‘Tashakor, Zinda Dillan-e-Kabul’

This article, published in The News on Sunday, Footloose page, Nov 1, 2009 , is an expanded version of my previous report for IPS on the Kabul trialogue

Kabul looks battered. Dusty brown hills form the backdrop wherever the eye turns. Yet it is a city struggling to regain its former glory

By Beena Sarwar

Kabul wall3

Locals cycle past the ancient wall of Kabul

It was once known as the city of flowers, said Zahira Khattak, the ANP activist who grew up in Kabul. Now, the only flowers visible in the city provide splashes of colour through the all-pervasive dust at a few isolated roundabouts — and at the splendid, renovated Bagh-e-Babar (Babar’s Garden) on the city outskirts, the last resting place of the first Mughal emperor.

The city still looks battered — but often that’s because old buildings are being knocked down to make way for high-rises. Some gracious old buildings still stand tall in the midst of the dust and rubble. A series of upmarket high-rise apartment blocks emerge from the dust on the road from the airport. Air-conditioned shopping malls and boutique restaurants cater to the crowds of expatriate workers resident in Kabul, and the Afghani rupee has a better value than the Pakistani rupee. Noisy, unruly traffic bumps non-stop over the unpaved streets. Traffic lights are conspicuous by their absence. There are security barriers everywhere and few women are visible on the streets. The markets close early, but this city is nowhere close to giving up.
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India and Pakistan: Bridging the gap

RK Mishra

RK Mishra Memorial Lecture by Maj Gen Mahmud Ali Durrani

Excerpts below, complete text at http://tinyurl.com/md-mishra – thanks to Renuka Mishra whom I met in Kabul. See also ‘Ex-NSA for ‘candid talks’ between Indo-Pak security agencies’, Iftikhar Gilani’s report on the event in Daily Times, Sept 6, 2009.

Pakistan’s National Security Adviser till January 2009, former Ambassador to the USA, active in peace initiatives between India and Pakistan (he’s known as “General Shanti” in India, author of several books and studies – was closely associated with the well known Indian journalist, thinker, and parliamentarian RK Mishra who passed away earlier this year. He delivered the first RK Mishra Memorial Lecture in Delhi on Sept 8, 2009 –

India and Pakistan:  Bridging the gap

'General Shanti' at IIC, New Delhi

'General Shanti' at IIC, New Delhi

In his talk, Gen. Durrani suggested, among other things, opening up the visa regime between our two countries; allowing broadcast of TV programs from one country to the other; setting up a joint “lndo-Pak  “Arid Agriculture Research Centre”; including agriculture as a major component of the composite dialogue; cooperating in areas like water, coal, wind and solar energy; and supporting “any solution which is acceptable to the majority of the Kashmiris. The bottom line – Kashmir for the Kashmiris.”

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