The Muslim Devastation of India

Why Muslims Loot and Destroy Hindu Temples
by Anestos Canelides       
Friday, June 18, 2010

Sources:K.S. Lal, The Legacy of Jihad: Muslims Invade India, Prometheus Books

 

Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, Simon and Schuster. New York, 1954

 
According to Reuters, on July 27th, 2008, Islamic extremists put several Indian cities on high alert, and about forty people became victims in two days of bombings. It was reported that 16 small bombs were exploded in the Indian city of Ahmadabad on Saturday, killing at least 39 people and wounding 110. A day later another set of blasts in Bangalore tragically killed a woman.

Ahmadabad 2
A little-known group called the “Indian Mujahideen” claimed responsibility for the bombing, although it is unusual for any group to make such a claim. It is believed it was a militant group from Pakistan that actually carried out the attack. Reuters’ Islamic analysts blamed the violence on the Indian government, due to its neglect of the poverty-stricken Muslim community. According to Uday Bhaskar, a security analyst and former director of New Delhi’s Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, the disenfranchisement of India’s Muslims has forced them to join the global/regional jihad. (www.jihadwatch.org) Is it really because Muslims faced discrimination by the kuffar — the unbelievers of India — or does it go much further back in history? The truth is that if one looks at the historical record, these attacks on the Hindus cannot be justified. Some of the major targets of these bombings have been Hindu Temples, and this has been happening for decades.

In light of these attacks on Hindu Temples by Islamic extremists during the last several decades, it is important to realize that this is not a modern phenomenon. While one cannot say it is not totally separate from issues such as Muslim independence from India in Kashmir, in reality the roots go much deeper in history. The ideology of Islamic supremacism has not changed, and it is this same religious fanaticism that resulted in the Islamic conquests of ancient India, from present day Afghanistan to southern India. To the pious Muslim rule by non- Muslims is still unacceptable, and the modern nation of India is still largely a pagan nation full of idolaters.

The point of this article is not to understand the dhimmis — people of the book — but rather the contrast that the idolaters faced from a historical viewpoint. What is the Islamic ideology behind the attacks on the Hindu people of India and their religion? What are its roots? Why did the Muslims destroy temples and other religious artifacts in India? Is this connected to the modern-day attacks in India?

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *
The great historian Will Durant clearly states that the “Mohammedan conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history.”2 He wrote these words prior to World War II, but even so, compared with the Muslim conquest of Christian and Jewish lands, the Muslim conquest of India was extremely brutal.

India friezeIndia was and still is largely Hindu, with some pockets of Buddhist and other assorted faiths, but under the teachings of Muhammad they were all idol worshippers. Unlike Christians, Jews and certain other groups, Hindus were not classified as “People of the Book”, and were not given the option to pay a protection tax called the jizya to be able to retain their faith.

People of the Book were given three choices: convert, pay the protection tax, or die. It was after paying this tax they moved from the House of War,Dar al-Harb, to the House of Peace, Dar al-Islam.Groups classified as idolaters were only given two choices: convert or die. Later on the kuffar (unbelievers) in India were given the same status as people of the book, but this only happened after their Muslim masters saw how lucrative it would be to tax these idolaters. Still, the Islamic conquests of India brought onto the Indians centuries of cruelty, even after they were granted dhimmi status.

The beginning
– – – – – – – – –
The first Muslim attack began with a raid on Multan, in the western Punjab region of India, and similar raids continued at the convenience of the invaders for the next three centuries. Eventually this led not only to conquest, but also to the establishment of Islam in the Indus Valley contemporaneously with the battles fought by its co-religionists against the Franks at the Battle of Tours in 731 AD. However, the real conquest of Hindu/Buddhist lands did not come fully into fruition until the turn of first millennium after Christ.

In any case, military contact by the “peaceful” armies of Islam in pagan India resulted in conversion, destruction of property such as temples, outright slaughter, enslavement, and pillaging. These brutal attacks continued for the next 500 years, bringing war upon the kuffar from Afghanistan to southern India. The invasions caused the destruction of many temples throughout the lands of India, and in some cases eliminated Hindu and Buddhist culture from certain regions forever. Other groups such as the Jains faced the same threat from Islam.1

Arab conquests: the beginning

It was after the complete conquest of Persia under the Sassanid Dynasty in 637 AD that the boundaries of the Caliphate touched the frontiers of India, known as Hind va Sind by the Arabs. It was natural that India could not escape the attention of the Islamic expansionists, whose eyes were ever-hungry for converts, conquest, loot, and slaves.

The raids started in the territories of Sind by land and sea. At first the progress of invading Arab armies was slow, and they faced numerous defeats due to stiff resistance. “For the declaration of objectives of Muslim invaders had not taken into account the potentialities of India’s stiff and latent resistance.”1

Subsequent invasions were repulsed, and the Arabs enjoyed little success until they began to invade from the northwest, emboldened by the earlier annex of Khurasan in 643 AD. The first Arab army penetrated into Zabul, or present day Afghanistan, which at that time was part of India territorially as well as culturally. The Arabs were driven out of Zabul, but later reconquered the territory under Arab General Abdul Rahman, forcing Kabul to pay tribute to the Muslim conquerors.1

The attempts to conquer southern India continued by land and sea, but the first subjugation of India proper began in 712 AD with a full-fledged invasion. The main purpose of the invasion of India was the spread of Islam into the region. The Qur’an clearly says, “fight against them (the Mushriks) until idolatry is no more and Allah’s religion reins supreme” The one thing these Muslims knew about the inhabitants of India was they were idol-worshippers and infidels, which led to only one conclusion: conquest. This is repeated in Sura 69 “Lay hold of him and bind him. Burn him in the fire of Hell,” and again “When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield strike off their heads and when you have laid them low, bind your captives firmly.”

The invading Muslims knew about their duty concerning such idol worshippers with the instructions coming from three sources: the Qur’an, the Hadith, and the personal exploits of Muhammad himself. The supreme Qur’an taught them to fight the kuffar or unbeliever with all their strength until they were subdued. It was their pious duty to convert them and destroy their idols, shrines and temples.

“The Jihad or Holy War is a multi-dimensional concept. It means fighting for the sake of Allah, for the cause of Islam, for converting people to the true faith.”1 The central theme in Islam is iconoclasm and razing pagan temples, often to replace them with mosques. It is justified by Quranic revelation, and the examples are written in the Sunnah of Muhammad, who destroyed Arab temples, thus, setting an example for his followers. This example was carried into India, or anywhere else they came in contact with Kuffar. Without jihad there would be no Islam, and jihad is the duty of every true Muslim alive, from the time of the Prophet Muhammad until today.1

History does testify to the destruction caused by incursion of the religion of peace into India, which started with the Arabs.1

The Arab Jihad on Indian culture

A clear example of the destruction of the Hindu/Buddhist culture and their temples can be seen in the siege of Debal by Muhammad bin Qasim; who marched into India with a large military expedition. His forces were supplied by Muhammad Harun, the governor of Makran, with weapons of siege warfare such as five catapults. Debal was located on the coast, and was so called because of its Deval or temple. Qasim arrived at the city walls in late 711 or early 712 AD with about 20,000 foot soldiers and cavalry. The Muslims gave the initial invitation to convert, and many in the lower rung of society known as the Jats and Meds, who were thoroughly uneducated, accepted this invitation and flocked to the standard of Islam. Their main motivation was the hope of more material gain and the desire to escape from the Hindu caste system.

Multan: Fort Seraikistan
Much of the population in India — such as the Buddhists, who were totally averse to fighting — was passive; their faith taught them to avoid bloodshed. Many people were indifferent to invasion, but some resisted. K.S Lal states, “In such a situation it were only Raja Dahir of Sind, his Kshatriya soldiers and Brahman Priests of the Temple who were called upon to defend their cities and shrines, citadels and country. This is based upon a Muslim source and should be accepted with caution.”1

In the latter part of the siege of Debal, defectors informed Muhammad about how the temple could be captured. Following their information, the Arabs planted their ladders on the walls of the citadel and stormed over them. Once they took Debal the citizens were given the invitation to accept Islam and upon refusal the males were slaughtered and the women and children were taken into slavery. The carnage lasted for three days: looting, plundering, and rape. Their temple was razed, and was replaced by a mosque. Muhammad left a garrison of 4,000 soldiers in the town. The spoils of conquest were divided first among the leadership and then the common soldiers, and this would be repeated again and again with continued Islamic conquests. “As this was the pattern of all future sieges of Muhammad bin Qasim — as indeed of all future Muslim invaders of Hindustan — it may be repeated. Inhabitants of a captured fort or town were invited to accept Islam or face death.”1 India would face three major invasions over the centuries, beginning with the Arabs and continuing with the Seljuk Turks in the 11th century AD. Over and over again the same scenario repeated itself, with those who converted being spared and those who did not accept the religion of peace being massacred or enslaved. In every case their temples were destroyed, along with all the idols within them, and the remains of the temple were used to build a mosque on the former temple site.1 Later Turkish invasions would even be more brutal.

Example: Jihad by the Turks on the Indian culture

The Turkic Seljuk tribes who had converted to Islam were no less destructive to India’s largely Hindu and Buddhist population. Like the Arabs, the Turks gave the same invitation to convert or die.

In the year 997 AD a Turkish chieftain by the name of Mahmud in eastern Afghanistan cast an envious eye at the wealth across the Indian frontier, because his throne was new and his kingdom was poor. Mahmud knew the kuffar in India were extremely wealthy and he wanted their riches for himself. Using a zeal against idolatry as a pretext for war, he swept across their frontiers with a force inspired by a pious lust for booty. He slaughtered the unprepared Hindus at Bhimnagar, pillaged their cities, and destroyed their temples, carrying away the accumulated treasures of centuries. He returned to his capital in Afghanistan with so much loot that he astonished foreign ambassadors by displaying “jewels and unbored pearls and rubies shining like sparks or like wine congealed with ice, and emeralds like fresh sprigs of myrtle and diamonds in size and weight like pomegranates.”2 Each winter he returned and invaded India to fill his treasure chests and allow his men to pillage and kill, only to return to his capital richer than before.2

At the town of Mathura, Mahmud looted from the temple gold statues encrusted with precious stones and emptied its coffers of gold, silver and jewels. At the same time he expressed an admiration for the architecture of the city’s great shrine, and he judged that its duplication would cost him about one hundred million dinars and the labor of 200 years. He then ordered it soaked with naphtha and burnt to the ground. Six years later he sacked a city in Northern India called Somnath, and murdered all 50,000 of its inhabitants, although at other times he spared the population to be taken to his capital as slaves.2

The whole scenario in this conflict between India and the Muslim world would continue even after India became independent from Great Britain. The separation of India into Pakistan only confirms the hostility by some Muslim groups against their kuffar neighbors.

It is still clear that the main objective of radical Muslims in destroying Hindu temples was laid out by the examples of their Prophet Muhammad. For pious Muslim these temples are not only full of idols or false gods, but are an affront to the Unity of God — after all, there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger.

Islam is not only a religion but it is a political system which does not tolerate rule by the infidel kuffar, let alone Hindu idolaters. Until the day comes when Islam is reformed, as Christianity has been, there will be no peace between radical Muslims and the non-Muslim population of India. The bombing of Hindu temples and other property will likely continue even if Kashmir gains independence from India.

Radical Islam only respects strength and courage. This fact is supported by Spero Vyronis in Medieval Historiography. In his book he states that during the First Crusade the only virtue that Arabs respected the Franks (French) for was their courage. This can be no less true for the government of India and, yes, the USA as well.

If we do not learn from history then we will never be able to deal with the Islamic threat. Respect will only come from the Muslim world by carrying a bigger stick.

 


Kabul prison filled with women accused of ‘moral crimes’

 

09/Apr/2013

Source: mg.co.za( KATHY GANNON)

 

More than two-thirds of the inmates at the Badam Bagh prison are serving sentences for leaving their husbands or refusing arranged marriages.

The 21-year-old Afghan woman said she fled her abusive husband only to be raped at gunpoint by a stranger who was supposed to help her.

The man then settled in front of a TV set, putting the gun on a table by his side. Choosing her moment, Mariam grabbed it and shot her assailant in the head, then turned the gun on herself.

“Three days later I woke up in the hospital,” said Mariam, shyly removing a scarf from her head to reveal a partially shaved head and a long jagged scar that ran almost the length of her head where the bullet grazed her scalp.

From the hospital, Mariam was sent to a police station and from there to Afghanistan’s main women’s prison, Badam Bagh, which in Pashto means Almond Garden. She is one of 202 inmates in a jail mostly filled with women serving time for so-called “moral” crimes. Many had sought justice for domestic violence or tried to run away from an abusive situation.

Under international pressure, Afghanistan has made some progress in advancing women’s rights after years of repressive Taliban rule that banned girls from going to school and forced women to wear all-encompassing burqas and leave their homes only when accompanied by a male relative. But the country remains a deeply conservative society run by men who most often turn to tribal jirgas that routinely hand down rulings offering up girls and women to settle debts and disputes.

Nowhere is this more evident than at the Badam Bagh prison, built by the Italian government six years ago to house female inmates from the Kabul area. The Associated Press recently was given rare access to the facility.

Children in jail
More than two-thirds of the 202 inmates are serving sentences of up to seven years for leaving their husbands, refusing to accept an arranged marriage, or leaving their parents’ home with a man of their choice, according to the prison’s director, Zaref Jan Naebi. The rest face theft, assault or narcotics charges. Two women are in jail on murder.

Some of the women were jailed while pregnant, others with their small children. Naebi said 62 children are living with their imprisoned mothers, sharing the same gray, steel bunk beds and napping in the afternoon behind a sheet draped from the upper bunk, oblivious to the chatter and the crackling noises from the small TV sets shoved off to one side of the rooms.

Before the two-story prison, named for the sprawling almond orchard across the street, was built, female prisoners were held in rundown cement cellblocks in the centre of Kabul in a jail that predated the Taliban. Others were locked up in the notorious Pul-e-Charkhi jail, which also houses 1 300 male inmates.

At Badam Bagh, six inmates live in cells originally intended to house four.

Mariam has spent the past three months in one of them, without any idea of why she was imprisoned, what charges she faces or when she can leave.

“I haven’t gone to court. I am just waiting,” Mariam told the AP, hugging a ratty brown sweater to protect her from the damp cold of the prison.

While it might not be against the law to run away or escape a forced marriage, the courts routinely convict women fleeing abusive homes with “the intent to commit adultery”, which are most often simply referred to as “moral crimes”, says a UN report released last month. It also said most cases of abuse go unreported.

Tribal laws
The director general of prisoners, General Amer Mohammad Jamsheed, said about 650 women are jailed nationwide, and “most are in jail for moral crimes”.

It was not possible to determine whether this represents an increase from previous years, though Georgette Gagnon, director of human rights with the UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan, said that more women are now reporting abuses and that many wind up being charged as a result.

Zubaida Akbar, founder of the volunteer Haider organisation, which fights for women’s rights and sends lawyers and other representatives to the women’s prison to defend the inmates in court, said women often risk being jailed themselves if they seek justice against the violence.

“Perceptions toward women are still the same in most places, tribal laws are the only laws followed and in most places nothing has changed in the basics of women’s lives. There are policies and papers and even laws but nothing has changed,” Akbar said.

In the overwhelmingly male-dominated legal system, Akbar said even when a female inmate gets in front of the judge “he says ‘it is her husband, she should go back and make it work. It is her fault and not her place to leave him – not in our society.'”

Surrounded by a high fence topped with razor wire, the children being kept with their mothers at the Badam Bagh prison play in a single small open space. Nearby women hang out their laundry. On balconies obscured by mesh and steel bars women sit and smoke.

Naebi, the jail’s director, said inmates attend a variety of classes during the week, ranging from basic literacy, to crafts and sewing, so they will have a skill after they are released.

Desperate
The women interviewed by AP agreed to tell their story on condition that only their first names were used for fear of being stigmatised after their release from prison.

Nuria, dressed in maroon from head to toe, quieted her infant boy as she told of going to court to demand a divorce from a husband she was forced by her parents to marry. “I wanted to get a divorce but he wouldn’t let me go. I never wanted to marry him. I loved someone else but my father made me. He threatened to kill me if I didn’t,” Nuria said.

“When I went to court for the divorce, instead of giving me a divorce, they charged me with running away,” she said. The man she wanted to marry also was sent to jail.

When she went to court Nuria said she didn’t know she was pregnant. Her son was born in jail. After he learned he had a son, her husband offered to drop the charges if she returned home. Nuria, who has eight months left to serve, refused.

“He wants me to come home now because I have his son but I said no,” she said.

Adia, who is now seven months pregnant, said she left her drug-addicted husband, then ran away with another man when her parents insisted she go back – though she insists it was a platonic relationship.

“I was desperate to get away and he said he would help me,” said Adia (27). “But he didn’t, he just left me. I went to the court. I was angry. I wanted him charged and my husband charged, but instead they charged me and sentenced me to six years. I went back to court to appeal the conviction and this time I was sentenced to seven and a half years.”

Veneer of progress
At 60, Fauzia is the oldest inmate in the facility. She stared out of the prison bars. Already seven years in jail, Fauzia is serving a 17-year sentence for killing her husband and her daughter-in-law. Expressionless as she told her story, she rolled up her sleeve to display a mangled elbow that she said her husband smashed with a stick. She was his fourth wife.

“I was in one room. I came into the next room and they were there having sexual relations. I found a big knife and killed them both,” she said in a voice empty of emotion.

Naebi, the prison director, confirmed the charges against the prisoners who spoke with the AP, but she did not provide details.

Zubeida, the women’s activist, said despite what she calls a veneer of progress in Afghanistan, little is different for most Afghan women.

“We have the appearance of everything, but when you dig deep down below the surface nothing fundamentally has changed. It has been tough. It has been really tough,” she said. – Sapa-AP

 

Link: http://mg.co.za/article/2013-04-09-kabul-prisons-filled-with-women-accused-of-moral-crimes


Before Islam. After Islam

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Source: wikipedia.org

The Buddhas of Bamiyan (Pashto: د بامیان بوتان – “de bámiyán botán”, Persian: بت های باميان‎ – but hay-e bamiyan) were two 6th century[1] monumental statues of standing buddha carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan, 230 km (140 mi) northwest of Kabul at an altitude of 2,500 meters (8,202 ft). Built in 507 AD, (smaller), and 554 AD, (larger)[1] the statues represented the classic blended style of Gandhara art.[2]

The main bodies were hewn directly from the sandstone cliffs, but details were modeled in mud mixed with straw, coated withstucco. This coating, practically all of which wore away long ago, was painted to enhance the expressions of the faces, hands and folds of the robes; the larger one was painted carmine red and the smaller one was painted multiple colors.[3]

The lower parts of the statues’ arms were constructed from the same mud-straw mix while supported on wooden armatures. It is believed that the upper parts of their faces were made from great wooden masks or casts. Rows of holes that can be seen in photographs were spaces that held wooden pegs that stabilized the outer stucco.

They were dynamited and destroyed in March 2001 by the Taliban, on orders from leader Mullah Mohammed Omar,[4] after the Taliban government declared that they were idols.[5] International opinion strongly condemned the destruction of the Buddhas, which was viewed as an example of the intolerance of the Taliban. Japan and Switzerland, among others, have pledged support for the rebuilding of the statues.[6]

Photojournalist David Adams filmed the Buddhas before their destruction for an episode of Journeys to the Ends of the Earth, a travel series for the Travel Channel.[7]

 

Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhas_of_Bamiyan


Afghan Girl, 6, Rescued from Child Bride Fate; Countless Others not so Lucky

01/Apr/2013

Source: shine.yahoo.com( Beth Greenfield, Shine Staff)

                    Taj Mohammad and his daughter, Naghma, at right. Photo: Bryan Denton/The New York Times/Redux

A 6-year-old Afghan girl sold by her father into an impending marriage to pay off a family medical debt got a reprieve Monday: She will now get to stay with her parents, thanks to an anonymous donor who is paying off the debt of $2,500 through an American lawyer, according to a still-developing New York Times report.

The girl, Naghma, wound up being bartered by father Taj Mohammad after he borrowed the $2,500 from a fellow refugee-camp resident over the course of a year. The money was to pay for a hospital treatment for his wife and medical care for some of his nine children, including a three-year-old who later froze to death. If he couldn’t pay it off in another year, Naghma would be forced to wed the lender’s 17-year-old son.

“They said, ‘Pay back our money,’ and I didn’t have any money, so I had to give my girl,” Mohammad told the New York Times. “I was thankful to them at the time, so it was my decision, but the elders also demanded that I do this.” Soon after the deal was struck, the boy to whom Naghma was engaged insisted that she stop attending school, which she loves, her father said.

On Monday afternoon, there was no word on who paid off the debt or how. But now that it has been paid, said a New York Times follow-up story, the girl, Naghma, will remain with her family. She will no doubt continue to live in extreme poverty in the Kabul refugee camp, and will perhaps even forced into marriage when she’s older. Still, she is one of the luckier girls of Afghanistan, where half of all girls are forced to marry under age 15, according to estimates by the United Nations agency UN Women. That’s despite the legal age for marriage in the country being 16 for girls.

Ending the practice remains a huge challenge in Afghanistan’s patriarchal society, where it’s somewhat traditional to give girls away to settle debts or pay for their relatives’ crimes. Tribal customs often condone marriage once puberty is reached, or even earlier, and the government has been unable or unwilling to challenge the law effectively.

Manizha Naderi, the executive director of Women for Afghan Women, a group that runs various shelters in the country, told the New York Times in a previous article that poverty is the motivation for many child marriages. That’s either because a wealthy husband pays a family well for his bride, or because the father of the bride will then have one less child to support. “Most of the time they are sold,” Ms. Naderi said. “And most of the time it’s a case where the husband is much, much older.”

Stories like Naghma’s come at a slow but steady clip out of Afghanistan and many other countries, including India. In 2010, two girls, ages 13 and 14, dressed as boys and fled their elderly husbands after refusing to consummate the marriages. They made it far from their remote village, but were eventually caught by police and returned home, where they were publicly, viciously flogged. Authorities did nothing, despite the flogging being caught on tape and human-rights groups’ efforts to intervene.

While the case may have been shocking, Fawzia Kofi, a prominent female member of Parliament, told the New York Times that, it was far from the only one. “I’m sure there are worse cases we don’t even know about,” she said. “Early marriage and forced marriage are the two most common forms of violent behavior against women and girls.”

In a more recent and widely reported case, a 15-year-old Afghanistan girl forced into marriage, Sahar Gul, was rescued from six months of torture at the hands of her in-laws. They kept her locked in a basement, ripped out her fingernails and burned her with hot irons—and, a rare instance of justice, were eventually brought to justice and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

According to a short Pulitzer Center film, “Too Young to Wed: The Secret World of Child Brides,” by National Geographic photographer Stephanie Sinclair, “Child marriage occurs in more than 50 developing countries around the world, and almost always results in the girl’s removal from school. What families don’t realize,” Sinclair explains through her narration, “is by curtailing a girl’s education, they’re only perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

She added, “As one Afghan police officer told me, girls are routinely seen as family burdens, while their male counterparts are seen as kings.”


Afghanistan pins hopes on natural resources

http://aje.me/WDGQPe

01/Feb/2013

Source: Al Jazeera (Jennifer Glasse reports from Kabul province)

Country is estimated to have deposits of various elements, mostly copper, worth $1 trillion.

Afghanistan’s finance minister says the economy will easily survive the departure of international forces next year. His optimism is based on reports that the country has huge reserves of natural resources – mostly copper.

The US estimates that Afghanistan could be sitting on deposits worth $1 trillion. That includes gold, iron ore, uranium and precious stones, including emeralds.

But for now, agriculture remains Afghanistan’s biggest export earner with fruit and nuts, tobacco and wool topping the list.


Afghanistan & Pakistan: States of Play

 

30/Mar/2013

Source: Al Jazeera

How will the 2014 US troop withdrawal and Pakistan‘s upcoming elections affect regional and global politics?

 

The April issue of the Al Jazeera English digital magazine presents in depth coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, countries that continue to face numerous internal and external challenges.

And as they do so, new stories emerge rekindling hope that peace will finally come to the region as well as political, social and economic stability.

Afghanistan is set for a 2014 US troop withdrawal and Pakistan is gearing up for elections in May – for the first time in its history a democratically elected government has completed five years in office.

So how will these major changes affect regional and global politics?

Some of the highlights of the issue include:

  • Kabul: A city of hope and fear – With the US set to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in 2014, what does the future hold for the country’s capital?
  • A journey along Pakistan’s Indus River – Fed by the water from the melted snow of the Himalayas and prone to monsoon floods, the ebb and flow of the river impacts on the lives of hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis.
  • Buzkashi: Riding into the scoring circle – Afghanistan’s national sport was banned under the Taliban but it now attracts thousands of passionate fans.
  • Pakistan’s troubled milestone – As the country heads towards elections, the mood remains one of cynicism rather than celebration.
  • Embracing a new Afghan challenge – A skiing competition – including an event for women – reflects a new sense of optimism in a country that is simultaneously holding its breath ahead of the 2014 US troop withdrawal.
  • Navigating Hell’s Road – Meet the Pakistani truckers who must battle arguably the world’s most dangerous road in order to ferry goods to remote mountain villages.

Dozens die in attack on court in Afghanistan

http://aje.me/XXnfHP

 

03/Apr/2013

Source: Al Jazeera And Agencies

Attempt by suicide bombers in army uniforms to free Taliban prisoners leaves at least 55 dead in western Farah town.

Suicide bombers disguised as soldiers have stormed an court in western Afghanistan, killing at least 46 people in an attempt to free Taliban fighters standing trial, officials say.

At least nine fighters were also killed in Wednesday’s attack, which occurred in Farah, the main town of Farah province.

It was not immediately clear whether the accused men had escaped the court complex, although a hospital doctor said one prisoner was among those being treated for injuries.

“The attack is over, but the casualties have unfortunately risen,” Mohammad Akram Khpalwak, governor of Farah province, told the AFP news agency.

“In total, 34 civilians and 12 [Afghan] security forces have been killed in the attack. We have also discovered the bodies of eight attackers, more than 100 people have also been injured.”

The multiple bomb-and-gun assault will raise further questions about the Afghans’ ability to secure the country as NATO reduces its combat mission by the end of next year.

The assault came as Afghan President Hamid Karzai, speaking to Al Jazeera in Qatar, said he remained open to talks with the Taliban, but that he wanted to secure the progress his government has made.

Responsibility claim

Wednesday’s death toll was the highest in Afghanistan from a single attack since a Shia Muslim shrine was bombed in Kabul in December 2011, killing 80 people.

From the perspective of one neighbourhood in Herat

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the Farah attack.

“Our fighters attacked several government buildings in Farah according to their planned tactic. They conducted the attack with small arms and grenades,” the group said on its website.

“The fighting happened after information that Karzai’s administration wanted to try several fighters in a cruel way in this court.”

Taliban fighters frequently target government compounds equipped with suicide vests, rockets and machine-guns.

“At around 8am [03:30 GMT] five attackers riding in two military-style vehicles drove to the provincial court building, one [vehicle] detonated at the gate and three attackers entered the building,” Agha Noor Kentos, police chief of Farah, told AFP.

Wounded being treated

Wakil Ahmad, a doctor at Farah hospital, said medics were treating scores of wounded including two judges and one court prisoner.

The governor’s compound was around 200 metres away from the scene of attack, an AFP reporter said.

Last year armed men dressed in Afghan police uniforms and wearing suicide vests stormed a government compound in Farah and killed seven people.

In November a roadside bomb planted by Taliban fighters killed 17 civilians, mostly women and children, on their way to a wedding party in Farah.

Al Jazeera’s Jennifer Glasse, reporting from Kabul, recalled
meeting a former Taliban commander last week, when there was an attack on a police training headquarters, before Karzai travelled to Doha for talks on the possible opening of a Taliban office in the Qatari capital.

She said the Taliban commander told her there was still a war going on and that until the Taliban’s demands were met, among which was the release of Taliban prisoners, attacks such as the one on the police centre would continue in Afghanistan.

The Taliban insurgency has raged since a 2001 US-led invasion put an end to its five-year rule over large parts of Afghanistan.

The group has increasingly widened its attacks outside its main power bases in the east and south, where NATO forces have focused their attention, to other areas such as Farah which borders Iran.

NATO combat troops are due to pull out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, leaving responsibility for security to Afghan security forces.

However, there are fears that the violence will increase with their departure.