I was giving a talk about the drug trade in Afghanistan based on my book Opium Nation with the Istanbul Book Club when Yamna, a member of the club and a graduate engineering student from Pakistan, burst into tears. “I’m so sorry for what my country has done to Afghanistan,” she said, wiping her tears from under her glasses. “Now …Read More
From New York to Los Angeles, Seattle to Phoenix, to the nation’s capital, I stood before Americans for the last year and told the story of Afghanistan’s drug trade, the story of its women, its drug lords, its heroes and criminals. I told my own story of an exile returning to my homeland, traveling in the region for seven years …Read More
Obama’s foreign policy decisions do not impress me. But Obama’s foreign policy record is another blog. I didn’t vote for him because he’s bringing peace or resolution to the world. I voted for Obama because inside the US, he’s doing what must be done to heal the country. He’s trying to regulate the economy while the Republicans continue to support …Read More
For five years, I traveled on the bumpy roads of Afghanistan discovering the underworld of the illicit narcotics trade. I had many close calls with death, mostly having to do with bad drivers and bombed out highways, but I survived to write my book Opium Nation, just released by HarperPerennial. My biggest fear was not being killed, but being kidnapped …Read More
President Hamid Karzai has spoken up on Pakistan TV this week and I wish he hadn’t. It seems every time our torn Afghan president speaks, he contradicts a previous speech. “If fighting starts between Pakistan and the U.S., we are beside Pakistan,” Karzai responded to the question “what if … “ It was just a few weeks ago that he …Read More
By Fariba NawaMay 04, 2011 The San Francisco Chronicle As an Afghan American who grew up in both Herat, Afghanistan, and Fremont, I have a dual perspective on the death of Osama bin Laden. Most of my Afghan colleagues and friends are delighted that bin Laden is dead. But many, including me, think his death could harm Afghanistan more than …Read More
At a clandestine music school sponsored in part by a San Francisco resident, male students come and go through the front door while their female counterparts enter through a dark hallway.Read More
She ran from an arranged marriage into a Western household.Read More
Katrin Fakiri’s office is a constant rush of phone calls, e-mail messages, and people entering and leaving. On a wall, a framed picture of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with Fakiri and several other women hangs crookedly.Read More
With the fall of the Taliban in 2001, many Afghans believed that, after 23 years of war, their country would be at peace again. Although recent increases in violence have dampened that spirit, there is nonetheless a small population of urban twenty-somethings who are resolutely —albeit not always successfully—working to build an Afghanistan where culture, art and entrepreneurship can flourish.
These young men and women have worked hard over six years, and it’s their spirit that has paved the way for new television stations, sports clubs, art galleries, music schools and countless businesses to open and thrive, mainly in such urban centers as Kabul and Herat. Indeed, those at the forefront say that, since 2004, there’s been a small cultural renaissance under way in Afghanistan. Here are five people who are making a difference.