July 19th, 2010
08:13 AM ET

Election campaigning in Afghanistan

Editor’s Note: Abbas Daiyar began his blog, Kabul Perspective, last year to look at issues in Kabul and around the world. He has worked with newspapers in Pakistan and reported for news agencies in the past and is now a member of the editorial board of the independent Daily Outlook Afghanistan newspaper in Kabul. The opinions expressed in this guest blog are solely those of Abbas Daiyar.

More than 2,500 candidates are running for the 249 seats of Afghanistan’s lower house of parliament, Wolesi Jirga, elections on September 18. About 400 women, mostly from Kabul and provincial capitals, are also in the race. The campaign is in full bloom in the capital Kabul. The streets are filled with signboards and posters of independent and party-nominated candidates. These posters mostly include slogans about change, poverty, security, development, illiteracy and promotion of justice. The posters and big boards look like resumes of the candidates, listing all their past experience and political background. The lists of their slogans are like whole manifestos. FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan elections • Voices • Your View
July 16th, 2010
11:14 AM ET

Will Afghan women's rights be bargained away?

On a recent afternoon I visited with a Kabul girls' high school principal, whose office looks out on a beautiful and blooming garden. Trained in mathematics, she works 12 hours a day at a school that teaches more than 4,000 girls in three shifts each day.

She smiled with pride as she pointed to a shiny gold championship cup her students brought home from a recent sports tournament. But her mood shifted instantly when I asked about their future.

"We are living day by day in Afghanistan," she said. "Let's see what comes; let's see if they have a chance. Let's see what happens with security."

She and other Afghans will be watching Tuesday when a bevy of international donors descend upon their capital to discuss the Afghan government's plan to achieve peace and stability for its citizens. Women leaders are struggling for more than symbolic representation at the Kabul Conference, which will cover topics including agricultural development, economic empowerment, governance and security.

The most talked-about topic not on the official agenda: Talks with the Taliban.

Read the full commentary from Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Filed under: Kabul conference • Taliban • Voices • Women's issues • Your View
July 2nd, 2010
12:52 PM ET
June 28th, 2010
10:04 AM ET

How Afghanistan became the ignored war

If the Korean War, which began 60 years ago this past weekend, was America's forgotten war, Afghanistan has been America's ignored war.

Since President Obama authorized a surge of troops in Afghanistan in December 2009, there has been a notable absence of public debate or interest about this conflict.

Read the full commentary from Julian E. Zelizer

Filed under: Decision: Afghanistan • Voices • Your View
June 21st, 2010
07:52 AM ET

Minerals offer something new for Afghans to be known for

Matiullah Mati is a producer at CNN in Afghanistan. He writes about his and other Afghans' impressions on the announcement of the mineral wealth find. The opinions expressed in this guest blog are solely those of Matiullah Mati.

Since my birth in Afghanistan 31 years ago, all my friends and I ever heard was that Afghanistan is the fourth poorest country in the world.  Through that time, all we experienced was war, never anything else.  We did not know anything but war and dreamed of immigrating to other countries to make better lives. We had no idea our country and ourselves were sleeping on treasure. FULL POST

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Filed under: Voices
June 17th, 2010
08:29 AM ET

Afghan mines won't guarantee victory

A Pentagon estimate that Afghanistan is home to nearly a trillion dollars in sought-after minerals is good news, but it provides no assurance that the nation is on its way to peace and productivity, says analyst Fareed Zakaria.

Zakaria told CNN he is skeptical of the idea that you could "divide $1 trillion by the population of Afghanistan to reach the conclusion that every Afghan will be rich ... the history of natural resources and mineral wealth is that it produces enormous corruption and mismanagement, and very often the money does not go down to the average person."

Read the full Q&A with Fareed Zakaria

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Filed under: Voices • Your View
June 15th, 2010
04:11 PM ET

Afghan minerals could turn war's tide

Patrick Doherty is the director of the Smart Strategy Initiative at the New America Foundation, a think tank that seeks innovative solutions across the political spectrum.

The news that Afghanistan's mineral wealth could exceed $1 trillion is an important opportunity for both Kabul and Washington to change the narrative from counterinsurgency to locally controlled sustainable development.

By doing so, the government of Hamid Karzai and the Obama administration can leverage a range of converging interests in South and Central Asia to put Afghanistan and the region finally on the only viable path to security - rising economic prosperity in the larger region.

Natural resources are both a blessing and a curse.

Read the full story from Patrick Doherty

Filed under: Voices
 Scenes from Kandahar
May 24th, 2010
08:33 AM ET

Upcoming Kandahar offensive stirs fears in residents

It’s being billed as the biggest military offensive of this eight and a half year war and it could be just weeks away.

The U.S. military is beefing up its troop numbers in and around the city of Kandahar, the spiritual heartland of the Taliban. At the same time the Taliban is moving into the heart of the city. No one knows how many fighters have blended into the crowds in this southern Afghan city but violence has definitely increased in recent weeks.

May 13th, 2010
10:42 AM ET

Kabul residents: Karzai needs to make jobs, not war

While Afghan President Hamid Karzai makes his rounds in Washington, D.C., this week, some residents of Kabul are urging the Afghan leader to uphold his promises to reduce corruption and provide work and educational opportunities. That can only be achieved through an end to the war, they say. While some support reconciliation with the Taliban, others are not sure that the militant group can integrate back into society without erasing some progress, such as in women's rights.

Read some of the voices in Kabul and what they hope Karzai accomplishes on his trip to the U.S. FULL POST

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Filed under: Karzai • Life and Culture • Voices
May 11th, 2010
09:27 AM ET

The Karzai they knew

Eric Blehm is the author of the recent Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestseller “The Only Thing Worth Dying For: How Eleven Green Berets Forged a New Afghanistan.” It is the story of ODA 574’s mission with Hamid Karzai in 2001, which resulted in his rise to power as the leader of Afghanistan. The statements and opinions expressed in this guest blog are solely those of Eric Blehm. 

On Mother’s Day, I read the headlines about Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s highly publicized meetings in Washington, D.C., this week, and I couldn’t help but think about Barbara Petithory of Cheshire, Massachusetts, and Linda Davis of Watauga, Tennessee. 

Their sons were the first American soldiers killed in Afghanistan back in 2001 — number one and number two of what is today more than 1,000 Americans who have died from action there (1,744 total coalition forces KIA). Their pride and grief as Gold Star mothers are intertwined around the headlines on Hamid Karzai because their sons were with Karzai when they were killed on December 5, 2001. His legacy is, in part, theirs. FULL POST

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Filed under: Karzai • Troops • Understanding Afghanistan • Voices