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.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.
" '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...."
Next post, I'll probably back on more conventional 'doom and gloom and things that go boom' topics.
More-or-less related posts:
- "Afghanistan, Helmand Province: It's Different, When You're in Charge"
(July 3, 2009)
- "A Reporter Escapes the Taliban, Monks Escape China"
(June 20, 2009)
- "Blowing Up Pakistan Mosque: Not the Best Idea for Taliban"
(June 8, 2009)
- "Pakistan's Swat Valley: Civilians, Soldiers, and the Taliban"
(May 31, 2009)
- "Waging an Overseas Contingency Operation Against Alternatively-Peaceful Ideologues??"
(May 18, 2009)
- "No More "War on Terror" - Officially?"
(March 30, 2009)
- "Pakistan; Nawaz Sharif; Multiculturalism; and a Skewed World View"
(March 15, 2009)
- "Pakistan: Cricket Fans Not Pleased"
(March 4, 2009)
- "Not Cricket! Sri Lanka's Cricket Team Attacked in Pakistan"
(March 3, 2009)
- "Taliban Brings Peace, Islamic Law, to Pakistan's Swat Valley"
(February 21, 2009)
- "Pakistan, the Taliban, and Peace Through Diplomacy"
(February 17, 2009)
- "Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Foreign Troops: One Issue, Two Approaches"
(September 16, 2008)
- "Pakistan: Still a Mess"
(November 17, 2007)
- "Afghans look beyond bickering leaders"
Times Online (July 26, 2009) (it's tomorrow in the U.K. now)
- "Seven bombers killed as Taliban switch tactics with attack in east"
guardian.co.uk (July 26, 2009)
- "Afghans sceptical about elections"
BBC (July 25, 2009)
- "Seven suicide attackers strike at Afghan facilities"
CNN (July 25, 2009)
- "Suicide bombers hit Afghan city"
BBC (July 25, 2009) includes video
- "Despair, devastation in war-ravaged Swat Valley"
CNN (July 25, 2009)
- "Pak forces kill 14 militants in fresh operations"
Press Trust of India (July 25, 2009)
- "Taliban say Swat leader 'alive' "
BBC (July 23, 2009)