Saturday, July 25, 2009

Another Week: Suicide Bombings in Afghanistan, Trouble in Pakistan's Swat Valley

The War on Terror, or whatever the conflict is supposed to be called, continues. Given the determination of outfits like Al Qaeda to make at least a large swath of the world 'sufficiently Islamic' by their standards, and the determination of a great many others to wear trousers, let women drive cars, and generally offend the Taliban's sensibilities, I'd say we're in for a long, long conflict.

Death, Destruction, and Despair - Woe is Everybody!

Well, no. I'm getting to that.

Meanwhile, here's the sort of thing that most of the news is concentrating on.

The suicide attacks in Afghanistan show 'new tactics' to the extent that they were rather more major than most. And, it looks like there's going to be more trouble in Afghanistan as Taliban and other fighters move out of Pakistan and into Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, an offensive against the Taliban was successful, or it wasn't. It seems to depend on who's doing the talking. Offhand, it looks like Pakistan's national government has successfully driven the Taliban out of much of the Swat valley.

Naturally, the place is a mess. War zones tend to be, after the fighting's over. I just hope, for the sake of people who live in the Swat valley, that their national government doesn't achieve peace in their time by handing the place over to the Taliban again.

Back in Afghanistan, it looks like a fair number of people are at least as concerned about bad roads and official corruption, as they are about the Taliban. (BBC) I just hope that Afghanistan's leaders handle the upcoming election better than Iran's. Wouldn't take much.

Without trivializing the very real human suffering, quite a lot of the news reminds me of the lyrics of a cartoon's theme song: "There is doom and gloom while things go boom...."

Yes, there is a great deal going wrong in the Middle East and elsewhere. I doubt that anyone who pays attention to what's going on is unaware of that.

What doesn't get as much attention is the everyday life and local affairs of people in that part of the world.

So, here's a look at what one village head's efforts to control wasteful spending. I trust that Westerners won't be shocked at this look at a culture where, if women have pierced navels, nobody except those very, very close to them is likely to know.
"WHEN Haji Faqirullah, the malik (head) of Korak Dana village, decided to marry off all five of his grandsons in one ceremony last year, there was an outcry in the community.

" 'People were shocked,' he laughed. 'They were all complaining: that means you feed us only once instead of five times.'

"That was exactly the point. Sitting in the shade of some mulberry trees, Faqirullah runs his fingers through his long white beard and plays with a mobile phone as he explains: 'I was fed up with seeing everyone in my village bankrupted by weddings and wanted to set an example.'

"High on the Shomali plains north of Kabul, in a landscape dominated by the snow-topped Hindu Kush mountains, Korak Dana is poor but extremely beautiful. Streams run through lush fields of green grapes, men wobble along stony lanes on donkeys and bicycles and women in blue burqas flit between the mudwalled compounds...."
(Times Online)
I suggest reading the rest of the article: it gives a pretty good look at what an out-of-the way area is doing for itself, with some help from outfits like Habitat for Humanity and Women and Children Legal Resource Foundation.

Next post, I'll probably back on more conventional 'doom and gloom and things that go boom' topics.

More-or-less related posts: In the news:

1 comment:

Brian H. Gill said...

copy, without a functioning link, of a deleted comment date July 27, 2009 12:40 PM

Janet Brown said...

Our leaders in Washington must seriously consider new and innovative policies that promote a better, more confident, prosperous, and secure America in the 21st century. One of the things I think we can do to help make that happen is support American businesses and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ( They're doing things to reach out and show people that they can get involved, too.

That isn't U.S. Chamber of Commerce website.

My malware detection software identified it as a spam site.

As I've written elsewhere: I have no control over content on other websites, particularly those reached by links in comments.

And, spam is not welcome here.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.