Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
from Russell Boyce:
This week Pakistan marked its day of independence from British rule with parades, parties, face painting and bombs. Two pictures of faces covered in colour, one paint, the other blood, seems to sum up all there needs to be said about the national pride Pakistan feels while facing so many challenges. Visually the complementary colours of green and red (colours on opposite sides of the colour spectrum) make the pictures jump out of the page especially when put side by side. The angry eye staring out of the face of green in Mohsin Raza's picture engages the viewer full on while in Amir Hussain's picture the man seems oblivious of his wound as blood covers his face, again more opposites, this time not in colour but mood. India too is preparing to celebrate its independence and Dehli-based photographer Parivartan Sharma's picture of festival preparations came to mind after I put together the red-and-green combination picture from Pakistan.
(top left) A man, with his face painted depicting the colours of the Pakistan national flag, attends a ceremony to mark the country's Independence Day at the Wagah border crossing with India on the outskirts of Lahore August 14, 2011. Pakistan gained independence from British rule in 1947. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza
A man, his face bloodied by a head injury, is held by a resident as he waits to be evacuated from the site of a bomb blast in Dara Allah Yar, located in the Jaffarabad district of Pakistan's Balochistan province, August 14, 2011. A bomb ripped through the two-story building in Pakistan's restive southwest on Sunday, killing at least 11 people and wounding nearly 20, police said. REUTERS/Amir Hussain
A worker installs decorations to a tent to be used for independence day celebrations in Noida, in the outskirts of New Delhi August 14, 2011. India commemorates its independence day on August 15. REUTERS/Parivartan Sharma
from Russell Boyce:
As the anniversary of the 9/11 attack coincided with Eid celebrations, Florida based Pastor Terry Jones announced that he would burn the Koran as a protest to plans to site a Muslim cultural centre near Ground Zero , stoking tensions in Asia. Add into the mix millions in Pakistan suffering from lack of water, food and shelter after floods, a parliament election in Afghanistan and a U. S. -led military campaign against the Taliban around Kandahar - photographers in the region had lots of raw material to work with.
Raheb's picture of relief and joy caught in the harsh light of a direct flash seems to explode in a release of tension as news spreads that Pastor Jones had cancelled his plans to burn the Koran. It has to be said that ironically earlier in the day in Pakistan US flags were burned in protest against the planned protest.
Only 41 percent of likely U.S. voters believe that the country can win the war in Afghanistan, a new poll shows, down from 51 percent in December when President Barack Obama announced a new war strategy. The Rasmussen telephone poll conducted last week found that 36 percent of those surveyed didn’t think the United States could win in Afghanistan. Another 23 percent were unsure.
Doubts about the handling of the Afghan war have continuously been growing, except for that spike in hopes soon after Obama announced a surge as part of his strategy to stabilise Afghanistan and bring the troops home. Indeed, 48 percent of those polled said ending the war now was a more important goal than winning it, reflecting falling confidence in the war effort.
[Women at a cemetery in Kabul, picture by Reuters' Ahmad Masood]
As U.S. President Barack Obama makes up his mind on comitting more troops to Afghanistan, the search for analogies continues. Clearly, Afghanistan cannot be compared with Vietnam or Iraq beyond a point. The history, geography, the culture and the politics are just too different.
The best analogy to Afghanistan may well the very area in dispute – the rugged Pashtun lands straddling the border with Pakistan and where the Pakistani army is in the middle of an offensive, argues William Tobey in a piece for Foreign Policy.