Kabul – Assassination Attempt

He has managed to escape several assassination attempts. Who knows what happens next. Since the beginning of 2008, there had not been any big incidence in Kabul yet, until today, when the government and people of Afghanistan was proudly celebrating the victory of the Holy War, to commemorate the withdrawal of Russian troops. I did not go to the scene myself, as the program is restricted to accredited journalits (I am now a freelancer), but some colleagues from Pajhwok went there for reportage since early morning. Nobody expected that the yearly military parade turned to be assassination attempt to President Karzai, and the attack turned bloody. Some TV cameramen and photographers lost their cameras amid the chaos. Here is the updated news: ——————– Afghanistan’s President Karzai Is Safe After Attack (Update1) By Jay Shankar April 27 (Bloomberg) – Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and foreign dignitaries are safe after an attack on a military parade in the capital, Kabul, the government said. At least one person was killed, Agence France-Presse reported. “The national police and army acted swiftly and are doing their job,’’ the government said today in an e-mailed statement. Karzai was escorted to safety from the parade ground [...]

April 27, 2008 // 1 Comment

Kabul – A Dilemma

Afghan government is really in dillematic problem due to the Korean hostage crisis Yesterday, in the party in the embassy, an Indonesian friend told me about the new announcement that foreigners in Kabul are requested not to do any unnecessary journey inside the city. Attack towards foreigners may occur, says the guy who is close to the American embassy. “Oh…ya…, if you believe American warning you will go nowhere. Even they put Bali in the travel warning,” said a guy. But I also believe Kabul is not Bali. Here, after the several kidnappings in just order of days, the security situation is tightening. It should be something behind it, and this time I prefer to believe announcement ‘from the intelligence source’. Today, there was a press conference held. Here, the presidential spokesman expressed the government commitment to do the best to free the Korean hostages. The details can not be unveiled yet, but the promise is for sure. The 23 Korean hostages, 2 males among which had been killed, now is the main topic in the country. Taliban did not demand anything but prisoner exchange. You set free our people from your jail, and we will deliver these 23 foreigners [...]

July 31, 2007 // 0 Comments

Kabul – Warning: Travel Ban in Afghanistan

No foreigners are allowed to take this road to leave Kabul overland, due to the Korean hostage crisis Following the worsening of the 23 Korean hostages’ crisis, Afghanistan government has instituted new strict security measures in order to protect foreign citizens in the country. Foreigners, de facto, are banned to travel outside Kabul overland. Any foreigners wishing to travel by land must submit first an application to police two days in advance of the trip. To enforce the travel ban, new checkpoints had been instituted at all of Kabul’s main roads. The ban is given to an unlimited time, or will be announced later. I am sure the recent hostage crisis will cause various indirect effects. South Korean government has already included Afghanistan in travel-ban list, forbidding any citizens to get into the country without permission from the government and Afghanistan government was requested not to allow Korean citizens to enter the country. Lonely Planet independent travelers’ guide book is going to publish Afghanistan edition this summer and Aga Khan Foundation is to hold Wakhan Festival in Wakhan Corridor (Badakhshan province) to promote tourism in the isolated area, but it’s very likely that situation in Afghanistan is still not too [...]

July 26, 2007 // 0 Comments

Kabul – Women and Terror

The road of Ghazni, where the incident took place The most recent news brought from the southern part of the country, is the striking hijacking of a bus full of foreigners in Qarabagh district, southern part of Ghazni province, by the Taliban. 18 foreigners on board, all Korean nationals, are taken hostage by the hijackers on 19 July. Among the 18 hostages, 15 of them are females. Initially the people were reported as tourists traveling from Kandahar to go back to Kabul, but later confirmation from the news agency reveals that these Koreans are Christians working as volunteers for a Christian missionary group, Saemmul Community Church in Bundang south of Seoul. These people entered Afghanistan on July 13 and were supposed to return home right after they arrive in Kabul. But the incident on their way to Kabul not only delayed their return, but also put a big question mark on their live survival. This is the largest-scale abduction conducted by the Taliban after 2001. The spokesman of Taliban urged the South Korean government to pull out its 200 troops in the Islamic Republic; otherwise these hostages would be slaughtered. Today I saw from BBC News the Korean newspapers showing [...]

July 21, 2007 // 0 Comments

Kabul – Nine Afghan Prisoners from Bagram

Prisoners released from Bagram Nine Afghan prisoners, from various the provinces of Khost, Ghazni, Paktia, Balkh, and Farah, were released from the US military main airbase at Bagram today. They were in detention for various periods, from 8 months to two years, on the charge of having links to Taliban resurgent. I went there with a reporter to attend the ‘ceremony of freedom.’ I was expecting to see cruel faces of Taliban supporters, but what I saw was some thin old men with white beards, some younger bearded ones, all in Afghan dresses with Chinese luggage bags. Everybody was numbered from 1 to 9. Haji Inayatullah, the eldest among the nine, a 76 year old man with white and red beard, was telling his unjustified detention in Bagram. The former Mujahidin commander loyal to Sibghatullah Mujaddidi was arrested and served one year in the American main airbase. Ironically, he was served the painful days in the detention center when he, following the government’s disarmament projects, was handling over 145 fire weapons and vehicles. His detention, he claimed, was unjust. He blamed the pro-Communist from Soviet era which now held high positions in his district, arranged everything as revenge to him [...]

July 11, 2007 // 0 Comments

Kabul – Life of Afghan Police

Two Afghan police (or soldiers) guarding the ex-palace in Kabul My experience yesterday, being beaten by police, is actually nothing new in life in Afghanistan, and especially for journalists. Rights of journalists, as any other civilians, are not yet observed by the police, the guardian of the people, in Afghanistan. Najeebullah, a Pajhwok journalist, was kicked on his chest by a police when he made the coverage about the bomb happening last Saturday. Violence like this is not news anymore. “Why dont you write about the police atittude,” I asked him. They have written so many times, but the police never care, nor change their behaviour. “They are uneducated. They have low salary,” said Wais, telling me the reason for the bad behavior of Afghan police and soldiers. Inspired by this, I would like to learn more about the life of Afghan police. I traveled to Darulaman Palace, at the western part of Kabul. This is a palace built by Amanullah King and now resembled a building after earthquake. The building, and the whole area, suffered a lot from the wars since Mujaheddin time. I met two young police guys there, Manzur, a 20 year old Tajik and Noor Ahmad, [...]

October 3, 2006 // 3 Comments

Kabul, My Black Day

The police who slapped me, checked my camera, and slapped me again I cannot reckon any day worse than today. In the morning, there was another bomb blast in Kabul, in Mikroyan area. The suicide bomber was a young man in Western dress, who planted the bombs on his body, and blasted himself. There were 6 casualties. Two days before there was another bomb blast in front of the ministry of interior, which killed 16 people and wounded 50 others. Now is the Muslim’s holy month of Ramazan. But why are there bombings now? The extremists urge their followers to do the suicide bombings; for them it is jihad, as being a martyr in the holy month guarantees their place in heaven. Secondly, the winter is coming soon, and in winter terrorist actions would be more difficult to conduct. The extremists were in a hurry to complete their mission. The situation in Afghanistan is getting worse. Security is tightening up. But I still cannot accept the justification of what happened to me today. 4:30 p.m. I went out of my office to buy some postcards. My office is located near to the Ministry of Interior, where the blast happened two [...]

October 2, 2006 // 9 Comments

Kabul – Bom Blast !!!

One of the suspected terrorists, wearing military uniform, is caught by the police. This incident happened one day after the one in front of the Ministry of Interior A suicide roadside bomb just happened today in Kabul, in front of Ministry of Interior, on 8 a.m., rush hour when the people go the offices. The ministry is only about 50 m from my office, Pajhwok Afghan News. I didnt witness the incident by myself, as I was 15 minutes late. When I came to the office on foot, I was checked thoroughly 3 times by the policemen and then they took me to my office to assure me not going to the incident spot. When I arrived at the office, almost nobody at the newsroom. They couldnt come as the road was blocked. There was only 1 reporter from Pajhwok there and the officials refused anymore people to go for coverage (including photographer). According to what I have heard from the witnesses, the bomber planted the bomb on the body, waiting on the roadside in front of the ministry’s gate. Then at 8:00 the bus which carried the staff of the ministry arrived in front of the gate, dropped the [...]

September 30, 2006 // 2 Comments

Kabul – Understanding Islam from the Eyes of a Pashtun

With enveloping burqa, a woman sees the world through the little holes in front of her eyes “In Islam there is a circle. And we cannot get out the circle” — Amin It was not easy to meet and interview people who praised a lot the Taliban regime in recent day Kabul, at least in my one month here, it was the first time I got the chance. The discussion was not political, instead it was more cultural and religious. Amin, a man of 33 years old from Pashtun ethnic, had spent his 29 years of life in Pakistan. He was a refugee. He speaks very good English, and he expressed his idea very well in the language. He used to live in a tribal area in the NWFP (North West Frontier Province) of Pakistan, the area that the Afghans preferred to refer as Pashtunistan. The tribal areas are the areas of the Pashtuns which are not under the Pakistani law. The tribal area where he lived was Mohmand Agency. His ancestors came from a village called Kandari, both existed in Pakistan and Afghanistan side. In fact he holds two passports: Pakistan and Afghanistan. He agreed to shelter me in [...]

July 18, 2006 // 2 Comments

Umerkot – A Failed Nation?

May 15, 2006 Giving understanding to the people and the leaders is a main task for the development programs here Sami Samaj Sujag Sangat is a small NGO in Umerkot dealing with the welfare of the people in the rural areas of Umerkot, bordering with the vast Tharpakar connecting this interior Sindh with Rajasthan and Gujarat in India side. This part of Pakistan had quite a substantial amount of Hindu people, and especially in deep desert, the rural villagers were mostly Hindus from the lowest caste. Umerkot itself had a glorious history as the birthplace of a Mughal king, Akbar. The town had a very ancient fort, but not much was left from the ruins. Parkash, a friend of mine, was working in this NGO with a teamwork which consist of people from the two religions: Muslims and Hindus. They work together without any problem. Religions had never been problem here, as people from both religions respect each other and live harmoniously. Beef was even not served in restaurants here, as about half of the population were Hindus and the Muslims respected their diet choice. Neither pork (as everywhere in Pakistan). The NGO was planning to held a health session [...]

May 15, 2006 // 0 Comments