Capital | Kabul
Population | 28,717,213 (July 2010 est)
Area | 647,500 SQ KM
Official Language | Afghan Persian
Time Zone |
Best time to visit | April to June for clement weather
Connecting with the Culture |
Read | Eric Newby's A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush
Watch | Osama, directed by Sidiq Barmak, a poignant tale of a young girl forced to asssume a male identity to survive, and one of Afghanistans first post-Taliban movies.
Eat | qabli pulao (seasoned rice with mutton, almonds, grated carrots and raisins); apricots dried in mountain villages
Drink | green tea scented with cardamon
In a word | Salam alekum (peace be with you) a ubiquitous greeting and blessing; Borou bekheir (travel well)
Characteristics | Men with moustaches and turbans; women in head-to-toe veils; opium poppies; snow topped mountain vistas; intricate weaves of tribal rugs; oasis of cities looming on the horizon
Surprises | Overwhelming hospitality and spontanious generosity; historical treasures; perfectly blue skies; melons and mulberies.
NEWS ABOUT AFGHANISTAN:
Afghanistan: Taliban Commander says `Group Can't Win'
(HN, 7/12/12) - One of the most senior Taliban commanders in Afghanistan has admitted that it is unlikely the insurgents can win the war there, according to an interview published by Britain's New Statesman magazine. The identity of the Taliban leader is not revealed but the interview was conducted by Taliban expert & author Michael Semple, who was a UN envoy to Afghanistan & is now with the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy at Harvard. "It would take some kind of divine intervention for the Taliban to win this war," the commander, who is referred to only as Mawlvi (mullah) tells Semple, according to excerpts of the interview on the magazine's website. "The Taliban capturing Kabul is a very distant prospect." (Read More at the Times of India)
(AsiaTimes, 3/20/12) - Western countries scramble for Afghan exits - As international forces prepare for withdrawal from Afghanistan, Western countries are already in talks with Afghanistan's Central Asian neighbors to bring their troops and military equipment back home. The Pakistani route and the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) running through Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan are the two viable routes for international forces to withdraw from Afghanistan. By Fozil Mashrab
Afghanistan's Talliban suspend talks with US
(HN, 3/13/12) - The Taliban in Afghanistan have suspended nascent talks with the US over opening an office in Qatar. The US had been trying to set up a dialogue with the Taliban in the Gulf state for some time. Meanwhile, President Hamid Karzai has called for Nato-led forces to move out of Afghan villages and rural areas after a US soldier killed 16 civilians. He told the visiting US defence secretary Afghan troops should take the lead for nationwide security in 2013. (READ MORE from the BBC)
US Sergeant is said to kill 16 in Afghanistan
(3.11.12) - PANJWAI, Afghanistan — Stalking from home to home, a United States Army sergeant methodically killed at least 16 civilians, 9 of them children, in a rural stretch of southern Afghanistan on Sunday, igniting fears of a new wave of anti-American hostility, Afghan and American officials said. Following the attacks, the Taliban threatened vengeance, as the insurgents often do after Western actions they depict as atrocities. A Taliban statement posted online on Monday denounced the killings, saying they were the latest in a series of humiliations against the Afghan people and denying that any Taliban fighters had been in the area. (READ MORE from The NY Times)
Afghans protest over handling of Korans