Backcountry Skiing in Afghanistan Part 1: Anticipation

As I have weighed the pros and cons of backcountry skiing in Afghanistan the above video has stuck in my mind.  “There’s always some percentage chance you’ll fall,” says Colin Haley.  Haley climbs without many of the safety measures that most alpinists employ.

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Afghanistan: Reaching In and Reaching Out

Afghanistan: Reaching In and Reaching Out

Above find the link to my guest post on Saleem Ali’s National Geographic News Watch Blog.  Dr. Ali was my professor at UVM and is currently the director of the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, and Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of Queensland, Australia.  He is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer for 2010 and author of “Treasures of the Earth: Need, Greed and a Sustainable Future” (Yale University Press). He can be followed on Twitter @saleem_ali.

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Darluman Road stretching southward. © Ian Lynch.

Education in Afghanistan: A Path Out of the Thicket

 When you’ve spent every October of your life surrounded by the burnt glory of falling leaves tossed on cool autumnal winds in Vermont the toasty sun washed days of Afghanistan can be a bit disorienting.  The differences obviously don’t end there. Exiting Kabul International Airport, you are faced with a bit of a walk through a nearly empty plaza, spotted along the edges with Kabul’s distinct evergreen police trucks.  This is the first reminder that you are in a less than secure nation.  You may witness other foreign nationals being greeted by shiny SUVs and burly bodyguards whose pistols are hardly concealed in their pants waistband.  Some may quickly wrap their charges in bulletproof vests before hustling them into the vehicles.

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Rollbacks on Women’s Rights

When I think of the word rollback I always think of those old Wal-Mart adds that featured a western themed yellow ball slashing prices.  Those ads were incessantly annoying, but my dislike for them hardly compares to my vehement opposition to the rollbacks threatening women’s rights in Afghanistan.

On February 17th President Karzai sent draft legislation of Article 26 of the criminal procedure code that would seriously hamper progress on women’s rights in Afghanistan back to the Ministry of Justice for revision.  Continue reading

Afghan Extractive Industry: Are Abundant Natural Resources a Blessing or a Curse?

It it a question that is asked in developing nations worldwide.  In some nations, mineral and hydrocarbon reserves have proven to be of enormous benefit to local, regional and even national populations.  In many though, the presence of such resources has proven to be a curse that exacerbates conflict.  Afghanistan has immense reserves of copper, iron, gold, hydrocarbons and rare earth metals.  The nation currently lacks the proper infrastructure and regulatory capacity to extract, process and ship these valuable assets.   Continue reading

No Derailing Progress Now

Taverna du Liban represented the new Afghanistan.  It was a place where foreigners relaxed and the newly free and wealthy class of Afghans spent their evenings.  The owner was, by all accounts, a fantastic fellow who treated every patron like a dear friend.  Chocolate cake of his own creation was often given out with compliments at the end of meals.  No wonder the place was always packed on Friday nights.  No wonder it was targeted by the Taliban.

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Visas Part II: Show me what bureaucracy looks like! This is what bureaucracy looks like!

Getting a 3 month Afghan tourist visa in the U.S. was a cinch.  Getting one in Dubai was quite a bit more effort and money for only a 1 month visa.  Since I plan to be in Afghanistan through the end of March that meant I needed to get my visa extended.  So, I ended up spending most mornings for two weeks trying to get my Indian visa and an Afghan visa extension at the end of January.

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