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Insight on Afghanistan

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Shazia P

on 9 April 2014

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Transcript of Insight on Afghanistan

Insight on Afghanistan
Kite Flying in Afghanistan
Kite flying is known to have been a part of Afghan culture for over 100 years.

Why is it Important?
It is considered a national pride; as it is a communal activity in Afghanistan, it brings together the people. It is also a personal achievement; winning the kite battle and bringing home the kite is regarded similar to winning a trophy for the Afghans.
Theoretical Perspective
Neo-Marxist, Theodor Adorno:

Adorno would argue Kite flying is a
false need
that distracts people from the injustice they are facing, by providing an enjoyable, communal escape. He would argue the value placed on kite flying encourages its cultural significance and maintains the unnecessary need.
Aims and Rules
In battle, the only aim is to cut the opponents kite and be the last one to remain in the air.
Ideal Weather for Flying
Winter is the ideal weather for flying kites as the winds are a lot stronger, also the children have holidays from school during this time.
Under the Taliban Rule
In 1996, the Taliban government banned kite fighting and flying, declaring it un-Islamic.
Due to the fall of the Taliban, this ban is no longer in effect.
Reasons for Banning
For health and safety reasons; the Taliban declared it un-Islamic for causing self-harm.
The Afghani author Khaled Hosseini wrote a novel called The Kite Runner; although it is evident that kite flying is portrayed positively and regarded highly as a part of Afghan culture in the novel, he allows us to consider why the Taliban may have banned the sport. He wrote:
NARRATIVE...
Theoretical Perspective
Post-Colonialists
would argue that kite flying provides a cultural identity for the Afghan people and creates for them a sense of belonging to the dominant culture, as it is carried out across Asia. However, the Taliban may have created differences amongst them and the people by banning such a cherished sport, which plays a significant role in Afghanistan’s identity.
Two Sides to the Kite...
It may be difficult to comprehend why the Taliban declared kite flying 'un-Islamic'; the Afghans may believe the Taliban wish to remove happiness and joy from them, whilst the Taliban may hold a different view. They may argue that, 'Islamically', intentional self-harm is impermissible, and therefore, people deliberately creating and using harmfully sharp wires for fun, is unacceptable; especially due to the harm it causes to young children and bystanders. Such binary oppositions and the extreme views over a commonly practiced support indicates the division within one culture itself.
Kite flying is WRONG!
We're just having fun
Not for long!
...
Here is a video that demonstrates the unity it creates:
Freedom Fighters
or
Terrorists
?
Our perception of the Taliban is typically shaped by media values and Western superiority. For example, when we consider the name 'Taliban' alone, we instantly connote ideas of 'irrational','suicide', 'unjust', 'bombs' etc.
Media outlets are the reason for such connotations e.g. The Guardian.
One of it's recent headlines being:-
The Taliban is definitely recognised for its intolerable behaviour and injustices.
However, in order to understand the differences between
the Afghans and the Taliban, we must consider both perspectives.
Firstly, the Taliban are a local Afghan group, fighting against Western imperialism and democracy.
They believe the West is invading their lands and enforcing its laws on to the Afghan people.
They refuse to live in a secular society, rather one under 'strict' Islamic rules - being the country's dominant faith.
A Norwegian journalist called Paul Refsdal, decided to take some time out and gain primary information on the lives of the Taliban.
"I can only speak of what I witnessed there, but I think we’re talking about a very heterogeneous group. There are fanatics, but also those who listen to music, smoke cigarettes, and shave. Moreover, commander Dawran believed that women should study and said he would never carry out an attacks on Afghan troops. Apparently, his position was that of someone struggling against the forces that have invaded their country. He also said he despised the Americans not because of the war itself, but for what he called a "total lack of respect for tradition and Islam--using metal detectors on women, entering people's houses with a kick," etc."
Beats our streotypes of them being a close-knit group with only one aim.
Demonstrates hypocritically
'un-Islamic' behaviour carried
out by the Taliban
Goes against the stereotypes held against them
The Taliban's reasons for hatred
against the West seems a lot more reasonable than the stereotypical view being: 'they are not Muslims'
You may watch his documentary here:
What makes it unique is the line used for cutting; it was traditionally made with a cotton line and coated with a mixture of crushed glass and rice glue - a new development is using a flexible, razor sharp wire.
There are no rules during the battle; after the opponents kite has been cut, anyone is free to catch it and claim it.
The sharp wires of the kites were also known for tangling birds whilst flying.
This ban is no longer in effect in Afghanistan, however, exists in other Muslim countries, such as Pakistan.
"One year a neighbourhood kid climbed a pine tree for a kite. A branch snapped under his weight and he fell thirty feet. Broke his back and never walked again. But he fell with the kite still in his hands. And when a kite runner has his hands on a kite, no one could take it from him.”
He is also an activist for the rights of the Afghans; in the
afterword
of his novel, he speaks about the crisis the Afghan people are facing from what he witnessed on his visit to Afghanistan in 2007- from war and hunger, to abandoning their homes and fleeing to Pakistan- he spoke of seeing people live on a very small amount of money, and others die by diseases which are easily curable.
To Conclude...
Afghanistan has undergone difficulty and distress with constant invasion and coercion. The people aren't being given a choice over what they wish to have as leadership nor are they given independence. This is due to groups such as the Taliban and foreign forces, that are fighting with different motives. Both of which many Afghan people have declared their hatred against.
The Taliban dislike the foreign forces invading their land. The presence of these troops is argued to be encouraging the unecessary conflict. The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, himself recently argued: 'The mission, in terms of bringing security, has not been successful, particularly in Helmand. What they did was create pockets of wealth and a vast countryside of deprivation and anger."
The innocent Afghan people are afraid to associate with either group. They are aware that regardless of whichever group they side with, the war will proceed; ultimately, creating greater loss in their lives.
Western troops initially had an aim to eliminate the ''terrorists' from Afghanistan and provide safety to the people. Which, however, created a threat to the Taliban and a greater threat to the people, who would be caught between the war.
The Taliban's hatred towards the troops increased along with the number of them entering Afghanistan; they believe the troops care least for their country and people, treating them subhuman. Here is a video supporting this veiw of theirs:
Observing the Taliban...
After his documentary, when interviewed about his perspective on them, Refsdal replied:

Role of the West...
Role of the West
Role of the West
Role of the West
Role of the West
Role of the West
Although Hosseini isn't speaking of a real incident that took place, he is addressing the reality of kite flying for Afghans, and how some are even daring to endanger themselves.
On the other hand...
All they wish for is their rights to be established and the freedom to live, again.
Bibliography:-
Information on kite running
http://www.gombergkites.com/nkm/hist1.html
http://www.nyke.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=28&Itemid=68
http://www.asiansportsnet.com/kite-fighting/
http://edchow.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/afghan-kite-flying-and-its-symbolism/
Images
http://images.channelone.com/img/life/afghan-culture-photos-3.jpg
http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/sfeNUaKxufA/maxresdefault.jpg
http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2010/12/03/article-1335256-0C3358CB000005DC-967_634x413.jpg
http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01480/us_afghanistan_1480489c.jpg
http://www.thesons.de/media/Buttons/bullethole%20links.gif
http://www.filmandmusicfashion.com/_wizardimages/agflyer_.jpg
Videos
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Alx3BDOjgjo
www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OI8Y0jjM0k
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oao7X4n_GF0
Information on the Taliban
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/25/taliban-launch-deadly-attacks-runup-afghanistan-elections
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2550557/Afghan-President-Hamid-Karzai-provokes-fury-families-British-soldiers-saying-troops-presence-country-worse.html
http://www.vice.com/read/paul-refsdal

The Taliban are a divided group from within, as some are more radical than others, but ultimately have similar views against the West.
Compared to both armed groups fighting for victory, the unarmed civilians demonstrate more resistence, patience and courage.
Although they lack capability to rid the imperialistic ideologies and violence, their unity and lack of fear strengthens their souls as a community, fighting for their own rights.
The Greatness of the People
Full transcript