Some Afghans resist women’s education

August, 2002
PANJWAI, Afghanistan – With only weeks to go before the start of a new term, just 9 percent of school-age girls in southern Afghanistan have registered for classes, compared with almost half in the capital Kabul, an education official said Tuesday.

Convincing parents of the need to educate their daughters is a challenge all over Afghanistan. However, it’s especially difficult in the south,the home of the traditionalist Pashtun community and once the stronghold of the conservative Taliban.

“This is old Taliban territory,” said Mohammed Dawood Barak, an Education Ministry official in charge of the country’s southern provinces. “So it’s going to take a while for things to change.” Read more >>

Afghan Carpet Business Booming Again

August 23, 2002
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan—In a country of crushing poverty, Ghamay Mohammed has sold enough of his intricately woven rugs lately to buy a hulking ruby and turquoise ring, which he proudly displays on his finger.

The carpet business is booming once again in Afghanistan, and Mohammed is one of the many carpet dealers who have returned to take advantage of the foreigners streaming in since the fall of the Taliban.

Since we reopened this shop, we’ve already sold more than 60 carpets, says Mohammed, 18, who closed one of his shops on the Pakistani border two months ago to reopen one in Kandahar. That’s better than what we did for a year at our shop near Chaman on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Read more >>

Afghan Children Work Dangerous Jobs

August 17, 2002
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Across southern Afghanistan, pupils are heading back to school, but not 10-year-old Atiqullah Mohammed. Instead of a pencil, he wields a large blow torch six days a week to earn money for his family.

The sleeves of his grimy shalwar kameez singed by welding sparks, Atiqullah would rather be in class, but his family can’t afford to send all their children to school.

“My school already started but my family says I have to help out and pay for my six brothers and sisters,” says Atiqullah, sparks shooting out from tubes of twisted iron he’s making into doors and chairs. “I like to work but sometimes I’m scared of the machines.” Read more >>

Aid groups still slow in getting to needy southern Afghanistan

August 5, 2002
QALA-E-GHAZ, Afghanistan — Harsh climate, uncleared land mines and crumbling infrastructure have made southern Afghanistan among the country’s poorest regions. Those same problems also are keeping away the very aid workers needed to help this former Taliban stronghold.

Since the Taliban collapsed in December, most aid organizations have chosen to set up in the capital of Kabul, where the climate is kinder, communications and roads marginally better and security enhanced by international peacekeepers.

That means less attention is directed to the south, the homeland of the country’s largest ethnic group, the Pashtuns. They already are feeling estranged from the central government many Pashtuns believe is dominated by their ethnic Tajik, Hazara and Uzbek rivals. Read more >>

U.N. report called inaccurate

August 2, 2002
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — A U.N. report allegedly accusing U.S. forces of removing evidence from the scene of a July 1 air strike where civilians died was inaccurate, President Hamid Karzai said today.

“The U.N. report was not correct,” Karzai said after arriving for a meeting with Kandahar Gov. Gul Agha Sherzai. “Lots of people had much misinformation. The second report, the official report, will be much more accurate.”

Karzai refused to identify the purported inaccuracies in the U.N. report on the air strike on Kakarak and nearby villages in Uruzgan province. Afghans say 48 civilians were killed and 117 wounded when a U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunship, armed with cannons and howitzer artillery, pounded the villages with devastating fire. Read more >>

Women behind bars for balking at bridal bed

July 29, 2002
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Two days after she was born, Munawar Mohammed was already promised as someone’s bride.

But after puberty and before the big day, she refused to go through with the marriage.

She had found another and fled with her beloved toward the Pakistani border.

But their freedom was short-lived. She was found by her brother who ordered his 16-year-old sister jailed. Read more >>

Karzai denies U.S. coverup of military raid in Afghanistan

August 2, 2002
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan–President Hamid Karzai dismissed allegations Friday that the United States tried to cover up a deadly airstrike and said a continued American presence was crucial to Afghanistan’s future.

Flanked by U.S. special forces bodyguards, Karzai said he visited one of the villages attacked in the July 1 air raid, and when asked if he believed there had been a cover-up said, “I don’t think so. People would have told me.”

Karzai said the air attack in Uruzgan province killed 46 civilians and wounded 117, many of them celebrating at a wedding party. The attack was investigated by the United States and by a separate United Nations fact-finding group. Previously, Afghan officials put the death toll at 48. Read more >>