Places - Afghanistan 2008
Everything you hope you never need for a
relaxing day flying over Northern Afghanistan.
"Minaret of Jam",  Hari River Valley, circa 13th Century.
Hari River Valley, en-route to Herat.
Camp Bastion, British Control Tower.
Friendly "chaps", always happy to share a
cup of tea, conversation and fresh company.
Rain and snow melt from the surrounding
mountains equates to endless mud.
Oranges (probably from Pakistan).
Kabul, and the "Kite Runners" prepare.
30% male literacy, 10% female.
Main road from Kabul to Pakistan.
Much of Afghanistan's imports -
including firewood - come down this
one road.
Kabul - no gas but endless dirt.
Kabul - USAID billboard.
Qalat - preparing to depart.
Kabul - very unusual to see so
little traffic.
Probably taken early morning on
a Friday, the holy day.
"Art Gallery" billboard.
Herat Airport, Terminal.
Kandahar Airport, Terminal.
North-West of Kabul.
Our faithful Beechcraft,
shut down for the night.
Mazar-E-Sharif, Control Tower
Mazar-E-Sharif, mosque.
Kabul Airport, Russian
helicopter maintenance.
Kabul Airport, Cargo.
Low-level "tactical" departure.
(A procedure of doubtful value in a Beechcraft King Air)
9-17-2010. From "Farah", an Afghan-American businesswoman in Kabul.

Afghanistan has been the graveyard and battlefield of empires for centuries. Now I see the slow tortuous death of my
ancestral nation and people. Sacrifice of the lambs - that is what I feel our people have become.

In September 2002, I remember my grandmother and I boarded the old Ariana Airlines plane for Afghanistan. Afghanistan:
the myth for me and Afghanistan the motherland for my grandmother. We landed and were both so overcome with emotion –
with tears for different reasons. For me it was the fact that I had landed somewhere I had never known and for my
grandmother it was the return to a home destroyed. At least when we got home and saw everyone, there was a great energy
of optimism as much as the devastation. Optimism and a will to change were in the air — more like a high. I was enjoying
every minute of being in Afghanistan. I extended my trip an extra month to keep working with my mother and her NGO at the
time. The Taliban are gone. We can fix Afghanistan I thought: We can.

Now, we are almost in October 2010 and everything is unraveling. The Taliban are back and stronger than ever. Taliban are
now Pakistanis, Arabs and Chechens. I came back from a recent vacation very charged and very motivated to get back to
work. But the events of the past few weeks have put me in a dark place. I have explained this to some of my friends that in the
span of one week: we lost a team of foreign doctors with their team, heard about dozens of kidnappings, read about the
stoning of a couple in Kunduz, seen more civilian deaths and there was a suicide bombing on my street. I used to be able to
deal with this over the years but these events had more impact on me not just because some of them hit close to home, but it
is apparent that the downward spiral which is Afghanistan is getting darker and deeper — more like a black hole where all the
hard work of so many for the past eight years is going to be lost. Everyone who is in power has eaten hundreds of millions
from the West to play puppet to the grand scheme. No one is brave enough to step up for the people or those who do are
killed or ridiculed into some political exile. A lawless Afghanistan: that is what is happening right now. The Wild Wild West

During the “Great Game” — the British-Russian rivalry during the late 1800s — Afghanistan tried to be neutral; the British, of
course, declared war on Afghanistan. Yes, I do think that imperialism has ruined this world. After studying the whole region
all fingers point there. Pay off the leaders – use them to divide and conquer the people — create chaos. Sound familiar?
Shame on us: during the reign of Zahir Shah (the leader for decades until the 1970s), we were a unified Afghanistan. No one
asked, “What part of Afghanistan are you from? Oh you’re Mazari? Oh you’re Pashtun?” Everyone worked together as
AFGHANS. Working together as a nation to build a better life for the future. How progressive we were in those days. I
remember reading in one of author Ludwig W. Adamac’s books about the timeline of Afghanistan. It broke my heart. Seeing
how high we were going and how we were stopped from so much as a nation.

As the years went by, the West or larger powers have always tried to divide us and for us to do their job for them … KILL
EACH OTHER. “Kill your Afghan brother. I will give you money or power.” I wish we loved each other more. I wish.

I think of the lineage of strong Afghans I come from — especially Afghan women: mother, grandmothers, great-
grandmothers. Today they are not the same — they have been destroyed beyond belief. Afghan women were the heads of
the houses and the families. The men had integrity and honor — would fight for what was right. The people of Old
Afghanistan are a dying breed and I see the genocide of my people here everyday. This is what has happened to our women
and children: raped, mutilated, sold, killed. Here’s the latest: Afghan women, kids turn to drugs

There is only so much we can do. I say that Afghanistan is like a “treasure chest on fire.” With all the minerals, artifacts and
oil that has been discovered recently, of course, let's bring chaos so we can control all these resources. We have a choice. I
am so fortunate to carry an American passport. I can get on a plane and leave. Millions here cannot do that.

God help those who are in the provinces suffering everyday as well as the people suffering around the world because they
have no choice. Nothing I can do about it because this whole thing is a lot bigger than me, than all of us.

Sacrifice the lambs.

Dedicated to my mother and grandfather who have sacrificed their lives for years for their people ... This is also for those who
are suffering everyday in Afghanistan. Sending you light.

                                                                                                              * * *
Air Serv International King Air (I think)