Bamiyan Panorama

Bamiyan Panorama

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Once upon a time in Afghanistan - before the wars.

I would like to share with you something that has interested me for a while now.  A country that used to be so 'normal', is now so (partially) backwards, shattered, and destitute. 

First watch this video:  Kabul - once upon a time

Did you notice the scenes of people going about their daily lives, school, shopping, and normalcy? 

Now watch this video:  News Channel special on Afghanistan

I realize that this is just a slice of life, and does not encompass the whole country.  But still, see how normal everything is?   Even out in the rural areas, there was relative peace and regular living.

The last video I would like to show you is footage of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan before the wars, then after the fall of the Taliban, and then today.  Today is not all peaches and cream though.  Yes, there are some high rises and development in the capital but the majority of the country is destitute and suffering.   Here it is:  Kabul - before and after

The history of Afghanistan is so complicated, most people don't know a lot about it other than what they hear from the media and images of burkas and taliban.  Here's a version i've heard that describes the recent history in a nutshell:

Up until the late 1970's Afghanistan was (relatively speaking) a thriving country with universities, tourism, a strong military, and some decent steps towards letting women take place in all spheres of life (politics, school, jobs, etc...)  Then the Soviets invaded in 1979.  All of the rich people, educated people, and people with connections fled as refugees into Pakistan.  Millions of others were killed, and the US-backed Mujahideen fought the Soviets until they withdrew in 1989.   Afghanistan then fell into a civil war between the Mujahideen and the Soviet-backed Party until 1996 when the Taliban took control of the country.  During the civil war(1989-1996), and during the Taliban rule(1996-2001), millions of others fled as refugees all over the world, and millions more were killed.  Also during this time there was no 'real' government, laws, etc....   

So!  Afghanistan was in a constant state of war and/or non-government from 1979 until 2001.  All that was left after the fall of the Taliban in 2001 was shattered buildings, women in burkas with no chance for education and public life for 22 years, no schools, no government, no infastructure, no laws, hardly any trees. 

I enjoyed reading some stories about the day after the fall of the Taliban.  Some men immediately shaved their beards (beards were mandatory under Taliban rule), people flew kites (not allowed by the Taliban), photographs came out, old cassette players came out and music was heard for the first time in more than 10 years, etc, etc, etc....    

So, that's the recent history of Afghanistan in a nutshell.  I KNOW I skipped a lot of details, so please understand.   Thank you!

By the way, i'm still in the process of researching/investigating women's prisons in Afghanistan.  I'll post more info soon - there is actually not a lot of academic/legal information out there.  It is mostly news/journalism.

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