Baghlan on the Brink: ANSF weaknesses and Taleban resilience

Is Baghlan province in the north of Afghanistan on the way to becoming a new stronghold of the insurgents? Two incidents symbolise this trend. On 20 May, one of the most powerful anti-Taleban commanders in the north, Mohammad Rasul Mohseni, died in a suicide attack. On 4 May, three Afghan police and one German soldier […]

Despite Growing Ulema Conservatism: Afghans Managed to Celebrate Nawruz

Increasingly, during the last few years, the millennia-old celebrations of Nawruz, the New Year which starts at the spring equinox, ie around 21 March, has become the object of a religious debate in Afghanistan. Although the spring festivity is a major official holiday and continues to be a popular occasion for families to go on […]

‘Pashto Mashto? Nakhair, Chat Mat.’

Dear readers of Pashto Mashto, As you may have noticed already, with the new year has come a new name for this series, although the content will go on as usual. Here is why. The inaugural blog of this series, back in January 2010, has proven prophetic when it said the series would not, ‘try […]

Where exactly is Abbottabad, or A Vindication of Geography

Abbottabad (or, in the local pronunciation: Abtabad) has already risen to a status shared only by some of Calvino’s ‘Invisibles Cities’: that of a mysterious fairy land of which everybody talks but few know something for certain. In particular, when the news of Osama bin Laden’s killing broke, its exact distance from the Pakistani capital […]

PashtoMashtoLeaks (1): Bagram Calling

Yesterday, the BBC reported as follows: ‘President Barack Obama has told US troops in Afghanistan they are making crucial “progress” against insurgents. During an unannounced visit to Bagram air base near Kabul, Mr Obama said: “Today we can be proud that there are fewer areas under Taliban control.” He also spoke to President Hamid Karzai […]

Birding for Survival

Our Dutch ex-soldier-cum-birdwatcher HG Scheltema from Kandahar (see his bird list here(*) has a friend, a US National Guardsman from Connecticut who served in Iraq for a year in 2004/05: Birding Babylon. His name is Jonathan Trouern-Trend who wrote a blog on his bird-watching (see it here, it seems to be continued by other bloggers). Meanwhile, […]

Afghanistan Bird Watch 2: Birds on the Wire

Earlier this afternoon shortly before grey clouds rising over Paghman let the sun disappear and brought a short drizzle, three bottle-green parakeets darted across the airspace over our AAN garden, between the high pine trees, the grapevines (that did not carry this year) and the neighbouring house’s wall on which his pigeons gather. This reminded […]

Afghan civil society launches Access to Information campaign

This morning a large number of Afghan civil society organisations and several media organisations used the media attention surrounding the Kabul conference to launch a campaign highlighting the need for access to information and calling for the necessary legislation to be drafted. The demand is an important one. The pervasive ambiguity, the lack of clarity […]

Flash from the Past: Russian Advice on Afghanistan

‘In fact, we [the Soviet Union] were the first to defend Western civilization against the attacks of Muslim fanatics. No one thanked us.’ This is only one of the core sentences in an op-ed I almost had missed. It was co-authored by ex-General Boris Gromov, now the governor of the Moscow region who commanded the […]