Beyond the war-ravaged mountains of Nangarhar Province in eastern Afghanistan, a quiet revolution is unfolding.
In the most strategically important area of this vast country, along the border with Pakistan, NATO forces are hoping a new pact involving one of the “super-tribes” of Afghanistan can turn a previously volatile area into a model for how the rest of the country can be pacified.
Some 170 elders from the Shinwari tribe, which numbers about 400,000 people, have signed a pact vowing to burn down the house of anyone found sheltering the Taliban. It is being heralded as a “tipping point” by the U.S. commander of Task Force Mountain Warrior, Col. Randy George. FULL POST
Kabul, Afghanistan - I don't know why but I just didn't expect to see something as frivolous as a balloon seller plying his trade on the ravaged streets of Kabul. It is a joyless city on many levels, but it's encouraging to see this sign of childhood fun. For many children in Kabul, their toys are made from the trash – a rubber inner tube from a bicycle wheel, simple pieces of wood fashioned into a plane or a kite made from salvaged plastic. For many, a balloon would be a real treat – something to treasure and guard jealously.
Kabul, Afghanistan - It's name means "Abode of Peace," but the Darul-Aman Palace outside Kabul symbolizes the years of war and strife that have ravaged this city.
A massive monument built in the 1920's by King Amunullah Khan, who tried and failed to reform Afghanistan, it was left empty for years, before being successively destroyed by fire, turned into a museum, used as a defence ministry and shelled by the Mujahideen after the Soviets left.
Now it is a spectacular vacant behemoth, which emerges from the dust and smog as you drive out of the capital. Commuters cycle past in the morning mist, without giving the place a second glance. I was transfixed, though, and saddened that such a magnificent building could be left to rot. FULL POST