posts about or somewhat related to ‘taliban’

Who Buries the Taliban?

An eery, intriguing photo essay from Australian photographer Andrew Quilty on the men whose job it is to bury Taliban members killed in and around Kabul, published in The Sydney Morning Herald earlier this year:

It was hot and dry for early spring, but one of the grave-diggers wore a pin-striped suit while he and the others dug four narrow, waist-deep graves side by side. The earth was damp and brown beneath Afghanistan’s powdery surface. The smell was putrid -  like a decaying animal carcass on the side of road, but far worse.
With no more than disposable surgical masks, Ahmad‘s drive through Kabul’s notorious morning traffic must have been horrendous. The thought of how his cargo came to be in his possession wears on him too.
He rarely discusses his work with friends or family - burying the unwanted, the paupers and the terrorists of Kabul. He has buried dozens of Taliban but is never told from which attack his corpses come.

Read/view the full essay here.
Sidenote: The piece is reminiscent—literally and in feeling—of (the now classic j-school textbook piece) It’s An Honor by Jimmy Breslin. At the time of JFK’s assassination, Breslin stepped outside the media frenzy and set a precedent for covering a big story in a simple, powerful, unconventional way: by writing about the man who would prepare the president’s grave.
Image: Grave diggers cool down and drink tea after their work is done (by Andrew Quilty, via SMH)

Who Buries the Taliban?

An eery, intriguing photo essay from Australian photographer Andrew Quilty on the men whose job it is to bury Taliban members killed in and around Kabul, published in The Sydney Morning Herald earlier this year:

It was hot and dry for early spring, but one of the grave-diggers wore a pin-striped suit while he and the others dug four narrow, waist-deep graves side by side. The earth was damp and brown beneath Afghanistan’s powdery surface. The smell was putrid -  like a decaying animal carcass on the side of road, but far worse.

With no more than disposable surgical masks, Ahmad‘s drive through Kabul’s notorious morning traffic must have been horrendous. The thought of how his cargo came to be in his possession wears on him too.

He rarely discusses his work with friends or family - burying the unwanted, the paupers and the terrorists of Kabul. He has buried dozens of Taliban but is never told from which attack his corpses come.

Read/view the full essay here.

Sidenote: The piece is reminiscent—literally and in feeling—of (the now classic j-school textbook piece) It’s An Honor by Jimmy Breslin. At the time of JFK’s assassination, Breslin stepped outside the media frenzy and set a precedent for covering a big story in a simple, powerful, unconventional way: by writing about the man who would prepare the president’s grave.

Image: Grave diggers cool down and drink tea after their work is done (by Andrew Quilty, via SMH)

Today, I also read the diary written for the BBC (in Urdu) and published in the newspaper. My mother liked my pen name ‘Gul Makai’ and said to my father ‘why not change her name to Gul Makai?’ I also like the name because my real name means ‘grief stricken’.

My father said that some days ago someone brought the printout of this diary saying how wonderful it was. My father said that he smiled but could not even say that it was written by his daughter.

14-year-old Malala Yousafzai, in her 2009 diary for BBC Urdu, about life under Taliban rule.

She wrote the series under a pen name until the Taliban were driven out of Swat, after which her identity was known and she won a national award for bravery, as well as a nomination for an international children’s peace award. 

On Tuesday, she was shot.

BBC reports:

A Pakistani Taliban spokesman told the BBC they carried out the attack.

Ehsanullah Ehsan told BBC Urdu that they attacked her because she was anti-Taliban and secular, adding that she would not be spared.

Malala Yousafzai was travelling with at least one other girl when she was shot, but there are differing accounts of how events unfolded.

One report, citing local sources, says a bearded gunman stopped a car full of schoolgirls, and asked for Malala Yousafzai by name, before opening fire.

But a police official also told BBC Urdu that unidentified gunmen opened fire on the schoolgirls as they were about to board a van or bus.

She was hit in the head and, some reports say, in the neck area by a second bullet, but is now in hospital and is reportedly out of danger. Another girl who was with her at the time was also injured.

FJP: Horrifying. 

Taliban in Pakistan

FJP: Thanks so much for the submission. Definitely appreciated.

For those with 15-20 minutes, here’s an overview via Vice

In a recent trip to Pakistan to report on the recent spike in the region’s violence and bloodshed, Suroosh Alvi heard over and over the same sentiment from people on the ground: America’s war on terror is falling flat on its face. The military conflict in neighboring Afghanistan, repeatedly cited by locals, sends a constant flood of guns, refugees, militants, and heroin flowing into Pakistan. Heroin is now actually cheaper than hashish in cities like Lahore, and the Kalashnikov culture, the foundation of which was laid 30 years ago when the CIA financed the mujahideen, is all-consuming. According to the Pakistanis he spoke to, it’s all taken a devastating toll on the country and is creating the next generation of militants.

Bonus: Journalism.co.uk has a good article on Vice’s experiments with video. Especially how they go about funding it.

In particular, Dan’l Hewitt, general manager of AdVice, explains how and why Vice thinks less about traditional advertising (pre/post/mid roll) and more about overall brand marketing (but not “branded content”.)

Via Journalism.co.uk:

"The commercial models around the creation of unique, original video content still don’t work. If you think about our ability to be able to go to somewhere like Liberia and film a documentary on child genocide and warlords, if we were able to produce that at a cost of less than $50,000, which is incredibly cheap for a 40-minute, hard-hitting documentary, to realise any kind of return on that we would need to be able to deliver more than three million video streams based on current video ad models.

"Three million video streams is a lot and not only that but you’d have to run ads on every single one of those videos streams, intrusive ads, big 30-second online TV ads effectively in front of this content. That doesn’t work for us and we couldn’t go down that route ourselves."

Vice has found its road to success lies elsewhere. “We work with brands to create legitimate content that talks to their consumers and their audience in the most appropriate way,” Hewitt explained. “We don’t think about branded content, we think about telling stories and making content that relates to brand messages or products.”

Read through if interested in potential business models for online news video. There’s also interesting thoughts about how to pull off long form narratives (think: segments and serials). 

Journalism.co.uk: From fanzine to HBO: How Vice became a video success story.

Pussy Riot and Massacres: Why We Cover What We Cover
Last week when news broke that a Russian court sentenced members of Pussy Riot to two years in jail, The New Republic’s Isaac Chotiner asked whether the case was getting too much coverage in the Western press.
In his article, Chotiner compared the guilty verdict coverage to the lesser coverage given to 22 Shias pulled off a bus in Pakistan and executed by the Taliban.

I don’t want to undercut the reporters who have chronicled Russia’s long, miserable record on free speech. Locking up a band for criticizing the president, or the church, is terrible. But I can’t help but think there’s something a little off-kilter in the sheer amount of attention Pussy Riot is getting. The coverage is morphing into the human-rights equivalent of the blanket coverage afforded to the lone white girl who goes missing on a tropical vacation.
Of course, you can’t measure every story by whether it is more or less outrageous than the slaughter of 22 bus passengers who happened to come from the wrong religious sect. But the media frenzy does make me think that for many people in the news business, the story of the band is appealing in large part because of its name and the camera-friendliness of its members–not to mention the celebrity of Pussy Riot defenders like Madonna, Sting, and Paul McCartney.

While apples and robots, the critique reminds me of something The New York Times’ Samuel Freedman wrote a week earlier about the killing of six Sikhs near Milwaukee.
In it, he notes that immediate media reaction was that the killings were most likely a case of mistaken religious identity. That the killer, Wade M. Page, thought the Sikhs were Muslim. But then he asks this important question:

Yet the mistaken-identity narrative carries with it an unspoken, even unexamined premise. It implies that somehow the public would have — even should have — reacted differently had Mr. Page turned his gun on Muslims attending a mosque. It suggests that such a crime would be more explicable, more easily rationalized, less worthy of moral outrage.
“Islamophobia has become so mainstream in this country that Americans have been trained to expect violence against Muslims — not excuse it, but expect it,” said Reza Aslan, an Iranian-American writer and scholar on religion. “And that’s happened because you have an Islamophobia industry in this country devoted to making Americans think there’s an enemy within.”
As a Sikh, Vishavjit Singh has found himself wrestling with the subject these past few days. “If this had happened at a mosque, would our reaction be different?” asked Mr. Singh, a software engineer in suburban New York who also publishes political cartoons online at Sikhtoons.com. “I hope not, but the answer might be yes. You’d have the same amount of coverage, but you might have more voices saying, ‘Well, you know, it’s understandable, we’re at war, we’ve been at war.’ That’s an unfortunate commentary on our society today.”

These observations that violence against Muslims is expected, understandable and more explicable — yet, reminder, not excusable — gets to the crux of Chotiner’s Pussy Riot critique.
Again, it’s apples and robots, but the infatuation with the Pussy Riot case is how mundane the original protest is to Western eyes and ears, and how disproportionate the punishment is to the original “crime”. Wouldn’t a simple fine and some community service have done the trick?
The absurdity of the Pussy Riot case encapsulates a wide swath of what’s happening in Russia today. It provides an easy peg to explore the return of Vladimir Putin to official power in Russia’s strange political landscape, the country’s tenuous straddling between East, West and somewhere in between, its desire to still be considered a superpower and the fledgling democracy movement within the country.
Here’s Julia Ioffe, also writing in The New Republic:

[T]he case of Pussy Riot had become an easily consumable image of good and evil: Three young women against an Evil Empire. The heretofore little-known punkettes received such unanimously positive international publicity that one began even to pity the Kremlin and the Church a little: They had clearly and severely miscalculated.
As is so often the case with the Russian government, it was Putin himself who dramatized the pathos. Just before Putin’s departed for the London Olympics—halfway through the trial—London mayor Boris Johnson spoke up for Pussy Riot; upon his arrival, Prime Minister David Cameron broached the issue with Putin in their private meeting. Putin took notice of these slights; as swaggering and rude as he is (he’s been late to meet just about every foreign leader, including the Queen), he very much cares about his image in the West. It is where, after all, all his friends and subjects have their money. It is also important to Putin to be the leader of a world superpower, which is what he thinks Russia still is. He cannot be an Assad or a Qaddafi; it is very important for him to be what the Russians call “handshakeable” abroad. And so, while his instinct is often to hit first and think later, Putin knows it’s in his interest to cultivate the image of a centrist.

And this, I think, makes the continued coverage legitimate. It’s a story that helps us pull back the onion peel that is Russia.
For the unfortunate in Pakistan and elsewhere in the world we aren’t necessarily learning anything “new” by the atrocities taking place. These humanitarian catastrophes have become expected, understandable and more explicable.
Deserving of coverage, always, and certainly, and not ever, excusable. — Michael
Isaac Chotiner, The New Republic. Is Pussy Riot’s Persecution Getting Too Much Coverage? Samuel G. Freedman, The New York Times. If the Sikh Temple Had Been a Mosque Julia Ioffe, The New Republic. How Three Young Punks Made Putin Blink

Pussy Riot and Massacres: Why We Cover What We Cover

Last week when news broke that a Russian court sentenced members of Pussy Riot to two years in jail, The New Republic’s Isaac Chotiner asked whether the case was getting too much coverage in the Western press.

In his article, Chotiner compared the guilty verdict coverage to the lesser coverage given to 22 Shias pulled off a bus in Pakistan and executed by the Taliban.

I don’t want to undercut the reporters who have chronicled Russia’s long, miserable record on free speech. Locking up a band for criticizing the president, or the church, is terrible. But I can’t help but think there’s something a little off-kilter in the sheer amount of attention Pussy Riot is getting. The coverage is morphing into the human-rights equivalent of the blanket coverage afforded to the lone white girl who goes missing on a tropical vacation.

Of course, you can’t measure every story by whether it is more or less outrageous than the slaughter of 22 bus passengers who happened to come from the wrong religious sect. But the media frenzy does make me think that for many people in the news business, the story of the band is appealing in large part because of its name and the camera-friendliness of its members–not to mention the celebrity of Pussy Riot defenders like Madonna, Sting, and Paul McCartney.

While apples and robots, the critique reminds me of something The New York Times’ Samuel Freedman wrote a week earlier about the killing of six Sikhs near Milwaukee.

In it, he notes that immediate media reaction was that the killings were most likely a case of mistaken religious identity. That the killer, Wade M. Page, thought the Sikhs were Muslim. But then he asks this important question:

Yet the mistaken-identity narrative carries with it an unspoken, even unexamined premise. It implies that somehow the public would have — even should have — reacted differently had Mr. Page turned his gun on Muslims attending a mosque. It suggests that such a crime would be more explicable, more easily rationalized, less worthy of moral outrage.

“Islamophobia has become so mainstream in this country that Americans have been trained to expect violence against Muslims — not excuse it, but expect it,” said Reza Aslan, an Iranian-American writer and scholar on religion. “And that’s happened because you have an Islamophobia industry in this country devoted to making Americans think there’s an enemy within.”

As a Sikh, Vishavjit Singh has found himself wrestling with the subject these past few days. “If this had happened at a mosque, would our reaction be different?” asked Mr. Singh, a software engineer in suburban New York who also publishes political cartoons online at Sikhtoons.com. “I hope not, but the answer might be yes. You’d have the same amount of coverage, but you might have more voices saying, ‘Well, you know, it’s understandable, we’re at war, we’ve been at war.’ That’s an unfortunate commentary on our society today.”

These observations that violence against Muslims is expected, understandable and more explicable — yet, reminder, not excusable — gets to the crux of Chotiner’s Pussy Riot critique.

Again, it’s apples and robots, but the infatuation with the Pussy Riot case is how mundane the original protest is to Western eyes and ears, and how disproportionate the punishment is to the original “crime”. Wouldn’t a simple fine and some community service have done the trick?

The absurdity of the Pussy Riot case encapsulates a wide swath of what’s happening in Russia today. It provides an easy peg to explore the return of Vladimir Putin to official power in Russia’s strange political landscape, the country’s tenuous straddling between East, West and somewhere in between, its desire to still be considered a superpower and the fledgling democracy movement within the country.

Here’s Julia Ioffe, also writing in The New Republic:

[T]he case of Pussy Riot had become an easily consumable image of good and evil: Three young women against an Evil Empire. The heretofore little-known punkettes received such unanimously positive international publicity that one began even to pity the Kremlin and the Church a little: They had clearly and severely miscalculated.

As is so often the case with the Russian government, it was Putin himself who dramatized the pathos. Just before Putin’s departed for the London Olympics—halfway through the trial—London mayor Boris Johnson spoke up for Pussy Riot; upon his arrival, Prime Minister David Cameron broached the issue with Putin in their private meeting. Putin took notice of these slights; as swaggering and rude as he is (he’s been late to meet just about every foreign leader, including the Queen), he very much cares about his image in the West. It is where, after all, all his friends and subjects have their money. It is also important to Putin to be the leader of a world superpower, which is what he thinks Russia still is. He cannot be an Assad or a Qaddafi; it is very important for him to be what the Russians call “handshakeable” abroad. And so, while his instinct is often to hit first and think later, Putin knows it’s in his interest to cultivate the image of a centrist.

And this, I think, makes the continued coverage legitimate. It’s a story that helps us pull back the onion peel that is Russia.

For the unfortunate in Pakistan and elsewhere in the world we aren’t necessarily learning anything “new” by the atrocities taking place. These humanitarian catastrophes have become expected, understandable and more explicable.

Deserving of coverage, always, and certainly, and not ever, excusable. — Michael

Isaac Chotiner, The New Republic. Is Pussy Riot’s Persecution Getting Too Much Coverage?
Samuel G. Freedman, The New York Times. If the Sikh Temple Had Been a Mosque
Julia Ioffe, The New Republic. How Three Young Punks Made Putin Blink

Reporting Attacks via Twitter

On Thursday night, Taliban militants attacked the Spozhmai Hotel outside of Kabul.

This is a selection Twitter posts from Mustafa Kazemi (@combatjourno) as the attack unfolded.

The standoff between the Taliban and Afghan security forces lasted 12 hours with some reports saying 20 were killed and others pushing the estimate over 40.

It’s worthwhile to read through his posts in their entirety.

Select images to embiggen.

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

centerforinvestigativereporting:

In case you missed it, FRONTLINE’s newest report.

Fighting for Bin Laden: A special report — in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, FRONTLINE takes you inside two fronts of the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Watching…

(via thenewrepublic)