Friday, February 23, 2007

Going The Distance, Part I

Since it’s a Friday, and we’re on lockdown again, I figured it’d be a good time to finally get around to an update on the blog.

So there has been a decent amount happening in this place. Kabul, as usual (well except for today), remains largely outside the fray. Most of the military activity has been in the usual trouble spots, and of course attacks have been increasing in Pakistan as well as that string of attacks in southwest Iran. So the instability seems to be increasing. Maybe it’s just a random confluence, or maybe it’s several factors and movements coalescing, specifically the Iranian influence expansion efforts, the Balochi independence movement, the Taliban resurgence, the Kashmiri fighters, Musharaf’s military efforts along the Af-Pak border and his efforts in Balochistan, and Al-Qaeda’s purported strengthening of camps and manpower in Waziristan.

So yeah, it’s a lot to keep up with, perhaps too much. My take is generally that any one of the factors is too small to seriously set things off, thus my dismissal of the Taliban resurgence as the major worry. What I do fear is the confluence and these factors/movements taking advantage of any one of them making a strong and hard push for their cause. And they all seem to be tied and talking and fluid in their associations and support.

Their aims, or rather ends, don’t particularly align, but their tactics perhaps do. In my, largely uninformed, opinion, it seems like all of these movements will benefit from greater instability in the region. The smaller movements, such as the Balochis, the Waziri Pashtoons, and the Kashmiris needing instability to break up the larger powers control of their regions, and Iran needing to break up the larger powers so they can exert their influence (they running into a paradox w/ Balochistan and their own internal insurgent and separatists). Then there all the talks of the West's, NATO's and the Donor Community's commitment to this place and talks about seeing this trough to the end this time. With Bush's commitment of more troops here, and the Canadians and the Brits wondering what to do with that and how to follow suit, at least the rhetoric sounds good.

So, basically, this area is confounding and perplexing as it’s always seems to be. Thus, to me, it’s as troublesome as it’s always been too. It seems like it’s all about who has the endurance to go the distance. And at the elevations in this part of the world, endurance is everything.

But more personally, our lockdown is because of the recent local politics in Kabul and Afghanistan. That recent legislation that garnered quite a bit of press, the one giving amnesty to former fighters/warlords/mujahideen from war crimes committed in the most recent fighting, is still a hot issue here, as Karzai said he wont support it. So some of the supporters are gathering for a rally/demonstration. Some 30,000-50,000 of them, according to various claims and estimates. (Post-event update: reduce the estimates by a factor of 10. Supposedly the rally speaches largely consisted of positive talk about how far along Afghanistan has come.)

They’re gathering in the Olympic stadium. There are supposedly riot police spread throughout the city. As I’m under lockdown, I have to just go by what I’ve heard. The city is eerily quiet for a Friday though. Usually after Friday Prayer, there are horns buzzing and cars screeching through the city. Not today. So far, I’ve only heard one car tap it’s horn a few times. That is surely a record for a Friday while I’ve been here.

But it’s warm (comparatively to the past few days…we had more snow) and sunny outside, another beautiful day in Kabul. (I’ll put up a few new pictures on the flickr page.) So, I’ll hopefully enjoy a quiet Friday in Kabul.


Azar Balkhi said...

Very informative. thanks for sharing

Q. A. Shah said...

Thank you for reading the blog.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating and very honest perspective on life there, thankyou.