|Kabul: 5:30 AM      |
Welcome to Kabul:Reconstructions. You can follow the information below, which has been gathered from a
number of sources by a number of participants (click on the names at left for bios), to reconstruct your
own picture of events in Kabul since this site was launched on March 8th, 2003 and, in a sense, since the
reconstruction of Afghanistan began somewhere in the winter of 2001-02.
Some of this information has been provided in response to specific questions submitted by visitors like you. Please note that this section of the project is now maintained as an archive and has not been updated since 2005. Click here to ASK A QUESTION.
Arian Mouj Sharifi
More security perspectives (The Standard)
Mon, October 13, 2003 Witnessing punishments on Sharia law still haunts Afghan teen By STEPHEN THORNE http://www.canoe.ca KABUL (CP) - Eighteen-year-old Sohrab Shaheed still has nightmares about Friday afternoons under the Taliban. After prayers on the Muslim holy day, Shaheed and his friends would head down to the national stadium to watch punishments meted out under Sharia law in the form of executions, stonings and dismemberment. A shot to the head for murder, a hail of rocks for adultery, a hand carefully removed for thievery. Only about 200 or 300 people would attend, recalls Shaheed, but they were almost all young boys, including him, whom he referred to in the third person throughout his gruesome account. "Before an execution, they thought it would be very exciting to see what would happen," said Shaheed, who is pursuing a post-secondary education in Pakistan and hopes to someday study medicine in Canada. "For a young boy, it was entertainment. But afterward, they would be very sad. They couldn't sleep at night, after seeing that terrible moment. They were disappointed, disgusted and embarrassed." Still, almost two years after the Taliban was ousted by a U.S.-led coalition, Shaheed feels the harsh Islamic law that still haunts him was the right law for Afghanistan. "It was a lesson for those people," he says. "They will never steal anything because they see if they steal anything, the same thing will happen to them. I agree because Islam says this." 'Under the Taliban, shopkeepers could leave their businesses unlocked at night and no one would dare steal from them, not even a single chocolate, said Shaheed. "Now there is a lot of crime, a lot prostitution, a lot of thieves (but) there is no punishment," he said. "There is police and they say they will catch the thief. But if that thief pays, they will leave that thief alone. So a lot of thieves from every part of Afghanistan, they have come here. Many killers, many criminals." Despite the leadership of interim President Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan remains a land of poverty, unrest, instability and stark contrasts. Looking to the future, it seems chained to its past. More than a million people have flocked to Kabul since the war. It is a bustling, cosmopolitan third-world city where business now thrives, many women have shed the burka and the streets are relatively peaceful. But some say it is a false economy and fragile peace - that Kabul is an island in a gathering storm bolstered by the spending of 350 aid organizations whose members are afraid to leave the capital and where law and order hang by a string in the form of 5,000 NATO troops serving under the International Security Assistance Force. Karzai's government is seen to have little influence outside the city. "To the north and south, it is not going well," admits the top Canadian soldier in Afghanistan, Maj.-Gen. Andrew Leslie. "There have been more attacks in the last two weeks than in the previous 12. "They are now targeting relief workers and care workers - people who are trying to help." ISAF will expand its forces out into smaller centres in the form of provincial reconstruction teams or PRTs in which combat engineers protected by fighting forces will build schools, reconstruct roads and restore infrastructure. Canada's one-year, 4,000-member commitment to the Kabul force could in 2004 be siphoned off into several PRTs, or it could be bolstered within Kabul itself while others take the bulk of outside work. Such efforts - near and far - will not go unchallenged. New territorial battles between warlords are raging in Mazar-e Sharif, to the north. And despite the continued presence of 11,500 U.S.-led coalition troops in the country, the Taliban and al-Qaida have regained footholds in some border regions with Pakistan, pushing to within 40 kilometres of Kabul. Another insurgent group, Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin - or HIG - led by former prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, has reportedly formed alliances with former Taliban and al-Qaida enemies. Hekmatyar has begun what Leslie says is a terrorist campaign against ISAF forces around the capital, including an Oct. 2 attack when two Canadian soldiers were killed by an anti-tank mine believed to have been planted just 2 1/2 hours before their patrol passed by. Many girls have returned to school - banned under the Taliban - but attacks on schools and book burnings have intensified lately. Afghan police and army forces are limited in their ability to maintain order. Many complain they haven't been paid in months. Graft is simply a way of doing business in Afghanistan. What cash is available to the central government is picked clean by the time it filters down to local police precincts and army outposts. Police collect "taxes" from truckers; they even say they issue receipts. Heavily armed, non-uniformed "soldiers" at remote checkpoints smoke opium, hash and marijuana and are suspected of turning a blind eye to the insurgency. Within the government itself, there are still power struggles between Pashtuns and Tajiks. "I think NATO is going to be here for at least five years," said Leslie. "If ISAF were to expand across the entirety of Afghanistan and do everything for everybody, then the troop buildup would be unlimited. "There is a bill to pay - in terms of lives, soldiers and treasure. And how much are the nations of the world willing to contribute to what is a very tough and complex problem?" Meanwhile, 25 years of war continues to exact its toll on Afghans and others in myriad ways. Nasiru Dine, 32, a former mujahed fighter from northern Afghanistan, lost a leg, part of his right hand and his right eye in a landmine blast 14 years ago. Dine helped free Afghanistan from the Soviet occupation, but now he lives in a tent camp on the edge of Kabul with his wife and three children where life is a daily scramble for survival. There is virtually no support network for people like Dine or for the thousands of widows whose husbands didn't survive, many of whom can be found begging on city streets. "It is very difficult for widows," said Aziza Sadiqi, a 33-year-old mother of five children living in the same encampment. "We cannot support our families. We have to wash clothes or do labour to earn money. "Widows have no rights. Sometimes my children sleep without taking their lunch or dinner." Aid organizations do not prioritize their programs properly, said Sadiqi, an orthopedic therapist whose husband was killed by the Taliban four years ago. Nor does the government seem able or committed to help, she said. "Karzai is building a kingdom for himself. It will do us no good and our lives will never get better. We want the foreigners to help people who are in bad situations, not those people who have vehicles and clothes and homes. "They are helping the ministers, that is all." Probably the most co-ordinated national program in Afghanistan is demining. Estimates of the number of mines still in the ground in Afghanistan range between five million and 11 million, but nobody knows for sure, says Dan Kelly of Newcastle, N.B., who has served as program director of the UN Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan for 4 1/2 years. There are 850 square kilometres of suspected mined areas in Afghanistan - potentially productive land that has been rendered useless. "The other major impact is on victims," said Kelly. "It is confirmed today that there are over 100 mine and unexploded ordnance victims per month in Afghanistan - definitely, definitely the highest victim figure in the world today." But getting better. In the mid-1990s, the figure was 300 victims a month. Anti-mine groups aim to have the country effectively mine-free by 2012, at a cost of some $670 million Cdn. At the Organization for Mine Awareness and Reconstruction in Afghanistan, or OMAR, director Al-haj Fazal Karim is collecting relics of the wars that have plagued his country for centuries. Between the OMAR Museum in a house in upscale central Kabul and a scrapyard near the national stadium where Shaheed watched executions, Fazal Karim has put together a chronology of Afghanistan's violent history. There are muskets and Scud missiles, biplanes and Soviet Hind helicopters, cannons and rocket launchers. The scrapyard will someday be a museum and educational facility where the fuselage of a ruined Ariana Afghan Airlines plane will serve as a mine-awareness classroom and the crumbled buildings a conference centre and a computer science lab. Despite the museum project, Fazal Karim said Afghans must look to the future where tolerance and change are a hallmark. "We must pursue national unity and not distinguish one group - Tajik or Pashtun, Hazara or otherwise - from another." Fazal Karim said Afghans must raise their voices against the warlords who have run their country for centuries - some of them heroes in the fight against the Soviet occupation that ended in 1989. "These warlords are not the future of anyone," he said. "We cannot build our country by greed, fundamentalism, communism, left or right. "We are human beings, a creation of God. We must support a real democracy and equal rights for everyone. "We appreciate the Mujahedeen and what they did," he said. "But they have lost their way. They are squandering the achievements we had during the Russian occupation."
(link)  Posted By: mariam   October 20th 2003, 2003 6:30 PM
Kabul: Partial Reconstructions is an installation
and public dialogue project that explores the multiple meanings and resonances of
the idea of reconstruction -- as both process and metaphor -- in the context of present-day Kabul.
www.kabul-reconstructions.net is an online discussion forum, information resource, and medium for the communication of questions and answers about the reconstruction between people inside and outside the city of Kabul itself.