Posted by: Christian | July 9, 2009

Kunduz goes into the recycle bin

I will return to the Kandahar incident next week. For now I’m just going to make a short post that will break one of my promises.

As an intro, the title above refers to Kunduz, a city/province in the north that is not doing so well lately. The BBC saw fit to do a little write-up recently:

A recent spate of attacks by the Taliban and al-Qaeda has altered the face of Kunduz beyond all recognition.

“The Taliban have closed girls’ schools in the districts. They collect taxes from people and they have their own courts. The governor was attacked and the Taliban are in the villages. All because Kunduz is ignored by our president and ministers in Kabul,” said a group of elders over endless cups of green tea in the provincial capital.

[…] In recent months, Kunduz has felt the consequences of the Taliban presence – a senior Afghan government official was shot dead while driving to the Tajikistan border and four US soldiers were recently killed by a roadside bomb.

This is not exactly a revelation. Kunduz has obviously, for anyone who cared to notice, been going downhill  progressively for at least a couple of years now.

Last month Al Jazeera English even made the trip up north in their quest to write exaggerated headlines:

The headline may be exaggerated and there may be some major omissions in the report, but essentially Kunduz is going in a very bad direction with increasing momentum.

And this is where I break my promise to not discuss my case studies. Kunduz is one of them, along with Qurghonteppa in Tajikistan. Well, Kunduz was one of them. When I wrote up my PhD proposal, field research in Kunduz was reasonable, albeit with restrictions. Now? Even if I wanted to toss caution to the wind, we PhD students must secure permission from our universities. I didn’t even bother. About 6 months ago I tossed Afghanistan out of my funding and ethics committee proposals. I know what the answer would be. I did do the historical research, so if you want to know about historical population dynamics, Murad Beg, ethnic/political relations, cotton farming, and the colonization of agricultural areas of the north, I’m your man.

So I don’t technically study Afghanistan as a PhD student anymore.  Anyways, I’m far more competent dealing with the civil war in Tajikistan. But regarding Afghanistan, reporting and analysis on the issue is so weak that I feel quite comfortable continuing with the blogging. That of course will slow down as I do fieldwork in Tajikistan starting in September. Feel free to toss me some contacts in Kurgan-Tyube if you have any.

Yes, it is quite close to the Afghan border. One hour’s drive or so.

Hopefully I’m there long enough to become an FC Vakhsh fan.

And yes, other people have bigger worries than me. I know. I hope life in Kunduz and in the rest of Afghanistan improves sometime over the next decade.


  1. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 07/10/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.


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