Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ethics in Journalism

Observing the ethics is at the core of any profession especially in Journalism and particularly in the citizen journalism in Afghanistan. I would like to point out to three main points that citizen journalist’s faces throughout their work writing about events and incidents on daily life.

Firstly, citizens who write about anything in their surroundings are not necessarily professional journalists or reporters to know about professional report writing and journalism principles. In other word, they are amateur citizens who wish to play the role of a journalist and share their findings, ideas and observation of the eventsin our daily life where journalists in most cases cannot see nor cancover due to many limitations and policies in their media organizations.

Secondly, journalists who would like to report the events specially when speed, competition and popularity matters, they are required to obey the code of ethics and guidelines of their media they are working for. For example, there is a bomb attack or a vehicle of the president office is damaged, there is a rumor that president cook was badly injured inside it. Here each medium  try to be the first to publish or broadcast this story.Speed and popularity in most of cases, undershadow the ethics that should be considered when writing in blog or in the other social media networks on the internet .
The third reason, is the right of the citizens who are the subject of the story. For example, a blog writer has interviewed a person living with HIV and AIDS where the blog writer or website manager has taken a direct picture of this person with his wife and children and has put it the website. This picture leads to the damage of the image PLHIV among the society. This means that if a member of a family is HIV positive, the media practitioners and the citizen journalist should consider to write about him or herself, not all the family as the victims. Such ignorance in the use of an ethical journalism has a versus impact over the family the societies like Afghanistan where sex and talking about sexual activities is a taboo and hard to correct mistakes once published.
As a result, the ethics now proves to be the most important issue to be considered by the citizen journalists and professionals themselves. It cannot be observed only writing it on the paper, but the most effective way to cover stories ethically is to consider the human values and citizenship principle more than any other time. Journalism is an ethical social school that supervises other portions of the government in which ethics and human values plays the main  role in any society.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Why Afghan universities don’t offer master programs?

Afghanistan universities are not academically prepared to offer master programs in the next 10 years. There are many justifications among the academics and government officials that why they are not able to offer this program. I can think of two main reasons for this gap in the Afghanistan universities:

The primary reason is the three decades of conflict and unrest in the country which has destroyed and dismantled all the educational and academic infrastructures. These infrastructures are university setups, buildings, campuses, material resources and academics and professors. For example, most of the campuses and material resources were destroyed by the exchange of gun fires inside the cities between the jihadi parties and armed militias. In addition to the damages caused by the above militias and armed jihadi parties, the academics were forced to leave the country and look for asylum or shelter to the neighboring countries, Europe and the US. Now 8 years after the collapse of Taliban we have got some fair campuses but still the academics have not returned to the country or remained weak due to the fast – evolving technology of education and university environments.

The second factor that has helped universities not be able to offer master program is the system disorganization and traditional socialist behaviors and ideologies. Infact, the long term Soviet Union powerful presence and invasion has affected most of the Afghan nation perception of higher education, academic system and university management. Today we do not only face a challenging demand of students for graduate and PhD programs but a severe need of the market in the country for professionals and experts in any field. There are some private universities in major cities especially in Kabul, but still half of the students remain out of higher education access every year. Unfortunately the government has not been able to come up with a practical approach in handling this shortage in the higher education system in Afghanistan. On the other hand the mafias in the universities do not let new comers to join the universities as academics due to power, ethnicity or other racial and political orientations and the government proved to be very ineffective and weak to address this issue.

In summary, Afghan government has not only been able to design and implement a professional development strategy for higher education itself, but not let the private sector to join the traditional system and make universities independent to decide themselves. The only mechanism to help Afghan universities offer master programs is to train more professionals and integrate donors, private sector and new reforms in the higher education system and use all material and human resources for the demand of the new generation.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Massacre and Mass Rape in Afshar

The Afghanistan Justice Project

War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity


Documentation and analysis of major patterns of abuse in the war in Afghanistan

Massacre and Mass Rape in Afshar
(February 12, 1993)

The Context of the Operation

The Afshar operation of February 1993 represented the largest and most integrated use of military power undertaken by the ISA up to that time. There were two tactical objectives to the Operation. First, Massoud intended, through the operation to capture the political and military headquarters of Hizb-i Wahdat, (which was located in the Social Science Institute, adjoining, the neighborhood below the Afshar mountain in west Kabul), and to capture Abdul Ali Mazari, the leader of Hizb-i Wahdat. Second, the ISA intended to consolidate the areas of the capital directly controlled by Islamic State forces by linking up parts of west Kabul controlled by Ittihad-i Islami with parts of central Kabul controlled by Jamiat-i Islami. Given the political and military context of Kabul at the time, these two objectives (which were largely attained during the operation) provide a compelling explanation of why the Islamic State forces attacked Afshar.

Responsibility for the abuses committed during the operation

The forces that launched the offensive in west Kabul on February 10-11, 1993 all formally belonged to the ministry of defense of the ISA.

The minister of defense and de facto commander-in-chief of the ISA at the time of the Afshar operation was Ahmad Shah Massoud. He had overall responsibility for planning and command of military operations. He directly controlled the Jamiat-i Islami units and indirectly controlled the Ittihad-i Islami unit. Massoud secured the participation of the Ittihad-i Islami units through agreement with Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, the leader of the party. Although the Ittihad-i units had been given Afghan Army formation numbers, commanders in the field took their orders from senior Ittihad-i commanders and Sayyaf himself. Sayyaf acted as the de facto general commander of Ittihad-i forces during the operation and was directly in touch with senior commanders by radio.

In this sense, Sayyaf shares equal command and control responsibility with the top Jamiat military leadership.

Given the pattern of violence and ethnic tension that had preceded the operation, the general commanders could and should have anticipated the pattern of abuse that would result when launching an offensive into a densely populated Hazara majority area.. Furthermore, as fighting took place in an area barely two kilometers from the general command post, and field commanders were equipped with radio communications, the general commander must have known of the abuses taking place in Afshar as soon as they started. Both Massoud, together with his senior commanders, and Sayyaf failed to take effective measures to prevent abuses before the operation commenced, or to stop them once the operation was underway.

While it has not been possible to identify individual commanders responsible for specific instances of execution or rape, the Afghanistan Justice Project has been able to identify a number of the commanders who led troops in the operation. Testimony indicates that both Jamiat and Ittihad-i troops committed abuses. Although some of the commanders were only involved in legitimate military actions, capturing and securing a designated objective, commanders who took place in the operation on the ground have a case to answer to determine whether they restrained their troops from abuses, or whether they and their men actively participated in the summary executions, rape, arbitrary detentions and other abuses that occurred during the operation.

The Islamic State, through Defense Minister Ahmad Shah Massoud and leader of factional ally, Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, committed the following military forces to participate in the Afshar operation:

Jamiat-i Islami commanders and units

Mohammad Qasim Fahim, director of intelligence, with responsibility for special operations in support of the offensive and participating in planning of the operation.

Anwar Dangar, commander of a division level unit of mujahidin from Shakkar Darra, Shamali, named by numerous witnesses as leading troops in Afshar that carried out abuses on the first two days of the operation.

Mullah Izzat, commander of a division level unit of mujahidin, from Paghman, named by numerous eye witnesses as leading troops in Afshar that carried out abuses on the first two days of the operation.

Mohammad Ishaq Panshiri, commander of a brigade level unit of mujahidin (lewa) that, according to witnesses, participated in the assault.

Hajji Bahlol Panshiri, commander of a brigade level unit (lewa) that, according to witnesses participated in the assault.

Baba Jullunder Panshiri, commander of a brigade level unit (lewa) that participated in the assault.

Khanjar Akhund, Panshiri, commander of a battalion level unit (ghund) that participated
in the assault.

Mushdoq Lalai, battalion level, participated in the assault.

Baz Mohammad Ahmadi Badakhshani, commander of a division level unit that participated in the assault, attacking from Qargha

Ittihad-i Islami commanders and units participating in the operation

Haji Shir Alam, division commander affiliated to Sayyaf, from Paghman, named by numerous eye witnesses as leading troops in Afshar on the first two days when abuses committed

Zulmai Tufan, commander of the Lewa 597 brigade, named by numerous eye witnesses as leading troops in Afshar on the first two days, when abuses were committed. (Lewa 597 existed before the fall of Dr. Najibullah’s government when it was called Lewa Moradat-Tank). It was in based in the Company area of west Kabul.

Dr. Abdullah, commander of a battalion level unit (ghund) of the Lewa 597, named by several witnesses as leading troops in Afshar on day one and two, when abuses were committed.

Jaglan Naeem, commander of a battalion level unit (ghund) of the Lewa 597, had stationed troops in Afshar by second day of the operation.

Mullah Taj Mohammad, named as participating in planning of the operation

Abdullah Shah, named by several witnesses as leading troops in Afshar and responsible for arbitrary arrests, abductions and other abuses.

Khinjar, who had stationed troops in Afshar by the second day of the operation
Abdul Manan Diwana, commander of a battalion level unit (ghund), named by witnesses as stationing troops in Afshar by the second day of the operation

Amanullah Kochi, commander of a battalion level unit (ghund), had stationed troops in
Afshar by second day of the operation

Shirin, commander of a battalion level unit (ghund), had stationed troops in Afshar by the second day of the operation

Mushtaq Lalai, commander of a battalion level unit (ghund), had stationed troops in
Afshar by the second day of the operation

Mullah Kachkol, had stationed troops in Afshar by second day of the operation

Narrative of the operation

All of the forces that ultimately participated in the fighting on February 10-11, 1993, were already deployed in and around Kabul before the start of the offensive. The main preparations made by the ISA were the conduct of special operations to weaken the Hizb-I Wahdat defenses and deployment of additional artillery for the bombardment. As director of intelligence, Mohammad Fahim had overall responsibility for special operations. His personnel contacted a number of the Shia commanders around Afshar and obtained their commitment to cooperate with the Islamic State offensive.

The most significant new deployment of artillery before the operation was the position on Aliabad Hill. Massoud pre-positioned a Z0 23 gun there, with the detachment of 30 men, to target the area around the Central Silo, Afshar, Kart-iSeh, Kart-iChar and Kart-iSakhi.

The main significance of the massive firepower and the large number of positions from which artillery was used is that they demonstrate the scale and significance of the operation. This was not a raid or skirmish but a full scale battle, in which the Islamic State deployed the combined military resources from the old Soviet era army and the mujahidin against targets within the capital city, all of them located in areas that were primarily residential, with the civilian population intact.

Witnesses who were associated with the military at the time of the operation have provided accounts of the planning and military coordination that Massoud undertook prior to actually launching the operation on the ground. However, this represents only a partial view of the planning, as an operation of this scale must have involved intensive preparations. According to one witness, the top Jamiat commanders, along with selected senior Ittihad-i commanders (Shir Alam and Zulmai Tufan), and with the main Shia ally, Massoud Hussein Anwari, plus the ISA military advisors, met under the chairmanship of Massoud at Corps headquarters in Badambagh two days before the operation. Another meeting was held in an intelligence safe house in KartiParwan, near the Intercontinental hotel, on the night before the offensive. Massoud used the same house as an operations room for much of the day. There was also a meeting of the Ittihad-i commanders, under the chairmanship of Sayyaf, in Paghman, one day before the operation.

The purpose of these meetings was to instruct key commanders on their role in the ground offensive. The ISA forces commenced a generalized bombardment of west Kabul on the night of February 10-11, 1993, with targets both around the Social Science Institute and Afshar and in the rest of the Shia areas of the city. Troop movement started around 05.00 on February 11, and this is generally remembered as the time of the full commencement of the operation. The first decisive troop movement was from Badambagh to the top of the Radar Hill, part of the Afshar ridge. ISA troops were immediately able to take over positions along the top of the ridge unopposed and the main Hizb-i Wahdat defense posts there were burned and the tanks stationed there immobilized.

A large contingent of both Ittihad-i and Jamiat forces advanced towards Afshar from the west.
The closest point of the front line to the main target of the operation was the Kabul Polytechnic. A Jamiat force advanced along the main Afshar Road, from Kart-iParwan and the Intercontinental Hotel, towards the Social Science Institute, entering Afshar from the east.

The ISA forces did not advance along other sections of the front line marking the west Kabul enclave, although they maintained an intense bombardment and had ample forces deployed to maintain a threat of advance. However, by 13.00 Hizb-i Wahdat’s main defense line along the Afshar ridge was gone and their hold on the Social Science Institute untenable. Mazari and his top commanders fled the Institute on foot. By 14.00 the ISA forces were able to occupy the Social Science Institute, and the forces that had advanced from the east and the west, met up in Afshar, having taken effective control of the area. They deployed in Khushal Mina and Afshar, but made no further advance.

Troops started to secure the area, establishing posts and undertaking a search operation. It was this search operation that rapidly became a mass exercise in abuse and looting, as described in the civilian eyewitness testimony below.

Mazari was able to order the re-establishment of the defense line along the edge of Khushhal Mina, next to the Central Silo and Kart-iSakhi, thus retaining most of the rest of west Kabul. Some of the Afshar residents, basically those considering themselves most vulnerable, managed to flee with the departing Wahdat troops (this factor seems to account for the relatively low number of male youths mentioned in the casualties in the testimony). However, the majority of the Afshar civilian population was in place as the ISA forces took over. Because of the bombardment, active fighting and presence of potentially hostile troops, it seems that many civilians were unable to leave on the first day of the operation. However, a mass exodus took place on the night of the February 11-12. Women and children fled mainly towards Taimani, in north Kabul, and they found shelter in schools and mosques in the Ismaili quarter there. Some old men elected to stay and guard houses and possessions, but testimony indicates that the troops mainly targeted men for arbitrary detention and summary execution, i.e. male civilians were not free to leave the area. Most survivors who fled Afshar described seeing debris and corpses along the way, indicating that they fled after the main battle. By the end of the second day, the bulk of the civilian population had evacuated Afshar and it seems that this exodus was the development that most decisively ended abuses against civilians in the area.

On the second day of the operation, February 12, Massoud convened a meeting in the Hotel Intercontinental which, belatedly, discussed arrangements for security in the newly captured areas. This meeting was attended by top ISA military commanders and political figures, including Rabbani, Sayyaf, Ayatollah Mohsini, Ayatollah Fazl, and General Fahim. ISA did claim a Shia constituency and Hussein Anwari, as a senior ISA commander, was under pressure from Shia civilians to make some arrangements for their safety. The meeting ordered a halt to the massacre and looting and agreed on an exchange of envoys between the warring parties, for identification of prisoners. It also called for a withdrawal of the offensive troops, leaving a smaller force to garrison the new areas.175 Given the scale of abuses that occurred on the first two days of the operation, before the meeting, it was clearly too late to prevent the main abuses.

The meeting also seems to have been ineffective in halting the looting of the area, as the destruction of housing in Afshar happened largely after the meeting.

The War Crimes: Indiscriminate Attacks, Rapes, Abductions and Summary
Executions Indiscriminate Shelling and bombardment of civilian areas

The Afshar area was subjected to heavy bombardment during the first day of the operation. The principal military targets would have been the Social Science Institute and the other main Wahdat garrisons. However, the Social Science Institute was never hit. The majority of the rockets, tank shells and mortars fell in civilian residential areas. As the command centers of both the Ittihad-i and Jamiat forces were within site of Afshar, it appears that the attack was intended to drive the civilian population from Afshar—which it succeeded in doing. The number killed in the assault (not including those summarily executed) is not known. Virtually every witness interviewed by the Afghanistan Justice Project described seeing bodies in the area. Indeed, the shelling and mortar fire was so intense, many residents hid on the first day, and did not try to leave. Although this may have reduced civilian casualties from the bombardment, it left these civilians vulnerable to the abuses that followed.

Summary Executions and Disappearances

As noted above, the parties to the conflict were bound by Common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits summary executions, torture and hostage taking. Witnesses interviewed by the Afghanistan Justice Project stated that a group of Hizb-i Wahdat soldiers was taken prisoner from Wahdat headquarters at the Social Science Institute by Ittihad-i Islami forces on February 11. In addition to these, a large number of civilian men and suspected Wahdat militants were arrested from the Afshar area after Ittihad captured it. The number taken is not known. One group of Hazara prisoners held by Ittihad-i Islami was subsequently used by the Ittihad commanders to undertake burial of the dead from the Afshar operation, after one week.

This group of witnesses has reported that their relatives were among the civilian and military prisoners taken by Ittihad-i who subsequently disappeared and are believed to have been summarily executed by Ittihad-i forces. The Afghanistan Justice Project has been able to obtain only a few of the names of the victims. Some other men were taken from their homes.

Witness A told the Afghanistan Justice Project that he and his family had tried to escape, but the rocketing and shelling was too intense. “We ran to my mother-in-law’s house and hid there. Other people told us that people were being killed on the roads. Eventually a few other families joined us. We could hear the radios of some of the Sayyaf people and they were being warned not to start fighting over the loot. The armed men – who were from Sayyaf and from Jamiat – were looting all the houses. Sayyaf’s people spoke Pashto; Jamiat spoke Dari. I sent my family to another place and I stayed at the house. At about 11:00 a.m. a commander named Izatullah (from Ittihad-i) came to the house with about ten other armed men. I had left the door open hoping the militias would think the house empty. They came in and beat me and took me to Qargha river where I was put into a container with about 60-65 men. It was very crowded. Sometimes some men were taken out and made to do work, like chop wood.” After a week the prisoners were all told how much they would have to pay to be released. The witness was told he would have to pay $5000. He told them he did not have that much money, but friends in Paghman came and paid for his release.

Witness B told the Afghanistan Justice Project that Ittihad-i Islami troops had beaten her and arrested her unarmed husband from their residence in Afshar, and that he was still accounted for.

Witness C told the Afghanistan Justice Project that the soldiers searched the houses looking for men. “I was taken to Paghman. At night I was kept in a container; during the day I and other 10-20 men were made to dig trenches. There were lots of containers. At night some men would be taken out and not come back. We could hear shots and we assumed the men had been killed. I think some were buried in the trenches. I finally escaped by hiding in the river under a bridge. I left and went to Quetta.”

Witness M. told the Afghanistan Justice Project that at 7:.00 in the morning, when Ittihad-i Islami captured Afshar, a group of armed men entered her residential compound, and detained S., her husband. They released him after 45 days. He had been beaten so severely his hearing had been permanently damaged and he was deaf. According to his wife, he also had difficulty recognizing people. After he was detained, a second group of 10-15 Ittihad-i soldiers came to the house between 3:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. They claimed that they were looking for Wahdat forces, they grabbed M.’s son by the arm. “My son was about 11 years old. They held him and asked where his father was. They aimed their guns at him and I threw myself over him. I was shot in the hand and leg but he was shot five times. He died.” The soldiers then took the family belongings and left.

Witness K, 75 years old, stated that troops affiliated to Sayyaf abducted him from Sar-I Jui, Afshar on the day of the Afshar operation, February 11. He was one of a group of seven men who were taken prisoner, and beaten severely and made to act as porters to help carry goods being looted from Afshar. The Ittihad-i troops then took him to Company (a Sayyaf-controlled area) on that day and held him there for two months. The commander who captured him was Ghulam Rasool, affiliated to Sayyaf. He stated that after that he spent two months in Shakar Darra as a prisoner of Anwar Dangar, and then three months in Farzah with Commandant Haneef. He witnessed the troops summarily executing one of his relatives, Qambar Zohar.

Witness G was briefly arrested and beaten unconscious by Ittihad-i troops on the first day of the operation. When he returned to the area later he removed two bodies from his well, and estimates that he saw 30-35 bodies himself while fleeing the area (including a decapitated head left in a window).

Abdullah Khan, of Ghazni Province, 67 years old, was arrested from Afshar by Commander Aziz Banjar, a Sayyaf commander. The rest of the family had fled to Taimani during the main military operation. Abdullah Khan had stayed on in Afshar to guard the household goods. However, all household goods were stolen during the operation and the house was destroyed. The family has have been unable to trace Abdullah Khan and so he remains missing.

Witness Sh. told the Afghanistan Justice Project that when Ittihad-i forces entered her house, they beat to death her father inside the compound. They then stole all household belongings.

Rape by Ittihad-i Forces

During the Afshar operation, Sayyaf’s Ittihad-i Islami forces used rape and other assaults on civilians to drive the civilian population from the area. The Afghanistan Justice Project interviewed many witnesses who described incidents of rape by Ittihad-i forces during the Afshar operation. Witness M. (see statement above) was injured in the hand and leg when Ittihad-i soldiers shot her son. She stated: “While I was still bleeding they raped me.” She stated that three soldiers held her down while the fourth raped her in the basement of her own house. Several other women had also taken shelter in M.’s house: a neighbor, Z., and her two daughters, and another woman, R. The Ittihad-i troops raped Z.’s two daughters, ages 14 and 16, and the woman, R. The soldiers took them by turn down to the basement to carry out the rape. One of Z.’s daughters was injured by a bayonet when she attempted to resist.

Another witness, S., stated that armed men had burst into her house at Afshar-Silo on the second day of the Afshar operation. They beat and raped her and her sister in their house and looted the contents.

Witness Sh. stated that after capturing Afshar, Ittihad-i Islami troops forcibly entered her house at 7:00 a.m. They raped four girls in their residential compound, including Sh. her sister, age 14 years, and two others.

There were many other reports of rape; the numbers of women raped is not known.
Residents of Afshar did not return until after 2001. As of mid-2005, the area remains largely flattened, although some former residents have returned to the ruins of their former homes.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Complete Text of Barack Obama's Inauguration Speech

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land -- a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America -- they will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted -- for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.
Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act -- not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions -- who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them-- that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account -- to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day -- because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control -- and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort -- even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West -- know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment -- a moment that will define a generation -- it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence-- the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed -- why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive ... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

President - Elect Obama and the US Future Policies in Afghanistan

“Things are fine just the way they are. Take a look around, our world needs a change, you can be that change.”

We were invited in the AUAF to attend a lecture on President – Elect Obama and the Future of US Policies in Afghanistan by Prof.Nazif Shahrani.

Most of the participants were university students, professors, NGO staff and some special guests from other donors, international communities including NATO.

Dr.Sayeed Askar Musavi the writer of the book “ The Hazaras of Afghanistan “ opened the ceremony and welcomed every body and invited all to get as much use of Shahrani ‘s lecture and should ask only one questions at the end.

Professor Shahrani appeared with a Chapan (Gown) showing his interest to Uzbek Culture and started his lectures by introducing himself as a registered democrat, Afghan American and Muslim US citizen who took part to his best in the primary election of Mr.Obama as the first African American president and the follower of the way and ideas of Late Civil Rights Movement Martin Luther King in 1960s.

He insisted throughout his lectures that those who voted for Obama,they did not vote for a black man but for a change in the US policies and way of governing US Administration and relationship with the outside world.

Shahrani says that Afghanistan needs somebody like Obama to bring fundamental changes in the way we rule the country.Critisizing on the current administration run by Karzai as a failed administration and invited Afghan citizens to vote for somebody who have something to offer as substitute of this failed government in the next year president election.

Prof.Shahrani advised Obama to help Afghanistan more with the way the government is ruled not by sending more troops or changing Karzai. Most importantly he emphasized that all the ethnic groups in Afghanistan should be free for electing their own representatives all over the country and let them practice democracy themselves very confidently.

He said:” I am a Chapanaki Afghan and had participated in any events in this country. Neither me (Uzbeks) nor (Hazaras) living in the central highlands have seen our faces in the despotic history of Afghanistan. He insisted that a real democracy in Afghanistan is applicable when governments would let all the ethnics to take part in the decoration and formation of their own wanted Afghanistan.

Shahrani‘s lecture as an Afghan American professor was really delicious and charming to me because I had never attended such a lecture in my academic life before. we can also join Obama from this part of the world to change the way this country is ruled. Even small minorities can rule the country if democracy is applied and practiced by transparency and greater participation. It is people who believe in themselves, and then the governments are made or changed.

Dr. Nazif Shahrani is Professor of Anthropology, Central Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Indiana University. He has served as Chairman of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures & Director of the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Program (2001-2004), and Director of Middle Eastern Studies Program (1991-1994) at Indiana University.

Shahrani has held post-doctoral fellowships at Harvard and Stanford Universities and at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars at the Smithsonian Institution. He has conducted extensive ethnographic field research in Afghanistan, and studied Afghan refugee communities in Pakistan & Turkey (1980s). He has published widely and is currently working on a book entitled Post-Taliban Afghanistan: The Challenges of State- Building, Governance and Security.