 24, are up against widespread resentment from their relatives* and neighbors, and threats from men who disapprove of women playing sports
. They managed to participate in an inclusive tournament in Berlin
and they registered their first official win as they defeated Pakistan national women's team 4-0 and reached the semi-finals of the 2nd SAFF women's championship in 2012 improving on their past performance (rough 2010 SAFF footage
). They're able to practice just three times a week for 90 minutes, occasionally at the stadium
) or in its gym, but more often at a helicopter landing pad on a base for NATO troops, where practices are interrupted by takeoffs and landings.
Players have some outside support from hummel
, the sponsor of the women's
and the men's
team, and have had football clinics in Stuttgart
and with Olympic U.S. player Lorrie Fair in Kabul
. [more inside]
In seventh grade, after school let out, Humaira Mohammed Bachal opened her home in Thatta (Pakistan) to 10-12 friends who weren't allowed to go to school, and taught them what she was learning. By the time she was 16 and ready to take her 9th grade exams, (over her father's objections,) she and four other girls were teaching more than 100 students. Now, her sister Tahira, (age 18,) is principal of the school Humaira founded: with 22 teachers serving more than 1,000 kids in a Karachi slum (yt)
. All in a country where if you are a young girl in a rural area, you are unlikely ever to see the inside of a classroom, and advocating education for young girls can be life-threatening. [more inside]
The 14 year old Pakistani diarist and feminist activist Malala Yousafzai (ملاله یوسفزۍ) has been shot in the head in a targeted attack by the Taliban [NewsPakistan
]. She is presently in hospital, and in a stable condition. The attack was in apparent reprisal for passing her diaries regarding the Taliban's ban on female education to the BBC in 2009 [original BBC diary story
], but also her continued activism and pressure for women and girls' rights. The attempted killing is part of a wider conflict over women's rights within Pakistan, and Pakistani feminism in general tends to be bound up with religion and the shifting boundaries of having to argue against both the patriarchal government and the Taliban itself.
Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper.
"Twelve years after the Taliban blew up the world-famous Bamiyan Buddhas, a Chinese mining firm -- developing one of the world's largest copper deposits -- threatens to destroy
another of Afghanistan's archeological treasures
." Campaign to Save Mes Aynak
was one of the deadliest
months in Afghanistan, for both civilians
and soldiers. The death toll was increased by so-called 'green-on-blue'
attacks by members of the Afghan National Army
forces on ISAF and US
forces. [more inside]
America's Last Prisoner of War by Michael Hastings (single page)
- In the early-morning hours of June 30th, according to soldiers in the unit, Bowe approached his team leader not long after he got off guard duty and asked his superior a simple question: If I were to leave the base, would it cause problems if I took my sensitive equipment? [more inside]
What might help defeat Muslim extremists in Pakistan for good? Bollywood!
Pakistan's pro-Taliban Jamiat Ulam-i-Islam Party (JUI) has denounced the armed struggle by Islamist militants. "It is a unified decision of all the religious parties in Pakistan enshrined in this document that we call for an unarmed struggle within legal and constitutional limits,"
Freedom to love, tested in Afghanistan.
When Rafi Mohammed, a 17-year-old Tajik
Afghani, met and fell in love with his girlfriend Halima, he did not think about the rage that would erupt in her ethically conservative Hazara
neighborhood, or of the lengths to which the local police and religious leaders would go to protect the couple from an angry mob in a region of Afghanistan which has seen fewer attacks recently
and has been restored to local control. Despite -- or perhaps because of -- the violence that ensued, many of the locals have found themselves opposed to the fundamentalists, unwilling to see another pair of young lovers executed, as happened under Taliban rule
""I feel so bad. I just pray that God gives this girl back to me. I'm ready to lose my life. I just want her safe release. . . It’s the heart. When you love somebody, you don’t ask who she is or what she is. You just go for it.”
The Miscreants of Taliwood is probably one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. And it defies all types of film making (in a good way). The subject? The Talibanization of a certain part of Pakistan and the assault on art, entertainment, and humanity. But it’s not quite a documentary. It is a surreal trip through the fiction and the nonfiction of Peshawar, NWFP and FATA. It is fake, it is real, it is unbelievable. Basically, it is Pakistan. [more inside]
A Tragedy of Errors.
On Feb. 21, 2010, a convoy of vehicles carrying civilians headed down a mountain in central Afghanistan and American eyes in the sky were watching. "The Americans were using some of the most sophisticated tools
in the history of war, technological marvels of surveillance and intelligence gathering that allowed them to see into once-inaccessible corners of the battlefield. But the high-tech wizardry would fail
in its most elemental purpose: to tell the difference between friend and foe." FOIA
of US cockpit and radio conversations and an interactive feature
provide a more in-depth understanding of what happened.
Is it wise to negotiate with the Taliban? Probably not without first checking credentials.
Apparently the "Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour," very senior commander in the Taliban movement, who has been engaged in talks to end the Afghanistan war, is no such person. Whoever he was, and whoever sent him, he also walked away with "a lot of money." (SLNYT)
On 12 February 2009, soldiers from the ADF 1st Commando regiment
crept through the dark near the village of Surkh Morghab
, in southern Afghanistan. What happened next will be closely scrutinised, however grenades were used and five children were killed. [more inside]
"I showed it to my two young sons, 9 and 12, who both immediately felt sorry for Aisha and asked why anyone would have done such harm to her." [WARNING: Graphic image.]
Richard Stengel, managing editor of Time
magazine, on why he chose to run on the magazine's cover a photo of a young woman whose nose and ears had been cut off at the insistence of the Taliban. It accompanies the article "Afghan Women and the Return of the Taliban
'BP And The Axis of Evil'
: Adam Curtis provides some historic information on the Anglo-Perisan Oil Company, later the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, later BP. [more inside]
One Night in Afghanistan
THE PRESIDENT: at a time when too many American institutions have let us down, when too many institutions have put short-term gain in front of a commitment to duty and a commitment to what's right... all of you want to build -- and that is something essential about America. [Al Qaeda and the violent extremists have] got no respect for human life. You see dignity in every human being. That's part of what we value as Americans. They want to drive races and regions and religions apart. You want to bring people together
and see the world move forward together. [more inside]
That afternoon, American signals operators picked up bin Laden speaking to his followers. Fury kept a careful log of these communications in his notebook, which he would type up at the end of every day and pass up his chain of command. “The time is now,” bin Laden said. “Arm your women and children against the infidel!” Following several hours of high-intensity bombing, the Al Qaeda leader spoke again. Fury paraphrases: “Our prayers have not been answered. Times are dire. We didn’t receive support from the apostate nations who call themselves our Muslim brothers.” Bin Laden apologized to his men for having involved them in the fight and gave them permission to surrender.
Advance reports indicate 30,000 are headed to Afghanistan.
In addition, President Obama is seeking a commitment of more troops from allies
. The apparent broad plan is to make a short and intense deployment of some 40,000 troops against the Taliban, with pullout beginning in 2011
. The most intense troop engagements are expected next year.
On a reporting trip to Afghanistan in November of 2008, New York Times reporter David Rohde
and two of his colleagues were kidnapped by the Taliban. After being held captive for seven months in the mountains of Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan, David and one of his colleagues escaped in the middle of the night and made their way to freedom. He recounts the story in a five part series: Held by the Taliban
. [more inside]
Should the United States and Nato stay in Afghanistan? Andrew Bacevich
wrote an article
in commonweal saying that it is not and that the question has been insufficiently debated. Andrew Exum
(A former US Army Captain, now researcher who blogs as Abu Muqawama out of the Center for a New American Security
) quickly responded
to Bacevich saying that the issue has been carefully debated, pointing to a Stephen Biddle
article entitled Is It Worth It?
as an example.
As MeFi's may appreciate, the comments section of that post vigorously debated the point and an Exum has started an ongoing dialog at the abu Muqawama site. Resolved
, day 1
, day 2
, day 3
, day 4
, day 5
"As US and the UK forces struggle for a way forward in Afghanistan, John D McHugh's unique film from one of the US military's most dangerous outposts shows just how western forces are losing ground to the Taliban." Where are Afghanistan's missing millions?
"Clancy Chassay hears charges of corruption levelled against the UN and aid agencies after millions earmarked for a Kabul hospital disappear."
On the Militant Trail [Most recent of four articles with links to preceding pieces]
Renowned Asia Times correspondent Syed Saleem Shahzad
visits Peshawar, capital of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province and takes a journey with the Taliban through the Swat valley. His four-part series of articles examines the differing natures and strategies of various Taliban groups, describes a government counter-insurgency campaign gone seriously awry and finds indications that "a major battle will be fought in Pakistan before the annual spring offensive even begins in Afghanistan this year."
Pakistan in Peril.
"The relative calm in Iraq in recent months, combined with the drama of the US elections, has managed to distract attention from the catastrophe that is rapidly overwhelming Western interests in the part of the world that always should have been the focus of America's response to September 11: the al-Qaeda and Taliban heartlands on either side of the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan." [Via]
From Great Game to Grand Bargain.
"The crisis in Afghanistan and Pakistan is beyond the point where more troops will help. U.S. strategy must be to seek compromise with insurgents while addressing regional rivalries and insecurities." A new piece in Foreign Affairs
by Barnett R. Rubin
and Ahmed Rashid
With election season in the US, it's probably hard to get a less than Gung-ho picture of the war in Afghanistan, but this Spiegel Online article
paints a dark picture. "Pessimism about the situation has never been so high." High level NATO commanders are using phrases like "Doomed to Fail," "We are trapped," "repeating the same mistakes as the Soviets", military victory "neither feasible nor supportable," "downward spiral." For some it is so dark the only beacon of light would be peace talks with the Taliban. [more inside]
Return to the Valley of Death.
In this Vanity Fair
article, Sebastian Junger describes life with the men of Battle Company
at their Korengal Valley
outpost in Afghanistan. In Rolling Stone
, Nir Rosen describes his journey
into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan: How We Lost the War We Won