Policing the streets
The ISAF (International security assistance force) is the body responsible for policing the area in and around Kabul and also assist in its reconstruction. They also operate Kabul airport and have operations in the norther and western part of Afghanistan. Its an international contingent of peacekeepers dawn from various NATO countries- of those i remember seeing Greece and Germany to Turkey. The turks were the contingent that were leading the operations when i was there, but i think its a 6 month affair, and its a rotating thing...
The Americans patrol the streets as well, but for specific tasks i think and not in a policing role
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Be on alert 24h/7d
* Carry communication equipment with full charge batteries. Satellite phone may be necessary in case the local networks do not work properly
* Don't take pictures of military areas, bridges, dams, and airports. Ask permission to take pictures of local community especially women and beautiful view.
- Work Abroad
Sometimes they strike...
During my first trip, in 2002, the scenario in Kabul was fairly unsettled. With all the warlords and various quasi- military outfits still weilding their influence over affairs, Kabul wasnt quite the safest city you could be visiting. That being said, our days in the city were largely trouble free except one particular evening when a car bomb exploded in the middle of a crowded market. Over 30 people died then and there, and it left more than 100 injured...
The security scenario was much better the next time around though- one year later.
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Land Mines and UXO
While there are considerable demining efforts ongoing throughout Afghanistan there are still some Landmines and UXO that can be found. In Kabul itself almost all areas are completely free, however the riskier areas are the various heights around the cities that were once used for military strong holds and the sides of some of the roads that lead out of the city (in particular the road North to Bargram). Most areas are marked in some way with the most common being two lines of red and white stones (Red on the mine field side and white on the safe side).
There are also lots of old mortar bombs, etc around - most being unearthed by farmers, floods, etc. One rule: DON'T TOUCH!
To avoid any risky areas try and stick to the tracks and footpaths and if in any doubt ask the locals!
Security situation has changed. see article.
May 12, 2004, 23:45
Climbing champion feared victim of Kabul stoning
A former Swiss climbing champion and photographer is believed to be one of two foreigners stoned to death in the Afghan capital, Kabul, at the weekend.
Elie Chevieux’s father confirmed that police in Geneva had contacted him as part of the inquiry into the killings.
Police announced on Tuesday that a Swiss passport found with the two men, who were beaten to death in a Kabul park, belonged to the former world-class indoor climber.
A spokesman said the passport was in the name of Elie Chevieux from Geneva, confirming reports in the local media.
The other victim is believed to be Jürg Bigler, 28, a former journalist from canton Graubünden in eastern Switzerland.
No formal identification
The Swiss foreign ministry said no formal identification had been made, though both men are believed to be Swiss nationals.
Chevieux's father, Georges, said his son had left Geneva in October on a photography trip that had already taken him to Russia, Japan, India and Nepal.
“He probably died for taking one photo too many,” Chevieux told the daily “Le Matin”.
Investigators said the men, who were wearing Afghan dress, had been beaten over the head with stones or bricks. The Kabul authorities initially suggested that their deaths might have been drug-related.
Ruedi Hager, the head of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in Kabul, said the men had registered as tourists and crossed into Afghanistan at the end of last month.
Hager added that he did not believe their deaths were connected to the drug trade.
The agency reiterated a warning to tourists not to travel to Afghanistan as security has deteriorated in the run-up to elections which are expected to take place in September.
If you do decide to come to Kabul, or Afghanistan for that reason, you should be fully aware that it is not the most stable of places. Landmines are a major problem all over the country, so do not go exploring. NEVER be aggressive with anyone in authority, everyone is armed and not always trained or very patient with foreigners. Try and keep updated on the security situation, if expats locally are obeying curfews etc, it is for a reason.
Don't give beggars any money. You will just create hell for all those coming after you and contribute in keeping current structures and dependence that causes poverty. It's better to give money to different projects i.e. for street children (Ashiana).
Don't fall into a tank when taking photos!
Luckily I ran across these abandoned tanks and could take some cool photos.
Actually, there was rebuilding of housing all abouts these tanks.
Don't fall off the tanks when trying to take that perfect photo!
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Pakistan Visa in Kabul
Just letting people know that yes the embassy is issuing visas here once
more. But dont rely on getting one here to go back to
Pakistan. I was with my Brit friend and we both got the rudest
reception we've ever encountered in an embassy. The guy issuing the visas
there is one pugnacious son of a *** who really enjoys being rude and
provoking peoples anger. He did this with everyone who entered. Journalists,
Ngo's, Afghans. It did'nt matter. He wanted to make life hell for anyone for
his own pleasure. After being so rude and turning his back on us several
times, he pretty much ordered someone to escort us out and slammed the door.
We were none the wiser whether we could get a visa or not, or what we were
doing wrong. We tried to get in again and they just peeped throught the
metal and said "Get a letter from your embassies". Ah...letter of
reccomendation. So we tried.
I managed to get one from my embassy and could apply. But he (on
British passport) was refused one by the British embassy, because they dont
want to be held account if he cause trouble in Pakistan. They say they've
never been asked for one before, and that it is highly irregular of the
Pakistanis to ask for this. You can pretty much put this down to the attack
on the embassy the other week i think. So he went back and was played with
and told yet again that he need one, and that they'd never received any kind
of phonecall from his embassy. He tried his embassy once last time and now they spoke to
someone else in the Pak embassy who says that yes everyone needs one. So he
cannot get the much needed letter himself. The very same story happened at the Chinese embassy. So, dont
assume you can get a visa easily. I managed. But i suspect it is
going to be much more difficult for people from western countires to get
this letter unless you are a journalists, working here, or Ngo.
The moral of the story?....If they dont issue you a double entry Pak visa in any other country....dont assume that you can easily get a return visa to Pakistan.
Watch your step when travelling. Don't go on roads that don't seem to have been used for some time. Don't leave the roads unless you have an OK from someone who knows the situation. Red painted stones marks known mine fields.
Formally everyone is free to wear whatever they choose, but please dress conventional for your own sake. You will face much less problems and enjoy you trip more. Ladies, cover your arms and legs completely. Put a scarf loosly over you hair. Nothing tight or see-through. Men, no shorts or t-shirts. Afghan women wear long wide skirts and blouses, not punjabi suits. Just for your information if you want to blend in better.
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