Khaama Press (KP) | Afghan News Agency » Lifestyle & Society http://www.khaama.com The largest news and information source in Afghanistan Thu, 24 Apr 2014 07:11:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9 Why the Toyota Corolla is Afghanistan’s favourite car http://www.khaama.com/why-the-toyota-corolla-is-afghanistans-favourite-car-8765 http://www.khaama.com/why-the-toyota-corolla-is-afghanistans-favourite-car-8765#comments Fri, 29 Nov 2013 05:32:18 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=30195 Why the Toyota Corolla is Afghanistan’s favourite car
By: Bradley Taylor The Toyota Corolla has been manufactured by the Japanese automaker since the 1960s, and by 1974, had been declared the world’s best-selling car. Synonymous with reliability and practicality, this small family car is sold all over the world. But one country in particular has developed something of a love affair with this Read the full article...]]>
Why the Toyota Corolla is Afghanistan’s favourite car

By: Bradley Taylor

The Toyota Corolla has been manufactured by the Japanese automaker since the 1960s, and by 1974, had been declared the world’s best-selling car. Synonymous with reliability and practicality, this small family car is sold all over the world.

But one country in particular has developed something of a love affair with this particular model – and that country is Afghanistan!

Why is the Toyota Corolla such a popular car in Afghanistan?

Just as the Ford Mustang is a popular car in the United States, Afghanistan’s popular car of choice is the Toyota Corolla. There are many reasons why this car is much-loved:

  • Price – despite the high import taxes levied against foreign cars, the Toyota Corolla is actually quite affordable by many Afghan drivers. The most sought-after models tend to be ones that are a few years old, although brand new models are also purchased by people in Afghanistan.
  • Practicality – there are obviously all sorts of cars in the world which range in a number of different shapes and sizes. The Toyota Corolla is the perfect small to medium-sized family car, as it offers good cabin and boot space, comfort and must-have features such as air conditioning.
  • Reliability – Japanese cars are pretty well-known for their reliability, especially if they are built by companies such as Toyota, who often go to extreme lengths to ensure that their vehicles are built to the highest quality standards.
  • Availability of spare parts – because a vast proportion of the cars on Afghan roads are Toyota Corollas, it is extremely easy to get spare parts. Many people tend to recycle parts from wrecked models, but there is also good availability of brand new parts too.
  • Good on gas – another reason why this car is so popular is because it offers a good mix of fuel economy and engine performance, which is essential when you are living and working in a country such as Afghanistan.

If you ever take a trip out to Afghanistan and wander around the city streets of Kabul, for example, you will notice that even the vast majority of the city’s yellow taxi cabs are Toyota Corollas! Up to 80% of the cars on Kabul’s busy and often congested streets are Toyota Corollas, according to Kabul’s traffic police chief, General Asadullah Khan.

Author biography – Bradley Taylor is a freelance writer who writes across a variety of subjects and particularly loves writing about everything automotive. He loves travelling and learning anything about everything. You can find him on Twitter and Google+.

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Afghanistan is not alone http://www.khaama.com/afghanistan-is-not-alone-by-shafiq-hamdam-29612 http://www.khaama.com/afghanistan-is-not-alone-by-shafiq-hamdam-29612#comments Wed, 30 Oct 2013 08:35:43 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=29612 Afghanistan is not alone
A decade ago Afghanistan was under serious sanctions of the US and the international community. It was a safe haven for terrorists and Al-Qaeda. But today it is a strong ally of the world community against terrorism and Al-Qaeda. It’s not any more under sanctions, but a strategic partner of the US and major western Read the full article...]]>
Afghanistan is not alone

A decade ago Afghanistan was under serious sanctions of the US and the international community. It was a safe haven for terrorists and Al-Qaeda. But today it is a strong ally of the world community against terrorism and Al-Qaeda. It’s not any more under sanctions, but a strategic partner of the US and major western states. Afghanistan is not yet perfect. But it’s come a long way and it’s not Afghanistan of 1990s.

It was October 2001, when the US and its allies engaged in a military campaign in Afghanistan. 12 years ago in the same month. I have witnessed that the US-led and Afghan-backed mission succeeded in removing the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and their foreign allies within six weeks from their strongest base, know as Tora Bora. It was located only 35 miles southwest of the provincial capital of Jalalabad city, where I was living among thousands of other Afghan citizens, who were suffering under the Taliban regime.

Many citizens were worried that after overthrowing the Taliban regime the coalition forces will go back to their countries. And I personally never thought of their long-term support and contributions to Afghanistan. So their contribution for reconstruction and development of Afghanistan was surprising for many Afghans. The mission has evolved from counterterrorism to counter insurgency and reconstruction of Afghanistan. As results over a decade, more than 4,500 school buildings have constructed, nearly 8,000 kilometers of national highways and roads have been built and thousands of reconstruction projects have been implemented across the country.

Of course we cannot depend on the US and the international aids forever. Like every other country we have to be self-sustaining and take responsibility as the owners of our future. So in order to be self-sustaining we have to work hard. But still it will require years for Afghanistan and we will not be able to do it, without the support of the US and the international community.

We are living in the era of globalization, so we have to establish a solid relationship with the neighboring countries and with the region and countries outside the region. Besides the trade passageways, Afghanistan offers unique opportunities for investment. It has enormous explored and unexploited natural resources including minerals, gas, oil, hydrocarbons and other materials that worth trillions of USD. These resources are crucially needed within the region and across the world. So in order to explore, extract and use these treasures, we need to maintain our relationship and cooperation with the developing countries.

There are still many challenges; corruption, unemployment and insecurity are major issues of concerns for the Afghan people. But they are optimistic about their future and they understand that state building and reform is a long-term process. Appreciating the commitments and contributions of the US government and its people, Afghans are gradually taking more responsibilities in every aspect. Successful security transition is a perfect example.

12 years presence of the US military and civilians in Afghanistan has built an unprecedented relationship between the US and the Afghan government. In this period citizens of both counties has also built a close relationship. The joint sacrifice and efforts of the Afghans and Americans has enabled Afghanistan to regain its sovereignty and international recognition. In last one decade we have created sufficient political, economic and social forces. Many Afghans believe that a swift political transition will safeguard this country against the return of Afghanistan to the miseries of the past. And they also believe that a bilateral security agreement with the US will secure mutual interests of the both countries.

There are diverse views about the Afghan-US relationship. But the majority of the Afghan people is strongly supporting continuity of this relationship. Endorsement of Strategic Partnership Agreement with the US by over 2500 representatives of the Afghan people from across the country at the Consultative Loya Jirga in 2011 and its approval by the mass majority of the Afghan parliamentarians, are clear examples.

During the last one decade the relationship between Afghanistan and the United States has grown stronger. It is not only between the governments, but also between the citizens of these two countries. A recently established bipartisan collation of the Afghan and the US civil society leaders, senior former officials and diplomats, The Alliance in Support of the Afghan People (ASAP), is another strong step in protecting the progress made by the Afghan people over the last 12 years.

Mohammad Shafiq Hamdam is the Founder and Chairman of the Afghan Anti-Corruption Network. The Afghan Anti-Corruption Network is the leading and the largest network of civil society organizations fighting corruption in Afghanistan. He is a fellow of the Asia 21 Young Leaders Initiative and also a signatory to the Alliance in Support of the Afghan People, a bipartisan coalition dedicated to preserving and protecting the progress made by the Afghan people since 2001.

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A journey to the hope http://www.khaama.com/a-journey-to-the-hope-747 http://www.khaama.com/a-journey-to-the-hope-747#comments Sun, 29 Jul 2012 17:38:21 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=17523 A journey to the hope
By: Qamar Abbas “Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing; ‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands; But he that filches from me my good name Robs me of that which not enriches him And makes me poor indeed.” Uttered Lago in Shakespear’s Othello. Strange! I can’t see any notable Read the full article...]]>
A journey to the hope

By: Qamar Abbas

“Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing; ‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands; But he that filches from me my good name Robs me of that which not enriches him And makes me poor indeed.” Uttered Lago in Shakespear’s Othello.

Strange! I can’t see any notable boost in the Australian economy while my land is denuded. Isn’t it a big similarity between the name of Lago and my Parachinar? Yup! It is.

The boat saga is over, leaving behind hundreds of unsolved questions that were supposed to be solved after this tumultuous tragedy. The trend of asylum seeking is still on the same move. The avarice of having more and more has blurred the line between self and selfishness. Thousands of inhabitants of my Parachinar moved to Australia, hundreds died in the boat mishap and thousands have packed their luggage for the mass exodus.

Parachinar, my homeland, is the only region of FATA, whose people stood firmly against anti-Pakistan conspirators and its enthusiastic youth defeated them, thus accepting the extreme anger of the terrorist gangs from around the world. Thousands of wives and children were widowed and orphaned during and post resistance era. The supply and passage routs were blocked thus depriving us of the fuel of life. The hoarders came out of the woodwork and charged exorbitantly, taking advantage of the circumstances. The children started thinking of gun and bullet instead of pen and book. All this we never considered the wrath of God but the sacrifice of standing up for what is right.

With the passage of time,the economic rehabilitation process took place and the bigwigs of locality invested their money, thus placing thousands of people in employment and retreating the hoarders in the open market competition. Me, being a student of business and economy, was expecting an era of the Renaissance as the unemployment was decreasing day by day and my land was going to depict its own old charm once again. On the other hand we had the impetuous youth thus feeling secure against the angry rivals. Economy and Defense, both the important pillars of the society were gaining strength gradually.

I had a dream of a utopian state of Sir Thomas Moore about my land but the same shattered when a trend, which I call “The Aussie Epidemic”, erupted.

One will have to set aside 20,000 dollars, not rupees, to seek asylum. Many of them are well to do and others have sold their running businesses, laying thousands of poor employees off. Everybody has thought a cock and bull story of threat and mercy in his mind to convince the asylum-giving authorities. But the fact is that none of them was ever under threat. The guys under threat are still in the same line of fire, losing their employment, suffering from inferiority complex, thinking they don’t have God.

The outflow of men and money will break the backbone of my land and can never benefit Australia, just like the name of Lago. 20,000 dollars can’t even meet the pre-commencement expenditures of a small business in Australia while the same amount can form a booming business entity in Parachinar, providing at least 10 direct and indirect employments. Now just imagine, a single man makes 10 employments and multiply the figure with those thousands of asylum seekers.

They say “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. Withdrawal of investments create idleness, unemployment and poverty. Uncountable theories exist about the connection of crime and poverty.

The underprivileged youth, when looks at the privileged ones, going to Australia, suffers from inferiority complex heralding a phenomena of crime commitment.

Here, let me tell those humanitarians who work for poverty alleviation and social upliftment, that their millions of dollars, which they try to utilize via the white collar criminals and NGOs, can never uplift the societies and alleviate poverty. Let me visualize the fact that those millions of dollars are spent on their own luxuries while staying in seven stars.

They should know the fact that inequality is the mother of rebellion and crime.

They should know that inequality is not imposed by nature but by us as for God, all are equal.

They should know that the gap between poor and rich is increasing because we always bless the blessed ones.

Well! These were the social and economic consequences of the mass exodus. But the threat goes yet further severe when it comes to the defense and security. The constant outflow of manpower is yet another blow on the wounds of the already wounded nation. The inhabitants are the strength of a society. Even the softest stuff becomes harder when it is filled with its flesh, no matter how soft the flesh is. Our youth in Australia is unaware of the after effects of their poisonous, coward and inane statements saying that they escaped from terrorists, which they launch even on media to gain the favor and mercy of Australian authorities. If the exodus and the inane comments of our youth continued further, the morale of the opponents will go high, dragging us to the edge of distortion.

According to Majeed Babar of Mashaal Radio, in a telephonic conversation, there are more than 50,000 Pakistani Hazaras abroad. That was not just a piece of information for me, but the reason behind their massacre in Pakistan.

I had a dream last night. I saw my land talking to Australia.

“Australia! You are a blessed land but for me my people are all I have. My people are the flesh of my body and the blood of my veins. Don’t bleed me dry. My constantly bleeding body will be attacked by harmful blood sucking insects. Give me my flesh and blood back so that I may cure my wounds. Let me complete my journey to the prosperity and growth. Let me proceed my journey to the hope”

The author is the CEO of Abbas Enterprises, Lahore, Pakistan.

He can be reached at: qamar.abbas@aol.com

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Legalize Bribe Giving http://www.khaama.com/legalize-bribe-giving-987 http://www.khaama.com/legalize-bribe-giving-987#comments Mon, 28 May 2012 05:22:48 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=15659 Legalize Bribe Giving
By Abid Amiri, Washington, DC. Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Index (CPI) ranks Afghanistan the third most corrupt country after North Korea and Somalia. Last week when President Hamid Karzai was in the United State for the NATO Summit in Chicago, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked him about this rampant corruption issue in Afghanistan. As usual, President Read the full article...]]>
Legalize Bribe Giving

By Abid Amiri, Washington, DC.

Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Index (CPI) ranks Afghanistan the third most corrupt country after North Korea and Somalia. Last week when President Hamid Karzai was in the United State for the NATO Summit in Chicago, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked him about this rampant corruption issue in Afghanistan. As usual, President Karzai’s answer was “it is the contractual mechanism that the US applies in Afghanistan” that encourages bribery, fraud, and corruption. He has always blamed the west for the loss of billions of aid dollars and the rise of corruption in Afghanistan. However, on the daily basis regular Afghans are less concerned about the kinds of bribery that are believed to occur when the US development agencies give out big development contracts. Ordinary Afghans are more infuriated by the kinds of bribes that they often have to give to get what they are legally entitled to. It is called “harassment bribes.”

Harassment bribes are when a retired Afghan has to pay some cash to the pension officer to receive his retirement check. Or, suppose a young girl who just graduated from college has to get her paperwork done in order to become a teacher. She is asked to pay a hefty bribe. Suppose your national ID card (Tazkira) is held back till you pay some cash to the officer in charge.  These are all illustration of harassment bribes. Harassment bribery is widespread in Afghanistan, and it plays a large role in breeding inefficiency and has a destructive effect on civil society.

While President Karzai constantly points fingers at the West for widespread corruption in Afghanistan, it is his administration’s duty to take responsibility for banishing bribery on the lower level. The West has nothing to do with it. It is a scourge that deserves to be banished. What can the Afghan government do to discourage bribe givers and takers from engaging in such acts?

Although it is impossible for a single person or even a single ministry to cure this malaise, small steps taken together can add up to something substantial. Kaushik Basu the Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India – puts forward a radical idea of how corrupt countries like Afghanistan can take one step towards cutting down the incidence of bribery. He suggests that the act of giving a bribe should be a legitimate activity in order to reduce the incidence of harassment bribery. Yes, he wants bribe giving to be legalized.

Game theory suggests that under the current laws of Afghanistan (bribe taker and bribe giver are both consider criminals) once a bribe is given, they both become partners in crime. It is in their joint interest to keep this fact hidden from the authorities and to be fugitives from the law, because if caught, both expect to be punished. Under Basu’s proposal, the giver of a harassment bribe should have full immunity from any punitive action by the authorities, while the bribe taker should be punished twice as much. In that case, it is in bribe givers interest to report the bribe taker to authorities, because he will go free, and also collect his bribe money back, while the bribe taker will lose the booty and also faces a hefty punishment.

Should bribe givers in cases of government contracts be fully immune too? The simple answer to this questions is NO. In such instances, both bribe giver and bribe taker commit illegal acts. Bribe giver is paying bribe taker to have got something that he does not deserve to get. For example, a rich real-estate developer bribes the Kabul Municipality to build an apartment in a location designated for a community park or a mosque.

All in all, the Afghan government needs to deal with rampant corruption in Afghanistan. Let’s not blame the West and start taking action against bribe on the lower level. Small steps such as changing the law to protect the bribe giver from any sorts of punishment would help reduce harassment bribery in the country. In that case, the bribe givers in Afghanistan will continue to cooperate with the law. The chances are much higher for the bribe takers to get caught. Since the bribe takers know this, they will be much less inclined to take the bribe in the first place.  Therefore, this establishes that there will be a drop in the incidence of bribery.

Abid Amiri currently works for the American Councils for International Education as Program Associate for Higher Education. He earned his B.A. in economics and global studies from St. Lawrence University, and concentrates open market economics in Afghanistan. He is a candidate for MA degree in International Development at George Washington’s Elliott School of International Affairs.  Abid speaks fluent Pashto, Dari, English, and Urdu. Follow Abid on Twitter @abidamiri

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The White Collar Criminals http://www.khaama.com/the-white-collar-criminals http://www.khaama.com/the-white-collar-criminals#comments Thu, 17 May 2012 09:51:52 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=15266 The White Collar Criminals
Half of the total donations of the world are enough to provide people the basic needs of life, if these donations are fairly utilized. Sitting beside the trash can, some children, perhaps Afghanis, were eating the wasted food out of the trash can. I was passing by; they looked at me and tried to hide Read the full article...]]>
The White Collar Criminals

Half of the total donations of the world are enough to provide people the basic needs of life, if these donations are fairly utilized.

Sitting beside the trash can, some children, perhaps Afghanis, were eating the wasted food out of the trash can. I was passing by; they looked at me and tried to hide the food because of shame. I willingly ignored them and moved.

I have seen thousands of children like them in the streets, collecting scraps of the domestic garbage.

The good thing about these children is that they never beg.

One other strange thing about these children is that they are the same children whose photos are traded with philanthropists by the white collar criminals; the so called social reformers, activists, NPOs and NGOs.

Their photos earn more than some top celebrity’s albums.

Shocked?????? Yeah their pictures are that precious. But they are deprived of their own earnings.

The white collar criminals exploit their own employees also by paying them less than they claim from the donor organizations on his/her behalf.

Unemployment does not mean idleness only. If a person is paid less than he deserve, he is also unemployed. In other words they have deprived people of their own employment.

Well! Let’s come back to the story of the children of Adam.

They sleep on footpaths or near the trash cans, making their garbage bag their pillow. They constantly struggle for survival. The white collar criminals take pictures of them and they happily let them do so. Their innocence never allows them to think why the pictures are taken.

They just enjoy it.

 It seems like they have never seen their own pictures. I think taking pictures is some sort of luxury for them. The burning sun has burnt their skins.

I have questioned them; none of them has ever gone to hospital even in severe illness.

I wish they could know the fact that how precious their pictures are.

I wish they could know that they are precious for some great people, those philanthropists who donate for them.

I wish those philanthropists could know that their worthy money is spent on the luxuries of the white collar criminals.

I wish that the social activists could know that staying in 7 stars amid luxuries cannot reform societies.

Before feeding them let’s make them know their rights so that they may be able to demand their rights from those criminals.

But that’s not it.

There are signs of wisdom in everything that God has created.

From this I realized:

That human and humanity can be sold for money.

That these children of Adam may be a source of income for some but for some they are a trial by God.

That money earning is not an effort but a trick, because if it was an effort, these children would feed those criminals.

That we need to tell them who they are rather than just feeding them.

That there are the best fighters around who constantly fight with life and never surrender.

That there are millions of people who deserve appreciation but they cannot have one.

That there is never “nothing going on” around.

Everything that goes on is of worth and worth notice.

“I have a dream that one day these children of Adam will be able to know that they worth something”

Author: Qamar Abbas, Lahore, Pakistan

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Afraid and Invisible http://www.khaama.com/afraid-and-invisible-852 http://www.khaama.com/afraid-and-invisible-852#comments Sat, 31 Mar 2012 05:02:21 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=13036 Afraid and Invisible
I gasped with fear. Is he still following me? What are these people on the streets thinking about me? Did I do something to encourage him to follow me? That is what they will think. I wish I could take a break from all this: stalking men, talking men, walking-on-my-body mocking men. Breath. Breath. You Read the full article...]]>
Afraid and Invisible

I gasped with fear. Is he still following me? What are these people on the streets thinking about me? Did I do something to encourage him to follow me? That is what they will think. I wish I could take a break from all this: stalking men, talking men, walking-on-my-body mocking men. Breath. Breath. You are almost home.

The sun is burning so hot. The black school uniform does not help either as if it is designed to cause skin cancer and make us invisible, the same, a mass undifferentiated from the rest of the species. I wonder why boy’s schools do not have uniforms. I look back. This schoolboy is still following me. He is wearing a black and white scarf around his neck and has a pair of cheap one-dollar sun glasses hanging out of the chest pocket of his red shirt that reads: “I Heart NY.” His hands are in his pockets and his eyes on me. There is something in his eyes that make me feel insecure, disgraced, and naked.

We go to the same school, which is one of the only girls’ schools that have classes for guys up to seventh grade. I wish I could stop and talk to him, just to prove that I am as human as he is and there is no point in following me. I have tried this before. Everyone in the street will be looking at me like I was the rude and improper girl following this boy. They turn things around easily here, especially if women are involved. The last time I spoke up, other men gathered around me and said that being a woman I had broken their fast with my voice and appearance, the same appearance as all the other twelve-year-old girls in school.

My white scarf covers my head and shoulders. The last scarf I had was outlawed in school because it had little white beads on it. I had bought the scarf when I had gone to Pul e Surkh Bazaar with my friend, Shabana. We are allowed to only wear plain white scarves, and even though no one discusses the size of the scarves, there are unspoken rules about that too.

Every noon, standing magnificently in front of the line of students with a ruler in her hand, our school principle says that a woman is like a piece of white sheet, once her reputation is ruined and there are stains on the white sheet, it is never recoverable. Talking back to a man in the middle of the street, being anything but invisible, raising your voice, getting the attention of all the eyes that are stalking you nevertheless, will stain you forever. “When you come to school, come quietly and go quietly,” she would say. Many of my classmates shared the view and often mocked and blamed other girls if they were stalked or harassed in the streets. Therefore no one talks about it except for when they are convincing us of being the reason for everything gone wrong. Imagine the number of untold stories that these dusty streets might have in their heart.

I see his shadow on the soil. He is increasing his pace. His hand grabs my wrist. I want to yell, “When you come to school, come quietly and go quietly! Do not follow me,” but I know nobody else tells him that and if anything, he will say it to me. I pull myself out of his grip. Red marks of fingers start burning under the sunlight. I ran home. Thump. Thump. Thump.

Panting and sweating, I arrive home. Thank God, at home, I am not scolded like the other girls. Shabana’s mom fights with her every time a boy follows her home from school. “What have you done again? Why do men always follow you home? I go to the stores too,” she says, forgetting that she is three times Shabana’s age and therefore less likely to be followed by some young schoolboy.

My mother is stalked. She used to wear sunglasses, until one day she got fed up of all she heard because of them. Maybe Shabana’s mother is stalked too, or at least harassed. She dresses just like my mom. I do not understand why she denies it and why she fights with Shabana about it every day. She is like everyone else, Shabana. She wears a big scarf and never looks up when she is walking, just like we are all asked to do. “Keep quite. Bend your shoulder. Do not look at anyway. Walk fast. Go to school and come back.” Sometimes I feel we are all trained to be the same as if somehow our differences will destroy every order that is emplaced in the society. I believe that everyone tries to hide us, behind bent shoulder, behind homogenous black dresses and white scarves and school bags that must not be red or pink as to not grab attention.

Written by: Noor Jahan Akbar (www.youngwomenforchange.org)

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Afghan Elder Bibi Hokmina: Why Let the Taliban Control Our Lives? http://www.khaama.com/afghan-elder-bibi-hokmina-why-let-the-taliban-control-our-lives123 http://www.khaama.com/afghan-elder-bibi-hokmina-why-let-the-taliban-control-our-lives123#comments Tue, 13 Mar 2012 07:21:16 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=12390 Afghan Elder Bibi Hokmina: Why Let the Taliban Control Our Lives?
“It’s time for us to stand up on our own two feet, to better our lives by ourselves. Who are the Tliban anyway? Who are they to have so much control over our lives?” These were the words of Bibi Hokmina, Afghan provincial council member, that lingered in audience’s heart at the panel discussion on what Read the full article...]]>
Afghan Elder Bibi Hokmina: Why Let the Taliban Control Our Lives?

“It’s time for us to stand up on our own two feet, to better our lives by ourselves. Who are the Tliban anyway? Who are they to have so much control over our lives?” These were the words of Bibi Hokmina, Afghan provincial council member, that lingered in audience’s heart at the panel discussion on what will become of women and girls once the U.S. pull out of Afghanistan. The panel was moderated by ABC Global news anchor and CNN International chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour.

The panel highlighted the improvement of Afghan women status since the fall of the Taliban in 2011 and the potential challenges that lie ahead, once U.S. troops withdraw.

Afghan women bore most of the burdens that were brought upon Afghanistan during the decades of conflict and instability, and they still are the victims. Half of all girls are married before the age of 15. One in three women is subject to abuse. Before the 9/11 attack, the world was oblivious to the condition of women during the Taliban regime, when women were relegated to the purgatory of the burqa, within the confines of home and without access to schools.

Significant steps, however, have been taken since the Taliban’s ouster in 2001, to better the situation of women in Afghanistan. An important step is the involvement of men in the process. Zainab Salbi, author and founder of Women for Women International, narrated an anecdote of her encounter with two turbaned, bearded men walking toward her. “In my stereotype image, they looked similar to Taliban. I said to my colleague, ‘Let’s go.’ It was a tense moment.”

But in fact, the two men were tribal elders of the community in which Salbi was working. They wanted to thank Salbi for helping the women of the community. This encounter made Salbi realize that there needs to be a shift. Her organization began offering men’s training programs—aimed at men in leadership positions—to teach them to be good community leaders. “You can’t be a good leader if you don’t engage fifty percent of the population.” One recent success: 400 imams were trained to write sermons including a mention of women’s rights.

A second panelist Mohammad Nasib, founder of the Welfare association for the Development of Afghanistan, explained the importance of local leaders and their influence on the community. His organization focused on working with local maliks, helping them to realize women’s issues and to bring an end to practice of forced marriages. It has often worked. “Many trainees supported women candidates when they ran for local office and parliament, and were influential in advocating girls’ schools,” he said.

The third panelist was Bibi Hokmina, wearing the turban and attire of a Pashtun man, whose emotional declaration was the most memorable.  Hokmina explained that as a kid, she was dressed as a boy to protect her during the Soviet regime in Afghanistan. As an adult, she continued wearing men’s clothes, including the distinctive Pashtun turban. As an elected member of the Khost provincial council, she has helped build schools and clinic in her community.

In response to the discussion on issues faced by Afghans after the U.S. troops withdrawal, Hokmina uttered, “This is not the right time for the U.S. to abandon Afghanistan. The U.S. needs to take [various parties] and to sit down and have a meeting of the minds regarding the future of the country. For thirty years we’ve been entrenched in war and bloodshed. We cannot take it anymore. Afghanistan cannot go back to where it was.”

The deafening applause elicited seemed well deserved, as she raised her voice and said, “My message to the people of Afghanistan is: Do not give up, do not give away even a pound of dirt from your homeland. Fight for it, fight to the death. Fight so we don’t have to depend on others.”

Author: Samadi

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When Afghanistan was in Vogue http://www.khaama.com/when-afghanistan-was-in-vogue-852 http://www.khaama.com/when-afghanistan-was-in-vogue-852#comments Tue, 06 Mar 2012 05:17:15 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=12189 When Afghanistan was in Vogue
How one American woman brought about social change in Kabul with a little help from Vogue Pattie Boyd on the cover of Vogue’s December 1969 issue; A Vogue Pattern from the 1960’s. Given the amount of images and headlines devoted to Afghanistan over the past three decades of war, one would be forgiven for concluding Read the full article...]]>
When Afghanistan was in Vogue

How one American woman brought about social change in Kabul with a little help from Vogue

Pattie Boyd on the cover of Vogue’s December 1969 issue; A Vogue Pattern from the 1960’s.

Given the amount of images and headlines devoted to Afghanistan over the past three decades of war, one would be forgiven for concluding that a rich culture and civilization had never existed there; let alone a long history of cultural exchange with the West.

Yet back in 1969 Afghanistan was part of the hippy trail, an exotic destination for both the world’s fashion elite and young Americans and Europeans looking for adventure. What they found was a vibrant, modern Kabul teaming with traffic and stores selling the latest furniture and fashions. But there was also the centuries-old bazaars, a stately museum and Mughal gardens waiting to be discovered. A half-century ago, Afghan women pursued careers in medicine, men and women mingled casually at movie theaters and university campuses in Kabul and factories in the suburbs churned out textiles and other goods.

This was the Afghanistan that the Vogue team encountered upon landing at Kabul’s International Airport in 1969. The result was a fashion story titled “Afghan Adventure,” which appeared in Vogue’s December issue that year. In addition to photographing models amongst ancient ruins and colorful bazaars, the accompanying article also featured the Capital’s bright young things; amongst them a young fashion designer named Safia Tarzi.

Fashion designer Safia Tarzi in her Kabul studio, 1969.

Yet women in Afghanistan had cultivated a taste for Western fashions and Vogue long before the publication came to town. By 1961 over a third of women living in Kabul were wearing Western dress, thanks in part to the enterprising efforts of one American woman named Jeanne Beecher; the wife of an airline executive who had lived in the country for three years.

 During that time she began to sense a desire amongst Afghan women for greater access to Western fashions. Beecher devised a plan to establish a dressmaking school in Kabul that would teach women how to sew the latest Western clothes. At the time Pan Am Airlines was running a Technical Assistance Program that provided assistance to organizations bettering the lives of others. Beecher thus approached the airline company about providing sewing supplies and patterns to make the school a reality.

Pan Am sent out a request for patterns, to which Vogue Pattern Services responded by donating 200 patterns for the school. For Beecher it was a great coup, as Vogue Patterns at the time was considered the leading source of fashionable designs. At the turn of the last century, it was still not uncommon for women to sew their own clothes at home. When Vogue magazine launched its Vogue Patterns in 1899 it was a weekly feature that allowed women to copy the latest styles. By 1950 Vogue Patterns became one of the few companies authorized to duplicate the designs of leading houses in Paris, Rome and New York.

Two Afghan students from Mrs. Beecher’s sewing school modeling their designs; An example of a Vogue pattern used at the school, 1960.

With the help of the Woman’s Welfare Society, sponsored by the Royal family, Mrs. Beecher was able to open her dressmaking school, which she ran with the assistance of eight volunteer teachers, many of them the American wives of Pan Am employees.

In the Fall of 1959, 32 Afghan women enrolled at the school. They met in classes of eight under the guidance of two American instructors, and worked for an hour and half each week for several months. The women who attended those first classes, represented the city’s middle and upper classes, and had been in purdah, only appearing veiled in public, up until that point.

Two women at a record store in 1960’s Kabul, Afghanistan

Using both local and imported fabrics, the women had cut and fitted their patterns at the school, under the supervision of the American instructors, and then sewed them together at their homes. By June 15, 1960, 15 of the students were ready to model their completed garments in a fashion show, a practice that was unheard of in the past.

Yet by the time Jeanne Beecher had left Afghanistan, a second fashion show had not only taken place, but Pan Am had sent additional patterns donated by Vogue and more sewing supplies, thus setting down the foundation for a local fashion industry that would provide new opportunities for Afghan women.

 Queen Soraya Tarzi of Afghanistan was one of the most powerful female Muslim activists of her time. Born in Damascus, Syria to an Afghan intellectual, she was known for instigating social, economic and educational improvements that would better the life of her countrywomen. She was the first Muslim consort to appear in public together with her husband unveiled; accompanying him during hunting parties on horse back or attending Cabinet meetings.

Her Husband, King Amanullah Khan, not only publicly campaigned against the veil and polygamy, but encouraged education for girls in Kabul as well as the countryside. With the help of Queen Soraya, 15 young women were sent to Turkey to further their higher education in 1928. In 1929 the King abdicated in order to prevent a civil war and went into exile. Queen Soraya lived in Rome, Italy, where she died on the 20th of April, 1968.

A group of young Afghan women standing outside Kabul’s International Airport in the latest Western fashions, 1967.

 

A model in an Afghan jacket, 1968. During the late 60’s authentic goat-skin coats became Afghanistan’s greatest fashion export, appearing within the pages of Vogue and reinterpreted by a number of Western designers.

www.wadsam.com

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Increased violence affects Afghan women http://www.khaama.com/violence-affects-afghan-women-11493 http://www.khaama.com/violence-affects-afghan-women-11493#comments Sat, 18 Feb 2012 11:33:19 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=11493 Increased violence affects Afghan women
The on-going violence in Afghanistan has severely affected thousands of Afghans across the country, including Afghan men and women and Afghan youths. Frishta who used a single name for her is one of the victims of terrorism and violence in Afghanistan who lives in northern Baghlan province. She became the victim of insurgency after her Read the full article...]]>
Increased violence affects Afghan women

The on-going violence in Afghanistan has severely affected thousands of Afghans across the country, including Afghan men and women and Afghan youths.

Frishta who used a single name for her is one of the victims of terrorism and violence in Afghanistan who lives in northern Baghlan province.

She became the victim of insurgency after her husband was arrested by Afghan security forces in connection of deadly suicide bomb attacks in this province during the first and second days of Eid-ul-Azha.

Frishta is around 20 year old Afghan woman who just got married 3 days ahead of the incident.

She said, my ambition was to have a fortunate and blessed life and assist my family but unfortunately I have not been able to live in a good condition of life.

Frishta is currently living with the family of her husband in a remote area at old Baghlan district where she was met by a number of local journalists in a bid to find out her living conditions.

At least 7 people including a local commander was killed and 17 others were injured during the suicide bomb explosions in the first and second day of the Eid-ul-Azha. The main organizer of the suicide bombings Mullah Noor Mohamad who is a member of the terrorist group “Jindullah” was detained by Afghan security forces.

At least 7 other suspects including Qari Amir Mohammad husband of Farishta, who were behind the incident were introduced by Mullah Noor Mohammad and were detained by Afghan security forces.

Frishta said her husband was the only person who was earning to feed their family and was mislead by the insurgents groups. She said they are facing various issues after her husband was detained in connection to the incident.

“We are facing various issues, Qari was the only person in the family he lost his father when he was a kid and has 2 married and 2 engaged sisters and her mother is very weak”, Frishta said.

Frishta is currently teaching in a school at old Baghlan district and was recently graduated from school after completing her high school studies.

According to her she faced various other issues during her childhood after she lost her father while she was only 7 years old.

“I was living with my mother in the past and I have a young brother who is working in a auto workshop. I was only 7 years old when I lost my father, and we faced various issues including poverty after the death of our father. I was teaching in a school and was hardly earning for my family.”, she said.

Frishta has two other younger sisters who are school students.

She urged the militants groups to stop violence and use of the Afghan youths to carry out insurgency activities.

Frishta also requested to Afghan government to forgive her husband and make her free from the prison.

Police chief for district # 6 in old Baghlan city confirmed that Frishta’s husband was involved behind the two deadly suicide bomb blasts during the first and second days of Eid-ul-Azha in this province.

Qari Amir had prepared the suicide vests along with his colleagues in his own house and had sent the suicide bombers to Hasantal village where the they carried out the suicide bombing, police chief for district # 6 in old Baghlan city said.

He also said, at least 5 kgs of explosives along with the other bomb making materials were discovered and seized from the house of Qari Amir Mohammad.

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World Population Tops 7 Billion http://www.khaama.com/world-population-tops-7-billion-336 http://www.khaama.com/world-population-tops-7-billion-336#comments Sun, 30 Oct 2011 15:51:59 +0000 http://www.khaama.com/?p=7336 World Population Tops 7 Billion
KABUL, 31 October 2011 – The United Nations has predicted that the world population will reach 7 billion today. This global milestone is both a great opportunity and a great challenge. The challenges confronting humanity as the world’s population reaches 7 billion are presented in a new report by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund Read the full article...]]>
World Population Tops 7 Billion

KABUL, 31 October 2011 – The United Nations has predicted that the world population will reach 7 billion today. This global milestone is both a great opportunity and a great challenge.

The challenges confronting humanity as the world’s population reaches 7 billion are presented in a new report by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund launched worldwide on October 26th.

The State of World Population 2011: People and possibilities in a world of 7 billion shows that actions we take today could determine whether world population will grow to 10 billion or 16 billion by the end of the century, and could ensure that our future is more equitable and environmentally sustainable.

“With planning and the right investment in people now – to empower them to make choices that are not only good for themselves, but also for our global commons – our world of 7 billion can have thriving sustainable cities, productive labour forces that fuel economies, and youth populations that contribute to the well-being of their societies,” says UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin in the foreword of the report.

This year’s State of World Population report, People and Possibilities in a World of 7 Billion, looks at the dynamics behind the numbers. It explains the trends that are defining our world of 7 billion and documents actions that people in vastly different countries and circumstances are taking in their own communities to make the most of their–and our–world. It is mainly a report from the field, where demographers, policymakers, governments, civil society and individuals are grappling with population trends ranging from ageing to rapidly rising numbers of young people, from high population growth rates to shrinking populations, and from high rates of urbanization to rising international migration. The countries featured in this report are China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, India, Mexico, Mozambique, Nigeria and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The State of World Population 2011 report shows that the issue of population is a question of human equity and opportunity more than space.

While our world of 7 billion presents a complex picture of trends and paradoxes, there are some essential global truths the report observed. It is relevant to note that educating and empowering girls and women allow them to have fewer children than their mothers and grandmothers did, and they choose this path whenever and wherever they can. It is also generally observed that boys and men must be consistently involved, for they are the critical partners for health and development.

UNFPA Report states that additional investments in youth are needed. Of the world’s 7 billion, 1.8 billion are young people between the ages of 10 and 24. As parents and teachers of the next generation, their choices will determine future population trends. Investing in the health and education of youth would yield enormous returns in economic growth and development for generations to come.

In Afghanistan people less than 25 years old make up almost 70 percent of the total population. Investing in adolescent girls is one of the smartest investments a country can make. With health, education and opportunities, girls and women can contribute fully to their societies and help break the cycle of poverty. To celebrate the 7 billion possibilities behind the 7 billion people of this world, UNFPA stands close to Afghan women’s right to a safe and healthy motherhood”, said Arie Hoekman, UNFPA Afghanistan Representative.

The report includes selected demographic, social and economic indicators monitoring the progress made on the internationally agreed upon goals during the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, Egypt – September 1994).

Population dynamics in Afghanistan are described by the following numbers:

-          population growth 3.1%

-          urban population 23%

-          total fertility rate 6.0

-          life expectancy at birth for male and female is 49

-          population using an improved sanitation facility 37%

-          maternal mortality 1400 per 100,000 live births

-          births attended by skilled health personnel 14%

-          contraceptive prevalence rate any method 23%, modern method 15%

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.

End

 The full report is available on line:

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