Friday, August 10, 2007

On the ground in Afghanistan (Part 10)

Mike Skinner's account of his experiences in Afghanistan (intro here).

June 25 (excerpts):

[Attempting to interview students at a teachers' college:] The dean was satisfied we posed no threat, but decided to assign one of his colleagues to select students to talk to us. ...

As it turned out the teacher who selected the students and then stayed to supervise the interviews was dissatisfied with his own selection. He continually advised his students not to talk about politics; nonetheless, the students did. They complained there is no library or internet connection, the buildings are falling apart and furniture and supplies are insufficient. After a few comments like this the teacher considered too political, he summoned the police to escort me off the campus. As it turned out it was worthwhile playing along with the dean's charade of academic freedom.

... In the last few years walls have been built around all the postsecondary schools and large contingents of police are posted at the gates. While these security procedures are supposedly to protect the students, some students believe it is to protect the regime from a potential student revolt

...On a number of occasions people have remarked that at least when the Soviets occupied Kabul they built urban infrastructure, homes, factories, schools and theatres. In Kabul today, the most obvious construction projects are hotels, shopping centres and huge private homes that are displays of ostentatious wealth, but do little to improve the lives of most people. These displays of wealth do, however, seem to stir resentment among the poor majority, judging by the small number of people we have talked to... (complete entry here)

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