Browsing articles by "Hameed | Jalalagood - Part 4"

What Cripples Afghanistan’s Economy?

Nov 23, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  No Comments

A world bank report came out yes­ter­day that says depend­ing on secu­ri­ty the econ­o­my of Afghanistan could face a com­plete col­lapse beyond 2014. More than 90 per cent of our nation­al bud­get comes from for­eign dona­tions. The world bank report in PDF: Tran­si­tion in Afghanistan: Look­ing Beyond 2014. Income per per­son in Afghanistan is $528 a year. Josie Bassinette, the act­ing direc­tor of the World Bank says this fig­ure con­ceals pock­ets of worse pover­ty because aid mon­ey is not divid­ed even­ly across the coun­try. A lot of mon­ey goes into unsta­ble areas and bypass­ing the more peace­ful ones. That means a huge amount of that aid mon­ey goes into secu­ri­ty. About 10 per cent of the total bud­get of the coun­try comes from import export tax, etc. 

What hap­pens to our revenue?
I know some­one who works in Nan­garhar cus­toms office. He turned down a very good job offer from an inter­na­tion­al busi­ness com­pa­ny in Kab­ul to come and work in the cus­toms office. The com­pa­ny offered him $3000 US dol­lars of salary per month and some oth­er incen­tives. The cus­toms offi­cer makes $1600 every­day. The way he takes bribe is very mod­ern. He uses his bank to trans­fer mon­ey so that he does­n’t get caught. There is tax on the goods that are import­ed into Afghanistan. For exam­ple, if a busi­ness­man imports 200 trucks of Chi­nese tele­vi­sions and each truck con­tains 300, the cus­toms offi­cer will tax him for 150 tele­vi­sions per truck and then ask him to pay the tax for 100 tele­vi­sions per truck direct­ly to him (mean­ing trans­fer it to his bank account) and the busi­ness­man gets 50 tele­vi­sions (per truck) into the coun­try with no tax.

There is a price list that has prices of the dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ment posi­tions. For one to get a cus­toms office direc­tor’s posi­tion, espe­cial­ly in a fron­tier province like Nan­garhar where there is a lot of import and some export, they usu­al­ly pay mul­ti­ple hun­dred thou­sand dol­lars in the min­istry of com­merce (some­times there is bid­ding on this and who­ev­er offers the high­est bribe gets the position).
A while ago, the min­istry of com­merce hired and made spe­cial cus­toms offices con­trol com­mit­tees. These com­mit­tees are based in all those bor­der provinces that make big tran­sit ways. Their task is to mon­i­tor and report on cor­rup­tion in these provin­cial offices. They are well-equipped and well-paid so that they will be hon­est in their job. The spe­cial cor­rup­tion mon­i­tor­ing com­mit­tees, at least in Nan­garhar and Her­at provinces, when saw the “tempt­ing” mon­ey, teamed with the cus­toms offi­cers and they made a deal and start­ed get­ting their cut. Before, tax for 150 tele­vi­sions of each 300-tele­vi­sion-truck was going to the mid­dle men and the rest of the 150 was going to the gov­ern­ment. These offi­cers don’t want their orig­i­nal income to cut back. Instead, they tax even less goods per truck so that they can get the mon­i­tor­ing com­mit­tees’ cut (maybe the tax from 100 items in each 300-item-truck goes the gov­ern­ment, 100 to the cus­toms offi­cers, 50 to the com­mit­tee, and the rest of the 50 items will is “waived” for the busi­ness­man). In all these cus­toms offices are advanced com­put­er-oper­at­ed scan­ners that scan import­ed good for tax, etc. but again all of this is run by a human being who makes the final decision.
About a year ago, there was a train­ing sem­i­nar abroad that the min­istry want­ed its employ­ees from these key cus­toms offices to go and attend so that they can learn advanced meth­ods. Nobody want­ed to go because depend­ing on their posi­tion that meant $1600 loss every­day. When it’s the end of month, most of these offi­cers don’t even go to the bank to get their offi­cial salary from the gov­ern­ment (which is usu­al­ly a few hun­dred dollars).
A job in the cus­toms office is a big deal in our coun­try. It’s the same as work­ing in any oth­er min­istry of the gov­ern­ment but peo­ple here say they have a lot of “Aayid” mean­ing “indi­rect income”. These peo­ple with a lot of Aayid usu­al­ly have a very mis­er­able life. Their kids can­not go out or play freely. They have a con­stant fear that their kids would be kid­napped. These kid­nap­pers have marked them and are ready for any win­dow of oppor­tu­ni­ty to attack.

Getting a National Identity Card in Jalalabad

Nov 22, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  1 Comment

Wait­ing for the Offi­cers to Come
A cou­ple of cousins and my aunt asked me to help them get nation­al iden­ti­ty cards called Tazki­ra for them in Jalal­abad. I wrote an appli­ca­tion for them and went to Nan­garhar Gov­er­nor’s Office with them. Nor­mal­ly, most gov­ern­ment offices should open for clients at 8:00AM and close at 4:00PM. We were there by 8:10AM expect­ing that the work­ers would be set­tled. I thought that it’s the gov­er­nor’s office and it would be more orga­nized and punc­tu­al. My cousins live out­side Afghanistan and to their sur­prise, the gov­er­nor’s office was closed. We stood in a line and with­in 40 min­utes there were dozens of peo­ple in the line. It was past 9:00AM and still no work­er of the Tazki­ra depart­ment had come. There, I saw one of the big offi­cials of the gov­er­nor’s office whom I’d worked with on a project. I inched my way across the crowd and said hel­lo to him.

Why are YOU wait­ing in the line?” He said. “Do you want to go first?” I am fine with the line but where are the work­ers? I said to him. Well, that’s some­thing that I can’t help with. “Every­one who works here is a mutu­al friend or rel­a­tive with the gov­er­nor or anoth­er high offi­cial. If we say any­thing to them then we receive dozens of calls and com­plaints that we are not “good” friends or relatives.”
Final­ly, it was 9:30AM and a fan­cy Land Cruis­er drove in. An armed guard opened the door of the car and Amir Saib, mean­ing the direc­tor, got out of the car and the guard closed the door back for him. The Amir Saib start­ed chat­ting with his friends in front of his office. I went to Amir Saib and nice­ly asked him if he could help us. “Go to my deputy to fin­ish the rest of the work and bring the final papers to me for my sig­na­ture.” We went to his deputy who’d come a few min­utes before him. I came back to Amir Saib with my paper to get it signed by him. He signed it while look­ing and talk­ing with his friend. One could’ve eas­i­ly got­ten a prop­er­ty or mon­ey claim let­ter signed that time.
Pop­u­la­tion Reg­is­tra­tion Office
After get­ting get­ting the paper work fin­ished from the gov­er­nor’s office, we had to go to our orig­i­nal dis­trict gov­er­nor’s office in order to ver­i­fy and approve whether or not we real­ly are from that area. The dis­trict gov­er­nor referred us to our local com­mu­ni­ty elder called the Malik. When I got out of the dis­trict gov­er­nor’s office there I saw a big dude. Legal­ly, he can­not ver­i­fy or approve where we come from because nei­ther he knows us nor is he our Malik. The sig­nal for say­ing give me bribe and I will fin­ish your work for you right here right now was, “kAr de band dey?”, mean­ing are you stuck and need help to fin­ish it? I asked him, “how much?” What­ev­er you want, he said. Then I had my cousin to go his Malik in his orig­i­nal town and get the ques­tions about them answered by him. He did so and when we came back to the dis­trict gov­er­nor’s office to give my cousins their nation­al ID cards as the Malik’s sig­na­ture and stamp was the last step, no offi­cer even talked to us because we did­n’t do it in their way (giv­ing them bribe and fin­ish­ing it right there right then), we did it the “long” way. We were wait­ing inside the dis­trict gov­er­nor’s office com­pound. For an hour, we had to put up with this police who was star­ing at my cousin non stop. Some­times, it’s so annoy­ing when I have a female friend/relative with me and we stop some­where for a bit. With­in min­utes it becomes what my Amer­i­can col­league calls “nation­al star­ing competition”.

They were telling us that we need to come back the fol­low­ing day, etc. etc. I knew that that was how they want­ed to tor­ture us for not hav­ing done what they want­ed. Final­ly, I had to call a friend who knew some­body at the dis­trict gov­er­nor’s office. He came and fin­ished our work in less than 20 min­utes. That’s how we got the nation­al iden­ti­ty cards and how the nation­al star­ing com­pe­ti­tion ended.

Ali, the Shopkeeper

Nov 17, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  1 Comment

I was in Dara-e-Noor dis­trict of Nan­garhar province with my map­ping team last month. I met Ali. He is about 4 years old boy with light skin, blue eyes, and blond hair. Ali’s father is a shop­keep­er run­ning a lit­tle con­ve­nience store in this very remote area in the mid­dle of moun­tains. Ali keeps the shop and sells some small items that he knows the prices of when his father goes to Jalal­abad for replen­ish­ing the store. That’s how Ali helps with their lit­tle fam­i­ly busi­ness. I asked Ali if he wants to go to school. “My father won’t buy me a back­pack”, he said. Ali’s father said that nobody had had any edu­ca­tion in their fam­i­ly but he will let him go to school. I gave Ali his first les­son to count to ten and I promised him to bring him a back­pack next time I come to their village.

Interesting Twitter Fight: Taliban vs ISAF

Nov 17, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  No Comments

@ABalkhi is Tal­iban’s Twit­ter han­dle and @ISAFMedia is ISAF’s. I am fol­low­ing both. They some­times have Twit­ter fights. They are exchang­ing some seri­ous words right now as I am typ­ing and here is how the @ABalkhi start­ed and then the @ISAFMedia’s response fol­lows and I quote everything:

@ABalkhi: Arti­cle CSM:1000s Afghan mer­ce­nar­ies hired by CIA in Afghanstan.Commit out­right human rights abuses(rape,robery,extra judi­cial killing etc)
Sto­ry con­firmed by US diplo­mats, west­ern offi­cials, afghan author­i­ties. Hired to fight Tal­iban and others
Recruits ‘cher­ry picked’ from reg­u­lar ANA and trained by US Spe­cial forces at Camp Gecko
US tac­tic as with­draws is going “beyond tra­di­tion­al intel­li­gence, mil­i­tary, and law enforce­ment functions.”
These kinds of units who are trained by US mil­i­tary, fund­ed by CIA fits the bill perfectly
These units which are shad­owy and unac­count­able to any­one, only answer to CIA
Repeat­ed­ly com­mit extra judi­cial killing, rape, tor­ture, lar­ce­ny is being direct­ly bankrolled by CIA and US mil­i­tary via US taxpayers
Matt (Green Beret capt­ian) says: must work with these units to beat Tal­iban even though behav­ior insults ‘west­ern sensibilities’
Matt (Green Beret captian):No stan­dard to begin with. No rule of law. tal­iban not that bad and Afghan farmer not inno­cent civilian

So ISAF admits hir­ing mer­ce­nar­ies to com­mit mass mur­der, rape, tor­ture and does not con­sid­er farm­ers as inno­cent civil­ians. Great JOB!!!

i won­der why not many jour­nal­ists and even the UN talk much about such issues and the dire sit­u­a­tion it has cre­at­ed for the Afghans
link to full sto­ry

ISAF Twit­ter handle(@ISAFMedia) then responds with: @abalkhi We don’t hire mercs to com­mit murder/rape/torture. OTOH … that seems to be a core com­pe­ten­cy among Taliban

@ABalkhi replies: @ISAFmedia your offi­cials admit­ted to it dumb dumb. and how can you talk about tal­iban when u cut fin­gers etc and use them as throphies

@ISAFMedia: @abalkhi Dumb dumb? How the dia­logue ele­vates. Look: Nobody takes you seri­ous­ly. Every­thing you type is wrong. Just. Stop.

@ABalkhi: @ISAFmedia Thats why they picked you for this job. If I was­nt here, you would­nt have a job

@ISAFMedia: @abalkhi You’re just a fun sideshow. How many tanks did you blow up today. (I have the actu­al num­ber if you lose count.)

Unite or Perish

Nov 14, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   military  //  No Comments

Iron­i­cal­ly, on the bar­rel of this tank it say, “Unite or else we’ll per­ish.” Peo­ple say a lot of things. Our politi­cians spend hours when they are on the stage giv­ing talks but there is very lit­tle action. If we did 40% of what we say we would­n’t be in the bad con­di­tion that we are today. When I lis­ten to can­di­dates talk­ing to peo­ple dur­ing their elec­tion cam­paigns it almost makes one believe that Afghanistan will be like a Euro­pean coun­try in their four years period.

Difference between Wilf and a FATA Child

Nov 14, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  1 Comment

The West must see the death of a FATA child the same way they see my 3‑year-old son Wilf.” Said Clive Stan­ford Smith, the legal direc­tor of the UK-based non-prof­it, Reprieve in Waziris­tan Grand Jir­ga Islam­abad, Pak­istan last month.

Two Young Afghans Join the Taliban

Nov 4, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  6 Comments

All names in this real sto­ry are unreal.

Sex­u­al Harassment
Basir, who lived with his extend­ed fam­i­ly in a lit­tle vil­lage 20 KM out­side Jalal­abad city, raped his sis­ter-in-law. The vic­tim, Shinkai, final­ly told her hus­band and the rest of her in-laws at home after spend­ing two long days going over it in her head. She shared it with them so that they would pun­ish Basir for his unfor­giv­able crime. Nobody in the fam­i­ly believed her and every­body thought that she was mak­ing up the whole sto­ry. Every­body in the fam­i­ly looked at her as a trou­ble­mak­er and they all start­ed treat­ing her bad­ly. She didn’t want to go to the police because that would’ve pub­li­cized it, every­body would’ve found out about it and that would’ve degrad­ed the family’s honor.
Feel­ing very dis­tressed and extreme­ly embar­rassed by see­ing Basir at home every day and the rest of the fam­i­ly treat­ing her inhu­mane­ly, Shinkazi thought it was time she shared the sto­ry with her own par­ents and her crazy broth­ers back home in the near­by vil­lage. She told her par­ents and broth­ers that some­thing had been both­er­ing her very much late­ly and she asked them not to use emo­tions and instead help her out. Shinkai’s broth­ers blew their top and went direct­ly to her hus­band, Jawed, and warned him to do some­thing about it or he might be sor­ry. He didn’t do any­thing imme­di­ate­ly about this since he want­ed to involve the rest of the fam­i­ly. It’s not clear why the fam­i­ly didn’t inves­ti­gate more.

Shinkazi’s broth­ers warned Jawed a num­ber of times and asked him to do some­thing about their sister’s rape (I am not sure what they meant by “do some­thing” but I am assum­ing they want­ed him to kill his broth­er). Her broth­ers wait­ed for about one month to see Basir pun­ished for his crime. Basir’s fam­i­ly looked at this sto­ry as a con­spir­a­cy and gave Shinkai and her broth­ers the cold shoul­der, one of Shinkai’s broth­ers, Crazy Rahim, thought that it was time for him do some­thing about it. It was noon and the men of the vil­lage were at work, includ­ing Basir him­self. All women were at home. Rahim, filled with anger and dis­ap­point­ment, went to Basir’s house with a vicious intent of rap­ing his sis­ter. By rap­ing Basir’s sis­ter, he thought they would be even. He locked all the women in one room and took Basir’s sis­ter, Gul­shan, into anoth­er room in the back with him and locked the room from behind.
Gul­shan was a sin­gle inno­cent young girl. When a woman los­es her vir­gin­i­ty in Afghanistan and peo­ple find out then no men will mar­ry her. Her image has been taint­ed. In a rape case, the rapist and the vic­tim are killed because they bring shame to their fam­i­lies. That’s part of the rea­son why many women would keep it to them­selves and nev­er tell any­body — the unbear­ably harsh truth.

Time for Basir to Move and Retaliate
When Gulshan’s broth­ers came from work in the evening and found out about her, they were very agi­tat­ed and start­ed brain­storm­ing a plan for an imme­di­ate retal­i­a­tion. They were qui­et the fol­low­ing day and moved to a secret place when it was night. They moved under the cov­er of dark­ness to a secret place so that nobody could see them. All of the fam­i­ly mem­bers also left the vil­lage and went into hid­ing, Gulshan’s two broth­ers came back to their vil­lage the fol­low­ing day with a Russ­ian AK47 and a rusty Pak­istani pis­tol. Both broth­ers knew were Rahim worked and went direct­ly there.
They found Rahim, pulled him out of his taxi and threw him on the ground. Basir shot him with his pis­tol one time but it jammed. Then Jawed, Shinkai’s hus­band, shot him 30 times with his AK47. They hi-fived in the lit­tle bazaar out­side Jalal­abad and then escaped back to their secret sanctuary.

Where Is this Secret Place?
When Basir and Jawed killed Rahim they already had a per­ma­nent sanc­tu­ary in mind. Basir went to the Tal­iban and told them their hero­ic sto­ry and how they defend­ed their hon­or. Impressed by their sto­ry, the Tal­iban accept­ed the free lunch offered by Basir and Jawed with a very warm wel­come. They gave them extra weapons and promised them a “lifetime” of pro­tec­tion. Basir’s fam­i­ly had to leave every­thing behind includ­ing their land, home­town, rel­a­tives and friends. The sto­ry gets even worse. God only knows what will hap­pen to the two broth­ers and their fam­i­ly when they are in the real Tal­iban “hi-five” games.

Law and Order Vs Pash­toon­wali and Honor
Why didn’t any of them refer to the law or gov­ern­ment? That’s a good ques­tion and the expla­na­tion is a lit­tle complicated.
In our soci­ety, if our hon­or has been vio­lat­ed it is not com­mon to press charges because this is con­sid­ered cow­ard­ly and weak. That’s where Pash­toon­wali comes in. Pash­toon­wali is the state of being Pash­toon and a Pash­toon is con­sid­ered strong and pow­er­ful. If some­one tries to seek jus­tice through the gov­ern­ment, this is con­sid­ered degrad­ing to their Pash­toon­wali, hon­or and image among oth­er Pash­toons. Using your own pow­er and tak­ing revenge is pre­ferred by most peo­ple here. Using a third par­ty (in this case the gov­ern­ment) to defend your hon­or and to pro­tect your­self is a sign of weak­ness. This is true for almost 100% of the cas­es in rur­al areas. 

Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Jir­ga: Anoth­er Option
Anoth­er option for resolv­ing con­flict dis­putes in the com­mu­ni­ty is through a Jir­ga. Com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers and elders get togeth­er as medi­a­tors and they come up with what they think is a work­able agree­ment for both sides. Both sides direct­ly affect­ed, choose their medi­a­tors called Jirga­mars and give them full author­i­ty to make the deci­sion. Nei­ther side can talk to each oth­er face to face because they get emo­tion­al and can­not agree eas­i­ly. The Jirga­mars usu­al­ly ask for some­thing called Machal­gha which is a huge amount of mon­ey that both sides tem­porar­i­ly leave with the medi­a­tors who have full author­i­ty and will rep­re­sent them. This mon­ey will remain with the medi­a­tors until the end of the Jir­ga and the result which will solid­i­fy their author­i­ty. If a side does not agree with the deci­sion then they lose their mon­ey and it goes to the medi­a­tors. It’s such a huge amount for the vil­lagers that peo­ple have to bor­row from one anoth­er which makes the sit­u­a­tion even worse. Regard­less of the final deci­sion at the Jir­ga both sides will have to agree so that they can get their mon­ey back.
Some­times these so called rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Jir­gas make irra­tional deci­sions, like order­ing each fam­i­ly to give girls (for mar­riage) or call on both sides to swap daugh­ters. The Jir­ga thinks that these com­pen­sato­ry mar­riages will cre­ate stronger ties between the fam­i­lies but a lot of the times these inno­cent women are treat­ed like after their mar­riage. A Jir­ga does not usu­al­ly solve prob­lems because some peo­ple will still take revenge even after a Jirga.

My Expe­ri­ence with a Jirga
I was about 17 years old when I got stabbed four times in the back near our neigh­bor­hood. I am not going to go into detail of how and why but in the future at some point I might. To make a long sto­ry short, I was hos­pi­tal­ized for ten days and I got nine stitch­es and some ugly scars on my back but luck­i­ly no inter­nal damage.
Every­body came to our home to ask about my health. To add insult to injury, most of my vis­i­tors would “advise” me and my fam­i­ly to take revenge and kill Gaddaf­fi, the guy who had stabbed me. “We are with you”, they would say. My vis­i­tors would usu­al­ly bring fruit. One dis­tant rel­a­tive came and brought me a bag of fruit in one hand and an AK47 in the oth­er. “I want you to shoot him with this gun”, he said.
My fam­i­ly decid­ed to go to the police. After the police inves­ti­ga­tion they sen­tenced him with 3 years of prison for intend­ed mur­der. Since Gaddaf­fi was in high school and he was almost my age at the time, my dad didn’t want him to be in jail and not go to school for three years. My father went to the local court with a bunch of elders from our town and for­gave him. The judge asked us to do a Jir­ga and come to an agree­ment signed by both fam­i­lies. We did do a small Jir­ga and agreed that we would nev­er try to harm their fam­i­ly. Lat­er, many rel­a­tives and friends were upset with us for not hav­ing lis­tened to them. Had we gone with the tra­di­tion­al form of revenge, only God knows where I would be, who would be exploit­ing my fam­i­ly now or if we would still be alive at all.

Challenges for Business in Remote Afghanistan

Oct 31, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  2 Comments

This is a pho­to stu­dio in the remote province on Bamyan, in cen­tral Afghanistan. Since they are far away from major cities and the cap­i­tal Kab­ul, they have devel­oped skills that can help them fix prob­lems of their equip­ment and machines that they are using with­out hav­ing to trav­el and bring their bro­ken machines with them. For exam­ple, this pho­to stu­dio own­er fix­es his own pho­to­copi­er and print­er when there is any small prob­lems with it. If they need to replace any parts then they ask a dri­ver who trav­els reg­u­lar­ly to Kab­ul to bring that to them and then they would replace it by themselves.
Imped­i­ments to road trav­els stop them from trav­el­ing too. Tal­iban’s check points on the way from Bamyan to Kab­ul is one con­cern for busi­ness peo­ple in Bamyan, for exam­ple. In win­ter the roads are snowed under and impos­si­ble to trav­el on. The cost of the road trav­el is also high. So those are some of the chal­lenges that busi­ness peo­ple in Bamyan and oth­er remote provinces are fac­ing and the have to devel­op rel­e­vant skills to trou­bleshoot prob­lems in their areas of work.

Hindrance to My Progress

Oct 22, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  1 Comment

After spend­ing a week and a half in Bamyan city and train­ing Bamyan Uni­ver­si­ty stu­dents, the pro­fes­sors and a few work­ers from Shuha­da aid and relief orga­ni­za­tion in tech tools and map­ping and Crowdmap­ping pro­grams and appli­ca­tions, it’s time to go back and par­tic­i­pate in the Islam­abad Inno­va­tion Lab ini­ti­at­ed by Internews in Islam­abad, Pak­istan. I was invit­ed to the inno­va­tion lab by the Internews, Afghanistan. We have pur­chased tick­ets and our flight is on Octo­ber 24th, 2011. The actu­al inno­va­tion lab will be held from Octo­ber 25–27 where dif­fer­ent experts and devel­op­ers will present pre­sen­ta­tions and train­ings on dif­fer­ent social media tools. I am also going to give a pre­sen­ta­tion on the open source data col­lec­tion and map visu­al­iz­ing tool Crowdmap. I have been look­ing for­ward to the Islam­abad Inno­va­tion lab for a long time. The prob­lem is that there are no flights from my cur­rent city of Bamyan to the cap­i­tal city of Kab­ul we are fly­ing out of Kab­ul air­port to Islam­abad on Mon­day, Octo­ber 24 before the inno­va­tion lab in Islam­abad begins. I know that the weath­er will get bet­ter and we’ll have flights again but there is a big­ger and more entrenched prob­lem- the fear of being killed by the Tal­iban if we take the road.
Most of the peo­ple that I have talked to here are very intim­i­dat­ed and fear­ful of trav­el­ing on the road from Bamyan to Kab­ul. They think it’s crazy to trav­el on this road since it’s a noto­ri­ous­ly dan­ger­ous road because of sev­er­al rea­sons: Impro­vised Explo­sive Devices (IEDs), Tal­iban check­ing cars to iden­ti­fy those whom they don’t like and to cut their heads off, and rob­beries on the way. A few months ago a mem­ber of the Bamyan provin­cial assem­bly was trav­el­ing from Bamyan to Kab­ul when he got caught by the Tal­iban and they cut off his head right away. These acts of ter­ror­ists have increased people’s fear. It’s a shame that not func­tion­ing roads that have in Afghanistan but we can’t use them.
Yes­ter­day morn­ing, I was ask­ing some­one who works with a NGO here in Bamyan for advice on how to dress and what type of vehi­cle and what route to take. Shams told me his sto­ry like how one time he was trav­el­ing on that road and the dri­ver was inter­ro­gat­ing him about what he was doing and why he had been to Bamyan. He was afraid that the dri­ver might be one of “them” and would harm him. He passed him­self off for a pota­to busi­ness man. Bamyan’s pota­toes are very pop­u­lar in Afghanistan and that’s how he got away with the poten­tial threat. Some peo­ple also think that there are spot­ters in the main city cen­ter and they fol­low peo­ple and report back when they start their trip from this city.
How­ev­er, my par­tic­i­pa­tion in this inno­va­tion lab in Pak­istan will add a lot to my skills and exper­tise in social media and oth­er open source tools and pro­grams and how they can be used for social change. There is going to be experts and devel­op­ers from dif­fer­ent coun­tries and it’ll be a great oppor­tu­ni­ty for me to share my ideas and expe­ri­ences with oth­er inter­na­tion­al col­leagues of how tech­nol­o­gy in Afghanistan is used for social change and also to hear their sto­ries about it. When I return from this inno­va­tion lab, I will share what I have learned with oth­er fel­low Afghans and my team, Jalala­good Geek Squad.
Is it worth tak­ing the risk and trav­el­ling on the Bamyan-Kab­ul road for this?
I think those of us who have cho­sen to work and live in Afghanistan, we’ve accept­ed this as part of the chal­lenge to some­times trav­el on roads and to places that are dan­ger­ous. Dan­ger­ous because there are ene­mies of human­i­ty. Dan­ger­ous because there are ter­ror­ists who cre­ate fear their vio­lent acts and there­by tar­get­ing and dis­re­gard­ing the safe­ty of human beings.
To con­clude, I feel accom­plished at the end of my work and the train­ings that I helped with with Baman Uni­ver­si­ty stu­dents, staff and sev­er­al aid work­ers here. And noth­ing will change my com­mit­ment to serv­ing those who are in need of what I can offer.

Things that Make Me Fall in Love with Bamyan

Oct 22, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   culture  //  3 Comments

The amaz­ing and nat­ur­al beau­ty of Bamyan city

The hap­py and play­ful kids of Bamyan

The extreme­ly friend­ly and help­ful people

And most impor­tant­ly, the stun­ning smile of these peo­ple. When Haz­aras smile, their eyes look amaz­ing­ly beautiful!