Email questions

1. How did you become interested in Blogging, and how did your Blog: Afghan Warrior come about?

From childhood I was interested to be lyric or writer. One day I went to check my email and after I checked it I had 15 more minutes so I went to IRC chat room and I met Paul Edwards who persuaded me to start my blog. My first post got many comments and I was so impressed and happy so I decided to keep on blogging.

When I was 9 years old the war started in the capital Kabul in 1992 and the situation was very horrible. Many rockets blasted near our house and we had to immigrate to many places. It is a long story to tell you and Afghan warrior means i keep fighting against those responsible.

2. What is your favorite food?

I like all kinds of food that are cooked well. Afghan rice beef steak is my favorite food.

3. Without divulging anything of a confidrential nature, what exactly do you do in your job as a translator with the U.S. Miltary?

As an interpreter I go on patrols and also communicate between ANA and US Army. When we go on patrols we talk with people and ask questions about their problems and whether they have any problem with robbery or bad guys.

4. Is Afghanistan a very tribal society?

Yes, Afghanistan is a tribal society, but the tribes are united.

5. Waheed, if it's not too personal, could you tell me which tribal group you belong to? And when you reached adulthood, did you have to undergo some sort of initiation, ritual or ceremony?

I belong to the Tajik tribe. When I reached adulthood I was in Pakistan with my family because the living conditions weren't good in Afghanistan. So I really didn't have any sort of ceremony. I was only thinking when will I be able to go back to my country and go back to school.

6. What does the name Waheed mean? Does your name have a meaning?

My name means "united" or "unity". In some old books it also means "single" or "only".

7. What's the best book you ever read?

My favorite book is Shahnama-E-Firdawsi. This book is full of nice stories about former kings of Afghanistan going back 1800 years and it's full of nice epic poems.

8. So, do you have a favorite sport or activity that you like to do?

I like all sports, especially soccer. Right now I don't have time because I work from 4pm till 7am, but sometimes I like to watch sports on TV.

9. If you could go vacation to any place in the World, where would it be?

I love to travel and visit different countries. There are many places I would love to go e.g. US, Canada, Australia, India, Egypt.

10. So, how bad was it living under the Taliban?

When the Taliban came to power I moved to Pakistan with my family but I was reading the newspaper every day. Also I was talking with people who were coming from Afghanistan. Life was hard and very boring. No TV channels, no music. It was especially hard for women as they were not allowed to work outside of their houses. There was no education for women and no freedom of speech.

11. Waheed, if someone said to you five years ago that the Taliban would be out of power, Afghanistan would have democratic elections, Kabul would be being rebuilt and blossoming, women would be actually allowed to protest for their rights, new schools would be being built, you would be working for the U.S. Military and telling the world about Afghanistan through your Blog on the Internet, would you have believed them?

During the Taliban regime we wouldn't have believed that the US Army would come to Afghanistan, but we were hoping that one day Afghanistan will be free. But when the US attacked, everything changed very quickly. I wouldn't have believed that one day I would be working as an interpreter and we would have 4 TV channels and women would have their ministry and protest for their rights.

12. Now that Kabul has four TV Channels, do you have a television program you like to watch?

I like all programs on our TV channels, but my favorite is Sahat-e-bashuma which gives very useful information about new technology and also it shows strange events. Also "hop" program, which is a music program which play different songs such as Indian, Afghan, Iranian, English, Arabic.

13. Do you have any pets?

I used to have a dog but not now.

14. Who's Prettier: Afghani women or Lebanese women?

Hahaha. I don't know which women are prettier. I guess they are very similar but we have some that are very pretty ..........................

15. What's the strangest thing you've ever seen in Afghanistan?

The strangest thing I ever saw was the 1992 war in Kabul. The rockets were coming from everywhere and the Kabul sky was covered by smoke.

16. All Afghan boys love their mothers, so what is it about your mother that is special?

Yes, all boys and girls love their parents, especially their mothers. There is a great respect for parents in Afghanistan and I love my mother more than anything in the world. My mother is a special mother - she is very smart, she is a high school teacher. The special thing about her is that she is really kind to me and she always cares for me.

17. What is the biggest problem facing Afghanistan today?

Afghanistan is facing a lot of problems today. The biggest problem we are facing is terrorism. Other problems that we are facing are power, weak economy, unpaved roads. We need hospitals and universities and we must have colleges in every province. Sports stadiums and much more.

18. Do you have a favorite place you like to visit in Afghanistan and why?

My favorite place in Afghanistan to visit is Panjshir and Paghman Valley.

19. Waheed, I understand that Internet Costs are very expensive in Kabul and that you have a great need for a digital camera and laptop. If people want to help you with these things, how do they go about it? Can they make donations to your blog?

Internet is expensive here in Kabul. It's impossible for people to get net connection for their homes because only few people have digital phones. The government hasn't issued new phone systems to the people. They are working on it, but it might take a long time. There are some net companies in Kabul that issue satellite connection which costs US$3000 for the satellite and 3 months in advance, and every month they charge you US$300 for the lowest speed. I am waiting to get a phone connection. It costs US$270 to get a phone but I don't know when they will issue them, so most people go to net cafes. There are almost 18 cafes in all Kabul now. If anyone wants to send me a second hand laptop or digital camera they can send it to me via the US Army mail. One guy offered me a laptop and one guy a digital camera, so I hope they send them. Yes, they can
donate money to my blog.

20. Thanks very much, Waheed, and final question: Have you ever seen a ghost?

I have never seen a ghost in real life but sometimes in my dreams. My friend told me that he saw a ghost.

Repeated at:




Daily living in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. However Afghanistan has made remarkable progress since the fall of the Taliban. But we still have a very weak economy. Although Afghanistan's economy has improved over the last three years, the government has not been able to to carry out a proper assessment. Education, health care, the lack of jobs, homes, power and drinking water are the main problems that Afghanistan is facing today. Wages are extremely low. Civil servants, teachers and even doctors are lucky to get between $40 and $100 per month. The government officals only make $40 a month. Former officers, except ANA officers, only make $100 a month - even the colonels.

Food is very expensive for the people. Beside some rich people, most people eat meat once per week. Milk, bread, sugar, and cooking oil prices are very high for people, especially for the civil servants. A government worker makes 2000 afghani a month and one kilo of sheep meat is 200 afghani while one kilo of cow's meat costs 140 Afghani. A liter of diesel fuel costs 26 Afghani and a liter of petrol fuel costs between 24 and 27 afghani. Most people buy second hand clothes because the price of new clothes and shoes is very expensive. A teacher can not buy a coat for 1500 afghani because a teacher (e.g. a high school teacher) makes only 3000 afghani a month. The US dollar price in afghani is one $US dollar equals to 48 afghani. The price keeps changing every day - sometime s one US dollar equals 50 afghani.

So it is impossible for most people to buy meat every day, or even 3 times a week, because the salary of a government worker is equal to the price of 10 kilos of meat. Only those people who work for foreign organizations make much more than the government officials. Food price is not the only problem in Afghanistan - the taxi rents are very high too. Although there are many public busses, they are not enough to solve the people's problems because the population of Kabul city is over 3 million people, and since the fall of the Taliban almost two million people have returned to Kabul. Some refugees who are homeless live under tents. Almost 50% of people are homeless in Kabul and they ask the government to build shelters for them. Many people sold their houses during the 1992 war and during the Taliban regime and they spent their money while they were in Pakistan and Iran during that time. They sold their houses for really cheap prices because the situation was really bad and now their houses are 10 times more than the price they sold them at, so the people hope that the new government will issue some land to homeless people, but its unclear when that will happen.




Situation at a glance

After the 11 September tragedy and US-led invasion, Afghanistan has achieved much in the past three years. Around 80% of the Afghan people are happy that the US overthrew the Taliban and installed a democracy. The reason some people are not happy is because they are against freedom and they are warlords and they want to be in power and they only think about their own benefits. And they don't want foreign forces in Afghanistan as in the presence of coalition forces they cant harm the new Afghan Government. Afghan people think that the coalition must stay till the ANA (Afghan National Army) is capable of protecting Afghanistan. At the moment we have more than 25000 soldiers in ANA formation and the plan to have 75000 soldiers in the national army is expected to be completed in 2006. ANA still needs US help to fight against the enemy because we don't have an air force. But in every mission there are some US Advisors with the ANA, so if they need air strikes their advisor can call for it. The new training academy for ANA officers was inaugurated 3 days ago. 110 ANA officers from different parts of Afghanistan will be trained at this academy. The 32nd battalion graduated two weeks ago and moved to their units. There are also some classes for ANA to learn English and they have US and Afghan teachers. Sometimes when some ANA do their homework they call me to help. I saw some that are so good in learning English. Their books come from the US. The disarmament process goes well but there are still some warlords with militias. More than 40,000 former militias have been disarmed. Afghanistan's New Beginnings Program (ANBP) reintegrates former militias through the teacher training, agriculture, vocational training and small businesses training courses in order to support their families. The local Afghan and militias worked well in the 2001 war. I think they should still co-operate in order to find the enemy.

The people are feeling free - women can go to work. Some women wear burkhas and some women not, but they are no longer forced to wear burkhas, it's their choice. School girls and college girls put a little scarf on their heads. The people of some provinces are still facing problems with their kids' education and hospitals. In some villages there are no health clinics and drinking water. There are still some clashes in southern provinces but the central provinces and northern are quite calm.

Afghans learn English as they know its an international language. Especially in the capital Kabul, there are almost 1500 English courses where thousands of girls and boys learn English at school. English teaching starts from Year 7, but most students still go to English classes after school because they think they can learn better. As I mentioned in my first blog, it's the first time that we have four TV channels in the capital, Kabul. Also there are cable networks so that people who can afford it get cable connection. Afghan TV channels also have good programs. There is a channel called "Tolo TV" which is the youngsters favorite channel. It plays music like Arabic, Indian, Turkish, English. Also they have nice sports channels and play movies every night. We have female and male announcers in all channels and female singers after the new election held last year.

Drug smuggling is still continuous in Afghanistan, however Afghan police confiscated many tons of opium. But because we have a long border with Pakistan and Iran it's hard for the ANA and national police to control, but still they arrested many drug dealers over the last few months. Air strikes also damaged many plants. The government wants to talk peacefully with the farmers to eradicate their fields, but the farmers want financial help from the government to support their family or to cultivate useful plants.

There is some Government welfare available for poor people where they learn short courses like tailoring, carpet-weaving and mechanics, but there are still many poor people and that welfare is not enough for all poor people. There are many beggars in Kabul streets begging for money.

As an interpreter, I go on patrols to some villages around the ANA Central Corps. When we go to the villages we ask the people if they have any problem with thieves or bad people and we make sure they are secure. There is a refugee camp beside the ANA central corps. They live in tents. Before winter started we went on a patrol and talked to them and they complained about the cold winter. So after 2 weeks we issued them blankets and food amd also we had some US doctors give their kids a check-up and provided medicine for them. That was a good day for me because I was the only interpreter with 60 soldiers and medics, so I was happy to help those people by interpreting. Most kids follow us, asking for pens and notebooks and pipes. Little kids can't pronounce "mister" so they say "Mishter pen please, mishter pencil" and its funny. Sometimes we give them stuff. When we go to villages all kids run and try to talk with soldiers.

Most people like president Karzai. He seems to be very loyal to his people and we hope Afghanistan will achieve and be well-promoted during his government. I like him too. He is a very good president. Only one day I was sad with his decision in which he released Pakistani prisoners without exchanging with Afghan prisoners who are in Pakistani jails for a long time without committing any big crime. I think he should have exchanged the Pakistani prisoners with Afghan prisoners who are in Pakistan. Because the Pakistanis came to Afghanistan to fight in support of the Taliban. But our prisoners were only in Pakistan as refugees.




The New Year celebration in Afghanistan

Afghan people peacefuly celebrated "Nowroz", the first day of the new year with the glorious celebration on Monday. As per tradition, Afghans attended the flag-hoisting ceremonies at their local renowned tombs. In the New Year ceremony, people make and serve a special kind of fruit drink called "Haft Miwa" {comprised of seven kinds of fruit}, and they visit relatives. This festival was banned under the Taliban regime. The new year was celebrated in all provinces. In the capital, Kabul, the celebration was attended by thousands of Kabul residents and some government officials. At the flag-hoisting ceremony at the Karta-e-Sakhi tomb near the TV hill, all Afghan people were looking very happy and hopeful because the new year arrived with snow and rain and they hope it will be full of peace and security as well. Kabul's hillsides are just turning green after a long drought. Hillsides were crowded with young boys and girls and families celebrating the holiday. Unfortunately a landmine was detonated during the celebration and a young boy was wounded.

Almost every city of Afghanistan has some sort of central festival where the people collectively welcome the new year as well as the spring season. Capital Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif celebrate the new year with a different style, especially the biggest festival held every year in Mazar-e-Sharif. In Balkh province, hundreds or thousands of people, starting from early morning, gather around the historical shrine of Hazrat Ali, the son-in-law of Prophet Mohammed {peace be upon him} and also the fourth Caliph of Islam. This is the historical shrine with a history reaching back hundreds of years and the people of Afghanistan, especially the northern people, have very high respect and pay tribute to this shrine. The shrine is always full of pilgrims from almost all parts of Afghanistan. The main function of new year is also held in this shrine. This shrine is also famous because of the blue mosque. It has a lot of attractions for foreign tourists and the blue dome of the shrine is a noble piece of ancient architecture. The main reason is not only to celebrate new year but the gathering of the people and the brotherhood and unity among the people.

The red rose naturally grows every year in the deserts near Mazr-e-Sharif city, so that is why its also famous for the Red Rose ceremony - it shows the spectacular desert views.

Afghan people are hoping to enter into another phase of their history, which is democracy, rule of law, supremacy of constitution, unity, and brotherhood.




Security challenges in Afghanistan

After the 11th September 2001 tragedy, Afghanistan was finally liberated through the efforts of coalition forces. The Afghan nation has made giant steps towards national reconcilition. However, although a lot has been achieved in the past three years, security is still an issue in the capital Kabul and other provinces, even though some warlords are falling into line and supporting the new Afghan government, there are still illegal militia remaining as a problem in the country. However, 42,000 armed fighters have surrendered their weapons under a program operated by the UN and Afghan Government. Security is a challenge for the government and coalition forces. The poeple of Afghanistan want the authorities to look further and find the commanders of illegal forces and also investigate other officials who play a role in maintaining such troops. The Afghan people strongly condemn the killing of Steven MacQueen, a British advisor to the Ministry of Rural Development and we believe that the killing of Steven MacQueen is heinous and inhumane. Such acts are always committed by criminal and violent extremist groups. These groups are used to committing inhumane crimes. These incidents are happening in Kabul city when the officials claim that the crime rate has fallen by 38% in Kabul and 60% in other provinces. The Afghan people wonder how the enemies of Afghanistan are still able to carry out such crimes. Even in Kabul, the capital, we are still facing a serious security challenge and serious coordinated measures should be taken to prevent any repetition of such cases. This goal can be achieved by reform in security. Our society is in extreme need of security.




Clash between police and farmers left 4 injured

Farmers of Achin district of the eastern province of Nangarhar clashed with police on Wednesday, resisting police officials attempts to destroy their poppy field, resulting in injuries to two policemen and two villagers. While the police were attempting to destroy the fields the villagers started firing on the police and the police also opened the fire. The Nangarhar deputy security police, Liwal, denied the injury of any policeman. According to the locals of Depo and Goshtan villages of Achin district, the residents of two villages attacked on the police and during the clash two policemen and two villagers were injured. The residents of the area said there were two helicopters of security forces flying overhead to help the police. Locals said they will not let the campaign to eradicate their poppy fields succeed. "The government promised us a lot of things but didn't keep any of them". They said if the police destroy the poppy their children will die of hunger.





PayPal has been added to the account. Thanks Tom Villars.




Farmers complain about poppy eradication program

Afghanistan is the largest opium producing country in the world. Helmand province was identified s the largest poppy producing province of the country after the adoption of the national poppy eradication program. Government authorities embarked on an anti-poppy campaign, destroying poppy producing fields. The provincial authorities claimed recently that 90% of the poppy crop had been eradicated but the farmers of the Helmand province claimed that the poppy fields remain and the crop is ready for harvesting. They also claimed that officials sent out to destroy the poppy fields
were seeking bribes.
Mohammed Khan, a 28 year old farmer said all his 15 acres land of poppy field was destroyed by the district police because he did not have money to pay the bribes. He said there were some surrounding fields where the poppy crop was not destroyed. Many farmers charge the authorities of putting on a show of destroying poppy fields for visiting journalists. They claim that the authorities entrusted the task of destroying crop to the local police, who actually make deals worth thousands of dollars with the bigger poppy growers.
Mohayudin Khan, provincial administrative director, does not rule out the possibility of bribes and says maybe people pay those supposed to destroy the fields not to destroy them, but one thing I want to say is that we have enough time and resolve to destroy the remaining poppy fields.
Some farmers do not agree with the poppy eradication program, saying people have no other option. They say the government should be flexible - people don't have any alternative livelihoods.
The people of Afghanistan strongly support the poppy eradication program and they think its very dangerous for the people and young generation in Afghanistan and the rest of the world.
The people of Afghanistan support the program, but they say that the program should not be selective, it should be for all - especially for rich and influential people and the local commander who deals in the poppy business should come first.
The people of Afghanistan ask the new Afghan government to financially support the poor farmers so they can cultivate useful plants.




Artillery seized from Parwan destroyed

Three tons of artillery seized from Parwan provice have been destroyed by the International Security Assistance Force. The cache included 450 machine guns, missiles measuring 30 mm and 14.5 mm and large stock of bullets of different calibers.
According to the ISAF spokesman, the arms were exploded east of Kabul in a desert area on Monday, he reported in a press conference in Kabul on Wednesday. "The arms are threatening and dangerous to the lives of the people".
However he didnt say whether the arms were active or not.
According to the locals, the arms were seized from Ghorband District of Parwan province.
Noorulhaq Ulomi, a general during the communist regime and now an analyst told Afghan Radio "the destruction of weapons is a financial loss". He said the weapons could be used in other ways, even melted down to make other things.
Lieutenant Colonel Zaher Morad, a senior official of the Defense Ministry, said active arms were handed over to the Defense Ministry but if they were not active they were destroyed.

Note: The enemy wanted to use these weapons to kill people, so that people will think our government is weak and not doing any thing to secure the people.



Two girls disappear from Khair Khana

Two young girls, aged 18 and 14 disappeared from their house in Khair Khana, a locality of Kabul.
Their parents said their daughters had been kidnapped. The local police said there was no evidence of this.
Nasreen who was 18 and Naseema 14 disappeared yesterday evening at 6:30 pm from Khair Khana. According to their mother Seema the girls disappeared while they were bringing water from a well.
The girls’ mother said she did not hear any noise [of a struggle, etc] "the generator was running and we couldn’t hear anything else".
Mohammed Azim, head of the crime branch of the local police station said "the girls were not kidnapped by force if they were kidnapped by force there would have been some evidence - for example their shoes would have been left behind in the scuffle". The neighbors did not comment on the issue.

Update 2005-03-15: The girls were found two days ago and they were not kidnapped, they went with two guys of their own free will.

Update 2005-03-18: The two missing girls have been found in Kandahar. The two girls who were disappeared from their house in Kabul were located by the police in the southern province of Kandahar. Both of the girls had apparently eloped with two young men who were also arrested. They were planning to go to Iran. Police said the boys had not kidnapped the girls and that the girls eloped with the boys of their own choice. All of them will be
brought to Kabul soon for questioning.



4,000 Afghan Women join vocational courses

Many men throughout Afghanistan have been rendered disabled or even killed due to fighting and can no longer work to support their families.
More than half of the population in Afghanistan is now women and many of them are widows or the head of their household. So, after a quarter of century of continuous fighting, it has become a necessity for some women to go to work to keep putting food on the table.
Many women are starting their own business by taking out loans and using their valuable skills like baking and tailoring. About 4,000 other women around the Kabul are receiving vocational and literacy training provided by the world food program [WFP] to learn skills like tailoring, making candles and soap, and preserving fruit and vegetables. The women will complete their training and could start working within a month’s time.
The WFP is currently working in Kabul and will soon move to areas throughout Afghanistan such as Jalalabad ,Kandahar ,and Mazar-e- Sharif.
The object is to bring more women into Afghan work force and help them to get off to a good start in the community.
Over the next five years the Ministry of Commerce will be working to establish programs and policies to help the women of Afghanistan and provide them with better opportunities to start businesses. The Afghan Women’s Business Association has already been established. The Ministry of Commerce will also be building centers for women in business. These centers will include training and work shops and will teach techniques for exporting products.
Many women in Afghanistan have already received assistance but many more still need help. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is working to help each and every one of its citizens to build a more safe and prosperous life.




Women's fitness club in Kabul

The country's first fitness club for women started 2 months ago with the participation of a dozen women. It has already logged some success. Women from different ages exercise at this club, especially those women who have difficulty with mobility because of their weight. Most women are happy for the positive changes in their bodies in two months.

Nima, the head of the club, who also carried the Afghanistan flag at the Athen's Olympics, said in an interview "I am keen to solve the problems of the women". During her tours abroad as an athlete she collected various sports and exercise equipment now in use at the club.

Women can now exercise in a safe place wearing blouse pants and sports shoes. The club administration said due to demand she would establish clubs in other areas of the capital if she can find suitable premises.




Afghanistan's first blog

I would like to say hello to all bloggers. My name is Waheed. I am a 20 year old male from Afghanistan and I have been working with the US Army in Kabul, Afghanistan as an interpreter for the last 2 years. Our base is located inside the ANA (Afghan National Army) Central Corps and the US officers train the ANA. I would like to thank my friend Paul Edwards who persuaded me to start my blog and send the real news from Afghanistan. The situation in Afghanistan is getting better day by day. There are still some fights in the southern provinces and also near the Pakistan border. The ANA and US Army fight against them, but the enemy is weak and they just carry out guerilla attacks and then escape.

The ANA is improving quickly - the 31st battalion graduated with 853 soldiers and officers last month from KMTC Kabul military training center and moved to ANA central corps. In the new formation of ANA there are six corps - the central corps and central brigade are located in Kabul while the other five corps are located in other provinces like Kandahar, Herat, Gardez, Kundoz, Paktia, and their battalions go on missions to other provinces During Taliban government the women were not allowed to work and girls were not allowed to go school but now people have their own freedom and women can go to work or study. After the election the new government established a new ministry by the name of Ministry of Women's Affairs and the women can easily solve their problems and they also have representatives in other provinces. During the Taliban we didn’t have internet system in Afghanistan but now there are about 25 net cafes in Kabul, and also some in Herat, Kandahar and Balkh provinces. People are really interested to use the internet but its too expensive for people to use it - only rich people can afford it. Under the Taliban Government we didn’t have any TV channels but now we have 4 TV channels in Kabul and for the first time in Ghazni, Balkh, Herat and Kandahar provinces.


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