Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Arghandab war zone will long remain an enigma!

1: I wait for many days to go to Arghandab, a green valley few kilo meters north west of Kandahar city which a military operation has been started long time ago. I stayed in Kandahar Air Field (KAF) for 19 days and also in between i covered a Medevac unit in US military Ramrod camp. During all this time i was asking US army to send me. First time they canceled on me and told me it is so dangerous there for journalists but they did not know that we are here to cover that kind of operation and we do it our self with our decision and it is our responsibility.

2: The rumours were telling a lot of kind of stories from there. Some were telling that US Army is losing there and Taliban are doing a vigorous resistance there against troops. Some said it is a hard fighting is going on there, some said a lot of IEDs are there and it is difficult for troops to move and some said it was a lot of civilian casualties there and that's why Army does not let any journalist to go there.

3: A Swedish radio journalist who went to a camp near Arghandab told me that most of the nights he could see Jet fighters droped heavy bombs over the valley.

4: On October 17th, late afternoon, Media Support Center in Kaf told me and two other journalists that in early morning on 18th we will fly but before our flight to Arghandab one of them informed us that our flight is canceled again!! and they will send me to a camp in Kandahar city which they had offered me there after my first cancellation for Arghandab and i told them that I wont go there. I was so angry and the same time i lough. How they did not remember that i did not go the first time and I wont go there? Isn't it stupid? They really want to force me to give up from Arghandab and go somewhere that it was not even any thing for photographing? Why they sent western journalists to a really good places to have a good staff but not me? Is it because of my Afghan Passport and my nationality? and a lot of other questions.

5: The same day Mr. Roach from Media Support Center called me and told me that there is a flight to Arghandab and he will signed me in and it will be just me! I prepared to leave and i left around 2 pm yesterday and after 20 minutes flight with a Canadian empty Chinook helicopter arrived to a Camp in Arghandab called OCCD. When we landed and i took of from the helicopter with my heavy badges, a US Army soldier came to me and shout on me, asking " Are you the reporter?" i said yes i am and i was happy he will pick me up but he said: "You have to go back. we don't accept any journalist here"!!!! I tried to talk to him but he was pushing me to go into the helicopter again!!! I surprised that why one part of the US army send me here and another part kick me out? even our army which is not professional do not do this to me!!

6: I came back to Kaf and in the air field i saw an Afghan translator who was around 50 is walking out the same helicopter that i was. I asked him if he is working in Arghandab camp and he said yes. I introduced myself  and asked him that why they kicked me out? He was scare to say any thing about Arghandab but i promised to not using his name and he told me that the night before one of the US soldiers opened fire on a Taliban commander prisoner inside his cell in a jail in the camp and killed him. probably they did not want any media representative to know about it. He was scared to talk more and we did not have enough time to talk. i could not ask him that the prisoner was handcuff or his eyes was closed by something or what.

7: I came back to my place in Media Support Center and called to my office chief and told her the story and then to all other journalists. one of them from BBC called somewhere and after a while gave me a print paper which was a ISAF statement about this event: " A detainee in ISAF custody was found dead in his holding cell in southern Afghanistan Sunday. The detainee was captured during an operation Saturday and was being held in Kandahar Province." ISAF said on that statement.

8: I think the reason that they kicked me out of that base yesterday was the detainees story but why they did not let me to go there before? Do the US Army people believe fighting for freedom and democracy in this country? Do they believe to free media? If i am an Afghanistani and they could not trust me to send me to a war zone first: why they proved my embed few month a go? second: why they did not let New York times to go there? Are they really losing there? Why they don't let US public and Afghanistan's people know that what is going on? Is it a dirty war going on there? and hundreds other questions that i might not find the answer for a long time.

9: After all these i decide to cover another Strike which is going on in Zari district of Kandahar. I did not give up for Arghandab but i really was tired to face the friendly US soldiers in Media Support Center when they were telling me bad news. One of them told me that it was so hard to say me my second cancellation for Arghandab. Now I'm waiting in Wilson camp for our unit commander to come back and if he likes us then he take us to cover the Strike somewhere called Siah Choy. I should go and take a shower and be nice, maybe the commander likes me and take me there to do my job and give you the information that I'm allow to find it !!!?

10: You can judge yourself.

Be safe and happy. We will see.

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