The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'afghanistan'
Foreign Policy magazine has some photographs from Afghanistan in the 1950s. The photographs, from a book published by Afghanistan's planning ministry, show a modern country, or a country aspiring to modernity, along European/American lines, with universities and hospitals, buses and radio stations; women in Western attire (some wearing headscarves) work in offices and factories, and teenagers hang around in record shops checking out the latest beat combos. This world, of course, was annihilated by the decades of conflict and brutal fundamentalism that began with the Soviet invasion. It's all the more heartbreaking to think that such a world existed and to compare it to what's happening there now, and to know that there was a time in living memory when Afghanistan wasn't a hellhole of war and brutality.
A half-century ago, Afghan women pursued careers in medicine; men and women mingled casually at movie theaters and university campuses in Kabul; factories in the suburbs churned out textiles and other goods. There was a tradition of law and order, and a government capable of undertaking large national infrastructure projects, like building hydropower stations and roads, albeit with outside help. Ordinary people had a sense of hope, a belief that education could open opportunities for all, a conviction that a bright future lay ahead. All that has been destroyed by three decades of war, but it was real.
Some captions in the book are difficult to read today: "Afghanistan's racial diversity has little meaning except to an ethnologist. Ask any Afghan to identify a neighbor and he calls him only a brother." "Skilled workers like these press operators are building new standards for themselves and their country." "Hundreds of Afghan youngsters take active part in Scout programs." But it is important to know that disorder, terrorism, and violence against schools that educate girls are not inevitable. I want to show Afghanistan's youth of today how their parents and grandparents really lived.
The swine flu outbreak is having an impact across the world: the Kabul zoo has placed Afghanistan's only pig in quarantine, locking it in a specially built room, just in case:
There are no pig farms in Afghanistan and no direct civilian flights between Kabul and Mexico.
"We understand that, but most people don't have enough knowledge. When they see the pig in the cage they get worried and think that they could get ill," Saqib said.
Was one of the actors in a recently acclaimed Iranian film about oppression in Afghanistan a fugitive assassin, wanted for murdering an Iranian dissident in 1980? US officials insist that he is.
Hey Mr. Taliban: A piece in the Hindustan Times claims that Mullah Omar, the chief of the Taliban, suffers from brain seizures, locking himself away for days at a time, with the official line being that he is having visions. He is also said to suffer from bouts of depression alternating with childlike behaviour. Then again, there's a good precedent for that kind of thing among Holy Men; St. Paul, the founder of the Christian church, apparently suffered from similar seizures, and doesn't the Bible tell believers to be like a child? (Not to mention the Borges story in which a madman is used as a judge in a religious court, on the grounds that the insane are in touch with the Godhead.) (via Follow Me Here)
Healing the rift between church and state: An insightful look at two faith-based government regimes: Bush II's America (atheists need not apply), and the Taliban's destruction of priceless ancient statues in Afghanistan.
The latest craze among young men in Islamic Fundamentalist-ruled Afghanistan is the Titanic haircut, so named as it's modelled on Pretty Boy DiCaprio's hair in the eponymous blockbuster. The Taliban rulers (who have banned Western clothing and the trimming of beards) are not amused, and have arrested dozens of barbers. (via Rebecca's Pocket)
In one last corner of Afghanistan not controlled by the hard-line Taliban, 15 women are studying medicine. But the Taliban are closing in... (via YAWL)