Tag: Afghans

What Oil Politics, Taliban, Islamophobia Mean to India

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The media must reveal the truth and help weak states rise above a crisis, not play up divisive forces.

By Ram Puniyani

The withdrawal of the United States Army from Afghanistan has brought the Taliban to power. The scenario in Afghanistan is alarming as minorities, and others, desperately attempt to leave the country. The record of the previous Taliban rule is flashing before the world, particularly the oppression of women and imposition of their version of Sharia law. It is their demolition of the Bamiyan Buddha that tells the world what the Taliban stands for. Some hope the exit of foreign powers will change Taliban rule, but events so far make this expectation ring hollow.

Regardless of how Afghans plot their future, it is most surprising that a section of the Indian media—which many disparagingly identify as godi media—has taken to non-stop coverage of the Taliban takeover. They are toeing the ruling party’s line, spending a significant share of airtime on perceived threats to India from the Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

These anchors on TV never spare a chance to criticise those who “felt the arrival of the Taliban in Afghanistan will not affect India”. The Special Cell of the Delhi Police recently arrested six suspected terrorists and alleged that they were trained in Pakistan to conduct terrorist strikes in India. Their alleged motive was to thwart the democratic process in Uttar Pradesh, where elections are due next year. The TV channels immediately caught on to this episode, claiming it connects with events in Afghanistan.

Other than attacking those critical of the ruling government, TV channels were busy for a month presenting viewers with the horrors Taliban rule entails. Their concerns may be valid, but the cheek-by-jowl coverage the Taliban is getting is out of proportion. They make it seem like the only problem Indians face is the Taliban coming to power in Afghanistan. For a large section of Indians, growing unemployment, the farmer movement, the rising atrocities against Dalits and women, and price rise are primary concerns. This narrative is absent from the media. Nor do they provide coverage to the intimidation of religious minorities in India, and even if they do, there is no attempt to be objective. Instead, this section of the media presents the religious minorities themselves as the culprits. The ‘hate Muslims’ sentiment has strengthened ever since the Taliban came to power.

The language in the media portrays the Taliban as representatives of all Muslims anywhere, as though it embodies some universally accepted Islamic values. The aim is to cast a deep shadow on Indian Muslims, increasing their alienation and marginalisation. The 2016 report, What Muslims Want, the most extensive research of British Muslims ever conducted, found that nine of ten British Muslims reject terrorism outright.” However, this powerful section of the media is unconcerned with the politics behind the Taliban’s coming to power. It does not bother to introspect why countries with large Muslim populations, such as Indonesia, do not have similar politics.

If the mainstream media correlates fundamentalist Islam represented by the Taliban or Al-Qaeda, and the politics of the last five decades in the oil-rich parts of the world, it would give away the truth. However, that would not suit the sectarian politics in India, and it would challenge the economic and political interests of corporates who control this media.

Fact is, western imperialism is out to control and plunder the resources of the world. In the last few decades after the colonial era ended, the United States and its cohort sought to control oil resources and markets worldwide. In a way, the people of West and Central Asia, rich in oil and other natural resources, suffer due to their wealth. America funded youth training in the retrograde version of Islam in Af-Pak, leading to the mujahideen and the Taliban. During the Cold War, it perpetrated imperialist designs in the name of a ‘free world’, which meant opposing communism. The Soviet Union supported several national liberation struggles, which the United States did not want. The war in Vietnam is the best example of how America pursued its anti-communist agenda through waging wars far from its borders.

After the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the United States intensified its support to local fundamentalist groups. The Saudi regime helped train the youth, though mostly America supported the Mujaheddin, the Taliban, and even Al-Qaeda. The syllabus was prepared in Washington, America funded it, and youngsters got lured into fundamentalist schools where it was taught. It was a close collaboration between the CIA and the ISI of Pakistan, which indoctrinated the youth and gave them sophisticated weapons.

Their goal was to ally with the Afghan forces to defeat the USSR. Recall the 1985 visit of hardcore Islamists to the White House, where Ronald Regan hosted them. He brought them to the Oval Office and said, “These gentlemen are the moral equivalent of America’s founding fathers.” Let us be blunt: The CIA’s machinations created the world’s deadliest terrorists. To cut a long story short, Hillary Clinton, when she was US Secretary of State, accepted in an interview that America “funded Taliban and Al Qaida”.

West Asia is a victim of the oil and wealth lust of American imperialism. The majority of the victims of Islamist terrorists were Muslims. Pakistan lost close to 70,000 people due to terror strikes, including a former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, to such an attack. Still, the American media coined the phrase ‘Islamic terrorism’ after the 9/11 attack, as if events unfolding in Afghanistan or Iraq or Egypt were unconnected with recent American history. The global media picked up the phrase uncritically. In India, the Muslim community saw a further dip in its social and economic capital. An outcome of American policies was that they added to the discrimination of this community around the world.

It is the responsibility of the media to unravel the truth, no matter how complex. Of course, there are excellent books on the topic, only if members of the godi media care to read them! Their task is to help a weak state rise above its crisis, not to play into the hands of divisive forces.

The author is a social activist and commentator. The views are personal.

Source- newsclick.in, 24 September 2021

515,000 newly displaced Afghans could flee across neighbouring countries: UNHCR

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Photo-UNHCR

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 28 August 2021: The human tragedy in Afghanistan is deteriorating further with 515,000 newly displaced refugees likely to cross into neighboring countries.

“Even prior to the events of August 2021, this year had seen the highest number of conflict-related casualties on record. In recent months, there has been a further striking decline in the security and human rights situation in large parts of the country. It is estimated that since the beginning of 2021 over 558,000 Afghans have been internally displaced by the armed conflict within the country (as of 23 August), ” says the UNHCR’s “Afghanistan Situation Regional Refugee Preparedness and Response Plan Summary & Inter-agency Funding Requirements July-December 2021″.

The new arrivals will join over 2.2 million registered refugees from previous waves of violence and a further 3 million Afghans including many undocumented persons hosted by Iran and Pakistan for the last 40 years.

The current Afghan refugee population in Iran is 780,000, Pakistan 1,448,100, Tajikistan 10,700, a few in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, the UNHCR says.

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Map- UNHCR

The UNHCR has said, ” As the situation in Afghanistan remains highly uncertain, UNHCR and Partners call on all countries to allow Afghans fleeing their country access to their territories and access to asylum procedures and to respect the principle of non-refoulment. It is imperative that this human right is not compromised, that borders are kept open, and that people in need of international protection are afforded asylum.”

” The RRP inter-agency Partners are appealing for $299.2 million to cover the emergency preparedness and response for new arrivals of Afghan refugees (in the worst-case scenario), as well as the relevant and critically underfunded protection and multisectoral assistance programmes for those in protracted situations, from July to December 2021,” the UNHCR said.

Amnesty International slams UNHRC for failing the people of Afghanistan

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 25 August 2021: The UN Human Rights Council today failed the people of Afghanistan after neglecting to establish an independent mechanism to monitor ongoing crimes under international law and human rights violations and abuses, Amnesty International said today.

At the opening of today’s UNHRC special session, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Special Procedures, and a host of other civil society speakers – including Amnesty International – unequivocally called for the creation of a robust investigative mechanism. Such a mechanism would allow for monitoring and reporting on human rights violations and abuses, including grave crimes under international law, and to assist in holding those suspected of criminal responsibility to justice in fair trials.

However, the calls were ignored by UNHRC member states, who adopted by consensus a weak resolution that merely requests further reports and an update by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in March 2022, which adds little to the oversight process already in place.

“The UN Human Rights Council special session has failed to deliver a credible response to the escalating human rights crisis in Afghanistan. Member states have ignored clear and consistent calls by civil society and UN actors for a robust monitoring mechanism,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary-General.

“Many people in Afghanistan are already at grave risk of reprisal attacks. The international community must not betray them, and must urgently increase efforts to ensure the safe evacuation of those wishing to leave. States must now move beyond handwringing and take meaningful action to protect them.

“Amnesty International’s recent on-the-ground investigation into the massacre of Hazara men in Ghazni province is proof that the Taliban’s capacity for murder and torture has not diminished.

“UN member states must correct today’s failure when the Human Rights Council meets again in a few weeks. A robust investigative mechanism – with a mandate to document, collect and preserve evidence of ongoing crimes and human rights violations across Afghanistan – is urgently needed.”

Last week Amnesty International revealed how the Taliban were responsible for a massacre of nine ethnic Hazara men after taking control of Ghazni province in July 2021. The brutal killings likely represent a tiny fraction of the total death toll inflicted by the Taliban following recent territorial gains to date, as the group has cut mobile phone service in many of the areas they have captured, preventing information from emerging.

Melbourne Afghan community celebrates ‘Nawroz’

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MELBOURNE. 24 March: The Afghan community under the leadership of the Afghan Australian Philanthropic Association led by President Dur Aschna today evening celebrated the Afghan New Year – Nawroz at the Springvale Town Hall.

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The event was full of music, songs, food and traditional dances. Afghan dresses were visible all around. The highlight of the evening were traditional dances by Bangladesh female dancers reflecting the true nature of multicultural Australia.

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The gathering was welcomed by Mahmood Noori and Shagofa followed by the national anthems of Australia and Afghanistan. Yaar Mohammad gave a musical touch and then Afghan traditional dances entertained the audience.

The gathering was addressed by Hon. Luke Donnellan MP and Hon. Julian Hill MP among others.

Tasty Afghan food was served laced with traditional music.

All Photos: South Asia Times (SAT), Melbourne.