Malalai Joya - telling it like it is in Afghanista. President Karzai - telling lies, more lies and getting unqualified support from the West
Mohammed Sarwar became Britain's first Muslim MP and the first to swear his Oath on the Koran in 1997. He has decided he will not stand again and has probably obtained most attention since his son Athif Sarwar, was found guilty of laundering various sums of money between 24 February and 25 April 2003 while working as a cash-and-carry manager at United Wholesale (Scotland) Ltd based in Maxwell Road, Glasgow which was part of a major VAT carousel fraud.
He has been a bitter and frequent critic of Labour Party Foreign Policy although recently was supportive of the Prime Minister at Question Time on the 14th may when he asked "“Will my right hon. Friend join me and the House in wishing every success to Rangers football team, which is proud to be Scottish and British, in bringing the UEFA cup to Glasgow? " .
Perhaps more interesting is a Question (208568) he has placed today to the Boy David Miliband AKA Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs... "..what reports he has received on the continued suspension from the Afghan parliament of Malalai Joya; and if he will make a statement. "
Malalai Joya was first elected to the Afghan parliament in 2005 when she was only 25. Last year she was indefinitely suspended from the post when she compared the legislature in a TV interview (not unreasonably) to a zoo .
She also said in the interview on private Afghan station Tolo TV, "Since I've started my struggle for human rights in Afghanistan, for women's rights, these criminals, these drug smugglers, they've stood against me from the first time I raised my voice at the Loya Jirga,"
Ron Moreau & Sami Yousafzi " A Harvest of Treachery" Newsweek 21/1/ 2006 reported that the President’s brother is “alleged to be a major figure by nearly every source who described the Afghan network… including past and present government officials and several minor drug traffickers.” One Interior Ministry official says, “He is the unofficial regional governor of southern Afghanistan and leads the whole trafficking structure.” Newsweek adds that, “Diplomats and well-informed Afghans believe that up to a quarter of the new Parliament’s 249 elected members are linked to narcotics production and trafficking.” One especially controversial figure is Arif Noorzai, **** (As General he was jihad-era commander against the Soviets )who has won the post of deputy speaker of Parliament (naturally he denies any wrongdoing.) the body that threw Malali Joya out on the prestext of insulting her colleagues.
It was not the first time she got in trouble for criticizing the powerful in Afghanistan. Beginning in 2003, she emerged as a leading politician fighting for women's rights and called for the expulsion of warlords from the national government at the Loyal Jirga - which resulted in many of them , armed customarily with guns attacking her. In the firestorm that erupted from her criticisms, Joya has endured threats of rape, made even by fellow elected officials, and has (so far) survived four assassination attempts.
Now flanked by a large security detail provided by UN and still hounded by critics in Afghanistan, Ms Joya has taken her message of progressive reform around the world. Today, she works for The Organization for Promoting Afghan Women's Capabilities, arguing with dramatic force and reason that the situation for women has not improved greatly since the fall of the Taliban regime. Today, she notes,
"In some big cities, women have access to jobs and education. But in faraway provinces, the situation of Afghan women is worse than ever."
The United States-led coalition doesn't escape her tongue lashing either. She ssays the Western powers have "betrayed" supporters of democracy in Afghanistan by allowing Northern Alliance warlords into the government and by legitimising Islamic religious practices that she sees as promoting violence against women and children.
"We believe the US and their allies of the US have pushed us from the frying pan into the fire."
Now on an international tour , Joya has become, to her supporters, a symbol of the precarious democracy in Afghanistan. In a brief report about the Afghan parliament last summer, the European Union parliament cited Ms Joya's suspension as part of a troublesome trend on the part of the Afghan government of shifting away from "an open democratic system". As long ago as February 2003, Sen. Joseph Biden (D) said, “I think [the Bush administration has] already given up the ghost in Afghanistan. They’ve basically turned it over to the warlords.”
Along with the recent passage of an amnesty law, preventing prosecutions of people for war crimes in past Afghan conflicts, and codified restrictions on freedom of the media, Ms Joya's suspension has demonstrated that democracy in Afghanistan has taken a huge step backwards.
This has not stopped her from fighting for greater protection of human rights in Afghanistan.
"I strongly believe that they will destroy all of the flowers, but they cannot stop the spring. One day we will have everything in our country."
Hamid Karzai interviewed in der Spiegel
Yesterday President Hamid Karzai was interviewed and his remarks present a stark contrast to the views of his youthful Afghani patriot. Readers are best consulting the original text but some remarks are worth repeating.
SPIEGEL: Some of your closest aides are suspected of stealing land, drug smuggling and having illegal militias, among them respected governors and police chiefs. Your attorney general, Abdul Jabar Sabet, just named a few of them, including the governor of Nangarhar. Why do you still protect these people?
Karzai: I am not protecting anybody.
SPIEGEL: During the Taliban times there were no checkpoints at all.
Karzai: That was the best aspect of the Taliban. They did a lot wrong, but they also did a few things right. I wish I had the Taliban as my soldiers. I wish they were serving me and not people in Pakistan or others. When we came back to Afghanistan, the international community brought back all those people who had turned away from the Taliban …
SPIEGEL: Dirty deals are still necessary for the stability of Afghanistan?
Karzai: Absolutely necessary, because we lack the power to solve these problems in other ways. What do you want? War? Let me give you an example. We wanted to arrest a really terrible warlord, but we couldn't do it because he is being protected by a particular country. We found out that he was being paid $30,000 a month to stay on his good side. They even used his soldiers as guards …
SPIEGEL: That sounds like the story of Commander Nasir Mohammed in Badakhshan, a province where German soldiers are based.
SPIEGEL: There is a list of high-level drug lords and smugglers, and a number of well-known figures in the establishment. Some are your advisors and some are even alleged to be part of your cabinet. Why haven't we seen the trial of a single prominent person?
Karzai: This list is a myth. ***I have never received such a list. I have asked the international community to deliver this supposed list to me, but it has never been presented.
SPIEGEL: Your former interior minister, Ali Ahmad Jalali, claimed to possess such a list. ***
SPIEGEL: Since you became president, your family has become highly successful in the business world and also in politics. Your brother Mahmoud Karzai is currently CEO of a cement plant in Pul-i-Khumri in the northeast that was the envy of many competitors. Two other brothers, Qayum and Ahmed Wali, are powerful politicians in the southern part of the country. Many there say that no decisions can be made without the approval of the Karzais. Is there a grain of truth to that?
Karzai: This is really a lot of rubbish.
SPIEGEL: The south is the hub of drug smuggling. Is it possible that Ahmed Wali Karzai,(his brother - named in the New York Times 2004 as a drug smuggler) one of the most influential politicians in Kandahar, who leads the provincial council, doesn't have the slightest idea what is going on or has nothing to do with it?
Karzai: Yes, it is very much possible.
PS ***Ali Jalali, former Interior minister , who quit summer 2005 has repeatedly said he has a list of more than 100 high-ranking Afghan ----officials he suspects of involvement in the drug trade. A source close to him, fearful of being killed if identified, says Jalali's unpublished list includes at least 13 former and present provincial governors and four past or present cabinet ministers. The source adds that one of the minister's chief reasons for resigning was his frustration over President Hamid Karzai's failure to sack and prosecute crooked officials. Newsweek
In a study for the independent Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, Afghan expert Andrew Wilder concludes that at least 17 newly elected M.P.s are drug traffickers themselves, 24 others are connected to criminal gangs, 40 are commanders of armed groups and 19 face serious allegations of war crimes and human-rights abuses.
**** It may be of interest that General Arif Noorzai accompaniedAhmad Shah Masood, The Lion of Panjsher as a very close aide on his trip to Europe, with meetings with the US and UK staffs at the Plaza Athene Hotel In Paris, and helped in press conferences and tried to inform western leaders about the growing power of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan's secret assistance to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
September 9th 2001 Masood was Killed by (allegedly Al Quaeda) suicide attackers. Interestingly enough, after this, suicide attacks become very common in Afghanistan.
The Boy David's response is waited with keen anticipation..perhaps he could explain the objectives of the current military mission of UK /NATO focres in Afghanistan for a start.
UPDATE :Kim Howells took on the job for the Boy David ...Kim Howells (Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office; Pontypridd, Labour)
In May 2007 Malalai Joya was suspended for three years (until the end of the legislative term) by her peers in the Afghan parliament for contravening Article 70 of the Afghan parliament's rules of procedure. Article 70 states that members of parliament who insult others are subject to disciplinary action. Action was taken against Ms Joya after a media interview in which she said that the Afghan parliament was worse than a 'stable or zoo'. Ms Joya has the right to challenge the decision and has indicated her intention to do so. Together with EU partners, we regularly raise the issue of freedom of expression in Afghanistan and look forward to Ms Joya and the Afghan parliament resolving this internal parliamentary issue.
A member of our embassy staff met with Malalai Joya on 1 May 2008. Ms Joya gave an account of her suspension by the Afghan parliament and discussed Afghan politics.
So that's alright then. Article 70 (which was especially promulgated to deal with Ms Malali Joya) can stand then. We, who pour Billions into this sordid corrupt country run by warlords , gangsters and drug dealers can carry on.