Read the book that inspired the creation of this blog: Afghan Hearts & Minds

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Military Service Payment Unsure in Debt Crises

Though there is no more fear since the debt agreement has passed its initial stages, it is still alarming that service men and women would not get their due otherwise. Though Mullen could not give direct answers to what would happen if the debt bill had not have passed, I am sure Obama had a plan in mind - whether not to pay or to pay. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

High Maternal Mortality Rate

Afghanistan has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world. This is caused by the lack or even the absence of medical help in Afghan communities.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

National Museum of Kabul Presents Treasures to Keep Alive Culture

Sometimes, when people think of Afghanistan, the only thought that comes to their minds is one word: war. But Afghanistan has an illustrious past of cultural heritage. Besides its creation of many wonderful precious artifacts, it has had important cultural impact worldwide. From Afghanistan's influence on classical music, spirituality, and craftsmanship, the country has much more to offer than a proliferation of war.   

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Another Major Political Figure in Afghanistan Killed

In the last two weeks, three key political figure in southern Afghanistan have been killed. Kandahar Mayor Ghulam Haidar Hamidi was killed today in a heavily guarded government building.

This is another sign that Karzai and his associates should be lenient with the Taliban and other groups against the future peace of a new Afghanistan. There should less reporting and asking for peace, and more direct action taking place - whether it be non-violent resistance or even violence itself.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Reasons for American Military and Nato to be in Afghanistan

There are many conspiracies theories as to why the American military and Nato are in Afghanistan. The reasons are not one, but many. To simplify an issue of this magnitude would be to deride its significance on international politics.

From a holistic view, one can say that every branch of the American government has a different reason for being there:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lack of Opportunity for the Best Afghan Athletes

Sometimes heroes don't get the backing they need to fulfill their goals - and ultimately, their potential. Boxer Mustafa Qasemi is one of Afghanistan's top-ranked athletes, but he is not considered by the Afghan Olympic council because of his lack of sponsorship.

Many boxers in Afghanistan move on to the Olympic national team who are of much lesser skill than Mustafa purely because of money. Afghanistan's honor can not be complete without athletes like Mustafa being able to compete at the skill-level they deserve to contend in.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Confusion in the Relationship Between India and Afghanistan

Words can be misconstrued, especially in politics. When Foreign Minister SM Krishna publicly spoke about Afghanistan's relationship with India as not being immediate neighbors, citizens and government officials alike were disconcerted. Krishna's remarks were based on the opinion that Kashmir was independent of India - which would promote the idea that Afghanistan is not immediate neighbors with India.

In the larger scheme of politics and socio-sconomic relations between India and Afghanistan, Krishna's statement was not taken in remorse or bitterness, but rather in goodwill. I believe the news media and the people affected are overlooking this vital point.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Appointment of Allen Might Spell More Disaster

The hand-over to the national afghan security is risky, without a doubt. But I wonder more about why Petraeus stepped down and let Allen take over. Though Allen seems to take the position that he will continue Petraeus' course, another general means another way of action. Can Allen handle the deficit of forces caused by the recent troop withdrawal? The new appointment of general Allen might cause more distress in this increasingly choatic time of the hand-over and troop withdrawal.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The US Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan: the Delusion

It is obvious by conservative and liberal US citizens alike that American wars never end entirely. The US Army's encampment in the countries that they sent forces into remain there indefinitely by form of "inactive bases" or "peace-process centers."

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan may remove thousands of soldiers, but it will most likely not remove US occupation. Though the American government has announced that they will hand over military and security responsibility to the Afghan Army, the US Army will no doubt be in the shadows waiting for an opportune moment.

We should never assume only one side of what is announced by any government. We should make decisions on what officials don't say.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Working Mentality of Afghan Immigrints

Immigrants to the US are usually more constructive when it comes to working and getting their businesses off-the-ground than native-born Americans. Shafie Ayar, author of Afghan Hearts & Minds, has done well in the states purely out of his extremely hardworking mentality. As head of a large florists business, one of his american employees once asked him about how, being an American with all the given privileges from his birth, he was not at a higher position than him in the work world. Mr. Ayar responded to the effect of: "I worked 10-12 hours per day to get my business where it is. It is just hard work that made the difference."

Americans are generally not as grateful for the opportunities they are born with in relation to immigrants.  International travel helps to bring a greater understanding to their position, but sometimes that does not charge an individual with refocused lenses. Sometimes it takes an immigrant who has traversed all the barriers imaginable to get to the US to make a native-born America to realize their potential.       

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Zoroastrianism: Monotheistic Miracle in Afghanistan

Zoroaster, who founded the first monotheistic religion, was born in Afghanistan. To me, this has special significance because of several reasons:

1) It relates to the power of which Islam currently holds Afghanistan in sway

2) It demonstrates the great philosophical past of Afghanistan

3) As the precursor to Christianity, Zoroastrianism clashes with the US democratic views that flaunt a Christian backing

4) The international community instantly thinks of Islam attached to Afghanistan. With the introduction of the concept of Zoroastrianism, people can supply a more well-rounded viewpoint.

To learn more about Zoroastrianism in Afghanistan, visit:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sikh Discrimination in Afghanistan

When the Mujahideen came to power in 1992, Sikhs were nearly forced into exile. Known for their religious intolerance, the Mujahideen marked the Sikhs as rich and undeserving to stay in Afghanistan. Sikhs naturally became a people to be ridiculed, so they decided to acquit their homes for a better future.

But most people who follow the struggles in Afghanistan rarely touch on this point. Sikhs have made their home in Afghanistan for centuries, and deserve to be simply Afghans rather "Sikh Afghans." They are as native to Afghanistan as any Muslim is.

To learn more about their struggle, visit:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

An Introduction to an Influential Activist: Malalai Joya

Malalai Joya is one of the most influential female activists that has come out of Afghanistan. She served as a Parliamentarian in the National Assembly of Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007 - until she was dismissed on charges of speaking out against the elders of the assembly that were considered corrupt.

When her suspension was made, she was caught up in a large amount of international attention. Many famous international leaders and influential people supported her reinstatement as Parliamentarian.

In 2010, Time magazine added Malalai to their list of the 100 influential people in the world. Other well-known publications ranked her in similar fashion - and from this, she gained considerably respect from the international activist community.

To learn more about this extraordinary women who dared to speak out against the corrupt National Assembly of Afghanistan, read:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Misunderstanding about Karzai

There has been uncountable rumors that President Karzai is a puppet of the American government. While this is an attractive statement to stand by, there are certain facts that outweigh suspicion. Karzai was democratically nominated, his mandate is in the interests of the Afghan people, and he openly criticizes the American government at times.

Despite conspiracy theories being, well, conspiracies, people still run around with these rumors.

The news post that inspired this entry:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ustad Mohammad Sarahang - Unparalleled Master of Music

Ustad Mohammad Sarahang (1924-1983) is considered to be the greatest eastern classical singer ever to come from Afghanistan. In musical competitions, he outshone even the most respected masters singers from India. Though not respected much in his home country in his life, he was recognized by Indian and Pakistani masters of music to be an unbelievable artist. Now that his passing as been counted in the decades, he is known as a legendary and unreachable classical musician whose recordings carry the pride of Afghanistan.

Studying in India with Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan, a legendary musician in his own right, Sarahang developed a unique style combining Indian and Afghani influences in a wonderful mixture. Besides this unusual combination of styles, Ustad Sarahang was a lover of the poetry of Bedil, a great Sufi poet (1642-1720) who had not been in the literary spotlight often due to his extremely complex verses. Using Bedil's esoteric poetry and his outstanding training as a singer, Ustad Sarahang has enchanted all of Afghanistan and the whole world with his music till this day with his magnificent recordings:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Roots of Afghanistan and America

In reading Afghan Hearts & Minds, I started to introspect about the differences between Afghan culture and American culture. The most striking variable that challenged my mind to think deeper was the span and depth of Afghan culture as compared to American culture. American culture has a mythical basis: every day, and every where in America, culture is making dramatic adaptations. I cannot say that America is the "melting pot" that it is, because Americans don't assimilate with other countries' cultures as readily as we might idealize. But there is a definite looseness and fragility to its roots, of which can be severed with a swift turn of immigrant populations or social policy.

Afghanistan, on the other hand, despite its vast amount of experience with other cultures trying to barge their way through the country to forge a new ideal, keeps close to its tough roots. Its pride in its land is ancient, and it takes its primary principles very seriously.

For all we know, America could be entirely different culturally in just ten years. Afghanistan, though, will most likely remain culturally intact for the next one-hundred years.   

Cry Some More, Men

When reading Afghan Hearts & Minds, I found instances that indicated that Afghan men and American men have similar repressed emotions when associated with crying. Both of the societies promote the idea that a man who cries is weak. This could be caused by constant war, or the concept of obtaining a sense of ruggedness.

Either way, this repressed emotion can explain much of the violence that is widespread in both countries. When men hold back these emotions, it can result in violence in compensation.

The key to remove the violence in both of these countries may to be to allow men to express their emotions more acutely and openly.

Here is article that goes in detail in about men's crying as compared to women's crying:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rich Musical Heritage to Outright Music Ban: What Happened?

Watching the documentary Afghan Star, directed by Havana Marking, was akin to my experience of reading Afghan Hearts & Minds by Shafie Ayar: it conjured a pride within me for a country I would otherwise have little association with. I saw the people as they were: impoverished, struggling to claim what dignity and morality they could obtain in such tirelessly immoral circumstances.

As a musician, watching Afghan Star was incredibly eye-opening. In America, we have limited bans on music and dance - to the extent that you could do almost anything. But in Afghanistan, for decades, music and dance had been publicly banned. There were citizens that had underground ways of practicing and playing the music or dance that they loved. But by far, it was inhibited on such a large scale that the country lost much of rich musical heritage.

Afghanistan could name only one man and claim their heritage as rich: Amir Khusro. He was an outstanding poet, musician, philosopher, and composer. He created many musical instruments that we use today all across the world, such as the sitar and tabla. He also fashioned new genres in music, like qawwali, tarana, and khayal - which are all integral to eastern classical music today.

So why, when Afghanistan has had a shining genius of music and art, did they forsake their heritage? Unfortunately, many people translate the Koran in many different ways - each faction using it to advance  their own interests. The history of musical accomplishment came tumbling down because of false religious pretexts.

But now, with the rising of liberal media in Afghanistan, I hope that soon will change.
Amir Khusro - The Artistic Genius of Afghanistan

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Safety of Afghan Women Under Taliban Regime

It is often explained that women in Afghanistan under Taliban control were relatively safe when accompanied by a man (be it brother, husband, or father) when outside home. What is not usually known, though, is that women were tortured by the religious police even with their family protection was by their side. Even the showing of an ankle by the force of the wind against their burqas could mean a police beating in front of the family. The men could only watch, as retaliation meant even more torture and possibly worse.

How much of this mentality is still present in today's Afghanistan? What kind of social resistance could the Afghan society make against such ruthless immorality? We need to ask these questions and enact on our answers in order to bring back the roots of peace to Afghanistan.

For further information, this article in the Telegraph gives an in-depth look into women's torture and incarceration in Afghanistan: