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The Taliban's acts of cultural vandalism - the most infamous being the destruction of the giant Bamiyan Buddhas - had a devastating effect on Afghan culture and the artistic scene. The Taliban burned countless films, VCRs, music tapes, books, and paintings. They jailed filmmakers, musicians, painters, and sculptors.
Definitely in the West, we're all cast as the same now. Whether you're Indian, Pakistani, Arab, Iranian, Afghan or whatever, you just get thrown into this category. And nine times out of 10, you're depicted as bad.
I myself had to grow a longer beard and Afghan clothes. I was in danger of being kidnapped by smugglers, though I didn't know it at the time.
If American forces leave Afghanistan, the Taliban is going to do what to America? Don't say you're worried about what they will do to the Afghan people. If that was America's concern, America's operational presence there would be much different.
We all hoped in 2001 that we could put in place an Afghan government under President Karzai that would be able to control the country, make sure al-Qaeda didn't come back, and make sure the Taliban wasn't resurging. It didn't work out.
I mean, honestly, we have to be clear that the life for many Afghan women is not that much different than it was a hundred years ago, 200 years ago. The country has lived with so much violence and conflict that many people, men and women, just want it to be over.
We've got to see a state where the Afghan government can handle its own day-to-day security.
The dangers of an Afghan collapse are many: Afghan deaths, a loss of American prestige, a loss of NATO prestige, a moral blow to U.S. troops and veterans, a Taliban resurgence, huge setbacks for women, and greater power for Pakistan and Pakistani extremists.
But the war on terror as I have repeatedly said in the past, and the Afghan people believe in it, in truth, is that the war on terror is not in the Afghan villages or homes. Its in the sanctuaries, it is in the training grounds, its in the motivation factors and the money that comes to it.
Afghan women, as a group, I think their suffering has been equaled by very few other groups in recent world history.
Afghanistan has moved forward and Afghanistan will defend itself. And the progress that we have achieved, the Afghan people will not allow it to be put back or reversed.
The fact is that Iran doesn't want to see the Taliban come back any more than do most Afghan citizens.
In Afghan society, parents play a central role in the lives of their children; the parent-child relationship is fundamental to who you are and what you become and how you perceive yourself, and it is laden with contradictions, with tension, with anger, with love, with loathing, with angst.
As the country now turns a new leaf, our ambition is to give hope to each and every Afghan.
We as the Afghan people and government are willing to help Pakistan work for peace in Afghanistan and work for peace in Pakistan, together.
If you're an Afghan village leader in a small town down around Kandahar somewhere, and you know that the footprint is getting smaller for your security, and the Taliban saying don't forget, I'm going to be back real soon, who is your loyalty going to go through?
There are tens of thousands of interactions every single day across Afghanistan between the Afghan troops and International Security Assistance Force. On most of those, every single day we continue to deepen and broaden the relationship we seek.
John R. Allen
I was traumatised in the medieval Afghan society at Sarana village by the local boys of Omar's Taliban who forced my in-laws to subjugate me for trying to be different. There can be Omars in other religions, too, who oppress women.
I didn't want kabobs, Afghan music, and rules that required girls to be carefully monitored. I wanted mac and cheese, country music, and independence.
I don't think the Palestinian people or Afghan children or some other things I'm concerned about are at the top of other people's agendas - not right now, when America is going through such a recession and people are suffering across the board financially. But I think all that will change.
As a 22-year Army Veteran who served in Operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom, and as a Civilian Advisor to the Afghan Army in Operation Enduring Freedom, I understand both the gravity of giving the order, and the challenge of carrying it out.
Foreign aid projects have pumped billions of dollars into the Afghan economy.
My go-to gifts are scarves from my friend Matin Maulawizada's nonprofit organization, Afghan Hands, which supports disenfranchised women in Afghanistan. In exchange for their beautiful embroidery, the women are given financial aid and classes in math and literacy. The scarves are all stunning and one of a kind.
Many Afghan intellectuals in the United States believe that their country is best kept together. They are encouraged by the fact that no leading tribal or political figure there has called for secession.
Now, al Qaeda's on the run. Afghanistan is no longer a base of operations. The Afghan government is a friendly government that is trying to bring democracy to its people.
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