March 22nd, 2010
08:06 PM ET

Around the Web: Afghan police force ‘a disaster,’ report says

The U.S. has spent billions in Afghanistan to build up its police force but has little to show for it, report Mark Hosenball and Ron Moreau of Newsweek, and T. Christian Miller of ProPublica.

“America has spent more than $6 billion since 2002 in an effort to create an effective Afghan police force, buying weapons, building police academies, and hiring defense contractors to train the recruits—but the program has been a disaster,” they write.


March 22nd, 2010
12:43 PM ET

It's a new year in Afghanistan

Editor’s Note: Nasim Fekrat started the Afghan Lord blog in 2004 in Afghanistan, where he grew up. He is now a student at Dickinson College in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The opinions expressed in this guest blog are solely those of Nasim Fekrat.

This year, the Nowruz festival holds even more significance and importance in the lives of Afghans since the United Nation’s General Assembly recognized March 21 as International Day of Nowruz.

Nowruz, banned under Taliban rule, begins on the day of the vernal equinox (the first day of spring) and marks the beginning of the new year. Every year, three days before Nowruz, tens of thousands of people travel to the northern Afghanistan city of Mazar-e Sharif to watch the elaborate ceremony.

Nowruz is celebrated for two weeks throughout Afghanistan. People wear new clothes, refurbish their house, paint the buildings and henna their hands. Young girls go with their mothers to holy shrines and pray to have a good future, a good life and a good husband and be fortunate while the boys have an eye on their parents to decide who is fair and suitable for him.

One of most famous of Nowruz traditions among Afghans is to forget and forgive mistakes of one another and start the New Year with new hopes and new goals. During the first three days of the year, families and relatives meet and visit each other’s houses. These are parts of Afghan traditions that date back centuries. FULL POST

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Filed under: Life and Culture • Your View
March 22nd, 2010
12:11 PM ET

Karzai holds peace talks with insurgents

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has held talks with representatives of a major insurgent group whose leader is known for anti-U.S. rhetoric and support for al Qaeda, officials said Monday.

Karzai's deputy spokesman Hamed Elmi told CNN the delegation from the Hizb-i-Islami group of maverick militant Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, which has been behind numerous deadly attacks in Afghanistan, had submitted a peace plan. FULL POST

Filed under: Karzai • Taliban
March 22nd, 2010
10:07 AM ET

Kandahar residents wary of coming offensive

I’m talking to a man with one arm and one leg. His other limbs were recently amputated. The bandages are bloody. He’s smiling.

Sitting on the edge of Atha Jan’s hospital bed, it’s impossible not to be moved by the trauma he’s suffered and the physical and emotional challenges he’s yet to face. This 27-year-old father of two must now provide for his family while living with a major disability. And he’s smiling.

His limbs were taken by a suicide car bomb detonated outside Kandahar’s prison. He was riding by on a motor bike at the time. It was one of five bombs that exploded across Kandahar that night, killing 35 people. 57 were injured.

The Taliban have boastfully claimed responsibility for the attack. But Jan says he doesn’t know who did it. Even more baffling – he insists he doesn’t care. But he wants the violence to end.

"This killing must stop in Afghanistan. It’s a massacre," he says. FULL POST