Monday, August 18, 2008

Happy Jesham... I mean, Independence Day!

Today is Afghan Independence Day.  While walking with a friend through our neighborhood, she asked me "Independence from who?"  Afghanistan has been conquered and conquered again throughout history.  Alexander the Great came through here, so did the Mongols, Arabs, Turks, Brits, and Russians (to name a few).  Throughout history, Afghanistan often acted as the battlegrounds for various Indo-European wars and was caught up in the tug-o-war of the fight to control roads going to the East and West.  In modern history, Afghanistan acted as a battleground between the British and Russians during "The Great Game" and the Russians and the West during the Cold War.  For the last 30 years, Afghanistan has been in a state of civil war between different groups with different intervening forces.  So, "Independence from who?" is a great question.  In this case, Afghans celebrate their independence from the British with the signing of a treaty that ended the third Anglo-Afghan war in 1919.  To put it in it's simplest terms, Afghanistan has a long and complicated history.

The big news surrounding Independence Day this year is the 7000 additional police patrolling the city.  Checkpoints are everywhere.  These 7000 police consist of a mixture of national police, city police, presidential guard, all with different uniforms and all carrying their AK's.  It definitely slows travel down.  Several organizations within the city recommended no non-essential travel today; we think that's more to help avoid the hassle that going anywhere would be.  Joey and Steve left for work almost an hour early after it took Joey twice as long to get home yesterday after being stopped by the national police and a detective service.  My only essential travel consisted of a 15 minute walk to a goodbye breakfast I had been invited to.  Don't worry Dad, I didn't walk alone.  It was an uneventful walk with the usual cars slowing down to stare at two western women (and three kids) and a train of children following saying "Hello. How are you? Hello. How are you?"  My least favorite place to walk by in our neighborhood is the police station, they seem more shocked and at liberty to stare at passing women. . . Today they must have been part of the 7000 on duty patrols because they weren't there.  Is it a little strange that I'm glad there were 7000 police on duty because that meant no police bothered me on my walk?  

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