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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 articles on CLJ from IWPR
Hi all, have been occupied with other projects for a little while but am now going to backtrack and update the media monitor section of the site with some choice articles from the past few months, starting with continued coverage of the Constitutional Loya Jirga in December/January.
Every Word Has a Special Significance; The inclusion of the word `resistance' in the preamble of the proposed constitution triggers heated, and sometimes violent, debates. By Danesh Karokhel and Qayum Babak in Kabul (ARR No. 92, 24-Dec-03) Institute for War & Peace Reporting The word `resistance' in the preamble of the new Afghan constitution has triggered a scuffle among Loya Jirga delegates and could be removed from the draft. The term `moqawmat', or resistance, was adopted by Northern Alliance fighters soon after factional fighting started following the defeat of the Communists in 1992. But of late, the term has also come to symbolize their war against the Taleban. The fourth paragraph of the preamble of the draft constitution acknowledges "the sacrifices and historic struggles, rightful jihad and resistance of the nation." But many delegates have raised objections to the inclusion of moqawmat. Some say the meaning is unclear, while others say its inclusion will only encourage the Northern Alliance to demand more privileges. An elected representative of Jowzjan province, Gul Ahmad Paiman, said that while slain Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud did participate in the "resistance" out of love of country, some "criminals" now seek to justify their actions with the same term. "A number of criminals have abused the term `moqawmat', have committed murders and pillages, and they could use this term to rescue themselves from the people [justice] in future," he said. Pulwasha Hassan, one of the 38 members of the coordination committee, said there was much debate on the use of this word in the 10 committees. "Most of the people have rejected it, and there is a good chance this word will be removed," she told IWPR. In some cases, the conflict over the use of the term has been intense. Malawi Ahmad Nabi Mohammadi, a former jihadi whose party, Harakat-in- qelab-i-Islami (Islamic Revolutionary Movement) was supportive of the Taleban, was the chairman of one committee considering the constitutional draft. He objected so strenuously to inclusion of the term `moqawmat' that a shouting match erupted and delegates had to physically restrain Mohammadi from getting into a fist fight with another committee member, according to Faizullah Qaderi, a delegate from Faryab who witnessed the confrontation. The committee decided to replace Mohammadi as its chairman and, in the end, voted to retain the word `moqawmat'. Mohammadi could not be reached for comment. El Murad Arghoon, representing Mazar-e-Sharif at the Loya Jirga, said that his committee also had strong debates on the term. "The aggression by Pakistan and Al-Qaida would be ignored [forgotten] if the term `moqawmat' is removed", he said, explaining his support of retaining the term. But Sayed Mohammed Hanif, a delegate from Logar province south of Kabul, said, "The term `moqawmat' is the creation of northern people, and should not be inscribed in the constitution." Abdul Ghani, a delegate from the eastern province of Nengarhar, claims that the majority of delegates in his group rejected the use of this term. "There have been many resistances here among groups [civil war], so which resistance does it mean?" he asked. A member of the Constitution Commission, Shukria Barakzai, agrees that the term could be removed. "There is no definition for the `moqawmat' era. Who has conducted resistance against who?," he said. Danish Karokhel is an IWPR editor/reporter in Kabul. Qayum Babak is an independent journalist in Mazar participating in IWPR's Loya Jirga reporting project.
Jihadi Presence Questioned By Mohmmad Monir Mehraban in Kabul (ARR No. 90, 22-Dec-03) Institute for War & Peace Reporting President Hamed Karzai's list of 54 selected delegates to the Loya Jirga is raising some eyebrows among their 450 elected counterparts and outside observers of the process. The selected delegate list includes many of the jihadi leaders who fought first the Soviets and then each other in Afghanistan's 23 years of war. "Hamed Karzai with this action ignored a chapter of democracy," said Dr Ghulam Habib Panjshiri, a social science professor at Kabul University. Ustad Massoud, an official at the Independent Commission for Human Rights, said he believed Karzai had been heavily influenced by questions of politics. "Hamed Karzai has made an investment in the jihadi leaders for the elections in Afghanistan in 2004," he told IWPR. Top of the list of 54, which was expanded by two when Karzai appointed two disabled people at the last minute, was Sibghatullah Mujaddidi, who was briefly president of Afghanistan in 1992 when Karzai served under him as deputy foreign minister. Mujaddidi was elected chair of the Loya Jirga last Monday, and has made his presence felt since. He ordered a woman delegate Malalai Joya to be removed after she publicly protested at the dominance of Afghanistan's wartime leaders at the gathering, only relenting when other delegates supported her. Other jihadi leaders include Pir Ahmed Gailani, Ayatollah Mohammad Asef Muhseni, Ahmad Nabi Mohammadi, Mohammad Akbari, Abdul Rashid Dostum and Ustad Farid. Other leaders from the jihad period like Abdul Rasul Sayyaf and Burhanuddin Rabbani got to the assembly as elected members, but many delegates feel the dominance of these groups has been greatly increased by Karzai's list of selectees. The country's largest circulation weekly Kilid magazine put a cartoon on its cover last week showing a jihadi leader standing in the middle of one of the committees at the Loya Jirga. A group of male and female delegates are sitting round looking nervous with their hands tied behind the backs. The jihadi leader says, "I think no one disagrees with me, do they?" In the absence of democratic political structures, many jihadi figures still wield enormous influence in Afghanistan's political life. Many retain their own private forces around the country. Observers say Karzai has used the list to increase participation of groups that had relatively weak representation in the body of elected delegates. Some 26 of the 54 selected representatives are women - only five of them were directly elected. The list also includes other personalities from Afghan public life, such as Kabul University president Akbar Popal, the deceased Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud's brother Wali Massoud, a head of the small but influential Ismaili community Sayed Shah Naser Naderi and Sardar Abdul Wali, the son-in-law of ex-king Zahir Shah. Karzai's spokesman Jawed Ludin said the list had been selected to increase the diversity of opinion in the jirga, but not with any specific idea of accommodating jihadi factions. "We can see that these members are visibly opposed to the draft constitution," he said. Mujaddidi said the selections proved this gathering was in keeping with social justice. "According to Islamic Law, and also the 1964 constitution, the head of government has the right to introduce more than fifty people to the Loya Jirga as selected members," he said. Masouda Jalal, an elected delegate from Kabul, said the selected delegates were all working for Karzai inside the tent. "I see that even these people promise some privileges for the elected members, to work for Karzai," she said. Some delegates raised the fact that the list of representatives did not cite these women's profession, unlike most of the other delegates. Ludin said this was because some of them had no profession and were wives and mothers, "We have given the right to house wives to attend this Loya Jirga." Mohmmad Monir Mehraban is participating in the IWPR Loya Jirga reporting project.
Row Over Disabled Delegates By Hafizullah Gardesh in Kabul (ARR No. 90, 22-Dec-03) Institute for War & Peace Reporting President Hamed Karzai's appointment of two people to represent the country's one million disabled has proved controversial, with some handicapped groups claiming the delegates were inappropriately chosen. Ihsanullah Fayaz, who is blind, and Same-ul-Haq, who has no feet, were chosen after a group of around 20 handicapped people staged a protest in front of the constitutional commission office in central Kabul the day before the meeting opened. Amanullah Daqiq, who calls himself the representative of the Afghanistan Handicapped Union, said the two were chosen because they had friends in government. Karzai has used his list of selected delegates to boost representation of groups like women, religious minorities and others whose voices are considered for broad consensus but who might not be elected. Amanullah Daqiq and colleague Haji Rahim Shah were later accepted as guests at the Loya Jirga. Dr Farooq Wardak, secretary of the constitution commission, said it had been planning to include delegates to represent the handicapped before the demonstrations. There are up to a million disabled people in Afghanistan, most of them the result of a generation of war. Men missing one or more limbs can be seen hobbling down the streets of any town or city. "Handicapped people should be involved in the big issues of the country and they should be asked for their opinions," said Mohammed Jafar Tawakali, president of the Handicapped People's Union of the province of Nangarhar. "We lost parts of our body while we were protecting the people of Afghanistan. At the moment, most of our handicapped people are begging on the streets and living under the dust of the commander's fancy cars." Hafizullah Gardesh is an IWPR reporter in Kabul.
Double Passport Debate By Lailuma Saded in Kabul (ARR No. 90, 22-Dec-03) Institute for War & Peace Reporting In a country with millions of people returning home after spending years - even decades - abroad, dual citizenship is set to be a hot topic at the Constitutional Loya Jirga. In the draft document before the gathering, the president is to be forbidden from holding more than one passport. However, Hamid Taha, deputy of the cultural branch of powerful Jamiat- i-Islami party, said that the party's position is that many more high officials should be forced to choose. "Those who have dual citizenship should not be members of the cabinet, the head of the government, ministers and advisers because those who have dual citizenship don't feel the same responsibilities [for Afghanistan]." The brother of slain Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, Wali Massoud, recently wrote that it was "very dangerous" for those in high positions to have a foreign passport. "The constitution should restrict the president, ministers, the attorney-general, members of the judiciary, and high ranking officials in the armed forces from holding dual citizenship." Massoud argued that in recent years thousands of Afghans had got citizenship of Pakistan "which has created security problems in the country". Anwarul Haq Uloomi, a well-known politician previously associated with communists but now leading Mutahed Milli Hezb, the National United Party, does not see the problem. "Double citizenship doesn't cause problems to the nation and it doesn't cause corruption, it is alright because citizenship is only a piece of paper." But particularly among those who fought in the jihad, resentment of those who spent the years of conflict abroad, to then return and take up high positions, runs high. Politically the issue is also used to question the loyalties of pro- Western members of the interim administration who may be keeping their options open to return abroad. It is such a touchy subject that many of those who spent years overseas refuse to confirm or deny whether they have a second passport. Cabinet members of who have lived in Western nations for considerable spells of time include Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani; Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali; Higher Education Minister Dr Mohammad Sharif Fayez; Reconstruction Minister Mohammad Amin Farhang and Minister of Culture and Information Sayed Makhdoom Rahin. The head of the interim administration, President Hamed Karzai, spent most of the years of conflict as a commander based in Pakistan but was also in the United States for a couple of years. The question of whether he held a foreign passport was directly put to Deputy Minister of Culture and Information Abdul Hamid Mubarez who told IWPR that he spent 12 and a half years in France but did not get citizenship. He emphasised that those who have spent time abroad had received good training which they could now use to serve Afghanistan. Abdul Salam Azimi, deputy president of the constitution commission, said that in drawing up the draft a lot of discussion has taken place on this issue of dual citizenship. "One problem is that the international community will think that Afghanistan is creating problems for those Afghans who have become experts and specialists in foreign countries and now want to return to help the country," he said. He pointed out that other countries allowed high-ranking officials to hold dual citizenship and argued that it was a person's right, "The experience of the last three decades in Afghanistan showed that double citizenship has never been an indicator of the service and character of a person." Azimi estimated that about five or six of the cabinet held dual citizenship. Constitution commission member Fatima Gailani, who spent 20 years in London and four more in America before returning to Afghanistan two years ago, told IWPR that she carried a Saudi Arabian passport and an Afghan one. But she doesn't think very many people are opposed to dual citizenship in general, since it isn't that common. She added the one exception is the president or prime minister if that system of government is opted for. Afghans believe the head of state should not hold two passports, she said, because his loyalty might be divided and in a time of chaos or war he might leave the country. On the streets of the capital there was a mixed reaction to questions on the issue. "Experts and specialists should be responsive to the problems of the people and should render service honestly," said Khalid, who is a high school teacher. "It is not important if they have single or double citizenship." Ghuncha Gul Habib Saafi, a teacher at Kabul University's medical institute, says he could see the practical advantage of attracting back Afghans from abroad while allowing them to keep their options open for the future. "People were obliged to leave Afghanistan, and now it would be good if they can come and use their expertise for the benefit of the country. However, the loss is that foreigners have a different culture, and those Afghans who have spent a lot of time abroad if they are given key posts they will try to bring in foreign culture." The issue of exactly who is a citizen of Afghanistan has largely been left vague with Article Four of the draft constitution noting, "The nation of Afghanistan consists of all individuals who are citizens of Afghanistan" and "The word Afghan applies to every citizen of Afghanistan". Lailuma Saded is participating in IWPR's Loya Jirga reporting project.
Constitutional Decisions Delayed; The coordinating committee has yet to finish its work on 38 of the 160 articles that will make up Afghanistan's new constitution. By Rahimullah Samander and Rahim Gul Sarwan in Kabul (ARR No. 94, 28-Dec-03) Institute for War & Peace Reporting The debate by the 502-member Loya Jirga over crucial pieces of the draft constitution has been delayed while the coordination committee wrestles over its recommendations. Members of the panel said 38 of the 160 articles that make up the draft constitution were still being debated Saturday afternoon. The coordination committee "is still working", said Safia Siddiqi, one of the deputy chairs of the Loya Jirga. "They have agreed on 122 articles and the remaining 38 will be finished soon", she said, possibly in time to begin the Loya Jirga debate Sunday. The committee was to have begun its presentation to the entire Loya Jirga Saturday. Instead, ministers spend the day presenting reports on the government's accomplishments and obstacles in the past year. Previously, the session has been taken up by speeches from individual delegates concerning problems in their provinces. The 38-member coordination committee includes the chairmen, deputies, and secretaries of the Loya Jirga's 10 working committees, as well as the elected leadership of the Loya Jirga. In addition, a group of observers from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and members of the commission that drafted the constitution attend the meetings of this committee. Committee delegates have described several significant changes in the draft document that would increase the authority of Islam in the government. They said these were already approved by the panel. Some delegates, however, have complained about how the 10 committees have dealt with some of the more controversial subjects under consideration. Dr. Ulum Kabir Ranjbar, head of the lawyer's association and a Kabul delegate, said the chairmen of some committees controlled the debate and squashed opposition by referring to Islam as the ultimate authority. "When they recite hadiths and Koran, you cannot say anything," he told IWPR. Ranjbar said that delegates who compared notes from different committees found that this reflexive response, as well as the reasoning for arguments in some debates, followed a consistent pattern – as if they were following a script. A delegate from Paktika, who did not want to be named, agreed with the suggestion made by Farah delegate Malalai Joya – that all the jihadi leaders should have been appointed on a single committee – was a good one. "Since they were distributed among all the committees, they had influence in every committee and suppressed opinions of the delegates", he said. Others, however, disagreed. Ghulam Rabbani Rahmani, a delegate from Takhar province in northeastern Afghanistan, told IWPR, "The secretaries who were elected by the delegates transmitted the opinions correctly and honestly, but the secretaries who are chosen by the secretariat [of the constitutional commission] only brought in the opinions they chose", he said. Siddiqi agreed that there were some differences in the way secretaries reported the committee work, but said the mistakes were not deliberate and not of any substance – only errors in the wording of statements by delegates. She said the differences were due to the rush and heavy workload, and that the work of the secretaries is being checked. Rahimullah Samander is a local editor/staff reporter for IWPR in Kabul. Rahim Gul Sarwan, an independent journalist in Kabul, is participating in IWPR's Loya Jirga reporting project.
Delegate Profile: Deputy Chairman, Mirwais Yasini
By Hafizullah Gardesh, Ezatullah Zawab and Bashir Gawkh in Kabul
(ARR No. 94, 28-Dec-03)
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
At 42, Mirwais Yasini, the deputy chairman of the Constitutional Loya
Jirga, has already had numerous careers. A university graduate with
an advanced degree in religious law, he has also been international
carpet trader and the head of the country's anti-narcotic department.
Now, he's ready to launch himself on to a bigger political stage.
Yasini comes from eastern Nengrahar province, one of the two main
areas opium-poppy growing regions of Afghanistan. He was the top vote
getter in his province in the election for delegates to the Loya
Jirga and received the most votes from his fellow delegates to serve
as deputy chairman of the 502-member body.
Described as a moderate and trusted by many delegates, he serves as
deputy under the chairman, Sibghatullah Mujadidi. He is known to
support a political system headed by a strong presidency.
Borni in 1961 in Nengrahar, Yasini's father was a malawi, or a
religious scholar. After the Soviet invasion in 1978, Yasini's family
fled to Pakistan. There, he joined two jehadi groups – Malawi
Mohammad Yunus Khalisis Hezb-e-Islami and Pir Gailaniis Mahaz-e-
Melli – mostly because of his family's connections to the leaders of
these two groups. He fought in Tora Bora, Khost and Paktia. But when
the jehadi parties took power in Afghanistan in 1992, he broke off
contact with them.
In 1986, Yasini began studying international and Islamic Sharia law
at Islamabad International University. He graduated in 1993 with a
master's degree in both areas. Instead of practicing law, however, he
decided to become a businessman, trading Afghan carpets with Europe.
"There was fighting in my country; no government, no courts, and,
especially during Taleban times, there was nothing", he said,
explaining his career choice. "On the other hand, we needed food."
After the fall of the Taleban in 2001,Yasini returned to Nengrahar
Province, where he became head of the provincial Red Crescent. Two
months after his return, he was appointed to the finance ministry in
Kabul as head of the economic affairs evaluation section of the
foreign relations department. He was a delegate from Kama District in
Nengrahar Province at the last Loya Jirga held in June 2002. Today,
Yasini heads Afghanistan's Anti-Narcotics Department.
A native Pashtun speaker, Yasini is also fluent in Dari, English,
Urdu and Arabic. He is married with three daughters and two sons. His
family lives in Islamabad, he said, for the sake of their education.
One of sons, however, is living with him now in Kabul in order to
learn Pashto and Dari.
Kohzad, a delegate from Faryab Province, thinks Yasini has been both
positive and neutral as a deputy chairman. "He is impartial
outwardly, but maybe inwardly he isn't", he said.
Nadir Khan Katawazi, a delegate from southern Paktika Province,
credits Yasini's ability to be both unbiased and patriotic for his
sudden rise to prominence. "There's a line that divides
fundamentalists and the patriots, and Yasini is on the side of the
patriots", Katawazi said.
But other delegates disagree. Ashraf Ramadan, a delegate from
northern Balkh Province, says Yasini owes his current position to
support of powerful patrons.
"In the election of Yasini, President [Ahmed] Karzai and the finance
minister, Ashraf Ghani, had prominent roles", Ramadan said. "Yasini
is a reflection of Karzai. He is like a bridge between the cabinet
and the Loya Jirga."
Yasini disagreed. "I swear on Allah and the Prophet that I'm not
under the influence of Karzai or anyone else", he said. "The only
cause of my success was that people trusted me. I don't lie or cheat,
and I treat the delegates well", he said.
Hafizullah Gardesh is a staff reporter for IWPR in Kabul. Ezatullah
Zawab and Bashir Gawkh are independent journalists from Jalalabad
participating in IWPR's Loya Jirga reporting project.
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.