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Saturday 20 December  
Electoral poster showing parliamentary candidate Najla Dahqan. Over 430 women ar

The State We're In - Fighting for a future: Afghanistan

On air: 11 September 2010 0:30 (Photo: ANP)

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The State We're In, 11 September 2010. We speak with one woman who ran for political office in Kandahar and was targeted for assassination four times by the Taliban, a Norwegian filmmaker who embedded himself with the Taliban to put (he says) a human face on them and an Afghan poet who used a state occasion to insult President Karzai and his corrupt government. 

Photo: Electoral poster showing parliamentary candidate Najla Dahqan. Over 430 women are running for office in Afghanistan's parliamentary elections, despite increased intimidation from pro-Taliban elements.

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Running for office
Zarghuna Kakar wanted to make life better for girls and women in Kandahar, so she ran for office. After she got elected, the Taliban shot her and her husband, who died. She survived three more attempts on her life before fleeing the city. She explains why she’s still in politics and still optimistic about her country’s future.
"Behind the masks"
Norwegian journalist Paul Refsdal embedded himself with the Taliban as they carried out insurgency operations. He talks about how he wanted to counter received media images and put a human face on them. Jonathan asks him why.
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Behind the veil
Fawzia Koofi is an elected official. She's a member of Afghanistan's parliament. She once had a promising medical career. But when the Taliban came to power, her dreams ended. She had to stay indoors and could only go outside wearing a burqua.
Biting the hand
Kamran Mir Hazar was a rising star in Afghan literature until President Karzai invited him to a special cultural gala. Kamran insulted Karzai and his cabinet by reciting a critical poem and later had to flee the country. Jonathan spoke with Kamran at the Rotterdam Poetry Festival where he says it was still worth it.
Commentary: waking up in Kabul
Leena Aria wakes up each morning wondering if she has enough money to bribe her way through the day. Like the time she needed a passport, just to get into hospital.
  • Zarghuna Kakar<br>&copy; Photo: RNW -
  • Paul Refsdal<br>&copy; Photo: Novemberfilm -
  • Fawzia Koofi<br>&copy; Photo: RNW -
  • Kamran Mir Hazar<br>&copy; Photo: RNW -
Click image for slideshow

Related content


Barbara Rinehart 14 September 2010 - 3:43am

Greg, thank you for caring to respond to my comment. It is somewhat reassuring to know that there was some internal debate before choosing to air the piece on Paul Refsdal and his documentary. While my opinion of it’s value has not changed, I do regret my use of the word ‘idiot.’ No matter my level of anger, it was still inappropriate and I genuinely apologize to you and to Mr. Refsdal. And while I maintain we gained no further insight into the nature of the Taliban, I am glad his pursuit of this footage did not end badly for him and his family. Peace to all. B~

Greg 15 September 2010 - 9:29pm / Netherlands

Hi Barbara,
Can you please let me know how to reach you, as I have an idea I'd like to run by you.
My email is:

user avatar
Greg Kelly 14 September 2010 - 9:53am / Netherlands

Hi Barbara: I had little thought of changing your mind, but I did want you to know the principles behind our decision regarding the interview.  Your opinion of us does matter and we place a lot of value on considered responses like yours.  And no worries on the intemperate language: I've heard worse, and used worse, myself.  All the best, Greg

Barbara Rinehart 11 September 2010 - 10:10pm

I have loved and lauded TSWI since I first heard it, until today. The story on AND BY Paul Refsdal turned my stomach and angered me so deeply I hardly know how to articulate my revulsion. Aside from it's proximity to the horrific story of Zarghuna Kakar, this tripe was a stand-alone abomination. Another self-created, self-focused story of another ego-maniacal journalist whose stupidity and lust for celebrity cost his family and employer $20K and gained him and all of us (the World) NOTHING. His point? The Talaban are people, too, gosh darn it! They wuv their babies and cwy when friends die. How touching. The saddest part, however, is that you gave this idiot air and promoted his "documentary." It's going to take a lot of time and witness to forgive you for this.

user avatar
Greg Kelly 13 September 2010 - 11:20am / Netherlands

Hello Barbara: thank you for your candid note.  All of us here at TSWI share your revulsion at crimes committed by the Taliban.  But you should know that the discussions we had internally prior to doing this interview were intense: what is this film saying, who is it for -- many of the concerns you've voiced.  My position is that this interview was worth doing and airing for a few reasons: neither Paul's family nor his employer paid any money for ransom.  He was released likely because of an intervention from within the Taliban itself.  And his point wasn't that the Taliban have basic emotions as you indicate.  TSWI challenged Paul to explain what the point of his film was -- to sympathize with the Taliban?  His response was emphatically that it wasn't; but that we should simply know who we're fighting.  The implication is that we in the media should to be careful not eradicate the presence of "the other", as the Taliban have often been accused of doing in actuality -- even when that 'other' has a repulsive worldview.  We ran the interview with Paul Refsdal between two other interviews with women politicians in Afghanistan who both made it very clear how they've suffered from Taliban actions.  Given this context, we trust that our audience members will make up their own minds about the interview with Paul Refsdal, particularly when they're as engaged and as impassioned as you are.  Sincerely, Greg Kelly (Editor, TSWI)

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