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Heard in Afghanistan: Karzai's Alliances With Warlords

Afghans Optimistic New U.S Strategy Will Limit Civilian Casualties

June 25 -- An Afghan MP and the former Interior minister told Radio Azadi that Afghans are hopeful that the new US strategy, once implemented, will save civilian lives. [Listen in Dari and Pashto]

Karzai’s Alliances With Warlords Raise Concerns

June 18 – It is a conspicuous show of power and wealth: Afghan strongmen roam the streets of Kabul in sport utility vehicles surrounded by bands of armed bodyguards. They want to be called "mujahedin" freedom fighters – those who led the "holy war" against Soviet occupation in the 1980s and then fought the hard-line Taliban during the 1990s. They also are seen as thugs who may have killed, maimed, or terrorized more Afghans than the Soviet invaders. Most of these strongmen now back incumbent President Hamid Karzai's reelection bid and eye Kabul's "Arg-e Shahi" presidential palace as a citadel of their power and influence. [Read in English]

"Underwhelming" Presidential Election Campaign Underway

June 24 – The general attitude toward the election in the insurgency-plagued southern provinces of Afghanistan can be described most aptly as apathetic, according to Radio Azadi's Elyas Daiee, a correspondent in southern Helmand Province. In Lashkar Gah, the dusty provincial capital, signs of the election are barely visible one week after the start of the two-month election campaign. Daiee says that, apart from security fears, there is little interest in the whole process. [Read in English]

Exclusive Interview with U.S. General in Charge of Reconstruction

June 22 – In an exclusive interview with Radio Azadi, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan’s Reconstruction (SIGAR) said “international society can succeed in its attempts to reconstruct Afghanistan.” [Read in Dari]

Afghans Worried About Election Transparency

June 20 – On Radio Azadi’s weekly live call-in show, “On the Waves of Liberty,” Afghans expressed concern that the coming presidential and provincial council elections will not be transparent enough. One caller said, “In violent areas, people can’t go to vote and observers can’t observe the process of counting ballots.” Afghan officials have confirmed that due to security problems, many voters have not received voting registration cards.

'Hidden Treasures' Exhibit Seeks to Reveal Another Afghanistan

June 23 – Ask Americans about Afghanistan and they might think of drug trafficking, religious extremism, and war. But the organizers of a new exhibition at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art are hoping to present another side of Afghanistan by presenting a selection of gold, ivory, and bronze treasures from four of the country's oldest archaeological sites. [Read in English]

Music Rights Advocate: 'It's Really Sad...What We Have Seen in Afghanistan'

June 22 – The Taliban silenced all music in Afghanistan during their seven years of iron-fisted rule. Now, the country is trying to recover this damaged element of its culture. The head of a major music advocacy group spoke to RFE/RL about the challenges facing musicians and other artists in Afghanistan and Pakistan. [Read in English]

Afghanistan Building its First Ever Skateboarding Gym

June 22 – The first ever skateboarding gym in Afghanistan is being built near Kabul stadium – a place where the Taliban once executed people. [Read in Dari]