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News and Views

In Other News...

News about Afghanistan often focuses merely on the security effort, reporting on clashes with extremists and listing civilian and military casualties. While this is an important, if difficult part of Afghanistan's current development into a progressive democratic society, it fails to appreciate the depth and richness of Afghanistan's people, history, culture and politics.

More importantly, news that focuses only on military operations misses the many important efforts taking place to establish government institutions, grow the economy and bring peace to Afghanistan. Not all of these efforts are immediately successful, but they do demonstrate the commitment of the Afghan people and the international community in seeing Afghanistan become peaceful and prosperous.

The Embassy of Afghanistan seeks to paint a picture of Afghanistan as a whole, from the ground-level up. As part of that process, we seek to highlight stories that paint a different picture of Afghanistan than what you might often read on a daily basis.

In Other News - Newborns, Potatoes and Skateboards - July 1, 2008

Afghanistan Strives to Register All Newborns

NPR (July 1, 2008)

Many will tell you they are "around" a given age. Others may give you a range of years. Such vagueness is not due to vanity, nor to any objection to the question. Instead, it is because many people in Afghanistan do not actually know how old they are. Officials in the Afghan government are trying to change that. Starting this spring, they have been issuing their youngest citizens something most people in Afghanistan have never seen: a birth certificate. (Full Story)

Netherlands Work the 'Dutch Touch' in Afghan Conflict

EarthTimes (July 1, 2008)

A Dutch soldier snaps a photo of an Afghan elder for his security clearance at the local army base and tells a seated ring of village leaders that he later intends to pass the picture to Taliban insurgents. The pinch of black humour relayed through an interpreter could drop like a lead balloon, but fortunately it's taken the right way - the dozen Pashtun tribesmen laugh out loud, all except the butt of the joke, who forces a wry grimace. (Full Story)

Spud Farmer Returns to Roots to Help Afghans

AP (June 30, 2008)

To help poor Afghani villagers make money on potatoes instead of opium poppies, Idaho farmer Pat Rowe used a little old technology: root cellars. The 68-year-old Rowe, whose family raises tubers and wheat on 2,000 acres near American Falls, went to the Central Asian country with a root cellar design common across his home state's famous potato country in the 1930s and 1940s. (Full Story)

Kabul's Kids Master the Flip Tricks as Skateboarding Invades the Streets

The Guardian (June 29, 2008)

Waheed Ullah, a scruffy Kabul shoeshine boy, had never heard of skateboarding, let alone tried it. Then one evening he put down his tin of polish, perched his gangly body on a battered skateboard and pushed off. "Hey, I like it!" said the 14-year-old, coasting across an empty water fountain. Then he tumbled over, picked himself up and started again. Skateboarding is the latest teen craze to hit Kabul. It was started by three Australians who see the street sport as a way to help young Afghans and redefine the way rich foreigners interact with them. (Full Story)

Should Buddhas Blasted by the Taliban Be Rebuilt?

Time (June 26, 2008)

Mirza Hussain had labored for hours to stack mines, bombs and dynamite beneath the feet of Afghanistan's most iconic public artwork — a 175-foot standing statue of the Buddha carved from the sandstone cliffs of the Bamiyan Valley sometime in the 7th century. Finally, the local Taliban commander blew his whistle, and hundreds of observers plugged their ears, held their breath and waited for the Buddha to fall. It didn't. The first load of explosives only destroyed the statue's feet. "They were disappointed," says Hussain, of the Taliban leaders who had decreed in March of 2001 that the famous Buddhist monument was idolatrous, and would be demolished. (Full Story)

Teaching in Kandahar Requires Bravery
The Toronto Star (June 23, 2008)

An Internet café for Afghan women only: What a concept. Ehsanullah Ehsan, with the help of some benevolent Canadians, took the idea from concept to reality. Just as he fashioned a vocational training academy out of little more than personal initiative, with seed money from an Ottawa couple looking for a charitable project that had "special meaning.'' Today, there are 700 students, mostly female, attending school at the Afghan-Canadian Community Center in Kandahar city, and the Internet café inside its learning compound is constantly bustling with online activity. "Tell Canada that your money is being spent in the right place, at the right time,'' says Ehsan, an Afghan-born educator who has opened private not-for-profit schools in Kandahar, Zabul, Helmand, Uruzgan and Pakistan. (Full Story)

Women Boxers Challenge Afghan Culture

San Francisco Chronicle (June 16, 2008)

Concord resident Tareq Shawl Azim says he always knew he would one day return to his parents' country to make it a better place. Azim, whose parents left Afghanistan in 1979 after the Soviet invasion, boxed as a heavyweight at Fresno State, and has represented Afghanistan at the Asian Games, South Asian Games and Pan American Games. Azim believes he is an agent of reform by training females to box. "I wanted to show the world that Afghanistan is ready for positive change through sports and the most male-dominated activity - boxing," he said. "There needs to be belief in all humanity in order for a country like Afghanistan to stand on its two feet. One foot being male and the other being female." (Full Story)

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