April 2008


Run! Run for your lives! Run گاوماده, ruuuun! It’s Operation Beef Jerky!

I’ve herded cattle before, but never with a helicopter. I prefer on foot actually, because horses hate me and I have general feelings of disdain for an animal that probably doesn’t earn its keep. The closest I got to helicopter-herding was using a motorbike once. Somebody gave me a little 80cc bike and an electric cattle prod to move 60 head a few miles. I never used the cattle prod once. I’m a humanitarian, as you can see in this photo:

Say no to heli-cow-herding!

OK, some serious information: the photo at top is not photoshopped. It was taken in Nuristan and was part of a US Army press release (pdf):

Flying through the clouds soldiers from the Afghan National Army and Task Force Saber air-assaulted onto landing zone Shetland July 19 during Operation Saray Has. The landing zone is located in a large meadow near the top of a mountain in Nuristan. Local Afghans use the area as a grazing pasture for livestock, while Taliban insurgents often use it to stage attacks against Task Force Saber.

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Let’s explore some important issues, namely the availability of fried chicken worldwide. Thankfully, Kabul provides. Via Dr. Williams:

Clean and tasty? Sounds intriguing.

Here’s a close-up, via jcraven:

Can anyone provide a review of the food? And I don’t mean of the Afghan Fried Chicken in Newark, New Jersey. The security situation there is just too bad.

And if anyone has been to Tajik Fried Chicken in Dushanbe, please offer your thoughts.

And Hillary wins Somalia. Well, they would if those countries could vote in the Democrat primary. The Senlis Council has conducted a sorta-survey in the parts of those countries that it could and came up with these preferences:

Don’t worry Senator Clinton. You win Somalia:

somalia clinton

Poor Senator McCain. Don’t they know he’s a maverick? (Or maybe they looked that term up and found out that it is a term for a cow that runs away. Nobody likes a runaway cow). To be fair, he would likely take Albania, Mongolia and southern Sudan.

Read all about it here.

I was searching for information on Nabi Misdaq, the author of Afghanistan: Political Frailty and Foreign Interference when I came across his rather interesting son. Misdaq is a British-trained anthropologist from Paktia province who was the head of BBC Pashto for about 20 years. I found that out with a quick google search, but I also came across someone called “Y. Misdaq AKA Yoshi.” I thought “huh?”

I turns out that Dr. Misdaq’s son is an Afghan-British musician and multimedia artist (according to wikipedia). A review of his 2004 album had this to say:

“Yoshi comes from a world where Sergio Leone, the RZA, anti-establishment politics, Middle Eastern strife, ambient Hip Hop, Akira Kurosawa and potent skunk exist in harmony…Managing to sound both ominous and chilled at the same time, this is obviously a deeply personal record about skewed perspectives, about looking at the UK from it’s marginal areas and wondering whether you’re a part of it.”

Pic of Y. Misdaq AKA Yoshi:

Misdaq, J.R. has published a book title Pieces of a Paki which you can see him talk about in a video here. The cover is plain white with a badly drawn figure in the middle. A voice off to the side says  “You’re a Paki!” The figure says “No, I’m not!” The reply is “Yes, you are!”

You can listen to “Yusuf” Misdaq’s music on his myspace page.

Elsewhere you can visit his personal website and an arts website he runs called Nefisa.

I like that Yoshi’s book is £6.00 and Dr. Misdaq’s book is $160. Damn the academic press business.

Barnett Rubin mentioned a Canadian Army Intel Major who served in Kandahar as a reservist in a recent blog entry. His “real” job is as a Vancouver police detective in British Columbia.

Harjit Sajjan, a police detective from Vancouver, British Columbia, served in military intelligence with the Canadian Land Forces in Kandahar. His work with the local population was key to halting the Taliban offensive in the summer of 2006.

Harjit Sajjan is Sikh name. This made me curious so I googled the name a found more references to the man. This is a pic of Sajjan along with a Brigadier-General in a Sikh temple in Canada (story here).

OK, fascinating. So? I just wanted to use this story as a segue into mentioning that Afghanistan has a native Sikh community, and has had one for it’s entire modern history. This BBC article says that they arrived with the Brits in the 19th century. However, I believe there was already a Sikh merchant presence in Kabul (I’m not 100% on this). The BBC article mentions all the problems Sikhs are facing today in Afghanistan, and as refugees (who isn’t?), and gives some background to Sikh society in Afghanistan. What is important to note is that a non-Muslim population has lived in Afghanistan for at least 150 years now and has, especially under the rule of Zahir Shah, been accorded a reasonable level of religious freedom. This obviously doesn’t do much to support the stereotype of the xenophobic Afghan Muslim zealot society that is offended by the mere presence of non-Muslims.

Though I don’t wish to whitewash the history entirely. In the early 1990s there were still 50,000 Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan. This is now down to about 1,000. Most fled in 1992 after after Hindu extremists destroyed the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, in India. There were retaliatory attacks across India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. But what is important to mention is that the attacks in Afghanistan were centered in Kabul, while Sikhs and Hindus in Kandahar and Jalalabad were not affected to the same degree. So; Kabul, Kandahar and Jalalabad. Which of these three is the least “conservative?” I say the attacks had more to do with the opportunism presented to the “mujahideen” in the then anarchic Kabul who attacked, robbed, raped and murdered for any or no reason whatsoever. Less religious motivation, more basic opportunism.

Old Steve McCurry pic: Afghan Sikh students.

More info on Afghan Sikhs:

OK, I realize that that this fashion shoot has already been blogged by Barnett Rubin and Joshua Foust. But I must put up at least one photo from Fred Maroon’s 1968 Afghanistan photo shoot. It’s just so [insert adjective of your choice].

OK, and maybe one more:

 Visit the photo gallery here.

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