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radiodivision 01-11-2002 09:14 AM

Change in Afganisthan?
Here's an interesting article on the "new" policies of the recently installed regime:

Killing with smaller stones
A kinder, gentler leadership in Afghanistan
by Alexander Cockburn

First the tumult of war, now the fruits of peace. From Afghanistan comes bracing news about the new era of tolerance, now that the Taliban have, at least for the time being, slunk off the stage of history.
Shortly before the turn of the year, Justice Minister Karimi declared Afghanistan's new government will still impose Sharia Islamic law on its people, but with less harshness.

The details were fleshed out by Judge Ahamat Ullha Zarif, who has told the French news agency Agence France Presse that public executions and amputations will continue, but there will be changes: "For example, the Taliban used to hang the victim's body in public for four days. We will only hang the body for a short time, say 15 minutes."

Kabul's sports stadium, financed by the International Monetary Fund, was where the Taliban used to carry out public executions and amputations every Friday. No longer. "The stadium is for sports. We will find a new place for public executions," he said.

Judge Zarif makes it clear that the ultimate penalty will remain in force for adulterers, both male and female. They would still be stoned to death, Zarif told the French news agency, "but we will use only small stones."

Now there's progress!

This adjustment in the size of the executive munitions will, the judge explains, allow the condemned person a chance to escape. "If they are able to run away, they are free."

It turns out that this avenue of escape is only available to those adulterers who confess to their sexual misdeeds. "Those who refuse to confess their wrongdoing and are condemned by a judge will have their hands and feet bound so that they cannot run away. They will certainly be stoned to death," Zarif said.

The winds of change can be felt on another front. Afghanistan's farmers faced bankruptcy after Mullah Omar ordered a halt to the planting of opium poppies last year. In the years that the CIA was rallying Afghanistan's landlords and mullahs against the Soviets, Afghanistan became the West's prime supplier of heroin and morphine. Mullah Omar's ban has been variously explained as an effort to ingratiate the Taliban regime with the United States in hopes of getting aid, or as an effort to restrict supply and thus hike prices.

Whatever the motive, the prohibition led to a 96 percent fall in Afghanistan's production of raw opium -- from more than 453,500 kilograms in 1999 to 18,500 kilograms this year, according to the United Nations Drug Control Program.

Now, news reports, such as this from Craig Nelson, describe renewed poppy cultivation in lyrical terms: "Everyone is planting," says Ashoqullah, a 25-year-old landowner. "In a few months, these fields will be covered in a blanket of spectacular red and white flowers. We'll draw the ooze from the flower bulbs, pack it in plastic bags or small soap cartons, and sell it at the bazaar."

From the bazaars the raw opium will makes its way north or south to processing labs in Pakistan or Uzbekistan, two sturdy members of the great anti-terror coalition, and then westward to the veins of addicts in Europe and the United States.

But Afghanistan's swift return to preeminent status as this country's No. 1 heroin supplier is surely a small price to pay for the extinction of the Taliban and routing of Al Qaeda.

Alas, this raises the question of just how extinct the Taliban is. Fudge the numbers as you may, not too many of them ended up dead, aside from those prisoners killed at Mazar e Sharif or suffocated on their way to other prisons. Presumably they dispersed to their homes, awaiting further instructions from their Pakistani supervisors.

Osama bin Laden? Suppose he pops up in Kashmir, calling for a renewed jihad against the Indian occupier. Now that would set the cat among the pigeons!

So, perhaps it's not quite so clear how much has really been achieved in the great crusade, but for sure, it is a famous victory!

Kieran McConville 01-11-2002 09:18 AM

Alexander Cockburn? Is this from Counterpunch? I read that site all the time.

"There's junk mail in my letterbox
and all the catalogues
I can't wait to buy it
no matter what it costs
The whistle of the sniper
the crashing of the bombs
put a spring back in my step
keeps me feeling young

And all this shopping is a curse
everytime it's getting worse
I got bullets in my hairdo
and holes in my purse..."

radiodivision 01-11-2002 09:22 AM

Kieran McConville,

I found it through Znet. It is actually found in the workingforchange.com web page. Counterpunch is good too though.

Kieran McConville 01-11-2002 09:26 AM


Originally posted by radiodivision:
Kieran McConville,

I found it through Znet. It is actually found in the workingforchange.com web page. Counterpunch is good too though.

Oh, right. Thanks.

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