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What's new in Afghanistan?

Paul G reporting from Kabul

 

 

  • A controversial Disco Restaurant has recently opened in Kabul. While many Afghans like to drink alcohol there is a strong conservative reaction to it. Afghans are not allowed into places serving alcohol aimed at the internationals.

  • Youth culture his also coming up against conservatives with Tolo TV, the first private station. Entertainment and investigative journalism. The women’s tennis has been branded pornography. A satire is planned of Charles’ wedding. Why did he marry an older women Afghans wonder? The journalism tackles real problems full on such as paedophiles and is very popular with the youth but not the conservatives who view it as corrupting.

  • There are still 18,000 troops in Afghanistan fighting the war on terror. Surprisingly not all of them are popular. Underground jails where people are kept in cages without trial and human rights violations tend to upset some over sensitive people.

  • Elections are very complicated. Most of the international election staff do not know what is happening or understand the process. God help an illiterate farmer. Serious trouble is likely when the results are released. For example one ethnic group could be in the majority in one area and field a large number of parliamentary and provincial candidates while a minority only fields a few. For exactly this reason the minority group could win the seat. One can imagine the outcry. Opposition leader Mohammed Younis Qanuni is already talking of warning elections.

  • More Taliban attacks in south and east now weather has improved. Any of these could be anyone disgruntled with heavy handed US troops rather than Taliban but calling them Taliban serves a purpose for the US and Taliban.

  • In Jalalabad 3,000 people complained to the authorities about unfair detentions by US troops. Breaking into homes searching for militants and drug runners and not making many friends.

  • Reports of car bombs being found and dismantled. More concerted effort against urban areas, district centres and Kabul expected.

  • The drug trade will inevitably cause corruption, crime and violence. Paying Afghan farmers not to produce might be more effective. US and UK farmers are, so why not? Look at the lack of success in Columbia in 22 years.

  • US troops are needed, in the eyes of most Afghans in the short term but there is a great deal of unease about them long term. Help with security is wanted but they do not want another occupier. Kharzai said, "We do not want only bases." US have built permanent bases.

  • The first woman since the Taliban was stoned to death for adultery recently. The man was whipped 100 times and released. Religious and customary practices are still used to violate women’s rights.

 

May 2005

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