Afghanistan Is Not For Sale

On July 22, 2019, President Donald Trump and PM Imran Khan of Pakistan had a press conference at the White House. The press briefs lasted forty minutes. They discussed a wide range of issues including the most important one: “Afghanistan War”.

President Trump offered to end the Afghan war by handing over the control button to Pakistan. In other words, he tried to sell Afghanistan to Pakistan. While this behavior is normal from a real estate guru, we strongly condemn his attitude toward Afghanistan.

 

President Trump must know the following before making any urgent decision or comment about this great country:

• Afghanistan is not for sale.

• Afghanistan only belongs to Afghans; and no one else can decide her future.

• Afghanistan has deep history of more than 5000 years.

• Throughout Afghanistan history, invasions were always met with extreme resistance.

• When you talk about the Super Bomb and mentioned that the crater can be seen from the moon, you were correct. However, did you ask yourself if that Super Bomb was effective and resolved the so-called Bin Laden issue? If the bomb was used for the sole purpose of a shameful crater, then it was useless. Just a reminder that while US was preparing and dropping the so-called “Super Bomb”, Bin Laden was being hosted by Pakistan, few blocks away from a Pakistani military base inside Pakistan, perhaps enjoying his new bride.

• How dare you allow yourself to talk about vanishing Afghanistan from the face of the world? Is this what a great leader should say?

• Pakistan is the main creator and nourisher of all terrorist groups fighting inside Afghanistan, including Al Qaida and Taliban to name a few. Today, without Pakistani support, Taliban cannot survive, not even a day.

• It is a disgrace that American taxpayer money is being used to support terrorism. Pakistan played this hide & seek role for years, and will continue to do so as long as their tactics may nourish their malicious behavior.

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End of Peace in Afghanistan, 41 years ago:

Story of Blood, Sweat, and Tears

By: Afzal Nasiri, former Editor of The Kabul Times

His articles have appeared in RCDA magazine NY and Indian Express.

My intention is not to give the reader a masterpiece in international affairs, or a sociopolitical analysis of Afghanistan’s political and historical development. I have simply tried to take a commonplace incident and hold it to the light, in a way that reveals uncommon truth and meaning, which is nowhere more evident.

I have never been or now affiliated to any political movement or party in or from Afghanistan.

As an Afghan , one who has been in the middle of the crisis and as a journalist, I feel it is my duty  to reveal  trivial facts, which in the long run added up to  push Afghanistan into the lap of communism. I believe I have the right credentials to do so. I intend to found my story on moment of experience felt or seen that has long since gone. But has left a sediment behind.

I am convinced the readers have an instinct about the accuracy or falseness of the information they are given. This is useful information for younger Afghans who were not yet born yet interested in the history of their heritage land.

 

April 16th, 1978. It all started in my backyard. Sounds of heavy footsteps woke me up. I looked at my watch; it was 6:30 AM.I glanced out of my apartment window and could see people going in and out of the Block right behind my residence.

My wife and I were living in the Microroyan apartment complex which was considered to be the most posh residential complex of Kabul. We had rented an apartment from a friend for 4000 Afghanis per month. It was considered high rent in those days. However, it was very convenient for us to get to our work. Government printing press, where The Kabul Times was located, was close by; and I could walk to it.

Observing from by bedroom window, the traffic of people bothered me. I had a strange feeling something was wrong. I dressed up and went out the door to catch the first hand information. I went around the block and came in front where activity was going on. I could see strange faces coming in and out of a certain apartment. It was strange in the sense that I had never seen these faces in the apartment complex where I had lived for almost three years.

After a while, I bumped into my next door neighbor. He walked straight to me and in a very heavy voice, almost choking, and said “Ustad Khaiber has been murdered.” “Khaiber who?” I exclaimed! My neighbor was taken aback. “Don’t you know Ustad”, he was irritated. He was the brain of the Parcham (Flag) Party. By now I was fully awake and my mind was racing. I had heard Khaiber’s name, but never knew he was my neighbor. It dawned on me, disaster was on its way.

Khaiber was an Afghan left wing intellectual and the leader of the Parcham faction of the Afghan Communist Party (PDPA – People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan).

I headed back home. By this time my wife was awake. . I told her what had happened. We were certain the communists would use this opportunity to their best interest. However, we had a flickering hope that the government of President Mohammad Daoud would take strong action and not let this incident get out of hand. Being non- political I had no horse in the race. I just wanted peace for the development of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s Constitution (1964)

Let me add here, Mir Akbar Khaiber was the theoretician of the Parcham party, one faction of the two fanged communist party of Afghanistan. He was also the former editor of the short lived Communist Party paper called Parcham. This paper was published when King Zahir Shah, dethroned by Mohammad Daoud, his cousin and brother of his wife, tried to give the Afghan society a democratic look by passing a new constitution in October of 1964, on the French pattern. The new Constitution declared Afghanistan a Constitutional Monarchy. It was a progressive instrument.

The Constitution also provided freedom of the press and sanctioned the establishment of political parties... It also called for two-house parliament and elections. What later emerged from this progressive Constitution was a dead letter. It was during this period that the Parcham and Khalq (the second faction of the Communist Party) appeared on the scene with a miniscule following... Noor Mohammad Taraki and Hafizullah Amin headed the Khalq Faction while Babrak Karmal and Akbar Khaiber raised the Parcham banner.

Ironically, during the early days of President Daoud’s rule, Khaiber and other prominent communists were his confidants and inner circle advisors or Kitchen cabinet. Many Afghans think that it was Khaiber who wrote Daoud’s speeches, at least at the onset of his regime. Daoud’s first address to the nation is attributed to Khaiber, from which he persistently quoted to journalists and advised them to read it.

Khaiber’s Murder

Khaiber’s murder turned a new page in Afghanistan’s history. The government’s version was that he was killed by an unknown assailant. At least that is what we wrote in The Kabul Times. The communists blamed the government. There was an independent and strong opinion that the communists pre-planned the murder with the approval of their mentors and advisors from the Soviet Union’s Embassy (Now Russian) in Kabul.

It is said that the fatal blow was dealt by Hafizullah Amin and others. Khaiber was killed at an unknown place and his body was thrown near the Government Printing Press, where I worked, on the Road leading to Khaiber’s home in Microroyan. Amin later became the second Communist President of Afghanistan. The Parcham faction of the party accused Amin of being CIA operative. (He was educated in the United States).

Khaiber lived in a decent apartment complex of Microroyan, the best available in Kabul. In this complex many other communists, including Babrak Karmal also owned apartments. By the way, Microroyan was built by the Soviet Union.

By American standards, Afghanistan is a very poor country where a large swath of population lives below the poverty line. Ironically, the communist leaders who claimed to be sufferers, lived in the best provided housing and had the best of amenities, thanks to Soviet Union of the time (Russians).

An interesting observation of many Afghans during that time was that Babrak Karmal, the leader of Parcham faction had a close relationship with the King of Afghanistan. Karmal was a regular Palace visitor in the middle of the night, hiding from the eyes of the common man. In diplomatic circles, where I had an access being a journalist, the Parcham Party was known as Royal Communist Party of Afghanistan.

Focusing on Khaiber’s murder, his body was released from the morgue and brought to his home for final ceremony. It all appeared pre-planned. The Communist Party leaders delivered fiery speeches. Specially, there was a gentleman, who later became Minister of Finance in Taraki’s cabinet, climbed the entrance port of the block and addressing the gathering said “Comrades consider this silence to be the silence before the Storm”. That sentence still rings in my ears whenever I remember those days.

Government’s Reaction

Although the assembly of over five people was banned in Kabul in light of the developments, Kabul appeared to be an unsafe place.

There were a couple of other political murders, around the same time.  A pilot of Ariana Airlines and a Minister of Planning were also murdered in mysterious circumstances. Their murderers were never brought to justice.

The next day, the burial day of Khaiber, I was talking to a friend of mine related to the Minister of Interior. I told him about the implications of letting the communist’s hold large gathering, deliver fiery speeches, calling the government a terrorist organization and its ministers as hangmen giving in to the West, Arab and American imperialism. The answer that my friend gave me, afterwards, was that everything was under control and that all of the drama is being filmed and the perpetrators will be brought to books.

Mohammad Daoud’s Government

Daoud’s government had a past history of iron rule. Here it was being put to test by a small minority which looked beyond the borders of Afghanistan for political inspiration. Daoud, whatever his shortcomings and wrong doings, was a staunch nationalist. He was seeking economic and military aid from various countries. He was not a puppet of Soviet Union, in spite of a common border of 2600 miles (USSR). He was not a puppet of the Americans. The Americans had declined him aid in 1950s which pushed Afghanistan into the lap of Soviet Union. During the time of King Zahir Shah and in Daoud’s time the Afghan pride was intact.

Daoud’s Weakness

Mohammad Daoud lacked an educated ruling class. Whatever was available was not sufficient to provide developmental services. Many Afghans who travelled to America and Europe for higher education on government scholarships, never returned home to pay their dues, except for a very small percentage.

Expertise and higher education was rare in his Cabinet. His closest associates were those who had helped him dethrone Zahir Shah in July (18th) 1973. They wanted to be rewarded by high cabinet posts and lucrative assignments, no matter what price the country or the people paid.

Rebellion from the Right

In the past Mohammad Daoud had successfully put down the rebellion from the right. The rightist and pro-Islamic movements launched an attack in July 1975. The movement came from the North of Afghanistan (Panjsher Valley). He called them the enemies of the religion and the people. Hundreds of Afghans lost their lives in the government and military operation at that time. They were not even allowed to bring their wounded to the hospitals.

Daoud also subdued more than a dozen coup attempts during his time. In Khaiber’s case he was led to believe by his advisors that it was a petty incident.

Communist march in Kabul

While I was a witness, on April 17th 1978 the members of Parcham and Khalq took out a big procession leading from Microroyan, past the Government Printing Press, where we were watching. They went past the American Embassy and into the downtown Kabul, where they buried their Hero. They then marched through the crowded streets of Kabul and demonstrated in front of the US Embassy with slogans of “Down with American Imperialism, Down with CIA, Down with Western Imperialism. Long live Worker’s Party, Long live International Proletariat.

The procession was five to six thousand strong. However, all were not members of the communist party. Many of them were sympathizers, this was a trend in those days with the majority of the youth. They knew little of what happens when the international Proletariat comes to power. It’s not the proletariat which gets the piece of the cake, it is a new ruling class which has its cake and eats it too. The sufferers are the same who suffered before the drastic change.

After the protesters went home, no reaction by the government was observed.

 Daoud’s Regime Acts

 

Mohammad Daoud’s regime acted, too little too late.

Their action came ten days later. By this time the Soviet Union advisors had already strategized the communist trained military and air force to act. The Afghans, trained in the Soviet Union, were provided a road map for the overthrow of Daoud’s regime. (After a rebuff from the USA to provide military training to Afghans. In those days Pakistan was the regional friend of the Americans and was part of CETO and CENTO alliances, thousands of Afghans travelled to USSR for military training on scholarships provided by Soviet Union).

There were approximately 5000 Soviet advisors in Kabul during that time.

The military operation with Afghan faces on the tanks and in front, backed by the Soviets, only lasted a few hours ending in the massacre of Daoud and his family. The young Soviet trained military officers gun downed the whole cabinet and President’s family.

On the eve of April 26th the Kabul Radio and the Dari and Pashto newspapers along with The Kabul Times carried a news report declaring the arrest of Parcham and Khalq leadership. They were detained in a minimum security prison of Kabul State government office, located in the basement of the building.

In the morning of April 27th/1978, the coup started and resulted in the massacre at the Erg (Presidential Palace).

End of Daoud

On the morning of April 28th 1978 Kabul radio carried a news item in Pashto and Dari…

“Two brothers, Mohammad Daoud and Mohammad Naim, while resisting arrest, were killed by the brave officers of the military of the People of Afghanistan.”

Even though the government was open on April 28th, most of us from the press went out to the Erg to see the aftermath with our own eyes. The new Revolutionary government had declared the Erg and other government places open to the general public. We were able to visit inside   Mohammad Daoud’s home and private quarters where his personal items and his family’ clothing were on display. Nothing was golden, nothing was dazzling.

There is lot more to be said and written which I may do in future.

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 Afghanistan’s Water Resources

By Eng. Hashim Rayek

(Translated by Afzal Nasiri, former Editor of The Kabul Times)

May 2019, Virginia USA 

Afghanistan Rivers

 

The total volume of annual renewable bodies of water in Afghanistan is 75 billion cubic meters. The volume of surface water annually is 57 billion cubic meters approximately, and the volume of subterranean water is 18 billion cubic meters, every year. Breaking this down by per head of water available in Afghanistan is 2700 cubic meters per year compared to world standard of water available per head of 1000 cubic meters.

Agricultural land under Irrigation

From the rivers and canals 84.6 percent, from the drainage system (Karez) 7% from the natural springs  9.7 percent and from  wells and deep wells ½ percent. Afghanistan has almost 7,000 drainage systems (Karez) which irrigate over 170,000 hectares’ of land. On an average one Karez irrigates 25 hectares of land. Over 188,000 Hectares’ is irrigated by 5,600 small and large natural springs.

Five Water Zones of Afghanistan

Afghanistan is divided into five major Water Zones.

1/Amu Dariya (River) – 91.5 Sq. Kilometer

2/ Northern Zone  71.7   Sq Kilometer

3/ Harirud-Murghab Zone 87.4 Sq Kilometer

4/Kabul (Indus) Zone 77.7 Sq Kilometer

5/Helmand River Zone 24.4 Sq Kilometer

We should also add here the free Frontier Zone of about 67.9 Sq Kilometer

 

Afghanistan as a whole has 41 small and large bodies of water which have been divided into 5-zones as shown below:

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Amu Darya:

The Amu River forms a natural boundary of Afghanistan with southern Tajekistan, full southern boundary with Uzbekistan and eastern boundary with Turkmenistan.

 

Amu River, also known as Jaihoon in olden days and Oxus in English is almost 2,400 kilometers long. It rises from the Zarkol and Jakmanteen lakes in Afghanistan and falls into the Oral Lake. The river forms the natural boundary in Afghanistan stretching to 1,200 kilometers. At the mouth of the lakes where the Amu River rises it is known as Wakhan River, later Pamir waters and Panch River. About 23 kilometers down the Sher Khan  Bandar in the Kunduz province, it is named as Amu River.

The Amu River Zone is almost 90,690 Sq Kilometers, covering 14 % of the country. The watershed of this river  are the provinces of  Badakhshan, Takhar, Kunduz, Baghlan, and parts of Bamian. It provide 37 % of water needs of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan provides 30%  water resource to Amu River while Tajekistan has the bulk of 61%. Turkmenistan’s contribution is only 9 percent. However, the Central Repbublics use almost 84% of the River water, while Afghanistan utilizes  only 6%.  One and a half to 2-billion  cubic meters.

Refer to the chart showing  the contribution of Afghanistan, Tajekistan,

Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kirghistan towards forming the Amu River and also the usage by each country. The usage  goes down as follows: Afghanistan 30% and the rest  70%.

Refer Chart to Amu River passage through Central Asia and Afghanistan.

 

Amu Darya Pathway:

History of Amu Water Zone:

Agreement and Letters of Understanding  concerning the border line between Afghanistan and Soviet Union were signed  in 1958 in Moscow. The signatories were Soviet Foreign Minister, Andre Gromyko and the Afghan Ambassador Abdul Hakim Shah Alimi.

The Agreement was signed on January 18th 1958 between the parties to the unconditional usage of Amu River Water and research and study of the Projects for  KhushTapa , Kokcha,  Amu River Dam and Panj River,  were part of this Understanding. The Study was done by Soviet Engineers and copies were sent to Kabul. The copies of this study were mysteriously lost after the Coup of 1979 in Afghanistan. Engineer Mohammad Reza, the Minister of Agriculture, also took part in the Study.

After this report Soviet Union undertook large projects on its side of the border. They dug the biggest water Canal in the world from the border to Turkmenistan. The canal flows one thousand cubic meter of water per second. During the rule of Daoud  Khan an Afghan delegation, including Engineers  Mohammad Qaseem Naimi, Abdul Ghafoor Rahim and  Fazlul Omar Mojaddadi,  was sent to Tashkent to renegotiate the one-sided agreement, but to no avail.

According to the UNDP report, the water resources of Central Asia have been negatively impacted by the Green House gases resulting from man made echo disasters, including cutting of trees and destroying of woods in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan and Tajekistan the temperatures have decreased 20 to 30 percent. This is a dangerous level and has a negative impact on Climate Change posing a great danger to the region. With the Climate Change looming in the world,  the Echo system of  the Hindu Kush Mountains  and Himalayas  have deteriorated ,threatening negative impact  on  the World Echo-system.

From the Geo-political point of view the major powers and the regional countries, all try to safeguard their National Interests, Strategic Energy Resources and Trade . We can observe behaviors of US, China and Russia. They all have their national interest dominating their actions. Countries like Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and India have their own national interest, over and above other countries of the region. This complex relationship creates  a diabolical effect.

After the fall of Soviet Union many regional  cooperatives and organizations   have sprung up in Central Asia. They are tackling the problem of   Oral Lake  water sharing and distribution, among the member states. Following are some of the organizations:

1/ International Fund for the Security of Oral Lake

2/ International Commission for water Cooperation

3/ Oral Lake Zone Program

4/Central Asian Cooperation Agency

5/ Energy Distribution Center

6/ Cooperative Union for Central Asia Water Sector

Unfortunately Afghanistan holds no membership in any of the above Cooperatives.

The pictures and slides show years of deterioration and damage to the Banks of Amu River. Seasonal floods have been devastating.  The soil erosion is at a critical stage. Even the residential housing, close to the river, is threatened by flood waters. Houses are swept away by seasonal floods every year.

This can be seen in six provinces. However, the River provides a good source of fishing. It is both a sport and a trade.

Referring to the pictures and slides available  one can notice that large Funds will be required  to safeguard the Banks of the river from erosion. Resistant material like Stones and cement is needed to concrete the banks of the Amu River, providing a relief to the local population.

There are slides to show the flow of the Amu River, traversing its natural course.

Helmand Zone:

Helmand, in old Dari language, means ‘abundance of water”. Helmand water  runs through approximately half of the irrigated lands of Afghanistan, to be specific almost 43%. It is the longest Irrigation River in Afghanistan; and the watershed of this river are the Provinces of Farah, Helmand, Neemroz,  Zabul , Oruzgan, Dai Kundi, Ghazni, Paktia and parts of Herat and Bamian.

The Helmand River is considered  among  the largest Rivers in Asia.  Billions  of Cubic Meters of water flows through it every year. This river rises from the high peaks of  Kohe Baba Range, about 40 kilometers  from the West of Kabul, part of Hindukush Mountains. After traversing 1,150 kilometers it   falls in the Hamoon Lake,  which covers parts of Afghanistan and Iran ( in Morass of Seristan).

Pathway of Helmand River

Helmand Water Agreement between Iran and Afghanistan:

Over the years,  from 1857 on there have been many contacts, negotiations and agreements between Afghanistan and Iran. In these following years 1857, 1872, 1938, 1950, 1951 and the most recent in 1972, the two countries agreed on water distribution, cooperation and understanding.

The 1972 agreement, signed by Mousa Shafiq, Prime Minister of Afghansitan and Amir Abbas Hoveyda, Prime Minter of Iran,  provided  Iran  22 cubic meters of water per second in normal years as their right and 4 cubic meters as goodwill gesture. This agreement defines the normal  flow in Helmand river at “Da Rahod “ gauging station before Kajaki Dam will be 5,561Million cubic meter.    The rest of the water of Helmand was and is   considered to be within the rights of Afghanistan.  It is to be used as deemed necessary by Afghanistan.  This agreement specifies the rights of the two countries.

According to the 1972 agreement Iran has no further claim on Helmand water. Even the 4cubic meters  goodwill gesture was supposed to be in exchange of 2-billion dollars coming to Afghanistan. However, this requirement was never fulfilled.

Dispute

The first modern initiative towards development in Helmand Valley was taken by Afghanistan.  In 1950 the Seraj Canal  work was started with the help of government of Japan. The Canal provided abundant irrigation in the area. Later in 1952, the Kajaki Dam construction started  at the height of 90 meters with a Reservoir capacity of 1.7 billion cubic meters. This was followed by Arghandab  Dam on Arghandab River in Kandahar at 50 meters and 78.6 million cubic meters of water per year. These  dams  were  built with the assistance of United States in 1953.

See Picture of Kajaki Dam on Helmand River

                             Kajaki Dam

See Picture of Arghandab Dam on Arghandab River

Once Afghanistan started building dams and canals on the Afghan side, the Iranians also started  digging numerous canals and dams on their side.  Iranians built  four water reservoirs(Neema Cha) in .  They also built  16 smaller dams and   dug the Gulmeer Canal- 1 and Gulmeer canal-2, Niyateeka canal, Sherdil Canal and  Jarika Canal.

Iran has always claimed that it is not receiving fair share of  Helmand water as provided by the 1972 agreement.  However, Afghanistan claims that Iran is drawing much more water from the Afghanistan Rivers than provided by 1972 agreement. On  an average  Iran has drawn at least one billion cubic meters of   water per year  between 2011-2017 over and above the agreement  allows. Afghanistan faced drought during this period.

On the other hand  Iran stored  almost 1,480 billion cubic meters of water in the four deep wells (Cha-Neema) which is almost twice   above the spirit of the agreement. Inspite of this, Iran claims that its Siestan and Baluchistan provinces are running dry. We should point out that Hamoon Ponds are an International natural resource.

In the view of Afghanistan, Iran should have managed its water resources better  so that its Siestan and Baluchistan provinces receive  sufficient water from Iranian resources.

Afghanistan’s development activities took a hit during the continued internal frictions, tensions and wars. Iran, meanwhile,  enjoyed  full benefit of Afghanistan’s water resources. The Harirod, Arghandab and Helmand rivers were exploited by Iran to its benefit. Iran used more than twice its right as provided by mutual agreements. They filled the Neema Wells and  Siestan saw a population explosion in 1976. From 660,000 residents, it jumped to 2.7 million. Many of the resources, including the Marshes and Everglades  were diverted to  Zahedan province to provide potable water to the Iranian people.

According to an article by an Iranian researcher in Norway, published in February 2019. “The water need of Siestan province beside the agreement  of 1972, may approximately 600 Million Cubic meter and assume  50 cent  per one Cubic meter, it may cost  $300 million dollar a year. Afghanistan never received a dime for its water.

The article further says that “ if  exchanging Afghanistan’s water with oil, it may cost Iran  47,000 barrels per year.”

The life of the people of Afghanistan and Iran can be improved  with a just and viable agreement between the two countries.

Helmand Marshes and Everglades

The Helmand marshes, everglades  and ponds line  the border  of Iran and Afghanistan. The three main locations are known as Pozak ,  Sabiri and  Helmand. Most of the Pozak and part of Sabiri are in Afghanistan and the rest  in Iran. When the water levels rise all three marshes become one big body of water and provide potable water to the two populations. Of the 5,660 sq kilometers of these marshes 1840sq kilometers are in Afghanistan and the rest  in Iran. These marshes and everglades are a good source of fishing for both countries. All kinds of animal kingdom species, vertebrates and invertebrates  live there and  are also sustained by this  water source.

Kamal Khan Dam

 

An article  authored by an Afghan scholar Dr. Zia Nizam forecasts a grim picture of the planet due to Climate Change and Global Warming.  Due to Earth’s rising temperature in future,  many countries will be faced with water shortage. The Oral Lake and  Helmand marshes are already showing signs of drying.

The Institute  to study the natural resources of the world  was established in 1997. Under the name of New York Convention, it is considered the prime source of Climate study. The Institute has 167 countries under study of which 33 countries will face water crisis by 2040.Most of the countries of our region are included.

Afghanistan should become part of this Institute and work towards means to fight Climate Change and Global warming. The Institute’s  study certifies that compared to last few decades world rainfall has dropped off 20%.  Thus water may become a scarcity and also source of tension and conflict. Afghanistan, along with its neighbors Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Pakistan should join to find a common solution.

Northern River Zone/ Harirod and Murghab Zone/Kabul River Zone

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MAKING AFGHANISTAN GREAT

By Afzal Nasiri (former editor of The Kabul Times)

This morning (October 19th/2018) I was listening to the NPR while driving to work from Fairfax to  Manassas in Virginia. Dia Haddid , an NPR and CNN reporter was narrating a story about the Taliban claimed attack in Kandahar, which killed the Police  and Security chiefs while injuring a US Brigadier General (Jeffery Smiley) and other Afghans.

This story was followed by an uplifting piece  about the Afghan elections. Pam Constable of CNN reported from Kabul that Parliamentry elections were held on Saturday  October 20th/2018, in which over four millions voted to elect Parliament members. For 249 Parliament seats, there were 2400 candidates with over 400 women in running.Keeping the above two narratives in perspective, this is a good time to talk about peace.

The Taliban carried out an insider attack on Thursday inside the governor's palace in Kandahar province, killing the provincial intelligence chief, wounding two Americans and barely missing the top US commander in Afghanistan, General Austin "Scott" Miller.

But the attack also killed Brig. Gen. Abdul Raziq, Kandahar's powerful police chief.

A fierce Taliban fighter, Raziq, 39, had previously survived several assassination attempts, and was seen as an invaluable US ally, largely credited with pacifying Kandahar province just a few years earlier.

Gen. Raziq was born in southern Kandahar in Spin Boldak District. In 1994, the Taliban killed his dad before Raziq fled with his family to Pakistan. A Fateha and remembrance  was held at the Mustafa Center in Virginia last evening (10/22/2018) attended by over 200 people.

The Afghan Government and the forces of the Taliban are recognizing the growing popular demand  for peace. The UN Secretary General’s special representative for Afghanistan believes that peace is within reach.

Both sides agree  on the Constitution, peaceful co-existence with neighbors, Rule of Law and Islamic government. Even though Donald Trump has reluctantly  sent more troops, all signs point to the ending of the longest US war (17 years, US direct involvement in Vietnam War 1964-1973).

Former US Ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq  under Republican administration of George W Bush, Zal Khalilzad has been named President Trump’s special adviser  to Afghanistan. His job will be to try to bring the Afghan government and the Taliban to a reconciliation. He recently met with the Taliban leadership in Qatar  and Ashraf Ghani in Kabul and came out with a terse statement against anti-peace elements.

History bears witness that it is a monumental task to bring the warring parties in Afghanistan  to the Peace table. If and when the deal is done it will require a Goliathian task to implement and maintain. It can happen . Let us keep a positive attitude.

Afghanistan has changed quite a bit since I left my country in 1980 (March 21st).I was working at the only English language daily there , The Kabul Times. There were a total of 4 journalists on the Editorial Board,  along with the Editor-in-Chief. The 4-page daily was a window to the Afghan world to the foreigners living in Kabul. They got a glimpse of Afghan Society through The Kabul Times. English was limited to Kabul Times, to  a few English speakers at the Foreign Ministry and a handful at Kabul University. Today thousands of Afghans can carry conversation in English and can read and write. This has opened the flood gates of knowledge to them.

At the time I left Afghanistan there was only one part- time  TV channel and one Radio station. Today there are numerous TV channels, access to internet and Cable and scores of newspapers not only in Pashto,  but equally more in Persian and English. There used to be a Kabul and a Nangarhar University. Today, thanks to US development aid and NATO we have scores of universities, Colleges of Higher Learning, schools for men and women. We have come a long way. The women of Afghanistan have also come a long way.

The war-generation has helped in shaping  the minds and hearts of the people of Afghanistan. People are more politically conscious . Afghanistan is no more, “ the Dust- bin of History “ as famously said by a visiting  statesman back in 1972.

Today education levels have gone up. There was a time when Afghanistan’s literary rate was under 10%. Today it is over 35% and it shows (UN and Wikipedia sources).

Another obvious grass root level change is the Kabul Airport. It has become a major hub of airline activity. In 70s and 80s it was a sleeping place with a couple of old 727s and a handful of Russian made domestic flight planes, operated under Bakhtar and Ariana names. Only Indian airlines and an occasional out of town airplane would land in Kabul. Today  Lufthansa, Russian Airways, Chinese airline, Indian airlines, middle Eastern airlines and more are frequent fliers to Kabul. We have a come a Long way…

Back in 70s and 80s we just had an old and tired Kabul Hotel with an Inter-Continental  on a hill. I looked up for hotels in Kabul on internet and got a list of over 20 hotels plus a list of top ten with names like Serena,  Kabul Star , Safi Landmark, The Baron (I like the name) , Tejarat, Darya etc.

What a difference in  30 years, we have come a long way.

Let’s be proud of the generational achievement back home  and not knock ourselves and the development and modernization achievers in Afghanistan. I have a  Vision when modern education in every village of Afghanistan, both for boys and girls, will break the cycle of violence. We will rise above tribalism  and linguistic preferences giving way to nationalism and globalism.

The  Historical Afghan Diary will continue to explore our march forward as  one nation, the Afghan nation.

Original Durand  Agreement

November 12th 1893*

Agreement between Amir Abdur Rahman Khan

And Henry Mortimer Durand.

Whereas certain questions have arisen regarding the frontier of Afghanistan on the side of India, and whereas both His Highness the Amir and the Government  of India are desirous of settling these questions by friendly  understanding , and of fixing the limit of their respective spheres of influence, so that for the future there may be no difference of opinion on the subject between the allied Governments , it is hereby agreed as follows :

 

  1. The eastern and southern frontier of His Highness’s dominions, from Wakhan to the Persian border, shall follow the line shown in the map attached to this agreement.

  2. The Government of India will at no time exercise interference in the territories lying beyond this line on the side of Afghanistan, and His Highness the Amir will at no time exercise interference in the territories lying beyond this line on the side of India.

  3.  The British Government thus agrees to His Highness the Amir retaining Asmar and the valley above it, as far as Chanak. His Highness agrees, on the other hand, that he will at no time exercise interference in  Swat, Bajaur, or Chitral, including the Arnawai or Bashgal Valley. The British Government also agrees to leave  to His Highness the Bimral tract as shown in the detailed map already given to His Highness, who relinquishes his claim to the rest of the Waziri country and Dawar. His Highness also relinquishes his claim to  Chageh.

  4.  The frontier line  will hereafter be laid down in detail and demarcated, wherever this may be practicable and desirable, by joint British and Afghan commissioners, whose object  will be to arrive by mutual  understanding  at a boundary which shall adhere with the greatest possible exactness to the line  shown in the map attached to this agreement, having due regard to the existing local rights of villages adjoining the frontier.

  5.  With reference  to the question of Chaman, the Amir withdraws his objection to the new British cantonment and concedes to the British Governments the rights purchased by him in the Sirkai  Tilerai  water.At this part of the frontier the line will be drawn as follows: From the crest of Khwaja Amran range near the Psha Kotal, which remains in British territory, the line will run in such a direction as to leave Murgha Chaman and Sharboo spring to Afghanistan, and to pass half-way between the new Chaman Fort and the Afghan outpost known local as Lashkar Dand. The line will then pass half-way between the railway station and the hill known as Mian Baldak, and turning southwards, will rejoin the khwaja Amran range, leaving the Gwasha Post in British territory, and the road to Shorawak to the west and south of  Gwasha in Afghanistan. The British Governement  will not exercise any interference within half a mile of the road.

  6.  The above articles of agreement  are regarded by the Government of India and His Highness the Amir of Afghanistan as a full and satisfactory settlement of all the principal differences of opinion which have arisen between them in regard to the frontier; and both the Government of  India and His Highness the Amir  undertake that any difference of detail, such as those which will  have to be considered hereafter by the officers appointed to demarcate the boundary line, shall be settled in a friendly spirit, so as to remove for the future as far as possible all causes of doubt and misunderstanding  between the two Governments.

  7.  Being fully satisfied of His Highness’s  goodwill to the British Government, and wishing to see Afghanistan independent  and strong , the Government of India will raise no objection to the purchase and import by His Highness of munitions of war, and they will themselves grant him some help in this respect. Further, in  order to mark their sense of the friendly spirit in  which His Highness the Amir has entered  into these negotiations, the Government of India undertake  to increase by the sum of six lakhs of rupees a year the subsidy of twelve lakhs now granted to His Highness.

 

H.M. Durand,

Amir Abdur Rahman Khan

Kabul, November 12,1893

*Source: National Archives of India, Foreign Department, Secret F, report by HM Durand 1894, 37-38.

Taken from  Rajiv Dogra’s Durand’ Curse, recently published .

************************

Indian Author  researches Durand Line

Curse Of Durand by  Rajiv Dogra

“The Frontier that Mortimor Durand carved  for the British Empire (1893)  remains a live, unresolved problem. Pakistan claims the Durand  Line constitutes a natural  border; Afghanistan  sees it as an illegitimate  colonial imposition.”

This is a well researched   book supported by archival quotes and proofs. The author  has referenced a myriad of books and articles in Bibiliography. Dogra has used Indian archives and British archives. His reference to many many Afghan, British, Indian  and other western  material written on Afghanistan is very impressive.

The author puts the reader back in  the 1800s and beyond. The expressions and language used is thought provoking. Overall, Dogra has remained impartial and has stuck to the facts with zero verbosity. A good book on Durand Line after a long time.

I am borrowing a few paragraphs from the book to give  the reader a taste of what to expect.

“ As for the British , the Durand  Agreement was a welcome news. With the frontier area in British control, there was no longer any need for humiliating wars with the Afghans. Durand  was in seventh heaven. But Abdur Rahman was a wounded man.

Durand’s seven -week stay in Kabul  was a contest between two strong willed personalities; one an ambitious diplomat and the other a cruel ruler. The wily Durand was pleased to absorb a territory that Abdu Rahman was finding tiresome. The British  official wanted  to have his name  on the arrangement; The Afghan Amir  believed the deal  was temporary. But even  as they were signing  the one-page document, they both knew they were writing  history with blurred lines.

On the morning  of 12 November 1893, the foreign  secretary of India Sir Mortimer Durand, also drew a line across a small map. It is said that the  Amir of Afghanistan, Abdur Rahman, nodded in approval. No Afghan aide was present  in that  room so there was no witness to the Amir’s approval. There are no Afghan accounts  either of the event  so we have to rely on the version given by British writers. These writings are available in plenty, and they have all been self-laudatory.”

I should  also add here that the Amir of Afghanistan had no knowledge of English language, yet he signed a document in English to give the British what they could not achieve on the battle field.

 

Review compiled by Afzal Nasiri

(Former Editor of The Kabul Times/ Afghanistan)

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