Bamiyan Panorama

Bamiyan Panorama

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Afghanistan hosts first professional boxing match

Afghanistan hosts first professional boxing match

German-born Afghan boxer Hamid Rahimi (left) and Tanzanian Said Mbelwa 
A sell-out crowd is expected to watch the "Fight 4 Peace"

Afghanistan is hosting its first professional men's boxing match amid tight security in the capital Kabul.
The 12-round bout is for the vacant World Boxing Organisation Intercontinental middleweight belt.
German-born Afghan boxer Hamid Rahimi is taking on Tanzanian Said Mbelwa for the title.
The match is being broadcast live, with millions of Afghans across the country expected to watch. The Taliban banned boxing towards the end of their rule.
Prominent Afghan figures including MPs and deputy ministers are at the venue to watch the fight.
Organisers have dubbed the bout a "Fight 4 Peace" and say it is being hosted to make a statement of freedom to take part in sport in a country blighted by war and militancy for decades.
Correspondents say the fight is likely to be a sell-out and has attracted interest from fans all over the country.

Mbelwa, 23, fights in the super-middleweight division and has a record of 31 fights with 19 wins, eight losses and four draws.
Rahimi is six years older than his opponent and has won 20 of his 21 fights. He has been followed by hundreds of fans to each interview and public appearance he has made in the week leading up to Tuesday's event.
Speaking earlier this week, he said that only sport could bring deeply divided societies together and he hoped the "Fight 4 Peace" would do just that in Afghanistan.
"The kids don't take guns, they come the sports way, and I believe in sports, I am a sportsman and I believe sport has the power and the magic to bring all people and all regions together. I hope it will bring peace to my hometown," he said.
"The whole country is so excited and looking forward to the 'Fight 4 Peace'. It's simply overwhelming."
Mbelwa said that he understood that the occasion was "a very special event for Afghanistan and sent a very important message for the whole world".
"But once this bell rings it will be a boxing fight like any other. And I can promise you that I will be victorious. I am very well prepared and I am sure that I will knock out Rahimi in the fourth round," he said.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Malala Yousufzai's recovery

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Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by the Taliban, is able to stand with help and communicate, British doctors treating her severe wounds said on Friday, though she still shows signs of infection.

Yousufzai, who was shot by the Pakistani Taliban for advocating education for girls, on Monday was flown from Pakistan to receive treatment at a unit at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital that has expertise in dealing with complex trauma cases. The unit has treated hundreds of soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.

The hospital also said that Yousufzai was 15 years old, not 14, as had been widely reported.
Dr. Dave Rosser, medical director at the hospital, said that the girl was "well enough that she's agreed that she's happy, in fact keen, for us to share more clinical detail." 
Rosser said the infection was probably related to the track of a bullet which grazed her head when she was attacked. Because of the infection, Rosser said, "she is not out of the woods yet."

Yousufzai began standing up to the Taliban when she was 11, when the Islamabad government had effectively ceded control of the Swat Valley, where she lives, to the militants.

The attack on Yousufzai and two other girls as they left school was the culmination of years of campaigning that had pitted the her against one of Pakistan's most ruthless Taliban commanders, Maulana Fazlullah.
The hospital also released more details of the attack on Yousufzai.  She was shot at point blank range and the bullet hit her left brow, but instead of penetrating the skull it traveled underneath the skin along the length of the side of her head and into her neck, landing above her left shoulder-blade.

While Yousufzai was able to communicate by writing, should could not talk because of a breathing tube in her throat.  She was, however, aware of her surroundings, the hospital said in a statement.
Despite the dramatic development, Rosser emphasized that she was still recovering from a very grave injury.
"But we are hopeful we will make a good recovery," he added in a statement.

NBC News staff and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I will remember Maida Khal

In December of 2010, we learned about Maida Khal.  In Mazar e Sharif women's prison because she asked to divorce her husband who was at least 50 years older than her and paralyzed.  (not to mention the beatings, etc...)

I wonder how she is doing?  How can we help her?  How can she leave prison? (she can't leave without a male 'guardian')

It would be nice if we can find a way to get her out of prison. 

Dear Afghans, please make me aware of some legal and political resources you have.

I don't want to forget about Maida Khal.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Malala Yousafzai in 2009, documentary.

*Warning: Graphic Images*  This is a video made in February of 2009 just before the Taliban banned girls from going to school in a region of Pakistan called the Swat Valley.

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Later in 2009 the Taliban were driven out of the Swat Valley by the Pakistani Military.  Malala, the girl in the video was able to go back to school sometime after 2009, and two days ago some Taliban men shot her in the head.  It is hard to imagine shooting a 14 year old girl in the head.  Such a cowardly and shameful act that shows how truly evil this group is. 

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Malala Yousafzai shot by Taliban - two articles




Malala Yousafzai: Pakistan activist, 14, shot in Swat

Pakistani hospital workers carry injured Malala Yousafzai, 14, on a stretcher at a hospital following an attack by gunmen in Mingora on October 9, 2012 Malala Yousafzai was hit in the head, but is reportedly out of danger

Gunmen have wounded a 14-year-old rights activist who has campaigned for girls' education in the Swat Valley in north-west Pakistan.
Malala Yousafzai was attacked on her way home from school in Mingora, the region's main town.
She came to public attention in 2009 by writing a diary for BBC Urdu about life under Taliban militants who had taken control of the valley.
A Pakistani Taliban spokesman told the BBC they carried out the attack.
Ehsanullah Ehsan told BBC Urdu that they attacked her because she was anti-Taliban and secular, adding that she would not be spared.
The chilling attack on the young peace campaigner has been leading TV news bulletins here. Malala Yousafzai is one of the best-known schoolgirls in the country. Young as she is, she has dared to do what many others do not - publicly criticise the Taliban.
Malala's confident, articulate campaign for girls' education has won her admirers - and recognition - at home and abroad. She has appeared on national and international television, and spoken of her dream of a future Pakistan where education would prevail.
Even by the standards of blood-soaked Pakistan, there has been shock at the shooting. It has been condemned by Pakistan's Prime Minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, who sent a helicopter to transfer Malala to hospital in Peshawar.
The head of Pakistan's Independent Human Rights Commission, Zohra Yusuf, said "this tragic attack on this courageous child" sends a very disturbing message to all those working for women and girls.
Malala Yousafzai was travelling with at least one other girl when she was shot, but there are differing accounts of how events unfolded.
One report, citing local sources, says a bearded gunman stopped a car full of schoolgirls, and asked for Malala Yousafzai by name, before opening fire.
But a police official also told BBC Urdu that unidentified gunmen opened fire on the schoolgirls as they were about to board a van or bus.
She was hit in the head and, some reports say, in the neck area by a second bullet, but is now in hospital and is reportedly out of danger. Another girl who was with her at the time was also injured.
'Courage' Malala Yousafzai was just 11 when she was writing her diary, two years after the Taliban took over the Swat Valley, and ordered girls' schools to close.
In the diary, which she kept for the BBC's Urdu service under a pen name, she exposed the suffering caused by the militants as they ruled.
She used the pen-name Gul Makai when writing the diary. Her identity only emerged after the Taliban were driven out of Swat and she later won a national award for bravery and was also nominated for an international children's peace award.
Correspondents say she earned the admiration of many across Pakistan for her courage in speaking out about life under the brutal rule of Taliban militants.
One poignant entry reflects on the Taliban decree banning girls' education: "Since today was the last day of our school, we decided to play in the playground a bit longer. I am of the view that the school will one day reopen but while leaving I looked at the building as if I would not come here again."

Malala Yousafzai began her blog at the age of 11
She has since said that she wants to study law and enter politics when she grows up. "I dreamt of a country where education would prevail," she said.
Taliban driven out The BBC's Orla Guerin in Islamabad says that Malala Yousafzai was a public figure who didn't shy away from risks and had strong support from her parents for her activism. Indeed, her father, who is a school teacher, expressed his pride in her campaigning.
In a statement about the attack, Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said: "We have to fight the mindset that is involved in this. We have to condemn it... Malala is like my daughter, and yours too. If that mindset prevails, then whose daughter would be safe?"
The Taliban, under the notorious militant cleric Maulana Fazlullah, took hold of the Swat Valley in late 2007 and remained in de facto control until they were driven out by Pakistani military forces during an offensive in 2009.
While in power they closed girls' schools, promulgated Sharia law and introduced measures such as banning the playing of music in cars.
Since they were ejected, there have been isolated militant attacks in Swat but the region has largely remained stable and many of the thousands of people who fled during the Taliban years have returned.

Peace-prize winning Pakistani girl on Taliban hit list fights for life after shooting

Soldiers take Malala Yousafzai, 14, to an army hospital after a gunman attacked her and two other girls in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Tuesday.
Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old Pakistani activist who won international acclaim for her work promoting peace, and two other young girls were shot and seriously injured Tuesday, police and hospital officials said.
Local police and hospital officials told NBC News that Malala was shot in the neck and head shortly after leaving her school in the Swat region. Doctors said they were working in an attempt to save the lives of all three girls.
Malala was nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize in 2011 for a blog she wrote under a pseudonym for the BBC. She also won the National Peace Prize in Pakistan, was honored with a school named after her, and quickly became an outspoken critic of the Taliban in Pakistan and public advocate for peace.
In the blog, she chronicled life in the Swat Valley under the brutal and oppressive rule of the local faction of the Pakistani Taliban, who carried out public floggings, hung dead bodies in the streets, and banned education for girls.
Obama her 'ideal' leader
In early 2011, the militants had added Malala to their hit list.
"We wanted to kill her as she was pro-West, she was speaking against Taliban and more important she was calling President Obama as her ideal. She was young but was promoting a Western culture in the Pakhtun populated areas," Ihsanullah Ihsan, the spokesman of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP said Tuesday.
Veronique De Viguerie / Getty Images, file
Malala Yousafzai, pictured here at the age of 12 in March 2009, was undergoing surgery after she was shot twice Tuesday.

The Taliban had made a plan for killing her a year ago but were waiting for an opportunity, he told NBC News.
Yousafzai was initially treated at the Saidu Sharif Teaching Hospital, in Mingora, the main city of Swat, but was later airlifted to a hospital in the larger city of Peshawar.
A police official, quoting other students who witnessed the shooting, said some people came in a car and stopped in front of the school and then asked them to identify Malala.
"Since the students already knew about threats to Malala Yousufzai's life, therefore they said they didn't know her," the police officer said.
But he said when Malala came out of the school and sat in a school van she was shot.
The young girl's stark depictions of daily life in Swat -- as Pakistan’s army carried out a massive military operation against the Taliban in the area -- led her to become the first Pakistani girl nominated for the children's peace prize.
She began writing the diary for the BBC when she was just 11.
In one posting on her BBC blog, she wrote, "My younger brother does not like going to school. He cries while going to school and is jubilant coming back home ... He said that whenever he saw someone he got scared that he might be kidnapped. My brother often prays 'O God bring peace to Swat and if not then bring either the US or China here.'"

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Green on Blue article

Afghanistan's 'green on blue' collapse of trust

A Canadian Army soldier, mentoring the Afghan National Army

As the number of Nato troops killed by their Afghan counterparts continues to rise - attacks known as "green on blue" - many are left wondering if the breakdown of this relationship will result in an early exit for international forces in Afghanistan.

In a circle of trees at the heart of the international mission's headquarters in Kabul, there are 50 flags. One for each of the coalition countries that make up the force that is fighting the Taliban.

Under the branches, in the early morning shade, a few hundred soldiers stand still, listening, as the names of that week's dead are read aloud.

The first was that of a Jordanian soldier, then a British sergeant and two British captains. Next an American gunner's mate, and two more sergeants.

An Afghan officer stepped forward. He read just a number: 31. The service is short, it barely lasts five minutes. There is not enough time to read the names of all the Afghan dead.

Sgt Gareth Thursby (left) and Pte Thomas Wroe Sgt Gareth Thursby (left) and Pte Thomas Wroe both died in 'green on blue' attacks last month

Some names give more pause for thought than others. Sgt Gareth Thursby and Pte Thomas Wroe were killed earlier in the month in Nahr-e Saraj in Helmand.

They were not killed by the Taliban, but by an Afghan policeman they were serving alongside.

As the number of these "green on blue" or insider attacks has risen, British soldiers have taken extra precautions. One is to be armed at all times, even when men are sleeping. These men are called "guardian angels".

In the Nahr-e Saraj killings the Afghan policeman looked like he was in pain. The British soldiers reacted with compassion. The guardian angel put down his weapon as he tried to help - and that is when the killer, the policeman, struck.

"Murder" is a word you rarely hear in war. Killing is part of the business, and is viewed by most as lawful according to international protocols.

But recently, the commander of international forces here, General John Allen, sat opposite his Afghan counterparts and said that while his troops were prepared to die for Afghanistan, they were not prepared to be murdered.

A quarter of all British soldiers who have been killed here this year were killed by Afghan police or army colleagues.

Some were Taliban infiltrators. Others, men with a grievance, who shot those they served with in the back, or in the face, or somewhere their body armour and helmets offered no protection.

Trust is collapsing between these two forces, who should be united in their fight against the Taliban.

The international mission suspended many routine joint patrols with Afghans as it sought to stop the attacks. A huge step, since Nato's strategy relies on training Afghans to fight the Taliban when most international forces leave at the end of 2014.

Senior generals and the Ministry of Defence claimed that this was no big deal, but few believe them.

One senior diplomat told me the switch would go down in the history books.

It could be a "game changer", he said. Afghan generals were furious - they felt abandoned and claimed a propaganda victory had been handed to the insurgents.

The Taliban may be cruel but they are also adaptable. "Crafty" is the word one marine used to describe them when speaking to me a week or so ago. He had just lost two colleagues to Taliban grenades.

When the insurgents realised they could not beat the coalition in a head-on battle, they introduced roadside bombs.

And now they realise that this war, already deeply unpopular at home, can only become more so if Afghan troops keep killing British, American and other servicemen.

"What do you say to the wife of a soldier killed by an Afghan soldier," a coalition general said to me last week. "There is nothing you can say."

The fear among those leading this war is that the relentless green on blue killings will accelerate the exit of troops.

The public is already sick of these killings and they could provide Western politicians with a good excuse to quit. After all, why hang around for another two years if the Taliban cannot be defeated militarily, and your allies keep shooting you dead?

A substantial and early drawdown of British troops is already being privately considered.

President Karzai might not realise it, said another diplomat, but you cannot underestimate Western fatigue with this war and with corruption here.

There is a shift taking place in the coalition's vision of the future of Afghanistan.

Speak to senior generals and diplomats and they have a view of what the country looks like after they have gone. Kabul and other cities remain in government hands, the east will remain as lawless as ever, and the south, well… "there will have to be some accommodation in the south".

What does that mean?

It means that the Taliban, in some areas, will be back for good.

One of the most senior diplomats here sat in my garden recently and sighed.

This is a war of diminished expectations and one where the West will never utter the word "victory".

He said, "Do not ask me if it was worth it, because it was not."

So what, I asked, was the best possible outcome?

He replied, "All we want is a country that we can forget about."

Friday, October 05, 2012

Diplomat in Libya: 'Assuming we don't die tonight'

Diplomat Killed in Libya Told Fellow Gamers: Hope I ‘Don’t Die Tonight’

On Tuesday, Sean Smith, a Foreign Service Information Management Officer assigned to the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, typed a message to the director of his online gaming guild: ”Assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures.” The consulate was under siege, and within hours, a mob would attack, killing Smith along with three others, including the U.S. ambassador.
In his professional and personal life, Smith was a husband and father of two, an Air Force veteran, and a 10-year veteran of the Foreign Service who had served in Baghdad, Pretoria, Montreal and The Hague. But when gaming with EVE Online guild Goonswarm, he was a popular figure known as “Vile Rat,” and alternately as “Vilerat” while volunteering as a moderator at the internet community Something Awful. Smith’s death was confirmed on Wednesday morning by the State Department and reported widely in the news media. But the first people to report Smith’s death were his friends. Their reaction was shock and mourning.
“My people, I have greivous [sic] news. Vile Rat has been confirmed to be KIA in Benghazi; his family has been informed and the news is likely to break out on the wire services soon,” wrote Goonswarm director Alex Gianturco in a message mirrored to Something Awful at 11:21 EST. “Needless to say, we are in shock, have no words, and have nothing but sympathy for his family and children. I have known Vile Rat since 2006, he was one of the oldest of old-guard goons and one of the best and most effective diplomats this game has ever seen.”
According to his friends, Smith had emerged as a key leader for the community, and was known as a senior guild diplomat who helped engineer the destruction of Goonswarm’s chief rival, the Band of Brothers. He let his guildmates design his tattoo. On Wednesday, Gianturco posted an obituary for his friend of more than six years. “He was on jabber when it happened, that’s the most fucked up thing,” Gianturco wrote. “In Baghdad the same kind of thing happened – incoming sirens, he’d vanish, we’d freak out and he’d come back ok after a bit. This time he said ‘FUCK’ and ‘GUNFIRE’ and then disconnected and never returned.”

Next, media reports began circulating that the consulate in Benghazi, and the U.S. embassy in Egypt, had come under attack. Gianturco, known in the EVE Online community as The Mittani, “freaked out.” Gianturco wrote that he was “in shock” and felt dead inside.
“I’m not sure if this is how I’m supposed to react to my friend being killed by a mob in a post-revolutionary Libya, but it’s pretty awful and Sean was a great guy and he was a goddamned master at this game we all play, even though a lot of people may not realize how significant an influence he had,” wrote Gianturco. And that “if you play this stupid game, you may not realize it, but you play in a galaxy created in large part by Vile Rat’s talent as a diplomat.”
At Something Awful, Smith was a long-time member — more recently a moderator — who posted about football, politics and working with the Foreign Service. Forumers are now leaving messages in Smith’s memory, and others are doing similar at the EVE Online forums. Gamers are now also re-naming virtual space stations after Smith. EVE Online, which takes place in a simulated galaxy, center around the digital stations as bases for trade, socializing and fighting. Smith’s username “was a name you could mention in any conversation about the pointy end of EVE, without needing to explain who he was,” posted developer CCP Greyscale.
Forumer SpaceGirlArt wrote that Smith had “been part of my internet presence for a decade, right back to the old #ce [IRC] channel. I can honestly say that I never expected to feel this gutted over the death of someone that I never met in real life. This is unbelievable.”
One forumer expressed concern that Smith’s death would be politicized by the media during an election year. But, “Through the bullshit media circus, we will know ‘That was Vilerat, and he was actually way awesome.’”
Update 2:45 p.m., Sept. 12: Something Awful admin elpintogrande writes, “After some conversations with Sean’s wife, we will be launching a fundraiser as soon as possible through YouCaring. It might take a few days.” In the meantime, the admin has posted an e-mail address tied to Smith’s PayPal account for those who want to donate now.
3:30 p.m. Ned Coker, public relations agent for EVE Online developer CCP, emailed Eurogamer: “I can tell you that CCP and its employees are overwhelmingly saddened by the news of Sean Smith’s passing, as we are when we learn of any player who is tragically lost,” Coker wrote. He added that the Council of Stellar Management, EVE Online’s player-run government, is planning to post a tribute. Smith was once a member of the council.
4:49 p.m., Sept. 13: The Air Force confirmed to Danger Room more details about Sean Smith’s military service. According to the Air Force, Smith served in the Air Force as a Ground Radio Maintenance (2E) specialist. He enlisted in July 1995, entered active duty in 1997, and completed his service in 2002. He was promoted to Staff Sergeant in August 2000.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Death threats force Sahar Parniyan in hiding

'She was told by the police that the threats are her problem, not theirs.' 

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Sahar Parniyan, 22, is Afghanistan’s most famous actress. She stars in the country’s number one comedy, “The Ministry,” an offshoot of the popular American TV show, “The Office.”  And tune in today to special coverage on all NBC News platforms from NBC’s team of anchors and correspondents deployed in five countries across the region.
Her character on the show has also been outspoken about women’s rights. But now, after receiving death threats, she is now in hiding.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012